Copyright © 2011 by Theosophical University Press
Eternity stretches in one direction behind and in another direction in front of us, and along and within this eternity numberless multitudes of beings and entities have been evolving — and will evolve — forever. This progressive growth is continuously in action throughout universal nature — nebula or comet, star or planet, atom or electron, all exemplify it on one side of the picture; and, on the other side, gods, cosmic spirits or dhyani-chohans, men, the beasts, and all so-called animate entities.
Universal nature may be thought of as being in two divisions: first, countless hosts of entities of widely varying degrees of development in evolution and possessing self-consciousness in accordance therewith; and, second, countless hosts of entities in inferior evolutionary development, and composing in their endless aggregates the material side of universal nature — the habitat or home of the self-conscious entities.
Technically speaking, this essential carpentry of the universe with its inspiriting hosts may be called monadism and atomism — two words descriptive of the inherent and unceasing urge in universal nature to manifest or self-express itself in and through Individuals. When these individuals are viewed as belonging to the divine and spiritual worlds, they are called monads; and when these individuals self-express themselves in the worlds of substantial being or matter, and because they therein express themselves as discrete or individual points, they are properly referred to as atoms in the original Greek sense of Democritus and Epicurus, as signifying indivisibles.
Some of the great religious philosophies of the ancient world, such as that of Zoroaster the Persian, were positively dualistic in type and character for purposes of formulated teaching to the masses. Yet even these so-called dualistic religion-philosophies were, without exception, founded upon an esoteric basis — a faithful echo of the archaic Esoteric Tradition — which taught the primordial unity of cosmic being with a voice as insistent as was that which taught the public formulation of cosmic dualism in manifestation.
Monadism and atomism thus signify respectively the consciousness-side of nature and the so-called unconscious side of nature. These two form the evident dualism of and in nature, but it must be remembered that this dualism exists in the periods of cosmic manifestation only. However, these two divisions grade off into each other imperceptibly, so far as our own home-universe or galaxy is concerned. The intermediate portions between the two relative extremes comprise the hosts of beings in whom spirit and matter are more or less evenly balanced — our human family being one of such hosts. Elsewhere in our own home-universe the same intermediate parts of the cosmic whole consist of entities occupying the same relative positions that the various stocks or groups of entities do on our earth. Like the human race on this earth, beings corresponding to men on other planets aspire toward divinity and are evolving out of the darkness of imperfection of the material side of nature into becoming gods, capable of taking a relatively fully self-conscious part in the work of the light-side of the universe.
The entire constitution of man is an integral and inseparable part, not only of the surrounding cosmic whole, but likewise of the solar system, and equally of the still smaller division of the cosmic whole which we may call the planetary chain of the earth. This entire earth-system includes those monads or spiritual centers which individually, i.e. distributively for the hierarchy of the earth-system, are each one a human being now, and on whatever globe of the planetary chain, and also all other beings which such earth-system incloses. All have existed since the very beginning of our planetary chain in time and space. Moreover, we are coeval not only with our solar system but likewise with the galaxy; and in a still grander sweep of being we are coeval and identic with however vast a range of the boundless cosmos we choose at any moment to look upon as the fields of our destiny in the future.
We were with the sun, with the earth, in the very morning of time, though not then in bodies of flesh. We helped to build our earth planetary chain, because not only are we its children but we are collectively and individually integral parts thereof. Even our physical bodies are of the substance of which our Mother Earth is composed; and every atom that now sings its musical hymn or note in our bodies has likewise sung its paean in the sun and in other planets and in the interplanetary spaces during its unceasing peregrinations — in this case as a life-atom — in ages past during the course of its evolving and revolvings.
In thus emerging from spirit, nature proceeded steadily and systematically to enshroud itself in veils or garments of increasing materiality until it reached the limit for this present great evolutionary period. Turning this lowest point of grossest materiality possible for the planetary chain in this cosmic manvantara, the entire earth-system or planetary chain began to reascend toward spirit once more, but now with incalculable fruits of experience gained by every entity composing the earth-system.
