Joop Smits – The Netherlands
[Joop Smits (1955) graduated in Mechanical Engineering at the Delft University of Technology (The Netherlands) in 1978. From an early age he had the inner conviction that science, philosophy and religion can be brought in harmony with each other. He became a student of Theosophy in 1985. During the last 15 years he has given lectures on Theosophy. At present he is Chairman of the Science Committee of International Theosophy Conferences. On August 13th Joop gave a presentation on the concurrence of science and spirituality at the 2011 International Theosophy Conference at Julian, California. You can find the contents of this presentation in the following article].
The subject of this article is: Emanation and Fohat as the basis for the Electric Universe.
In order to identify the concurrence of science and spirituality, the subject will be approached by:
- first discussing the Theosophical teachings on Emanation and Fohat;
- and subsequently concepts in modern science will be discussed which are in line with those Theosophical teachings.
Why talk about Emanation and Fohat? Because the archaic doctrine of Emanation provides a universal key for understanding the process of re-embodiment at cosmic, terrestrial and human level and for understanding how every living being exists within the sphere of a higher being. E.g. how man lives in the sphere of the Earth or Sun and how the cells of our body live in the human sphere. This is, of course, based on the Theosophical standpoint of the Living Universe or Cosmos:
- the universe considered as embodied consciousness and
- ordered as a Hierarchy of different levels of consciousness, in line with the original Greek meaning of the word “Cosmos,” as “order or arrangement.”
In this doctrine of Emanation, the universal force of Fohat plays an important role. One of the aspects of Fohat is electricity and it is this aspect where we can find a concurrence with the ideas of some modern scientists who consider the Universe as being essentially electric in nature. Theosophy may be of help here to give impulses to further developments in science. In this article we will make use of the so called deductive method propagated by Plato. This means that we start from universal theosophical principles which, in our search, we try to see confirmed by particular facts. Now, let us see what light the Theosophical teachings on Emanation and Fohat can throw on the discussion on the “Electric Universe,” also called the “Plasma Universe.”
2. Problem definition
The key questions are:
• What is Emanation?
• What is Fohat and what is its role in Emanation?
• What are electricity and magnetism and what is their role in the Emanation process?
• What are new scientific insights on the Electric Universe or Plasma Universe?
• Can we recognize examples of concurrence of the Theosophical concept of Emanation and Fohat with new scientific insights on the “Electric Universe”?
3. What is Emanation?
“Emanation” is a Latin compound meaning “the flowing out” of what is within.
In the Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge (VI) H.P. Blavatsky defines emanation as: something from which another thing issues in a constant efflux, and emanates consciously . And with “something” she indicated a Leading Consciousness, a ”Source Being.” This Source Being emanates “another thing” which is a “force-field” or a “sphere.”
This “force-field” is emanated in a constant efflux and is emanated consciously.
Let us have a closer look at the process of emanation. In all myths of the world, we find the idea of man as the child of a divine source, which carries many names. And all those names express the same thought: a condition of consciousness which is higher and more constant than the human consciousness. And according to the old traditions, it is not only man who emanates from this spiritual source; all beings such as suns, planets and atoms, emanate from a source which is spiritually more developed than themselves. Take the example of embryonic growth of a human being. The first fertilized cell has the inherent powers of all the future organs. It is the most universal cell of our body. From this first cell countless cells are born which have the same or more limited potential such as the ability to form skin or muscle tissue. And those specialized cells again give birth to even more specialized cells such as sweat glands. So the general image is: a lower developed being manifests itself in the “sphere” of a higher developed “source being” and form together a Hierarchical structure. In the doctrine of Emanation we can distinguish three key thoughts:
1. A higher consciousness emanates the sphere and has a magnetic field on a lower plane in which less developed beings can live and develop themselves. This higher consciousness is the Source Being for the less developed beings. Please note that a “Source Being” is not a Supreme Being in the traditional sense of the word. Every being, of whatever type, is a “ Source Being” for a group of less developed beings. E.g. we are all a “Source Being” for the cell beings of our body. But at the same those cell beings compose the body of us, the “Source Being”.
