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Gerald's conversation

Aug 15, 1993 09:37 AM
by Donald DeGracia

Hi even again everyone!!<g>

Well, this is a fresh responce to Gerald's latest letter.  So, it looks
like the group is going to get the whole conversation thus far dumped
on them in one big lump!

So, this is all directed to Gerald's letter.

First Gerald, let me say that this is getting fun.  I think we have a
great talk going here.  Let me address specific points you raise:

< My *theory* is that we are inherently a consciousness-center (HPB's
term) and that matter is one of our expressions in spacetime.>

Well, we agree fully here.  Though a statement like this needs lots of

< But I have found most scientists to be well-intended and fairly
open-minded.  >

I guess it depend on how you frame the situation.  I know many
scientists, either my university profesors or my co-workers now at the
university.  I don't know if I would apply the term "open minded" to
them.  Mostly, as a group, they are nice and sincere people.  Some of
them are even cool people, but, generally speaking, I don't consider
them intellectuals, at least not of the type we are here.  We are
"seekers" and are not content by the usual answers.  Most of the
scientists I know personally are not seekers and they are highly
content to go with the status quo.  In short, most scientist I know do
a trade, and they do this trade to make a living.  My impression is
that they really don't care very much what is behind their activity,
nor do they question beyond what are acceptable and legitamate
questions.  See, my denigration of scientists is not a personal attack
on the people that do science (well, there may be an exception to this
occasionally, i.e.  Hawkings' secular pompous nonscence).  My
denigration is on the way our cultural in general glorifies science.
It is simply not all its cracked up to be.  Like I said, there is a lot
of talk in the popular press, but this is an altogether different thing
than what goes on day in and day out in laboratories, scientific
conferences and journals, classrooms and funding agencies - which are
the real life things that make science what it is.  See, it is the
seekers such as our selves who have glorified science with the
expectation that it can answer the profound truths of life that we
seek.  I completely bought into this attitude years ago and have since
discovered that it is a falsehood.  Science cannot provide the answers
we seek.  Science is an interesting intellectual endeavor, but it is
not "soul food".  The pronouncements of science have a very, very
limited vlaidity, either confined to some mathematical formalism (like
quantum mechanics or chaos theory) or to a specific experimental setup
in which a natural thing is isolated from its natural context and then
dissected (in this latter case I have much expereince).  These are very
limited viewpoints and to attempt to apply them outside of their
boundaries is, more often than not, quite misleading.

<I don'texpect scientists to embrace theosophical ideas until such
ideas can be proved in a lab >

Who knows? Maybe one day.  But really, a lab is a physical thing.  Most
of the ideas of theosophy refer to nonphysical things (i.e.
thought-forms, auras, chakras, ect).  Physical things cannot measure
nonphysical things, otherwise, for example, our eyes could see astral
matter or we could touch astral matter, ect..  At best, we can devise
instruments that allow us to *infer* nonphysical factors (as for
example, quarks and neutrinos have been infered from things we can
measure, but these particles never have been measured directly, and
some claim that quarks never will be directly observable).  But
attempting to build sophisticated devices soley to infer nonphysical
matter is a tremendous waste when we actually have latent faculties
that allows to directly percieve nonphysical realities (i.e.  the third
eye).  Herein is the reall ""proof" of theosophical, or more generally,
occult teachings.  Learn to do it for yourself, then it doesn't matter
if skeptice don't "believe" in the nonphysical.  For if you have
expereinced it first hand, then this direct expereince is worth
infinitely more than anyone's academic and merely intellectual

<What I meant was psychic phenomena that act through the physical

Regarding your starements here, about psychic events that are physical.
See, the physical and nonphysical facets are intimately intertwined and
these ideas are taught very clearly in the theosophical literature.  In
a certain sense, the physical does not cuase the nonphysical or vice
versa.  These are actually simultaneously existing levels of our being
that either may operate together in more or less harmony with
themselves.  It is the interacting resonances of thesse levels that
affect each other.  Thus, for example, dissonant emotions can lead to
disharmoniuos vibrations in the whole human, and these disharmonious
vibrations can then affect the physical body (via the central nervous
system) and lead to ill health.

