Pablo Sender – USA
[Note from the editor: Dr. Ralph Hannon wrote, when he reviewed this book:
This is the book that Theosophist have been asking for. A book that brings the teachings of HPB into the present and with great clarity. In fact, if I needed to give a ‘one word’ review of this book it would be CLARITY. It has obviously been classroom tested because of the organization, anticipation of questions, and use of words. I thought the Preface was exceptional. It sets the stage for the double evolution of BOTH spirit and matter.
So, here is that PREFACE of Pablo Sender’s book Evolution of the Higher Consciousness: An In-depth Study into H. P. Blavatsky’s Teachings. Often forewords or prefaces are hastily overlooked and therefore it is a recommendation for every earnest student of Theosophy to read this particular preface as kind of appetizer, in order to ultimately purchase the book. Over the years Pablo has developed into a writer of caliber and well-versed international lecturer. His accessible exposé will surely assist any seeker to find answers to eternal questions like Who are we?, What is the purpose of Life? or How do we actualize our potential? After all, these are the questions thoughtful people have asked since time immemorial. This book is a comprehensive study of the teachings of H. P. Blavatsky on these issues.]
Michele and Pablo Sender, both living at Krotona, California
Helena P. Blavatsky, co-founder of the Theosophical Society, was the main source of the teachings that this organization presented to the world. Her influence, however, is not limited to the Theosophical movement. Produced at the end of the nineteenth century, her writings became the basis of a renaissance of the Esoteric philosophy that inspired the creation of a number of societies, fraternities, and schools, some of which are still active today.
Hers was a difficult task—to call the attention of the public at large to a novel understanding of life, the cosmos, the deity, and human beings. The worldview she proposed was not unprecedented—as she tried to demonstrate in her writings this “ancient wisdom” has been with humanity from its beginnings. Yet, this view remained unknown to the many because it was either veiled in religious allegory, or taught in secret to small circles of initiates. In the West, for example, a few people were aware of some fragments of this esoteric knowledge as presented in traditions such as Alchemy, Kabbalah, Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, Freemasonry, among others. Eastern philosophies such as Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism, Yoga, etc., were also unknown in the West, except to some scholars. Blavatsky’s mission was to share this deep philosophy with the general public, for the first time in modern history, in a manner that was largely devoid of the garb of veiled language and obscure symbolism. This pioneering work implied that she had to devise the necessary ways and language to best convey the esoteric system she had been initiated into.
Blavatsky had an impressive wealth of knowledge and depth of insight, but she did not have a scholarly disposition. During her seventeen-year literary career she produced a remarkable amount of writing that would have probably been impossible had she had to spend her time carefully checking the quotes she provided, editing her works to ensure their smoothness and eliminate repetition, or presenting her ideas in a systematic way. Her work was more of an outpouring of original esoteric information, leaving to her students the task of organizing the material and creating a system from it.
But there was also a deeper reason for her style of writing. It is said that the way in which genuine teachers impart esoteric instructions differs from the methods of modern education. The main concern of these teachers is not to present their insights as clearly as possible. In fact, they often give only fragments of the esoteric information, frequently veiled in allegory, or mixed with exoteric elements. This approach may seem odd to the modern student, who wonders what can possibly be the benefit of making the acquisition of knowledge more laborious than it has to be. The reason lies in the different aims of the modern versus the esoteric methods of learning. Modern education stimulates primarily the cultivation of memory and the accumulation of conceptual content, the so-called “facts.” From the esoteric point of view, however, memory and concepts, although necessary, are of secondary importance. As we explain in the Introduction, the aim of teachers of this philosophy is to stimulate a “trans-conceptual” grasp of the realities described by the teachings. The way in which Blavatsky wrote encourages the student to make an effort to perceive the patterns and realities that stand beyond words. This kind of effort stimulates the faculty of spiritual intuition in the student.
However, the problem we face today, in this busy modern life, is that most people do not have the time or the inclination to undergo this kind of work. Consequently, the writings of Blavatsky have remained beyond the reach of many who could profit from them.
AIMS OF THIS BOOK
The general aim of this work is to bring together what Blavatsky has presented throughout her voluminous writings about the evolution of the higher consciousness. We will examine the nature of our spiritual dimension and why it “descends” to take birth in a body—exploring the purpose of what we call “life.” Efforts have been made here to present these teachings in a systematic way and explain Blavatsky’s frequently obscure words.
We will not, however, limit ourselves to offer only the philosophy and Metaphysics of the subject. In the second part of the book we will explore a series of practices of self-knowledge and meditation suggested by Blavatsky, which aim to help us realize our spiritual nature. This is important because, without combining a sound theoretical foundation and the effort to experience what is learned, the aspirant will remain at the level of either a merely conceptual approach or a superficial practice, which usually cannot take one beyond the first stages of spiritual growth.
We must advise the reader that this is not an introductory book. This work is designed for the student of Theosophy who already has a certain grasp of the basic teachings. However, efforts have been made to present the material in a way that any person interested in Theosophy can profit from its study, even if all the concepts cannot be grasped in a first reading.
As we are going to see, Theosophical literature regards human beings as having seven “dimensions” or Principles. The higher three constitute our eternal and spiritual nature, while the lower four are part of our passing personality. Since the main purpose of this book is to explore our spiritual dimension and its evolution, we will focus on the nature, activities, and unfolding of the three higher Principles—the universal spirit, ātman; the spiritual intuition, buddhi; and the human soul, manas. While we will not explore what is sometimes called “the lower triad” (the physical body, its astral double, and the vitality or prāna), we will look at the fourth Principle (the passional nature, kāma) but only in regard to its influence on manas.