Thus in the present stage of evolution on earth, evolutionary growth takes place from without inwards, because, having begun the ascent toward spirit, the procedure henceforth will be the involution of matter into spirit and the evolution of spirit; just as on the downward arc or descent into matter the procedure of developmental growth was the involution of spirit and the evolution of matter. That is to say that at present we are advancing toward and into the inner and invisible planes and spheres which we passed through on our downward arc. This means that not only every more progressed being, such as man, is so evolving, but also that the entire manifested nature on our earth is doing so likewise. Henceforward there is a gradual, secular, and steady dematerialization of matter toward ethereal tenuity, and finally the mergence into cosmic spirit of all beings and entities, comprising a veritable river of lives carrying with it all results of this cosmic process in the shape of experience.
Having thus emerged into cosmic spirit, for a vast period of time in these highest or spiritual realms or spheres, the evolutionary wave or river of lives ceases its pulsing progress for aeons, reaching as it has the merging of the river into the cosmic ocean of being — and in this case the reference is to the cosmic spirit of the solar system. The entities of all-various classes composing such wave or river reenter into the ineffable mystery of the divine-spiritual, where they take their rest through the ages of the ensuing chain-pralaya. There they assimilate and build into the fabric of their respective monadic essences the fruitage of the vast evolutionary experience gained in the period of cosmic manifestation which, as a wave or river of lives, they have left behind for their interval of spiritual rest and recuperation.
When the cosmic clock again points its hands to the time for a new evolutionary period of manifestation of the planetary chain, then this same wave or river of lives, composed of these almost incomputable hosts of entities, begins a new evolutionary course, but on planes higher and of more refined substance than those of the preceding life-cycle.
Pralaya is dissolution or death; and the pralaya of a solar system or of a planetary chain signifies that its higher principles have gone into still loftier spiritual realms for their periodic rest; while its lower quaternary is then dissipated into its component life-atoms, which likewise rest during their long dreamless sleep. Thus stay all things and beings until the reawakening comes for the new manvantara, though it should be remembered that the rest-periods of the life-atoms are vastly shorter than is that of highly evolved spiritual beings. The life-atoms within a relatively short time again become active and pursue anew their ceaseless peregrinations through larger spaces still, until the reawakened solar system or planetary chain magnetically attracts them back.
Thus it is that during such pralaya of a system, the spiritual and intellectual principles are in their nirvana — equivalent to the devachan of the reincarnating ego of the human being after physical death; while the life-atoms of such system follow their peregrinating wanderings in precisely the same manner in which the life-atoms of man's physical body follow their peregrinations while the reincarnating ego of the man is in its devachan. This gives us some adumbration of the state of things or of consciousness when such a planetary chain is in its rest-period.
A clearer idea may be had of what takes place in the pralaya of a system by a human being who is trained through initiation to "see," and this vision may be had by such trained ego self-consciously entering into what the egoic human consciousness experiences during what is called dreamless sleep. This state is technically called turiya — a Sanskrit word meaning "fourth" — and is the highest state of samadhi, a nirvanic condition of human consciousness. In other words, the turiya-condition of human consciousness is a virtual attaining of spiritual self-conscious unity with the atman or essential self of the man, and implies an identification of the ego thereby with the cosmic spirit, a becoming at one with the essence of the monad. The initiated adept can at will reach this state of spiritual consciousness; and even the average man, whose higher principles are to a certain extent active, may also get some, however faint, understanding of the consciousness existing in the pralaya of a system.
The fact of the mergence into cosmic spirit of all beings at the time of the solar pralaya is what H. P. Blavatsky referred to, in part, when she said: "Theosophy considers humanity as an emanation from Divinity on its return path thereto." When divinity is thus reached, the individual monads merge their respective monadic consciousnesses into their divine source, and thus during pralaya partake of the character and vast reach of the consciousness of the divine originant — to re-emerge again as monads when a new manvantara opens.
These ideas were taught in early Christianity. Those who have not examined the evidences for this statement, both historic and theologic, may have no idea what immense changes came into the understanding of Christian fundamentals, and therefore into the method of the presentation of the Christian religion, since the time of its first and greatest propagandists.
