Copyright © 1974 by Theosophical University Press. All rights reserved.
Every monad in the vast ranges of time descends through all the kingdoms on the passive side of nature, gathering experience in each; pausing in the mineral kingdom, it rises therefrom along the ascending arc towards the source from which it originally came. On this arc of ascent it evolves forth ever more largely the self-conscious attributes and qualities which, from an originally unself-conscious monad, make it become a self-conscious monadic god when it reaches its final goal.
In connection with the after-death existence of the ten main monadic classes or life-waves, the following diagram shows the path they travel during their rounds of the globes of a planetary chain.
We see that the three highest kingdoms, or three dhyani-chohanic classes, are both the origin and the goal of the other seven. The diagram likewise shows a descent on the left side, a balancing at the bottom in the mineral kingdom, and a subsequent rise through the next three higher kingdoms, which again send their peregrinating monads upwards to the dhyani-chohanic kingdoms. (1) Now not only the animals, but the plants, minerals and the three elemental kingdoms as well, are formed entirely of these respective classes of monads in different degrees of development. All these monads are evolving beings, both as classes and as individuals, unfolding from within dormant powers, capacities, attributes, functions, and the consequent organs which express these qualities during imbodied existence. The difference between a beast and a man, or a man and a plant, is not one of origin or of destiny, but solely one of evolutionary growth or unfolding.
Evolution as viewed in the esoteric philosophy most emphatically does not mean the Darwinistic hypothesis (nor any modified form thereof), that is, the slow mechanical accumulation through the ages of small increments of any kind. It is just the contrary: the slow unfoldings from within in serial progressive stages of ever larger outflowings of inner power and inner substance.
For example, the monad of an animal, during its sojourn in the animal kingdom, expresses itself as such only because the unwrapping of this particular monad has reached that stage; and the monad of a man expresses itself in the human kingdom because the unfolding from within the monad has reached self-conscious egoity. Never does the body of a beast evolve into a human body. When the monads now manifesting in the animal kingdom have had their full measure of experience there, their bodies, although slowly refining and progressing in various evolutionary specializations, will simply die out or be dropped, and the monads thus freed from the beast 'Circle of Necessity' thereafter seek human bodies. These bodies will be of the very lowest grade because they have not as yet sufficiently developed from within themselves the powers and characteristics enabling them to function in more truly human vehicles.
That which reincarnates in the animals is a ray from the spiritual monad expressing itself in the realms of matter as the animal monad. As the animals have no awakened mind, no manasaputric power of abstract thought, such as we have, they have evolved as yet no true ego which would allow them to have a devachan. For this reason the beasts as well as the plants, the minerals, and the three kingdoms of the elementals, reimbody almost immediately after the death of their physical bodies.
In the beasts, such reincarnation takes place after a time period which varies from a few days to possibly a year, for there are enormous differences among animals, as for instance between the faithful dog and the earthworm. The lower in development, the sooner the reimbodiment. When animals die, they have no postmortem consciousness of any kind, except perhaps that a dog or a horse or a cat which has been a close companion of some human being may have a short and very shadowy kind of astral consciousness after the shock of death is ended; but even then, reimbodiment takes place very quickly.
The plants have even less of consciousness than have the animals; and consequently when a plant dies, it has its 'astral' liberated, so to speak, for a few moments or days in the kama-loka, and then the monad reimbodies itself at the first possible opportunity. In this connection, the changing of the seasons, bringing seeding time, then months of rest, followed by the bursting of the seeds into bud and blossom in the spring and summer, must enter into the picture. In certain cases the plant monads remain in crystallized inactivity, like icicles, as it were, until the season of growth for their kind comes again.
As the minerals have even less 'consciousness' than the plants have — for the plants indeed have a vague kind of sensitivity in consciousness — the death and the reimbodiment of a mineral monad are to us humans with our notions of time periods practically simultaneous. In fact, what we call chemical combinations are almost invariably the instances of mineral monads 'dying' and 'reimbodying.' Exactly the same thing may be said of the smaller entities in the mineral kingdom such as the atoms and the electrons.
Needless to say, the entities below the human kingdom have no devachan and make no peregrinations through the inner realms — other than unconscious flashings to and fro — because they are so closely joined to the worlds of matter that they cannot vacate them long enough to bring about the mystical and wondrous peregrinations that the spiritual monads have. In fact, devachan belongs almost exclusively to the human kingdom, because only human egos have evolved forth from the monad within them sufficient spiritual fire and high intellectual faculty to make the devachanic state a part of their Cycle of Necessity. Of course, the individual monads in the kingdoms higher than the human have passed beyond the need of the 'dreaming' of the devachan, and their rest periods are one or more of the various stages of nirvana.
Now every monad has its own individuality, which is its essential swabhava, so that not only do the dhyani-chohans show forth individuality (in far vaster degree than men do), but likewise every one of the animals and plants, minerals and elementals, has its own swabhava. Hence no animal is identical with any other animal, no plant with any other plant, no mineral monad with any other mineral monad, and no elemental with any other elemental. It is this intrinsic marvel of characteristic individuality which distinguishes not only kingdom from kingdom, but likewise monad from monad.
In theosophic writings mention is sometimes made of group-souls, referring to the monads of the kingdoms below the human. This is a graphic term if used with care, and if we understand its meaning correctly: that these monads are so slightly in possession of an evolved manasic power or individuality that, while they are indeed monadic individuals, they nevertheless are more closely alike than peas in a pod. Because of their lack of an evolved ego, they are incomparably more unionized with each other than are human beings, and hence they group together like drops of water in the ocean.
