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The Consciousness of the Atom
Lecture VI - The Goal of Evolution

In using such a title as the Goal of Evolution, I feel extremely diffident; I realize that the only thing I can possibly attempt is to put certain suppositions before you, drawing upon my imagination. Naturally it is not possible for finite mind to gauge accurately the plan of the Deity. All that we can do is to study the history of the past, to investigate present conditions, and to ascertain somewhat racial and natural tendencies, and thus follow, as logically as may be, the various steps and stages. All that is permissible for us is to start from the solid basis of acquired facts and knowledge, then put them all together, and from their aggregate form an hypothesis as to what may be the possible goal. Beyond that it is impossible to go.

In our talks upon evolution, as I mentioned in the first lecture, we have been dealing somewhat with suppositions, and concerning ourselves with possibilities. Certain things we do know, and certain truths have been ascertained; yet even [120] the conclusions of science, for instance, such as were so much spoken of and insisted upon forty years ago, are no longer regarded as facts, and are not used or promulgated as drastically and as emphatically as they were. Science itself is finding every year that its knowledge is very relative. The more a man grasps and knows, the greater is the horizon which opens up before him. Scientists are now venturing into what are the subtler planes of matter, and therefore into the realms of the unproven, and we should remember that, until recently, science has refused to admit their existence. We are passing beyond the sphere of what has been called "solid matter," into such realms as are inferred when we speak about "centers of energy," "negative and positive force," and "electrical phenomena"; and the emphasis is being laid more and more upon quality rather than upon what has been called substance. The further we look ahead, the wider our speculations become, and the more we attempt to account for telepathic, psychic and other phenomena, the more we shall trespass into the realm of what is now the subjective and the subconscious, and the more we shall be forced to express ourselves in terms of quality or of energy.

If we succeed at all in accounting for that which is unusual, for that which is as yet inexplicable to us, and in ascertaining the reality of the occult, [121] we shall bring about a condition which might almost be called paradoxical. We shall gradually make the subjective the objective.

The topic that I am going to consider now is one that affects us very closely: namely, the attainment by man of that group consciousness which is his goal, and the expansions of his little consciousness until it measures up to that greater one which enfolds it. You will remember that in trying to explain the difference between self-consciousness, group consciousness, and God consciousness, I illustrated it by pointing out that in the little atom of substance in the physical body, that tiny centralized life which goes to the constitution of the human form, we had a correspondence to the self-consciousness of the human being; that the life of the physical body, considering it in every one of its departments as a whole, is to that little self-contained cell what group consciousness is to us; and that the consciousness of the real man, the informing entity within the body is to that atom what God consciousness is to us, as inexplicable and as far removed. If we can extend this concept of the atom in our body and its relation to man, the thinker, to the human atom, regarding it as a unit within a still greater body, we may get an understanding of the radical difference between these three rays of consciousness. [122]

There is a very interesting analogy between the evolution of the atom and of man (and I presume therefore of the planetary Deity and the solar Logos) in the two methods of unfoldment that are followed. We have seen that the atom has its own atomic life, and that every atom of substance in the solar system is likewise a little system in itself, having a positive center, or central sun, with the electrons, or the negative aspect, revolving in their orbits around it. Such is the internal life of the atom, its self-centered aspect. We noted, too, that the atom is now being studied along a newer line, that of radioactivity, and it is becoming apparent in many cases there is an active radiation going on. Just where this discovery is going to lead it is impossible to tell, for the study of radioactive substances is as yet in its infancy, and little is actually known. Much of the earlier teaching of physical science has been revolutionized by the discovery of radium, and the more scientists find out, the more it becomes apparent (as they themselves realize), that we are standing on the threshold of very great discoveries, and are on the eve of profound revelations.

In the human being, as he evolves and develops, these two stages can equally be seen. There is the early or atomic stage, in which a man's whole center of interest lies within himself, within his own sphere, where self-centeredness is the law of [123] his being, a necessary protective stage of evolution. He is purely selfish, and concerned primarily with his own affairs. This is succeeded by a later stage, in which a man's consciousness begins to expand, his interests begin to lie outside his own particular sphere, and the period arrives in which he is feeling for the group to which he belongs. This stage might be viewed as corresponding to that of radioactivity. He is now not only a self-centered life, but he is also beginning to have a definite effect upon his surroundings. He is turning his attention from his own personal selfish life, and is seeking his greater center. From being simply an atom he is, in his turn, becoming an electron, and coming under the influence of the great central Life which holds him within the sphere of Its influence.

