The Doctrine of Emanation and Ascension
The whole of antiquity was imbued with that philosophy which teaches the involution of spirit into matter, the progressive, downward cyclic descent, or active, self-conscious evolution. . . . One and all, they allegorized and explained the FALL as the desire to learn and acquire knowledge — to KNOW. This is the natural sequence of mental evolution, the spiritual becoming transmuted into the material or physical. The same law of descent into materiality and re-ascent into spirituality asserted itself during the Christian era, the reaction having stopped only just now, in our own special sub-race.
— H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine, Vol I, pp. 416-7
Click on any of the headings below to delve into the concept of Human Perfectibility from a theosophical perspective:
From the writings of H. P. Blavatsky
Definitions from the Theosophical Glossary
Emanation, the Doctrine of. In its metaphysical meaning, it is opposed to Evolution, yet one with it. Science teaches that evolution is physiologically a mode of generation in which the germ that develops the foetus pre-exists already in the parent, the development and final form and characteristics of that germ being accomplished in nature; and that in cosmology the process takes place blindly through the correlation of the elements, and their various compounds. Occultism answers that this is only the apparent mode, the real process being Emanation, guided by intelligent Forces under an immutable Law. Therefore, while the Occultists and Theosophists believe thoroughly in the doctrine of Evolution as given out by Kapila and Manu, they are Emanationists rather than Evolutionists. The doctrine of Emanation was at one time universal. It was taught by the Alexandrian as well as by the Indian philosophers, by the Egyptian, the Chaldean and Hellenic Hierophants, and also by the Hebrews (in their Kabbala, and even in Genesis). For it is only owing to deliberate mistranslation that the Hebrew word asdt has been translated “angels” from the Septuagint, when it means Emanations, Æons, precisely as with the Gnostics. Indeed, in Deuteronomy (xxxiii., 2) the word asdt or ashdt is translated as” fiery law”, whilst the correct rendering of the passage should be “from his right hand went [not a fiery law, but] a fire according to law”; viz., that the fire of one flame is imparted to, and caught up by another like as in a trail of inflammable substance. This is precisely emanation. As shown in Isis Unveiled: “In Evolution, as it is now beginning to he understood, there is supposed to be in all matter an impulse to take on a higher form—a supposition clearly expressed by Manu and other Hindu philosophers of the highest antiquity. The philosopher’s tree illustrates it in the case of the zinc solution. The controversy between the followers of this school and the Emanationists may he briefly stated thus The Evolutionist stops all inquiry at the borders of “the Unknowable”; the Emanationist believes that nothing can be evolved—or, as the word means, unwombed or born—except it has first been involved, thus indicating that life is from a spiritual potency above the whole.”
Evolution. The development of higher orders of animals from lower. As said in Isis Unveiled: “Modern Science holds but to a one-sided physical evolution, prudently avoiding and ignoring the higher or spiritual evolution, which would force our contemporaries to confess the superiority of the ancient philosophers and psychologists over themselves. The ancient sages, ascending to the unknowable, made their starting-point from the first manifestation of the unseen, the unavoidable, and, from a strictly logical reasoning, the absolutely necessary creative Being, the Demiurgos of the universe. Evolution began with them from pure spirit, which descending lower and lower down, assumed at last a visible and comprehensible form, and became matter. Arrived at this point, they speculated in the Darwinian method, but on a far more large and comprehensive basis.” (See “Emanation”.)
Rings and Rounds. Terms employed by Theosophists in explanation of Eastern cosmogony. They are used to denote the various evolutionary cycles in the Elemental, Mineral, &c., Kingdoms, through which the Monad passes on any one globe, the term Round being used only to denote the cyclic passage of the Monad round the complete chain of seven globes. Generally speaking, Theosophists use the term ring as a synonym of cycles, whether cosmic, geological, metaphysical or any other.
Evolution of the Soul (Extracts from Isis Unveiled)
STUDIES IN ISIS UNVEILED
EVOLUTION OF THE SOUL
The accompanying article is made up of textual extracts from Isis Unveiled, topically and sequentially arranged. The page references from which the statements are taken, are given at the conclusion of the article.—EDITORS.
ESOTERIC philosophers held that everything in nature is but a materialization of spirit. The Eternal First Cause is latent spirit and matter from the beginning. While conceding the idea of such a God to be an unthinkable abstraction to human reason, they claimed that the unerring human instinct grasped it as a reminiscence of something concrete to it though intangible to our physical senses. With the first idea, which emanated from the hitherto-inactive Deity, the first motion was communicated to the whole universe, and the electric thrill was instantaneously felt throughout the boundless space. Spirit begat force, and force matter; and thus the latent deity manifested itself as a creative energy.
When; at what point of the eternity; or how? the question must always remain unanswered; for human reason is unable to grasp the great mystery. But, though spirit-matter was from all eternity, it was in a latent state; the evolution of our visible universe must have had a beginning. This mystery of first creation, which was ever the despair of science, is unfathomable, unless we accept the doctrine of the Hermetists. Though matter is co-eternal with spirit, that matter is certainly not our visible, tangible, and divisible matter, but its extreme sublimation. Pure spirit is but one remove higher. Unless we allow man to have been evolved out of this primordial spirit-matter, how can we ever come to any reasonable hypothesis as to the genesis of animate beings?
The esoteric doctrine, then, teaches, like Buddhism and Brahmanism, and even the persecuted Kabala, that the one infinite and unknown Essence exists from all eternity, and in regular and harmonious successions is either passive or active. Upon inaugurating an active period, an expansion of this Divine essence, from within outwardly, occurs in obedience to eternal and immutable law, and the phenomenal or visible universe is the ultimate result of the long chain of cosmical forces thus progressively set in motion. In like manner when the passive condition is resumed, a contraction of the Divine essence takes place, and the previous work of creation is gradually and progressively undone. The visible universe becomes disintegrated, its material dispersed; and “darkness” solitary and alone, broods once more over the face of the “deep.” To use a metaphor which will convey the idea still more clearly, an outbreathing of the “unknown essence” produces the world; and an inhalation causes it to disappear. This process has been going on from all eternity, and our present universe is but one of an infinite series which had no beginning, and will have no end.
The successive existence of an incalculable number of worlds before the subsequent evolution of our own, was believed in and taught by all the ancient peoples. The Hindu doctrines teach of two Pralayas or dissolutions; the one universal, the Maha-Pralaya, the other partial, or the minor Pralaya. This does not relate to the universal dissolution which occurs at the end of every “Day of Brahma,” but to the geological cataclysms at the end of every minor cycle of our globe. A partial cataclysm occurs at the close of every “age” of the world, which does not destroy the latter, but only changes its general appearance. New races of men and animals and a new flora evolve from the dissolution of the precedent one.
As well as man, and every other living thing upon it, our planet has had its spiritual and physical evolution. From an impalpable ideal thought under the creative Will of Him of whom we know nothing, and but dimly conceive in imagination, this globe became fluidic and semi-spiritual, then condensed itself more and more, until its physical development. Our physical planet is but the hand-maiden, or rather the maid-of-all-work, of the spirit, its master. The allegorical curse under which it labors, is that it only procreates, it does not create. And this curse will last until the minutest particle of matter on earth shall have outlived its days, until every grain of dust has, by gradual transformation through evolution, become a constituent part of a “living soul,” and, until the latter shall reascend the cyclic arc, and finally stand— its own Redeeming Spirit— at the foot of the upper step of the spiritual worlds, as at the first hour of its emanation. Beyond that lies the great “Deep”— A MYSTERY. The ancients were philosophers, consistent in all things. Hence they taught that each of these departed worlds, having performed its physical evolution, and reached— through birth, growth, maturity, old age, and death— the end of its cycle, had returned to its primitive subjective form of a spiritual earth. Thereafter it had to serve through all eternity as the dwelling of those who had lived on it as men, and even animals, but were now spirits.
Eternity is pointed off into grand cycles, in each of which twelve transformations of our world occur, following its partial destruction by fire and water, alternately. Of these twelve transformations,1 the earth after each of the first six is grosser, and everything on it— man included— more material, than after the preceding one: while after each of the remaining six, the contrary is true, both man and earth growing more and more refined and spiritual with each terrestrial change. When the apex of the cycle is reached, a gradual dissolution takes place, and every living and objective form is destroyed. But when that point is reached, humanity has become fitted to live subjectively as well as objectively. And not humanity alone, but also animals, plants, and every atom. After a time of rest, say the Buddhists, when a new world becomes self-formed, the astral souls of animals and of all beings, except such as have reached the highest Nirvana, will return on earth again to end their cycles of transformations, and become men in their turn. If there is a developed immortal spirit in man, it must be in everything else, at least in a latent or germinal state, and it can only be a question of time for each of these germs to become fully developed. Logic shows us that as all matter had a common origin, it must have attributes in common, and as the vital and divine spark is in man’s material body, so it must lurk in every subordinate species. The Hermetists held every particle of matter contains within itself a spark of the divine essence— or light, spirit—which, through its tendency to free itself from its entanglement and return to the central source, produced motion in the particles, and from motion forms were born. As by gradual progression from the star-cloudlet to the development of the physical body of man, the rule holds good, so from the universal ether to the incarnate human spirit they traced one uninterrupted series of entities. These evolutions were from the world of spirit into the world of gross matter; and through that back again to the source of all things. The “descent of species” was to them a descent from the spirit, primal source of all, to the “degradation of matter.”
The pre-existence and god-like powers of the human spirit were believed in by most all the sages of ancient days. The slow development from pre-existing forms was a doctrine with the later Rosicrucians. The Platonic philosophy was one of order, system, and proportion; it embraced the evolution of worlds and of species, the correlation and conservation of energy, the transmutation of material form, the indestructibility of matter and of spirit. The Pythagorean Monad, which lives “in solitude and darkness,” may remain on this earth forever invisible, impalpable, and undemonstrated by experimental science. Still, the whole universe will be gravitating around it, as it did from the “beginning of time,” and with every second, man and atom approach nearer to that solemn moment in the eternity, when the Invisible Presence will become clear to their spiritual sight. When every particle of matter, even the most sublimated, has been cast off from the last shape that forms the ultimate link of that chain of double evolution, which, throughout millions of ages and successive transformations, has pushed the entity onward; and when it shall find itself reclothed in that primordial essence, identical with that of its Creator, then this once impalpable organic atom will have run its race, and the sons of God will once more “shout for joy” at the return of the pilgrim.
The doctrine of the immortality of the soul dates from the time when the soul was an objective being, hence when it could hardly be denied by itself; when humanity was a spiritual race and death existed not. Toward the decline of the cycle of life the ethereal man-spirit then fell into the sweet slumber of temporary unconsciousness in one sphere, only to find himself awakening in the still brighter light of a higher one. But while the spiritual man is ever striving to ascend higher and higher toward its source of being, passing through the cycles and spheres of individual life, physical man had to descend with the great cycle of universal creation until it found itself clothed with the terrestrial garments. Thenceforth the soul was too deeply buried under physical clothing to reassert its existence, except in the cases of those more spiritual natures, which, with every cycle, became more rare. And yet none of the pre-historical nations ever thought of denying either the existence or the immortality of the inner man, the real “self.” Only, we must bear in mind the teachings of the old philosophies: the spirit alone is immortal— the soul, per se, is neither eternal nor divine. When linked too closely with the physical brain of its terrestrial casket, it gradually becomes a finite mind, a simple animal and sentient life-principle. The cycle is moving down, and as it descends, the physical and bestial nature of man develops more and more at the expense of the Spiritual Self.
Man before being encased in matter had no use for limbs, but was a pure spiritual entity. Hence if the Deity, and his universe, and the stellar bodies are to be conceived as spheroidal, this shape would be archetypal man’s. As his enveloping shell grew heavier, there came the necessity for limbs, and the limbs sprouted. If we fancy a man with arms and legs naturally extended at the same angle, by backing him against the circle that symbolizes his prior shape as a spirit, we would have the very figure described by Plato— the X cross within the circle. The grand cycle includes the progress of mankind from its germ in the primordial man of spiritual form to the deepest depth of degradation he can reach— each successive step in the descent being accompanied by a greater strength and grossness of the physical form than its precursor. But while the grand cycle, or age, is running its course, seven minor cycles are passed, each marking the evolution of a new race out of the preceding one, on a new world. And each of these races, or grand types of humanity, breaks up into subdivisions of families, and they again into nations and tribes.
