All You Wanted to Know About Esoteric Evolution But Were Afraid to Ask: the Philosophies of Madame Blavatsky and Rudolph Steiner
by Peter Holleran
"Thank God for Evolution."
- wisdom of a bumper sticker
This article alone should serve three purposes: One, it will save you, at least, two or three thousand pages of tedious reading; two, it will wrap up any occult loose ends that remain in your study once and for all, leaving you free to engage your present-time spiritual practice without worrying you may be missing something; and three, it should entertain and fascinate you as well. I put it in the category of “light reading,” yet a much better alternative than boring establishment history books. A lot of this is just darn interesting, and might even be a little bit true. Just remember:
"Spiritual self-realization is the main thing. Study of the teachings
concerning cosmical evolution and the psychical evolution of man are
but intellectual accessories- -things we may or may not take on our
journey, as we like. That part of man which reasons and
speculates-- mortal mind--is not the part which can discover and verify
the existence of God. We are not necessarily helped or hindered on the
divine path by taking up the lore of science or by becoming versed in
the ways of sophistry. Once we live out our spiritual life in the
heart, the rest sinks to second place."
(Paul Brunton, Notebooks
), Vol. 5, Part Two, 2.204)
"We may call it evolution if we wish, but the actuality is not quite the same. The universe is being guided to follow the World-Idea - this is the essence of what is happening...There is the World-Idea, the vital spark, the germ born of World-Mind, the mental picture held by a higher power, which pushes each living cell to fulfill itself."
Ibid, Vol. 16, Part Two, 4.175;
H.P. Blavatsky (1831-1891) was a sensitive child who conversed with invisible playmates. Her obvious psychic nature was a mystery to her friends and family, who also knew her to be rebellious and impatient with authority.She became a fine pianist and artist as well as a skilled rider of half-broken horses. At thirteen her mother died, and she was raised by her maternal grandmother. When she was eighteen her governess taunted her by saying that due to her unbridled spirit: she would never find anyone to marry her. This caused Helena to rise to the challenge, and, solely for the purpose of proving her governess wrong, she convinced a middle-aged friend of the family to propose. She ran off a few months later, however, with a caravan of Russian Buddhists, and the marriage was never consummated.
Blavatsky traveled to Egypt, Greece, and eastern Europe, and in 1851, while in London, met Master Morya, the first of two Tibetan teachers she considered her gurus. Some sources say she received her esoteric contacts while meditating in the as yet undiscovered Angkor ruins of Cambodia. (1) Master Morya (“M”) revealed the mission she was to fulfill, and which would become the purpose of the Theosophical Society: "to collect and diffuse a knowledge of the laws which govern the Universe." The founding of the society had earlier been predicted by the great Indian siddha Ramalingar, who died in 1873. Theosophy was a word originally coined by Neo-Platonists in the third century A.D. meaning "Divine Wisdom, or the aggregate knowledge and wisdom that underlies the universe."
She continued to travel far and wide, reaching America, Nepal, India, Europe, the Caucasus, and Tibet, meeting many teachers and studying many doctrines, quite a feat for a single woman of little means in those days. From 1867 to 1870 she studied with Master Morya and Master Koot Hoomi ("K.H."), both real and not imaginary adepts as has often been claimed (some history of her and other's relationship and meetings with these living masters will be given at the end of this article), gaining control of her natural occult powers and "cleansing herself of psycho-physical weakness" (or the liability of negative mediumship), as well as growing in wisdom. She traveled once more to the Middle East and in 1873, on Morya's guidance, to New York City. There, in 1875, she, along with Henry Steel Olcott and W.Q. Judge (both lawyers, American and Irish), founded the Theosophical Society. She faced two challenges in the West: to confront the Christian beliefs of the day and to criticize scientific materialism. To this end, in 1877, she introduced Isis Unveiled, "A MasterKey to the Mysteries of Ancient and Modern Science and Theology."
In 1878 she and Olcott went to India where four years later permanent headquarters for the Theosophical Society were established in Adyar (near Madras) . Blavatsky met A.P. Sinnett, whom she put in contact with the two masters. Sinnett became Vice-President of the Society, and his numerous correspondences with the masters were published as The Mahatma Letters, which later developed into The Occult World (1881) and Esoteric Buddhism (1883). Olcott went on to a career as a lecturer and magnetic healer, while Blavatsky faced scandal: two of her former servants mounted a libel attack against her, claiming fraudulent production of psychic phenomena. In 1885 she sailed for Europe, never to set foot on Indian soil again. A journalist traveling to Adyar produced the famous Hodgson Report, in December, 1885, which became the basis of all future attacks upon her. It is, to this date, a controversial but unproven document. It is a regrettable but common occurrence that those who work for the preservation of Truth in this world become the target for powerful forces of negativity. So did Aurobindo confess on numerous occasions and so has been witnessed in the persecution of many saints.
Madame Blavatsky was a woman of no mean psychic capacity. Once, when pressed by a sceptic, she explained that scientific laws govern both physical and psychic events. At that moment a rain of flowers came down from the ceiling. "Even this is governed by laws, although you may not perceive it as such," she said. Often dismissed for her early production of psychic phenomena, it must be remembered that 'spiritualism' was rampant in her day, and her first task was twofold: to show the fraudulence and low level of such things, and to first attract people to her and then to the higher teachings it was her destiny to bring mankind.
Surely her greatest achievement was to shake the readers of her day free from parochial thinking and open them to feel the unfathomable and multidimensional mystery of the universe. This she did largely through the monumental two-volume work, The Secret Doctrine
. Composed by an ailing Blavatsky during the years 1885-1888, The Secret Doctrine traces the spiritual and anthropological origins of the world and man from an occult perspective. Perhaps Volune II, Anthropogenesis, is the more accessible and interesting. Whether right or wrong it launches a relentless assault on Darwinian evolution and Christian fundamentalism. I have pieced together a chart representing a condensed timeline for this evolution of human life on earth
. It was created by combining data from several sources to produce a more complete and accessible chart of this type than the author had been able to find in the works of either Blavatsky or her commentators. You might want to print it out to refer to as you go through this material.
, it must first be said in summary that according to Blavatsky and her teachers and the many sources she had access to (1300 verified ancient references in The Secret Doctrine, direct contact with her advanced masters, and an extraordinary clairvoyance that enabled here to view the akashic records
, or 'nature's memory in the etheric plane - amended, verified and corrected by her teachers, as well as picture books in distant libraries to supplement her own meager collection), in the vast schema of cosmic evolution there is not one absolute 'beginning' in time, as fundamentalist religions assert, but many 'beginnings'. Birth and death of universes and solar systems and worlds follow one another in cyclical fashion eternally. In fact, she points out that the translation in the book of Genesis, 'in the beginning', is incorrect; rather, it should read, 'in a
beginning.' Worlds and solar systems are born, evolve and reincarnate, as also do the life forms existing on them. There is a Chain of seven main globes in each system, with seven Rounds for the prominent globe in each incarnation of the Chain. Each Round of a globe has seven Root Races of humanity, at varying densities of incarnation. Each succeeding Round also first recapitulates all of the preceeding stages, much as a fetus in the womb recapitulates the various species which its body has evolved from. Currently we are in the middle or fourth Round of the Earth Chain, and the early stages of the fifth Root Race of that Round, the first fully incarnate humanity. Earlier Races were more etheric in nature, although the celestial archtype of man was set eons ago. When a life wave has progressed as far as it can in any given Chain it moves on to another world system. Life forms from previous systems have incarnated in our Earth from time to time to continue their own evolution and also guide nascent humanity. Many spirits have assisted in the final 'creation' of the man-body, for instance. It is not just the product of blind evolution or an instantaneous creation by God. For a more detailed discussion of the complete cosmology and metaphysics in The Secret Doctrine, the reader is directed to the article entitled, Theosophy, PB, and Non-Dualism: A Fresh Look
on this website. Herein we will focus more on the evolution of man on our Earth, keeping in mind that the soul or spirit of man is eternal and has never not existed. Also note that in the highest teachings of theosophy Ms. Blavatsky was entirely aware that all of these happenings in the manifest planes or worlds were to be considered ultimately as a Maya. All of her teachers were steeped in nondualism, and included the great Sankara as one of their lineage. But much of this aspect was lost on the general public and she later expressed some regret that she had revealed as much as she did.
So, up to the present time there have been five Root Races of man, with two more to come in the far-off future. The Fifth or Aryan Race encompasses all of recorded history as well as history that is yet wrapped in legend. While technically it includes the later Atlantean period, going back
850, 000 years, the actual seed-stock of the Aryan Race migrated 75,000 years ago to the area now known as the Gobi desert (then a fertile basin with a large body of water), from where it eventually produced five sub-races that migrated throughout the world. It should be mentioned here that the term "Aryan" for Blavatsky essentially referred to a stage of spiritual evolution for humanity as a whole and does not have provincial or racial connotations in the contemporary sense. All
the major races of man today are of the Aryan Root Race. The Fourth Race were the Atlanteans and the Third were the Lemurians. The latter were considerably larger than later humans and were the first of humanity to be differentiated into sexes and also to have a skeletal structure. The First and Second races (Polarians and Hyperboreans) were vastly different in form than their descendants and have left no traces on Earth. They were more etheric than physical and existed many millions of years ago. Much of the Lemurian race also, being more 'elastic' in constitution, are known only in legend, not through fossil evidence. To complicate matters, Blavatsky claims that at the beginning of every epoch there are cataclysms that dramatically alter the geology of the Earth. The flood mythology is a case in point. Plato tells us of an Egyptian priest who related to him the story of the sinking of Poseidonis, the last island of the Atlantean world, 11,000 years ago. But there were, said Blavatsky, other such immersions, one 75,000 and another 850,000 years ago. The floods were not always worldwide events. The biblical flood, for instance, was of a local nature.
The Secret Doctrine is long and complex, yet if read with discrimination and an open mind (which this article will save you the trouble of doing!) it leave one with a new appreciation of history and a new vision of the world we live in, for better or worse. (2) Madame Blavatsky argues (with Rudolph Steiner and others) that along with the evolution of material forms (ala Darwin, although not strictly in a Darwinian fashion) there has concurrently been a descent of spiritual essences or beings, chief among them which has been man. Man at an earlier stage of his history was a clairvoyant being, and even an etheric and astral being, who was not fully conscious of the material external environment in the fully projected way that he is today. The biblical exile from the Garden signified the division of the sexes and the closure of the “third eye” at the end of the Lemurian age. Intellect began to develop as man came into closer contact with the earth.
"The "Eye of Shiva" did not become entirely atrophied before the close of the Fourth Race. When spirituality and all the divine powers and attributes of the Deva-man of the Third had been made the hand-maidens of the newly awakened physiological and psychic passions of the physical man, instead of the reverse, the Eye lost its powers. But such was the law of Evolution, and it was, in strict accuracy, no Fall."
