Introductory Core Concepts
Independent Study Module No. 1
We are glad to know you have become interested in the Western Wisdom Teachings. The first Independent Study Module of the Core Concepts Course is below, and we trust that the understanding of life and its problem offered by this course will bring you much comfort and joy.
A New Age is dawning, and wonderful opportunities await those who understand and cooperate with the cosmic forces operating to break humanity's bond of materialism and usher in a new order upon higher spiritual concepts. As we bring ourselves into harmony with these forces, we not only greatly hasten our own progress, but make it possible for us to aid in the great work of uplifting all humanity.
These Independent Study Modules are not sold. The Contemporary Mystic Christian Teachings are free. All receive the same teaching and attention.
You are now starting the study of Independent Study Modules which are designed to aid you in understanding certain fundamental laws that may be used as a basis for a happier, more successful and more useful life.
You are an Ego, a spirit spark from God, and within your spiritual being lie all divine possibilities. You are made "in the image and likeness of God," but the powers of the Ego are as yet only potential. In the Western Wisdom Teachings a path is pointed out which leads to unfoldment of the divine qualities in a normal, natural way, and at the same time so attunes your consciousness to the spiritual and material plane that more harmony will be expressed in every phase of your life. The function of this Teaching is to create an enlarged horizon, a breadth of vision, a more mature judgment and greater self-control. The use of this knowledge will allow fewer mistakes, bring security in action, and give faith and courage to face life in all its vicissitudes, with the peace, poise, and confidence that are born of knowledge and understanding.
These Independent Study Modules are based upon The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception, or Mystic Christianity, by Max Heindel [1865-1919].
Please feel that we are your friends, and that we consider it a pleasure and a privilege to assist you in any way possible to live the higher life, which leads to true happiness and spiritual unfoldment.
Wishing you a full measure of the joy and happiness that rewards every spiritual aspirant, we are,
Sincerely your friends,
Fellow Students of the Contemporary Mystic Christian Teachings
Independent Study Module No. 1
The Visible and Invisible Worlds
The universe is God's great training school. In our particular part of this vast school we are now witnessing momentous happenings and changes which are causing an increased demand for a better understanding of the reasons for existence. "What does it all mean?" we may ask, and "What does it mean to me?"
The key to progress may be summed up in the ancient adage: "Man know thyself." The first step in understanding ourselves and our relation to the cosmic forces affecting the visible manifestations taking place about us is to understand something of the Worlds in which we live, since the laws operating throughout the Cosmos inevitably affect individual, personal lives.
To the majority of people there is but one World, the dense physical globe on which we live; the superphysical worlds are not visible to the average individual because he has not yet developed the higher and finer senses which are necessary to contact them. These higher Worlds are the worlds of cause, and a study of these self-study modules will enable the student to account satisfactorily for the visible manifestation seen in the physical world, as well as to regulate the life so that more harmony and fullness will be expressed on all planes.
General Information and Questions:
[You are welcome to e-mail your answers and/or comments to us. Please be sure to include the course name and Independent Study Module number in your e-mail to us. Or, you are also welcome to use the answer form below. (Java required) You will find the answers to the questions below in Core Concepts Independent Study Module No. 2.]
1. The Seven Worlds:
In the Rosicrucian Teachings the universe is divided into seven different worlds or states of matter.
Name these seven worlds. (The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception)
2. The Seven Subdivisions:
Each World is divided into 7 regions or subdivisions of matter. These divisions are not arbitrary but necessary because the substance of each of them is amenable to laws which are practically inoperative in the others. For instance, in the Physical World matter gravitates, contracts and expands. In the Desire World there is neither heat nor cold, distance nor time. The material of these Worlds also varies in density; that of the Physical World being the densest of the seven.
Describe the difference in the substance of the Desire and Physical Worlds. (The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception)
3. The Two General Classifications:
In the Physical World these 7 subdivisions are grouped under two classifications or regions.
Name these two classifications, designating which of the 7 subdivisions are included in each. (The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception)
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4. The Chemical Ether:
The Chemical Ether has two poles and is both positive and negative in its manifestation.
