PHYSICAL EVOLUTION OF MAN; OR, DESCENT INTO MATTER.
In tracing the development of the objective man from his subjective predecessors, mentioned in the preceding chapter, it must be steadily borne in mind that at the beginning of each Ring the process described is always repeated; but with each subsequent period, the duration of this process becomes shorter. Nature finds it easier to repeat even on a higher plane that to evolve afresh. The facility acquired by nature in repeating something it has once accomplished is well illustrated in the development of the human foetus: within the short space of seven months the embryonic germ moves through the complete diapason of organic evolution, because humanity as a whole, in working up to its present position, has already passed over all the intermediate steps. The development of the physical sense of the human entity and its physical encasement forms his descent into matter, or physical evolution. It is proposed in this chapter to give a brief outline of the physical evolution of the first objective race of the present
When we speak of "Primitive Peoples," we do not refer to the first people who dwelt upon the earth, but to the first objective race of this
Ring, who are known to later races as the Adamic men. It has been mentioned in the previous chapter that the number of ethereal races in the present Ring was seven; each of these races developed one astral sense until the seventh race had all the seven senses developed[HPB1] as far as the existing conditions admitted. It is difficult for men not having more than five sense to imagine what the other two senses are[HPB2] , but it must not be forgotten that our present state is by no means perfect. The seventh-race men of this Ring will perhaps have equal difficulty to conceive how we could have existed with only five senses. When the tide of evolution took the first turn towards objective life, humanity had to evolve on the material plane, one after another, the seven astral senses which its pre-human ancestors possessed. The first race of this Ring, it is well known, had, like all other races, seven sub-races. Each one of these sub-races developed, so far as material development was attainable by it, one of the seven senses. The seventh sub-race had all the seven senses physically developed up to a certain degree. The first sub-race of the second race took up the earliest developed sense from the point where it was left at the close of the first race, and carried it forward a step higher. The second sub-race treated the next developed sense similarly, so that each one of the senses attained higher perfection with each sub-race of the succeeding race, until at last, by the middle of the third race, man become as we know him now, only less developed.[HPB3]
The succeeding races have carried forward this evolution higher and higher in the same order. The common type of a race is always preserved by its various sub-races, which at each step becomes more and more developed on the physical plane, with a corresponding loss of some particular astral sense possessed by their supra-mundane predecessors.
Man thus began to advance on the physical plane by developing one of the seven senses. The first sub-race of the first objective
race slowly acquired the sense of physical sight, which, it may be remarked, included in itself the six others in their latent or potential state. Simultaneously with the growth of this new sense there was a corresponding growth of external nature. The astral senses of the supra-mundane man perceived but the astral counterpart of all the objects of nature, as now known to us. It is very difficult for the average man of to-day to realize how the present sensuous nature existed merely as its shadow, and at the same time possessed real and objective character. But it will be remembered that, when a dreaming man perceives astral objects, he finds no deficiency of reality in them. With the nascent faculty of sight the world slowly commenced to assume a different character; external nature by degrees acquired visibility, as we understand it, though unaccompanied by any of the other properties which we invariably associate with visible objects.
