If Methuselah Existed, Why So Short Our Lives?
The Path, May 1891
At a Theosophical Society meeting the other day, it was stated that in the early races, say the second and third, referred to in the Secret Doctrine, many had a much more ethereal body, which lived many more years than Methuselah, the aged. In elaborating this, the objection was advanced that the body of man is now much more compact and stable than it was in those early races, because the atoms of which it is composed know their business better now than then, have greater affinity for certain combinations and for each other, and are not so readily scattered and disintegrated; and, if so, how is it explained that the length of human life now is only three-score and ten years, against several hundred in primitive times?
At first sight this seems to be perhaps a strong objection, but a careful consideration will dissipate it.
In the first place, when the human body was in a nebulous state the friction between the particles was much less than when they had drawn closer together. If the theory of ultimate atoms is admitted, we must also assent to the law that there is friction between them which will develop heat or tend to reduce the cohesive power. The heat evolved will have a tendency to destroy the intervening medium, or at least to so alter its state as to make it useless as a medium for cohesions to act.
Further, if we suppose, as is perfectly justifiable, that there are large and small combinations of atoms in each of which the units are closer to each other, the heat evolved will destroy the constitution of the element, whatever it may be, that is between that combination of atoms and the adjoining one. And, still further, the friction between any two such bodies will also tend to rub off or draw off atoms from either of two to unite with the stronger, or be thrown entirely out of both collections.
Such a process as described will in the end bring about the disintegration of the entire mass of atoms. Thus at first, the atoms being farther removed, the destructive means can only act at intervals or more slowly than when the union is more intimate, and from this we reach the reason why the age of the combination of atoms would be greater in the one case than in the other.
Coming down to the present period we find that, in addition to the closer association of atoms in the physical frame, there is also another disturbing element tending to destruction of the union, that is, the force of the mind and the emotions.
It is well known that as man increases his brain use and power and the play of his emotions, he is able to affect his physical frame thereby. Today many hold that the American people are becoming too nervously organized. This reacts upon the atoms in the body, and must make the average age less than those ancient races when the mental and emotional natures did not have such sway over the human being.
This is perfectly in accord with the Secret Doctrine, as it is shown that in the early ages everything went slower in all departments and that now in Kali Yuga all things move with great rapidity.
So it may be properly concluded that the great law of conservation of energy, of correlation of forces, makes it now out of the ordinary for men to live to the age of Methuselah.