Human hearts that have suffered are open and waiting and receptive to the light which lighteth every man who cometh into the world. Fortunately human hearts are not made of stone, they are not adamantine in texture, yet how often we look askance upon the angels of pity who come knocking at our doors, when these angels of compassion are precisely those forces in human life which open up the channels of the heart and of the understanding. How often have we repelled the gods coming in the disguise of sorrow? How frequently do we realize that those things which most deeply stir us are our best friends?
Do you not see that no matter what our lives may be, every turn of destiny is an opening door; and the portal sublime is always for us that door which, when we see it swinging open as we approach it, seems to us to lead to the road of pain. Strange, and yet how beautiful is this paradox, that it is through suffering that we learn most quickly and drink the waters of truth most deeply.
Just pause a moment and connect up these thoughts with the Christian saying: Not my will but thine be done: not the will of the ordinary, stupid, selfish, compromising and foolish man that nearly everyone of us is, but the will, the inspiration to the lower man, of the divinity within, which guides and leads, urges and impels us constantly. I think the statement is one of the most beautiful in all human thought, and it has been taught since immemorial time and in all the great religions of the world.
The light of the spirit comes to the man who is willing, who wills, to receive it, and it is excluded from the man who wills to refuse it. Not therefore my will, but the whispering wisdom and life of the divinity, of which we are, each one of us, as individual rays or sparks. Think what this world of ours would be today if men had accepted this wonder-teaching of the Avatara Jesus at its face value, instead of reserving it merely to be heard once a week as a thought provocative perhaps of a little religious emotion, but never, except by the few, received as a rule of conduct; and as a rule of conduct it was given. There is no rule more beautiful in human thought, no rule so lovely in its entrance into us, for it arouses love within us; and when a man loves he is at his best, he is manliest, for then he is self-forgetful.
Not my will but thine be done. Think what peace such a code of conduct will bring to us, and the happiness and the increase of wisdom and knowledge; because all our worst faults arise from the lower parts of us; and all our virtues and most manly expressions of character come from the highest part of us.
Do you know what I verily believe to be the simple code which men should follow — and it would be also that of the Masters and their chelas? It is that of service. There is something magical, wonderful, about self-forgetful service, because a man forgetting himself in service puts his best into it. He has no regrets, no haltings, no recoilings, no considerations of selfish profit. It is a dedication, of the self for the all. It becomes thereby almost more than human, and it calls forth the best that is in a man. He becomes a power, and he moves among his fellow-men who are enchained and held back and crippled by doubts and confusions and hesitancies, as a man-god; and as this life continues, this life of service, he becomes continuously less self-considering, more self-forgetful, therefore more powerful, therefore more fully a channel for the inspirations, the intimations of the divinity working through him; and by and by, as evolution proceeds in its marvelous work, he can say truly: Not any longer my will, but thine! He becomes an imbodiment, an incarnation, of divinity.
So well are these simple truths understood all over the world that you will find in all languages a word by which those who have had some experience of all this describe it. I refer to the word which in English is disciple. In pre-Christian Europe, for instance, the word for a disciple was learning servant, the same word that the Sanskrit word chela is. The Anglo-Saxons, when they wanted to say ‘disciple’ or ‘pupil,’ used the compound leorning knicht , one who serves, and who learns in and by and through that service; and how greatly were such men clothed with dignity and power! There is majesty in such service, and I pity the human being who cannot see it.
After all, is this not a far nobler conception than that which we today call enlightened selfishness? Which would you prefer: to be strong or to be weak, to know or to be ignorant, to do or to be inactive, to achieve or to be a failure? An academic question. I know what your answer will be, and in that answer you have the key to it all. The reason we fail, that we do not achieve, that we stumble on the path, that we are weaklings, that we fear, is that, although these weaknesses are not ourselves, we consider them so and dignify them. We are our worst enemies. We do not know how to serve grandly; and no man can serve absolutely and with the largest increments of splendor within himself which will radiate from him in character and knowledge, until he has realized that service is grandeur. Yet who does not know this in his heart? We learn more by serving, and right serving of course, than in any other way.
Consider Nature around us, and you will see why H. P. Blavatsky, the main Founder of the Theosophical Movement, stated early in the days of her teaching that Theosophist is who Theosophy does; that you have no right to the name of Theosophist unless you put your principles of thought into practice, into service, for only in that way can you prove that you believe in them. Otherwise you are like the hypocrites and Pharisees — a name by the way which has been sadly misused to signify hypocrisy in European tongues.
