A correspondent of PATH says:
I am unable to get a comprehensive view of evolution theosophically. Does a “round” mean once around the 7 planets which belong to the earth chain? If so, how is the moon our parent?
A round means a going once around the seven globes of the earth-chain. It was also called a “ring.” Some have confused it with incarnating in the seven races on any one planet. The seven races have to go seven times around the seven globes of this chain, developing in each the characteristics of each, which cannot be obtained in any other way.
There are seven globes in the chain, of which the earth is one. The other six are not visible to us, as they are made of matter in a different state, and on a different plane from matter as we know it and see it. The first race began on Globe No. 1 and carried on evolution there, and then went to Globe No. 2, and so on all around the seven. This it did seven times. Race No. 2 proceeded similarly, having in its possession all that was gained by No.1. We are now the Fifth Race engaged in going round the whole chain; hence we are called those of the Fourth Round, but are the Fifth Race. We must go round the whole chain of 7 planets 3 times more before as a race we are perfected.
When the Seventh Round is finished, as well as the halt for rest that follows, we begin again as a Sixth Race and go through Seven Rounds as such. When that is concluded we begin as the Seventh Race and repeat the process of Seven Rounds through the chain, thus bringing the grand evolution for this chain to a perfect end. After that we pass on upon a higher plane, the possessors of all the knowledge and development acquired during that sevenfold progress. This is the outline of the grand scheme, and, as you see, includes the whole series of seven planets.
But in every round of planets, on each one, and in each race as it begins and proceeds, there are many sub-races, root races, and offshoots, all necessary in the process of development for each race. For a race cannot spring up in a moment, out of nothing; it must grow forth from something. Therefore a new race is made by offshoots making sub-roots that finally grow slowly in the main race which will be. This is occurring in America, and hence here is afforded a present and perfect illustration. For here many examples of various root and sub- and offshoot races coming together, by generation of children among themselves, are producing the sub-root for the new race. This process will go on for a long period, during which old, decayed branchlets and offshoot families and races will be absorbed into the new growing stem, and when the time is ready—a long way off—for the new race, all will have to migrate to the next planet.
It is now plain that ring and round do not mean the process of going through the race in its process of formation on any planet, as its beginnings come on and are finally replaced by its finished product, but that these words refer to the grand march around the whole chain of globes, of which this earth is the fourth.
The question about the moon ought now to be clear. It is evident that the moon is not one of the 7 planets. By reading the Secret Doctrine we see that the moon is a deserted planet on the same plane as the earth—a fourth-round globe of a previous manvantara. It is the old fourth globe of an old chain, and is the parent of the earth, while the other six globes of our chain have similar parents, visible only from those globes. It is our parent because we came from it when the hour struck, long ago, for the migration from it of the humanity that had thereon passed through its grand sevenfold pilgrimage. In like manner, some future day, this earth will become “a moon” to some newer planet not now born.
Ques. 2—If the prototype of all forms has always existed, how can new forms come through evolution of the physical or material?
New material forms may come, but they are not prototypes. The latter are not material, therefore no confusion between the two can exist. There is evolution of material forms, but prototypes remain unaffected. This is a question which requires the questioner to look up exact meanings of the words used by him. It is not substantial. Fix the true meanings and the confusion will vanish.
Ques. 3—If man made his first appearance as a material body, why does the embryo pass through all the changes, vegetable and animal, before birth?
It is the order of nature. All the atoms have to grow used to their work before they can do it well and quickly. At first as astral atoms only, they do it over and over again until all the atoms acquire the habit of doing it without fail. They then go on to other work. This having been the way for ages, the human body is now gestated in nine months, whereas at earlier periods such gestation took years, later on fewer years, and finally as now. In future times the process will be finished more quickly, and then the embryo will pass through all these old states almost instantaneously. The reason, therefore, is that the physical human molecules of this period of evolution have only acquired the ability to pass through the series in nine months, as a result of millions of years of prior slow work. For nature goes by steps, one at a time. The embryo exhibits these phases because there are still left in the matter used the old impressions, and racial evolution is gradually wiping them out by transforming them into new organs, by eliminating those not useful and by condemning others. When the work is fully understood by every atom so that it acts with unerring, machine-like precision, it will be possible to bring out a body in a very short space of time.