Duality in Evolution

By Thijs Prent
Evolution is, in fact, not a thing in itself, but a procedure of Nature, and is wholly governed by the karmic causes originated in previous periods of the existence of any evolving entity whatsoever. -- G. de Purucker, H. P. Blavatsky: The Mystery, p. 150

Everything in nature is dual, and so is evolution. I would like to share some thoughts with you about the evolution of the cosmos, particularly how the One becomes the many. It is difficult for the human mind to grasp that consciousness, although essentially one, has differentiated itself during the evolutionary process into innumerable smaller centers of consciousness, sometimes referred to as sparks or dewdrops. Two well-known quotations illustrate this thought. Sir Edwin Arnold in his Light of Asia remarks that Gautama Buddha is like the dewdrop that "slips into the shining sea" (Bk. 8). Again, in Chapter 10 of the Bhagavad-Gita, Krishna says about himself, "I established this whole universe with a single portion of myself, and yet remain separate." G. de Purucker gives still another example in his Esoteric Tradition:

man in his septempartite or decempartite constitution [is] a hierarchical aggregate of hosts of beings over which the spirit of his constitution presides as the Hierarch or Logos, remaining separate and distinct from its children which it emanates during each incarnation; and yet these hosts of beings form in their aggregate man's constitution or the vehicle of his spirit. -- p. 170

Now where does this dual evolution begin? With THAT --

An Omnipresent, Eternal, Boundless, and Immutable Principle on which all speculation is impossible, since it transcends the power of human conception and could only be dwarfed by any human expression or similitude. -- H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine 1:14

This eternal Principle forms the first fundamental proposition of the modern presentation of theosophy. Looking at the second proposition, we find the universal law of periodicity:

But once that we pass in thought from this (to us) Absolute Negation, duality supervenes in the contrast of Spirit (or consciousness) and Matter, Subject and Object. -- 1:15

Duality, then, is basic to manifestation itself.

The highest duad the human mind can conceive of is called in Hindu philosophy Parabrahman (beyond Brahman) and Mulaprakriti (root-nature), the cosmic veil of Parabrahman. A second duad emanates from the first one: Brahman and Pradhana. Brahman is the first or unmanifested Logos, the active or divine side of evolution, while Pradhana is its veil or passive opposite pole. From Brahman and Pradhana is born the son, Brahma, a name which comes from a Sanskrit root meaning "expansion." He represents the spiritual energy-consciousness aspect of our solar system, its active pole. The garments of Brahma, his illusory, material manifestations or phenomena, emanate from his passive opposite pole, Prakriti. Although at the point here described the physical manifestation of our solar system has not yet begun, three evolutionary phases of a dual character have already occurred. Two lines of evolution can be observed, a subjective and an objective one: Parabrahman-Brahman-Brahma as the subjective line; and Mulaprakriti-Pradhana-Prakriti as the objective line.

With the appearance of Brahma, the first "day" of his life begins, a period which lasts 100 divine years. According to Brahmanical calculations, Brahma's life lasts 4,320 million x 36,000 x 2 years -- quite a long time! Yet all is relative, as HPB explains: "The Eternity of the Universe . . . [is] periodically 'the playground of numberless Universes incessantly manifesting and disappearing,' . . . 'The Eternity of the Pilgrim' is like a wink of the Eye of Self-Existence" (Ibid. 1:16-17).

Thereafter Brahma continues its dual evolution. How can we describe this process of the coming into being of Brahma's garment -- our home, our solar garment? G. de Purucker writes in Fountain-Source of Occultism:

Our solar system began in Space, in the womb of Aditi, the Eternal Mother, as a nebula -- not by chance, but as one of the stages in its new imbodiment. As this nebula slowly moved in space, at its heart there began to be a condensation of its substance. This condensation became the sun, and a little later at various points within that nebula similar but smaller condensations of the nebular material occurred, and these became the planets. -- p. 118

But who or what stands behind all this? Which cosmic intelligences plan and build up this universe? They are the architects and builders, to use the modern theosophical terms for such cosmic beings. Speaking of these beings, HPB says:

In every Cosmogony, behind and higher than the creative deity, there is a superior deity, a planner, an Architect, of whom the Creator is but the executive agent. And still higher, over and around, within and without, there is the unknowable and the unknown, the Source and Cause of all these Emanations. -- The Secret Doctrine 2:43

Purucker says further:

Every unitary being within nature, such as a sun or a planet, is in consequence an imbodied entity, divine in its highest parts, spiritual in the part subordinate to the divine, having an intellectual essence or mind, and all these manifesting through the lower garments, including the physical body. -- Fountain-Source of Occultism, p. 209

Human understanding divides the manifested universe into two interdepending parts: the light-side, the spiritual or divine side of nature; and the matter-side, the vehicular aspect. The light-side is represented by the architects and the matter-side by the builders. In reality it is almost impossible to mark a dividing line between the two: both are built up by hosts of cosmic monads which differ only in their degree of development, and at the transition point they are virtually identical.

H. P. Blavatsky divided these monads into two parallel triads: the light triad consisting of gods-monads-atoms; and the vehicular triad consisting of chaos-theos-cosmos. When these two triads unite, the gods work in chaos, the monads in theos, and the atoms in cosmos. Considering each triad individually, we see that on the spiritual side the gods work through the monads, and the monads work through the atoms; while on the material side, chaos works in theos and theos works in cosmos.

We can apply this cosmic pattern to the human constitution, for in human evolution there are also two lines and three stages. The two lines can be called the spiritual and the material. The three stages of evolution are the monadic, the intellectual, and the physical, and they work together simultaneously. Referring to the sevenfold human constitution, we have:

1. Atman and buddhi (the higher duad), the first stage;
2. Manas and kama (the middle duad), the second stage;
3. Prana, the astral body, and the physical body (the lower triad), the third stage.

The principles of our constitution are inseparably interwoven and intermingled, especially because humanity belongs to a class of monadic beings where spirit and matter are more or less in balance. However, all such classifications are, in my view, simply artificial intellectual creations which have value only as working hypotheses when we are trying to understand the manifested cosmos. They have no independent reality.

The process of dual evolution is beautifully explained by the term sutratman:

It is this sutratman, this thread-self, this consciousness-stream, or rather stream of consciousness-life, which is the fundamental and individual Selfhood of every entity, and which, reflected in and through the several intermediate vehicles or veils or sheaths or garments of the invisible constitution of man, or of any other being in which a monad enshrouds itself, produces the ego centers of self-conscious existence. -- G. de Purucker, Occult Glossary

By reflecting on the role of duality in the evolutionary process, we can get at least a basic idea of the way in which the One becomes the many, an event in which we all take part. In applying it to ourselves, we may substitute the words "universal brotherhood" for the One. Cyclically a special effort is made to bring home to mankind this sublime fact of universal nature. In the beginning only a few are ready to accept universal brotherhood, but nonetheless the idea starts to spread. As a seed gradually grows into an organism, so the idea of brotherhood becomes a movement -- in our time it is called the Theosophical movement. Although the brotherhood ideal is the creator and supporter of the movement, it is not affected by the movement's fate: movements come and go, but universal brotherhood, our essential oneness, was, is, and ever will be.

[From a talk delivered at the Sunrise Forum held at Limburg, Germany, in 1996.]
  • (From Sunrise magazine, August/September 1997. Copyright © 1997 by Theosophical University Press)

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