Life-Atom

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Life-atoms is a term used by H. P. Blavatsky who regarded atoms as centers of life that undergo their own process of "transmigration." This teaching rests on the occult theory "that there is neither organic nor inorganic matter or particles, but that every atom is permeated with Life".[1]

Related concepts are the "permanent atoms" of Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater and the "tanhic elementals" of G. de Purucker.

Atoms

The term "atom" comes from the Greek ἄτομος (atomos, "indivisible") from ἀ- (a-, "not") and τέμνω (temnō, "I cut"), which means something that cannot be divided further. The concept of the existence of atoms as indivisible components of matter was proposed by early Indian and Greek philosophers before the Common Era. In the 18th and 19th centuries, chemists found certain substances that could not be further broken down by chemical methods, and they applied the ancient philosophical name of atom to the chemical entity. During the late 19th and early 20th centuries, physicists discovered subatomic components and structure inside the atom, thereby demonstrating that the chemical "atom" was divisible and that the name was not really appropriate.

Theosophical concept

H. P. Blavatsky described the atoms as--

The ever-eternal, existing, undifferentiated matter, which is not strictly matter as we ordinarily use the term, but which, as we say, is the atoms. The atoms are indestructible; and matter is destructible in form, but the atoms are absolutely indestructible. . . . I do not speak about chemical atoms. I speak about the atoms of occultism, which certainly no chemist has ever seen. They are mathematical points. If you read about the Monads of Leibniz, you will see what it is, this atom.[2]

Transmigrations of the life-atoms

H. P. Blavatsky explains that the atoms are transferred from one being or object to other, and that this fact is the cause for the teaching in some religions about reincarnation of human beings into lower forms of life:

The esoteric meaning of the Laws of Manu (Chap. XII, 3 and 55), of the verses that state that “every act, either mental, verbal or corporeal, bears good or evil fruit [Karma], the various transmigrations of men [not souls] through the highest, middle, and lowest stages, are produced by his actions”; and again that “A Brahman-killer enters the body of a dog, bear, ass, camel, goat, sheep, bird, &c.,” bears no reference to the human Ego, but only to the atoms of his body, of his lower triad and his fluidic emanations. It is all very well for the Brahmins to distort in their own interest, the real meaning contained in these laws, but the words as quoted never meant what they were made to yield from the above verses later on. The Brahmins applied them selfishly to themselves, whereas by “Brahman,” man’s seventh principle, his immortal monad and the essence of the personal Ego were allegorically meant. He who kills or extinguishes in himself the light of Parabrahm, i.e., severs his personal Ego from the Atman and thus kills the future Devachanee, becomes a “Brahman-killer.” Instead of facilitating through a virtuous life and spiritual aspirations the mutual union of the Buddhi and the Manas, he condemns by his own evil acts every atom of his lower principles to become attracted and drawn in virtue of the magnetic affinity, thus created by his passions, into the forming bodies of lower animals or brutes. This is the real meaning of the doctrine of Metempsychosis.[3]

Mme. Blavatsky mentions a Buddhist scripture in which the Buddha is shown "to have once remarked to his Bhikkhus, while pointing out to them a broom, that 'it had formerly been a novice who neglected to sweep out' the Council room, hence was reborn as a broom." Her explanation for this literal impossibility is as follows:

“Indeed it is life atoms” that a man in a blind passion throws off, unconsciously, and though he does it quite as effectively as a mesmeriser who transfers them from himself to any object consciously and under the guidance of his will. Let any man give way to any intense feeling, such as anger, grief, etc., under or near a tree, or in direct contact with a stone; and many thousands of years after that any tolerable Psychometer will see the man and sense his feelings from one single fragment of that tree or stone that he had touched. Hold any object in your hand, and it will become impregnated with your life atoms, indrawn and outdrawn, changed and transferred in us at every instant of our lives. Animal heat is but so many life atoms in molecular motion. It requires no adept knowledge, but simply the natural gift of a good clairvoyant subject to see them passing to and fro, from man to objects and vice versa like a bluish lambent flame. Why then should not a broom, made of a shrub, which grew most likely in the vicinity of the building where the lazy novice lived, a shrub, perhaps, repeatedly touched by him while in a state of anger, provoked by his laziness and distaste to his duty, why should not a quantity of his life atoms have passed into the materials of the future besom and therein have been recognised by Buddha, owing to his superhuman (not supernatural) powers?[4]

Some of the life-atoms can be transmitted to the progeny, while others are used again by the Monad:

The latter (Occultism) teaches that—(a) the life-atoms of our (Prâna) life-principle are never entirely lost when a man dies. That the atoms best impregnated with the life-principle (an independent, eternal, conscious factor) are partially transmitted from father to son by heredity, and partially are drawn once more together and become the animating principle of the new body in every new incarnation of the Monads. Because (b), as the individual Soul is ever the same, so are the atoms of the lower principles (body, its astral, or life double, etc.), drawn as they are by affinity and Karmic law always to the same individuality in a series of various bodies, etc., etc.[5]

The life-atoms conserve a memory of their own:

