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Chapter 1
The Ceaseless Surge Of Life
T
he tide of life surges ceaselessly upon the shore of our tiny planet. And the line between the
organic and the inorganic is so thin that even the clairvoyant gaze is often unable to
differentiate it clearly. For life abounds on every hand, in forms commonly considered
insensate as well as in more complex structures, and in regions where our dull physical senses can
perceive only a void. It permeates all existence, throbbing and pulsating; as diffusive and
pervading as sunlight on a cloudless day. And this abounding life, of which we each constitute a
single moving spark, has a meaning which is well worth our effort trying to discern.
But the endeavor to encompass the significance of life by considering man as some special
creation, as do the orthodox, or even by considering him as differing in kind from the other
struggling entities, visible and invisible, by which he is surrounded, is like attempting to perceive
the meaning of a tadpole while ignoring the egg from which it came and the frog which it later
will become. And because the physical is but one velocity realm on which life exists, we cannot
comprehend it by considering one plane of existence alone. No more so than we can perceive the
meaning of the tadpole if we consider solely the water in which he now swims and ignore the land
over which the frog will hop.
The expanse of life is so illimitable, and the forms it assumes are so infinitely diverse, that the
puny human brain can at best perceive only a minute section of it. What can come directly under
our observation is but a drop in the ocean of life. Yet, even from a drop of ocean water, by careful
analysis, we can get a very good idea of the nature of the substance which covers three-quarters of
the surface of the earth. Let us, therefore, bring under observation of both the physical senses and
the psychic senses the drop of the ocean of life by which we are intimately surrounded.
The first impression one gets when thus viewing life, is of the infinite number of separate life
entities. We know, for instance, that our sun and billions of other luminous bodies in the
firmament, radiate light. Each tiny photon of light has its own individuality. How many such
photons are sent out from our sun each second? Too many for human comprehension. Yet in so
far as science has been able to determine, a photon of light thus sent out from our sun, unless it
meets with some obstacle, travels on and on, without ceasing; and has the same energy and
velocity a million years after it started that it had at first.
The giant telescope on Mt. Wilson receives light from distant nebulae that started on its journey at
the time the Trinal Ape Man hunted through the jungle of Java, while elephants and sabre toothed
tigers roamed the plains about Los Angeles, and before the age of ice came down on Europe and
North America with its grip of rigid cold.
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Life has its parallels with light. The number of its individual entities is beyond calculation or
comprehension. But once a little photon of it is radiated from the Infinite Mind, it travels on and
on, without loss of momentum, in the direction it is sent; nor time nor space diminishes its energy.
On and on it travels, and never reaches the end of its glorious journey.
Abundance of Life-Forms
--The abundance of life, like the number of photons of sunshine, staggers the imagination. How
quickly a slice of bread or a piece of cheese, left in a moist place, accumulates a coating of mold!
This mold, like rust on wheat and smut on corn, is vegetable life. It is a fungi, the spores of which,
too small to be visible to the naked eye, float about in the air. The moisture assists millions of such
minute plants to grow. Food isolated from such spores is not thus affected.
A still lower form of life is responsible for the decomposition of both animal and vegetable forms
that have died. This is a valuable function, too; for if a leaf never decayed, a tree remained just as
it fell, and flesh retained its form except when devoured by other animals, the food elements of
earth would soon all be stored in the carcasses of the dead, and none left to support succeeding
generations. But the bacteria attend to this. And how numerous they must be that so soon animal
and vegetable matter, from which the dominant entities have departed, should undergo decay!
A small sample of air, from almost anywhere, when placed under a microscope, reveals a host of
minute living forms. And a drop of water likewise examined may reveal a swarm of animacules.
Think of the extent of the ocean, and that on and near its surface, live an infinite number of minute
entities. These free-floating organisms of the sea are called plankton. I shall here speak of but two
types of them. One embraces the diatoms, which are microscopic vegetables having a glass shell.
It is to these diatoms, chiefly, each in life secreting its minute quantity of oil, that geologists
attribute the formation of the oil deposits of the Pacific Coast. The oil manufactured a few million
of years ago by these tiny plants floating about on the water, so small as to be invisible to the
naked eye, now drives a car along the streets of the city, over the very spot where, when their
physical span of life was over, they sank to rest.
