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In the human body complex, the Light Ether is said to be dominantly positive in men and negative in women. Let us see how this works out. The senses and colors belong to the negative pole, and women's sensory responses are often quicker than those of men; they see colors more clearly, and they suffer less from color blindness. Their etheric aura also shows a larger proportion of the golden Light Ether. The positive energy of the Light Ether, however, is evident in the dynamic urge to action which characterizes the masculine incarnation, and the masculine aura often sparkles thickly with the energy-points belonging to this ether. The man also shows more of the fiery egoic drive.
Since light is made up of photons, and the photons consist of both waves and particles, both appear together throughout space.
In trying to study the Light Ether, the student should look out not at an object, or against a wall or ceiling, but directly into space itself.
The following quotation is of interest: "Light Ether is a substance of a peculiar type which has no familiar atom-mosaic that we usually call matter....We can call light ether a substance but we can also call it space....keeping in mind that....space may possess certain morphological or structural features that make it a much more complicated thing than in the conceptions of Euclidean geometry. In fact, in modern physics the expression light ether (divested of its alleged mechanical properties) and physical space are considered synonymous." (Gamow: One Two Three....Infinity).
It may help the student to observe this ether for the first time if he will lie prone upon a bed and gaze into the corner of the ceiling in a room full of light. His eye will not then come to rest upon a surface, but will rest within space itself, and soon he will begin to see waves and sparkles of the Light Ether. Eye strain should be avoided.
Before entering upon a discussion of the Reflecting Ether, let us review the salient features of the three lower ethers as known to physical and esoteric sciences. First: light belongs to what is called the electromagnetic spectrum, of which only a small segment, or band, is visible to human eyesight, for the reason that this band represents the radiation from our Sun, in whose field our senses were evolved. Had our race evolved on a planet belonging to a giant red sun, for example, we might have evolved eyesight in the infrared range. It is a curious fact that when etheric sight begins to unfold, it is the invisible aspect of light in our own solar spectrum that is usually first seen: the actual waves of light themselves, and the nuclei of energy sparkling in the waves. The waves of light ether are actually made up of units, or packets, of energy, which are waves and particles at one and the same time. Both are visible, simultaneously, to the etheric vision. The unit of energy is called the "photon," and it is not merely the unit of solar light, but it is the unit of all electromagnetic waves.
Photons are packets of energy, says the physicist, which correspond to atoms and molecules, which are packets of matter. Electrons, protons, and alpha particles are particles of electricity. All radiant energy consists of photons. The photon is properly defined as "the building block of the electromagnetic field." It travels with the speed of light.
The photon is never at rest. The electron, proton, and neutron can be at rest, but the photon cannot be. Hence the electron, proton, and neutron are the units of matter, so-called, and in esoteric terms, "packets" of the Chemical and Life Ethers, which Max Heindel describes as "the stationary ethers." Radiant energy, however, the unit of which is the photon, represents energy which is continuously escaping from matter. Esoterically it is the unit of the Light Ether. The photon itself has no charge, but it carries electromagnetic energy. Subatomic particles and photons have a spin, and when charged they are responsive to magnetic fields. Astronomers say there are magnetic fields in interstellar space, in which new galaxies tend to form; but the esoteric scientist also sees a rain of cosmic force, electrical or magnetic in nature, which he calls "the colorless solar ether." It is not identical in nature with cosmic forces ow with solar and planetary magnetism, but there is a connection of some sort, which has not yet been determined either by mundane or by esoteric science. The colorless solar ether is subject to the call of the human mind and will.
Just as the magnetic fields of space are known to impart spiral activity to certain subatomic particles (usually nuclei), so also the "animal magnetism" of esoteric science seems to be accompanied by spiral activity in the Life Ether, which forms and guides the activities of the Chemical Ether. The two lower ethers are generally considered together as a working unit, as it is almost impossible to study them separately.*
Photons are not uniform in magnitude. The amount of energy is in proportion to the frequency. "X-rays have frequencies one thousandfold larger than....
*Science speaks of "bioelectrochemistry" and "bioelectromagnetism."
....visible light, so when they give up their energy to atoms, electrons, etc., their 'punch' is greater and more easily observed," the physicist explains.
The body structure is formed in the two lower ethers, and the Life Ether specializes the solar fluid which acts like electricity in the living organism; the solar fluid is converted from "inorganic" cosmic magnetism to the "living" magnetism known to esoteric science and now being researched by physical science.
The electrical energy of the solar fluid energizes the nervous systems of the human organism, both voluntary and sympathetic. The "two complementary halves that make up every functioning electric circuit" have been discovered by biologists. We mention in passing here that the back of the head is found to carry a positive charge and the front a negative charge; and this front portion is termed a "silent area," and is supposed to be associated with extrasensory perception. In esoteric science the keynote of the vital body is heard humming in the medulla oblongata, and its vibration is often felt in the back of the head.
The scientific investigators say that there are three axes of magnetic force to which the human being is subject; and they are testing various patients in hsopitals to see if emissions of cosmic rays, magnetic storms on the Sun, and other phenomena of the sort have an effect on the nervous condition of human beings. Esoteric science has taught for centuries that such cosmic conditions (the macrocosm) do have a reaction in the human organism (the microcosm). Modern science now uses the terms "macrocosm" and "microcosm" as freely as esoteric science has done in previous ages, but the "microcosm" of modern physics tends to be the interior of atoms and molecules and not merely the human organism as a whole—the infinitely large being the macrocosm and the infinitely small the microcosm.
An increased understanding of the Light Ether will bring about an important new science in the matter of color healing and the use of color in promoting growth in plants and animals. Color therapy is already making great progress, not merely among esotericists, but in the world of physics, chemistry, and medicine. It is understandable now, when the nature of light is seen as consisting of particles as well as waves, that color can have a very clear and definite physical effect. Even very serious organic diseases have yielded to color therapy in the hands of experts; not merely nervous and mental, but actual physical disorders.
Color therapists believe that a ray of color represents an actual substance, and that vitamins and other elements contain these substances, so that in a very real sense the red ray, for example, may be said to give needed iron to the blood, and so forth.
