THEOSOPHY, Vol. 45, No. 12, October, 1957
(Pages 552-558; Size: 23K)



[Part 2 of a 2-part series]

NOTE.--This article is a collation from standard Theosophical books and from unsigned articles in THEOSOPHY. [Compiler's note: This is a copy of article number 69 of the 166 that are found in the "Introductory", "Setting the Stage" book on this web site.]
WHAT is called talent is usually a partial and unsymmetrical awakening of the soul from the domination of the senses. Talent does with ease that which mediocrity accomplishes with great difficulty, if at all. In the ordinary life of the world nothing short of real genius carries man out of himself and suggests the real nature of his being. Genius does with ease that of which mediocrity never even dreams, and of which no mere talent is capable. Genius dreams of the true, and gets glimpses of the essential being. Mediocrity follows; talent commands; genius knows and seldom stops to reason; it is beyond reason.

Mediocrity has little of either reminiscence or intuition, but may develop physical memory very largely. Talent has flashes of intuition, but is rather bias than illumination, a withdrawal of perceptions and faculties from other realms, to concentrate them on one sphere. Genius is another name for reminiscence, an ecstasy of inward vision, the essence of many memories, the synthesis of former experiences.

Experience relates to feeling and consciousness; memory to time and sense. Never until consciousness is severed from time and liberated from sense, does man realize that he is.

It is curious to read Schopenhauer and Hartmann and mark how, step by step, by strict logic and pure reason, they arrive at the same bases of thought that had been centuries ago adopted in India, especially by the Vedantin System. It may, however, be objected that they have arrived at this by the inductive method. But in Schopenhauer's case at any rate it was not so. He acknowledges himself that the idea came to him like a flash; having thus got his fundamental idea he set to work to arrange his facts, so that the reader imagines that what was in reality an intuitive idea, is a logical deduction drawn from the facts.

This is not only true of the Schopenhauerian philosophy, but also of all the great discoveries of modern times. How, for instance, did Newton discover the law of gravity? Was it not by the simple fall of an apple, and not by an elaborate series of experiments. The time will come when the Platonic method will not be so entirely ignored and men will look with favour on methods of education which will enable them to develop this most spiritual faculty.

Professor Roscoe, visiting Kirchhoff and Bunsen when they were making their great discoveries of the nature of the Fraunhoffer lines, says that it flashed upon his mind at once that there is iron in the sun; therein presenting one more evidence to add to a million predecessors, that great discoveries usually come with a flash, and not by induction. There are many more flashes in store for us.

As the astral light(1) preserves the pictures of all past events and things, and as there is nothing new under the sun, the appliances, the ideas, the philosophy, the arts and sciences of long buried civilizations are continually being projected in pictures out of the astral into the brains of living men. This gives a meaning not only to the oft-recurring "coincidence" of two or more inventors or scientists hitting upon the same ideas or inventions at about the same time and independently of each other, but also to other events and curious happenings.

The methods of Modern Science, however exact, must end in nullity. In no one branch can it demonstrate the origin and ultimate of things. Instead of tracing the effect from its primal source, its progress is the reverse. Its higher types, it teaches, are all evolved from antecedent lower ones. It starts from the bottom of the cycle, led on step by step in the great labyrinth of Nature, by a thread of Matter. As soon as this breaks, the clue is lost, and it recoils in affright from the Incomprehensible, and confesses itself powerless. Not so did Plato and his disciples. With them, as with us, the lower types were but the concrete images of the higher types. The Spirit, which is immortal, has an arithmetical, as the body has a geometrical, beginning. This beginning, as the reflection of the great universal Archaeus, is self-moving, and from the centre diffuses itself over the whole body of the microcosm.

Professor Jowett, in his introduction to the Timaeus, honestly remarks that the modern Physical Philosopher hardly allows to his notions the merit of being "the dead men's bones" out of which he has himself risen to a higher knowledge; forgetting how much the Metaphysics of olden times have helped the "physical" Sciences of the present day. If, instead of quarrelling with the insufficiency and at times the absence of strictly scientific terms and definitions in Plato's works, we analyze them carefully, the Timaeus alone will be found to contain within its limited space the germs of every new discovery.

