VIII – THE PERENNIAL PHILOSOPHY AND THE UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD:
The Present Level of Evolution of Humanity
91 - “(...) The immense majority, whether in or out of the body, are but dreamly semiconscious, though few are now in the condition of mere colourless films; those who are fully awake are marked and brilliant exceptions, standing out amid the less radiant crowds like stars of the first magnitude (...)
“The majority are not yet sufficiently definite, even in such consciousness as they possess, to understand the purpose or the laws of the evolution in which they are engaged (...)” (C.W. Leadbeater, The Devachanic Plane, p. 116)
Let us then proceed to the last aspect of this analysis of the human brotherhood in the light of the Esoteric Philosophy, which affects the point in the evolutionary cycle at which humanity taken as a whole finds itself. This aspect is of the greatest practical importance to the solutions of the major human problems, which solutions – as we have seen – depend not only on an appropriate ethics structure but also on new and effective institutions or models for socio-political organizations.
The aspects examined previously had shown us, in general terms, the Unity and the Diversity innate in human universal brotherhood. They did not show us, however, show us what are the relative proportions between the sets of different levels of spiritual development in the present evolutionary age of humanity. In other words, what is the proportion of those who have reached spiritual maturity to those of medium maturity as well as to those still relatively immature.
False Premises Lead to False Conclusions
These facts are of great practical importance. And, should the members of the TS ignore them or use as their premise incorrect information in this respect, they will certainly show the world a totally inadequate structure of ethics and duties concerning institutions or models of socio-political organization. In his well-known work, The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy, Professor C. B. Macpherson of the University of Toronto, Canada, makes the following allusion to the importance of these premises concerning human beings in the consideration of political structures:92 - “In order to demonstrate that a model of political system or of society, whether existing or not yet existing but only desired, is practicable, that is, in order that we may hope that it will work well in the long run, we must admit some premises about the human beings on whom one will have to count. Of what kind of political conduct are they capable? This is certainly a basic question. For example, a political system that requires the citizens to have more rationality or more political zeal than they ostensibly do now, and more than can be expected under any social circunstance that we may reach, would not deserve much defense.” (C.B. Macpherson, The Life and Times of Liberal Democracy, p. 12)
Thus, should the members of the TS start from such erroneous premises, the TS would inevitably fail in its efforts to be the example of an organization that might provide consistent solutions to the world’s problems. In other words, it would be failing in the accomplishment of its great task, described by one of the Mahatmas as follows:
93 - “The problem of true Theosophy and its great mission is the working out of clear, unequivocal conceptions of ethic ideas and duties which would satisfy most and best the altruistic and right feelings in us; and the modelling of these conceptions for their adaptation into such forms of daily life where they may be applied with most equitableness.” (LMW, 2nd Series, L. 82, p. 158)
The Present Evolutionary Stage of Humanity
With this in mind, let us begin our analysis of the present evolutionary profile of the human brotherhood. A rather interesting view of this evolutionary profile from the perspective of the Perennial Philosophy can be found in a general description of the causal bodies of humanity of our times made by well-known clairvoyant Charles W. Leadbeater. This general panorama will result in some repetitions of facts previously analyzed; however, in view of the importance of this subject in the prevailing logic of this analysis, these repetitions may be useful in emphasizing what we wish to communicate.
Let us recall that, as we saw in a previous quotation by Geoffrey Hodson, “the condition of the causal body is a true register – the only true register – of the growth the man, of the stage of evolution to which he has attained. (...).” The level of development of these vehicles therefore faithfully reveals the profile of the true spiritual development attained by humanity in its present evolutionary stage. Let us then proceed to C. W. Leadbeater’s description:
94 - “The third sub-plane, the fifth heaven, is the lowest of the arupa sub-planes, and this is also by far the most populous of all the regions with which we are acquainted, for here are present almost all the sixty thousand millions of souls who are said to be engaged in the present human evolution – all, in fact, except the comparatively small number who are capable of functioning on the second and first sub-planes. Each soul (or Higher Self) is there represented by an ovoid form – at first a mere film, colourless and almost invisible, of most tenuous consistency; but, as the ego develops, this body begins to show a shimmering iridescence like a soapbubble, colours playing over its surface like the changing hues made by sunlight on the spray of a waterfall.