Of the little animals embraced within the plankton, the Foraminifera are like the diatoms in
having a shell-like covering. One genus of them, the Globigerina, are particularly abundant; and
these, together with the diatoms, fall in immense numbers to the bottom of the sea and form either
diatomaceous ooze or Globigerina ooze. And it is interesting to learn that telegraph cables raised
from the depth of two miles show that the bottom of the ocean at that depth is composed almost
entirely of the chalky shells of the little animals, Foraminifera.
This ooze, in time, becomes fossilized into rock; and the stone of which the city of Paris is built
consists of the fossilized shells of such Foraminifers.
Then again, the pyramids of Egypt are built of nummulties, which is another genus of
Foraminifera. As in one ounce of this stone it is estimated there are four million of these
once-living animals, the number which is contained in these massive monuments alone is
inconceivable.
I might go on to explain how certain limestone mountains have been formed by the secretions of
single-celled algae, how certain iron-ores of vast extent are the residue of bacteria, mention the
extent of coral formation, and otherwise draw your attention to the incomprehensible number of
life entities that both in past and present have made the earth their abode. But any further
enumeration of examples could not expand the grasp of the mind in its conception of the number
of living entities. Like the separate photons of sunlight that beat upon the surface of our planet,
the number of surging life-forms is beyond computation.
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The Influx of Life To The Earth
--Like the photons of solar energy, a new innumerable host of living entities continually arrives.
From an inner-plane viewpoint, they are already adjacent to the earth, awaiting opportunity to
manifest in form. But this does not mean that they are in three-dimensional proximity to the earth.
Instead, it means that the astral world, which is a high-velocity realm, and consequently has
different properties than the physical world, is crowded with these life-forms. And they are
adjacent to the earth only in the sense that they have a vibratory rate not dissimilar to the
vibratory-levels of this physical planet.
Things in the astral world which have a similar vibratory rate are in close proximity to each other
in much the same way that when you tune your radio to the frequency used by a certain
broadcasting station the individual who is then speaking into the microphone is in close
proximity to you. Although his physical body is perhaps across the continent, you can plainly
hear what he is saying. In the astral world, however, either entity can become the broadcasting
station and cause the other to feel its influence.
Thus when I say that untold myriads of life-forms are in the proximity of the earth, I do not refer to
three-dimensional proximity, but to vibratory proximity. Yet when the vibratory-rate proximity
of any two astral things is close, no matter how distant they may be in the three-dimensional
sense, it takes but a slight desire, or attractive force, to permit them to influence each other
physically.
By reason of its high-velocity, the properties of the astral world often seem to contradict all our
experiences. And this property by which an individual can transport himself instantly to a distant
spot--as witnessed by an individual on earth who in sleep appears and manifests to others on the
other side of the earth, and the next instant is awakened by someone and is again in his physical
body--is one which is contrary to more common experience. Yet in the astral world if one thinks
intently of a spot, and desires strongly to be there, no matter how distant, if its basic vibratory rate
is not too different, he almost instantly finds himself in that spot.
It is something that, due to our experience with low-velocity existence, is a little hard for most of
us to realize, but it is nevertheless a fact, that the real distances which separates things are not
those of space, but are those of vibratory-rate level. The mind can travel a billion miles almost
instantly; but to traverse from a habitually slow vibratory rate to a rate of intensity habitual to the
angels may take aeons of time.
When, therefore, I say that seen by clairvoyant sight the proximity of the earth is crowded with an
infinite number of life-forms, I wish it to be understood that this proximity is in the vibratory-rate
sense. These entities have a vibratory-rate level very similar to the dominant vibratory level of
the astral bodies that occupy physical bodies on the earth. How far from the earth, or how close, in
the three-dimensional sense is unimportant.
I have already spoken of nebulae so distant that it takes light, traveling 186,300 miles a second, a
million years to reach the earth. But in thought you can travel to such a nebula almost instantly.
And if, while out of your physical body in the astral form, you could tune in on it perfectly, you
would almost as instantly find yourself there. As a matter of trial, however, you would find such a
journey not so speedy as this. But this would be due to the difficulty of tuning in exactly on the
vibration necessary, rather than to the three-dimensional distance to be traversed.
