Western Wisdom Teachings
The Visible and The Invisible Worlds
The Chemical Region
If one who is capable of consciously using his spiritual body with the
same facility that we now use our physical vehicles should glide away from the
Earth into interplanetary space, the Earth and the various other planets of
our solar system would appear to him or her to be composed of three kinds of
matter, roughly speaking. The densest matter, which is our visible Earth,
would appear to him as being the center of the ball as the yolk is in the
center of an egg. Around that nucleus he or she would observe a finer grade of
matter similarly disposed in relation to the central mass, as the white of the
egg is disposed outside the yolk. Upon a little closer investigation he would
also discover that this second kind of substance permeates the solid Earth to
the very center, even as the blood percolates through the more solid parts of
our flesh. Outside both of these mingling layers of matter he would observe a
still finer, third layer corresponding tothe shell of the egg, except that
this third layer is the finest, most subtle of the three grades of matter, and
that it interpenetrates both of the two inner layers.
As already said, the central mass, spiritually seen, is our visible
world, composed of solids, liquids, and gases. They constitute the Earth, its
atmosphere, and also the ether, of which physical science speaks
hypothetically as permeating the atomic substance of all chemical elements.
The second layer of matter is called the Desire World and the outermost layer
is called the World of Thought.
A little reflection upon the subject will make clear that just such a
constitution is necessary to account for facts of life as we see them. All
forms in the world about us are built from chemical substances: solids,
liquids, and gases, but insofar that they do move, these forms obey a separate
and distinct impulse, and when this impelling energy leaves, the form becomes
inert. The steam engine rotates under the impetus of an invisible gas called
steam. Before steam filled its cylinder, the engine stood still, and when the
impelling force is shut off its motion again ceases. The dynamo rotates under
the still more subtle influence of an electric current which may also cause
the click of a telegraph instrument or the ring of an electric bell, but the
dynamo ceases its swift whirl and the persistent ring of the electric bell
becomes mute when the invisible electricity is switched off. The forms of the
bird, the animal, and the human being also cease their motion when the inner
force which we call life has winged its invisible way.
All forms are impelled into motion by desire: the bird and the animal
roam land and air in their desire to secure food and shelter, or for the
purpose of breeding. Man is also moved by these desires, but has in addition
other and higher incentives to spur him to effort; among them is desire for
rapidity of motion which led him to construct the steam engine and other
devices that move in obedience to HIS desire. If there were no iron in the
mountains man could not build machines. If there were no clay in the soil, the
bony structure of the skeleton would be an impossibility, and if there were no
Physical World at all, with its solids, liquids, and gases, this dense body of
ours could never have come into existence. Reasoning along similar lines it
must be at once apparent that if there were no Desire World composed of
desire-stuff, we should have no way of forming feelings, emotions, and
desires. A planet composed of the materials we perceive with our physical eyes
and of no other substances, might be the home of plants which grow
unconsciously, but have no desires to cause them to move. The human and animal
kingdoms, however, would be impossibilities.
Furthermore, there is in the world a vast number of things, from the
simplest and most crude instruments, to the most intricate and cunning devices
which have been constructed by the hand of man. These reveal the fact of man's
thought and ingenuity. Thought must have a source as well as form and feeling.
We saw that it was necessary to have the requisite material in order to build
a steam engine or a body and we reasoned from the fact that in order to obtain
material to express desire there must also be a world composed of desire
stuff. Carrying our argument to its logical conclusion, we also hold that
unless a World of Thought provides a reservoir of mind stuff upon which we may
draw, it would be impossible for us to think and invent the things which we
see in even the lowest civilization.
Thus it will be clear that the division of a planet into worlds is not
based on fanciful metaphysical speculation, but is logically necessary in the
economy of nature. Therefore it must be taken into consideration by any one
who would study and aim to understand the inner nature of things. When we see
the street cars moving along our streets, it does not explain to say that the
motor is driven by electricity of so many amperes at so many volts. These
names only add to our confusion until we have thoroughly studied the science
of electricity; and then we shall find that the mystery deepens, for while the
street car belongs to the world of inert form perceptible to our vision, the
electric current which moves it is indigenous to the realm of force, the
invisible Desire World, and the thought which created and guides it, comes
from the still more subtle World of Thought which is the home world of the
human Spirit, the Ego.
