THE BIRTH OF MAN — An Occult View
Abridged from a lecture by Adam Warcup
at The Theosophical Society in London, 17th of June, 1984.
Available unabridged on CD from editor.
The subject has to do with the Secret Doctrine, written by Madame Blavatsky and published in 1888.
The first volume of it is Cosmogenesis – The Birth of Cosmos, and it’s second Anthropogenesis, meaning literally The Birth of Man.
The subtitle here, An Occult View, is used to contrast the ideas concerning the Birth of Man with the current views of the material sciences and to try to show where the ideas of the Secret Doctrine are the same as, in parallell to, or differ from the ideas which are currently extant in science.
We say The Birth of Man, but perhaps more accurately we ought to say The Rebirth of Man, because the second volume of the Secret Doctrine deals with but a small fragment of man’s evolution.
Theosophy paints a big picture concerning evolution. It starts with the Cosmos and culminates in a description of the evolution of man, which itself is a big picture, in its own right, covering vast periods of time, and yet you might say that in this particular description we are just dealing with a day in the Life of Man, but that day will cover what in normal terms is a very long time — millions of years, tens of millions of years, perhaps hundreds of millions of years.
And yet Theosophy says, that even in this timescale, we are here dealing with but a fragment, a short period, in the overall evolution of man. None the less, let us now confine ourselves to just that part of the evolution of man.
The second volume of the Secret Doctrine deals primarily with the evolution of man, but since no aspect can be considered completely in isolation, it necessarily also deals with many other aspects, and by talking about the evolution of the globe, on which we find ourselves – the earth – it sets a broad picture, with information concerning that, and it then runs parallell to the sort of information you would find in geology, geophysics, physics and so forth.
But it takes a different view, an occult view.
It deals with the other kingdoms of Nature which share this globe with us – the plant kingdom, the animal kingdom, and so forth – and runs parallell to what science has to say in these areas, especially in biology and so forth, but it takes a different line in certain areas, and offers radically different alternatives as to the origin of species, and so forth. But here we now have to cover in some detail what it has to say about man, and so had better confine ourselves just to that aspect of it.
This second volume of the Secret Doctrine is introduced by a section entitled Preliminary notes, in which Madame Blavatsky fairly early sets out what she calls Three new Propositions. (The first volume was also introduced by three propositions.)
These propositions are in a sense the keynote to what is different about the Theosophical view (Madame Blavatsky´s and the Secret Doctrine-view of the evolution of man) compared with that of material sciences.
The first is, that before the evolution of the physical form of man began (the physical components, with which we are all inescapably familiar) there was an astral evolution.
We will go into what is meant by astral in this particular complex, but let us now take it as meaning inner or subjective, as opposed to the outer, or objective, more physical form, with which we are so familiar.
That is where the evolution of man’s physical components began, says HPB.
Not with a protoplasmic cell, which has gradually culminated in physical man, as we now see him, but as an astral prototype, which has become physical, in the processes of time and process. (More of that later.)
The second radical proposition is that man was evolved before the higher animals, specifically the mammals. Mammals were a later development of Nature.
At a first sight this may seem ridiculous, but when we take into account the astral component of evolution we can put this into a context, which not only will make it meaningful, but will offer as an explanation as to the whys and wherefores of the higher animal evolution itself. So. in a sentence, man before the mammals is the second of her propositions.
And the third is the simultanous evolution of man on different portions of the globe. It means that man did not start his evolution from one location – certainly not an Adam- and Eve-type of situation – and even from the point of view of the material sciences there is no particular location on the globe which we can say is the cradle of humanity. Because, says Madame Blavatsky, simultaneously – on different portions of the glode – man started his evolution and therefore man has what we call a polygenetic origin. The genesis of man is spread out, throughout the globe itself.
The first two of those propositions I intend to spend quite a while on here, the third one less so, but before we can take up and develop any of this in more detail, there are one or two basic ideas against which the Propositions have been set forth.
Firstly that Nature is A Whole.
There is a subjective world: a world which in our normal terms we associate with ideas, with feelings, with thoughts, with inspirations, with instinct, with memory – all those subjective areas. This is part of Nature.
There is also an objective phase, which is our physical bodies and the world around us, the world as examined in detail by the material sciences.
But the basic point which we must continously bear in mind is, that these are not two worlds, in some way linked together. But one world, having two aspects.
One world, being seen in two different ways.
This is the vital thing.
