Theosophical University Press Online Edition
It is argued that the Universal Evolution, otherwise, the gradual development of species in all the kingdoms of nature, works by uniform laws. This is admitted, and the law enforced far more strictly in Esoteric than in modern Science. But we are told also, that it is equally a law that “development works from the less to the more perfect, and from the simpler to the more complicated, by incessant changes, small in themselves, but constantly accumulating in the required direction.” It is from the infinitesimally small that the comparatively gigantic species are produced.
Esoteric Science agrees with it, but adds that this law applies only to what is known to it as the Primary Creation — the evolution of worlds from primordial atoms, and the pre-primordial Atom, at the first differentiation of the former; and that during the period of cyclic evolution in space and time, this law is limited and works only in the lower kingdoms. It did so work during the first geological periods, from simple to complex, on the rough material surviving from the relics of the Third Round, which relics are projected into objectivity when terrestrial activity recommences.
No more than Science, does esoteric philosophy admit design or “special creation.” It rejects every claim to the “miraculous,” and accepts nothing outside the uniform and immutable laws of Nature. But it teaches a cyclic law, a double stream of force (or spirit) and of matter, which, starting from the neutral centre of Being, develops in its cyclic progress and incessant transformations. The primitive germ from which all vertebrate life has developed throughout the ages, being distinct from the primitive germ from which the vegetable and the animal life have evolved, there are side laws whose work is determined by the conditions in which the materials to be worked upon are found by them, and of which Science — physiology and anthropology especially — seems to be little aware. Its votaries speak of that “primitive germ,” and maintain that it is shown beyond any doubt that the “design” and the “designer,” if there be any, in the case of man, with the wonderful structure of his limbs, and his hand especially, “must be placed very much farther back, and (the design) is, in fact, involved in the primitive germ,” from which not only all vertebrate life, but, “probably all life, animal and vegetable, have been slowly developed” (p. 94 of “Modern Science and Modern Thought”).
This is as true of the “primitive germ” as it is false that that “germ” is only “very much farther back” than man is; for it is at an immeasurable and inconceivable distance (in time, though not in space) from the origin even of our Solar system. As the Hindu philosophy very justly teaches, the “Aniyamsam Aniyasam,” can be known only through false notions. It is the “many” that proceed from the one — the living spiritual germs or centres of forces — each in a septenary form, which first generate, and then give the primary impulse to the law of evolution and gradual slow development.
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 centres of Force, so there are centres 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. They are simply Builders, or Masons, working under the impulse given them by the ever-to-be-unknown (on our plane) Master Mason — the One Life and Law. Belonging to this sphere, they have no hand in, or possibility of working on any other, during the present Manvantara, at any rate. That they work in cycles and on a strictly geometrical and mathematical scale of progression, is what the extinct animal species amply demonstrate; that they act by design in the details of minor lives (of side animal issues, etc.) is what natural history has sufficient evidence for. In the creation of new species, departing sometimes very widely from the Parent stock, as in the great variety of the genus Felis — like the lynx, the tiger, the cat, etc. — it is the “designers” who direct the new evolution by adding to, or depriving the species of certain appendages, either needed or becoming useless in the new environments. Thus, when we say that Nature provides for every animal and plant, whether large or small, we speak correctly. For, it is those terrestrial spirits of Nature, who form the aggregated Nature; which, if it fails occasionally in its design, is neither to be considered blind, nor to be taxed with the failure; since, belonging to a differentiated sum of qualities and attributes, it is in virtue of that alone conditioned and imperfect.
