Jena's Rants
2001-08-14 14:38:46 (UTC)

Part One: Helping To Bring It Full Circle (so to speak)

The doctrine of cycles is a most important, fascinating,
and illuminating subject as it is presented in theosophical
teachings. In studying it, we find that here is a logical
and comprehensive law which not only bears an intimate
relation to our daily lives, but also has a universal range
of operation. It not only concerns the details of our whole
life, but it applies to everything and to every being in
the universe. In short, the law of cyclic recurrences
proves to be the principle or regulator for timing the
events and operations of everything, visible and invisible,
in mind and in matter, in time and in space. We find in it,
at last, a reason why things happen when they do. The
ancients well understood the vast sweep of the natural law
of periodicity, and they included it in the cosmic scheme
of unity when they said: "as it is above, so it is below."
H. P. Blavatsky pointed out that it taught

the absolute universality of that law of periodicity, of
flux and reflux, ebb and flow, which physical science has
observed and recorded in all departments of nature. An
alternation such as that of Day and Night, Life and Death,
Sleeping and Waking, is a fact so common, so perfectly
universal and without exception, that it is easy to
comprehend that in it we see one of the absolutely
fundamental laws of the universe. -- The Secret Doctrine
Cycles are so common that we take them for granted as much
as we do the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the
solid earth under our feet. We cannot imagine what our
world would be like without the familiar repetition of
light and darkness every twenty-four hours, of the year's
regular seasons -- these things that keep pace with the
planet's daily rotation and its yearly course around the
sun. We, too, follow the same rhythmic course of action,
going to sleep at night and awakening next morning for
another turn of activity. Likewise, on a larger scale, we
round out a lifetime. We begin with the misty dawn of
infancy which, merging into childhood's awakening, expands
into youth's bright morning, and so on to the noonday
meridian of mature years. Next comes the turn on the arc of
that one life, and we gradually slow down, to sink to rest
with the lengthening shadows of old age. But the pulsations
of the spiritual self deep within us never cease, whether
we are imbodied here or are freed from earth. When death
releases us from the body, then a new cycle of rebirth
begins in the soul's homeland.

After death, our better self awakens in higher realms of
being where it is infilled with beautiful visions and
blissful, refreshing rest that give strength and courage
for another term of earth-life lessons. Thus we come back,
again and again, with a newborn infant's fresh body and
brain, ready for another round in working out our splendid
destiny. Meantime, our uncounted lives are like small
epicycles on the majestic arc of the solar system's
lifetime. Thus, likewise, do countless universes come into
being. After their vast cosmic sweep of a manifested life
period reaches its apex, the movement is set toward the end
of that wheeling. Finally, the imbodiment of the whole
universe dissolves in the ocean of space for a cosmic rest
wherein all prepare for another grander round of
manifesting life. "As it is below, so it is above."

In the passing moments we see the time-atoms, so to say,
the revolving units of time measure. Their rhythmic
recurrences are like pulsations of time flowing steadily
during the life period of a universe with all its
interrelated wheels within wheels of time, space, and
consciousness. The human pilgrim is a spark of the divine
flame, descending through all realms of matter, to reascend
through a perfected humanhood to godhood, cycling back to

A cycle means a ring or turning. It is not a closed ring,
but a continuous rounding course, expanding and advancing,
so that the path of its previous round is covered with a
broader sweep of progress. The form of a cycle is somewhat
like a circular stairway whereon, in going up or down, we
are always above or below the level of the preceding step,
or of the several steps that are covered in one round.
Another form of a cycle's course is seen in the way the
thread of a screw winds around and up from its small
starting point. A typical example of cyclic growth is found
in the expanding curves of the chambered nautilus, and even
in the shape of the common snail shell. A craftsman will
find suggestive lines in a spiral spring, or will see a
more perfect symbol in the progressive curves of a helix

However, no symbolic form can begin to picture the
intricate movement and complex character of the countless
wheels within wheels of time, of conditions, and of
conscious unfolding life, that are always operating
together. Universal motion follows a spiral course upon all
planes of being, physical and superphysical. The same
evolutionary pathway is continued through the material,
mental, and spiritual realms. Does not the run of everyday
life show the interplay of the activity of the human body,
mind and spirit?

The greater cycles include numerous lesser ones of various
sizes, characters, and interacting influences, as we shall
see. There is nothing haphazard in all this, because
everything moves with the coordinate precision of
intelligent guidance. We are in a universe of natural law
and order. We know that nature does not move by disorderly
and causeless leaps and bounds. The child does not grow up
in a day, nor does winter change to summer overnight. Each
thing and each event plays its part in some greater round,
by proceeding along its own course which is karmically
adjusted to the whole.

The general overlapping and intermingling of cycles stands
out clearly in the history of the great root-races. Here,
as elsewhere, the rule holds good. The close of one great
racial cycle merges into the beginning of a new racial
career; and this change occurs at the climax or greatest
round of activity of a third race's period of existence.
Thus, the later egos of the disappearing third root-race
mingled with the few forerunners of the fifth root-race at
the middle period of the fourth root-race. It is all as
natural as the familiar overlapping changes and events of
daily life. Yesterday, today, and tomorrow all run along in
a continued story. Our own sense of our identity, at its
full in the present, is also the meeting point of a
receding past self, and of an oncoming future selfhood.

As the racial cycles will be discussed later, we have a
more familiar example of overlapping and intermingling
spheres of influence here and now. The periodic recurrence
of karmic conditions from past lives explains much of the
puzzling state of our world's conditions. While our modern
civilization has reached a certain climax of a brilliant
intellectual and materialistic evolution, the old order of
things generally, in government, science, religion,
business, etc., is passing away. The struggles of the
outgoing cycle mingle with the birth-pangs of a new one
which will open the way for a saner and better balanced
progress. Those who are wise may read an open challenge in
the signs of the times. There is danger in holding back and
clinging to the outgrown standards of individual and
collective life. Those who invoke the finer forces of their
own nature will go forward, sharing in the mighty urge of
the current of universal life flowing onward through
everything and every creature.

