Those who attempt to trace the lines of plant and animal evolution through the scattered pages of history, find many places where the trail is lost, leaving gaps and missing links which science still hopes will someday be filled.
The average scientist sees but two choices: either there has been a continuous series of types ranging from the most primitive organism to the most complex; or there have been a number of special creations. The latter is of course unthinkable, so the student of evolution is thrown back upon the hypothesis of a continuous end-on line of development which has become a rigid dogma for many.
It is as though a two-dimensional being refused or was unable to recognize the existence of a third dimension, and attempted to explain the universe from this limited point of view alone. This shortcoming becomes apparent when we begin to study the life of the earth as a whole, for it is then that many questions arise. Why, for instance, is it that each new stock of life comes, not as one or two individuals which gradually increase in numbers to become families and genera; but suddenly appears in a flood of new and highly developed families, genera and species as though with a long period of evolution behind them? In fact, there appear to have been many diverging lines whose point of origin is lost in mystery.
Moreover, evolution does not proceed at anything like a uniform pace, but may remain at almost a standstill for immense periods of time. Then, coincident with a cycle affecting the whole earth, changing the climate and bringing about what is known as a geological revolution, there may occur a retardation of the old types of life and an almost explosive outpouring of new forms in a widespread rush of energy and vitality. This change in style is often so pronounced, it seems as though the world had come under new management.
In his article "Evolution — Is there Intelligence Behind It?" Dr. Robert Broom quoted Henry Fairfield Osborne as saying:
One after another, the original Buffonian, Lamarckian, Darwinian, Weismannian and De Vriesian theories of causation have failed. . . . All we can say at present is that nature does not waste time or effort with chance or fortuity or experiment, but that she proceeds directly and creatively to her marvellous adaptive ends of biomechanism. . . . We are more at a loss than ever to understand the causes of evolution.
— South African Journal of Science, 1933, XXX, 8
To this Dr. Broom adds from his own study and observation:
The origin of species and much of evolution appears to be due to some organizing and partly intelligent spiritual agency associated with the animal or plant, which controls its life processes and tends to keep the being more or less adapted to its environment.
But on a larger scale Dr. Broom sees the possibility of spiritual agencies of a far higher type whose duty is the care and evolution of larger groups such as the fishes, birds or mammals.
Compare the foregoing with the statement of H. P. Blavatsky as found in Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge:
But the noumenal germ of the oak exists beyond the plane of the Astral Light; it is only the subjective picture of it that already exists in the Astral Light, and the development of the oak tree is the result of the developed prototype in the Astral Light, which development proceeds from higher to lower planes, until on the lowest plane it has its last consolidation and development of form.
Gen. Jan Smuts with his understanding of "Holism" and Ecology carried the scientific understanding a step nearer the occult by declaring that the elimination of previous errors in regard to time and space has brought a new conception of "the nature of scientific knowledge and of the relation of mind to matter. And this relation points to a still greater synthesis looming ahead, in which a spiritual view of the universe may not only be justified but may receive firm support from science itself." (Dr. Broom, op. cit., p. 19)
The problems of plant and animal evolution will never be solved until the existence of inner planes of being are recognized and also that the life stream not only comes from the past, but even more important, from spiritual realms of which science knows little.
The more intuitive of the scientists are beginning to see the necessity for a spiritual conception of evolution, for it alone can solve the mysteries of plant and animal life. It is not the bodies (the houses of life) which evolve, but the indwelling spirit or eternal pilgrim itself which passes from plane to plane and from form to form through the ages. The bodies do not change from class to class but remain, so long as there is need for the type of experience offered by that particular form of life.
One great aid in the study of life through the geological ages, is to associate the times of accelerated evolution with corresponding cycles of climatic change and mountain building; for it is only when we view the interworking of all nature that need for the "greater synthesis" suggested by Gen. Smuts becomes apparent. Another fact which should be better known is that whole chapters of evolutionary history are lost, although this is seldom mentioned in the average textbook.