Also, and this is an even deeper reason, the hierarchical or class swabhava of each of these lower kingdoms works in and through its respective individuals more sweepingly and in a more unitary sense than does the Silent Watcher of the human hierarchy. Just here is a most interesting paradox: the kingdoms higher than the human are more faithful to the sweeping swabhava of their respective Silent Watchers or king-souls than we are in the human kingdom; in this respect the kingdoms on the arc of ascent very curiously resemble the kingdoms on the arc of descent. On the other hand, there is this difference: the individuals of the kingdoms of the ascending arc are becoming with every important time period more fully self-conscious divine or spiritual egos, and thus their subservience to their hierarch is a gladly willing one; whereas the individuals of the kingdoms of the downward arc are blindly and unconsciously submissive to their respective kingdom-hierarchs because they have not sufficient egoity to become intellectual rebels as men so often are. This shows how the monad evolves from unself-consciousness into what is often assertive self-consciousness and, as it slowly ascends in evolution, the monad now become man changes his 'rebellious' self-consciousness into divine and buddha-like self-forgetful subservience to the divine will of the Silent Watcher of our hierarchy.
After the death of any entity on earth, the different 'lives' or life-atoms which compose its constitution sooner or later are liberated, and then immediately are drawn to their first and strongest focus of attraction. In the case of a man, the life-atoms of his body as it decays, or as they fly apart when it is cremated, peregrinate, each one, instantly to the man, animal, plant or stone to which it feels psychomagnetically drawn, has a brief imbodiment in such focus, and then follows the next attraction which at the moment is dominant; and so on through the ages.
The life-atoms of the other and higher parts of man's constitution follow exactly similar courses, each on its own plane. For example, the astral life-atoms forming parts of the linga-sarira are drawn to men, to beasts or to plants, and so forth; the manasic life-atoms are attracted to living men and help to feed or build their so-called 'mental bodies.' Similarly, the life-atoms of an animal body after its death find their respective ways to the kingdoms of nature to which they are most strongly drawn; and so likewise with the plants, etc.
It is also true that the life-atoms which aided in forming a man's brain will, after his death, probably be attracted to some other imbodied being of a higher type than would, let us say, the life-atoms which belonged to one of his bones. As a matter of fact, there is a good deal of deep and highly occult teaching connected with the transmigrations of the life-atoms; but it would require a bulky volume even to give an outline of it.
The often beautiful and fascinating world which surrounds us, but which at the same time has so many aspects of a horrible and repellent character, is built of the life-atoms of beings who both live and have lived, including, of course, the life-atoms which belong, because of their primary origin, to the imbodied beings which make up the various kingdoms. Thus a particular life-atom might be attracted to a venomous serpent because of the swabhava inherent in itself, and also because of the 'accidental' swabhava impressed upon it by the being from whom it last migrated. Another life-atom may be attracted to form the body of some lovely flower, or it may go to the water, a stone, an animal or a man.
To a certain extent the psychic and instinctual and astral parts of the animals are formed of life-atoms which are drawn from the human kingdom, and this shows how marvelously nature interblends in all its functions. (2) The animal is gradually helped by this psychic and astral and other contact with the human kingdom, just as we ourselves are aided by the life-atoms or 'lives' entering our constitution from the dhyani-chohanic classes.
I might add that man's cast-off astral molds — the historic pictures made by him in the astral light which remain fixed for aeons and aeons — furnish the molds into which the evolving beings of the lower kingdoms enter in due course of evolution. The animals, for instance, slowly specialize in their body-formations and try to approach the human form; it is these astral human molds which the beast bodies more or less perfectly reproduce. Thus the ape-like forms — certainly not apes — which the human bodies had in the third round, and which left their molds in the astral light, will be used in producing the body forms which the evolving animal monads will occupy in the next planetary chain manvantara, at which time the present animals will be the embryonic humans on that chain. Thus every kingdom 'blazes the way' for the one which follows it.
The "souls" of the departed pass through many other stages of existence after leaving this Earth-body, just as they were in many others anterior to their birth as men and women here. The exact truth about this mystery is known only to the highest adepts; but it may be said even by the lowest of the neophytes that each of us controls his future rebirths, making each next succeeding one better or worse according to his present efforts and desserts. — H.P.B. in The Theosophist, February 1881, p. 103
Continuance by repetitive existences of the reimbodying monad, in various vehicles or rupas, is the essence of the doctrine of rebirth.
Before the time of actual physical reincarnation on this earth-globe, the psycho-spiritual energies which had attracted the ego to the bosom of the spiritual monad during its postmortem peregrinations reach a point when they become relatively exhausted; coincidently new attractions to the lower spheres begin to come into operation, impelling the ego back to earth. As the reimbodying ego works its ray 'downwards,' irresistibly drawn by the reawakening of memories of a previous incarnation, it is gradually pulled psychomagnetically to the planes wherein it had lived before, and finally enters the most physical part of the planetary chain of earth — actually the atomic world of globe D, including its inter-atomic and intra-atomic 'ethers.' With its gradual descent from the spiritual realms, the lower portions of its auric egg begin to stir. Simultaneously, the consciousness of the ego begins to sink from dreaming into unconsciousness, and the gestation period preceding rebirth begins. This is the time when the auric egg, acting automatically and instinctively under the driving urge of the awakening karma, gradually forms within itself the vague outlines of the astral form, which latter slowly drifts to the family or the woman to which the karmic psychomagnetic attraction is strongest.
In this connection, the following passage from the E.S. Instructions (III) issued by H.P.B. will be of value:
Now the Linga Sarira remains with the Physical Body, and fades out along with it. An astral entity then has to be created, a new Linga Sarira provided, to become the bearer of all the past Tanhas and future Karma. How is this accomplished? The mediumistic Spook, the "departed angel," fades out and vanishes also in its turn* as an entity or full image of the Personality that was, and leaves in the Kamalokic world of effects only the record of its misdeeds and sinful thoughts and acts, known in the phraseology of Occultists as Tanhic or human Elementals. Entering into the composition of the Astral Form of the new body, into which the Ego, upon its quitting the Devachanic state, is to enter according to Karmic decree, the Elementals form that new astral entity which is born within the Auric Envelope, and of which it is often said "bad Karma waits at the threshold of Devachan, with its army of Skandhas." For no sooner is the Devachanic state of reward ended, than the Ego is indissolubly united with (or rather follows in the track of) the new Astral Form. Both are Karmically propelled towards the family or woman from whom is to be born the animal child chosen by Karma to become the vehicle of the Ego which has just awakened from the Devachanic state. Then the new Astral Form, composed partly of the pure Akasic Essence of the Auric Egg, and partly of the terrestrial elements of the punishable sins and misdeeds of the last Personality, is drawn into the woman. Once there, Nature models the foetus of flesh around the Astral, out of the growing materials of the male seed in the female soil. Thus grows out of the essence of a decayed seed the fruit or eidolon of the dead seed, the physical fruit producing in its turn within itself another and other seeds for future plants.