Plato was right. Ideas rule the world; and as men's minds will receive new ideas, laying aside the old and effete, the world will advance, mighty revolutions will spring from them, creeds and even powers will crumble before their onward march, crushed by their irresistible force. It will be just as impossible to resist their influence when the time comes as to stay the progress of the tide. But all this will come gradually on, and before it comes we have a duty set before us: that of sweeping away as much as possible the dross left to us by our pious forefathers. New ideas have to be planted on clean places, for these ideas touch upon the most momentous subjects. It is not physical phenomena, but these universal ideas, that we study; as to comprehend the former, we have to understand the latter. They touch man's true position in the universe in relation to his previous and future births, his origin and ultimate destiny; the relation of the mortal to the immortal, of the temporary to the eternal, of the finite to the infinite; ideas larger, grander, more comprehensive, recognizing the eternal reign of immutable law, unchanging and unchangeable, in regard to which there is only an Eternal Now: while to uninitiated mortals, time is past or future, as related to their finite existence on this material speck of dirt. This is what we study and what many have solved.

Plato says that long before man built his cities, in the golden age, there was naught but happiness on earth, for there were no needs. (But later), when the world had ceased to be governed and the gods retired, "ferocious beasts devoured a portion of mankind. Left to their own resources and industry, inventors then appeared among them successively and discovered fire, wheat, etc.; and public gratitude defiled them." And mankind was right, as fire by friction was the first mystery of nature, the first and chief property of matter that was revealed to man.

The Secret Doctrine explains and expounds that which Plato says, for it teaches that those "inventors" were gods and demi-gods (Devas and Rishis) who had become -- some deliberately, some forced to by Karma -- incarnated in man.

"Fruits and grains, unknown to Earth to that day, were brought by the 'Lords of Wisdom' for the benefit of those they ruled -- from other lokas (spheres)" say the Commentaries. Now: "The earliest inventions (?) of mankind are the most wonderful that the race has ever made. The first use of fire, and the discovery of the methods by which it can be kindled; the domestication of animals; and, above all, the processes by which the various cereals were first developed out of some wild grasses (?) -- these are all discoveries with which, in ingenuity and importance, no subsequent discoveries may compare. They are all unknown to history -- all lost in the light of an effulgent dawn."

If it is asserted that there are no grains and fruits unknown to earth, then we may remind the reader that wheat has never been found in the wild state: it is not a product of the earth. All the other cereals have been traced to their primogenital forms in various species of wild grasses, but wheat has hitherto defied the efforts of botanists to trace it to its origin. And let us bear in mind, in this connection, how sacred was that cereal with the Egyptian priests; wheat being placed even with their mummies, and found thousands of years later in their coffins.

Although to us Egypt appears in the historical sky as a full-risen sun, she 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. The development of the American nation has a mysterious but potent connection with the wonderful past of the Atlanteans, and is one of those great stories outlined in the book of fate.

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 -- who were concerned so many ages since in developing and bringing it to its final lustre. In fact, we, 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, whose name is forever set immortal in the Atlantic Ocean.

We are, as yet, only preparers, much as we may exalt our plainly crude American 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 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. 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.

Now, the process of forming the foundation, or great spinal column, for that race which is to usher in the sixth, and which is now going on in the Americas, is a slow process for us. Obliged as we are by our inability to judge or to count except by relativity, the gradual coming together of nations and the fusion of their offspring over and over again so as to bring forth something new in the human line, is so gradual as to seem almost without progress. But this change and evolution go on nevertheless, and a very careful observer can see evidences of it. One fact deserves attention. It is the inventive faculty displayed by Americans. This is not accorded much force by our scientists, but the Occultist sees in it an evidence that the brains of these inventors are more open to influences and pictures from the astral world than are the brains of the older nations. There is more nervousness here than in the older nations. This is accounted for by the hurry and rush of our civilization; but such an explanation really explains nothing because the question yet remains, "Why is there such hurry and push and change in the United States?" Such ordinary arguments go in a circle, since they leave out of sight the fundamental reason, so familiar to the Theosophist, that it is human evolution going on right before our eyes in accordance with cyclic laws.

As man's civilization has traveled around the globe many times, filling now one country and now another with populous places, creating an enormous metropolis here and another there, his influence has been left on nearly every spot upon the earth, and that as well upon lands now beneath the seas as on those above them. If we can imagine the first coming of a population to a place never before inhabited, the old theory asks us to believe that certain classes of elementals -- called devas generically by the Hindus -- are gathered over the place and present pictures of houses, of occupations, of busy life on every hand, and, as it were, beckon to the man to stay and build. These "fairies," as the Irish call them, at last prevail, and habitations are erected until a city springs up. During its occupation the pictures in the astral light are increased and deepened until the day of desertion, when the genii, demons, elementals, or fairies have the store of naturally impressed pictures in the ether to add to their own. These remain during the abandonment of the place, and when man comes that way again the process is repeated. The pictures of buildings and human activity act telepathically upon the new brains, and the first settlers think they have been independent thinkers in selecting a place to remain. So they build again and again.

