THE SOUL’S PROGRESS
A very important point in the Rosicrucian teaching is that in which we are informed that the evolution of man is not confined to this planet, the earth, but rather is extended to a chain of seven planets. The Rosicrucians teach that the evolutionary processes of this planet are linked with and blended into the evolutionary processes of six other planets; and that life on this planet is likewise linked with and blended into the life on the six other planets of our planetary chain. The Rosicrucians teach that these seven planets of our planetary chain are closely linked and connected by subtle etheric forces, and that there is a constant etheric current passing from one to the others and flowing ever through the entire circuit. These connected planets constitute the chain of worlds which is the series of homes of the individual soul, and the circuit of which is travelled by all individual souls. Not only does each individual soul now on earth reincarnate a number of times on this planet, but in the course of the ages it progresses to the next highest planet, just as in ages past it has progressed from the next lowest one.
And this round of the chain of planets has been made several times by the human race in some form of existence, and will be made again several times. The planets of this chain of worlds are not identical in composition and nature with the earth; on the contrary there is a wide difference between the several planets in this respect. The earth is not the highest in development in this chain, but on the contrary is far down on the scale, although there are others still lower. The progress of the souls around this chain of worlds, however, is not merely like a circle in which the soul travels from the lowest to the highest, but is rather according to the plan of the spiral, in which the journey always returns to the starting point, but on a higher plane of activity. This journey of the life forms from world to world has been in progress since the beginning of the present world period, and was made by the lower forms of life as they climbed the spiral stairway of evolution.
A writer on the subject has said of this point: “It is the spiral character of the progress accomplished by the life impulses that develop the various kingdoms of Nature which accounts for the gaps now observed in the animated forms which people the earth. The thread of a screw, which is a uniform inclined plane in reality, looks like a succession of steps when examined only along one line parallel to its axis. The spiritual monads, which are coming round the system on the animal level, pass on to other worlds when they have performed their turn of animal incarnation here. By the time they come again, they are ready for human incarnation, and there is no necessity now for the upward development of animal forms into human forms these are already waiting for their spiritual tenants. But if we go back far enough, we come to a period at which there were no human forms ready developed on the earth. When spiritual monads, travelling on the earliest or lowest human level, were thus beginning to come round, their onward pressure in a world at that time containing none but animal forms provoked the improvement of the highest of these into the required form the much talked of missing link.
The impulse to the new evolution of higher forms is really given by rushes of spiritual monads coming round the cycle in a state fit for the inhabitation of new forms. These superior life impulses burst the chrylsalis of the older form on the planet they invade, and throw off an efflorescence of something higher. The forms which have gone on merely repeating themselves for millenniums start afresh into growth; with relative rapidity they rise through the intermediate into the higher forms, and then, as these in turn are multiplied with the vigor and rapidity of all new growths, they supply tenements of flesh for the spiritual entities coming round on that stage or plane of existence, and for the intermediate forms there are no longer any tenants offering. Inevitably they become extinct.”
The writer above quoted from also points out a very important point in the progress of the life forms from world to world, as follows: “The tide of life the wave of existence, the spiritual impulse, call it by what name we please passes on from planet to planet by rushes, or gushes, not by an even continuous flow. For the momentary purpose of illustrating the idea in hand, the process may be compared to the filling of a series of holes or tubs sunk in the ground, such as may sometimes be seen at the mouths of feeble springs, and connected with each other by little surface channels. The stream from the spring, as it flows, is gathered up entirely in the beginning by the first hole, or tub A, and it is only when this is quite full that the continued inpouring of water from the spring causes that which it already contains to overflow into tub B. This in turn fills and overflows along the channel which leads to tub C, and so on. It is manifest from what we have already said, and in order that the progress of organisms on globe.