The purpose of the apparent descent and extroversion of consciousness was for the individuated being to get experience and know itself in a more direct and vivid manner than was possible if its existence was confined to the subtle planes. Occult doctrine, then, sees no original sin or need for guilt or shame over being "cast out of the garden for disobeying God", as western Judeo-Christian belief implies, but views the process of incarnation in a positive light. Evolution, moreover, is not mere 'natural selection' or a chance occurrence of events, but rather an intelligent process, an unfolding of an Idea in the Divine Mind. Paul Brunton writes:
“There is evolution in outward appearance but unfoldment in inward reality ... The living, intelligent human entity pre-exists elsewhere, and takes up its physical 'residence on earth only when that is ready for it. From the moment this specific unit of life separated from the cosmic Life, through all the different experiences whereby it developed, and through all the different kingdoms of Nature, its spiritual identity as man was predetermined."
Far earlier man than that of the Third Race had yet to even descend from the heaven-realms as it awaited the evolution of animal forms up to that of the man-body, which it then assumed. Thus, occult doctrine upholds or accounts for both creation and evolution, and sees no contradiction between the two, making unnecessary the endless debate between fundamentalist religion and scientism, or creationism and intelligent design. There was a creation of the Divine Idea of Man, but evolution of the form through the mechanisms of nature.
One must accept that from the highest point of view the notions of "creation" and "individuality" have only a relative truth. That is, the true nature and being of man (and all beings) is unconditional and uncreated, the "unborn" spoken
of in high Buddhism. The previous quote by Paul Brunton contains potentially misleading language, then, when it uses the phrase "the moment this specific unit of life separated from the cosmic Life" for the very reason that there is, in truth, no real separation but only an apparent one. All the while that there is birth and death, descent and ascent, and so forth, there is no real or eternal entity that does so but only attention is the cosmic wanderer. For some spiritually mysterious reason attention moves out from the Heart of Consciousness and assumes the sense of separate existence. Why it does so and enters the cosmic play theosophy cannot tell us. Nescience is inexplainable, said the great Sankara. Yet to become responsible for the activity that keeps attention bound is the primary task of the spiritual aspirant. The view predominantly held by mystical schools is that God created beings who have wandered for eons in the created realms and must find their way back to God. Such a view would be classified as "emanationist" by the sages, and is criticized for its failure to realize the transcendental truth that all worlds and beings arise in and as the reality that is Consciousness. It is not some space-time limitation or barrier that separates man from the Divine; it is, they say, the activity of self-contraction and mis-identification, even prior to gross embodiment, that is the ever-present cause of his separation and sense of differences. Theosophy does not tackle the issue directly but speaks largely from the point of view of appearances, thus limiting itself generally to the cosmic, but not transcendental dimension, where the ego-l or subtle-soul is assumed and felt to be a real entity.
Nevertheless, even from a non-dual viewpoint the apparent world process is not to be denied and theosophy is elegant in its proposed answers for many unsolved riddles of life. For Blavatsky, the form of man predates those of the animal kingdom, but not in physical terms
. This is an important point.The prototype of the man-body existed in subtle form and the mammalian forms developed from this (see chart below). Mammalian animal bodies were the first to incarnate or solidify, however, and because of this fossil evidence appears to suggest that they preceded man. This was only physically so, for while man incarnated and his body solidified last, he actually pre-existed the mammalian forms in subtle form
. In terms of cosmic creation his form was first. This point of view could satisfy scientists and spiritualists at the same time. A brief synopsis of evolution in the last two cosmic “Rounds”, the Third and Fourth, is, according to Blavatsky, as follows. Both human and animal astral prototypes existed. There was first the evolution of the animal forms (astrally, not physically) up to those of the reptiles. Then, at the beginning of the Fourth Round, (corresponding to the beginning of the Cambrian period,"approximately 600,000,000 years ago) the animal forms beginning with the reptiles solidified. Any "Darwinian" modifications which developed were minor and took place only after the rather abrupt consolidation of the animal types from the astral occurred. (5) Fossil evidence confirms the rather sudden appearance of distinct animal types and is thus compatible with the view of theosophy. Much later, just before the advent of the Third Root Race of man, the mammalian forms (which, it must be remembered, developed on the basis of the human
astral prototype), also solidified.
With the advent of the Third Root Race, finally the human form solidified. Man as he existed
at this time was yet not truly self-conscious, possessing only a rudimentary mental faculty. Because of this he made a great error, and came close to upsetting the divine plan of planetary evolution by intermating with other ape-like mammalian stock (the ‘sin of the mindless’), the result of this producing an “intermediate anthropoid stock", whose descendants, in pure form, produced what are today the lower apes (monkeys of various types) and then, through a second unlawful interbreeding, between human and female beast (the ‘repetition of the sin of the mindless” - at what Blavatsky considers the densest point in human and planetary evolution, 4-5,000, 000 years ago), produced the great apes (gorillas, chimpanzees, and orangutangs) . Thus, man did not evolve from the apes, but rather, the apes were a product of the union of primitive man with rnammalian stock. (6).This proposition is actually supported by biological evidence in that simian blood has a human element in it, while human blood has no such trace. The anthropoid apes are therefore, according to this theory, direct descendants from man, even more so than the other mammals, for the mammalian forms evolved only from man's astral prototype, not his physical body as the apes did
Isn’t this neat? It’s so much fun to blow people away at social gathering with nuggets like these.
The actual body of man (the idea, archtype, or prototype which pre-existed on subtler planes) was, according to Brunton, derived "from the best type of animals on earth through a utilization of them at the time of conception. The progeny was animal plus human." (7) The impulse behind the development of the subtle forms of both human and mammal was what Blavatsky calls the lunar ancestors, or "lunar pitris". It was "Venusian spirits''', or the “Lords of Venus”, however, who assisted in the process of development of the physical man-body through meditation on the glandular centers of the most advanced primates. Perhaps the association of Venus as the sister planet of Earth originates in the collective unconscious of the hurnan race where such memories of distant epochs reside.
For Blavatsky myths are just such unconscious memories, holding the secrets of ages past. The human-like "monkey-kings" spoken of in the Hindu Puranas and Mahabharata, for instance, were to her not imaginary beings, but real, existing in a time when such intelligent ape-like stock still walked the earth. Similarly, the Avatar theory in the Puranas in which it is written that there are ten incarnations or Divine descents of Vishnu in each cosmic epoch or Manvantara also relates to vast phases of evolution. The first several of such Incarnations:
Hatsya (the fish), Kurma (the tortoise), and Varaha (the boar), are references to evolutionary stages in Lemurian times. For instance, according to the Puranas, the Hindu Noah, Vaisvasvata, was guided by Matsya the fish to gather up the various animal species, two by two, into a boat in order to avoid the impending doom of a great flood. The parallels with the Bible are obvious; however in this case the boat ended up in the Himalayas instead of Mt. Ararat. The great flood, moreover, was not in this instance a natural catastrophe, but rather a change of consciousness when "Adamic Man", or "Vaisvasvata’s humanity", was created. This was 18,000,000 years ago. The legend resurfaces in the great Indian epic, the Mahabharata, in wnich Vaisvasvata again is mentioned as being led by the Avatar Matsya. Blavatsky puts the flood in this
instance (wnich was an actual cataclysm) as being associated with the destruction of the great continent of Atlantis, 850,000 years ago. This flood, she says, was the flocd we associate with the Noah of the Old Testament. Later Avatars, Narahimsa (the lion), Viamara (the dwarf), Parashurama, Rama, and Krishna belong to later Atlantean and/ or earlier Aryan times. The ninth Avatar was Buddha, with some schools of thought combining him Christ (both of which may have been fabricated or co-opted by Hindu priests to reassert a decadent Brahmanical culture), while the tenth and final Avatar in this Manvantara is to be Kalki, the world-teacher, who, either as, or riding astride, a white horse, will restore righteousness and the Dharma of Truth for the entire world.
Blavatsky claims that the most significant event in human evolution occured in the middle of the period of the Third root race of man. This happened 18,000,000 years ago on the biblical "sixth day of creation", when the breath of life was infused into Adamic man. More specifically, this was the infilling of the unself-conscious humanity with mind and its godlike powers. Blavatsky termed this the "Incarnation of the Sons of Mind". With this incarnation of the mental vehicle into the intellectually senseless human forms of the middle Third root race man became self-conscious and morally responsible. The first reprehensible intermating of primitive man with ape-like mammalian stock (“the sin of the mindless”) occured prior to this great event. The biblical rendition of the creation of man refers to this godlike intercession whereby the true man (man = manas = mind) was born, but it does not fully explain all that went before it, speaking in syrnbols about “six days of creation” without illuminating the vast periods of cosmic evolution that these represent. The creation of "Adam" or Adamic Man was not the creation of man himself but only the creation of earth-man at a particular stage in the cyclic evolution of our planetary sphere. The Bible, then, according to theosophist Emil Boch, must be seen as describing what can be termed cosmic history until Adam (transporting us into the Fourth Round of earth's evolution, up to Lemurian times), and mythological history from Adam to Abraham and beyond (names such as Adam, Cain, Seth, Enoch and Noah referring not strictly to single but to entire groups of humanity and stages of human evolution. As Boch states:
"The realms of development between Adam and Abraham are perhaps a thousandfold that of the time represented in all the remaining Old Testament: Almost every word signifies millenia."
( 8 )
The Bible, he argues, is truly historical only from the time of Moses. It is not a single, inspired text, therefore, but a multi-level product of many minds minds and many ages.
As if all this talk about evolution were not enough, Paul Brunton, \whom many consider to be one of our most reliable, rational, and sober writers on philosophical matters, has this to say, most likely a remnant from his days studying the occult:
"Because evolution is not merely a physical matter of size and shape, because it is primarily a mental matter of intelligence and consciousness, philosophy finds the ant nearer to man than is the Panther."
I find this unusual and remarkable quote worth pondering, for regardless of one's initial reaction to it, and regardless of whether PB meant to be taken literally or not, it is a certainty that much of the subject of evolution, creation and manifestation itself remains a profound mystery. “There are more things in heaven and earth than are dreamt of in your philosophy, Horatio.”
[Here’s one more to use at a party: ET literature claims that the modern, highly intelligent pink pig was an ancient DNA cross-breeding of wild boar and human. That is why, they argue, that until recently pigs were used to make artificial heart valves because they did not cause tissue rejection. According to this logic, you could then say that someone eating a ham sandwich was actually engaging in a form of cannibalism!]
As mentioned, the work of Zecharia Sitchin, through intensive analysis of Sumerian and other early texts, tells us that the creation of Adamic man was the DNA manipulation of extra-terrestrials from the "twelfth planet", Nibiru, who needed workers for the extraction of gold from their mines in Africa. Amazing if you have never heard of any of this, but not the fly-by night ravings of some crack-pot; Zitchin is a serious scholar with over ten books on the subject. The gold, he says, was needed as a coating for their spacecraft and also for important purposes on their home planet, perhaps one being to protect its atmosphere. According to Sumerian texts, Nibiru has a 3600 year elliptical orbit in which it comes close to Earth, somewhere between Jupiter and Mars. In fact Mars has been used as a docking station for their explorations of Earth. After a mutiny of their own workers in the gold mines the chief "God" in charge of scientific affairs, Enki, produced a hybrid of female ape and male Annunaki
(ET) approximately 300,000 years ago, considerably more recent than Blavatsky's dating:
"Enki opened his mouth and addressed the gods....