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It is true that three-dimensional distances have a meaning in the astral world, just as
two-dimensional and one-dimensional terms have a meaning on earth. But due to high-velocity
properties of the inner plane, three-dimensional distances entirely lose the importance they have
here.
That three-dimensional distances have a meaning, but lose their importance on the inner plane
can be illustrated in this way: Mentally you can perceive two objects, each having on the physical
plane three dimensions, and mentally you can perceive these objects at a given distance from
each other. Or you can visualize some road you have traveled, or even some road which has no
physical existence, and mentally see the trees, fence posts, telegraph poles and houses along this
road. These are stationed, according to three-dimensional experience, at certain distances from
each other. Therefore these dimensions have a meaning. But if you, or some other person in
mental sympathy enough with you to perceive what you thus visualize, try to measure the
distance between these mental (astral) objects, you will find the distances between them cannot
be measured with a three-dimensional instrument. How high, for instance, in three dimensional
space, is a tree which has no physical existence? Or how high is the image in your mind of a tree
which has a physical existence?
Because distance on the inner plane is of a different order, when I say that all astral space is
literally crowded with life-forms in all conceivable states of development, I am placing no
three-dimensional limits on the space included. And however distant, in the three-dimensional
sense, these life-forms may be from the earth, whenever the astral substance associated with a
physical form has the same vibratory rate as some astral entity, this vibratory sympathy
constitutes a proximity of the two in the real sense. And if the physical form is not already
dominated by some entity, and is such that life can express through it, the astral entity, through
this rapport, can instantly take control of the physical form. So far as being a hindrance to forming
a contact with a physical form, three-dimensional space is negligible.
Camille Flammarion was one of the first great experimenters with psychical phenomena to note
that whenever physical conditions were such as to permit the expression of a given type of
intelligence, that intelligence was always present to make itself known. Other scientists who
have studied psychical phenomena have noted the same thing. The difficulty of producing any of
the startling types of supernormal phenomena is not in attracting some entity to manage their
production, but always in preparing the suitable physical conditions by which the manifestation
can take place. If the conditions on earth are right for a given manifestation, there is always an
intelligence present to direct it.
This is because, irrespective of three-dimensional distance, entities of similar vibratory rate are
already in close proximity. And when the physical conditions become such that an astral
intelligence can manipulate them, there is always an astral entity of similar vibratory rate
somewhere in space--but in the vibratory sense in close proximity--which responds to the
desire of those seeking the phenomena. Or it may handle the phenomena irrespective of the
desires of those on earth, merely because the conditions are such that it can do so, and of its own
desire.
I am not here going into the various phases of mediumship; as they are discussed fully in Course
I. But I do wish to point out the intimate and vibratory relation between the physical and the astral
plane, because without an understanding of this no proper comprehension of the processes of life
can be had.
For instance, physical life propagates itself through cell-division. When an amoebae divides
there are two cells instead of one; and there are two intelligences, one for each cell, instead of one.
Where did the second intelligence come from?
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How Higher Intelligences
Move In
--The materialist would say that the intelligence is merely the manner in which chemical
substances are arranged. I have shown in Chapter 1, Course 5, Esoteric
Psychology
, however, that the intelligence resides in the astral substance associated with a
living thing. And when a cell divides, the intelligence it originally had remains to dominate one of
the resulting cells, and an intelligence of similar vibratory rate moves in from the astral, to take
charge of the other cell. Whenever the physical conditions will permit, there is always a
life-entity from the astral plane eager to take charge of a physical form.
The bodies of living things are composed of cells, and each of these cells is dominated and
directed by an evolving soul. The growth of the body of an organism takes place through the
multiplication of its cells through cell-division. And as fast as new cells are thus formed, through
the division of old cells, new souls having a development of intelligence sufficiently advanced to
take charge of a single cell move in. For every living cell there is an intelligence directing its
functions. And the human body is composed of billions of such cells.
Single-celled plants and single-celled animals perform all the necessary functions of living, such
as nutrition, secretion, excretion and reproduction. But the experiences such a life-form can have,
and the work it can accomplish, are rather simple. Yet a colony of such cells, grouped as a single
organism, often has better opportunity of survival, and a wider range of possible experiences.