In many ways, present conditions seem like repetitions of
those which prevailed in the heyday of Roman power and
knowledge, preceding the decline and fall of the empire.
There is the same lack of that equalizing spiritual growth
which is essential for the natural balance of great mental
and material gains. Evidently, we have also reached the
safe limits in our control of the forces of mind and
matter. These forces, neutral in themselves, are potent for
good or evil. Used for the benefit of humanity, they work
for the welfare of all; used selfishly, they react in
disintegration and destruction. We need not repeat the
mistakes of the past. The time has come for humanity to
become more wholly human by bringing forth the finer and
nobler qualities and powers from within its own nature.

Without question, the present time is a critical one. But
if we face the responsibility of it, open-eyed and
honestly, it is seen as a time of unusual opportunity.
Human beings are essentially spiritual beings who can
control the energies which their selfishness operates for
their own undoing. We can transfer the same power into
vitalizing a better and more timely order of world affairs.
For a new cycle of inner light and peace and progress is
already dawning behind the obscuring storm clouds which
darken the outlook.

The Masters of wisdom foresaw the present chaotic world
conditions, basing their knowledge on, and timing their
work with, the law of cycles. They sent their messenger, H.
P. Blavatsky, to prepare people for the inevitable
confusion of a transition period. She founded the
Theosophical Society through which to bring back to us the
forgotten truth of our divine birthright which unites all
in a universal brotherhood. In the light of mankind's
common origin, mutual interests, and final destiny, it is
time to leave childish things behind, and to go forward
with the new cycle, working with the great scheme.

While the twentieth century has been speeding up its pace,
astronomers tell us that our planetary home -- the "good
earth" -- is also entering into a new region on its journey
through space. Mother Earth is bringing us where the
influence of Aquarius reigns in that twelve-spoked wheel
called the zodiac. In fact, everything is moving on a
conical, spiral pathway onward. That is why it is
impossible for anything, however tiny or however vast its
pathway may be, to return into itself like a closed ring.
Think of our moon in its monthly pathway around the earth,
which, in its turn, is moving along its yearly cycle around
the glorious sun whose orbit encircles a greater center of
a galaxy that is wheeling its majestic way through
illimitable space. Every heavenly body is following the
broader sweep of some other progressing center. In this
eternal motion of a divine mechanism, there are endless
wheels within wheels within wheels, all moving with a
universal plan of purpose. The picture is too vast for the
mind to grasp it. But it is evident that at any point
reached by a celestial sphere, its orbit is somewhat
further along in the cosmos than it was on its preceding
round. "End there is none, nor was there beginning."

It is a stimulating and liberating thought that we are all
journeying through the universe in such good company, for
every planet and sun and star is the body or dwelling of
some bright celestial being. "A friendly universe" is no
mere figure of speech, but is literal truth. The whole
scheme of things is so perfect, so just, and so natural,
that the only question is: How could it be otherwise?


Chapter 2
Man and Nature Allied in Cyclic Progress
There is a purpose in every important act of Nature, whose
acts are all cyclic and periodical. -- The Secret Doctrine
Nature repeats herself everywhere. She follows grooves of
action that have already been made; she follows the line of
least resistance in all cases and everywhere. And it is
upon this repetitive action of our Great Mother --
universal nature -- that is founded the law of cycles,
which is the enacting of things that have been before,
although each such repetition, as said, is at each new
manifestation on a higher plane and with a larger sweep or
field of action. -- Man in Evolution, chapter 13
Nature moves like a great wheel, ever turning round and
round, so that as it goes forward in time and space, each
of its spokes takes its regular turn in moving upward,
forward, downward and backward. As the whole wheel of the
universe rolls onward, every atom of it gains ground and
experience, and also adds its impulse to the common urge
forward. This evolutionary urge in mankind is naturally
quickened, in greater or less degree, by mind and self-
consciousness. Thus we are able to help things below us, as
we in turn are helped by wiser, greater beings.

At first thought, this sweeping picture of progress may
seem too vague and unfamiliar to interest or concern us,
even if we could understand it. Of course, the details of
our universe are beyond human comprehension. Nevertheless,
the law of cycles is so evident in its universal operation
that it proves the unity of man and nature, both evolving
with a common purpose. The evidence of an ever recurring
movement stands out clearly in the flow of everyday
affairs. We have only to recognize the cyclic law operating
before our eyes, to understand how it works likewise in
vast horizons beyond our vision. Does not the periodical
recurrence of night and day -- a time for sleeping and
waking -- prove itself? This familiar example, so simple to
us, involves the working of the whole earth turning once --
an enormous move which is timed to the minute. It goes
without saying that no one could begin to understand how
that one turn of the earth affected everything upon it. Of
all the lands and waters, plants, beasts, and men, nothing
is exactly the same as it was on the previous morning. The
point is, that all moved together, each of the countless
things moving in its own cycle of experience within that
one turning of the earth wheel. By analogy, we may grasp
the idea that this working of the universal rule of spiral
pathways is as simple and as comprehensive as the child's A
B C's and the multiplication table. The same letters
learned in the primer are used by wise men to spell out the
profoundest truths; while the digits we use in petty
personal accounts work accurately in enormous mathematical

Today science is moving with the new cycle, in careful
studies of the recurring conditions, not only in the
various departments of nature forces and phenomena, but
likewise in the course of human affairs. Science is
becoming keenly conscious of the close relation of all its
researches to everyday life and to the present and future
welfare of mankind. Furthermore, there is a growing move to
verify the findings of a periodicity in one field of study
by comparison with the reported evidence of cycles in other
lines of investigation. The deeper these researches go, the
more clearly there is revealed an underlying unity of man
and nature. For instance, those strange sunspots are being
studied in relation to the weather, growth of vegetation,
wars, business fluctuations, radio reception, etc., etc.

