Since horizontal or gradual levels are like levels of light to shade, warmth to cold, hard to soft, dense to sparse, coarse to fine, and so on, and since we are familiar with these levels from our sensory and visual experience, while we are not familiar with vertical or distinct levels, I need to give particular attention to these latter in this part. Without familiarity with these levels, that is, we cannot see causes.
It is in fact recognized that a purpose, a means, and a result follow in sequence like antecedent, subsequent, and final events. It is recognized that the purpose produces the means and then produces the result through the means so that the purpose can be realized; and much more is recognized along the same lines. Knowing such things without seeing them by applying them to actual events, however, is only abstract knowledge. It lasts only as long as we are engaged in analytical thought on the basis of metaphysical principles. As a result, even though a purpose, a means, and a result do progress by distinct levels, still there is little if any knowledge of those levels in the world. Thinking only about abstractions is like something ethereal that dissipates; but if these abstract principles are applied to things of an earthly nature, then they are like something we see with our own eyes on earth, and they stay in our memory.
Everything in the world characterized by three dimensions, that is, everything we call a compound, is constituted by three vertical or distinct levels. Some examples may make this clear. We know from visual experience that every muscle in the human body is made up of tiny fibers and that these, gathered into bundles, make up the larger fibers we call motor fibers. From these bundles comes that compound entity called a muscle.
It is the same with our nerves. The smallest fibers in them are woven together into larger ones that look like threads, and gatherings of these are woven together into nerves. It is the same with the rest of the weavings, bundlings, and gatherings that make up our organs and viscera. They are compounds of fibers and vessels in various arrangements, depending on similar levels.
It is the same as well in all the members of the plant kingdom and all the members of the mineral kingdom. There are threefold gatherings of filaments in wood and threefold conglomerates of elements in metals and rocks as well.
We can see from this what distinct levels are like, namely that one level is made from another and a third from the second, the third being called a compound. Each level is distinct from the other.
On this basis we can draw conclusions about things not visible to our eyes, since their arrangement is similar—for example about the organized substances that are the vessels and dwellings of the thoughts and feelings in our brains, about the atmospheres, about warmth and light, and about love and wisdom. The atmospheres are vessels of warmth and light, and warmth and light are vessels of love and wisdom. So if there are levels of the atmospheres, then there are similar levels of warmth and light and similar levels of love and wisdom. There is not one set of relationships in one case and a different set in another.
We can tell from what has just been said that these levels are consistent, of the same character and nature. The smallest, larger, and largest motor fibers of our muscles have the same basic nature. The smallest, larger, and largest nerve fibers match; the woody filaments match from their smallest forms to their compounds; and the parts of rocks and metals match in the same way. The organized substances that are vessels and dwellings of our thoughts and feelings match, from the very simplest to their overall compound, the brain. The atmospheres match, from pure ether to air. The levels of warmth and light that parallel those of the atmospheres in their sequence match; and therefore so do the levels of love and wisdom.
Things that are not of the same character and nature do not match and do not harmonize with things that do. This means that they cannot combine with them to make up distinct levels. They can combine only with their own kind, with things of the same character and nature, things that match.
Clearly, these levels are in a sequence like that of a purpose, a means, and a result, since the first or smallest promotes its cause through the intermediate and achieves its result through the last.
It is important to realize that each level is delineated from the other by its own membrane, with all the levels together being delineated by a common membrane. This common membrane communicates with the deeper and deepest levels in proper sequence, which is what makes possible the union and concerted action of all of them. . . .
from Regeneration, Pages 80-91