You go on and mention the fact that meditation causes changes at the
physical level.  You site your own and other people's expereince as
example.  You then appear to be attributing these changes to
consciousness acting upon subatomic particles.  See, actually you hit
upon a profound question.  First, lets accept that mediattion causes
changes at the physical level.  So, the profound question is: how are
these changes affected? First off, a lot of these changes can be
explained in traditional neurophysiological terms without any recourse
to occult iddeas at all.  Understanding of the relationship between the
brain and behavior has advanced considerabley in past years and many
chemicals are now known that mimic many behavioral changes that people
display.  So, for example, a particular meditation excersise causes as
increased activity in certain brain regions.  These regions in turn
produce chemicals that then affect another part of the body say,
increasing body temperature or causing a headache or whatever.  Simply,
you do not need to evoke subatomic particles to explain these
physiological changes.  The levels of cause and effect are biochemical
(cellular) and physiological.  Now, all this of course raises the
profound question of the intent, will power and consciousness behind
the meditation excersise.  For we have to use our mind and our will to
perform a meditative excersise that will eventually cause changes in
the body(ies).  Where do these - mind and will - come from? And how is
it that the manifest on the physical plane? Again, the best
explanations I've seen of this involve theosophical teachings of the
astral, mental and buddhic vehicles, the chakras and the etheric body.
I would suspect that the mechanisms whereby the astral and mental plane
energies can cause changes in the etheric body are beyond modern
physics.  Changes in the etheric body causes changes in the physical
nervous system and this may involve subatomic physics.  However, the
mechanisms behind the ehteric/physical connection are probably beyond
the scope of modern physics.  I say this because the traditional occult
idea of the energy that links etheric and physical levels is called
prana.  Prana is a form of etheric energy.  I don't know of any idea in
modern physics that can easily correlate to the idea of prana.  I think
of the situation like this: prana simply must be real.  Centuries of
expereince by yogis cannot be ignored.  If indeed prana is etheric
energy, then it is likely energy from either subatomic levels or a form
or aspect of electromagnetism that has not yet been identified by
scientists.  Thus, again, the conclusion here is that evoking what is
known in modern particle physics probably will not give you as good an
explanation of how consciousness acts on the physical body than is
already available in occult/yogic/theosophical teachings.  The
implication here is that we can use occult ideas to suggest models and
expereiments that will expand the scope of modern physics.  I would
recommend, Gerald, that you check out Leadbeater's book "The Chakras".
The basis for most of my statements are derived from this book.

<Your "nonphysical
idea of the planes of Nature.  I use the term "nonphysical matter"
because I think this is a concise way to refer to the matter of the
other planes beyond the physical.  (and its also a way I have fun
poking at 20th century philosophies, because the word "matter" is
usually taken to be the epitomy of "physical".  However, theosophists
very, very clearly state that the there is astral matter, mental plane
matter, buddhic plane matter, ect.  So, to the typical 20th century
mind, the word "nonphysical matter" sounds like a contradiction.  But
it is not from an occult viewpoint.  Again, I use the term to tease the