The “coats of skin,” mentioned in the third chapter of Genesis as given to Adam and Eve, are explained by certain ancient philosophers to mean the fleshy bodies with which, in the progress of the cycles, the progenitors of the race became clothed. They maintained that the god-like physical form became grosser and grosser, until the bottom of what may be termed the last spiritual cycle was reached, and mankind entered upon the ascending arc of the first human cycle. Then began an uninterrupted series of cycles or yogas;2 the precise number of years of which each of them consisted remaining an inviolable mystery within the precincts of the sanctuaries and disclosed only to the initiates. As soon as humanity entered upon a new one, the stone age, with which the preceding cycle had closed, began to gradually merge into the following and next higher age. With each successive age, or epoch, men grew more refined, until the acme of perfection possible in that particular cycle had been reached. Then the receding wave of time carried back with it the vestiges of human, social, and intellectual progress. Cycle succeeded cycle, by imperceptible transitions; highly-civilized flourishing nations waxed in power, attained the climax of development, waned, and became extinct; and mankind, when the end of the lower cyclic arc was reached, was replunged into barbarism as at the start. Kingdoms have crumbled and nation succeeded nation from the beginning until our day, the races alternately mounting to the highest and descending to the lowest points of development. These cycles, according to the Chaldean philosophy, do not embrace all mankind at one and the same time. Draper observes that there is no reason to suppose that any one cycle applied to the whole human race. On the contrary, while man in one portion of the planet was in a condition of retrogression, in another he might be progressing in enlightenment and civilization. Whether or not the men of science are willing to concede the correctness of the Hermetic theory of the physical evolution of man from higher and more spiritual natures, they themselves show us how the race has progressed from the lowest observed point to its present development. And, as all nature seems to be made up of analogies, is it unreasonable to affirm that the same progressive development of individual forms has prevailed among the inhabitants of the unseen universe? While they made no attempt to calculate the duration of the “grand cycle,” the Hermetic philosophers yet maintained that, according to the cyclic law, the living human race must inevitably and collectively return one day to that point of departure, where man was first clothed with “coats of skin;” or, to express it more clearly, the human race must, in accordance with the law of evolution, be finally physically spiritualized. We must go deep indeed into the abstruse metaphysics of Oriental mysticism before we can realize fully the infinitude of the subjects that were embraced at one sweep of the majestic thought of its exponents.
Modern science insists upon the doctrine of evolution; so do human reason and the “secret doctrine,” and the idea is corroborated by ancient legends and myths, and even by the Bible itself when it is read between the lines. We see a flower slowly developing from a bud, and the bud from its seed. But whence the latter, with all its predetermined programme of physical transformation, and its invisible, therefore spiritual forces which gradually develop its form, color, and odor? The word evolution speaks for itself. The germ of the present human race must have pre-existed in the parent of this race. Physical man, as a product of evolution, may be left in the hands of the man of exact science. None but he can throw light upon the physical origin of the race. But we must positively deny the materialist the same privilege as to the question of man’s psychical and spiritual evolution, for he and his highest faculties cannot be proved on any conclusive evidence to be “as much products of evolution as the humblest plant or the lowest worm.” If those who believe in the evolution of spirit as firmly as the materialists believe in that of matter are charged with teaching “unverifiable hypotheses,” how readily can they retort upon their accusers by saying that, by their own confession, their physical evolution is still “an unverified, if not actually an unverifiable hypothesis.” The former have at least the inferential proof of legendary myth, the vast antiquity of which is admitted by both philologists and archæologists; while their antagonists have nothing of a similar nature. For a belief to have become universal, it must have been founded on an immense accumulation of facts, tending to strengthen it, from one generation to another. The universe is the combination of a thousand elements, and yet the expression of a single spirit— a chaos to the sense, a cosmos to the reason. In the Mysteries were symbolized the pre-existent condition of the spirit and soul, and the lapse of the latter into earth-life and Hades, the miseries of that life, the purification of the soul, and its restoration to divine bliss, or re-union with spirit. The sacred numbers of the universe in their esoteric combination solve the great problem and explain the theory of radiation and the cycle of the emanations. The lower orders before they develop into the higher ones must emanate from the higher spiritual ones, and when arrived at the turning point, be re-absorbed again into the infinite. The key to the Pythagorean dogmas is the general formula of unity in multiplicity, the one evolving the many and pervading the many. This is the ancient doctrine of emanation in few words. Even the apostle Paul accepted it as true. “Out of him and through him and in him all things are.” This is purely Hindu and Brahmanical. The present earth-life is a fall and a punishment. The soul dwells in “the grave which we call the body,” and in its incorporate state, and previous to the discipline of education, the noetic or spiritual element is “asleep.” Life is thus a dream, rather than a reality. Is not this the idea of Maya, or the illusion of the senses in physical life, which is so marked a feature of Buddhistical philosophy? Basing all his doctrines on the presence of the Supreme Mind, Plato taught that the nous, spirit, or rational soul of man, possessed a kindred nature, or even homogeneous, with the Divinity, and was capable of beholding the eternal realities. The basis of this assimilation is always asserted to be the pre-existence of the spirit or nous. The greatest philosopher of the pre-Christian era mirrored faithfully in his works the spiritualism of the Vedic philosophers who lived thousands of years before himself, and its metaphysical expression. Thus is warranted the inference that to Plato and the ancient Hindu sages was alike revealed the same wisdom. So surviving the shock of time, what can this wisdom be but divine and eternal?
What was a demonstration and a success in the eyes of Plato and his disciples is now considered the overflow of a spurious philosophy and a failure. The scientific methods are reversed. The testimony of the men of old, who were nearer to truth, for they were nearer to the spirit of nature— the only aspect under which the Deity will allow itself to be viewed and understood— and their demonstrations, are rejected. The whole of the present work is a protest against such a loose way of judging the ancients. To be thoroughly competent to criticize their ideas, and assure one’s self whether their ideas were distinct and “appropriate to the facts,” one must have sifted these ideas to the very bottom. It is idle to repeat that which we have frequently said, and that which every scholar ought to know; namely, that the quintessence of their knowledge was in the hands of the priests, who never wrote them, and in those of the initiates who, like Plato, did not dare write them. In no country were the true esoteric doctrines trusted to writing. Therefore, those few speculations on the material and spiritual universes which they did put in writing, could not enable posterity to judge them rightly, even had not the early Christian Vandals, the later crusaders, and the fanatics of the middle ages destroyed three parts of that which remained of the Alexandrian library and its later schools. Who, then, of those who turn away from the “secret doctrine” as being “unphilosophical” and, therefore, unworthy of a scientific thought, has a right to say that he studied the ancients; that he is aware of all they knew, and knowing far more, knows also that they knew little, if anything? This “secret doctrine” contains the alpha and omega of universal science; therein lies the corner and the key-stone of all the ancient and modern knowledge; and alone in this “unphilosophical” doctrine remains buried the obsolute in the philosophy of the dark problems of life and death.
Thus it is that all the religious monuments of old, in whatever land or under whatever climate, are the expression of the same identical thoughts, the key to which is in the esoteric doctrine. It would be vain, without studying the latter, to seek to unriddle the mysteries enshrouded for centuries in the temples and ruins of Egypt and Assyria, or those of Central America, British Columbia, and the Nagkon-Wat of Cambodia. If each of these was built by a different nation; and neither nation had had intercourse with the others for ages, it is also certain that all were planned and built under the direct supervision of the priests. And the clergy of every nation, although practicing rites and ceremonies which may have differed externally, had evidently been initiated into the same traditional mysteries which were taught all over the world. As cycle succeeded cycle, and one nation after another came upon the world’s stage to play its brief part in the majestic drama of human life, each new people evolved from ancestral traditions its own religion, giving it a local color, and stamping it with its individual characteristics. While each of these religions had its distinguishing traits, by which, were there no other archaic vestiges, the physical and psychological status of its creators could be estimated, all preserved a common likeness to one prototype. This parent cult was none other than the primitive “wisdom-religion.” We can assert, with entire plausibility, that there is not one of all these sects— Kabalism, Judaism, and our present Christianity included— but sprung from the two main branches of that one mother-trunk, the once universal religion, which antedated the Vedic ages— we speak of that prehistoric Buddhism which merged later into Brahmanism.
Many and various are the nationalities to which belong the disciples of that mysterious school, and many the side-shoots of that one primitive stock. The secrecy preserved by these sub-lodges, as well as by the one great and supreme lodge, has ever been proportionate to the activity of religious persecutions; and now, in the face of the growing materialism, their very existence is becoming a mystery. But it must not be inferred, on that account, that such a mysterious brotherhood is but a fiction, not even a name, though it remains unknown to this day. Whether its affiliates are called by an Egyptian, Hindu, or Persian name, it matters not.
Most assuredly, no one could expect to find, in a work open to the public, the final mysteries of that which was preserved for countless ages as the grandest secret of the sanctuary. But, without divulging the key to the profane, or being taxed with undue indiscretion, we may be allowed to lift a corner of the veil which shrouds the majestic doctrines of old. The key must be turned seven times before the whole system is divulged. We will give it but one turn, and thereby allow the profane one glimpse into the mystery. Happy he, who understands the whole!
NOTE.—The volume and page references to Isis Unveiled, from which the foregoing article is compiled, are, in the order of the excerpts, as follows: I, 428; I, 429; II, 264-5; II, 424; II, 420; II, 455-6; I, 330; I, 433; I, 258; I, 285; I, 251; I, 257; I, 238; I, 212-13; II, 362; II, 366; II, 469; II, 263; I, 293-4; I, 6; I, 294; I, 295; I, 296; I, 297; I, 152; I, 153; I, 155; I, 612; I, xvi; I, xiv; I, 7; I, xvi; I, xiii; I, xi; I, 424; I, 510; I, 271 fn.; I, 511; I, 561; II, 216; II, 123; II, 307; II, 460; II, 461.
(1) These “transformations” refer to the greater and lesser Zodiacal cycles which mark the numerous geological changes on the septenary globes during the immeasurably long course of evolution, and must also include such changes as occur in the passage of life from an old planet to a new one as in the case of the moon and our earth.—[EDITOR THEOSOPHY.]
(2) This is evidently a typographical error. The correct word is yugas.—[EDITOR THEOSOPHY.]
—THEOSOPHY, June, 1917
Evolution of Man (Extracts from The Secret Doctrine)
EVOLUTION OF MAN
(A student’s collation from The Secret Doctrine.)
A NOUMENON can become a phenomenon on any plane of existence only by manifesting on that plane through an appropriate basis or vehicle; and during the long night of rest called Pralaya, when all the existences are dissolved, the “UNIVERSAL MIND” remains as a permanent possibility of mental action, or as that abstract absolute thought, of which mind is the concrete relative manifestation.
Man is certainly no special creation, and he is the product of Nature’s gradual perfective work, like any other living unit on this Earth. But this is only with regard to the human tabernacle. That which lives and thinks in man and survives that frame, the masterpiece of evolution—is the “Eternal Pilgrim,” the Protean differentiation in space and time of the One Absolute “unknowable.”
The well-known Kabalistic aphorism runs:— “A stone becomes a plant; a plant, a beast; the beast, a man; a man, a spirit; and the spirit, a god.” The “spark” animates all the kingdoms in turn before it enters into and informs divine man, between whom and his predecessor, animal man, there is all the difference in the world.
The Monad or Jiva, as said in Isis Unveiled (I, 302) is, first of all, shot down by the law of Evolution into the lowest form of matter—the mineral. After a sevenfold gyration encased in the stone (or that which will become mineral and stone in the Fourth Round), it creeps out of it, say, as a lichen. Passing thence, through all the forms of vegetable matter, into what is termed animal matter, it has now reached the point in which it has become the germ, so to speak, of the animal, that will become the physical man.
Limiting the teaching strictly to this, our earth, it may be shown that, as the ethereal forms of the first Men are first projected on seven zones by seven Dhyan-Chohanic centers of Force, so there are centers of creative power for every ROOT or parent species of the host of forms of vegetable and animal life. This is, again, no “special creation,” nor is there any “Design,” except in the general “ground-plan” worked out by the universal law. But there are certainly “designers,” though these are neither omnipotent nor omniscient in the absolute sense of the term.
An Occultist would say that man was indeed made in the image of a type projected by his progenitor, the creating Angel-Force, or Dhyan Chohan; while the wanderer of the forest of Sumatra was made in the image of man, since the framework of the ape is the revival, the resuscitation by abnormal means of the actual form of the Third-Round, and of the Fourth-Round Man as well, later on. Nothing is lost in nature, not an atom; this latter is at least certain on scientific data. Analogy would appear to demand that form should be equally endowed with permanency.
Man, philosophically considered, is, in his outward form, simply an animal, hardly more perfect than his pithecoid-like ancestor of the third round. He is a living body, not a living being, since the realization of existence, the “Ego-Sum,” necessitates self-consciousness, and an animal can only have direct consciousness, or instinct. This was so well understood by the Ancients that the Kabalists even made of soul and body two lives, independent of each other.
