Each person has in the karmic stream a vast mass of unexhasuted Karma which by slow degrees, in the ordinary course, comes out as one is born in a suitable body and position. But when the pledge is taken that act removes a barrier holding back old Karma; for the Higher Self has been invoked, and at once some of the barrier is removed, so that the force of Karma becomes stronger. Now the force of this depends very much on the intensity of the desire for truth the person has in himself ...
-- W.Q. Judge, "One Result of Taking the Pledge," a circular issued in 1890
By B.P. Wadia
[From THUS HAVE I HEARD, pages 292-95.]
The root of the matter is a simple, old-fashioned thing, so simple that I am almost ashamed to mention it, for fear of the derisive smile with which wise cynics will greet my words. The thing I mean -- please forgive me for mentioning it -- is love, Christian love, or compassion. If you feel this, you have a motive for existence, a guide in action, a reason for courage, an imperative necessity for intellectual honesty. If you feel this, you have all that anybody should need in the way of religion.
These are the words of Bertrand Russell, a confirmed materialist, a thoroughgoing rationalist, a disbeliever in the psychic and the occult. They are from his latest publication, THE IMPACT OF SCIENCE ON SOCIETY, issued on his eightieth birthday a month and a half ago. He pleads for the removal of distrust between East and West. He finds the ways and means that are being used or recommended "silly." He looks to time to bring wisdom. Meanwhile, he offers his own remedy, quoted above, which is a teaching of the many saints and of all sages of all times.
It is the ancient teaching repeated by Jesus, coming after the Buddha, as it was by Lao Tzu of China, Buddha's contemporary. There are others. In our own days, Gandhiji demonstrated the profound significance of that verity which is the center of the true Religion of Life, whatever the name. By it not only individuals but nations also can live in peace and progress in harmony. That ancient teaching which the Tathagata Himself repeated is, "Hatred ceaseth not by hatred but by love -- this is the Eternal Law." Bertrand Russell repeats this. The teaching is scientifically sound, psychologically accurate, and morally true.
Almost at the same time, India's great Prime Minister expressed his conviction justifying his foreign policy. His words give support to the sage advice of Bertrand Russell and show how deep an impress Gandhiji's influence has made on the heart of Jawaharlal Nehru:
Let us understand the historic currents in the present phase of human history, when we stand on a verge that may lead to grave disaster or to a new world. The way of war, including what is called COLD WAR, is not the way we or any country should pursue. It coarsens and degrades people because we tend gradually to live a life surrounded by hatred and anger and violence. It passes my comprehension how, after a terrific war, you can rapidly build up any social or economic order that you may aim at, because it will take generations just to get rid of the ravages of war. It also passes my comprehension how some people who dislike communism and make it an enemy, think they are going to put an end to communism by war.
This moral, religious, and spiritual teaching is influencing an increasing number of people. Sword cannot kill Satan. Wars cannot destroy War. Violence cannot overcome violence. These are trite axioms for the religiously minded and principles for practice for the spiritual aspirant. Yet within them lies the seed idea from which the true ideology will grow. Therefore, we must welcome such words as these of the famous Pastor Niemoller. Recognizing that Stalinist Communism is not acceptable to the West and referring to the view that "the one alternative to stop it naturally seems to be war," he said:
Nobody believes that war really will be an effective means because of its results. As far as I know, nobody really wants to have a war. In Russia, I have told my story, which I have told many times and in many places of the world, that personally I do not believe that there is a single millionaire in the United States of America today who would not gladly give up all his millions and starve and go as a beggar, if only he could prevent the third world war by this way. So I found that in Russia, as well as in my own country, really nobody believes in war as a means; nobody wants to have a war. It is just the lack of confidence that the other one will not make war, so people are afraid of each other, and that brings us into all our difficulties.
This lack of confidence in others, this fear that they will attack us, is a major force that corrodes peoples' hearts. As long ago as 1888, H.P. Blavatsky wrote these pregnant words:
With right knowledge, or at any rate with a confident conviction that our neighbors will no more work to hurt us than we would think of harming them, the two-thirds of the World's evil would vanish. Were no man to hurt his brother, Karma-Nemesis would have neither cause to work for, nor weapons to act through. It is the constant presence in our midst of every element of strife and opposition, and the division of races, nations, tribes, societies, and individuals into Cains and Abels, wolves and lambs, that is the chief cause of the "ways of Providence." We cut these numerous windings in our destinies daily with our own hands, while we imagine that we are pursuing a track on the royal high road of respectability and duty, and then complain of those ways being so intricate and so dark. We stand bewildered before the mystery of our own making and the riddles of life that WE WILL NOT solve, and then accuse the great Sphinx of devouring us.
Such statements as those quoted above are bound to open the spiritual intuitions of an increasing number of men and women. Unity through such ideas is bound to produce united action. Let those who believe in the Law of Compassion become active in heart, mind, and speech and unite to affirm the truth, to understand it better, and to popularize it widely. What truth? This:
Compassion is no attribute. It is the Law of Laws -- eternal Harmony, Alaya's SELF; a shoreless universal essence, the light of everlasting right, and fitness of all things, the law of Love eternal.
By Henry Travers Edge
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, October 1945, pages 439-43.]
This word has now crept so much into public use that it does not need much definition. Broadly stated, it is the doctrine that our acts determine our experiences and that the law of cause and effect prevails in the moral world, just as it does in the physical world studied by science. If this is not so, then what theory must we accept in its place? We must either say that our fortune is determined by the will and wisdom of Deity, or else that it is the result of mere chance. But chance is a word used to cover ignorance, and if we use it we are simply side-stepping the question. No thinking person can believe that the universe and the lives of men are without law, order, and purpose.
One wonders why people have given so little attention to studying the laws of cause and effect in the moral world, when science has worked out these laws so successfully in the physical world. It is partly due to the influence of long-held religious teachings, which often encourage a man to look upon himself as a helpless being, dependent on divine intercession; instead of realizing the teachings of Jesus and Paul, that man is made in the divine likeness and has within him spiritual resources which he can summon to his aid. Then again, science has concentrated attention too much on the surface of things, and has even gone so far as to represent man as merely an improved animal. It has sought to explain everything by the laws of mechanics and chemistry. But we live much more in our minds and emotions than we do in our senses, so that science has left out the most important part of human life.
Again, to understand the law of Karma properly, we must accept the doctrine of Reincarnation. It is obvious that we enter this life with a ready-formed character; children of the same parents differ greatly, and the innate character of each child soon asserts itself. This character is what we have brought over from previous lives on earth; and it is the fruit of our own actions. In short, we make our own destiny; we have made ourselves what we are, and can make our future by our own present thoughts and acts.
Still we can learn very much about Karma without considering Reincarnation. For, once you get the idea into your head, you acquire a new sense of observation and begin to study the connection between your thoughts, emotions, actions, and your experiences; so that the truth of the law begins to prove itself.
There is apt to be a tendency to regard Karma as a kind of supernatural agency, interfering with the course of Nature by poking in an arbitrary finger. This is an idea we have inherited from theology, and it may linger in our minds after we think we have discarded it. It is quite wrong. Karma is simply the working of Nature; effect follows cause as truly in the moral world as in the physical world. We sometimes hear people ask, "Was this event due to natural causes or to the operation of Karma?" This is an absurd question; EVERY event is under the operation of Karma, and at the same time every event is due to natural causes. Theosophists do not believe in supernaturalism. If an experience seems the result of chance, that only means that we have been unable to trace the connections; when we CAN see the connections we call it LAW; when we cannot we call it chance. Is that reasonable?
The real teachings of Jesus tell us that every man has within himself, by virtue of his divine birth, the power to achieve his own salvation; for Jesus assures his disciples that, if they will but follow his behest, they can have the same powers as himself. Paul also in his Epistles insists constantly on the same theme; for him, the Christ is the immortal part of man, incarnate or "crucified" in an earthly body, but capable of being invoked so that a "new birth" takes place and the old Adam is mastered by the new. Theosophy, so far from being hostile to the teachings of Christ, champions them; and in so doing, Theosophy merely follows in the footsteps of many divines and Christian laymen who now take much broader views as to the meaning of the Christian Gospel. Many of these Christians are close to Theosophy in their beliefs, the main point of difference being that Theosophy recognizes also the same truths as found in other religions.
As to science, it is surprising to see what great steps are now being taken by its leading minds towards a more logical view of Nature. This new view has been forced upon them by the recent discoveries, which cannot be explained on the old principles of physics. It is seen to be necessary to postulate a causal Nature behind the external physical Nature; and that the real secrets of natural law are hidden beyond the veil of the bodily senses, and must therefore be correlated with finer senses that men in general have not yet learned to use. We can trace the action of light-waves up to the retina, and beyond to certain chambers in the back of the brain; or we can trace sound waves to the tympanum and beyond; but after that, all is mystery. How these mechanical actions become translated into vision and hearing, we cannot tell. Yet so all-important a part of experience can hardly be left unexplored by a science that pretends to explain Nature.
How does Karma operate from one life to another across the gap of death and of rebirth in another body? The details of such a process we can hardly expect to know in the present limited state of our knowledge; but they are not unknowable. It is all a question of patient study in regions to which we have not so far given our attention. If we are willing to concede the existence of forms of matter other than the physical, the question becomes easier; and science has to admit such a possibility, for it is familiar with some ultra-physical form of matter that can transmit ether waves all over the earth and beyond. If it is said, therefore, that our actions, thoughts, and feelings are somehow stored up in one of Nature's repositories -- the Astral Light, let us say -- it does not seem so marvelous after all. We cannot enter more fully into this question here, but any earnest student will find much in the Theosophical books that will convince him, if he enjoys an open and unprejudiced mind.
