THEOSOPHY, Vol. 59, No. 9, July, 1971
(Pages 271-277; Size: 19K)
THE REINCARNATION OF NATIONS,
RACES, AND CIVILIZATIONS(1)
AMONG the Adepts the rise and fall of nations and civilizations are subjects which are studied under the great cyclic movements. Standing on the immeasurable height where centuries lie under their glance, they see the great cycles and the lesser ones rolling onward, influenced by man and working out their changes for his punishment, reward, experience and development. Now these beings, under the sway of the law as they are, seem perhaps to be sometimes implacable. Occasions are met where to mortal judgment it would seem to be wise or just to save a city from destruction, or a nation from decay, or a race from total extinction. But if such a fate is the natural result of actions performed or a necessary step in the cyclic sweep, it cannot be averted. As one of the Masters of this noble science has written:We never pretended to be able to draw nations in the mass to this or that crisis in spite of the general drift of the world's cosmic relations. The cycles must run their rounds. Periods of mental and moral light and darkness succeed each other as day does night. The major and minor yugas (cycles) must be accomplished according to the established order of things. And we, borne along the mighty tide, can only modify and direct some of its minor currents.The fire of patriotism cannot prevail against the higher destiny which will plunge a nation into darkness. All we can do is to change it here and there a little. The elder brothers are subject to law, but they have confidence and hope, because that law merely means that nations appear to go down, in order to rise again to a greater height.
And so in individual cases -- even among those who are in direct relations with some Adept -- the law cannot be infringed. Karma demands that such and such a thing should happen to the individual, and the greatest God or the smallest Adept cannot lift a finger to prevent it. A nation may have heaped up against its account as a nation a vast amount of bad Karma. Its fate is sure, and although it may have noble units in it, great souls even who are Adepts themselves, nothing can save it, and it will "go out like a torch dipped in water."
Such was the end of ancient Egypt, of whose former glory no man of this day knows aught. Although to us she appears in the historical sky as a full-risen sun, she yet had her period of growth, when mighty Adepts sat upon the throne and guided the people. She gradually reached a high point of power and then her people grew material; the Adepts retired; pretended Adepts took their place, and gradually her glory waned until at last the light of Egypt became darkness. The same story was repeated in Chaldea and Assyria and also upon the surface of our own America. Here a great, a glorious civilization once flourished, only to disappear as the others did; and that a grand development of civilization is beginning here again is one of the operations of the just and perfect law of Karma.
In the eye of that great Law no country is first or last, new or old, high or low, but each at the right time is appropriate for whatever the work is that must be performed. Each country is bound up with all the others and must assist them.
Individuals and nations in definite streams return in regularly recurring periods to the earth, and thus bring back to the globe the arts, the civilization, the very persons who once were on it at work. And as the units in nation and race are connected together by invisible strong threads, large bodies of such units moving slowly but surely all together reunite at different times and emerge again and again together into new race and new civilization as the cycles roll their appointed rounds. Therefore the souls who made the most ancient civilizations will come back and bring the old civilization with them in idea and essence, which being added to what others have done for the development of the human race in its character and knowledge will produce a new and higher state of civilization. This newer and better development will not be due to books, to arts or mechanics, because all those are periodically destroyed so far as physical evidence goes, but the soul ever retaining in Manas, or mind, the knowledge it once gained and always pushing to completer development the higher principles and powers, the essence of progress remains and will as surely come out as the sun shines.
The length of the individual reincarnation cycle for the general mass of men is fifteen hundred years, and this in its turn gives us a large historical cycle related closely to the progress of civilization. For as the masses of persons return from devachan, or heaven, it must follow that the Roman, the Greek, the old Aryan and other Ages will be seen again and can to a very great extent be plainly traced.
This has a bearing on the question of the civilization in which we are a part ourselves. Who are we? Where are we going? Where have we come from? Both the Europeans and the Americans are old Atlantean monads, and the development of the American nation especially has a mysterious but potent connection with the wonderful past of the Atlanteans, whose name is forever set immortal in the Atlantic Ocean. The cycles in their movement are bringing up to the surface now, in the United States and America generally, not only a great glory of civilization which was forgotten eleven thousand or more years ago, but also the very men, the monads -- the egos, as they call them -- who were concerned so many ages since in developing and bringing it to its final lustre. In fact, the Americans, hearing of new discoveries and inventions every day, and dreaming of great advances in all arts and sciences, are the same individuals who inhabited bodies among the powerful and brilliant, as well as wicked, Atlanteans. The flower, so to speak, of this revival or resurrection, is and is to be on the American Continent. For there, ages ago, was a vast civilization. Perhaps we were in it then, perhaps anterior to the ancient Egyptians. It disappeared, when we do not know, and left the land arid for many thousands of years until it was discovered once more by the Europeans.