Periodicity is being observed and recorded in the
occurrence of floods, droughts, famines, diseases,
calamities, magnetic storms, auroras, earthquakes; also in
the appearance of great men, and in eras of advances and
recessions in the arts and sciences; in the rise and fall
of nations and of whole civilizations; in the change of
continental coastlines and mountains slowly rising or
sinking; in ice ages that came and went, leaving evidence
of past eras of tropical climates in high latitudes; in the
seasonal habits of animals, and what not. This scientific
interest is echoed by the popular press. This opens the way
for more knowledge of the ancient law of cycles which is
the natural key-motion everywhere.

No scientific training is needed, or even much imagination,
to see that recurring changes in the earth itself are
inevitably reflected upon the life of its inhabitants. This
fact comes home to us as being interesting enough. And the
evidence that humanity and nature are interrelated, and are
evolving under the same law, is as simple as it is
comprehensive. The working of the periodic law may be
followed either way, from small to large issues and vice

Consider the recurrent "events" of time, of matter, and of
conscious life. First, take the revolving atoms making the
molecules which, united in cells, form the organs making
the whole human body which lasts a lifetime; at death, the
atoms disperse, revolve through other forms of earth
matter, and when the individual is due to begin another
round of incarnation, they come together to help build his
new body. Next, take the conscious life-spark -- the inner
self -- evolving through the unfolding body of the embryo,
the infant, the child, the youth, the adult, then leaving
the aged body, and passing from life here to begin a cycle
of existence in ethereal realms. Meantime, the passing
moments have become hours, days, weeks, years, which, in
turn, go on to become centuries, solar lifetimes, complete
rounds of a universe, and so on.

These minute cycles of the "atoms" of time, of conscious,
unfolding life, and of matter, are the working in the small
of what is summed up scientifically as time-space
continuum. From this unity at the summit of a universal
circuit, the units begin to separate and to cycle down the
progressive series of levels to the place of minutest
rounds. Considered in the large or in the small, all follow
the one plan of progress: matter becomes more perfect
material; small time cycles become vast periods; and
reimbodying man brings forth more of his real, his immortal
self. A living force circulating everywhere vitalizes
everything into "becoming" more of itself.

It is the one life itself which is ever coming and going in
all the different forms of substances. It is destined to an
endless round of creation, preservation, and destruction of
its forms. In recognizing this fact, some deep thinkers
have summed up the secrets of nature as motion. To this,
theosophy adds that this universal movement is responsive
to the rhythm of a cosmic heartbeat. Each entity's response
to this vital central impulse is its own key number of
pulsations. Some rate of vibration is present in all the
inner and outer spheres of life above, below, around, and
within us. Science defines the subtle forces of x-rays,
infrared and ultraviolet light, radio waves, etc., in the
special vibratory rates of each. We all know that the
different vibratory rates of light waves take the form of
prismatic colors, and that we hear a series of sound waves
in the musical scale. Do not we ourselves have an
individual rate of vibration which is variously in tune or
out of tune with conditions and people around us?

There is cosmic intelligence back of a sublime purpose
which keys human destiny with that of universal Mother
Nature. The wise ancients understood this mystic truth,
both in its simple and in its expanded meanings. They saw a
universal law working in everything and in every creature.
A living test of its reality was spread abroad for all who
had eyes to see -- as it still is. It was taught of old
that, because man was an inseparable part of the universe,
he was involved in, and concerned with, all natural
processes. This knowledge of "things as they are" freed man
from the dread of death, and from all fear of a hereafter
of suffering, or of final oblivion. He had no fear of the
Unknown while feeling his oneness with the sun and stars,
as well as with the whole unfolding panorama of his earth
home. That untroubled time was in the Golden Age when the
world was young. Now it sounds like a fairy story. Well,
the fairy stories and legends that our children love are
based upon realities that surrounded our racial childhood.
If those ideals had never been real to us, how could we
respond to them as we do at heart, and thus keep them alive
from age to age in myth and legend?

A few of our most intuitive philosophers and scientists are
beginning to realize that there must be a unity, even a
conscious oneness, underlying all things. This recognition
of natural truth was anticipated in the theosophical
teachings in the nineteenth century. Then H. P. Blavatsky's
The Secret Doctrine repeated the forgotten story of the
origin and destiny of mankind, of the planet, and of the
universe. She came because the time was ripe for us to
regain something of our forgotten birthright of the larger
truth. In this period -- our Iron Age -- we have lost sight
of a wonderful heritage from a far-off past. We have become
divorced from nature. This has stunted our finer growth,
and has blurred our outlook on all life. Mentally, we have
withdrawn from our place as the beings who were to play the
human part in this planetary drama. We seemingly stand
apart from nonhuman things, regarding them as somehow
alien, if not often hostile to us. Yet everything below us
on the ladder of life is on its way to become human, just
as we will outgrow the human stage, finally, and will reach
the level of the men-gods who preceded us. All are moving
together, on some round of a grand spiral pathway. All
share in a common welfare, so that everything is helped by
moving in unison with the whole. It is a friendly universe
at heart.

It was in the primeval plan that, at first, mankind and its
earth-home were cared for by divine instructors. It was a
spiritual parentage starting everything aright for infant
humanity. Then, when human beings became self-conscious,
and had knowledge of good and evil, they were made morally
responsible for the way they affected their good home. They
were given charge of all, because only in them were the
fires of mind lighted, giving them insight and reason.
Their bodies were made of the same stuff as that of Mother
Earth which was always to feed, clothe, and shelter them.
Also, the electromagnetic and other nature forces operated
in them, and put them in touch on inner lines with all
around him.

