Theosophy and Evolution

Part 2

[Based on notes and studies to be found in the writings of H. P. Blavatsky and Wm. Q. Judge.]


Sleep, Reincarnation and New Evolution as Analogies

The process is analogous to reincarnation and to our daily awakening, when we resume control of our bodies after sleep.) of the next Manvantara for this or other planets. This system is thus seen to be based upon the continued and Eternal Identity of Spiritual Being, and, under the name of "Universal Brotherhood," constitutes idea of the Theosophical Movement, whose object is the practical and active realization of that Brotherhood among humans.

Spirit or Purusha -- Its functions

The Sages say that this Purusha (spirit) is the basis of all manifested objects. Without it nothing could exist or cohere. It interpenetrates everything everywhere. It is the reality of which, or upon which, those things called real by us are mere images.

As Purusha reaches to and embraces all beings, they are all connected together; and in or on the plane where that Purusha is, there is a perfect consciousness of every act, thought, object, and circumstance, whether supposed to occur there, or on this plane, or any other. For below the spirit and above the intellect is a plane of consciousness in which experiences are noted, commonly called man's "spiritual nature;" this is frequently said to be as susceptible of culture as his body or his intellect.

This upper plane [known as AKASA] is the real register of all sensations and experiences, although there are other registering planes. It is sometimes called the "subconscious mind." Theosophy, however, holds that it is a misuse of terms to say that the spiritual nature can be cultivated.

Preparation for Spiritual Learning

The real object to be kept in view is to so open up or make porous the Lower Nature that the spiritual nature may shine through it and become the guide and ruler.

It is only "cultivated" in the sense of having A VEHICLE PREPARED FOR ITS USE, into which it may descend. In other words, it is held that the real man, who is the HIGHER SELF-being the spark of the Divine before alluded to--overshadows the visible being, which has the possibility of becoming united to that spark.

Thus it is said that the HIGHER SPIRIT is not in the man, but above him. It is always peaceful, unconcerned, blissful, and full of absolute knowledge. It continually partakes of the Divine state, being continually that state itself, "conjoined with the Gods, it feeds upon Ambrosia." The object of the student is to let the light of that spirit shine through the lower coverings.

This "spiritual culture" is only attainable as the grosser interests, passions, and demands of the flesh are subordinated to the interests, aspirations and needs of the higher nature; and this is a matter of both system and established law.

This spirit can only become the ruler when the firm intellectual acknowledgment or admission is first made that IT alone is. And, as stated above, it being not only the person concerned but also the whole, all selfishness must be eliminated from the lower nature before its divine state can be reached.

Selfishness Stops Progress

So long as the smallest personal or selfish desire--even for spiritual attainment for our own sake- remains, so long is the desired end put off. Hence the above term "demands of the flesh" really covers also demands that are not of the flesh, and its proper rendering would be "desires of the personal nature, including those of the individual soul. "

Spiritual Training of the Personality

When systematically trained in accordance with the aforesaid system and law, men attain to clear insight into the immaterial, spiritual world, and their interior faculties apprehend truth as immediately and readily as physical faculties grasp the things of sense, or mental faculties those of reason. Or, in the words used by some of them, "They are able to look directly upon ideas;" and hence their testimony to such truth is as trustworthy as is that of scientists or philosophers to truth in their respective fields.

In the course of this spiritual training such men acquire perception of, and control over, various forces in Nature unknown to other men, and thus are able to perform works usually called "miraculous," though really but the result of larger knowledge of natural law. What these powers are may be found in Patanjali's "YOGA SUTRAS of Philosophy."

Their testimony as to supersensuous truth, verified by their possession of such powers, challenges candid examination from every religious mind.

Cosmogony

Turning now to the system expounded by these sages, we find, in the first place, an account of cosmogony, the past and future of this earth and other planets, the evolution of life through elemental, mineral, vegetable, animal and human forms, as they are called.

The "passive life elementals" (AN OCEAN of MONADIC ESSENCE -- S.D., I p. 619, see also S.D., I pp. 174-288, 618-629) are unknown to modern science, though sometimes approached by it as a subtle material agent in the production of life, whereas they are a form of life itself.

Cycles of Time -- Kalpas and Yugas

Each Kalpa, or grand period, is divided into four ages or Yugas, each lasting many thousands of years, and each one being marked by a predominant characteristic. These are the Satya-yuga (or age of golden truth), the Tretya-yuga, (the silver Age of arts and science), the Dvapara-yuga (Age of Bronze and conflict), and our present Kali-yuga (or Age of darkness, ignorance, delusion, wars, selfishness and confusion).