In America, just the place for the new race, is an arable land which has had time over and over again to destroy the poisons that were planted there ages and ages ago. It gives them a new land, with vibrations in the air that stir up every particle in a man who breathes it, and thus we find the people coming from the old world seeming to receive through their feet the impressions of an American country. All this bears upon our civilization and race.
The Americans are a new race in a new cycle, and persons who know say that a cycle is going to end in a few years and a new one begin, and that that ending and beginning will be accompanied by convulsions of society and of nature. We can all almost see it coming. The events are very complete in the sky. You remember Daniel says, "A time, half a time, and a time," and so on, and people in the Christian system have been trying to find out the time when the time began, and that is just the difficulty. We do not know when the time began. And the only person who in all these many years has made a direct statement is Madame Blavatsky, and she said, "A cycle is ending in a few years, you must prepare." So that it was like the old prophets who came to the people and said, "Prepare for a new era of things, get ready for what you have to do." That is just what this civilization is doing. It is the highest, although the crudest, civilization now on the earth. It is the beginning of the great civilization that is to come.
The new civilization will begin to put out a hand once more to grasp that of the ancient East, who has sat there silently doing nothing all these years, holding in her ancient crypts and libraries and records the philosophy which the world wants, a philosophy you can understand and practice.
The Americans are as yet only preparers, much as we may exalt their plainly crude development. Herein lies the very gist of the cycle's meaning. It is a preparatory cycle with much of necessary destruction in it; for, before construction, we must have some disintegration. We are preparing here in America a new race which will exhibit the perfection of the glories that I said were being slowly brought to the surface from the long forgotten past. This is why the Americas are seen to be in a perpetual ferment. It is the seething and bubbling of the older races in the refining-pot, and the slow coming up of the material for the new race. Here, and nowhere else, are to be found men and women of every race living together, being governed together, attacking nature and the problems of life together. This process will go on until in the course of many generations there will be produced on the American continents an entirely new race; new bodies; new orders of intellect; new powers of the mind; curious and unheard-of psychic powers, as well as extraordinary physical ones; with new senses and extensions of present senses now unforeseen. When this new sort of body and mind are generated -- then other monads, or our own again -- will animate them and paint upon the screen of time the pictures of 100,000 years ago.
In thus giving this larger and completer meaning to the law of evolution, the Occult philosophy entirely eliminates the "missing links" of modern science, and, by giving to man a glimpse of his nature and destiny, not only points out the line of the higher evolution, but puts him in possession of the means of achieving it.
Looking back into the past the historian finds his sight speedily striking a mist and at last plunging into inky darkness. Bound down in fact by the influence of a ridiculous dogmatism which allows only some six thousand years for man's life on earth, he is unwilling to accept the old chronologies of the Egyptians or Hindus, and, while permitting the assumption of vast periods for geological changes, he is staggered by a few millions of years more or less when they are added to the length of time during which humanity has peopled the globe. The student of the ancient wisdom sees no reason, however, why he should doubt the statement made by his teachers on this subject, who say that the periods of evolution are endless.
The human races sweep round and round this planet as the cycles sweep resistlessly forward. Cave-dwellers, lake-dwellers, and those of a neolithic or any other age, appear and disappear over and over again, and in each of those we who now read, write and think of them were ourselves the very Egos whose past we are trying to trace. It is easy to prove that civilization of the highest order has periodically rolled around this globe and left traces great and small behind. Man's civilization has travelled around the globe many times, filling now one country and now another with populous places, creating an enormous metropolis here and another there.
If you inquire into Egyptian history, the most interesting because the most obscure, you will find, as the writers say, that the civilization seems to rise to the zenith at once. We do not see when it began. The civilization was so great it must have existed an enormous length of time to get to that height, so that we cannot trace it from its beginning, and it disappears suddenly from the sky; there is nothing of it left but the enormous remains which testify to these great things, for the ancient Egyptians not only made mummies in which they displayed the art of bandaging that we cannot better, but they had put everything to such a degree of specialization that we must conclude they had many centuries of civilization. There was a specialist for one eye and a specialist for the other, a specialist for the eyebrow, and so on. And what modern work is to be compared to the pyramid of Ghizeh?
