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
We have now arrived at the most important point in the history of forming humanity and one that is extremely difficult to render in simple language. While there was a ray or expression of the divine in each primitive and potential human form from the very beginning, help was needed before it could advance towards self-consciousness. To give it this, to open the mental eye, other more progressed spiritual beings had to overshadow or blend with the monad, furnishing it with the needed touch to arouse the latent fires. But as H. P. Blavatsky says, "Nature unaided fails," that is to say, the efforts of the nature forces to create a thinking, intelligent man merely resulted in the birth of grotesque creatures and progenitors of the animals, though these attempts were energized by the evolutionary tendency active in the monadic essence, which itself is part of the whole kosmic movement towards higher conditions. The mysterious beings, the "sons of mind," who merged their consciousness into the incomplete forms of the third race making them human, had passed through vast experiences in other spheres but had not got beyond the necessity of further incarnation in matter, and they had to blend with rudimentary man before further advance could be made.
But there are not two monads in each human being, for with the formation of complete man by the arousing of the latent powers within, he becomes a unit. The monad is not a substantial entity that may be handled in any way; though it has to be considered while speaking in general language as an apparently separate ray of the divine Oversoul, yet that Oversoul is really one. Could we see ourselves as we really are -- as a whole -- we should be greatly astonished. We should see how the innumerable principles or hierarchies of creators in nature had united to build up our complex structure, by drawing from the inexhaustible storehouse in the monad those qualities which enable the far-stretching planes of nature manifested in this kosmic period to be entered upon and explored in due course. Of our real make-up the physical body is the least important and the most ephemeral, though, of course, an absolute necessity in contacting the present physical conditions.
In the early part of the third race a certain proportion of the manasic intelligences entered the evolving forms, but the greater number deferred incarnating until later. The first were few; they became the teachers, guides, and helpers, to the later comers, who were the larger mass of average humanity. There was a third section who were "not ready" at first, and they have had to put up with inferior bodily forms which had been degraded by evil living through ignorance, the direct result of those higher egos having held aloof from the sacrifice of the Fall into material life. It is their karma. As a consequence, we are now suffering from many evils in the world that might have been avoided.
The Secret Doctrineis very reticent concerning the exact method by which man derived his physical body after the monad had passed through the ethereal states of the earlier rounds and races. H. P. Blavatsky says:
Finally, it is shown in every ancient Scripture and Cosmogony that man evolved primarily as a luminous incorporeal form, over which, like molten brass round the clay model of the sculptor, the physical frame of his body was built by, through, and from, the lower forms and types of terrestrial life. -- The Secret Doctrine, vol. II, page 112
On page 736, vol. II of The Secret Doctrine, the writer gives some information which must have proved startling to materialistic minds. Speaking of the "midway point of evolution," she says it is
that stage where the astral prototypes definitely begin to pass into the physical, and thus become subject to the differentiating agencies now operative around us. Physical causation supervenes immediately on the assumption of "coats of skins" -- i.e., the physiological equipment in general. . . . The known physiological contrivances in organisms [for eating, digesting, etc.] were almost entirely evolved subsequently to the incipient physicalization of the 7 Root-Types out of the astral -- during the "midway halt" between the two planes of existence. . . .
As to the former reality of the descent [of the astral] into the physical, which culminated in physiological man and animal, we have a palpable testimony in the fact of the so-called spiritualistic "materializations."
In all these instances a complete temporary mergence of the astral into the physical takes place. The evolution of physiological Man out of the astral races of the early Lemurian age -- the Jurassic age of Geology -- is exactly paralleled by the "materialization" of "spirits" (?) in the seance room. In the case of Professor Crookes' "Katie King," the presence of a physiological mechanism -- heart, lungs, etc. -- was indubitably demonstrated!! -- The Secret Doctrine, vol. II, pages 736-7
There are other passages in H. P. Blavatsky's works which give more light upon this extremely important and interesting subject, but complete information concerning the details of the process has been reserved. Enough has been suggested to provide material for intelligent thought, and to show that the ape-ancestry theory is not the only alternative to the special creation Adam-and-Eve story taken literally.
With the general transformation of conditions, the separation of the sexes took place. Until then there was no duality, no male and female, and as the present arrangement of mammalian reproduction is not the sole method in all nature's kingdoms even today, we need not be surprised at the theosophical statement that the time will come when it will be obsolete. This will not be until man has learned the great lesson of self-control and has arrived much nearer the stature of the Divine. The higher ego is beyond the temporary illusion of sex.
With the incarnation of the "Lords of the Flame" -- the mind or manasic principle in their three stages of progress, the true beginning of "man," the thinker, is made. This took place about 18 million years ago, and ever since then we have been complete septenary beings while on earth, experiencing the most extraordinary vicissitudes of climate, temperature, and civilization. Periods of barbarism have succeeded periods of the greatest intellectual brilliancy, the ocean has flowed over the sites of long forgotten cities, new lands have appeared many times, and mankind has had to start afresh more than once from the widespread ruin of nations and continents. There have been many destructions by water, fire, and earthquake, and the "primitive man" of the Stone Age of archaeology is not primitive at all. Long before he appeared there were magnificent civilizations, of which practically not a trace remains in recognizable form. When the time comes for the revelation of the full details of the past civilizations which existed millions of years before the so-called primitive beginnings of our present one, there will be many surprises. Of course, as we ourselves are the heritage of the past, it will be clear that we have gained such experiences in what we have passed through in the immense period we have been on earth that it will not be necessary to repeat them in the same form. Our present age is different from every preceding one in the details of life, even in the natural conditions.
The first race had three rudimentary elements in it; and no fire as yet; because, with the Ancients, the evolution of man, and the growth and development of his spiritual and physical senses, were subordinate to the evolution of the elements on the Cosmic plane of this Earth. . . .