It is often thought that the law of Karma implies fatalism and that it rules out freewill, but this objection is due merely to confusion of thought. Karma determines our experiences, but does not dictate how we shall react to them. As sung in THE LIGHT OF ASIA:
If ye lay bound upon the wheel of change, And no way were of breaking front the chain, The Heart of boundless Being is a curse, The Soul of Things fell pain.
Ye are not bound! The Soul of Things is sweet, The Heart of Being is celestial rest; Stronger than woe is Will: that which was Good Doth pass to better -- Best.
The delusion is based on a wrong idea of what is meant by cause and effect, based on notions derived from physics. In the first place, we have no right to apply the principles of mechanics to a domain of conscious living beings. The links in the chain of causation are no longer masses of inert physical matter, but minds; and minds are endowed with choice and volition of their own, so that the chain of cause and effect cannot be rigid. But prominent men of science themselves are questioning the validity of cause and effect as a rigid process -- "determinism," as they call it. In fact, it is seen that the law of cause and effect does not deny the action of freewill. Eddington says:
The relation of cause and effect involves a flow of power from the cause to the effect, and therefore a certain freedom on the part of the cause. But if every event is completely and necessarily determined, then how can any event be regarded as a cause, since it is absolutely determined from the start by prior events? It is not in that case the cause, but the cause is shifted back, and there is an infinite regress.
Christopher Caudwell says:
Into every effect all the previous events of the universe flow as a cause, and, lacking any one of them, the effect would be in some measures slightly different.
In fact, the law of cause and effect not only does not deny freewill but also positively necessitates it. The idea that there is any such opposition is due to confusion of thought, and has no support from either science or logic.
As to human nature, its essence is the Divine Monad, a spark of Cosmic Light; and this manifests itself through a series of vehicles, so that its presence and influence are always active in greater or less degree. Man's real will (and destiny, which amounts to the same thing) is to fulfill the laws of Universal Harmony, and he achieves the highest freedom by self-identification with the SELF. Every moment is a beginning. Let us throw off this nightmare of determinism; let us ACT.
There is no such thing as dead matter anywhere: the universe is composed exclusively of living beings. It is common enough to say that plants are alive; but minerals are alive also, though not in the same degree as the kingdoms above them. In fact, the very atoms and electrons are instinct with life and movement, so that they also are living beings. In every living being, there is some degree of intelligence and freewill, however small. Thus, we find freewill at every point in the universe. All these countless wills and intelligences act in accordance with the eternal laws of the universe, just as our own wills must also act. Thus, we find order in diversity.
Karma is the preserver of equilibrium, the restorer of disturbed balance. The ancient Greeks spoke of Nemesis as a deity who punishes excess in any individual or community. But he is not a punisher -- merely an adjuster, calling to order whoever has wandered too far off the path of justice. Thus, we bring penalty upon ourselves by over-indulgence, physical or mental, in pleasure; for a power wiser than our personal will guides our life; our own Higher Self guides it, and this will bring us back into order again for our own good.
We should avoid the tendency of always looking at the painful side of Karma, and remember that our good acts and thoughts bring their consequences, just as do our bad ones. The good seed that we sow may counteract the bad seed. What seems punitive experience we may change into remedial action, if we assume the right attitude of mind towards it. Our judgments as to what is good for us are shortsighted and erring; there is a wiser law shaping our life; let us seek to cooperate and accept its decrees. Man has a spiritual will as well as a personal will.
Is there anything in the doctrine of Karma that stands in the way of our helping our neighbor in distress? Perish the delusion! It is our duty, our privilege, to help him; and all decent people, obeying the great law of Compassion, would act at once in a deed of mercy, without stopping to think about Karma. Besides, it may be part of his Karma that he should be helped. In refraining from helping him, we wrong both him and ourselves. We must obey the law of Compassion, without fear that we shall thereby interfere with Nature's laws.
By W. Emmett Small
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, August 1945, pages 337-42, therein based on the White Lotus Day address given at the Theosophical Headquarters, Covina, California, May 6, 1945.]
HPB brought IDEAS to the West. When ideas are based on fundamental truths, they live -- at least for their karmic cycle, as the ripple in a pool caused by a stone moves on influencing its world of water until its power wanes. Thus, though the Idea Bringer may retire for a while from the visible stage, the effects caused by his actions live on in those who inhabit the world he has quitted.
Thus, HPB plunged, literally, into the Nineteenth Century and caused a tidal wave in thought, the effects of which have by no means disappeared.
In Science, HPB's insistence was that the world is not ruled by mere mechanical forces; that there is design and purpose in the evolutionary scheme. She replaced the blind inertia of physical science by the INTELLIGENT, ACTIVE Powers behind the veil of matter.
In Religion, HPB's hammered declaration -- as revolutionary in a875 as was gunpowder in 1356 -- was that there is a supernal Source of Truth. All religions derive from that Source, but as they wandered from the Font, they became encrusted with men's say-so that we call dogma. The result has been the blood and the misery as well as the strength of orthodox religions.
In Occultism, HPB pointed to the Way, the Path, the very existence of which had been forgotten. She rediscovered it for herself with the guidance of her Teachers. She heralded the rediscovery to the West, again echoing the words of an earlier Teacher, "You yourselves are the Path. Become it!"
Today we find modern science abandoning its prejudices gradually and clearing the way for the acceptance of HPB's message. I refer particularly to a series of articles published in our FORUM in 1939 by the distinguished Dutch scientist Dr. H. Groot. By drawing a comparison between the trend of modern thinking with the writings of HPB and THE MAHATMA LETTERS, he establishes the fact that "science is steadily growing distinctly metaphysical and mystical and is approaching daily to those teachings of the Old Wisdom of which she still denies the existence."
This is particularly noteworthy in the case of Fournier d'Albe, Bohr, de Broglie, Schrodinger, Heisenberg, Dirac, Eddington, and Jeans. In physics, astronomy, geology, biology, psychic research, archaeology, and psychology, most of the old arguments have been abandoned or greatly modified. HPB's attack on the crude materialism and pride of knowledge of last century dealt a mortal blow. It will never recover. Witness the tone and substance of this statement from Dr. Jeans written in the 1930's:
Thus, although we are still far from any positive knowledge, there may be some factor, for which we have so far found no better name than fate, operating in nature to neutralize the cast-iron inevitability of the old law of causation. The future may not be as unalterably determined by the past as we used to think; in part at least it may rest on the knees of whatever gods there be. That could not have emanated from respectable scientific circles fifty years ago.
Throughout the world of Religion today stirs the sober realization that tolerance, if not philanthropic love, must dominate all actions, must impose its firm yet gentle and rational counsels on the minds of those who would lead the world. We find the outstanding exponents of the great religions exhorting their followers to view the faiths of others as rays of light and truth from the One Sun.
Coincident with this effort of brotherly recognition is an actual revival of various religious faiths, particularly Christianity in this country and in England, a seeking to understand, explain, and live the original teachings of Jesus; also, a quite outstanding and definitely growing interest in Buddhism and in Sufism.
This general tendency to view the religions of all mankind as a family unit, not placing one religion superior to others, is particularly noted in the spiritual works of Radhakrishna, the first Hindu to occupy the chair of Oriental Philosophy at Oxford.
The days of totalitarianism in religion are over. To be worthy as instructor, priest, preacher, teacher, in any faith or religion barriers must be flung down, knowledge must be had of, and a certain sympathy evidenced for other great religions. The impetus for this significant change from dogmatic sectarianism may quite fairly be attributed to the enormous labors in this direction by H.P. Blavatsky, especially by the appearance of her monumental works ISIS UNVEILED and THE SECRET DOCTRINE.
It may be true today, as a friend tells me, that the name of H.P. Blavatsky is known in every little town in our mid-western states where he recently traveled. Fifty years have put HPB on the map. Geographically, let us say, she is known, as when we know that Nigeria is in Africa or Yucatan in Central America.
Not only must she be known, she must be understood, and the way to do that is to study her teachings. A definite aid to this, and reflecting the practical recognition of HPB's influence as a live factor in the world today, is the publication, still in process though delayed by the war, of THE COMPLETE WORKS OF H.P. BLAVATSKY by Rider and Company of London, begun in 1931. Writes one reviewer on the appearance of the second volume:
[The publication of HPB's COMPLETE WORKS] erects a monument to her achievements more enduring than brass; for it is a monument of pure gold; as it is likely that the Sun will outlast her daughter planets.
The work of the Blavatsky Association of London in producing THE BLAVATSKY BIBLIOGRAPHY likewise furthers this effort. This is "a reference book of works, letters, articles, etc., by and referring to Madame H.P. Blavatsky," which first appeared in 1933. Through these books, and through the outpouring of articles in our own THEOSOPHICAL FORUM and in excellent magazines issued by other branches of the Theosophical Movement, HPB is becoming more and more widely known, and her contribution to world thought becoming definitely recognized as worthy of deep study.
Recent and contemporary outstanding writers who have derived inspiration from her must number well in the hundreds, perhaps in the thousands: William Kingsland, A.E. Waite, W.B. Yeats, Middleton Murry, Geoffrey West, G.B. Shaw, A.E., Aldous Huxley, E. Graham Howe, J.B. Priestley, Eileen Garrett, Ella Young, Alvin Boyd Kuhn, Beatrice Hastings, Claude Bragdon, Stanley Jast, C.E.M. Joad -- selecting only a few.
Not all of these point to her as the luminary from whence they have in degree received the light, but all, I venture to say, and again in degree, have had their lives and their writing brightened by association with the power and the radiance which burned so preeminently in that Sun. Some were outspoken in their appraisal, such as Victor B. Neuberg, writing in THE SUNDAY REFEREE of January 7, 1934, whose estimate of HPB was that of "an over-whelming and essentially noble personality."