*This is accomplished in more or less time, according to the degree in which the Personality (whose dregs it now is) was spiritual or material. If spirituality prevailed, then the Larva, or spook, will fade out very soon; but if the Personality was very materialistic, the Kama Rupa may last centuries and — in some, though very exceptional cases — even survive with the help of some of its scattered Skandhas, which are all transformed in time into Elementals. See the Key to Theosophy, pp. 141 et seq., in which work it was impossible to go into details, but where the Skandhas are spoken of as the germs of Karmic effects. — H.P.B.
The tanhic elementals may be otherwise described as the emotional and mental thought-deposits, as Patanjali did; and these remain after the second death — and before the ego's entering the devachan — stamped upon the various kinds of life-atoms which had functioned on all the lower planes of man's constitution. Some of these tanhic elementals or life-atoms peregrinate, and finally are psychomagnetically attracted back to the reincarnating ego during its process of bringing forth a new astral form preceding rebirth. Others belong to the monadic substances of the auric egg, and consequently remain therein in a latent condition, to awaken only when the devachani leaves the devachan. Then these dormant tanhic elementals, in combination with the other life-atoms which had been peregrinating, combine in building up the new astral form that H.P.B. speaks of; and it is largely these two classes of tanhic life-atoms or elementals which compose the skandhas (a Sanskrit word meaning bundles or aggregates) of the man in his coming incarnation. And these skandhas are the various groups of mental, emotional, psychovital and physical characteristics which, when all collected together, make the new personality through which the higher man or egoic individuality works. They slowly begin to recombine and fall into their appropriate functions and places during the gestation period, continuing such 'fixation' in the womb, and finally after birth maturing as the entity grows to adulthood. (3)
Now the formation of the astral man takes place within the auric egg of the ex-devachani. From the moment when the ego leaves the devachanic condition, the astral form becomes steadily more complete or definite as the gestating entity approaches the entrance into the womb. The ray from the reincarnating ego enters first the aura and later the womb of the mother-to-be by means of the growing astral form, which takes its rise in and from the most appropriate life-center or life-atom latent in the auric egg of the incoming entity.
The term astral form is descriptive not so much of an actual body (as we think of it in our physical world), as it is of an ethereal agglomerate of life-atoms in the auric egg which is at first but vaguely shadowed, yet gradually assumes more or less a definite human outline, and usually one of extremely small size. However, we should not concentrate our attention so much upon size and shape as upon forces and energies in the auric egg more or less aggregated into a focus of activity.
The entity thus preceding rebirth is attracted to the family to which its karma draws or impels it; and if the appropriate physiological activities take place at the right moment, then conception occurs and the growth of the embryo proceeds.
As the radiance or ray of the reincarnating ego reaches this plane, it gradually entangles itself in physical substance, and establishes thereby its link with the human reproductive cell. That link is made because of electromagnetic, or rather psychomagnetic, affinity between the reimbodying ray and the living germ cell. Every germ cell is a compact of inner forces and substances ranging from the divine to the physical, and therefore is the 'precipitation' onto our plane of a psycho-ethereal radiation. In other words, it is an imbodiment of a ray-point that, originating in the invisible worlds and contacting physical matter by affinity, thus arouses a molecular aggregate of living substance into becoming a reproductive cell.
This molecular aggregate is the first or preliminary deposit or appearance on the physical plane of the action of the ray-point. We see that the germinal or reproductive cells are not 'created' by the parent's body, but appear in and work through it from the imbodying egoic force or entity 'outside' — the parent being the host or transmitter. The vital germ cell, whether of man or of woman, is originally an integral part of the model-body, which is an electromagnetic body of astral substance belonging to the plane just above the physical; and around this astral form the physical body is built cell for cell, bone for bone, and feature for feature.
When the life-atom as the chosen ray-point is invigorated by the descending energies of the reincarnating ray, it enters by psychomagnetic attraction into the father's astral body, and is in due course deposited into his appropriate physical organ as an astral precipitate. It thus becomes physicalized as a germ cell. In the mother this process of astral precipitation is the same in general outline, the precipitation being from the identic ray in both cases: in fact, each parent contains in his or her appropriate organ life-atoms belonging to and used by the reincarnating ego in past lives.
The female parent is the vehicle of what may be called the vegetative or passive side of the ray-point, and the male parent the vehicle for the positive or active side. The ray-point seems to split into two, later to reunite by the coalescence of the positive and negative sides after the fertilizing of the germinal cell. We are here dealing with subtle astral forces which obey their own laws and which are not hindered in their action by the heavy physical world in which our bodies live.
To restate the above in somewhat different language: the more material part of the new astral form is drawn first into the woman's aura and then into the womb wherein it produces the living ovum and finds its suitable milieu; coincidently the inner and more manasic portion of the astral form, which is the more ethereal part of the tip of the ray from the reincarnating ego, flashes to the male parent and produces in its appropriate physiological seat the positive life-germ. The father sows the seed, the mother receives it, fosters it, and brings it forth.
The human egos awaiting incarnation are exceedingly numerous, so that there may be scores of entities which could become children of any one couple, yet there is always one whose attraction is strongest to the mother-to-be at any specific physiological moment, and it is this astral form which becomes the child. Many are the cases where the astral form, thus 'rayed' in two directions, so to speak, finds its progress into physical birth stopped because the man and the woman are either celibate or prefer no children, or for some other reason. (4) In such cases, the astral form under karmic urge and natural law tries again. Should the first environment prove a failure, the reincarnating ego may find itself drawn to another couple because of karmic relationships in other lives.