The following order on parallel lines may be found in the evolution of the Elements and the Senses; or in Cosmic terrestrial "MAN" Or "Spirit," and mortal physical man:
1 Ether - - - - - - Hearing - Sound.
2Air - - - - - - - -Touch - Sound and Touch.
3Fire, or Light - Sight - - Sound, Touch and Colour
4 Water - - - - - Taste - - Sound, Touch, Colour and Taste.
5 Earth - - - - - - Smell - - Sound, Touch, Color, Taste and Smell.
As seen, each Element adds to its own characteristics, those of its predecessor; as each root-race adds the characterizing sense of the preceding race. The same is true in the septenary creation of man, who evolves gradually in seven stages, and on the same principles . . . -- The Secret Doctrine, vol. II, page 107
Though we have learned much which in the external man of today is locked up in the mysterious storehouse to which the higher ego has access, and which only those who have "become one with the Father in heaven" dare remember, the higher part of our being is a waiting fuller development in the sixth and seventh races; and for the completion of the perfect man there are the immeasurable vistas of the fifth, sixth, and seventh rounds stretching in front of us with the unthinkable promise of glory. The perfect men who are helping humanity now always are those who have lifted themselves, by heroic effort, above the level of ordinary mankind of this fifth race, into the condition which will not be normal until the next round. Ages must pass before that period arrives, but we can hasten the good life by the study and practice of altruism.
The development of the third race is recorded in the Indian Puranas and other world scriptures and traditions under various allegories, and its innumerable subraces and divisions are referred to under the disguise of deities, heroes, kings, etc. The interpretations were reserved for students. The third race subdivides naturally into three great groups, the first of which may be called the "Sons of the Firemist." They sacrificed themselves at the beginning for the good of the monads who were waiting their coming and failing their appearance would have had to linger on for ages in irresponsible, animal-like, though in appearance human, forms. Opposed to this lofty group came the lowest, which wandered far from the human fold at last. To the dregs of this group is attributed the origin of the anthropoid apes, of which we shall hear more later. These two groups were not the ancestors of the majority of the human race now on earth. The higher group was very limited in numbers, and the lower was so mindless that but for later crossings with higher races it might not have persisted in human form. The race that became the majority of later mankind was intermediate between the lowest and the highest, and it was under the guidance of the highest that they developed the civilization of Lemuria, the first inhabited continent, properly so called.
It is a most difficult thing to place the succession of the later third (Lemurian), the fourth (Atlantean), and the fifth (the present), in right relation to the geological periods, because there is nothing definitely known to science concerning the duration of any of the ages of sedimentation. The existence of the earth in a stratified condition is variously estimated by geologists and astronomers as having endured not less than ten million years and not more than one thousand million, and as we have not the slightest evidence of the rate of sedimentation in the far distant ages there is nothing to prove definitely which small division corresponds with the races and subraces whose records we are considering.
The continent of Lemuria (a name invented by science and adopted by theosophy for public use in lieu of its own term) extended across the Indian Ocean and far on both sides of it. To the northwest it stretched as far as Sweden and Norway. The great English freshwater deposit called the Wealden -- which every geologist regards as the estuary of a former great river -- is the bed of the main stream which drained Northern Lemuria in the Secondary age. Towards the east it included New Zealand, Australia, and the Pacific Islands, and even a strip of California. The Pacific Islands are the remains of mountain summits belonging to this submerged region. Easter Island (110° W, 26° S) contains remarkable gigantic statues, enduring witnesses to the artistic ability and mechanical skill of the later Lemurians. H. P. Blavatsky gives a few outlines of the primitive civilizations which slowly grew up through the efforts of the later third race men. She speaks of
men and civilized nations, not Palaeolithic savages only; who, under the guidance of their divine Rulers, built large cities, cultivated arts and sciences, . . . This primeval civilization did not, as one may think, immediately follow their physiological transformation. Between the final evolution and the first city built, many hundred thousands of years had passed. Yet, we find the Lemurians in their sixth sub-race building their first rock cities out of stone and lava. One of such great cities of primitive structure was built entirely of lava, some thirty miles west from where Easter Island now stretches its narrow piece of sterile ground, and was entirely destroyed by a series of volcanic eruptions. -- The Secret Doctrine, vol. II, page 317
The Lemurians of the last ages were now complete men; in fact they had perceptive powers that have become practically atrophied since. They had physical bodies which reproduced their kind in present fashion. Between the sketch-humanity of the first and second races and the full development of the latest third, nature tried several modes of reproduction, and many offshoot and degraded races had come into being, but gradually the human stock settled down into an approximate uniformity in external appearance, though the inner development of individuals differed widely.
As the monadic ray illuminated by the light of the higher manas, like one prismatic ray of color blending with another and modifying it, associated itself more closely with the lower principles of the astral model-body, the passional-emotional principle of kama, the vital solar energy of prana, and the material molecular body, man lost many of the spiritual powers, while the intellectual ones -- the rays of the higher manas -- grew stronger. Even at the end of the third race man still possessed an organ of spiritual vision in activity. The Greek legend of the Kyklopes with an eye in the forehead was a recollection of this, for a third eye, the "Eye of Siva," the organ of spiritual perception, was in full activity in Lemurian days. The mythological three Kyklopes, the sons of Heaven and Earth, symbolize the last three subraces of the third root race, and the legend of the famous hero Odysseus who put out the eye of Polyphemos, a Cyclopean giant, with a red-hot brand, is based upon the psycho-physiological atrophy of the third eye. The same legend with a few variations is found in Ireland, where Finn is said to have destroyed a wicked giant's eye with a heated iron spit. Iron is a symbol of passion and desire.