“(...) it becomes as its evolution proceeds a radiant globe of flashing colours, its high vibrations sending ripples of changing hues over its surface – hues of which earth knows nothing – brilliant, soft and luminous beyond the power of language to describe. (...)
“All these causal bodies are filled with living fire drawn from a higher plane, with which the globe appears to be connected by a quivering thread of intense light, vividly recalling to the mind the words of the stanzas of Dzyan, “the Spark hangs from the Flame by the finest thread of Fohat”; and as the soul grows and is able to receive more and more from the inexhaustible ocean of the Divine Spirit which pours down through the thread as a channel, the latter expands and gives wider passage to the flood, till on the next sub-plane it might be imaged as a water-spout connecting earth and sky, and higher still as itself a great globe through which rushes the living spring, until the causal body seems to melt into the inpouring light. (...)
“(...) The immense majority, whether in or out of the body, are but dreamly semiconscious, though few are now in the condition of mere colourless films; those who are fully awake are marked and brilliant exceptions, standing out amid the less radiant crowds like stars of the first magnitude, and between these and the least-developed are ranged every variety of size and beauty of colour – each thus representing the exact stage of evolution at which he has arrived.
“The majority are not yet sufficiently definite, even in such consciousness as they possess, to understand the purpose or the laws of the evolution in which they are engaged; they seek incarnation in obedience to the impulse of the Cosmic Will, and also to Tanha, the blind thirst for manifested life – a desire to find some region in which they can feel and be conscious of living.
“For in their earlier stages these undeveloped souls cannot feel the intensely rapid and piercing vibrations of the highly-refined matter of their own plane; the strong and heavier matter of the physical plane are the only ones that can evoke any response from them. So it is only upon the physical plane that they feel themselves to be alive at all, and this explains their strong craving for rebirth into earth-life. Thus for a time their desire agrees exactly with the law of their evolution. They can develop only by means of these impacts from without, to which they are gradually roused to respond, and in this early stage they can receive them only in earth-life. By slow degrees their power of response, and is awakened first to the higher and finer of the physical vibrations, and still more slowly to those of the astral plane. (...)
“At a later stage, but always by the same process of learning to respond to impacts from without, the souls learn to centre their consciousness in the mental body – to live in and according to the mental images which they have formed for themselves, and so to govern their emotions by the mind. Yet further on the long, long road the centre shifts to the causal body, and the souls realize their true life. When that time comes they will be found upon a higher sub-plane than this, and the lower earthly existence will be no longer necessary for them; but for the present we are thinking of the less evolved majority, who still put forth as groping, waving tentacles into the ocean of existence the personalities which are themselves on the lower planes of life, though they are as yet in no sense aware that these personalities are the means whereby they are to be nourished and to grow. They see nothing of their past or their future, not being yet conscious on their own plane.
“Still, as they are slowly drawing in experience and assimilating it, there grows up a sense that certain things are good to do and others bad, and this expresses itself imperfectly in the connected personality as the beginning of a conscience, a feeling of right and wrong: and gradually, as they develop, this sense more and more clearly formulates itself in the lower nature, and becomes a less inefficient guide of conduct.
“(...) the most advanced souls of this sub-plane develop to a point at which they are engaged in studying their past, tracing out the causes set going in it, and learning much from the retrospection, so that the impulses sent downwards become clearer and more definite, and translate themselves in the lower consciousness as firm convictions and imperative intuitions. (...)
“From the densely thronged region which we have been considering we pass into a more thinly populated world, as out of a great city into a peaceful countryside; for at the present stage of human evolution only a small minority of individuals have risen to this loftier level where even the least advanced is definitely self-conscious, and also conscious of his surroundings. Able at least to some extent to review the past through which he has come, the soul on this level is aware of the purpose and method of evolution; he knows that he is engaged in a work of self-development and recognizes the stages of physical and post-mortem life through which he passes in his lower vehicles.
“The personality with which he is connected is seen by him as part of himself, and he endeavours to guide it using his knowledge of the past as a store of experience from which he formulates principles of conduct, clear and immutable convictions of right and wrong. These he sends downs into his lower mind, superintending and directing its activities. While he continually fails in the earlier part of his life on this sub-plane to make the lower mind understand logically the foundations of the principles he impresses on it, he yet very definitely succeeds in making the impression, and such abstract ideas as truth, justice and honour become unchallenged and ruling conceptions in the lower mental life.