Some years ago a clergyman made the statement that if the teachings of Jesus the Avatara were practiced, in other words put to work, civilization would not survive. Think! Is it credible that anyone would so speak of the doctrine and life of the one who was called the Son of God? Is it possible that Christianity has repudiated its own Master and Teacher, and in refusing to follow him, has built its own tomb? I ask you. The Theosophist says that the teachings of the Avatara Jesus are meant to live by and to be practiced. Show me any civilization that is going to be overthrown by the practice of right and justice and purity and honor and truth. Who wants to uphold a civilization that lacks these things? The facts of the case are that the hearts of men have been nobler than their heads; and while ecclesiastics may repudiate their Teacher and his so-called religion, the hearts of men have been far wiser, for men have always loved honor and truth and courage and purity and what we call holiness, and have practiced them more or less. It is a monstrous idea to say that the following of the teachings of Christianity will overthrow civilization. It will found a civilization that will endure for aye: justice towards all, injustice towards none; malice towards none and good will towards all; pity towards all and hatred towards none. These are all noble virtues; they are the very foundation of the Christianity of Jesus and of all other religious systems whatsoever.
As usual, the average man is more decent than what is supposed to be his ecclesiastic religion, just as the average man in a nation is inwardly more decent than is the conduct of nation to nation. What does this mean if not that despite our immense follies, whispering in and through the human soul there are these continually instructive intimations from the divinity within, Even human law is based on it. Feeble and stumbling as it often is, it is based on these intimations of right and justice burning in every normal man’s heart. So that we can say, even we ordinary people, with some understanding: No matter what may be the things I have done in the past, what I love when all is said is just that: Not my will but thine be done. Ask yourself if this is not true. Why then do we not live more earnestly and honestly by such a code of conduct which makes every man stronger, richer in experience, more thoughtful and kindlier to others, which fills our souls with love of justice and compassion? The gods are with us, let foolish man decry them in his thoughts if he will.
In a recent meeting of this Lodge, one of the speakers made the statement that all the forces and substances, energies and attributes, of universal being are in their essence divine. Now this statement, abstractly speaking, or absolutely speaking, if we carry our thought inwards into the very heart of Parabrahman, is true. But the statement as made is not enough. If it were sufficient in statement, then there would be no evil anywhere in infinity. In other words, there could be no division of high and low, good and bad, right and left — in other words, no ‘pairs of opposites’ — for all would be divine. It would be a corroboration of the unphilosophic chatter of some modern absolute-idealist theorists: “All is good” — which certainly is no truly philosophical statement.
Let me tell you that while it is true enough that in the absolute sense of the statement, no particular objection probably can be taken to it — for there is the Divine, utter divinity, Parabrahman, the heart of it, and beyond and more inward still, which is the Rootless Root of all things and beings — but here we are speaking of Parabrahman, infinitude in its inaccessibly highest reaches, unattainable by any human intellect; the reference here is to infinitude, and show me a time when infinity changes itself into ‘pairs of opposites’ and in consequence undergoes manvantara on the one hand or pralaya on the other hand. Infinity means absolute, frontierless, beginningless and endless immutability in the sense that infinitude, as infinitude, never becomes finitude or limitation; but within infinity there are multitudes of worlds and of systems of worlds endlessly, for ever and for ever throughout eternity moving in evolutionary changes, and characterized by ‘pairs of opposites.’ So that there never is a time, ever and unto the utmost for ever, when everything, i.e., all infinity, vanishes into the heart of Parabrahman; because that would mean that infinity changes, and sometimes is in manvantara and sometimes is in pralaya. But these changes are predicable only of manifested things, and infinitude, as infinitude, never is subject to manifestation, for only finite things change. As long as infinity is, as long as eternity endures, which means endlessly for ever, ‘good’ and ‘evil,’ signifying ‘opposites,’ shall be the Universe’s eternal ways; and right and left, high and low, and the endlessly differing contrasts of manifestation, and hence good and bad, shall equally endlessly offer their contrasts.
There is a warning of importance that we must draw from this. Do not be deceived in refusing to accept it. There is good, endless good, but in the manifested states of universal being; and there is likewise evil, endless evil, but in the manifested states of universal being; and these in their complex and intricate combinations are the world’s eternally dual ways. What are the Mamo-Chohans, those dread beings who preside at the pralayas, who preside in the material realms now, playing their parts in the Cosmic Drama, just as the divine gods play their opposite parts in the same Cosmic Drama? In this thought you have the truth, the two sides: darkness and light, right and left, good and bad, high and low, for ever and for ever and for ever endlessly in infinitude. Here is a secret that the Christians got partial hold of, a fragment of the occult teachings of the Sanctuary, and twisting it and distorting it, indeed caricaturing it, called one end of the contrast ‘God,’ and the other end of the contrast the ‘Devil.’ Such distortion is correct in neither of its aspects! This contrast is simply the eternal and ever-changing structure of the manifesting Universes in utter infinitude, this infinitude being the playground, the scene, the frontierless theater, of Universes appearing and disappearing, because playing their parts as the Kosmic Sons of Light; including the Mamo-Chohans and their legions playing their own parts in constructing the material universe, and holding it together, guided nevertheless by the Sons of Light, and ascending from darkness into light throughout eternity, continually renewed by fresh influxes into the Kosmic Scenery as the gods pass onwards and upwards, and the Mamo-Chohans trail along behind them in the rear.