Take the case of divinity. Clement of Alexandria, a very early Church Father and one of the greatest, and all his school, talked and wrote of the gods as actual beings, and only sometimes called them "angels." Origen of Alexandria in his polemical writings against Celsus (Contra Celsum V.iv) says that there are passages in the books of the Hebrew scriptures where the "angels" therein referred to are spoken of as being "gods."
The very Christian Arnobius, who lived in the fourth century, refers to the matter as follows:
Gods, angels, daimones, or whatever other name they possess. — Adversus Gentes, II, 35
— thus identifying, and confusing, these divinities under the different names by which different schools of pagan thought had called them.
Augustine, also of the fourth century, and one of the most important and influential of the Christian Fathers in later centuries, speaks of the spiritual beings, whom the ancients called "gods," as being identical with the beings whom the Christians then called "angels." (City of God xix.3) This was undoubtedly the consensus of opinion a hundred years, more or less, after Clement and Origen. Already the decay of original or primitive Christianity had begun, and as time went on the word "gods" was dropped from theological usage. It first became unpleasant to the orthodox ear and then was considered to be positively heretical.
Lactantius, another Christian Father of the fourth century, who refers to Seneca's account of the spiritual beings directing the world and holding their spiritual posts through and from divinity, contends only that it were better to call these spiritual beings "angels" as being a term to be preferred to that of "gods"; and he protests against worship of these Christian "angels" as gods. He further quotes an oracle delivered by the Pythoness at Delphi, in which oracle the gods are called the "messengers," that is to say, the "angels" of Zeus.
"Angel" is a Christian term adopted from the Greek word angelos, meaning "messenger"; and in one department of Greek philosophy also signified the intermediaries or "messengers" carrying messages from men to the gods, and equivalently, carrying the gods' messages to intelligent beings below, thus forming, in fact, one of the "Circulations of the Cosmos." This term "angel" has been used more or less constantly from the beginning of the Christian "dispensation" to signify certain spiritual beings who were not only "angels" in the original Greek sense of the word, but also signified hierarchies or families of spirits intermediate between man and divinity. All this is but an echo of the archaic teaching, common to all the ancient world, that between the spiritual realms and the material world in which man lives there are different hierarchical families or hosts of spiritual beings. The human race itself is really one, but a "fallen" host — fallen because sunken or descended from an original spiritual state into incarnation on earth. Thus it is that European mystics from very early times have spoken of men as being "fallen angels."
What then are "fallen" angels or gods? We find in all the religions and philosophies, legends of the existence of beings of spiritual nature who "fell," that is to say who "lost" their spiritual status and became beings of nonetheless continuing individuality in the lower or material worlds. Thus they are actually wanderers or searchers for knowledge and wisdom, and are beings in fact who form the different hierarchies of the lower spheres, the different world-systems — these are the "fallen gods," the "fallen angels."
One may see here a direct reference to the Garden of Eden mythos in the Hebrew Testament. Adam and Eve living in their paradise represent one aspect of this universal mythos, for it was only when they ate of the Tree of Knowledge that they lost their original spiritual status of innocence and quasi-unself-consciousness, and left their paradise in order to become the seed, according to this curious Hebrew legend, of the humanity of the future.
Milton in his great poem, Paradise Lost, uses the Puritan ideas of his time in order to write anew the age-old mystical teachings regarding beings who were originally sparks of cosmic divinity, who had become individualized, and had become learners and evolving beings. Thus the "fallen gods," the "fallen angels," are those who have left the pure spiritual condition in which no personalized individuality exists, in order to become thinking beings with a developing will and with developing individualized intelligence. From being sparks of divinity, sparks of the central fire of life, they become bright, fiery intelligences, each one destined in the future to carve out its own individual career.
Thus then the legends concerning the "fallen gods" form the kernel of many of the ancient mystery-doctrines. The Christians had the legend under one form in the Book of Revelation. The ancient Greeks had it in their myths concerning their Titans, who were cast into the lowest deeps of Tartarus by the decree of the almighty ruler of Olympus, Zeus, the meaning being that they had begun to exercise independently their own innate powers of intelligence and will.