Secondly, and again, since I've not read your writings I'm on shakey
ground (though I'm quite familiar with the overall mental landscape we
are dancing on), but to evoke the word "dimension" is very problematic.
This is a much abused word and it is one excellent example of the
difference between real science and popular ideas about science.  For
this whole century now, people have been using the word "dimension" to
refer to a world or plane.  It was the spiritualists who hopped on
Einstein's relativity theory, his so-called "4th dimsnsion" to explain
just where it was that all their mediumistic communications were coming
from.  However, this means nothing scientifically.  Scienifically, the
word "dimension" refers simply to how many independant variables an
equation has.  Thus, the reason Einstein wrote about a 4th dimension
was because relativity has four variables in its equations.  These are
not *real* dimensions, they are mathematical dimensions.  Statistical
mechanics for example operates in a 9-dimensional phase space, but you
don't hear anyone running around getting metaphysical about this do
you? Again, its becuase statistical mechanics doesn't have high
visibility in the popular press so there is little misconstruing of the
ideas.  Now dig this, quantum mechanics operates in an infinite
dimensional space - a space called Hilbert Space - but again, you don't
hear people getting metaphysical about this because this aspect of
quantum mechanics - which is the actual mathematical basis for the
Schrodinger wave equation - is little known to the general public
though it's a critical idea in quantum mechanics and all students learn
this and all professionals use this idea.  See, we could go gonzo
metaphysically with the idea of an infinite dimensional space, but
scientists and students don't do this because they realize that nature
of this space, why it is used and what it means to use it.  There is
nothing metaphysical about it (at least scientifically) it is simply
the mathematical basis required to formulate quantum mechanical models.
The interpretaion of this space does not extend beyond these models.
And within the context of these models, this infinite dimensional space
does not mean that there are an infinity of directions in which to
move.  There are as a matter of fact only 2 or 3 directions in these
models.  The need for an infinity of dimensions, its interpretation,
lies in the fact that there are an infinity of harmonics over an atom
(called "excited states") just as there are an infinity of harmonics
over a musical note.  All this is well known to physicists and there is
no going off about anything beyond this with regard to metaphysics.
Again, the whole issue here is taking an idea that has a very presice
technical meaning to scientists and then misconstrueing it.  This,
unfortuantely happened to Einstein's theory, but in actuality prit near
every model in physics is multidimensional but this is just not widely
known.  And again, the term "dimension" in science referes only to the
number of independant variables used in the equations defining the
theory.  Now, how to the planes relate to the dimensions of space and
time? This is a very profound question and Stephan Phillips, the author
of "ESP of Quarks" suggest that you can interpret the 26-dimensional
bosonic guage theory of subatomic physics in such a way that these
dimesnions literally corespond to the space-time dimesnions of the
planes.  Thus, he concludes that each plane is a seven dimensional
space.  Here's a quote form a letter I recieveed from Dr.  Phillips
that explains it better than I can:

"Each plane turns out to be a 7-dimensional space, but four dimensions
of each plane are shared by the next higher, interpenetrating plane.
The four "etheric sub-planes" spoken of in theosophy are simply the
4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th dimensional aspects of (physical) matter...The
astral plane, which overlaps the four etheric subplanes, extends from
the 4th to the 10th dimensions, the mental plane from the 7th to the
13th, and so on, 7 dimensions per plane, until we reach the last--the
adi plane--which extend from the 19th to the 25th dimension of 26-D

Also, everyone, be aware, this is state of the art stuff in terms of
relating the theosophical concepts of the planes to modern physics.
And you saw it here first! Really, Gerald, Phillips' ideas are profound
for they lay a basis to allow modern physics to model the planes of
Nature that theosophists have taught about.  This is a very big deal.

So, again, though I've not read your ideas, it should be clear that to
equate consciousness simply with the idea of the 5th dimension is not
accurate, at least not in scientific terms.  Again, i don't know how
you formulate your idea and it could simply be that we are playing
semantic games here.  For I've seen a number of authors present the
same idea you are, Stanely Vera Alder comes to mind (she has a book
called "The Fifth Dimension") and this idea generally seems to be an
attempt to formulate aspects of consciousness in some type of
scientific terms.  Its an attempt to open up science to the conscious
side of things in the universe.  Thus, usung the term "dimension" in
this context is more akin to the word "quality" i.e.  consciousness is
another quailtiy of things that exists simulataneouly with the other
qualties that scientists discuss about Nature.

I could go on more about this, but this letter is really getting long
so I'll save the rest for later

< I am not familiar with the term "permanent atoms" but they seem to be
equivalent to monads, with which I am familiar.  But you say that they
"actually grow." As far as I am concerned, if something grows (i.e.,
changes) then it can't be permanent.>

The term "permanent atom" has a very precise meaning in the
theosophical literature.  Permanent atoms are *not* monads.  The monad
contains within it, or I should say, affiliated with it, these
permenant atoms.  It is by using this concept that Besant and
Leadbeater explain how a monad can carry over qualities of a previous
incarnation into its current incarnation.  In other words, this idea is
the theosophical concept of how heridity works.  The genes that
scientists have discovered stem from these permenant atoms.