Let her [Sud] create a Primitive Worker;
And let him bear the yoke...
Let the Worker carry the toil of the gods,
Let him bear the yoke!
In the following one hundred lines of the Astra-Hasis text, and in several other "Creation of Man" texts that have been discovered in various states of preservation, the tale of the genetic engineering of Homo sapiens has been told in amazing detail. To achieve the feat Enki suggested that a "Being that already exists" - the Apewoman - be used to create the Lulu Amelu ("The Mixed Worker") by "binding" upon the less evolved beings "the mold of the gods." The goddess Sud purified the "essence" of a young male Annunaki; she mixed it into the egg of an Apewoman. The fertilized egg was then implanted in the womb of a female Annunaki, for the required period of pregnancy. When the "mixed creature" was born, Sud lifted him up and shouted: "I have created! My hands have made it!"
The "Primitive Worker" - Homo sapiens - had come into being. It happened 300,000 years ago; it came about through a feat of genetic engineering and embryo-implant techniques which mankind itself is beginning to employ. There has undoubtedly been a long process of evolution; but then the Annunaki had taken a hand in the process and jumped the gun on evolution, "creating" us sooner than we might have evolved on our own. Scholars have been searching for a long time for the "missing link" in man's evolution. The Sumerian texts reveal that the "missing link" was a feat of genetic manipulation performed in a laboratory."
(Zecharia Sitchin,The Wars of Gods and Men
(New York: Avon Books, 1985), p. 104-105)
A second genetic engineering later on gave Adamic humanity the ability to procreate on their own, after which a long history ensued with wars between the "gods" themselves and men themselves, as well as rival factions of gods and men and hybrid god/men. After the great deluge 13,000 years ago the gods gave mankind knowledge of agriculture and also genetically engineered the creation of sheep and other domestic animals for both of their use. At some point the gods left the earth completely, leaving man, their partial creation, to himself.
Sitchin points out that these gods per se are equivalent to the Elohim (always plural) or Annunaki in the Bible, and were not spiritual in nature or immortal but only more advanced beings who participated in man's evolution and history. Yahweh was the one creator God which even the more evolved among the Elohim worshipped.
Some critics say that Sitchin is a pawn of the establishment and that his work is largely disinformation to distract true seekers with theories of "aliens" from the elite's actual earthly power play. So please take this all with more than a grain of salt.
Blavatsky sympathized with the Hindu view that the entire cosmos was evolving and that it was inevitable that the entire play of the worlds and beings would return to the unmanifest state:of Pralaya, prior to what modern scientists call the "Big Bang". All of the process of human and cosmic evolution, furthermore, was just a chapter in an endless extroversion and introversion of the Divine, with cosmic Days and Nights following each other ad infinitum.
Lest anyone take consolation in this, or in reincarnation, or in anything else which appears to promise him that he will eventually "get there", regardless, he should be reminded of the immense and virtually endless suffering involved in merely being a pawn in the hands of nature for literally eons of time. Before one decides to let evolution "inevitably occur", while personally simply doing as he pleases in the karmic drive for self-fulfillment, he might consider that evolution truly occurs on its own time, and there is still every reason to bow at the feet of a godman or ones divine Soul, and devote himself to liberation in this very life.
The sources of The Secret Doctrine were, it is assumed, general clairvoyance, the aforementioned masters, comprehensive research, and according to Blavatsky, the Stanzas of Dyzan, which she claims is the oldest book in the world and was located by her in central Asia. Blavatsky amazed her assistants with both the speed of her work as well as the fact that her writing contained voluminous references which were eventually tracked down and confirmed in many libraries, even though she did most of her work from her quarters with access to a relatively small reference collection. Blavatsky had only thirty books in her collection, yet there were quotes or references to over 1300 books in her manuscript. She explained her research technique by saying that she would
"make what I can only describe as a sort of vacuum in the air before me, and fix my sight and my will upon it, and soon scene after scene passes before me like the successive pictures of a diorama, or, if I need a reference or information from some book, I fix my mind intently, and the astral counterpart of the book appears, and from it I take what I need. The more perfectly my mind is freed from distractions and mortifications, the more energy and intentness it possesses, the more easily I can do this."
She admitted that The Secret Doctrine would undoubtedly "appear to the profane reader rather as a weird, fantastic dream, than as a possible reality," but added:
"Nor is it, after all, necessary that anyone should believe in the Occult Sciences and the old teachings, before one knows anything or even believes in his own soul....Your experience is limited to a few thousand years, to less than a day in the whole age of humanity and to the present types of the actual continents and isles of our Fifth Race. How can you tell what will or will not be?"
Before her death Blavatsky wrote two more books, 'I'he Key to Theosophy
The Voice of Silence
. The latter, a small but potent volume, consists of selected passages from a Tibetan scripture which she claims to have learned by heart while in Tibet twenty years previously. In this advanced treatise she tells the aspirant: "Thou hast to study the voidness of the seeming full, and the fullness of the seeming void." This is similar to the verse in the Heart Sutra of Mahayana Buddhism, "form is emptiness, emptiness is form," in which it is affirmed that Reality can never be negated nor Truth contradicted. Such was the insight which Blavatsky had, but it is uncommon in the theosophy of today. Indeed, she commmented at one point that no more than six of those who studied her teachings understood the higher point of view. The pioneering work of Blavatsky was an immense achievement, even more so when it is considered that she was a independent woman in the nineteenth century. Her deep-set eyes revealed the being of one in contact with the Soul. Her protege and successor in the Theosophical Society was Annie Besant. (12)
To further put this outline of evolution in perspective, I offer the reader the following clarifying words of Jean Raymond:
"In Hindu cosmogony, the beginning of the major evolutionary cycle for this earth, known as a Kalpa, is given as 1,960 million years ago. In theosophical terminology, this would be identified as the arrival of the life wave on this earth at the beginning of what is called the earth chain. (In The Secret Doctrine, Blavatsky postulated that the physical earth is
the densest of seven foci or "planets" collectively called a chain, around which the life wave travels seven times in this particular evolutionary cycle.) In some Hindu calendars, it is said that this date is the beginning of cosmic evolution, but in occult chronology it refers only to our earth-chain.”
Based on this information, the process of evolution appears almost endless, which knowledge, of course, should be a tremendous goad to spiritual practice for whoever soberly considers the matter. It has been universally proclaimed by sages that
the transcendence of the whole affair of cosmic existence can be realized in a very few lifetimes (and perhaps even in one lifetime) by those who enter into relationship with them, cultivate their transmission of spiritual realization, and redirect the motion of attention to its source rather than its objects alone ... When bondage to the destiny-producing effect of attention is transcended one may continue to exist in the cosmic or manifest worlds, but the nature of the reality (of which all worlds are but modifications) will be self-evident instead of hidden to consciousness.
Interesting, however, was that Blavatsky's original transmission was founded in nondualism. The opening passages of the Secret Doctrine establish that, as well as much found in the rest of her writings. In fact, she particularly favored Mahayana Buddhist teachings, esteemed Nagarjuna, and Shankara. At the same time she was rather intolerant of Theism, even to the point of ridiculing it on occasion. This clearer appreciation of nondualism was less emphasized in later transmissions like Alice Bailey, who only has a few passages that deeply express nondual views, and was completely lost in folks like Steiner, who, while doing good work, never transcended the 'spritualized' ego point-of-view.
As an historical note, the Theosophical Society had a large impact on Western culture, one not easily measured. At its peak during the first half of the 20th century it had 45,000 members, and influenced many more. During its first fifty years it was perhaps the dominant force in bringing eastern spirituality to the west, later superceded by Yogananda, DT Suzuki and all the rest. Today it still has 30,000+ members, but has lost its force because its work has been superceded not only by the active transmission by more asian adepts coming to the west, but also more western practitioners taking up spiritual teaching. But to start things in the late 1800s was a major undertaking. Many early theosophists were profound meditators such as Damodar and Subba Row, and thousands more took seriously to spiritual practice in a time when science and Christianity were dominant in the west, and people knew nothing of these things as they do now. They broke new ground for many. The Theosophical Society publishing arms translated many asian texts. Blavatsky and other leaders directed thousand to study Raja Yoga, the Gita, Buddhism, etc. So they were not limited to the Theosophical literature per se. Blavatsky also founded an Esoteric Section, which taught spiritual practices and inner teachings.
The New Age movement was more influenced by Theosophy and its offshoots (Roerich, Steiner, Bailey, and so on) than anything else, though unfortunately that movement has become a mixture of materialism, glamor, and some authentic spirituality. But any new, emergent spirituality is likely to have a lot of immaturity, as it is not a seasoned tradition. Old traditions have the advantage of maturity, but the disadvantage of being out of date and dogmatic. The New Age movement has the disadvantage of being young, but the advantages of being modern, eclectic, experimental, non-dogmatic, and creative. So there is a trade off. The masters who concieved of the Theosophical Society foresaw (such as Sri Ramalingar, way ahead of its time) that the east and west would be interrelating more in the future. They founded the society as an experimental movement that tried to lay a foundation for future efforts. That began a few decades later when they sent Paramahansa Yogananda to the West. They felt the danger was that each culture might take the worst from each other, the east picking up western materialism and the west picking up negative use of occult powers. So the notion of the Theosophical Society was to bring western science and reason and concern for positive material progress together with eastern mastery of the inner side.
At the time, too, during British occupation, more educated and economically stable Indians were becoming cynical about Indian spirituality, and wanting to become western. Gandhi had headed off to England to get his education, and had rejected Indian culture, until he met Theosophists who introduced him to the Gita and Indian spirituality in general, which motivated him to go back to his roots. This happened for large numbers of Indians who found it enlightening that westerners were showing interest in a culture they were rejecting. Also, many of the Theosophists were embracing Buddhism, which strongly contributed to a revival of Buddhism in various countries where it had largely become inactive, such as Burma and Thailand. By the mid 1960s, the Theravada revival movement was thriving, and the Rangoon meditation center alone had trained over 600,000 people doing vipassana in intensive retreat contexts. A lot of this was not happening before the Theosophical Society. They also made wide spread inroads into western culture. During its first hundred years, the Theosophical Society was joined by many of the European intelligensia like Yeats, HG Wells, George Bernard Shaw, Wilder, Einstein, Mahler, Scriabin, Sibelius, Gauguin, Kandinsky, TS Eliot, James Joyce, L. Frank Baum and many others were either members or acknowledged it strong influence on them. Einstein's sister said that for the last several decades of his life she always observed a copy of the Secret Doctrine on his desk. it is said that the Oz stories were allegories of theosophical teachings (no need for any journey, you are home and the truth you were looking for all along; three companions representing love, wisdom and will, and so on). The offshoots of the Theosophical Society are numerous. The Society continues to do good work, but its principle purpose has been fulfilled, and much of the teachings that exist today are veiled, obstruse, outdated, and arcane, compared to what we now have access to. But we all owe it a great debt.
