The Myth of Man's Origin and Development – part two

Joy Mills – USA

Theosophy JM b

[Chapter Five in LIVING IN WISDOM: LECTURES ON "THE SECRET DOCTRINE, copyright 1989, Theosofische Vereniging in Nederland / Amsterdam. The booklet was transcribed from a class given at the August 1988 Summer School of the Dutch Section of the Theosophical Society.]

Now we must note a very important aspect of the esoteric doctrine here; HPB points out that there are three schemes of evolution which she says in our system are inextricably interwoven and interblended at every point. We cannot go into this in depth, but it is there in The Secret Doctrine. The point that I wish to make is that these three are named: the MONADIC, which is concerned with the growth and development into still higher phases of activity of the monads; in conjunction with the second stream, which is the INTELLECTUAL -- or we can call it, if you like, because it encompasses it, the "psychological," or if you like another term: the "soul" -- and the third, which is the PHYSICAL, around which, as HPB has said, nature has concreted the physical body. And it is this body which serves as the vehicle for all the transformations that take place in the other two.

So HPB says, "it is the union of these three streams in him which makes man the complex being he now is." What I am pointing to is that the "uncoiling" is a process of transformation and the central area or focus of transformation is indeed, as HPB indicates, the second stream, the "intellectual" -- or, as I would like to call it, the "psychological" -- she says: " ... represented by the MANASA-DHYANI'S." It is the MANASIC realm where our focus has to be. It is then always that in conjunction with physical incarnation; that is why "in each body in every sentient being there resides" this knowingness. And so the teaching is that we realize all these stages here in physical incarnation we win our immortality. What we are talking about, in that sense, is the realization of these stages at the psychological level, but frequently in the Slokas in "Anthropogenesis" it appears that it is merely the change of physical form, and indeed that form does have to follow the interior transformation.

I would also give a word of caution here. We must not think of the stages as just clearly marked; there is a great deal of overlapping. There is a kind of what is called in biological theory today a "punctuated equilibrium" which marks the process of evolutionary development. This it is, some scientists are proposing, that development is not just a smooth line but that there is a movement, and then a sudden leap to a new level of complexity. And this is called: the theory of punctuated equilibrium. Now there is also at times a merging of one stage into the next.

Having given you the stages in terms of the great myths, we will examine the characteristics of each stage. The summary of the stages is given in Sloka 39 of "Anthropogenesis." It is not an easy one, but it gives the whole process:


That gives us a very interesting summary, and of course it may seem very puzzling at first. Now a word about the use of color. The Sanskrit word VARNA, which is often translated as "color," also stands for "figure, shape, outward appearance." It also means ""character, nature or quality," so there is a wide range of meanings to the word HPB simply translates as "color." We must never misinterpret these developmental stages as, or confuse these stages with, skin pigmentation. The list of the "colored races," so to speak, represents the objective expression, and also the internal quality being expressed.

So we have to look very closely at what is signified in this, it becomes very logical from this point of view to call the first stage "moon-colored." Not only is there a reference immediately to the origin of the physical form -- that is that the model-body for our life-wave here, was a gift of the LUNAR-PITRIS or moon-fathers -- but also that the beginning of human development has a kind of shadowiness about it, a kind of glitter, and a filminess. There is almost a transparency, and this indeed is the first stage in our human development. It is interesting to think in terms of our own first groping for meaning. There is a kind of filminess about it; sometimes it is easier to see this when we think about other people than about ourselves. You can think of the embryo. The correspondence is there. The correspondences incidentally are exact with the complete stages of gestation and birth.

Now the interesting thing also to note is that with each of these stages it is said that one of the senses developed and so it is said that with this first stage of very filmy structure, the sense was that of sound. You will remember what I said about the web known as Akasha. Its chief characteristic is that of sound, so there is a kind of "sounding," a kind of resonance with the sound that is the universe. Incidentally, this is again repeated in the growth of the embryo, this pulsating, this "sounding." It is well known for example that in the embryo of a chicken, there is a pulsation before there is the organ of the heart, and in human beings also. The pulsation is there before the organ of pulsation is formed. It is as though there is in us at this very first stage a kind of dim awareness of the heartbeat of life itself.