This appreciation [he continues] may seem exaggerated, emanating from one who is not and has never been connected with the Theosophical Society. It is now due to suggest that possibly, when the true history of the period she covered comes to be recorded, with all its effects and ramifications, HPB may be hailed as the greatest figure of her age.
Her voice will ever be coupled with that of occultism, not the fake, pseudo sort, but the genuine. In one of those deeply discerning and revelatory philosophical passages scattered through her works that impress the reader so profoundly, she writes:
Occultism teaches us that ideas based upon fundamental truths move in the eternity in a circle, revolving around and filling the space within the circuit of the limits allotted to our globe and the planetary or solar system. ... They pervade the sensible world, permeating the world of thought. ... They are attracted to and assimilated by homogeneous universals in certain brains. ... Whenever a strong impulse is imparted on some given point of the globe to one of such fundamental truths, and a communion between kindred eternal essences is strongly established between a philosopher's interior world of reflection and the exterior plane of ideas, then, cognate brains are affected on several other points, and identical ideas will be generated and expression given to them often in almost identical terms.
Each humble worker who contemplates the lofty mystery of the Unknown and will dare to think and brush away the superstitions in his own nature and grasp at Universals is in a position to draw from that ideative plane of which HPB speaks. From there are generated and propelled into being those "fundamental truths" that are the real stuff of being. To become enlightened, forever so brief a moment, by the flash of understanding that comes thus from perception of Truth, is to partake of real occultism.
In Religion, Science, Philosophy, and yes, Occultism and Theosophy, we need a new perspective. HPB gives that vision. That is why she lives on. In her philosophy, she gives us the time in which to grow -- millions and millions of years to pass from brute to ensouled thinking man.
With most, the child still has his way. Before him, the future stretches where in due time he will attain a maturity fitting him for deeds of heroic intellectual strength and great moral capacity. Inevitably, he will stride over our low hills into the lofty mountain-heights. From Himalayan peaks, he will first glimpse and later consciously share in the actions of the gods. Right now, our devotions and our loyalties lie here, right before us in life.
Though our eyes may be on the heights, we know the steps that take us there. They are our faithful doing of the duties we have assumed. The virtues that make safe the first steps for the child are the same that crown with success the performance of adepts.
Now that HPB has come, we can end our imprisonment. The Truth beckons us on. Therein we find hope for the future. HPB gave it to us in the Esoteric Tradition. We need it in the darkness of these middle decades of this century. The gift is hope, based not on sentiment and mere good feeling, but on a vision of the facts of Universal Being. As long as there are some glimpsing the light and feeling strength and joy in sharing that vision with others, HPB's message lives on.
By L. Gordon Plummer
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, November 1944, pages 481-84.]
Whoever joins the Theosophical Society finds an opportunity to learn something of the inner work being done for the spiritual welfare of humanity. Assuming that he is sincere in his desire for more light, the quickened tempo of his intuitions has led him to that body of men and women that has dedicated itself to practical Brotherhood, and for a time at least, he may become aware of the realities that work in and through the Theosophical Society.
In certain respects, there seems to be a difference between our outlook and that held by some of the members in the earliest days of the Society. While the privilege of working with H.P. Blavatsky is one that we can never know, yet we hear that many joined because they wanted to be put into communication with the Masters, or wanted to learn practical occultism, and have special privileges conferred upon them. In part, this was due to the necessity at that time of putting the Adepts before the public more largely than is done now, and to the need of demonstrating and explaining psychic phenomena. Thus, the cry was for more Adepts and bigger and better phenomena. A number of members at that time were fortunate enough to hear directly or indirectly from the Adepts themselves.
Since those days, the Masters have apparently withdrawn, and phenomena have definitely subsided. One result is that in some ways we have grown more pragmatic in our approach to the Theosophical Society. Yet, it can be said confidently that we also approach it with greater understanding of the worth of Theosophy and a greater willingness to work for it. Take this as an indication of genuine growth on the part of the Theosophical Society as a whole, not in respect to numbers of members so much as in a maturity of outlook. When a child no longer cries for the moon, he is old enough to understand something about what the moon really is.
The Theosophical Society devotes its full attention to the work of spreading the teachings of the Ancient Wisdom. It directs its energies to the sole end that Universal Brotherhood may become a way of life. This has made it no longer needful for the Adepts to pamper it along, and they are free to do the inner work that is the real force sustaining the Theosophical Movement. This does not imply that they have become detached from the Society that they inaugurated. This would be far from the truth. Events have shown that when our attention has been on the work to be done, there has been a guiding hand directing the outcome of the various problems that we have had to face. This will continue as long as we do our part. Thus any member anywhere can become temporarily at least, a channel through which the Masters can work. It is of secondary importance whether or not that member suspects that aid has been given. It is written in the Karmic records that the work has been accomplished, and that is enough.
All this points to the inner work of the Theosophical Society. Through adherence to the principles laid down by HPB and reiterated by subsequent Leaders, something is being kept alive. Without this, the Theosophical Society would be nothing. It is difficult to give it a name. We have learned to call it the Lodge Force. Think of it as living, vitalizing energy permeating the Headquarters, every National Section, every Lodge, and finally the heart of every individual member in the Theosophical Society. It is what makes the Theosophical work "the most serious movement of the ages." It is also what makes it an ever increasing joy and a privilege to be a part of that Work.
No promise is made to a newcomer except the promise of greater responsibilities, and of greater opportunities for work. He is not told that in a few short years he will become an Adept. Nor is he led to believe that because he joins the Society he will become endowed with unusual psychical or spiritual powers. He is told that we are striving for the spiritual regeneration of mankind. We are becoming "fishers for the souls of men," seeking out those who are spiritually awakened so that they too may come into the work. Taking the broadest possible view, he learns that there will come a period in human evolution when a great choice must be made, a choice either to advance or to lag behind. Those who lag will have to go through the trials of earth life for ages to come, while those who advance will become the Guides and Helpers of races to follow.
Theosophy gives definite teachings about the evolution of the human race, because eventually humanity must be spiritually aroused to action. For although the great choice is not at hand, nor will it come for millions of years, yet when it does come, it will be too momentous to be made in a brief moment of time. So far as any individual is concerned, it will be the result of ages of growth or lack of growth. In other words then, every moment of the day is a moment of choice, preparing us for future great events in the history of the Earth. Who will be the forerunners in those stirring times?
So while it is true that no promises are made, it is equally true that no barriers are ever put in the way of any individual who has the will to advance. There is unlimited opportunity for anyone who is willing to take the time and trouble. Thus, spiritual growth is something of which one can say, "That is so far beyond me that it will take lives before I can know anything about it. All I can do is to study and concentrate on my job." That is a negation of a fact of growth. How does one reach discipleship except by study and concentration of the work in hand? I have heard it said -- and I believe it to be true -- that the Theosophical Society as a whole may be thought of as a disciple or Chela of the Adepts. It is under their direct guidance, and because this is so of the group collectively, it brings every member under their influence, and each member is aware of it to the degree that he applies himself to the living of the life and the study of the teachings.
By putting it in this way, we ward against a tendency of the personality to regard whatever illumination one may have as a sign of special favors. Too often, we see the tendency to turn these things to ourselves. Rather let us feel that we are all open to inspiration and illumination, and that whoever is experiencing it at any time is but taking part in the real work that is behind the outer activity of the Theosophical Society. Thus the advancement of any member or a group of members aids the Theosophical Society because it raises the average standing of the group as a whole.
Thus, we see the importance of the work behind the scenes. The Masters do their real work on inner planes. The life of the Theosophical Society is the Lodge Force, intangible but nonetheless real. The inner life of the student is the thing that welds him to the core of the Work. The Theosophical Society is influencing the inner life of the world. The thoughts of men reflect the sublime ideas of the Ancient Wisdom, as witness the writings of our leading thinkers. Thus, the accomplishment of the real work of the Theosophical Society is not to be judged so much by outward growth as by the degree to which the ideas are permeating the thought life of the world, which means the degree to which man is becoming spiritually awakened.
By John M. Prentice
[This is a true sketch of a Theosophist written by the President of the Australian Section of the Theosophical Society (Pasadena), from THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, April 1945, pages 180-82.]
Her honey-colored hair survived the passage of the years. Age could offer no opposition to the delicate tinting of her cheeks, as in the use of makeup she was undoubtedly an artist. Her clothes were always in the mode of the moment and worn with an air, yet none could say she was not a lady. There was something birdlike in the way in which she fluttered to her seat in Lodge meetings. Her entrances and exits were always spectacular. She knew everybody, having an amazing memory for small details of family life. No duty was too menial for her to undertake, while she did everything gracefully as well as efficiently.
She was a good businesswoman. Her flair was to purchase a decayed or derelict guesthouse, build it up into a reputable residential, and dispose of it at a handsome profit. She did this with the application of a paintbrush, efficiently wielded by her more often than not. She also added interior decoration whereby the dinginess fled.
She named each successive house "Ebenezer" until the new owner could substitute something more conventional. Her culinary ability served to keep her tenants well and happily catered. She bought in the market and supervised the kitchen herself.
Each time she carried out such a deal successfully, she made a trip abroad on her profits. When her capital was down to but that sufficient to restart, she would return and repeat her small cycle of history.
Her ability as a student was undoubted. She knew the Doctrine. From time to time, she lectured on Theosophy. Her small birdlike voice took on a ring of sincerity. She wrote in her spare moments. Her manuscript was the despair of many a Theosophical editor, for there was no punctuation marks, not a comma nor full stop on any page. Her script ran on and on, yet when reduced to order, there was great knowledge as well as original ideas. Only the editors knew what a task it was to bring order out of her literary chaos. In print, her material always looked as well as her refurbished houses.