It may be objected that this line of argument makes a simple matter
exceedingly intricate, but a little reflection will soon show the fallacy of
such a contention. Viewed superficially any of the sciences seem extremely
simple; anatomically we may divide the body into flesh and bone, chemically we
may make the simple divisions between solid, liquid, and gas, but thoroughly
to master the science of anatomy it is necessary to spend years in close
application and learn to know all the little nerves, the ligaments which bind
articulations between various parts of the bony structure, to study the
several kinds of tissue and their disposition in our system where they form
the bones, muscles, glands, etc., which in the aggregate we know as the human
body. To understand properly the science of chemistry we must study the
valence of the atom which determines the power of combination of the various
elements, together with other niceties, such as atomic weight, density, etc.
New wonders are constantly opening up to the most experienced chemist, who
understands best the immensity of his or her chosen science.
The youngest lawyer, fresh from the law school, knows more about the most
intricate cases, in his or her own estimation, than the judges upon the
Supreme Court bench who spend long hours, weeks and months, seriously
deliberating over their decisions. But those who, without having studied,
think they understand and are fitted to discourse upon the greatest of all
sciences, the science of Life and Being, make a greater mistake. After years
of patient study, of holy life spent in close application, a man is oftentimes
perplexed at the immensity of the subject he studies. He finds it to be so
vast in both the direction of the great and small that it baffles description,
that language fails, and that the tongue must remain mute. Therefore we hold
(and we speak from knowledge gained through years of close study and
investigation) that the finer distinctions which we have made, and shall make,
are not at all arbitrary, but absolutely necessary as are divisions and
distinctions made in anatomy or chemistry.
The Etheric Region
In addition to the solids, liquids, and gases which compose the Chemical
Region of the Physical World there is also a finer grade of matter called
ether, which permeates the atomic structure of the Earth and its atmosphere
substantially as science teaches. Scientists have never seen, nor have they
weighed, measured, or analyzed this substance, but the infer that it must
exist in order to account for transmission of light and various other
phenomena. If it were possible for us to live in a room from which the air had
been exhausted, we might speak at the top of our voices, we might ring the
largest bell, or we might even discharge a cannon close to our ear and we
should hear no sound, for air is the medium which transmits sound vibrations
to the tympanum of our ear, and that would be lacking. But if an electric
light were lighted, we should at once perceive its rays; it would illumine the
room despite the lack of air. Hence there must be a substance capable of being
set into vibration, between the electric light and our eyes. That medium
scientists call ether, but it so subtle that no instrument has been devised
whereby it may be measured or analyzed, and therefore the scientists are
without much information concerning it, though forced to postulate its
We do not seek to belittle the achievements of modern scientists. We have
the greatest admiration for them and we entertain high expectations of what
ambitions they may yet realize, but we perceive a limitation in the fact that
all discoveries of the past have been made by the invention of wonderful
instruments applied in a most ingenious manner to solve seemingly insoluble
and baffling problems. The strength of science lies vested in its instruments,
for the scientist may say to anyone: "Go, procure a number of glasses ground
in a certain manner, insert them in a tube, direct that tube toward a certain
point in the sky where now nothing appears to your naked eye. You will then
see a beautiful star called 'Uranus.'" If his directions are followed, anyone
is quickly and without preparation able to demonstrate for himself the truth
of the scientist's assertion. But while the instruments of science are its
tower of strength, they also mark the end of its field of investigation, for
it is impossible to contact the spirit world with physical instruments; so the
research of occultists begins where the physical scientist finds his limit and
is carried on by spiritual means.
These investigations are as thorough and as reliable as researches by
material scientists, but not as easily demonstrable to the general public.
Spiritual powers lie dormant within every human being, and when awakened, they
compensate for both telescope and microscope, they enable their possessor to
investigate, instanter, things beyond the veil of matter, but they are only
developed by a patient application and continuance in well doing extended over
years, and few are they who have faith to start upon the path to attainment to
perseverance to go through with the ordeal. Therefore the occultist's
assertions are not generally credited.