It is a universal tradition that, before the physiological “Fall,” propagation of one’s kind, whether human or animal, took place through the WILL of the Creators, or of their progeny. It was the Fall of Spirit into generation, not the Fall of mortal man. It has already been stated that, to become a Self-Conscious Spirit, the latter must pass through every cycle of being, culminating in its highest point on earth in Man. Spirit per se is an unconscious negative ABSTRACTION. Its purity is inherent, not acquired by merit; hence, to become the highest Dhyan Chohan it is necessary for each Ego to attain to full self-consciousness as a human, i.e. conscious Being, which is synthesized for us in Man.
Says the Book of Dzyan with regard to primeval man when first projected by the “Boneless,” the incorporeal Creator: “First, the Breath, then Buddhi and the Shadow-Son (the Body) were ‘CREATED.’ But where was the pivot (the middle principle, Manas)? Man is doomed. When alone, the indiscrete (undifferentiated Element) and the Vahan (Buddhi)—the cause of the causeless—break asunder from manifested life” —”unless cemented and held together by the middle principle, the vehicle of the personal consciousness of JIVA“; explains the Commentary. In other words, the two higher principles can have no individuality on Earth, cannot be man, unless there is (a) the Mind, the Manas-Ego, to cognize itself, and (b) the terrestrial false personality, or the body of egotistical desires and personal Will, to cement the whole, as if round a pivot (which it is, truly), to the physical form of man. It is the Fifth and Fourth principles—Manas and Kama rupa —that contain the dual personality: the real immortal Ego (if it assimilates itself to the two higher) and the false and transitory personality, the mayavi or astral body, so-called, or the animal-human Soul—the two having to be closely blended for purposes of a full terrestrial existence.
We ought not always to take for granted, as some advocates of the development theory seem to do, that each advance in physical power depends on an improvement in bodily structure, for why may not the soul, or the higher intellectual and moral faculties play the first instead of the second part in a progressive scheme.
This hypothesis is made in relation to Evolution not being entirely due to “natural selection”; but it applies as well to our case in hand. For we, too, claim that it is the “Soul,” or the inner man, that descends on Earth first, the psychic astral, the mould on which physical man is gradually built—his Spirit, intellectual and moral faculties awakening later on as that physical stature grows and develops.
“Thus incorporeal Spirits to smaller forms reduced their shapes immense,” … and became the men of the Third and the Fourth Races. Still later, ages after, appeared the men of our Fifth Race, reduced from the still gigantic (in our modern sense) stature of their primeval ancestors, to about half of that size at present.
In our present all-material Fifth Race, the earthly Spirit of the Fourth is still strong in us; but we are approaching the time when the pendulum of evolution will direct its swing decidedly upwards, bringing Humanity back on a parallel line with the primitive third Root-Race in Spirituality. During its childhood, mankind was composed wholly of that Angelic Host, who were the indwelling Spirits that animated the monstrous and gigantic tabernacles of clay of the Fourth Race—built by (as they are now also) and composed of countless myriads of lives. … The “tabernacles” have improved in texture and symmetry of form, growing and developing with the globe that bore them; but the physical improvement took place at the expense of the spiritual inner man and nature. The three middle principles in earth and man became with every race more material; the Soul stepping back to make room for the physical intellect; the essence of elements becoming the material and composite elements now known.
To make the working of Karma, in the periodical renovations of the Universe, more evident and intelligible to the student when he arrives at the origin and evolution of man, he has now to examine with us the esoteric bearing of the Karmic Cycles upon Universal Ethics. The question is, do those mysterious divisions of time, called Yugas and Kalpas by the Hindus, and so very graphically “cycle,” ring or circle, by the Greeks, have any bearing upon, or any direct connection with, human life? Even exoteric philosophy explains that these perpetual circles of time are ever returning on themselves, periodically, and intelligently in Space and Eternity. There are “Cycles of matter” and there are “Cycles of Spiritual evolution.” Racial, national, and individual cycles.
On its way upwards on the ascending arc, Evolution spiritualises, so to speak, the general nature of all, bringing it on to a level with the plane on which the twin globe on the opposite side is placed; the result being, that when the seventh globe is reached (in whatever Round) the nature of everything that is evolving returns to the condition it was in at its starting point—plus, every time, a new and superior degree in the states of consciousness.
—THEOSOPHY, May, 1973
From the writings of William Quan Judge
On the Process of Evolution and Involution (Extracts from The Ocean of Theosophy)
On the Process of Evolution and Involution
Extracts from The Ocean of Theosophy, compiled by a student.
Theosophy is that ocean of knowledge which spreads from shore to shore of the evolution of sentient beings; … It is not a belief or dogma formulated or invented by man, but is a knowledge of the laws which govern the evolution of the physical, astral, psychical, and intellectual constituents of nature and of man.
That man possesses an immortal soul is the common belief of humanity; to this Theosophy adds that he is a soul; and further that all nature is sentient, that the vast array of objects and men are not mere collections of atoms fortuitously thrown together and thus without law evolving law, but down to the smallest atom all is soul and spirit ever evolving under the rule of law which is inherent in the whole. And just as the ancients taught, so does Theosophy; that the course of evolution is the drama of the soul and that nature exists for no other purpose than the soul’s experience. The Theosophist agrees with Prof. Huxley in the assertion that there must be beings in the universe whose intelligence is as much beyond ours as ours exceeds that of the black beetle, and who take an active part in the government of the natural order of things. Pushing further on by the light of the confidence had in his teachers, the Theosophist adds that such intelligences were once human and came like all of us from other and previous worlds, where as varied experience had been gained as is possible on this one. We are therefore not appearing for the first time when we come upon this planet, but have pursued a long, an immeasurable course of activity and intelligent perception on other systems of globes, some of which were destroyed ages before the solar system condensed. This immense reach of the evolutionary system means, then, that this planet on which we now are is the result of the activity and the evolution of some other one that died long ago, leaving its energy to be used in the bringing into existence of the earth, and that the inhabitants of the latter in their turn came from some older world to proceed here with the destined work in matter.
These periods of manifestation are unknown to modern evolutionists so far as their number are concerned, though long ago understood by not only the older Hindus, but also by those great minds and men who instituted and carried on the first pure and undebased form of the Mysteries of Greece. The periods, when out of the Great Unknown there come forth the visible universes, are eternal in their coming and going, alternating with equal periods of silence and rest again in the Unknown. The object of these mighty waves is the production of perfect man, the evolution of soul … the life of the least of men pictures them in day and night, waking and sleeping, birth and death, “for these two, light and dark, day and night, are the world’s eternal ways.”
When a world or a system comes to the end of certain great cycles men record a cataclysm in history or tradition. These traditions abound; among the Jews in their flood; with the Babylonians in theirs; in Egyptian papyri; in the Hindu cosmology; and none of them as merely confirmatory of the little Jewish tradition, but all pointing to early teaching and dim recollection also of the periodical destructions and renovations. … Just as there are periodical minor cataclysms or partial destructions, so, the doctrine holds, there is the universal evolution and involution. Forever the Great Breath goes forth and returns again. As it proceeds outwards, objects, worlds and men appear; as it recedes all disappear into the original source.
This is the waking and the sleeping of the Great Being; the Day and the Night of Brahmâ; the prototype of our waking days and sleeping nights as men, of our disappearance from the scene at the end of one little human life, and our return again to take up the unfinished work in another life, in a new day.
When [the Day of Brahmâ] opens, cosmic evolution, so far as relates to this solar system, begins and occupies between one and two billions of years in evolving the very ethereal first matter before the astral kingdoms of mineral, vegetable, animal and men are possible. This second step takes some three hundred millions of years, and then still more material processes go forward for the production of the tangible kingdoms of nature, including man. This covers over one and one-half billions of years. And the number of solar years included in the present “human” period is over eighteen millions of years.
This is exactly what Herbert Spencer designates as the gradual coming forth of the known and heterogeneous from the unknown and homogeneous. For the ancient Egyptian and Hindu Theosophists never admitted a creation out of nothing, but ever strenuously insisted upon evolution, by gradual stages, of the heterogeneous and differentiated from the homogeneous and undifferentiated.
During all these ages before our man came into being, evolution was carrying on the work of perfecting various powers which are now our possession. This was accomplished by the Ego or real man going through experience in countless conditions of matter all different one from the other, and the same plan in general was and is pursued as prevails in respect to the general evolution of the universe to which I have before adverted. That is, details were first worked out in spheres of being very ethereal, metaphysical in fact. Then the next step brought the same details to be worked out on a plane of matter a little more dense, until at last it could be done on our present plane of what we miscall gross matter.
Each of his [Man’s] seven principles is derived from one of the great first seven divisions, and each relates to a planet or scene of evolution, and to a race in which that evolution was carried out. So the first sevenfold differentiation is important to be borne in mind, since it is the basis of all that follows; just as the universal evolution is septenary so the evolution of humanity, sevenfold in its constitution, is carried on upon a septenary Earth. This is spoken of in Theosophical literature as the Sevenfold Planetary Chain, and is intimately connected with Man’s special evolution.
Coming now to our Earth the view put forward by Theosophy regarding its genesis, its evolution and the evolution of the Human, Animal and other Monads, is quite different from modern ideas, and in some things contrary to accepted theories. But the theories of today are not stable. They change with each century, while the Theosophical one never alters because, in the opinion of those Elder Brothers who have caused its repromulgation and pointed to its confirmation in ancient books, it is but a statement of facts in nature. The modern theory is, on the contrary, always speculative, changeable, and continually altered.
Following the general plan … the Earth is sevenfold. It is an entity and not a mere lump of gross matter. And being thus an entity of a septenary nature there must be six other globes which roll with it in space. This company of seven globes has been called the “Earth Chain,” the “Planetary Chain.”
The Earth Chain of seven globes as thus defined is the direct reincarnation of a former chain of seven globes, and that former family of seven was the moon chain, the moon itself being the visible representative of the fourth globe of the old chain. When that former vast entity composed of the Moon and six others, all united in one mass, reached its limit of life it died just as any being dies. Each one of the seven sent its energies into space and gave similar life or vibration to cosmic dust—matter,—and the total cohesive force of the whole kept the seven energies together. This resulted in the evolving of the present Earth Chain of seven centers of energy or evolution combined in one mass.
The stream or mass of Egos which evolves on the seven globes of our chain is limited in number, yet the actual quantity is enormous. For though the universe is limitless and infinite, yet in any particular portion of Cosmos in which manifestation and evolution have begun there is a limit to the extent of manifestation and to the number of Egos engaged therein. And the whole number of Monads now going through evolution on our Earth Chain came over from the old seven planets or globes which I have described.
Each one of the globes [of the Earth Chain] is used by evolutionary law for the development of seven races, and of senses, faculties and powers appropriate to that state of matter: the experience of the whole seven globes being needed to make a perfect development. Hence we have the Rounds and Races. The Round is a circling of the seven centers of planetary consciousness; the Race the racial development on one of those seven. There are seven races for each globe, but the total of forty-nine races only makes up seven great races, the special septennate of races on each globe or planetary center composing in reality one race of seven constituents or special peculiarities of function and power.
And as no complete race could be evolved in a moment on any globe, the slow, orderly processes of nature, which allow no jumps, must proceed by appropriate means. Hence sub-races have to be evolved one after the other before the perfect root race is formed, and then the root race sends off its offshoots while it is declining and preparing for the advent of the next great race.
Between the end of any great race and the beginning of another there is a period of rest, so far as the globe is concerned, for then the stream of human Egos leaves it for another one of the chain in order to go on with further evolution of powers and faculties there. But when the last, the seventh, race has appeared and fully perfected itself, a great dissolution comes on, similar to that which I briefly described as preceding the birth of the earth’s chain, and then the world disappears as a tangible thing, and so far as the human ear is concerned there is silence. This, it is said, is the root of the belief so general that the world will come to an end, that there will be a judgment-day, or that there have been universal floods or fires.
Taking up evolution on the Earth, it is stated that the stream of Monads begins first to work up the mass of matter in what are called elemental conditions when all is gaseous or fiery. For the ancient and true theory is that no evolution is possible without the Monad as vivifying agent. In this first stage there is no animal or vegetable. Next comes the mineral when the whole mass hardens, the Monads being all imprisoned within. Then the first Monads emerge into vegetable forms which they construct themselves, and no animals yet appear. Next the first class of Monads emerges from the vegetable and produces the animal, then the human astral and shadowy model, and we have minerals, vegetables, animals and future men, for the second and later classes are still evolving in the lower kingdoms. … This is the whole process roughly given, but with many details left out…
And to state it in another way. The plan comes first in the universal mind, after which the astral model or basis is made, and when that astral model is completed, the whole process is gone over so as to condense the matter, up to the middle of the Fourth Round. Subsequent to that, which is our future, the whole mass is spiritualized with full consciousness and the entire body of globes raised up to a higher plane of development.
