[Note: page numbers cited for The Esoteric Tradition are to the 2-vol. Second Edition and do not correspond to the 1-vol. 3rd & Revised Edition.]
In contemplating the vast subject of specialization, one marvels at its range of application, its overwhelming influence in the evolution of the ingredients and population of the cosmos, and one almost despairs of capturing its subtil meaning, just as when listening to a masterly rendition of a musical orchestra: the cry is then wrung from one's soul — "How manifold are thy works, O Lord!"
Specialization might be described as a law or habit of Nature, affecting all evolving creatures on the downward arc of evolution — into matter — leading them into deflections from the spiritual standard of perfection, whilst striving for perfection on the material plane, in their execution of free will.
Cosmic evolution seems to be a process of unfolding a stream or mass of consciousness in the crude material (in a similar way to the unwinding of an enormous roll of carpet, or tides of the sea), and then by some magic power rolling it up in the assimilated form, and so producing relative perfection, in "a web of destiny," as H. P. Blavatsky so beautifully phrases it.
Visitors to a modern zoo can see samples of evolution in the "crude," in the mean propensities of ordinary men and women (as we meet them on the streets) minus the mental control, masquerading in animal forms. These propensities give trends which affect the shapes of animals as well as their character, so much so that they have become maxims: as cunning as a fox, as mischievous as a monkey, as fearless as a lion, as rapacious as a wolf, as intelligent as a horse, as stupid as an ass, as pigheaded as a hog.
We see an approach to perfection in the assimilation of traits in the glorious personality of a saint, or an adept, illustrating the process of involution on the upward arc of the evolutionary ladder.
Our Teachers tell us that human evolution represents a straight, vertical, pristine, and primitive stock, phylum, or current, through which are evolved all creatures, because at the heart of man exists the monadic essence which contains all potentialities. But because all creatures have free will, in their blind attempts to reach perfection they acquire independent trends, specializations; and so they build up their essential characteristic or swabhava, by the action of karma, in their evolution, through countless reimbodiments in various groups of hierarchies. Yet ultimately, by the working of all these, all come back into the human stream and fimally reach perfection.
Now this same trend works not only on the evolution of forms, so varied in our non-human mammals, but in man's higher evolution the same trend leads man in society far from his destiny in countless back currents in the stream of life.
Theosophy is, as it were, the central, clean, pure, primitive, fundamental, and universal doctrine. Any society, sect, movement, cause, or cult, which commences to pervert the Ancient Wisdom-teachings by adulteration with brain-mind concepts, and proceeds to adopt such personal standards, thereby introduces a trend of specialization ultimately leading to a cul-de-sac and deterioration.
The history of our Root-Race is punctuated with such crippled children of the supreme universal doctrine. At every Messianic Cycle (i. e., when the sun enters a new zodiacal sign) efforts are made by the Trustees of Humanity, to flood the human consciousness with a stream of pure doctrine: such an effort was that of the Christian Era. Primitive Christianity involved a doctrine which was pari passu identified with the Theosophical doctrine, until it fell into the hands of a sect which found the impersonal teachings inconvenient to their objectives.
At one of the historical Councils held at Constantinople, an edict was drawn up in which the essential fundamental cosmic principles of Reincarnation, Hierarchies, the Essential Divinity of Man, the Spiritual Nature of Heavenly Bodies, the Heliocentric System — all of which were taught by the Christian Father and Neo-Platonist, Origen — were declared heretical. The result of this edict led to a form of specialization which in time destroyed the primitive characteristics of the teachings. These degenerate trends marked the features of a descending arc of evolution and inaugurated that period of occidental history described as the Dark Ages.
A similar transmutation, perchance in a less acute form, marked other previous attempts of regeneration: these in time descended into personal cults, whilst maintaining recognisable basic principles, although encumbered with dogmas. Thus they passed on to posterity as sects or religions. All have the characteristic of sidetracking the primitive, universal, fundamental, central doctrines in various forms of crystallization or specialization. These trends are traceable in Brahmanism, Buddhism, the Egyptian cults, Mithraism, Parseeism, Judaism, and others.
In order to restore harmony, as before stated, special baptisms of truth come to the world. This is indicated in the profound pronouncement made by Krishna in the Bhagavad-Gita: "And thus I incarnate from age to age for the preservation of the just, the destruction of the wicked, and the establishment of righteousness." (ch. iv) These periods seem to the writer to correspond by analogy to those cosmic cycles when the mammals must again pass through the human primitive stock: thereby they are assisted in purifying themselves and ultimately they become restored to the human family.
In order to prevent a recurrence of such degeneration and specialization after the restoration of the primitive, true doctrine (and such an effort was that of Theosophy, brought by H. P. Blavatsky at the close of the nineteenth century, when the Sun entered the zodiacal sign of Aquarius, in the precession of the equinoxes), it is the sacred trust of all Theosophists to prevent the desecration of the ancient teachings from side-tracking processes. Let us therefore beware of all those adventitious and insidious attempts to seduce us into espousing causes, teachings, and doctrines with eccentric illusions of the truth. "Take heed that no man deceive you. For many shall come in my name, saying, I am Christ; and shall deceive many. . . . Then if any man shall say unto you, Lo, here is Christ, or there; believe it not." — Matt., xxiv, 4, 5, 23 And it was Paul who said: "Let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall." — l Cor., x, 12 The same law in regard to specialization seems to operate in other circles as well. For instance, one wonders, whether or not the trend in the medical profession to espouse some specialty is not itself a decadent trend. One is impressed with the fact that Egypt, in its period of decadence, was full of specialists, as the historian Herodotus, tells us. Is there not a danger in this specialization? For it often runs into decimals, instead of using simple numbers: every specialty having lesser gamuts of specialties, which logically implies contraction into infinitesimals, and consequent relative annihilation.
The natural healthy duty should be to retain the broad fundamentals of health: to maintain the working of all the organs as harmonious as possible, to restore the deficiencies in the system, to use natural processes and Nature's primitive methods to acquire "Mens sana in corpore sano" (a sound mind in a sound body).
Is it not true that no one can cure any one else? For it is Nature that cures — if we give her a chance: the wise physician guides the functions into the simple, pure pathways of health and peace, restores broken laws, restrains abuses, acts wisely, justly; and so remains at peace.
A great loss of esoteric and mystical truth in the Occident . . . has been the supposed separate existence of the individual human being from the Divinity which infills the Universe. How is this possible! Nothing is so near as Divinity, nothing is so intimate, nothing is so familiar; for the Kosmic Divinity is that Kosmic Consciousness, that Kosmic Life, frontierless and indivisible, which fills everything and throughout boundless duration infills everything, and of which everything and every being is an offspring — not only human beings, but every other entity and thing in boundless Space. — The Esoteric Tradition, I, 208-9