Nature's work was to upbuild every form of use and beauty
needed to imbody the invisible current of life cycling
through all the kingdoms. Gradually, earth's primeval
forces and materials operated to condense and bring out the
ethereal model forms which were ideals provided from higher
creative levels. These astral models of everything were --
as they still are -- links between the mental and the
material planes, and caused reactions between the two
realms. Thus, the material of earth was subtly affected by
the potent energies of conscious human thought and will and

From the first, because of mankind's intimate relation to,
and its dominion over, the subhuman kingdoms, nature,
perforce, has reacted to the influence and the quality of
its stewardship. Thus, its early childlike state was
reflected in a happy Garden of Eden atmosphere. Later, when
human beings gave rein to selfish thoughts and passions,
the air around them was charged with the disordered forces
of storms, disease, and enmity. The reality of this
forgotten kinship between the human master and the subhuman
kingdoms stands out in the history of the enormous cycles
of the rounds and races on successive continents. Our
recorded history also has its suitably timed examples. Was
it not human unsanitary dealings with the materials
imbodied in them and those of their surroundings, which
reacted in the mediaeval plagues? Does not the present
increase of mental and nervous diseases show the typical
reaction of highly-organized brain and nervous tissues to
the exhausting tension of modern life? Are not today's
upheavals in world politics, etc., reflected in unusually
disturbed nature forces?

Each new root-race began with a freshened earth, a
favorable climate, peace among men and between them and the
beasts. When a race, en masse, grew selfish, harsh, and
warring, the climate became austere, fertile lands became
deserts, and beasts turned hostile. Each root-race, in
serial order descending into material life, imprinted its
own quality upon the earth. The dominant quality of the
first root-race was that of the Golden Age; the second that
of the Silver Age; the third that of the Bronze Age; and
the fourth that of the Iron Age; but each individual root-
race evolved through the entire series of four periods.

Scientific students of the striking climatic and geologic
changes of past eras, naturally regard them as the factors
which compelled man to move with them. The larger truth,
however, is that whether the change was on an upward or a
downward cycle, the people affected were reaping what they
had sowed in their relations with each other and with
nature. The record might go back many lives. The karmic law
which used natural forces of earth to start the period that
was due for more or for less favorable conditions, also led
men to when and where they belonged. The egos were born in
fitting time and place, whether with an advancing or a
retreating Ice Age, or during geologic ups and downs. We
are not helpless pawns of the elements. We are relatively
free to mold things after our desires of mind and heart;
and, broadly speaking, we make our world what it is. Thus,
our creations, in karmically reflecting our general
character, give us a key to self-knowledge which is also
the key to nature's secrets.

H. P. Blavatsky struck a forgotten note of unity for our
discordant times when she said:

Humanity is the child of cyclic Destiny, and not one of its
Units can escape its unconscious mission, or get rid of the
burden of its co-operative work with Nature. -- The Secret
Doctrine 2:446
Even when this splendid truth of our human part in a cosmic
unity with all other things, is beyond the grasp of the
brain-mind, it is not beyond the range of the intuition.
The inner self remembers all that has gone before in its
other lives. It is of this store of knowledge that glimpses
are caught at times by the artist and poet. These glimpses
are not mere flights of fancy. Rather, they are the nature
lover's recognition that, veiled in forms other than human,
there vibrates a permeating quality of kinship with
something muted and unnamed within himself.

The poet longs for words that can tell others of his
oneness with a reality pervading earth, sea, and sky. But
it is beyond speech. It is an inner sense of unity only to
be felt by the man-child vibrating with the Mother Nature
with whom he has cycled down the ages on this earth. This
love of nature is rooted in the hoary past -- a spiritual
memory of a primeval alliance.

However, most of us are neither poets nor mystics. Logical
minds want matter-of-fact evidence that cycles are
operating everywhere. Well, it turns out that when we begin
to look around at familiar things, they speak for
themselves of recurring periodicity. Take fluid things
first: the ocean tides ebb and flow with clocklike
regularity all around the earth, like a great breath; the
waves break on the shore at about the rate that we breathe;
this rhythm is fixed beyond human power to change it. The
fresh waters moistening the earth, and taken up by the
transpiring plants to become cloud and rain and snow,
return upon their path to help the growing things that feed
and clothe and shelter us -- Mother Nature caring for us
always. The plant juices flow up from their busy roots, to
work with sunlight in perfecting growth and, directly or in
outer rounds, find their way back to earth. The life-sap of
orchard trees keeps time with the season for an annual
display of new leaves and flowers and fruit; and then it
flows down to rest before another period of outgo. Only a
unity of purpose could regulate the harmonious flow of
these steady waves and annual tides of life. The grass
blade no less than the giant tree has its own rate of
pulsation. These everyday mysteries are so common that we
overlook the wonder of them.

Even the lowly form of life in the common caterpillar soon
completes its period of crawling. Then it builds a little
cocoon retreat wherein it dissolves into a mere
protoplasmic jelly. Out of this shapeless mass it takes on
the form of a dainty butterfly, to begin an airy life-
round, sipping nectar from flowers. Its eggs are timed to
repeat this cycle of changing forms. This little thing's
rhythmic course is as wonderful, in its own way, as that of
the trade winds and the ocean currents which steadily
follow their own pathways of blow and flow.

We take it for granted that the returning seasons will reel
off the earth's picture of winter's cold merging into
spring's awakening of things to ripen into summer's growth,
and then the harvest home for the annual circuit of
experience and progress. Meantime, the large wheel of the
earth itself has rolled around its orbit, regulated so as
to pass the spring equinox with its exact fifty seconds'
gain in time. This tiny fraction of time is the germ, so to
say, of the Platonic great year, the cycle of 25,920 of our
years. The natural course of minute wheels within mighty
arcs, recalls the old Hermetic saying: "nothing is great,
nothing is small in the divine economy." Astronomers tell
of pulsating stars that dwarf our sun in size and splendor.
All the celestial bodies are timed with the cosmic clock
that regulates the revolving universe.