A lot of the difficulties which are raised by the material sciences is that they say
— Well, how does your inner world interact with the outer world?
The answer is that there is no interaction in that sense, because no ‘linking mechanism’ is needed.
We can take an analogy of a plant.
During winter the objective plant we see above the ground dies away and falls back into just a root, and in certain instances the root remains underground and you see nothing of it during winter. But come the spring, come so to speak the new day, then the plant re-emerges into the objective world and if you do not know anything about the evolution of plants, it is like a magic, because suddenly out of nothing, out of nowhere, lo and behold, this plant springs up.
We say that this is not really too mysterious, because we knew that there was a root structure, we knew that there was a seed, or whatever it was, and lo and behold it is bound to happen in this particular way.
During the day, during the summer, the root structure is still there and the plant structure is above it. Flowers, seeds, fruits or whatever it happens to be is all there and nobody could confuse the lovely lush green plant with its flowers and fruits and so forth with the root structure underneath it, and yet the two are so clearly part of one thing, that one would never ask:
— Well, how does the root structure interact with the rest of the plant?
You don’ t say that, because it is all part of one growing substance, and there is no question of this.
So if we would to understand the world according to Theosophy, in its own right, we would say the same thing, that the inner subjective world is an integral part of the outer objective world, and at times the inner manifests itself in the outer world, just as the root manifests itself as the plant.
So with the Universe, so with Nature, and so with man himself.
Man too has his own inner, subjective Nature, as well as there being the objective Nature, of which we are so aware.
There is a physical component which comes and goes, as the days go, and the incarnations go, and there is a subjective component, which is concerned with thoughts, feelings, ideas, inspirations and so forth, and which is always present, like the root.
Out of it grows a physical form, from time to time, having its particular day, or incarnation, but there is no real question of interaction between the two – how does one influence the other and that sort of thing – because they are basically part of one structure.
It is only we who make the arbitrary distinction of drawing a line, and this we do because our physical senses force us to draw a particular line and to say that at this point the physical world stops and the subjective world begins. But that is our limitation. It is not a real significant limitation in Nature itself.
Another basic idea is that – viewed at from a Theosophical point of view – everything in Nature evolves on a cyclic basis.
We are not looking at a straight line or linear evolution, starting so to speak at the bottom left hand corner and moving upwards until it reaches the top or apex, and then we have finished.
We are looking rather at a cyclic evolution, permanently moving, and perhaps repeating itself, but moving onward, and upward, as time progresses.
When we talk of a cyclic evolution, there are two things to bear in mind. Firstly, in each cycle, like in the normal cycles of the days and nights and years that we are familiar with, there is an active and a passive part of it. An active period of growth, development, a relative objective flowering, and a passive portion of the cycle, where again the external expression falls back into its subjective component, and experience is digested, before we start on a new cycle. So an objective and a subjective component in those cases.
When we look at evolution it is not the linear type of view, starting at the bottom and working steadily upwards until we get at the top, but rather the starting at a subjective point, working its way relatively speaking downward and outward to the objective phase.
We go through critical points, corresponding to dawn or spring, at which the objective world comes into existence, grows, develops, produces its gender and species, and gradually falls back into a subjective state at the end of the cycle, retouching the starting point, but now plus all the experience of differentiation, experience, growth, developments, through which it has passed.
In the second volume of the Secret Doctrine we should expect to see an evolution following the pattern that I have just talked about and as it relates to man a relatively subjective condition, descending gradually into an objective expression; the root becoming the plant, to use my analogy again.
We are now right in the middle of that cycle, as objective as can be, garnering the experience of being human, mowing onward and upward, gradually digesting that experience until we rebecome the startpoint that preceded the experience that went with it.
With the two terms the subjective and the objective there is another idea I would like you to bear in mind. It is that the subjective relates to terms like idea, plan, purpose, intelligence and all of these sorts of things.
Why does the subjective become this particular objective manifest expression, that we see?
Because it is built on an intelligent plan.
I don’ t want you to run away with the idea, that we propose an intelligent creator who does the planning.
It is that the whole is intelligent.
Intelligence is a quality of the Nature of Cosmos itself.
It is purposive.
It is moving in a particular direction, and this in so far as the process is conformed to that plan, or intelligence. That they work out in the way they should.
In so far that they don’t, they become failures of Nature, and so forth.
But that is in the order of things. It is inherent in the whole and it is not directed by somebody or some entity.
These are the sorts of basic ideas on which Anthropogenesis from the occult point of view has to be seen.