Were there no such thing as evolutionary cycles, an eternal spiral progress into matter with a proportionate obscuration of spirit — though the two are one — followed by an inverse ascent into spirit and the defeat of matter — active and passive by turn — how explain the discoveries of zoology and geology? How is it that, on the dictum of authoritative science, one can trace the animal life from the mollusc up
to the great Sea Dragon, from the smallest land-worm up again to the gigantic animals of the Tertiary Period; and that the latter were once crossed is shown by the fact of all those species decreasing, dwindling down and being dwarfed. If the seeming process of development working from the less to the more perfect, and from the simpler to the more complex, were a universal law indeed, instead of being a very imperfect generalization of a mere secondary nature in the great Cosmic process, and if there were no such cycles as those claimed, then the Mesozoic fauna and flora ought to change places with the latest Neolithic. It is the Plesiosauri and the Ichthyosauri that we ought to find developing from the present sea and river reptiles, instead of giving place to their dwarfed modern analogies. It is, again, our old friend, the good-tempered elephant, that would be the fossil antediluvian ancestor, and the mammoth of the Pliocene age who would be in the menagerie; the megalonyx and the gigantic megatherium would be found instead of the lazy sloth in the forests of South America, in which the colossal ferns of the carboniferous periods would take the place of moss and present trees — dwarfs, even the giants of California, in comparison with the Titan-trees of past geological periods. Surely the organisms of the megasthenian world of the Tertiary and the Mesozoic Ages must have been more complex and perfect than those of the microsthenian plants and animals of the present age? The Dryopithecus, for instance, is found more perfect anatomically, more fit for a greater development of brain power, than the modern gorilla or gibbon? How is this, then? Are we to believe that the constitution of all those colossal land and sea-dragons, of the gigantic flying reptiles, was not far more developed and complex than the anatomy of the lizards, turtles, crocodiles, and even of the whales — in short, all those animals we are acquainted with?
Let us admit, however, for argument’s sake, that all those cycles, races, septenary forms of evolution and the tutti quanti of esoteric teaching, are no better than a delusion and a snare. Let us agree with Science and say that man, instead of being an imprisoned “Spirit,” and his vehicle, the shell or body, a gradually perfected and now complete mechanism for material and terrestrial uses, as claimed by the Occultists — is simply a more developed animal, whose primal form emerged from one and the same primitive germ on this earth, as the flying dragon and the gnat, the whale and the amoeba, the crocodile and the frog, etc., etc. In this case, he must have passed through the identical developments and through the same process of growth as all the other mammals? If man is an animal, and nothing more, a highly intellectual ex-brute, he should be privileged, at least, and allowed to have been a gigantic mammal of his kind, a
meganthropos in his day. It is just this, that esoteric science shows as having taken place in the first three rounds, and in this, as in most other things, it is more logical and consistent than modern science. It classifies the human body with the brute creation, and maintains it in the path of animal evolution, from first to last, while science leaves man a parentless orphan born of sires unknown, an “unspecialized skeleton” truly! And this mistake is due to a stubborn rejection of the doctrine of cycles.
The Origin and Evolution of the Mammalia: Science and the Esoteric Phylogeny.
Having dealt almost exclusively with the question of the origin of Man in the foregoing criticism of Western Evolutionism, it may not be amiss to define the position of the Occultists with regard to the differentiation of species. The pre-human fauna and flora have been already generally dealt with in the Commentary on the Stanzas, and the truth of much of modern biological speculation admitted, e.g., the derivation of birds from reptiles, the partial truth of “natural selection,” and the transformation theory generally. It now remains to clear up the mystery of the origin of those first mammalian fauna which M. de Quatrefages so brilliantly endeavours to prove as contemporary with the Homo primigenius of the Secondary Age.
The somewhat complicated problem relating to the “Origin of Species,” — more especially of the varied groups of fossil or existing mammalian fauna — will be rendered less obscure by the aid of a diagram. It will then be apparent to what extent the “Factors of Organic Evolution,” relied upon by Western biologists,* are to be considered as
* The Darwinian theory has been so strained, that even Huxley was forced at one time to deprecate its occasional degeneration into “fanaticism.” Oscar Schmidt presents a good instance of a thinker who unconsciously exaggerates the worth of an hypothesis. He admits (“The Doctrine of Descent and Darwinism,” p. 158), that “natural selection” “is in some cases . . . inadequate, . . . in others . . . not requisite, as the solution of the formation of species is found in other natural conditions.” He also asserts the “intermediate grades are . . . wanting, which would entitle us to infer with certainty the direct transition from unplacental to placental mammals” (p. 271); that “we are referred entirely to conjecture and inference for the origin of the mammals” (p. 268); and the repeated failures of the framers of “hypothetical pedigrees,” more especially of Haeckel. Nevertheless he asserts on p. 194, that “what we have gained by the Doctrine of Descent based on the theory of selection is the knowledge of the connection of organisms as ‘consanguineous beings.’ ” Knowledge in the face of the above-cited concessions, is, then, the synonym for conjecture and theory only?
adequate to meet the facts. The line of demarcation between etherospiritual, astral and physical evolution must be drawn. Perhaps, if Darwinians deigned to consider the possibility of the second process, they would no longer have to lament the fact that “we are referred to conjecture and inference for the origin of the Mammals”!! (The Doctrine of Descent and Darwinism, p. 268, by Professor O. Schmidt.) At present the admitted chasm between the systems of reproduction of the oviparous vertebrates and mammalia, constitutes a hopeless crux to those thinkers who, with the Evolutionists, seek to link all existing organic forms in a continuous line of descent.