She did splendid service as an organizer in the First World War. Fluttering through hospitals, she saw what people wanted and then stormed the citadels of the wealthy until there were funds to cater for every need. Many of the wounded watched for the yellow hair and the delicate peach bloom complexion, blessing her as she passed.
The Second World War found her in the South of France, where she enjoyed a well-earned holiday on the profits of an unusually successful deal. Then she returned to England, getting a position in a great public hospital. In the Battle for Britain, she was part of a mobile motor unit that transported the wounded. One heard of her from hither and yon, as she went about doing good deeds. Bombed out of three successive flats, she wrote about her experience with humor and courage. She was clearly expressed when one had punctuated the material written in the jolting ambulance in which she worked.
People suggested to her that her age gave her an excuse for seeking a rest. She must have been approaching the Psalmist's limit. She laughed the idea to scorn, getting herself attached to another service. Now she engaged in picking up neglected children and transporting them to sanatoria to nurse them back to health, giving them a new slant on life. Her own daughter was a famous musician busy on war work. Her daughter tried to compel her to rest too, but to no avail. With bright and prominent makeup and hair, she darted about the country. Only the state of the cosmetic market ever caused her a moment's concern.
The beauty of it all is that she is still busy on works of mercy. Her funds must be low by now, but this is of no immediate concern. When the war is over, she will be ready to return to her sunny homeland. Heaven alone knows how many houses await her magic touch, if she does not remain to remodel half the damaged houses in Great Britain!
Every time tidings arrive concerning her, her old friends rejoice. They all know the value of her heart of gold. They know she was not a Theosophist in name only, but lived the life while taking a modicum of profit from every deal. We have said nothing so far of her charity, either of action or of thought. She never condemned anyone nor did she refuse help when it could reasonably assist someone less well off. Yet many times, we might hear her saying under her breath, "The Lord is my Shepherd."
Her secret was that she was a practical Mystic. None accomplished so much with so little effort. None sought less public recognition. The treasure she accumulated in Heaven will not only yield rich dividends for her, but will be available to succor the world.
If anyone should visit the city where I paint this portrait in loving words and see a guesthouse called Ebenezer, it can be certain that one of her efforts has defied the defiling hand of a purchaser. This name is the Anglicized form of a Hebrew name meaning, "Hitherto hath the Lord helped us."
By Louis F. Callaway
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, March 1947, pages 149-52.]
Education today means simply what the old Latin word educere implies: to lead out. We lead out of ourselves the inherent intelligence that will instantaneously beget ideas that complete ideals in expression and in action.
Scientific study, research, and progressive education are the hope of the world. We have only to look about us to see that ignorance is the root of evil. Much of the ignorance and superstition of today stalks like a ghost within the confines of some of our structural palisades erected to God in the name of goodness. As a result, some men have become more taboo-ridden than Andaman Islanders.
Many scientists and philosophers of the past have been realizationists. They have the conviction that science is the great master key to the hope of the world. The illustrious Euclid inscribed above the entrance of his domicile, "He who hath not knowledge of geometry shall not enter my sacred portals." The great Descartes said, "Mathematics alone will avoid sophisms, and by it, all problems of life can be solved, if proper principles be applied." The intellectual Socrates wrote, "Man, know thyself."
Think of social science too. Extend the search into economics (the striving for subsistence), sociology (cooperation for higher hopes through social attitudes and ideals), and psychology and metaphysics (mind or soul science offering hope of fuller life or even immortality). Add mathematics (the science of numbers), "The measured order of his plan." This includes proportion, symmetry, balance, truth, and beauty manifesting throughout the universe. Add biology and evolution (the laws of life) and anthropology to open man's vision to the beauties of the kinship of man with all life. Then we see why we call Science the hope of the world.
If interested in social and economic conditions, philosophies, and sentiments of a particular period, go to the literature of that time. Notwithstanding its artificiality, literature is most revealing. It mirrors life. Go back in English literature to the Elizabethan period and point our pedagogical finger at Christopher Marlowe. In one of his plays, he portrays a Dr. Faustus as the leading man. Because Dr. Faustus is a scientist, Marlowe depicts him as having sold his soul to the Devil for a mess of pottage. History and literature reek of similar beliefs.
People say much about God and religion, but offer little for a thinking mind into which to sink its intellectual teeth. The idea that the good alone have found a solution to the riddle of the universe is mistaken. Blown to bits since the Victorian period, the idea could be no farther from the truth. Its fallacy is plain to scientists and men of letters who have spent years working with scholars in pure theology for the improvement of spiritual ideas and ideals on an intellectual rather than on an emotional basis.
Truth seekers are not concerned with Paul's journeys through Rome. They are not concerned with the crucifixion (crime at the cross), tombs (morbidity), heaven (the happy hunting ground), nor hell (fear, the most destructive psychology to man). They worry about neither the Devil (another mythical, fictitious character like the boogieman) nor mortification of the flesh. They are not concerned with medieval orthodoxy, dogmatic and empty theories, but rather with the fundamental spiritual principles by which man betters his life by attuning with the great Kingdom within, and with the vibrating, pulsating laws of Life.
Priests have hammered teachings relating to an anthropomorphic God into the minds of men since the Dark Ages. The unwary come to believe that scientific theories like evolution are pseudo-science, residing on the lunatic fringe of science. They have also come to believe science to be of the Devil, believe psychology and metaphysics the practices of witchcraft, and believe education and scientific studies to have made atheists of the young. They call it devilish to delve into the mysteries of the universe. If these beliefs prevailed, they would be destructive to our entire system. They say, "Down with the colleges and universities!"
In touch with Life, the true scientist has breathed deeply and lived fully. He is not a materialist, but rather is one of the Illuminati. He sees the beauty of the divine Law of the Universe and observes its activities under the microscope daily. He feels the presence of Universal Mind, Infinite Intelligence, in his avid quest of the unknown. In Nature's living substance, he sees that Energy and feels the great Principle in manifestation. He attunes with Life. Life gives meaning to life.
No true scientist could be atheist. Never more spiritual men lived than Darwin and Ingersoll, yet the rabble have conferred upon them diplomas of atheism. The mob has charged other great scientists and philosophers of the past with heresy and immorality, persecuting and even putting some to death. If we do not encourage the creative minds and the geniuses, whither are we going?
Outside science, many of our teachings fail to give basic principles with which to interpret modern life. Until medieval orthodoxy extends the right-hand of fellowship to science and progressive education, it will continue to be shallow and stagnant. Meanwhile, the world continues gradually to slip gradually into social-economic decadence, moving backwards intellectually and spiritually.
Even the most illiterate can lead a RELIGIOUS life. Even so, without intellectuality, self-cultivation, and self-realization, no man is prepared to begin to live the SPIRITUAL life. Is consciousness, intelligence, or awareness a mundane luxury, a psychological accident, or a will-o'-the-wisp figment of the imagination induced by indifferent law? Could it be a consoling depth of feeling, a controlling grace, and a wealth of perception that human choices have some bearing upon an infinite order of being? To possess faith in consciousness and realize that it represents universal oneness makes a great difference in the lives of men and nations.
Can a good scientist believe in God? The Church has its answer. The question should if a true scientist can believe in a Supreme Being. There are too many connotations to the word "God." The medieval, orthodox connotation implies materiality, fixity, absoluteness, and conclusiveness. "Man proposes, but God disposes." When men conclude, they cease to think.
In an endeavor to throw off the shackles that have kept it down to earth, Mankind stands at the portal of Wisdom. It petitions high Heaven for new hope. It needs a founded, glowing, enlivened spiritual movement to unify it, reestablishing the great Brotherhood of Man.
Spiritual men feel deeply with Einstein when he said,
Certain it is that a conviction, akin to religious feeling, of the rationality or intelligibility of the world lies behind all scientific work of a higher order. This firm belief, a belief bound up with deep feeling, in a Superior Mind that reveals itself in the world of experience, represents my conception of God.
"On earth, peace, to men, good will."
By Anita Henkel Wild
[From THE THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, May 1945, pages 205-7, reprinted there from THE AMERICAL THEOSOPHIST, Wheaton, Illinois, December 1944.]
In all the confusion, uncertainty, and fear that are abroad in the world at this major turning point in evolutionary growth, there is need for those quiet areas wherein spiritual power may be generated and from which it may be drawn for the helping of mankind. There is need for such areas where each individual may himself grow strong and calm, thus adding his own power to help lessen the confusion. For as the individual must turn inwards in time of distress in order to find his spiritual strength, so must the world turn inwards to find its own soul.
Where should we find those areas of power and understanding if not in the lodges of The Theosophical Society, for here are those who understand that there is a plan, a plan that is unfolding before our eyes today as we see the world being put to the test. Our lodges can, if they will, be such centers. They can become quiet, determined, active centers for generating a power that can be felt throughout their own communities.
Each lodge can be to its own city what the calm, collected, and intelligent individual is to the scene of an accident, at once giving confidence and security to those who are excited and confused. This is a spiritual emergency that confronts the world as well as a physical plane emergency. An emergency when all those who have any degree of understanding of the principles of life should be as surely mobilized for the defense of the nations of the world as those who have physical strength and endurance are so mobilized.
Is it too much to say that it is for this crisis that we, who claim to have had the Ancient Wisdom for many lives, have come into incarnation? What are we doing to justify that claim? That is the question each individual must ponder, determining what he can do to fulfill his destined part. No one can do much alone, perhaps. Each can do a little. Each can leave his imprint on those around him.