The properties of objects corresponding to the other senses had not yet evolved; those senses themselves were still unknown. For these primitive men the leaves did not rustle, the flowers did not smell, nor did they disclose to the eyes variety of colours. Sight being their only developed sense, they had no notion of either distance or solidity. But this sense at the beginning was unlimited in range. Pre-human man could fathom the mysteries of the sun and sky, and could watch stars which baffle the mightiest telescope. The first sub-race, with its newly developed sight, could have no realization of darkness, for no object was completely opaque. Light varied in intensity, but a knowledge of the contrast felt by us between day and night had not dawned upon the first representatives of the race. Sight at this period had not developed to a perception of colour. The first men failed to note the varied hues of the rainbow; and the grass, the trees, and the animals were not to them, as they are to us, of different colours. The evolution of the perception of colour is intimately bound up with the evolution of the races and sub-races of humanity. When the sense of sight was first developed man failed to perceive any of the prismatic colours. To him everything appeared perfectly colourless white; but before the first sub-race of the first objective race had reached its apex, and yielded place to its successors, the colour red was distinguished. Each sub-race developed the perception of one more of the prismatic colours in the order in which they occur, beginning with the red; and each succeeding race had to regain for itself the perception of the colours of the rainbow, although in continually diminishing periods of time, and on each occasion recognizing a much larger variety of shades of colour. The earlier ancestors of our race did not perceive more than three principal colours red, yellow, and green; two in perfection, and the third only to a limited extent[HPB4] . That our eyes in the present day can enjoy such rich repast of colours is due to the fact that we are recovering as well as adding to the knowledge which was once possessed by the men of preceding races. Toward the close of this sub-race period human sight, hitherto unlimited, began to feel the limitations of distance and opacity. This was due to the influence of a nascent sense which marked the appearance of the sub-race that followed. The presence of the new sense, touch, considerably modified the perception of things, and, by the combination of these two senses, new conceptions, such as those of solidity, distance, temperature, began their development.
It must not be omitted here that toward the close of this period the sense of hearing to a very slight extent, however began to show itself, but it did not receive much development until at a later stage, as will be seen further on. The second sub-race inherited the sense of sight, and developed for itself the sense of touch. The latter sense at the beginning had a much wider range than at a subsequent period. This might, at first sight, appear difficult of comprehension, but those who have observed how the blind develop their hearing and touch to abnormal delicacy and acuteness will understand how the multiplicity of senses blunts the keenness of any particular faculty. To the early people touch was something like the psychometric faculty possessed by a certain type of clairvoyants, though much more intense. In point of fact, this faculty received such a high degree of interior development that it revealed the inner as well as the outer nature of the objects to which it was applied. By touch a new source of enjoyment was opened and a fresh bond was established between man and his surroundings. As sense after sense was born, link after link was forged in this chain, and veil upon veil was thrown upon the long vista of his spiritual recollections. By continued association with things of clay he adapted himself to his new home, until at last his thoughts travelled no further.
The sense of touch, which germinated in the first sub-race, attained its limiting development in the second. With the evolution of the succeeding sub-race man ceased to be any longer an ethereal being, and became a comparatively materialized creature, endowed with several elementary senses, of which one only, hearing, was accentuated, and became peculiarly characteristic of the third sub-race.
This sub-race rejoiced in the triple faculties of sight, touch, and hearing, the two former as developed physical senses, the two previous sub-races having materialized them, and the latter as both spiritual and physical. This faculty being a new inheritance, was at first wholly spiritual, just as the faculty of thought-transference
is a spiritual faculty to the [HPB5] fifth, our present race, but will become a physical faculty to sixth-race men. So long as a faculty is only spiritual it cannot be the common property of the race; it will be possessed by men constituted differently from the generality of their fellow-men, or by those who undergo a definite course of training in order to acquire it. But when the race en bloc rises up to the level of these few, the faculty in question ceases to be spiritual, and is enjoyed by the race at large as a physiological heritage.
The extent of the power of hearing possessed by the third sub-race of the
third-race men was so great in comparison with ours as to be hardly credible to-day. The spiritual ear had received its greatest amount of development and physical hearing itself attained a very high degree of acuteness. Even the sound of the leaf budding greeted with its natural music the ears of these primitive habitants of our planet. As colour after colour was added to the early flower, its rhythmic dance was not unperceived by the yet unworn sense of hearing. It must have been with something of the exquisite delight with which we of to-day, who have the musical perception largely developed, hear the divine strains of a symphony or an oratorio, that they listened to this music. A new charm was added to life, and man viewed with ever-growing satisfaction and complacency the congenial world about him.
The metrical motion of the heavenly bodies around us, which men call the music of the spheres, and which they believe is unheard by the mortal ear on account of its grossness, was to these elder-born children of nature an abiding strain of joy.
"Look, how the floor of heaven
Is thick inlaid with patines of bright gold:
There's not the smallest orb which thou behold'st
But in his motion like an angel sings,
Still quiring to the young-eyed cherubims:
Such harmony is in immortal souls;
But whilst this muddy vesture of decay
Doth grossly close it in, we cannot hear it."