The word “evolution” is the best word from a theosophical standpoint to use in treating of the genesis of men and things, as the process which it designates is that which has been always stated in the ancient books from whose perusal the tenets of the wisdom religion can be gathered. In the Bhagavad Gita we find Krishna saying that “at the beginning of the day of Brahma all things come forth from the non-developed principle, and at the coming on of Brahma’s night they are resolved into it again”, and that this process goes on from age to age. This exactly states evolution as it is defined in our dictionaries, where it is said to be a process of coming forth or a development. The “days and nights of Brahma” are immense periods of time during which evolution proceeds, the manifestation of things being the “day” and their periodical resolution into the Absolute the “night”.
If, then, everything is evolved, the word creation can only be properly applied to any combination of things already in existence, since the primordial matter or basis cannot be created.
The basis of the theosophical system is evolution, for in theosophy it is held that all things are already in esse, being brought forth or evolved from time to time in conformity to the inherent law of the Absolute. The very next question to be asked is, What is this inherent law of the Absolute? as nearly as can be stated. Although we do not and cannot know the Absolute, we have enough data from which to draw the conclusion that its inherent law is to periodically come forth from subjectivity into objectivity and to return again to the former, and so on without any cessation. In the objective world we have a figure or illustration of this in the rising and setting of the sun, which of all natural objects best shows the influence of the law. It rises, as H. P. Blavatsky says, from the (to us) subjective, and at night returns to the subjective again, remaining in the objective world during the day. If we substitute, as we must when attempting to draw correspondences between the worlds, the word “state” for locality or place, and instead of the sun we call that object “the Absolute”, we have a perfect figure, for then we will have the Absolute rising above the horizon of consciousness from the subjective state, and its setting again for that consciousness when the time of night arrives, — that is, the night of Brahma. This law of periodicity is the same as that of the cycles, which can be seen governing in every department of nature.
But let us assume a point of departure so as to get a rapid survey of evolution theosophically considered. And let it be at the time when this period of manifestation began. What was projected into the objective world at that time must have been life itself, which under the action of the law of differentiation split itself up into a vast number of lives, which we may call individual, the quantity of which it is not possible for us of finite mind to count. In the Hindu system these are called Jivas and Jivatman. Within these lives there is contained the entire plan to be pursued during the whole period of manifestation, since each life is a small copy of the great All from which it came. Here a difficulty arises for studious minds calling for some attention, for they may ask “What then do you do with that which we call ‘matter’, and by and through which the lives manifest themselves?”
The reply is that the so-called matter is an illusion and is not real matter, but that the latter — sometime known in Europe as primordial matter — cannot be seen by us. The real matter is itself only another form of the life first thrown out, but in a less perfect state of differentiation, and it is on a screen of this real matter that its inner energies project pictures which we call matter, mistaking them for the real. It may then be further asked, “Have we not been led to suppose that that which we supposed was matter but which you now say is an illusion is something absolutely necessary to the soul for acquiring experience of nature?” To this I reply that such is not the case, but that the matter needed for the soul to acquire experience through is the real unseen matter. It is that matter of which psychic bodies are composed, and those other “material” things all the way up to spirit. It is to this that the Bhagavad Gita refers where it says that spirit (purusha) and matter (prakriti) are coeternal and not divisible from each other. That which we and science are accustomed to designate matter is nothing more than our limited and partial cognition of the phenomena of the real or primordial matter. This position is not overturned by pointing to the fact that all men in general have the same cognitions of the same objects, that square objects are always square and that shadows fall in the same line for all normal people, for even in our own experience we see that there is such a thing as a collective change of cognition, and that thus it is quite possible that all normal people are merely on the single plane of consciousness where they are not yet able to cognize anything else. In the case of hypnotizing everything appears to the subject to be different at the will of the operator, which would not be possible if objects had any inherent actuality of their own apart from our consciousness.
In order to justify a discussion of the Theosophical system of evolution, it is necessary to see if there be any radical difference between it and that which is accepted in the world, either in scientific circles or among Theologians. That there is such a distinction can be seen at once, and we will take first that between it and Theology. Here, of course, this is in respect to the genesis of the inner man more especially, although Theology makes some claim to know about race descent. The Church either says that the soul of each man is a special creation in each case or remains silent on the subject, leaving us, as it was once so much the fashion to say, “In the hands of a merciful Providence”, who after all says nothing on the matter. But when the question of the race is raised, then the priest points to the Bible, saying that we all come from one pair, Adam and Eve. On this point Theology is more sure than science, as the latter has no data yet and does not really know whether we owe our origin to one pair, male and female, or to many. Theosophy, on the other hand, differs from the Church, asserting that Paramatma alone is self-existing, single, eternal, immutable, and common to all creatures, high and low alike; hence it never was and never will be created; that the soul of man evolves, is consciousness itself, and is not specially created for each man born on the earth, but assumes through countless incarnations different bodies at different times. Underlying this must be the proposition that, for each Manvantara or period of manifestation, there is a definite number of souls or egos who project themselves into the current of evolution which is to prevail for that period or manvantara. Of course this subject is limitless, and the consideration of the vast number of systems and worlds where the same process is going on with a definite number of egos in each, staggers the minds of most of those who take the subject up. And of course I do not mean to be understood as saying that there is a definite number of egos in the whole collection of systems in which we may imagine evolution as proceeding, for there could be no such definiteness considered in the mass, as that would be the same as taking the measure of the Absolute. But in viewing any part of the manifestation of the Absolute, it is allowable for us to say that there are to be found such a definite number of egos in that particular system under consideration; this is one of the necessities of our finite consciousness. Following out the line of our own argument we reach the conclusion that, included within the great wave of evolution which relates to the system of which this earth is a part, there are just so many egos either fully developed or in a latent state. These have gone round and round the wheel of rebirth, and will continue to do so until the wave shall meet and be transformed into another. Therefore there could be no such thing as a special creation of souls for the different human beings born on this earth, and for the additional reason that, if there were, then spirit would be made subservient to illusion, to mere human bodies. So that in respect to theology we deny the propositions, first, that there is any special creation of souls, second, that there is, or was, or could be by any possibility any creation of this world or of any other, and third, that the human race descended from one pair.
In taking up the difference existing between our theory and that of science we find the task easy. Upon the question of progress, and how progress or civilization may be attained by man, and whether any progress could be possible if the theories of science be true, our position is that there could be no progress if the law of evolution as taught in the schools is true, even in a material sense. In this particular we are diametrically opposed to science. Its assumption is that the present race on the earth may be supposed to belong to a common stock which in its infancy was rude and barbarous, knowing little more than the animal, living like the animal, and learning all it now knows simply by experience gained in its contest with nature through its development. Hence they give us the paleolithic age, the neolithic age, and so on. In this scheme we find no explanation of how man comes to have innate ideas. Some, however, seeing the necessity for an explanation of this phenomenon, attempt it in various ways; and it is a phenomenon of the greatest importance. It is explained by theosophy in a way peculiar to itself, and of which more will be said as we go on.
—William Q. Judge, The Path, August 1890
A correspondent of PATH says:
I am unable to get a comprehensive view of evolution theosophically. Does a “round” mean once around the 7 planets which belong to the earth chain? If so, how is the moon our parent?
A round means a going once around the seven globes of the earth-chain. It was also called a “ring.” Some have confused it with incarnating in the seven races on any one planet. The seven races have to go seven times around the seven globes of this chain, developing in each the characteristics of each, which cannot be obtained in any other way.
There are seven globes in the chain, of which the earth is one. The other six are not visible to us, as they are made of matter in a different state, and on a different plane from matter as we know it and see it. The first race began on Globe No. 1 and carried on evolution there, and then went to Globe No. 2, and so on all around the seven. This it did seven times. Race No. 2 proceeded similarly, having in its possession all that was gained by No.1. We are now the Fifth Race engaged in going round the whole chain; hence we are called those of the Fourth Round, but are the Fifth Race. We must go round the whole chain of 7 planets 3 times more before as a race we are perfected.
When the Seventh Round is finished, as well as the halt for rest that follows, we begin again as a Sixth Race and go through Seven Rounds as such. When that is concluded we begin as the Seventh Race and repeat the process of Seven Rounds through the chain, thus bringing the grand evolution for this chain to a perfect end. After that we pass on upon a higher plane, the possessors of all the knowledge and development acquired during that sevenfold progress. This is the outline of the grand scheme, and, as you see, includes the whole series of seven planets.
But in every round of planets, on each one, and in each race as it begins and proceeds, there are many sub-races, root races, and offshoots, all necessary in the process of development for each race. For a race cannot spring up in a moment, out of nothing; it must grow forth from something. Therefore a new race is made by offshoots making sub-roots that finally grow slowly in the main race which will be. This is occurring in America, and hence here is afforded a present and perfect illustration. For here many examples of various root and sub-and offshoot races coming together, by generation of children among themselves, are producing the sub-root for the new race. This process will go on for a long period, during which old, decayed branchlets and offshoot families and races will be absorbed into the new growing stem, and when the time is ready-a long way off-for the new race, all will have to migrate to the next planet.
It is now plain that ring and round do not mean the process of going through the race in its process of formation on any planet, as its beginnings come on and are finally replaced by its finished product, but that these words refer to the grand march around the whole chain of globes, of which this earth is the fourth.
The question about the moon ought now to be clear. It is evident that the moon is not one of the 7 planets. By reading the Secret Doctrine we see that the moon is a deserted planet on the same plane as the earth-a fourth-round globe of a previous manvantara. It is the old fourth globe of an old chain, and is the parent of the earth, while the other six globes of our chain have similar parents, visible only from those globes. It is our parent because we came from it when the hour struck, long ago, for the migration from it of the humanity that had thereon passed through its grand sevenfold pilgrimage. In like manner, some future day, this earth will become “a moon” to some newer planet not now born.
Ques. 2-If the prototype of all forms has always existed, how can new forms come through evolution of the physical or material?
New material forms may come, but they are not prototypes. The latter are not material, therefore no confusion between the two can exist. There is evolution of material forms, but prototypes remain unaffected. This is a question which requires the questioner to look up exact meanings of the words used by him. It is not substantial. Fix the true meanings and the confusion will vanish.
Ques. 3-If man made his first appearance as a material body, why does the embryo pass through all the changes, vegetable and animal, before birth?
It is the order of nature. All the atoms have to grow used to their work before they can do it well and quickly. At first as astral atoms only, they do it over and over again until all the atoms acquire the habit of doing it without fail. They then go on to other work. This having been the way for ages, the human body is now gestated in nine months, whereas at earlier periods such gestation took years, later on fewer years, and finally as now. In future times the process will be finished more quickly, and then the embryo will pass through all these old states almost instantaneously. The reason, therefore, is that the physical human molecules of this period of evolution have only acquired the ability to pass through the series in nine months, as a result of millions of years of prior slow work. For nature goes by steps, one at a time. The embryo exhibits these phases because there are still left in the matter used the old impressions, and racial evolution is gradually wiping them out by transforming them into new organs, by eliminating those not useful and by condemning others. When the work is fully understood by every atom so that it acts with unerring, machine-like precision, it will be possible to bring out a body in a very short space of time.
—The Path, July, 1892
Rounds and Races
The realm of knowledge has various departments. Our physical senses furnish us one class of knowledge; our intellectual powers investigate another field on mathematical lines; and yet another faculty enables us to apprehend ethical teachings and to trace them to their true basis in Karma. That we have other faculties, now largely latent, which when developed will enable us to enter other fields of observation and investigation, is beginning to be seen and appreciated. Among the subjects which man may thus in the future examine for himself is a large block of truth concerning evolution, the out-breathing of the Great Breath, the birth and development of a chain of globes, and of human life thereon, some part of which has been imparted to us by those who claim to know, and which is chiefly useful, perhaps, for the light which it throws on our surroundings, our destiny, and our duty.
The grander sweeps of this block of truth are given to us in the barest outline, and not until our present physical earth is reached do we find anything like detailed information. From the hints given out, however, and reasoning according to the doctrine of correspondences, “as above, so below,” we may plausibly infer many things in regard to other globes and other systems; but such flights can hardly be taken with much profit or advantage until we become thoroughly familiar with the things that are revealed in regard to our immediate surroundings.
