The Challenge of Being Human

By Grace F. Knoche

"The world globes itself in a drop of dew" — truly, as Emerson remarks, the great is contained in the small, the universe and every particle thereof being made of "one hidden stuff." For our 1994 issue we have selected as theme our seven-faceted nature from the divine to the physical, and the interrelation of our composite being to those universal events of birth, death, and rebirth, experienced by all imbodied entities. In her masterwork, The Secret Doctrine, H. P. Blavatsky introduced the sevenfold division of earth, solar system, and man. She had been asked why this teaching had been withheld for so long: what harm could come from knowing about the sevenfold planetary chain? She explained:

The danger was this: Doctrines such as the planetary chain, or the seven races, at once give a clue to the seven-fold nature of man, for each principle is correlated to a plane, a planet, and a race; and the human principles are, on every plane, correlated to seven-fold occult forces —those of the higher planes being of tremendous power. So that any septenary division at once gives a clue to tremendous occult powers, the abuse of which would cause incalculable evil to humanity. . . .
The documents were concealed, it is true, but the knowledge itself and its actual existence had never been made a secret of by the Hierophants of the Temple, wherein Mysteries have ever been made a stimulus to virtue. — 1:xxxv

Blavatsky wasn't stating anything new; in antiquity the concept of five, seven, nine, ten, or even twelve earths or suns had been handed down in myth or allegory by many peoples. With the transiting of the sun into Aquarius and the accompanying change of zodiacal influences upon earth, the cycle was ripe to articulate clearly and without heavily veiled metaphor the correlation of the seven human principles to the seven great races (we are in the fifth) and to the sevenfold planetary and solar chains, respectively, of earth and sun. Implicit in this was an invitation to anyone interested to explore the ramifications, spiritually, astrologically, and otherwise — the unstated hope being that such would redound to the ultimate good of mankind. The end result cannot be known, for we are still in midstream. Without question the numerous spin-offs from Blavatsky's restatement of the universal wisdom-religion were, and still are, of mixed quality. On the other hand, the moral and spiritual injection into the thought-consciousness of humanity in which, willy-nilly, all of us are the beneficiary cannot be gainsaid. No longer need anyone, if he/she is willing to think for himself and to heed the whisperings of intuition, be obliged to squeeze human/divine creativity into the narrow casing of dogmatic religion or materialistic science.

Over the past hundred years many thousands of students of Blavatsky's writings have felt a profound debt of gratitude to her for this vastly expanded vision of who and what we are, set against a cosmic backdrop: one of several kingdoms or families of monads who descended into material spheres from the most ethereal globe until the fourth and most material, our present earth, was reached. The downward push of all entities, including our human life-wave, into ever more material realms then yielded to the pull of spirit. Now, having successfully passed the crucial nadir or bottommost point in the long evolutionary arc, where the forces of descent and ascent (matter and spirit) are equalized, we have begun the slow, glorious, though often painful, trek along the upward spiral. In the fullness of time we will bring into active expression our inborn spiritual qualities, and also imbody on Gaia's three invisible and more ethereal globes until our human kingdom or life-wave will have experienced all that can be known of the complete septenary chain of planet earth.

A momentous event of most wondrous proportion occurred during our third great race (as said, we are in the fifth). This was the quickening of self-awareness in the as yet unself-conscious humanity, endowing us with thought-power and the capability of making choices of human as well as cosmic scope — a universal theme told and retold in divers forms in the oral and scriptural traditions of every people. And how have we chosen in the small as in the large issues of life: wisely and for the greater good, or the opposite? Or abstained from choosing either through forethought, or through indolence? As a humanity we have still a very long way to go, but despite our many blunders past and present, we cannot overlook our ancestral heritage, our participation in the building and flowering of great civilizations in past ages, when undoubtedly we made thoughtful and caring choices as we have made foolish and selfish ones. Moreover, nothing so liberates the human spirit as the knowledge that no intervention by priest, master, god, or gods is warranted between the aspirant and his inner god, his higher self. This is our spiritual companion who stands ready to give us inspiration and guidance when we turn toward it.

Regardless of appearances, with so large a part of humanity weighed down with enormous problems, progress on many fronts is being made. Yet knowledge gives power, and power demands responsibility in motive, thought, and deed, and the absolute need for moral integrity: never knowingly to make choices which could lead others less prepared into hazardous routes. For always there are the rash ones who, excited by the possibility of discovering occult correlations of planetary and solar influences with our bodily organs and chakras, could in ignorance upset the natural balance and protective flow of the life-forces that keep the body in health. In so doing, they open themselves, at least temporarily, to invasion of their own psychic space by entities from the lowest levels of the astral world — something to be avoided at all costs.

Why should being human represent a challenge, when it might be as natural as breathing? Earth, sun and planets, and the universe itself mirror order, harmony, and purpose; mountains and streams, plants and animals, when not interfered with by us, also fulfill their respective destinies in concord with nature's rhythms. Could it be that the wondrous faculty of mind, of self-reflection, is both villain and savior? With its infinite potential for creativity, mind is double-edged: ennobling and merciful when drawn toward the spiritual/intuitional part of us, petty and mean when pulled toward the level of mere desire.

Since bipolarity is present from the first quiver of universal being, when light burst through the immense sea of darkness and "the morning stars sang together," small wonder that in the human kingdom a running conflict of goals and wills seems to be a necessary adjunct to the growing process. If only a larger vision of our future destiny could capture the imagination of people everywhere, it would revivify humanity's hope, giving men and women courage and renewed strength. As human beings we have the perennial challenge of choice. Through the process of making karma and reaping its effects, we learn in time to express the fullness of our potential, eventually becoming self-conscious instruments of terrestrial and cosmic harmony.

(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 1994; copyright © 1994 Theosophical University Press)


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On the yellow sands sitting. . . .
To my Friend Butts I write
My first Vision of Light,
On the yellow sands sitting. . . .
In particles bright
The jewels of Light
Distinct shone & clear.
. . . Swift I ran,
For they beckon'd to me
Remote by the Sea,
Saying: "Each grain of Sand,
Every Stone on the Land,
Each rock & each hill,
Each fountain & rill,
Each herb & each tree,
Mountain, hill, earth & sea,
Cloud, Meteor & Star,
Are Men seen Afar." — William Blake, Octr. 2d 1800