The best description of them is in Annie Besant's book "A Study In
Consciousness" which is highly highly recommended reading.  Besan't
book is extremely profound.

Briefly, the permanat atoms (pa) reside within the monad, are attached
to the monad by an energy thread, if you will.  There is one pa for
each plane that the monad incarnates into.  As a monad gains expereince
in a given plane, that pa is the receptical of the vibrations the monad
expereinces in that plane.  As the monad's expereince enlargens, the
vibes stored with in the permenant atom increase.  The next time the
monad incarnates into that plane, its body in that plane will be
composed of the vibes stored within that pa.

This is the basic idea of permenant atoms.  I understand your use of
the term "permenant" as refering to something eternal.  This is not
what Besant and Leadbeater meant.  They were refering to "permenant" in
the sense of factors that persist between incarnations, which is only a
relative permenance.

Uh oh! Last major topic to address: chaos theory.

I too have a great interest in chaos theory, Gerald.  It is highly
relevant to my fields of experetise, i.e.  biochemistry and physiology
and the application of chaos theory to these types of systems is
growing exponetially.

< Chaos was ignored and misunderstood by most scientists, who lumped
its effects (which they could not ignore) into a "fudge factor" in
their equations and pretended it didn't exist.>

Let me give a brief run down of chaos theory for the other group
members and also to lay a basis for further statements I shall make

Chaos theory is a form of math.  A new form of math.  It is like
fractal geometry in terms of how the equations are set up and solved.
Technically, what you do is take a nonlinear equation and iterate it.
This process leads to a graph of the equation and if such a graph
displays a pattern (or orbit is the technical term) in which there are
an infinity of possible orbits, then this graph is called chaotic.

First, Gerald, may I suggest that your interpretation of chaos as the
opposite of order is not pertinant in the context of chaos theory.  The
reason scientists call these graphs "chaotic" is not because there is
no order there, on the contrary these equations are completely ordered
and totally deterministic.  You plug in a number to your function and
you always get the same answer back.  This is what a deterministic
equation does.  However, the reason these equations are called
"chaotic" is because, say you plug in number x and get a certain orbit.
Now consider the number (x + a very small, infinitely small as a matter
of fact, number , ususally denoted by the term "delta").  Now, with
classical equations, you could always say that, if number x, when
plugged into our equation gives an orbit, then the number x+delta will
also give this same orbit.  This is because x and x+delta are almost
the same number, so it seems logical to suppose that they'd give
basically the same answer in our equation.  And for the past couple
hundred years, scientists took advantage of this small error in the
intitial conditions (x is the intital condition, and delta is the small
error) of their equations though it didn't alwyas work and sometimes a
small eror in x would produce a large error in the answer - it is this
that is the "fudge factoring" you refered to.  So, this made the
classical equations really comfortable to work with cause say,
theoritically we need an x of say, 1.0000 (i.e.  a perfect 1), but, say
under the expereimental conditions in the laboratory all we could
produce for x was say x=1.001 because of limits on machines or
whatever.  Now, wqith classical equations, this difference of 0.001
didn't matter and one could get away with pretending that the 1.001 was
1.0000.  However, the essence of chas theory is that you can't do this.
In chaos theory, in all likelihood, if you plug in the number 1.000 to
your equation you will get a completely different, but nonethess
completely predicatble and deterministic answer than if you plug in the
number 1.001.  This is what scientists use the term "chaotic" because a
very small fluctuation in intital conditions (x) will produce a
completly different answer in your equation.  This is the exact
opposite of what happens with classical equations.  However, Gerald,
and this is absolutely fundamental to understand.  *This is not
randomness!* In either case, x=1.000 or x=1.001, you get a completley
predicatable and deterministic answer using chaos theory.  Period.
Randomness implies unpredicatablity and this is just not what is going
on in chaos theory.  To describe randomness, you have to use statistics
and probablilty theories which are *completely different mathematical

