When looking around at the world in which Man finds himself, the silent query of his awakened consciousness is: How did this grand aggregate of forms and Beings come into existence? Coupled with this query is another and more basic one: Who and what am I, the spectator, the thinker and the inquirer? The Wisdom-Religion holds that these two questions are inseparable, and that an answer to the one is contained in the answer to the other. The key to the mystery of Universal Being is to be found in the knowledge by Man of Himself.
Since every man enters a world in which these questions have agitated the minds of countless generations of men preceding him, every inquirer already finds well formulated answers to his queries. Before one has had an opportunity of sounding the depths of his own inner self for light on this dual mystery, solutions are virtually thrust upon him, and in the majority of cases some set formula is accepted and further inquiry abandoned. The Teachers of Theosophy alone abstain from interfering with Man’s independent attempts to solve the riddle of his own and the universe’s existence. They teach that it is the natural function of the Soul itself to find the answers to these self-posited queries; and the very fact that it is capable of positing the questions is a token of its ability to find the answers. Although Theosophy is an answer to questions and sees no unsolvable mystery anywhere, its answers must be assimilated and its solutions re-solved by every inquirer and student himself. Theosophy is not a belief or a dogma to be blindly accepted, nor does it rest on the conclusions and authority of persons and individuals regarded as scientific or otherwise.
Most of the answers the seeker already finds extant in the world fall into one of two classes: the answers of the various religious denominations, and the varying answers of scientific learning. The sects, which are dominated by the personal God idea—and most of them are—have a handy formula to account for the universe and for man. It is: God created both. The immediate effect of the acceptance of this “explanation” is to shut off further inquiry and to dry up the springs of thought. In fact, the sectarian proponents of the tenet that the world is God’s creation, and man, his creature, regard further inquiry as an impertinence and none of mere man’s business. Their reactions to the questioning mind range all the way from disfavor to horror and utter condemnation.
A corollary, necessarily growing out of the belief in God on the one hand and his creation on the other, is a dualistic concept of life. God is an all-powerful Being apart from, anterior to and always above and beyond the Universe, which it pleased him to create ex nihilo. All that man may safely inquire into and know anything about, is the objective universe which opens up to his physical vision. Knowledge of the subjective universe, which Theosophy holds open to Man’s spiritual vision, is regarded by these dualistic sectarians as an anomaly, a revelation, a gift from God to a few favored mortals. Hence, a personal psychological experience, arising from the warped development of the inner, astral senses is enough to found a new sect; and the one who had the experience is worshipped as a savior. Theosophy teaches that the knowledge of transcendental causes can be known, but not through the outer, physical sight. It must be sought after by the inner spiritual vision; and it is only by so searching that man discovers the essential identity of himself and the universe. The result of this synthesis is a concept of Deity as the Soul and Spirit of the Universe and all in it; and a realization of one’s own Soul and Spirit brings a realization of the Source from which it can never be severed.
“Alas, alas, that all men should possess Alaya, be one with the Great Soul, and that, possessing it, Alaya should so little avail them!
Behold how like the moon, reflected in the tranquil waves, Alaya is reflected by the small and by the great, is mirrored in the tiniest atoms, yet fails to reach the heart of all. Alas, that so few men should profit by the gift, the priceless boon of learning truth, the right perception of existing things, the knowledge of the non-existent!”
Materialistic learning is the legitimate offspring of the trinitarian dogma; God, the creator; the universe, his creation; man and all other beings, his creatures. Damming up the channels to Man’s inner being by forbidding and anathematizing search in that direction, the restless spirit of man found an outlet in the exploration of the objective universe. Over-emphasis on the external outlook was the result. Man, becoming enamored of the endless parade of phenomena, declared that there was no ultimate Noumenon except, perhaps, blind matter. The classification of phenomena and the physical laws observed to govern in them, constitute the farthest reach of scientific inquiry. It is from such classification and upon such laws that has arisen the modern scientific conception of evolution as an explanation of the universe and its almost infinite variety and graduation of living and non-living (to scientific) forms. The scientist’s attention is riveted chiefly on the evolutionary process, as such; and only incidentally on the primary and remote cause of the process. Some scientific men are satisfied to accept the theological conclusion of an inscrutable God as the Primary Cause, and to let it go at that; some decline to concern themselves with theological problems altogether, asserting the fruitlessness of all such speculations; and some trace the origin of things and beings to Blind Matter. A few have come to recognize the existence and potency of transcendental forces; but they have not been able to see that further investigation of these forces and their true understanding necessitate a new approach altogether. It is this blindness which prevents them from placing themselves squarely in line with the method and spirit of the Hermetic Philosophy. These scientists may pierce the Veil of Isis, here and there; but as they can never by their methods lift it, the rents which they make soon close up and they are thrown back once more upon the physical universe alone, with its ever shifting shadows.