Let us take — exempli gratia — the case of the ungulate mammals. “In no other division,” it is said, “do we possess such abundant fossil material.” So much progress has been made in this direction, that in some instances the intermediate links between the modern and Eocene ungulates have been unearthed; a notable example being that of the complete proof of the derivation of the present one-toed horse from the three-toed Anchitherium of the old Tertiary. This standard of comparison between Western Biology and the Eastern doctrine could not, therefore, be improved upon. The pedigree here utilized, as embodying the views of scientists in general, is that of Schmidt based on the exhaustive researches of Rutimeyer. Its approximate accuracy — from the standpoint of evolutionism — leaves little to be desired: —
The midway point of evolution. Science comes to a standstill. “The root to which these two families lead back is unknown” (Schmidt).
No. I. represents the realm explored by Western Evolutionists, the area in which climatic influences, “natural selection,” and all the other physical causes of organic differentiation are present. Biology and palaeontology find their province here in investigating the many physical agencies which contribute so largely, as shown by Darwin, Spencer and others, to the segregation of species. But even in this domain the sub-conscious workings of the Dhyan-Chohanic wisdom are at the root of all the “ceaseless striving towards perfection,” though its influence is vastly modified by those purely material causes which de Quatrefages terms the “milieux” and Spencer the “Environment.”
The “midway point of evolution” is that stage where the astral prototypes definitely begin to pass into the physical, and thus become subject to the differentiating agencies now operative around us. Physical causation supervenes immediately on the assumption of “coats of skin” — i.e., the physiological equipment in general. The forms of Men and mammalia previous to the separation of sexes* are woven out of astral matter, and possess a structure utterly unlike that of the physical organisms, which eat, drink, digest, etc., etc., etc. The known physiological contrivances in organisms were almost entirely evolved subsequently to the incipient physicalization of the 7 Root-Types out of the astral — during the “midway halt” between the two planes of existence. Hardly had the “ground-plan” of evolution been limned out in these ancestral types, than the influence of the accessory terrestrial laws, familiar to us, supervened, resulting in the whole crop of mammalian species. AEons of slow differentiation were, however, required to effect this end.
* Bear in mind, please, that though the animals — mammalians included — have all been evolved after and partially from man’s cast-off tissues, still, as a far lower being, the mammalian animal became placental and separated far earlier than man.
No. II. represents the domain of the purely astral prototypes previous to their descent into (gross) matter. Astral matter, it must be noted, is fourth state matter, having, like our gross matter, its own “protyle.” There are several “protyles” in Nature, corresponding to the various planes of matter. The two sub-physical elemental kingdoms, the plane of mind (manas, the fifth state matter), as also that of Buddhi (sixth state matter), are each and all evolved from one of the six “protyles” which constitute the basis of the Object-Universe. The three “states,” so-called of our terrestrial matter, known as the “solid,” “liquid,” and “gaseous,” are only, in strict accuracy, sub-states. As to the former reality of the descent into the physical, which culminated in physiological man and animal, we have a palpable testimony in the fact of the so-called spiritualistic “materializations.”
In all these instances a complete temporary mergence of the astral into the physical takes place. The evolution of physiological Man out of the astral races of early Lemurian age — the Jurassic age of Geology — is exactly paralleled by the “materialization” of “spirits” (?) in the seance-room. In the case of Professor Crookes’ “Katie King,” the presence of a physiological mechanism — heart, lungs, etc. — was indubitably demonstrated!!
This, in a way, is the Archetype of Goethe. Listen to his words: “Thus much we should have gained . . . all the nine perfect organic beings . . . (are) formed according to an archetype which merely fluctuates more or less in its very persistent parts and, moreover, day by day, completes and transforms itself by means of reproduction.” This is a seemingly imperfect foreshadowing of the occult fact of the differentiation of species from the primal astral root-types. Whatever the whole posse comitatus of “natural selection,” etc., etc., may effect, the fundamental unity of structural plan remains practically unaffected by all subsequent modifications. The “Unity of Type” common, in a sense, to all the animal and human kingdoms, is not, as Spencer and others appear to hold, a proof of the consanguineity of all organic forms, but a witness to the essential unity of the “ground-plan” Nature has followed in fashioning her creatures.