Such plants and animals as we are more familiar with are colonies of cells, some of which more
completely perform one function, and others of which more completely perform another
function. That is, there is division of labor. Some cells grow resistant, to form the outer protective
covering of the group, other cells become even more plastic, the better to perform the function of
assimilation, and still other cells specialize in the function of reproduction. We speak of such a
cooperative group of cells as an organism.
An organism affords the opportunity for an intelligence which is superior to that of any single cell
to manifest itself. Furthermore, because the physical conditions are thus present for a particular
type of manifestation, an astral entity is always there to take charge. As a matter of fact, through
the operation of vibratory affinity, as soon as the physical conditions are present by which an
intelligence more complex than that of a single cell can express itself, such an intelligence moves
in.
More commonly an organism thus has in charge of its growth and other activities a single
dominating intelligence, or soul. This soul, because of its past experiences, knows how to direct
the development and functions of the particular organism. Within certain limits it is able to
command obedience from the single-celled intelligences within its domain. It directs them in
their activities.
The reproduction of an organism, either plant or animal, is commonly either through simple cell
division, or through specially developed cells or groups of cells, such as seeds, spores, bulbs,
runners and offsets.
A cutting from a geranium, or a limb from a willow tree, when placed in the earth under favorable
circumstances will grow. It will develop into a mature plant which will bear leaves and flowers. If
the soul which directed the growth of the parent plant remained with the present plant, from
whence came the intelligence to direct the growth and development of the new one?
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The material conditions being present for the expression of a given kind of intelligence, vibratory
affinity causes such an intelligence to move in from the astral. An astral intelligence with
experience enough to be able to handle the development of such a plant, and needing the new
experiences for which this afforded opportunity, in each case was attracted to, and occupied, the
plant which was separated from its parent. Just as soon as the conditions for a life apart from the
parent stem was presented, there was an intelligence ready to grasp the opportunity and direct the
activities of the newly independent life processes.
So also with seed and spore. These are cells which have specialized in the propagation of the race.
Under certain conditions, as when the seed is fertilized, they afford the material requisites for the
development of a physical life-form after the parent pattern. And whenever the material
requirements are present, vibratory affinity attracts an intelligence of the necessary experience to
take charge.
Life as it occurs on the earth signifies that, for the time being, an intelligence has found the
opportunity by which it can undergo experiences in a physical form. When, for any reason, the
intelligence occupying form and directing its processes is unable longer to handle these
processes successfully, the organism begins to break up, and the entity is compelled to move out
into the astral again. This is known as death.
Within the body of man, as within the body of complex plants and other complex animals, there is
a constant outflow of cell-intelligences as cell structure is consumed in the life processes, and a
constant influx of new cell-intelligences as new cells are formed to take the place of outworn
tissue. The life of an organism, to the clairvoyant vision, is a process of lesser intelligences
moving in, doing more or less as they are directed by the soul of the organism and, as their vehicle
is destroyed, again moving out into the astral. They have rendered somewhat of service, and have
gained somewhat in experience.
The kind of an organism occupied by any evolving intelligence depends upon the ability of that
evolving intelligence to gain the allegiance of lesser evolving intelligences, such as those
occupying single cells, and to direct their activities into building a form of a suitable type and
functions. And its ability to gain such allegiance and direct such activities depends entirely upon
its own past experiences.
Where it gained the experiences is not essential; but before it can be attracted to the physical
conditions that will permit it to occupy a form of a particular type, it must have had experiences of
sufficient complexity to afford it a preliminary training in handling such a form. Such
preliminary training gives it a dominant vibratory rate of a particular type of life-form. As a result
of this dominant frequency-rate, whenever the physical conditions are present for the
manifestations of a form of this life-type, there is opportunity for it to move in and take charge.
That is, there is opportunity for it to express itself in some physical life-form.