Civilization has ever developed the physical and intellectual at the cost of the psychic and spiritual. The command and the guidance over his own psychic nature, which foolish men now associate with the supernatural, were with early Humanity innate and congenital, and came to man as naturally as walking and thinking. -- The Secret Doctrine, vol. II, page 318
With the Fall of man into material conditions, the third eye, the spiritual organ of vision, was gradually transformed (physically) into a simple gland, and ceased to perform its function in the vast majority of men. It is known as the pineal gland or Conarium, and is deeply covered by the posterior part of the cerebral hemisphere. Certain saurians of the Secondary geological period possessed a well-defined third eye, and it is a singular fact that the most perfect known living representative of the reptiles with this organ developed, is an inhabitant of New Zealand, one of the surviving remnants of Lemuria. It is a small lizard, Hatteria (Sphenodon) punctata, which has a well-defined third eye with lens and optic nerve, under the skin of the top of the head. This eye may be sensitive to light, but is useless for distinct physical vision. The existing forms of life on Australia and New Zealand resemble those of the Secondary period more closely than those in any other part of the world.
While the third eye was in man, and still is when aroused by training, the organ of spiritual sight (not ordinary astral clairvoyance, which requires no special purification), in the animal it was that of objective vision; having performed its function
it was replaced in the course of physical evolution from the simple to the complex, by two eyes, and thus was stored and laid aside by Nature for further use in aeons to come. -- H. P. Blavatsky
The "War in Heaven" of Christian theology is related -- in one of its meanings -- to the third race. H. P. Blavatsky says:
The third race was pre-eminently the bright shadow, at first, of the gods, whom tradition exiles on Earth after the allegorical war in Heaven; which became still more allegorical on Earth, for it was the war between spirit and matter. This war will last till the inner and divine man adjusts his outer terrestrial self to his own spiritual nature. Till then the dark and fierce passions of the former will be at eternal feud with his master, the Divine Man. But the animal will be tamed one day, because its nature will be changed, and harmony will reign once more between the two as before the "Fall," when even mortal man was created by the Elements and was not born. -- The Secret Doctrine, vol. II, page 268
Physical changes in outer nature accompanied the atrophy of the third eye and the development of the brain-mind; the climate, which had been pleasant and equable, altered, partly in consequence of changes in the direction of the earth's axis.
'The eternal spring became constant change and seasons succeeded. Cold forced man to build shelters and devise clothing.Then man appealed to the superior Fathers. . . . Divine Kings descended and taught men sciences and arts, for man could live no longer in the first land, which had turned into a white frozen corpse. -- The Secret Doctrine, vol. II, page 201
The first inhabited land upon which the earliest types of man appeared was around the North Pole, and during the second race this gradually extended. The Greeks preserved a tradition of this land of delight, calling it the Hyperborean region, the favorite abode of Apollo, the god of light. Fossils of magnolias and other semi-tropical plants, lignite and coal seams, are found in the strata now buried under the everlasting snows of the Arctic regions. These and the fossils brought back recently from the South Polar lands confirm some of the statements in The Secret Doctrine concerning the warm periods at both "ends" in various prehistoric ages. The climate of the habitable world at the commencement of the third race must have been almost perfect, but as man "fell" and the struggle between the higher and the lower commenced, the natural surroundings synchronously became less agreeable. The idea given in the Bible allegory that the animals "fell" under the curse with Adam, is founded upon the significant truth that man is the creator of his surroundings, and that nature simply obeys the demands made upon her. As long as man is the sport of his passions, and crucifies the higher part of himself, the christos within, nature will produce the earthquakes, the storms, the extremes of heat and cold, and venomous and noxious animals will multiply. These things could not exist unless there was a cause for them, for "Nature exists for the soul's experience" (Patanjali's Yoga Aphorisms). They are instruments which the law of karma has developed for the discipline of sentient beings. They are the "curses coming home to roost," in a very literal sense. As H. P. Blavatsky says:
Intimately, or rather indissolubly, connected with Karma [the law of action and perfect justice] then, is the law of rebirth, or of the reincarnation of the same spiritual individuality in a long, almost interminable, series of personalities. The latter are like the various costumes and characters played by the same actor, with each of which that actor identifies himself and is identified by the public, for the space of a few hours. . . . But the outer, visible character is supposed to be ignorant of the fact. In actual life that ignorance is, unfortunately, but too real. Nevertheless, the permanent individuality is fully aware of the fact, though, through the atrophy of the "spiritual" eye in the physical body, that knowledge is unable to impress itself on the consciousness of the false personality. -- The Secret Doctrine, vol. II, page 306
After the Lemurians had existed for ages as beings not very different from the mankind of later times, yet more spiritual than intellectual, a gradual division took place into two well-marked sections, the Sons of Light and the Sons of Darkness. Selfish desire increased and the decline of the third race set in rapidly, but was not allowed to proceed too far. The law of progress prevented too great a downfall by the destruction of a large portion of the individuals through the breaking up of the Lemurian continent. Simultaneously with the decay of the third race civilizations, the beginnings of the new type of man, the fourth, began to appear, and new lands arose from the sea to take the place of the previous continent. Some of the islands of Polynesia are remains of some of the mountaintops of long-forgotten Lemuria, and the native traditions of a universal deluge, etc., greatly puzzled the early missionaries, who could not conceive how the ignorant savages, living in widely scattered islands, had obtained stories closely resembling those of the Creation and the Flood in the Bible. Australia and New Zealand are the largest parts of Lemuria now existing, but there are other portions, such as Ceylon or Lanka, which is a remnant of a northern highland of Lemuro-Atlantis, and the Polar lands, though the latter belong properly to the first and second continents.