A shall be accounted for, that the mineral kingdom will mi more develop the vegetable kingdom on globe A until it receives an impulse from without, than the earth was able to develop man from the ape till it received an impulse from without. The full development of the mineral epoch on globe A prepares the way for the vegetable development, and as soon as this begins the mineral life impulse overflows into globe B. Then when the vegetable development on globe A is complete, and the animal development begins, the vegetable life impulse overflows to globe B, and the mineral impulse passes on to globe C. Then finally, comes the human impulse on globe A. It is necessary at this point to guard against one misconception that might arise. There is a fact to be stated which has such an influence on the course of events, that, when it is realized, it will be seen that the life impulse has passed several times around the whole chain of worlds before the commencement of the human impulse on globe A.
This fact is as follows: Each kingdom of evolution, vegetable, animal, and so on, is divided into several spiral layers. The spiritual monads the individual atoms of that immense life impulse of which so much has been said do not fully complete their mineral existence on globe A, then complete it on globe B, and so on. They pass several times round the whole circle as minerals, and then again several times round as vegetables, and several times as animals.” Now, leaving behind us the consideration of the details of the progress of the lower live forms, let us consider the details of the progress of the human race. It has been seen that the great wave of human life forms flows around the planetary chain in great waves in successive waves of progress. The successive waves are known by occultists under the name of “rounds.”
But, according to the rule “As in the great so in the small,” we find a corresponding series of spirals in the progress of the human race during each of its several sojourns on the earth. That is to say, an individual soul arriving on earth in one of the rounds does not merely live out its life here, and then pass on to the next planet. On the contrary, it lives a number of lives on this planet, and among several races. There exists a spiral of races in earth life, through which the individual soul must live and work its way. The number of these races is of course seven, for seven is the number manifested in all of the great occult processes of the Cosmos. There are seven great rounds of human progress around the chain of worlds, and in each round there are seven races in which the individual soul must manifest. The present round of the human race is the fourth. Each of the seven races of the present (fourth) round of the race occupies the earth for a great period of time.
The majority of the human race now on earth belong to the fifth race, though there are some stragglers from the fourth race still dwelling on earth. Each of these seven great races of humanity are sub-divided into seven sub-races and each sub-race is divided into seven branches. The period during which each great root race of the human race flourishes on earth is sharply marked off from that of the one succeeding it by great convulsions of Nature which destroy practically all traces of the preceding civilization, and which leave but few survivors thereof. A writer has said of this point of the occult teaching: “The periods of the great root races are divided from each other by great convulsions of Nature and by great geological changes. Europe was not in existence as a continent at the time the fourth race flourished. The continent on which the fourth race lived was not in existence at the time the third race flourished, and neither of the continents which were the great vortices of the civilizations of those two races are in existence now. Seven great continental cataclysms occur during the occupation of the earth by the human life-wave for one round period.
Each race is cut off in this way at its appointed time, some survivors remaining in parts of the world, not the proper home of their race; but these, invariably in such cases, exhibiting a tendency to decay, and relapsing into barbarism with more or less rapidity.” The individuals of the First Race of the present (fourth) round of the human race on earth ranged from a gross type scarcely above the brutes up to a very barbarous type. These higher types reincarnated later as the higher individuals of the Second Race, the lower types of the First Race constituting the lower subdivisions of the Second Race; the rule being that the less advanced souls of any race incarnate as the lowest types of the next and higher race.
The Rosicrucian teachings have but comparatively little to say concerning the history of the peoples of the First Race and the Second Race, but from what is taught it may be gathered that these peoples were of a very low order of humanity the types which we know as the Cave Dwellers, the Stone-age people, and the Fire-people, give us the nearest possible idea of what these First Race and Second Race people must have been like.
There was apparently little or nothing of what we call “civilization” among these people, and they were apparently about on a level with the very lowest types known among mankind on earth today. The teachings, however, state that there were a few comparatively highly advanced souls in the latter days of the Second Race, who acted as the leaven for the great improvement which came with the Third Race. The era of the Second Race terminated, as usual, with a cataclysm which destroyed the majority of the race, and which scattered its survivors among far distant lands. Then dawned the period of the Third Race, the seat of its greatest activity being laid in the continent of Lemuria, which was situated on that portion of the globe which now lies at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean, and parts of the Indian Ocean.