This growth toward an individualizing consciousness may be traced through the armies of manifested entities backwards to realms beneath the human stage. The families of beasts are less individualized than are men. The vegetation has a still less individualized consciousness. The rocks exist in what may be called a unitary form of consciousness with but slight individualization; and beneath the rocks we have the various atomic elements; and back of these, the hierarchies, usually graded into three classes, of the elemental kingdoms, existing in a quasi-individualized way, and manifesting the generalized cosmic forces.
The ancient Persians, copying the Babylonians who had preceded them, likewise had their myths of a war or rebellion against the mighty powers of heaven; and these "rebels" were they who in the Perso-Babylonian mythic cycle "fell" or were "cast out" — the "fallen gods," the "fallen angels" of the religions and philosophies of the Mesopotamian and high-land countries surrounding the great plains of the Euphrates and the Tigris. Likewise in ancient India we read of the Asuras who had rebelled against the Suras or "gods." Indeed, the A-suras, literally "not-gods," were originally Suras or gods; but they "rebelled" and fell, and thus found themselves in a never-ending struggle with the Suras, who, so to say, were crystallized in impassive "purity."
Thus this "fall," this "rebellion," is really nothing but the entering upon the pathway of evolutionary progress, the beginning, for all these numberless hosts who "fell" or were "cast out," of the exercise of individual willpower, individual intelligence — the beginning of "self-directed evolution." Such then are the "fallen gods," the "fallen angels," of which we humans are at least one host.
When the first impulses toward the exercise of individual willpower and intelligence began to stir in the heart of each monad, these bright shining lives then "fell" or were "cast out," which means that they "descended" into the material worlds in order to learn the lessons that the worlds of manifestation could give to them. Leaving in the beginning of time their high spiritual status as unself-conscious god-sparks, cycling down through the worlds visible and invisible, they entered upon the sublime adventure of self-evolution, of self-becoming, and of bringing to each one of their quasi-conscious sheaths of consciousness an ever expanding consciousness of each one's own inner being. Not only is the spiritual monad itself evolving in unceasing peregrinations, but it thus aids in the evolution of every one of its garments or veils in and through which it expresses its own transcendent powers.
The terms "fall" or "cast out" should not be misunderstood to mean that superior intelligences spurned beings below them and thus drove them into lower spheres, for this is entirely wrong. To "cast out" or "fall" merely signifies that when the karmic evolutionary stage had arrived in which these beings had to begin a new evolutionary course, they embarked upon it from their own inner impulses, karmically brought about by the seeds of action and attraction gathered up in previous world-cycles before these beings entered into their last pralayic rest-period. The so-called rebellion is thus but a poetic and graphic way of expressing the fact that their urgings impel them downwards in their evolutionary course, which brings them into immediate opposition, so to speak, with the already more fully developed spiritual agencies in the higher spheres.
Evolution takes place on every one of the planes which form the inner constitution of every composite being. We have, therefore, (a) divine evolution; (b) spiritual evolution; (c) intellectual evolution; (d) the evolution of the psychomental human soul; (e) astral evolution; and (f) evolution of the physical body. This is but another way of saying that man is a microcosm or little world containing in himself hosts of inferior entities through which he manifests himself, each one of which is a learning and evolving being; even as the macrocosm or great world of the universe contains in itself its own hosts of evolving entities in their almost endless series of hierarchies.
Moreover, evolution is teleologic, purposive, working toward a destined end. But this inherent urge to betterment is in the entity itself, and not imposed upon it from without, either by a god or gods existing separate from the evolving entity. Nevertheless, all these hierarchies exist each within the vital compass of a still larger hierarchy, whose encompassing influences flow constantly through its minor hierarchies.
Physical nature furnishes one phase of the environment or fields of experience within which the various hosts of monadic essences work. It is the realization of this inner focus of energy, inherent as an individual in every evolving unit, which is lacking in the scientific conception of evolution — an ignorance likewise of the existence of inner and invisible spheres in which the physical world is rooted, and from which the forces which infill this physical universe flow.