But none of these color deposits could be made in plants without the keynoting or pattern-making activity of the Life Ether, as we have indicated. At the borderline of the Life and Light Ethers the strange life-substances called enzymes do their work. It has been found that "in plants as diverse as apple trees and lettuce there is a light-sensitive enzyme which regulates plant growth at all stages from germination to the ripening of fruit. The government experimental stations (e.g. U.S. Department of Agriculture Research in Beltsville, Md.) have partially isolated the substance, which is effective in minute quantities and have reproduced what is apparently its critical reaction in a test tube. The enzyme exists in two forms, and transforms reversibly from one to the other upon exposure to appropriate wave-lengths of light. One form absorbs light in the orange to red range, the other absorbs far-red light, near the limit of the visible spectrum. The first form triggers such effects as the reddening of apples and the germination of lettuce seed; the other form promotes flowering and regulates growth.
"The predominant form of the enzyme in the plant depends upon the color of light to which the plant is exposed. Both forms are present in about equal amounts after exposure to light in the middle of the red range. At longer wave-lengths the reaction favors the orange-red absorbing form, while shorter wave-lengths (toward the yellow) stimulate the production of the far-red absorbing form. In the living plant the intensity as well as the wave-length of the light influences the function of the enzyme. The investigators found that soybean plants will flower after an extremely short exposure at night to far-red light but will not flower if the intensity of the light is increased 100 times. Exposure at low intensity to the same wave-lengths stimulates germination in lettuce seed; exposure at high intensity reduces germination to about zero."
Esoteric science divides the spectrum of light into positive, negative, and neutral areas; with the colors below green called "hot," or positive, and the colors above green being called "cool" and electric, or negative. Green is neutral, but no color is more important, for this is the color of chlorophyll. In color therapy the positive or "hot" colors are thought of as streaming upward, as if from the Earth; the negative or "cool" colors are thought of as streaming downward from the heavens, while green, the neutral color, draws in its forces horizontally. Green has been proved to be a primary color in the new color science.
Whatever may be said of the effects of color on humamn beings as purely psychological, the same cannot be said of the influences of colored light on vegetation: some kinds of light promote growth of roots; others of the stems, leaves, and flowers; others the germination of the seed, and so on; while the light-sensitive enzyme in the plant tissue proves to be an important link in the life process.
Science has gone down to the far-red limit of the spectrum, but has not yet found the "peach-blossom" color known to the esotericist.
Wave-lengths of color will one day be used to open up the spiritual faculties, for as we have shown, these also belong to the Light Ether forces, supersensory perception as well as common sensory perception being dependent upon this Ether, so far as consciousness in the body is concerned.
As far back as there is any written record, we find references to "reflection" and "images" as illustrating the way in which God's creative Ideas become objectified in space and time. Now when we look into a pool of clear water—man's first mirror—we see that the sky which is farthest above us is the bottom-most part of the reflected scene in the water; while other objects, including ourselves, occupy intermediate positions between two skies.
In our study of the reflecting Ether, let us keep this image in mind, as neophytes in Mystery Schools have been doing for many thousands of years.
In The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, Max Heindel has written: "The Reflecting Ether deserves its name for more than one reason, for the pictures in it are but reflections of the memory of nature. The real memory of nature is found in a much higher realm. In this Reflecting Ether no thoroughly trained clairvoyant cares to read, as the pictures are blurred and vague compared to those found in the higher realms. Those who read in the Reflecting Ether are generally those who have no choice, who, in fact, do not know in what they are reading. As a rule ordinary psychometrists and mediums obtain their knowledge through the reflecting ether. To some slight extent the pupil of the esoteric school in the first stages of his training also reads in the Reflecting Ether, but he is warned by his teacher of the insufficiencies of this ether as a means of acquiring accurate information, so that he does not easily draw wrong conclusions.
"This ether is also the medium through which thought makes an impression upon the human brain. It is most intimately connected with the fourth subdivision of the World of thought. This is the highest of the four subdivisions contained in the Region of Concrete Thought and is the homeworld of the human mind. There is a much clearer version of the memory of nature is found than in the Reflecting Ether."
He also states that the "memory" aspect of this ether resides in the negative pole, while thought processes make their impression on the brain by way of the positive pole. He does not say that these poles are magnetic poles, however. The Reflecting Ether is not electrical, nor is it magnetic. Its "positive" pole is dominant in the front of the brain, in the area where the "Silent Watcher" (Divine Spirit) has its seat.
We are taught further that the Reflecting Ether is the least dense of the four ethers; that in the growth cycle it ripens at about the age of twenty- eight; that it is negative in men and positive in women; that like the Light Ether it is volatile and migratory; that it is really a hyper-ether, as much astral as etheric, and even mental, (since it is so closely penetrated by desire and mind-stuff); and while it appears to be empty at first glance, it hides within its translucent folds many secrets, in a picture record which consists not only of reproductions of physical forms but also of feelings and thoughts. Consequently, when the student-seer learns to read in this ether he may be surprised to discover that he not only sees the moving pictures of past events in his life, but may also sometimes see the auric formations and thought forms which accompanied them, even though he had no clairvoyance at the time the events occurred.
Another of the oddities of the Reflecting Ether, which makes it difficult to assess the value of what is seen there, is familiar to assess the value of what is seen there, is familiar to most students, for Max Heindel has mentioned it often. This is the way in which the time stream of the Reflecting Ether seems to move backward, so that if it is desired to investigate an event, say, in the year 500, it would be necessary to look first for the year 600, and then allow the record to roll back to the year 500. Yet it is not to be supposed that this reverse flow is comparable to the backward unrolling of a moving picture film strip, in which for example the chicken grows back into a chick and then enters into the eggshell which closes around it. it is more in the nature of time pulsations which go back to a certain point and then move forward, according to some as yet undefined law governing the time- images. For it is common knowledge among esoteric students that pictures of former incarnations seem to unfold in a perfectly regular and normal way, at least so far as any one interval is concerned. The exercise of Retrospection is recommended for development of time-stream vision, with power to regulate the flow of images.