The so-called laws of nature are the rhythmic operation of
combined wills of great celestial beings working in harmony
with the divine will and its ideal purpose. We are,
literally, living cells in the organism of a great being,
much as we are the overlord and the law for the trillions
of cells that are evolving within our body. The same
pattern and purpose is working out everywhere.

This invisible but intelligent direction, operating with
such regularity in nature, explains what is not accounted
for by blind chance or natural selection or active chemical
combinations. For example, the encyclopedia speaks of the
migratory flight of birds as the mystery of mysteries. The
question is: How do these little creatures know when to
start, or where to go? How can they survive to find their
way across great distances without chance to stop for rest?
Sometimes the young broods, even on their first trip, go
apart by themselves on a separate route to the distant
nesting grounds. To say that these bird cycles are timed
by "instinct" does not explain so purposeful a thing. These
unself-conscious creatures instinctively respond to an old
impulse which was strongly impressed upon the species.

The idea that the Arctic region was the original home of
the bird species that breed there, has been coupled with a
pre-glacial period when the far north had a springtime
climate. This theory refers to those advances and
recessions of the last great Ice Ages which have left their
mark upon the body of the earth. The evidence of radical
changes is found in the fossils of plants and animals. Of
course, human life naturally flowed back and forth with the
movements of desolate ice sheets. Perhaps that strange lure
of the great white north, felt by some Arctic explorers, is
the stirring of an ancient memory of "home" when the race
was young. As migrating birds follow an old habit of
nature, something of an analogy lingers deep within some of
us human "birds of passage." How many of us have felt that
unreasoning lure to go back to the old homestead! Mature
men and women, absorbed in handling large affairs,
sometimes have a sudden urge to leave everything and
revisit a lowly birth-place. They long to be where their
infancy awoke in a warm home-nest, and their childhood
dawned in the tender light of parental love and care. Of
course, if they go back, they find everything changed -- as
they have changed. Their mood passes; but for the time, it
made the past seem more real than the present. Somehow,
they were stirred by a vagrant breeze from an early turn in
their present life cycle.

Another gesture of the subhuman creatures moving with the
high tides of reproductive life currents is seen in the
migration of some fishes and animals. The salmon that swim
thousands of miles upstream, arrive at the spawning grounds
thin and exhausted. They seem impelled to move with
repetitive habits impressed upon the early species. They
evidently retain the impress of a former habitat so old
that, meantime, the earth has changed its contours.

A similar nature-puzzle is the migration of the Northern
European lemming. At irregular intervals, multitudes of
these small rodents swarm down the mountains into the
lowlands in a straight course, devouring all vegetation in
their path. Enormous numbers swim into the sea where they
perish. This strange contradiction to the natural instinct
of self-preservation is accounted for by H. P. Blavatsky
who says:

Coming, as they do, from all parts of Norway, the powerful
instinct which survives throughout ages as an inheritance
from their progenitors impels them to seek a continent,
once existing but now submerged beneath the ocean, and to
court a watery grave. -- The Secret Doctrine 2:782
These sporadic gestures of animal life are hints of old
roads to yesterdays marked on the body of the earth.
Explorations of the ocean floors have revealed many old
submerged river valleys. Our own bodies likewise carry
remnants of organs now useless; but they are biological
evidence of wholly different states of human imbodiment in
early races. Nature's records all tell the consistent story
of a wonderful past that, deep within us, is linked with
the present, as islands are joined to the mainland under
the seas.


Chapter 3
Progressive Rounds and Races
Out of the ocean of time and forth from the ocean of life,
goes the manifestation of the race of men unto Life and
Light. Written it was of old, in the most ancient of books.
But the understanding of it is concealed from the eye and
the brain. -- From the Proem to the Popol Vuh (Ancient
According to the ancient teachings regarding the evolution
of humanity, there are seven root-races, of which we are in
the fifth. Our root-race, as such, began about 1,000,000
years ago, and we are now about midway along the course of
its wheeling. Each root-race is divided into seven
subraces, which, again, are divided into family races of
some 30,000 years' duration.

Each race and subrace passes through its own rounds of
birth, active maturity, and decline. The same periods mark
the course of the civilization of each subrace, as well as
the continued divisions of mankind into different nations,
states, communities, and family groups. Keeping pace with
these different cycles of human experience, there is an
increasing number of the manifesting forms and forces in
the realms of nature, as the spiritual man descends into
the matter of material life on earth.

This descent is called the shadowy arc of an evolutionary
cycle. At the midpoint or lowest level of this circuit, the
earth matter begins to refine, and the human egos start
their progressive ascent of the upward arc toward a lofty
state of spirituality. This is called a planetary
manvantara, which includes the entire forty-nine rounds of
the seven races of that humanity, and it marks the lifetime
of the earth itself. The ancient Hindus called this
planetary cycle a day of Brahma, a period of manifesting
life of 4,320,000,000 years. This bare outline of a
recurring cosmic time period shows the same rhythmic
movement in the great wheel that runs throughout the whole
earth-series of "events," even down to Shakespeare's "seven
ages of man." This universal law of progress, working
through alternating periods of activity and rest, points
out a unity of purpose in all evolution. H. P. Blavatsky
says of the relation of humanity to the earth:

it is a case of descent into matter, the adjustment -- in
both the mystic and the physical senses -- of the two, and
their interblending for the great coming "struggle of life"
that awaits both the entities. "Entity" may be thought a
strange term to use in the case of a globe; but the ancient
philosophers, who saw in the earth a huge "animal," were
wiser in their generation than our modern geologists are in
theirs; and Pliny, who called the Earth our kind nurse and
mother, the only element which is not inimical to man,
spoke more truly than Watts, who fancied that he saw in her
the footstool of God. For Earth is only the footstool of
man in his ascension to higher regions; . . . -- The Secret
Doctrine 1:154
Our earth has to live through seven rounds.