It was because Darwin lacked this fundamental conception that he visioned the evolutionary process as a series of mere additions to or subtractions from the physical equipment of evolving entities by what he called "natural selection" or the "preservation of favored races in the struggle for life." That teaching, while it prevailed as the last word of science, and because it was more than half imperfect, destroyed a proper viewing of the universally working forces in nature as all striving but in different manners toward a common end; and because Darwinism was thus essentially materialistic, its moral effect on the soul was disastrous and crippling to the ever inquisitive researches of the intellect.
It taught that man was but a developed ape; that there was naught but gross physical matter in the world, uninspirited, insensate, dead; that fortuity or chance was the basic law or procedure for bringing about improvements in bodies by means of haphazard adaptations; that spirit and spiritual ideals did not exist in themselves, but were the results, in some mysterious and unexplained mode, of chemical action in the cells of the brain; that when a man died that was the end of him, as an English biologist said: "The only immortality that modern biologists believe in, is the immortality of man's descendants."
This of course is no immortality at all to the individual, and is equivalent to teaching utter individual extinction or annihilation, which is gross materialism. It is absurd in any case to speak of "immortality" in connection with physical bodies which are obviously but transitory and very impermanent vital-chemical compounds. One can only express amazement that scientific men acquainted with the impermanent and mortal nature of flesh should use the term immortality in connection with man's body even in the sense of its application to generations succeeding each other.
True immortality signifies unbroken continuation of an individual consciousness of whatever degree of evolutionary development; and the only instances where such immortality becomes possible are the cases of jivanmuktas, "freed monads." Now the monad can be "freed," in the technical sense of liberation from the whirling changes of the wheel of life in material existences with its series of imbodiments, only when such monad or jiva reaches a state where it becomes self-consciously able to pass at will from body to body with retention of full consciousness, and employing such series of selected bodies for the purpose of fulfilling its chosen mission in the world of "shells" — our material spheres.
Yet even such immortality can endure only for the period of cosmic manifestation in which the jiva or monad finds itself in its evolutionary course. Once so "freed" it has immortality for the remainder of the solar manvantara, but when this enormously long time-period itself comes to an end, then even the jivanmuktas or freed monads must follow the river of rising lives sweeping all with it into spheres of spirit loftier still than those of the manvantara of the solar system last passed. When the next cosmic manvantara begins, the jivanmuktas reissue forth for a still grander cyclical pilgrimage. It is this seizing of the kingdom of heaven by strength on the part of an imbodied jiva or monad, entering the path of immortality, which is the true pathway to the gods.
In reference to Darwin’s so-called scientific principle of natural selection, it is interesting to examine some of the pronouncements which upholders of this biological teaching have uttered. John Fiske, the American Darwinian evolutionist, says:
Those most successful primitive men from whom civilized peoples are descended must have excelled in treachery and cruelty, as in quickness of wit and strength of will. — The Destiny of Man, 1893, p. 78
Professor J. Arthur Thomson says the following:
Tone it down as you will, the fact remains that Darwinism regards animals as going upstairs, in a struggle for individual ends, often on the corpses of their fellows, often by a blood-and-iron competition, often by a strange mixture of blood and cunning, in which each looks out for himself and extinction besets the hindmost. — quoted by A. R. Wallace, The World of Life, 1910, p. 370
Huxley joins the chorus in the following words:
For his successful progress, throughout the savage state, man has been largely indebted to those qualities which he shares with the ape and the tiger. — “Evolution and Ethics,” Romanes Lecture, 1893
It is small wonder that the world is in the perilous state in which it now finds itself, if its shaky ethical sense is founded on no more stable foundation than that derived from a materialism which bases the noblest intuitions of the human spirit upon appetites, impulses, and the beastly qualities which man shares with the most savage representatives of the animal kingdom! The causes of such scientific nightmares have arisen in a complete, and in certain cases it would seem in a willful, ignoring or turning aside from every noble quality in man. One might well ask these scientists whether they have never known of other qualities, impulses and faculties in the human constitution, besides those instincts which we share with the beast, and which, when unleashed, sink man to depths of depravity that even the beasts are incapable of reaching. The argument becomes preposterous, because it willfully disregards everything that makes man man, that has built the great civilizations of the past, that has established the great works of moral splendor and intellectual light which have given hope and inspiration to the human race for ages past. Darwinism at best teaches but an imperfect and secondary aspect of the great evolutionary drama of life.
