EVOLUTION, as defined in the teachings of Theosophy, is a multifaceted venture, a vast, complex dance of spirit, mind, and matter.
In recurring lifetimes our human experience runs the gamut of pain to pleasure, material to spiritual.
The Secret Doctrine asserts this inescapable dance is an individualized expression of life’s eternal “triple evolutionary scheme — three separate schemes of evolution, which are inextricably interwoven and interblended at every point.”
H. P. Blavatsky explains: “These are the Monadic (or spiritual), the intellectual, and the physical evolutions — the finite aspects or the reflections on the field of Cosmic Illusion of the ONE REALITY.”
“Each of these three systems has its own laws; each is represented in the constitution of man, and it is the union of these three streams in him which makes him the complex being he now is —’Nature,’ the physical evolutionary Power, could never evolve intelligence unaided.”
- H. P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine 1:181
True and lasting self-knowledge is acquired gradually in both loving and often painful experiences, through a prolonged, yet ultimately finite series of reincarnations in human form, as we know it. Such transitions occur within the triple evolutionary plan and are, as Blavatsky maintained, “inextricably interwoven and interblended at every point.” Think of Ubuntu, an African Philosophy: ‘I Am Because We Are.’
The key to our spiritual development lies in recognizing the unity and continuity of life, Theosophy further teaches — and that for the soul, there is really no such thing as final heaven or hell. We are first and foremost spiritual beings, the mind, and its forms being our field of inexorable human experiences.
But what happens to our ‘human self’ after death? Does everything important, our consciousness, love, hopes, and dreams die with the body? Mme. Blavatsky, writing in The Key to Theosophy, assures her readers that love and spirit are immortal. And further, that:
Death comes to our spiritual selves ever as a deliverer and friend.
Self-knowledge evolves gradually out of the recognition, as the philosopher-mystic Teilhard de Chardin famously said, that we are “spiritual beings having a human experience,” not the other way around. And that “Self-Knowledge is of loving deeds the child,” as taught in The Voice of the Silence.
Our afterlife, once the dissolution of the body and Earthly desire body is complete, is blissful. That state “consists in our complete conviction that we never left the earth,” Blavatsky writes in the Key to Theosophy, “and that there is no such thing as death at all.”
- H. P. Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy, Section 9
Beyond the Physical
Psychiatrist and past-life researcher Dr. Brian Weiss says he realized “that all the great religions were teaching the same things. They’re teaching about love, they’re teaching about compassion. . . . so for me, there’s one underlying principle and that’s Love. . . . The concept of Reincarnation, which I firmly believe now because I’ve done this work with thousands of patients over the past several decades, and I see it every day, is that you have more than one chance to get it right.”
The “post-mortem spiritual consciousness of a mother,” she explains, “will represent to her that she lives surrounded by her children, and all those whom she loved.”
No gap, no link, will be missing to make her disembodied state the most perfect and absolute happiness.
But a prelude to the peaceful state “just beyond the threshold of human life,” W. Q. Judge wrote: “there is a place of separation wherein the better part of man is divided from his lower and brute elements.”
This is a state immediately following death called “Kama Loka” (place of desire in Sanskrit), which entails a series of struggles, Judge wrote, as the soul attempts to loosen itself from Earth life with all its persistent sticky emotions, pleasures, and sorrows.
- William Q. Judge, The Ocean of Theosophy, Ch. 13
This ‘Kama Loka’ transition state, is what some religions call ‘purgatory.’ It is a necessary cleansing stage, but it does not last forever. Once separated from our earthly memories and karma, Judge explains:
this period of birth is over, [the spiritual soul] begins to think in a manner different from that which the body and brain permitted in life.
This is the state of consciousness called “devachan,” in Sanskrit, “a word meaning literally ‘the place of the gods,’ where the soul enjoys felicity,” Judge writes. “The Self in devachan is devoid of a mortal body.”
“In the ancient books it is said that this state lasts ‘for years of infinite number,’ or ‘for a period proportionate to the merit of the being’; and when the mental forces peculiar to the state are exhausted, ‘the being is drawn down again to be reborn in the world of mortals.’ Devachan is, therefore, an interlude between births in the world.”
In 1980, Dr. Brian Weiss, head of the psychiatry department at Mount Sinai Medical Center in Miami Beach, began treating Catherine, a 27-year-old woman plagued by anxiety, depression, and phobias. If they remain unresolved and subconscious, they may become the recurring seeds of a painful Kama Loka after death.
Catherine’s anxieties and phobias soon disappeared, says Weiss, and she was able to end therapy.
When Weiss turned to hypnosis to help Catherine remember repressed childhood traumas, what emerged were the patient’s descriptions of a dozen or so of her hitherto unknown 86 past lives!