The warning is: don’t let your brains ever be twisted with the idea that it is at any time safe to play with evil, in any connection, on any occasion, in any way. Such play means going backwards, degenerating, joining forces with the Mamo-Chohans, the forces of darkness, of evil, of spiritual death. Light is light, and dark is dark — opposites. Good is good and bad is bad — opposites. Right is right and left is left, unto eternity. No wonder the Masters cry, the gods cry: Who is on my side? Make your choice. You are all free agents. You cannot play with the forces of Nature. Occultism is the weighing of your own soul in the balance of destiny. You will either go up, or you will go down. There is no other choice; and I think it is high time that these facts became better known. They are not a bit esoteric in the sense of being secret and told only to a select and chosen few. They are openly stated in all our standard books. These facts of Nature were the basis of the universal duality which formed the substance of the Zoroastrian system of thought, and of others.
There is immense comfort and happiness and peace in understanding these great facts properly, because they bring intellectual harmony and spiritual illumination into the mind; and will someone explain to me, if only good is and there is no natural evil, how can evil exist at all? If you say that evil is but illusory, which is true enough when we understand what illusory means, this is not denying that evil exists, albeit it exists as an illusion. We human beings live in a world of maha-maya or cosmic illusion; and merely to call it ‘illusion’ does not annihilate that form of maya which we men call evil. If infinity is ‘good,’ it is obviously infinitely ‘good,’ and then there is therein no room for evil and imperfection, and the cosmos-wide series of pairs of opposites and contrasts; and heaven knows that they exist!
Be therefore on the side of the gods, the Sons of Light, of the Spirit. Go onwards and upwards: Excelsior, ever higher! There is our Path. But do not play tricks with your thoughts in this connection, for think what you will and say what you may, you are either on one side, or on the other.
After speaking a fortnight ago upon the topic of Good and Evil, I heard misconstructions of what I then said, and I thought it good to seize the first opportunity offered to me in order to say a few words to disabuse the minds of those who misapprehended what it was my intention to say. When I spoke of one side of the Universe as being evil, and of the other side being good, and of the interconnection of these twain, which contrast each other and thus set each other off, as being the world’s eternal ways, these were general statements, abstract statements, and had only an indirect although real enough application to human problems human good and evil, and so forth. I had no intention whatsoever to give utterance to the old Christian theological idea that there is an infinite personal God who is ‘good’; and an infinite something or somebody which or who is evil, and which or who, if not the Devil, is nevertheless the Devil under another coat! No, that was not my meaning at all.
Now, try to follow me in thought, not only in time but into abstract space, which means no particular portion of space like our Earth, or the planets Venus or Mars, or again the Sun, or the Polar Star; but space generally, anywhere, abstract space; and the same with regard to Time: no particular point of time like now, or tomorrow, or yesterday, or a thousand or ten billion years ago, or the same period in the future. But abstract time, any time, anywhere. If change, division, opposites, opposition, contrasts, light and dark, matter and spirit, good and bad, short and long, these and all other eternal contrasts, were to vanish from the infinite Boundless, then every thing, high and low, from spirit to utmost matter, would vanish likewise, because all the Universe in all its infinite manifestations — and I use the word ‘Universe’ here in the utterly boundless sense — is builded of these contrasts. We call that path or aspect leading upwards, the right hand, often also the side or path of light, of good, of compassion, of harmony; we speak of the other side or contrasting side, the side of imperfection, of constriction, of lack, of not yet unfolded attributes — in fact of everything that is the opposite of the right hand, as the evil side of Nature, the dark side or the left hand.
Now then, are these things which are evil on the one hand and which exist by force of contrast with the things which are good on the other hand — are these same identical things, I ask, eternally evil, eternally unchanged, for ever fixed in essence as evil? Obviously not. There is as it were a constant turning of the Wheel of Kosmic Life, of the minor Wheels of Cosmic Lives; so that the evil rising on the Wheel becomes less evil, less imperfect, for imperfection slowly passes into relative perfection. It is the imperfection that we call ‘evil’; the relative perfection we call ‘good.’ This process has been going on from utter eternity, and it is endless. There never was a beginning; there never will be an end of it, throughout timeless Time, of manifested being, please understand — whether spiritually manifested or materially manifested, these twain compose the eternally Kosmic Dual. Wipe them out, and all manifestation would vanish, because then there would be no contrasts. Is, then, imperfection infinite? Where can you show me a place where manifestation — imperfection — ends? I know no such place. It is, therefore, endless. Contrariwise, show me a place where light is not, where the other side, the other pole called the good, is not. Where does it end? I know of no such place. Thus the ‘good’ and the ‘bad,’ the perfect and imperfect, and all intermediate and relative degrees of both — but never an ending to the perfect and never an ending to the imperfect — all exist within and through and because of that utter, ineffable, unthinkable Mystery which we men with our imperfect minds can refer to only in the words of the Vedic sage — That.