In reading what has been written about the evolution of our planetary chain, it becomes apparent that some writers either did not have clear views on the subject, or that confusion and even contradiction have resulted from difficulty in finding words adapted to its expression and in using the words chosen in a strictly consistent manner. The article entitled “Evolution” found on page 117 of THE PATH for July, 1892, is, it seems to me, open to this objection; and I ask leave of the Editor to contribute briefly to the work of making the subject more clear.
The planetary chain consists of seven companion globes, which for convenience of reference are named from the first seven letters of the alphabet, A, B, C, D, E, F, and G. We occupy globe D, the fourth in the chain. The course of evolution begins on globe A, and proceeds by regular stages through globes B, C, D, E, etc. In the beginning, globe A was first evolved, and life received a certain degree of development upon it; then globe B came into existence, and the life-wave removed from globe A to B, where it went forward another stage; then globe C was evolved and received the life wave for a still further stage in its progress; and so on, until at the end of the first round globe G was evolved and furnished the field for the highest development attainable in that round.
The first round – the first tour of the life-wave through the seven globes from A to G – having been completed, the monads – the life wave – passed again to globe A, and commenced the second round, or the second tour through the chain. Without following out details, it is enough to say that three such rounds have been completed, and the fourth round has commenced its sweep and is still in progress; and that we now occupy globe D in this fourth round. Three times the life-wave has passed from globe A to globe G; and has now reached globe D in its fourth tour through the chain.
Now, leaving entirely out of sight for the present what has happened during the former three rounds, and on globes A, B, and C in this fourth round, let us consider what has happened on globe D since the life-wave reached it this fourth time; prefacing, however, the general statement that this globe will be exhausted and the life-wave be ready to pass from it to Globe E when seven root-races shall have finished their course here. Each root-race is divided into seven sub-races; and each sub-race into seven family-races; and so on; these divisions and subdivisions following each the other, and not coexisting, except as an earlier race or division of a race may survive its time and overlap a subsequent race or division. Since the life-wave reached globe D in this fourth round, four root-races have run their course upon it, and the fifth root-race has reached its fifth subdivision or sub-race, of which we are part. This fifth sub-race is said to be preparing in America for transition or transformation into the sixth sub-race: it is not entirely clear whether we in the United States today belong to the seventh family-race of the fifth sub-race, or to the first family race of the sixth sub-race. It seems certain that we are near the transition point, unless there must be an intervening pralayic period.
The sixth and seventh sub-races of the fifth root-race must run their course, and these must be followed by the sixth and seventh root-races with their various subdivisions, before the life-wave passes from our present globe D and begins its further evolution on globe E. From analogy we may infer that seven great races, with their sub-races, etc., will be necessary to complete the work of that globe; and the same for globes F and G, before the fourth round shall be concluded and the life-wave be ready to pass to globe A for the beginning of the fifth round.
Thus the planetary chain consists of seven globes; the life-wave makes during the existence of the chain seven complete tours of the chain from globe A to globe G, these tours being called rounds; the life-wave remains on each globe after reaching it in each round, until it completes seven root races, divided into forty-nine sub-races and into three hundred and forty-three family-races.
It should be remembered that the flow of the life-wave is not continuous: it has its ebb as well as its flood. There is a period of rest or pralaya after the close of each round before another is commenced: a pralaya after each globe in the round; similarly each race, sub-race, etc., is preceded and followed by its pralayic rest. The purpose of this paper is not to develop the entire scheme in all its completeness, even if that were possible; but to bring out as sharply as may be the general outlines, and especially to note the distinction between rounds and races, the seven rounds being seven circuits of the entire chain, while the seven root-races are seven life-waves (or seven repetitions of the same wave) which consecutively flow and ebb on each globe before leaving it. There are seven root-races on each globe; forty-nine root-races in each round; three hundred and forty-three root-races in the seven rounds which complete the life of the planetary chain.
In studying this subject, it must be borne in mind that, while numerous passages in The Secret Doctrine refer to universal cosmogony and the evolution of the solar system and of our planetary chain, still the bulk of that work is devoted to the evolution of humanity on globe D in the fourth round only. It must also be remembered that the groups of monads discussed in “Theosophical Gleanings” in Vol. VI of Lucifer are not to be taken as identical with the seven root-races through which the monadic host passes on each globe in each round.
The foregoing outline of the course of evolution through the SEVEN ETERNITIES of a maha-manvantara is mechanical and clumsy; it is only a skeleton, which must be clothed upon with muscles and sinews by reading between the lines before its true relations and proportions can be understood. The following quotations from The Secret Doctrine will perhaps throw a ray of light upon the connection of the globes of the chain:
It only stands to reason that the globes which overshadow our earth must be on different and superior planes. In short, as globes, they are in COADUNITION but not IN CONSUBSTANTIALITY WITH OUR EARTH. (The capitals are in the text.) Vol. I, p. 166.
When “other worlds” are mentioned . . . the Occultist does not locate these spheres either outside or inside our Earth for their location is nowhere in the space known to and conceived by the profane. They are, as it were, blended with our world — interpenetrating it and interpenetrated by it. Vol. I, p. 605.
In a foot note to page 265 of Walker’s work on Reincarnation, (Lovell’s edition), the opinion is expressed that the figures (seven planets, seven rounds, seven races, etc.), are only symbols; even so: if they are symbols, they must no less be clearly apprehended before the truths symbolized can be grasped.
—ALPHA, The Path, December, 1892
From other Theosophical Authors
Evolution and Involution as Synthesized in Man
EVOLUTION AND INVOLUTION AS SYNTHESIZED IN MAN
Evolution is an unfolding of that which is within, the development of a potentiality. Involution is an infolding of that which is without.
I wish to show briefly that from the simpler affinities of the mineral world to the highest planes of existence, there is a continuous evolution of will and conciousness, of idea and intellect, and that this evolution takes place through a series of vehicles which are successively built up and cast aside.
A potentiality is a tension or tendency toward the production of a result, meaning also the power of effecting that result under suitable conditions. A grain of gunpowder has the potentiality of explosion, of evolving suddenly a quantity of gas due to the chemical combination of the elements mixed together. These elements had been separated from combination, and the return to that condition is like the release of a spring.
This is an example of the evolution of a few simple combinations due to the potentialities or chemical affinities of so-called elements. In chemical evolution weaker combinations perish, being torn apart by the more powerful attractions of the atoms for new mates, while a large amount of mechanical energy is made manifest. In the gunpowder, for instance, the saltpeter or nitrate of potassium disappears or perishes as such, yielding its different elements to form new compounds with the carbon and the sulphur. The saltpeter molecule is like a package in which a considerable amount of oxygen is compactly put up, held together by two other elements, the nitrogen and the potassium, which serve as binding material.
By a “molecule” the chemist means a definite group of atoms, or combination of elements. An atom is an exact and still simpler relationship of force and space, the real nature of which is not understood. It is the unit portion of an element and beyond this cannot be described.
All commercial transactions are exchanges of packages, using this word in its broadest sense, and all packages are made up of retaining or binding elements and those retained or held together in more or less permanent relationship.
The package consists of the case and the goods contained. The case after serving its turn passes back to the plane of being from which it was temporarily evolved, while the goods taken from it are made the vehicles of higher uses to perish in their turn.
Strange as it may seem, we will find upon reflection that there is absolutely nothing which has any value in itself. Value is based wholly on an estimate of that for which the article valued can be exchanged. The idea of exchange must not be limited to its narrow commercial sense; for an article used is at some time worn out or decays, exchanged for whatever its use or existence has brought, whether this be material or otherwise.
This result again is valued in like manner for what it can produce, but always in a direction toward the unevolved portion of our being. Whether by few steps or many, each of us must reach, somewhere within, the boundary of that shadowy land of vague aspiration and unrest.
Some men will reach this region at lower levels than others, according to their evolutionary stage.
A packing box is broken up, used as fuel or decays, passes into ashes and gases, to be again absorbed by growing plants or trees to furnish material for future boards, string, or paper.
The goods contained may be food, clothing, books, or pictures.
The food, which is but packages of energy, derived from the affinities of the mineral kingdom through vegetable or animal vehicles, is quickly consumed in the construction and maintenance of that most perfect of packing cases, the human body. The clothing is worn out in encasing it. The books and pictures are but the shells of ideas which form the nutriment of the mind, which itself is but the shell, medium, or vehicle of the higher spiritual ego with its transcendent faculties. Of what this again is the vehicle, we cannot tell, except by repeating vague words, which to those on higher spiritual planes may be full of meaning, but to the ordinary man convey only the impression that there are cycles of being far above, or rather within, our present conceptions.
We have, then, a series of vehicles, sheaths, or packing cases, grade above grade, the contents of each being utilized in the fabrication or evolution of the next higher, so that the production of the highest summarizes the uses of all.
The mineral or purely chemical kingdom, with its affinities, with its crystalline, liquid, and gaseous states, is the simplest manifestation of form and tendency, of energy and direction. By the mineral kingdom, it must be remembered, is meant not merely crystals, rocks, and ores, but all unvitalized matter, whatever its temporary condition.
This department of nature has been considered by most, even of non-materialists, as purely mechanical or machine like, with no trace of the self-centered will so evident as we go higher. The certainty with which the mineral Will (otherwise known as chemical affinity) is exercised has given rise to this impression.
In the vegetable kingdom the sub-consciousness of nature manifests itself most clearly.
The plant gives all the evidence of a consciousness of its own that its structure and its fixed condition allow. Its tendrils follow and entwine lines of support. Its shoots, and even individual leaves, will constantly readjust themselves towards the light, no matter how often displaced. Potatoes in a dark cellar will send their sprouts for yards toward the knot hole or crevice through which a solitary ray finds entrance. Roots nose out nutriment and will grow straight toward some dainty morsel; when it is reached they will follow its outlines closely. On the other hand, a wind-shaken tree on a crag hooks its roots over every ledge and into each crevice, no matter how barren, and thickens its bark on the side most needing protection.
At night plants sleep, and if deprived artificially of rest give signs of exhaustion. Sensitive and insect-catching plants have distinct rudiments of a nervous system which is affected by anaesthetics. Sensitive plants sometimes become so much excited by violent winds as to lose sleep for several nights afterward.
The animal, having powers of locomotion, is able to give evidence of consciousness that cannot be questioned. The development of intellectual consciousness, or what is commonly called reason, is the object and highest attainment of the animal kingdom.
In the human kingdom intellectual consciousness reaches higher levels, and spiritual consciousness is developed.
In the evolution of the whole series, destruction and creation, disintegration and integration, go hand in hand and are opposite faces of the same thing. One looks toward the past, the other to the future. Each operation both of nature and art will appear under one aspect or the other, as interest or habit makes us look on the side facing the past or on that which looks toward the future. Each structure, whether natural or artificial, is a factory or tool which elaborates material for the uses of a higher grade, and wears away in this production; or, it is a package. In other words, each structure is a vehicle, a maker of vehicles, or both.
This may be illustrated by the destructive and constructive operations involved in building a house.
Trees are cut down and destroyed that boards, mouldings, and the elementary forms of wood work may be constructed. These are sent from the saw mill and await the further operations of the carpenter, who, as he saws and chisels would be looked upon, from the stand point of the boards, as a destroying angel, but from that of the master builder as a subordinate creative power.
The crystalline structure of the mineral is destroyed in the smelting furnace, that bars and sheets of iron or other metal may be formed. These again are destroyed in the manufacture of nails, screws, locks, and other hardware. These elements of construction are delivered in neat packages by the hardware merchant to the builder. The packages are broken up and the contents distributed as required.
In these operations we find destruction less and less radical as we ascend the scale, until the higher elements of construction are simply fitted into place after being divested of an enclosing case. The apt Scriptural illustration of “living stones” will occur to some.
We must turn to the living world for fuller illustration. The hard and crystalline rock is split and crumbled, destroyed as rock and crystal, under the influence of vegetable life. Its soluble elements are absorbed by roots; others as soil form a medium for nutriment. The gases of the air disappear as such, lose their mobility, and become parts of the solid structure; fluids are imprisoned in cells and sap vessels. The white sunbeams sink into the leaves, and the green rays only are rejected. What has become of all the energy conveyed by these vehicles?
A seed that a sparrow might devour evolves the giant red-wood tree, heaving a hundred tons of timber into mid air, withstanding the blasts of centuries.
It would be folly to suppose that the small germ contained this immense amount of energy, to say nothing of the annual crops of seeds produced by the same tree, each of equal capacity. The seed of the tree contained barely enough raw material, stored-up capital, so to speak, to form the first tiny pair of leaflets and a thread-like root.