It is this emanated sphere, this magnetic field which wakes up, activates, attracts and inspires the less developed beings to continue their evolutionary pilgrimage with the aim to become of the same spiritual level as the Source Being. At the same time the less developed beings contribute to the evolution of the Source Being by collectively forming its vehicle or body. It is important to note that the process of emanation is essentially different from a process of “creation” - in the absolute sense. We can recognize the process of emanation in the example of the human embryo. The human consciousness forms out of its consciousness a magnetic field, in which cells and atoms can live and find their appropriate place. This magnetic field structures the cells and atoms in the same way a magnet structures magnetic material, but it also nourishes them.
What is the relation between the Source-being and the many less developed beings which live within its sphere? The answer is the second key-thought on emanation:
2. Similarity in character results in mutual attraction. This is why the leaves of an apple tree all have apple leave shapes. Or this is why you are more likely to be surrounded by friendly people if you are friendly yourself.
The third key thought is:
3. The less developed beings are – in their turn – the Source Being for still less developed beings.
Think – as an analogous example - about a tree of which the roots provide the conditions for growth of the trunk. The trunk does the same for the branches and each branch does the same for the twigs and then we arrive at the individual leaves. The process of emanation results in a Hierarchy of Life with different planes or levels of existence. All beings are in fact such a Hierarchy of Life. The old Pythagoreans used the famous Tetraktys to symbolize it.
4. What is Fohat and what is its role in Emanation?
In the process of Emanation Fohat plays an important role.
4.1 What is Fohat?
The main verbal root foh is a Tibetan-Mongolian word which could be translated as Buddha-life or Buddha-vitality. Fohat is a philosophical term, having the general meaning of cosmic life or cosmic vitality, ever guided by cosmic mind or intelligence . Why did the Mongolians use this term? Because they refused to see in the wonderful, symmetrical, mathematical and harmonic structure of the Universe, a play of blind and soulless forces on dead matter such as has been the dominating way of scientific thinking in the West for so many years. They gave it the name Fohat because their consciousness conceived of the cosmic vitality under its proper meaning – Buddha-life:
- the intelligent buddhic foundation of the manifested universe;
- the cosmic life, conveyed by universal consciousness, universal wisdom, and therefore correctly understood to be universal life, embodying and directed by universal intelligence.
In the Secret Doctrine I (p. 107-8) this is expressed as follows:
Fohat is the steed: the Cosmic Thought is the rider.
The source of Fohat is Cosmic kama or desire in the Cosmic Thought . In a specific meaning it is identical with the old mystic Greek word Eros. In the Symposium of The Dialogues of Plato Socrates discusses with his friends the characteristics of the god Eros. They conclude that Eros can neither be beautiful or good, because you only desire what you don’t possess yet. Subsequently Socrates speaks of the lessons he learned from a wise lady called Diotima who described Eros generally as the desire (the love) of the everlasting possession of the good ..... and that, through this desire, man seeks immortality . From this we may conclude that Fohat or Eros is the desire, the driving force, to bring a being from its present - relative - disharmonious state into a state of balance, of harmony. This force is expressed as a delta, a difference in “voltage,” “pressure,” “height,” etc.
So we can say that on the human plane Fohat corresponds to desire or passion. In another way, we also might call it kama-prana or prana-kama; desire combined with vitality. Those two are inseparable, because there is vitality in every one of the human principles. Fohat is the incessantly operating, ever moving driving force in Nature. It is incessant action and is both constructive and destructive. For through the incessant operation endless transitions take place from one phase of manifested existence to another. Fohat is operating both at macrocosmic and microcosmic level: between the suns of the Milky Way and between the electrons of an atom and between the atoms.
4.2 What is the role of Fohat in the process of Emanation?
What is exactly the relation between Emanation and Fohat?
As human beings, we can say it means that we are living in the emanated force-field, the life-sphere, the fohatic sphere, the pranic sphere, of the divinity of our solar system. In a similar way the cells and atoms of our physical body are living in the emanated force-field, the life-sphere, the fohatic sphere, the pranic sphere, of the divinity of our human constitution. In The Secret Doctrine I p. 16 Madame Blavatsky describes the essential character of Fohat as: the "bridge" by which the "Ideas" existing in the "Divine Thought" are impressed on Cosmic substance as the "laws of Nature." Fohat being the cosmic life in the sense of the vital flow in a universe, is divisible into seven or ten principles or elements . Each one of them is a vitality with its own svabhava or characteristic, and their unity forming the generalized Fohat of which Madame Blavatsky wrote in the Secret Doctrine I p. 143: "Each world has its Fohat, who is omnipresent in his own sphere of action. But there are as many Fohats as there are worlds, each varying in power and degree of manifestations.”
