Originally published 1908.
Chapter 1: Introductory
Chapter 2: What Is Man?
Chapter 3: Cyclic Progress
Chapter 4: The Spark and the Flame
Chapter 5: The Latent Powers Awaken
Part II (66K)
Chapter 6: Incarnation of the Ego
Chapter 7: Lemuria, the Cradle of Mankind
Chapter 8: The "Third Eye"
Chapter 9: Rise of Atlantis
Chapter 10: Fall of Atlantis
Chapter 11: Origin of Religions
Chapter 12: Man and the Anthropoid Apes
Chapter 13: The Future of Humanity
Theosophical Manuals Menu
Human Being Menu
That there has once been a Golden Age is the universal tradition of mankind. This belief is one of those larger factors in life which have either been neglected utterly or treated in the most prosaic manner as baseless myths created by a fond imagination. But a new spirit of inquiry is spreading in the world and even some of the leading thinkers in science have become dissatisfied with the contempt hitherto shown for the antique tradition. The Theosophical Movement has already had a large share in awakening a healthy skepticism in the infallibility of the purely materialistic conception of the origins of mankind, a conception which would limit the existence of rational man on earth to a few paltry thousands of years, and which, neglecting the existence of the soul, insists that man is no more than a highly developed beast, and not a spark of divinity striving upward through perishable and transitory forms.
The scientific writers on folklore and comparative mythology declare that their painstaking accumulation of facts concerning the beliefs and customs of the savage and civilized races of the past and present are only for the purpose of tracing and understanding the workings of the human mind in its alleged march from the "Stone Age" to the twentieth century. They calmly assume that the time-honored legends of the past, and all the so-called superstitions of the past and the present, are either baseless or are merely the fanciful renderings of the commonest natural phenomena, and that for anyone to imagine there is any real wisdom in them which we do not know is to reduce himself to a low level of culture. To the folklorist the myths are of no importance except to the extent that they give material for building up his commonplace theories. He believes in no gods; to his unpoetic mind nature is soulless.
Theosophy proves the error of this. It knows and is pointing out the pearls of truth hidden under the mass of rubbish that has grown up throughout the ages. A feeling has arisen in the hearts of thousands that there is something vitally important in the traditions of the ancients, and that they were not all deluded fools; but the materialistic interpretation of the Bible that orthodox theologians have forced upon the world, with its literal hell and its absurd chronology, its unjust "plan of salvation" and false science, still arouses prejudice not only against the veracity of the Biblical allegories but also against those of the sacred scriptures of India, Chaldaea, etc.
It is not possible in the limited space at our disposal to give the full reasons why theosophists accept the assertions that there were vast prehistoric civilizations ages before the supposed Flood of Noah or the hypothetical "Stone Age" of archaeology; it is sufficient to mention that H. P. Blavatsky brought the key to the strange and not always beautiful narratives in the ancient records. Her great work, The Secret Doctrine, to quote her own words:
Asserts that a system, known as the WISDOM-RELIGION, the work of generations of adepts and seers, the sacred heirloom of pre-historic times -- actually exists, though hitherto preserved in the greatest secrecy by the present Initiates; and it points to various corroborations of its existence to this very day, to be found in ancient and modern works. . . . No new philosophy is set up in The Secret Doctrine, only the hidden meaning of some of the religious allegories of antiquity is given, light being thrown on these by the esoteric sciences, and the common source is pointed out, whence all the world-religions and philosophies have sprung . . . its doctrines and sciences which form an integral cycle of universal cosmic facts and metaphysical axioms and truths, represent a complete and unbroken system; and that he who is brave and persevering enough, ready to crush the animal in himself, and, forgetting the human self, sacrifices it to his Higher Ego, can always find his way to become initiated into these mysteries. -- "The Babel of Modern Thought," Lucifer, 1901
Referring students to the remarkable evidences given in The Secret Doctrine and Isis Unveiled of the accuracy of the fragments preserved under the strange Biblical, Puranic, and other accounts of the creations and destructions of the world, which read in the light of theosophy give a coherent story, we will pass on to our subject, the experience of' humanity during the aeons of time that have elapsed while our present complex nature has been forming. The word "experience" is used advisedly, for the immortal principle in man, in its pilgrimage towards divinity, identifies itself with various states of existence, including numerous degrees of materiality, and endures many outward changes of earthly conditions each of which provides different opportunities for advancement.