The order in which these Principles are examined here is also important. Contrary to what the modern student would expect, we begin exploring the highest, and, therefore, most abstract and difficult to grasp of the Principles—ātman, the universal spirit. From a didactic point of view it is obviously better to start with what is closer and more understandable to us. For example, if we take the triple classification of human beings of body, soul, and spirit; starting with the body would seem most appropriate. The problem with this approach, however, is that it describes what we are from the wrong perspective. Beginning with the body gives the impression that this is what we basically are, while soul and spirit are some kind of attachments that we (the physical beings) have. This is the opposite of the truth. We are the universal spirit, manifesting as different individual souls, which express on this plane through a body. If anything, it is the body that is a transitory attachment to our real nature. Although the didactic approach is more suitable for an introductory book, it is not so for this work, which aims to help the student realize the esoteric view of what constitutes a human being. Consequently, the reader may find the early chapters somewhat metaphysical and seemingly of little relation to daily life. As the book advances, we will begin to enter into more familiar terrain, finding more and more practical implications. It is hoped that when coming to these later chapters, however, the reader will be able to study the teachings presented keeping in mind the more universal perspective gained through the early ones. This is in line with Blavatsky’s statement that, as our study addresses the diversity of the manifested world, we should never lose sight of the underlying oneness, which is our real nature.
SOME WORDS ABOUT TERMINOLOGY
Throughout the book many quotes from Blavatsky and her teachers are provided to encourage the student to get in touch with primary sources. Unless noted otherwise in the text, the quotes are from Blavatsky.
The original Theosophical literature was produced in the late nineteenth century. The way some words were used then has obviously changed through the years. For example, Theosophical literature uses the term “ego” in a particular way, merely indicating a sense of I-ness which can be expressed on different levels. As we will see in this book, the personal sense of I-ness is referred to as “lower ego”; the impersonal sense of I-ness is called “higher ego” (or simply “Ego,” with capital E); and the spiritual sense of I-ness is referred to as “spiritual ego.”
Another issue is that of gender-neutral language, which has become important in today’s English communication but was not an issue during Blavatsky’s time. As will be seen in her quotes, she used masculine forms to include both genders, as it was the rule then. The term “man,” however, requires a special explanation. The modern word is derived from the Sanskrit root man, which is used to denote a “thinking being,” regardless of gender or race. As we are going to see, the human soul (manas in Sanskrit) is the source of our ability to think. Therefore, in early Theosophical literature the word “man” is frequently used in a technical way to refer to what we could call a “manasic being,” that is, a being with the ability to think. Using the neutral word “person” instead would not be quite accurate, since “personality” in Theosophy does not refer to the soul but only to the lower Principles. In this book an effort is made to respect gender-neutral vocabulary as much as possible, but some exceptions are unavoidable. In order to remind the reader that the word “man” is used in this specific way, we will write it with capital M.
Early Theosophical literature was produced during the Victorian era, when seemingly random capitalization of words was common. In Theosophical writings this usage was adopted with a particular intention. We can see capitalization of words such as Life, Spirit, One, Universe, and many others. The convention was that capitalization indicates the higher, universal or spiritual aspects of the term, as opposed to their lower or material manifestations. Thus, “Life” would refer to the universal life, while “life” would mean our daily existence. This kind of capitalization has fallen into disuse in modern writing. In this book we will avoid capitalization when it is clear that we are referring to a higher principle, but retain it otherwise. Thus, for example, the phrase “higher ego” does not need capitalization, because it is evident that the ego referred to is the higher, not the lower. But if we simply say “the ego,” we would capitalize it (“Ego”) when referring to the higher. The same goes to phrases like “universal life” or “Life,” “spiritual intuition” or “Intuition,” “higher triad” or “Triad.” Special cases are the words “Principle,” (when applied to the seven human dimensions) and “Individuality,” (when referring to the higher ego), which we capitalize.
According to Blavatsky, modern languages do not have the appropriate terms to refer to higher principles and Metaphysics. In her attempt to convey the concepts of the Esoteric philosophy, she and other early Theosophists made use of terms from different ancient languages, most prominently Sanskrit. We have decided not to anglicize these words but to use the Sanskrit spellings respecting the IAST (International Alphabet of Sanskrit Transliteration) standard of transliteration of the devanāgarī alphabet. However, when using a Sanskrit word in plural, we will not use the original grammatical form but indicate it with an “-s,” as in the case of upādhi (singular) and upādhi-s (plural).
Blavatsky’s way of writing is frequently condensed, introducing in one paragraph many concepts and technical terms. To avoid unnecessary confusion, we will not try to define all the concepts and terms that appear in her quotes, but only those needed to understand the subject we are exploring. At the end of the book we provide a glossary for all technical terms used, with a short, working definition.
 Collected Writings (CW), vol. 12, p. 235.
 To differentiate the impersonal from the personal expression of the ego, the word is sometimes pronounced as in the original Greek (egg-o) when used for the higher/spiritual ego, while the regular English pronunciation (ēgo) is applied to the lower ego.
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Read Dr. Ralph Hannon’s review on Theosophy Forward: