= Students' Column — J. H. Fussell

Universal Brotherhood Path – April 1900


I have often heard it stated by Theosophists that the theory of evolution as generally accepted by modern science is only half the truth. Will the Students' Column please state what is the other half? — C. E. NEW YORK.

The main idea of the evolutionary theory is that there is a progression and development from lower to higher forms throughout all the kingdoms of nature and from kingdom to kingdom. The general truth of this idea appears to be well upheld from a scientific standpoint by observation and research, but there is not sufficient evidence to support it in all its details and especially in its most interesting particular as to the immediate ancestor of man in the animal kingdom and the so generally accepted statement that man was descended from the monkey.

It is supposed by many that the evolutionary theory is a product of modern thought, but the fact is that it is one of the teachings of the remotest antiquity. It was expressed in the Kabbala (though taken from a much older teaching) in the following way: — "The stone becomes a plant, the plant an animal, the animal a man, and man a god."

Modern science does not offer any theory or explanation of the process whereby the life principle became locked up in the stone nor does it give any satisfactory solution to the development of the powers of feeling and thinking and egohood; indeed, it ignores the mainspring of all, namely this, the soul. The fault has partly lain in the futile attempts to divorce what is called "science" from philosophy and religion, and by a majority of scientists, metaphysics also is forbidden, even in the study of the mind. (1) So much has this been the case that it has been said of modern psychology that it is the science of the soul with the soul left out. In fact, science has been able to deal satisfactorily — and that to but a limited extent — only with external phenomena, and the theory of evolution is on firm ground only when applied to the evolution of form; the subjective world is still an almost altogether sealed book, a realm for speculation, but of little knowledge.

Yet even in its wider scope, evolution is but half the story and without the other half incapable of full demonstration. It is impossible to adequately state this other half of which evolution is the sequel: but a very brief outline can be given, and the student is referred to H. P. Blavatsky's monumental work, "The Secret Doctrine."

Evolution is the sequel and the complementary process of involution. Life is essentially free, freedom is a part of its own nature, yet modern science in its study of life begins at the point where it is least manifested and most locked up. Ancient science as shown in "The Secret Doctrine" teaches that as many stages as there are in the unfoldment of life and consciousness, attended by the development of form, ascending from mineral to plant, to animal, to man, and beyond, to God: so many are there on the descending side, through what are called the elemental stages of nature, two of which it is taught are closely allied to sound and color.

The arduous research and study of modern science may be likened to the study of music with a knowledge of only three out of the seven notes of the scale, and with no knowledge of the keynote or the principal chords. Yet so strong has been the desire for knowledge, so ardent the pursuit of truth, that the results achieved have been many and great. How great then will be the progress in the future when the soul is acknowledged as the keynote, and all investigation of life's problems, even on this material plane and in the realm of physical science, is seen to revolve around it as center; when the existence of other planes and spheres of being is known and their relation to this understood.

The problem is much more complex and yet at the same time much simpler than modern science has regarded it, and can only be understood when the existence of other planes of being is granted. The processes of involution and evolution are coexistent, but in that stage which has been called the "descent into matter," involution is dominant: there is a gradual locking up, and an increasing quiescence of the life forces, while matter becomes more and more concrete until the greatest density of the mineral kingdom is attained. Then begins the unlocking of the life forces and the gradual refinement and greater plasticity of matter. This is evolution and the principal cause of it is the inherent power of the life force which has become so looked up. Involution has not, however, ceased, but continues in a somewhat different way, which may perhaps be described as absorption of intellectual and spiritual energies, through which these same energies lying dormant in the material vehicle are awakened to life and activity.

For evolution does not take place simply from the inherent power in the individual, since the individual has no inherent power as an isolated unit, but only in relation to the rest of nature and to all other units. One of the most important factors in evolution is the existence of beings on higher planes of nature whose influence is shed more or less consciously upon the beings of lower planes. One of the most interesting teachings of "The Secret Doctrine" is in regard to the emergence from the animal into the human stage of evolution, which is accomplished directly through this influence of the higher beings upon the lower, and more than that, is brought about by the actual incarnation of beings who had previously passed through the human stage, in the bodies of the now human animals, these acting as the guides and rulers of early humanity. It is because of this in part that the missing link so called has not been found, and the attempt to find that missing link in the ape or monkey will be forever a failure for the reason as given in the ancient teachings that these creatures are the offsprings of degenerate man and not his ancestors, but the result of his crime in the early days. Furthermore, and as the main reason for not finding the missing link, "The Secret Doctrine" states that man, in the present stage of the Earth's evolution, appeared first, before all the other animals.

When scientists begin to study the ancient religions of the world, not simply from a religious, but from a scientific standpoint, the key to which Mme. Blavatsky has given in her "Secret Doctrine," they will find a new light and that many of the deepest problems over which they have wrangled so long were known to and solved in remote antiquity. When this is seen, the new realms of knowledge that will open out before the student of life will be incalculably vast. Such a step must be taken before long; without it science will become hopelessly lost in the labyrinth of speculation. — J. H. F.


1. How widely this has been the case may be seen in "The Philosophy of Mind, an Essay in the Metaphysics of Psychology." by Prof. Ladd, in which he openly and avowedly enters, the realm of metaphysics. (return to text)

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