The continent of Lemuria also included Australia, Australasia, and other Pacific Islands these surviving portions being really the highest points of the continent of Lemuria, the lower portions of which were sunk beneath the waves ages ago. A writer says of the character of the civilization of Lemuria: “Life in Lemuria is described as being principally concerned with the physical senses and sensual enjoyment, only a few developed souls having broken through the fetters of materiality and reached the beginnings of the mental and spiritual planes of life. Some few indeed made great progress and were saved from the general wreck in order to become the leaven which would lighten the mass of mankind during the next great cycle. These developed souls were the teachers of the new races, and were looked upon by the latter as gods and supernatural beings, and legends and traditions concerning them are still existent among the ancient peoples of our present day. Many of the myths of the ancient peoples arose in this way.
The traditions are that just prior to the great cataclysm which destroyed the people of the Third Race, there was a body of the Chosen Ones which migrated from Lemuria to certain islands of the sea which are now part of the main land of India. These people formed the nucleus of the Occult Teachers of Lemuria, and they kept alight the Flame of Truth with which was lighted the torches of the Fourth Race the Race of the Atlanteans.” With the passing away of Lemuria the home of the Third Race there arose from the depths of the Atlantic Ocean the future home of the people of the Fourth Race the continent of Atlantis. Atlantis was situated in the space now occupied by a portion of the Atlantic Ocean, beginning at what is now known as the Caribbean Sea, and extending over to the region now known as Africa.
What we now know as Cuba and the West Indies were the highest points of the continent of Atlantis, the lower portions being now buried beneath the waves of the Atlantic Ocean. The writer above quoted from, says of the civilization of Atlantis: “The civilization of Atlantis was remarkable, and its people attained heights which seem almost incredible to even those familiar with the highest achievements of man of our own times. The Chosen Ones preserved from the cataclysm which destroyed Lemuria, and who lived to a remarkably old age, had stored up within their minds the wisdom and learning of the civilization which had been destroyed, and they thus gave the Atlanteans an enormous advantage at the start.
They soon attained great advancement along all the lines of human endeavor. They perfected mechanical inventions and appliances, reaching far ahead of even our present attainments. In the field of electricity especially they reached the stages that our present race will reach not sooner than two or three hundred years from now. Along the line of occult attainment their progress was far beyond the dreams of the average man of our own race, and in fact from this arose one of the causes of their downfall, for they prostituted the power to base and selfish uses, and practiced black magic. And so the decline of Atlantis began. But the end did not come at once, or suddenly it was gradual. The continent, and the surrounding islands gradually sunk beneath the waves of the Atlantic Ocean, the process occupying 10,000 years. The Greeks and the Romans of our own cycle had traditions regarding the sinking of the continent, but their knowledge referred only to the disappearance of the small remainder certain islands the continent itself having disappeared thousands of years before their time. It is recorded that the Egyptian priests had traditions that the continent itself had disappeared nine thousand years before their time.”
As in the case of the Chosen Ones of Lemuria, so was it with the Elect Ones of Atlantis who were taken away from the doomed land some time prior to its destruction. These advanced individuals of the race left their Atlantean homes and “led by the spirit” migrated to portions of what are now known as South America and Central America, then but islands of the sea. These people left the traces of their civilization in these lands, and our scientists discovering these wonders greatly at the evidences of the high culture shown in them. When the Fifth Race appeared, these brave and advanced souls became the teachers of the new race, and were afterwards remembered as “gods,” and the heroes of mythology.