Kali-Yuga -- Our Age

It (Kali-yuga) began five thousand years back. The word "darkness" here refers to spiritual, and not, material darkness. In this age, however, all causes bring about their Karmic effects much more rapidly than in any other age-a fact due to the intensified momentum of "evil," as the course of its cycle is about rounding towards that of a new cycle of truth.

Thus a sincere lover of the race is said to be able to accomplish more in three incarnations during Kali-Yuga, than he could in a much greater number in any other age. The darkness of this age is not absolute, but is greater than that of other ages; its main tendency being towards materiality, while having some mitigation in occasional ethical or scientific advance conducive to the well-being of the race, by the removal of the immediate causes of crime or disease.

Our Earth is a part of a Chain of Seven

Our earth is one of a chain of seven "Globes," it alone being on the VISIBLE PLANE, while the six others are on different planes, and therefore invisible. [see Diagram, S.D., p. I 200] [The other Planets of our solar system belong each to a chain of their own seven.] And the life-wave passes from the higher (or spiritual origin -- the 1st) to the lower in the chain until it reaches our Earth (the 4th, or, 4th Globe), and then re-ascends and passes to the three others on the opposite arc, and this is repeated with each Round -- or, seven times. The evolution of forms is coincident with this progress, the tide of life bearing with it the mineral and vegetable forms, until each globe in turn is ready to receive the human life wave. Of these globes our earth is the fourth. [S.D., I p. 200]

Humanity is Sevenfold in its Character and Capacities -- Races

Humanity passes from Globe to Globe in a series of Rounds, first (that wave of Humanity, now called a "Race" is seen circling about each Globe, and reincarnating upon it a number of times. Each circling around the 7 Globes is called a "Round."

Concerning the human evolution on the concealed Planets or Globes, little is permitted to be said. We have to concern ourselves with our Earth alone. The latter, when the wave of Humanity had reached it for the last time (in this, our Fourth Round), began to evolve man in form and capacity of mind and character, as we know him. The subdivision of the human "wave" into "Races" is not according to color of skin or physical location on the Earth, but is according to quite other reasons (see S.D., I pp. 570-573). [It shold be clearly understood that the use of the word "Race" in Theosophy, does not refer in any way to the current and common use of that term, which is generally used to designate the color of the skin only.]

Each of these Races when it has, through evolution, reached the period known as "the moment of choice," it then, as a mass, will decide its future destiny. And, as an individual Race, it will begin to disappear in terms of the bodily form (as the immortal spirit will reincarnate in the bodies of a new Race evolved from the one that is now disappearing).

The Races were originally separated, from each other by catastrophes of nature, such as the subsidence of continents and great natural convulsions. Coincidentally with the development of Races the development of specialized senses takes place; thus our fifth Race has so far developed five senses. And as we have seen in the past 100 years there have been vast movements of persons from their original Racial settlements to new ones. A vast amalgamation is taking place and it is said that from this, we may expect the bodily form of the 6th Race to evolve.

Cyclic Law Rules Evolution

The Sages further tell us that the affairs of this world and its people are subject to cyclic laws, and during any one cycle the rate or quality of progress appertaining to a different cycle is not possible. These cyclic laws operate in each age. As the ages grow darker the same laws prevail, only the cycles are shorter; that is, they are the same length in the absolute sense, but go over the given limit in a shorter period of time. These laws impose restrictions on the progress of the race. In a cycle, where all is ascending and descending, the Adepts must wait until the time comes before they can aid the race to ascend. They cannot, and must not, interfere with Karmic law. Thus they begin to work actively again in the spiritual sense, when the cycle is known by them to be approaching its turning point. We may assume that the Theosophical Movement is one of these pivotal efforts.

At the same time these cycles have no hard lines or points of departure or inception, inasmuch as one may be ending or drawing to a close for sometime after another has already begun. They thus overlap and shade into one another, as day does into night; and it is only when the one has completely ended and the other has really begun by bringing out its blossoms, that we can say we are in a new cycle.

It may be illustrated by comparing two adjacent cycles to two interlaced circles, where the circumference of one touches the center of the other, so that the moment where one ended and the other began would be at the point where the circumferences intersected each other. Or by imagining a man as representing, in the act of walking, the progress of the cycles; his rate of advancement can only be obtained by taking the distance covered by his paces, the points at the middle of each pace, between the feet, being the beginning of cycles and their ending.