“(...) While, however, he thus succeeds in guiding his lower vehicle, his knowledge of it and its doings is often far from precise and clear. He sees the lower planes but dimly, understanding their principles rather than the details, and part of his evolution on this plane consists of coming more and more consciously into direct touch with the personality which so imperfectly represents him below.
“It will be understood from this that only such souls as are deliberately aiming at spiritual growth live on this plane, and they have in consequence become largely receptive of influences from the planes above them. The channel of communication grows and enlarges, and a fuller flood pours through. The thought under this influence takes on a singularly clear and peircing quality, even in the less developed, and the effect of this in the lower minds shows itself as a tendency to philosophic and abstract thinking. (...)
“The first sub-plane, the most glorious level of the mental world, has but few denizens as yet from our humanity, for on its heights dwell none but the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion, and their initiated pupils. On the beauty of form and colour and sound here no words ca speak, for mortal language has no terms in which those radiant splendours may find expression. (...)
“(...) From this highest level of the mental world the genius receives its illumination; here all upward efforts find their guidance. As the sun rays fall everywhere from one centre, and each body that receives them uses them after its nature, so from the Elder Brothers of the race fall on all souls the light and life which it is their function to dispense; and each uses as much as it can assimilate, and thereby grows and evolves. Thus, as everywhere else, the highest glory of the heavenly world is found in the glory of service, and they who have accomplished the mental evolution are the fountains from which flows strength for those who still are climbing.” (The Devachanic Plane, pp. 114-125)
The greatest significance to this text of this long quotation from Leadbeater lies in the fact that it gives us a fairly complete view of humanity’s present evolutionary stage. It not only describes our Egos in their different levels of development, but – what is of greater importance and rarity – it clearly describes the relative proportions of each of these levels of development within the total population.
Only a Small Minority is Egoically Mature
In this way, Leadbeater advises us that the great majority of Higher Selves is still fairly undeveloped in our present evolutionary stage. Thus, only a relatively small minority is capable of transmitting to the personality clear criteria for truthfulness, justice, and altruism, as they are stated in the quotation that follows:
95 - “(...) The immense majority, whether in or out of the body, are but dreamly semiconscious, though few are now in the condition of mere colourless films (...)
“The majority are not yet sufficiently definite, even in such consciousness as they possess, to understand the purpose or the laws of the evolution in which they are engaged (...)
“(...) but for the present we are thinking of the less evolved majority, who still put forth as groping, waving tentacles into the ocean of existence the personalities which are themselves on the lower planes of life, though they are as yet in no sense aware that these personalities are the means whereby they are to be nourished and to grow. They see nothing of their past or their future, not being yet conscious on their own plane.(...)
“From the densely thronged region which we have been considering we pass into a more thinly populated world, as out of a great city into a peaceful countryside; for at the present stage of human evolution only a small minority of individuals have risen to this loftier level where even the least advanced is definitely self-conscious, and also conscious of his surroundings. (...)
“(...)While he continually fails in the earlier part of his life on this sub-plane to make the lower mind understand logically the foundations of the principles he impresses on it, he yet very definitely succeeds in making the impression, and such abstract ideas as truth, justice and honour become unchallenged and ruling conceptions in the lower mental life.
“(...) The thought under this influence takes on a singularly clear and peircing quality, even in the less developed, and the effect of this in the lower minds shows itself as a tendency to philosophic and abstract thinking. (...)
“The first sub-plane, the most glorious level of the mental world, has but few denizens as yet from our humanity, for on its heights dwell none but the Masters of Wisdom and Compassion, and their initiated pupils.” (The Devachanic Plane, pp. 116-122)
This indication that only a small minority shows an inclination for abstract thinking will be highly important when placed opposite the perspective of humanity as a universal brotherhood, with the currents of thought prevailing at present. It will be of equal significance in the analysis of the errors of the principal social institutions derived from these prevailing currents. Errors and institutions which are responsible for a major share of the world’s conflicts and paralysis. Just as important is the comparison Leadbeater makes between a densely populated city and a village, which gives an indication of the relative proportions between the amount of not very developed Selves and that of Selves which are already mature.