Why have I stressed these?
Because at school and onward we all have drummed into us a different view of the evolutions of the world and of man, and which is basically that of the materialist science of our day.
The materialist view is that all objective phenomena – everything that we see and experience – can be explained in purely material terms. In other words that everything which happens can be explained through the known laws of physics and the various forms of energetic interaction (and the physicists talk of four such forms), and if something else comes along which can’t, then that merely means that there is yet another physical law which we know nothing of and, if we work a little harder and find it, then we will solve that point as well. In other words that outside the purely material world, with which we are familiar, there is no causation.
It is a very attractive view and it arose out of the superstitions and so forth of the Middle Ages, when causation was supposed to be super-natural and all sorts of supernatural agencies and forces were supposed to work on and in the physical world.
The scientific view was a reaction against that and its justifiable results have tended to be used to justify the whole principle.
I would like you to bear in mind that this particular materialist philosophy is just that. It is a philosophy.
It is a set of ideas. It is, frankly, a belief.
It is unprovable. By its very nature it is unprovable.
Supposing that there are other forces so to say outside Nature and if your philosophy is that of a materialist, wherein you deny that there could be, then you are closing your eyes to an aspect of Nature. It is a belief-structure.
All we are saying is that Theosophy offers a different structure and conceptual framework for explaining the world that we see, taking into account the fact that there is indeed a real subjective world, which is every bit as real as the physical world in which we deal.
You and I know that the subjective world is real, because our personalities exist in it. All your thoughts, feelings, memories, aspirations, dreams and so forth are parts of that subjective world, and if you try to tell me that those are not real, you are denying your very existence.
What are you, if those things are not real?
If they are real, then why not adopt a structural framework which incorporates our real psychic experience along with our real physical experience?
This is what Theosophy is based on here and that is what Anthropogenesis has a lot to say about.
To now develop my theme I would like to turn back to the Propositions that HPB put forward.
We said that the astral or inner man is said to evolve before the physical and viewed in the context of the basic ideas just reviewed you can see that this is an example of the cyclic process.
If we accept that evolution proceeds in this cyclic or epicyclic manner, you would indeed expect, that the inner aspect would start its evolution first and the subjective aspect gradually becoming the outer, objective and physical aspects. All we are saying, in relation to man’s material physical evolution, is that before he started his cycle of physical evolution, there was an inner model on which it was based.
I would like to develop that idea a bit further.
HPB elaborates this proposition by saying that the astral acted as a model for the physical.
When we talk of a model it is in a sense that an architect uses a plan, or a model, before he gets round to physically building the actual edifice, structure, house, hospital, or whatever it happens to be.
An idea exists before it becomes real and concrete. It is the basis on which the objective is built.
As far as man and his evolution is concerned we are saying that astral man represented the model, the idea, the plan, the prototype for physical evolution, as the sort of structure that we now see here.
I would not like you to run away with the idea, that when we talk of astral man, we are talking about some sort of ethereal copy of physical man, as we now know him. When we talk about the astral man, in sense of the broad cycle that I have defined so far, we are not looking at a sort of filmy thing with a head and two legs and two arms and kidneys and lungs and liver, and so forth.
The particular physical structure, that we have got now, is just one of many phases of physical evolution, through which we have passed, and it relates wholly and totally to the physical environment in which we now exist.
We need lungs, because we need to breathe oxygen and nitrogen. There are no other points in having lungs. We need an arterial and veinous system to carry the oxygen, because that is what we breath. If we lived on Venus or Jupiter or wherever else, we would no doubt need to breathe some other form of energy-carrying substance to make us function, but these particular structures have nothing to do with the astral world, which is not presumably containing oxygen and nitrogen and does not really help you to make the veinous systems to carry blood around it, and therefore we need not expect that the astral prototype is a detailed structure, having detailed functional capabilities, like muscles, and nerves, and blood systems, and so forth. It is a plan, a blueprint.
It contains the possibilities of things like lungs, liver, heart and so forth, but is not in itself so structured.
The subjective to the objective is following through the process of making the details come into objective existence.
To follow the whole creative idea, think again of the architect, when we for instance come to build a hospital. First of all we come up with a general idea, that yes, we need a hospital. Then we broadly block in what that hospital is going to contain, what functions it should to do. You must have wards, administration, operating theatres, and so forth. You have got a general idea of what you need. Then you think: Ok, how many wards? How many operating theatres? Then you take it a little further, you break it down, and say: Well, ten operating theatres…, ok, let us start with this one. What do we need with this one?
