Setting the Stage
An introduction to the "Body of Knowledge" known as Theosophy
Part 30 - Ancient And Modern Science Part Vi
THEOSOPHY, Vol. 83, No. 10, August, 1995
(Pages 297-301; Size: 13K)
(Number 6 of a 7-part series)
ANTHROPOLOGY literally means "the study of Man," but as a modern scientific discipline it is concerned with the origin and history of humanity. The modern anthropologist attempts to construct theories on the origin and evolution of humanity based on scientific data from many disciplines. These include analysis of fossil remains, geological strata, biochemical and genetic components of modern animal species, and comparative anatomy.
The Theosophical doctrines on the origin and history of humanity are based on the preserved records of ancient, and even extinct civilizations, as well as the observations of Adepts. The Theosophical doctrines on the antiquity, origin and evolution of humanity are different than the theories of modern anthropologists; however, they do not conflict with scientific facts, nor do they conflict with the myths and allegories of the sacred scriptures of ancient civilizations. The stories in the Hindu Puranas, the Chaldean fragments, and the Bible express in allegory the ancient teachings on the origin and history of Humanity.
Regarding the antiquity of humanity, the Theosophical teaching is that Man, the thinker, incarnated in either a male or female body, has been present on Earth for 18,000,000 years. Based on the latest fossil remains found in Africa, modern anthropologists assign an age of 5,000,000 years to Man. Thats more recent than the antiquity assigned to humanity by the Wisdom Religion, but it is far older than the 100,000 years given by anthropologists in the last century. Perhaps older remains will some day be discovered by anthropologists, when they look in the right place.
Regarding the origin of Humanity, the Theosophical doctrine is that Man did not evolve from the animal kingdom or from the anthropoid ape. Rather, the mammals and anthropoid apes owe their evolution to the influence of Man. Modern anthropologists derive their theories from the discovery of ape like fossils that are far more ancient than the earliest known human fossils and from the recognition of common features of the anthropoid ape and the human body. Once the nature and significance of the astral body and astral light1 are understood, these facts are compatible with the Theosophical theories.
Theosophy, a modern statement of the Ancient Wisdom Religion, proposes that the inner Man, the Thinker, is divine in origin and evolves following universal laws of nature. In accordance with the cyclic rises and falls in nature, Humanity is said to have reached great heights of knowledge and civilization in the past. The modern anthropologist, working from an understanding of some of the evolutionary processes observable in the physical departments of nature, theorizes that Humanity has evolved biologically, intellectually and culturally from a primitive condition to the status and stature of modern Man. The Theosophical view of the evolution of humanity does not exclude the processes of physical evolution, but it does provide a primary importance to the spiritual and intelligent impulse that precedes and guides the physical.
Taking up the Theosophical teaching on the antiquity of man, it should be stated that the ultimate origin of man is unknown because Man, the immortal Thinker, has always existed if not on this planet than on some earlier world or system. But we are told when the immortal Thinker first appeared on this planet, eighteen million years ago, the human form had evolved to a point where it was ready for the incarnation of the mind being. This is said to have occurred during the third root race or Lemurian race. The continent of Lemuria had existed south of the area we now call Asia in the general area of the Indian and Pacific Oceans.
The modern concept and classification of races depends on which variations in biological traits are used to classify people. Anthropologists consider language, geological location, characteristic body build, stature, facial features and skin color to differentiate the races of humanity. All these classifications are based on external appearance and physical differences. According to the Theosophical teaching, humanity is one in origin, but different in degree. There are no inherently superior or inferior races, but there are variations in the development of the physical, psychic, and spiritual senses and powers. Seven races evolve on this earth. In reality it is one great race with seven peculiarities of function and power. At the present time the races are mixed together, and representatives of all the races are in many of the so called races of today. The benefit of the mixture of the races is to give to each race the benefit of the progress and power of all.
The great antiquity of humanity is supported by the scriptures and artifacts of ancient civilizations. These give evidence of the Theosophical teaching that the earliest, sexually differentiated races of Man occurred during the earliest Mesozoic times -- the Jurasic Age of Geology -- the age of huge reptiles. The Zohar, a portion of the Jewish Kabalah, mentions that the serpent that seduced Eve was a type of "flying camel"! In the ancient Zoroastrian scriptures, Aschmogh is a huge serpent with the neck of a camel. In the Bible there is mention of flying fiery serpents and The Book of Job mentions Leviathan. On ancient Babylonian tiles and on old Japanese and Chinese drawings in the oldest pagodas and monuments there are representations of flying reptiles resembling the Plesiosaurus and Pterodactyl. Since there are pictures of flying reptiles and extinct aquatic animals portrayed and described by the ancients, when fossil evidence for the existence of these animals was only recently discovered by modern anthropologists and paleontologists, it seems reasonable that Man was at one time the witness of these creatures and that Mankind was physically much larger than modern man and was of a shiny, pellucid, semi gelatinous constituency.