During the first three, it forms and consolidates; during
the fourth it settles and hardens; during the last three it
gradually returns to its first ethereal form: it is
spiritualized, so to say.
Its Humanity develops fully only in the Fourth -- our
present Round. Up to this fourth Life-Cycle, it is referred
to as "humanity" only for lack of a more appropriate term.
Like the grub which becomes chrysalis and butterfly, Man,
or rather that which becomes man, passes through all the
forms and kingdoms during the first Round and through all
the human shapes during the two following Rounds. Arrived
on our Earth at the commencement of the Fourth in the
present series of life-cycles and races, MAN is the first
form that appears thereon, being preceded only by the
mineral and vegetable kingdoms -- even the latter having to
develop and continue its further evolution through man. --
Ibid., 1:159
Though the Absolute from which universes come forth must
ever remain the unknown for the finite mind, yet we can
know somewhat of the periodical beginnings of manifestation
in the case of mankind and the earth. That, naturally, is
what concerns and interests us the most. The earth, then,
is the reimbodiment of the life-atoms, the forces, and the
conscious entities which animated the planetary chain of
the now dead moon. The life-waves of every kind, from
minerals to man, left the moon chain of globes when the
time came for its long interplanetary rest in space. This
planet's sleeping period was not unlike our regular nightly
habit of putting out the light and retiring into restful

When the cosmic clock struck at the dawn of another period
of manifestation, the atoms and forces of mind and matter
and spirit of the sleeping universe, all felt the urge to
come together again for a new "day" of planetary life. As
always, nature and mankind work together for the grand new
cycle. Just as the earth-to-be was at first "without form
and void," so the earliest forms of humans-to-be were vague
and ethereal. Then, when the inner self, cycling down
through ever denser grades of substance, became clothed in
a physical body, it was the earth that provided its "coats
of skin." These physical "coats" are what we wear today,
with the invisible astral model body within, cell for cell.

The material atoms that circulate through a human body take
on something of its conscious quality, which they retain as
they go forth with the outgoing cell. A pure and noble life
thus squares the account with nature for the stream of
atoms that unite to form the body. The plan in the
universal mind is to teach everything to work together. The
wise who have learned this, say:

Help Nature and work on with her; and Nature will regard
thee as one of her creators and make obeisance. -- The
Voice of the Silence
In keeping with the general plan, the earth is a sevenfold
entity. Therefore, with its seven different gradations of
substance and of character, the visible earth has six other
globes which roll with it in space. These make up what is
called the "earth chain" of globes. These correspond to the
different states of human consciousness which is destined
to function in our evolving sevenfold nature. Only our
gross body is visible to us, because we are functioning on
the solid fourth globe of the earth which our body
represents. The globes interpenetrating each other,
OUR EARTH" (The Secret Doctrine 1:166).

This subject is best regarded in its metaphysical and
spiritual aspect, which corresponds to the inner realm of
our being. Does not the invisible world of thought and
feeling interpenetrate the rounds of physical life? Also,
in dreamland do we not see and think and feel and act in a
realm where time and space and gravity are all keyed to
astral vibrations independent of known laws of physics?
Again, in deep, dreamless sleep, and in the ecstatic
visions of a saintly person, it is a spiritual world that
is entered. Mankind is destined, eventually, to cycle
consciously through all these "globes" adapted to the
different states of its own composite nature. Then, at the
end of the great planetary cycle, the perfected human
being's horizon will consciously include all his previous
rounds of experience.

The threefold evolutionary urge which manifests in mankind
as physical, mental, and spiritual unfolding, comes from
that divine-spiritual monadic influence or ray which is at
the heart of every thing and creature. The stream or mass
of human egos evolving on our planetary chain is limited,
though the actual quantity is incalculable for us. These
egos came from the moon chain as a "life wave" in
successive streams. The first river of "lives" began on the
first globe, A, and there went through seven long rounds of
evolution in bodies suited to that globe's state of matter.
As this stream passed on to globe B, or the second one,
another "river" of less progressed egos began their course
around A. In orderly sequence, all made the circuit of
globes which are usually called for convenience A B C D E F
and G.

Everything fits into its own time and place and conditions
in the cosmic drama which each humanity enacts in its turn.
Further details are given in The Secret Doctrine, and other
standard theosophical literature. W. Q. Judge gives a
thumbnail sketch in saying:

This journey went on for four cyclings round the whole, and
then the whole stream or army of Egos from the old Moon
Chain had arrived, and being complete, no more entered
after the middle of the Fourth Round. The same circling
process of these differently arrived classes goes on for
seven complete Rounds of the whole seven planetary centers
of consciousness, and when the seven are ended as much
perfection as is possible in the immense period occupied
will have been attained, and then this chain or mass
of "globes" will die in its turn to give birth to still
another series.
Each one of the globes is used by evolutionary law for the
development of seven races, and of senses, faculties and
powers appropriate to that state of matter: the experience
of the whole seven globes being needed to make a perfect
development. Hence we have the Rounds and Races. The Round
is a circling of the seven centers of planetary
consciousness; the Race the racial development on one of
those seven. There are seven races for each globe, but the
total of forty-nine races only makes up seven great races,
the special septenate of races on each globe or planetary
center composing in reality one race of seven constituents
or special peculiarities of function and power. -- The
Ocean of Theosophy
It is useless to attempt any account of the earlier
conditions of mankind and the globe. The life and the
matter of that time were wholly unlike anything we know of
now. H. P. Blavatsky states that only when we come to
consider our human race on our present fourth globe D, in
our fourth round, do the conditions become fairly
comprehensible to us.

