The Theosophical Forum – June 1949

THE ORIGIN OF MAN — Peter Stoddard

The origin of Man is a subject which engages the earnest attention of every intelligent person at some time of life. Who has not heard the questions of children on this subject? Do not our scientists constantly revert to it? And do we not all in our maturer years ponder upon it?

What sources of information have we on this subject? Mainly two: —

(a) Ancient documents, whether considered sacred or profane.
(b) Ancient remains, such as skeletons, implements, etc.

At certain periods in European history free inquiry on this subject has been impossible because of religious intolerance, but at the present time that hindrance is largely inoperative, and men are at liberty to explore the whole field as far as they can discover it. How far have the pronouncements of European Religion and Science taken us towards a solution of the problem of the origin of Man? We have the Bible account of creation, which, taken literally, is just impossible nonsense. We have the gropings of Science — and what do they amount to? Let me quote from a world-authority on this subject, Professor Frederick Wood Jones of Manchester University: "Thirty years ago Scientists thought they had solved this problem, but today they are in a state of complete uncertainty."

Now what does Theosophy say about it? Broadly, that in spite of the unsatisfactoriness of both the religious and the scientific teachings, they do, if properly understood and interpreted, constitute a considerable approach towards a solution of the question.

The problem is: In what form, and where, and at what period, did Man first appear? The questions are simple, but the answers are complex. And where there is a complexity, it is desirable to try to establish a General Principle.

There is an age-old Principle which supplies the need — Evolution; not "Evolution" in the modernly accepted meaning of the term, which should be rightly called "Transformism" — this Transformism teaching that one stock or phylum in Nature can become another stock or phylum by physical transformation. Not at all. But Evolution in its ancient etymological meaning in the sense of unfolding what is within. Yet Evolution is only one side of the problem. Do not picture Evolution as simply a straight line of development from the lesser to the greater. There are no straight lines in Nature and every curve upward is followed by a curve downward. When the curve of Evolution has proceeded far enough, its opposite curve Involution, on the other arc, sets in. In fact, as Theosophists see it Evolution is inevitably accompanied by Involution, and vice versa.

If Evolution is a bringing out of what is within, what is Involution? Involution is a process of infolding, of what was previously unfolded. Involution is the reverse process of Evolution. As a simple illustration, take a wave or billow of the sea. When it rises it is pushing back the air and the air is receding; but when the wave falls the water is receding and the air is taking its place. As one advances, the other recedes, and as the one recedes the other advances. That is what we mean by Evolution and Involution — they are concurrent processes.

Now Theosophy teaches that these two processes are ever-present in Nature, and that Man, being an inseparable part of Nature, is subject to the same processes; and that the appearance of the Human Stock, its development, its maturity, its future history and its final destiny, are an illustration of this double process of Evolution and Involution. Thus the Principle is theoretically established. What are the details by which it can be practically demonstrated? How can it be shown that the Human Race experiences both an Evolution and an Involution?

First of all, What is Man? Let us look at ourselves. We have a body; but we also have volitions, thoughts, desires, impulses, feelings, ambitions, aspirations. Roughly, Man is Dual — the material and the immaterial, Matter and Force, Body and Soul, Substance and Spirit. Can anyone point to any material action in Man or in any other part of Nature, which is not preceded by an invisible Force, or Desire or Will? The visible is always animated by the invisible; and in the long processes of Man's Origin and Development, the same observation holds good — the Material is preceded by, and caused by, and animated by the Immaterial. This is a fundamental Theosophical concept, but I am stating it very baldly, for simplicity.

Now a step further. Sir James Jeans" theory of "Singular Points" postulates vortices in the starry depths of space, where matter emerges from the invisible into the visible. In the process of condensation invisible vapor becomes visible water or hoar frost. What are clouds but collected vapor or matter which was previously present but invisible?

Theosophy says it is true that matter as we know it once existed in refined forms on more ethereal planes; and prior to that it was in a spiritual condition; but that through a certain number of Ages, and on various globes of life, it gradually condensed, thickened, grossened, until it became material as we know it. That was the evolution of Matter and the involution of Spirit. Further, Matter, as we know it, will, in the far distant future, become less gross, more etherealized, and will return to a super-refined or spiritual condition — gradually, and through various globes of life appropriate for such processes. That will be the involution of Matter and the evolution of Spirit. Thus, the visible emerges from the invisible, and, after a full period of expression, retires again into the invisible.