In principle a chaotic system is just as deterministic as Newtons
equations of motion.  Again, what seperates chaos and classical
equations is the status of intital conditions.  With classical theory
you could get away with assuming that small errors in intital
conditions were insignificant.  With chaos theory you cannot make this
assumption.  This has nothing to do with randomness at a mathematical
level.  To the best of my knowledge, there is no mathematical
connection between chaos theory (which is an extension of classical
deterministic math) and probablility theory.  To the best of my
knwoledge there is no relationship between probability theory and any
other branch of deterministic math! Probability sits there all by

This, as a matter of fact, has been the biggest problem with quantum
mechanics because people today associate a probablistic interpretation
with the math of quantum mechanics.  This is not a formal
interpretation, it is a mental overlay on top of the math.  A lot of
scientists still believe, like Einstein did, that this is a wrong
interpretation of quantum mechanics.  I am one such scientist.  The
association of probability with quanum mechanics is purely analogical,
which is not formal mathematical proof by any strech of the
imagination.  And its deductive proof, not analogy, that is the
criteria of mathematical relationship.  Thus, the door is still wide
open to model quantum mechanics in a compeltely deterministic fashion.
And actually, I think chaos theory here is extremely relevant inso far
as, when we make actual and real life mesurements there is always
uncertaintly in our intital conditions (i.e.  the delta I described
above).  I suspect that the real essence behind the Heisenburg
uncertaintly principle may have its basis in a chaos interpretation of
quantum mechanics.  And what would it do to replace the uncertainty
principle with a chaos theory model? It would make quantum mechanics
much more deterministic than it is now!!!! It would be a giant step
towards eliminating probability (i.e.  randomness) from quantum theory.

So, having outlined what chaos heory is, let's address some of your
comments about it.

<All of these otherwise esteemed people forget about duality.  I like
to think that there is a great law operating through our universe
called the Law of Duality.  >

Yes, in a limited sense, there is a law of duality, but if you look at
the impetus of science over the past 400 years, and look at the basic
tenants taught by theosophy, the underlying idea is that, *in
diversity, there is an underlying unity.* Science has been one long
quest to sift through this diversity and attmept to discover the
underlying unity.  And actually, theosophists have quite clearly stated
this underlying unity in qualitative terms, and believe it or not,
scientists also have the answer in theiri hands, only they don't have
the collective wisdom to see it for what it is.

Let me start with a simple example to make my point.  Consider the
numbers.  There are basically two types of numbers: positive numbers
and negative numbers.  They are mirror images of each other.  See, the
duality is that you have the mirror images, the unity is that they are
all numbers to begin with.  Its the same with us humans.  There are
male humans and female humans, hence your law of duality.  But the
underlying unity is that men and women are humans.  And our essential
humaness far transcends and outweighs the differences that exist
becuase humaness expressess itself in the duality of male and female.
Now, to carry this logic to physics.  See the essence is not chaos
verses order.  As Blavatsky herself says, "everywhere is the working of
universal laws".  In essense there in no such thing as chaos, not in
the sense you use the term.  Anything that appears to be chaos in your
terms does so becuase we do not have the right framework of
understanding to see the laws in operation behind the phenomena.  This
has always been the attitude of scientists and they have constantly
searched and sifted through myriads of seemingly chaotic phenomena and
events in the quest to find the underlying order and unity behind
appearances.  Ultimately, the principle of underlying unity is
patheticaly simple.  Again, as I said above, theosophists know it
already, scientists know the idea but do not see it in its broadest
significance like theosophists do.  And to give it a simple label it
could be called "the law of harmony", or to use Rudhyar's term "the law
of cycles".  This is the ultimate principle upon which our reality and
expereince, at every single level rests.  This is the OM of Brahman,
the universal law behind all apearances.  All is vibration and all
obeys the principles of vibration.  There is harmony and there is
discord, but this dualism is complety contained within the law of
cycles, of vibration.  Harmony and discord (which correspond to your
law and chaos) are but the two faces of vibration.  And every single
phenomena in Nature, or more precisely, the entire Maya, operates
according to this principle.

