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Theosophical Encyclopedia

Atom

The words “atom” and “molecule” are used in theosophy in a different sense from that in chemistry. This article uses the words in the theosophical sense, except when preceded by the word “chemical” in which case they refer to the atom or molecule of modern science.

Ultimate Physical Atom
       Ultimate Physical Atom

An atom is defined as the seventh principle of a body or a molecule (CW X:371). Every entity has a Septenary Constitution. Thus, a human being has a physical body, an etheric double, prāṇa, a desire body, a mental body, a buddhic body, and an ātman or Spiritual Self. Since ātman cannot act except through some vehicle, when united to buddhi, it is called, somewhat misleadingly, the monad. The monad, then, is the “atom” of the “molecule” called a human being. A molecule then is an entity consisting of various layers of bodies, be it a particle of iron or a complex being like a human. “Physical Science,” wrote Helena P. BLAVATSKY, “gives the name of ‘atoms’ to that which we regard as particles or molecules. With us ‘atoms’ are the inner principles and the intelligent, spiritual guides of the cells and particles they inform. This may be unscientific, but it is a fact in nature” (CW XII:410). “The atom may be described as a compact or crystallized point of divine Energy and Ideation” (idem., p. 413).

In the Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge she states that “The real atom does not exist on the material plane. . . . The atom is in its eternal state invisible even to the eye of an Archangel; and becomes visible to the latter only periodically, during the life cycle. The particle, or molecule, is not, but exists periodically, and is therefore regarded as an illusion” (CW X:370).

As such, Brahma can be considered an atom, a germ: “a latent atom embracing infinitude and boundless Eternity during Pralaya, an active one during the life-cycles; but one which has neither circumference nor plane, only limitless expansion” (p. 385). Thus, anu, or atom, is one of the names of Brahma; and “man is also an atom, possessing attraction and repulsion, and is the Microcosm of the Macrocosm” (p. 386).

Blavatsky warns that an aspirant of the higher life must take care not to consider himself as a separate atom, “but as a part of the world-atoms as a whole,” and not fall into the illusion of having separate distinct bodies (p. 395).

Life-atom. The term “life-atom” is used for entities or atoms where the life-energy is active. This is the organic atom, whereas inorganic atoms are those where the life-energy is latent, although present. There are no “dead atoms” therefore. All have life-energy present.

Atoms in Reincarnation. Each of the vehicles in the human constitution would have its own atom or anu. Blavatsky says that the atoms of the 4th and 5th principles (desire body and mental body) of previous lives would re-form to constitute the desire and mental bodies of the next incarnation (CW V:117). These are also called tanhic or human elementals. G. de Purucker also called them life-atoms. See TANHIC ELEMENTALS.

Divisibility of Chemical Atom. In 1880, science regarded the chemical atom as indivisible. (It was only after radioactivity was discovered that J. J. Thomson demonstrated the existence of the subatomic particles.) Blavatsky emphatically argued that the atom was divisible:

“The atom is elastic, ergo, the atom is divisible, and must consist of particles, or of sub-atoms. And these sub-atoms? They are either non-elastic, and in such case they represent no dynamic importance, or, they are elastic also; and in that case, they, too, are subject to divisibility. And thus ad infinitum. But infinite divisibility of atoms resolves matter into simple centres of force, i.e., precludes the possibility of conceiving matter as an objective substance” (SD I:519).

Occult Chemistry. In the researches of Charles W. LEADBEATER on Occult Chemistry, the term anu was used to refer to the ultimate physical atom, which is a vortex of energy at the atomic subplane of the physical plane (see illustration). 

See OCCULT CHEMISTRY.

 

V.H.C.

 

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