In a brief study such as this, we can do no more than just indicate the most important and striking features of such a vast process as that of the creation or evolution of a Solar System. Between the coming forth of God the Son from the bosom of the Father (John 1:18), and the appearance of man on this earth of ours, there are many stages which we must simply skip. Those who are interested in the evolution of the forms of life will find the story of the intermediate stages carefully worked out and explained in The Secret Doctrine by H. P. Blavatsky, the greatest occultist of modern times. (We recommend that you obtain the reprints of the first edition that are published by The Theosophy Company of Los Angeles, California, and The Theosophical University Press of Pasadena, California.) This masterwork treats of both the origins of the cosmos and of man from the esoteric standpoint. Thomas Edison kept The Secret Doctrine by his bed and read from it every day, using its principles in his scientific work. Here we are confining ourselves more to the subject of life itself rather than with the forms in which the life is clothed, since our purpose is fundamentally religious, and religion is concerned more with life than with the form.
“What is Man?…”
What, then, is a human being or man? That is our first question. To some who read this it may seem a very simple, and even an absurd, question. But it is not so simple as it seems. In fact, it is very difficult indeed to find the complete answer to the question, and we are not likely really to know all that man is until we ourselves become perfect or completely evolved men. You who read this are much greater than you seem to be. You are not your body; that has been provided for you by your parents, but your parents did not make you when they provided an infant body for your use, and during the infancy of that body you had not really very much to do with it. In those early days the body was too young and tender to be of much use to you until it was about seven years old; then you began to find it more and more useful for your purposes, and were able to express more and more of your self through it. But you were always distinct from, and much greater than, your body. You are a spirit; your body is a form of matter. You never did not exist and never shall have an end; your body began when it was conceived, and it will disintegrate and come to an end, as such, soon after it dies. It dies; you can never die. Nor are you your feelings or emotions. You can control your emotions if your will is strong enough to do so; if it is not, then your emotions control you. But you are not they.
Nor, again, are you your thoughts or your mind, which is your thinking instrument. You are much greater than your mind. You speak of your mind and your thoughts as though they were something belonging to you, and you are right to so speak; they are yours, but they are not you. Who or what, then, are you? The question, you see, is not so simple as at first it seems. Something will have been gained, at any rate, whether or not this book succeeds in making clear to you what a human being is, if you realize that whatever you may be you are not your body, nor your feelings, nor your mind, nor anything else that you describe as yours. Do not let the assurance make you conceited, but be sure that you are something far greater than you seem to be. You are a god in the making. God Himself has declared this through the mouth of David, saying: “I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High” (Psalms 82:6).
In The Beginning…
Now let us return to the point in Chapter Three where it was said that God the Son, coming forth from the Father, brought with Him the spirits which are the true selves of all human and superhuman beings. You are one of those spirits. You, your very self, or, as they say quite accurately in Latin, thou the self–tu ipse–art one of those spirits. And the purpose of this descent– first of a part of the spirit to form the soul, and then of a part of the soul to form the lower self (in a manner to be described soon)–is that the spirits may gain definition and distinction one from another, and may gather such experience as can only be gathered by dipping down lower into matter.
God the Son descends from the Father to the second of those planes previously mentioned, bearing with Him, or in Him as part of Himself, you and all the other millions of spirits who are to form our humanity and other kingdoms of life evolving on parallel lines with the human kingdom. At that level God the Son is undifferentiated spirit–that is to say, He, with all the spirits in Him, is one substance or essence. Then differentiation begins. These spirits cannot as such descend lower than to that second plane. They are vibrating at too rapid a rate for existence in the denser matter of all the levels below the second plane to be possible. The matter of the lower planes could not reproduce the spirit vibrations; therefore the spirits remain on the second plane, but they dip or drop a portion of themselves first to the third plane, then to the fourth or intuitional, and then to the upper levels of the fifth or mental plane, clothing themselves with the matter of these successive planes in their descent. On the third plane they, being the express image of the threefold God, also show forth themselves as triple or threefold spirits. Of these three aspects one remains always on the third plane, and that we usually describe as the spirit in man. The second aspect descends to the fourth or intuitional plane, and we speak of it as human intuition; the third descends to the higher mental level, and it is generally known as the intelligence in man. Thus the spirits, which are the offspring of God and, like their Father, are personal beings, possessing the faculties of will, love, and intelligence, are enabled to exercise those divine faculties at lower levels than their own by dipping portions of themselves to those levels. Such portions, which at the upper levels of the mental plane are embodied in what are often called causal bodies, are human souls or egos, and their causal bodies are provided for them in an interesting manner by another process, which we must now try to follow.