A separate continent is described as being connected with
the long career of each of the great root-races. The first
continent has been called the Imperishable Sacred Land.
This is geographically at the north pole, and is destined
to last to the end of the planetary manvantara. Of this
mysterious cradle of the first humanity, very little is

The name chosen for the second continent was the
Hyperborean. It was "the land which stretched out its
promontories southward and westward from the North Pole to
receive the Second Race, and comprised the whole of what is
now known as Northern Asia." The oldest Greeks spoke of the
Hyperboreans dwelling somewhere far north, and visited
yearly by Apollo which, astronomically, was the sun, the
god of light.

Lemuria was the immense third continent which "once reigned
supreme over the Indian, Atlantic, and Pacific Oceans," and
was the home of the third root-race. The Lemurians were the
successors or progeny of the second root-race. They were
the same imbodying egos who had begun to cycle down into
earth-matter together. They had spent vast periods of time
in arriving at the stage where their gigantic astral bodies
were becoming "physicalized" in forms which were
progressively to consolidate and diminish in the
evolutionary course which led to the present conditions of
mankind. The continents were destroyed alternately by fire
and water. Lemuria's fate came through volcanic fires, from
a series of subterranean convulsions and the breaking
asunder of the ocean floors. For surviving remnants of
Lemuria we are referred to part of California, Australia
with its aborigines and primitive fauna and flora, and to
some of the islands "sown hither and thither on the face of
the Pacific."

Atlantis is the fourth continent, historically recorded in
the ancient traditions of all peoples. Its fate is told in
the Bible story of Noah and the Flood. Plato's famous
island of Atlantis was but the last fragment of it to be

The Fifth Continent was America; but, as it is situated at
the Antipodes, it is Europe and Asia Minor, almost coeval
with it, which are generally referred to by the Indo-Aryan
Occultists as the fifth. If their teaching followed the
appearance of the Continents in their geological and
geographical order, then this classification would have to
be altered. But as the sequence of the Continents is made
to follow the order of evolution of the Races, from the
first to the fifth, our Aryan Root-race, Europe must be
called the fifth great Continent. -- The Secret Doctrine
The great racial cycles overlapped, so that the history of
the first two really human races, that is, the last of the
Lemurians and the first of the future Atlanteans, is more
or less blended. The early third root-race was androgynous,
and "mindless" in the sense that its consciousness was more
intuitional than mental and physical. But, as the ages of
development passed by, the fires of mind were lighted by
manasaputras, lofty beings from higher spheres. The sexes
were separated; and the bodies acquired a bony framework,
the astral body becoming the inner model body -- the seat
of the five senses today. These evolutionary changes
explain the allegory of the "mental" sleep of Adam,
preceding the "separation" of the rib bone which became

The later Lemurians were ruled over by divine dynasties,
and these lofty rulers taught them the arts and sciences,
so that they "knew astronomy, architecture and mathematics
to perfection."

This primeval civilization did not, as one may think,
immediately follow their physiological transformation.
Between the final evolution and the first city built, many
hundred thousands of years had passed. Yet, we find the
Lemurians in their sixth subrace building their first rock-
cities out of stone and lava. One of such great cities of
primitive structure was built entirely of lava, some thirty
miles west from where Easter Island now stretches its
narrow piece of sterile ground, and was entirely destroyed
by a series of volcanic eruptions. -- The Secret Doctrine
As evidence of the knowledge and skill of these gigantic
builders, The Secret Doctrine points to the cyclopean ruins
and monuments scattered around the world. These
archaeological exhibits not only testify to extraordinary
strength and engineering skill in their builders, but hint
at more knowledge of potent, invisible forces than modern
man controls as yet. The further researches of archaeology,
geology, ethnology and of nature's finer forces, will unite
in confirming the ancient history of the human race, which
is handed down in universal traditions.

It was the "Golden Age" in those days of old, the age when
the "gods walked the earth, and mixed freely with the
mortals." Since then, the gods departed (i. e., became
invisible), and later generations ended by worshipping
their kingdoms -- the Elements.
. . . . . . .
Thus the first Atlantean races, born on the Lemurian
Continent, separated from their earliest tribes into the
righteous and the unrighteous; into those who worshipped
the one unseen Spirit of Nature, the ray of which man feels
within himself -- or the Pantheists, and those who offered
fanatical worship to the Spirits of the Earth, the dark
Cosmic, anthropomorphic Powers, with whom they made
alliance. These were the earliest Gibborim, "the mighty men
of renown in those days" (Gen. vi); who become with the
Fifth Race the Kabirim: Kabiri with the Egyptians and the
Phoenicians, Titans with the Greeks, and Rakshasas and
Daityas with the Indian races.
Such was the secret and mysterious origin of all the
subsequent and modern religions. . . . -- The Secret
Doctrine, 2:273-4
Here, in a word, is the explanation of how men brought evil
into the world. When their eyes were opened by spiritual
guides, they were gifted with the light of mind which gave
them a knowledge of good and evil. Even in the third root-
race, a number used their free will in choosing to follow
the right-hand path of light. Some of their brothers turned
and followed the left-hand path of shadows. These latter
consistently misused their power and knowledge, life after
life. They were the Lemuro-Atlanteans who "became tall with
pride." They used their control over nature forces for
selfish ambition and evil ends. They became a mighty race
of sorcerers, ever at war with their righteous brothers.
The conflict continued, age after age, as humanity
descended into denser levels of matter, up to the middle of
the Atlantean cycle. By that time the root-race had
developed a brilliant civilization very largely of black

In the end, after minor submersions extending for several
million years, the evildoers went down with the last watery
cataclysm. Meantime, their wiser brothers had separated
from them, and, under spiritual guides, had migrated to
distant lands that escaped the deluge. From these migrants
came the beginnings of the present fifth or so-called Aryan
root-race, which includes virtually all the human beings
living on earth today. The germ of our present root-race
dates back to the middle of the Atlantean cycle. Likewise,
the germ of the subrace of the sixth root-race is even now
stirring among us.