We can readily see that long probation must precede attainment, for a
person equipped with spiritual sight is able to penetrate walls of houses as
easily as we walk through the atmosphere, able to read at will the innermost
thoughts of those about him, and if not actuated by the most pure and
unselfish motives, would become a scourge to humanity. Therefore that power
is safeguarded as we would withhold the dynamite bomb from an anarchist and
from the well-intentioned but ignorant person, or, as we withhold match and
powder barrel from a child.
In the hands of an experienced engineer the dynamite bomb may be used to
open a highway of commerce, and an intelligent farmer may use gunpowder to
good account in clearing his field of tree-stumps, but in the hands of an ill-
intentioned criminal or ignorant child an explosive may wreck much property
and end many lives. The force is the same, but used differently, according to
the ability or intention of the user, it may produce results of a
diametrically opposite nature. So it is also with spiritual powers, there is a
time-lock upon them, as upon a bank safe, which keeps out until they have
earned the privilege and the time is ripe for its exercise.
As already said, the ether is physical matter and responsive to the same
laws which govern other physical substances upon this plane of existence.
Therefore it requires but a slight extension of physical sight to see ether
(which is disposed in four grades of density); the blue haze seen in mountain
canyons is in fact ether of the kind known to occult investigators as chemical
ether. Many people who see this ether unaware that they are possessed of a
faculty not enjoyed by all. Others, who have developed spiritual sight are not
endowed with etheric vision, a fact which seems an anomaly until the subject
of clairvoyance is thoroughly understood.
The reason is, that as ether is physical matter, etheric sight depends
upon the sensitiveness of the optic nerve, while spiritual sight is acquired
by developing latent vibratory powers in two little organs situated in the
brain: the pituitary body and the pineal gland. Even near-sighted people may
have etheric vision. Though unable to read the print in a book, they may be
able to "see through a wall," owing to the fact that their optic nerve
responds more rapidly to fine than to coarse vibrations.
When anyone views an object with etheric sight he sees through that
object in a manner similar to the way an X-ray penetrates opaque substances.
If he looks at a sewing machine, he will perceive first, an outer casing;
then, the works within, and behind both, the casing farthest away from him.
If he has developed the grade of spiritual vision which opens the Desire
World to him and he looks at the same object, he will see it both inside and
out. If he looks closely, he will perceive every little atom spinning upon its
axis and no part or particle will be excluded from his perception.
But if his spiritual sight has been developed in such a measure that he
capable of viewing the sewing machine with the vision peculiar to the World
of Thought, he will behold a cavity where he had previously seen the form.
Things seen with etheric vision are very much alike in color. They are
nearly reddish-blue, purple or violet, according to the density of the ether,
but when we view any object with the spiritual sight pertaining to the Desire
World, it scintillates and coruscates in a thousand ever changing colors so
indescribably beautiful that they can only be compared to living fire. The
writer therefore calls this grade of vision color sight, but when the
spiritual vision of the World of Thought is the medium of perception, the seer
finds that in addition to still more beautiful colors, there issues from the
cavity described a constant flow of a certain harmonious tone. Thus this world
wherein we now consciously live and which we perceive the world of form, the
Desire World is particularly the world of color, and the World of Thought is
the realm of tone.
Because of the relative proximity or distance of these worlds, a statue,
a form, withstands the ravages of time for millenniums, but the colors upon a
painting fade in far shorter time, for they come from the Desire World; and
music, which is native to the world farthest removed from us, the World of
Thought, is like a will-o-the-wisp which none may catch or hold; it is gone
again as soon as it has made its appearance. But there is in color and music a
compensation for this increasing evanescence.
The statue is cold and dead as the mineral of which it is composed and
has attractions for but few though its form is a tangible reality. The forms
upon a painting are illusory, yet they express life, on account of the color
which has come from a region where nothing is inert and lifeless. Therefore
the painting is enjoyed by many.
Music is intangible and ephemeral, but it comes from the home world of
the Spirit and though so fleeting it is recognized by the Spirit as a soul-
speech fresh from the celestial realms, an echo from the home whence we are
now exiled. Therefore it touches a chord in our being, regardless of whether
we realize the true cause or not.
Thus we see that there are various grades of spiritual sight, each suited
to the superphysical realm which it opens to our perception: etheric vision,
color vision, and tonal vision.