You make the idea more and more concrete until you come up with a real specific image, and gradually you can then translate that into objective terms, but it is a gradual process.
So with the Birth of Man when we talk of the astral to the physical. We see in a similar sort of process the astral man was this prototype, rather like a halfway house in building my hospital, with the broad idea lined out, for we have not yet the building, the physical structure. That will come at a later point.
Pinching terms from the Kabbalists, when they talk of the same sort of process, we could in fact say, that the process follows four broad stages.
They say that there are four stages. The first is what they call archetypal, building the broad idea of the thing. The second is creative, where you take the archetypal pattern and elaborate and develop that. The third is formative, where you take the creative pattern and actually start making structures out of it. But the structures are yet ill defined, and finally from the formative you produce the material, which is the objective world that we all occupy.
Those are good terms, because they relate directly to the same process in the Birth of Man.
We have talked of the cyclic process, as it relates to man’s evolution, but I would like to remind you, that in fact there are several cyclic processes being carried on concurrently.
Man is one functional grouping, one Kingdom of Nature, we say.
But there are other Kingdoms of Nature. There are plant, mineral and animal Kingdoms of Nature.
The Secret Doctrine says, that the whole globe itself is a living entity, and that too follows its own evolution.
We need not worry on this too much, but there are cycles, and those cycles do not necessarily run syncronized, one with the other, as all passing through exactly the same phase at the same point. Some might be at the beginning, some might be two/third way through, some may be half the way through, some might be almost as completely finished.
So when we look at the cycle of man’s evolution, we do not expect to find that the plant and the animal and so forth are necessarily at exactly the same point at the same time, and therefore the picture becomes, or starts to become, interesting, complex, and relates indeed to the world as we experience it.
In addition to this it is said in the Secret Doctrine that broadly speaking, and as the evolution of man relates to this world, it happens after the mineral and plant evolutions have got well under way. In fact it is said, that mineral evolution is complete, and whatever that might be, I really don’t know. I can understand the evolution of animals and plants, but my mind begins to boggle a bit about the evolution of minerals, so I do not worry about that too much.
But if we look at the various categories of plants, we can understand their evolutions, we can see that the multiplicity and so forth of that, and the Secret Doctrine says it is has been evolving for a long time.
So with the animal kingdom. That too started a long time ago, and has done a lot of its evolution.
But – and this is the critical point – the evolution of the animal kingdom on this globe can only be completed through the agency of man, and this is a point which we are going to come back to in just a moment.
What we get is a picture of the various cycles of evolution, its different phases and different points.
We said that there is a phase of astral evolution, or inner, subjective evolution for man, before he becomes physical. And one of the critical points I would like you to remember is, that while man is undergoing this astral subjective evolution, the physical world is already in existence.
The plant world is already physical and objective, while man is still subjective. The animal evolution in itself has already become physical, material, objective, leaving fossil remains, and so forth, as we see them in the rock structures today, while man was still astral, subjective, not making an impression on the physical world, as we now see it. But none the less we have to say that his evolution had started, and that is going to be critical to later stages, as it relates to the animals.
So astral before the physical is the first of her key ideas, and that gives you just some of the flavours of what is implied by that particular term.
The second of her ideas is, as I summarised it, man before the mammals and let us now qualify this quite considerably and elaborate the ideas.
When we look at this particular idea, what is really being said is this, that astral man – this prototypal, architypal nature of man – is the parent, or progenitor [stamfader, upphovsman], of all mammalian species.
It is not saying, that man is the physical progenitor of mammals. That would be patently absurd, because there is no fossil remain of any physical man, prior to the earliest mammal species. Mammals appeared first, and in terms of fossils, man then appears way down the track, much later on in the piece. This is not contended. We accept that this is exactly so. But what HPB is saying, and what is radical, that is, that the astral man, which we have been talking about, was the model, not only for physical man, but the model for all of the mammalian species, as well. The mammalian species are in other words very much a part of the animal kingdom. But they benefitted from the existence of astral man. It is of this that their evolution, the evolution of the animal kingdom, got a nudge, a kick in the pants [spark i ändan], so to speak, when the evolution of man started, and it gave a new impetus [rörelseenergi] to the evolution of the animal kingdom, developing a completely new type of animal, what we call the mammal. To put it in crude terms it was a spin-off from the existence of astral man. They are all in a sense degenerate copies of prototypes of astral, inner aspect of man.