Making A Beginning
During the early stages of evolution, before man existed, the spirits, at their very exalted level, brooded over the gradual evolution of life in these lowly forms. Slowly and gradually the evolution of life proceeds through the mineral and the plant or vegetable kingdoms until the animal kingdom is reached. In these earlier kingdoms there is a gradual unfoldment of life and consciousness. At the animal stage, consciousness has reached a comparatively high level of development–much more developed, for instance, than in the plant and mineral kingdoms. There is consciousness at those levels, too, but so dim as to be hardly perceptible. (According to an Eastern saying, consciousness “sleeps in the mineral, dreams in the plant, wakes in the animal, and becomes self-conscious in man.”) These waves of life which form the lower kingdoms are ripples which come successively from the Second Person of the Trinity; the wave which is now ensouling the animal kingdom came forth from God the Son earlier than the waves that are now ensouling the plant and mineral and still lower kingdoms. Similarly, the wave which now gives life to us human beings is earlier in time than the animal wave. So long as creative evolution lasts, so long do these waves and ripples of life proceed in succession from God the Son.
Thus the Divine life involves itself more and more deeply in matter. That is the eternal sacrifice of the Son of God, by which the worlds are continually sustained. At the lower levels–that is to say, in the mineral kingdom and in elemental kingdoms below the mineral, which we cannot see–this indwelling life is like the pressure of a vast mass of undifferentiated souls. But gradually, as separate forms appear, this mass of souls is divided and becomes in the mineral kingdom many masses of souls, and then it is still further differentiated, becoming in the plant and animal kingdoms many group-souls. At the animal level many animals form a group-soul–that is, an aggregate of similar souls, a kind of “soul pool” in the sense we mean when we speak of a “gene pool.” That is, we do not mean that a single conscious entity is running many bodies simultaneously, but rather that many souls are so united in consciousness at their particular stage of evolution that they function as virtually one. Anyone who has observed a herd of animals or migrating birds has seen the manifestation of this. All the individual animals move together as though but one mind was guiding them. That “mind” is the group-soul. The higher the level of evolution reached the fewer the animals to any group-soul. There may be millions of gnats or minnows in a single group-soul, but only a score or so of dogs, cats, horses, elephants or monkeys to one group-soul.
Evolution Of Form And Consciousness
From this there comes into view the principle of evolution, that the form evolves side by side with the indwelling life and consciousness. The more evolved the life within, the more finished and complex the body or form which encloses the life. But at every level, even in a mass of earth or rock, there is some life and consciousness; at the lower levels it is mass-soul or world-soul; at the higher, that is, at the plant and animal levels, it is group-soul.
The animal both is and is not a soul. Each animal, as we know animals here, is a separate entity, possessing life and consciousness, but not self-consciousness. But it is only as embodied that an animal is separate from other animals of its kind. When the body, say of a collie dog, dies, that collie dog-soul joins the remainder of the souls of its group and so ceases to have a separate existence. When a puppy, kitten, foal, or other young animal is conceived and born, the body is ensouled by some of the soul of its group, and when it dies that soul is, so to speak, poured back into its group-soul; in this way the group-soul evolves through shared experience, and in the course of time the group-soul of, say, a thousand wolves or tigers becomes the group-soul of, say, a score of dogs or cats. But a human soul always remains separate from other human souls. The body dies, and the human being remains after death the same human being that he was before. The human soul is not poured into a human group-soul. That is a very important difference between an animal and a human being–_the human being is a person, a separate individual; the animal is not. How this difference arises we will now consider.