Competition For A Physical Form
--Throughout space there are other intelligences also which have developed a similar dominant
vibratory rate. The physical conditions also present an opportunity for them to express, or be
born, into earthly experience. But the one of these various intelligences, or souls, which actually
takes charge of the growth and development of the new physical form is the one whose vibratory
rates in their complex details--that is, the one whose past experiences--most perfectly coincide
with the vibratory rates of the cutting, the bulblet, or fertilized seed which affords the opportunity
for physical development. This law of vibratory affinity holds true alike for plants, for animals,
and for man.
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A walnut tree, for instance, is a particular type of life-form belonging to the vegetable kingdom.
A fertilized walnut which has fallen to the ground, when the rains of spring cause it to germinate,
affords the opportunity for an intelligence of a certain dominant vibratory-rate to take charge of
the growth and development of a sprouting walnut tree. This intelligence has never previously
had any experience with walnut trees. It may have never had any experience with any kind of a
tree. But it has had experience with some lower form of vegetable life. It has occupied the form of
some growing plant in the past. When it no longer could hold the allegiance and direct the
activities of the still lesser intelligence of this plant, the plant died and it passed to the astral world.
On the astral plane it also existed as a plant, the counterpart of the physical one. And during this
period of existence on the astral plane it acquired many additional experiences. And these, as well
as those resulting from its experiences on earth, built the thought-cells of its astral form; the sum
total of the states of consciousness thus acquired through all its experiences constituting its soul.
Life Also Develops On the Astral Plane
--It is a mistake to think of the astral world as static. Things on that plane develop and progress
much as they do on earth. People who pass to the next life continue with their education and
development. And likewise, the lower forms of life, when they pass from physical expression,
continue to develop on the inner plane. Not only the experiences of physical life, but these
additional experiences of astral life, at intervals are assimilated and reorganized.
The most obvious thing about life is its constant struggle and effort. And this struggle and effort,
which we see in every living thing about us, does not cease when it passes to the next plane. Even
as on earth, it is still eager for experience. And in this restless desire to advance it is assisted by
cosmic forces, by tides of astral energy which have come to be known as life-waves.
Therefore, the astral form of the plant which we have been considering, by the time it is attracted
to another physical form--incarnated in another plant--has made appreciable strides in its
abilities. Its intense struggles to advance have brought it experiences which give it the dominant
vibratory-rates of a germinating walnut.
It may never have lived as a tree. This, perhaps, is a long step physically from the simpler
vegetable form it previously occupied on earth. But it has been carried forward by the tides of
cosmic energy to a point where its desires for still further experience and development give it not
merely the dominant vibratory-rates of the walnut tree type of life, but the detailed vibratory-rate
of a certain germinating walnut. And it is attracted to, and becomes associated with, this
germinating walnut, because its vibrations more nearly correspond to those of this walnut than do
the vibrations of other astral plants having the walnut tree type of vibration.
The genes of the chromosomes of the germinating walnut are associated with the astral vibratory
rates that carry the racial characteristics. The incoming astral intelligence which takes charge,
now acquires these vibratory rates as a part of its own organization. And the latitude of its power
to mold the developing form is limited by these racial vibrations which it thus acquires. These
rates determine that the tree shall be a walnut and not an elm. And soil and wind and rain and the
prevalence of insect pests and various other physical factors place still other limits upon its
expression. But, nevertheless, the form which develops under the direction of this soul is an
expression of its own powers and capacities.
During the lifetime of this tree the intelligence occupying it brings under command a myriad of
simpler intelligences, such as those which occupy the cells of its structures. It directs that certain
cells shall take on coarseness and become the protecting bark, that other cells shall perform the
delicate and complex function of the Cambrian layer, that still other cells shall develop into
sapwood. How much energy shall be devoted to leaves and how much to root structure, to
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flowers, and to fruit are under the jurisdiction of its thought-cells. It does not reason about these
things, no more so than our own intelligence reasons about how much tissue shall develop here,
and how much there, in our own anatomy. These are functions of the thought-cells and thought
structures of the unconscious mind, or soul. And the soul knows, because of past experiences,
how to direct them.
But when the walnut tree dies it does not cease to exist. It may still be seen upon the astral plane,
where it continues to live and develop. The astral plane is quite as real as the physical, and quite as
capable of imparting experiences, although experiences of a different kind. The walnut tree gains
new experiences as a tree on the astral plane. These experiences build in it new thought-cells.