Another way of looking at this is to say that the astral mammals became the rootstock of the physical mammals we now see.
I am sure you can all think of the million species of mammals which there are about. The relative development of them is as biologists says, and this is not in contention with that we started off with the earliest mammals, which were shrew-like creatures, and moved upwards through the various developments, culminating in the wide variety that we see today.
But the point that we would derive from what is being told to us in the Secret Doctrine is that each of those basic mammal types – whether it is that of a basic early shrew or the later ape-like forms and so forth – is that each of them started from an astral prototype, which in itself is distinct and unique to that particular genera or species of animal. To use a crude example there was presumably one which was concerned with the horse or the horse family, shall we say, including giraffes and zebras and so forth. I am no biologist, so don’t ask me for the details of this, but broadly speaking there would be one astral root stock for those. Then, as that became purely physical – manifested itself in the physical world –the evolution and the variety of types took place. It was an explosion, you might say from center to circumference, of all the possibilities, which existed in that root stock. Whether you had short horses and tall giraffs, or whatever it happens to be, presumably they are all developments of that single root stock in the astral world. That is the basic idea.
But – and this is another point which I shall return to in just a minute – in materialistic terms it is very alluring to say that one type of mammal evolves into another type of mammal, and which in turn evolves into another type, and then that into another type, and so forth.
If we were to take the idea seriously, which I have just been taking here, then we should say that really this is not the case. There is a pre-existent astral type, and each of those becomes physical, one after another. The astral protoypes pre-exist and let us say that prototype number one becomes physical and produces the whole variety of its type. Then number two manifests itself in the material world and produce a whole new variety, perhaps a more advanced and specialized variety. And then number three astral prototype becomes physical, and a whole new explosion of mammal types takes place.
Looked at from the point of view of the physical world, it looks like physical stock one produces physical stock two, which produces physical stock three, and so on. What else are you to suppose?
But there are all sorts of dreadful difficulties in this, which the physical scientists themselves have identified.
It is easy to say how the various differencies take place. It is easy to explain little differencies, between one species, and the next, and the next, and the next.
But it is very difficult to explain how one species becomes a radically different species. It is far from being the sort of straight line evolution, from simple to complex, which material science would have us believe. When looked at closely it is observed that in fact evolution appears to go in sort of little bursts, looked at from their point of view. It is like a series of steps.
For long periods along the step, when nothing much actually appears to be changing, species either remain basically the same, or only minor modification to the basic structure take place. And then suddenly (suddenly in geological time, which can be quite a long time in our terms) a whole series of new varieties appear, and then, for long period of time they just toddle along, not changing to any great extent, and then another series of change take place, and away we go with another whole branch...
It is what they (they have these lovely grand terms in science) call punctuated equilibrium. It means basically that we are in a state of equilibrium for a long time but it is punctuated, by little periods, when things appear to take place rather suddenly.
They have great difficulties explaining why these sudden periods of growth, developments and explosion of species should take place, and if they are right, then in the periods of sudden development there should in fact be fossils, showing intermediate types, between the one which had been there for a long time and a new one which were about to be there for a long time. There ought to be some intermediate types, showing the change from one to the other, but there don’t appear to be any.
There are all sorts of arguments that we could raise here, that
— Well, it is a very short period of time anyway, and maybe we haven’t found them.
But they haven’t found them. And it is worrying them.
And rightly worrying them.
Looked at from the other point of view, of what I have just been saying, it is easy of explanation.
What we are looking at here is one rootstock, one astral rootstock, which in the physical world differentiates in the various ways, but all placed on the same basic type. It has its day, and then the next one appears, that is completely unrelated to the physical world of the previous one. It has not appeared from a previous physical stock. It has appeared from a new, astral, prototype stock. And it has its day, and so things move onwards.
In this particular sequence man is the last to become physical. As an astral prototype man has been in existence while all these so to speak degenerate copies, all these spin-offs, have been happening in the physical animal world. So what we see in the fossil record, of all the various mammals, man was the last to finally become physical. Finally we do become physical, and we will explore that idea in just a minute. But again it looks like man is the last step in the chain of mammals, the highest of the mammals, and therefore is part of the animal kingdom, as material science would have you to accept, whereas we would say,
— No, this is completely the other way about. We have been human all away along the line, descending so to speak gradually into matter, and here we are, finally arrived. But so many precursors of us have arrived a little sooner, and those are the basic astral, becoming physical mammal species, that we see in the world around us today.