The reincarnating ego has in a sense very little choice in the matter, if by this we mean a deliberate selecting of one's future family. Such a choice as we understand it is almost non-existent, because the reincarnating ego has but just left the devachan and is sunken into the relative unconsciousness of the gestation period preceding rebirth, and thus is in no condition to choose with self-conscious intent. It is karma, which throughout controls these things; and karma in the abstract is infallible in its action.
Every human being is surrounded by his own emotional and passional as well as psychovital atmosphere, which is really a portion of the lower layers of his auric egg. Now this atmosphere is alive and, vibrating with varying intensities, has its own psycho-auric individuality or vibrational frequency. It becomes obvious therefore that the ray-point, which likewise possesses its own frequency, is drawn more or less on the line of magnetic attraction to the atmosphere of the parent or parents whose vibrational frequency is most sympathetic to its own and with whom its karmic affinities are strongest. To round out the picture, I might add that both hate and intense psychic dislike — each of which is a kind of inverted love — sometimes produce strong psycho-auric attractions, thus explaining the pathetic situation of parent and child who repel each other.
When the astral form has definite union with the human ovum, it begins to grow as the foetus. The lower or grosser portions of the astral form become the linga-sarira of the child, in combination with the two general classes of tanhic elementals; whereas its higher portions, the vehicles of the 'ray' from the reincarnating ego (as the embryo and later as the child grows), become the intermediate parts of the constitution of the man.
We must always keep in mind the important part played by the auric egg of the reincarnating ego in all the various steps preceding rebirth. The astral form begins its first growth within the reimbodying auric egg, gestates within it and continues to be 'fed' by its essences throughout the prenatal processes, and in time brings about the stages of birth, infancy, childhood and adulthood; for, in fact, the auric egg is really the true manifested man considered as being the vital auric pranas flowing forth from the various foci of the reincarnating monad.
When the ray-point of the reimbodying ego, itself a ray from the spiritual monad, reaches its own intermediate sphere, it descends no farther into matter. But its psychomagnetic ray, having stronger affinities for the material worlds, descends still farther, awakening into activity the life-atoms in each one of the planes between that of the reimbodying ego and the astral-physical matter of our earth.
Just here we see that the 'life' or characteristic of each part of the composite human constitution remains on its own plane, but extrudes its excess of life from itself into the next lower one, until finally the physical plane is reached, wherein the tip of the ray, collecting unto itself life-atoms of this plane, builds or forms the physical germinal cell. It would be quite wrong to suppose that the reimbodying ego itself is in the germinal cell or on a plane only slightly less physical than ours. The process is an exact analogy of what occurs in the building of the globes of a planetary chain, where the passage of the excess of life takes place along and around the ranges of substance from cosmic plane to cosmic plane.
INNER AND OUTER ROUNDS
It is on the Seven zones of post mortem ascent, in the Hermetic writings, that the "mortal" leaves, on each, one of his "Souls" (or Principles); until arrived on the plane above all zones he remains as the great Formless Serpent of absolute wisdom — or the Deity itself. — The Secret Doctrine, I, 411
As the universe is an organic entity, every part responds spiritually and intellectually, magnetically and physically, to every other part, the outward 'skin' of nature which we sense being but the garment of vast inner worlds and spheres. Therefore, the entire solar system is in very truth a plenum or pleroma, as the ancient Gnostics taught. In other words, the solar system is 'solid,' in the sense of being filled full with substances and forces in many grades and phases of activity, all interacting and interblending and thus composing a living entity — an immense cosmic body through which there works the fully self-conscious, partially self-conscious, and merely conscious, life and vitality of the governing cosmic divinity or hierarch.
This cosmic plenum or pleroma is actually the auric egg of the universe, everything that the universe is and contains, and all its substantial essences are the various and different layers of the cosmic auric egg. We have an exact analogy in man's auric egg, which is the real individual as it manifests itself during manvantara. When the manvantara of a universe or the incarnation of a man comes to its end, then the breakup of the lower portions of the constitution of the auric egg takes place, the life-atoms fall apart, and the higher principles collect themselves together, while coincidently the auric egg folds itself inwards surrounding the spiritual individuality as its sheath.
This explains why the outer forms of a universe — the lower layers of the auric egg — vanish out of manifestation, and what was once the locus of a universe is then filled with so-called interstellar ether. The auric egg, enshrouding all the higher principles of the former universe, is winging its way through the spaces, following the galactic circulations, while these higher principles are undergoing their nirvana.
The same process on a smaller scale takes place when a man dies. While it is true that every one of man's principles is ultimately derived, as from a focus, from one of the planetary chains of the solar system, these rays from the different planetary rectors which together compose the constitution of a man are not to be looked upon as being outside of his auric egg, but rather as being aggregated within it. For example, it would be utterly wrong to suppose that his buddhi is located on the planet Mercury, his higher manas on Venus, and his kama on Mars, etc. The point is that although these planetary rectors or guardians are the spiritually and psychomagnetically sympathetic overseers or protectors of man's principles, nevertheless these principles are in and of his constitution, and in their aggregate pour forth the various streams of the vital essences which actually make and are the auric egg itself.
It is through the pleroma, whether in our planetary chain or in the entire solar system, that the spiritual monad of man during its peregrinations after death follows the circulations of the cosmos. These circulations are not merely poetic metaphors; they are as real in the inner economic working of the visible and invisible worlds of the universe, as are the nerves and blood vessels in the human body. Just as these provide the channels for the transmission of intellectual, psychical and nervous impulses and directions, as well as of the vital fluid or blood, so in analogous fashion the circulations of the cosmos — or kosmos — provide the pathways followed by the ascending and descending rivers of lives, composed as they are of the never-ending stream of entities of all classes peregrinating throughout the universal structure.
The framework of the universe is suffused with permeations of this vital essence. For the universe, whether solar or galactic, is an organism and therefore is alive in all its parts, infused with vitality and inherent intelligence and consciousness from its highest plane or principle to its lowest, everything within it being thus bathed in the vital essence as well as permeated with the cosmic intelligence.
