Solar Reflections

By Sarah Belle Dougherty
All things in universal nature are repetitive in structure and in action. The small mirrors the great, and the great reproduces itself in the small, for verily the twain are one. -- G. de Purucker, The Four Sacred Seasons, p. 16

From our own viewpoint mankind stands midway between the vastest cosmic structure we can imagine and the most minute particles sinking into homogeneity. This middle position is natural to any self-conscious being analyzing its place in surrounding nature, locked of necessity in the center of a circle bounded by the deficiencies of its perceptions and awareness. At the same time, we can recognize the relativity of time and space, and the potential of consciousness to transcend the limitations of our senses and ordinary consciousness.

Analogy has long been considered a master key. These correspondences exist among the various portions of the universe because everything is one in origin, deriving from the identic unknowable superdivine source that underlies all phenomena. We can trace ourselves back to this source inwardly, ascending towards ever more universal, expansive, indescriptible regions of our own being; or, looking outward, we can climb an ascending scale towards our source along the endless series of entities we help form, where the lesser consistently mirrors the greater.

The correspondences among various levels of being reveal the underlying unity behind both diversity and nature's repetitive structures. A common analogy represents the atom as a miniature solar system, and its electrons as tiny planets orbiting a protonic sun. But we can equally well view the solar system as a cosmic atom. From this perspective the planets are, on the one hand, the spheres of matter we usually picture; or, on the other hand, they may be conceived of from a mega-galactic perspective as standing waves around a solar center, just as electrons appear from our distant vantage point as waves or "energy smears" -- thus presenting us with a cosmic particle/wave duality.

And what about mankind as inhabitants of such a planetary electron? G. de Purucker maintains that

We are on such a cosmic electron, . . . [A] vast Cosmic Entity of super-Galactic magnitude, might look upon us in his thought, and wonder and think: "Can such infinitesimals have thoughts as I have them? Is their consciousness free like mine? Can it reach into the abysmal bosom of things?" My answer is, of course, Yes, because consciousness is the very heart of things, the essence of things; and when you ally yourself with pure or sheer consciousness, you then enter the Heart of the Universe, the Heart which is nowhere in particular because it is everywhere; . . . -- Studies in Occult Philosophy, p. 526

Purucker also writes about the boundless quality of consciousness even among beings who call an electron home, saying "it is quite possible that an electron of a certain kind might contain a more evolved consciousness, individually speaking, than that which functions in our Galaxy. . . . On certain ones of the electrons composing even our physical matter, there actually are entities as conscious as we are, thinking divine thoughts, thinking about the Universe, just as we humans do" (ibid., pp. 525-6). What a vast prospect this opens out before us!

Varying the analogy, we may liken the solar system to a cell, with the sun as its nucleus. This analogy emphasizes the solar system as a self-contained living organism, substantial rather than "mostly empty." Certainly the space within the solar system is filled with matters and energies -- plasma blown by the solar wind, electromagnetic fields, and other solar, planetary, and cosmic radiations. This spherical entity also has a limit in the Oort cloud with its many orbiting comets. When we consider the minute span of human life on a cosmic scale and the difficulty of obtaining accurate direct observations, it is difficult to justify any assumptions, particularly such arbitrary ones as that cosmic bodies are lifeless and free of consciousness. Yet scientists have approached the solar system as a mechanism and interpreted it solely in physical terms.

That such a priori assumptions are unjustifiable finds confirmation in new discoveries concerning cellular lives. Cells are far from simple organisms, as microbiologists such as Lewis Thomas have publicized. Recent studies of living biofilms -- ubiquitous colonies composed of a variety of single-celled organisms -- have demonstrated that when single-celled organisms join together into a multi-species colony, they specialize to create what scientists liken to a city because of its intricacy and purposeful specialization of function. Cells even alter their genetic structure under these conditions. Scientists had assumed that cellular behavior and genetic structure would be the same under all conditions, but these characteristics are not present in monocultures or isolated individuals. If even such "simple" living beings evince such complexity, how much more so may the cosmic beings we so imperfectly observe?