Its extremely important to qualify all this by attributing the law of
vibration to the Maya.  Because Maya is the relativity of form and
existence.  None of what i am saying here applies to the Absolute, to
Brahman, God, ALL THAT IS, or whatever term you use to denote the
eternal and absolute essence behind all appearances.  The eternal has
all characteristics and has none.  It is a paradox and beyond the
boundaries of all form.  So, everything I say here only applies to the
Maya, or, as Plato said, "the shadows on the cave wall".

Again, it seems to me that our difference here is one of semantics and
interpretation.  What you call "order" I call "harmony", what you call
"chaos", I call "dissonance".  Again, i do not think the chaos theory
of modern phhysics is even pertinant to this discussion.  And the
implication, apparently between our respective formulations of our life
and expereince is that with the order/chaos idea you end with an
unresolvable duality which you call "the law of duality".  The
implication of my formulation is that duality is only seemingly real
and underneath is underlying unity, i.e.  the law of vibrations.

Now you bring in another point I'd like to address and this is the idea
of "emergence".  You stated it thus,

<" I have called its effects *the Chaos Factor* and have found that
this factor can jump up and bite us at any time, despite our karma >

Emergence is the advent of new stuff, the unpredictable coming into
manifestation of something completely new and different and novel,
often quite unexpectely, something of which, I'm sure, all of us are

Now, you consider emergence to be a reflection of randomness, if I read
you correctly.  I however, see the situation quite differently.  Aside
form my professional interest in science, I have a strong avocational
interest in art and I both draw and write music.  Thus, i have a lot of
experience with creative emergence.  When drawing or composing I'm
always surprised to watch the art unfold, seemingly of its own accord,
to grow before my very eyes.  Often i sit down with some faint idea of
what I'd like to draw or compose, but once I start on something, the
end product is always much different than what I may have been
originally thinking.  This is emergence.  My sense of this process is
that, contrary to the popular view of the artist as someone creating
something, that its actually a process of channeling.  That is, I've
ceated nothing.  My role in drawing or composing is as a vehicle that
allows something pre-existant to manifest here on the physical plane.
Or in other words, the skills I have developed that allow me to draw or
compose also allow me to be a suitable channel for a force that
transcends me, Don, the guy sitting here writting this stuff.  Perhaps
you could say this transcendendal force is my "higher self' or what
have you.

At any rate, the point of all this is that I don't see emergence as a
random process.  I see it as a process of a suitable vehicle channeling
a transcendental energy through into the physical plane.  The aspect of
novelty or unexpectedness is again a function of my ignorance of these
transcendental forces.  These forces however are not random or
unpredictable in principle but are, in all likelihood, completely
understandable within the proper framework.  We are all nested within
greater cycles of being, and these cycles will unfold themselves
through us.  If we are ignorant of these greater cycles then this
creates the illusion that something unexpected is occuring when, in
actuality, it is some larger cycle unfolding within the context of
quite logical and comprehendable (i.e.  predicatble) laws.  I'm sorry
Gerald, but Blavatsky has just rubbed off on me a little too much.  I
can't turn back even if I wanted to.  This idea that law pervaes all
reality, and all levels of existence (of the Maya again) is so
permeated in my thinking and is so justified in my expereince that I
can't begin to imagine a world, a universe, in which order did not
prevail everywhere.

And importantly from a personal perspectivehaving this idea in my mind
creates the constant and never ending challenge to me that I don't know
it all, and that I continue to learn as I go.  New emergence reveals to
me my previous ignorance.  And I try then to eliminate that ignorance
until my new situation is comprehendible.  This process itself is a
cycle, subject to the one law of vibration, of harmony and dissonance.

Well, thats enuff for now.  Boy I've really rambled on here! I still
hope this is not a bother or inconvinience to anyone.  At any rate, I
really enjoy this, and I really believe that this kind of discussion is
nothing but completely productive and good in every sense of these
words.  All we can do here is accelerate each others growth.

So everyone, take care till the next exciting installment<g>!

Don DeGracia

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