What is Life? The Greatest Problem of Science and Philosophy

WRESTING consciousness from the lords of scientific reductionism, where its mysteries have languished for decades, takes imaginative and fearless warriors.

Clearly the acclaimed Father of Modern Philosophy, René Descartes, cannot be counted among the truth seeking combatants.

Descartes held that non-human creatures must be reductively assumed to be nothing but mere automatons, signaling a tired materialism, not frontier science.

The Cartesian assumptions do not sit well especially with animal welfare advocates, environmentalists, especially not Theosophists who insist that consciousness is endemic to all kingdoms of nature, not just the human.

Possessors of sentient consciousness include, Theosophy says, such unlikely candidates as bacteria, minerals — and yes, even atoms!

Descartes held rigidly to the premise “I think therefore I am”— without ever explaining what a thought is, or explaining the ever-elusive, dogged persistence of consciousness. Whether awake or asleep, comatose or vegetative, its presence is in-dismissible.

One wonders if it doesn’t seem far more reasonable to assume in fact that the opposite is true, i.e. —I AM, therefore I think?”

Adherents biasedly line up on one or the other side of the issue. (Actually, Theosophy could argue both sides are accounted for by its teaching of the mind’s dual nature.)

In fact, the elusive, omnipersistent ‘mind’, is not a production of the brain at all, but an aspect of universal mind.

Over one hundred years ago, unraveling the mystery of the existence of the ‘soul’ was attempted by physical science, employing of course the expected material, reductionist methods — using a mechanical device to weigh it!

21 Grams

In 1907, Dr. Duncan MacDougall weighed six patients while they were in the process of dying from tuberculosis in an old age home. He determined the soul weighed 21 grams, based on the average loss of mass in the six patients, using an industrial sized scale.(The movie 21 Grams was based on the same findings.)

 Proof of the Soul

Before twentieth Century technology the soul’s existence was inferred from such experiences as dreams, found for example in W. Q. Judge’s article “Proofs of the Hidden Self.”

 “Dreams show conclusively that although the body and brain are asleep,” Judge writes, “there is still active a recollector and perceiver who watches the introspective experience of dreaming.”

 “It must follow that the Hidden Self is the one who has and does all this,” he says.

But science of the West does not rely philosophical arguments, it still prefers the materialistic, reductionist approach. An experiment in 1988, found that the human soul weighs 1/3,000th of an ounce!

“That’s the astonishing claim of East German researchers who recently weighed more than 200 terminally ill patients just before, and immediately after, their deaths.

“In each case the weight loss was exactly the same–1/3,000th of an ounce.”


“The inescapable conclusion,” Dr. Becker Mertens of Dresdensaid wrote in a letter, printed in the German science journal Horizon, “is that we have now confirmed the existence of the human soul and determined its weight.” (!)

“The challenge before us now is to figure out exactly what the soul is composed of,” he wrote.

“We are inclined to believe that it is a form of energy. But our attempts to identify this energy have been unsuccessful to date.”

This is because, Theosophy would counter, science still does not accept the ‘phlogiston,’ or invisible plasma, a substance aspect of the universal Akasha, postulated in Mahatma Letters by the Adepts.

For further study click the link, or the photo below:

What is Matter and What is Force.

Where’s My Soul?

Paul Giamatti plays an actor named Paul Giamatti. Stumbling upon an article in The New Yorker about a high-tech company that extracts, deep-freezes and stores people’s souls.

Paul very well might have found the key to happiness for which he’s been searching.


But, complications arise when he is the unfortunate victim of “soul-trafficking.” Giamatti’s hilarious journey takes him all the way to Russia in hopes of retrieving his stolen soul from an ambitious but talentless soap-opera actress.

It’s Religion

The Theosophical Mahatmas are clear on their position (Letter 10) that the ills of humanity fall into two main categories. The resultant teaching concerning the origin of evil, which today is tragically obvious:

“Evil is the exaggeration of good, the progeny of human selfishness and greediness…nearly two thirds of the evils that pursue humanity ever since that cause became a power.”


“The real evil proceeds from human intelligence and its origin rests entirely with reasoning man who dissociates himself from Nature. Humanity then alone is the true source of evil,” the Adept writes.

Life Unbroken

“It is religion under whatever form and in whatsoever nation. It is the sacerdotal caste, the priesthood and the churches. It is in those illusions that man looks upon as sacred, that he has to search out the source of that multitude of evils which is the great curse of humanity and that almost overwhelms mankind.

“Ignorance created Gods and cunning took advantage of the opportunity.”

Mme. Blavatsky writes that the greatest problem of philosophy is “the physical and substantial nature of life, the independent nature of which is denied by modern science because that science is unable to comprehend it.”

Alone, she says, “the reincarnationists and believers in Karma alone dimly perceive that the whole secret of Life is in the unbroken series of its manifestations: whether in, or apart from, the physical body.

