THE beginning of the universe (if ever it had a beginning) is beyond our ken. At the earliest point of history that we can reach, the two great opposites of spirit and matter, of life and form, are already in full activity. We find that the ordinary conception of matter needs a revision, for what are commonly called force and matter are in reality only two varieties of Spirit at different stages in evolution and the real matter or basis of everything lies in the background unperceived. A French scientist has recently said: "There is no matter; there are nothing but holes in the æther." This also agrees with the celebrated theory of Professor Osborne Reynolds. Occult investigation shows this to be the correct view, and in that way explains what Oriental sacred books mean when they say that matter is an illusion.
The ultimate root-matter as seen at our level is what scientists call the æther of space. To every physical sense the space occupied by it appears empty, yet in reality this aether is far denser than anything of which we can conceive. Its density is defined by Professor Reynolds as being ten thousand times greater than that of water, and its mean pressure as seven hundred and fifty thousand tons to the square inch.
This substance is perceptible only to highly developed clairvoyant power. We must assume a time (though we have no direct knowledge on this point) when this substance filled all space. We must also suppose that some great Being (not the Deity of a solar system, but some Being almost infinitely higher than that) changed this condition of rest by pouring, out His spirit or force into a certain section of this matter, a section of the size of a whole universe. This effect of the introduction of this force is as that of the blowing of a mighty breath; it has formed within this aether an incalculable number of tiny spherical bubbles, and these bubbles are the ultimate atoms of which what we call matter is composed. They are not the atoms of the chemist, nor even the ultimate atoms of the physical world. They stand at a far higher level, and what are usually called atoms are composed of vast aggregations of these bubbles, as will be seen later.
When the Solar Deity begins to make His system, He finds ready to His hand this material--this infinite mass of tiny bubbles which can be built up into various kinds of matter as we know it. He commences by defining the limit of His field of activity, a vast sphere whose circumference is far larger than the orbit of the outermost of His future planets. Within the limit of that sphere He sets up a kind of gigantic vortex--a motion which sweeps together all the bubbles into a vast central mass, the material of the nebula that is to be.