All the records extant of man proceed from a common starting point, that of his earliest attempts at material existence. None of them, not even those which have much to say regarding man's spiritual nature, take into account the most important the stupendous fact, that long before the morning twilight of his material birthday he had passed through, on this planet, an era of immense duration as a spiritual being; a being whose destiny was a gradual descent into matter, but in whose hands lay, in a large measure, his own career. A planetary spirit man was before he became a spiritual man, and finally man a child of this earth. He became by slow degrees master, in a material sense, of his new home the arbiter of his own destiny in it. Though subject to its environment and physical limitations, he went through various gradations of conditions before he was able to comprehend the cosmogony of which he formed a part.[HPB1]
It is in place here to quote some general remarks of our Teacher  on the evolution of man, from his pre-existing spiritual condition, which admit of application to all special cases:
"Now there are, and there must be, failures in the ethereal races of the many classes of Dhyan Chohans or Devas,[ Progressed entities of a previous planetary period. For particulars vide infra. ] as well as among men. But still as the failures are too far progressed and spiritualized to be thrown back forcibly from Dhyan Chohanship into the vortex of a new primordial evolution through the lower kingdoms, this then happens. Where a new solar system has to be evolved these Dhyan Chohans are borne in by influx "ahead" of the elementals [entities on the subjective plane of existence to be developed into humanity at a future time], [ Vide infra. ] and remain as a latent or inactive spiritual force, in the aura of a nascent world of the new system, until the stage of human evolution is reached. . . . . Then they become an active force and commingle with the elementals, to develop little by little the full type of humanity."
This development of spiritual entities into material existence, or as it is commonly called "descent of spirit into matter", is but one factor in the great problem of human evolution; the formation of his physical body being the other. As man's nature is dual physical and spiritual, so there are two elements of his evolution. On the spiritual side he is descended from the Dhyan Chohans, on the material from the highest type of animal life existent when his association with matter began. The student may meet with some difficulty in harmonizing the two aspects of evolution, but a dutiful adherence to the law of analogy will not fail to furnish a clue to the intricacies of the subject.
, and the
mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms. It must not, however, be
these kingdoms possessed any of their present physical properties at
start of human evolution. On the contrary, the fact is that all
properties cognizable by us have grown with our growth. It is a general
from the moment that a superior kingdom comes into being a retardation
development is imposed on all the inferior ones.
operation of this
inferior kingdoms [HPB4]
the tide of man's evolution set in.
We need not here speak of the elemental kingdoms, as the ordinary man possesses hardly any knowledge of their nature. Regarding the other three kingdoms, it is to be noted that the lower the investigation penetrates the less does it find any sign of progress during the human period. The mineral kingdom has progressed the least, [HPB5] . When the human entities from their spiritual condition began to press towards physical existence the highest type of animal form advanced a step higher to receive them. The impression must not be formed that physical frames already developed, were waiting for the human entities to come and inhabit them; for the fact is that the spiritual entities in manifesting themselves objectively evolved the higher types from the pre-existing animal forms. The condition of the lower forms of existence at the birth of man on earth, will have some light thrown upon it by the condition of the first races of man, described further on. The state of the lower kingdoms during the periods of their respective predominance is beyond our comprehension, as the layers of matter through which they progressed are beyond the range of our present perception. We must not leave this part of the subject without the remark that the changes of the lower forms of life contemplated above are not the changes studied by the geologist and palaeontologist, whose observations are confined to one of the many planes of material existence, namely, the one cognizable by us. Nor should we omit to mention the important fact, that the entities now evolving on this planet in the inferior kingdoms will not attain to the human state in this planetary period.
These observations prepare the way for the consideration of
the state of man on his first appearance on earth during this
The first representatives of humanity, as we know it on this earth,
strictly speaking, supra-mundane or spiritual men, and not terrestrial
Their grossest principles did not descend lower than an ethereal or,
correctly, astral body; they were men only in the sense that the seed
tree, and, going further back, the potential energy the seed itself.
purely spiritual races which in this
Ring preceded the appearance of [HPB6]
present Round ,
consisted of beings with whom the man of science has no historical
acquaintance, and whom he very naturally will repudiate. He will at
once fly to
the defence of his position with the assertion that the world was not
at a stage anterior to the stone age; and to tell him that the planet
home of living human creatures before the glacial period is to outrage
sense. Even the evidence that European man existed as early as the
Tertiary age is disputed.
It should be remembered that
when the word
"habitable" is applied to this planet, its meaning is limited by the
sense in which we define the first man and his requirements. And again,
should be remembered as the fundamental anthropological fact upon which
the statements herein put forward, that
evolution of the
seven spiritual races which preceded man the
earth was fitted for his
habitation. The Egyptian
seven gods of the elements are the symbols for these seven primitive
the seven Elohim of the Hebrews are identical with the seven Rishis of
first races were speechless, as were their spiritual prototypes, the
being but materialized copies of the latter.
If the subsequent
races of men found themselves gifted with speech, it is because they
fashioned "in the image" of the "seven gods" of the living
word or speech of the Taos. There is not a people but had this
tradition; not a
race but preserved it. Even the savage Hurons have their "seven spirits
the breath", or uttered thought or word; which spirits they invoke, and
who are only the prototypes of the first speaking races. To the time of
first race which "fell into generation", the human races had all and
each their paradigms. These spiritual races were in turn developed and
instructed by planetary spirits of a much higher order of existence
race of man has yet attained. The word "spiritual" should not be
misunderstood. In this connection it has reference, not to disembodied
beings, but to orders of existence not yet developed through matter to
part of the material world in which they were placed by the cosmic law.
other words, they did not represent that principle in man which
survives as an
entity after gross matter has been thrown off, but beings whose destiny
reach the plane of matter from another, and to come to it by means as
as that by which the grub evolves into the butterfly.