Again, the Reflecting Ether sometimes reverses numbers, so that a number which seems to read 235 may be in fact 532. However, no analogy can be pushed too far, and it would not be true to say that numbers reflected in the Reflecting Ether are turned backward in the way that mirror numbers are, and as handwriting is. Books and documents seen in the "library" of the Reflecting Ether are usually read straight-forwardly as in the physical world; but in many instances the reader then suddenly finds that instead of reading a script, he has suddenly plunged into the midst of the story or record, which he views as an omnipresent though invisible spectator.
Take note, however, that the supersensory powers vary greatly, according to individual bias and and temperament, for just as the physical eye cannot see an object if the eyelid covers the eye, so clairvoyance cannot show anything to the seer unless he definitely and consciously turns his attention in a given direction. Saints of the Church have in many instances achieved clairvoyance, yet saw nothing in the astral world except the thought-forms of heaven and hell built up by their own community of faith.
Esoteric students have developed the power to see disembodied spirits, Nature forces, and the celestial Hierarchies, without ever discovering the nuclear forces known to modern physics, because they did not think to look for them.
The pictures in the Reflecting Ether generally fade away in a few thousand years, leaving "holes" where the seer can find nothing. In the charged areas of the Mystery Temples, however, the Elder Brothers and their Initiates read a clearer version of the Memory of Nature, which in the fourth or archetypal region of the World of Thought, carries all of the records pertaining to our current Earth Period; and as these records are reviewed and vivified in the mind of each Initiate the corresponding record in the Reflecting Ether is, so to speak, reinforced and continues to be available even to the relatively weak vision of the ordinary clairvoyant or beginning student in the esoteric school. Again, the Teachers on the inner planes will sometimes themselves project into the Reflecting Ether the pictures they want the neophyte to see and remember; and thus the neophyte sees records which would not otherwise then be available to him.
Max Heindel has shown that the Light and reflecting Ethers are very intimately associated not only in the Golden Wedding Garment, but also in particular functions of the bodily organism. The student may find this closeness of function between these two ethers a source of confusion when first observing them.
When once the student-seer has begun to see the agitation of the Light Ether with its wing-like movement and its dashing comets of energy in their filmy packets, he begins to recognize that space is pulsing like the swells of the ocean, in great slow waves. As he looks into these bluish space-waves he begins to see what may at first appear to be colorless transparent forms, sometimes geometrical, but often resembling leaf forms which move in the sea of ether like underwater plants. Then, as the attention continues to focus in these deep tides of light, the student may suddenly realize that he is in fact gazing into the Reflecting Ether, for behind the moving waves of light his gaze comes to rest upon what seems to be a mirror world, a world with pictures as bright and clear as images in a mirror. There is no movement her, no ripples.
The records in the Reflecting Ether are not easy to read at first sight for the reason that the ether seems so full of them, all of which can be seen through; so it necessitates practice in separating them before each can be read. This is done by the power of the will in holding the attention focused upon one image, not allowing side-images to distract the attention. There is a tendency in all undeveloped seers simply to relax and allow these pictures to stream or move past the mental vision, with no attempt to control or analyze them. The ordinary person may indeed never realize that it is at all possible to control the stream of images, and he may even boast of the fact that he cannot "turn-off" the pictures which rush past his eyes. This is the secret of the negative development which may lead to obsession; or if not to actual obsession, then at least to mediumship, and perhaps to a lack of mental and emotional control which medical science would define as "unbalanced" or "disturbed."
The student must therefore exercise discrimination as regards the stream of images he sees. It may seem to him that the images are irresistibly self- impelled, but this is not so; they do respond to his will, as he soon discovers when he makes the effort to control them.
Note that not all of these images are "records." They include, sometimes, actual scenes and real people living on earth; and again they may include faces and forms of those who have passed on, and scenes of the inner worlds. For this Ether may be likened to a two-way mirror, as Max Heindel says, reflecting the outer universe on the one hand and the inner, spiritual worlds on the other.
It is often said that every observer colors (by his own mental bias) his observations of the world as it exists both without and within himself. There can be no argument about this. Of course we see the world, we experience the world, through what we are. It cannot be otherwise. But the philosopher of modern science goes beyond this in saying that it is not only that impressions of the outside world depend on his mental bias as well as on the individual sensorium seated in the brain, but that the outside or objective world itself is really and literally changed by the act of observation and experimentation, through the interaction of physical forces, and the pressure of mentally generated forces as in telekinesis. How can this be?
The answer lies, for the esotericist, in the Reflecting Ether, with its strange mirror-like qualities.
It is the Archetypal Force of the Ego, "reflecting" or "projecting" into the great root substance of Nature, the subconscious mind of the cosmos, which thus affects its world. The Reflecting Ether, as Max Heindel has shown, extends all through the First Heaven, and even through the Second Heaven, for it contains the principle of memory and it has a special connection with the Region of Archetypal Forces. We may call it the "floor" of the two lower heavens. When the philosopher of science observes that it may not be necessary any longer to separate subject from object, the observer from the observed, he is expressing the spiritual reality of the Archetypal Force as known to esoteric science. Space and time "collapse" in the realm of the Reflecting Ether, but the Virgin Spirit-as-Ego Consciousness, remains.
For the physical scientist, the outward attributes of the Reflecting Ether are of primary concern. He thinks of worlds and universes of matter which are explained by laws inhering (or reflected) in this subtle plane. But for the esotericist, it is the inner universe, reflecting into the Reflecting Ether, which is of primary importance. And what collapses here is the "sense of barrier," the sense of separation, between mankind and the Living Universe with its innumerable Hierarchies, from elemental forces to the One Supreme Being in whom all creation lives, and moves, and has its continuing existence.
Thus Max Heindel's statement that this hyper-ether is a mirror which reflects a twofold reflection, the upper or inner universe and also the downward or outer universe, receives a new application in modern science.
We recall further that Mr. Heindel called both Light and Reflecting Ethers "migratory" and "volatile." The Reflecting Ether, like the Light Ether, is luminous, and it flows, which is the reason that at a certain point the seer finds it difficult to tell where the one leaves off and the other begins.