Another way of considering the whole matter of the Secret Doctrine and human and cosmic evolution is as follows. All 'the while that evolution and change is occurring on the periphery of things (the conditional realms) God, Brahman, or the Self (the Unconditional Reality) is ever the same and can be realized as such with the transcendence of attention and the ego-self. It is not far away nor does its process of realization require eons of time to be accomplished. On the long path of' evolution and self-effort it could take such time, but on the short path of self-enquiry or self-surrender and Divine grace it does not. Realization generally requires a purificatory ordeal to become possible, but does not necessarily require the length of time that a long tour through the subtle realms on a mystic path might entail, or an eon of physical evolutionary growth preceding that in order to develop faculties present day humanity does not have and which some believe are necessary for spiritual enlightenment. Perhaps the human form will be radically changed in the distant future, evolving back to an etheric or astral state (as Theosophy maintains), but none of that, while interesting, is necessary, according to those who attest to such realization here and now.
Several other points regarding the occult teaching are worth discussing. "Adamic" Man, to use Biblical terms, or "Vaisvasvata's humanity", in Hindu doctrine, refers to the first fully formed physical man, the fifth subrace of the Third or Lemurian Root Race, which, as mentioned above, appeared 18,000,000 years ago. Prior to this time man experienced the physical world in a dreamlike way. Brunton explains:
"..the heart is the focal point where the World-Mind through its intermediary the Overself affects the personality. The karmic forces become active within the heart therefore and there break into space-time existence. Like light-photographs on a sensitive film, they develop into a tiny seed-like thought-form. This is the matrix of the world-to-be. Were this to remain here, then the individual would experience it only in the form of a dream. Indeed, in a earlier period of cosmic evolution such was the strange way in which the immature human race did pass its existence... unless the world-image is caught by the brain, consciousness will remain at the dream level and physical experience becomes impossible."
Prior to Lemurian times man did not have a brain for the world-image to be projected through, and in early Lemurian man the connection was tenuous. At this time human vehicles were "mindless": spiritual monads in human form without self-conscious intelligence, somewhat similar to the beasts of today. After the spark of self-conscious awakening was infused into man (through the help of godlike beings i.e., terrestrial or extra-terrestrial] who had attained their quasi-divinity in a past cycle of planetary evolution) the course of human evolution changed. Man henceforth was able to cooperate in his own growth instead of being only a child of nature, un-self-conscious in the "Garden of Eden". This process of hominids gaining self-consciousness did not occur all at once, but over time. According to G. DePurucker:
"Theosophy does not say that all hominids gained self-consciousness at precisely the same period in far-past time. The process of lighting the fires of mind in man, which began 18-19 million years ago among the karmically ready stocks, undoubtedly went on for millions of years thereafter for the less-ready, and cannot really be said to have utterly ceased until the ‘door' into the human kingdom was ‘closed' by nature at the midpoint of the fourth root-race, said to have been reached around 8 or 9 million years ago. Thus, a really enormous latitude is allowed for individual variation in development of the human mind and its physical focus - the brain - within the whole of the hominidae, or family of man: that is to say, among its different genera."
Theosophy says that since 8-9,000,000 years ago the doorway into the human kinqdom has been closed for the animals below man, and that they will have to wait until the next planetary round hundreds of million of years from now before they awaken into human self-consciousness. It further teaches that the anthropoid apes, because of their special evolutionary connection to man, may develop such human self-consciousness (although imperfectly) before the advent of the next planetary Round, perhap as early as the middle of the next or Sixth Root Race of human development. Coupled with this idea that the rronads occupying animal bodies are barred until the next evolutionary Round from entering the hurnan kingdom is the complementary notion that the monads in human fom can no longer transmigrate back
into the animal kingdoms lower than man. In early Atlantean times there were still walking this earth various beasts in human form, but now, we are assured, however brutish a man may be, he is still a man and has been so for quite some time.
In contrast to these ideas there is the testimony of spiritual masters at various times that through the agency of Divine grace the inevitability of these restrictions need not apply. A example of this is found with the cow Lahkshmi whom Ramana Maharshi said had attained nirvikalpa samadhi, and even mukti (liberation) upon her death. Numerous other stories are told of animals who, as a result of extreme devotion to their masters, attained a human body with their next birth. However, perhaps many of these tales were handed down from ages past.
Blavatsky had a rather convoluted but interesting idea of where the “chosen race” idea came from. This requires some explanation. A tribe of selected species from the white fifth sub-race of Atlanteans - the Semites - living on the northern mountains of the island of Ruta were isolated by the lord Manu to become the seed of the emerging Aryan Race. The future Buddha started a new religion which was embraced by this tribe who were assured that the Lord would come and take them to the "promised land". Before the Great Catastrophe of 75,025 B.C. these people were led to the Arabian highlands where they developed into a nation of several million over the course of two thousand years. Just before the Great Catastrophe the Lord Manu selected several hundred of these people to journey to the Gobi Sea (the Gobi desert since the Great Deluge of 9564 B.C.) in central Asia to become the root-stock of the Aryan Race. Five sub-races developed from this original stock which migrated out to form the great civilizations of the world. These sub-races were as follows: (1) the Aryan group, which migrated to India in 18,000 B.C. (2), the Arabians which migrated in 40,000 B.C. (3), the Persians which migrated in 30,000 B.C. (4), the Keltics which migrated in 10,000 B.C. , and (5) the Teutonics, which migrated in
8,000 B.C. Now, when Lord Manu reincarnated as a king in the second sub-race (the Arabians) (some 35, 000 years after the first migration of the original Semites who were to become the seed-stock of the Aryan Race) he encouraged the existing group in the Arabian peninsula to intermate with the newly migrating Aryan stock. These peoples refused, however, hailing to the far earlier order of his to maintain their racial purity in preparation for their great role in planetary evolution. They did not reallze that that great purpose had already been accomplished by those few who had been "chosen" to go to the region of the Gobi Sea. Some of these people left their homeland to become wanderers, settling first in Somaliland, then the Red Sea, and eventually in Egypt where they were permitted to live peacefully for centuries under the rule of the Pharoahs. All the while they kept to themselves, maintaining thelr separate racial identity. At one point the favor of the Pharoahs turned on them and they were forced to migrate once again. This time they settled in Palestlne, still waiting for their promised land, the true purpose which had been achieved 75,000 years ago!
Science fiction writer L. Ron Hubbard couldn’t have done any better than this.
The writings of Blavatsky suggest that there were Jews who were the "sons of Abraham" only and who came from Kashmir in northern India. This so-called "lost tribe," she maintained, being of this descent returned to Kashmir at the time of their mysterious disappearance from the Middle East in the 8th century B.C.. Jesus the Nazarene, if he existed (and who many believe survived his apparent death on the cross and eventually settled and died in Kashmir), may have had a special mission with these people, in addition to any larger role he may have played for humanity as a whole through the incarnation of the Christ being.
What about the black race? Where is its origin? First of all, there are many varieties of dark-skinned peoples, so it is futile to assign a single origin to such a race, just as the Aryan seed-group that migrated to central Asia according to Blavatsky were not the only so-called white people. It may be said, however, that occult doctrine suggests that the first "Adamic Man" was likely a black man, and the pygmy races found throughout history and throughout the globe may be descendants of this early human being. Indeed, the pygmy races are an enigma. Part caucasoid and part-negroid, they are thought to be remnants of a proto-Berber people inhabiting what was known as "old white Africa." They possess an ancient history, with identical creation stories to those found in the Bible, including that of a god, a garden, a tree, a noble Pygmy man fashioned from the dust, and an evil Pygmy woman who led him into sin, as well as a Father-God who gave birth to a Savior-Son, born of a virgin, died for the salvation of his people, rose from the dead and ascended to heaven. The earliest divine men in Egyptian mythology are depicted as pygmies, and ancient Buddhist statuary in India are of black
-skinned and black-featured Buddhas, indicating a time when an advanced black race was prominent. Pygmy legend tells us that in the distant past they had an advanced technical culture and built boats and traveled widely around the world, but which brought them nothing but bad luck and for which they gave up such a high material civilization for a simple life of happiness. (17) [Recent psychohistory of the Pygmy tribes
shows them seemingly light-years ahead of patriarchal western society in matters such as child-rearing and emotional responsiveness
A particularly interesting facet of the occult doctrine concerns the nature of the evolutionary transition from the Fourth to the Fifth Root race of man, which anthroposophist Rudolph Steiner argued is revealed fully only through an understanding of the mystery of Christ. This requires some preliminary explanation.
The general occult theory holds that the evolution of man involved a process of descent or incarnation that proceeded by stages. The first contact with a physical body was not until mid-Lemurian times, or the Third Race. At that time man was largely a clairvoyant being, and the beginning of the closure of his "third eye" began. Prior to this time man's consciousness had been dreamlike, with only an indirect connection to the gross plane. His consciousness was active for the most in the etheric dimension. As the Third Race progressed, the etheric body of man began to conform more closely to his physical vehicle, and the physical vehicle began to conform more and more to its present recognizable form. In the last third of the Atlantean period man appeared much the same as he does today. Inwardly, however, he was still very different. In much the same way in which animals appear to clairvoyant vision, with an etheric head extending beyond the physical head, so did Atlantean men appear. They were not yet fully incarnated in the way the man of the Fifth Race became, and so they remained in easeful contact with the subtle realms (“spiritual” realms to Steiner). With the full conforming of his etheric body to the physical body, the man of the Fifth Race, as a general capability, lost contact with the subtle realms. The evolutionary purpose of this was, of course, for man to become fully self-conscious as an independent individual. Steiner said that only when these two bodies fully conformed to each other did man learn to say "I" to himself:
"In the brain, near the eyes, there is a point which coincides with a very definite point in the etheric head. These points were apart in ancient times; the etheric point was outside the brain. These two important points have drawn together and only when this occurred did the human being learn to say "I" to himself."
"What does it signify to progress from the fourth over into the fifth root race? It means becoming day-conscious (clearly conscious in the waking state); it means losing the ancient clairvoyance."
The great Manu who led the chosen few into central Asia to be the seed-stock of
the emerging Fifth Race picked those who, for the most part, had lost the more ancient, dreamlike consciousness. Their advancement consisted in this, and this alone. And it was their longing for the spirit-world so familiar to their ancestors that was the impetus behind the creation of the older Indian forms of initiation in which the individual hoped to regain through trance what had become lost through a natural process of evolution.
"When the ancient Indian wished to be especially holy, the world of illusion became worthless to him. This physical world became to him an illusion; the true world existed for him when he withdrew from the physical, when through Yoga he was permitted to live again in the world in which his forefathers still lived during the Atlantean period."
Because the etheric body of man was so closely bound to the physical by this point, and thus his astral body could no longer impress upon it the experiences of the spirit realms when it traveled there at night, a special form of initiation was required in order for the etheric body to become separated once again from the physical. Steiner argues that in Atlantean times not only did man's etheric body protrude from his physical body in the waking state and thus afford him a natural clairvoyance, but during the sleep state it would separate from the physical body along with the astral body and the ego and thus allow him conscious remembrance of his experiences of the subtle realms. Steiner held that for any experience to be retained by the physical man it must be first impressed on his etheric body. Now since the early man of the fifth race had lost the capacity to separate his etheric body from the physical, the teacher in the ancient initiations had to draw the etheric body of his disciple out of the physical by artificial means.