Nature, perceptible by us at present only in its five rudimentary material aspects, has in store for those who seek to unravel its mysteries with the developed sixth and seventh principles, a wealth of wisdom elevating to contemplate; and the elementary truths contained in these pages are but a small portion of the mass of information which the earnest student may discover for himself, will he but seek, with half the ardor with which he denies, the existence of conditions and events of which he has no knowledge. The methodical experimentalist feels a contempt for the erratic child of genius who knows neither rule nor rote, but lisping in numbers as the numbers come, gives utterance to the thoughts that well up from depths within. Yet the world is with the inspired one, for he touches chords of sympathy which vibrate and reverberate in human hearts, awakening with each touch some slumbering memory of their spirit-existence, or some premonitions of their future life, not clearly defined in the consciousness of the progeny of matter.
The inner or soul-truths which the men of this race but vaguely conceive will by the next, the sixth race, be perceived in their objective forms, and their interior beauty will be sensed with as much ease as the existence of a world of spirit is sensed by the advanced men of this fifth race.
The first human entities upon
were living germs in motion, "winged globes" of Egypt, or "Scarabei",
as they are now called. From these germs
through ages of time evoluted the seven races of ethereal beings,
man's ancestors on earth pre-human beings, if we may so define them.
These embryonic manifestations of life in their earliest state
one instinct, that of motion, and moved (to all appearances) aimlessly
serving no other purpose than do many of the lower forms of life about
Were we masters of nature's secrets, we could unravel these mysteries. There are men who have attained a degree of spiritual and physical development which enables them to perceive the inner working of cosmic laws, and this development is reached through the education of the seven senses of man in their dual nature, spiritual as well as physical. These fortunate exceptions are so little known to their fellow-men that it is next to an impossibility to convince people in any age of their existence. The occupants of the earth at the time when incipient man appeared were, beside animals (of course not as now known), "nature-spirits." They were the spirits, representing the astral prototypes of trees and other orders of vegetation, as also the corresponding prototypes of the minerals and metals. They possessed no evoluted sense, and were provided with but one feeling that of blind instinct. There were also elementals of a different order, who were subsequently evolved into men, as we shall see further on.
Our earliest forefathers, the first physical descendants of the supra-mundane man, were beings born to a state which we do not of ourselves comprehend, but of which we gather hints from those who have retained for us the knowledge, fragments of which they are now imparting. The cradle of the first objective race of man in the present Ring was the North Pole, which at the time we are speaking of was almost on the ecliptic. Since that period the poles and the equator have changed places. It may surprise those astronomers who believe that they have completely solved the problem of the precession of the equinoxes by a chain of mathematical reasoning, and they may perhaps reject this statement with scorn, but the fact is that the inclination of the earth's axis to the plane of the ecliptic undergoes a secular change [ We are aware that this statement is opposed to mathematical physics, to which the able and thoughtful papers of Mr. G.H.Darwin form the latest contribution. But what physicist will venture to affirm that all the data for the determination of the question are known? Certainly no astronomer who has attempted the as yet unsolved problem of the secular acceleration of the moon's motion. ] and future discoveries will support our position. The geologist, whose store of knowledge has received important additions from the discovery of beds of coal in very high latitudes, will probably even now find this assertion suggestive.
Before passing on, it must be reiterated that the different epochs of the history of human evolution here referred to, were periods in which countless thousands of beings lived their appointed time and disappeared from the earth; otherwise, erroneous impressions will be received regarding this subject, which it is designed to deal with only in broad features, and not in details.
We propose to sketch the
history of human evolution in this
Ring from the spiritual to the physical
condition. But it is not practicable to trace the course of development
all the seven
minor septenaries, the sub-races. The general outline that follows will
the readers to work out the details for themselves. The Law of
is preserved all through. What is true of any particular sub-race of a
true, on a higher plane of the corresponding sub-race of the succeeding
[HPB1] All this par. refers to man from first to the fourth Round and can stand if you add a word or two to make it plainer.
[HPB2] These three orders evoluted before Earth herself was formed They preceded Earth not Man.
[HPB3] No such thing, take it out.
[HPB4] A mistake; they have ; but long to tell.
[HPB5] How about the gigantic ferns, and the antediluvian monsters where is the correspondence and analogy?
[HPB6] (after the words "physical man" add) . . . "physical man in the 4th the present Round."
[HPB7] ". . . that with the seven Sub-Races of the 1st Root-Race . . ." ("which preceded man" must go out .)
[HPB8] "Speechless" but not dumb . How can Spiritual prototypes be speechless or not speechless? Language as we know it by sounds is our Terrestial flapdoodle.
[HPB9] These were our ancestors, the Seven races I spoke about at Elberfeld and elsewhere, who were the prototypes of the seven races of man that had to follow their models so to say. Therefore from the 3rd such spiritual race they had Speech and were not "speechless," if you want to be accurate. I will give all this in the Secret Doctrine.
[HPB10]or World Period
: what HPB comments on
strikethrough: original text by authors,
underline: HPB's alternative text
[hpb2]: link to footnote with comments by HPB
: footnotes, referencing related information elsewhere in the classic theosophical teachings