What is the function of each pole? (The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception)
5. The Life Ether:
The Life Ether also has a positive and negative pole, and operates partially in the plant kingdom and fully in animal and man.
What is the function of the forces which work along the positive and negative poles of the Life Ether? (The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception)
6. The Light Ether:
In winter when the Light Ether is not charged with sufficient sunlight the sap of the plant ceases to flow. This ether is responsible for the color found in all the kingdoms of nature.
What is the function of the forces which work along the positive and negative poles of this ether? (The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception)
7. The Reflecting Ether:
Everything that has ever happened has left a picture in the Reflecting Ether. All thoughts and acts are recorded here, and the trained seer may read their story. This ether is also the medium through which thought makes an impression upon the human brain.
Why is this ether called "reflecting"? (The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception)
Supplemental Student Material:
I. Perception and Consciousness of Spatial Dimensions
Have you ever contemplated how the world appears to animals? What does a snail think happened if it suddenly comes to the end of the leaf upon which it has been crawling? What does an eagle think happened if it sees a mouse run into a hole in the ground? What does a dog think causes the change in the appearance of a car as the car approaches, passes, and then recedes? Such exercises in understanding can be valuable not only because they may help develop sympathy and hence love for animals (and love for all creatures is worthwhile), but also because the relation of an animal to a human may be in some ways similar to the relation of a human to beings with superhuman abilities (such as Christ) so that such contemplations can aid our understanding of the super-human beings.
Material scientists observe that the one-celled animal called the amoeba has no eyes. Its perception of its environment is limited mainly to feeling objects that it comes in contact with. Annelida (worms) are able to react to changes in light intensity, and starfish have eye-spots on the tips of their arms, which can respond to different illumination on different tips, but have no arrangement for the formation of images. Insect eyes can perceive light and dark, direction and motion, and in some cases size, but cannot focus on objects of varying distances (although different parts of the eye may be suited to seeing things near or far). The focusing ability is improved in cephalapods (octopuses), fish, and amphibians with the development of the ability to change the distance of the lens from the retina, which enables the eye to focus images on the retina of objects at varying distances. The focusing ability is further refined in snakes and higher vertebrates with the development of the ability to change the shape of the lens in order to accommodate for objects at different distances. With improved focusing ability comes improved ability to make visual distinctions. Although flies and earthworms show no ability to distinguish size, butterflies, cockroaches, turtles, chicks , rats, and monkeys can distinguish areas of different sizes. Bees, wasps, butterflies, turtles, birds, chicks dogs, raccoons, and monkeys have demonstrated ability to distinguish different flat shapes.
In birds, mammals, and humans, the optic nerves partially cross on the way to the brain so that each retina sends nerve fibers to both hemispheres of the brains. Thus the visual fields of the two eyes combine. The two slightly different views of the two eyes together give the appearance of solidity to objects viewed. In some mammals the eyes are placed so far to the sides of the head that the field over which both eyes can see the same object is very small. Even in the animals in which appropriate nerve and eye structure exists for stereoscopic vision, the ability to use this structure may be limited. Birds can distinguish flat forms but do not show recognition of different vessels. Mice and rats exhibit difficulty in judging the distances of platforms (in order to choose the closest platform, or to jump to platforms at varying distances). In humans, however, the ability to clearly view the various objects in a scene and to perceive their distances is well developed.
Because the amoeba is aware only of itself and things that come in contact with it, we may say that its perception of space is essentially the perception of a single point, which is zero-dimensional perception. The transition from one state of perception to another is gradual so that some intermediate forms may neither be clearly in one state nor the next. The annelida and starfish have some characteristics of a zero-dimensional perception (in their inability to perceive anything unless it comes in contact with their body), but some slight consciousness along a line may be developing as simultaneous awareness of separate points within their body is developed. Insects that have developed the ability to perceive direction (but not size or shape) have perception along a line, which is one-dimensional. They can see something outside themselves and can decide to move toward or away from it. Those insects that demonstrate size and form recognition have the beginning of perception of a surface, which is a two-dimensional perception. This two-dimensional perception is further developed and refined in fish, amphibians, reptiles, birds, and mammals. Birds and mammals, which have the capability of stereoscopic vision but still have difficulty distinguishing solid forms, are in a transition from a two-dimensional to a three-dimensional perception. Humans have the ability to perceive things of varying shapes and distances. They can simultaneously perceive length, width, and height, and thus have three-dimensional perception.
