THE SEVEN ROUNDS AND THE SEVEN RACES
A STUDY FROM THE "SECRET DOCTRINE." (1)
THE FIRST ROUND.
Each cycle of Evolution develops one of the compound Elements as now recognized, and as we go on, we see in each the dawn, so to speak, of the next Element. We are now in the Fourth cycle or Round, and we know Fire, Air, Water, and Earth, and we are beginning to study the nature of the fifth element, Ether, the characteristic element of the next cycle. The First Round developed but one element, Fire, and with it a nature and humanity in what may be called "one-dimensional space." (2) "The globe was fiery, cool, and radiant as its ethereal men and animals during the first Round." (3)
The mention of cool fire indicates that this primeval "fire" is not what we now understand by the term. It was in fact, Akasa, or Ether in its purest form. And there are two "fires" spoken of in occult science, the first, the purely formless and invisible Fire concealed in the Central Spiritual Sun, which is (metaphysically) spoken of as triple; the second, the Fire of the manifested Kosmos, which is septenary. (4) The first belongs to the spiritual plane; the septenary Fire to our own, in some of its seven forms at least. The particles of this primeval type of light and heat, (or "Aether in its purest form") on the plane of manifested being, are "fiery lives," which live and have their being at the expense of every other life that they consume. Therefore they are named the "Devourers" (5) But they are also the Builder's, for this "devouring" means "a differentiation of the fire-atoms by a peculiar process of segmentation, through which process they become life-germs, which aggregate according to the laws of cohesion and affinity. Then the life-germs produce lives of another kind which work on the structure of our globes. (6) "From the One Life, formless and uncreated, proceeds the Universe of lives," says the Commentary. The genesis of life appears to be this: First, the cold, luminous fire; (7) second, the beginning of atomic vibration, producing motion and therefore heat, and third a segmentation of the particles of the fire-mist. Fourth, these segments become life germs, polarized cells, of some sort, because they are subject to the laws of cohesion and affinity. And fifth, from these life-germs, which are probably still on the astral plane, come the life-germs of the mineral kingdom, to form the structure of the earth. It was only towards the end of the first Round that the simple Essence of the first Element became the fire we now know, (8) Terrene products, animate and inanimate, including mankind, are falsely called creation and creatures; they are the development (or evolution) of the discrete (or differentiated elements.)" (9)
Into this fire-mist world, came the first of the three great classes of monads, the most developed Entities from the Moon, therefore called the "Lunar Ancestors," whose function it is to pass in the first Round through the whole triple cycle of the mineral, vegetable, and animal kingdoms, in their most ethereal, filmy, and rudimentary forms, in order to clothe themselves in and assimilate the nature of the newly formed chain" (of globes). (10)
As already stated, they have passed through the filmy shadows of the lower kingdoms in the first globes of the Round, and have reached the human-germ stage with the seventh and last, and they are to lead and represent the human element during the second Round. (11) Man in the first Round and first Race was an ethereal being, a Lunar Dhyani, non-intelligent, but super-spiritual. (12) * * * In truth, during this Round, man was no man, but only his prototype or dimensionless image from the astral regions. (13) He was sexless, and like the animal and vegetable, he developed monstrous bodies correspondential with his surroundings. (14)
We may tabulate the evolution of the life-germs thus:
1 .FIRE, (15) or pure Akasa, composed of
2. FIERY LIVES. — They differentiate the fire-particles into the
3. FIRE-ATOMS. They become the
4. LIFE-GERMS. Which produce the mineral essence afterwards solidified.
5. Mineral Life, in their earliest, most ethereal stages.
6. Vegetable Life, in their earliest, most ethereal stages.
7. Animal Life, in their earliest, most ethereal stages.
THE SECOND ROUND.
The second cycle of evolution brought forth and developed two Elements — Fire and Air, and its humanity (if we can give the name to beings living under conditions unknown to men), was adapted to this condition of Nature. (16) But we must remember that none of the so-called Elements were in the first three Rounds as they are now. (17) and so it is said that this Air may have been simply Nitrogen, "the breath of the Supporters of the Heavenly Dome," as the Mahometan mystics call it. (18) And again: "The second Round brings into manifestation the second Element; AIR, that element, the purity of which would ensure continuous life to him who would use it. There have been two occultists only in Europe who have discovered and even partially applied it in practice, though its composition has always been known among the highest Eastern Initiates. The ozone of the modern chemists is poison compared with the real universal solvent which could never be thought of unless it existed in Nature." (19) And again; by Nitrogen as we call it, is meant the nonmenon of that which becomes nitrogen on earth, and "serves as a sponge to carry in itself the breath of LIFE, pure air, which, if separated alchemically would yield the Spirit of Life and its Elixir." (20)
"Man's process of development changes entirely with the second Round," says a Teacher. (21) And like man, "Earth — hitherto a foetus in the matrix of space — began its real existence; it had developed individual sentient life, its second principle; (22) the "first shadowy outline of self-hood." (23) At this stage the second hierarchy of the Manus appear, the Dhyan Chohans who are the origin of Form. It is still the Lunar Ancestors who lead and represent the human element, a much more exact phrase than man for beings still living under conditions unknown to men. This humanity, if the term be allowed, was still gigantic and ethereal, but growing firmer and more condensed in body, and more like physical man. "Yet still less intelligent than spiritual, for mind is a slower and more difficult evolution than that of the physical form." (24)
THE THIRD ROUND.