It held something far mightier than the greatest store house of crude forces could contain; it held the idea of the great tree, a directive and guiding principle, which, though invisible and imponderable, was in touch with the material world through a point of matter. This idea by multiplication or reflection of itself could fill a continent with similar trees.
The idea or astral type creates neither energy nor matter, but directs the mindless energies of matter so that they seem to our material eyes to build up of themselves those great living temples in the construction of which “neither the sound of axe nor hammer is heard”. How clumsy our machine and hand-made houses seem in comparison.
Animal life must depend upon plant forms and plant principles as food, for no substance unorganized by plant life is nutritious in the smallest degree. The consumption of flesh comes to the same thing, except that the labor of turning over and selecting from a considerable amount of vegetable matter has been performed by another set of digestive organs.
The mineral forms are altered or destroyed by the plant that the imprisoned forces may be stored and turned to account in its own structure. The animal kingdom, including man in his animal aspects, stands in the relation to the vegetable kingdom that the vegetable does to the mineral. At each transference there is a selection and rejection; finer forces are stored up and less crude material as we ascend the scale. New wants and affinities develop. The animal is content to feed, reproduce its species, and die. Many men are content with the same routine, or feel but vague and faint impulses for anything higher. A more advanced type of humanity spends body and life in the pursuit of ideas; the hunger of a growing something within directs the actions and experiences of the body and absorbs such of the results as accord with these higher affinities.
Let us go back to the grain of gunpowder which was taken as a familiar type of compactly-stored energy. This mixture, like other explosives, derives its peculiarity simply from the fact that the stored-up energy when let loose by combustion is expended suddenly; not that it contains more, or even as much as, hundreds of other substances; much of our food, for example. The affinities of most things cannot be let loose suddenly. There is a great difference between the bursting of a reservoir and the slow trickling away of its contents; but the same amount of horse power is expended in the end.
The tree slowly digesting mineral matter obtains the power which lifts its bulk and spreads its leaves. It creates none. Gunpowder used as a fertilizer will furnish some of the elements needed in plant food, and the same energy usually expended in sudden disruption and destruction may be slowly used in suitable channels of construction.
Let us look more closely and we will find at each stage a triad or threefold aspect of the one. The affinities of matter are not blind. They are selective in the most exact and literal sense. Each element is but the working of an idea. The idea is one in all space; its multitudinous kaleidoscopic reflections give us the countless atoms distributed throughout space.
The will force guided by this idea is the energy of which so much has been said.
This abstract or ideal form and quality, and this will or energy, are both lodged in and manifested through something we call matter. Matter without these would be not only inert but unmanifested, therefore imperceptible and even unthinkable. No one of the three can be conceived to exist without the other two.
The Sanskrit terms for these three elements of existence are Prakriti, Purusha, and Fohat; the latter being the manifesting energy.
On all the planes of being we find this threefold unity. Each atom of matter has something corresponding to body, soul, and spirit.
Its selective affinities or ideal characteristics are its Purusha or Spirit, the basis of its being is Prakriti, its Body. The soul of the atom is the Fohatic force linking the dual or polar opposites of its being.
We marshal an army of atoms and call it a battery; the collective will-energy of this army, directed through a channel, is called an electric current.
Through all Nature the scheme of evolution must be threefold, corresponding with its triple unity. One part of it relates mainly to the physical side of existence, another to the spiritual, and the third or linking intermediate stream is the intellectual or Fohatic.
As said in the Secret Doctrine, “Each of these three systems has its own laws, and is ruled and guided by different sets of the highest Dhyani or Logoi. Each is represented in the constitution of man, the Microcosm of the great Macrocosm; and it is the union of these three streams in him which makes him the complex being he now is.”
Most students of evolution seek an explanation of its phenomena from the materialistic stand-point. Ascent of structure and intelligence appears to them due rather to a push from below than a pull from above. Some are forced above the heads of a struggling mob of life forms, or, in scientific language, “Evolution is due to the survival of the fittest in the struggle for existence among many spontaneous variations.”
This idea, although of value in a limited way, cannot alone cope with the great problem.
If for the word “spontaneous,” with its suggestion of accident, we substitute the word “Karmic”, signifying cause and effect due to the free will of organism, this expression of the law of survival and progress is true in a far wider and less material sense than ever Darwin dreamed, and yet is not half the truth.
It will be found that the Eastern idea of Pralaya and Manvantara, of the periodic emergence of the universe from the potential and subjective condition to the actual and objective, gives a clue to a more complete philosophy, and will be accepted in time by many who now push it aside as a dream of the Oriental imagination.
The evolved and perfected men of a previous Manvantara, those who have survived the struggles and temptations of many material lives, have climbed heights that to us seem cold and shadowy, laden with the rich sheaves of knowledge and experience. Faithful in few things, they have been made “rulers over many things”. The white ray of the Absolute manifesting through them in their realms of light and power is divided into prismatic beams of creative intelligence. They are the brothers gone before, whose “footprints on the sands” of a previous manvantara have encycled a great Round of existence.
We have seen that construction and destruction are opposite faces of the same thing. So are evolution and involution; the evolving creature feels more clearly the influence of higher planes as it rises. As its nature expands and unfolds it involves or builds into itself the higher strength and light, becoming fit for still further progress. In its turn it becomes the transmitting agent to those lower than itself.
As self-conscious will develops, the being becomes responsible. The law of cause and effect reacting upon a responsible being is termed Karma. Even the shining Hierarchies of creative intelligence are linked to us by Karmic bonds, as we are to each other and to lower forms of life.
It is not as the survivor in a selfish struggle for existence that man becomes the crown of visible creation, nor is his intellect simply an envolved and superlative cunning which has enabled him to get the better of tooth and claw, and with club or rifle for a scepter make his throne upon the apex of a heap of combatants.
He does stand the highest visible representative of that chain or ladder of intelligence which above us is a path of light and below rests upon dull earth.
He is himself the way, the path, that ladder. Its rounds are man that has been, is, and will be.
Evolution, according to the Huxleys and Spencers of today, is but a jarring and aimless medley, without definite theme or movement.
As its truths reach us through the Theo-Sophia it becomes the true “music of the spheres,” a majestic symphony, whose complex and perfect harmonies thrill through the cycles of eternity.
—William Main, The Path, November 1890
Involution and Evolution, from Life’s Riddle by Nils A. Amneus
INVOLUTION AND EVOLUTION
The Teachings regarding Evolution and Involution can best be understood by tracing the origin of these two words. They both come from the Latin verb volvere, “to turn, to roll.” The prefix “e” means “out, or away from,” while the prefix “in” has the same meaning as in English. Evolution therefore means to unroll or unwrap something that is wrapped up or rolled up, while Involution means the process of wrapping or rolling up something that has been unrolled. The following illustration may help to explain.
In ancient times books were not printed on flat sheets of paper and bound into volumes such as we have today. The information was inscribed on rolls of parchment, called scrolls, and when these were read, they had to be unrolled so as to expose the writing. As the reading proceeded, the lower end of the scroll was unrolled, or evolved, exposing the hidden writing, while at the same time the upper end of the scroll was rolled up, thus involving, and hiding what had so far been read.
When the One Life manifests a portion of itself as a visible Universe, it does so by alternately evolving its two aspects of Matter and Spirit. In the beginning of a cycle of manifestation, Matter is evolved, as there must be a sub-stratum or foundation provided for the higher evolution that is to follow. This is exemplified in the early stages of a planet’s existence when Matter dominates the scene and no higher life is discernible. Yet the Ancient Teaching tells us that even in the rock there exists a form of life — of a very low order, not life as we ordinarily think of it, but still life of a kind. In this case Matter dominates and Spirit is almost completely dormant or involved. This is Evolution of Matter and Involution of Spirit.
As the process unfolds and Life and Spirit have had time to exert their influence on Matter; the latter loses some of its grossness and becomes more complex, as matter in the bodies of plants, animals and humans is more refined than matter in the rock. In the Animal and Human Kingdoms, Life and Spirit gradually gain the ascendency as Matter loses some of its retarding influence on Spirit. This is Evolution of Spirit and Involution or recession of the gross aspect of Matter.
The Evolution of Spirit, then, is always accompanied by a simultaneous Involution of Matter. In the same way the Evolution of Matter is accompanied by an Involution of Spirit, just as the unrolling of one end of the scroll is accompanied by the simultaneous inrolling of the opposite end. The purpose of life is growth, development, expansion of Consciousness, the rising from lower states of being to higher ones, and this advancement is accomplished through the process of Evolution.
The innermost center or core of every life-unit or Monad is a Ray or emanation from the One Universal Life. It is this Ray that originates and vitalizes every form in Nature. Through its inner connection with the Universal Life it has within itself latent possibilities for infinite growth and development. From this Ray comes the upward urge, the driving and impelling force that is the hidden cause of all evolution.
Every individual Monad must, in the course of its evolutionary pilgrimage, inhabit all the various forms of Nature beginning with the lowest, gradually advancing through eternities of time and the various kingdoms, until it is ready to inhabit the higher forms. In each embodiment the Monad gains the experience and learns the lessons which that particular embodiment has to offer. When the lessons of that embodiment have been learned and there is no longer any need for experience in that type of body, the upward urge within the Monad causes it to seek higher forms in order to continue its evolution. In its new embodiment with its altered environment, the Monad has different experiences and develops different faculties, until these faculties operate in relative perfection. Then another forward step is taken, and so on, ad infinitum.
The various forms of Nature in which the Monad embodies itself may be likened to the rungs of a ladder, up which the evolving Monad climbs. Figuratively, the highest rung of one ladder takes the climber to an imaginary platform, a temporary goal, where he may rest and recuperate from his effort. But the urge from within allows him no long respite and he soon discovers that his platform supports another “evolutionary ladder” which he now begins to climb to reach the greater heights he dimly perceives above him.
We see below us on the Ladder of Life, Monads in an ever ascending scale of Evolution, reaching from the atom and the minerals to Man. All these Monads are heading towards the Human stage in an upward march that embraces time periods of incomprehensible duration. The Ancient Teachings tell us that there are above Man other Ladders, leading to heights inconceivable, which some day, in ages to come, Man shall begin to climb. The possibilities for growth are infinite, and Man’s destiny is far greater than he can picture.
Evolution, then, is endless, but it is not one continuous, uninterrupted climb. There are temporary stopping places, relative beginnings and relative endings, but there never was a first beginning and there never will be a final end.
It will be noted that the subject of Evolution as presented by the Ancient Wisdom differs from the Darwinian Theory. According to the latter it is the forms of Nature that change, through a process of “natural selection” and “the survival of the fittest,” by imperceptible degrees from one form into another. The Ancient Wisdom, on the other hand, states that the forms of Nature are relatively stable, although they do undergo some exceeding slow changes. But the real actor in the drama of Evolution is the indwelling Monad, and a distinction is made between this Monad and the vehicle or body it inhabits.
The Monad “migrates” through the ages, from lower to higher forms, up through the Kingdoms of Nature, until after aeons it reaches the Human Kingdom.
To summarize: The Ancient Wisdom looks upon Evolution as an unwrapping or unfolding process by which latent possibilities, inherent in the Monad, gradually find expression. As the Monad advances and inhabits higher forms, a greater unfoldment of its latent faculties becomes possible.
Creation, Evolution & Emanation
CREATION, EVOLUTION & EMANATION
WHEN looking around at the world in which Man finds himself, the silent query of his awakened consciousness is: How did this grand aggregate of forms and Beings come into existence? Coupled with this query is another and more basic one: Who and what am I, the spectator, the thinker and the inquirer? The Wisdom-Religion holds that these two questions are inseparable, and that an answer to the one is contained in the answer to the other. The key to the mystery of Universal Being is to be found in the knowledge by Man of HIMSELF.
Since every man enters a world in which these questions have agitated the minds of countless generations of men preceding him, every inquirer already finds well formulated answers to his queries. Before one has had an opportunity of sounding the depths of his own inner self for light on this dual mystery, solutions are virtually thrust upon him, and in the majority of cases some set formula is accepted and further inquiry abandoned. The Teachers of Theosophy alone abstain from interfering with Man’s independent attempts to solve the riddle of his own and the universe’s existence. They teach that it is the natural function of the Soul itself to find the answers to these self-posited queries; and the very fact that it is capable of positing the questions is a token of its ability to find the answers. Although Theosophy is an answer to questions and sees no unsolvable mystery anywhere, its answers must be assimilated and its solutions re-solved by every inquirer and student himself. Theosophy is not a belief or a dogma to be blindly accepted, nor does it rest on the conclusions and authority of persons and individuals regarded as scientific or otherwise.