Lemuria is said to have perished finally 700,000 years before the commencement of the Tertiary age of geology. The highest group of its inhabitants, the comparatively few "Sons of Light," were not disturbed by the upheavals, for they had taken precautions and had moved away to safer regions; most of the small proportion of the average mankind that escaped centered towards land which is now under the waters of the North Atlantic. They formed the nucleus of the next root-race, the Atlantean, and from that land the coming great Atlantean civilization spread over the new continent that was rising. Nature never breaks the continuity of her processes, so no hard and fast line can be drawn as to when one race ends and another begins. For many thousands of years the first subrace of the fourth had been developing parallel with the culminating of the last subraces of the third, just as we see today a new subrace of our fifth root-race forming in America; so that the relic of mankind saved from destruction contained representatives in all degrees of advancement. It should be well remembered that it is not only mankind as a whole, but man as the individual ego, whose progress we are tracing. The races are the temporary vehicles of the larger life of the egos constituting them, and though they may perish when they have served their purpose, and before they have fallen too deeply into degradation, the immortal ego simply passes on to the next experience and will continue to do so until the succeeding manvantara or world period.
Far back in what we are accustomed to call antiquity, but which in true relationship to the ages of past human experience is but as yesterday, Plato, the Greek initiate, revealed a glimpse of a surprising knowledge of the mysterious continent and civilization of Atlantis. His account is merely a sketch of the destruction of the last islands remaining after the greater catastrophes, for he was not permitted to give the full story of the lost antediluvian world, and of what he did give we have but a portion. But, fortunately, besides the legends in the Indian Puranas and elsewhere, which are difficult to interpret, there are other and more complete records in the possession of the custodians of the wisdom of the ages, theosophy; and it is from these that H. P. Blavatsky selected a few passages of importance to us in our study of the place of man in nature.
It is not possible in these few pages to quote the geological, archaeological, and historical evidences as to the location and characteristics of the vanished continent of Atlantis. The student will find in The Secret Doctrine a mass of interesting evidence concerning it. The Indians of both Hemispheres, the Greeks, and other peoples, have handed down clear though partly allegorized accounts. Donnelly's Atlantis contains much -- so far as data are concerned -- that is valuable to students.
Atlantis gradually took form as Lemuria broke up under the turbulent disruptive forces of the adolescent period of earth's growth, and as the portion of humanity which escaped the destruction spread afar, they peopled the newly risen lands and some of the old that were not submerged, with a race which subsequently touched the lowest depths of materiality that the world has seen. Since the Atlantean period man has been rising, though with many cyclic depressions, for the Atlantean civilization marked a turning point in the history of the Earth. Until then mankind was slowly descending into material conditions with a corresponding obscuration in spirituality. The Atlanteans stand as the apotheosis of matter, and it was in those far-distant days that the heaviest karma of the human race was generated, a karma which is holding us back from the advance we should otherwise make, and whose existence explains many of the difficulties and anomalies of life. Humanity reached its fullest physical development in the fourth race, the physical bodies themselves being much larger than at present. The old saying that "there were giants in those days," was correct when applied to the Atlanteans. The curious decrease in the size of many organisms, which is so well marked in the case of the fearful saurians of the Secondary period -- now represented by comparatively minute reptilian forms -- also took place in the human kingdom; but as the practice of cremation was almost universal we are not likely to find many remains of gigantic human bones. Immense footprints have been found in the geologic strata of Nevada and Ohio, USA, which seem to be human, but geology has not definitely sanctioned the claim that they are so. H. P. Blavatsky was very definite in her statements that undeniable proofs would be forthcoming, at the right time, of the conditions of life in the lost continent of Atlantis; so we can well afford to wait.
The fourth race started under far less favorable conditions than the third, and towards its decline the story of Lemuria was repeated on lower levels; the same fight between the higher and lower natures within and without was waged, but more mercilessly; and as that was the age of passion and desire in excelsis and the eclipse of spirituality, the result was mainly in favor of the lower principles for a long time. But not forever, for, although the majority of the Atlanteans were not the descendants of the higher group of the third race, the "one third that remained faithful" fought such a good fight that they were enabled to escape before the Deluge from the lands that had been cursed by the evildoers, and to become the progenitors of the majority of our present humanity. The story of Noah's Deluge is, in one of its aspects, a fanciful account of the great Atlantean submersion; but it also has deeper meanings, one of which allegorizes the primeval building of the world.
Full personal responsibility came to the man of the Atlantean period, and although the last or final choice between spiritual advancement on the one side, and materialism or personal aggrandizement on the other, "good and evil," has not yet come for the mass of humanity, and will not until the next round, a long step in that direction was taken by the Atlanteans. But nature is merciful, and the world is not destined to perish ingloriously; so before the mischief had become irreparable, "the law that moves to righteousness" again arrested further degradation by giving a shock which allowed the egos to start anew with a fresh opportunity, upon new lands not soaked through with the evil memories of past sins. The majority of the Atlantean evildoers perished finally amid indescribable terrors, and the ocean soon obliterated all remains of that proud civilization which had misapplied greater powers than any with which we have since been entrusted. The last large destruction took place towards the close of the Meiocene age, when the Alps were upraised. Most of those then destroyed were of the giant race; but mankind was already diminishing in size, and when the final destruction of the few remaining islands upon which Atlanteans still existed took place, only about 11,000 years ago, men had long before assumed their present proportions. It was the latter destruction to which Plato refers when he handed on the tradition that the gods had caused the wicked Atlanteans to perish 9,000 years before his time. In The Secret Doctrine (vol. II, page 427) H. P. Blavatsky quotes, from an ancient esoteric commentary, a most thrilling description of the escape of the "faithful" and of the struggle which took place between the Sons of Darkness and the Sons of Light just before the final breakup of one of the largest island regions of Atlantis. Airships of great perfection were used by the "White Adepts," and the measures taken and the weapons spoken of illustrate a much deeper knowledge of natural forces -- magic -- than science has yet suspected, fortunately for us in this age of selfishness!
The fifth or Aryan race had started some time before the last destruction of Atlantis. Descended from the more spiritualized and better class of Atlanteans, a few had preserved the knowledge of their ancestors and were ready to revive it when the race demanded it. The institution of the Mysteries in all countries at a later period was an effort, and fortunately a successful one, to preserve the ancient wisdom from the profanation it had suffered in Atlantis. An example of the profound knowledge of the Atlanteans is shown in the astronomical computations of Indian astronomy, which are based upon a little that was permitted to escape from the guardianship of the Mysteries.
