In Theosophy, evolution is a custom blend of spirit-mind-matter. As implied in our last article, The Eye of Light, spiritual evolution is a top-down process.
The key to self-development is seeing the whole pyramid, that we are “spiritual beings having a human experience”— as Brian Weiss famously said. Self-knowledge is usually acquired by plodding through a challenging series of reincarnations in human form.
Initializing our “Third Eye,” we come to recognize, is the only sure stimulant to spiritual growth— upgrading ho-hum cogitation with intuitive flash. Coffee shop brew with French Roast. Because “altruism,” once awakened, “is an integral part of self-development.” (The Key to Theosophy)
Socrates vs Aristotle
Bottom-up experience also works. We benefit both from deductive and inductive methods. “The Secret Doctrine points where the lines of evolution and involution meet,” William Q. Judge writes in The Synthesis of Occult Science.
This is the point, where matter and spirit clasp hands; and where the rising animal stands face to face with the fallen god; for all natures meet and mingle in man.
The stage humanity is at now, this is our opportunity, the moment we “struggled so hard to reach,” as Judge says in the above article. — “Self-consciousness, which from the animal plane looking upward is the beginning of perfection,” he writes, “from the divine plane looking downward is the perfection of selfishness and the curse of separateness.”
In The Eye of Light, we promised a fuller discussion of these evolutionary stages, and further details about the endless reincarnations needed to achieve, in Judge’s words, “conscious god-hood“ — while still on Earth.
Before our main meal of metaphysics, let’s warm up our spiritual minds for a few minutes, and get inspired by an intriguing proof of reincarnation with the promised James’ Story Part 2:
Theosophy’s plan includes the whole of Nature, atoms to zebras. But in this post we are considering only the human cycles leading to an enhanced mind function. We are caught in the middle, according to Theosophy, between spiritual and material concerns. Arjuna between two armies.
“Human” or Humanity means-the Thinker on earth humus-earth; man-to think. (EV,200) “Man” comes from the Sanskrit root “manas” or mind. The early races of humans had a working “Third Eye,” but today the great majority of us do not. Why not?
On a Tight Rope
We are now in the “ascending” arc of the Fourth Round, between the stages on the “descending” side of First and Second Races in development. This is where things get interesting—the struggle between the spiritual and material evolutions. (See graph below) The cycles of these races are described in The Secret Doctrine, Volume 2:289:
Remember well, as we are in the manasa [mind] period of our cycle of races, or in the Fifth, we have, therefore, crossed the meridian point of the perfect adjustment of Spirit and Matter – or that equilibrium between brain intellect and Spiritual perception.
Experiences that shock us out of a one-life belief system can be useful stages in our spiritual development, as this video about Jeffrey Keene’s story depicts:
The Graphic Details
Earthlife is a school, the classrooms are stages of consciousness, self-awareness and growth in spirituality. Everyone settles into his/her own rhythm determined by a mix of past individual, family, racial and national karma, and at differing points on the now ascending evolutionary arc.
Mind is awake, and therefore free will is active now in our individual and collective life. “The Spirit in man—the direct ray of the Universal Spirit—has at last awakened,” Blavatsky confirms in The Tidal Wave. But the final chapter of life on Earth is still in draft form— The Secret Doctrine 1:269:
“The History of Creation and of this world from its beginning up to the present time is composed of seven chapters. The seventh chapter is not yet written.”
Turning the Page
“It becomes comprehensible, now,” Blavatsky writes, “why the ‘odd eye’ has been gradually transformed into a simple gland, after the physical Fall of those we have agreed to call the ‘Lemurians’ [the Second>Third Race].”
…we find that during that transitional period – namely, in the second half of the First Spiritual ethero-astral race [1½ descending]— nascent mankind was devoid of the intellectual brain element. As it was on its descending line [1½], and as we are parallel to it, on the ascending [5½], we are therefore, devoid of the Spiritual element, which is now replaced by the intellectual.
This is akin to the transition from childhood to youth. See graph below showing the spiral Evolution of Root Races in the Fourth Round, SD 2:300: (note the similarity between the the brain and the graph. Buried deep in the brain, the pineal gland, seat of the third eye, is positioned at about the position of the “1st R. Race” shown on the graph.)
The Atlantis Connection
The continent of Atlantis sank beneath the Atlantic waves prematurely, due to the depravity of its inhabitants (us.) With no foreseeable gratuitous bailout, our karmic debt load from our past is huge, and is still on the books. This has, and will continue to influence our future. But we still have time to write-down the debt. “Arise, then, O Atlanteans,” W. Q. Judge exhorts in his Article Cycles — “and repair the mischief done so long ago!” —But how?
Paul Johnson writes:– “According to HPB, black magic, or the misuse of spiritual powers, led to loss of spiritual vision by the end of the fourth (Atlantean) race, as well as the gradual disappearance of the third eye, until ‘Its functions, owing to the materiality and depraved condition of mankind, died out altogether before the submersion of the bulk of the Atlantean continent.'”
The full quote from H. P. Blavatsky:
“The possession of a physical third eye, we are told, was enjoyed by the men of the Third Root-Race down to nearly the middle period of Third Sub-race of the Fourth Root-Race, when the consolidation and perfection of the human frame made it disappear from the outward anatomy of man. Psychically and spiritually, however, its mental and visual perceptions lasted till nearly the end of the Fourth [Sub] Race, when its functions, owing to the materiality and depraved condition of mankind, died out altogether before the submersion of the bulk of the Atlantean continent. (SD 2:306)
“One important point has, however, to be borne in mind,” she says.
We are only in the Fourth Round, and it is in the Fifth that the full development of Manas [Sanskrit=mind], as a direct ray from the Universal mahat [Sanskrit=universal mind] a ray — unimpeded by matter — will be finally reached. Nevertheless, as every sub-race and nation have their cycles and stages of developmental evolution repeated on a smaller scale, it must be the more so in the case of a Root-Race.
Our race then [general humanity] has, as a Root-race, crossed the equatorial line and is cycling onward [ascending] on the Spiritual side; but some of our sub-races still find themselves on the shadowy descending arc of their respective national cycles; while others again — the oldest — having crossed their crucial point, which alone decides whether a race, a nation, or a tribe will live or perish, are at the apex of spiritual development as sub-races.
William Q. Judge refers to this “crucial point” as “the moment of choice.” We might liken it to a “point of no-return,” i.e. an airplane with only enough fuel to reach it’s destination but unable to return. That is, IF we actually make it to the median line or crucial point. There are analogues to this critical point in the various growth stages we go through. Mr. Judge continues:
Humanity passes from globe to globe in a series of Rounds, first circling about each globe, and reincarnating upon it a fixed number of times. 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 has reached it for the last time (in this, our Fourth Round), began to evolute man, subdividing him into races.
Each of these races when it has, through evolution, reached the period known as “the moment of choice” and decided its future destiny as an individual race, begins to disappear. The races are separated, moreover, 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. (An Epitome of Theosophy )
A Transition Age
“The race is, as a whole, in a transition state, and many of its units are kept back by the condition of the whole,” Mr. Judge writes in Letter 2. And further:– “the Masters have said this is a transition age, and he who has ears to hear will hear what has thus been said. We are working for the new cycles and centuries.”
We are working for “a change in the Manas and Buddhi of the Race,” he writes. “That is why it may seem indefinite, but it is, nevertheless, very defined and very great in scope.”
“Let once man’s immortal spirit take possession of the temple of his body,” Blavatsky assures us, “and his own divine humanity will redeem him.”
To be continued . . .