Remember, words are not needed. In the silence these things are done. Those in whose midst you may live, quiet and unknown, will have a radiance cast upon them merely by your presence. It is not what you say or do, but what you ARE that tells, and that will leave its ineffaceable mark upon each character you meet, as upon all time. The soul desires to express itself in its reflection -- your life. Live that it may do so. Think and act, that you may become a channel for higher things to descend to lower planes. The beauty of a life like that, the power of it, who can measure and set bounds to?
Our everyday world is filled with criticism and strife, with recriminations and blame. The many are swayed by these criticisms. Only the few remain calm, take the larger view, and see every incident and every happening in the light of its contribution to the next step in the great Plan of Evolution. Few there are who refuse to be bound by prejudice, to be influenced by propaganda, few who are less insistent upon their own good and who seek the good of the whole of mankind. Few there are who seek no praise, who feel no envy, who can be happy in all circumstances, and who are free from personal pride.
Among these few should we find the true Theosophist, growing steadily in understanding, in wisdom, growing beyond all his littleness, striving always for that larger vision. He who aspires to help the world must be steadfast in that aspiration and must have a quiet steadiness on the way. He must be willing to bear blame, deserved or undeserved, and without rancor. He must be willing to act, profiting from all mistakes that may result from that action.
With such members in a lodge, members who are big in all their reactions to life as it impinges upon them in the form of persons and happenings, that lodge will grow in its power to help the world. It will be more than a club meeting where members meet in friendship and good cheer. It will be more than a study class. It becomes a center of peace and power serving the whole world. It becomes a place giving contentment and peace to the worried and unhappy. It allows those of great capacity to find their gift directed into higher channels. Such a lodge can be a haven to many, and an inspiration to all.
What is it in lodge life and activity that makes such strength and power? First, it is the members. Members who are striving to fulfill their destiny as individuals, who are more than their lower natures. Members who feel that beauty in every thought, every act, is the ideal. If these members can gather in a lodge room that is beautiful both in atmosphere and in physical things, an added power is given both to them and to the group. For beauty is a power beyond all reckoning. It inspires, it delights, it warms, and it expands the sensitive human being.
Books, cared for, reverenced, read, books that reflect the freshest as well as the oldest thought, and that stimulate the mind to its own thought, these are as essential to the power of the lodge as are its members. From these books and from the lives of vital and dynamic members will be produced programs of study and discussion that will touch life at all its points, throwing the light of the Ancient Wisdom into all its dark crevices. Members thus serving the lodge through its programs will develop ability to think originally and to present what they think, thereby growing daily in capacity, in expression, and in depth of being.
Such a lodge as this will be able to blend the membership into a unity, creating a center of dynamic harmony. That harmony is pulsing with life, color, and enthusiasm. This is because it is a harmony created out of differences, not a harmony of indifferences. This is done under the leadership of officers with a vision of its ideal function. They create the ideal in the group, inspiring and drawing out each member's hidden capacities, encouraging questions, and kindly considering all suggestions.
Let every Theosophist today, then, take his Theosophy seriously, let him make his daily work serve Theosophy, and make Theosophy serve his daily work. Let him be clear as to how he wants his life to reflect the grandeur of Theosophy, and set about to achieve that reflection. A true Theosophist is never mediocre, though he may be unassuming and simple. The true Theosophist is vivid with a quiet radiance, is deep in understanding, and is big in reactions. The world needs such people, and it needs groups of such people working together with a conscious purpose, with an enthusiasm for the changing life about them, with an understanding of the principle and the purpose in the background of these changes.
By George William Russell
[From THE CANDLE OF VISION, pages 102-111]
In the literature of science, I read of marvelously delicate instruments devised to make clear to the intellect the mode of operation of forces invisible to the eye, like how Alpha rays, Gamma rays, or the vibrations in metal or plant are measured.
I sigh for some device to aid the intellect in solving difficult problems of psychology likewise. I ask myself how I may ascertain with a precision of knowledge that would convince others whether the figures of vision, imagination, or dream are two- or three-dimensional.
The figures cast on the screen in a theater are flat, but have all the illusion of motion, distance, shadow, light, and form. I am content to accept the figures of human memory as being in two dimensions. They are imprinted by waves of light on the retina, and cast upon some screen in the brain.
I am forced by my own experience and that of others to believe that nature has a memory and that it is accessible to us. But this memory cannot be recorded as ours through bodily organs of sight or hearing, nor can imagination make clear to me how any medium could exist in nature that would reflect upon itself as a mirror reflects, or as human vision reflects, an impression intelligible to us of what is passing.
If there were such a medium acting as a mirror to nature or life and retaining the impression, it must be universal as the supposed ether of the scientist. How could impressions on this medium intelligible to us be focused as the vibrations of light are through the needlepoint of the eye to record a single viewpoint?
In our visions of the memory of nature, we see undistorted figures. If we could imagine the whole body sensitive to light, as is that single point in the brain on which the optic nerves converge, what kind of vision would we have? The earth under foot and objects right, left, above, and below would all clamor in various monstrous shapes for attention. The feet would see from one angle, the hands from another, and back and front would confuse us. I cannot imagine the recording power in nature as reflecting like a mirror, retaining and recording the impressions.
We have another mode of memory in ourselves which might suggest the mode of memory in nature. It is that by which our subjective life is recorded. Mood, thought, passion, and ecstasy all are preserved for us and can be summoned up and recreated.
How is this memory maintained? Are we continuously casting off by way of emanation an image of ourselves instant by instant, infinitesimally delicate but yet complete? Is every motion of mind and body preserved so that a complete facsimile, an effigy in three dimensions, exists of every moment in our being? Is the memory of nature like that? Is it by a continuous emanation of itself it preserves for itself its own history? Does this hypothesis place too heavy a burden on the substance of the universe as we know it?
I do not like to use arguments the validity of which I am not able to establish myself. But I might recall that an eminent thinker in science, Balfour Stewart, supposed of the ether that there was a continual transference of energy to it from the visible universe, and that this stored-up energy might form the basis of an immortal memory for man and nature.
The conception did not lay too heavy a burden on matter as he imagined it. But what is matter? Is it not pregnant every atom of it with the infinite? Even in visible nature does not every minutest point of space reflect as a microcosm the macrocosm of earth and heaven?
As I stand on the mountain, this minute point of space occupied by my eye has poured into it endless vistas of manifold mountains, vales, woods, cities, glittering seas, clouds, and an infinite blueness. Wherever I move, whether by rays or waves of light, from the farthest star to the nearest leaf with its complexity of vein and tint, there comes to that pinpoint of space, the eye with multitudinous vision. If every pinpoint of external space is dense yet not blind with immensity, what more miracle of subtlety, of ethereal delicacy, could be affirmed of matter and be denied because it strains belief?
In that acorn which lies at my feet, there is a tiny cell which has in it a memory of the oak from the beginning of earth. There is a power coiled in it which can beget from itself the full majestic being of the oak. From that tiny fountain by some miracle can spring another cell. Cell after cell will be born, will go on dividing, begetting, building up from each other unnumbered myriads of cells, all controlled by some mysterious power latent in the first. In an hundred years, they will, obeying the plan of the tiny architect, have built up "the green-robed senators of mighty woods." There is nothing incredible in the assumption that every cell in the body is wrapped about with myriad memories.
He who attributes the least mystery to matter is furthest from truth. He is nearest the truth who conjectures the Absolute to be present in fullness of being in the atom. If I am reproached for the supposition that the soul of earth preserves memory of itself by casting off instant by instant enduring images of its multitudinous life, I am only saying of nature in its fullness what visible nature is doing in its own fashion without cessation. What problem of mind, vision, imagination, or dream do I solve by this hypothesis? I have been perplexed as an artist by the obedience of the figures of imagination to suggestion from myself.
Let me illustrate my perplexity. I imagine a group of white-robed Arabs standing on a sandy hillock. They seem of such a noble dignity that I desire to paint them. With restlessness akin to that which makes a portrait-painter arrange and rearrange his sitter, until he gets the pose which satisfies him, I say to myself, "I wish they would raise their arms above their heads." At the suggestion, all the figures in my vision raise their hands as if in salutation of the dawn.
I see other figures in imagination which attract me as compositions. There may be a figure sitting down and I think it would compose better if it was turned in another direction. That figure will obey my suggestion, not always, but at times it will. Again and again when I who paint almost entirely from what is called imagination, and who never use models, watch a figure in my vision, it will change its motions as I will it.
Now this is to me amazing. The invention and actual drawing of the intricate pattern of light and shade involved by the lifting of the hands of my imaginary Arabs would be considerable. My brain does not by any swift action foresee in detail the pictorial consequences involved by the lifting of arms, but yet by a single wish, a simple mental suggestion, the intricate changes are made in the figures of imagination as they would be if real Arabs stood before me and raised their hands at my call.
If I ask a crowd of people to whom I speak to change their position so that they may the better hear me I am not astonished at the infinite complexity of the change I bring about. I realize that the will in each one has mastery over the form by some miracle and the message runs along nerve and muscle. The simple wish brings about the complex change.
How do I take hold of the figures in dream or imagination? By what miracle does the simple wish bring about the complex changes? It may now be seen why I asked for some means by which I might ascertain whether the forms in dream or imagination are two- or three-dimensional. If they are flat, if they are human memories merely, vibrations of stored-up sunlight fixed in some way in the brain as a photograph is fixed, their alteration by a simple wish involves the incredible.
I find Freud, referring to a dream he had, saying carelessly that it was made up by a combination of memories, but yet the architecture of the dream seemed to be coherent and not a patchwork. It had motion of its own. Wonderful, indeed, that the wonder of what was written about so easily was not seen!
How could we imagine even the mightiest conscious artistic intelligence with seership into all the memories of a life, taking the vibrations that constituted this hand, and adjusting them to the vibrations which made that other arm, or even taking the vibrations which registered a complete figure and amending these so that the figure moved with different gestures from the first gestures recorded as memory?