It has been pointed out that when once the student has learned to see the waves of the Light Ether, and practices sighting into these waves in near- darkness when the air seems filled with the pulsing tides of bluish light or mist, his sight comes to rest upon leaf-like forms which float and drift in the watery ether like underwater plants. Here he may see the familiar frost pattern of the winter's windowpane, its branches waving in the steady pulsing flow; and after a time he may become aware of the presence of color, and of life moving among the forms. It may be that he sees a little tree, which has the appearance of crystal, moving softly in waves of light; and small transparent winged shapes cluster, like crystal butterflies, upon its twigs. He discovers that when he fixes his attention upon this, it seems suddenly to move in toward him, thus seeming to grow larger, and its colors and details of structure may be studied as if under magnification. But if the attention wanders, all disappears.
Although called "volatile" and "migratory," the Reflecting Ether does present pictures as vivid and clear as those seen in a mirror, so that the student may feel as if he had indeed stepped "through the looking glass" when he has his first experience with this ether.
Looking into the space-waves moving in near darkness, he seems to himself to be at the bottom of an ocean of dim bluish light, and the great swells pulsing around him continuously reveal new forms, all of them moving slowly along like objects carried by sea tides.
Sometimes he may feel convinced that he can really see, with his physical sight, in this bluish light, and he may fix his eyes upon something in the room, say a picture which he knows hangs in a certain spot. For a moment indeed it seems that he is really seeing the picture; and then he realizes that instead he is seeing the same omnipresent plant forms, glowing, translucent, and crystalline in the ether. Space is full of patterns: "God geomterizes." At this point, gazing into the negative pole of the Light Ether, the student-seer passes insensibly into the vision of the negative pole of the Reflecting Ether. It is virtually impossible to say when or at what place the boundary has been crossed.
Note that these "patterns" which swim in the Light Ether shows every indication of being the guide-patterns for the elemental forces which construct earth forms. Geometric patterns and also intricate plant patterns of every sort, together with the life-forms that work through and with them as beheld here, pertain not merely to records of the past, but directly to the present-day world.
It is at the boundary between these two ethers that the Archetypal Forces mysteriously cross over into the space-time continuum. Here is the point where subjectivity, so-called, becomes objective, and the thought-form hovers on the verge of chemicalization.
The record inscribed on the seed atom of the heart and in the negative pole of the Reflecting Ether is only one manifestation of the powers resident in the Reflecting Ether; it is the specialized record belonging to one individual. The Reflecting Ether of the planet is the "memory" of the entire globe, receiving reflections from the planet's own mental envelope where the records—memories of the living Earth Spirit—are held inviolate and unchanging.
Some pictures in the Reflecting Ether do belong wholly to what we call the past, whether in the subconscious mind of our present embodiment, or in the race sub-conscious recorded in the seed atom in the apex of the heart, which we carry with us from life to life. All of the past resides in that part of the reflecting Ether, which we call the "sub-conscious," both in man and Nature, and which can be probed with the right technique.
Apropos of which Max Heindel says: "George du Maurier has written a story called Peter Ibbetson, wherein this theory of the sub-conscious memory is very clearly drawn. Peter Ibbetson, a prisoner in an English penitentiary, learned how to 'dream true;' that is to say, by putting his body in a certain position he learned how to lock the currents of ether within himself so that at night he was able at will to keep in touch with any scene in his past life that he desired to; there he could see himself as a spectator (grown man that was) and he could see himself among his parents and playmates, and in the environment he was in at the time that scene was enacted. he could see the whole scene with many more details than he had been able to observe at the time when the events took place in this material world....He would have been unable to gain any information concerning the future, but the past had been inscribed upon the tablet of his heart and was, therefore, accessible under the proper condition." (Vol. I, Q & A).
Note that the seer does not have to "go" to the Etheric Region in order to read the records in the Reflecting Ether. He does not leave his body or "go" anywhere. He simply reads from the Reflecting Ether which permeates the air he breathes, which has a special connection with the blood stream and the seed- atom in the heart. Max Heindel has said, however, that in his opinion it is necessary to be able to leave the body consciously in order to read in the Memory of Nature in the fourth Region of the World of Thought, for this record exists high up in the mental atmosphere of the planet.
Although the Reflecting Ether is largely confined to the past and the immediate present, yet it is also true that "coming events cast their shadows before;" but by the time these "shadows" are being cast into the Reflecting Ether they are on the very threshold of materialization. Clairvoyants often see these reflected shadows of the future in the Reflecting Ether, their own and others', but they do not see the archetypal forces belonging to the higher level in the World of Thought, and which may change these "shadows" without so much as a moment's notice. The student-seer should take note, therefore, that he himself, the Ego, active as a thinking, willing Being in the mental world, can alter or cancel out any picture seen in the Reflecting Ether; but he does this, not by attacking the matter-environment, but by treating through spiritual force and understanding the Creative Idea behind the picture, which is a property of the World of (Abstract) Thought, homeworld of the human Spirit.
There are many interesting stories of people who have had flash-dreams of pictures of future events, usually those about to happen. Sometimes these have been in the nature of warnings of danger, and acting upon them has saved the seer's life. But in a great number of cases the pictures are not clear enough or complete enough for the seer to be able to plot a course of action; and sometimes they show circumstances over which he has no control. In such cases it is well to remember that the real seat of control is in the archetypal World of Thought, from which point the Ego works with the subtle forces of Nature and controls every situation in harmony with cosmic law.
The Ego can and does control events which are at the point of materialization and which are, therefore visible as pictures in the Reflecting Ether, since it is through the positive pole of this ether that thought makes its impression upon the brain. But let no one become disturbed by the prophecies of fortune tellers or by his own flash-pictures and flash-dreams, because these pertain to the Reflecting Ether only, and can be referred back to spiritual forces in the home-world of the Ego itself, where it holds the reins of power.
Now how is the record made in the first place? Max Heindel says (Vol. I, Q & A): "Memory is of three kinds. There is in the first place the record which is made by our senses....these impressions are engraved upon the cells of the brain and we are able to consciously to call them back—yet not always,....for this memory is exceedingly unreliable and capricious, and were this the only method of gaining a record of our lives the law of cause and effect would be invalidated—our life would not be a sequence of what we have done or left undone in the past.