If this is so, we shall have analogous stages transpiring within the life of the planetary Deity, and this perhaps would account for various vicissitudes and happenings upon the planet. Often we consider the affairs of the world as due to human activity. The world war, for instance, is frequently regarded as the result of human mistakes and frailties. Perhaps this is so, for undoubtedly economic conditions and human ambitions may have been very largely concerned in bringing it about; but perhaps, also, it may have been partly due to the working out of the purpose [124] of the great central Life, Whose consciousness is not as yet our consciousness, Who has His own plans and purposes and ideals, and Who, perhaps, also makes His experiments with life. On His vaster scale, and on His own high level, this planetary Spirit is learning to live, is learning to contact, and is likewise expanding His consciousness; He is Himself at school, just as you and I are at school. So again, it may be with the solar system, and so with events of such magnitude that they escape our ken altogether. Perhaps there are occurrences within the solar system which may be due to the working out of the plans of the Deity or Logos, that central Life Who is the energizing source of all there is within the solar system. I do not know, but it makes an interesting line of thought for us, and it does no harm to speculate if the effect is to give us a broader vision, a wider tolerance, and a greater and wiser optimism.

Having seen that the two stages of atomic activity and radioactivity characterize the evolution of all atoms in the solar system, let us now see what are the different developments which may be expected as the consciousness within the human atom evolves. I should like to center our attention upon this human type of consciousness, as it is the central evolution in the solar system. When the three aspects of the divine life are [125] brought together - the indwelling life or spirit, the material form or substantial vehicle, and the factor of intelligent activity - certain specific results will eventuate. We shall have the gradual working out of consciousness of a particular kind; the development of psychic quality; the effect of the subjective life upon the material form; the utilization of the form for certain specific ends, and the attainment by the indwelling entity of certain qualities. The true nature of the central life, be it God or man, will be manifested during a life cycle, whether solar or human. That is true of you and it is true of me; it is probably true of the planetary Logos, and if true of him, therefore also of a solar Logos.

Let us try, if we can, to follow some of the different developments in connection with our four types of atoms - the atom of substance, the human atom, the planetary atom, and the cosmic atom. One of the first and most important developments will be conscious response to every vibration and contact - that is, the ability to respond to the not-self on every plane. Let me illustrate. I could go down to certain halls in this city, and gather together an audience composed of the unskilled laborers and illiterates, I could talk to them, and repeat what I have been saying this evening and get no response whatever. Yet I could go down and give them a talk such [126] as I gave ten years ago, along strictly evangelical or Gospel lines, and meet with a rapid reaction. Here the question of right or wrong does not enter in, but simply the difference in the ability of different grades and types of men at different stages of evolution to respond to contact and vibration. It simply means that certain people are at a stage where they can be reached by an emotional appeal, and dealt with along the line of their own personal salvation, being in the earlier atomic stage as yet. There is another stage which includes that, but which enables one to respond also to a more intellectual appeal, which gives one a certain amount of interest and satisfaction in such discussions as we have pursued, and which means investigation of those matters which concern the group, for instance. But both stages are equally right.

We can look at this matter from another angle: it is quite possible for us to meet great people, wonderful men and women, and fail to be impressed by them; we might pass them by without recognizing them, and thus miss that which they have to give us. This happened in Palestine in connection with the Christ, two thousand years ago. Why? Because, we ourselves are not yet great enough to respond to them. There is something still lacking in us, so that we are unable to realize or feel their particular vibration. I [127] have heard it said, and I think it is very true, that if the Christ were to come down upon earth again, and walk among men as He did before, He might live His life amongst us day after day and we would not notice anything so very different in Him from the other good and unselfish people whom we know. We have not yet cultivated within ourselves the ability to respond to the divine in our brother. We usually see only that which is bad and coarse, and are cognizant principally of our brother's faults. We are insensitive, yet, to the best people.