While Theosophy has adopted the term evolution in connection with its explanation of the infinite gradations of life in a Boundless Universe, the theosophical use of the term has little in common with the Haeckelian and Darwinian uses. Science traces an ascent of forms from the most simple and least organized to the most complex and highly organized. The ascending procession of forms starts from lifeless, inorganic matter, and after a long series of gradual transformations, living, organic forms come into being. Since the stream is conditioned by its source, all the living conscious and organic forms are instinct with death, and when the form disintegrates, the illusive life which it carried evaporates into nothingness. The matter composing the form returns to its dead, inorganic source. Such is the “philosophy” behind the materialistic conception of evolution. If it sounds preposterous to the soul perception of the unlearned, its logic is tenaciously defended by the crass intellectualism of learned scientists. “Learn above all to separate Head-learning from Soul-wisdom, the ‘Eye’ from the ‘Heart’ doctrine…. But even ignorance is better than Head-learning with no Soul-wisdom to illuminate and guide it.”
Evolution as taught in Theosophy, begins from a living spiritual Center; hence, all its radiations are instinct with life and intelligence. It is the form which is incidental and mayavic—the indwelling consciousness, the Reality. All evolution is of conscious, living units, Jivas or Monads. The forms are merely indicative of the extent to which these spiritual units can express themselves in and through matter. What we call Manas or Mind is that degree of spiritual expression capable of shining through the forms called human. This degree of spiritual expression is capable of recognizing itself as such. Manas is itself a Jiva or Monad, which in the immeasurable past had succeeded in evolving to a state of self-consciousness. Manas does not evolve from within the man-form but descends upon and enters into that form. If we consult H.P.B.’s Theosophical Glossary, we shall find that she defines the monad as, “The unified triad Atma-Buddhi-Manas or the duad Atma-Buddhi.” The duad is not yet definitely individualized and represents the monads in the kingdoms below man. The triadic Monad has a distinct and persisting individuality, and is a Reincarnating EGO. The aim of evolution is the perfecting of these self-shining Jivas so that in time they will become complete embodiments of the SELF. This is the culmination of a long series of rebirths, provided one has ceased being checked by Karma.
While the term evolution, as also the term monad, has been adopted by Theosophy from the theories and speculations of modern science and philosophy, the student will be aided in understanding the Theosophical Teachings on evolution by acquainting himself with another term—emanation. In the Theosophical Glossary, under “The Doctrine of Emanation”, Madame Blavatsky states:
…while the Occultists and Theosophists believe thoroughly in the doctrine of Evolution as given out by Kapila and Manu, they are Emanationists rather than Evolutionists. The doctrine of Emanation was at one time universal. It was taught by the Alexandrian as well as by the Indian philosophers, by the Egyptian, the Chaldean and Hellenic Hierophants, and also by the Hebrews (in their Kabbala, and even in Genesis)… The Evolutionist stops all inquiry at the borders of “the Unknowable”; the Emanationist believes that nothing can be evolved—or, as the word means, unwombed or born—except it has first been involved, thus indicating that life is from a spiritual potency above the whole.
Under the term Evolution, she states:
… The ancient sages, ascending to the UNKNOWABLE, made their starting-point from the first manifestation of the unseen, the unavoidable, and, from a strictly logical reasoning, the absolutely necessary creative Being—the Demiurgos of the universe. Evolution began with them from pure spirit, which descending lower and lower down, assumed at last a visible and comprehensible form, and became matter. Arrived at this point, they speculated in the Darwinian method, but on a far more large and comprehensive basis.