The cosmic spirit, the abode of mind and consciousness, is all-permeant and therefore the ultimate impelling urge behind the evolutionary process which operates everywhere. Of course it is obvious that nature which is fundamentally conscious does make selections, not by chance as in the Darwin hypothesis, but more or less consciously, for all such natural selection is governed and controlled by the spiritual impulse or urge within the evolving entity itself. Nor again can we deny in totality the truth of the survival of the fittest, because obviously the fittest in any set of circumstances is by far the most probable to be successful in it. But we must remember that Darwinism recognizes no indwelling impelling spirit urging its vehicles toward progressive unfoldment.
But why belabor the matter? Materialistic Darwinism is dying if not dead; and the newer views held by many biologic researchers differ greatly from the Darwinism so loudly voiced by men like Haeckel and Huxley. In physics a host of men, headed by such great figures as Einstein, Jeans, Eddington, Planck, Bohr and others, make little hesitation in stating that in their judgment, back of and within all material existences there is a cosmic cause or causes, which they variously describe as mind, mind-stuff, or by some equivalent term. This is a far cry from the dogmatic preachments of the last quarter of the nineteenth century, which century was the heyday of materialism.
The Darwinian scheme is in many respects an actual inversion of what took place in the past. It is small wonder that man should have characteristics of the beast, such as those of the ape and the tiger, but it would be truer to say that the beasts have these characteristics in them because derived in far past aeons from imperfectly evolved humanity itself. But man's moral sense, his dominating intellect, his aspirations soaring on the wings of the spirit, are qualities which no beast has ever shown — which means that no beast has yet unfolded from within itself its latent spiritual, intellectual, and psychological powers.
As an example of the effect of biologic materialism upon the minds of men who lived when materialistic theories were dominant, one might refer to Friedrich Wilhelm Nietzsche, the German philosopher who died in 1900 in an insane asylum. He was an evolutionist according to the materialistic biologic teachings of his time, and his otherwise brilliant mind would seem to have been warped by the Darwinian and Haeckelian teaching of humanity as arising out of beasthood. Undoubtedly in the course of his philosophical writings he said many beautiful things, and therein lay the danger to his readers because all beauty is magnetic and sways human souls by its power.
In this first quotation Nietzsche adopts the style and manner of a self-appointed prophet — but fortunately egoism of this character always in the end destroys its own effects. He wrote:
Here is the new law, O my brethren, which I promulgate unto you. Become hard; for creative spirits are hard. You must find a supreme blessedness in imposing the mark of your hand, in inscribing your will, upon thousands and thousands, as on soft wax. — Also sprach Zarathustra, p. 287
This teaching is little short of monstrous, in flagrant violation of all the spiritual instincts of compassion. In another quotation, Nietzsche attains the ultimate reach of his egoistic vision:
Such ideas as mercy, and pity, and charity are pernicious, for they mean a transference of power from the strong to the weak, whose proper business it is to serve the strong. Remember that self-sacrifice and brotherliness and love are not real moral instincts at all, but merely manufactured compunctions to keep you from being your true self. Remember that man is essentially selfish. — Ibid., p. 417
Such are the results of false religions and scientific teachings upon the minds receptive to them, and especially subject to the voice of authority.
Evolution is cyclical, and in this cyclical sense only it may be said to have a beginning, a culmination, and an end — which temporary end is but a new beginning along higher lines. Even from Darwin's day, it was noted that as the geological record is progressively uncovered, one very interesting fact is observed: there seem to have been in past ages on earth evolutionary waves or cyclical periods during which one or another stock apparently "suddenly" appears in the geological record, advances steadily to its culmination or maturity of development, of form and power, and then fades away and apparently, in some cases, as "suddenly" disappears, while in other cases remnants are carried on over into the succeeding age.
Such cases of succeeding evolutionary waves are noticeable in three instances: first in the age of the fishes, which took place during what it was once usual to call the Primary or Palaeozoic Era. This was the geological era when the sea swarmed with fishes of all-various kinds and sizes, which fishes then represented, as far as the geological record shows, at least the supposedly highest known forms.