A creature that is capable of forming only n-dimensional mental images would not be able to function successfully in a body with n+1 or higher dimensional perception, as signals would reach the mind that the mind could not process. If a zero-dimensional consciousness inhabited a human body, it would not be able to mentally conceive of a foot and a hand at the same time, and when separate signals came from the two organs, they would merge into one in the mind and no distinction would be made in the signals. Creatures that are capable of forming n-dimensional mental images would find it advantageous to have a body with no less than n-dimensional perceptual abilities, and thus in time such bodies would be built. Thus, generally, the dimensionality of the perceptual abilities is equal to the dimensionality of the images that the mind is able to deal with and thence is equal to the dimensionality of the consciousness (with some exceptions occurring in transitional stages).
To a creature with zero-dimensional consciousness, the world consists of nothing but the one point of which it is conscious. Anything that enters that point seemingly comes out of nowhere, and when it leaves, it seems to cease to exist. If such a creature were to move along the surface of, say, a leaf, it would become conscious of one point after another on the leaf. The points it had left would, for it, be past. The points it had not yet reached would, for it, be the future. But we, with our ability to view the whole leaf, could see both the past and the future of the zero-dimensional consciousness at a glance.
To a creature with one-dimensional consciousness, the world is one-dimensional. Nothing exists for it except what lies along the line that it is conscious of. If anything enters this line, it appears to come into existence to the one-dimensional consciousness. If anything leaves this line, it appears to go out of existence. If such a creature moves its line of view, say, by turning its head, it will see in a number of directions in succession. Its path of perception would trace a line around the landscape (as a line drawn across a photograph). Again we, with our higher-dimensional vision, would be able to view all at once what the one-dimensional consciousness would consider past and future.
To a creature with two-dimensional consciousness, the world appears two-dimensional, as a photograph. Such a creature conceives only a plane of existence. If it views a house and sees someone open the door of the house and come out, to its consciousness, that person appeared out of nowhere. If it walks around a house, to it, the house appears to continuously change its shape and features, although we, with our higher-dimensional consciousness, view the house as having constant shape.
The zero-dimensional consciousness views the world as being zero-dimensional, but that does not make the world zero-dimensional. The one-dimensional consciousness views the world as being one-dimensional, but that does not make the world one-dimensional. The two-dimensional consciousness perceives the world as being two-dimensional, but that does not make the world two-dimensional. To us, with our three-dimensional consciousness, the world appears to be three-dimensional, but that does not exclude the possibility of the existence of higher dimensions.
Note that when we, with our three-dimensional consciousness, view the world of a lower dimensional consciousness, we can make things appear out of "nowhere" or disappear in their world, and we can see their past and future all at once. Throughout history there have been certain people who have exhibited these types of abilities in relation to our three-dimensional consciousness. They have demonstrated the ability to cause things to appear or disappear, to describe what happened in past events at which they were not present, and to foretell the future (so they are called prophets). Christ was able to bring bread and fishes into existence when there were many people who needed food (Matt. 14:13-21), and to disappear from a crowd without being seen (Luke 4:28-30, John 8:59). He was able to tell the whole past history of people whom he met for the first time (John 1:43-51, John 4:7-19), and he repeatedly exhibited that he knew what experiences he and his disciples would encounter before they encountered them (Matt. 17:24-27, Mat. 20:18-19, Matt. 26:20-25, Matt. 26:31-35, Luke 5:1-11). It is reasonable to relate the consciousness of Christ and the other prophets of four-dimensional consciousness.
Paul, in his Letter to the Ephesians (3:14-18), wrote, "I bow my knees to the Father...that Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is breadth, and length, and depth, and height." Paul included four dimensions here, and implied that not only the saints could comprehend these, but that we also will be able to comprehend them when Christ dwells in our hearts and we become rooted and grounded in love.