And in time it is carried forward, its experiences assimilated and reorganized, to a point where its
dominant vibratory rates correspond to the dominant vibratory rates of some other and more
complex life-form.
But you may be sure of this, having had experience as a walnut tree, it never has the detailed
vibratory rates which are simple enough again to attract it to a germinating walnut. Its
thought-cell structure, even at the time the tree it occupied died, is so complex as the result of its
experiences as a mature tree, that it has no affinity for the simpler rates of a new walnut shoot.
And, for that matter, as soon as any degree of assimilation and reorganization has been made, the
thought-cell structure is too complex for the walnut tree type. It still belongs to the walnut tree
type so long as it exists on the astral as a walnut tree. But as it develops on the astral plane still
further, and has new experiences, its dominant vibratory rates become of a character quite
different, and in time are those belonging to some still higher form of life on the physical plane.
Assimilation and Reorganization
--This principle of the assimilation and reorganization of experiences, which is a function of
astral life, takes place on a small scale, and has come to be well recognized, in the physical life of
man.
An individual who has been applying himself to some task requiring great dexterity or unusual
mental ability, and seems to have reached his best performance, often finds that additional
practice leads to no greater perfection. When the individual has reached such a stage, for instance,
in playing golf, in rendering musical compositions, in literary production, or any other art, those
having his training in charge, if wise, advise him to take a vacation from it. It is better for a time
that he does not even think about it, but that he should become interested in something entirely
different. Then, at the end of his vacation, he is usually amazed to find that he not merely
commences to improve where he left off, but that somehow, during the vacation, he has moved
forward a marked step, and that he takes up his practice again at a point far in advance of anything
he had attained during the previous period.
This well known psychological law, which is applied practically in many fields of endeavor, is
based upon the principle that, unhindered for a time by other physical experiences of a like
nature, experiences already acquired, under the urge already given them for greater perfection of
performance, undergo assimilation and reorganization within the astral form. And as a result of
this assimilation and reorganization, abilities of far greater perfection come into existence than
any which had ever previously found physical expression. There is a decided gap between what
the individual could do when last he tried, and what he now finds he can do. It has not been just a
gradual progress, but he has moved forward by a clear-cut step.
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Business men are advised by psychologists, and many of them follow this advice, that when they
have worked hard to solve some perplexity, or to devise some method of overcoming a difficulty,
and have not arrived at anything satisfactory, to put the thing from their mind and take a drive in
the country with a friend, go to a baseball game, or otherwise spend the balance of the day in
recreation. Business psychologists tell them to let the problem "stew in its own juice" without
thinking about it. Then the unconscious mind, or soul, takes the various thoughts about the
problem, and such information as it can reach concerning it derived from both the physical and
astral planes, and assimilates and reorganizes this knowledge. And when, after the individual has
forgotten all about it in some interesting sport, it pops into his mind, it has been worked out in
detail, and is ready to be given physical expression.
The finer body of any life-form is composed primarily of psychoplasm, even as its physical body
is composed of protoplasm and its secretions. Psychoplasm, in turn, is composed of
thought-elements in various proportions. Thought-elements belong to ten different families.
Whenever a state of consciousness registers on the soul it adds thought-elements belonging to
one or more of these ten families to the soul. These thought-elements which are added by
experience tend to build up definite thought-cells, even as assimilated physical food tends to
build up the cells of the physical body. These thought-cells and the thought structures they form
constitute the astral body, and their organization, embracing all previous states of consciousness,
is the soul.
This astral organization is changed not merely by experiences coming from the outer plane, but
also by experiences coming from the inner plane. Every objective thought adds its energy to the
thought-cells, giving those of similar type more power. And in addition, through the feeling
energy accompanying it, the thought cells thus given more energy become more harmonious or
more discordant. Also, through the association of this type of thought with thoughts of a different
type, it tends to cause the thought-cells thus given energy to have an influence upon other
thought-cells.