Imperfection and perfection are relative terms, because there are degrees of both; and both are comprised in the encircling, comprehending bosom of the endless fields of the Boundless. They are all children of the Boundless. Even the imperfect is manifested by the Boundless. This does not mean that the imperfect is eternally good, for it is not. But turn in the other direction, to the right hand. Look at what we call the ‘perfect.’ The mere fact that there is perfect, and the more perfect, and the still more perfect, throughout infinity, shows us that even what we speak of as the right-hand — if we make distances between abstract points great enough — is a rising series of grades or stages or steps enlarging ever more to the right, and that these relative stages of increasing perfection we call ‘good,’ so that even that which is less to the right side we likewise call good. The same rule of thought applies to the left hand. What we call the highest imperfect, or the most perfect of the imperfect, is really divine to beings and entities so far more to the left, to the imperfect side, that by right of contrast, by right of evolutionary unfolding, of growth, of change towards the right, towards betterment, this less imperfect can be called relatively spiritual or divine. Thus there is no absolute dividing line between the right and the left.
Now comes a point which is exceedingly important. Matter is not evil per se. What we call concreted matter is simply incomputable armies and hosts of monads aggregated together in compact order; and, as it were, when compared with us relatively wakened human beings these armies and hosts are asleep. Each such monad in its heart is divine, yet it is manifesting as matter. These are elementary thoughts, and yet they are a sublime teaching. One cannot therefore say that matter is essentially evil. It is merely less perfectly evolved or unfolded than is what we call spirit and the spiritual ranges which the gods occupy.
The whole truth is really simple enough, but people become perplexed about it because of its simplicity. The ideas of Western minds have been distorted by the teaching that there is an infinite Mind, an Individual, infinite, without body, parts, or passions, without any qualifications whatsoever, and that it is essentially distinct, nevertheless, and separate from the things which this Mind creates — a perfect nightmare of theories illogical and unsustainable throughout.
Now then, while it is perfectly true to state that evil, even cosmic evil, as we men speak of it, is imperfection, imperfection in growth — imperfect beings living in an imperfect state because of their imperfect evolutionary unfolding, of their imperfect development — while this is so, giving constant hope to imperfect beings to grow better, nevertheless hearken: this does not mean that imperfect things or beings are essentially good. I cannot commit an evil deed, and cheat my brain into saying that the essence of the deed is divine and therefore I have done no wrong because there is no evil in the Universe. What I am trying to point out is that manifestation is the interblending of opposites; otherwise there could be no manifestation, which means limitations of all kinds of unfolding. But hearken also carefully to this: It is sheer folly for a man to accept and to believe that one side of the Universe is composed of innumerable hierarchies of bright and shining gods, who are our ancestors, the spiritual roots from which we draw our higher portions; and that all the other side of Nature, because of the law of contrast, does not balance or support the good side. In other words, I mean that there are evil powers in the Universe, evil forces: not absolutely evil, not essentially evil, not outside the womb of the Utterly Divine, but because of their relatively great imperfection they are distinctly evil to the race of men and to other beings more or less occupying our state on the Ladder of Life. Furthermore, for the same reason, there are localities in the Universe which to us are evil; they are true hells, not however in the Christian sense of the word, but globes so densely material that life or living there to us humans would be hell; and hence their influences on men are evil, and urge men to evil, for these the temptations to which men too often succumb.
Just precisely as it is our duty to ally ourselves with our ‘Father in Heaven,’ with the divinities, our guardians and protectors whose strong hands hold us safe if we but follow them: in other words, just as it is our supreme duty to follow the right-hand Path; so on the other hand if we do not, and become negative and subject to the gross effluvia from the densely material spheres, then we shall as surely take the downward path — as otherwise we shall surely follow the path to the gods.
It is these thoughts, originally of the Sanctuary of the Mysteries, which were taken over into some of the exoteric religions, such as Christianity, and often grossly distorted, twisted. But there is one point on which the Occult Teaching and Christian theology agree, for a wonder! Christian theology denies that matter is essentially evil. So do we. Even in the most hellish parts of the Galaxy, in its grossest and darkest spheres, and there are some that — well, if you knew about them you would not sleep tonight — even in those places, every mathematical point of the spheres and globes of which these places are builded, is as divine in essence as are the spheres of light in which the gods live in their realms. Hence, do not think that matter is evil per se. That would mean that from eternity evil is evil and cannot ever pass from imperfection into a growing perfection, in other words that beings cannot ever from evil become good. Evil abstractly consists of transitory states or conditions — however long they may last — in which monads pass during certain phases of their endless peregrinations upwards and onwards.