The Decisive Role and Responsibility of the Elites
Another very clear aspect of the above description given by Leadbeater is the decisive role and immense responsibility of the elites in relation to the welfare of the population as a whole. By “elites” we here refer to those with higher psycho-spiritual potential. This fact will be addressed in more detail further on, but in the analysis of this context of the focus of the Perennial Philosophy we find it useful to recall a passage from the letter of the Maha-Chohan, where this weighty responsibility is explicitly affirmed:
96 - “Those ‘intellectual classes,’ reacting upon the ignorant masses which they attract and which look up to them as noble and fit examples to follow, degrade and morally ruin those they ought to protect and guide.” (LMW, 1st Series, L. 1, p. 4)
Leadbeater’s description also finds ample confirmation in the writings of the Mahatmas and of advanced disciples such as HPB. Let us begin by a quotation from the letters of the Adepts in perfect agreement with this description:
97 - “As for human nature in general, it is the same now as it was a million of years ago: Prejudice based upon selfishness; a general unwillingness to give up an established order of things for new modes of life and thought – and occult study requires all that and much more – pride and stubborn resistance to Truth if it but upsets their previous notions of things, – such are the characteristics of your age, and specially of the middle and lower classes.” (K.H., ML, L. 1, p. 3)
In an age such as we live in, only a few years away from the end of the XX century – in which equalitarian prejudice is dominant and in which, paradoxically, we find an abyss between the poorest and the richest which is wider than ever before – the attempt to clarify such knowledge of human brotherhood may appear a form either of elitism or of a conservative defense of flagrant social privilege and injustice. It is therefore necessary to state clearly that our purpose is exactly the opposite since, as we shall attempt to show further on, the sole hope for a fairer social organization, in which the welfare of the rights of those that have not achieved maturity may truly be defended and assured, lies precisely in this clear view of the evolutionary profile of the human family, as we can see from the following quotation from Annie Besant:
98 - “In the family, where the principle of Brotherhood is recognised, and where duty and responsibility go with age and knowledge, there we have, as it were, a rough outline as to what a State should be. But how does the principle of age come in as regards mankind? For unless there be something in the human race which bears an analogy, at least, to the principle of age within a family, we shall find it difficult to vindicate Brotherhood, much less to make it the foundation-stone of society in the centuries to come. Now, it is as true of humanity as it is true of the members of a family that there is a difference of age. Exactly on the same lines by which the members of a family are born one after the other, and in all those different ages make up the family circle, so is it with the great family of man. The human and intelligent Spirits that make up that vast family are not of the same age, have not all been born into individual existence at the same time. Side by side with the idea of the Brotherhood, comes out the natural law of reincarnation – that there is a difference of age in the individualised human Spirits, and that there are elders and youngers in the great human family. (...)
“That great principle of Reincarnation must ever go hand in hand with the principle of Brotherhood if Brotherhood is to be applied, if it is to be made a working principle of ordinary life. For it is out of these differences of age that grow up all the possibilities of an ordered and happy society amongst ourselves. When the young souls come into places of power and wealth, then ill is it for the nation, for then children rule instead of men. But well it is for a people where wisdom is the test of weight and authority, where the wise and the thoughtful and the learned are those who are held to have the greatest claim to social distinction, where knowledge and power go hand in hand, and where experience is the guide of righteousness, the standard of honour. Only as those facts are recognised – and they grow out of the knowledge of reincarnation – only on that stable law in nature can you build securely and strongly the society that shall endure.” (A. Besant, The Changing World, pp. 78-80)
More Quotations on the Evolutionary Level of Humanity
In the light of the Perennial Philosophy there can be no doubt that Leadbeater’s description, confirmed by the quotation from the Adept, gives a true picture of human brotherhood; i.e., of its true evolutionary situation. With the intention of confirming and further clarifying this panorama of our present evolutionary stage, we quote the following from the writings of HPB:
99 - “Our present mankind is still in the forth of the seven great cyclic rounds. Humanity is a baby hardly out of its swaddling clothes, and the highest adept of the present age knows less than he will know as a child in the seventh round. And as mankind is an infant collectively, so is man in his present development individually.” (CW, Vol. VI, p. 103)
100 - “A third object, pursued by a portion of the fellows of the Society, is to investigate the unexplained laws of nature and the psychic powers of man. Two general objects, one restricted object, of attention. (...)