The second of these waves, which occurred during the so-called Secondary Era, is what is called the age of reptiles, when reptilian monsters of many kinds and often of huge body, were, so far as the geological record shows, the masters of the earth.
The third instance occurred during the Tertiary — or perhaps it began in the last period of the Secondary, and continued into the Tertiary — and this third evolutionary wave or cyclical period we may call the age of the great mammals, which then in their turn, succeeding the reptiles, were the masters of the earth — and still are in their presently existing forms. It is quite possible that the names of the three periods alluded to here do not correspond with strict exactitude to the more recent pronouncements of geologic science.
In each of these three cases, as the geological record is studied, we can see the respective beginnings of a kind; we can discern the growth in size and physical power, the culmination or full efflorescence of the particular stocks. Then we see decay and final passing of the bulk of the animate beings belonging to each particular evolutionary life-wave, thus making place for the new and succeeding stock, which in turn has its relatively complete dawn, appearing with a certain suddenness in the geologic record. The new stock reaches its fullness in the expansion of its physical powers and size, and then again in its turn passes away. Wave succeeds wave, each wave reaching a higher level of evolutionary unfolding activity than did the preceding wave; and each wave in its turn is followed by another, bringing on the scene entities and things of a "new" and different evolutionary type. This has always been one of the mysteries of geology, and no adequate explanation has ever yet been given of the relative suddenness with which some of these stocks appeared on the scene, and apparently, after having passed ages on earth, seemed to disappear with equal suddenness.
It has been customary to say that the fishes gave birth to the reptiles, and that the reptiles gave birth to the mammals, and these great beasts — or at least a certain line of them — brought forth man through the highest of their own type, which, as supposed, was the anthropoid ape. But the difficulties in the way of acceptance of this theory are far greater than any arguments which have been advanced in favor of it.
The theosophical teaching runs directly to the contrary. It sets forth that while it is perfectly true that these evolutionary waves succeed each other, each such wave represents the coming on the scene of physical existence of a "new" family or a "new" host of evolving entities. Furthermore, each one of these hosts has its dawn, its noonday, and its evening, and the physical bodies in which these monadic hosts dwell, pass away in due time. The hosts of monads, having used these bodies thereupon pass on to inhabit vehicles of a higher evolutionary character which these monadic hosts themselves bring forth from within their own respective monadic essences by emanation.
If we consider an evolving entity in that phase of its evolutionary journey on and through our earth, called the mineral kingdom — which means a spiritual monad passing through its temporary mineral phase — we find the teaching to be that in the course of long ages, through the process of unfolding the innate qualities and powers flowing forth from the monad itself, the intermediate or psychological nature between the monad and the mineral kingdom becomes a fitter vehicle of self-expression for the evolving monad. Ultimately the peregrinating monadic unit creeps out of that temporary phase of its journey called the mineral kingdom, perhaps as a lichen, then perhaps later, as the ages pass, appears as the lowest of the higher plants. Constant perfecting of the intermediate or psychological vehicle between the monad and the plant-body, brings this intermediate vehicle into a still more sensitive and quasi-conscious condition, so that it becomes fit for inshrining the monad in that temporary phase of its evolutionary journey called the beast kingdom.
Thus the monad working through its intermediate vehicle passes on into the beast kingdom, where there is a larger measure of progressive unwrapping of more spiritual qualities and attributes flowing forth from the inner and "overshadowing" monad itself, till the thus sensitized beast-nature becomes more fit to express in still larger degree, still higher and nobler qualities and attributes and forces flowing forth from the monad; and at this point, we find the journeying, evolving and revolving, monad manifesting in the human kingdom.