Another development will be that we shall be able to function consciously on all planes of being. We function consciously now on the physical plane, and there are a few people who are able to function equally consciously on the next subtler plane, that which is called the astral plane (a word I very much dislike, as it conveys no real meaning to our minds) or the plane of the emotional nature, on which a man is active when out of the physical body, in the hours of sleep or immediately after death. Very few human beings can function on the mental plane in fully awakened consciousness, and still fewer upon the spiritual plane. The object of evolution is that we should consciously function, with full continuity of realization, upon the physical, emotional, and mental planes. This is the great achievement [128] which will some day be ours. We shall then know what we do every hour of the day, and not for just about fourteen hours out of every twenty-four. At present we remain unconscious of where the real thinking entity is during the hours of sleep. We do not know what his activities are, nor the condition of his environment. Some day we shall utilize and employ every minute of every hour of the day.

Another purpose of evolution is a threefold one, and it is that we should have purpose or will, love, and energy coordinated. That is not so as yet. We have much intelligent energy continuously displayed now, but it is very rare indeed to meet a person whose whole life is animated by a central purpose, which is followed unswervingly, and which is animated and instigated by love working through intelligent activity. The time is coming, however, when we shall have expanded our consciousness to such an extent, and be so active within ourselves, that we shall become radioactive. We shall then carry forward a definite purpose which will be the outcome of love, and attain our objective by means of the intelligence. This is all that God is doing, is it not? At our present stage of development, we are certainly intelligent, but as yet there is very little love. We may have a little love for those we contact or meet, and a greater love for our [129] family and immediate friends, but we know practically nothing of group love. When group love is voiced for us by the great idealists of the race it is nevertheless true that we have reached the stage where we can respond somewhat to it, and feel that it is something we should like to see realized. It is good to remember that the more we think along such definitely altruistic lines, the more we shall build up something of very great value, and develop by slow and laborious degrees the rudiments of a real group consciousness, which as yet lies far ahead for most of us.

There are several other developments during the evolutionary process with which we might deal, and which are at present so far ahead that they are practically inconceivable unless we have the peculiar type of brain that can think somewhat abstractly. There is the stage in which we can transcend time and space, when the consciousness of the group in all parts of the planet, for instance, will be our consciousness, and when it will be just as easy for us to contact the consciousness of a friend in India, Africa, or elsewhere, as it is here; distance and separation will prove no barrier to intercourse. Symptoms of this can be seen in the ability which some people have to communicate telepathically, or to psychometrise.

It is all very well to spend some time visioning this distant goal, and picturing the achievement [130] of the Logos billions of years hence, but the thing of vital interest for us is to get some idea of the immediate stage ahead; and to understand what we may expect to happen in connection with the evolutionary process during the next few thousand years. Let us consider this idea somewhat. There are, as we know, three main lines of thought in the world: the scientific, the religious, and the philosophical. Now, in these three what have we got? In the scientific line of thought we have embodied all that concerns matter, the substance aspect of manifestation; it deals with objectivity, and with that which is material, tangible, and seen; literally, with that which can be proven. In religious thought we have that which is concerned with the life within the form, which deals with the return of spirit to its source, plus all that has been gained by the use of the form; it has reference to the subjective side of nature. In philosophical thought we have what I might call the utilization of the intelligence by the indwelling life, in order that the form may be adequately adapted to its need. Let us consider in this connection certain developments which may be looked for in the immediate future, remembering that all that I say is only intended to be suggestive, and that I speak in no dogmatic spirit.

It is obvious to most thinkers that science, [131] having begun the study of radioactivity, is on the verge of discovering what is the nature of the power within the atom itself; it is very probable that before long we shall harness the energy of atomic matter for every conceivable purpose, for heating, for lighting, and for what I might call the motivation of everything that is carried on in the world. That force, as some of us know, was nearly discovered in the United States fifty years ago by a man called Keely, but he was not allowed to give it out to the world because of the danger thereby involved. Men are as yet far too selfish to be trusted with the distribution of atomic energy. That discovery will probably parallel the development of group consciousness. Only when man becomes radioactive and can work and think in group terms, will it be safe or wise for him to utilize the power latent in the atom. Everything in nature is beautifully coordinated, and nothing can be discovered or utilized before the right time. Only as man becomes unselfish will this tremendous power be permitted to pass into his hands. Nevertheless, we can, I believe, look to science to make tremendous strides in the comprehension of atomic energy.