—Abbott, Edwin A. Flatland. New York: Dover Publications, 1952
—Ouspensky, P.D. Tertium Organum. Rochester, N.Y.: Manas Press, 1920
—Washburn, Margaret F. The Animal Mind. New York: Macmillan, 1926
II. The Roles of Science and Religion in the Search for Truth
Man possesses sense organs with which he can make observations of the physical world. After making many observations, he begins to see patterns in what he observes. He sees that water runs downhill, that heavenly bodies run in certain paths, that electricity passing through a wire can produce heat and sometimes light, etc. Then he develops "laws, " which are statements of observed patterns. He also develops theories, which aim to explain why things happen as they do. These theories often involve things that are not perceivable, but that are accepted as true if the associated explanations are reasonable. No one has ever seen gravity (or a "gravitational field," as the scientists would say), but we "explain" that the reason that water runs downhill and that objects near the earth fall when they are unsupported is that gravity pulls on them. No one has ever seen an electron, but the heating effects of an electric current can be explained by saying that electric current is composed of moving electrons and that the moving electrons have kinetic energy (another invisible thing) and that when the electrons collide with atoms in the wire, their kinetic energy turns into heat energy. Thus, because electrons help provide an explanation for the heating effects of electric currents and other phenomena, electrons become part of the theory and are believed in.
This process of observing the material world and making laws and theories is called "material science." Material science has limitations. It is based on physical sense perceptions and inferences from these. But there are some things that cannot be physically perceived or inferred. Religion is needed to complete the picture. Some individuals are clairvoyant, that is, they are able to perceive superphysical worlds. They have observed these worlds and their operations and have developed and written down the laws that pertain to the superphysical worlds. Those who cannot yet make these observations for themselves can only know about the superphysical worlds if they are willing to accept the statements of the clairvoyants on faith. Material science is aware of physical cause-effect relations, but cannot detect the guiding Spiritual Influences that control what happens on Earth. Clairvoyants say that acts of nature (volcanoes, earthquakes, lightning, and weather systems) are all purposeful actions of the divine hierarchies. Clairvoyants say that even we ourselves are guided, so that whatever we encounter in life was designed to be something that we needed to learn to deal with in order to further our evolution. Material science has noted that if body A pushes on body B, then body B pushes back on body A with an equal and opposite force, but material science cannot make statements about reactions that lie beyond directly observable pushes. Clairvoyants say that when person A influences person B at the emotional, mental, or spiritual level, this influence returns to and will later be felt by A.
In time, each person will develop his own clairvoyant powers. What is now known through religion will then become part of science. Until that time, however, religion and science will complement one another. Both are needed for a complete picture of Truth.
—Heindel, Max. The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception
—Steiner, Rudolf. Knowledge of the Higher Worlds and Its Attainment. New York: Anthroposophic Press, 1947
—Steiner, Rudolf. Manifestations of Karma London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1969.
III. Mass, Energy, and Spirit
Mass is a property of matter that makes it difficult to accelerate the matter. Newton's Second Law states that the acceleration of an object is equal to the net force acting on that object divided by the mass of the object. This can be written as
where "m" is the mass of an object, "F" is the net force acting on the object, and "a" is the acceleration of the object. From this equation it can be seen that when a given force acts on a body, the more mass the body has, the less acceleration will be produced. Because a truck has more mass than a car, a truck is not able to go from rest to full speed as quickly as a car, nor can a moving truck stop as quickly as a car. Mass also influences gravitational pull (weight). The more mass an object has, the more strongly will it be pulled by gravity at any given location, that is, the more weight it will have at that location. Because a truck has more mass than a car, it is more difficult to lift a truck (pushing against gravity) than to lift a car.
Material scientists generally accept the reality of anything that has mass. If they can see it, feel a resistance when they push it, and weigh it, then they are willing to believe it exists.