Going deep into geological strata, the doubt of man's existence contemporaneously with the plesiosaurus arises because no fossil genus homo is discovered in the same stratum. It is here that the theories of the Theosophist come in and furnish the key. Those hold that before man developed any physical body he clothed himself with an astral form; and this is why H. P. Blavatsky writes in her Secret Doctrine: "it teaches the birth of the astral before the physical body, the former being the model for the latter."

Man threw off astral bodies one after another, in the ceaseless pursuit, each effort giving him a little more density. Then he began to cast a shadow, as it were, and the vast, unwieldy animal world -- and others as well -- felt more and more the draughts made upon it by the coming man. As he thickened they grew smaller, and his remains could not be deposited in any stratum until such time as he had grown to sufficient hardness. But our modern anthropologists have not yet discovered when that was. They are ready enough to make definite statements, but, learned as they are, there are surprises awaiting them not so far off.

While, therefore, our explorers are finding, now and then, the remains of animals and birds and reptiles in strata which show an age far greater than any assigned to the human race, they never come upon human skeletons. How could man leave any trace at a stage when he could not press himself into the clay or be caught by soft lava or masses of volcanic dust? The question of exact period may well be left for a more detailed account; this is only to point to the law and to the explanation for the non-appearance of man's remains in very early geologic strata. But the Theosophic 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.

One of the first results of these discoveries will be to completely upset the theory as to the succession of ages 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 -- for it is held that we are those very persons, now in different bodies, who so long ago lived and loved and died upon the planet. We began to make Karma then and have been under its influence ever since.

The arts and sciences are like the Phoenix of old: they die but to revive. And when the question found on page 58 of Esoteric Buddhism concerning "the curious rush of human progress within the last two thousand years," was first propounded, Mr. Sinnett's correspondent might have made his answer more complete by saying: "This rush, progress, and the abnormal rapidity with which one discovery follows the other, ought to be a sign to human intuition that what you look upon in the light of 'discoveries' are merely re-discoveries, which, following the law of gradual progress, you make more perfect, yet in enunciating, you are not the first to explain them." We learn more easily that which we have heard about, or learnt in childhood. If as averred, the Western nations have separated themselves from the great Aryan stock, it becomes evident that the races that first peopled Europe were inferior to the root-race(2) which had the Vedas and the pre-historic Rishis. That which your far-distant forefathers had heard in the secrecy of the temples was not lost. It reached their posterity, which is now simply improving upon details.

Every new discovery made by modern science vindicates the truths of the archaic philosophy. The true occultist is acquainted with no single problem that esoteric science is unable to solve, if approached in the right direction; the scientific bodies of the West have as yet no phenomena of natural science that they can fathom to its innermost depths, or explain in all its aspects. The occultist, arguing from admitted metaphysical data, declares that the daring explorer, who would probe the innermost secrets of Nature, must transcend the narrow limitations of sense, and transfer his consciousness into the region of noumena and the sphere of primal causes.

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COMPILER'S NOTE: I added these footnotes; they were not in the article. If any of them don't paint an accurate enough picture, or are incorrect, I hope the Editors of THEOSOPHY magazine will spot them and point the inaccuracies out to me, so that I can make the necessary corrections.

(1) "Astral" means the Electro-Magnetic spectrum at every level. The "Astral Body" is the electromagnetic design body that the physical molecules adhere to in the building up of every form, in every kingdom, on the physical plane. The theosophical "Astral Light" is the "Ether" of modern science. It is the source of the idea known as the "Recording Angel" -- because every thought, word, and deed is recorded, stored, and magnetically reflected back to its source at a dynamically proper time: in other words, when conditions naturally warrant or permit it. We call this Karma, or Lawful action and reaction. All of us are also magnets for imprints in the "Astral Light" which were put there by others and which are similar to us in character. So we constantly affect and infect each other in this way -- for good or for bad.
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(2) A "Root-Race" is contained within a much longer evolutionary period (or cycle) called a Manvantara, which has a beginning and an ending. In the present Manvantara, we are in the evolutionary period of humanity known as the Fifth Sub-Race of the Fifth Root-Race (which is also known as the Fifth Race). A Manvantara is many millions of years long. Within that immense period there are seven Root-Races, each of which is divided into seven "Sub-Races", which are each divided into seven "Family-Races. It is always cycles within cycles. The shortest of these cycles is about 30,000 years. There is always a long period of overlapping as one racial period of humanity's evolutionary development blends into the next one. But it is we, each eternal soul, and all of us together, who are going through all of these evolutionary periods over and over again, incarnation after incarnation, from age to age, with no final end to this cosmic process.
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