The Occultists, who trace every atom in the universe, whether an aggregate or single, to One Unity, or Universal Life; who do not recognize that anything in Nature can be inorganic; who know of no such thing as dead matter—the Occultists are consistent with their doctrine of Spirit and Soul when speaking of memory in every atom, of will and sensation. But what can a materialist mean by the qualification? The law of biogenesis, in the sense applied to it by the Hæckelians—“is the result of the ignorance on the part of the man of science of occult physics.” We know and speak of “life-atoms”—and of “sleeping-atoms”—because we regard these two forms of energy—the kinetic and the potential—as produced by one and the same force or the ONE LIFE, and regard the latter as the source and mover of all.[6]

Life-atoms and sleeping-atoms

In his article "Transmigration of the Life-Atoms"[7] Mme. Blavatsky regards as life-atoms, or "organic atoms" those actively animated by jiva or prana, while those in which prana is not active are called "sleeping" or inorganic atoms. She wrote:

We regard and call in our occult phraseology those atoms that are moved by Kinetic energy as “life-atoms,” while those that are for the time being passive, containing but invisible potential energy, we call “sleeping atoms,” regarding at the same time these two forms of energy as produced by the one and same force, or life.[8]

According to her, "these two forms of energy —the kinetic and the potential— [are] produced by one and the same force or the ONE LIFE, and regard the latter as the source and mover of all."[9]

Permanent atoms

Annie Besant and C. W. Leadbeater developed the term "permanent atom" which Besant claims is connected to H. P. Blavatsky's "life-atoms."[10] This concepts resembles also G. de Purucker's teachings about his "tanhic elementals".

The permanent atoms "preserve within themselves, as vibratory powers, the results of all the experiences through which they have passed."[11] Annie Besant wrote:

At the end of a physical life, this permanent atom has thus stored up innumerable vibratory powers; that is, has learned to respond in countless ways to the external world, to reproduce in itself the vibrations imposed upon it by surrounding objects . . . the physical permanent atom remains; it is the only atom that has passed through all the experiences of the ever-changing conglomerations we call our body, and it has acquired all the results of all those experiences.[12]

Between the periods of incarnation the permanent atom is said to "sleep":

It sleeps through the long years during which the Jivatma that owns it is living through other experiences in other worlds. By these it remains unaffected, being incapable of responding to them, and it sleeps through its long night in undisturbed repose.[13]

At the moment of reincarnation, the permanent atom re-awakens and attracts the materials to build a new body, regulated by karma:

When the time for reincarnation comes, and the presence of the permanent atom renders possible the fertilisation of the ovum from which the new body is to grow, its keynote sounds out, and is one of the forces which guide the ethereal builder, the elemental charged with the building of the physical body, to choose the materials suitable for his work, for he can use none that cannot be to some extent attuned to the permanent atom. But it is only one of the forces; the karma of past lives, mental, emotional, and in relation to others, demands materials capable of the most varied expressions.[14]

Tanhic elementals

G. de Purucker talks about these life-atoms as "tanhic elements":

Now all these principles and aspects, and indeed everything in the human constitution, are enclosed within the auric egg, which is at one and the same time the aggregated effluvia from all the different monads and, because of this, the conjoined representative expression of the forces and energies of the septenary imbodied human being. Yet, when death ensues, the lower part of the auric egg, because built largely of the effluxes from the aspects, dissipates in that part of the astral light which is called the kama-loka of earth; although even here the more ethereal life-atoms or appurtenant forces and substances are drawn upwards into latency to become the tanhic elementals in the higher parts of the auric egg enclosing the permanent basic principles mentioned by H.P.B.[15]
The tanhic elementals may be otherwise described as the emotional and mental thought-deposits, as Patanjali did; and these remain after the second death -- and before the ego's entering the devachan -- stamped upon the various kinds of life-atoms which had functioned on all the lower planes of man's constitution. Some of these tanhic elementals or life-atoms peregrinate, and finally are psychomagnetically attracted back to the reincarnating ego during its process of bringing forth a new astral form preceding rebirth. Others belong to the monadic substances of the auric egg, and consequently remain therein in a latent condition, to awaken only when the devachani leaves the devachan. Then these dormant tanhic elementals, in combination with the other life-atoms which had been peregrinating, combine in building up the new astral form that H.P.B. speaks of; and it is largely these two classes of tanhic life-atoms or elementals which compose the skandhas (a Sanskrit word meaning bundles or aggregates) of the man in his coming incarnation.[16]

See also

Online resources

Articles

Notes

  1. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. V (Los Angeles, CA: Philosophical Research Society, 1950), 288.
  2. Michael Gomes (transcriber), The Secret Doctrine Commentaries (The Hague: I.S.I.S. foundation, 2010), 137.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. V (Los Angeles, CA: Philosophical Research Society, 1950), 114.
  4. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. V (Los Angeles, CA: Philosophical Research Society, 1950), 114.
  5. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1979), 671-672.
  6. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1979), 672.
  7. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. V (Los Angeles, CA: Philosophical Research Society, 1950), 109-117.
  8. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. V (Los Angeles, CA: Philosophical Research Society, 1950), 113.
  9. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. II, (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1979), 672.
  10. Study in Consciousness
  11. George Sydney Arundale, Kundalini. An Occult Experience (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1970), fn 1, (ch9), 82-83.
  12. Annie Besant, Study in Consciousness (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 76.
  13. Annie Besant, Study in Consciousness (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 76.
  14. Annie Besant, Study in Consciousness (Adyar, Madras: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 77.
  15. Gottfried de Purucker, Fountain-Source of Occultism, (:????), ???
  16. The Process of Reimbodiment by Gottfried de Purucker