When we view the solar system as an entity, the sun is its nucleus, the controlling seat of life. The sun has been likened to a heart pumping vitality throughout its system in the same way that blood circulates in the human body, with the

Sun contracting as rhythmically at every return of it, as the human heart does. Only, instead of performing the round in a second or so, it takes the solar blood ten of its years, and a whole year to pass through its auricles and ventricles before it washes the lungs and passes thence to the great veins and arteries of the system. -- H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine 1:541

This process underlies the sunspot cycle which may vary in length and intensity, and affects the earth and its inhabitants. (1) Continuing this analogy, Blavatsky quotes an ancient commentary which says that "The Sun is the heart of the Solar World (System) and its brain is hidden behind the (visible) Sun. From thence, sensation is radiated into every nerve-centre of the great body, and the waves of the life-essence flow into each artery and vein. . . . The planets are its limbs and pulses . . ." (SD 1:541).

Again, she says that the solar system "breathes, just as man and every living creature, plant, and even mineral does upon the earth; and as our globe itself breathes every twenty-four hours" (SD 1:541). These statements are not mere poetic metaphors but hint at the inner processes of cosmic beings, imbodied gods just as we are and as are all earth's inhabitants.

Every being is multidimensional, having its origin in superdivine spheres, and expressing itself in spiritual, mental, psychological, astral, and physical activity. The visible planets are the bodies of living beings, the seats of various distinct, characteristic solar energies:

in man's physical body, and equivalently so as regards the monads of his entire constitution, each of the organs has its part to perform. Just as in our bodies there is a constant circulation of the vital essence imbodied in the blood and the nerve fluids, so in our solar system is there an incessant and tremendously powerful interchange of vital essences, every planet contributing to every other planet and to the sun, . . . -- G. de Purucker, Fountain-Source of Occultism, p. 154

These foci of cosmic forces exist on every plane upon which a given entity functions. The earth itself has organs, foci of the solar forces which it receives through the members of its solar family, and humanity forms one of the organs of the earth.

We know that our blood is formed of various minute lives which travel throughout the body, but what is it that circulates in the solar system? In a purely physical sense, it is atomic and energic substances, but on inner planes it comprises all the various entities that exist in the solar system, the kingdoms of lives of the various planets. These return at intervals to the sun to be purified and refreshed before imbodying again on their host-planet.

The circulations of the universe, so far as the sun is concerned, are the pathways of destiny used by the countless armies of the monads as they pass and repass on their journeys. These electromagnetic paths convey cosmic vitality which, like our blood stream, carries along with it innumerable multitudes of entities. All beings follow these pathways, for the universe is a living organism, threaded with its network of arteries and cosmic nerves, along which come and go all the migrating entities. -- Ibid., p. 155

As microcosms of the solar system and planet, we too have circulations of lives within our being, living substances on inner and outer levels. We are home to the countless lives that build up our various bodies. We see this clearly with the cells in our body, but usually overlook the mental "cells" forming our intellectual and emotional life -- the living thoughts and feelings infilling our consciousness -- let alone our spiritual aspects. These elemental beings circulate throughout our being, affecting us and being affected by us. In a similar way, as tiny organisms helping to form the earth and solar system, we circulate repeatedly through the solar system when not imbodied on earth, though we generally remain unaware of this mysterious portion of our life cycle.

As atoms are constituents of the cell, cells of the human being, humans of the planet, planets of the solar system, and solar systems of the galaxy, each reflects the structure of the others and shares in the vitality, substances, and consciousness that infill the greatest conceivable entity, stepped down through all the intervening hierarchical lives in between. Although we sometimes speak of a human being as a miniature universe, we little realize how truly we contain in potential all that our macrocosmic parents do. Still less do we realize that the sun and planets, and the cells and microbes, are as much living, conscious beings as we are. As such they can influence all for good, just as we can: by aligning our will with that of the all-encompassing divine source of the universe.

  • (From Sunrise magazine, April/May 1997. Copyright © 1997 by Theosophical University Press)

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    1. See "Humanity's 'Lost Civilizations,'" by I. M. Oderberg, in this issue. (return to text)