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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 elaboration. < 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 statements. <What I meant was psychic phenomena that act through the physical body,> 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 meadbeater's 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 materialists) 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 space-time.5" 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 ahead. 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 theories*. 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 itself. 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 familiar. 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>! Bye, Don DeGracia

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