GENERAL ELEMENTS OF THE UNIVERSE
1. KNOWLEDGE OF THE FIRST PRINCIPLES OF THINGS - 2. SPIRIT AND MATTER - 3. PROPERTIES OF MATTER
- 4. UNIVERSAL SPACE.
Knowledge of the First Principles of Things
17. Is it given to mankind to know the first principle of things?
"No. There are things that cannot be understood by man in this world."
18. Will man ever be able to penetrate the mystery of things now hidden from him?
"The veil will be raised for him in proportion as he accomplishes his purification; but, in order to understand certain things, he would need faculties which he does not yet possess."
19. Cannot man, through scientific investigation, penetrate some of the secrets of nature.?
"The faculty of scientific research has been given to him as a means by which he may advance in every direction; but he cannot overstep the limits of his present possibilities."
The farther man advances in the study of the mysteries around him, the greater should be his admiration of the power and wisdom of the Creator. But, partly through pride, partly through weakness, his intellect itself often renders him the sport of illusion. He heaps systems upon systems; and every day shows him how many errors he has mistaken for truths, how many truths he has repelled as errors. Ail this should be a lesson for his pride.
20. Is man permitted to receive communications of a higher order in regard to matters which, not being within the scope of his senses, are beyond the pale of scientific investigation?
"Yes. When God judges such revelations to be useful, He reveals to man what science is incompetent to teach him."
It is through communications of this higher order that man is enabled, within certain limits, to obtain a knowledge of his past and of his future destiny.
Spirit and Matter
21. Has matter existed from all eternity, like God, or has it been created at some definite period of time?
"God only knows. There is, nevertheless, one point which your reason should suffice to show you, viz., that God, the prototype of love and beneficence, can never have been inactive. However far off in the past you may imagine the beginning of His action, can you suppose Him to have been for a single moment inactive?"
22. Matter is generally defined as being "that which has extension," "that which can make an impression upon our senses," "that which possesses impenetrability." Are these definitions correct?
"From your point of view they are correct, because you can only define in accordance with what you know. But matter exists in states which are unknown to you. it may be, for instance, so ethereal and subtle as to make no impression upon your senses; and yet it is still matter, although it would not be such for you."
- What definition can you give of matter?
"Matter is the element which enchains spirit, the instrument which serves it, and upon which, at the same time, it exerts its action."
From this point of view it may be said that matter is the agent, the intermediary, through which, and upon which, spirit acts.
23. What is spirit?
"The intelligent principle of the universe."
- What is the essential nature of spirit?
"It is not possible to explain the nature of spirit in your language. For you it is not a thing, because it is not palpable; but for us it is a thing."
24. Is spirit synonymous with intelligence?
"Intelligence is an essential attribute of spirit, but both merge in a unitary principle, so that, for you, they may be said to be the same thing."
25. Is spirit independent of matter, or is it only one of the pro properties of matter, as colours are a property of light, and as sound is a property of the air?
"Spirit and matter are distinct from one another; but the union of spirit and matter is necessary to give intelligent activity to matter."
- Is this union equally necessary to the manifestation of spirit? (We refer, in this question, to the principle of intelligence, abstractly considered, without reference to the individualities designated by that term.)
"It is necessary for you, because you are not organised for perceiving spirit apart from matter. Your senses are not formed for that order of perception."
26. Can spirit be conceived of without matter, and matter without spirit?
"Undoubtedly, as objects of thought."
27. There are, then, two general elements of the universe matter and spirit?"
"Yes; and above them both is God, the Creator, Parent of all things. These three elements are the principle of all that exists-the universal trinity. But to the material element must be added the universal fluid which plays the part of intermediary between spirit and matter, the nature of the latter being too gross for spirit to be able to act directly upon it. Although, from another point of view, this fluid may be classed as forming part of the material element, it is, nevertheless, distinguished from that element by certain special properties of its own. If it could be classed simply and absolutely as matter, there would be no reason why spirit also should not be classed as matter. It is intermediary between spirit and matter. It is fluid, just as matter is matter, and is susceptible of being made, through its innumerable combinations with matter, under the directing action of spirit, to produce the infinite variety of things of which you know as yet but a very small portion. This universal, primitive, or elementary fluid, being the agent employed by spirit in acting upon matter is the principle without which matter would remain for ever in a state of division, and would never acquire the properties given to it by the state of ponderability."
-Is this fluid what we designate by the name of electricity?
"We have said that it is susceptible of innumerable combinations. What you call the electric fluid, the magnetic fluid, etc., are modifications of the universal fluid, which, properly speaking, is only matter of a more perfect and more subtle kind, and that may be considered as having an independent existence of its own."