It was in Atlantis, too, that language took its inflectional form, after having passed from the stage of musical nature-sounds in the second race, to monosyllabic speech in the later third, and then to the agglutinative form in the fourth. Of course writing was well known to the fourth race, for during its long career it possessed civilizations higher than were those of Greece or Rome in their palmiest days, and even far higher than our own civilization today, though it may have been lost to the world at large during the period of confusion when the first subraces of the fifth were forming. The traces of writing in the "Stone Age " (which belongs to our epoch) are not conclusive; and yet it is strange and entirely unexplained by modern science, that Palaeolithic man could draw animals upon antlers and cavern walls, etc., in a style that would not disgrace a good draughtsman of today, and which is certainly superior in accuracy to that of some of the Egyptian conventional representations of animals, or to the crude drawings of the famous Bayeux tapestry which was woven perhaps five hundred thousand years after the time of the supposed brutal "primitive" man -- a savage that we are told was nearly on a level with his hypothetical ape-grandfather! Palaeolithic (ancient Stone Age) man was in reality carrying on some memories of the perished civilizations, as his artistic talent shows; the Neolithic (new Stone Age) man who followed him had lost this power, although he was improving in some other respects. The Palaeolithic drawings show no resemblance to the scrawls of children, but display concentrated observation and high technical skill -- in other words, qualities of advanced civilization!
With this gradual break-up of the fourth race civilizations, which were varied and numerous, the dawn of what is known to science as the human period, begins. In actual years the distance is enormous from the first subrace of the fifth race to the present day, and what is generally supposed to be the whole history of man "does not go back," as H. P. Blavatsky says, "further than the fantastic origins of our fifth sub-race, a 'few thousands' of years." In the brief space at our disposal, only the most cursory reference can be made to the progress of humanity during the fifth race.
The destruction of the spiritually degraded Atlanteans gave a shock to the survivors which resulted in the sinking of material civilization for a long time over the main portion of the globe; we are not yet told exactly what proportion of the world kept some vestiges of the past greatness, but it cannot have been large. Anyway, the effect of the fresh start was good, for it provided conditions under which the later comparatively unsophisticated tribes could be helped by advanced souls who incarnated among them and taught them the elements of the arts and sciences. In every tradition that has come down to us from antiquity a Golden Age is spoken of -- the "Garden of Eden" in the Bible -- and, although in some cases this unmistakably refers to the first, second, and the early third races, when rudimentary mankind had not fallen into materiality, it may generally be taken to mean the dawn of the fifth when mankind was again comparatively pure and happy, and was guided by semi-divine kings, adepts of wisdom and compassion. In Egypt the traditions of many dynasties of gods and heroes were recorded by Manetho, and have actually come down to us, though the lists of names have been mutilated. While no doubt the details of the Greek, Hindu, Egyptian, Central American and Scandinavian cosmogonies and primitive histories of mankind are largely allegorical, their general agreement is not due to chance. Those who have given theosophy to the world possess definite information that there was a time of spiritual brightness before ordinary history begins, and that it could truly be called a Golden Age. By degrees the same old process of materializing came into action; and as the "family" races, or smaller divisions of the subraces, differentiated into the nations of the later ages, we arrive at "historic" and present times, with the numerous red, yellow, brown, black, and white representatives of the complex developments of the great evolutionary process of human expansion. Although we have descended into an age of moral and spiritual darkness (not intellectual), as compared with the Golden Ages it must not be forgotten that in the great journey of the soul from spiritual conditions through the material and back to a higher point, it is subject to a continual series of smaller cyclic ups and downs, and that even in the darkest time necessary experience is being gained. As we have long since passed the densest materiality of the fourth race, every step onwards is leading to higher conditions, and although the road seems to cross many a hill and descend into dark valleys, its general tendency is upwards all the time.
One of the most interesting points in the development of man as a soul is the growth of religions. The early races, the first and second, not being deeply immersed in matter nor endowed with mind and responsibility, had no need for the help of any form of religion such as we understand; they lived in harmony with nature, and of the later period H. P. Blavatsky says:
At the dawn of his consciousness, the man of the Third Root Race had thus no beliefs that could be called religion. That is to say, he was equally as ignorant of "gay religions, full of pomp and gold" as of any system of faith or outward worship. But if the term is to be defined as the binding together of the masses in one form of reverence paid to those we feel higher than ourselves, of piety -- as a feeling expressed by a child toward a loved parent -- then even the earliest Lemurians had a religion -- and a most beautiful one -- from the very beginning of their intellectual life. . . . It was the "Golden Age" in those days of old, the age when the "gods walked the earth, and mixed freely with the mortals.". . . It was the Atlanteans, the first progeny of semi-divine man after his separation into sexes -- hence the first-begotten and humanly-born mortals -- who became the first "Sacrificers" to the god of matter. They stand in the far-away dim past, in ages more than prehistoric, as the . . . first anthropormorphists who worshiped form and matter. That worship degenerated very soon into self-worship, thence led to phallicism, or that which reigns supreme to this day in the symbolisms of every exoteric religion of ritual, dogma, and form. --The Secret Doctrine, vol. II, pages 272-3
But, as the writer of The Secret Doctrine says elsewhere, "A phallic worship has developed only with the gradual loss of the keys to the inner meanings of religious symbols," and there was a day when religions were pure. After the destruction of Atlantis, a few wise guides who carried on the knowledge of the past and reincarnated time after time for the helping of the new child-race, brought out the facts as to man's real nature and his relationship to his (inner) god, in symbolic ceremony and definite illustration in the teaching of the Mysteries. The Aryan Hindus, whose ancestors were among the early descendants of the first subrace of the fifth, have preserved in their scriptures the clearest records of the primitive wisdom; but after all, even these are so bewilderingly confused and full of "blinds," for which the key has been lost (for the public) that they are all but a sealed book to modern readers, not excepting the learned Sanskritists of the Western universities. But the last quarter of the nineteenth century, the period when materialism was attempting to crush the belief in anything spiritual, was chosen by those who are watching every movement of human thought and action and who are the guardians of the primeval wisdom-religion, theosophy, in its purity, to give out a few facts showing that there was a primitive KNOWLEDGE, and that all modern systems of religion are modifications, perversions, or merely fractions of it. Although that which has been given out is only a glimpse, it has placed students in such a position that when the time ripens they will be prepared to receive fuller light.