If such a picture was made up even from life-size images, it would be a patchwork. The patches would show everywhere. But the dream figure or the figure of imagination walks with authentic motions and undistorted anatomies. Does not the effort to imagine such combinations even by the mightiest conscious intellect involve the incredible? At least it is so with the artist who watches form with a critical eye.
How much greater the incredibility if we suppose there was no conscious artist, but that all this authentic imagery of imagination or dream came together without an intelligence to guide it?
How do we better matters if we assume that the figures in dream or imagination are three dimensional, and that they have actual body and organization however ethereal, delicate, or subtle? If they are shadows or effigies emanated from living organisms and are complete in their phantasmal nature within and without, it is possible to imagine life laying hold of them.
It is conceivable that the will may direct their motions even as at a word of command soldiers will turn and march. That is why I suggest that the memory of nature may be by way of emanation or shadow of life and form. It is why when we see such images, they are not the monstrous complexities they would be if they were reflections on some universal ether spread everywhere taking color from everything at every possible angle and remaining two dimensional.
The hypothesis that everything in nature, every living being, is a continuous fountain of phantasmal effigies of itself would explain the way in which ruins build up their antique life to the eye of the seer, so that he sees the people of a thousand years ago in their cities which are now desolate, and the dark-skinned merchants unrolling their bales in the market.
This is why they appear as someone has said, "Thinking the thought and performing the deed." If we have access to such memories, and if they have organism within as well as without, can we not imagine will or desire of ours constraining them? Can we not imagine such forms swept into the vortex of a dreaming soul swayed by the sea of passion in which they exist, acting according to suggestion?
If we suppose that a deeper being of ours has wider vision than the waking consciousness, and can use the memories, not only of this plane of being, but of the forms peculiar to mid-world and heaven-world, this might help to solve some of the perplexities aroused in those who are intent and vigilant observers of their own dreams and imaginations.
Continually in my analysis of the figures, I see I am forced to follow them beyond the transitory life I know and to speculate upon the being of the Ever-Living. I think there is no halfway house between the spiritual and the material where the intellect can dwell. If we find we have our being in a universal life, we must alter our values, changing all our ideas until they depend upon and are in harmony with that sole cause of all that is.
By Phillip A. Malpas
[The following comes from a series that appeared in THE THEOSOPHICAL PATH, under Katherine Tingley as Editor and published at the Point Loma Theosophical Community. It later appeared in book form under the title TRUE MESSIAH: THE STORY AND WISDOM OF APOLLONIUS OF TYANA 3 B.C. -- 96 A.D., published by Point Loma Publications.]
Traveling to Troy, Apollonius visited the temple of Esculapius at Pergamus, and was much delighted with it. Here he instructed the worshipers of the god how they might obtain favorable dreams, and he cured many of their diseases.
At Troy he visited the tombs of the Achaians and made many sacrifices, but without shedding a drop of blood. Determining to spend the night at the tomb of Achilles, he sent his followers back to the ship and turned off their efforts to dissuade him from communicating with the terrible Achilles, by good-natured banter and wise jestings. He had nothing to do with the Trojans and therefore had no fear of Achilles.
The next morning he sent for one of his followers, giving the name of Antisthenes the Parian, who admitted the name and his descent from Priam. Then Apollonius said Achilles had bidden him not to make the Parian acquainted with his wisdom, because of the blood of Priam in his veins and the praises of Hector that were ever on his lips.
Antisthenes reluctantly departed when he heard this.
The season was autumn, when the sea is not to be trusted. But the people had such faith in the powers of Apollonius over the elements that they flocked into the little vessel in which he embarked. The ship was overloaded and would have been in peril, but Apollonius spied another near the tomb of Ajax, into which he went with his immediate followers.
"Let us embark in that vessel," he said. "It is a glorious thing to be saved, with the multitude."
The shade of Achilles had told him that Palamedes was buried at Methymna, and there he bade the pilot take the ship. The statue was a small one and represented a man much older than Palamedes. But Apollonius found the tomb, and near it he discovered a buried statue of Palamedes, presumably another and more faithful one, for on it was the inscription, "To the divine Palamedes."
Apollonius set up the statue he had found and built around it a little chapel. His praise of Palamedes was unbounded. He called him "this great man from who comes all knowledge." He did all in his power to appease this great soldier and man of learning, who was said to have added the four letters which complete the alphabet of Cadmus during the Trojan War.
In parenthesis we may note that Apollonius had known Palamedes as a youth among the philosophers around Iarchas in India. Those unacquainted with the philosophy of the school of Iarchas will probably ask, "How comes it that the Cappadocian philosopher can talk as though Palamedes were still in the tomb?" Probably the young man who had been Palamedes in a former birth was impeded in his progress by the remnants of the unfulfilled or uncompensated acts and deeds of his former life, and Apollonius in appeasing him in this way might well be freeing the man from such clinging and clogging portions of his former makeup, which really did not belong to the man himself, but only to his earthly forms.
If this is not correct, there may be somewhere among the records of the Indian school a tale of the sudden conversion of the splendid youth who had such a distaste for philosophy in his resentment against the Greeks, Ulysses, and Homer. The narrative may be an actual record of what Apollonius did, and at the same time a philosophical lesson for Damis and others, for this method of a doctrine within a history is much used by the school of Iarchas. Rather than a parable of fancy, it is a parable of fact.
Apollonius pleaded at the dedication of his temple. "O Palamedes! Forget your anger you had for the Greeks. Grant them to multiply in numbers and wisdom. Grant this, Palamedes, for from you comes knowledge, and by you the muses and I live!"
While passing through the Euboean Sea, the passengers talked, as passengers will. The weather was exceptionally mild for the autumn and they talked of that and of the famous islands as they passed them (as who would not, in that island-studded sea whose dim distances are filled with the deeds of gods and heroes, men, and sages). They talked of the build of the ship, for had not Homer said what a dangerous sea it is and to be feared, and might not the weather change before the voyage was done? They talked of the handling of the ship in case it were necessary to avoid the dangers of the land; they spoke of the skill of the sailors, and as lands men do, they talked knowingly in sailor-slang with strange ship-talk and sea-similes. Damis would have none of it. He fretted and fumed and interrupted and finally bade them cease their chatter. The sea was smooth, and the breeze favorable, and there was no excuse of seasickness for his disagreeable manner, as Apollonius pointed out to him, asking what it was he wanted.
"It is because we are wasting time on threadbare themes of no consequence, when there are others of much greater consequence to our hand," said Damis.
"What subject is it, then, that you think best to talk about," asked his Teacher.
"Subject enough," said Damis, "in conversation with Achilles. You have seen his form and countenance and have doubtless learned much from him that you could tell to us, instead of all this chatter of ship-building and passing islands."
Evidently Damis was learning much since he had been in Babylonia. He was not always so anxious then for the least crumb of philosophical instruction. Now the disciples around were much as he had once been, some were later to drift away in time from even the little interest they now showed, but others doubtless, like Damis, to grow to hunger and thirst after the truth and after philosophy.
"Very well, if you so desire, I will tell you everything; only you must not accuse me later of vanity or ostentation in repeating such matters."
For who of the School of Iarchas will ever tell of such things without a purpose? His first words show that Apollonius had ever in mind the instruction of such as were capable of taking it among his disciples. Does not the word "disciple" mean "one who takes knowledge?"
"I obtained the honor of conversing with Achilles," he said, "not after the manner of Ulysses, by digging a trench or evoking his manes with the blood of lambs, but by the use of such prayers as are prescribed by the Indians in their religious ritual for the evocation of heroes."
At first Achilles appeared five cubits in height, but afterwards grew to twelve cubits. He appeared grave, but also affable, not at all full of pride and haughtiness as he is so often described by some of the Greeks. He was of extraordinary beauty. His hair was uncut, as though in honor of his father's vow to devote it to the river Sperchius if he returned safe from the Trojan War.
Achilles complained that the Thessalians were neglecting their offerings to his tomb. He expressed no anger, for he said that if he did, their destruction would be certain. "I advise them not to offer any insult to ceremonies established by law," he said. Even the Trojans, whose perjuries he would never forgive and on account of which he would never let Troy regain its ancient splendor, like other fallen cities, never cease their offerings to him in public, seeking a reconciliation.
Apollonius agreed to go as an ambassador to the common council of the Thessalians from Achilles as to this matter, because he realized that by so doing he would prevent their destruction. It was his duty in life to regulate the worship of the gods for the benefit of mankind and the purity of the temples, and none could do this work better than he, we must suppose.
Achilles saw that Apollonius would seek information about the true history of the Trojan War, and gave him the privilege of five questions, "such as he wished and the fates allow." In this way Apollonius learnt that Polyxena was not slain by the Greeks on his tomb, but she sacrificed herself in honor and respect of their mutual love, falling on a drawn sword by voluntary action. Also as to Helen, the Greeks were long in ignorance of her whereabouts, sending ambassadors to Troy and fighting battles for her sake. But the truth was that she was in Egypt, where Paris had taken her to the house of Proteus. After the Greeks had found this out, they continued fighting to take Troy and for military honor, regardless of her. Another question was as to the number of great men Greece was able to produce at one time when so many of them fought at Troy. Achilles replied that it was the same with the barbarians, so greatly did the earth then flourish with valiant men.
The final question of Apollonius was as to Palamedes, who was sacrificed to the hatred of Ulysses, and left unsung by Homer out of fear to reproach the character of that crafty son of Laertes. The recollection of Palamedes brought tears to the eyes of Achilles who lamented him as a man distinguished for beauty and valor, though young, as one who excelled most other men in modesty and love of learning.