"There must be another memory, and this is what scientists have called the subconscious mind. Just as ether carries to the camera of the photographer a record of the surrounding landscape and imprints it upon the sensitive plate to the minutest detail, so the same ether which carries a picture to our eye and imprints it upon the retina carries into our lungs a similar picture which then is absorbed by the blood, and as the blood passes through the heart this record is indelibly inscribed upon the sensitive seed atom which is located in the left ventricle of the heart near the apex. The forces ("soul") of that seed atom are taken out by the Spirit at death and contains the record of the whole life to the minutest detail, so that, regardless of whether we have observed the facts in a certain scene or not, they are, nevertheless there."
(We may add that the third kind of memory is the super conscious memory found in the World of Life Spirit, which is the Christ Consciousness. Cosmo, page 92).
As Max Heindel has said that each atom of the body has a film of Light and Reflecting Ether, one sees that this must form, collectively, a sheath or aura. As the Ego evolves greater spirituality, it draws more heavily upon the cosmic Light and Reflecting Ethers, and the film surrounding the atoms grows and expands until they enclose the entire body in an extensive aura having very special properties and powers: the "Golden Wedding Garment" of the Initiate.
The permanent record of the seed atom goes with the Ego from life to life; but the film of Reflecting Ether on each atom carries a record pertaining to the present life in the body, moment by moment, until death, all of which is focused in the permanent record of the seed atom and carried from life to life.
There is but a small amount of the two higher ethers in the average human organism, and this is found chiefly in blood, brain, and nervous system; and it is precisely the enlargement of the Light and Reflecting Ether aura which brings about a stronger and more extensive memory, and one which is better able to focus the pictures from the planetary Memory of Nature, as well as from the seed atom of the heart.
Medieval philosophers made the surprising deduction that memory was not a part of the mind; just as we now say that it belongs to the subconscious, whence it may be called up, voluntarily or involuntarily.
Or as Max Heindel puts it in his camera analogy, the Light Ether pictures are focused on the film, which is the Reflecting Ether and permanent record of the seed atom.
Since Light Ether and Space are "almost synonymous" we see that the "pictures" in "space" imprint their images upon the film of the Reflecting Ether, flowing in two directions, one toward the past, the other toward the future.
Not only does the reflecting Ether contain the records pertaining to daily life, it also contains the records of the hours that are spent in sleep, which in the case of the esotericist are hours of great activity. Few students remember the activities of the night hours when as Invisible Helpers they are working, or studying, in the spiritual worlds. The Invisible Helpers have a choice of action, and while all of them show an interest in the healing work, some have other fields of activity as well. They attend classes, and also are given the opportunity of visiting the regions of Purgatory and First Heaven, to observe conditions there. Even after the First Initiation, Max Heindel said, his memory was not yet perfect, and required further training.
Psychologists used to speak of people as being "eye-minded," or "ear- minded," or "abstractionists" (as we may designate the third group), who could recall with no images whatever, of any sort. Incredible as it may seem to most people, there are some who can tell you exactly what they had for breakfast, describe everything that was on the table, and yet insist they do not "see" any image at all. Possibly this type of recollection without images belongs to the mathematical mind, accustomed to thinking without imagery except mathematical formulas. The esoteric student who is beginning to awaken upon the inner planes shows similar differences of memory and recall, which are undoubtedly due to just such differences of mental habit and temperament. Some will say to themselves, "I was at such and such a place last night and talked with so and so." Yet asked to describe the scene or the person he cannot do so, having no image at all in his mind relative to the situation. Perhaps in daily life he has the same sort of imageless recollection. To improve memory it may then be necessary to practice building images in the mind, which the student is to perform every morning upon awakening.
If the student is "ear-minded," if his auditory responses ar acute, he will be likely to recall words and speeches more vividly than images; and if he is "eye-minded," and his visual responsiveness is the outstanding quality, he will bring back a memory of scenery, objects, and people. Obviously, artistic people are largely "eye-minded," musicians and speakers "ear-minded." But those who say they recall experiences without images either visual or auditory are nevertheless also placing on record a true recollection.
Recent psychological experiments at various universities have brought up the suggestion that forgetting occurs as the result of interference of several memory-systems of which the images or items are closely similar. This the contrary of popular belief, which would have it that one remembers more easily things that are similar. In the case of inner-plane memories, the unusual events are the most easily recalled; bu the continuous life of study and work, night after night, is forgotten, largely, because it resembles our daily activities in many ways.
Along with the ability to recall the experiences of the inner planes where the Spirit functions during the sleep of the body (provided, of course, that it has ny higher interests than those of the body), comes the ability to see the pictures in the negative pole of the reflecting Ether, which relate to past incarnations. We are told that these records, in a way not yet definable in scientific terms, are impressed upon the seed-atom of the heart and carried from life to life; and these seed-atom records are among those which, reflected into the negative pole of the Reflecting Ether, the student often sees before sinking to sleep and before awakening in the morning. Psychologists call them "hypnagogic" visions, visions thrown out of the subconscious, in sleep or near-sleep. Since they come during sleep, like dreams, the student is not able to exert any real control over them, but as the soul-awareness increases he does acquire control. Most "trance" vision belongs to the area of hypnagogic vision. In the higher order of clear-seeing, however, the person is wide awake, but relaxes into complete stillness by an act of will, and then sees these so-called "hypnagogic" visions in full waking consciousness, and learns to control and direct them.
It is because of the need of complete relaxation that most esoteric schools in the past were situated in out-of-the-way places, on mountain-tops and deep in forests or desert places where the air was clear and pure, and there were only the sounds of Nature. Obviously, when students trained in such quiet places went out into the noisy thoroughfares of the towns and cities, they tended to lose their hard-won powers, and had to learn to concentrate in the midst of noise and confusion.
The Western Mystery School of the Rose Cross has seen and met this problem. Its training is designed for the use of the city-dweller, and while it may seem to the student that his progress is slow, he would find, if he were to make a retreat to some quiet spiritual haven in the country, that he had actually acquired more power than he had realized, and would compare favorably with the students resident there who had been trained in solitude.