The cyclic progress is assisted, or the deterioration further permitted, in this way; at a time when the cycle is ascending, developed and progressed Beings, known in Sanskrit by the term "Jnanis," descend to this earth from other spheres where the cycle is going down, in order that they may also help the spiritual progress of this globe. In like manner they leave this sphere when our cycle approaches darkness. These Jnanis must not, however, be confounded with the Mahatmas and Adepts mentioned above. The right aim of true Theosophists should, therefore, be so to live that their influence may be conducive for the dispelling of darkness to the end that such Jnanis may turn again towards this sphere.

Astral Light and Akasa -- Their Importance. Invisible Universe underlies Visible

Theosophy also teaches the existence of a universally diffused, and highly ethereal medium, of an electro-magnetic character in one of its aspects, which has been called the "Astral Light," and "Akasa" is said to be its highest or 7th aspect. It is the repository of all past, present, and future events, and in it are recorded the effects of spiritual causes, and of all acts and thoughts from the direction of either spirit or matter. It may be called the "Book of the Recording Angel."

Akasa, however, is a misnomer when it is confused with Ether or the Astral Light of the Kabalists. Akasa is the noumenon of the phenomenal Ether or astral light proper, for Akasa is infinite, impartite, intangible, its only characteristic being Sound. It may be said to be associated with Maha-Buddhi in its capacity of Universal WISDOM, it being the entire and total record of the past.

This Astral Light is material and not Spirit. It is, in fact, the lower principle of that cosmic body of which Akasa is the highest. It has the power of retaining all images. This includes a statement that each thought as well as desire, word and act makes an image there.

Thoughts and Elementals -- Choosing our Future

The world of the ELEMENTALS is an important factor in our world and in the course of the student. Each thought as it is evolved by a man coalesces instantly with an elemental, and is then beyond the man's power. These form the Karmic links that will return them to the mind that generated them under Karma. From those we receive advantages or disadvantages depending on the moral impress made when we made our original choices.

It can be easily seen that this process is going on every instant. Therefore, each thought exists as an entity. Its length of life depends on two things: (a) The original force of the person's will, desire and thought; (b) The power of the elemental which coalesced with it, the latter being determined by the class to which the elemental belongs. Three classes of elementals are said to inhabit the Astral Light, but little detail is given of them.

This is the case with good and bad thoughts alike, and, as the will beneath the generality of wicked thoughts is usually powerful, we can see that the result is very important, because the elemental has no conscience and obtains its constitution and direction from the desire-thought it may from time to time carry. This is said to be the power of the "Lower Manas" or, the aspect of mind that is closely linked to the Personality and the body presently being used.

Theosophy on the Subject of Man's Future

First. That each Human is deemed to be in essence an immortal SPIRIT. Spirit is a manifestation of the ONE SPIRIT, and thus a part of ALL. It passes (as a MONAD) through a series of experiences covering many incarnations, and is destined to ultimate reunion with the Divine.

Second. That this INCARNATION is not single but repeated, each individuality becoming re-embodied during numerous existences in successive races and Globes of our chain. There, by this repeated process (similar to a child going to School) it accumulates the experiences of each incarnation towards its "perfection."

Third. That between adjacent incarnations, after grosser elements are first purged away, comes a period of comparative rest and refreshment, called Devachan--the soul being therein prepared by mediation, for its next advent (propelled by its Karma) into material life.

The constitution of man is subdivided in a septenary manner, the main divisions being those of body, soul and spirit. These divisions and their relative development govern his subjective condition after death. The real division cannot be understood, and must for a time remain esoteric, because it requires certain senses not usually developed for its understanding. (see S.D., I p. 157, pp. 181-5)

If the present seven-fold division, as given by Theosophical writers is adhered to strictly, and without any conditional statement, it will give rise to controversy or error. For instance, Spirit is not a seventh "principle." It is the synthesis, or the whole, and is equally present in the other six. The present various divisions can only be used as a general working hypothesis, to be developed and corrected as students advance and themselves develop in perception, discrimination and understanding, those are understood to be always voluntary and self-directed.

Reincarnation and Evolution

The nature of each incarnation depends upon the balance (as struck) of the merit and demerit of the previous life or lives--upon the way in which the man has lived and thought; and this law is inflexible and wholly just. The result of one's choices cannot be set aside by prayer, petition, or repentance. One might say that the assistance to, or obstruction of others always results, eventually, in our becoming the object of the results of such actions -- so that we may witness and feel the power of our past choosing, and thus learn to control the creative powers of desire, thought , word and deed that are ours, as Thinkers.