This teaching does not mean or imply that it is the spiritual monad — in itself a divine and self-conscious being — which itself becomes a stone, and after its peregrinations in the mineral kingdom passes out of it and becomes a plant, and later becomes a beast, and finally becomes a man. This is not the idea, although some countenance could be lent to this mistaken conception by the Qabbalistic axiom that "the stone becomes a plant, the plant becomes a beast, the beast becomes a man, and the man becomes a god." This axiom is literally true if it is understood that the monad is the originant and impelling spiritual urge back of all evolutionary unfoldment. Every evolving entity is a self-conscious divine being, but due to the karma of its past lives in the former cosmic manvantara, it is inextricably involved as a unit in helping to make and to guide the entire body of evolving beings and things in the present cosmic manvantara. This it does by emanating a ray down from itself even into the lowest of the interlocking hierarchies forming the body corporate of the universe, which now is itself these rays, thus individualized as a stream of quasi-conscious force-substance which manifests itself first in the mineral kingdom; then each ray working out of it, enters the vegetable kingdom and working through this it enters into the animal kingdom, and after its revolvings therein have been completed, it enters the human kingdom. When its evolutionary peregrinations in the human kingdom have been completed it finds itself entering still higher kingdoms as a divinity — which is rejoining its parent monad, plus its vast wealth of experiences. The aggregates of individual rays make the different kingdoms.
These experiences are not gained in the Darwinian sense by accretions from the various kingdoms through which it is passing, but by a constantly progressive unfolding of its innate monadic essence — the various kingdoms thus giving the ray not only opportunity for its own unfolding, but likewise the ray aids in evolving the kingdoms through which it passes.
It would be entirely wrong to imagine the monad of a Newton or of an Einstein having been at some remote period but a speck of mineral substance with no previous spiritual history behind it, which slowly through the evolving aeons grew to humanhood, unimpulsed by a spirit. The esoteric teaching of evolution means that the soul of the life-atom manifests in different bodies on different planes, both contemporaneously and in succeeding time-periods. The soul of a life-atom, which really is an elemental, expresses itself at one phase of its evolutionary journey as a mineral life-atom. The soul of the same life-atom at a later date expresses itself as a plant life-atom. The soul of this plant life-atom after a long while imbodies itself in a phase of its evolutionary unfolding from within in a beast-body. The soul of the same life-atom later self-expresses itself by means of imbodying its radiating qualities in a human body. The soul of the same life-atom later self-expresses itself as a god; and so forth. This must not be misunderstood to mean because of the repetitive use of the phrase "life-atom" that the evolving ray from the monad is always a "life-atom." The idea is that the tip of this ray, so to speak, enters the physical sphere as a life-atom in the mineral kingdom, and that the same monadic ray in a later age expresses its still further unfolded powers as a life-atom in the plant kingdom, and thus onward up the scale.
A god is a being which, as an original life-atom, has attained divine self-consciousness. Every god has, as a journeying psychospiritual entity, passed through the man-stage; every man as a psychospiritual monad has passed through the beast-stage; and here is the special point: every man as a psychospiritual monad has manifested as a beast in some manvantara, but not in this one. In exactly similar way, every beast, manifesting as a psychospiritual monad, has passed through the plant-state in some manvantara, and in like manner every plant has passed through the mineral life-atom stage, just as every mineral life-atom had previously been an elemental life-atom, and so forth.
From this it should be clear that the man actually has not been the beast, but the ray passed through the beast-stage first, and when it had finished that series of revolvings, it had brought forth from its own being the already latent human qualities, and thus built up human bodies for their expression. In an exactly identical way will the god already within the core of the human being finally be brought forth into manifestation as a self-conscious divinity.
The urge behind evolution, and the objective which this urge is impelling us toward, is simply the divine hunger in the universe to grow greater. It is innate in the universe. Why this is so, no one can say. Perhaps the gods do not know. All we men can aver is that it is so. Everything grows and yearns to grow greater, to rise, to evolve, and the objective is to become at-one self-consciously with the Boundless — something which never can be reached! Therein is infinite beauty, for there is no final ending for growth in beauty and wisdom and power.
What we may call a blind struggle for betterment in the atoms, becomes in man a self-conscious yearning to grow, to become ever more the divinity within himself, arising in a recognition, now quasi-conscious, that man is a son of the gods. This same urge becomes in the gods a divine knowledge that they are inseparable parts of the universe, and are growing to take a vaster self-conscious part in the universal labor.
All possible things are latent in the core of the core of each one of us which is man's own inner god, the cosmic Dhyani-Buddha within him, the divine Christ immanent within him; the living Osiris of the ways of infinity.