Now the two main kinds of circulations followed by the various classes of monads, both as life-waves and as individuals, are referred to as the inner and the outer rounds. The inner rounds are made (a) collectively by the life-waves passing from globe to globe around a planetary chain; and (b) individually, in identic manner, by the ego or human monad after the death of the physical body. Likewise the outer rounds are made (a) collectively, after immense intervals of time, by the monadic classes or life-waves passing from planetary chain to planetary chain, and (b) individually, also in identic manner, by the spiritual monad of man.
We see therefore that the inner and outer rounds are analogically alike, yet differ in that the monad of a man in its postmortem journey, while perforce following the same peregrinations that the monad pursues during the course of the outer rounds, does so in incomparably smaller periods of time, and merely stops temporarily in the various planetary 'stations.'
Hence, the phrase outer rounds can refer to two different things: first, to the grand or major outer round comprising the whole period of a solar manvantara, during which the spiritual monad makes a stay in each planetary chain; and second, to its postmortem journey which takes it likewise to each of the seven planetary chains, but in this case its sojourn in any individual chain lasts only a relatively short time, and its various emissions of rays belonging to each one of the respective planets is likewise brief and temporary. We may call this the minor outer round.
To recapitulate: the outer rounds deal with the passage of the spiritual monad over the solar system, from planetary chain to planetary chain, and this seven times, these seven planetary chains being the seven sacred planets of the ancients; and the inner rounds refer to the long manvantaric sojourn of a monad in any one of these planetary chains during which the monad undergoes its aeons-long journeys on and in and through the seven (or twelve) globes of that chain.
Those particular monads of the human constitution which are especially involved in one or another of these rounds are the following: the earth-man, otherwise the human-animal monad; the human monad per se, the focus of all the genuinely human attributes; the spiritual monad, the source of all the truly spiritual or buddha-like qualities in man; and the divine monad or inner god which is the atman in its buddhic veil. After death each of these different parts rises to the sphere to which it is attracted; in other words, each rises as high as it can. The divine monad, having a range over the entire galaxy, our home-universe, flashes from star to star and from solar system to solar system. As the spiritual monad is not strong enough to do this, it ranges over the solar system from planet to planet and to the heart of Father Sun; while the human monad, or the reincarnating ego, ranges over the entire twelve globes of our planetary chain.
Now when the earth-man dies, the human-animal monad then and there sinks into complete unconsciousness, almost instantly being ingathered into the human monad per se; the human monad, in its turn, after undergoing the second death in the kama-loka, is ingathered into the spiritual monad and therein has its long devachanic dreaming, the devachan coming into full power at different times depending upon the karma of the individual. The merely earth-ego, which is you, is I, can ascend no higher than its little devachan, that is, it can go no farther than its native habitat which is the earth; beyond this, the human ego loses consciousness and is carried within the reincarnating ego as the latter goes its round of the globes.
We should remember that what is now our monadic parent was in far past manvantaras a human being, a child of its own spiritual parent, and that our present spiritual monad was a reincarnating ego, sleeping in the bosom of its then parent during the intervals between lives on material spheres. Similarly, when our present reincarnating ego shall have evolved forth from itself enough of its own inner spiritual powers and energies to enable it in its turn to become a monadic essence, it too will follow the outer rounds as its present parent monad now does. There is no break in this hierarchic chain.
Thus it is that we, children of this earth, have before us the sublime destiny of becoming gods, and of having the entire galaxy as our field of consciousness. When this happens, each one of us will be a sun in that galaxy.
The spiritual monad — carrying within itself the human monad, which in turn has the human-animal monad within it, somewhat after the manner of thought-deposits or tanhic seeds which will produce the future man in his next earth life — rises more or less rapidly through the globes of our planetary chain until it reaches the highest globe thereof, and is then ready to spread its wings. Leaving the topmost globe, it begins its peregrinations which involve the temporary sojourn in each and every one of the seven sacred planets, in regular serial order, according to the predetermined pathways which closely adhere to the lines of cosmic forces — the circulations of the cosmos. It is to be noted, however, that the order as popularly given by the ancients, to wit, Saturn, Jupiter, Mars, Sun, Venus, Mercury, Moon, is not that followed by the peregrinating monad.
The purpose of the passing of the monad after death through the various planetary chains is to allow it to free itself on each chain of the integument or vehicle which 'belongs' to the vital essence of that planetary chain. In this way the monad strips off from itself, one after the other, the seven coatings with which it had enwrapped itself during its previous return to reincarnation on earth, and is then ready to enter into its native spiritual home. When the return journey towards our earth chain begins, the monad passes through all these same seven planetary chains, but in reverse order, and in each planet it clothes itself anew in the life-atoms that had formed the coatings it had previously cast off.
Simply put, on its journey of 'ascent' towards spiritual freedom, it unclothes itself; and on its 'descent' or journey back it picks up again its former life-atoms, and thus is ready and able to work out the karmic consequences that were held over in abeyance when death came upon the man in his last earth-life.
The Planetary origin of the Monad (Soul) and of its faculties was taught by the Gnostics. On its way to the Earth, as on its way back from the Earth, each soul born in, and from, the "Boundless Light," had to pass through the seven planetary regions both ways. — The Secret Doctrine, I, 577
In ancient religion and philosophy a great deal of occult truth was stated under the catchwords the seven sacred planets; nevertheless, similar teachings were frequently referred to under the collateral phrase the seven heavens. These two aspects of the underlying doctrine, while closely parallel, were not quite identic; for the seven sacred planets pertained to the postmortem destiny of the peregrinating monads, whereas the seven heavens pointed to the rest period in devachan of the seven main classes of monads.
The sacred heavens, often enumerated as ten and even eleven, when the teaching concerned the men of globe D, really had reference to the higher globes of our own planetary chain. The idea was that after death man ascended through a number of these heavens and descended through others, finally to take imbodiment on earth again. However, as every one of the globes of our chain is under the direct overseeing or governance of one of the seven planetary rectors, we see how closely connected the teaching regarding the sacred planets is with that of the seven heavens; and just here is a very open hint with regard to the outer rounds or the peregrination of the spiritual monad after death to and through the seven sacred planetary chains. No monad whatsoever is on its own in its journeyings, because it can follow only those certain channels of karmically vital intercommunication existing among the celestial bodies of the solar system.