To sum up the case, we may again avail ourselves of a tabulation of the actual factors concerned in the differentiation of species. The stages of the process itself need no further comment here, being the basic principles underlying organic development, than to enter on the domain of the biological specialist.
Factors concerned in the Origin of Species, Animal and Vegetable.
Basic Astral Prototypes pass into the Physical.
The European, Palaeolithic Races. — Whence, and How Distributed.
Is Science against those who maintain that down to the Quaternary period the distribution of the human races was widely different from what it is now? Is Science against those who, further, maintain that the fossil men found in Europe — although having almost reached a plane of sameness and unity from the fundamental physiological and anthropological aspects which continues till this day — still differ, sometimes greatly, from the type of the now existing populations. The late Littre confesses it in an article published by him on the Memoir called Antiquites Celtiques et Antediluviennes by Boucher de Perthes (1849) — in the Revue des Deux Mondes (March 1, 1859). He says in it (a) that in these periods when the Mammoths, exhumed with the hatchets in Picardy, lived in the latter region, there must have been an eternal spring reigning over all the terrestrial globe*; nature was the contrary of what it is now — thus leaving an enormous margin for the antiquity of
* Scientists now admit that Europe enjoyed in the Miocene times a warm, in the Pliocene or later Tertiary, a temperate climate. Littre’s contention as to the balmy spring of the Quaternary — to which deposits M. de Perthes’ discoveries of flint implements are traceable (since when the Somme has worn down its valley many scores of feet) — must be accepted with much reservation. The Somme-valley relics are post-glacial, and possibly point to the immigration of savages during one of the more temperate periods intervening between minor ages of Ice.
those “periods” and then adds: (b) “Spring, professor of the Faculty of Medicine at Liege, found in a grotto near Namur, in the mountain of Chauvaux, numerous human bones ‘of a race quite distinct from ours.’ ”
Skulls exhumed in Austria offered a great analogy with those of African negro races, according to Littre, while others, discovered on the shores of the Danube and the Rhine, resembled the skulls of the Caribs and those of the ancient inhabitants of Peru and Chili. Still, the Deluge, whether Biblical or Atlantean, was denied. But further geological discoveries having made Gaudry write conclusively: “Our forefathers were positively contemporaneous with the rhinoceros tichorrhinus, the hippopotamus major”; and add that the soil called diluvial in geology “was formed partially at least after man’s apparition on earth” — Littre pronounced himself finally. He then showed the necessity, before “the resurrection of so many old witnesses,” of rehandling all the origins, all the durations, and added that there was an age hitherto unknown to study “either at the dawn of the actual epoch or, as I believe, at the beginning of the epoch which preceded it.”
The types of the skulls found in Europe are of two kinds, as is well known: the orthognathous and the prognathous, or the Caucasian and the negro types; such as are now found only in the African and the lower savage tribes. Professor Heer — who argues that the facts of Botany necessitate the hypothesis of an Atlantis — has shown that the plants of the Neolithic lake-villagers are mainly of African origin. How did the latter come to be in Europe if there was no former point of union between Africa and Europe? How many thousand years ago did the seventeen men live whose skeletons were exhumed in the Department of the Haute Garonne, in a squatting posture near the remains of a coal fire, with some amulets and broken crockery around them, and in company with the bear spelaeus, the Elephas primigenius, the aurochs (regarded by Cuvier as a distinct species), the Megaceros hibernicus — all antediluvian mammals? Certainly at a most distant epoch, but not one which carries us further back than the Quaternary. A much greater antiquity for Man has yet to be proved. Dr. James Hunt, the late President of the Anthropological Society, makes it 9,000,000 years. This man of science, at any rate, makes some approach to our esoteric computation, if we leave the first two semi-human, ethereal races, and the early Third Race out of the computation.
The question, however, arises — who were these Palaeolithic men of the European quaternary epoch? Were they aboriginal, or the outcome of some immigration dating back into the unknown past? The latter is the only tenable hypothesis, as all scientists agree in eliminating Europe from the category of possible “cradles of mankind.” Whence, then, radiated the various successive streams of “primitive” men?
