Life on Other Worlds
Quotations from theosophical literature
The living universe
‘Occultism does not accept anything inorganic in the Kosmos. The expression employed by science, “inorganic substance,” means simply that the latent life slumbering in the molecules of so-called “inert matter” is incognizable. ALL IS LIFE, and every atom of even mineral dust is a LIFE, though beyond our comprehension and perception ...’ (SD 1:248) ‘Occultism disposes of the so-called Azoic age of science, for it shows that there never was a time when the Earth was without life upon it. Wherever there is an atom of matter, a particle or a molecule, even in its most gaseous condition, there is life in it, however latent and unconscious. ... [L]ike must produce like. Absolute Life cannot produce an inorganic atom whether single or complex ...’ (SD 1:258) ‘In reality, as occult philosophy teaches us, everything which changes is organic; it has the life principle in it, and it has all the potentiality of the higher lives.’ (CW 10:383)
‘Everything in the universe, throughout all its kingdoms, is CONSCIOUS, i.e., endowed with a consciousness of its own kind and on its own plane of perception.’ (SD 1:274) ‘Nature taken in its abstract sense, cannot be “unconscious,” as it is the emanation from, and thus an aspect (on the manifested plane) of, the ABSOLUTE consciousness. Where is that daring man who would presume to deny to vegetation and even to minerals a consciousness of their own. All he can say is, that this consciousness is beyond his comprehension.’ (SD 1:277fn)
‘[T]he universe in all its parts, which is equivalent to saying in all its hierarchical structure, is fundamentally and throughout alive. It is a living organism ... [O]ur physical world, including stars, suns, planets, etc., is but the outer shell or garment or veil of an inner, vital, intelligent aggregate of causes, which in their collectivity form or rather are the kosmic life. This kosmic life is not a person, not an individualized entity. ... It is infinite, boundless, beginningless, endless: ... the ineffable reality behind all that is, within all beings and things that are. Spirit and matter both are but two manifestations of this indescriptible because unthinkable mystery, this universal life-substance, i.e., universal consciousness-substance. ... Life is limitless, because life is force, or rather, force is life; and life, in one sense, is but another name for the intrinsic movements of kosmic intelligence.’ (ET 169, 156, 167)
‘Our whole galaxy, all included within the far-flung zone of the Milky Way, is one molecule in the physical body of an entity whom we cannot cognize or recognize or understand, because of its immense spacial magnitude. Our little earth is an electron in an atom which is our solar system. We human beings live on this electron. Our galaxy is filled with hierarchies of conscious, quasi-conscious, self-conscious, spiritually conscious, and divinely conscious beings – gods, men, atoms, in the esoteric sense. Yet these beings who in their higher reaches live and think divine thoughts, gods, have their habitat in a molecule in the physical body of an entity whose mere physical shape is so immense, spacially speaking, that we cannot even see it. We simply see the solar systems of the galaxy by which we are surrounded.
‘Now turn the telescope around ... Our bodies are formed of cells composed of molecules, builded of atoms, in their turn constructed of electrons. Who can say on how many of the electrons of any one physical body may not be living beings thinking divine or human thoughts, seeing a universe surrounding them as we see the universe surrounding us? Their universe is a single organ of our body, and their galaxy is a single molecule of a cell of that organ. ...
‘For all anyone can say, there may be vast hierarchies of gods living in some molecule forming a part of a cell of a single organ of somebody’s house cat, absurd as it sounds, or of a sparrow building its nest under the eaves. ... Now that house cat or that sparrow may be killed, and its dead body cast into the flames, and its molecules and its atoms dissipated into the air, into the water, into the earth. But that does not affect in any wise these infinitesimal beings. They are perfectly safe.