It is not to be thought that the "sleeping" vision carries over into the waking state. The point we are making is that the sleeping state gradually clarifies, or becomes permeated with waking consciousness; and this waking consciousness then covers both the hours of sleep and the hours of waking, and also the intermediate zones where the "hypnagogic" visions occur.
In this clarified, or "clear," state the student-seer reads in the negative pole of the Reflecting Ether, and sometimes within that ether he will see pictures from past incarnations, his own and others'.
There are certain important points to be observed in connection with these visions in the Reflecting Ether. First, the known characteristics of this ether to transpose some of the images, as in the case of Mme. Blavatsky who read a page number backward. The mirror-analogy should not be pushed too far, because, after all, the Reflecting Ether is not a physical looking-glass; it is a four-dimensional mirror in which the three dimensions of space are experienced by consciousness as a reflection.
This means that unlike the mirror-image, which is never mixed up with our physical selves but remains apart, we ourselves seem to be taken into the stream of the Reflecting Ether, so that we stand in the very midst of the events shown taking place there. It is only at first that the pictures rush past like the moving pictures familiar to us on the theater screen; the student at some point will find that he has, himself, entered the scene shown him, and he is likely to assume that he is seeing a picture of his own past incarnation. And this is usually true. The first pictures seen are generally those which pertain to our own past incarnations. However, we may not recognize ourselves, in a scene where many people are shown, and where our sympathies go out to some one character. Inevitably the student-seer will assume identity with the character with whom he feels the strongest sympathy, because he has, through the "reflecting" power of the ether, actually entered into the emotion-pattern of the character he sees. Thus several women wrote to Arthur Weigall, the Egyptologist, thanking him for his kind treatment of the history of Cleopatra—who, they said, they were in their former incarnations! Now how could these several women all believe that had been Cleopatra? Obviously they has seen visions of Egypt with Cleopatra central to them all; and they had felt a powerful emotional identity with the unfortunate queen.
We may assume that the seers were people who had, in very truth, lived in Egypt and who had known Cleopatra. They may have been servants at court, or court ladies, friends of the queen. They may even have been her sincerest enemies, who worked to bring about her downfall and death, and who in Purgatory between incarnations, had entered into her suffering and learned to repent their evil. Now, in the incarnation when they at last entered upon the Way of Initiation, the past opened its doors and showed them the place in which they had made much karma. They were not only in the midst of the scenes of Cleopatra's time, they were also in the midst of the waves of emotion which surged through her court, of which she was the pivot and the center. Each of the women seers, obviously because of personal vanity and perhaps also because she was starved for excitement, promptly decided that she herself was Cleopatra reborn.
Thus we see that there is a memory of emotion as well as a memory of thought and action, and this also is touched upon in the Reflecting Ether clairvoyance; though this emotion-memory is for most people more rarely experienced than the other. However, when the image of the past is not merely viewed, but entered into in the way described, the emotion-memory comes into play. Now since most of us identify ourselves with our emotions and feelings to an even greater degree than with body-sensations and thought, it is natural that, feeling a strong emotion emanating from a pictured character, we assume an identity which is not really ours, and thus ridiculous situations arise such as that of the several women who thought they were Cleopatra.
Note that every object in the outer universe has its clear and unmistakable replica in the Reflecting Ether. It is not only the Soul Body or Golden Wedding Garment that is found there. Everything in the universe has its reflection in this ether. The laws of reflection in the hyper-ether, however, are not a simple mirror-type image, although this is the analogy upon which teachers base their explanations. We suggest that science's newest theories about matter and anti-matter pivot about this ether; and that as anti-matter has anti-gravity one may read here a possible explanation of the old saying that levitation is accomplished by means of the astral light. A current theory has it that in the beginning matter and anti-matter existed together in a sort of "cosmic egg," and were separated by some kind of repulsive force as yet unknown. Max Heindel has said that levitation is accomplished by the reversal of the polarity of atoms.
The proposition that the negative pole of the Reflecting Ether may constitute the "great negative mass" which underlies the Space-Time continuum of which modern science begins to be aware may come as a shock to students who have not realized how close physics has come to metaphysics.
Max Heindel speaks often of "interplanetary ethers," chief of which are the Light and Reflecting Ethers. The interplanetary Light Ether, in particular, he associates with the Cosmic Christ or Solar Logos. But just as matter actually extends throughout the universe in interplanetary and interstellar space— there are atoms of matter in every cubic foot of cosmic space; space is not empty—so also do the ethers; and each planet specializes its own field in which evolution proceeds for the life-wave belonging to that planet.
Many of the so-called illusions of matter are due, indirectly, to the properties of the Reflecting Ether, which has been called the Mirror of the Gods.
All three of the lower ethers are active within the confines of the Reflecting Ether. We may, indeed, think of each ether, starting from the top, as enclosing or enfolding (and interpenetrating) those below it. Thus the Reflecting Ether "contains," as it were, the Light, Life, and Chemical Ethers. The Light Ether "contains" the Life and Chemical Ethers; and the Life Ether "contains" the Chemical Ether, which we may add, in its turn may be said to "contain" the physical organism.
For example: the Ego impresses thought upon the brain by way of the positive pole of the Reflecting Ether. Now we know that the thinking and memory processes of the embodied Ego have not only the electromagnetic correlations of the Light and Life Ethers, but also the purely chemical correlations of the Chemical Ether. There is a chemistry of memory and a chemistry of thought, as well as an electromagnetic pattern and forces in brain and nerves which transmit thought impulses to the body and which carry sensory impressions from the body to the brain.
Certain forces in the Light Ether flow in response to the thought-impulse focused by the Ego in the positive pole of the Reflecting Ether, where the thought form moves out toward chemicalization, passing downward (which is outward) by way of the electromagnetic spectrum and Light Ether. Some biologists have already formulated the theory that the electrical currents in the voluntary nervous system actually pour out from the brain, where they are generated. The esotericist points out that the Ego has its seat in the brain. Max Heindel speaks of the great waves of energy that push out from the brain when the Ego wills action in the body.