Most of the answers the seeker already finds extant in the world fall into one of two classes: the answers of the various religious denominations, and the varying answers of scientific learning. The sects, which are dominated by the personal God idea—and most of them are—have a handy formula to account for the universe and for man. It is: God created both. The immediate effect of the acceptance of this “explanation” is to shut off further inquiry and to dry up the springs of thought. In fact, the sectarian proponents of the tenet that the world is God’s creation, and man, his creature, regard further inquiry as an impertinence and none of mere man’s business. Their reactions to the questioning mind range all the way from disfavor to horror and utter condemnation.
A corollary, necessarily growing out of the belief in God on the one hand and his creation on the other, is a dualistic concept of life. God is an all-powerful Being apart from, anterior to and always above and beyond the Universe, which it pleased him to create ex nihilo. All that man may safely inquire into and know anything about, is the objective universe which opens up to his physical vision. Knowledge of the subjective universe, which Theosophy holds open to Man’s spiritual vision, is regarded by these dualistic sectarians as an anomaly, a revelation, a gift from God to a few favored mortals. Hence, a personal psychological experience, arising from the warped development of the inner, astral senses is enough to found a new sect; and the one who had the experience is worshipped as a savior. Theosophy teaches that the knowledge of transcendental causes can be known, but not through the outer, physical sight. It must be sought after by the inner spiritual vision; and it is only by so searching that man discovers the essential identity of himself and the universe. The result of this synthesis is a concept of Deity as the Soul and Spirit of the Universe and all in it; and a realization of one’s own Soul and Spirit brings a realization of the Source from which it can never be severed.
“Alas, alas, that all men should possess Alaya, be one with the Great Soul, and that, possessing it, Alaya should so little avail them!
Behold how like the moon, reflected in the tranquil waves, Alaya is reflected by the small and by the great, is mirrored in the tiniest atoms, yet fails to reach the heart of all. Alas, that so few men should profit by the gift, the priceless boon of learning truth, the right perception of existing things, the knowledge of the non-existent!”
Materialistic learning is the legitimate offspring of the trinitarian dogma; God, the creator; the universe, his creation; man and all other beings, his creatures. Damming up the channels to Man’s inner being by forbidding and anathematizing search in that direction, the restless spirit of man found an outlet in the exploration of the objective universe. Over-emphasis on the external outlook was the result. Man, becoming enamored of the endless parade of phenomena, declared that there was no ultimate Noumenon except, perhaps, blind matter. The classification of phenomena and the physical laws observed to govern in them, constitute the farthest reach of scientific inquiry. It is from such classification and upon such laws that has arisen the modern scientific conception of evolution as an explanation of the universe and its almost infinite variety and graduation of living and non-living (to scientific) forms. The scientist’s attention is riveted chiefly on the evolutionary process, as such; and only incidentally on the primary and remote cause of the process. Some scientific men are satisfied to accept the theological conclusion of an inscrutable God as the Primary Cause, and to let it go at that; some decline to concern themselves with theological problems altogether, asserting the fruitlessness of all such speculations; and some trace the origin of things and beings to Blind Matter. A few have come to recognize the existence and potency of transcendental forces; but they have not been able to see that further investigation of these forces and their true understanding necessitate a new approach altogether. It is this blindness which prevents them from placing themselves squarely in line with the method and spirit of the Hermetic Philosophy. These scientists may pierce the Veil of Isis, here and there; but as they can never by their methods lift it, the rents which they make soon close up and they are thrown back once more upon the physical universe alone, with its ever shifting shadows.
While Theosophy has adopted the term evolution in connection with its explanation of the infinite gradations of life in a Boundless Universe, the theosophical use of the term has little in common with the Haeckelian and Darwinian uses. Science traces an ascent of forms from the most simple and least organized to the most complex and highly organized. The ascending procession of forms starts from lifeless, inorganic matter, and after a long series of gradual transformations, living, organic forms come into being. Since the stream is conditioned by its source, all the living conscious and organic forms are instinct with death, and when the form disintegrates, the illusive life which it carried evaporates into nothingness. The matter composing the form returns to its dead, inorganic source. Such is the “philosophy” behind the materialistic conception of evolution. If it sounds preposterous to the soul perception of the unlearned, its logic is tenaciously defended by the crass intellectualism of learned scientists. “Learn above all to separate Head-learning from Soul-wisdom, the ‘Eye’ from the ‘Heart’ doctrine…. But even ignorance is better than Head-learning with no Soul-wisdom to illuminate and guide it.”
Evolution as taught in Theosophy, begins from a living spiritual Center; hence, all its radiations are instinct with life and intelligence. It is the form which is incidental and mayavic—the indwelling consciousness, the Reality. All evolution is of conscious, living units, Jivas or Monads. The forms are merely indicative of the extent to which these spiritual units can express themselves in and through matter. What we call Manas or Mind is that degree of spiritual expression capable of shining through the forms called human. This degree of spiritual expression is capable of recognizing itself as such. Manas is itself a Jiva or Monad, which in the immeasurable past had succeeded in evolving to a state of self-consciousness. Manas does not evolve from within the man-form but descends upon and enters into that form. If we consult H.P.B.’s Theosophical Glossary, we shall find that she defines the monad as, “The unified triad Atma-Buddhi-Manas or the duad Atma-Buddhi.” The duad is not yet definitely individualized and represents the monads in the kingdoms below man. The triadic Monad has a distinct and persisting individuality, and is a Reincarnating EGO. The aim of evolution is the perfecting of these self-shining Jivas so that in time they will become complete embodiments of the SELF. This is the culmination of a long series of rebirths, provided one has ceased being checked by Karma.
While the term evolution, as also the term monad, has been adopted by Theosophy from the theories and speculations of modern science and philosophy, the student will be aided in understanding the Theosophical Teachings on evolution by acquainting himself with another term—emanation. In the Theosophical Glossary, under “The Doctrine of Emanation”, Madame Blavatsky states:
…while the Occultists and Theosophists believe thoroughly in the doctrine of Evolution as given out by Kapila and Manu, they are Emanationists rather than Evolutionists. The doctrine of Emanation was at one time universal. It was taught by the Alexandrian as well as by the Indian philosophers, by the Egyptian, the Chaldean and Hellenic Hierophants, and also by the Hebrews (in their Kabbala, and even in Genesis)… The Evolutionist stops all inquiry at the borders of “the Unknowable”; the Emanationist believes that nothing can be evolved—or, as the word means, unwombed or born—except it has first been involved, thus indicating that life is from a spiritual potency above the whole.
Under the term Evolution, she states:
… The ancient sages, ascending to the UNKNOWABLE, made their starting-point from the first manifestation of the unseen, the unavoidable, and, from a strictly logical reasoning, the absolutely necessary creative Being—the Demiurgos of the universe. Evolution began with them from pure spirit, which descending lower and lower down, assumed at last a visible and comprehensible form, and became matter. Arrived at this point, they speculated in the Darwinian method, but on a far more large and comprehensive basis.
Emanation is the passage of LIFE from its highest state—Unity, through the planes of ever increasing differentiation until it reaches this lowest, physical sphere. It is an understanding of the Doctrine of Emanation which will help us avoid the pitfalls of the teachings of the modern evolutionist that Man, the Thinker, is a direct evolution from the ape, which in turn evolved from still lower forms of animal life, and so down ad nauseam.
A question which puzzles many a student may be formulated thus: Is it the spark which passes through every elemental form of the phenomenal world, as stated in the Third Fundamental Proposition of the Secret Doctrine, which finally becomes a Man? The answer is: No, it does not become Man as that spark. On page 178 of the Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, we read:
It would be very misleading to imagine a Monad as a separate Entity trailing its slow way in a distinct path through the lower Kingdoms, and after an incalculable series of transformations flowering into a human being; in short, that the Monad of a Humboldt dates back to the Monad of an atom of hornblende.
Every spark which leaves the Universal Over-Soul for its obligatory pilgrimage through the Cycle of Incarnation (or “Necessity”) is fundamentally identical with its Source, the Over-Soul. It is, in truth, never separated from It, not even when immersed in the densest matter. In the footnote on page 16, S.D. I, we read:
“Pilgrim” is the appellation given to our Monad (the two in one) during its cycle of incarnations. It is the only immortal and eternal principal in us, being an indivisible part of the integral whole—the Universal Spirit, from which it emanates, and into which it is absorbed at the end of the cycle. When it is said to emanate from the one spirit, an awkward and incorrect expression has to be used, for lack of appropriate words in English. The Vedantins call it Sutratma (Thread-Soul).
All Monads being “Thread-Souls,” they are magnetically and electrically connected not only with their Source, the Universal Soul, but with one another as well. They are interdependent and inter-related throughout the entire Manvantara; and it is this Fohatic and Karmic inter-dependence which constitutes their collective Unity on the planes of Manifestation and Form. The aim and goal of every spark is to find its way back to the Homogeneous Unity from which it emanated at the beginning of the active period of the One Life. That return is not a direct and immediate one, but consists of numerous stages and sub-stages not one of which can be missed without defeating the divine purpose of Evolution—the attainment of perfection as a Dhyani-Buddha. The sparks of a lower degree of evolution are absorbed by the sparks a stage above which possess a greater degree of fire and light. When the fire of the lower spark combines with that of the stage above, the two fires become indistinguishable, the lower having lost its separate identity in the higher. On page 167, Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, we read:
The Monads are not discrete principles, limited or conditioned, but rays from the one universal absolute Principle. The entrance into a dark room through the same aperture of one ray of sunlight following another will not constitute two rays, but one ray intensified.
That which draws the less evolved sparks into the higher ones and produces a conjunction of their essences is not a material force, but a spiritual impulse. This is what is meant by natural impulse. This spiritual impulsion causes the sparks to ascend from Kingdom to Kingdom until they reach the highest form of the animal Kingdom, that of animal man. At this point the nature of the spiritual impulsion changes. It is now no longer from without within, but Spirit is capable of entering into the form and influencing its further evolution from within without. Spirit is now consciously embodied in matter, such embodiment being known as Manas(11). These Manasic Monads waited on their own plane until the human forms were ready, and then consciously and knowingly descended, entering into forms in order to raise their constituents to the plane of the Thinker.
In the Ocean of Theosophy, Mr. Judge explains the process in this wise: “As to the whole mass of matter, the doctrine is that it will all be raised to man’s estate when man has gone further on himself… Thus what is now called human flesh is so much matter that one day was wholly mineral, later on vegetable, and now refined into human atoms. At a point of time very far from now the present vegetable matter will have been raised to the animal stage and what we now use as our organic or fleshy matter will have changed by transformation through evolution into self-conscious thinkers, and so on up the whole scale until the time shall come when what is now known as mineral matter will have passed on to the human stage and out into that of thinker.” It is in the crucible of human flesh that the divine alchemist Higher Manas carries on the work of transmuting the base elements into the pure gold of Self-conscious Life; and the Great Solvent employed in the process is the Fire of Spiritual Knowledge.
—THEOSOPHY, November, 1935
Seeds and Seedlings: Evolution and the Evolver
SEEDS AND SEEDLINGS
EVOLUTION AND THE EVOLVER
Evolution is the oldest teaching in the world, and misconceptions and misunderstandings of it are as old as man. To many people, doubtless, the ideas suggested by “evolution” are more or less a mixture — very little that is clear, definite, coherent. A great gulf exists between the teachings of Theosophy and those of Western religion and science on evolution; so great a gulf, indeed, that neither the confirmed religionist nor the bigoted scientist will ever overpass it, for both the religious man and the scientific man have to disregard many of the asserted facts of Theosophy if they are to remain true to the limitations imposed by their respective theories.
Theosophy teaches the progressive development of everything, worlds as well as atoms. It teaches that this development has neither conceivable beginning nor imaginable end, and that all evolution is spiritual and intellectual, as well as physical. All forms of existence are not the same as our own, nor is our present form the form in which we have always dwelt or in which we will always continue to dwell.
These statements, though brief and simple, are such as anyone can understand; but what a prospect they throw open before us! They require that we grasp clearly the idea that “inside” all physical evolution — not inside in a geographical or locational sense, but just as an idea is in a word, in what a man says or does — so within all matter is Intelligence. The matter may be coarse or fine, simple or complex. So also, the intelligence may be limited or vast; it may be vast, but of low grade; or it may be of a very high order, yet of limited manifestation here. But we must get the idea firmly in mind that within all forms, all matter, all physical evolution, there is intelligence; and that this intelligence, or these “minds,” are in evolution.
Theosophy teaches that physical evolution and intellectual evolution proceed apace — intellectual evolution standing to physical evolution as cause to effect. But behind all, we have Life; whether Life in an atom — which causes the atom to evolve, to accept one combination and reject another — Life in the plant, Life in a solar system, or Life in space. Behind the physical form called “matter,” behind the mental form called “mind,” stands no form at all, but the creator and inhabitor of all forms, physical or super-physical — the changer and the destroyer of all forms. So if in religion or science there were any true perception of the facts in nature, we would find all men interested in the question of the Evolver.