We have now reached the third cycle of evolution, and even yet can hardly talk of man, for during the earlier stages of this Round, vague and general terms are still used to designate humanity. "The centres of consciousness of the third Round," we read, (25) "destined to develop into humanity as we know it, arrived at a perception of the third Element, WATER." Water, as a synonym of the Great Deep, or the Internal Mother, also signifies astral Matter, and the third Globe on the astral plane. "For all we know, (we read further on) this WATER was simply that primordial fluid, which was required, according to Moses, to make a living soul." And the Commentary speaks of the watery condition of the Globe during the third Round. In all the old religions water is shown to be the origin of all forms, and this is why Thales, the great natural philosopher, maintained that water was the principle of all things in nature. This primordial substance is said to contain within itself, not only all the elements of man's physical being, but even "the breath of life" itself, in a latent state, ready to be awakened. (26)
In this Round, then, not only the globe, but everything upon it, was in an astral condition, the densest point that matter had yet reached. The third Round astral prototypes were the shadowy sketches, as it were, of the future forms. "The fish evolved into an amphibian, a frog, in the shadows of ponds, and man passed through all his metamorphoses on this globe in the third Round" (in astral forms) "as he did in the present, his Fourth Cycle" (in physical forms). (27) "All the forms which now people the earth are so many variations on (the seven) basic types originally thrown off by the MAN of the third and fourth Rounds, (28) and one of the most interesting diagrams in the Secret Doctrine is that on page 736, volume II, which gives, as the "unknown root" of science, "one of the seven primeval physico-astral and bi-sexual root-types." Some of these astral forms of the last Round have consolidated with the Earth itself, and appear to us as hard fossil shapes. "The zoological relics found in the Laurentian, Cambrian, and Silurian systems (of the Primordial Epoch) are relics of the third Round. Such are the fern-forests, fishes, first reptiles, etc., which at first astral, like the rest, consolidated and materialized step by step with the new vegetation of this Round." (29) But when the prototypes have once passed from the astral into the physical, an indefinite amount of modification ensues.
Man has now (towards the end of the Round) a perfectly concrete, compacted body, at first the form of a giant ape, and is now more intelligent, or rather cunning, than spiritual. For on the downward arc he has now reached a point where the dawn of the human mind begins to overpower the spiritual element in his nature. The veils of matter are growing thicker over the ray of the Divine within his soul. Still he becomes a more rational being, his stature decreases, and his body improves in texture, though he is yet more of an ape than a god. (30) But by the end of the Round, the Lunar Ancestors were already human in their divine nature, and were thus called upon to become the creators of the forms destined to serve as tabernacles for the less progressed Monads, whose turn it was to incarnate. (31)These "Forms" are called the Sons of Passive Yoga, because produced unconsciously, in a state of meditation. (32) The Sons of Will and Yoga owed their being to the exercise of conscious Will, and were a later development.
The diapason of type is run through in brief in the present process of human foetal growth, which epitomizes not only the general characteristics of the Fourth, but also of the third Round, terrestrial life. Occultists are thus at no loss to account for the birth of children with an actual caudal appendage, or for the fact that the tail of the human embryo is, at one period, double the length of the nascent legs. The potentiality of every organ useful to animal life is locked up in Man — the microcosm of the Macrocosm, and what Darwinists call "reversion to ancestral features," leads us further back in the processes of evolution than Haeckel or Darwin ever dreamed of going, for of course they were confined to the geological and biological history of the present cycle.
(To be continued.)
1. The Secret Doctrine, the Synthesis of Science, Religion and Philosophy. By H. P. Blavatsky. References are to the old edition. (return to text)
2. Idem I, 250. (return to text)
3. Idem I, 252. (return to text)
4. Idem II, 241. (return to text)
5. Secret Doctrine 1, 250. (return to text)
6. Idem I, 259. (return to text)
7. "The One Element in its second stage." Idem I, 140. (return to text)
8. Idem I, 259. (return to text)
9. ) Idem II, 242. (return to text)
10. Secret Doctrine I, 174. (return to text)
11. Idem I, 174. (return to text)
12. Idem I. 188. (return to text)
13. Idem I, 175. (return to text)
14. Idem I, 188. (return to text)
15. "The Spirit which is invisible Flame, which never burns, but sets on fire all that it touches, and gives it life and generation." — Idem I, 626. (return to text)
16. Secret Doctrine I, 125. (return to text)
17. Idem I. 142. (return to text)
18. Idem 1, 254. (return to text)
19. Idem I, 260 and 144. (return to text)
20. Idem I, 626. (return to text)
21. Idem I, 159. (return to text)
22. Idem I, 260. (return to text)
23. Idem I. 453. (return to text)
24. Secret Doctrine I, 188. (return to text)
25. ldem 1,252-3. (return to text)
26. Idem I, 345. (return to text)
27. Secret Doctrine II, 257. (return to text)
28. Idem II, 683. (return to text)
29. Idem II, 712. (return to text)
30. Idem I, 188. All this is almost exactly repeated in the Third Root-Race of the fourth Round. (return to text)
31. Secret Doctrine II, 115. (return to text)
32. Idem I, 165, 207, 275. (return to text)
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