Nowhere, therefore, is evil eternal because essentially unchanging; and nowhere is what we men with our imperfect intelligence call ‘good,’ crystallized in immobility and remaining there in such state eternally. Half of manifested infinity is imperfection, in its innumerably relative degrees; and the other half is perfection in its innumerably relative degrees; and there is no absolute dividing line between the twain. It is obvious, of course, that I speak from the standpoint of a man, and because of my humanity make my own dividing lines between good and evil. A god would make different dividing lines. A Mamo-Chohan again would likewise make different dividing lines; but the rule as stated would be identic for all.
I should like once more to say a few words about something which I had occasion to speak of some weeks ago — twice, or it may be thrice. It was with regard to the esoteric teachings concerning the two Ways, the eternal Ways, of the Universe — good and evil. Now I have at different times said a good many things on this matter; but when I ceased speaking on the last occasion, I realized that I did not emphasize sufficiently one point, and this point was that when we look upon the Universe as Boundless Space, without frontiers or limits, then we always find that while in some parts of Boundless Space Universes are appearing and manifestation is going on, in other parts manifestation is disappearing — Universes are passing out of their manvantaric existence.
As long as there is manifestation, there is imperfection, which is what we men call evil. Consequently, as we are now dealing with boundless infinity and eternity, it is perfectly correct to say that evil and good are the world’s eternal ways; otherwise expressed, perfection and imperfection are in Boundless Space from beginningless duration, and will last unto endless duration, endless eternity. But this does not mean that there are two infinities, to wit, an infinite of perfection and an infinite of imperfection. Obviously not. If there were an infinite of perfection, there could be no imperfection, no manifestation which is imperfection.
Next, and now passing from the boundless spaces, let us take an individual. Outside of and beyond and within the Kosmic infinite duality, our minds oblige us to recognize cosmic unity, and it is out of this unity that the duality springs; the duality has its hey-day of manifestation; and then into the unity it vanishes again. This unity does not mean ‘one,’ because that would be the beginning of numeration which is the beginning of manifestation, and it would likewise be the same mistake that the Christians made, in imagining their infinite personal God. The ‘one’ I here use in the sense of the mystical zero, as H. P. B. employs it, signifying all-encompassing infinitude, from which the one, any one of the multitudes of ones, is born.
To illustrate: Take any one of us, a human being. We are beings in manifestation, therefore are we imperfect, and throughout beginningless and endless time we shall in various hierarchies and in different degrees of perfection, or of imperfection, on lower or on higher planes, be running the eternal cyclical round of developing and of unfolding ever more and more. But that ineffable Rootless Root within each one of us, is the utterly Boundless. This is a very important point of thought. It is upon this thought of non-duality that was based all the teaching of the great Hindu Avatara Sankaracharya; and his form of the Vedanta — a word which means ‘the real meaning of the Vedas,’ i.e., of the books of Wisdom — was called Advaita, which means non-dualistic, because his thought dwelt mainly on this endlessly Divine, the Rootless Root which is the core of the core of the core of every unit in boundless infinitude.
Thus, then, strange paradox, so easily understandable and yet so difficult to explain: while the fields of boundless infinitude, or boundless space, are never empty of manifested, manifesting, and disappearing worlds, all of them are born from and return to that ineffable, unthinkable Mystery which we call That. That is not dual, and this is about all we can say concerning it. Hence it is not imperfect; it cannot even be said to be perfect; because perfection and imperfection are terms of human understanding, which means terms of an imperfectly developed intelligence — the human. It is beyond both perfection and imperfection. It is the All, the source and fountain-head of all the hierarchies of the gods, as high as you will; and of the lowest elements of the material worlds, put them as low as you like. It is the All — we have no words with which to describe it. The Vedic Sages simply called it That. It is not a God; from it all the gods spring. It is not a World; from it all the worlds come; and like the gods, they ultimately return to it. It is not personal, it is not impersonal, for these again are human words signifying attributes of human perfection or imperfection. It is beyond all of them. It does not ever manifest, because infinity does not manifest. Only things and beings manifest. Yet from It all beings and things come. It includes within its all-comprehensive bosom all that ever was in boundless time everlasting, all that now is, and all that ever will be in endless time, or what we men call the limitless future. It neither thinks nor does it not think, because thinking and not-thinking are human terms or expressions, and emphatically it is not human. It is neither intelligent nor non-intelligent, because these again are human attributes — godlike attributes on the one hand, and limited attributes on the other hand.