[ From the "Merchant of Venice, act. 5, sc.1. ]
Physical grossness shuts out from us many other joys of nature besides its music, as is known to those whose senses are refined by training or nature. At that time the spiritual ear had fully expanded, and the harmony between the spiritual and the physical nature of man made it possible for this sense to be more acute than it has ever been in any subsequent race for the generality. But these are men living in the present day who have not only retained the marvellous power of hearing possessed by our ancestors of the third race, but by constant cultivation have developed the faculty to an even more remarkable degree of perfection. The exceptional human beings we allude to have wondrously maintained this power of hearing, and, as is well known in India and elsewhere, speak across space, and can be heard by those whose spiritual sense of hearing can control the physical counterpart and subordinate it when desired. Distance presents no obstacle to the spiritual ear, and souls in spiritual sympathy respond to each other's call from the ends of the world.
The fourth sub-race, it will be seen, started with three well-developed senses, sight, touch, and hearing. The sense of smell which belongs peculiarly to this sub-race, was at its birth both a spiritual and a physical faculty. The spiritual sense of smell had many of the properties which we associate with seeing, touching, and hearing. Even now naturalists know how this sense, in some insects, does the duty of nearly all senses; the importance of the sense of smell to certain animals, notably dogs, need hardly be mentioned. The evolution of this sense added another coating to nature, thus justifying the adoption by the ancients of the onion as the symbol of evolution. Objects which before could be only seen, felt, and heard, now for the first time acquired the property of odour.
The sense of taste was developed by the fifth sub-race. At first the human body did not require food to support life, and even at as late a period as the time when the fourth sub-race developed the sense of smell, man[HPB6]
ate nothing, but imbibed nutriment by the osmose from the air. It was only when his body became condensed, and in a sense gross, that repairs of the system had to be made by food taken into the stomach. The first and second races did not feel the necessity of supplying the waste of tissues by food. Properly speaking, man did not become an eating animal on this planet , in our Fourth Ring, until the close of the second race.
The senses developed by the sixth and seventh sub-races are inconceivable to us, who have only five sense developed though to a much higher degree than the humanity of any previous period and having the other two senses in a very elementary condition.
In those days nothing disagreeable was experienced through the senses, In fact, no sense in its incipient stages can ever bear any sensation unpleasant to man. Unpleasantness being the product of disharmony or violation of the natural order of things, could only have arisen after the senses had become sufficiently associated with external objects. Physical pain was, so to say, brought about by the misuse of our senses, and not by their use. The Biblical myth, that God cursed the earth on the fall of Adam, has a deeply significant meaning. Man in his natural state knew not the abuse of any sense or organ, and hence was free from all pain connected with their exercise. In childhood, although the acuteness of the senses is far greater than afterwards, children do not experience to as great a degree as the adult the painful feelings which senses are capable of producing. They are, for instance, capable of bearing bad odours without much annoyance. The vision of children is clearer and more far-reaching than that of the adult; but their eyes cannot recognize delicate shadings of colour. Hearing in childhood extends over a much wider range than afterwards; they can detect notes much higher and sounds much lower than the average grown-up man, but the semitones and other finer divisions they do not perceive. In the dawn of life the strength of the different organs is most remarkable, and the pleasure derived from their exercise is greatest. Sounds discordant to the average ear are often not without attraction for the young. The analogy may be pursued all through, and the differences between the qualities of the juvenile and the adult senses may be noted. Children's taste for strong flavours, and their incapacity to sympathize with delicate sensibilities, are well known, and observation of infant life renders it clear that nature prefers first of all to draw the outlines and then to fill in the details. The tendency of the higher evolution of races has always been to produce greater and greater variations of each root-sense. At each upward step the senses lost in power and gained in variety and richness. To our ancestors many objects, which present distinctly recognizable differences to our taste, appeared perfectly alike. So in colour, so in sound, and in every other department of sensuous attainment. The refined luxuries of the modern table will convey to us some idea of the complex delicacy of our palate as compared with the simple requirements of even the Middle Ages.