Karma

"Karma"-- is a term signifying two things, the law of ethical causation ( "Whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap."); and, the balance or excess of merit or demerit in any individual, determines also the main experiences, and the joy and sorrow in each of our incarnations, so that what we call "luck" is in reality "desert"-- or, the desert generated or acquired in past existence.

Karma is not all exhausted in a single life, nor is a person necessarily in this life experiencing the effect of all his previous Karma; for some may be held back by various and interacting causes: the result of mitigation we may set into motion, or the impact of cooperative interaction with others.

The principle cause is the failure of the Ego to acquire a body which will furnish the instrument or apparatus in, and by which, the meditation or thoughts of previous lives can have their effect and be ripened.

Hence it is held that there is a mysterious power in the man's thoughts during a life, sure to bring about its results in either an immediately succeeding life or in one many lives distant; that is, in whatever life the Ego obtains a body capable of being the focus, apparatus, or instrument for the ripening of past Karma.

There is also a swaying or diverging power in Karma in its effects upon the soul, for a certain course of life-or thought-will influence the soul in that direction for sometimes three lives, before the beneficial or bad effect of any other sort of Karma can be felt.

Nor does it follow that every minute portion of Karma must be felt in the same detail as when produced. for several sorts of Karma may come to a head together at one point in the life, and, by their combined effect, produce a result which, while, as a whole, accurately representing all the elements in it. Still, this appears to be a different Karma, yet it is produced from the total of each single component part. This may be known as the modification or the nullification of the postulated effect of those classes of Karma involved.

The process of evolution up to reunion with the Divine is, and includes, successive elevation from rank to rank of power and usefulness. The most exalted beings still in the flesh are known as Sages, Rishis, Brothers, Masters. Their great function being the preservation of wisdom and experience at all times, and when cyclic laws permit, the extension of spiritual knowledge and influence. They are said to maintain a School for disciples that offer the historical evidence of their work and the progress of man. (see S.D., I pp. 272-3, Isis Unveiled, Vol. 2, pp. 98-103.)

When union with the Divine is effected, all the events and experiences of each incarnation are known. This is not the result of psychic sensitivity, but is an active and meditative function of the Buddhi-Manas (Higher Mind) in man who seeks to help and be of real service to others. (S.D., I pp. 207-210).

Spiritual Development

  • First. That the essence of the process lies in the securing of supremacy, to the highest, the spiritual, element of man's nature. It is the "personality" carting the "embodied brain-mind" which has to make this voluntary decision, and then develop the patience and tenacity to further develop it.

  • Second. That this is attained along four lines, among others:

    1. The entire eradication of selfishness in all forms, and the cultivation of broad, generous sympathy in, and effort for the good of others.

    2. The absolute cultivation of the inner, spiritual man by meditation, by reaching to and communion with the Divine, and by exercise of the kind described by Patanjali, i.e., incessant striving to an ideal end.

    3. The control of fleshly appetites and desires, all lower, material interests, desires, lusts and passions, being deliberately subordinated to the needs of the Spirit within each human.

    4. The careful performance of every duty belonging to one's station in life, without desire for reward, leaving results for Divine law.

  • Third. That while the above is incumbent on and practicable by all religiously disposed men, a yet higher plane of spiritual attainment is conditioned upon a specific course of training, physical, intellectual and spiritual, by which the internal faculties are first aroused and then developed.

  • Fourth. That an extension of this process is reached in Adeptship, Mahatmaship, or the states of Rishis, Sages and Dhyan Chohans, which are all exalted stages, attained by laborious self-discipline and hardship, protracted through possibly many incarnations, and with many degrees of initiation and preferment, beyond which are yet other stages ever approaching the Divine.

Rationale of Spiritual Development

First. That the process takes place entirely within the individual himself, the motive, the effort, and the result proceeding from his own inner nature, along the lines of self-evolution.

Second. That, however personal and interior, this process is not unaided, being possible, in fact, only through close communion with the supreme source of all strength.

Broadly we may state that the ultimate goal of our many lives on this Earth is to obtain "perfection" of our intelligence and widen the purview of our consciousness. From self-consciousness it has to grow by our own choice as "personalities" to become UNIVERSAL SELF-CONSCIOUSNESS. Then our "personality" will befit to join the college of the IMMORTALS and continue its evolutionary round of voluntary service. (S.D., I pp. 207-8, VOICE pp. 77-79.)


Dallas TenBroeck

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