‘Now then, transfer your thought to us and our galaxy. A catastrophe of unimaginable immensity might happen to this galactic cosmic being. We might not know anything about it, or little of it. The solar systems, the atoms of the galaxy, would probably simply begin peregrinating as do the life-atoms which enter and leave our human bodies at every instant of time, these life-atoms carrying their burden of armies of beings ...’ (Dia 3:165-6)
‘The universe is one vast organism, an organic entity. But boundless space, or rather the spaces of boundless space, contain many such universes ... [Each] is an organism within a greater organism; and the greater organism is contained in an organic entity still more vast; and so on indefinitely. ...
‘What a wondrous field of thought this opens to the reflective mind! When man feels himself thus at-one with all that is: when he feels that the consciousness which he calls his own is but a god-spark, so to say, of some vaster consciousness in which he lives and moves and has his being, and that the very atoms which compose his body are builded of infinitesimal lives which infill those atoms and make them what they are: when he feels that he can pass along the pathways of his own spirit ever more and more inwards into a closer and straiter union with some self-conscious entity still more sublime than his own highest: then he feels not only a keen sense of his own high human dignity, but he looks out upon the universe around him, and his heart broadens and his mind expands, in sympathy, love, and benevolence towards all other entities and things.’ (HPBM 125-6)
‘A universe comes into being because a cosmic entity is imbodying itself; and a universe dies, as a man dies, because it has come to the point where the major part of its energies have already passed into the invisible realms. ... The same fundamental laws prevail in the great as in the small. ... It is the same with a star or sun as it is with its parent universe. It is the same with any entity. Life is endless, has neither beginning nor end, and a universe is in no wise different in essentials from a man.
‘Look up into the violet dome of night. Consider the stars and the planets: every one of them is a life-atom in the cosmic body; every one of them is the organized dwelling place of a multitude of smaller life-atoms which build up the brilliant bodies we see. Moreover, every sparkling sun which begems the skies was at one time a man, or a being equivalent to a human, possessing in some degree self-consciousness, intellectual power, conscience and spiritual vision, as well as a body. And the planets and the myriads of entities on the planets encircling any such cosmic god, any such star or sun, are now the same entities who in far bygone cosmic manvantaras were the life-atoms of that entity. ...
‘By our actions we are constantly affecting the destiny of the suns and planets of the future, for when we, by bringing out the native powers of the god within, shall have become glorious suns shining in the cosmic deeps, then the nebulae and the suns around us will be the evolved entities who now are our fellow human beings. ...
‘The Milky Way, a complete and self-contained universe, is, aggregatively, but one cosmic cell in the body of some supercosmic entity, which in turn is but one of an infinitude of others like itself. The great contains the small; the greater contains the great. Everything lives for and unto everything else.’ (FSO 111-13)
‘Every manifesting entity in the universe is a consciousness or monad. Thus our sun is a solar monad, a divine being in its higher parts; similarly every planetary chain is an individual, an entity of less spiritual magnitude than a sun, but a cosmic individual nonetheless. Every atom is likewise during its manifestation an imbodied individual – a god at its heart, a life-atom in the intermediate part of its constitution, a chemical atom in its body.’ (FSO 117)
Worlds visible and invisible
‘[A]ll the visible worlds existing in our visible sphere are but huge agglomerates of living entities or lives in all-various degrees of evolutionary development. Not only are they all – suns, planets, comets, nebulae, meteors, and what not – each one of them based in even its physical being on such aggregates of Lives, infinitesimal and other, but on some of these celestial bodies at least there are also, as there are on our earth, hosts of living entities possessing self-conscious mind and will, such as we human beings on this earth have.’ (HPBM 134) ‘[A]ll other celestial bodies whatsoever are inhabited by beings appropriate to each one of these celestial spheres, just as this earth is inhabited by beings who have bodies appropriate for life on this earth.’ (QWAA 1:249)