Suppose we take a block of ice. The ice has mass and force is needed to accelerate or lift it. Suppose we place the ice in a dish and heat it. In time the ice will melt. If we continue heating, it will vaporize and disappear from the dish. In fact, all massive objects can be turned into vapor if enough heat is applied, and thus can be made to disappear. The material scientist has learned to stretch his imagination to accept the occasional disappearance of part of what he considers real. He notes that even when matter vaporizes and disappears, it can be re-condensed and thus made to reappear. An interesting thing about this process is that the total mass of the system remains constant even through the invisible part of the process. If one kilogram of ice is vaporized, and if all the vapor is collected and recrystallized, the resulting block of ice will again have a mass of one kilogram. Because the vapor carries the property of mass without loss, credence is given to the idea that the vapor, even though invisible, is just as real as the solid from which it was produced.
With the arrival of the twentieth century, the imagination of material scientists was stretched on step further. In 1905, Albert Einstein theorized that mass and energy should be inter-convertible according to the equation
where "E" is the amount of energy needed to produce a mass "m," and c=2.998 X 10 [to the 8th power] m/s. Alternately, "E" is the amount of energy that can be produced from a mass "m". Einstein's mass-energy equation has been experimentally verified both in nuclear reactions and in elementary particle reactions. It is observed that mass can be created out of electromagnetic radiation in what are called "pair production" events. If sufficiently energetic electromagnetic radiation (which is massless) passes near a heavy nucleus, an electron and an anti-electron (both of which have mass) can be produced. The presence of the nucleus is needed in order to absorb some of the momentum of the reaction. In a similar manner, a proton and anti-proton, or a neutron and an anti-neutron, or any other particle and corresponding anti-particle can be produced. Some have theorized that this is the manner in which all matter was originally created. Inversely, when a particle and an anti-particle encounter one another, they disappear and only massless electromagnetic radiation remains.
In the pair annihilation processes, not only does mass become invisible, but also mass ceases to exist. it is interesting to note, however, that even when the mass ceases to exist, the total mass plus energy divided by c squared remains constant. If one kilogram of mass were converted into pure (massless) energy in the form of electromagnetic radiation, and if all this radiation were caught and given appropriate conditions, it would be theoretically possible to again produce from it one kilogram of mass. (A number of difficulties would occur if anyone were to actually try to do this.) The fact that the electromagnetic radiation carries the property of mass-energy without loss gives credence to the idea that electromagnetic radiation, even though it does not have mass and cannot be pushed, pulled, or weighed, is just as real as massive particles.
Radiation does have energy. A system is said to possess energy if it has the ability to bring about changes in itself or other things. Electromagnetic waves are known to have energy because they can produce electric currents (as radio and TV waves do when they encounter antennas), they can heat objects (as do rays from the Sun and microwaves), they can cause chemical reactions (as do rays from the Sun when they hit leaves of plants or human skin), etc. Thus the ability to do things has become accepted as a part of reality by material scientists.
The clairvoyant, when he investigates these matters, agrees with the conclusions of the material scientist and also can give some added insights. Whereas the material scientist could only infer the reality of vapor and electromagnetic waves, the clairvoyant can directly see vapor and electromagnetic waves and thus confirm their reality. Vapor is classed by the clairvoyant as belonging to the Chemical Region of the Physical World, along with solids and liquids. Electromagnetic waves and the other force fields that act on the particles of the Chemical Region are in the Etheric Region of the Physical World. In addition, the clairvoyant can see and work in even finer states of matter as he raises his consciousness to what are called the Desire World and the World of Thought. These higher worlds* are just as real to the clairvoyant as solid objects are to the material scientist. (The Desire World and the World of Thought are said to be "higher" than the Physical World because the matter in them vibrates at a higher rate than does physical matter (just as the atoms in gases vibrate at a higher rate than the atoms in liquids, which in turn vibrate at a higher rate than do atoms in solids.) Spatially, the Physical World, Desire World, and World of Thought interpenetrate one another (as do solids, liquids, and gases in the Physical World).) The clairvoyant, Max Heindel, states that matter (both in the Physical World and in higher worlds) in crystallized spirit, and energy (in all the worlds) is the same spirit not yet crystallized. Matter and energy are recognized by clairvoyants to be part of the one reality, spirit.
—Supplemental Student Material Reference: Science and Religion, Elsa M. Glover