4.3 How to recognize the operatings of Fohat?
How to recognize the operating of Fohat?
Please remember that the universe - from the Theosophical standpoint - is alive because it is filled with living beings, whatever we call them: cosmic spirits, planetary spirits, divinities, etc. We are all living in the life-sphere, the fohatic sphere, the pranic sphere, of the divinity of our solar system . Now with respect to all movements of the world that we see around us: the earthquakes, the meteorological phenomena, rains, lightning, moving of clouds, thunder-storms, hail-storms, sunny and bright days; all those are movements of the vital essence of the planetary spirit working in and with the co-operation of the solar spirit, as that solar spirit moves within the life-sphere of an entity still greater, the galactic spirit, which in its turn moves within the life-sphere of a still vaster spirit. All those movements are based on Fohat: the driving force, which expresses itself as a delta, a difference in “voltage,” “pressure,” “height,” etc.
We see the same image with the countless beings which compose a person’s body, where they live and move and have their being, within the hierarchy of the constitution of the vehicles of spirit. It is a wonderful image to recognise the symmetry, harmony and beauty of the universe. Please be aware that on every occasion when you see the action of a natural force, you are seeing the automatic workings of the vitality of our own particular planetary, or it may be solar spirit. We may call those automatic workings the habit patterns of those cosmic beings. For us human beings, this is difficult to imagine. If we compare it to the human plane: a being living on an electron, helping to form one of the atoms of my body may not have understanding when I raise my arm, but nevertheless all the interrelated forces giving my body life, affect every molecule, every atom, every electron in my body. In precisely the same way the cosmic spirits, the Forces of Nature, have a range of action so vast, an intellect so far-reaching and a time-period so immense, that we cannot grasp it.
A last point to complete the general description of Fohat is the idea of the Circulations of the Cosmos. The Circulations of the Cosmos are the pathways or channels connecting the invisible worlds of the solar system by means of the vital and “nervous” cosmic flows. The solar system, just as the human body, has its own network of nerves, arteries, and veins, as well as its pathways along which run to and from the flows of forces embodying various degrees of cosmic life. The sun, as the heart and brain of the solar system , receives the circulations of the solar system at its North Pole. They pass through the heart of the sun, are cleansed and washed and leave at the south pole of the sun. The same picture applies to the planets, like our Earth: each has its receptor at the North Pole, and its ejector at the South Pole. And the periodic pulsations in those circulating flows are the “heart beats” of the organism of the solar system. We can recognize an identical image for the flows in the blood and nervous system in the human body.
In this respect I would like to mention a relevant quotation from ‘Notes on the Bhagavad-Gita’ by W.Q. Judge and R. Crosbie:
|“There is in nature a law that operates in every department whether moral or physical, and which may now be called that of undulation and then that of inhibition; while at other times it reappears as vibration, and still again as attraction and repulsion, but all these changes are only apparent because at bottom it is the same. Among vegetables it causes the sap to flow up the tree in one way and will not permit it to return in the same direction. In our own blood circulation we find the blood propelled from the heart, and that nature has provided little valves which will not permit it to return to the heart by the way it came, but by the way provided. Medical and anatomical science are not quite sure what it is that causes the blood to pass these valves; whether it is pressure from behind communicated by the heart, or the pressure by atmosphere from without which gently squeezes, as it were, the blood upon its way. But the occultist does not find himself limited by these empirical deductions. He goes at once to the center and declares that the impulse is from the heart and that that organ receives its impulse from the great astral heart or the akasa, which has been said by all mystics to have a double motion, or alternate vibration―the systole and diastole of nature.” – Notes on the Bhagavad-Gita, p. 31-3|
Summary of Emanation and Fohat:
• The vitality of Cosmic Beings is expressed by Fohat which is guided by Cosmic desire;
• Fohat expresses itself as a difference in “voltage”, “pressure”, “height” etc. which is striving towards balance or harmony;
• Cosmic, terrestrial and human emanations all work through fohatic forces which maintain the organism by means of their “circulations”.