Emanation is the passage of Life from its highest state—Unity, through the planes of ever increasing differentiation until it reaches this lowest, physical sphere. It is an understanding of the Doctrine of Emanation which will help us avoid the pitfalls of the teachings of the modern evolutionist that Man, the Thinker, is a direct evolution from the ape, which in turn evolved from still lower forms of animal life, and so down ad nauseam.
A question which puzzles many a student may be formulated thus: Is it the spark which passes through every elemental form of the phenomenal world, as stated in the Third Fundamental Proposition of the Secret Doctrine, which finally becomes a Man? The answer is: No, it does not become Man as that spark. On page 178 of the Secret Doctrine, Vol. I, we read:
It would be very misleading to imagine a Monad as a separate Entity trailing its slow way in a distinct path through the lower Kingdoms, and after an incalculable series of transformations flowering into a human being; in short, that the Monad of a Humboldt dates back to the Monad of an atom of hornblende.
Every spark which leaves the Universal Over-Soul for its obligatory pilgrimage through the Cycle of Incarnation (or “Necessity”) is fundamentally identical with its Source, the Over-Soul. It is, in truth, never separated from It, not even when immersed in the densest matter. In the footnote on page 16, S.D. I, we read:
“Pilgrim” is the appellation given to our Monad (the two in one) during its cycle of incarnations. It is the only immortal and eternal principal in us, being an indivisible part of the integral whole—the Universal Spirit, from which it emanates, and into which it is absorbed at the end of the cycle. When it is said to emanate from the one spirit, an awkward and incorrect expression has to be used, for lack of appropriate words in English. The Vedantins call it Sutratma (Thread-Soul).
All Monads being “Thread-Souls,” they are magnetically and electrically connected not only with their Source, the Universal Soul, but with one another as well. They are interdependent and inter-related throughout the entire Manvantara; and it is this Fohatic and Karmic inter-dependence which constitutes their collective Unity on the planes of Manifestation and Form. The aim and goal of every spark is to find its way back to the Homogeneous Unity from which it emanated at the beginning of the active period of the One Life. That return is not a direct and immediate one, but consists of numerous stages and sub-stages not one of which can be missed without defeating the divine purpose of Evolution—the attainment of perfection as a Dhyani-Buddha. The sparks of a lower degree of evolution are absorbed by the sparks a stage above which possess a greater degree of fire and light. When the fire of the lower spark combines with that of the stage above, the two fires become indistinguishable, the lower having lost its separate identity in the higher. On page 167, Secret Doctrine, Vol. II, we read:
The Monads are not discrete principles, limited or conditioned, but rays from the one universal absolute Principle. The entrance into a dark room through the same aperture of one ray of sunlight following another will not constitute two rays, but one ray intensified.
That which draws the less evolved sparks into the higher ones and produces a conjunction of their essences is not a material force, but a spiritual impulse. This is what is meant by natural impulse. This spiritual impulsion causes the sparks to ascend from Kingdom to Kingdom until they reach the highest form of the animal Kingdom, that of animal man. At this point the nature of the spiritual impulsion changes. It is now no longer from without within, but Spirit is capable of entering into the form and influencing its further evolution from within without. Spirit is now consciously embodied in matter, such embodiment being known as Manas(11). These Manasic Monads waited on their own plane until the human forms were ready, and then consciously and knowingly descended, entering into forms in order to raise their constituents to the plane of the Thinker.
In the Ocean of Theosophy, Mr. Judge explains the process in this wise: “As to the whole mass of matter, the doctrine is that it will all be raised to man’s estate when man has gone further on himself… Thus what is now called human flesh is so much matter that one day was wholly mineral, later on vegetable, and now refined into human atoms. At a point of time very far from now the present vegetable matter will have been raised to the animal stage and what we now use as our organic or fleshy matter will have changed by transformation through evolution into self-conscious thinkers, and so on up the whole scale until the time shall come when what is now known as mineral matter will have passed on to the human stage and out into that of thinker.” It is in the crucible of human flesh that the divine alchemist Higher Manas carries on the work of transmuting the base elements into the pure gold of Self-conscious Life; and the Great Solvent employed in the process is the Fire of Spiritual Knowledge.