" .. the pupil had to be brought into a sort of lethargic condition, into a kind of death-like sleep which lasted about three and a half days. During this time the etheric body protruded from the physical body and was loosened from it. What the astral body then experienced was impressed upon the ether body. Then when the etheric body was redrawn into the physical body, the pupil knew what he had experienced in the spiritual world."
Thus the Indian culture grew to consider only the inner (subtle or spiritual) world as real, while the physical world of the senses was maya or illusion. The significance of the further post-Atlantean evolution was in man coming to value the experience of the physical world more and more. Steiner describes the great civilization of Persia as one in which the physical world, while still considered to be maya, was no longer something to be run away from, but rather became a stage for the battle between the forces of light and darkness, or Ormuzd and Ahriman. In the next cultural stage, that of the Chaldaic-Babylonian-Assyrian-Egyptian, man became more familiar with the actual laws of the physical universe and the mutual correspondences between the cosmos and nature. He began to look for the workings of spirit in matter. A very important influence on the development of the feeling of personality also happened at this time. This was the practice of mummification. The Egyptians, in their movement towards greater physical incarnation, desired to preserve the form of the body. Steiner believed that this practice had an evolutionary purpose:
" .. this holding fast to the separate individuality (resulted in a tendency that) became imprinted upon the soul in such a way that it now appears again in another incarnation as the feeling of personality. That this feeling of personality is so strong today is the result of the embalming of the body in the Egyptian period. So we see that' in human evolution everything is correlated. The Egyptians mummified the bodies of the dead in order that people of the fifth epoch might have the greatest possible consciousness of their own personality."
During the fourth post-Atlantean epoch, the Greco-Latin period, man placed his inner being in the world of matter and form. He objectified his human personality in art and cuIture. The human being came to be considered as an external personality possessing basic human rights. In the Grecian period man created the Gods in his own image, and in the Roman period these very Gods practically left the heavens and began to walk about on the earth. At this point the descent of man into matter was complete, and the time was right for the advent of the Christ.
Man at this time, says Steiner, could comprehend the concept of the Godhead as a personality descending and living among men. What Christ, (according to his theosophy) a higher being who descended and used the body of the initiate Jesus) gave to mankind was fourfold. One, man became able to "see" God through his earthly senses; that is, man could henceforth feel the divine in the midst of the flesh, without exclusively requiring that he develop special senses through ancient initiatory means. Two, it was no longer necessary for man to separate his etheric body from the physical in order for perceptions of the spiritual worlds up to the astral to be impressed upon it. Steiner believed that Christ transformed the etheric forces of the earth in such a way that the older methods of initiation were no longer necessary. (23) Three, the influence of the Christ allowed human beings to feel secure within their separate individual egos as contrasted with the earlier feeling of identity with a group bound by blood ties. Only by standing alone in his individual selfhood could man begin to experience inner love to its fullest extent. So the fourth gift of the Christ-being to man was to serve his “transition from a love dependent upon the blood-tie to a spiritualized form of love." (24) The beginning of the impulse of spiritual love within the human soul is linked to the incarnation of Christ, although it will take the rest of this earth-period, according to Steiner, to work itself out.
The ego or sense of "I" in mammals other than man is said to be a group-"I" or group-soul residing on the astral plane. Earlier ages of man, while experiencing the beginnings of a sense of an individual ego, still felt identified with a greater ego that represented his tribe and ancestors. Steiner describes earlier man as having a form of memory that remembered and identified with the deeds of his father and grandfather and other descendents as if they were his own. With the coming of Christ man was to feel himself firmly as an individual ego, but more than this as an individual ego who is lived by a spiritual "'Father" or Principle that pervades the world. This transformative event has yet to be universally accomplished, for even today men fall back upon the group-ego in many ways. [There is a good chance the internet will take care of that. To that effect the monks at the Namgyal Monastery in Ithaca, New York, the personal seat of the Dalai Lama in North America, even offer a special "Blessing of Cyberspace"
These views of Steiner are important and worth looking at again through the eyes of several students of anthroposophy: Chadwick, Evolution of Mankind
, Franz E. Winkler (Man:The Bridge Between Two Worlds
), and John Waterman (“Evolution and the Image of Man,” from Essays in Honor of Rudolph Steiner
. More will be said on Steiner in the biographical sketch below.
First, Waterman reflects the general theosophical view of Blavatsky, as concurred with by Steiner:
“The evolution of man, Steiner said, has consisted in the gradual incarnation of a spiritual being into a material body. It has been a true “descent” of man from a spiritual world into a world of matter. The evolution of the animal kingdom did not precede, but rather accompanied the process of human incarnation. Man is thus not the end result of the evolution of the animals, but is rather in a certain sense their cause. In the succession of types which appears in the fossil record - the fishes, reptiles, mammals, and finally fossil remains of man hmself - the stages of this process of incarnation are reflected...Steiner asks us to conceive of the form of man as originally an “Imagination”, an archtypal Idea created by exalted spiritual beings, and existing spiritually, devoid of physical substance. Physical evolution records the preparation of a physical vehicle fashioned in the image of this archtype, in which the spirit of man could live.....[The effect of this evolution] has been that man has lost direct awareness of the spiritual worlds out of which he is born. But he has gained self-consciousness....This represents the deepest incarnation of the human spirit into the body. The descent of man is now complete...But evolution has now reached a turning point. The ascent of man is beginning....How has this transformation of the evolutionary process been achieved? Through the Incarnation of the true Archtype of Man, in whose image we are created and whom we call the Christ.”
Now let us back up a little. What were some of the characteristics of the consciousness of man in the epochs leading up to this critical turning point? In the time of the Lemurian Root Race, man was more of an etheric being. There was one universal language over the earth, almost musical and creative. The Earth was less dense; there were giant creatures, both human and animal. Man as yet did not possess intellect, but had a form of pictorial or image-consciousness. In the Atlantean epoch man grew more in contact with the earth, although still largely clairvoyant, and developed the faculty of memory. Chadwick states:
“The mere perception and reflections of impressions had matured into the power of retaining experience in memory and expressing it in sounds, which is the basis for language. The one original language split into different groups.”
At the close of the Atlantean period
“Those that accompanied the Manu into Inner Asia
[the Tarim Basin, near the Gobi Sea, the main evolution center for the Fifth Root Race] were the groups that had progressed furthest in shaping the earthly senses and an intellectual grasp of the environment. These were able to develop the capacity of thinking that was most important for the fifth stage of evolution: the power of thinking....
The leaders of the new mysteries had to reckon with this change in consciousness, hence the Manu’s instruction was aimed at strengthening the capacity for thinking, the tendency toward experiencing the self and being conscious of the ego....The spiritual aims of the post-Atlantean evolution were spread from Inner Asia...In India they found a population that was shaped entirely by forces of the old Lemurian time and had not yet been touched by the Atlantean evolution. This was especially true of the Dravidians of the south and of the people in the Ganges valley....The emiissaries of the Manu brought bands of leaders [i.e., the “seven Holy Rishis] from the Tarim basin by way of the Jaxartes and Oxus watersheds, the eastern part of Turan, Kashgar, and the sources of the Indus..and a new epoch of evolution was inaugurated.
This new dispensation had to reckon with the state of consciousness then prevailing. The Indian soul felt itself alien to the earth and akin to the spirit. It confined the new impulse to the religious field.....Thus Indian culture preserved the contents of the earlier consciousness through changing evolutionary epochs. The traditional knowledge of reincarnation, familiar to many other peoples, was saved (although much changed) for periods when in other respects the reality of the supersensible was no longer experienced.
The Iranian culture stands at the opposite pole from the Indian. The Indian stream cherishes religion, the receptivity to the spirit that had flourished in the past, while the Zarathustra-stream of Iran leads to a careful conquest of the earth...Westward from Iran and around the Mediterranean the ethnic formations and cultures lead us more strongly and deeply into the conquest of the earth....The first creators of culture in this area, executing the aims of the new post-Atlantean Aryan evolution-center of Inner Asia, were the Sumerians....The Sumerian culture was founded in such a way that the former picture-consciousness could be largely replaced by thinking, as also perceiving of the cosmos by astronomical reckoning, the social life by governmental regulation in the form of laws...The faculty of speech also enters a new epoch of evolution. The pictorial and metaphorical character of the earlier forms of expression is..more and more replaced by a language adapted to intellectual thinking...
The fourth post-Atlantean epoch [was] the Greco-Roman culture....The Aries-epoch
[ 2100 year period of the Great Year preceding the Piscean epoch] now led to the intensest development of the human capacity for logical, abstract thinking which reached its highest development in the philosophy of Aristotle. Since that time man has learned to combine thoughts entirely out of their own laws without the aid of any spiritual or cosmic revelations. In Plato’s work the dualism of earlier times is reflected in the distinction between the world of ideas and the perception of the senses. Aristotle, however, builds up his thought-sequences out of the laws imposed upon them by the inner being of man and his knowledge of the sense-world.” (26).
Greek mythology holds two important clues to understanding this transition from an orientation towards the inner worlds to one of rational thinking and comprehension of the physical realm as well as man’s selfhood or ego. Uranus and Gaea told Zeus that the child of Metis, the genius of cosmic wisdom still in its womb, would lead men away from divine guidance. Zeus swallowed Metis, and Pallas Athena (worshipped as the goddess of science and art, harmony, justice, and freedom) sprang from his forehead. And wisdom, saith philosophy, is the surest guide to the deepest forces of the soul. Thus, according to this myth, intellect sprang out of a god, not a man, as man was still too immature to take full responsibility for the new faculty, but the transition was now quickened. The artwork of Greece reflects this change in the broad forehead of the figures in its statues and paintings. Earlier, the Egyptians and other cultures had practised skull flattening with procedures to lengthen the back of the head by modifying the growth of the skull. This was designed by the priesthoods to keep man from losing contact with the etheric consciousness altogether, but actually kept him in an earlier stage of evolution, when instinctual rather than intellectual knowledge, and the posterior, occipital lobes of the brain rather than the frontal lobes were more prominent in man’s consciousness. This is evident in the Egyptian art.
A second important myth is that of Europa:
“In the land of Tyre and Sidon, Europa, daughter of King Agenor, was reared in the seclusion of her father’s palace. Once, at midnight when mortals are visited by fanciful dreams which have a clear core of truth, Heaven sent her a curious vision. It seemed to her that two continents - Asia and that which lies opposite - were fightng to possess her. The next day, when the princess was gathering flowers on the meadow near the sea, Zeus appeared in the shape of a bull, enticed her to climb on his back, and carried her across the ocean to Crete. When she bemoaned her fate, Aphrodite herself consoled her: ‘Be comforted, Europa! You were carried off by a god, You are destined to be the mortal wife of Zeus the Unconquerable. And your name shall be immortal, for from this time on the continent which received you shall be called Europa!’