‘[T]he universe is formed of many planes, realms, worlds, spheres ... of which only one is visible, ... filled full of beings, inhabitants, creatures, entities, appropriate in every case to these spheres of life, these entities or inhabitants possessing intelligence, sentience, natural consciousness, and bodies after their own types and kinds ...’ (QWAA 1:353-4) ‘[S]ome of them are higher, and some of them are lower, than we; but all are advancing, all are learning, all are growing, all are evolving, all are pilgrims on the evolutionary journey from eternity to eternity. Man has no unique position at all in the cosmic scheme.’ (QWAA 2:481)
‘The universe is worked and guided from within outwards. ... The whole kosmos is guided, controlled, and animated by almost endless series of hierarchies of sentient beings, each having a mission to perform, and who ... are the agents of karmic and cosmic laws. They vary infinitely in their respective degrees of consciousness and intelligence ... For each of these beings either was or prepares to become, a man, if not in the present, then in a past or a coming cycle (manvantara).’ (SD 1:274-5)
‘The refusal to admit in the whole solar system of any other reasonable and intellectual beings on the human plane, than ourselves, is the greatest conceit of our age. All that science has a right to affirm is that there are no invisible intelligences living under the same conditions as we do. It cannot deny point-blank the possibility of there being worlds within worlds, under totally different conditions to those that constitute the nature of our world; nor can it deny that there may be a certain limited communication between some of those worlds and our own.’ (SD 1:133)
‘[There are other worlds] blended with our world – interpenetrating it and interpenetrated by it. ... Although as invisible as if they were millions of miles beyond our solar system, they are yet with us, near us, within our own world, as objective and material to their respective inhabitants as ours is to us. ... [E]ach is entirely under its own special laws and conditions, having no direct relation to our sphere. [Their inhabitants] may be, for all we know, or feel, passing through and around us as if through empty space, their very habitations and countries being interblended with ours, though not disturbing our vision, because we have not yet the faculties necessary for discerning them. ...
‘Nevertheless, such invisible worlds do exist. Inhabited as thickly as our own is, they are scattered throughout apparent space in immense number; some far more material than our own world, others gradually etherealizing until they become formless and are as “breaths.” ... [I]f we can conceive of a world composed (for our senses) of matter still more attenuated than the tail of a comet, hence of inhabitants in it who are as ethereal, in proportion to their globe, as we are in comparison with our rocky, hard-crusted earth, no wonder if we do not perceive them, nor sense their presence or even existence.’ (SD 1:605-7)
‘[T]here is in both concrete and abstract space not a needle’s point which lacks life, substance, being and consciousness. ... [W]ithin our physical space there is a space more ethereal, with its worlds, its suns and planets, its comets and nebulae; celestial globes with their mountains and lakes, their forests and fields and their inhabitants. Within this second space, there is a still finer, a more ethereal and a more spiritual space, the cause of the two former, each inner space being a mother or producer of the outer space; and thus we carry these spaces within space onwards and upwards and inwards indefinitely.’ (FSO 77)
‘Unconsciously, perhaps, in thinking of a plurality of inhabited “worlds,” we imagine them to be like the globe we inhabit and peopled by beings more or less resembling ourselves. ... But how do we know (a) what kind of beings inhabit the globes in general; and (b) whether those who rule planets superior to our own, do not exercise the same influence on our earth consciously, that we may exercise unconsciously – say on the small planets (planetoids or asteroids) in the long run, by our cutting the Earth to pieces, opening canals, and thereby entirely changing our climates? ...
‘[E]ven great adepts (those initiated of course), trained seers though they are, can claim thorough acquaintance with the nature and appearance of planets and their inhabitants belonging to our solar system only. They know that almost all the planetary worlds are inhabited, but can have access to – even in spirit – only those of our system; and they are also aware how difficult it is, even for them, to put themselves into full rapport even with the planes of consciousness within our system, but differing from the states of consciousness possible on this globe; i.e., on the three planes of the chain of spheres beyond our earth. ...
‘Still the fact remains that most of the planets, as the stars beyond our system, are inhabited, a fact which has been admitted by the men of science themselves [e.g. Laplace, Herschell, Flammarion]. ... Since no single atom in the entire kosmos is without life and consciousness, how much more then its mighty globes? – though they remain sealed books to us men who can hardly enter even into the consciousness of the forms of life nearest us? ...