This idea of there being truth and real knowledge in the earliest forms of religion is new to the scientific investigator. The favorite hypothesis of the day (putting aside the crude literal interpretation of the biblical Genesis, which has been abandoned by nearly everyone capable of understanding the value of evidence) is that every religious concept can be traced back to absurd myths of primitive savages living a few thousand years ago; and that modern savages provide perfect illustrations of the state of primitive man in religious views as well as in their intellectual development, and that -- given sufficient time -- the savage races would develop civilizations of a high order, and religions as good as those of today.
Theosophists have always contended that this hypothesis is not in accord with the facts. The lowest savages are mostly decaying relics of the lost Lemuro-Atlantean or Atlantean subraces. This does not mean that all the individuals composing them are going down hill -- quite the contrary. The reincarnating egos in such vestiges as the Veddahs of Ceylon have only come into fourth round terrestrial incarnation comparatively lately, and have not got to face the heaped-up bad karma that other races have still to face owing to their mistakes in the past. The door of incarnation into humanity closed at the midway point of the rounds, and the last monad incarnated in human form before the beginning of the fifth race, with only one exception -- the anthropoid ape, which is really a degraded man-animal -- and which will have its opportunity of gaining complete manhood in the next round.
Turning for a moment to the question of the origin of the anthropoid apes -- the gorilla, chimpanzee, orangutang, and gibbon -- the fundamental distinction between the attitude of theosophy and that of materialism is well marked. Instead of being a mere animal with a highly developed brain "secreting mind or thought" ("No phosphorus, no thought," Moleschott) -- the soul thus being a simple function of matter, a byproduct, perishing at death like music when the harp is broken -- theosophy teaches that the real man is a "fallen god," a self-conscious being who has been immortal in the past as he will be in the future. The monads of many of the animal races which strongly resemble man in bodily structure, possess the potentialities of the highest development, but these are still latent, for they have not been awakened by the incarnation of the spark of godlike mind. The possession of the higher self-consciousness, though as yet in truth in a very incomplete degree, is what makes man a man. To derive human conscience and human intellect from the brain-faculties or instinctual mind of animals by natural selection, survival of the fittest, etc., as the only causes thereof, would be as hopeless a problem as to make a perpetual motion machine, for something cannot be produced from nothing. The animal monads are getting necessary experience in physical life, and in some future age the divine mind-egos now incarnated in our human forms will project the spark to arouse the latent fires in the lower lives; then those animal-monads will have become human-monads. H. P. Blavatsky spoke in severe condemnation of the belittling of human nature with its essentially divine attributes (however degraded and obscured) by modern speculation, which tries to reduce the activity of the mighty and awe-inspiring divine ego overshadowing each human being, the wonderful and mysterious reincarnating self, to a mere function of the brain of a creature supposed to be but the advanced product of a hairy quadrumanous ancestor.
What, then, is the origin of the anthropoid apes? H. P. Blavatsky calls them a "bastard branch grafted on the original stock" of humanity. The "common ancestor" of man and the anthropoids was -- man himself, in a far distant age. In the third round (not race), the human monad, in building around itself changeful and varying forms of an ethereal and ephemeral nature, at one period adopted that of an ape-like form (but it was not an ape, but man -- there were no apes then), a form which was copied and humanized for man's habitation again in the denser conditions of the earlier part of the third race of the fourth round; for each round in the descending order repeats the previous experience, but in more material substance. This was before the full descent of the manasaputras, the higher egos; and this early race of the third round as it "fell into generation" and separated into sexes, threw off many imperfect offshoots, some of which, mating with certain animals, produced forms which ultimately modified (in the Tertiary geological period) into the ancestors of the anthropoids of our day. This act was repeated by some of the later degraded Atlanteans in full consciousness of the wrong. Resulting from this bestiality of early man, there were so many degrees of half-human animals at that dim and distant period, that we may fully expect to find fossilized remains of their descendants as "missing-links" even more anthropoid in character than the thigh-bone and skull-fragment found in Java a few years ago, about which so much has been said. Java happens to be a portion of Lemuria, and a probable place to find such remains; but H. P. Blavatsky says that
In order to prove the Huxley-Haeckelian theories of the descent of man, it is not one, but a great number of "missing links" -- a true ladder of progressive evolutionary steps -- that would have to be first found and then presented by Science to thinking and reasoning humanity before it would abandon belief in gods and the immortal Soul for the worship of Quadrumanic ancestors. -- The Secret Doctrine, vol. II, page 661
A remarkable corroboration of the early connection between humanity and the four species of anthropoids mentioned above, which are said in the esoteric philosophy to owe their origin to man, has been discovered recently in certain tests of their blood. The injection of a serum proved that the blood of the four anthropoids reacted in the same manner as human blood, while that of other monkeys behaved differently under the same tests.
Another significant observation supporting the theosophical teaching that man is not derived from an animal ancestry, is that an inverse order exists in the brain of the anthropoid apes when compared with man. In the apes the middle convolutions of the brain appear before those of the frontal lobe (the latter supposed to be the instrument of the higher mental activities), but in man the frontal convolutions are formed first. As the anthropoids are the descendants of man and some extinct species of mammals which lived in the Meiocene age, and as the animal side is still predominant in them, the development of the brain in the above order is what might be expected from the theosophical standpoint. Two or three years ago a fossil jaw of an extinct kind of chimpanzee was discovered in Northwestern India, having characteristics far more human than the present representatives possess, showing that there has been no advance towards the human type.
