CHAPTER V THE LIFE MASS
I have thought a little and labored long to comprehend the economy of Nature. I have found life everywhere, in trees and flowers and growing grains, in rapid brooks, and lazy streams, in the wind sweeping over the hills, and at rest in lonely places, in the majesty and glory of the dawn as the sun climbs the eastern sky, in the glow of evening and in the purple solitude of night. I see life seeking better expression and individual growth in every birth, and rocked in every cradle. I see Nature working out its destiny, reproducing, increasing, and developing; and in such a presence I know that nothing, not even death itself, can diminish or stop the eternal progress of a single life, all a part of one stupendous whole.
We speak of inert matter, but there is no such thing in the Universe. Matter, the expression and language of which we do not understand, we term inert, – an error caused by our lack of knowledge. Nothing dead exists. We have little knowledge of the very small, and know nothing of the world of life forms invisible to the human eye, – how they live, what they do, or how they communicate with one another.
There is a query in science as to whether every living thing is capable of thinking, and I am free to say that, in my judgment, wherever there is life, there must be thinking. I care not whether science accept or reject the theory; there is the power of intelligent action in every seed that has a living germ. The acorn has sense enough to send its rootlets into the earth, and its trunk and foliage branch up into the air, and select just such elements as will make the oak tree, and reject such as would be proper only for the beech tree. And the grass has the same kind of intelligence in choosing proper nourishment for itself; and the power of choice must involve the power of thought. Science is on the material and rudimental plane yet, and has much to ascertain.
Speaking of the life mass, one in the next life has said:
“The basis of all matter is electricity; the basis of all electricity, for there are many kinds, is ether, – not that ether which is found in the atmosphere, but a subtle ether of which men know little or nothing. The basis of this subtle ether is spirit; therefore, all that there is of whirling planets, of brilliant constellations, suns, moons, and satellites, all that there is in the physical Universe is ether clothed, in reality but an expression of spirit. It is the physical in and through which spirit functions, and in that way makes itself manifest to the external sense. When we once realize how infinitely great is the universe, how wondrous, how terrible, yet how beautiful in its simplicity, a feeling not exactly of awe, but of benign thankfulness must rise in our hearts at the knowledge that we are part of that stupendous system.
“Until the discovery of lenses and magnifying glasses, man had no idea of the world around him. He could not scan the heavens by night, nor did he know anything of the world in a drop of water or in the ice gem. He knew nothing of atoms, nor of micro-organisms.
“If one is interested in geology – in the various rocks in the strata of the earth – let him take the hardest of these rocks – basalt-and in the basaltic rocks he will find a world of life. If he gets far away in the polar seas at the extremes of the earth, he will there find life also. Thousands of fathoms down in the bed of the ocean there is life. In everything throughout the Universe life is found, and the germs of life are no less in the fire mists !
Think of the specks of protoplasm floating in the water. Look at them-examine them with a microscope. Then realize that at last, a long way off it is true, those specks of protoplasm develop into a Shakespeare or a Dante, Thomas Paine or an Ingersoll. Nature is very wonderful !
“The atmosphere that you are breathing tonight contains organisms. You cannot see them with the naked eye, and even the most powerful lenses would fail to disclose some of them to you. There are microbes floating in the atmosphere, some of which produce disease. Most of them are unimportant. But apart from the germs, there are floating throughout this atmosphere, life forms which man may never be able to discover with any instrument that he may invent in the future. Near to Mount Vesuvius there are a few pools or small lakes, which the internal fires round about make very hot. If tonight I could take one drop from those pools and subject it to a close, rigid scrutiny by means of a more powerful glass than exists, we should find that in one drop of this hot water there is a world. We should find life there evolving and progressing towards perfection. Again, we should find in that drop of water, or it might be in a speck of earth if we had the knowledge and power, and also the sight of an advanced spirit to disintegrate it – we should find that the speck of matter branches away into electric corpuscles.
Searching deeper, we should discover that even the electricity of the corpuscles is made up of a subtle ether, impenetrable, something so rarefied that the sons of men cannot by any means discern it. Had we the power and the knowledge that we shall have some day in an advanced spiritual state, we should find in the heart of that subtle ether something of wondrous power and influence – a continuous force which is indeed the Spirit of God.