The earliest Palaeolithic men in Europe — about whose origin Ethnology is silent, and whose very characteristics are but imperfectly known, though expatiated on as “ape-like” by imaginative writers such as Mr. Grant Allen — were of pure Atlantean and “Africo”-Atlantean stocks.* (It must be borne in mind that by this time the Atlantis continent itself was a dream of the past.) Europe in the quaternary epoch was very different from the Europe of to-day, being then only in process of formation. It was united to N. Africa — or rather what is now N. Africa — by a neck of land running across the present Straits of Gibraltar — N. Africa thus constituting a species of extension of Spain, while a broad sea washed the great basin of the Sahara. Of the great Atlantis, the main bulk of which sank in the Miocene, there remained only Ruta and Daitya and a stray island or so. The Atlantean connections of the forefathers† of the Palaeolithic cave-men are evidenced by the upturning of fossil skulls (in Europe) reverting closely to the West Indian Carib and ancient Peruvian type — a mystery indeed to all those who refuse to sanction the “hypothesis” of a former Atlantic continent to bridge the ocean (Cf. “Scientific and geological proofs of the reality of several submerged continents”). What are we also to make of the fact that while de Quatrefages points to that “magnificent race,” the tall Cro-Magnon cave-men and the Guanches of the Canary Islands as representatives of one type — Virchow also allies the Basques with the latter in a similar way? Professor Retzius independently proves the relationship of the aboriginal American dolichocephalous tribes and these same Guanches. The several links in the chain of evidence are securely joined together. Legions of similar facts could be adduced. As to the African tribes — themselves diverging offshoots of Atlanteans modified by climate and conditions — they crossed into Europe over the peninsula which made the Mediterranean an inland sea. Fine races were many of these European cave-men; the Cro-Magnon, for instance. But, as was to be expected, progress is almost non-existent through the whole of the vast period allotted
* “Whence they (the old cave-men) came, we cannot tell” (Grant Allen).
“The palaeolithic hunters of the Somme Valley did not originate in that inhospitable climate, but moved into Europe from some more genial region — (Dr. Southall “Epoch of the Mammoth” p. 315).
† The pure Atlantean stocks — of which the tall quaternary cave-men were, in part, the direct descendants — immigrated into Europe long prior to the Glacial Period; in fact as far back as the Pliocene and Miocene times in the Tertiary. The worked Miocene flints of Thenay, and the traces of Pliocene man discovered by Professor Capellini in Italy, are witnesses to the fact. These colonists were portions of the once glorious race, whose cycle from the Eocene downwards had been running down the scale.
by Science to the Chipped Stone-Age.* The cyclic impulse downwards weighs heavily on the stocks thus transplanted — the incubus of the Atlantean Karma is upon them. Finally, Palaeolithic man makes room for his successor — and disappears almost entirely from the scene. Professor Lefevre asks in this connection: —
“Has the Polished succeeded the Chipped Stone-Age by an imperceptible transition, or was it due to an invasion of brachycephalous Celts? But whether, again, the deterioration produced in the populations of La Vezere was the result of violent crossings, or of a general retreat northwards in the wake of the reindeer, is of little moment to us.” He continues: —
“Meantime the bed of the ocean has been upheaved, Europe is now fully formed, her flora and fauna fixed. With the taming of the dog begins the pastoral life. We enter on those polished stone and bronze periods, which succeed each other at irregular intervals, which even overlap one another in the midst of ethnical fusions and migrations. . . . The primitive European populations are interrupted in their special evolution and, without perishing, become absorbed in other races, engulfed . . . by successive waves of migration overflowing from Africa, possibly from a lost Atlantis [?? far too late by aeons of years] and from prolific Asia . . . all forerunners of the great Aryan Invasion” (Fifth Race).
* The artistic skill displayed by the old cave-men renders the hypothesis which regards them as approximations to the “pithecanthropus alalus” — that very mythical Haeckelian monster — an absurdity requiring no Huxley or Schmidt to expose it. We see in their skill in engraving a “gleam of Atlantean culture atavistically re-appearing.” It will be remembered that Donnelly regards modern European as a renaissance of Atlantean civilization. (“Atlantis,” pp. 237-264.)