As the hosts of life-atoms in a man's constitution not only belong to and thus compose it in its manifested appearances, but likewise are, each one, pilgrims or learning entities, so the multitudes of monads in the solar system belong to and form part of it, and yet at the same time are individual pilgrims in it. Indeed, just as the different classes of life-atoms in the human being are collected by psychomagnetic attraction in masses to form this or that organ, either in his inner constitution or in his physical body, so are the various classes of monads in the solar system drawn together to form the planetary chains which, in a very occult sense, are the 'organs' of the solar system — all these organs being comprised within the encircling and bounding sphere of the sun's auric egg.
Furthermore, all the planes or spheres of the solar system, and their variously related subplanes and subworlds, are interlinked by innumerable points of communication, centers through which the forces and substances of one plane or sphere pass into the next succeeding one. These are the laya-centers. Every celestial globe — and indeed every atom — is in its central core or essence such a laya-center or point of individual intercommunion, which is the individual entity's pathway of communication with the next higher or lower inner plane or world.
Through these laya-centers, whether it be of a solar or planetary globe, a human being, or an atom, the lowest or densest matter of a particular plane or world can pass downwards into the next lower plane, and manifest itself there as its most ethereal forces — which forces are equivalent to highly ethereal matter. Or, taking our own plane as an illustration, our most ethereal force or substance can pass upwards through these laya-centers into the next superior plane, where it becomes at one with the very densest substance of that cosmic plane.
Upon reflection, we see that these circulations can be envisaged in two ways: first, those taking place between plane and plane, or world and world, which we might call 'upwards' and 'downwards' or 'vertical'; and second, those lines of intercommunication existing on and working in and through any one plane, which we might think of as 'horizontal' circulations.
Thus is the passage from plane to plane or world to world accomplished, not after death alone, but even during imbodied life. The monad, on reaching the next planet after it has left our earth chain, produces from itself during its passage in and through such planetary chain a ray or egoic radiance, which is a psychomental 'soul' of temporary existence taking imbodiment there in a vehicle of spiritual, ethereal, astral or physical type, depending upon which one of the globes of the chain is entered. In reality, this ray is an effusion of the auric egg of the peregrinating monad, drawn from the bosom of the monad by the psychomagnetic attraction of the chain it is briefly entering; and it is this efflux of radiation, which is a body of its own kind, that enables it to clothe itself with appropriate life-atoms furnished by the chain, thus bringing about the brief imbodiment.
This ray, which is in a sense native to the planetary chain on which it manifests, passes through its various cyclical periods of monadic activity until it reaches the end of its life-term on that chain. Then, just as had previously happened on earth, it is withdrawn in its turn into the bosom of the monad, where it rests in its devachan, if any. And the higher principles pendant from the fundamental monad are released anew from this chain to proceed to still another planetary chain, to which they are carried by the psychomagnetic karmic attractions of their own substance as they follow the cosmic pathways laid down for them in the circulations of the cosmos.
These entrances into the various chains after the monad leaves our earth chain are, with but few exceptions, of extremely short duration, because during the present minor solar manvantara the monad has its main karmic destiny on our planetary chain. When such destiny is for the time being ended, it will proceed to the next planetary chain to which it will be attached through karma for another minor solar manvantara.
In this manner does the monad act through and on each of the seven sacred planetary chains: it passes through each of them in serial order until it finally reaches the solar chain wherein it makes its round through the solar globes. When the spiritual monad comes to the end of its peregrinations, it begins its return journey, drawn into the psychomagnetic line of attraction which impels it along the circulations of the cosmos back to the planetary chain of earth, through each of the seven sacred planetary chains, but in inverse order to that in which it had ascended. When at length it enters our planetary chain, it begins its descent through globes A, B, and C until it once more reaches our globe D. By this time the human monad, otherwise called the reincarnating ego, having nearly ended its devachan, now prepares for its new incarnation.
The reimbodying ego evolved forth in this earth's planetary chain is native to this chain, because it is the appropriate vehicle through which the spiritual monad can express itself in this particular variety of matters and energies of the cosmos. When our earth chain shall have ended its manvantaric course, and its family of spiritual monads goes to the next planetary chain, the reimbodying ego native to that succeeding chain will then become dominant in influence on the spiritual monad, while the reimbodying ego native to our present chain will be recessive, i.e. in its manvantaric nirvana.
So wonderfully are these spiritual and psychical processes adjusted by nature's laws, and so naturally do they all work together, that almost invariably, when the reimbodying ego is about to end its devachanic sleep, the spiritual monad has reached that part of its peregrinations which brings it to the highest globe of the earth chain. Consequently, an ego having its devachanic rest period, whether long or short, has no difficulty in following its reawakening attractions earthwards, because the spiritual monad is more or less strongly influenced by the spiritual condition or quality of the reimbodying ego which has been resting in its bosom. So it is that the peregrinations of the spiritual monad on the outer round are to a large extent controlled as regards the duration of its pilgrimage. (Cf. The Esoteric Tradition, 3rd & rev ed., ch. 18, where the subject is treated in fuller detail.)
We have thus far described the outer round as it concerns an individual spiritual monad. Exactly the same pilgrimage is made by the life-waves or monadic classes when the ending of our planetary chain manvantara frees them for their outer round. As far as the inner rounds are concerned, these too, as said, are made not only by the different life-waves from globe to globe of our planetary chain, but likewise by the individual monads after the physical body dies.
We have stated that the range of the human-animal monad is our globe earth, and that of the human monad or reincarnating ego is limited to our planetary chain so far as reaches of experience go; and, further, that the fields of action of the spiritual monad are our solar system, particularly the seven sacred planets and our earth as well as four other 'secret' planetary chains, while the ranges of the divine monad are the galaxy or our home-universe. From this it should be clear that the human-animal monad is 'released' from our globe when the body dies; and that our spiritual monad is 'released' from our planetary chain — and I am here speaking of the outer rounds of individual monads — when it has reached and left the highest globe of our planetary chain preparatory to winging its way to the next chain.