So with Man — the Human Stock. Human flesh and bones, etc., have undergone a gradual solidification in the far past, and in the far future the process will be reversed, and human bodies will become more refined and less gross.

Man's association with this earth is comprised in Seven Great Races, or "Root-Races," of which we, at the present time, are in the Fifth. The present Great Fifth Root-Race had its beginnings four or five million years ago, and it will persist for a similar period in the future, after which it will be followed in due course of time by the Sixth, and then later by the Seventh. This Fifth Root-Race grew out of the preceding Root-Race, the Fourth, and that grew out of the Third, and so on up to the First Root-Race. Prior to the First Root-Race on this globe the Human Life-Wave had a history on a previous globe — but we shall not speak of that for the present. The First Root-Race on this Globe (called Globe D in Theosophical parlance) possessed forms and characteristics which are quite un-familiar to present-day conceptions. They were the original protoplastic sketches of the true Man or mankind that was to follow in far later Ages. Their bodies were composed of "astral" matter, a kind of matter that would be quite invisible to normal present-day sight. Their size was gigantic, and their shape was ovoid. They were not truly Human as we now understand the term — for they were mindless, instinctual. As the Ages passed, this First Root-Race slowly grew more material in structure, i.e., the Astral slowly thickened or condensed, became more concreted.

The Second Root-Race, which was the First Root-Race merely become more concrete and material, was likewise distinctly semi-astral, was indeed a gelatinous, filamentoid race, physically speaking. Both the First Root-Race, and the Second, had neither bones, nor organs, nor hair, nor a true skin. In the latter part of the Second Root-Race, the internal structure was distinguished by nuclei, which were destined to become the organs as we know them, and filaments which were destined to become muscles, nerves, blood vessels, etc.

The First Root-Race reproduced itself by fission, that is to say, by a portion of the parent breaking off, such portion growing to be like its parent, by division much after the fashion that living cells today follow. They were sexless.

When the Second Root-Race gradually appeared on the scene, though still ovoid in general form, they began to show an imperfect outline in form of what was in ages later to become bodies of human shape. They were still mindless, and their method of reproduction had changed to budding or gemmation, i.e., a small part of the body, a bud, separated from the parent, dropped off from the main trunk, and thereafter began to grow and to develop into a being which was in all important respects like its parent. At about the middle period of the Second Root-Race, these buds grew more numerous and became what Zoologists would call human spores or seeds, or what H. P. Blavatsky more accurately called "Vital Sweat."

Neither the First nor the Second Root-Races left any skeletal remains. The latter part of the Second Root-Race, and the early Third, through the production of these vital cells, became the progenitors of certain forms of life, which, ages later, developed into the various Stocks of Mammals.

After several millions of years, the Third Root-Race began, perhaps 26 millions of years ago in Geologic conditions which are recognized by Science today as the Paleozoic, Mesozoic and Eocene. The continent they inhabited was the Lemurian, roughly where now is the Pacific Ocean. It was during the Third Root-Race that skeletal human remains began to be deposited.

From the commencement of the Third Root-Race, the bodily condition showed a further gradual thickening or concretion into flesh, the shape also gradually becoming more human, but still gigantic in size. This was the era of the collossal Pre-Tertiary Giants and Titans, in the Secondary period, recognized by Science as the Age of the Gigantic Reptiles and Monsters of Air, Sea and Land.

The psychological condition of the Third Root-Race was, in the early part, still mindless and instinctual. Man was indeed at that time merely an animal, but a Human animal, derived from his own stock, not from any animal stock. In general appearance somewhat similar to man as we know him today, but still gigantic. It was while Man was in this dazed, unawakened, mindless condition, after the separation of the sexes, that he allied himself with certain mammals, and produced the simian monkeys, but not the Anthropoids (they were much later). But let us not go too fast. In the early Third Root-Race, which was then double-sexed or bi-sexual, androgynous or hermaphroditic, the method of reproduction was by means of the exudation of vital cells. They were called "The Sweat-Born." Later, they were actually egg-layers. Even today the human ovum is an egg.