Waking the Third Eye
Over perhaps many lifetimes through altruism and good works for others, we gradually awaken our Noetic, spiritual mind, still largely dormant today. We begin to recognize that selfless living is the true gateway to spiritual self-awareness. The all-seeing-eye is awakened by replacing our daily humdrum cogitation, reactive monkey-mind, with intuition and altruism, and practical service to others.
- H. P. Blavatsky, Psychic and Noëtic Action
Just as self-knowledge is acquired through “loving deeds,” altruism once awakened, Blavatsky says in The Key to Theosophy, becomes “an integral part of self-development.”
“In sociology, as in all branches of true science, the law of universal causation holds good. But this causation necessarily implies, as its logical outcome, that human solidarity on which Theosophy so strongly insists. If the action of one reacts on the lives of all, and this is the true scientific idea, then it is only by all men becoming brothers and all women sisters,
and by all practicing in their daily lives true brotherhood and true sisterhood, that the real human solidarity, which lies at the root of the elevation of the human race, can ever be attained.
“It is this action and interaction, this true brotherhood and sisterhood, in which each shall live for all and all for each, which is one of the fundamental Theosophical principles that every Theosophist should be bound, not only to teach but to carry out in his or her individual life.”
- H. P. Blavatsky, The Key to Theosophy, Section 12, What is Practical Theosophy
Bottom-up experience also works. We benefit both from deductive and inductive methods. “The Secret Doctrine points where the lines of evolution and involution meet,” William Q. Judge wrote in The Synthesis of Occult Science, “this is the point where matter and spirit clasp hands…
and where the rising animal stands face to face with the fallen god — for all natures meet and mingle in man.
“Without Karma and Reincarnation evolution is but a fragment; a process whose beginnings are unknown, and whose outcome cannot be discerned; a glimpse of what might be; a hope of what should be.”
“But in the light of Karma and Reincarnation evolution becomes the logic of what must be. The links in the chain of being are all filled in, and the circles of reason and of life are complete. Karma gives the eternal law of action, and Reincarnation furnishes the boundless field for its display.”
- William Q. Judge, The Synthesis of Occult Science
The Life Journey
“I am more than my physical body — we’re not physical beings. Actually, being in a body is an alien state of consciousness. Our religious concepts of heaven and hell are not accurate at all. Life and afterlife, it’s all interconnected.” – William Buhlman
An ending is just a new
beginning in disguise.
– K. Clemans
The stage humanity is at now, this is our opportunity, the moment we “struggled so hard to reach,” Judge wrote of this challenging duality in Synthesis of Occult Science, how “Self-consciousness, which from the animal plane looking upward is the beginning of perfection, from the divine plane looking downward is the perfection of selfishness and the curse of separateness.”
Nevertheless, the spiritual eye of light is more and more activated as we progress through wisely appointed evolutionary stages and reincarnations. These stages are necessary to finally achieve what is in W. Q. Judge’s words, “conscious god-hood” — all while living a human existence on Earth.
Getting back the memory of other lives is really the whole of the process,
and if some people don’t understand certain things it is either because they have not got to that point in their other lives or because no glimmer of memory has yet come.”
- W. Q. Judge, Letters That Have Helped Me, Vol. 2, Letter 5
“Many religions believe in reincarnation, but for most Christians, it’s not something they expect. So when memories of past lives hit them, it can come as an unwelcome surprise.”
“I never was a believer in reincarnation,” said Patricia Austrian, until her four-year-old son Edward revealed a disabling memory from a past life.
Occult cosmogenesis and anthropogenesis encompass everything in manifestation from atoms to zebras. But here we are considering only the human cycles leading to the emergence of the spiritual mind.
We are caught in the middle at this stage of development, according to Theosophy, between spiritual and material concerns.
Like Arjuna (everyman) in his chariot, (representing the human body) — we are juxtaposed by the charioteer Krishna (the Higher Self), thrust between two opposing armies — symbolizing, broadly speaking, spirit and matter, or our dual nature.
The dialog between Arjuna (humanity) and the Higher Self, Krishna, continues for eighteen Chapters in the Bhagavad-Gita
when the entire time the arrows are flying — which is a metaphor for the tests of Earth life and afterlife.
“Human or Humanity means the Thinker on earth,” The Eternal Verities explains: — “humus = earth, man = to think.” The word “man” comes from the Sanskrit word “manas” meaning the mind.
Because men lived as brothers, so long as the Gods were their parents and teachers, the Golden Age lasted.
“Then all men knew the same truth and spoke the same language. But the time came when men must put their knowledge to the test.”
Coming of Age
“When the Gods departed and left them to work out their own destiny, as parents do now when their children come of age,” says the “It was then that many forgot the Real, and began to think that forms and appearances were real, instead.”
Knowing the cycles when they can most help, great Teachers come from age to age to remind men of what once they knew of the eternal truths about nature and man.
Love can exist without form,
but no form can exist without Love.
– H. P. Blavatsky, Love With An Object