Then again, the writer of The Secret Doctrine says, speaking of man:
His intellect develops and increases with age, while his facial bones and jaws diminish and straighten, thus being more and more spiritualized: whereas with the ape it is the reverse. In its youth the anthropoid is far more intelligent and good-natured, while with age it becomes duller; and, as its skull recedes and seems to diminish as it grows, its facial bones and jaws develop, the brain being finally crushed, and thrown entirely back, to make with every day more room for the animal type. The organ of thought -- the brain -- recedes and diminishes, entirely conquered and replaced by that of the wild beast -- the jaw apparatus. . . . Owing to the very type of his development man cannot descend from either an ape or an ancestor common to both, but shows his origin from a type far superior to himself. . . . On the other hand, the pithecoids, the orangoutang, the gorilla, and the chimpanzee can, and, as the Occult Sciences teach, do, descend from the animalized fourth human Root-Race, being the product of man and an extinct species of mammal -- whose remote ancestors were themselves the product of Lemurian bestiality -- which lived in the Meiocene age. -- The Secret Doctrine, vol. II, pages 682-3
Much more might be said upon this crucial subject but for exigencies of space. The student will find the subject very fully treated in The Secret Doctrine.
Returning to the question of the origin of religions, evidences for the statement that the principal religions of our times were derived from one common source at the beginning of the fifth race, when the separation of the Aryan (using the term Aryan in the technical theosophical sense of the fifth root-race) families began, are found in the wonderful resemblances between them. For instance it is well known that the accounts of the Creation and the Flood, the cycle of the story of Jesus and many an event of his career, can be more or less closely paralleled in a dozen other faiths; the doctrine of Trinity in Unity is as old as the hills; and the ethical teachings of the Sermon on the Mount are found as the moral basis of religions "from China to Peru." The allegorical stories upon which the forms of religion are based can be traced back into the night of time and, according to the records of the custodians of the ancient wisdom they were first of all produced by initiates to contain the truth in a form capable of being understood to some extent by the ordinary mind. Those properly qualified were taught the deeper meanings.
These forms of faith were gradually corrupted, until it became necessary to re-state the same truths in slightly modified fashion for the better comprehension of the newly-rising nations. It would be preposterous to suppose primitive savages capable of inventing myths containing the profound wisdom which is hidden just beneath the surface of the sacred beliefs. As if to prove the knowledge of their framers, most of the world scriptures contain distinct allusions to the rounds and races with their destructions and regenerations, and in some cases so clearly that they can easily be traced by anyone who holds the clue given by theosophy.
The positive teachings of theosophy concerning the origins of mankind and of religion show that the "primitive savage" and "animistic" hypotheses are erroneous and incomplete, quite apart from their materializing tendency. These theories recognize nothing but the lower mind, the egotistic brain-personality, and the animal instincts. In trying to trace the development of man and the origins of the higher attributes of the soul, scientific anthropology is blocked by its disregard of the reincarnating ego, the higher mind or manas of which the lower is but the shadow or emanation, hardly to be separated from the animal nature. Scientific writers -- apparently laboring under the hypnotic weight of the famous date of 4004 B.C., the theological date of the "creation" -- have also erred in limiting the duration of the human period to a few thousands of years, and in not recognizing the existence of the prehistoric civilizations. The presence of advanced egos from previous manvantaras guiding the race at all times is unknown to them even as a theory. The only "primitive man" deserving the title was the rudimentary or incomplete "man" of the earlier rounds and also of the pre-Lemurian age. He was very different from the "Stone-Age" type, who was a true man, even if degraded. That religion is a simple brain-mind production derived from observation of the natural phenomena of the seasons, the weather, etc., and that belief in the existence of the soul came from the childish imagination of savage men that dreams are real experiences, are suggestions which materialistic bias has rendered plausible to the scientific spirit of the age, which still suffers unconsciously to itself from the strong reaction against the irrational dogmas of scholastic theology. Scientific research has done excellent service in freeing millions from degrading servitude to the tyranny of bigoted ecclesiasticism and superstition, but when it tries to prove that there is no spiritual foundation for religion, and that man, in seeing a divine consciousness at work in himself and in nature, has been the dupe of his imagination, it is time to call a halt. The materialistic theory of the origin of the religious faiths cannot permanently satisfy the bulk of mankind, whether cultivated or otherwise, for there is a deep-seated conviction that there must be something more in them than mere convenient illusions founded on ignorance and folly and built up by fraud.
The strength of the materialistic position, such as it is, has lain principally in the absence of any reasonable explanation of such extraordinary allegories as those of Genesis, Ezekiel, or the Apocalypse, in the Bible; of the Chaldaean legends; of the Hindu Vedas and Puranas; of the Egyptian Book of the Dead; of the poems of Hesiod in Greece; of the Central American Popol Vuh; of the Scandinavian epics, and the rest. The keys have at last been furnished by theosophy. The sacred books of the different races and religions were inspired by the initiated teachers of former days, "sons" of one common mother-system, so it is not wonderful that these writings and traditions even today can reveal their meaning to him who has the key.