Man has not been confined to his materially embodied state on the planet Earth from the outset; he has existed upon other planes of being, more subtle than the terrestrial as we know it now, not in a supposed "supernatural" heaven, but under conditions as normal in their cycle as the physical is today. Why should there be anything extraordinary in this idea? If, as all but agnostics and materialists believe, it is possible to exist after death minus the body, and in a condition absolutely invisible to our five senses, why should there be anything unreasonable in the teaching that ages ago humanity gained needed experience in conditions far more ethereal than those prevailing in this corner of the universe now? The earth was certainly far more gaseous in its nature at one time; why should we not have been formed then in harmony with the environment?
Theosophy teaches that in gaining the vast experiences already stored up in the memory of the soul, mankind has traveled many roads, developing certain faculties during one cycle, and others when that cycle had run its course. The bald notion that man is merely a highly organized animal, a primate with a more complex brain, who has descended in a straight line from some primeval amoeba through reptile and mammal, does not explain the mystery of his nature. All honor must be given to Darwin, Wallace, Huxley, and the indefatigable school of evolutionists for breaking down the literal misinterpretation of Genesis, but the danger of materialism has become so great that it is time the theosophical interpretation should be understood, for it shows there is no real conflict between true science and true religion, because they are one.
Man is far more than he knows. He thinks he is the ordinary thinking, talking and eating, loving and hating, sinning and suffering personality of everyday life; but that is only the merest fraction of the real man; that is not the Being to whom Jesus said, "Ye are gods." Materialism says mind is a "by-product of the brain," but theosophy shows that the brain-mind is, in a very profound sense, a "by-product" of the higher immortal mind, the reincarnating ego, the "Man for whom the hour shall never strike" (The Voice of the Silence).
But recent observations have persuaded many Western thinkers that there are really profound depths in man hitherto entirely unsuspected by them. Strange powers of memory under hypnosis, thought transference, clairvoyance, movement of objects without physical contact at will -- things which are little more than feeble reflections of the real powers latent in man have forced themselves upon the few independent thinkers, and have proved that behind the ordinary faculties, the five senses and the everyday mind, there lies a region totally unexplored by Western science. But this vast region, the domain of the reincarnating ego, is well known to the psychologists of the inner schools of the East.
The first thing we have to learn is that the evolution of the higher central nature has been carried on through enormous ages of time separately from the evolution of the lower principles -- the passional nature, the body, and the astral or model body. The real man, the higher ego, knows these things, for it has lived through ages of experience and has knowledge far transcending that of the lower man, the physical personality. The higher ego knows so much more than the lower which has only been in existence for the short period of one life cycle, that it recognizes what experiences are necessary for its real evolution, though they may not be always pleasing to the lower personality, Mr. A. or Mrs. B., which resents the apparently unjust blows of fate. But after death the withdrawal of the best part of the lower -- the spiritual "aroma" of the past memories -- into the higher permanent ego allows it to perceive that a great plan, like a silver thread, had been running through the events of the past life. Then as the lower nature becomes purified the "threshold of sensation" broadens, until when absolute impersonality is gained we shall know ourselves as we are and realize the full continuity of purpose through the labyrinth of past lives.
A few independent psychologists of America and Europe have satisfied themselves that besides the "objective mind," as they call the brain-personality of ordinary waking life, there is something, a "subjective mind," possessing higher powers; but their "subjective mind" is not the higher ego, for it can be hypnotized and deceived with ease. It is merely the manifestation of qualities of some of the "sheaths" or subdivisions of the astral body which are brought into action when the physical senses are paralyzed, either through abnormal cataleptic conditions or by the hazardous practice of hypnotism. These sheaths of the astral body are possessed of remarkable powers, the result of processes of evolution extending over long periods. The astral body, though capable of displaying these powers, is not to be considered a spiritual being; its consciousness is largely automatic and its cohesion breaks up soon after death in normal cases. When the terrible bondage of personality -- that egotism whose strength is hardly suspected until the candidate for purification sets about its destruction in serious earnest -- is broken, the astral principles will be at the service of the perfect man, but the attempt to arouse them artificially by hypnotic suggestion or other abnormal means is fraught with extreme danger to life or sanity. The ancient philosophers who were initiated into the Mysteries and who thoroughly studied the principles of man, and knew their origin, took precautions against the errors and dangers arising from hypnotic suggestion which are unknown to the amateur modern researcher who has received no training in the esoteric schools. While these modern investigators who have made a few tentative efforts to investigate the lower psychic phenomena are playing with shells on the ocean beach of psychology, the adepts have sounded its depths and know its secrets and its dangers, and the long, self-sacrificing, and impersonal preparations required, before it can be safely traversed.