Pursuing the subject still further, attention is directed to what may be called compound senses, which are formed when more than one sense is gratified at the same time by the same object. Epicures will testily how their enjoyment acquires a keener relish by a dish which pleases by its odour as well as by its taste, while the effect of music with varying brightness of light is well known, at all events in the East.
We have spoken of two sets of senses those possessed by the supra-mundane men and those possessed by their terrestrial descendants. The still higher spiritual senses, called by the Indian philosophers the Tanmatras, we have not even mentioned: they are, roughly speaking, the abstract senses, where the sense and its appropriate object blend into one. Man of the present day has on the lowest plane of his existence the five gross senses; when in his astral body he obtains command of his astral senses; and to all intents and purposes in that state he is in the same position as his supra-mundane progenitor. It might here be mentioned that a Brahman is often called in ancient Sanscrit writings "the son of the
fire", which really means the astral man the supra-mundane human being; for the Brahmans claim to have alone remained faithful to the traditions of their exalted ancestors when the rest of the world had betaken themselves to the worship of strange gods. Higher than these astral senses are the truly spiritual senses, their abstract counterparts. It is these seven senses in their triple character, spiritual, astral and physical, that the greatest Mahatmas those masters in nature posses in a highly-developed condition. They have retained by studious cultivation the excellences of all the past races, and combined with them their individual advancement, while humanity has been moving on in the descending cycle.
[HPB1] Each Round being the prototype of the Root-races (or the globe period), and each first Root-race the prototype of the six races to follow the first Root-race of our globe and Round, was then the synthesis within its septenary of the 6 races. Our last shall embrace all the faculties of the first . Remember, the "prototype" is spiritual, physical and mental a model, and that is why the Masters, knowing from their predecessors and seeing clairvoyantly what was , can say what will be .
[HPB2] No, it is not . The sixth sense is the perception of realities and truth in the invisible worlds ( those we can reach, of course) and of truth and fact on earth. All the words and sentences of a speech becoming coloured it is easy to see at once by the colour that accompanies sound when truth is spoken or a lie a fact given or a distortion of it.
[HPB3] The last twelve lines, on page 24, as you see are completely wrong, must be re-written according to what is said above. On this page you mix up the seven spiritual races with the seven physical ones. The prototypes of each globe of a Round are invariably on planet A, each Root-race of the Septenary being the model for one of the globes. Thus:
1st Root-race on planet A stands as a model for globe A
(and its last 7th).
2nd " " " " globe B.
3rd " " " " globe C.
4th " " " " globe D.
And each first Root-race on each planet, and in each Round contains the prototypes of all the following, in its seven Sub-races.
[HPB4] This may be proven by the traditions of the First great Deluge at about the middle of the fourth Root-race when man perceived for the first the rainbow, with its full solar spectrum colours. There is a real meaning to this, not the Bible flapdoodle of the Covenant . I shall give it in the Secret Doctrine.
[HPB5] This is why the sense of taste is now fully developed in our fifth Sub-race of the fifth Root-race, the prototypes of our Root-race and its fifth Sub-race being the fourth Round and the fifth Sub-race of the first Root-race in this our World period as you say rightly on page 31, (2nd par.). Remember that we are enveloped so to say (our earth life) by the two worlds Mahar (or Tejas , light, colour of purely earthly intellect) and by Rasatala from rasa "taste" I believe, for I was taught so. The prototypes of the Round being colour or sight and of the Sub-race and Root-race taste . All correspondences you see.
[HPB6] man ate nothing Flapdoodle.
[HPB7] Of all the senses taste is the grossest and most material; but taste has nothing to do with nourishment , no more than loud or verbal speech with talking and understanding each other. You materialise considerably my Mohini also.
: what HPB comments on
strikethrough: original text by authors, HPB corrected
underline: HPB's alternative text
[hpb2]: link to footnote with comments by HPB
: footnotes, referencing related information elsewhere in the classic theosophical teachings