It is a long lane that has no turning, and it is worthy of note that an uneasiness is growing in high intellectual quarters as to the accuracy of the orthodox scientific theory of religious evolution, and that an interpretation more in harmony with theosophical teaching has been forced upon at least one scientific man of the first rank by the stern logic of facts. Professor Sir W. M. Ramsay expresses the popular theory as follows:
The modern method is based on the assumption that there takes place normally a continuous development in religion, in thought, and in civilization, since primitive times; that such a development has been practically universal among the more civilized races; that as to certain less civilized races either they have remained stationary, or progress among them has been abnormally slow; that the primitive religion is barbarous, savage, bloodthirsty, and low in the scale of civilization, and that the line of growth normally is toward the milder, the more gracious and the nobler forms of religion; that the primitive types of religion can be recovered by studying the savage of the present day, and that the lowest savage is the most primitive. -- Contemporary Review, 1907, London
Instead of finding that a dispassionate examination of the facts supports this position, Professor Ramsay says the reverse is the case:
Wherever evidence exists, with the rarest exceptions, the history of religion among men is a history of degeneration; and the development of a few Western nations in inventions and in civilization during recent centuries should not blind us to the fact that among the vast majority of nations the history of manners and civilization is a story of degeneration. Wherever you find a religion that grows purer and loftier, you find the prophet, the thinker, the teacher, who is in sympathy with the Divine, and he tells you he is speaking the message of God, not his own message. Are these prophets all impostors and deceivers? or do they speak the truth, and need only to have their words rightly, i.e. sympathetically understood? . . . The primitive savage, who develops naturally out of the stage of Totemism into the wisdom of Sophocles and Socrates . . . is unknown to me. I find nothing even remotely resembling him in the savages of modern times.
I was forced by the evidence to the view that degeneration is the outstanding fact in religious history and that the modern theory often takes the last products of degeneration as the facts of primitive religion.
Space will not permit further quotation of similar passages which express more or less closely what theosophists have been teaching for more than a quarter of a century past, in face of the strongest opposition from materialism and conventional orthodoxy. The "prophet, the thinker, the teacher," referred to above, "who is in sympathy with the Divine," reminds us of the teaching that there have always been such advanced souls in the van of progress, giving mankind the exact kind of spiritual food it could assimilate at the time, and also protecting it from the evils that constantly threaten it. These advanced souls have never been absent; they are not wanting today, although not known to the world. The modern savage is the flotsam and jetsam of past greatness; and our civilized races that now pride themselves upon their high culture, will, when their race is run, vegetate, degenerate, and die out in future ages, like the natives of Tasmania have in our time, for this is the law. The egos now inhabiting the bodies of the most advanced races will not, of course, remain in the lower human forms except in cases of persistent evil-living lasting from incarnation to incarnation, but will pass into the new and more perfect races which are beginning already to show faint signs of appearing. Less advanced egos will take up the forms of the present mankind. The Secret Doctrine says:
The Americans have become in only three centuries a "primary race" pro tem., before becoming a race apart. . . . They are, in short, the germs of the Sixth sub-race, and in some few hundred years more will become most decidedly the pioneers of that race which must succeed to the present European or fifth sub-race, in all its new characteristics. After this, in about 25,000 years, they will launch into preparations for the seventh sub-race; until . . . the Sixth Root-Race will have appeared on the stage of our Round. . . . The Fifth will overlap the Sixth Race for many hundreds of millenniums, changing with it slower than its new successor, still changing in stature, general physique, and mentality, just as the Fourth overlapped our Aryan Race, and the Third had overlapped the Atlanteans.
This process of preparation for the Sixth great Race must last throughout the whole sixth and seventh sub-races. But the last remnants of the Fifth Continent will not disappear until some time after the birth of the new Race. . . . Mankind will not grow again into giant bodies as in the case of the Lemurians and the Atlanteans; because while the evolution of the Fourth race led the latter down to the very bottom of materiality in its physical development, the present Race is on its ascending arc; and the Sixth will be rapidly growing out of its bonds of matter, and even of flesh. -- The Secret Doctrine, vol. II, page 444
As in the earlier rounds the monad was assimilating the various principles in very shadowy and ethereal vehicles; and as in this round the desire-principle is dominant; so in the next (fifth) round, fully developed reason, the higher manasic principle in each man, must fully conquer the passional nature or the great pilgrimage will have been in vain, and it will have to return to the crucible of existence to start afresh at some future time. The mahatma is one who has pushed so far ahead of the obstacles that impede the average man that he may justly be called a "sixth round" being, one who has safely passed beyond that supreme danger point which will meet humanity as a whole during the fifth round, called the final "moment of choice." This critical period has to be faced, but it will only prove fatal to that portion of mankind which persists in the egotism of personal selfishness. An individual may lose the bliss of one or more devachanic interludes, the heavenly states between one life on earth and another, by a misspent life, for the reason that there is nothing in that life to provide material for the devachanic experiences; but the Law is just beyond human understanding, and as there are many lives in which to remedy past errors, the great majority of the race will pass on in safety to a transcendentally glorious future. "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him."
But the preparation for this great end must be ceaseless struggle against the passional nature now so strongly entrenched within us, and those who really belong to the fifth and sixth rounds, who are wisdom and compassion embodied, are working with the divine law and giving continual though unseen help to their brothers, the other struggling fragments of humanity making their way up the weary hill of life. Mankind is not left to wander too far from the road to safety. The "sense of separateness," of personal selfish isolation and indifference to the welfare of the rest of humanity, our "other selves," is the only heresy recognized in theosophy, but it is a deadly one and indeed prevalent; the spread of true knowledge and practice of brotherhood is the only remedy. To do this effectually, which is the object that all the great teachers of humanity have lived for, was the aim in starting the Theosophical Society to meet and guide the conditions of the new order of the ages. This Movement, established on unsectarian lines and supported by those who have real knowledge -- not mere inference -- of the history of the past and of man's real nature, is a unique phenomenon in modern times. The opportunity offered for serving humanity with the greatest efficiency and conservation of energy, and through this personal service to obtain the high impersonal reward of realizing the existence of an inner communion with the real self, the higher, immortal ego, the only reward the true theosophist desires, is the greatest that mankind has had for many ages.
The stars shall fade away, the Sun himself / Grow dim with age, and Nature sink in years, / But thou shalt flourish in immortal youth, / Unhurt amid the war of elements, / The wreck of matter, and the crash of worlds. -- ADDISON
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