5. What is electricity and magnetism and what is its role in the Emanation process?
5.1 Fohat in its relation to Electricity and Magnetism
Now let us have a closer look at more detailed descriptions of the nature of Fohat.
In her Theosophical Glossary, page 121 Madame Blavatsky has defined Fohat as the “essence of cosmic electricity. An occult Tibetan term for Daiviprakriti, primordial light …” -- And on page 94, in describing Daivi-prakriti, she gives it as “Primordial, homogeneous light, …when differentiated this light becomes Fohat”.
And in the following quotation from the Secret Doctrine I, p. 145 (STANZA VI) we find:
(b) Bear in mind that Fohat, the constructive Force of Cosmic Electricity,, is said, metaphorically, to have sprung like Rudra from Brahma “from the brain of the Father and the bosom of the Mother,” and then to have metamorphosed himself into a male and a female, i.e., polarity, into positive and negative electricity. He has seven sons who are his brothers; and Fohat is forced to be born time after time whenever any two of his son-brothers indulge in too close contact — whether an embrace or a fight. To avoid this, he binds together and unites those of unlike nature and separates those of similar temperaments. This, of course, relates, as anyone can see, to electricity generated by friction and to the law involving attraction between two objects of unlike, and repulsion between those of like polarity. The Seven “Sons-brothers,” however, represent and personify the seven forms of Cosmic magnetism called in practical Occultism the “Seven Radicals,” whose co-operative and active progeny are, among other energies, Electricity, Magnetism, Sound, Light, Heat, Cohesion, etc.
- Fohat is the essence of Cosmic Electricity which is bipolar, resulting in attraction and repulsion;
- Fohat is represented by seven forms of Cosmic magnetism which result in “energies” which we can recognize in their effects as: Electricity, Magnetism, Sound, Light, Heat, Cohesion, etc.
In addition we find in the Mahatma Letters (Letter 23 B; question/answer number 8) a further reference to the occurrence of electricity and magnetism in nature by Master K.H.:
We know of no phenomenon in nature entirely unconnected with either magnetism or electricity — since, where there are motion, heat, friction, light, there magnetism and its alter ego (according to our humble opinion) — electricity will always appear, as either cause or effect — or rather both if we but fathom the manifestation to its origin. All the phenomena of earth currents, terrestrial magnetism and atmospheric electricity, are due to the fact that the earth is an electrified conductor, whose potential is ever changing owing to its rotation and its annual orbital motion, the successive cooling and heating of the air, the formation of clouds and rain, storms and winds, etc. This you may perhaps, find in some text book. But then Science would be unwilling to admit that all these changes are due to akasic magnetism incessantly generating electric currents which tend to restore the disturbed equilibrium.
In scientific terms we could sum it up by talking – in general – about forms of electromagnetic energy with which all phenomena in nature are connected. And in the Secret Doctrine I, p. 146 we find: “Electricity, light, heat, etc. have been aptly termed the ‘Ghost or Shadow of Matter in Motion,’ i.e., supersensuous states of matter whose effects only we are able to cognize.” In scientific terms we could describe it as: electromagnetic phenomena are related to particles in motion resulting in wave-phenomena -- modern science uses two ways to describe light: as the motion of photons and as a wave phenomenon. From the above we can conclude that electricity and magnetism are the physical counterparts or reflections of the universal cosmic vitality, cosmic electromagnetism, or Fohat. Scientists like Faraday, Maxwell and Lorentz have discovered various laws on electromagnetism which explain a number of facts in nature which we will discuss later on.
5.2 The role of Electricity and Magnetism in relation to the Emanation process
Let us have a look again at the Emanation process, but now in relation to and in terms of Electricity and Magnetism:
• A higher consciousness emanates the electromagnetic field or sphere on a lower plane in which less developed beings can live and develop themselves.
• The less developed beings emanate in their turn a related electromagnetic field at the plane one step lower. So the Hierarchy of life is built up:
- at different levels:
- with various “electromagnetic fields within electromagnetic fields”
Whether a being is attracted to or repelled from a certain electromagnetic field is dependent on the “similarity” of the type of electromagnetism, as when a comet travelling through space it may pass through the electromagnetic sphere of many solar systems, but in the end it will be attracted to one specific solar system with which it has a corresponding electromagnetism. The comet will settle there and will find its position on the basis of a balance between electromagnetic forces of attraction and repulsion – and again with the consciousness working behind the comet as the real source.