So it is not that we are the highest of the mammals, they are degenerate copies of astral humans, which is why they have the same basic infrastructure that we have. They have the same basic methabolic systems that we have, for they have got the plan from us. It is not that we inherited the plan from them. It is all the other way about, says the Secret Doctrine.
Now there is an exception to all of this, which the Secret Doctrine enumerated and talked about in 1888, and this is particularly interesting, because only now, relatively recently, has there been material evidence which in fact substantiate this particular claim.
We said so far that most of the mammal stock had descended from astral stocks. There is an exception, and that is what we call the anthropoid or manlike apes, like the chimps and gorillas, and so forth. These, says the Secret Doctrine, are in fact the progeny of physical man. They were not intended by Nature. They were in a sense an error, a mistake, and so forth. They were not part of the original design of the process, but in ways, which we need not explore too closely, there was at the purely physical level an interbreeding between early physical man and existing animal stocks, no doubt mammal stock, and as a result of this interbreeding an intermediate stock was produced.
It was this intermediate stock, which was a sort of half physically human and half animal, which was produced and started, and in fact, says the Secret Doctrine, this happened twice. Having produced this intermediate stock, then, at a far later point, yet other purely physical human beings bred with this intermediate stock, producing a second intermediate stock, and strictly speaking it is that second intermediate stock, which became the gorilla and the chimpans and so forth; the anthropoid ape of today. So the Secret Doctrine says that strictly speaking they are truly human. Degenerate human, but nevertheless part of the human kingdom.
This is something I shall come back to in just a minute, because there is now rather fascinating evidence to substantiate just exactly that idea, which was put forward more than a hundred years ago.
Before we leave this particular section there is just one other area that I would like to talk with you about.
How, you might say, does the astral become the physical? It is all very well for me to sit here and say like Ahh, well, they are all part of one thing… and so forth.
And yes, broadly speaking, that is true. But when it comes to the processes in the cycle, of the astral becoming physical, how does it actually occur? What actually goes on?
Quite recently there was a book, written by a man called Dr Rupert Sheldrake, called A New Science of Life, which offers a possible explanation, from a theosophical point of view, of exactly how this sort of process took place.
Sheldrake’s books is controversial. He is a scientist in his own right. He has written this particular work, it has been hailed as a master piece by some scientist and it has been hailed as a candidate for burning by others, so you can see it has excited passionate opinions on both sides.
Sheldrake is probably the first to offer an explanation as to how non-physical factors can be shown to have an influence on the physical evolution of species. Unfortunately we have no time to go into this too much tonight. But broadly speaking he explores a theory of what he calls causative formation. It sounds a bit like a mouthful, but he uses it to distinguish between what he calls energetic causation.
As we understand normal cause and effect it is always associated with some form of energy in the material world. Physics describes cause and effect as the interchange of energy between various systems.
If you are a materialist you now say
— Well, that’s all there is too it, and therefore we’ve got to explain everything in terms of the various energies from the physical world.
Not a bit of it, says Sheldrake. There is a possibility of fields influencing the way in which random events occur in the physical world, and therefore pre-disposing the physical world, to move in one direction, rather than in another direction. These fields are non-material, but none the less have an effect in the material world.
These fields he calls morpho-genetic fields, again a bit of a mouthful, but morpho means form, genetic means the birth of, so we are looking at the birth of forms; how forms come into existence. Why are the various forms of humans and plants and so forth the way they are? says Sheldrake.
Well, because there are preexisting morpho genetic fields, which predisposes the material world to build in just particular this way, and not in some other.
This is not just pie in the sky, because firstly, before he published the book, he said that if this theory is correct it should have predicted value and we should be able to see this in operation. They ran a series of experiments and, lo and behold, it seems to be substantiated. He is now in the process of running others and we will see what comes of that.
But if he is right, then we have a possible explanation as to why the physical world behaves in the way that it does. His morphogenetic fields would be my astral prototypes, my astral models, for why the physical world would work in the ways that it does.
When we say for instance that various mammal species appear from astral prototype, then we are not saying that they suddenly sprang into existence out of nothing. What I would say (and this is me speaking, not Madame Blavatsky, you must understand) is that there is preexisting material in the physical world, genetic material, which let us say relate to the lower animal kingdoms, and that is so to speak influenced by this new morphogenetic fields, or astral prototypes, which are predisposing that genetic material, to form new combinations.