As Lao-Tse said, imbodying the same thought: As long as ye have good men in the State ye will have evil in the State. Why? Not because of the presence of good men; but there can be good men only when we have bad men and their bad actions showing off the good men by contrast. Do you catch this profound thought? As long as there is light, obviously you will have darkness. These things, light and darkness, are limited, however vast they may be, however small; and they again are not That, but are all included within That. That is beginningless. The gods begin in any one manvantara, and keep cyclically repeating their beginnings. The Universes begin, they end, and they repeat the cycles of manifestation throughout eternity, albeit ever rising on loftier scales. But That is without because beyond cycles. It is not an Individual; it contains all individuals. Any individual is limited, otherwise it would not be an individual. An individual is a being or an entity which we know by contrast with other beings and entities against which the entity is set. You could not tell one flower from another flower unless you saw the contrast of flowers. Individuality is a sign of imperfection, of limitation; personality a fortiori even more so.
That is why the ancient Books of Wisdom state that That is neither good nor bad, neither intelligent nor non-intelligent; neither alive nor dead; neither long nor short nor high nor low. All these are attributes of limited things which we cannot predicate of the Unlimited Boundless. If it were long, however vast the length might be, it would have an ending and a beginning. Similarly with intelligence, kindliness, goodness, compassion, harmony — all these things are attributes of limitation, albeit of spirit. It is beyond them all, encompasses them all, enwombs them all. From it they all spring; to it they all will return.
I would not weigh so frequently and so heavily on these thoughts, were I not keenly sensible of the fact that they comprise questions of high metaphysics, questions of high philosophy, questions of high religious import which some day our Theosophical exponents will have to deal with. They will have to give an account of our sublime Wisdom to the keenest minds of the world. We shall be asked to explain our convictions, no longer to kindly audiences such as we gather in our halls and auditoriums; and we shall then need trained and polished minds, capable and capacious intellects, men and women fully acquainted with our sublime Thought-Wisdom, so that they can make statements in exposition which will have clarity, succinctness, and persuasive power to those who come to us and ask for light.
The life-period of a planetary chain — and for the sake of simplicity we will dismiss from our minds the upper five globes, although they are the most important, and consider only the seven lower ones which H. P. B. speaks of — the life-period of a planetary chain, before it dies, is called a Day of Brahma and consists of 4,320,000,000 years. It is followed by an equal time-period called a Night; so that Day and Night together make 8,640,000,000 years. Then the chain reimbodies itself.
What is the length of what H. P. B. calls a Manvantara? Here we get into trouble at once, because there are at least ten and maybe twelve different kinds of manvantaras. H. P. B. calls a minor manvantara a passage of the seven root-races on any one globe. It does not matter what globe it is. She calls that a minor manvantara. She calls a major manvantara the passing of a life-wave around the chain of twelve globes. Why? Because a Manu opens a Round on Globe A — called the Root Manu — and closes it on Globe G — called the Seed Manu. Manvantara means Manu-period, or Manu-time, the essence of Manu, that which a Manu produces or brings forth; and this essence comes forth in the evolving life-waves passing among the globes. There is likewise a Manu opening a globe life-period, and a Manu closing it. All these things you will find in our Theosophical books.
But now let me ask: What is the length of a manvantara when H. P. B. used the words without any descriptive epithets? You have to search for what she means. Mostly she means this: The time it takes a life-wave, any life-wave, to pass from Globe A through Globe B, through Globe C, to the middle period of Globe D. She calls this the pre-septenary manvantara; I would phrase it the prior-septenary manvantara. The post-septenary manvantara would follow through the other half of the globe-chain. You will find this described in The Secret Doctrine, Vol. II.
Now what is the length of such a manvantara from A to the central time-period of Globe D? 306,720,000 years; and if you add the Dawn and the Twilight each of a Dvapara-Yuga, or 864,000 years, together forming a Satya-Yuga in length, you will get a time-period for a manvantara equalling 308,448,000 years, and that is the time-period from A to D. Here we reach the middle point. From D to the end of G is another manvantara, another half-round, 308,448,000 years. The whole round therefore is double that something like 617 million years.
Where are we now? We are in the Fourth Round, and at the middle point of our lowest globe, Globe D. There is still half of this present Round Four to finish, and then Rounds Five, Six, and Seven, before our chain dies and goes into Nirvana, preparing itself there for its return as a new chain.