North and South America were evidently the seats of ancient races and not the habitation of wild undeveloped men. The red man of the Northern one has all the appearance and beliefs of a once great race. He believes in one God, a Devachan or heaven of happy hunting after death. Some tribes have diagrams of how the world was formed and peopled, that strangely resemble the Hindu cosmogony, and their folklore bears deep marks of having come down from an older and better time. Following the course of exploration southwards, we find accumulating evidences all the way of a prior civilization now gone with the cyclic wave which brought it up. Central America is crowded with remains in stone and brick; and so on south still we discover similar proofs. In course of time these continents became what might be called arable land, lying waiting, recuperating, until the European streams of men began to pour upon it.
And what of the great temples and the awe-inspiring underground constructions in India and the rest of the East; of those buildings cut out of solid mountains with mathematical precision? The caves of Ellora and Elephanta contain immense images and carvings which would do credit to this day. The caves of Kailas are 401 feet deep and 185 feet wide. Inside is a conical pagoda 100 feet high, with a music gallery, five large chapels, a large court, and a colonnade. Three immense elephants are there cut from the stone. An image of Lakshmi reposes with two elephants standing on their hind legs as if pouring water over her. A passage then opens right and left. Thirty feet on there are two obelisks carved, being 41 feet high and 11 feet square. Thirty feet more and you find a great pagoda carved inside and out. There are sixteen pillars, twenty-two pilasters, and five entrances. The roof is carved to represent cross-beams, and each pillar is different from the other. At Ajunta are twenty-seven cut caves. Can these be the work of people whose beliefs tend to stagnate human effort? I think not.
As Orientalists and archaeologists have abundantly shown, it is known that our fables come from India, that the Greeks drew much from that source, and that we are indebted to her for more than we have yet been able to acknowledge. Many Western minds have been delving into the Upanishads and Vedas, and every day there is growing more and more a widespread interest in ideas purely Hindu in their origin. Prof. Max Müller in his Cambridge Lectures upon India said:If I were asked under what sky the human mind has most fully developed some of its choicest gifts, has most deeply pondered on the greatest problems of life, and has found the solution of some of them which well deserve the attention even of those who have studied Plato and Kant -- I should point to India. And if I were to ask myself from what literature we here in Europe, we who have been nurtured almost exclusively on the thoughts of Greeks and Romans, and of one Semitic race, the Jewish, may draw that corrective which is most wanted in order to make our inner life more perfect, more comprehensive, more universal, in fact more truly human, a life not for this life only, but a transfigured and eternal life -- again I should point to India. ... I am thinking chiefly of India such as it was a thousand, two thousand, it may be three thousand, years ago. That India is full of problems the solutions of which concern all of us.Just as Prof. Müller says, I am not thinking of the Indian people of today, but of the minds of her past who have left to us an enormous mass of records of their studies and solutions of the greatest problems that can engage the attention of the human mind.
Let us then make use of the material in the ancient storehouse of India, treasures that no man can be called a thief for taking, since the truths acquired by the mind respecting man's life, conduct, constitution, and destiny are the common property of the human race, a treasure that is lost by monopoly and expanded by dissemination.
The Adepts insist that there are still in the earth bony remains of man which carry his first appearance in a dense body many millions of years farther back than have yet been admitted, and these remains will be discovered by us before much time shall have rolled away. One of the first results of these discoveries will be to completely upset the theory as to the succession of ages, as I may call it, which is given and accepted at the present time, and also the estimation of the various civilizations that have passed from the earth and left no trace except in the inner constitution of ourselves.
Of course, in order to be able to accept in any degree these theories, it is essential that one should believe in the twin doctrines of Karma and Reincarnation.
COMPILER'S NOTE: The following is a separate item which followed the above article but was on the same page. I felt it was useful to include it here:
If one is truly ready within oneself and prepared to commit one's readiness without question to the deed that follows naturally on it, one finds life and circumstance surprisingly armed and ready at one's side.
--LAURENS VAN DER POST
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(1) NOTE.--This article is collated from the writings of William Q. Judge.
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