‘[S]cientific reasoning, as well as observed facts, concur with the statements of the seer and the innate voice in man’s own heart in declaring that life – intelligent, conscious life – must exist on other worlds than ours. ... Many are the romances and tales, some purely fanciful, others bristling with scientific knowledge, which have attempted to imagine and describe life on other globes. But one and all, they give but some distorted copy of the drama of life around us. ... So strong is this tendency that even great natural, though non-initiated seers, when untrained, fall a victim to it; witness Swedenborg, who goes so far as to dress the inhabitants of Mercury, whom he meets with in the spirit-world, in clothes such as are worn in Europe.’ (SD 2:700-2)
‘[E]very completely matured Sun-star [has] like in our own system several companion planets ...’ (ML 165) ‘[A]ll the planets and most of the stars are worlds, and inhabited, though not like our earth.’ (Isis 2:421) ‘The humanities of other worlds differ from us, as much in their inner organization as in their external physical type.’ (SD 2:707)
‘The subject often comes up as to whether there is life on the different planets of our solar system, i.e. various kingdoms corresponding to the kingdoms of the earth. How could there be such a thing as matter without life; how could the component elements of any entity or thing hold together if there were not a unifying and cohesive energy – and that energy is life. Matter itself is condensed life, concreted electricity, and electricity is but a form of life. There is no such thing as lifeless substance anywhere. ...
‘On all the planets there are phases of life, just as there are on our own planet here, the parent of our physical bodies. On every one of them there is or will be a serial line of ascending degrees of entities; three elemental kingdoms, a mineral kingdom, something corresponding to our vegetable kingdom, and again to our animal kingdom, and on some of the planets a kingdom corresponding to the human. For life itself is everywhere because it is the very basis of things: it is gravitation, it is cohesion, thought, body, spirit, mind, ego – it is everything.’ (FSO 332-3)
‘Although we are accustomed to confine the term “human” to this earth, it is not correct to confine that sort of being to this plane or globe, because other planets have beings the same as ours in essential power and nature and possibility.’ (CW 9:400-D) ‘[The term “human”] does not apply merely to our terrestrial humanity, but to the mortals that inhabit any world, i.e., to those Intelligences that have reached the appropriate equilibrium between matter and spirit ...’ (SD 1:106)
‘[E]very globe in a planetary chain has been, is, or will be, man-bearing some time ... Those not yet having reached the stage of man-bearing produce the lower kingdoms, or some of them. Those which have evolved beyond or higher than the possibility of bringing the human kingdom on their globes bear the races of the dhyan-chohans exclusively, and beings even beyond those last. So there are man-bearing chains or globes in our solar system, and there are those which are non-man-bearing. As a matter of fact, you can say the same thing about any kingdom.’ (SOP 289)
‘All planets go through their phase of material existence, have their temptation, just as we of earth have had and shall have. Of course, the higher a planet stands on the ladder of existence, the fewer are the deviations or winding pathways that the entities follow in their long pilgrimage. There have been planets, however, whose humanities have “failed,” in the sense that such planets with their teeming humanities did not make the grade, and went backwards – it was karma, part of their evolutionary unfoldment so to do. But these are very rare cases.’ (FSO 331)
The solar system
‘It is the teaching of the esoteric tradition that on other planets, even of our own solar system, there are great and sometimes grand civilizations – as they would appear to us men – wrought and builded up by the inhabitants of these planets, some of which are far higher than our own, and which are such as our planet will be more or less like aeons upon aeons hence, when we shall have evolved to the greater spiritual and intellectual stature that we shall attain in ages to come; and there are other planets far inferior in quality and evolutionary unfoldment to that which our own globe Earth has thus far attained.’ (ET 341) ‘There are ... beings or entities inhabiting the Sun, and its system of globes in its own chain; and consequently the Sun and its globes have inhabitants thinking god-like thoughts, because having a godlike or solar consciousness.’ (ET 199)
‘... Jupiter is in essence or in age of cosmic experience spiritually far more advanced than is the planetary spirit either of the earth or of Mars; and yet in this solar manvantara Jupiter in its present imbodiment is less advanced in its cycle of seven rounds than the earth is in its own cycle. Again, the earth as compared with Mars is, essentially, a grosser planet; and in evolution, also, it stands at a lower or more material point of its own planetary cycle than does Mars in its planetary cycle.