The Fifth Race evolved rapidly, owing to the urge of the souls of the Atlanteans pressing forward for reembodiment, and human forms were born to supply the demand, the fertility of the new race being marked. The writer previously referred to says of the survival of members of a disappearing race, and their influence on the life of the new race: “By means of the cataclysms the races of each cycle were wiped out when their time came, but the few elect or chosen ones, that is those who had manifested the right to become torch-bearers, were carried away to some favorable environment, where they became as leaven to the mass as gods’ to the new races that quickly appeared. It must be noted, however, that the chosen or elect ones were not the only ones saved from the destruction that overtook the majority of the race in these cataclysms. On the contrary, a few survivors were preserved, although driven away from their former homes, and reduced to ‘first principles of living’ in order to become the parents of the new race.
The new races springing from the fittest of the survivors quickly formed sub-races, being composed of the better adapted souls seeking reincarnation, while the less fit sank into barbarism and showed evidences of decay. A remnant of these degraded human creatures, however, persist in incarnation for thousands of years, being composed of those souls not sufficiently advanced to take part in the life of the new races. These ‘left overs’ are in evidence in our own times in the cases of the Australian savages, the African Bushmen, and the Digger Indians, and others of a similar low order of development. In order to understand the advance of each race it must be remembered that the more advanced souls, after passing out of the body, have a much longer period of rest in the higher planes, and consequently do not present themselves for reincarnation until a period quite late as compared with the hasty reincarnation of the less advanced souls who are hurried back to rebirth by reason of the strong earthly attachment and desires. In this way it happens that the earlier races of each cycle are more primitive folk than those who follow them as the years roll by.
The soul of an earth-bound person reincarnates in a few years, and sometimes in a few days, while the soul of an advanced man may repose and rest on the higher planes for centuries nay, even for thousands of years, until the earth has reached a stage in which the appropriate environment may be afforded it.” At the beginning of the period of the Fifth Race (the present race of man) there were born not only the beginning of the new sub-races which always spring into existence at the beginning of a new cycle, but there were also born the descendants of the Elect, saved from the destruction of Atlantis by having been led away from the scene of danger. The new races were the descendants of the scattered survivors of the Atlantean peoples that is, of the common run of those peoples. But the Elect few were superior individuals of their race, and imparted to their descendants their knowledge and wisdom.
By an understanding of this distinction, we are able to comprehend the fact that at the same time there existed hordes of people of the new races more or less primitive and ignorant and at other places certain advanced peoples like the ancient Egyptians, Persians, Chaldeans, Hindus, etc. These advanced peoples represented the advanced souls the old souls, of the advanced individuals of the Lemurian and Atlantean civilizations. The descendants of some of the higher individuals were afterward known as the Assyrians and the Babylonians. In due time there appeared the beginnings of the great Roman, Grecian, and Carthaginian peoples.
Then came the fall of the ancient peoples, and the rise of new subdivisions of the race. The history of the race shows the existence and manifestation of the law of the rise and fall of nations. Regarding this phenomenon, Dr. Draper, in his “History of the Intellectual Development of Europe” well says: “We are, as we often say, the creatures of. circumstances. In that expression there is a higher philosophy than might at first appear. From this more accurate point of view we should therefore consider the course of these events, recognizing the principle that the affairs of men pass forward in a determinate way, expanding and unfolding themselves. And hence we see that the things of which we have spoken as if they were matters of choice, were in reality forced upon their apparent authors by the necessity of the times.
But in truth they should be considered as the presentation of a certain phase of life which nations in their onward course sooner or later assume. To the individual, how well we know that a sober moderation of action, an appropriate gravity of demeanor, belonging to the mature period of life, change from the wanton willfulness of youth, which may be ushered in, or its beginnings marked by many accidental incidents; in one, perhaps, by domestic bereavements, in another by the loss of fortune, in a third by ill-health. We are correct enough in imputing to such trials the change of character; but we never deceive ourselves by supposing that it would have failed to take place had these incidents not occurred. There runs an irresistible destiny in the midst of these vicissitudes. There are analogies between the life of a nation, and that of an individual, who, though lie may be in one respect the maker of his own fortunes, for happiness or for misery, for good or for evil, though he remains here or goes there as his inclinations prompt, though he does this or abstains from that as he chooses, is nevertheless held fast by an inexorable fate a fate which brought him into the world involuntarily, so far as he was concerned, which presses him forward through a definite career, the stages of which are invariable, infancy, childhood, youth, maturity, old age, with all their characteristic actions and passions, and which removes him from the scene at the appointed time, in most cases against his will.