Then paralleling the evolution of the human being again, we can look for man to dominate the air. There is a great vibratory sphere, or plane, in the solar system, called in some occult books [132] the intuitional plane; it is called in the Eastern literature the Buddhic plane, and its symbol is the air. Just as man is beginning to find his way through the development of the intuition on to that plane now, so science is beginning to discover how to dominate the air, and as the intuition in man develops and grows, so will his control of the air be developed and grow. Another thing we can look for (and it is already being recognized somewhat) is the development of the ability to see in subtler matter. Everywhere there are children being born who see more than you or I can. I am here referring to something that is based purely on material grounds, and concerns the physical eye. I refer to etheric vision, which is seeing in the finer matter of the physical plane, or in that which is called the ethers. Much interesting work has been done along this line by students and scientists in California. Dr. Frederick Finch Strong has been working along this line in a valuable way, and teaching that the physical eye is capable of seeing etherically, and that etheric vision is the normal function of the eye. What will the development of this faculty mean? It will mean that science will have definitely to readjust its point of view as to the subtler planes. If there come within the range of vision of the normal man or woman within the next one hundred years certain aspects and forms [133] of life that have been regarded hitherto as imaginary, we have broken once and for all that rank materialism which has distinguished us for so long, and if that which is now invisible is recognized along any particular line, who shall say how far forward it will be possible for us to go as time progresses? Again, the whole trend of evolution is toward synthesis. As we go down into matter, as we tend toward materialization, we have heterogeneity; as we work back towards spirit we shall tend towards unity: so that in the religious world we can look for unity to make its appearance. There is, even now, a much greater spirit of tolerance abroad than was the case fifty years ago; but the time is rapidly approaching when the great fundamental unity that underlies all the different religions, and the fact that each faith is a necessary part of one great whole, will be recognized by men everywhere, and through this recognition we shall have the simplification of religion. We shall have the great central facts emphasized and utilized, and the small and petty differences of organization, and of explanation, overlooked.

Again, we can look for a very interesting happening in connection with the human family to take place, for the moment group consciousness becomes, on a larger scale, the conscious objective of man, what will occur? You will have [134] man putting his foot upon what is called in the religious world, "The Path." You will have him definitely taking himself in hand, endeavoring to live the life of the spirit, refusing any longer to live a self-centered atomic life; you will have him searching for his place within the greater whole, finding it by means of definite self-initiated endeavor, and then unifying himself with that group. This is all that is really meant by the teaching given about the Path in the Protestant, Catholic, and Buddhist churches. They all teach the treading of this Path, calling it by different names, such as the Way, the noble Eightfold Path, the Path of Illumination, or the Path of Holiness. Yet it is the one Path, that which shineth ever more and more unto the perfect day.

We can look, too, for the development of the power to think abstractly, and for the awakening of the intuition. As the great races have succeeded one another upon the planet, there has ever been an ordered, directed unfoldment of the powers of the soul, and a definitely planned sequence. In the third root race, the Lemurian, the physical aspect of man was carried to a high stage of perfection. Later in the great race which preceded ours, the Atlantean, and which perished in the flood, the emotional nature of man was developed. Then in the race to which we belong, the Aryan or fifth race, the development of the [135] concrete or lower mind is the goal, and this we are developing each decade. A few are also beginning to develop the power to think in abstract terms.