The second stage is said to be yellow as gold. This marks a more developed stage, so to speak, a decline, if you like, in which the pure brilliance, the glitter, is beginning to harden into form, so there is now a shining outward. And the pure brilliance is somehow becoming now more formed. We can look now again at the sense that is added, for it is said that the second stage awakens the sense of sound and TOUCH. Touch becomes possible when there is a hardening of form.

Note that the third stage, the color assigned to it, is red. It is a very interesting color or quality assigned. As touch develops and attention is turned outwards, there is an awareness of others, the arising of a sense of individuality -- not really true individuality yet, but as touch moves outward, there is a reaction that is an awareness, a reaction of desire or aversion. So we may become red or excited with desire; that redness or desire results in a tremendous motion further outwards. We want now to possess or to hold, as it were, or to push aside. And now the sense of COLOR is said to be added. It is interesting that HPB does not say the sense of sight, but she says the senses of sound, touch, and color -- because sight is veiled by color. Only at the final stages is there real sight, in-sight -- the stage of the enlightened one. Here it is color in which we see the world. We see the other -- in color. And often we use even in our language color to express our feelings. Sometimes we say that a person is "black with depression." We use the expression "I feel blue today." Or he is "red with anger." Our sight at this third stage, which is an interesting stage -- and remember, in the myths this was the stage of the "deluge-survivor" -- is the emotional, psychic nature. And the individual who is carried away says "I see colors everywhere ... !" This is, if I may say so, a kind of "primitive hangover" from an earlier stage of development. What is so great about seeing colors? That is still not "clear seeing"; it is merely a phenomenalistic event, and has no relation to genuine, spiritual sight. How many get caught up in this third stage! But one has to move further; one has to plunge into the very depth of being. There is a final plunge into what we may call full physical embodiment.

The next stage, the fourth, is said to be brown; in which, it is said, it becomes black with sin. In the great gnostic myth, "The Hymn of the Robe of Glory" -- sometimes it is called "The Hymn of the Pearl," one finds this in one of the gnostic texts -- this whole process of the hero is the moving out of the divine kingdom, into the land of Egypt. Egypt of course symbolizes the fun physical embodiment, the land of Al-Khem, where the transformation now must begin to take place. And we must not give the word "sin" a moral connotation, but recognize that with the third stage, the sense of color, there is inevitably a sense of choice. The tradition tells us that therefore in the middle of the third stage there was the awakening of MANAS, the entry into the nascent form of the MANASAPUTRAS, that great creative hierarchy that now could take hold of the form that had developed. Those familiar with The Secret Doctrine will know some of the details connected with this. And those not familiar, will just have to become familiar! With this awakening of MANAS, there is now choice and when there is choice, there are consequences to be faced. You see, in the gnostic "Hymn of the Robe of Glory," the son who left his father’s home, who was sent to Egypt to recover the pearl of wisdom, succumbed to the condition in which many of us find us -- he went to sleep. And of course there are many sleepwalkers among us. Or, as in the wonderful hero-myth, the myth of Percival, we have Lancelot who frequently wanders from the right path, and always had to be reminded that it was possible to get back on the right path again. And so, the reference "black with sin" refers to a certain loss of sight. It is a certain wandering from the path. You remember I spoke of the archetypal motif of failure. But failure, as I tried to suggest, is an absolute necessity for the human condition. It is necessary if true consciousness is to be awakened or developed. Now it is interesting therefore that the sense which is to be awakened at this stage is the sense of TASTE. And here it is that we eat the apples from the trees that grow in the garden ...