“Observe the third declaration, that only a portion of our fellows occupy themselves with the study of the occult properties of matter and the physical powers in man. The Society as a whole, then, is not concerned in this branch of research. And naturally; for out of every ten thousand people one may meet, the chances are that but a very small minority have the time, taste, or ability to take up such delicate and baffling studies.” (CW, Vol. XII, pp. 302-303)
101 - “Thus, in every man the mighty battle rages, but the fortune of the fight is not alike in all – in some the animal hosts rage madly in their triumph, in a few the glorious army of the god has gained a silent victory, but in the vast majority, and especially now, at the balance of the race cycle, the battle rages fiercely, the issue still in doubt.” (CW, Vol. XI, p. 149)
102 - “Few were the men during the early adolescence of mankind, and fewer still are they now, who feel disposed to put into practice Pope’s forcible declaration that he would tear out his own heart, if it had no better disposition than to love only himself, and laugh at all his neighbours.” (CW, Vol. XIV, p. 41)
103 - “There was never a time yet, nor ever will be, while this human race lasts, when anything more than a small minority would devote themselves to the mighty task of selfconquest and spiritual evolution. The Adept is as rare as the flower of the Vogay tree, which, the Tamil proverb says, is the most difficult to see. (...) The mere certainty that such rare powers – psychical and intellectual – and such moral grandeur, as he exemplifies, are within human reach, gives dignity to our common nature and a worthy model to look up to, and, in some degree, pattern after.” (CW, Vol. IV, p. 170)
These quotations from HPB amply confirm the long passage from Leadbeater. She states that a fierce battle can be observed in the majority of human beings between the animal or selfish predispositions and the spiritual, divine, or altruistic aspirations; or, in other words, as stated by Leadbeater, that human Selves still “are but dreamly semiconscious, though few are now in the condition of mere colourless films.”
The Evolution of the Higher Self is a Very Slow Process
HPB also says that we have only attained a point in the middle of the evolutionary cycle of humanity, and that it “is still in the fourth of the seven great cyclical rounds” that make up its evolutionary journey. We do not consider it necessary in the present text to go into the analysis of the doctrine of the cyclical rounds; it is enough to note what they say concerning the very long time periods, and that centuries and millennia are as days and weeks in the context of humanity’s evolutionary life.
This idea that significant changes in the psycho-spiritual evolution of humanity correspond to very long periods of time, is of the greatest significance in our era in which the swift progress in the control of certain natural energies gives the false impression of equally swift progress in the true or egoic evolution of humanity. Even among circles considered of high spirituality naive reference is made to an Age of Aquarius, or a New Age, during which spiritually mature beings would emerge in great numbers. As though astronomic calculations had the power to cause true evolutionary progress! Dazzled as we are by the superficial and dangerous progress made in this age in the fields of science and technology such as the almost instantaneous speed we have achieved in electronics and which we are able to apply to many procedures in computer science, communication, destruction, etc., we do not perceive the significant fact that the true psycho-spiritual evolution of humanity is a process which involves frighteningly long periods of time.
This hard fact of life has highly significant practical connotations in this age of so much false egalitarianism, present only in deceitful speeches and in the chaotic and cruelly irresponsible legislation they create, as we shall see further on in this text, including its implications within the TS itself. It is always appropriate to repeat the phrase already quoted from the Adept stating, “As for human nature in general, it is the same now as it was a million of years ago.” That exactly is the context in which we quote two passages from HPB as we close this chapter:
104 - “Times and events change; human nature remains the same and unaltered under every sky and in every age.” (CW, Vol. XIV, p. 110)
105 - “But the zenith of the material is the nadir of the spiritual; the law of progress moves calmly onward with the wheel of time, and nature, who never leaps, develops a new standard of worth, the intellectual, which we see even now asserting itself in proportion to its adaptability to average comprehension and the material standard of the times, and pointing to the development of a new caste standard, to be in its turn superseded by the caste of true worth in which the spiritual development of the race will be completely established. This, however, will be the work of ages and for humanity as a whole cannot easily be quickened, for it is impossible to change the natural law of evolution which proceeds spirally in curves that never re-enter into themselves, but ever ascend to so-called higher planes.” (CW, Vol. XI, p. 150)