Not only does later objective thinking about experiences tend to link together in the unconscious
mind the thought-cells in which the energy of these experiences have been stored, but the
thinking about them below the threshold of objective consciousness also tends to link them
together. A strong desire will set in motion trains of unconscious thought which tend to bring
together the various factors relating to the desire. Not only are past experiences relating to the
desire assimilated, but the soul exercises extra-sensory perception to gain new information and
assimilate it. Thus, after a time, the individual is able clearly to grasp a problem, or is aware of just
what he should do.
Here we have an instance in which there has been some assimilation and reorganization of
thought. But probably there has been no pronounced change in the thought-cell organization; for
such a change is soon apparent in the change of fortune and in the change of character. Nor is
there probably any pronounced change in the thought-cell organization of the individual who
takes a definite step in skill at the end of a vacation. Other than possessing the desired skill, he is
much the same as before where his character is concerned.
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Something has occurred, however, relative to the ability of his thought-cells to direct the
activities of the intelligences occupying the physical cells and physical structures of his body. His
thought-cells, impelled by the desire to acquire the given skill, have gone to work to get
cooperation from the intelligences occupying the cells of certain muscles and nerves. These were
given new orders and brought into such alignment that they would work for the accomplishment
of the desired act of skill. It is true that certain thought-cells have been reorganized. But in
addition, a myriad of astral intelligences constituting the souls of the physical cells and organs of
his body were given instructions and brought into greater obedience, that they might the more
effectively assist in the performance of new tasks.
How An Organism Operates
--An organism is not just one intelligence, but in addition to the thought-cells of the dominating
soul embraces many minor intelligences which have come under the dominion of the mind, or
soul, of the intelligence ruling the organism. And in addition to the various intelligences guiding
the physical cells, there are still others of higher complexity within the body of man, such as those
which have charge of certain organs.
That organs have an intelligence of their own, and are not merely occupied by the thought-cells of
the human soul, is demonstrated by their ability to carry out their function in some degree after
being removed from the physical body. The intelligence associated with the organ has learned
how to do certain things, and to the extent it is provided with proper conditions--perhaps a
nutrient solution--it continues to carry out this work, as explained in Chapter 1,
Course 9, Mental Alchemy, after the organ is no longer a part of the original physical organism.
To the clairvoyant vision, man is not merely a superintendent directing in person a host of
laborers of the intelligence and ability of cell-life. Instead, there are bosses which more or less
take instructions from his thought-cells and thought structures and direct the work of certain
organs and certain functions. His own thought-cells and thought structures know how each job
should be done, and give the orders to the intelligence associated with the physical cell or organ
or function. Each of these intelligences which is not an integral part of his soul has its own domain
and, if of greater advancement than a single cell, has its own laborers, or cell intelligences, which
take instructions from it. In turn, it is given directions by a certain group of thought-cells which
are an integral part of the individual's soul.
Life-forms are not simple. Even a molecule of matter is composed of rapidly moving atoms, each
with its field of energy; and these atoms in turn embrace moving electrons, each with its energy
field. Some of the energy fields tend to hold the electrons from departing, some of the energy
fields hold the atoms together by what is called gravitation, and other energy fields keep the
atoms themselves from collapsing, and hold each other at a distance.
And even as there are energy fields and still other energy fields embraced within each molecule
of matter, so are higher forms of life very complex, not merely in the division of the labor
performed, but in the number and variety and types of intelligences, which like the energy fields
of the molecule are interdependent in giving the whole its proper integrity.
But whether the intelligence is merely that expressing in a single cell, or even still less as the
intelligence of an atom of mineral matter taken into the cell, or still greater as the intelligence
governing such an organ as the heart, for instance, these intelligences do not constitute the soul of
the organism. They each and all make use of the organism where they temporarily sojourn to
express themselves and gain desired experiences. They each and all are performing their own
evolution, and except for the time they are associated with the organism, are as independent of it
as its soul is independent of them.
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It is common, in occult circles, to refer to all the various intelligences within the organism of man,
whether thought-cell intelligences, or those intelligences which supervise functions and direct
organs and otherwise take charge of affairs, as sub-mundane atoms of life. Sub-mundane means
below the earth, and strictly speaking these intelligences, many of them, are as closely associated
with physical life as is man, himself. But if we were to use the word subhuman, it would embrace
intelligences, such as animals and plants, which are not so closely associated with man. These
so-called sub-mundane entities, which also include thought-cells, are the lesser members of an
organization over which man is rightfully the ruler.