From what has been told you, you can get certain scientific facts, facts in geology, for instance. How long has it been since sedimentation began on our earth D? Something like 320 million years; for you must count in the 308 — nearly 309 — million years for the various life-waves, ten in number, following each other in serial order, to come down from Globe A, run through its course there, then through Globe B, run through its course on Globe B, and so on through Globes C and D. 308 million would take us to the middle of the Fourth Root-Race on Globe D. Again we have the critical fourth. Half of the round is then completed. But we are now in the Fifth Root-Race, about the middle point. How many years have elapsed since the middle of the Fourth Root-Race to our present middle of the Fifth? Nearly 9 million years. So to the 309 million of the prior-septenary manvantara, you must add this 9 million more or less — a little less — to bring our time-period to where we are now. 309 plus 9, in round figures, makes 318 million years. I said 320; that is just taking a round figure. So you now know how long ago it was that the Fourth Round began.
How long has our own human life-wave been on Globe D? That is a different question. Remember what these life-waves are. You see how these things are entangled. Every moment you meet with a dozen new difficulties. The life-waves are these: First, Second and Third Kingdoms of Elementals; 4) Mineral Kingdom; 5) Vegetable Kingdom; 6) Animal Kingdom; 7) Human Kingdom; 8) Lowest Kingdom of Dhyan-Chohans; 9) Middle Kingdom of Dhyan-Chohans; 10) the Highest Kingdom of Dhyan-Chohans. Ten life-waves; and they follow each other in serial order as rounds around the globes.
How long, then, has the human life-wave, our human kingdom in other words, been on Globe D? With certain modifications, the general rule is that each root-race on Globe D, our Earth, takes nearly nine million years from its very beginning to its very ending. 9 million years back brings us to the middle of the Fourth Root-Race. We are the Fifth; the Atlantean was the Fourth. 18 million years back brings us to the middle of the Third Root-Race, then man first became, because of the entrance into him of the manasaputras, a thinking, reasoning entity.
But here we come upon a difficulty that throws out of line this neat calculation. You notice I carefully limit my remarks to three Races only. These are Races 3rd, 4th, and 5th. I do not allude to Root-Races 1 and 2, and 6 and 7 still to come. Root-Races 3, 4 and 5 are pretty much the same length in years — around 9 million years each. But Root-Races 6 and 7 to come will be shorter, and Root-Races 1 and 2 were much longer. Why was this? It was because Root-Race 1 was practically purely astral, the individuals were intellectually unconscious, and they passed ages in a dreaming, intellectually unawakened state like little children today.
Root-Race 2 was still astral, although verging to the physical, and almost as intellectually asleep as Root-Race 1. Root-Race 3 in its beginning was still semi-astral, but became physical at about its middle point.
Why were Root-Races 1 and 2 so much longer in time-length than the following races? And here is the crux, the difficulty. It was because Root-Race 1, in the manner in which H. P. B. speaks of it, was not only astral but, as she describes it, really represented the sishtas from the preceding Round, the Third. This Root-Race 1, beginning with sishtas, took ages before actually settling down into a root-race, that is, typically a root-race of the new round, no longer merely sishtas. The cause of the awakening and slow evolutionary processes was that the forerunners of the life-wave began coming in millions and millions of years before the First Root-Race as a race apart so to speak could be said actually to have begun.
Every life-wave, as you know, is preceded by its forerunners, sometimes millions of years ahead. Then come more forerunners in larger groups; and finally the life-wave as an aggregate body arrives. When the life-wave as an actual body arrives, then can be said to begin or to have begun the First Root-Race as an actual race sui generis. Previous to that time they were sishtas slowly being unfolded or affected or changed by the arriving forerunners of the life-wave. This whole process, astral in type on an almost physical globe, as I have said, took ages, before the First Root-Race came into being as a race sui generis. Then it lived its time — how long I would not venture to say: certainly 9 millions of years and perhaps a great deal more, when Root-Race 2 began slowly to come into being, but as yet hardly distinct from Root-Race 1. In fact, Root-Race 1 did not die out and give birth to Root-Race 2, as later root-races did; but Root-Race 1 can be said to have become swallowed up or merged into Root-Race 2, thus producing Root-Race 2. As H. P. B. phrased it, the old waters mixed with the new. A graphic explanation and very true.
There was no death in those early days of Root-Races 1 and 2. Thus Root-Race 2 is at the time I speak of on the scene distinct in notable particulars from the First Root-Race, yet still almost astral, more astral than physical. Towards the end of Root-Race 2 death began to appear but was still unusual, so that the bulk of the individuals of Root-Race 2 could be said to have shifted over gradually into Root-Race 3. With Root-Race 3 death of the individuals became the common order as we have it now. To the best of scientists it would be looked upon as speculatory, and by more materialistic scientists looked upon as theosophical dreaming, although there are examples of such procedures or events in the lower kingdoms even on the earth today.
We are now at Root-Race 3 — ethereally physical but still physical and growing grosser all the time. Death has now arrived; the human shape is already common although of course there were no men and women then. The early Third Race was an androgynous race, changing over finally into the two sexes at about its middle point.