Speaking of the origins of man's complex and mixed nature H. P. Blavatsky says:
. . . Man was not created the complete being he is now, however imperfect he still remains. There was a spiritual, a psychic, an intellectual, and an animal evolution, from the highest to the lowest, as well as a physical development -- from the simple and homogeneous, up to the more complex and heterogeneous; though not quite on the lines traced for us by the modern evolutionists. This double evolution in two contrary directions, required various ages, of diverse natures and degrees of spirituality and intellectuality, to fabricate the being now known as man. Furthermore, the one absolute, ever acting and never erring law, which proceeds on the same lines from one eternity (or Manvantara) to the other -- ever furnishing an ascending scale for the manifested, or that which we call the great Illusion (Maha-Maya), but plunging Spirit deeper and deeper into materiality on the one hand, and then redeeming it through flesh and liberating it -- this law, we say, uses for these purposes the Beings from other and higher planes, men or Minds (Manus) in accordance with their Karmic exigencies. -- The Secret Doctrine, vol. II, page 87
Though nature's curves of activity appear circular when surveyed from one point of view, they are really spirals which never pass over the same ground twice. So the evolution of man, which is the most important event on our planet (for all tends to become self-conscious, or man), proceeds through a spiral progress upon our earth-chain of globes, and more particularly, upon the many different states of existence through which our world has passed.
The uniformity of plan in nature's methods in great and small things, is strikingly exemplified by the similarity of the general scheme of evolution guiding the universal or kosmic, the planetary, and the human development. The principle is firstly that the divine impulse causes the universe to manifest periods or ages of alternate activity and repose -- or what seems repose in comparison with the intensity of life during the manvantara, as the objective or active condition is called; and secondly, that as the pralaya, or subjective repose, reaches it close, the objective world is called into being and proceeds from the highest spiritual states down in regular degrees to and through the densest materiality, and then back again to the original condition plus the experience gained on the vast pilgrimage.
The smaller cycles within the great journey are spiral curves, each one of which consists of still smaller spirals until at last the individual life of man is reached. Each single life on earth is but a part of the smallest spiral; the rest of the curve is traced in more ethereal states. The reincarnating ego, the real man, descends for incarnation from the spiritual condition of devachan through denser "astral" conditions to physical earth-life, during which it passes through a regular series of phases; then at death it returns through the astral, semi-material conditions to the spiritual peace and rest of devachan. This continues life after life until there is no further need of experience in that cycle and, the greater spiral being rounded, a new path is entered.
There are seven great circuits called "rounds" in the journey of the monad or ray of divinity which ultimately becomes man, during which it assumes many bodies and passes through many vicissitudes of which ordinary history has no conception. The succession of the globe-conditions under which this journey has proceeded, and during which man has obtained present self-consciousness, is too large a subject to treat here. During the first, second, and third rounds, the monad descended into matter, and in the fifth, sixth, and seventh it will be traveling upward. We are in the middle or fourth round, during which we have gained full self-consciousness, and now the real fight of the higher nature for supremacy has commenced. We read in The Secret Doctrine:
Starting upon the long journey immaculate; descending more and more into sinful matter, and having connected himself with every atom in manifested Space -- the Pilgrim, having struggled through and suffered in every form of life and being, is only at the bottom of the valley of matter, and half through his cycle, when he has identified himself with collective Humanity. This, he has made in his own image. In order to progress upwards and homewards, the "God" has now to ascend the weary uphill path of the Golgotha of Life. It is the martyrdom of self-conscious existence. Like Visvakarman he has to sacrifice himself to himself in order to redeem all creatures, to resurrect from the many into the One Life. Then he ascends into heaven indeed; where, plunged into the incomprehensible absolute Being and Bliss of Paranirvana, he reigns unconditionally, and whence he will redescend again at the next "coming," which one portion of humanity expects in its dead-letter sense as the second advent, and the other as the last "Kalki Avatar." -- The Secret Doctrine, vol. I, page 268
Although we are in the middle or "lowest" globe-condition of the fourth or lowest circuit of the spiral journey, we are not exactly midway in the rounds. The present globe, D, provides conditions for the evolution of seven great human races to succeed each other upon it, and we are now well on in the fifth of these human races. As the fourth race is the most material (corresponding with the fourth round), it is clear that we have passed the center, but as nearly all the work preceding the fourth round, and a good deal of that of the early part of the fourth round, was merely preparatory building up of the being now complete as man, we are not very far on in our career as self-conscious responsible beings. The great battle, the final "moment of choice " between spirituality and materiality (the victory of the latter resulting in ultimate loss of the soul) will not arrive until the fifth round, but every act of today is a preparation for that critical period.