Now it is interesting that the fifth stage is noted for being a mixture of colors; that is of course the stage where humanity today lives. This is the point of interaction between the physical and the entire range of subtler realms. Truly we are today in a condition of a mixture of color. All of these past qualities, colors, are still present and they are in quite a mixture. We are faced with a tremendous task at the fifth stage of trying to clear up ourselves, so to speak. We have to, as it were, "unmix the colors." This is a state where it is very uncomfortable, a level where there is an interaction between all that is present and all that is still to come, as well as with the past. It is the stage at which the mind, the MANASIC principle, is really focusing, and becomes the link between the most dense exteriorization of energy and the spiritual or MONADIC actuality of our essential being. Indeed, we do find ourselves hung on the cross and we are torn in two directions. Here is the genuine sacrifice to be made. True, it is not a very comfortable situation in which we find ourselves, but it is a necessary stage.

I have always been interested in the undeniable fact that the significant growth of understanding today appears to be in the realm that we could call "psychological." The charter of the UNESCO begins with those amazing words: "Since wars begin in the minds of men, it is in the minds of men that the defenses of peace must be built." This is where we are, and it is not comfortable, is it? It is not comfortable to be torn between all these divisions. Here we are!

And yet we know that there are further stages. Very interestingly, very little is given about the sixth and seventh stage. No colors are assigned, so we can only postulate that a new direction must be taken. We have to recognize that the colors are present in us, psychologically speaking. And the work to be undertaken is a kind of clearing of the coloration. It is not then that adjustments have to be made in the outer circumstances of the world in which we live; the outer circumstances are not the problem. The problem is within us. It is what we will do to clear the coloration of MANAS. The outer circumstances are a clear reflection of the interior state of humanity's consciousness.

Hence, the tremendous work that was given by HPB to her students. In fact, this year is not only the centenary of the publication of The Secret Doctrine, it is the centenary of the establishment of her inner school, the Esoteric School. Now why did she establish such a school? Because, she said, there were two principal reasons. The Theosophical Society as a body was failing to exemplify the brotherhood for which it had been established. Have we done very much better? Secondly, because of the failure to understand the doctrine. And let me be blunt, we haven't done much better a hundred years later, when our branches and groups still fail to study the teachings.

Here is our central task: to transform the mind of man, to transform, or to redeem the world-mind. And we can do this only if we have transformed our own consciousness. So we can spend all our time rearranging the furniture of the world, in the hope that by such rearrangement we can bring about a new world-order, or we can undertake the more difficult but truly worthwhile task of awakening a new kind of consciousness.

Now let us come back then to the senses, because this is very interesting. I have commented on the senses that are said to mark, and they do mark, the development of these earlier stages. The sense of sound, touch, and color for the first three, the sense of taste for the fourth -- and we are tasting all of the fruits, good and evil, the knowledge of the opposites. The sense that is said to be awakened at the fifth stage is the sense of SMELL. Now why smell for the fifth stage? It has been said that in the language of symbol, the nose and the nostrils for breathing are representative for volition and free will. The control of breathing indicates both restraint and a discipline of the physical nature. The use of the nostrils for smelling is symbolic for the function of the lower aspect of the mind, to discriminate those aspects or qualities of the soul which are to be transmuted into nobler or higher qualities. Hence the teaching for our time is indeed that the first requirement is discrimination. One may also recall a statement made by one of the Masters in writing to Mr. Sinnett: "There is a moral smell as well as a physical one." So smell has always been defined as a symbol for discrimination of what is beneath in order to move to that which is symbolically above.

The sixth and the seventh, it is said, will deal more with psychological than physical laws -- that the sixth sense, which has often simply been called "intuition," has to do more properly with the perception of inwardness. The seventh sense is the sense which is the full awareness of our unity with all life. In one way it recapitulates on a higher level the first sense. One now hears "the voice of the silence." And so, the cycle of our growth will one day have been completed.

We have then a magnificent panorama presented to us of the totality of our development which is possible. The divine Paradigm reflects itself in forms which become vehicles of that inner soul process, by which that indwelling awareness can come to know and understand the meaning of existence. So the developments are seen as outer manifestations of an inner pattern. And ultimately, those outer manifestations must be assimilated within us. This is our task, and not an easy one, but a very wonderful one.

A really glorious future opens up before us, if we take up the challenge and the responsibility.

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