As a result of random mutations it changes anyway.
What we are now saying is, that there is a field around it, which predisposes it to mutate in specific quantifiable ways, so it produces a new species, and a new genetic material, for that particular species.
It is rather than just a mutating in a random fashion, producing the odd variations.
The processes of mutation are taking place in a purposive direction and hence producing the new stocks.
We then moved through the various stages of the mammalian evolution, until man wanted to become – or reach the stage of needing to become – purely physical.
And what did he use? He used the highest existing genetic material then available, which was the highest mammal stock, and as a result of that produced this physical body, which therefore has the characteristics of the rest of the physical mammals, because genetically it is derived from them.
So, in a sense, yes: There is this upward evolution, looked at purely from the physical point of view.
But if we were to take in the whole structure of Cosmos, as it relates to man, then this [occult] view is better, because it relates purely to man, and at a point at which the critical contact takes place.
It looks as if it is the culmination of a bottom-up evolution, where it is really just the lowest point in the downward cycle, from subjective to objective, at which man avails himself of the best material available in the physical world, at that particular point, and hence that characteristics of the animal kingdom.
Having touched upon these two or three areas, which Madame Blavatsky has outlined, I want to look at what evidence there is, provided by the material sciences themselves, for the ideas I have now been talking about.
However — evidence is a tricky business!
In a book I’ve just read there is a nice little phrase, much related to this subject, and listen carefully:
Absence of evidence is not evidence of absence.
That you can’t find something doesn’t mean that it is not there. Absence of evidence does not mean that you therefore can say that it does not exist, but this is what the material scientists tend to do. Because they have not found it, they are inclined to say that it is not there, and this is very much related to what we are talking about, because a lot of what I have said tonight is going to be difficult to find direct evidence for, because unless you have the equipment, the faculty, to see the processes of causation working in astral, inner subjective world, then really you can’t directly substantiate what I have just been saying. But in so far that we can see the way in which those [are] culminating the physical process, perhaps we can infer something about them.
Let us see what we can do in this.
Firstly. In introduction to a new theory, such as one like the Secret Doctrine is trying to put forward, I think it is as well to say, that a hundred years ago, when Madame Blavatsky was rising, there was no agreement as to the physical origins of man.
And a hundred years later there is still no agreement.
You can find any number of biologists who will tell you about how life originated on this planet. Maybe it came out of some primordial soup, maybe it arrived from some planet somewhere else in the universe, maybe it arrived on a meteorite, but frankly nobody knows, and even if any of those theories does happen to be the truth, how are you ever going to prove it?
They are all utterly unprovable. Nobody who was about at the time is going to come along and tell you. So how do we know? It is all a speculation.
That is the first thing which I would like you to bear in mind.
The basis of evidence falls into a couple of categories, which I would [now] like to explore a little.
A lot of the evidence for the evolution of species, not just man but of the rest of the animal kingdom, is what they call a fossil record, for which we have touched on already this evening. The bones, which these species so thoughtfully left behind them, which became in the processes of geological time compacted into rock strata of the sedimentation. The deposits were laid down, [and] so as it happens they didn’t decay. They were just compacted and compacted and compacted, and now we can excavate these various rock strata, and lo and behold you can find those various impresses that those bones left, and hence the fossil strata that we find. And because geology, broadly speaking, lays down its strata one after another, then broadly you have a sort of a time scale, given to you by Nature. Fossils in higher strata obviously must have existed in a later point than fossils in the lower strata, and so it goes.
Well, jolly handy little mechanism, and in some cases this fossil record is almost entirely complete, or we assume it is. The case of a horse is a very good example here, appearantly, so they tell me. They say that there are practically every example of the all intermediary stages in the evolution of a horse, from the simpliest primeval horse, through all the various intermediary stages to the present horse of today, and it just so happens, that in that particular case the fossil record is almost totally complete.
However, when we come to man, there is rather a different story. (Or what material science assumes is man.)
Assuming, as they do, that what we are looking at is a sort of linear development, from mammal and so forth, then what of course they are looking for is predecessor-types of physical man. So they are looking for apes, and they found a few, here and there. But even in their own terms the fossil record is woefully inadequate.
A book I was reading the other day said: If you wanted to group together all the so called hominid or manlike ancestor, then in terms of the fossils you could put them on the top of two tables, like two dining tables. You can just put them all down there, reasonably spaced them out, and that would be it.