In the development of the unborn infant we find a perfect example of the repetition or reflection of the great plan of evolution in little. As its body is being built up by invisible forces in readiness for the incarnation of the immortal ego, all the conditions of the past history of mankind are repeated in miniature and in order. This will be referred to again; it is mentioned here as an illustration of nature's principle of correspondences, of reflecting the great in the small. The development and decay of the races, nations, and individuals on each globe repeat the broad outline presented in the cosmic system which includes the minor periods in its scope. The current of the life-wave passes through conditions of greater and greater limitation and less and less spirituality called globes, as it descends along the first round of the great spiral, but as they are extremely difficult for us to understand, very little is said about them until the present globe D of the fourth round is reached.
William Q. Judge very clearly expresses the succession of the races on Earth (globe D) during the fourth round:
The appearance of these great root-races is always just when the world's development permits. When the globe was forming, the first root-race was more or less ethereal and had no such body as we now inhabit. The cosmic environment became more dense and the second race appeared, soon after which the first wholly disappeared. Then the third came on the scene, after an immense lapse of time, during which the second had been developing the bodies needed for the third. At the coming of the fourth root-race it is said that the present human form was evolved, although gigantic and in some respects different from our own. It is from this point -- the fourth race -- that the Theosophical system begins to speak of man as such.
In the archaic Book of Dzyan, quoted in The Secret Doctrine, it is said that "The first race on every zone was moon-colored; the second, yellow like gold; the third, red; the fourth, brown, which became black with sin" (The Secret Doctrine, vol. II, page 227).
The present inhabitants of the earth are composed of relics of the later third and the fourth races and of the present great fifth race, of which America is producing the latest branch or subrace.
The theosophical system differs from the popular scientific speculations of the day chiefly in its positive assertion, and demonstration in practice, that man is in reality an evolving soul traveling a well-defined path, and wearing down many physical bodies in its journey towards divinity.
Materialistic science limits human consciousness to the transient interaction of perishable brain cells; it gives no particle of light on the past or the future of each unit; it repudiates the preexistence of the soul, and regards everything subsequent to embodied earth-life as unknowable or non-existent -- a curious commentary upon the efforts of the centuries of "dogmatic theology"! Science regards the race as the only unit of progress, the individual being supposed to be as ephemeral as the "beasts that perish," and his existence entirely subordinate to that of the race -- which itself will perish utterly when the sun grows cold!
But theosophy, while admitting that the race as a whole is on the upward way -- though not without many setbacks and failures -- follows the progress of the monad, the ray of the one divine existence, which incarnates over and over again in every condition within the terrestrial environment, until, after being united with the real thinking ego, the higher manas or human soul, it has exhausted the possibilities of the great cycle through which it has to pass. Then it is transported to another garden of the Law to proceed on a still higher evolution of which we cannot have any conception at present.
Darwinian evolution ignores the "thread-soul" running through the consecutive existences of man; it gives no light on what it is that evolves; it confuses the immortal man of the past and future with his perishable body. Theosophy, on the other hand, offers a clear picture of the eternal progression of all nature up to higher states of consciousness, like the mathematical line which continually approaches another but never meets it though prolonged to infinity. Theosophy does not fall into the theological fallacy that every man at birth is a newly created soul whose acts in one brief life are destined to make or mar its whole future for eternity.
The monad, the immortal being, cannot be called a spirit, for it is not in essence separate from the Oversoul. H. P. Blavatsky calls it a ray of divinity, and it is the substratum round which the astral model, which itself formed the basis for the physical, was gradually built. Ultimately the higher ego, the part that makes a man a man, united with the monadic ray, like one beam of sunshine following another through a hole, and, merging with it, gave self-consciousness.