"Take care of his sepulcher, Apollonius, for you know a necessary bond of amity always subsists among the wise. Restore his statue, which lies prostrate on the ground in Aeolis, over against Methymna in Lesbos."
The cock crowed and Achilles vanished.
By James Sterling
From the bottom of this jagged mountain, I wait, wonder, and watch as the smooth Fog surrounds me like a squeezing serpent, Leaving me gasping, groping, and afraid. The visionless grey invades silent thoughts Of gentle solitude as the path below me is Swallowed up and nature's doors close softly Behind me. I cast my gaze above into this stubborn fog, Leaving me to wait and wait and wait until I'm allowed to move forward again. Sweet slumber creeps over me and I can't Fight the overwhelming feeling of sleep As the fog curls around me a child's blanket. When I awake the boldness of the brilliant sky Stuns me; I look beyond and gasp in silent Worship at this unforgiving mountain standing Naked and cold. Standing on one small plateau of triumph Is like a mystical revelation; but it never Stays the same. For the determined disciple There is never any time for rest, only restless Sleep; there is only time to move and then wait, Move and wait. The path is relentless. It lashes out like a Dragon offering wisdom, chiding one's fault's And correcting flaws. Devotion to the path Means perfect knowledge, pure and simple as Opposed to toil and sweat. The disciple bleeds; devotion means the difference Between Nirvana or having to wait in limbo until Next time. Moving ahead, falling back, the disciple Clings in harmony that perfection is just beyond The next peak.
By Richard Hiltner
[This paper comes from a talk given February 5, 1999 at the Library of the Theosophical Society at Altadena, California.]
Few subjects stimulate the fires of controversy as that of evolution. Will Thakara gave the best set of lectures I have heard on evolution and creation here in 1994-96. Today I deal with human evolution, but cannot avoid the companion concept of creation. Before further concentrating on Human evolution, I will summarize Thakara's talks.
He stated that both creation and evolution are appropriate in the proper context. What is creation? It is when more evolved, intelligent beings design the manifested consciousness-life-substances from earlier seeds of these beings. This is not creating "some-thing" from "no-thing." In speaking of creation, we can also use the singular term, COLLECTIVE Demiurges, Third Logos, or "God."
Thakara described problems with the Darwinian Theory of evolution. The various organic substances are composed of combinations of hydrogen, oxygen, carbon, and nitrogen. One difficulty with evolution is how a simple cell forms from them.
The formation of Deoxyribonucleic Acid [DNA] is necessary for the replication of cells. Scientists have not been able to create conditions where it would spontaneously form in the laboratory. According to Robert Shapiro (Professor of Chemistry at New York University and author of ORIGINS, A SKEPTIC'S GUIDE TO THE CREATION OF LIFE ON EARTH, DNA is unlikely to have arisen from the "rich pre-biotic soup" of early ages.
Michael Denton, MD, a researcher in biology and author of EVOLUTION: A THEORY IN CRISIS, states that the chance of a hundred functional proteins occurring spontaneously in one place to form a viable cell is about 10 to the -2000 power, which is essentially impossible. This does not even consider the need of nucleic acids, lipids, and polysaccharides.
Over the past hundred years, no one has demonstrated any finely graded fossils or so-called missing links between major Stocks or Phyla of animals, such as between reptiles and birds or between whales and land mammals. Why the lack of documented evidence to fill the fissures between various Classes and Orders? The theory of Punctuated Equilibrium by Stephen J. Gould and Eldridge proposes the missing links flourished in undiscovered lands. This is but one of many theories attempting to explain the yet-undiscovered missing links.
Thakara read an extremely important quote from the late Pierre Paul Grassier, a zoologist and former President of the French Academy of Science. In his 1973 book EVOLUTION OF LIVING ORGANISMS, Grassier made a distinction between "to vary" and "to evolve." Evolution and mutagenesis are independent phenomena. Mutation falls short of the evolutionary variations that give rise to Phyla, Classes, and Orders.
Thakara mentioned similar thoughts by Paul Davies. An astrophysicist and author of the book COSMIC BLUEPRINT, Davies says that the impression of design in the universe is overwhelming. Scientists are inching closer to the concept that the universe is pulsating with meaning and intention.
Goswani, Professor of Physics at the University of Oregon, proposes Non-Locality, similar in thought to Quantum theory in which a super-physical intelligence affects the atomic level.
There is more to the excellent lectures by Thakara than I have time to cover. Anyone not having heard them should obtain tapes or transcripts from the Altadena Theosophical Library.
Now we come to Human evolution. We will concentrate on explicit anatomical structures that suggest humans are more primitive than other mammals or primates.
A Class of Vertebrate animals of more than 4,000 living species, including humans, distinguished by self-regulating body temperature, hair, and in females, mammas.
-- WEBSTER'S NEW COLLEGE DICTIONARY
An Order of eutherian mammals including man, apes, monkeys, lemurs, and living and extinct related forms that are all thought to be derived from generalized arboreal ancestors descended in turn from shrew-like precursors during the Paleocene and that are in general characterized by increasing perfection of binocular vision, specialization of the appendages for grasping, and enlargement and differentiation of the brain.
-- WEBSTER'S THIRD INTERNATIONAL DICTIONARY
We now consider MAN IN EVOLUTION by Gottfried de Purucker. (Purucker was President of the Theosophical Society from 1929-42. He resided at its International Headquarters in Point Loma, California.)
A key premise is that human evolution emphasizes mental development, reflected in the Central Nervous System (the brain and spinal cord). Other anatomical structures appear primitive (derived from "primus," meaning "first" in Latin). They are key areas in which man is earlier in anatomical development than so-called earlier mammals and primates.
Purucker delineates twelve areas of interest. Most came from THE PROBLEM OF MAN'S ANCESTRY by Frederic Wood-Jones, Professor of Anatomy at the University of London.
Purucker stressed that close examination of embryology could enlighten us on human evolution. (The Embryonic period is the first eight weeks after conception. The major external and internal structures begin during this period, especially during weeks three through eight.)
There is the famous aphorism touted by a major proponent of "Darwinian Evolution," Earns Hackle . "Ontogeny recapitulates Phylogeny." Ontogeny is the biological development of an INDIVIDUAL organism. Phylogeny is the evolution of a race or genetically related GROUP of organisms. This asserts that one may determine early or primitive forms of a Phyla or general group by studying the development of an embryo, the earliest beginnings of an individual animal or human.
Phyla [Phylum singular]:
A major taxonomic unit comprising organisms sharing a fundamental pattern of organization and presumably a common descent.
-- WEBSTER'S THIRD INTERNATIONAL DICTIONARY
Carolus Linnaenus developed a system of classification and nomenclature in 1758 in his book SYSTEMA NATURA that is still in use. Consider the example of a rhesus monkey, Maraca mulatta. Going from the general to the specific, the following shows the basic sequence of seven levels.
Kingdom: Animal Phylum: Chordata Class: Mammalia Order: Primates Family: Cercopithecidae Genus: Macaca Species: Mulatta
This implies that the earlier a structure occurs in embryological formation the older or more primitive it is in evolution.
Consider the premaxilla, a bone in the face above the upper lip. Wood-Jones remarks that is not present in a human. It is present in other mammals and primates, even in extinct fossil fishes dating 200 to 300 million years ago. (See VERTEBRATE PALEONTOLOGY AND EVOLUTION, page 95, by Robert L. Carroll. Carroll is a Professor of Biology at McGill University and describes a fossil fish, Palaeoniscoid.)
Examine a typical book on human embryo, like COLOR ATLAS OF CLINICAL EMBRYOLOGY, by Keith L Moore, et al. You will find that the authors do not mention a premaxilla. Daris R. Swindler, Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at the University of Washington, does declare that the premaxilla exists "initially in the human embryo, but that it disappears early in embryological development." (INTRODUCTION TO THE PRIMATES, page 85.) Even if correct, this still shows the premaxilla occurring early in human evolution.
Swindler emphasizes the significance of this simple anatomical characteristic:
If humans lacked the premaxillary element, it meant that they differed radically from other primates and this feature could be used to separate Homo sapiens from all other species.
-- INTRODUCTION TO THE PRIMATES, page 85
Wood-Jones considered our foot uniquely human. Look closely. The large toe is usually longest. In some, the second toe is somewhat longer. Rarely if ever is the third longest, unlike other primates where it is longest.
Note two observations. (1) The feet of other primates look more like hands. Observe the human hand. Its third finger is longest. (2) The first digit or large toe of primate feet is like a thumb. This is especially true of the anthropoid (those having a more-human appearance). It can move at a right angle to the adjacent second toe. We could not do this with our large toe.
With these noted, we agree with Johann Blumenbach. In 1791, he stated that only man should be called two-handed (bimanus) while lemurs, monkeys, and apes should be termed four-handed (quadrumana). Since his time, it has become common to say that man is the only primate with two feet (bipedal) and other primates are with four feet (quadrupedal).
How unique is the human foot? Return to the embryonic period. By the eighth week, the foot has formed. Its extremely early appearance shows its primitive development. During embryonic development, the human foot never appears like a hand.
Another significant anatomical feature that only occurs in humans is the leg and foot muscle Peroneus tertius. (See THE PROBLEM OF MAN'S ANCESTRY, page 38.) It originates at the distal one-fourth of the leg bone (fibula) and inserts at the lateral or outside aspect of the foot (the base of the fifth metatarsal). We need it to stand upright. Woods-Jones tells us that "this human muscle has the same astonishing history as the human foot in its early development." (ANCESTRY, page 38)
Woods-Jones cites another example of the primitiveness of humans. It is the great Aorta artery and its arch exiting the heart. We see the specific branch arteries originating from the human Aortic arch in the most primitive mammal, the Duck-billed Platypus (Ornithorhynchus, from the lowest Order of Mammals, Monotremata). No Primate has this characteristic Arch. Alvin Davison confirms this in his book, MAMMALIAN ANATOMY (page 180), illustrating five different types of mammalian aortic arches.