In science we would normally attribute this “position finding” of a cosmic body to be determined by gravitational forces. In science gravitation is based on the concept of the attractive force between two bodies based on their masses and the presence of a certain gravitational field.
In Theosophy gravitation, like all the other phenomena in nature, is attributed to living beings of cosmic magnitude by reason of the vital electricity or vital magnetism emanating from these beings, in combination with the electromagnetic sphere in which they live. Gravitation could be described as an induction process of a being moving within the electromagnetic sphere in which it lives. We could rather call it an effect than a cause! And more in general it can be considered as the attraction and repulsion – based on desire – of a being towards a sphere of consciousness with a specific characteristic. The Greek Empedocles called it hate and love . Cohesion among the atomic particles is the microcosmic working of the same fundamental qualities that manifest themselves in macrocosmic phenomena, such as gravitation.
6. New scientific insights: views on the Electric Universe or Plasma Universe.
During the last decade a number of scientists have come up with a new vision, based on the assumed electrical nature of the universe. The “Electric universe” or also often called the “Plasma Universe” is a hypothesis, a new way of interpreting scientific facts in the light of new knowledge about electricity and plasma and the application of this knowledge to observed phenomena in space. The term “Plasma Universe“ is a term coined by Nobel Prize Laureate (1970) Hannes Alfvén to highlight the importance of plasma throughout the universe.
What is a plasma? It is a gaseous substance (often ionized gas), consisting of free charged particles such as electrons, protons and other ions, that respond very strongly to electromagnetic fields. The free charges make the plasma highly electrically conductive and therefore they may carry electric currents and generate magnetic fields that may cause, among other causes, the plasma to constrict (or pinch) into so-called filaments. Plasma is usually considered to be a distinct phase of matter from solids, liquids, and gases because of its unique properties, that it is often called the "fourth state of matter."
The work of Alfven (1908-1995) and the work of physicist Birkeland (1867-1917) have given us insight in the effects of electricity and magnetism in the universe. More about them later. Those scientists have made it plausible – by theory and observed facts – that space is not empty but filled with plasma and that plasma based electric currents and magnetic fields are present in space and may play a much more important role than we have assumed so far.
Based on their work, recently a number of scientists have presented the theory of the “Electric Universe” by stating that:
1) The universe is highly electrical in nature.
Celestial bodies are not electrically neutral but charged, including our sun, planets, etc. Interactions between bodies are mainly electromagnetic, instead of based on gravitation.
2) Radiation phenomena observed in space do not necessarily lead to the conclusion that the universe is expanding.
I also refer to my lecture on Universal or Specialized Science during the International Theosophy Conference 2010 where I presented some thoughts on this subject from both a Theosophical and a scientific perspective.
The scientists who are enthusiastic about their Electric Universe theory do so, because it is based on well understood principles, such as the laws of Maxwell. Plasma physics is the same in the laboratory and in the universe. Phenomena which we observe on the scale of the laboratory are the same as when observed on a cosmic scale i.e. with dimensions of billions of kilometers. Only on a cosmic scale processes can take much longer time.
The electrical vision on the universe also seems to explain phenomena which are not easily explained by gravitation theory .
This is the first part of this article. In the second part of this article in the next issue of this magazine, we will try to recognise examples of concurrence of the theosophical concept of Emanation and Fohat - at cosmic, terrestrial and human level - with the new scientific insights on the “Electric Universe.”
 H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings, Vol. X, p. 359, The Theosophical Publishing House,
Wheaton, Ill., 1991;
 G. de Purucker, Esoteric Teachings V, p. 29 , Point Loma Publications, San Diego, Ca, 1987;
 G. de Purucker, Occult Glossary, p. 51, Theosophical University Press, Pasadena, Ca, 1996;
 Plato, Symposium, 206 A;
 See reference 2, p. 30;
 G. de Purucker, Studies in Occult Philosophy, p. 271, Theosophical University Press, Pasadena, Ca, 1973;
 See reference 6, p. 321;
Secret Doctrine I, p. 497;
 For more background information on the scientific concept of the Electric Universe:
To be continued