The relationship of the divine overshadowing ray, atma-buddhi, with the thinker, the higher ego, is difficult to understand, and in so brief an essay it is sufficient to mention that the former is a universal principle manifesting through forms, but is not humanly conscious until the mind or manas assimilates it. It is the substratum of reality, toward the knowledge of which all evolution tends. It is the evolutionary force imprisoned within, and steadily pushing all things towards higher states. For a fuller statement of this difficult point a careful study of The Secret Doctrine is necessary, but truly we need a higher spiritual penetration than is common today before a full understanding of it can be gained; yet it is a logical necessity that there should be a ray from the unknown divine Source permeating all things, countless sparks of the one flame. In the Bhagavad-Gita there are some wonderfully expressive passages referring to the divine monad:
He who seeth the Supreme Being existing alike imperishable in all perishable things, sees indeed. . . . This Supreme Spirit, O son of Kunti, even when it is in the body, neither acteth nor is it affected by action, because, being without beginning and devoid of attributes, it is changeless. . . . As a single sun illuminateth the whole world, even so doth the One Spirit illumine every body, O son of Bharata. -- ch. xiii
It is even a portion of myself which, having assumed life in this world of conditioned existence, draweth together the five senses and the mind in order that it may obtain a body and may leave it again. . . . Presiding over the eye, the ear, the touch, the taste, and the power of smelling, and also over the mind, he experienceth the objects of sense. The deluded do not see the spirit when it quitteth or remains in the body, nor when, moved by the qualities, it has experience in the world. But those who have the eye of wisdom perceive it, and devotees who industriously strive to do so see it dwelling in their own hearts, etc. -- ch. xv
Spirit and matter are not regarded in theosophy as two fundamentally different things, but as two aspects of an underlying unity, the cause of both. Once they are launched forth into manifestation the life-substance descends into material conditions, the interplay of the two opposite polarities produces all the phenomena of nature, and karma, the law of cause and effect, comes into action. Thus the experience is gained for which all this wonderful evolution and involution is set in motion.
In order to become apparent, electricity must be in the positive and negative conditions, and so it is with the divine unity which manifests in matter and spirit. When matter and spirit are not apparent, unknown conditions exist; between the periodic appearances of universes this nirvanic condition prevails.
During the cyclic career of the monad in this world period, it requires vestures suitable to show forth its different potentialities and latent states of consciousness. To obtain these the intelligent hierarchical forces in nature touched the springs which aroused its powers and set in motion the building forces inherent in it, so that model archetypal forms were gradually projected from spheres of existence where they had been waiting for the evolutionary impulse; physical molecules were finally attracted to them, clothing them with the material suitable for the grossest form of life; the emotional and intellectual faculties were aroused; and after many ages, primitive dual-sexed physical man came into being. But not perfect man, for humanity has not yet developed all its intellectual principles, still less the spiritual. They are all within our grasp, but we have a weary road to travel before we can stand forth as a race of Christs or Buddhas, and the first step we have to take is the practical recognition of the real inner unity or solidarity of mankind. A mere nominal assent to the principle of universal brotherhood, though one may be fully convinced intellectually, will not avail, except as a preliminary step; the real consciousness of the inner divine nature of man only comes by the cultivation of the finer attributes of mind and heart, such as compassion, that urge which feels an injury to another as keenly as to oneself, that inexpressible yearning that all humanity shall cease to live this death in life; by that courage which shrinks from nothing when the interest of others is at stake; and by the purification that comes only from joyous unselfish work for others.
Now we have come across a new idea hitherto unrecognized by science but which explains many mysteries. There is a model or semi-substantial "astral" form existing in man into which the physical particles of our bodies are built, which holds them together, and which persists for some time after death. H. P. Blavatsky said that the question of the existence of this ethereal form was the only real point of difference between theosophy and modern science; and since she wrote things have changed in the scientific world. A large portion of it no longer denies the possibility of many psychic phenomena that it condemned unheard formerly, and through the admissions which a large number of leading scientists have been compelled to make by the examination of the facts, the existence of an astral form, distinct from the physical, is becoming a matter of accepted knowledge. Once this is admitted the greatest difficulty in accepting the theosophical teaching on many vital points is removed.
It is now possible to go a little more into detail concerning man on globe D of this fourth round. The reader is referred for a wealth of evidence from innumerable records of the past history of mankind preserved in living tradition, in manuscript, on palm-leaf or papyrus, carved in glyph or symbol on enduring stone, or set forth in other ways, to Isis Unveiled and The Secret Doctrine.