Now as to time-periods; and the relation between the Root-Races and the geological periods: It is difficult to unify our theosophical occult racial periods in their geologic eras with scientific time-periods, and it is this very difficulty which has caused these relations to be kept strictly hidden by the Teachers, as H. P. B. points out in The Secret Doctrine ; hidden not because of any especial sacredness about them but rather passed over with just a hint or reference, because of the impossibility in her day, and even in ours, of ordinary untrained non-theosophic people understanding what it would be about.
Theosophical evolution is so utterly different from scientific conceptions of it, both as regards processes and time-periods, that the Theosophist, knowing the facts and attempting to explain, is confronted at each instance by a blank wall of non-comprehension on the part of his theosophically untrained auditors — or readers if he tries to write a book. The worst of these untrained people are the scientists themselves, because even among themselves their own views are recognized as being so uncertain and speculative. And even to trained Theosophical students the matter is not easy to elucidate.
I think it would be foolish to try to twist Theosophical doctrines into conformity with modern geologic time-periods or modern evolutionary ideas, because it simply can’t be done, and one day writing of that kind will be bitterly regretted by the Theosophists who attempted it; because science is changing and growing; and it is much better to tell the truth as far as you know it in the best way you can, stating the difficulty and then going ahead. I have never believed in straddling these matters and trying to win adherents among the scientists when at every turn we could only do so (excepting among a few intuitive minds) by disloyalty to our own consciences.
The remarks, then, that I shall make are based on H. P. B.’s geological figures in Vol. II of The Secret Doctrine, which I believe are those of Sir Charles Lyell, the English geologist. Of course the figures of modern geology as regards time-periods have been enormously enlarged, even swollen beyond anything we Theosophists require; so that for instance what might now be called the Secondary Period would be much farther back in actual years or time than H. P. B.’s Secondary Period. Modern geology as you know, has given millions more years to nearly all the time-periods that H. P. B. adopted for illustration following Lyell. So I will use H. P. B.’s names.
The Fourth Root-Race reached its peak of development in H. P. B.’s Miocene, yes even in H. P. B.’s preceding Eocene. The Third Root-Race probably began in the Jurassic or even perhaps at the end of the Triassic and was certainly fleshing during H. P. B.’s Cretaceous, all of these belonging to H. P. B.’s Secondary Age. This places the Third Root-Race pretty well. The Second Root-Race still ran over into the Triassic, and perhaps can be said to be fleshed in the Triassic, ending in it probably, possibly itself beginning at the end of the Primary age of the Permian period. Whereas the First Root-Race was actually Pre-Secondary, therefore originating in the Primary (I personally think in the Carboniferous or Coal period) and perhaps could be said to have attained its peak and possibly its ending in the Permian period of the Primary age. This would take the First Race back many millions of years — how much, it would be guesswork to say. My own guess is that the First Root-Race probably originated in the Carboniferous or Coal period of the Primary age, and perhaps about 130 to 150 million years ago.
But in this connection you must remember what I have said above about its astral character, the ages and ages of the sishtas which H. P. B. evidently included in the beginning of the First Root-Race; and how long the First Root-Race actually existed as a race sui generis I would not care to speculate upon. It would require more knowledge of geology and of zoology and of botany than I have any acquaintance with.
Thus it is clear that our Fifth Root-Race belongs to the Quaternary and originated in H. P. B.’s Tertiary; that the Fourth attained its peak of evolution in the early Tertiary and probably originated in the later Cretaceous of the Secondary; that the Third probably attained its peak of evolution in the Jurassic of the Secondary, and may have originated at the end of the Triassic of the Secondary. The Second probably attained its peak in H. P. B.’s Triassic of the Secondary, possibly originated at the beginning of the Triassic, possibly even at the very end of the Permian of the Primary Age. At any rate the Second Root-Race we can place more or less clearly somewhere in the Permian of the Primary age, and the First Root-Race in the Carboniferous or the Coal period of the Primary. H. P. B. gives some of the best hints about these matters in her Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, pages 711-16.
Now as regards the Root-Races 6 and 7 to come: these will be, as I said, shorter in actual length, and my own opinion is that the Sixth will be close to a Maha-Yuga and a half, say something over six million years; and the Seventh will be still shorter — how long, it would be just speculation to say.
Thus, you see, the life-waves evolve through the Maha-Yugas, but are not closely geared into the Maha-Yugas, for they overlap in both directions very considerably. Finally, while it is very tempting to try to collate the figures I have given about root-races and life-waves and to try to make these figures run with regularity through all the seven root-races, yet it just simply can’t be done; and as said above I have carefully limited my own remarks to Root-Races 3, 4 and 5, because here mind had entered into humanity, things had become grossly material and therefore more or less mechanical, and Root-Races 1 and 2 were not so to speak inflexibly and mechanically geared to the yugas and Root-Races 3, 4 and 5 more or less were.