Few of us ever stop to consider just how interdependent, even in the physical sense, life is upon
life. The handling of food within the digestive tract requires bacterial life of certain kinds. The
pollination of many flowers, without which no seed is produced, depends upon insects.
Earth-worms, passing soil through their digestive tracts, give it a texture and fertility that favors
vegetable growth. And in a thousand other ways life-form depends upon life-form.
But when we consider an organism in reference to the intelligent entities it embraces, we find
even a far greater interdependence. Such an organism is like some great industrial organization,
with departments presided over by foremen, and more or less under the control of the soul which
is manifesting through the body. The soul of an organism, whether it be the soul of a plant, an
animal, or a man, is an intelligence which by virtue of its past experiences has acquired
thought-cell structure ability to attract to itself and direct the efforts of a host of lesser
intelligences. These lesser intelligences are of various grades and functions.
Of course, it is not the objective mind which controls and directs these lesser intelligences. What
does your objective mind, or mine, know about the proper handling of the digestive ferments,
about the proper number of red corpuscles that should be given birth to under certain
circumstances, about directing those soldiers of the blood stream, the phagocytes, so as best to
protect the body from invading bacterial and protozoan foes? It is the thought-cells of the
unconscious mind, or soul, which attend to all these things.
The soul of the organism is the dominant intelligence which has attracted to itself such other
intelligences as it has need of. But these other intelligences are merely workmen, they are not the
soul. They are paid for their work through the education they get, just as the soul is paid for its
endeavors in the wages of expanding character.
When the soul, or intelligence, which has built and lived in an organism no longer can hold that
organism together as a living form, the physical form dies and the soul of the organism moves out
into the astral world. This astral form is not dependent upon the various intelligences which were
embraced within the physical form. I do not wish to say that the astral form and its functions are
completely independent of other intelligences than the soul dominating it. But it is no longer
dependent upon the various intelligences which were embraced within its physical form.
As the physical form disintegrates not only the cell-life, but the other intelligences associated
with man's physical form during physical life, separate from it and travel on their own
independent paths of development.
And the soul, or intelligence, which had directed the building of the physical form, and
undergone experiences in it, then undergoes a shorter or longer period of life and development in
the astral world. At the end of this period of development on the astral, in which still other
experiences are added to its thought-cell organization, a process of assimilation and
reorganization sets in. This, only on a vastly larger scale, is similar to the assimilation and
reorganization of experiences which enable an artist in any line to take a marked step after a
vacation, or a business man to solve difficult problems during recreation.
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At the end of this assimilation and reorganization process, the soul is not merely ready to build a
form on the physical plane just a shade higher than the one built previously. Instead, it has taken a
pronounced step forward, and has the ability, when attracted to the physical plane by conditions
corresponding in basic vibratory-rates to its new stage of development, of animating and building
a form of quite different character and of far greater complexity.
The Evolution of the Soul is Through Long Physical Steps
--Yet if we consider the physical the only place where life-forms can develop and function, we
have a sadly limited conception of the universe. The physical is merely the cellar of a vast
skyscraper, and the best that can be grown here are mushrooms and similar fungi. The physical is
the place where such life-forms as we are most familiar with start their upward development.
And, taking the upward trip step at a time, each experience in a physical form meaning that the
next form is considerably advanced in complexity, life develops alternately on the physical and
in the astral realm.
Yet the highest to which it ever reaches on earth is the puny stature of man, whose intellect and
functions are infinitely small in comparison with the intellect and functions of beings still higher
in the scale of existence.
But man's form is, nevertheless, the highest that can be developed in this cellar called the
physical world. It is only one step, although the last step on the physical plane, in the upward
journey.
The ascending soul animates the form of any species but once, and it does not occupy the forms of
all species, for it ascends the physical by rather long strides. It does, however, commonly occupy
the form of the species man once, although only once. But, because what it has acquired requires
properties that cannot be found on the physical plane for complete expression, after once being
man, it does not again take any form on the physical plane. Instead, the law of vibratory affinity
attracts it to a region of higher velocity, where it can find expression for its rapidly expanding
acquired abilities.