No monad or consciousness-center, precisely because it is a force or energy of spirit-essence, is ever at rest during the long term of the cosmic manvantara. Withdrawal of one ray of the monad from physical incarnation affects that monad not at all. It simply means that the ray is ingathered into the substance or being of the monad, and remains there in its devachan or nirvana, as the case may be.
The monad is a spiritual living being, always in movement of its own kind and class; and this movement is not only continuous but, when we trace it sufficiently far back, is of the very substance of the cosmic intelligence. Throughout the life of a man as well as during his after-death experiences, the monad is always fully self-conscious in its own lofty realm. When the individual's postmortem existence begins, the monad passes from sphere to sphere of the solar system, 'going the rounds' anew on its ceaseless peregrinations during the solar mahamanvantara. It passes through these spheres not merely because it is native to all of them and is therefore drawn to them by its own spiritual and psychomagnetic attractions and impulses, but likewise because it itself wills spiritually to do so; for free will is a godlike thing and is an inherent and inseparable attribute of the monad.
An important point here is that, after the death of the man, the spiritual monad makes its outer rounds in and through the solar system in exactly the same manner in which a life-atom — although of course on its own much lower plane of action — makes its 'rounds' and peregrinations in and through the various layers of the man's auric egg while he is alive (see "Transmigration of the Life Atoms," by H.P.B. in The Theosophist, August 1883). Once more we see the really wonderful analogical workings of all parts of nature: what happens in the macrocosmic spheres or planes is copied in the microcosmic worlds.
From Gods to men, from Worlds to atoms, from a star to a rush-light, from the Sun to the vital heat of the meanest organic being — the world of Form and Existence is an immense chain, whose links are all connected. The law of Analogy is the first key to the world-problem, and these links have to be studied co-ordinately in their occult relations to each other. — The Secret Doctrine, I, 604
The journeyings of the spiritual monad through the spheres of the solar system are due to several causes, one of the most important being expressed in the old proverb, "like attracts like." It is because of this that the higher spheres attract the higher part of man's nature which itself feels a corresponding inner urge toward them. Thus the monad rises steadily higher, there being with each step upwards an ever-stronger attraction to still more spiritual, more consciousness-like, worlds or spheres. On these journeyings the monad passes through and stays a while on and in each such world. No outside power either impels or compels the monad to this evolutionary course; it is but its innate attractions which, becoming active after death, are evoked forth from the fabric of its own essence by the man's spiritual and intellectual activity during earth life.
When the attractions and compelling inner aspirations which had previously caused this rising of the monad through the spheres have for the time exhausted their energies, the monad turns back and retraces its steps. The latent seeds of thought and feeling that imagination, spiritual yearnings and lofty intellectual aspirations had stored in the monad in former lives, because of their very origination in material spheres, now begin to pull the monad downwards, until the reimbodying ego finds its opportunity to project its own incarnating ray, or human ego, into the karmically appropriate human seed-germ.
Every cosmic plane or world as well as every planet provides its own suitable vehicles for the self-expression of the hosts of entitative monads journeying upwards or downwards along the circulations of the cosmos; and consequently no such vehicle or body can leave the sphere or planet to which it belongs. Death means the casting off and birth the reassuming of bodies. All such vehicles are built of life-atoms, most of which for any individual are its own psycho-spiritual offspring, the monad thus enwrapping itself in its own emanations which form its sheaths or transmitters for the purposes of self-expression.
We see here again that while the auric egg is in a certain sense the man himself, it also is the combined effluvia pouring forth from all the different monads which the human constitution, or that of any other living being, contains. In other words, all the life-atoms on every plane of the human constitution go to build the auric egg, and circulate in and through it continuously, leaving it at different times for their own individual peregrinations but returning to it ultimately. It must not be forgotten, however, that the auric egg likewise is constantly the host for other smaller armies of peregrinating life-atoms which enter and leave it as guests — these life-atoms coming from surrounding nature, and more particularly from other entities, whether they be higher than man, or lower, such as the beasts, plants, minerals or elementals.
Thus there is a constant circulation of vital essences in and through our constitution, this providing the karmic field of action in and on which we inaugurate causes and are acted upon from 'outside.' So likewise is the intercommunication and interflow of vitality maintained between solar system and solar system, and between galaxy and galaxy — the different solar systems intercommunicating not merely electrically and magnetically, but also psychically and intellectually and spiritually, by means of the rivers of streaming life-atoms passing in and out of their various auric eggs.
All the multitudes of native life-atoms on the different planes of the human constitution are karmically and forever most intimately related to the spiritual monad, their original parent. When returning to earth at the end of its long pilgrimage, the monad attracts back to itself these same life-atoms which it had previously cast off, and with their help forms for itself new sheaths; so that one might almost say that the reimbodying ego 'resurrects' the old bodies — intellectual, psychical, astral, and physical — which it had had in its last earth life. This is the esoteric basis of the teaching of the Christian Church regarding the "resurrection of the body." (5)
Finally, on its interplanetary round, the spiritual monad reaches the spiritual-magnetic 'atmosphere' of our earth chain. At this point the human ego, hitherto asleep in the bosom of the spiritual monad, begins to feel, in response to the influences of the psychomagnetic atmosphere of our chain, a resurgent inrolling — at first extremely faint and diffuse — of old memories, former attractions and instincts, due to the awakening of tanhic elementals of the most spiritual type which had lain dormant during the devachan. Unconsciously impelled by these ancient recollections resurging ethereally into its consciousness, it seeks to renew the contacts of its former spheres, and is attracted by this chain somewhat as a man living long in a foreign country yearns to return home, and feels his heart beat with a stronger pulse when he sees the old familiar sights.
Vague and fleeting memories of scenes of previous earth lives that the indrawn reimbodying ego knew before, begin to pass in panorama across its field of consciousness; and these pull it steadily down towards the spheres it once inhabited. These impulses grow ever stronger as the monad 'sinks,' until finally it is ready and prepared for its new rebirth on our globe earth.