Therefore, says the biologist, there is "an intricate chemical basis for how people remember and why they forget." Experiments have shown that learning is reflected by changes in the cell's production of RNA (ribonucleic acid), but how the RNA is changed remains as yet unknown. It is known, however, that the learning process is accompanied by basic changes in the composition of this complex chemical. Since RNA molecules tell cells what proteins to make, changes in RNA structures would result in changes in the production of proteins. These proteins apparently "form the chemical basis for thoughts."
Again a scientific writer comments: "The enormity of the task of mechanizing and electrifying brain power is illustrated by the fact that the human brain contains about 10,000,000,000 nerve cells. We do not know how it translates nerve impulses into sight, sound, or touch, or how it stores and retrieves vast amounts of knowledge." The esotericist classifies the "brain power" and nerve impulses in the Light Ether; the storing and retrieving of knowledge in the reflecting Ether. The Life Ether supplies the life force which keeps tissues and cells alive and growing, and the Chemical Ether is the field in which atoms and molecules are cemented magnetically into the patterns of evolution. Again, Max Heindel comments (The Web of Destiny) that the vital fluid from the Sun "charges" the Chemical and Life Ethers, and that "thus charged (they) are the avenues of assimilation which preserve the individual and of fecundation which perpetuates the race."
Since Reflecting Ether vision is not dependent upon the optic nerve, the physically blind can learn to see in this ether, and see not only inner-plane images but physical-plane images as well. If this seems a poor substitute for physical sight, let us consider that normally no one ever does look out directly upon the physical world. Ordinarily one sees only the image which has reached the retina of the eye, which is translated into nerve impulses, these in turn passing inward to the optical center of the brain, where somehow, the nerve impulses are translated back into the image and interpreted by the Ego. And where does this translation take place? Where but in the Reflecting Ether interpenetrating the brain?
"Within each individual there is a built-in mechanism, not yet discovered, that allows man to evolve. The DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) that embodies this mechanism, the genetic code of all living organisms (except the blood and several viruses) is made up of four chemical bases; adenin, guanine, cytosine, and thymine, and it is the different combinations of these four chemicals that provide the specific information used by the cells in the construction of proteins. It is this DNA which is shaped by evolution. There is constant competition for survival among these combinations, and in this way organisms slowly become enriched with experiences that facilitate this survival. No one yet has discovered the complete base sequence of these different combinations fro a single genes. Now we are out of the field of generalities of epigenesis and philosophy and into the alchemist's laboratory, where our alchemists of old with their four basic elements would feel right at home." (Rays from the Rose Cross, Nov., 1963, page 516.)
Without the Reflecting Ether, the Ego could not express consciousness in the physical body; that is, it could not be conscious in the physical world. Consciousness, suggests a philosopher of modern science (Erwin Schrodinger) appears in the role of a tutor. It "supervises our education," introduces us to new experiences, but leaves us to carry on our old routines in the form of "habit"—which we relate to the negative pole of the Reflecting Ether. Consciousness is concerned with the learning process and is intimately associated with all that is new. That is, with new experiences and with creativity, epigenesis, the forces of the positive pole—in a word, the future.
Esotericists have long recognized phosphorus as important to the thinking process. Max Heindel says: "Phosphorus is the particular element by means of which the Ego is able to express as thought and influence the dense body....The degree of consciousness and intelligence is in proportion to the amount of phosphorus contained in the brain." "Soul growth enables the brain to assimilate an increasing amount of phosphorus" (which is a chemical poison).
The term "Astral Light" is not (as is well known) an orientalism, but was anciently used by Western teachers in reference to the star-like Soul Body and its aura. Paracelsus refers to it as "the sidereal light." The words of the great Paracelsus are most significant: "Hidden things of the soul which cannot be perceived by the physical senses may be found through the sidereal body, through whose organism we may look into Nature in the same way that the Sun shines through glass. The inner nature of everything may therefore be known, through magic in general, and through the powers of the inner or second sight." In the Rosicrucian Philosophy the descriptive term "Reflecting Ether" is used instead of "Astral Light," the latter term including the Light Ether as well as the Reflecting Ether.
We deem it important that oriental and medieval European esotericists have claimed that heavy bodies can be levitated by means of the Astral Light, besides noting its function in promoting the other supersensory powers. We may study the various chemical and electromagnetic properties and processes of the body singly or collectively; but the root of the mystery is found nowhere else than in the Reflecting Ether; in the negative pole, which is the Cosmic Reflector, and in the positive pole which projects the creatively working archetypal image that represents the future.
In this final section on the Reflecting Ether we turn again to Max Heindel's statement that "this ether is the medium through which thought makes an impression upon the human brain. It is most intimately connected with the fourth subdivision of the World of Thought. This is the highest of the four subdivisions contained in the Region of Concrete Thought and is the home world of the human mind. There a much clearer version of the Memory of nature is found."
The fourth subdivision of the Region of Concrete Thought is termed the Region of Archetypal Forces. (Cosmo). Let us look farther into what we are taught concerning this region, in order to gain a clearer understanding of the Reflecting Ether, for it is the record in this Region which is reflected "down" into the Reflecting Ether, and the cosmic relationship existing between the World of Thought and the Reflecting Ether has its microcosmic replica within the aura of the embodied human being.
The records of the Memory of Nature are contained in the negative pole of the Reflecting Ether, and so is the individual memory. But the Ego directs its positive thought force into the brain by way of the positive pole of the Reflecting Ether. This positive thought force, which works through the positive pole of the Reflecting Ether in the brain and nervous system (the mind really works everywhere that the "gray matter" is present, throughout the body) is creative; it is not passively receptive. The negative pole is the receptor, and therefore contains the memory, being the storehouse of all images, as hitherto described.
