Electricity

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Theosophical view

At the end of the nineteenth century it was accepted that all material things were composed of invisible inert atoms. These atoms, however, were thought to be little compact balls of a given element — indivisible and impenetrable. Moving forces such as electricity, magnetism, heat, etc., were thought to be immaterial, and wholly independent from atoms. This idea was explicitly rejected by both the Masters of Wisdom[1] and H. P. Blavatsky.[2] For example, the latter wrote:

In 1882 the President of the Theosophical Society, Col. Olcott, was taken to task for asserting in one of his lectures that Electricity is matter. Such, nevertheless, is the teaching of the Occult Doctrine. “Force,” “Energy,” may be a better name for it, so long as European Science knows so little about its true nature; yet matter it is.[3]

Blavatsky maintained that the so-called atoms were divisible, so they should be called "molecules". And she said that electricity (and magnetism) were due to the motion of these atoms, which were thought to be inert:

Anyhow Occultism is audacious enough to maintain that electric or magnetic fluids (the two being really identical) are due in their essence and origin to that same molecular motion, now transformed into atomic energy.[4]

This "molecular motion," which she claimed was the origin of electricity, was obviously the motion of what would be discovered in the next century--the electron. Thus, Mme Blavatsky maintained that electricity and all other forces (as would be later discovered by quantum physics) were "material," although of matter of a subtler nature than the one known to the Science of the nineteenth century:

We have seen that it is hardly possible to call electricity a force, and yet we are forbidden to call it matter under the penalty of being called unscientific![5]
It is not in the least unscientific to speak of the substantiality of the so-called Forces. Subject to some future specific name, this force is substance of some kind, and can be nothing else.[6]
[But] the Occult Sciences do not regard either electricity or any of the forces . . . as matter in any of the states known to physical Science; to put it more clearly, none of these ‘forces,’ so-called, are either solids, gases, or fluids.[7]

It was only at the end of the 19th century and beginning of the 20th that science discovered that phenomena such as light, heat, chemical affinity, electricity, and so on, were mediated by subatomic particles such as electrons, photons, etc.

Source

Mme. Blavatsky maintained that there are no blind and mechanical forces in the cosmos. Everything is an expression of some kind of intelligence. Even electricity is a manifestation of the elementals:

We will go further than that, and assert that Electricity is not only Substance but that it is an emanation from an Entity, which is neither God nor Devil, but one of the numberless Entities that rule and guide our world according to the eternal Law of KARMA.[8]
Electricity, Magnetism, Sound, Light, Heat, Cohesion, etc. Occult Science defines all these as Super-sensuous effects in their hidden behaviour, and as objective phenomena in the world of senses; the former requiring abnormal faculties to perceive them—the latter, our ordinary physical senses. They all pertain to, and are the emanations of, still more supersensuous spiritual qualities, not personated by, but belonging to, real and conscious CAUSES. To attempt a description of such ENTITIES would be worse than useless. . . . Men of science may term them Force or Forces generated by matter, or “modes of its motion,” if they will; Occultism sees in the effects “Elemental” (forces), and, in the direct causes producing them, intelligent DIVINE Workmen. The intimate connection of those Elementals (guided by the unerring hand of the Rulers)—their correlation we might call it—with the elements of pure Matter, results in our terrestrial phenomena, such as light, heat, magnetism, etc., etc.[9]

Online resources

Articles

Notes

  1. Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 93b (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 321.
  2. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 508.
  3. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 111, fn.
  4. H. P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. XII (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1980), 398.
  5. H. P. Blavatsky, Collected Writings vol. IV (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1991), 221.
  6. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 111, fn.
  7. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 517.
  8. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 111, fn.
  9. Helena Petrovna Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine vol. I, (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 145-146.