The Theosophical Forum – April 1946


According to zoologists there are some 840,000 species of animal life living in the world today. If we study the various classes or orders of the animal kingdom, we will find that in every case each type, whether elephant or horse or insect or any other form, is a living remnant or representative of a long line of ancestors which reached its evolutionary crest millions of years ago, only a few species in each line having survived until today.

If we look still closer and consider a single stock, say that of the mollusca (snails, clams, sea shells, and so forth), in detail, throughout its history, we will find a central, somewhat primitive, generalized form continuing through the ages, and many side branches departing from this central line, specializing along some side-line, and dying out. In early times many monstrous forms of animals were developed and destroyed.

Thinking not in hundreds but in millions of years, each separate class of animal life is seen to have evolved along a similar pattern, that is, there is a central trunk or central stream of evolutionary progress, from which diverse side branches develop on some egotistical and often fantastic side-line and in many cases come to an early end, as they are unable to meet changing environmental conditions.

To return to the Mollusca, one of our oldest forms of life, many shells are simple and beautiful in form, and refined in color. Others, however, show signs of approaching extinction. And how may we know this? Simply by the species departing from the norm, or middle line, by growing useless spines and tubercles and by assuming strange growth patterns or too vivid color. Some species, such as the ammonites, departed from the Pythagorean curve upon which their shells had been fashioned for a hundred million years, and uncoiled, assuming a loose spiral, and the type departed this earth. A related species, the pearly nautilus, has preserved its beautiful and simple form, and exists today, one of our most highly prized shells.

Thus, the pattern upon which animal evolution is founded consists of many parallel trunks or lines of descent, reaching into the unknown past.

Science has attempted to discover, and in many cases has invented, links connecting these various stocks; many things have been stated to be so, because it was assumed they must be so. Scientific prestige must be preserved.

Just as in each class there are many branches springing from a central trunk, so on a vaster scale each trunk is but a branch to a larger trunk existing from Round to Round. There is a continuing line of evolution, a central trunk from which the branches and branchlets of the animal kingdom have come. That continuing stream of evolution is man. Man has been to the animal kingdom as a whole what the central evolutionary stream in each stock of animal life is to its branches. However, in the large division, as compared with the small, there is a difference in the manner in which new forms of life have been derived from the parent stock. It is this:

All forms of life below the mammalian were derived from the cellular off-throwings of man during the preceeding Globe Round, while the mammalia were thrown off from man during this present Globe Round. The manner in which new stocks have been derived from man is a mystery difficult for us, familiar with present-day conditions, to understand.

The human body is said to contain some twenty-six trillion cells. One type of cell only, and at a given time a single cell of that type, forms a focus through which a human being comes into embodiment. The remainder of the twenty-six trillion cells of the body divide and form new cells, but produce no new creatures, for they are held under the dominance of the human ego; but, nevertheless, they contain within themselves tremendous forces, latent at present, which, given the opportunity, might so function.

The cell is a mystery, and contains an invisible being behind it; it is an infinitesimal focus of cosmic forces, a channel through which they pour into manifestation on our physical plane. These forces express themselves through the more ethereal part of the tiny cell.

Every cell may be looked upon as a point or focus through which its overshadowing self could rush forth into full embodiment, were the cell not held under the dominance of the human ego; for each cell has within itself the potentiality of becoming a complete entity. But the dominating human ego keeps the cell in its proper place, building the body of the ego, and receiving the swabhavic imprint which, when it is finally freed, will urge the then individual entity to itself evolve manwards.

Another thought: Every cell in man's body is a child of, born of, man's inner self. He is their oversoul; in a very true sense their god; and they, with unguessed possibilities of development locked up within them, have to wait for ages before opportunity comes for individual self-expression. Finally, when such opportunity for self-expression does come, out they go, in a great, rushing tide of life, and a new order of life is born which in its turn divides into many forms and varieties as it evolves and expands.

Early man was far more loosely knit, during the early races, than he is now. He had less physical and psychical dominance over the cells of his body than he does now, and consequently each cell was more at liberty to follow its individual drive or urge. Hence, when a cell, or a group of cells, separated from the body, these cells, freed from the dominance of the human ego, immediately started on the path of self-expression, and through the focus provided by the cell, the overshadowing, invisible entity rushed forth into embodiment.

At present, the imprint of the human hierarchy is so firmly stamped upon each cell that such a thing is impossible, but if we study the various stocks of animal and plant life today we will see a faint reflexion of this urge to self-expression in the highly specialized off-shoots from the main racial trunk.

In the untold ages spent before opportunity for individual development came, the time so spent marked each cell so strongly that, once freed, the urge to evolve toward humanhood shaped all future progress.

The progenitors of all forms of animal life below the mammalian sprang from man during the previous Round. This means, as I understand it, that the vital currents which in our Round produced the fishes, reptiles, birds, insects, and most of the invertebrates we know today, had their origin from man during the previous Round; that they evolved, reached their crest, and declined even as the animal world is doing today.

Then, when the hour struck, in the Fourth Round, they reappeared in a great new cycle of activity, and produced new forms, improvements on the old models, one might say. But the continuing stock — stream of life, vital impulse, call it what you will — issued from man, as Dr. de Purucker has said, in the previous Globe Round, in what is known as the "great tidal wave of life."

The mammalians came from the human stock in the present Globe Round during the latter part of the Second Root Race and the early part of the Third Root Race. Man of that time was mindless and largely astral, not consolidated as is man today; neither was there a dominating spiritual entity to hold the lesser lives in check. Buds, or single cells, leaving man of that time — when the climate was as that of a tropical jungle of today, both warm and damp — continued to grow each along its own evolutionary tendency.

The mammalian life, thus being started, increased rapidly in number and variety, and due to the laws of acceleration and retardation, checked the advance of other forms of animal life. The mammalian life-wave reached its crest during the Miocene Period, and since that time the mammals have been steadily declining, both in number and in variety.

Dr. de Purucker writes in Man in Evolution:

Man still remains the storehouse or magazine of an incomputable number of vital or zoologic tendencies latent in the cells of his body; and though the old method of their manifestation has ceased, new and different methods will supersede the old. The urge to life working through the tiny lives of man's physical body, will none the less inevitably find new methods of expression, and these latent or sleeping tendencies will in far distant ages find appropriate outlets, thus perhaps giving origin to new stocks in that far-off future. — p. 203

This, however, will come to pass in some future Round, as during the remainder of this Round the origination of new stocks will become less and less, and those forms of life already existing will decrease rapidly in number as time passes.

We are gods to the lesser lives making up our bodies. In the far future these lesser lives will, like grown children, depart on a long evolutionary journey, to the time when they, in turn, will be self-conscious beings, even as man is now.

The Theosophical Forum