The "inherent and necessary law of development" spoken of by science, is contained in the divine spark or monad (atma-buddhi). The monad is the cause of evolution and lies behind all minor agencies such as natural and sexual selection, etc., which are the instruments through which it works for progress. The monad, after enjoying an existence upon the "lunar chain," a condition of existence of which the moon is a surviving relic, enters the terrestrial chain of globes, clothes itself with the finer states of earthly matter, and assumes in orderly succession various changes of consciousness unknown to modern thought, on its way to become man.
Nature's first attempts to form man were at first unsuccessful, for the unfoldment of the monadic potentialities is unable to proceed beyond a certain point without the addition of another principle, the manas or reflecting mind, and this had to be evoked by beings possessing this self-consciousness, who had been evolving under other conditions. They communicated to the imperfect animal man the divine principle of intelligence, which is not a "by-product of the brain." Endowed with this, the rudimentary half-formed man became truly man, a thinker, and acquired that greater power of progression which renders him different from the brutes, who have not had the latent intellectual and self-conscious powers of the monad aroused. The doctrine of the coming of the "sons of mind" into nascent humanity is one of the greatest revelations of theosophy, for it explains the presence of the higher ego in us; and though it is found in more or less veiled hints in all the world scriptures, it was not understood until they were studied in the revealing light of theosophy. The doctrine is concealed under "blinds" in the first chapters of Genesis. The reader is urged to dwell upon this supremely important point carefully, and to observe how it completely alters the point of view from which the origin and nature of man must be studied.
The various Angels, Gods, Powers, and other subordinate divinities that were believed in until this materialistic age, by divers peoples, are the groups or hierarchies of spiritual and semi-spiritual beings, corresponding to the principles in man, which assisted the unfolding of the inherent powers of the monad, by "projecting," so to speak, the vivifying sparks in order to arouse the particular aspect or principle corresponding to themselves, each to each. One of the leading features of theosophy, which opens a line of inquiry quite new to modern thinkers and without which they must continue to struggle to explain natural phenomena by means of inadequate materialistic hypotheses, is that humanity and all things make progress by responding to stimuli which arouse latent powers. These stimuli can only come from more advanced intelligences who already have these particular qualities in activity. Dwell carefully upon this fundamental concept.
When incipient man arrived upon earth at the beginning of the fourth round, the hierarchy called the lunar pitris or fathers furnished him with his first dwelling, a subtle ethereal form, the "shadow" of themselves, which afforded the elemental forces of nature a model upon which to build. The consciousness of this highly ethereal first race was instinctual and has gradually blended with our complex make-up so intimately that we cannot now distinguish it separately. Self-consciousness does not awaken until the end of the third race.
The first race of men were, then, simply the images, the astral doubles, of their Fathers, who were the pioneers, or the most progressed Entities from a preceding though lower sphere, the shell of which is now our Moon. . . . At the end of the Third Round, they were already human in their divine nature, and were thus called upon to become the creators of the forms destined to fashion the tabernacles of the less progressed Monads, whose turn it was to incarnate. -- The Secret Doctrine, vol. II, page 115
After many ages this shadowy, almost incomprehensible state of humanity -- or what was to become humanity later -- changed, and the first race gave birth to the second, and that to the third. Of the first and second little can be said. There was no death at first, for this incipient humanity had no physical bodies to wear out; spirit and matter were not yet equilibrized.
Even the state of mental torpor and unconsciousness of the first two Races and of the first half of the Third Race, is symbolized, in the second chapter of Genesis, by the deep sleep of Adam . . . the slumber of the Soul and Mind. -- The Secret Doctrine, vol. II, page 181
The primitive race merged into the second race and became one with it. The "man" of the second race, which was a little more materialized than the first, produced offspring by "fission" or "budding," in the manner of cell division. At this time, we may note, the race was still devoid of the element of desire and passion, which did not evolve until the third race, and so hermaphroditism was the natural order.
In The Secret Doctrine H. P. Blavatsky published some remarkable Stanzas or Verses from an archaic manuscript, The Book of Dzyan, to which she had access, but which is not yet available to archaeologists. This antique record contains a brief resume of the whole history of mankind, and it is from this and similar accounts that the Biblical and other sacred books derive their allegories. The following will give an idea of the spirit of the work:
The breath [or human monad] needed a form; The Fathers [pitris] gave it.
The breath needed a gross body; the Earth [lower elementals] molded it.