The occult investigator finds that ether is of four kinds, or grades of
density: the Chemical Ether, the Life Ether, the Light Ether, and the
The Chemical Ether is the avenue of expression for forces promoting
assimilation, growth, and the maintenance of form.
The Life Ether is the vantage ground of forces active in propagation, or
the building of new forms.
The Light Ether transmits the motive power of the Sun along the various
nerves of living bodies and makes motion possible.
The Reflecting Ether receives an impression of all that is, lives and
moves. It also records each change, in a similar manner as the film upon a
moving picture machine. In this record mediums and psychometrists may read the
past, upon the same principle as, under proper conditions, moving pictures are
reproduced time and again.
We have been speaking of ether as an avenue of forces, a word which
conveys no meaning to the average mind, because force is invisible. But to an
occult investigator the forces are not merely names such as steam,electricity,
etc. He finds them to be intelligent beings of varying grades, both sub- and
superhuman. What we call "laws of nature," are great Intelligences which
guide more elemental beings in accordance with certain rules designed to
further their evolution.
In the Middle Ages, when many people were still endowed with a remnant of
negative clairvoyance, they spoke of gnomes, elves, and fairies, which roamed
about the mountains and forests. These were the earth spirits. They also told
of the undines or water sprites, which inhabited rivers and streams, and of
sylphs which were said to dwell in the mists above moat and moor as air
spirits. But not much was said of the salamanders, as they are fire spirits,
and therefore not so easily detected, or so readily accessible to the majority
The old folk stories are now regarded as superstitions, but as a matter
of fact, one endowed with etheric vision may yet perceive the little gnomes
building green chloryphyll into the leaves of plants and giving to flowers the
multiplicity of delicate tints which delight our eyes.
Scientists have attempted time and again to offer an adequate explanation
of the phenomenon of wind and storm but have failed signally, nor can they
succeed while they seek a mechanical solution to what is really a
manifestation of life. Could they see the hosts of sylphs wining their way
hither and thither, they would know who and what is responsible for the
fickleness of the wind; could they watch a storm at sea from the etheric
viewpoint, they would perceive that the saying "the wrath of the elements" is
not an empty phrase, for the heaving sea is truly then a battlefield of sylphs
and undines and the howling tempest is the war cry of spirits in the air.
Also the salamanders are found everywhere and no fire is lighted without
their help. However, they are active mostly underground, being responsible for
explosions and volcanic eruptions.
The classes of beings which we have mentioned are still sub-human, but
will all at some time reach a stage in evolution corresponding to the human,
though under different circumstances from those under which we evolve. But at
present the wonderful Intelligences we speak of as the laws of nature, marshal
the armies of less evolved entities mentioned.
To arrive at a better understanding of what these various beings are and
their relation to us, we may take an illustration: Let us suppose that a
mechanic is making an engine, and meanwhile a dog is watching him. It sees the
man at his labor, and how he uses various tools to shape his materials, also
how, from the crude iron, steel, brass, and other metals the engine slowly
take shape. The dog is a being from a lower evolution and does not comprehend
the purpose of the mechanic but it sees both the workman, his labor, and the
result thereof which manifests as an engine.
Let us now suppose that the dog were able to see the materials which
slowly change their shape, assemble, and become an engine, but that it is
unable to perceive the workman and to see the work he does. The dog would then
be in the same relation to the mechanic as we are to the great Intelligences
we call laws of nature, and their assistants, the nature spirits, for we
behold the manifestations of their work as force moving matter in various ways
but always under immutable conditions.
In the ether we may also observe the Angels, whose densest body is made
of that material, as our dense body is formed of gases, liquids, and solids.
These Beings are one step beyond the human stage, as we are a degree in
advance of the animal evolution. We have never been animals like our present
fauna, however, but at a previous stage in the development of our planet we
had an animal-like constitution. Then the Angels were human, though they have
never possessed a dense body such as ours, nor ever functioned in any material
denser than ether. At some time, in a future condition, the Earth will again
become ethereal. Then man will be like the Angels.
As ether is the avenue of vital, creative forces, and as Angels are such
expert builders of ether, we may readily understand that they are eminently
fitted to be warders of the propagative forces in plant, animal, and man.
This article was adapted from
"The Rosicrucian Mysteries," by Max Heindel, page 36-51.
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