Zeus was the father of the Olympian gods...His...was the age when Oriental mysticism gave way to Occidental reason. And the princess with whom he fell in love was not merely the daughter of a king but represented, as the legend itself implies, the soul of Asia. The genius of the new era transplants the human soul from the hothouse atmosphere of the Oriental Mysteries into the fresh air and bright sun of the Occidental world. Yet the unfailing wisdom of mythology tells us more. Zeus carried Europa to the island of Crete, where later a temple was built in her honor and where she received semidivine worship. And indeed, the main cultural impulse of the time, striving from Asia and Egypt toward Greece had its stepping-stone in Crete.”
Now, according to Steiner, the world was ready for the incarnation of the Logos or Christ, to begin a new era of spiritual evolution and involution, but equipped with a newly gained self-consciousness. For more on these evolutionary ideas, see the detailed on-line work, The Bible and Anthroposophy
by Edward R. Smith. Also quite interesting, and claimed to be 'a Hopi confirmation of Anthroposophy', is The Mystery of the True White Brother
, an interpretation of the meaning of Hopi prophecy by a member of the Elder Brother People.
While the descent of Christ, according to these occult views, produced transformative effects for all of mankind, including strengthening the newly consolidated ego-consciousness and individuated character of man, as well as restoring the capacity for man to awaken to the subtle, psychic heart-center and regain contact with the spiritual dimensions he had lost to explore the world of matter, it is hoped that any promised future avataric incarnation, whatever form it takes, or is taking now, will radically intensify even this evolutionary victory to the degree whereby all beings may potentially awaken to the very consciousness of transcendental Being Itself, prior to all egoity and conditionality.” Such an event does not require the evolution of the Sixth and Seventh Root Races of man, or further Rounds beyond that, but only submission to the divine or reality in the present moment. But let the cosmic play go on; we must remember that a continuous proceed is going on in many world-systems also, ours is not the only one.
Before leaving this section, which many may consider largely fanciful, it should be noted that the Theosophical idea of an evolution guided and overseen by a Divine Power has not gone unchallenged. John Reynolds is a harsh critic of any such thing, which he, as a Buddhist, considers to be a contradiction to the inviolable law of karma:
“The Buddhist view may be described as non-theistic. It does not assert that God, here called Brahma, thinks or otherwise brings the universe into existence as its Creator, or that his thinking sustains its existence, or that, if he ceases to think (or dream or breathe, as the case may be), the universe ceases to exist. On the contrary, according to the Buddhist teachings found in both the Sutras and the Tantras, our universe is the aggregate result of the actions in their past lives of all the sentient beings who inhabit our universe. When the world appears in the same way to a group of sentient beings, such as the human race, for example, it is because all the members of that group share a common karmic vision (las snang), that is to say, a particular way of perceiving things determined by a karmic cause. To the first question found in the catechism, “Who made the world?,” the Buddhist teachings unhesitatingly reply, “It is karma that made the world.”
This of course brings in much more of great Mystery: do animals ever truly pass upwards into the human kingdom? The philosphers and sages appear divided on this issue. If they do so, how is it possible if they can not accrue the positive karma to merit such a transition? Many Sufis (one being Bhai Sahib, guru of Irena Tweedie) adamantly deny that animals can become human, while others refer to Rumi’s famous poem, “I died as a mineral and became a plant, etc.” as evidence for an opposite claim. The former point to separate lines of development for animals and humans, while the latter acknowledge only one. Paul Brunton solves the problem posed at the outset by allowing evolution as well as karma as guiding
Divine Ideas within the World-Mind and its expression, the World-Idea. He posted that units of mind - emanents of a Divine Soul, not the Soul itself - do incarnate and evolve through the diverse kingdoms of nature, guided by the “Idea of Man,” which he terms a “master Idea,” to eventually reunite with their divine parent, but with an individuality and self-consciousness gained in the process. Kirpal Singh seems to side with the second class of Sufis mentioned above, when he wrote: “The spirits on coming out of the nether world of Pluto, gradually work their way up from the mineral to the vegetable kingdom and then to the world of insects and reptiles and on to the feathery fraternity and next to the quadrupeds and finally to human beings.”
(29) Theosophy complicates things further, as we have seen), in positing an evolution of animal forms up to the human, into which pre-existing Human Monads then incarnate. The possibilities for contrasting arguments are immensely complex: see also “The Idea of Man,” “In the Bosom of the Lord: Death for the Unliberated,” and, “If There’s a Hell Below, We’re All Gonna Go” on this website for further discussion on this fascinating topic.
Reynolds, cited above, argues that it is willing intention
that makes an act karmically binding. Others have also agreed that something like that is required. Reynolds also goes to great length to deny the evolutionary theories of Theosophy as in total opposition to the Buddhist position regarding karma as the fundamental law of existence. He denies any guiding intelligence such as a Divine Mind, World-Idea or Logos having anything to do with an evolutionary process. He particularly takes objection to the Theosophical view that once one becomes a man he will not go back in the evolutionary scale to a lower form. He feels this contradicts the inviolable law of karma, whereby by ones actions one could go up or down in the kingdoms of nature. Some yogis such as Paramhansa-Yogananda felt this was possible, but only for one incarnation as a form of punishment. Ramana Maharshi, as previously mentioned, claimed that a cow named Lakshmi attained liberation in his company. Exceptions to the rule seem to abound in the traditions. In most cases it is not likely to happen, but saying something is impossible or that the “door was shut” so many millions of year’s ago, being an extraordinary claim, demands, as they say, “extraordinary proof.”
But what may be most interesting is that while decrying most evolutionary designs by a higher power (what PB affirmed as “the power behind karma”) - many of which designs also do
recognize the law of karma as complementary and within their scope - Reynold’s then presents as seemingly authoritative a Buddhist view of Genesis, i.e., the genesis of our planet and its inhabitants, as an examination of how beings mistook their experiences as being evidence for a Creator rather than the immutable karmic laws in action - an account that oddly perhaps inadvertently bears a striking resemblance to the Theosophical view, although somewhat more negative in its implications:
“In the Sutras there is found a Buddhist account of Genesis (It is round in Sanskrit texts like the Abhdharmakosa and the Sikshasamuccaya and in Pali texts like the Dighanikaya, the Anguttaranikaya, and the Visuddhimagga). In reply to questions from His disciples, the Buddha explained that the humanity found on this planet earth once inhabited another planetary system. Ages ago when the sun of that world went nova and the planet was destroyed in the ensuing solar eruptions, the bulk of its inhabitants , as the result of their arduously practicing the Dharma for ten thousand years, were reborn on one of the higher planes of the Form World or Rupadhatu, a plane of existence known as Abhasvara or “clear light.” Here they enjoyed inconceivable bliss and felicity for countless aeons. Then, when their great store of past karma came into maturity, our own solar system and owner earth began to evolve and some among their numbers were re or con the power planes of the Rupadhatu in the vicinity of the nascent earth. This plane of existence where they found me themselves reborn is known as Brahmaloka. The first of these beings to reawaken and be reborn, upon seeing the solar system evolving below him, exclaimed in his delight “I am the Creator!” In this way, he came to believe that he was the actual creator of the universe which he saw about him, for he did not remember from whence he came and was born without any parents. But in actuality the manifestation of this universe was due to the collective karma of all in that company and his own individual manifestation, which was a case of apparitional birth, was due to his own great stock of meritorious karma coming into maturation at that time because the requisite secondary conditions were present. Nevertheless, he persisted in this delusion, in this idea that he was the actual Creator of the universe because he was the first born within the evolving solar system and he saw no others there before him. But this belief was only his limitation and his own obscurantism, a primordial ignorance of his true origin, and so he fell victim of his own pride. This was the first appearance of the ego of the belief in the real existence of the self, in our universe. However, although he believed himself to be self-originated, actually his appearance in the center of our world-system was the fortunate consequence of his karma. And because he was the first among the Brahmas to be reborn out of Abhasvara, he became known as Mahabrahma or God.
Then after existing by himself alone in solitary splendor for many aeons as the solar system evolved, he came to experience loneliness and thought how nice it would be if there were others in existence who might reflect his magnificence. And just at that precise moment, due to their own ripening, a large number of other beings from Abhasvara were reborn in Brahmaloka as Brahmas. When the Mahabrahma saw them, he thought that they must have appeared just then in space before him because of his desire. So he exclaimed proudly, “I am God, your Creator!” - even though, in actual fact, all of these exalted beings before his throne were reborn at that time he use of their own karma maturing and not because of any desire of his. Then Mahabrahma organized these myriads of beings who were at earring in the space about him into well-ordered celestial hierarchies es. The first born and most radiant among them were grouped below his throne as his own personal priests and ministers known as the Brahmapurohitas, whereas those who were reborn later became his entourage known as the Brahmakayikas. In this way, he surrounded himself, filling all the tiers of heaven with celestial hierarchies, believing all the time that he was their Lord and Creator, since he was ignorant of their own, as well as his own, real origin. Gradually, as time wore on, due to the presence of a series the new of secondary causes, some of the Brahmas entered into the cycle of material existence and began to reborn on the surface of the newly evolved earth, first as animals and then later as human beings.”
So, after having evolved to a relatively advanced state in one solar system, then being reborn in one of the higher planes of Form, where they resided in bliss for aeons, a good number among these poor souls, getting transferred to another world-system, suffer being reborn as animals, seemingly starting from the bottom rung of the ladder once again! A rather heartless cyclical, rather than spiral, view of things. With many unanswered questions in its train, primarily: how did the animals without volitional intentionality accrue the necessary meritorious karma to advance to humanhood? How comes it that kundalini lies coiled at the base of the spine? How does karma account for the chakras? And a host of other mysteries. The story, moreover, only accounts for the illusions of the denizens and rulers of Brahmaloka, a plane or realm relatively low-down, a half-way house in the schema of the Saints, where the demiurge or agent of an even higher Power - itself far beyond the sway of karma, in the realm of grace - is allowed to operate in the lower realms. The Buddhist view, imo, whereby the “Brahmas” are unaware of their karmic entanglement and conditioning, believing they are supreme Creators, is. not compatible with the view that they are “appointed” by a Sat Purush for a task of governing, in the borrowed or delegated role of ‘regents’, in the lower planes of creation where karma in fact rules.
In any case, the necessity for an intelligence, a Mind, a Providence guiding in some fashion, under its own laws, the entire process, seems a reasonable assumption. While the realms of Desire, Form, and the Formless, including even the Pure Abodes of the Gods, may be impermanent and conditioned, as Buddhism maintains. how does the collective karma of their entities account for their manifestation itself? It seems a rather mechanical view. Moreover, according to Buddhism, Akinistha is known as the 31st or highest (formless mental) plane in existence, while beyond that lies Mahakanistha, which, according to Reynolds, is the plane of existence at which the Sambhgakaya aspect of the Buddha manifests itself. That is of a different order entirely. Might that not be the Sach Khand of the Masters, or the Empyrean of the Sufis and Christians? One cannot help but wonder.
1. The Notebooks of Paul Brunton
(Burdett, New York: Larson Publications, 1987), Vol. 10, 4.7
2. B. Kumar, Origin and Evolution of Mankind
(Delhi: Amar Prakashan, 1986).