Purucker stresses that human evolution primarily deals with the mind. Consider the size of the human brain. As a group, primates have the largest brains of the mammals. H. Stephan states, "Only man has encephalization, which exceeds that of all animals. He is the only Primate with an outstanding brain size." (THE FUNCTIONAL AND EVOLUTIONARY BIOLOGY OF PRIMATES, pages 155-74)
L. Radinsky supports this claim, telling us that the human brain is 3 to 3.5 times larger than expected for a higher primate with human body weight. ("Primate Brain Evolution," AMERICAN SCIENCE 63, pages 656-63.)
Observe that 25 to 30 percent of a four-to-six week embryo consists of the Central Nervous System (the brain and spinal cord). This illustrates the early development of mind. (See COLOR ATLAS OF CLINICAL EMBRYOLOGY, page 213.)
Swindler tells us that the average human brain is 1,430 cc whereas the average gorilla's is 535 cc. This is about a third the size, although the gorilla has the largest brain capacity of the apes. (See INTRODUCTION TO PRIMATES, page 130.)
The human hand and forearm display evidence of their primitiveness by their similarity to those of extinct reptiles. We find many common features on skeletons of Saurosternon and Palaeagama from the Permian and lower Triassic Periods (180 million years ago [MYA]).
Purucker points out that "Transformists" say the human stock ran from quadrupedal mammals through monkeys then through apes. If so, there should be evidence of the upper extremity used as feet. No anatomist would say that we ever used our upper extremity as a supporting forelimb.
Note that we divide apes into (1) the gibbons or lesser apes and (2) the great apes, including chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans. Unlike most prosimiams ("before apes," lemurs, tarsiers, and lorises) and all but two species of monkeys, the apes lack tails. (See INTRODUCTION TO PRIMATES, Swindler.)
It is enough to study the hand and forearm of man to note the astonishingly primitive arrangement of bones, muscles, and joints, to compare them with those of a primitive type of reptile, and to contrast them with those of a quadrupedal mammal, to be certain that at no period has man or his ancestors supported the body weight upon the forelimb, resting upon the surface of the earth.
-- THE PROBLEM OF MAN'S ANCESTRY, page 24
The human thumb has a fine prehensile or opposability. (This is the ability to pass the thumb across the palm while rotating it around its longitudinal axis.) Its position and grasping quality is considerably better than that of a gorilla or anthropoid ape. It is quite difficult, for instance, for a gorilla to pick up a pin.
Wood-Jones states that the human appendix is very similar to various marsupials.
Marsupialia: an Order of mammals ranking just above the lowest order of Monotremata [Duck-billed Platypus], containing kangaroos, opossums, and other related animals that with few exceptions have no placenta, have a pouch on the abdomen of the female, containing the teats and serving to carry the young.
-- WEBSTER'S THIRD INTERNATIONAL DICTIONARY
In AN ATLAS OF PRIMATE GROSS ANATOMY: A COMPARATIVE ANATOMY OF THE BABOON, CHIMPANZEE, AND MAN, Darius Swindler informs us that the appendix is present only in the lemur, the four anthropoid apes, and man. The chimpanzee's appendix is much longer than it is in man and presents several coils.
-- AN ATLAS OF PRIMATE GROSS ANATOMY, page 220
This is another bit of evidence revealing the extremely early development of humanity.
Wood-Jones continues with another case of the primitive quality of humans. The muscle Pectoralis minor originates on the anterior aspect of the third, fourth, and fifth ribs and inserts on the coracoid process of the scapula. In the anthropoid apes, it attaches in part to the process, and in part to a ligament that passes downwards to the upper arm (humerus). In the monkeys, it is still further down the ligament of the humerus. In many quadrupedal mammals, it attaches to the humerus solely. He says that the coracoid process is the primitive attachment of this muscle, and says man and some exceedingly primitive animals retain this type of insertion.
The tongue is another example of the early human beginning. It is similar to a chimpanzee's, but no monkey can show as primitive a mammalian tongue.
The human kidney differs in internal structure from that of typical Old World monkeys and anthropoid apes, but it is matched by those of some the lower New World monkeys. (See THE PROBLEM OF MAN'S ANCESTRY, page 33.)
Wood-Jones says one main way a human differs from Old and New World monkeys and anthropoid apes is the lack of simian specialization (several pithecoid features). One is the Simian sulcus, Lunate sulcus, or groove in the brain associated with the visual cortex of the occipital lobe. This is distinctive of Old World monkeys and apes but is absent in humans. Swindler feels, though, that the parietal lobe has displaced the sulcus posteriorly so the sulcus is not always observable on the lateral surface. (See INTRODUCTION TO PRIMATES, page 125.)
Many simian types of muscle, artery, etc. are absent in man, and we need not discuss such features as the loss of the thumb, the development of cheek pouches and laryngeal sacs, the presence of ischial callosities, and those many other features which are so highly characteristic of certain groups of monkeys.
-- INTRODUCTION TO PRIMATES, PAGES 30-31
Regarding retention of remarkable primitive features:
The human skull shows a great number of features in which a condition of basal mammalian primitiveness is retained, and which offer a marked contrast to the same parts in all monkeys and apes. In the base of the human skull, and upon the sides of the brain case, the bones articulate in an order which is that characteristic of the primitive mammal. In these regions the human skull shows a condition exactly like that of the lemurs. But all the monkeys and anthropoid apes [with one exception] have lost this primitive arrangement and follow an utterly different plan. No monkey or anthropoid ape approaches near to man in the primitive simplicity of the nasal bones. The structure of the back wall of the orbit, the "metopic" suture, the form of the jugal bone, the condition of the internal pterygoid plate, the teeth, etc. all tell the same story -- that the human skull is built upon remarkably primitive mammalian lines, which have been departed from in some degree by all monkeys and apes. The human skeleton, especially in its variations, shows exactly the same condition. As for muscles, man is wonderfully distinguished by retention of primitive features lost in the rest of the primates.
-- THE PROBLEM OF MAN'S ANCESTRY, page 31
Swindler confirms that the skeleton of mammals has specialized. Contemporary primates, though, remain a rather conservative in their specialization of the skeleton.
Consider an embryo's development and its relationship to the evolution of humans through the lower animals. It appears that the embryo from 19 to 24 days has a strong resemblance to primitive extinct vertebrate fish dating 300+ MYA.
At 26 days, the embryo displays an obvious tail and gills (bronchial arches). The upper and lower limb buds start to mature. By the end of the embryonic period (56 days), the tail gradually diminishes and finally disappears. At this tail stage, there is close similarity of the embryo to the ancient amphibians. By the end of the 56th day, the tail is gone. This is very early in evolution.
The external genitalia start to develop at seven weeks but do not fully form until twelve weeks. That is one month after the embryonic period. What correspondence could one draw from this to the early separation of the sexes? Might we infer something regarding the timing of the Root Races?
The periods given by H.P. Blavatsky differ from conventional thought. Her times are usually shorter. Science dates the fossil remnants of monkeys and apes at a time that closely approximates her estimates. According to Swindler, the earliest monkeys (anthropoid primates) were in the late Oligocene epoch (35 to 24 MYA). Most were later, in the Miocene (24 to 25 MYA). Blavatsky says the monkeys originated approximately 18+ MYA. Considering the approximate nature of the time estimates, this is in the ballpark with Swindler's figures.
The evolution of the living lesser apes and great apes remains a mystery ... A late Miocene form, Laccopithecus robustus, from Lufeng, China, is now acknowledged as a true gibbon [Pan Yuerong 1988]. The divergence of gibbons from the hominoid line has been variously estimated between 17 to 20 MYA or to 12 MYA by DNA and immunological studies. The Lufeng site has been dated at 8 to 7 MYA, which suggests that the gibbons separated from the hominoid line somewhat later than suggested by the DNA studies ...
Note that he estimates the Pliocene Epoch to be 5 to 1.8 MYA and the Pleistocene about 1.8 to 1 MYA.
The Asian orangutan is considered by most primatologists as being the descendant of the late Miocene genus sivapithecus of Pakistan [Kelley and Pilbeam 1986 and Kelly 1994]. There are also fossil orangutan teeth from the karst caves of south China and Java dating to the Pleistocene [Hooijer 1948 and Ho et al. 1995].
Fossils of the African great apes are unknown. The living chimpanzees and gorillas are not related to any of the known lineages of Miocene apes, but it should only be a matter of time before an ancestor is found in a late African Miocene or Pliocene site. The molecular evidence suggests between 6 to 10 MYA for the separation of the African great apes from the hominoid stem.
-- INTRODUCTION TO THE PRIMATES, PAGES 242-43
Consider DNA studies done especially on primates. Swindler says:
Such studies have provided information on the degree of genetic relationships among primates and have demonstrated that the DNA of chimpanzees, gorillas, and humans differs only about 2%. This means that when strands of DNA from any two of these animals are combined about 98% of the bases match. Humans differ from orangutans by about 4% and from baboons by about 8%.
-- INTRODUCTION TO PRIMATES, page 72
In conclusion, considerable evidence shows similarities between anthropoid apes and us. Which came first? A number of significant points demonstrate our primitive characteristics, ones that monkeys and apes have lost. We lack certain features, the pithecoid or simian specialization. We have distinctive specializations, some dependent upon our upright posture and others distinctly independent of it.
Although there is evidence that we existed before the primates, is there fossil remains to back up our theory? To date, the earliest human fossils date from 2.5 to perhaps 3 or 4 MYA. We need further discoveries in this area to give broader support to our theosophical theory.