Of the Region of Archetypal Forces, Max Heindel writes: "It is the central and most important Region in the five worlds wherein man's entire evolution is carried on. On the one side of this Region are the three higher Regions of the World of Thought, the World of Life Spirit, and the World of Divine Spirit. On the other side of the Region of Archetypal Forces are the three lower Regions of the World of Thought, the Desire and the Physical Worlds. Thus this Region becomes a sort of 'crux,' bounded on the one side by the Realms of Spirit, on the other by the worlds of form. It is a focusing point, where Spirit reflects itself in Matter." (Cosmo-Conception)
In another place Mr. Heindel points out that from another viewpoint the world of Spirit proper really begins only with the World of Life Spirit, which he calls the first universal world, and that in the broad sense, the material universe begins with the Region of Abstract Thought, and that above this all is "pure" Spirit. The World of Abstract Thought is "chaos, the seed-ground of cosmos," in which the "germinal ideas"—the germs of all causation, and therefore of evolution, are created by spiritual intelligences in that world. In the Cosmo-Conception, Diagram 1, we are shown a schematic drawing by which to understand the "relative permanency of the visible and invisible worlds," on the analogy of the stereopticon with its projected images. The Diagram is drawn from the point of view of the Virgin Spirit, whose Will corresponds to the operator of the stereopticon machine; which conceives, in the World of Life Spirit, by means of the divine creative imagination, a concept; this concept takes the form of an Idea in the Region of Abstract Thought, and the Idea is posited before the Lens of the Mind, in the fourth subdivision of the World of Thought. This fourth division alone is properly and scientifically designated "the mind." The mind is the lens, but the light emanates from the Life Spirit, while the slide represents the permanent Idea created by the Virgin Spirit in the Region of Abstract Thought. That is, this Permanent Idea is the "Germinal Idea;" so called because it is the "seed" from which the exterior world-objects spring. The light of the Life Spirit projects the living, permanent Idea through the Mind, which lies specifically in the Region of Archetypal Forces, and, therefore, it is these Archetypal Forces which from this point on are represented by the beams of light which emanate from the World of Life Spirit. The Archetypal Forces ray downward through the Region of Concrete Thought and the Desire World, awakening the driving power of desire, and the image, corresponding to the image cast on the screen by the stereopticon projector. What are the Archetypal Forces? They are all the living beings who work on the Archetypes in the Second Heaven, which Archetypes are thought forms. They include human beings between incarnations, Nature Forces, and the celestial Hierarchies, such as Lords of Mind, Archangels, Angels, advanced members of our own life wave (Mercurians, Venusians), etc., and Adepts of our own humanity.
Now when we come to the Physical World, where the image is objectified, we are shown seven subdivisions, of which the four upper are the ethers which are the subject of these sections; and of these four ethers, the Reflecting Ether is the uppermost. It is, Max Heindel says, an Hyper-ether. This ether is the screen upon which the image is projected from the mind. But the forces of the Desire World are present with the image, just as the heat, light, and electricity of the stereopticon machine are involved in projecting the image inscribed on the glass slide on to the screen—or, in another analogy, the moving picture projected from the film strip.
But the projected image of the stereopticon or moving picture is flat and two-dimensional. The projected image contained within (not on) the Reflecting Ether, is three-dimensional. It is projected in depth, and with life and force. The Memory of Nature and the human mind is comparable, on this analogy, to art galleries and newspapers which carry pictures and symbols, but these are only a portion of the entire physical world itself, the so-called time-space continuum of modern physical science.
The time-space continuum as a whole correlates with the Reflecting Ether, and therefore modern scientists speak of "traveling in time," or "the annihilation or collapse of space," and "the collapse of time." Where the esotericist says that he "reads in the Memory of Nature"—particularly the Reflecting Ether—the scientists says that he "travels in time." And many scientific fantasies show this traveling in time as if it were possible for a person living in the 20th century to return, in actual fact, to a former time and way of life, retaining as he does his present-day personality and knowledge. The esotericist questions such a reversal of the time stream. He does, indeed, travel backward in consciousness in the course of his Initiations, where he reviews, and remembers, his previous existences—not only his embodiments as a human being in the Earth Period but his former existences as animal-like, planet-like or even mineral-like beings of earlier periods of evolution.
But whereas those periods were experienced with no self-awareness, the Initiate now views them and enters into them sympathetically (or with empathy, empathically), in full waking self-consciousness, and in so doing becomes able to use the forces voluntarily which he then used involuntarily—negatively or passively—under the guidance of higher spiritual beings.
Now just as the physical body of man is surrounded by and derived from the world around him, so that Divine Spirit and Life Spirit are surrounded by and derived from their corresponding macrocosmic worlds of Spirit; so also the Human Spirit is differentiated within the World of Abstract Thought, and the Mind and Desire Body from their corresponding worlds; while the vital body consists of the ethers which surround it on all sides, and the physical body is made up of physical substances as said.
But from another point of view we may say that the universe consists solely of Spirit: the Divine Spirit which is "reflected" or condensed into the physical body as its representative; the Life Spirit, which is "reflected" or condensed into the Vital Body, as its representative; the Human Spirit which is "reflected" or condensed into the Desire Body and Concrete Mind, as its twofold representative. But—as we see from a process of elimination—it is the mind itself which is the focus, condensation, or reflection, of pure Virgin Spirit. And the Reflecting Ether is, as it were, a kind of lower polarity or octave of the mind; the subconscious mind, in the sense that it occupies a plane below the true mind.
To call the Reflecting Ether the "lower octave" of the mind is of course a musical analogy, but such an analogy bears a high degree of accuracy as regards the World of Thought, for that world is the great cosmic world of tone, or sound; each cosmic sound pattern created in Cosmic Root Substance by a Creative Idea sent forth by the Three-fold Spirit in the way shown in Diagram 1 of the Cosmo-Conception. The World Archetype sings a song emanating from the Solar Logos and the Great Spirits before His Throne who are the Planetary Logoi; and Man, as Virgin Spirit, is part of this Song, and he also sings along with the innumerable spirits of the celestial Hierarchies.
It is known to musicians—and to physicists who have drawn up a science of sound—that when a certain note is struck, say on a piano, other keys harmonious to it will vibrate in sympathy, creating overtones, undertones, chords, and octaves, as the case may be. (See Cosmo-Conception) So the harmony of the threefold Spirit sounds, and by sounding creates tone-patterns in the World of Concrete Thought, which are translated into form and substance in the Physical World. This is why it is said that the reflecting Ether is the "lower octave" of the fourth or Archetypal Region of the World of Thought, and therefore reflects, or resounds with the pictures of the Memory of Nature, and with all other forces which belong to that high realm.
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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