The fossilized remains of animals that modern anthropologists use to reconstruct the chronology of evolutionary events are etheric, filmy, astral remains of animal types of earlier periods on this planet. These astral forms were projected into physical objectivity and solidified as the earth became more dense. Found at various levels of the sedentary deposits, they are thought to have existed during a certain geological age represented by those deposits, but they actually existed as living species in astral forms in much earlier ages.
Nevertheless, modern anthropologists theorize that the human being evolved from lower forms of mammalian life based in part on their fossil discoveries. As yet, the teachings of Theosophy still differ from modern evolutionary theory on this point. In this cycle of evolution on earth, Man appeared before the animals. The human "animal" form of the second Root Race was even more etheric than the third Root Race. The astral models for the mammals were adaptations from the astral forms of the "man" of this second Root Race. These lower mammal astral root forms, including the astral forms of the lower apes, were gradually "hardened" as was the early semi astral form of Third Race humanity.
These mammalian forms further solidified subsequent to the solidification of the third Root Race and then according to the ordinary processes of physical evolution. This explains the existence of ape like fossils that predate known human remains. As for the common features of the anthropoid apes and human beings, the anatomic resemblances and human features of the former are due to the interbreeding between men of the fourth Root Race and large females of the animal kingdom which produced the anthropoid apes.
Thus, the astral animal root types existed prior to the Third Race Man, but their physical manifestations and differentiation into numerous species occur subsequent to the appearance of the Third Race. This same order of evolution appears in the Bible. In chapter one of Genesis the animals, whales, and fowls of the air are created before Man, but in chapter two Adam is created first and then the animals are formed out of the ground. The animals of the first chapter are the astral root types that precede the Third Race. The animals of the second chapter formed out of the ground refer to animal evolution and physical manifestation subsequent to the appearance of the Third Race. The story of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden, acquiring coats of skin, eating of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil, is allegorical of the history of the Third Race -- its gradual evolution from an astral to a physical form, its differentiation into two sexes, and its acquirement of self consciousness through the incarnation of Egos or mind beings.
The variations of character of different groups of people are induced by variations inherent in the reincarnating Egos. These variations were acquired previously by the Egos in former periods of evolution. All Spiritual Egos are identical in essence and origin, but differ in degree of evolved powers and capacities.
This brings us to a consideration of the modern discoveries of primitive human types in Europe, Asia, and Africa that suggest to anthropologists that Man evolved from a primate that eventually stood erect. Commenting on such primitive types as the Neanderthal Man, H.P.B. states that rather than being the precursors of modern man, they were the remains of the degenerating descendants of the last sub race of the Fourth or Atlantean Race. The remains of those noble Atlanteans who escaped destruction and are the ancestors of our Fifth Race are not to be found in Europe or Africa, but in the high mountains that are surrounded by the tablelands of Central Asia.
In summary, the Theosophical teachings on Anthropology do not contradict the scant data accumulated by modern Anthropologists, but they do differ from the modern theories. They present a much greater antiquity for humanity, and an evolutionary history guided by cyclic law and the influence of Mans consciousness and will.
COMPILERS NOTE: I added this footnote; it was not in the article. If it doesnt paint an accurate enough picture, or is incorrect, I hope the Editors of THEOSOPHY magazine will spot it and point it out to me, so that I can make the necessary corrections.
"Astral" means the Electro Magnetic spectrum at every level. The "Astral Body" is the electromagnetic design body that the physical molecules adhere to in the building up of every form, in every kingdom, on the physical plane. The theosophical "Astral Light" is the "Ether" of modern science. It is the source of the idea known as the "Recording Angel" -- because every thought, word, and deed is recorded, stored, and magnetically reflected back to its source at a dynamically proper time: in other words, when conditions naturally warrant or permit it. We call this Karma, or Lawful action and reaction. All of us are also magnets for imprints in the "Astral Light" which were put there by others and which are similar to us in character. So we constantly affect and infect each other in this way -- for good or for bad.