“Because if,” and here she quotes Shelly’s famous lines from his pastoral elegyAdonais, (Stanza 52, pp. 414-415):

 ‘Life, like a dome of many-coloured glass, Stains the white radiance of Eternity’ —


“… yet it is itself part and parcel of that Eternity — for life alone can understand life.”

Science & Spirituality

Laboratory scientist Dean Radin explains how “science tends to give rise to a fractured system of disciplines:

“while spirituality connects an individual to the rest of the universe in a meaningful way.”


Dr. Radin suggests that “systems science may be the best example we currently have of how science can begin to embrace something as vaguely defined as connectivity and still remain science.”

Challenging Norms

Proving that a complex organic system must be greater than the sum of its parts —and that a true account of any being is not possible by a description of its individual parts alone.

The ambitious agenda of combative occultist H. P. Blavatsky, in her Secret Doctrine, was to show. “that Nature…

“…is not ‘a fortuitous concurrence of atoms’— and to assign to man his rightful place in the scheme of the Universe.”


Blavatsky challenged the standard scientific models of her day radically declaring the ancients taught the atom is  infinitely divisible, and stating further that

“…infinite divisibility of atoms resolves matter into simple centres of  force.”

Such a spiritual model, she wrote, “precludes the possibility of conceiving matter as an objective substance.”

Then, heaping puzzlement on criticism she added the atom belongs wholly to the domain of metaphysics:

“It is an entified abstraction—at any rate for physical Science—and has nought to do with physics, strictly speaking.”


In 1611 Johannes Kepler published a short treatise “On the Six-Cornered Snowflake,” which was the first scientific reference to snow crystals.

After much pondering why snow crystals always exhibit a six-fold symmetry, Kelpler declared “to imagine an individual soul for each and any starlet of snow is utterly absurd…

“…and therefore the shapes of snowflakes are by no means to be deduced from the operation of soul in the same way as with plants.

We’ve had four centuries to prove otherwise. Have we succeeded?

Dismissing Kepler’s material reductionism, H. P. Blavatsky countered with the occult teaching that “everything in the Universe, throughout all its kingdoms, is conscious: i.e., endowed with a consciousness of its own kind and on its own plane of perception.”

“We men must remember,” she wrote, “that because we do not perceive any signs — which we can recognise — of consciousness, say, in stones,

“…we have no right to say that no consciousness exists there.”


Taking it to another level she continues: “There is no such thing as either ‘dead’ or ‘blind’ matter,” as there is no ‘Blind’ or ‘Unconscious’ Law. These find no place among the conceptions of Occult philosophy.”

Life energy is not something you can see, or touch, or even prove that it exists. However, you will be able to feel it with practice.

Messages in Water

Thoughts are things, and is proven by their effects on water crystals, thanks to a discovery by Japanese researcher Masaru Emoto.

Dr. Emoto captured frozen water crystals in photographs that present a glimpse into the mysterious response of water to thoughts, words and pictures.


Honorary Ambassador of Earthdance 2007, the H2O project, Dr. Masaru Emoto delivers his message of peace for the planet.

The Order of Design

Next up in 1635, Descartes more fully described the morphology of snowflakes, with little more to contribute than

“… they were obliged to arrange themselves in such a way that each was surrounded by six others in the same plane, following the ordinary order of nature.”


“With all due respect, Professor Descartes,” Blavatsky might have asked, “what do you imagine is the source of that ‘order?'” For Theosophy the answer is crystal clear as high mountain air.

“The Secret Doctrine teaches the progressive development of everything, worlds as well as atoms (1:43),” she wrote. Blavatsky attempted to show that man and the whole of nature are one, in essence and origin.

“There is design in the action of the seemingly blindest forces.”

But “modern science believes not in the ‘soul of things,'” she wrote of the 19th Century worldview, unwilling and unable to recognize human spirituality.

Click on the image above to see the dynamic interactions of water molecules.

Wilson “Snowflake” Bentley

From the earliest memories of our childhood, many of us can remember hearing the phrase “no two snowflakes are alike”. This discovery was made in the small rural town of Jericho, Vermont by Wilson A. Bentley (1865-1931).

A self educated farmer, Bentley attracted world attention with his pioneering work in the area of photomicrography,

“…most notably his extensive work with snow crystals (commonly known as snowflakes.)”

By adapting a microscope to a bellows camera, and years of trial and error, he became the first person to photograph a single snow crystal in 1885.

Intention on Water Crystals

Snow Crystals are complex systems, especially since their existence depends upon something even more complex: water.

“Not simply H2O anymore, as most school books say, there are perhaps hundreds of varieties of the mystery liquid, science has discovered.”


Entangled Minds

Now, there is a rigorous scientific study suggesting that intentions can affect water crystals.

The experiment is explained in detail by IONS senior scientist Dean Radin, in this video clip from his presentation at Theosophy Hall, NYC.