Later, as said, before the awakening of the Human Mind, the separation of the sexes occurred, and the method of reproduction which is known today had its commencement. But sex, as we know it, is only a "passing phase," affecting the latter part of the Third Root-Race, the Fourth and the Fifth. It will have disappeared in the Sixth and Seventh Root-Races of Mankind.

And now we approach that period in the biological history of Man when he truly became Man in the fullest sense of the word as we know him. It was about 18 million years ago, and something happened which can truly be described as the most important, the most marvelous and far-reaching event in the life of Man on this Globe up to the present time. It was when his Mind awoke — it was when the powers of the Mind began to be used, the power of independent judgment, discrimination, self-analysis, the power to discern and control the emotions and impulses — in a word, self-consciousness. From that time human beings became Thinkers, contrivers, planners, builders, artists, conscious learners. They acquired the knowledge of good and evil. They began to be potential Gods. They entered upon a new phase, the most important one of their existence, a phase which will not be complete until they have become self-conscious Gods.

This new grade could not be, and was not, achieved without help. Higher Beings, from a previous period of evolution in prior worlds, made it their sublime work to light up the mental powers in Man by deliberate mental contact with them. These Higher Beings are called the Manasaputras, or Sons of Mind. They were, as said, highly-evolved Men of a previous period of evolution, and by a species of perfectly natural White Magic they awakened Man's sleeping quality of Mind.

No evolution of manifested life occurs without the co-operation or the original intervention of more advanced beings — as witness the seed, which is born from the matured plant. And just as Man's physical form and lower principles developed under the guidance of the Lunar Pitris or Fathers, physical generation, as it is well-known, being largely influenced by the Moon, so the development of his Mind was achieved through the help of the Manasaputras. Before that time, men were merely human animals, that is to say, the only parts of their constitution which had come into manifestation were those known as the Lower Quaternary. The Upper Triad of Man's Constitution was still in embryo or dormancy, and it needed the intervention of beings who had already developed this Principle of Mind in order to awaken it. These Beings, Manasaputras, belong to a superior Hierarchy of Intelligences on the Light-side of Nature and are connected with the Sun. They are the Men of a former period of manifestation, who incarnated in the semi-conscious, quasi-senseless men somewhat later than the middle period of the Third Root-Race. It was an act of sacrifice on their part, because they belong to one of the Hierarchies of Compassion. They did it in order to give us intellectual Light — the Divine flame of self-consciousness, relatively small though that may yet be. They set us on the path of self-directed evolution. We became responsible.

As we all very well know, the Manasic Principle in Man is not yet fully developed. In the masses of people the intellect is used in a very small degree compared with its possibilities. And even intellection is only one of the lower powers of the Mind (or Manas). We must remember that Manas was only awakened in the Third Race, although for immense periods its use and enjoyment were unsullied by the lower passions and desires. But inevitably, the Third Race being on the Descending Arc, a grossening and a coarsening process was to occur, especially so when the Fourth Root-Race became dominant at the lowest point of the Descending Arc. In those former innocent times, when the Gods walked with men and conversed with them and guided them, mankind enjoyed the use of the third eye. This was the organ of Spiritual Perception. But as the fall of man became accelerated on the downward cycle, this organ gradually receded from its functions and eventually became atrophied. It is now laid aside for future use, and its vestigial form is to be found as the Pineal Gland. Records of those dying Lemurian Races are perpetuated in the legends of wicked giants who had an eye in the forehead. The story of Odysseus putting out the eye of Polyphemus, a Cyclopean giant, with a red hot brand; and Finn in Ireland who is said to have destroyed a wicked giant's eye with a heated iron spit (iron being a symbol of passion and desire), epitomize the history of Man's decline from purity to grosser materiality.

Thus was the birth of the Fourth Root-Race commenced, it also being destined throughout the millions of years of its Seven Sub-Races, to experience periods of great material splendor and those of grosser unhappiness. But the wonderful civilizations of Atlantis have now all disappeared, and the Fifth Root-Race is now limned upon the screen of time. Mankind is once more slowly climbing on the upward or Ascending Arc, gradually etherealizing and spiritualizing his Fifth Principle (Manas) in this Fifth Root-Race.

And as he will eventually approach the beginnings of the Sixth Root-Race, the Manas Principle will expand with ever greater power as it becomes illumined with the Sixth Principle, Buddhi.

Theosophical University Press Online Edition