‘Venus is farther along in the number of rounds run through in this solar manvantara than the earth, and therefore is more advanced in this sense; but the planetary spirit of earth is nevertheless spiritually more advanced because older in number of cosmic manvantaras.
‘The basic rule is as follows: the nearer the sun, the more advanced is the planet in its evolution, and consequently the more evolved are its burden of living beings. The farther from the sun, the more ethereal and in one sense the more spiritual are the planets, but less evolved in their respective planetary manvantaras.
‘Therefore, Mars is more ethereal than the earth; Jupiter more so than Mars; Saturn more than Jupiter. But Jupiter is more evolved in its planetary evolution that is Saturn; Mars more than Jupiter; the earth more than Mars, and Venus more than the earth.’ (FSO 326-7; see also FEP 207-9)
‘[T]he inhabitants of [the sacred planets] resemble each other very closely because they belong more or less to the same evolutionary life-wave. This does not mean that the inhabitants of Jupiter, or of Mars, or of Mercury, or of Venus, if any at present, have human bodies proportioned exactly as our human bodies are, or that they are formed of flesh as our human bodies are. On the contrary, the inhabitants of these planets, whatever and whoever they may be, have bodies different from ours but approximating to ours somewhat. Whereas the inhabitants of the other planets not belonging to our evolutionary life-wave, to our planetary family, ... have bodies which are very different indeed from ours ...’ (QWAA 1:250-1)
‘The “men” on Venus ... are much more intelligent than are the men on earth, but they are not as spiritual nor as ethereal – and ethereality and spirituality do not necessarily mean the same thing. ... As Venus is near the end of its globe-manvantara and is already slightly self-luminous, the root-race at this time evolving on globe D of Venus is either the sixth or the seventh of its present seventh globe-round. ... Venus is grosser than the earth, yet its humanities are more evolved as regards the higher manasic qualities [cf SD 1:602]. ...
‘When the earth and its inhabitants shall have reached the seventh round, they will stand somewhat higher spiritually and ethereally than the planet Venus and its inhabitants today. But, relatively speaking, the men on earth of that far future time will be somewhat inferior in intelligence to the inhabitants of Venus as they are now. ...
‘Moreover, Venus, being in its last or seventh round, emanates an auric light which is visible to our eyes. ... This light does not come, however, from its “godlike” inhabitants – they could be called godlike only as a courteous expression – who intellectually are far more godlike than we are, although they are grosser. The “phosphorescence” arises in the vital force of the planet itself.’ (FSO 327-9)
‘[S]uch great adept astronomers were the scientists of the earliest races of the Aryan stock, that they seem to have known far more about the races of Mars and Venus than the modern anthropologist knows of those of the early stages of the Earth.’ (SD 2:699)
‘Mercury is just emerging from obscuration, to begin its last or seventh round.’ (FSO 331) ‘The men of Budha (Mercury) are metaphorically immortal through their wisdom. Such is the common belief of those who credit every star or planet with being inhabited.’ (SD 2:44-5)
‘As for the planet Mars, its physical sphere is younger than the earth, but presently it is in obscuration. It is more than merely “asleep,” for the great bulk of its living entities have moved on to higher globes of the planetary chain of Mars. However, certain beings were left there when its globe D went into obscuration. These are the shishtas, “remainders,” i.e. those who serve as the seeds of life on any planet, until the returning life-wave in the next globe-manvantara shall find these bodies waiting and ready for their use. At present, the vital essences of the Mars planetary chain have left its physical globe D, having ended their third round thereon, and have gone to its other globes.’ (FSO 332; see also FEP 207-10)