When this is the case we shall see more of that peculiar, interesting capacity which some people evince, and which we call the ability to be inspired. I am not here speaking of mediumship, nor do I mean mediumistic ability. There is nothing more dangerous than that which is usually meant by the term of "medium." The average medium is a man of a negative or receptive nature, and usually so loosely coordinated in his threefold nature that an extraneous force or entity can use his brain, his hand, or his body. It is quite a common phenomenon. Automatic writing, ouija boards, and spiritualistic seances of a low order are rampant these days, and are driving thousands into insanity, or into nervous disorders. But there is something of which mediumship is simply a distortion, and this something is inspiration. To be capable of being inspired means that a human mind has reached a stage in his evolution where he is consciously and positively under the control of his own higher self, the God within. That inner ruler, the real self, can, by definite contact, control his physical brain, and enable the man to make decisions, and to understand the truth, apart from [136] the reasoning faculty altogether; this inner God can enable the man to speak, to write, and to pass on the truth without the use of the lower mind. Truth lies within ourselves. When we can contact our own inner God all truth will be revealed to us. We shall be Knowers. But this is a positive, not a negative thing, and means the putting of oneself in direct conscious alignment with one's Ego, or higher self, and not the throwing open of one's personality to any passing entity or spook.

This can be seen occurring now, occasionally, but it is not very often that the average man comes in contact with his higher self. Only in our moments of highest endeavor, only at the great crises of our lives, and only as the result of long discipline and strenuous meditation does this occur. But some day we shall govern our entire lives, not from the personal, selfish point of view, but from the point of view of the God within, Who is a direct revelation of Spirit on the highest plane.

The final thing I seek to bring out tonight is that the goal for each one of us is the development of the powers of the soul, or of the psyche. This means that you and I are going to be psychics. But I am not using this word "psychic" as it is usually understood, nor in its everyday connotation. The psyche is, literally, the soul within, [137] or the higher self, who emerges from out of the threefold lower self, as the butterfly emerges out of the chrysalis; it is that beautiful reality, which we are going to produce as the result of our life, or lives, down here. The true psychic powers are those which put us in contact with the group. The powers of the physical body, which we use every day, put us in contact with individuals, but when we have developed the powers of the soul, and have unfolded its potentialities, we shall be true psychics. Now what are those powers? All I can do tonight is to enumerate a few out of the many.

One is the conscious control of matter. The majority of us control our physical bodies consciously, making them carry out our behests upon the physical plane. Some of us control our emotions consciously, but very few of us can control the mind. Most of us are controlled by our desires, and by our thoughts. But the time is coming when we shall consciously control our threefold lower nature. Time will then not exist for us at all. We shall have that continuity of consciousness upon the three planes of being - physical, emotional, and mental - which will enable us to live as does the Logos, in that very metaphysical abstraction, the Eternal Now.

Another power of the soul is psychometry. Now what is psychometry? It might be defined [138] as the ability to take a tangible something, belonging perhaps to an individual, and through the medium of that, to put oneself en rapport with that individual, or with a group of individuals. Psychometry is the law of association of ideas applied to the vibratory quality of force for the purpose of obtaining information.

Again, the race will become clairaudient and clairvoyant, which means the capacity to hear and see as clearly and accurately upon the subtler planes as we do upon the physical. It will involve the ability to hear and see all that concerns the group - that is, to hear and see in the fourth and fifth dimensions. I am not enough of a mathematician to attempt to explain these dimensions, and am apt myself to get very confused when considering them, but an illustration that was given me may make the whole thing somewhat clearer. A young Swedish thinker explained it to me thus:

"The fourth dimension is the ability to see through and around a thing. The fifth dimension is the ability, for instance, to take an eye, and by means of that eye to put oneself en rapport with all other eyes in the solar system. To see in the sixth dimension might be defined as the power to take a pebble off the beach, and by means of it to put oneself in accord with the entire planet. Now in the fifth dimension, where [139] you took the eye, you were limited to a particular line of manifestation, but in the case of the sixth dimension, where you took a pebble, you were put in touch with the entire planet."

This is something very far ahead of us, but it is interesting to speak about, and holds a promise for each and all.

There is not time to deal with the other powers, nor can I enumerate what they all may be. Healing by touch will be amongst them. The manipulation of the magnetic fluids, and conscious creation by means of color and sound, are others. All that really concerns us at this time is that we should consciously take ourselves in hand, seek to come ever more and more under control of the inner ruler, endeavor to become radioactive, and to develop group consciousness. [143]