Mind Over Matter

In her first work, Isis Unveiled, H. P. Blavatsky describes how a trained yogi could, “through the entire subjugation of the matter of his [physical] system,” purify himself and become “nearly freed from its prison.” He can “produce wonders,” she says, …

“And a simple desire of his has become creative force, and he can command the elements and powers of nature.”


Qi Gong

“Under his extended palms, a seed, unknown to him … will germinate instantly, and push its way through the soil.”

“Mere intellectual enlightenment cannot recognize the spiritual. As the sun puts out a fire, so spirit puts out the eyes of mere intellect.”

William Howitt


“Developing in less than two hours’ time to a size and height which, perhaps, under ordinary circumstances, would require several days or weeks, it grows miraculously under the very eyes of the perplexed experimenter, and mockingly upsets every accepted formula in Botany.”

A Miracle?

“By no means,” she assures her readers. “His magnetism, obeying his will, drew up the akasa [spiritual force] in a concentrated current through the plant towards his hands.”

Then she writes: “… by keeping up an uninterrupted flow for the requisite space of time...

“…the life-principle of the plant built up cell after cell, layer after layer, with preternatural activity, until the work was done.”

Healing Force

Rochel Rittgers put her Spring Forest Qigong training to use to help a dear friend who was diagnosed with cancer. Her friend is now cancer free.

Greater Than the Parts

“While mechanistic science concentrates on reducing things to basic material building blocks,” writes David Pratt (Theosophy and the Systems View of Life” – Sunrise magazine, April/May 1991,)

“the emerging holistic paradigm recognizes that systems are integrated wholes whose properties cannot be reduced to those of smaller units.


“The two fundamental themes of this systems view of life,” Pratt maintains, “are the universal interconnectedness and interdependence of all phenomena:

“…and the intrinsically dynamic nature of reality, seen in dynamic processes and interrelationships as well as principles of self-organization.”


What on Earth?

Dogma vs Truth

“The rejection of these teachings may be expected, and must be accepted beforehand,” Blavatsky wrote, and 

“No one styling himself a ‘scholar,’ in whatever department of exact science, will be permitted to regard these teachings seriously. (Introduction, p. xxxvii), but they have

“neither been invented nor exaggerated, but, on the contrary, simply outlined…”


Below are scenes from the Movie “Agora” depicting the murder of the Adept Hypatia, and the destruction of the Alexandrian Library. Hypatia, a teacher of Greek philosophy, mathematics and geometry in Alexandria, was dismembered and burned by a political mob of anti-pagan Christians in 415 A.D.

Consciousness Revolution

It was IONS’ late President Emeritus, Dr. Willis Harman, who recognized importantly that: “[We] have previously acknowledged her [H.P. Blavatsky] as an integral part of our own origins,” and added:

“The modern scientific worldview is inherently flawed and misleading in ways vital to the well-being of individuals and societies, and inimical to the future viability of human civilization.”

There was Frederick W.H. Meyers, whose book, Human Personality And Its Survival Of Bodily Death, came out in 1903. And Does ‘Consciousness’ Exist? (1904), by William James, the accredited father of modern psychology.

In these two we recognize the first glimmer of scholarly acceptance of Blavatskian ideas.

Yet, “What consciousness is can never be defined psychologically,” Mme. Blavatsky wrote with predictable logic. “We can analyse and classify its work and effects,” she said, but

“…we cannot define it, unless we postulate an Ego distinct from the body.”

What is Consciousness?

The Conscious Universe

In the light of Theosophy, consciousness is shown to be the very foundation of the universe. H. P. Blavatsky explains. “The Boundless (absolute consciousness), can have no relation to the bounded and conditioned.”

“In the occult teachings, the Unknown and the Unknowable mover, or the Self-Existing, is the absolute divine Essence.”


“And thus being Absolute Consciousness, and Absolute Motion- to the limited senses of those who describe this indescribable — it is unconsciousness and immoveableness…

“Consciousness implies limitations and qualifications — something to be conscious of, and someone to be conscious of it,” she wrote:

“But Absolute Consciousness contains the cognizer, the thing cognized and the cognition, all three in itself and all three one.”

Water Crystals to
Music of Enya

Nicholas Roerich, “Mother of the World”

This is a video of Cleve Baxter, a polygraph scientist who did the controversial experiment with plants and animal cells. In the 60s, he decided on impulse to attach his polygraph electrodes to the now-famous dracaena in his office, then water the plant and see if the leaves responded (p. 4). Finding that the plant indeed reacted to this event, he decided to see what would happen if he threatened it, and formed in his mind the idea of lighting a match to the leaf where the electrodes were attached.

And that was when something happened that forever changed Baxter’s life and ours. For the plant didn’t wait for him to light the match. It reacted to his thoughts!

Through further research, Baxter found that it was his intent, and not merely the thought itself, that brought about this reaction.

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