28. Since spirit itself is something, would it not be more correct and clearer to designate these two general elements by the terms inert matter and intelligent matter ?
"Questions of words are of little importance for us. It is for you to formulate your definitions in such a manner as to make yourselves intelligible to one another. Your disputes almost always arise from the want of a common agreement in the use of the words you employ, owing to the incompleteness of your language in regard to all that does not strike your senses."
One fact, patent to all observers, dominates all our hypotheses. We see matter which is not intelligent: we see the action of an intelligent principle independent of matter. The origin and connection of these two things are unknown to us. Whether they have, or have not. a common source. and points of contact pre- ordained in the nature of things. whether intelligence has an independent existence of its own. or is only a property or an effect, or even whether it is (as some assume it to be) an emanation of the Divinity, are points about which we know nothing. Matter and intelligence appear to us to be distinct; and we therefore speak of them as being two constituent elements of the universe. We see, above these, a higher intelligence which governs all things, and is distinguished from them all by essential attributes peculiar to itself; It is this Supreme Intelligence that we call God.
Properties of Matter
29. Is density an essential attribute of matter?
"Yes, of matter as understood by you, but not of matter considered as the universal fluid. The ethereal and subtle matter which forms this fluid is imponderable for you, and yet it is none the less the principle of your ponderable matter."
Density is a relative property. Beyond the sphere of attraction of the various globes of the universe, there is no such thing as "weight," just as there Is neither "up" nor "down."
30. Is matter formed of one element or of several elements?
"Of one primitive element. The bodies which you regard as simple are not really elementary; they are transformations of the primitive matter."
31. Whence come the different properties of matter?
"From the modifications undergone by the elementary molecules, as the result of their union and of the action of certain conditions."
32. According to this view of the subject, savours, odours, colours, sounds, the poisonous or salutary qualities of bodies, are only the result of modifications of one and the same primitive substance?
"Yes, undoubtedly; and that only exist in virtue of the disposition of the organs destined to perceive them."
This principle Is proved by the fact that the qualities of bodies are not perceived by all persons In the same manner. The same thing appears agreeable to the taste of one person, and disagreeable to that of another. what appears blue to one person appears red to another. That which is a poison for some, is wholesome for others.
33. Is the same elementary matter susceptible of undergoing all possible modifications and of acquiring all possible qualities.'
"Yes; and it is, this fact which is implied in the saying that everything is in everything."1
Oxygen, hydrogen, azote, carbon, and all the other bodies which we regard as simple, are only modifications of one primitive substance. But the impossibility, in which we have hitherto found ourselves, of arriving at this primitive matter otherwise than as an intellectual deduction, causes these bodies to appear to us to be really elementary and we may, therefore, without Impropriety, continue for the present to regard them as such.
- Does not this theory appear to bear out the opinion of those who admit only two essential properties in matter, viz., force and movement, and who regard all the other Properties of matter as being merely secondary effects of these, varying according to the intensity of the force and the direction of the movement?
"That opinion is correct. But you must also add, according to the mode of molecular arrangement; as you see exemplified, for instance, in an opaque body, that may become transparent, and vice versa."
34. Have the molecules of matter a determinate form?'
"Those molecules undoubtedly have a form, but one which is not appreciable by your organs."
- Is that form constant or variable?
"Constant for the primitive elementary molecules, but variable for the secondary molecules, which are themselves only agglomerations of the primary ones; for what you term a molecule is still very far from being the elementary molecule.
35. Is universal space infinite or limited?
"Infinite. Suppose the existence of boundaries, what would there be beyond them ? This consideration confounds human reason; and nevertheless your reason itself tells you that it cannot be otherwise. It is thus with the idea of infinity, under whatever aspect you consider it. The idea of infinity cannot be comprehended in your narrow sphere."
If we imagine a limit to space, no matter how far off our thought may place this limit, our reason tells us that there must still be something beyond It and so on, step by step, until we arrive at the idea of infinity; for the "something beyond," the existence of which is recognised by our thought as necessity, were it only an absolute void, would still be space.
36. Does an absolute void exist in any part of space?
"No there is no void. What appears like a void to you is occupied by matter in a state in which it escapes the action of your senses and of your instruments."
1This principle explains a phenomenon familiar to all magnetisers, viz., the imparting to any given substance-to water, for example-of very different qualities, such as specific flavours, or even the active qualities of other substances. As there is but one primitive element, and as the properties of different bodies are only modifications of this element, it follows that the substance of the most Inoffensive and of the most deleterious bodies is absolutely the same. Thus water, which is formed of one equivalent of oxygen and two equivalents of hydrogen, becomes corrosive if we double the proportion of oxygen. An analogous transformation may be produced through the action of animal magnetism, directed by the human will.