This Evolver is called by many names: in Theosophy it is called gods or devas, monads, atoms, elementals, etc.; in St. Paul’s theogony, Gods, angels, principalities, and powers. According to their characteristics and forms, these evolvers are called men, animals, plants, minerals, sylphs, undines, fairies, nymphs, gnomes, devils, etc. Yet every one of these “beings,” says Theosophy, is now a man, was once a man, or will become a man.
H. P. Blavatsky said that the idea of Monotheism (a super-being) and that of Polytheism (super-beings) are not irreconcilable, for the real object of evolution is first, last, and always, spiritual. She said that physical and intellectual evolution stand to spiritual evolution as the treads and risers of the stairway: ways and means in the process of the unbroken series of the various manifestations of Life by which divine beings are evolved. So metaphysically there is the descent of man into incarnation from the state called Spirit, to which we all go between two lives in a body. We exist there as Soul. We leave that state because we perceive our own past; and, perceiving it, we also perceive our mistakes, and desire to rectify them. This idea at once draws the man out of the plane of Spirit onto the plane of thought. This marks a descent in mind, but an ascent in matter, because on that plane our thoughts mold matter into the form of our ideas. First the descent, then the ascent; first the involution, then the evolution.
From the spiritual point of view, incarnation represents our imperfections, not our perfections. In the state of perfect knowledge and vision which we call Spirit, we see our imperfections and we see where we can better them. But, once incarnated, the man forgets much of this high knowledge. Although he has within himself the power to evolve, he does not have the knowledge to direct the power wisely. There must, then, be those who will remind him, great Teachers who will point out the way.
One of these great teachers was Krishna. In the seventh chapter of the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna says that there are four classes of people in whom he interests himself: the afflicted, the searchers for truth, those who desire possessions, and the wise. Yet all of us are afflicted, or will be; all of us are searchers for truth in some direction; all of us seek possessions of some particular kind or nature; all of us are “wise” to some extent, to some degree, upon some subject. So we are among those who “interest” the Teacher — for not only Krishna in ancient India pointed his message to these four classes, but so also did Jesus in his day, and H.P.B. in our own; not to the curious, not to the acquisitive, not to the heedless, not to those who assume an attitude of moral irresponsibility, nor yet to the mentally lazy. Let us try to discover, then, why the great teachers addressed themselves to the four classes mentioned by Krishna.
Affliction, suffering, is usually the first thing that makes a man ask “why” in a really demanding way. It may be intense and prolonged physical suffering that causes a man to search; it may be emotional suffering caused by the loss of a loved one; it may be the “pangs of conscience”; or that most terrible suffering of all — the discovery that what a person has relied on as utter and final truth is in reality a delusion and a fraud. The afflicted one, then, is brought by his suffering to a point where he will listen to the teacher. He then becomes a searcher for truth — not instigated solely by the need for relief from suffering, but motivated by the desire to learn.
Those who desire possessions have this lesson to learn: that there is no limit to wealth in the three fields of physical, intellectual, and spiritual experience, and that there is no barrier in nature to the acquisition and enjoyment of all the wealth there is, if the wealth has been rightly earned and is rightly used. But when a man has come this far along the way, he has passed, so to say, into the fourth grade of the School of Life, and is prepared to become one of the “wise.”
The wise have found out that the vaults wherein men store the treasures of life — what we call faith, belief, religion — are not secure. They have found out that material wealth and intellectual wealth are valueless in themselves. They have gained at least the negative wisdom of knowing the not-true, and are thus able to recognize true teachers and true teachings. These, and these alone, are ready to assume responsibility for their further evolution, to become Self-conscious Evolvers. These, and these alone, may arise and say with conviction, Resurgam — I will return!
—THEOSOPHY, January, 1957
Word Puzzles: Evolution
USE of the term evolution has gone through many interesting stages. Following the advent of Darwin, this word served as a rallying cry for all those of anti-theological bent who believed that man could be explained without reference to God. The early Darwinists, moreover, saw the evolution of the human species through natural selection as a sort of glorious saga, affording man a nobler role in the drama of earth experience than that assigned to him by theologians. Darwinian man was a man who, so to speak, had pulled himself up by his own boot-straps, and could look with both pride and awe upon the dynamics of his creative capacity.
This was the first stage of modern usage for evolution, a reaction against the estimate of man’s estate provided by western religion. Nature was no longer rent asunder, but seen as one, and “the pantheistic attitude” to some extent at least, encouraged. So anxious, however, were the “evolutionists” to advance the faith that man was a noble animal, rather than a tarnished creation of God, that the idea of an indwelling soul found no sanctuary among men of the new persuasion. The evolutionists, in other words, were so anxious to get rid of both God and Theology that every metaphysical question was tossed aside and, actually, with a poor show of logic. This was, however, simply the unfortunate result of a factional approach to evolution and did not signify that scientists really felt a spontaneous preference for uncompromising materialism. Thus, in The Secret Doctrine (II, 653), H. P. Blavatsky dealt with questions which she knew would soon be asked again, as soon as factionalism on the part of evolutionists had subsided:
It would be interesting to obtain a glimpse of the mental representation of evolution in the Scientific brain. … What is EVOLUTION? If asked to define the full and complete meaning of the term, neither Huxley nor Hæckel will be able to do it any better than Webster does: “the act of unfolding; the process of growth, development; as the evolution of a flower from a bud, or an animal from the egg.” Yet the bud must be traced through its parent-plant to the seed, and the egg to the animal or bird that laid it; or at any rate to the speck of protoplasm from which it expanded and grew. And both the seed and the speck must have the latent potentialities in them for the reproduction and gradual development, the unfolding of the thousand and one forms or phases of evolution, through which they must pass before the flower or the animal are fully developed? Hence, the future plan, if not a DESIGN, must be there. Moreover, that seed has to be traced, and its nature ascertained. Have the Darwinists been successful in this?
Here Science is once more silent. But since there is no self-consciousness as yet in either speck, seed, or germ, according to both Materialists and Psychologists of the modern school — Occultists agreeing in this for once with their natural enemies — what is it that guides the force or forces so unerringly in this process of evolution? Blind force?
But the evolutionists were honest men, according to their lights. Following the logic of physicalism to its bitter end, they soon perceived that they would have to forego the pleasure of regarding evolution as a purposeful enterprise. The word evolution implied progress and, as scientists, the biologists and anthropologists admitted that they had no right to speak in teleological terms — by suggesting that the process of natural selection implied progress. So the second and third generations of “evolutionists” decided to abandon the word. They could, they decided, speak objectively only of “mutations,” not of the progressive development of species and organisms. They were willing, in other words, to follow a “truth” wherever it led them — even if by so doing they were forced to give up any lingering personal preferences for a glimpse of transcendent meaning and purpose. Thus we find that the recent birth of a concept of psychological evolution, under scientific auspices, also carries the impact of integrity.
Enthusiasts of social improvement and political reformers earlier passed through a similar cycle, at least insofar as disillusionment with a purely environmental approach is concerned. The great faith in social revolution began to grow as soon as theological faith lost dominance, and the eighteenth century became a time for skyrocketing optimism; man was to build his “heavenly city” here, on earth, and his clear duty to “progress” lay in working for drastic change. Here, as with Darwinism, new doctrines were supported by the intuitions of the masses, for it is natural for man to believe in a forward march of events, a progression towards improved conditions. But again, as happened a hundred years later in the realm of biological science, political theory too eagerly sought Environment as the cause of human alteration. Progress was conceived almost entirely in those material terms politics could manage, and, since the doctrine that environment determines the man is a false one, few eighteenth-century dreams of happiness came true. (Cf. Marx’s “scientific” dialectic, and the tortured history of “Communism.”) Between the influence of Darwin and that of Marx, the greater portion of the intellectual world gravitated towards belief that true progress must of necessity be collective, from which it was but a short step to believing also that technological advance automatically meant the advance of man’s stature. Dwight Macdonald, in his analysis of Marxism in The Root is Man, aptly describes this psychology, while he also points out how much of “materialism” has been accepted by the average non-Marxist under the guise of “progressivism”:
By “Progressive” is understood those who see the Present as an episode on the road to a better Future; those who think more in terms of historical process than of moral values; those who believe that the main trouble with the world is partly lack of scientific knowledge and partly the failure to apply to human affairs such knowledge as we do have.
The Progressive makes History the center of his ideology. The Radical puts Man there. The Radical is more sensitive to the dual nature of man; he sees evil as well as good at the base of human nature; he is sceptical about the ability of science to explain things beyond a certain point; he is aware of the tragic element in man’s fate not only today but in any conceivable kind of society. The Progressive thinks in collective terms (the interests of Society or the Working-class); the Radical stresses the individual conscience and sensibility. The Progressive starts off from what actually is happening; the Radical starts off from what he wants to happen. The former must have the feeling that History is “on his side.” The latter goes along the road pointed out by his own individual conscience; if History is going his way, too, he is pleased; but he is quite stubborn about following “what ought to be” rather than “what is.”
These concepts, after many disillusioning years, are now being questioned both by astute critics like Macdonald and by a number of psychiatrists. Faith in “progress” and “evolution” must, it is clear, find new births, and at a level reflecting greater knowledge of the nature of man. Hence the “new” concept of “psychological maturity.” A good example of the permeation of this viewpoint is furnished by psychologist-philosopher Harry Overstreet, particularly in his volume, The Mature Mind. There Overstreet writes that “there is no time and place in which the adult is exempt from the obligation to practice maturity nor without the power to enjoy maturity. If he responds to a situation with a mind open to learn what needs to be learned, he practices — and enjoys — maturity. If he is ready to act responsibly where responsibility is called for; if he sinks his ego out of sight; if he seeks self-understanding and a wise understanding of others; if he tries to see in whole instead of in part, he practices — and enjoys — maturity. Maturity, we now know, need be no dull routine of a defeated and resigned adulthood. It can rather be the triumphant use of powers that all through our childhood and youth have been in preparation. Where there is no vision, we are told, the people perish. Where there is no maturity there is no vision. We now begin to know this. We realize that the evils of our life come not from deep evil within us but from ungrown-up responses to life. Our obligation, then, is to grow up. This is what our time requires of us. This is what may yet be the saving of us.”
In this passage, we see an emergence of the theosophic view — that true evolution is a series of inner awakenings, with biological changes in species and environmental alterations of behavior serving simply as stage-setting. Overstreet is one of many who now believe that the concept of psychological evolution “provides a new approach to our human selves.” Developing this point of view, he says further:
The essential thing about an individual, we are being brought to realize, is not so much the number of years he has lived as the psychological competence that those years have netted him. Thus we are given a new way to estimate ourselves and others. Not all adults are adult. Many who look grown-up on the outside may be childish on the inside. Others who look childish on the outside may be surprisingly mature on the inside. Psychological age, moreover, as distinct from chronological, is not merely an academic curiosity. Whether a person is average, advanced, or retarded in his mental, emotional, and social growth may be the concealed reason — and the chief reason — why his adult relationships with his world are as they are.
That we have by no means fully learned the significance of this insight is indicated by the fact that, except in the case of imbeciles and morons, we still admit people to all the major prerogatives of life on a purely chronological basis.
The concept of psychological age has only begun to enter our common consciousness. We are generally familiar with its application to children, but we are only beginning to be alert to behavior symptoms in grown men and women that should warn us of their psychological immaturity. Also, we are only now beginning to ask how psychological immaturity can be overcome. We are only beginning, but this new psychological way of regarding ourselves and our human fellows is definitely on the books. When it is also definitely and clearly in our consciousness, we may be set for such a new appraisal of human behavior as will preface a new society.
Though vague in terminology, such statements can easily be regarded as “reincarnations” of theosophic ideas. This trend is presently to be noted, not only in the works of outstanding psychiatrists and psychoanalysts, but also in Dr. Gray Walter’s The Living Brain and in Julian Huxley’s latest writings. The search for the essence of man’s nature, long pursued through the arid deserts of materialism, is being redirected. What has been gained is the determination to proceed slowly and carefully in speaking of the soul of man, and the value that this honest caution reveals is especially evident, now that it is oftener admitted that there is a soul in need of understanding.
Evolution is, truly, a noble word. No other term in the English language so well symbolizes the “ladder of being” described in the Third Fundamental Proposition of The Secret Doctrine. That something of its esoteric meaning is presently dawning is a hopeful sign of “progress” for the Theosophical Movement.
—THEOSOPHY, July, 1954