That is all the fossil evidence as it exists, and what you have got is a jaw-bone here, a bit of a skull here, the odd arm-bone here, and so it goes. For the earlier ones almost barely a complete skeleton, and what we are looking at is a few miserable relics, with vast periods in between.
They start their discussion with a hominid ancestor, they call Egypto Pethacus, Egyptian Man, which goes back 28 million years. Then there is a mere gap of about 8 million years, until you come to the next one, 20 million years ago, and so forth. And so it moves forth, with vast gaps. But what happened in the intermediate 8 million years? Well, we don´t know, they say.
— Who knows? We have not got any record. We can’t say.
It is rather like the story of exploring the elephant, isn´t it? This got its trunk, and this its tail and this one its tonail, and what can you say about the evolution itself? How do you even know, that you are looking at an elephant? How do you even know, that this registered little fossil actually relates all to the same sequence of evolution? Frankly, they don´t. And it seems to me that mostly they are quite happy to admit this.
So when it comes to the Secret Doctrine-view of all of this, the fossil evidence does not disprove what I am saying.
Here is what I said about “absence of evidence is not evidence of absence” comes in. So far there is nothing which actually contradicts with anything that I have said, in this particular scenario, as to the evolution of man. There is anyway so little evidence, and they can´t even find the various intermediate stages in the one becoming the other.
And frankly, if I am right, and the Secret Doctrine is right, they never will. Because they don’t exist. As simple is that.
They are looking at isolated examples of early mammal forms, and higher mammal forms, and [these] have anyway nothing to do with the linear development, culminating in man.
We don´t really have time to explore the other aspects, but there is one last area that I would like to touch on when it comes to the evidence.
The science of molecular biology has in recent times been used extensively to help in the mapping of the evolution of species.
Molecular biologists are concerned with the biology of the cell. All living matter – plant, animal, human – so comprised as cells. Cells have nuclear of the cell, and that cell is made up of genetic material, the genes, the chromosomes, DNA, acids and so forth. It is that area the molecular biology is concerned with.
They have found that related species have related genes, and hence related DNA, and by looking at the differences in the DNA, one species to another, you can map at what point they physically separated, one from the other; where the separation occured. At the prior point they would have the same genetic material. At the point they started to branch, and form [in]to different [species] or sub-species, their genetic material gradually becomes more and more different, and the further in time you get from that split, the more different the DNA becomes.
They have validated this against the fossil record, the species where they know exactly the evolution, and by looking at the current existing horse types, for instance, you could say that, yes, my molecular evidence bears out completely [with] what your fossil record says. Fine.
Then they came to man, and they came up with a great bit of surprise, because two scientists found quite recently, that the DNA of man, the gorilla and chimpanzee are almost indistinguishable. In their terms 99% identical.
That was a surprise to the fossil people, because they assumed that a split of man and ape happened way back, and that we have been evolving separately for quite a long time. No, says the molecular biologists, the split took place very recently. In fact – calibrating, as they say – it took place about 4,5 million years ago.
You remember I said that the anthropoid apes were as the result of the interbreeding between man and an animal species, and really are degenerate man. Well, isn´t that exactly what science is here saying?
It is not that man is the last link in the chain, so to speak, but that the gorilla and the chimp are degenerate copies of physical man, and in fact, in the very work in which I found this, they actually suggested that!
Their own words was, that really perhaps the ancestors of man, gorilla and champanzee was more manlike than it was apelike. Yes indeed! From a theosophical point of view, we would say exactly so. It was indeed manlike. And what has happened is, that they have degenerated back to what their animal forefathers were in fact more like. But yes, they are indeed just the degenerate spinoffs in that particular way.
So the evidence is there, the picture that we can paint. I wish I had more time to develop some of these ideas than the hour permits me to do.
The evidence is however there, but it needs interpreting in a completely different way. You have got to turn the whole thing upside down and have a new set of premises and a new set of assumptions – a new model – which is what I tried to outline at the begining of this talk.
When you do so – starting from that different point, but taking the same physical evidence as the molecular biologists are now supplying us with – you can come up with a totally different interpretation of the same evidence, and to my mind it is equally viable. One of my points in the talk was, that the materialist view of nature, and of man, is just that: an idea – a belief structure. I have a different idea and belief structure. I can interprete their evidence in my way. And I believe just as justifiably.
These are just some of the things which you will find in reading the second volume of the Secret Doctrine.
If you read it with those sorts of pieces of evidence in mind, I wish you well with your studies.
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