3. Elizabeth Preston and Christmas Humphreys, ed., An Abridgement of The Secret Doctrine
(Wheaton, Illinois: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1983), p. 221
4. The Notebooks of Paul Brunton
, op. cit., Vol. 16, Part 2, 4.15
5. “...the differentiating "causes" known to modern science only come into operation after the physicalization of the primeval animal root-types out of the astral."
H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret'Doctrine
(1988; reprint, Los Angeles, The Theosophy Company, 1942), 11:649
6. Virginia Hanson, ed., H.P. Blavatsky and the Secret Doctrine
(Wheaton, Illinois: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1971, 2nd ed. 1988), pp. 149-158, "Man Before Ape, or Ape Before Man?", by Adam Warcup.
7. The Notebooks of Paul Brunton
, op. cit., 4.16-18 .
8. Emil Boch, Genesis: Creation and the Patriarchs
(Edinburgh: Floris Books, 1983), p. 12
9. The Notebooks of Paul Brunton
, op. cit., 4.186
10. Wachtmeister, Reminiscenses of H.P. Blavatsky and The Secret Doctrine
(London: Theosophical Publishing Society, 1893, reprinted Wheaton: Quest Books, 1976), p. 9
11. Preston and Humphreys, op. cit., pp. 248-249
12. Annie Besant (1847-19 ?) was a prolific writer and social activist, a 'free-thought' martyr, and one of the earliest advocates for birth control. As a result of these activities her minister husband had their marriage disbanded and she lost custody of her children. In the 1880's she was drawn to the occult and in 1890 began to have visions of the Tibetan masters 'M' and 'K.H. '(Morya and Koot Hoomi), alleged teachers from whom Blavatsky also claimed to receive guidance. Besant's dispute with Rudolph Steiner over the importance of Christ created a rift in the Theosophical movement and the subsequent formation of the Anthroposophical Society.
Later-day theosophy emphasizes the individual (or ego-soul), its experiences and survival after death, much more than did Blavatsky, who had a grasp of the transcendental philosophy. The initial mission of the Society - the advancement of western esotericism - has been to a degree accomplished, and surely its most obvious legacy and purpose today must be to preserve, develop, and further research the secret doctrine itself (the general body of occult knowledge regarding human evolution and history), rather than to add to the existing teachings of the subtle body or soul (limited as they are to the assumptions characteristlc of the lesser mystical stages of practrice). The teachings of theosophy outline stages beyond that of the antahkarana (the "soul", "jiva", "ego-I", or the reincarnating "entity"), but in practice the emphasis is more often on the development of just this "deeper personality" and the exploration of cosmic or subtle planes of experience. However, many sages say that since the subtle and causal bodies interpenetrate the gross that it is not strictly necessary to "unlock the door" to the psychic dimensions beyond the brain in order to develop spiritually or achieve insight into reality while alive on earth.
13. Hanson, op. cit., "The Evolutionary Cycles and Their Chronology: The Secret Doctrine and Science Compared," by Jean Raymond, and also "Man Before Ape, or Ape Before Man?", by Adam Warcup.
Warcup and Raymond differ somewhat on the dates for the beginnings of the Rounds and, therefore, on what took place in those periods. Similarly, there is some discrepancy between the dates given by Blavatsky and those accepted by rrodern science for the geological eras. However, the timing for the appearance of the various animal and human forms is remarkably similar.
14. Hanson, op. cit., p. 143
15. Paul Brunton, The Wisdom of the Overself
(York Beach, Maine: Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1979), p. 58
16. G. dePurucker,
(Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 1977), p. 310 .
17. Acharya S, The Christ Conspiracy
(Kempton, Illinois: Adventures Unlimited Press, 1999), p. 111, 387-390
18. Robert A. McDermott, ed., The Essential Steiner
(San Francisco: Harper & Row, Publishers, 1984), p. 214
19. Ibid, p. 219
20. Ibid, p. 220
22. Ibid, p. 224
23. When the teachers of Sant Mat (the shabd yoga lineage in the Radhasoami tradition) speak of their path as bypassing the long and arduous course of manipulation of pranas (life energies) they may be referring to the ancient spiritual methods required (according to Steiner) before the advent of Christ. They teach that the process of withdrawel of the sensory currents, attention, or ‘surat’ from the body while leaving the pranas intact to maintain vital bodily functions is a superior method than attempting to withdraw the pranas
themselves, which forms of kundalini yoga sometimes do. While this assertion seems correct, the shabd teachers still express their path of realization in the ancient Indian model of the universe wherein the nostalgia for the subtle worlds is prominent. Sages such as Ramana Maharshi have taught that not only is it unnecessary to manipulate prana or kundalini but it is also unnecessary to manipulate attention in the exclusively ascending
direction. What is necessary, they say, is for attention to be devoted to its source at the heart and bypass all objective seeking through realization of the subjective source of Being Itself. Which view is right only God knows.
24. Ibid, p. 253
25. John Waterman, “Evolution and the Image of Man”, from Essays in Honor of Rudolph Steiner
, p. 45, 50-51
26. Chadwick, Evolution of Man
, p. 97-116
27. Franz E. Winkler, Man: The Bridge Between Two Worlds
, p. 130-131
28. John Reynolds, Self-Liberation Through Seeing With Naked Awareness
(Barrytown, New York: Station Hill Press, 1989), p. 88-89
29. Kirpal Singh The Wheel of Life
, p. 26
30. Reynolds, op. cit., p. 99-100, 142
(1861-1925) was possessed with a religious impulse and a natural
clairvoyance at an early age. He became the head of the German Theosophists, but in
1913 split off to form his own school, the Anthroposophical Society. Theosophy saw
the essential equality of all religions, but Steiner had come to see in Christ the culmination of the ancient religions and a fulcrum for the evolution of the human race. Steiner considered the Christian doctrine of love as a new dispensation for mankind.
Steiner believed that the three days Jesus supposedly spent in hell before his ascension to Heaven served to purify the "etheric body of the world", which in some way freed mankind from certain limitations on its forward evolution.
Theosophist Annie Besant favored Buddhism, while Steiner felt that Buddha paved the way for Christ. When Ms. Besant proclaimed young J. Krishnamurti the new World Savior or reincarnation of Christ, the rift between them widened, and Steiner severed ties vlith her organization. Theosophy tended to emphasize the mystical and other-worldly, in contrast to the more scientific spirit of Steiner, who felt that the faculty of rational thought was important for the development of modern occultism. Steiner saw great relevance in science, and even wrote of the "scientific" approach to the "study" of super-sensible worlds.
His work covered many areas, including organic farming, political theory, economic reform, spiritual education, and occult history. His influence is still felt today, most particularly in the Waldorf Schools, a worldwide educational system based on spiritual principles. Steiner's theories on education and the natural developmental stages of childhood were brilliant and original. He spoke largely from his own experience and claimed to have penetrated to various subtle realms. It is not clear if he had a Master, or even a spiritual teacher. The astrologer Alan Leo offered the following information, but without any references:
"At the early age of nineteen Rudolph Steiner had met his Master: One of those men of power who live, unknown to the world, under the cover of some civil state, to carry out a mission unsuspected by any but their fellows in the Brotherhood of self-sacrificing Masters. They take no ostensible part in human events. To remain unknown is the condition of their power, but their action is only the more efficacious. For they inspire, prepare and direct those who will act in the sight of all. In the present instance the Master had no difficulty in completing the first and spontaneous initiation of his disciple.... Swiftly he made him clear
the successive stages of inner discipline, in order to attain conscious and intelligent clairvoyance."
I could not find an account of this in Steiner's autobiography, so it is only speculation to assume that he had a "lineage". Indeed, Steiner was largely self-taught, although he was influenced by others, especially Goethe. He was a voracious reader and student of philosophy. At the age of fifteen he purchased a copy of the Critique of Pure Reason by Immanuel Kant and dissected it into easily hidden sections which he read behind his history book at school. He said:
"I strove to understand how far human reason is capable of attaining true insight into the nature of things .. I was convinced that I could come to grips with the spiritual world I inwardly experienced only if the very process of thinking became capable of grasping the true nature of physical phenomenon."
At thirty-six he experienced a transformation that enabled him to perceive the physical world in a new way:
"When the sense-world is approached objectively independent of all subjectivity it reveals aspects about which spiritual insight can say nothing....Knowledge and experience of the spiritual world (the neo-Platonic planetary spheres comprising the subtle realms) had always been something self-evident to me, whereas to grasp the sense-world through physical perception caused me the greatest difficulty....I was aware that I was experiencing an inner transformation of soul-life which normally occurs at a much earlier age...I soon discovered that such objective observation leads one into the spiritual world in the right way. Observing the physical world in this way, one goes out of oneself, as it were, and enters completely into what is observed; this ability enables one to return to the spiritual world with enhanced powers of spiritual observation."
Rudolph Steiner appears to have been, by his own confession, an "objective" mystic, and as such was a purifying influence on western esotericism. He seems to have had a spiritual capacity of some kind, a numinous intuition approximating transcendance of the ego, which, however, he saw essentially as a means to make experience of the subtle dirrensions rrore objective or real. Whether Steiner (who did not appear to be familiar with the most advanced wisdom-texts of the Orient, ie., those pointing to the ultimate stages of realization) went beyond himself to realize Nirvikalpa, Jnana, and Sahaj Samadhi, does not seem likely from his writings. Steiner was, nevertheless, a deep thinker, and a creative western "yogi" who remains one of the more interesting occultists, and his work had significant importance for the modern world.
The limitation of Steiner's approach becomes evident in his references to the yogic "sheaths". To Steiner, man is a tripartite being, composed of a physical body (annamaya kosha), a soul (etheric and astral bodies, or pranamaya and manamaya koshas), and a spirit or ego-I (which appears, although Steiner is not clear, to be the vijnanamaya kosha). The "I", for Steiner, is the essential being in man, in relationship to which the other "bodies" are but veils. And the highest realization for Steiner is for the "I" or spiritual being of man to achieve mystical communion with the angelic beings on high (presumably through the medium of the manamaya kosha) while also maintaining a connection with the world of nature. No mention is made of the anandamaya kosha nor of the transcendental Atman, nor of the ultimate realization of the universal Brahman pervading all, although these teachings exist in theosophy. The ego is not really transcended for Steiner, therefore, although it does become purified to a degree. The error he made is one common in mysticism, in which the apparent inner being is taken to be an eternally existing entity, whereas such is not the case from the point of view of philosophy. The ego is only an apparent modification of consciousness, and that is what is to be realized. (4)
For all his modernity, in the final analysis Steiner yet lived in a "'Pythagorean" universe, concerned with the drama on this earth within a solar system that did not extend beyond the limits of Saturn (the "Ring-Pass-Not" of the Mysteries, signifying the boundary of the ego in modern astrology). Steiner grasped that there was a uniqueness to the incarnation of the Chrlst and taught that this manlfestatlon was a turning point for aspects of the evolution of the earth (our "local universe"), but he did not speak very much of the Christ principle in its
cosmic and transcendant universal spiritual aspect as something that man could realize or commune with individually through a process of self-transcendance. For Steiner spiritual evolution most specifically was marked by the inversion of attention and the free working of the indriyas (organs of perception) on both the inner and outer planes. Fundamental ego-transcendance is not required in order for this to occur, however.