The unfortunate evil Atlantean egos were self-doomed to
pass ages of repeated incarnations suffering the effects of
their past evildoings. Bereft by karma of the mental and
spiritual gifts they had betrayed, many of them were
reduced to abject ignorance and degradation. On every hand,
the united working of karma, reincarnation, and cycles
points to the original purpose of bringing everything up to
a balanced state of perfection. In the lower kingdoms,
under nature's direction, things run more true to type than
do men as the ideal of human possibilities. As a rule, our
best traits and our worst ones are inconsistent with a
balanced character. However, a day of reckoning is
inevitable -- the sooner the better for our own progress.
How often men and women of ability and worth seem held to
limited and distasteful conditions of life! Presumably,
they are reviewing some unbalanced account from previous
lives. W. Q. Judge explains that

in one life one may be in an advanced sub-race in
accordance with predominating qualities, but in that
incarnation may bring up certain defects or generate
certain causes requiring him to pass over next life to some
other less progressed sub-race for the purpose of
extirpating the defects or working off of causes.
In this way accurate adjustment, perfect development,
regularity and roundness are all amply provided for. -- The
Path 7:257
Would not the issues of such an experience be more easily,
contentedly and rapidly worked out if one knew the meaning
of the laws of his own being? Suppose we were aware that
something within us which does know, will rest at nothing
less than perfect work?


Chapter 4
Man's Body a Vast Sounding Board
Know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost,
which is in you? -- 1 Cor. 6:19
Every human organ and each cell in the latter has a
keyboard of its own, like that of a piano, only that it
registers and emits sensations instead of sounds. Every key
contains the potentiality of good or bad, of producing
harmony or disharmony. This depends on the impulse given
and the combinations produced; on the force of the touch of
the artist at work, a "double-faced Unity," indeed. -- H.
P. Blavatsky, Lucifer 7:181
Verily that body, so desecrated by Materialism and man
himself, is the temple of the Holy Grail, the Adytum of the
grandest, nay, of all, the mysteries of nature in our solar
universe. That body is an AEolian harp, chorded with two
sets of strings, one made of pure silver, the other of
catgut. -- Ibid.
H. P. Blavatsky further explains how the body responds to
the vital touch of its indwelling creator, the dual man.
His quality of thought and feeling sets the harp's pure
silver, or its animal strings, vibrating with the
operations of his better or of his lower self. The
imbodied "artist" is playing continually on one or another
set of strings, thereby arousing in them a habit of
responsive vibrations. The influence of his habitual trend
of playing, being registered upon the instrument, naturally
reverberates back upon his mind and heart. Too often our
body habits get the upper hand of our will to change them
for our own good. There is practical wisdom in keeping
the "heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues
of life," as Solomon advised.

Fortunately, nature, who supplies the material of our earth-
body, has more to do with operating it than we understand
or control. Our silent partner, nature, manages our
wonderful body so well that we rather take it for granted
that it runs itself. It is equipped with two nervous
systems. First, there is the cerebro-spinal nervous system
which functions with the brain, the senses, and the
voluntary activities. Its vibrations being associated with
our human nature, they are not usually as orderly as the
rhythmic operations of the second or sympathetic nervous
system which nature controls. However, both systems being
intimately connected, they constantly react upon each
other, in reflecting the conscious, the sub-, and the super-
conscious life-forces.

It is nature which keeps us going, before birth and
afterwards, when we are asleep or awake, conscious or
unconscious, sane or insane, sick or well, vigorous or
paralyzed. Nature works through the automatic nervous
system to bring us back to smooth running order when we are
either mentally or physically disordered. All the
physiological functions are rhythmic. Their activities are
timed in accord with the natural pulsation of the cosmic

Medical researches show that in the functions of
respiration, circulation, digestion, secretion, excretion,
gestation, etc., each organ has its own rate of vibratory
motion, its recurring ebb and flow of vital purpose. Tiny
ciliated cells, as in the bronchial lining, move the
moisture in an outgoing current by their own rate of waving
their delicate hairlets back and forth. The heart repeats
its cycle of systole, diastole, and rest about four times
as fast as the tide of air rises and falls in the lungs.
Yet both are timed together so that the blood is received,
purified, and passed on its rounds. There is a wonderful
balanced relation of all the organs' pulsations to each
other, and to the whole body. The coordinate system of
continuous cycles within us, in its orderly precision, is
regulated like a solar system. To say the least, the body
is a marvelous living mechanism of interacting wheels.

Mathematics, so exact in astronomical calculations, shows
that ratios of periodicity in the solar system are repeated
in our body. Our organs pulsate in multiples of the solar
heartbeat. For example, the sun is the heart of the solar
system. At the beginning of the eleven-year sunspot period,
there is something akin to contraction, and an outpouring
of the sun's life force, similar to our circulation of life-
blood. The solar vital currents reach the outermost limits
of its system, to return progressively for another eleven-
year round.

The sun has been vitalizing our humanity during the coming
and going of its past four root-races. Each root-race in
its turn evolved through a regular series of four periods
of differing character and duration. Our present fifth root-
race repeats this typical cyclic series. Its first period
lasted 1,728,000 years; its second, 1,296,000 years; its
third, 864,000 years; while the fourth period, our present
age, will take 432,000 years -- a total of 4,320,000 years.
(Cf. Occult Glossary by G. de Purucker, "Yugas.") This
sequence of the digits 4 3 2 turns out to be a key number
in certain recurring rounds, "above and below." In popular
language, the precession of the equinoxes is a gain, so to
say, of approximately fifty seconds on the arc of 360
degrees which the sun completes in its yearly circuit in
moving around among the constellations. This yearly
fraction of one-seventy-second of a degree accumulates
until it totals the complete arc of 360 degrees. The sun
then has arrived at the same place among the constellations
in a cycle of 25,920 years -- the "Platonic year."

This cycle among the celestial

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