So also is it with nations; the voluntary is only the outward semblance, covering but scarcely hiding the predetermined. Over the events of life we may have control, but none whatever over the law of progress. There is a geometry that applies to nations an equation of their curve of advance. That no mortal man can touch.”
Thus have risen and fallen the great nations of the past, and thus will rise and fall the great nations of the future and the law holds equally true in the case of the great nations of the present. Even at the time of thin writing great things are under way in the history of the nations of the present. Cosmic forces are at work under the thin disguise of the petty plans and ambitions of rulers and statesmen. Looking backward over any period of past history the careful historian is able to see clearly the rise and progress of mighty movements which swept along in their current the affairs of great nations; and the historians of the future will be able to discern precisely such great movements and forces when they look back to the history of today, our present time. And in each case it will become evident that the majority of the peoples involved in the struggles have had no clear perception of the great forces at work, or of the actual goal to which the great movements have tended. Thus have risen and fallen the great empires of the past, the Egyptian, the Persian, the Chaldean, the Grecian, the Roman, and the rest, Caesar, Alexander, Charlemagne, Napoleon, and the rest have been but the puppets of Fate through and by means of which she has worked out the dictates of Destiny. Races and peoples now regarded as but little more than half-civilized will be the successors of the proud nations of today just as the half-civilized Gauls, Angles, and Germanics succeeded the proud civilizations of ancient Greece and Rome.
When a nation begins to decline it is because its more advanced souls have passed on, leaving only the less progressive souls behind to carry on the work of the sub-race. The advanced souls pass on to new scenes of activity, and even the backward ones are not permitted to lag very far behind for the continual change and the creation of new environments tend to reawaken sleeping energies and to stimulate the lagging ones to fresh endeavor and activity. The following quotations from a celebrated occultist may prove of interest to the student in connection with the particular subjects considered in the present chapter:
“At the half-way point of the fourth round here the polar point of the whole seven-world period is passed. From this point outwards the spiritual ego begins its real struggle with body and mind to manifest its transcendental powers. In the fifth round the struggle continues, but the transcendental faculties are largely developed, though the struggle between these on the one hand with physical intellect and propensity is fiercer than ever, for the intellect of the fifth round as well as its spirituality is an advance on that of the fourth. In the sixth round humanity attains a degree of perfection both of body and soul, of intellect and spirituality, which ordinary mortals of the present epoch will not readily realize in their imaginations. The most supreme combinations of wisdom, goodness, and transcendental enlightenment which the world has ever seen or thought of will represent the ordinary type of manhood. Those faculties which now, in the rare efflorescence of a generation, enable some extraordinarily gifted persons to explore the mysteries of Nature and gather the knowledge of which some crumbs are now being offered to the ordinary world, will then be the common appanage of all. As to what the seventh round will be like, the most communicative occult teachers are solemnly silent. Mankind in the seventh round will be something altogether too Godlike for mankind in the fourth round to forecast its attributes.”
“The earth, while at present inhabited by fourth-round humanity by the wave of human life on its fourth journey round the circle of the worlds nevertheless contains some few persons, few in relation to the total number, who properly speaking belong to the fifth round. Now, in the sense of the term at present employed, it must not be supposed that by any miraculous process any individual unit has actually travelled round the whole chain of worlds once more often than his compeers. Under the law by which the tide-wave of humanity progresses, it will be seen that this is impossible. Humanity has not yet paid its fifth visit even to the planet next in advance of our own. But individual monads may outstrip their companions as regards their individual development, and so become exactly as mankind generally will be when the fifth round has been fully evolved. A man born as an ordinary fourth round man may, by processes of occult training, convert himself into a man having all the attributes of a fifth-round man, and so become what we may call an artificial fifth rounder.”