RE: Re: Neanderthal Man
Aug 21, 1997 05:52 PM
by Wes Amerman
RE: Recent dialog between Rich Taylor and Bart Lidofsky:
This has been fascinating! As a long-time student of Theosophy,
but a brand-new-comer to theos-talk, I'd like permission to add
my two cents worth. I don't want to take "sides," as much of the
discussion refers to "doctrine," which is difficult or impossible
to "prove" or "disprove." However, it's still important to point
out Theosophical principles where appropriate, and to try to find
contemporary applications wherever possible.
It seems to me that the key to understanding these viewpoints is
an understanding of HPB's fundamental philosophical and
scientific premise: "Consciousness comes first." All statements
of doctrine, evidence cited and conclusions drawn by her in the
S.D. and elsewhere are simply corollaries to this principle.
Science has no such basis, and as such, can only conceive of, and
hence deal with, evidence that begins and ends with matter. That
is why such notice has been taken in Theosophical magazines over
the past decade or so of new discoveries and theories by
physicists and life scientists that read more like Plato and less
like traditional science. Note, however, that this is just a
beginning, and it may take a long while yet before the basic
premises of anthropology really come to reflect these new lines
of "theosophical" thinking. That does not mean that informed
students of Theosophy cannnot try, however...
Rich has summed up well the position taken by HPB in the SD when
he writes: "...humans never evolved from the lower orders of
life, but emerged out of the astral fully formed, though huge."
The Secret Doctrine is based upon a non-physical evolution,
beginning with Consciousness and proceeding down through lower
and lower states of (to us, invisible) matter until at last we
reach the physical as we know it. Science will never be able to
understand this doctrine (or, even the physical evidence
supporting it) until it recognizes the existence of the astral
planes. This is not a criticism just of the science of her day,
but of the modern as well, despite the advances made in physics
Bart, you may be right that "...nowhere does she (HPB) say that
the creatures who had the human monads in previous races and
rounds were our physical ancestors." However, she does state that
in this Round, man PRECEDED the animal forms. Why? Because each
Round recapitulates, or summarizes, the evolution that took place
in previous Rounds, with the exception to the usual sequence
occuring in this Round:
Having appeared at the very beginning, and at the head of
sentient and conscious life, man (the astral, or the "Soul," for
the Zohar, repeating the archaic teaching, distinctly says that
"the *real* man is the Soul, and his material form no part of
him")--man became the living and animal UNIT, from which the
"cast-off clothes determined the shape of every life and animal
in this Round." SD II, 290
Also, HPB wrote very little about the condition of humankind in
the previous Rounds. What she does state is that our Karma in
this 5th Race is intimately connected to the accomplishments and
failures of humanity in the previous Races of this Round.
Bart Lidofsky wrote: "If the 4th root race reached heights of 50
feet, then we can be sure that this was not the case (that the
creatures who had the human monads in previous races and rounds
were our physcial ancestors) as the human frame cannot hold up at
I think Rich's reply is accurate: "HPB makes it clear they
weren't entirely physical, but gradually emerged from the astral,
in which case the force of gravity would be mollified." What do
we know of conditions of Astral Matter? We can apply analogy and
correspondence, as our Teacher has encouraged us to do. The
human Astral Body is composed of highly tenuous, tough,
electro-magnetic substance, that extends for a considerable
distance (several feet) beyond our physical bodies. It precedes
the physical before birth (we are taught), provides the pattern
matrix upon which the physical grows and develops, and psychic
phenomena, seances, "ghosts," near-death experiences, Edgar
Cayce, etc. demonstrate that it also outlives the physical body
at death. (I hope this serves as an "operative definition of the
astral," as requested by Bart). Such tensile strength, we may
infer, would allow larger forms to exist than now, especially
since the earth itself was also astral at that time!
Bart Lidofsky wrote: "Note that Blavatsky's major disagreement
with Darwin was that Darwin thought that evolution was caused by
random changes; Blavatsky considered them to be purposeful."
I agree that this was one difference between Blavatsky and
Darwin, but I think it also involves a more basic premise: the
question of Consciousness *per se.* That is, Theosophy teaches
that there must be Beings that need and develop the Forms for the
purposes of their evolution. Science will never accept "purpose"
alone, since, in Western terms, that has always implied a
Personal God, and Science long ago (rightly) rejected that
Rich Taylor also wrote: "HPB seems equally clear that the earth,
its material atoms, and even its magnetism and gravity are not
constants, but far more changeable than current science admmits."
We may disagree with this premise of the Secret Doctine, but it
still remains as a statement of the Secret Doctrine. (Unless
someone can produce a contradictory statement?) Until then, I
think HPB is very clear on this:
"In short, none of the so-called elements were, in the three
preceding Rounds, as they are now." SD I, 253
Rich wrote: "That would imply that those 3rd race people were our
genetic ancestors, even if CURRENT genetic understanding doesn't
support such a theory." I would concur with that conclusion. All
of humanity of this Round are ONE family. Does anyone have a
handy reference to share?
Bart responded: "Where do Blavatsky or the Mahatmas state that
trans-species reincarnation does not happen?"
Bart, what species did you have in mind? I think it's a pretty
definite teaching in Theosophy: "Once a man, always a man." (Man,
in this sense, referring to Manas, the self-conscious thinker).
Nor do we reincarnate back into the animal kingdom: "The door is
shut below us," HPB says. I think "trans-species reincarnation"
is an oxymoron: Man (manas) is the "species," if you will, by
virtue of our thinking principle, not our physical bodies.
"The man who preceded the Fourth, the Atlantean race [i.e., the
3rd Race] however much he may have looked physically like a
"gigantic ape"--"the counterfeit of man who hath not the life of
a man"--was still a thinking and already a speaking man." SD I,
And, yes, Bart, we are in fact, "reincarnations of our
great-great-grandfathers!" What is so strange about that? WE are
not our bodies, WE are the Eternal Pilgrim within, that uses
different bodies. We also use, re-use and recyle the very air,
atoms, molecules, minerals, etc., in short, all of the "lives" of
nature, again and again. If reincarnation is a fact, how could
it be otherwise?
Bart took exception to Rich's statement, "The best thing about
modern science is that if you don't like some- thing, just hang
on five minutes, the 'facts' will soon be different." Rich may be
a little flippant, but I think his statement is generally
accurate. I think Rich would agree with Bart when he says that
theosophy "can't pretend that science is still at the 19th
century level," and that "understanding science takes work." No
serious theosophist, I think, would say that "science is bunk."
However, I think it far more productive to point out where
science has changed and grown toward the theosophical tenets,
than to try to make Theosophy fit the ever-changing (if growing)
dicta of modern science. As William Q. Judge once pointed out
in reference to religion, "we cannot hope to make the
Theosophical engine run on the theological track," (*Epitome of
Theosophy*) so we may not always be able to make theosophy "fit"
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