“Therefore, in the physical we have a universe which at last touches the spiritual. In the infinitely great we have a universe which is controlled, inspired, kept steady, so to speak, and has its foundation, its very existence, in that force called Nature. And the spirit which you yourselves possess, is an emanation from God. This Spirit, though manifest in many ways, and through many forms, is eternal. Matter physical is constantly changing, building up, disintegrating; it is scattered and reformed in the birth, the growth, the life, and the death of worlds innumerable. There is, in reality, no such thing as death. Men enquire from whence comes life? Life came from the Spirit, and when the spirit passes through the subtle ether, and the ether gets into the coarser electricity, it takes physical form- gross matter is then impregnated with life. That life never ceases, because, as I have said, it progresses and develops through the physical and is re-absorbed into the Great Spirit, the Source of all life- light, and power, and wisdom.”
Another from the great beyond has said:
“In the whole universe right down to the microscopic and beyond, life is found. There is no part of the universe where there is no life, nor where creatures do not live in companies. It is not good for man, or anything to be alone; consequently all are set in companies, and there has been given to each individual a method and a way of understanding every other one, so that all may be happy in one another’s company. Some will say that it is ridiculous to speak of inanimate things in that manner, but it is only ignorance which so asserts; it is inability to realize that the Divine Spirit of God is permeating everything. Walk upon the sands of the sea-shore, examine the tiniest grain; it is impregnated with that Divine Spirit which keeps the whole universe sweet.
“I cannot say much concerning the manner of communication that plants have, but I know from my side of life that they have this power, and do communicate. And the varieties of perfumes, how are they produced, and borne upon the breeze? The present hypothesis is that it is through some chemical atoms. First, the sun impregnated the plant. In the flower are found chemical substances – electrons-which are given off and float on the subtle ether. How do they float? Through vibrations. We have been a long time getting a little knowledge about vibrations, but the processes of Nature are carried on through vibrations. We have thought it most wonderful to set in motion electrical vibrations, and convey to our friends a message hundreds of miles away. That is but a childish effort, a childish accomplishment in comparison with what goes on daily around us, but of which we are ignorant. Realize first that there is the life of the plant, and there is the life of the animalcule, the life of the insect, the life of the animal, the life of man, and the life of creatures in the uttermost parts of Nature of which most men have no conception. Then we come to the Sources of all Life, God. Cannot we understand that from Him flows the entire life of the Universe? When we die, as the expression is, though such a thing does not happen – when a dissolution of the material body and the spirit occurs, what takes place is this: there is a breaking up of a community – you and your body are a community interdependent on each other, – and at death, or dissolution, a colony, a company breaks up – I must for the time-being use terms which will be understood – the etheric tenant vacates and goes on to a more glorious, sublime plane. Paul said to the Corinthians, “There is a natural body, and there is a spiritual body.” It is the earthly house of the tabernacle here which dissolves.
The companies of insects, and of animals, though they make war on each other and may exist on each other, have a language. They know how to communicate, and in a measure they are dependent one upon the other. Is it not amusing to hear some people say that man alone has speech, that is, sound formed into certain words and syllables and sentences through the vocal organs? Let us, for instance, consider the birds. We see them and hear them warble and sing. That is their way of expressing joyousness; but that is not their language. They have a way in which they communicate with each other just as we have. Has the reader ever visited India? In the Burning Ghaut, where the Hindoos and others burn their dead, they carry the bodies up a flight of stairs to a high platform. The wood is already prepared, and the body is placed upon the wood. Look up into the heavens, calm and bright, the sun glaring down, not a speck in the sky. In two or three minutes the place will be black with carrion birds. Can we explain it? Yes, away perched on some high eminence or tree is the sentinel bird; perhaps miles away are his fellows. He speaks to them, the sentinel sounds the signal, and instantly they reply to him, and fill the air. Most people think that the world in which they live is a jumble. I grant that there are things that are abhorrent, which we cannot understand – the mystery of pain and suffering, of evil, for example, but I realize now that out of all that is evil, will finally come good. There is no confusion or jumble in the Divine Order. Everything is in its place, and ultimately it will be seen that in Nature, God has set the solitary in families, that His wondrous power is always recreating matter, and that there is never annihilation.
There may, however, be change of form. Take, for instance, the coral rocks on the seashore. Little creatures once swam in the ocean in tiny shells; they died in myriads, and the shells in time formed certain rocks. Old forests fall in decay, and the wisest man of the 20th century might have said: “Show me the wisdom of God in this?” But today the coal formed from these forests is used to give warmth and light, and all the processes of commerce are carried on through it.
There is no death ! Everything gives place to new forms of life.
And this is the fact that we must gather from our teaching: that out of the life contained in the mass, individuality has come; out of the mass of life, through Nature’s process of constant change and refinement, every living creature that will inhabit this globe in the ages yet to come must be evolved. The highest form of life that is evolved from the mass is man – and to the highest, all lesser forms contribute. Mankind is the final result of evolutionary action.