Since the return of the reimbodying or human ego towards incarnation takes place through the various planes of our planetary chain, each plane of increasing materiality, there is a natural 'descent' or continuous encasement or imbodying of the human ego through the globes of the descending arc. On each of these globes there is a transitory sojourn for the purpose of re-collecting the appropriate life-atoms which had been cast off by the monad during its former transits through the planes of the globes. These life-atoms in their turn had been continuously peregrinating in the ages of this interim.
The life-atoms which the human ego reincorporates into its constitution at these stages of its return earthwards are actually waiting on the globes of the descending arc, because these life-atoms belong to the planes traversed by the ego in its descent and likewise are the planes on which the ego had dropped them on its previous ascent. It is after this manner that the man coming into physical birth rebuilds for himself a constitution of seven element-principles which are virtually identical with those of his preceding earth life. It is this that makes the reincarnating ego become in all respects practically the same man he was before, but improved, refined, because of the experiences of assimilation undergone in the higher globes; and, last but not least, because of its spiritual digestion of the experiences of the preceding earth life. Again, it is preparing to reap the harvest that it itself last sowed, attracted by the psychomagnetic interactions between the fields of life and the human monad's own character.
Perhaps the most important aspect of this teaching is what might be called the progenitive or creative activity of the fundamental or spiritual monad in pouring forth from itself as the ages pass its multitudes of consciousness-centers, which for them is the beginning — in the cosmic manvantara in which they appear — of the long, long evolutionary pilgrimage fitting them in space and time to pass from the earliest stage of unself-conscious god-sparks into the full-blown consciousness of gods.
In fact, it is thus that the galaxies in the abysses of endless space originally sprang into being, for every such child-monad is destined to evolve forth into a universe, which is but one cosmic milestone, so to speak, on its eternity-long wanderings. First an unself-conscious god-spark; then, after many revolvings throughout the lower kingdoms of nature, its inner faculties and powers manifest themselves in the human stage, the spark becoming a man, later on a divinity; and a glorious sun with its attendant family of planets, its own trailing and now partly grown monads; then a galaxy; and then a cluster of galaxies — and where may we place a limiting end to the fundamental monad's unending growth? There is never an ending, nor, indeed, was there ever a beginning.
Let us always remember that man is essentially one with the universe, that its destiny is his destiny, that he is held strictly accountable for all that he is, and for all that he does; that his will is supreme over all the energies of the physical universe, and that he carves his own pathway into the future. When man realizes all this, truly knows it, then indeed he will begin to think and act like a god, because he will be using the godlike powers locked up within himself.
The main lack in the world today is a sense of moral values. Men are ethically and spiritually ignorant; they have lost the knowledge of the inner vision. The old book of the Hebrews said: "Where there is no vision, the people perish." The man who has music in his soul senses that he is reflecting the cosmic symphony, the symmetrical and harmonious relationship existing everywhere, and that therefore he is morally responsible that this harmony not be broken. The way to peace, the way to knowledge, to wisdom, and to harmony, is in following universal laws. We then become a master of life. Such is the pathway.
The spirit-soul of man, the heart of the heart of him, is essentially one with Infinitude. Being co-extensive with boundless Space, born of its essence, life of its life, consciousness of its consciousness, it is timeless and deathless, for neither time nor death have sway over Infinitude.
Main Table of Contents
1. All the various classes or kingdoms given in this diagram are called by H.P.B. "families," or sometimes "humanities" — not meaning that they are all human egos or human kingdoms, but humanities in the sense that in the future the entities in the kingdoms below man will become human; or, viewed from another standpoint, those beings now superior to our kingdom were human in some past cosmic manvantara. (return to text)
2. Elementaries of human beings who have so greatly degenerated from the human norm that they are on the downward path, not infrequently — before they are caught in a current of efflux which carries them to the Pit — are so avid and hungry for physical life, that these wretched astral beings are drawn into the wombs of animals and become beasts corresponding to the innate vileness of the elementaries themselves. Indeed, some elementaries in the astral light are so far disintegrated that they cannot even enter an animal womb, but become attached to evil individuals of the plant world. (return to text)
3. In exoteric Buddhism, skandhas (literally 'bundles' or 'aggregates') are five in number: form (rupa), sensation or sense-perception (vedana), self-conscious intellection (sanjna), mental propensities (samskara), and consciousness (vijnana). The first skandha represents the material world or the materiality of things, while the remaining four belong to the astral monad and the mind. The second one appertains to the perception of objects of sense; the third to that which is elaborated by the mind; the fourth refers to what might be termed the formative principle of the mind, creating mental molds vitalized by its own energies; and the fifth represents egoic mentation. Buddhist philosophical analysis has thrown these various characteristics and attributes into the five categories enumerated above.
Thus the skandhas are the various groups of personal attributes or characteristics which make one human personality different from another; and it is through these groups of psychological and psycho-emotional-astral attributes or characteristics that the higher man or ego, i.e. the egoic individuality, works. (return to text)
4. I might point out that once conception has taken place and the embryo begins its growth, any attempt whatsoever to stop its development or to destroy it is plain murder. In the teaching of the esoteric philosophy, it is considered as being almost a little less bad than the murder of an adult human — little less only because such destruction or abortion takes place before the self-consciousness of the victim has had a chance to come into flower. (return to text)
5. If we were to say, however, that the new man is identic with the man of the last life, we should be emphasizing the old heresy that there is an unchanging human 'soul' which remains forever and ever the same. But the soul is in constant process of change; and it is obvious that a being which changes continuously throughout eternity cannot remain identic for even an instant. Otherwise the infant would be identic with the man it finally grows to be.
Each incarnation produces from the karmic deposits of character a new man who is composite of what was brought over from the last incarnation, plus the new increments of faculty and attribute brought into function by its devachanic assimilation of the experiences of the monad's last life. The character of the new man also contains qualities, however imperfectly developed they may be, which were not fully functioning in previous lives; and yet this new man has to bear the karmic responsibility of the former man.
It was upon just this doctrine of a constantly changing and evolving focus of consciousness that the Buddha-Gautama based his rejection of the theory of an unchanging and ever-perduring 'soul' which remained more or less the same ego forever. (return to text)