The breath needed the Spirit of Life [Prana]; the Solar Lhas [the vital electric principle residing in the sun] breathed it into its form.
The breath needed a Mirror of its Body [astral shadow]. "We gave it our own," said the Dhyanis.
The Breath needed a Vehicle of Desires; "It has it," said the Drainer of Waters [the fire of passion].
But Breath needs a mind to embrace the Universe; "We cannot give that," said the Fathers. " I never had it," said the Spirit of the Earth. "The form would be consumed were I to give it mine," said the Great Fire. . . .
Man remained an empty senseless Bhuta. . . . Thus have the boneless given life to those who became men with bones in the third [race]. -- The Secret Doctrine, vol. II, page 17
The "men, during the First and Second races, were not physical beings, but merely rudiments of the future men"; the sexes had not become separated and, above all, the descent of the manas, that spark of divine intelligence which transformed the (intellectually) senseless embryonic and almost structureless subhuman forms of these races into men -- potential gods -- had not taken place. But when "Adam" awoke from his deep sleep he found "Eve" beside him, and the Fall took place. The descent into matter, accompanied by the separation of the sexes, was thus allegorized; the material bodies being referred to in Genesis 3:21, "Unto Adam also and to his wife did the Lord God make coats of skins, and clothed them." In these "coats," the primitive, astral forms which had been weaving round the monad for countless ages, perfecting the vehicle for the mind to use, were enclosed. The earlier ethereal evolution of the monad through the early rounds and the first races of this round, the ages of innocence, is included in the first chapter and part of the second chapter of Genesis. With the eating of the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge came personal responsibility and the power to rise or fall intelligently. This took place finally in the latest third and the fourth or Atlantean race.
The first and second races, being boneless, and not material in the full sense of the word, have left no traces in the rocks; their relics have to be sought elsewhere. As the "men" of the first race melted away they were absorbed in the denser, though still "viscid" forms of the second race, but not until the third race had been established for several millions of years was there anything tangible enough to last until today as a witness. The most ethereal vestures of the monad were forming around it, until then in harmony with the gradually condensing substance of the earth-chain of globes: they are now to be found within the human frame, but few scientists have yet suspected the existence of these semi-material principles, the astral bodies. The monad cannot act directly upon the material plane, where it is "unconscious" until it has acquired the intermediate manasic or higher intelligence or mind, and that mind itself cannot act directly through the physical body; it also needs something more ethereal to serve as a "transformer" of the lower vibrations into higher ones which it can appreciate. This is the function of the complex system of astral and emotional (kamic) bodies, which were, at one period, "naked, and they were not ashamed" (Genesis, 2:25) for they were in harmony with the surrounding conditions. Gradually, as the third race developed and passed out of the sinlessness of "unconsciousness" into the strife caused by the progress of evolutionary unfoldment and the descent into matter, the physical body took shape, molded upon the primeval archetypal form.
Man, in the course of the innumerable experiences of the monad in the early rounds, passed through and shed many slightly varying ethereal forms which were afterwards taken up and utilized by his "younger brothers," the animals, and around or into which their physical bodies were molded. The possession of unused rudimentary organs, like the ear muscles, is thus clearly explained by theosophy, for it shows that man is the storehouse of all forms, a few of which, though unnecessary now, still give evidence of their past existence. The development of the human embryo shows the possession of many more forms than are preserved in adult life (such as gill-clefts in the neck). The unborn child runs through the whole gamut of evolution from the mineral kingdom, through the plant form and upwards, reproducing in little the broad conditions through which the monad has passed throughout the preceding rounds and races.
It may be asked, What evidence is there that an astral body is still to be found within man's physical frame? In the short space at our disposal it is impossible to quote authorities, but there is an immense mass of reliable information upon the subject which can be readily found by anyone who needs it. D'Assier's Posthumous Humanity contains a well-digested array of cases only explicable by the existence of a fluidic body surviving the death of the material form. Sir W. Crookes, Dr. Alfred R. Wallace, M. Camille Flammarion, Professor Botazzi of Naples, and others who rank among the foremost thinkers of the twentieth century, have recorded with care their rigid scientific experiments in the demonstration of its existence, and to a limited extent, of its structure and powers. In several of the Manuals of this series the question of the astral world is treated in the light of theosophy, and in Isis Unveiled H. P. Blavatsky entered very fully into its relation to human life.
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