Steiner foresaw a time when the evolution of man would become a more creative affair, less bound to the apparent laws of the physical plane and also more determined by man's conscious participation. As an example of this he perceived that the human, physical heart was in the process of changing from an involuntary muscle to a voluntary one. It is, at present, neither a striated (voluntary) nor srnooth (involuntary) muscle, but somewhat of a cross between the two. In less evolved species it is strictly involuntary. Steiner proposed for our imagination that the heart and larynx, etherically transformed by the effect of the second coming of the Christ, will evolve into the next reproductive faculty of man whereby he will be enabled to recreate himself in a higher (presumably subtle etheric or astral) form through the agency of an enhanced power of speech. [hmmm? “Would you like to make love, darling?”...”Sure, let’s talk!”] To Steiner this would represent a reversal of the Fall of man and an evolution towards the angelic realms, which is rrore than a simple "return", but a reintegration possessed with a knowledge of the "I" gathered through the process of repeated incarnations. This is interesting, as is much of Steiner's work, but even
so it relates only to the point of view of the body-mind, and not that of reality.
Steiner correctly outlined various dimensions of the evolutionary process, including the fundamental importance of the development of the "I" and the notion that there is a purpose behind that process itself, rather than it being a mere fool's game as Vedantists might suggest, or simply an existential drama, "full of sound and fury, signifying nothing”, but
he did not go on to describe a complete process which would awaken the self-contracted being from the initial or root illusion of nescience wherein the Void-Mind or One Self somehow conceives its own radiance to be objective to itself, and the very sense of a separate self arises. [Anthony Damiani suggested a different way of looking at the problem as just stated. He said that consciousness itself does not fall into error by conceiving its own inherent radiance or light as being objective to itself, but rather that the light as thought (objective) conceives itself to be a self (subjective). “Thought, which is inherently an object, takes itself to be the subject.” (5)]
Steiner's creative work was in arguing for the development of a new spiritual methodology that would be free of dissociative and mystifying oriental influences, and that would be a help and not a hindrance in the solving of practical human problems. He also emphasized a form of psychic objectivity
, whereby clairvoyant faculties, as and when (and, one might add, even if) they arise, are to be subjected to exercises that enable them to develop free of distortion by self-will and subjective imagination. This is all well and good, but the critical limitation with it lies in assuming that it is essential for genuine spiritual practice. It is not
necessary that such faculties develop in anyone's case. It is enough to surrender from the heart and release all experience as it arises, constantly submitting or sacrificing attention to its source. For Steiner, convinced as he was that exploration of the super-sensible realms was the path Godward, it seemed only necessary that the major emphasis was to develop psychically. Whereas for transcendental realization, it is essentially the psyche, or inward personality, that must be transcended.
Steiner had a keen perception of politics and economic affairs. Indeed, he predicted that an age of barbarism would overtake Germany in 1933, and he himself became the target of a German nationalist assassination attempt. His unexpected death in 1925 came as a shock to the Anthroposophical movement, for Steiner, a rigorous, industrious and strong individual, who for years had slept but one hour a day, within a short time was overcome with exhaustion, and died after a brief illness.
1. Alan Leo, The Art of Synthesis
(London: L.N. Fowler and Co., Ltd., 1940)
2. Rudi Lissau, Rudolph Steiner: Life, Work, Inner Path and Social Initiatives
(Stroud, U.K. : Hawthorne Press, 1987), p. 42
3. Ibid, p. 277-278
4. see: "The Nature of Man," in Theosophy: An Introduction to the Supersensible Knowledge of the World and the Destination of Man
, 4th ed. (London: Rudolph Steiner Press, 1973), pp. 17-45
This gives a complete analysis of the spiritual anatomy of man according to Rudolph Steiner. It is very difficult reading, however, and even more dlfficult to understand and compare with other systems of thought.
5. Anthony Damiani, Standing In Your Own Way
(Burdett, New York: Larson Publications, 1993), p. 152
Here is some additional interesting history of these early theosophical pioneers, some of which may or may not be true. Use your judgement and due diligence.
While Madame Blavatsky had the advantage of physically knowing many very advanced 'inner' and outer masters, mostly from central Asia (hence her work on "Esoteric Buddhism"; see also The People of the Tradition
on this website), but also from Egypt and even North America. Alice Bailey only met her teacher Kuthumi once, in the flesh. He came to her when she was fifteen. She was visiting her aunt in around 1895 in Scotland. As an evangelical Christian, it was unlike her not to go with her family to church that Sunday, but she decided to stay home. As she sat in the 'drawing room', the door suddenly opened and a very tall man (Kuthumi - he took his name from an ancient Vedic sage who he probably was), wearing a European suit, but darker skin and a Sikh turban on his head (he had been born into a Kashmiri Sikh family in about 1830). Kuthumi was said to have been Pythagoras, Nagarjuna and I think the fourth Sikh Guru Ram Das.
He walked over to her (she was mortified), sat down and gave her a talk about the life work in service to humanity she was planned to do if she could get a handle on her personality, develop some character, etc. Then she could be of some use to 'the masters'. He then got up, said he would be in touch with her in the future inwardly, periodically, until it was time, and then gave her a powerful look before leaving. Of course, she hoped it was Jesus, but it wasn't until she was age thirty-five and had joined the Theosophical Society that she saw a portrait of him and realized it was the same man.
A few years later she was sitting outside, and she heard a strong tone sound in her head, and then a voice, crystal clear, began speaking to her. He said he was assigned to work with her dictating some books, if she would agree. She refused! She told him she was a single mom with two daughters, and had to work, and could not afford to loose her psychological grounding and balance by becoming involved with such a thing. He said 'wise people don't make snap decisions - think it over and in two weeks I will check in again'. She forgot about it, but two weeks later he contacted her again. She refused once more. He said, 'why don't you talk it over with Kuthumi', who she was now in inner contact with at that point in her life. She took it up with Kuthumi, who explained to her that the person contacting her was his senior student and a master in his own right, and that she had been trained for this work in recent lives, so it would be much appreciated if she would at least give it a try. She consented to test it out - and found that the material was very good, so she kept going. She ended up writing eighteen books with 'the Tibetan' (as he was nicknamed), over twelve thousand pages, and another six books of her own. Another nickname the masters had for 'the Tibetan' was 'the disinherited', as they were goofing on him for having been disinherited by his father when he became a renunciate. He was also a lama in the Gelugpa sect, and his 'outer' work was being the abbot of a monetary, while also working for the higher masters behind the scenes. he worked mainly behind the scenes, but as known to thousands of Tibetans. The 'Tibetan' was Kuthumi's senior disciple, who he was training for what they called the fifth initiation, or Self-Realization during the 1880s (which is when he became a master - Kuthumi having been one for a very long time - perhaps over 1000 years). Jivanmukti in the Buddha's system was at the 4th or arhat stage. The Tibetan became a fifth stager in the mid-1880s. Kuthumi in that life was at the sixth stage, and had been for centuries. The Buddha is believed to have been at the eighth stage. Bailey was very clairvoyant, and the Tibetan would show her charts to her inner vision, which she would copy down. In her later years she was sometimes too tired to see these detailed charts clearly, and friends of hers testified that at these times they would see books materialize on her desk, then she would copy from them, and then they would disappear. Blavatsky had similar experiences which help dictate her writings.
Blavatsky spent over two years in Tibet, living and studying with her master Morya, Kuthumi, the Tibetan, and the Mahachohan, who lived inconspicuously at Tashl Lungpo Monastery at Shigatse. The Mahachohan was a seventh level master who was the incarnate head of this sub-lineage (the Trans-Himalayan) of masters, which was a behind-the-scenes group of liberated bodhisattvas or jivanmuktis (fifth to seventh level adepts), the Tibetan being one of their newest members during that time period. The thirteenth Dalai Lama was aware of them, but only indirectly, as the Dalai Lamas tend to function more in an outer capacity. It is the Panchen Lama at Shigatse who was the esoteric head of the Gelugpa order, and he was a disciple of these higher masters, as was the Tibetan. The Tibetan was also known to others, especially folks like Cooper-Oakley and Leadbeater. In the early days of the Theosophical Society he used to materialize physically on the roof at Adyar (a flat roof with deck) to give teachings. Nicholas Roerich went to search for these masters in the 1920s and 1930s, but was told by lamas that he met there that though the presence of these mysterious higher masters, beyond the high lamas of Tibetan Buddhism, was well known to ordinary lamas, that they were no longer to be found as easily there, and that many of their retreats were now vacated.
Bailey suggested a composite theory among several conflicting theories (Anthroposophy, Rosicrucian, Theosophy) about the incarnation of the Christ, in which Jesus was both a reincarnating soul who had already achieved Self-realization and was being used by the Logos as an avatar to initiate Christianity. Some have said they have had confirmation of this view from a number of highly adbanced inner masters that Jesus was both a jivanmukti soul who won liberation through reincarnation and also an avatar, co-incarnating the Logos. Daskalos believed he was a pure incarnation of the Logos without any human/reincarnating soul aspect. Rudolph Steiner held the view that Christ, a higher being, the solar logos, entered the surrendered body of the high initiate Jesus at the time of his baptism by John the Baptist, in order to purify the karmas of the Earth which were hindering its further evolution. Bailey believed that a third presence was involved, that Jesus was also a co-incarnation with the Bodhisattva Maitreya, who formed a kind of intermediary/step down from the Logos to the earthly masters. Some disagree with Bailey on the point of Maitreya, saying he was not involved directly. What all agree upon is that something profound for this planet happened through the incarnation of the Christ.
This early wave of transmission of eastern teachings was most powerfully stimulated by Blavatsky. She brought a taste of a highly esoteric version of eastern spirituality that was still very inclusive of the many traditions in which she was in contact with
. Then later people like Bailey, Annie Besant, Steiner and others took up the work. In most cases, they shifted the vision to a Christo-centric one, partially due to that being easier for many Westerners in the early-20th century to relate to, but also because many of these souls, although having trained extensively in the East in previous lives, also typically had lives in the west as well, in which they were often esoteric Christians like the Rosicrucians. That had built up pretty powerful thoughtforms in their subconscious so that when they incarnated in the West this time to do this work, ended up giving a spin to what was often an inner, more Eastern inspiration coming from their inner teachers. So this first wave was not only tainted with that (which was not fatal, but limited the transmittal of the non-dual aspect of the secret teachings - which Blavatsky in fact admitted that she had not revealed, the time not being right), but also came during a time when little had even been translated yet from the East, and there were not many Eastern teachers coming to the West, or westerners going there either. So the context of these early transmissions was much less informed, and less good training than that available today. The context is different now, so a better, more profound, transmission is possible, blending the best of the 'outer teachings', such as Hindu, Sikh, Buddhist, Sufi, Christian, with deeper, esoteric, emergent ideas and teachings.