‘In pondering upon the evolutionary status of planets, we should not confuse spirituality with ethereality. Things ethereal belong to matter; things spiritual belong to spirit. The inhabitants of earth are more spiritual than the inhabitants of Saturn and Jupiter, because they are more evolved, farther along the pathway, although the Saturnians and the Jovians are much more ethereal than we are. Our humanity and our earth are on the ascending cycle, beginning the luminous arc; therefore as we advance in spirituality both our earth and we shall likewise advance in the sense of becoming more ethereal.’ (FSO 330)
‘People are far too prone to imagine that life on other planets (when it is recognized to exist) is exactly as on earth, so that the “men” on Jupiter, for instance, would have bodies of human flesh and would breathe our particular kind of air. But a very little thought shows that such a conclusion is an absurdity. The inhabitants of the other planets – those which are inhabited at the present time – must have forms strictly related to and fitted by evolution for their particular planet. They would be very various indeed, and we might not easily accept those beings as intelligent, sensitive and conscious. Some may be flat, some spherical, and some long; the inhabitants of Mercury having, perhaps, the nearest resemblance to us, while those of Jupiter are probably the most diverse in form from us. The inhabitants of Venus, which is an inhabited planet at the present time, are doubles, ovoid in shape. Venus is superior to earth; both naturally and spiritually. The inhabitants of some of the planets move by floating, while those of other planets of our solar family do not move at all; they are fixtures somewhat as trees are with us, and yet are highly intelligent, conscious beings.
‘The inhabitants of other planets would look like monstrosities to us, simply because our understanding is too feeble to grasp their evolutionary history – and indeed, so far as that goes, we do not even know our own evolutionary history. On the other hand, we men of earth, for instance, would be like developed beasts to the inhabitants of Mercury, repulsive in shape and horrible in the uses to which we put our faculties.
‘Jupiter’s inhabitants are much more ethereal in physical structure and texture than those of earth or Venus, but much less evolved than either. We could describe them as aeriform or igniform; huge entities, as perfectly at home on their own planet as we are on ours.’ (FSO 333-4)
‘[E]ven what we would call the “beasts” on the other globes of our planetary chain are, on certain ones of those globes – as for instance on globes F and G – superior to what human beings are on this globe D, although they occupy the same relative position in the hierarchical scales of globes F and G that they do on the hierarchical scale of globe D our Earth. Just as on Earth we have the mineral, vegetable, beast, and human kingdoms, so these same kingdoms exist on all the other globes of our planetary chain; but each kingdom on the other globes, although occupying the same relative step in the hierarchical ladder of life, nevertheless is vastly superior to the condition or state that it occupies on globe D.
‘The human beings on globes F and G, for instance, would be like human gods to us, because so much more ethereal, so much higher in the hierarchical ladder of life – higher not in the evolutionary scale of unfoldment, but in the scale of planes of the solar system.’ (Dia 3:317; see also Dia 2:17-18, 22, 27-8)
Abbreviations: CW H.P. Blavatsky: Collected Writings, TPH, 1950-91 Dia Dialogues of G. de Purucker, TUP, 1948 ET The Esoteric Tradition, G. de Purucker, TUP, 2nd ed., 1940 FEP Fundamentals of the Esoteric Philosophy, G. de Purucker, TUP, 2nd ed., 1979 FSO Fountain-Source of Occultism, G. de Purucker TUP, 1974 HPBM H.P. Blavatsky: The Mystery, G. de Purucker, PLP, 1974 Isis Isis Unveiled, H.P. Blavatsky, TUP, 1972 (1877) QWAA Questions We All Ask, G. de Purucker, TUP, 1929-30 SD The Secret Doctrine, H.P. Blavatsky, TUP, 1977 (1888) SOP Studies in Occult Philosophy, G. de Purucker, TUP, 1945
compiled by David Pratt. November 1997.
Mars: our sleeping neighbour
The twelve sacred planets