The transition periods when one type of life gives way to another are far more important than is usually supposed. Such a time marked the merging of the Mesozoic or Age of Reptiles and that of the flowering plants and mammals which followed. The transition time just mentioned has been called "The Time of the Great Dying," since it marked the disappearance of the hosts of Giant Reptiles and the evergreen forests were largely replaced by the broadleaved trees.
Regarding the eras of geologic history G. de Purucker has said:
The main point to remember is that the different great stocks of mineral, vegetable, and animal and human lives follow each other with coincident or coordinate great changes of land and sea, and therefore also of climates.
In other words, the stocks or beings, or monads, co-operate or co-ordinate and thus produce the different and serial and successive patterns of what we today call geological eras, or which the biologist or zoologist and botanist would call the successive waves of plant and animal and human life.
— Studies in Occult Philosophy, p. 475
We may learn something of the nature of these times of great change by studying the past, provided we are willing to accept whatever we may find. There are many indications that the world may be approaching a period of this nature again.
In 1893 W. Q. Judge wrote in a letter to the London Lodge:
So the Masters have said this is a transition age, and he who has ears to hear will hear what has thus been said. We are working for the new cycles and centuries. What we do now in this transition age will be like what the great Dhyan Chohans did in the transition point — the midway point — in evolution at the time when all matter and all types were in a transition and fluid state. They then gave the new impulse for the new types, which resulted later in all the vast varieties of nature. In the mental development we are now at the same point, and what we now do in faith and hope for others and for ourselves will result similarly on the plane to which it is all directed . . . . Hence we are not working for some definite organization of the new years to come, but for a change in the Manas and Buddhi of the race. That is why it may seem indefinite, but it is, nevertheless, very defined and very great in scope.
— Irish Theosophist, July 15, 1897, p. 186
Nature does not evolve unaided, a prey to chance and environment, for the "Builders" follow the plans laid out by the "Architects" as the stream of life, whether of an individual or a race, descends from spiritual realms through plane after plane to the physical earth where outer forces shape and give final form to the design. The missing links which science is ever seeking will never be found on this plane.
W. Q. Judge continues:
Let me refer you to that part of The Secret Doctrine, penned by Master himself, where the midway point of evolution is explained in reference to the ungulate mammals. It should give you a glimpse of what we have to do, and remove all vain longings for a present sojourn with our unseen guides and brothers. — Op. cit.
Turning to the reference in Vol. II of The Secret Doctrine, p. 186, we find that
The "midway point" of evolution is that stage where the astral prototypes definitely begin to pass into the physical, and thus become subject to the differentiating agencies now operative around us. Physical causation supervenes immediately on the assumption of "coats of skin" — i.e. physiological equipment in general. The forms of Men and mammalia previous to the separation of sexes are woven out of astral matter and possess a structure utterly unlike that of the physical organisms, which eat, drink, digest, etc, etc, etc.
The ungulate mammals are referred to in this connection because there is probably no instance of animal evolution which is better understood or which so clearly illustrates the mysterious midway point beyond which fossil evidence ceases in that line of evolution.
The ungulate or hoofed animals are divided into two sections, the solid hoofed having an odd number of toes and the split hoofed in which the number of toes are even. These two types appear as two lines of descent diverging from a common ancestor, which has never been found.
This "midway point of evolution" where "all matter and types are in a transition and fluid state," has not been penetrated by science, although a few of the more intuitive begin to see its necessity.
The time of rapid physical evolution lies in the past when the life-waves were rushing downward to their fullest expression on the material plane, during the midpoint of this fourth round. Dr. Broom doubts if there has been any true evolution since the Eocene period or if new orders of plant or animal life can appear in the future.
At present we are entering the upward arc of our evolutionary course, and as stated by W. Q. Judge in his letter to the London Lodge the Masters are working "for a change in the Manas and Buddhi of the race." The midpoint of our Fifth Root-Race is approaching and the way must be prepared. Similarly all midpoints are important and follow the same pattern on a lesser scale, each offering special opportunities to those who wish to serve humanity and help in the great work.
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