In this, the fifth article in our occult studies course, we examine the hidden laws, principles and purpose of material and spiritual evolution

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Are we just biological specimens, evolving from a simple cell until we become what we are now? Will we develop later into some yet undreamed of creature, which we can no more visualise than a simple cell could visualise us? Are we going to be monsters or supermen, demons or angels, slaves or free men and women? The seeds of all these possibilities lie within us all. It depends on how we exert our wills! Whether we turn to the left or to the right, to hatred or love, to darkness or light.

But we are much more than mere bodies—wonderful as they are—as we shall discover in our next article in this Course about Intelligence. We often hear that the age of miracles is past. How can this be? Is not our very existence a miracle? Can the greatest living scientist create even a speck of dust? Please do not imagine that scientists have now created life by manipulating DNA, because we shall have to disillusion you at once by saying that they have not! All they have managed to do is to copy the DNA from one organism and place it into another. This is replication and perhaps reproduction, but it is not creation as we, and we hope you, would understand it.

Do you ever give a thought to the miracle of your body, or an animal's body, or a tree, a plant, a flower, an insect, a rock, or a grain of sand, so small that the eye can hardly perceive it? But look at such a tiny speck under a powerful microscope and what complex structures are revealed! A miracle—is it not? Now look at yourself. A body constructed out of billions and trillions of tiny molecules, atoms and still smaller sub-atomic particles science is running out of names for! Each atom consisting of a star with one or more planets in the form of electrons whirling around it at incredible speed. Are these atomic planets inhabited by beings like ourselves, with animals, trees, flowers, rivers, seas and mountains? Why not! Nobody can prove it is not true.

On the other hand—or we might say scale—may our solar-system perhaps be an atom in a body so huge that we cannot conceive of it, any more than the inhabitants of the planets in the atoms in our body can imagine us? Why not! If the—to us—infinitely small is possible, why not the infinitely immense? Do you accuse us of dreams and mad speculations? How do you know our speculations are not true? What do you or we know about these things? Is there anybody on this earth who knows anything about it at all? No! Certainly not!! The very fact that it is possible to imagine such things in thought will give them form. Nebulous form we admit, gone like a puff of wind, but form; called forth from the creative thought-power of God, whose children we are, endowed with the same power of brooding over the waters (in an infinitely small way) as the Spirit of God that hovered over Chaos before the creation of our Universe.

The miracle of Evolution

From a beginning so little that the most powerful microscope cannot trace it; of so fine a nature that there is no known material it will not filter through; only known to science on account of the results of which it must be the cause (cause and effect, but not Karma!); from such a small beginning have we grown up—through uncountable millenniums of millions of years—a time-period so vast that even modern science has no real conception of it: from such a small beginning have we been patiently put together, atom by atom, cell by cell, each a complete solar-system or Universe in miniature in itself, until we are now where we are; wondering children of the mighty Being we accept and worship as the God of our Hearts.

And every tiny speck alive with a mysterious vitality that nothing can destroy. Always growing and developing in one way or another. In one direction it becomes a monstrous animal, scattering over every part of the world huge skeletons of unbelievable size. Or it flies in the air like a bird or dives into the sea and becomes a fish. It becomes a stone, a fiery jewel, or a grain of sand. Evolution in all directions, like the bursting of a million fireworks, scattering animated sparks, to have their will, live out their existence, long or short, die, and be re-born again—still more beautiful, dire, or devastating; all according to the path they follow. Unaccountable miracles, wherever we gaze in wonder and awe at the evidences of the creative thought and imagination of God—our Father—who has passed this same power on to us; the greatest miracle of all.

The Spiritual evolution of mankind

From its first beginnings to its ultimate end, the spiritual evolution of mankind has exercised the ingenuity of philosophers, mystics and theologians in all ages. The 5th century Neoplatonist Proclus said: "All things are full of divine natures; terrestrial natures receiving the plenitude of such as are celestial, but celestial—super celestial essences, while every order of things proceeds gradually in a beautiful descent from the highest to the lowest." As we, by attunement, identify ourselves with the principles of a higher nature, so we hasten our evolution in a gradually ascending scale; leaving the coarser part of us behind. But this has nothing to do with Karma! It is simply a turning away from darkness to light. And the spark of God within us being light it must inevitably rejoin with the source from which it sprang, or descended, or was separated.

Van Helmont, the great Flemish scientist and chemist said: "Man is the mirror of the universe, and his triple nature stands in relationship to all things." Yes—relationship to all things—darkness and light, sun and shadow, white and black. But the vital spark within us gravitates towards its beginning, which is from God. And God being in all things, and we being a part of God, can enter into all things, according to the amount of power and wisdom we have garnered in our evolution. What a long journey it seems at times, yet it is but a moment in Eternity.

It is necessary for the Higher Self to pass through temptation in order to learn virtue, just as it is necessary to dwell, or have some knowledge of the dark, in order to appreciate the Light. It is good for the Higher Self to be shackled to an earthly body, in order to better enjoy its glorious freedom in the higher realms, and render thanks to its Creator for the lessons learned. There has never been a philosopher of any repute in ancient times who did not believe in the spiritual evolution of Man. The doctrine of metempsychosis was taught by the Brahmans, Buddhists, and later by the Pythagoreans in its esoteric sense. Socrates' ideas were identical with those of Pythagoras, and both suffered violent deaths as a result, as materialism always has been and always will be, blind and deaf to all divine truths. All these philosophers taught that God infused a portion of His own Divine Spirit into matter, and that this spirit moves and animates every particle of it.

This leads us to an important point that has puzzled many students of the Occult. Having all experience of the material world does not necessarily mean that we have to experience everything in the way of what we may think of as 'sin' or 'evil.' According to Occult Science it is not necessary to go wrong in every way, although most of us do in some way or another. Rather we think that by all experience is meant that we should have full realisation of what a stone, a plant, an animal, feel like, consciously and subconsciously, and learn our lesson in that way, without necessarily committing every crime in the calendar, as some occultists and mystics seem to think, before we can evolve to higher planes of consciousness.

The cyclic scales of evolution

We have often been asked if evolution continue in the same direction. For instance, if a man or woman has evolved from the lowest forms of humanity such as we find today in some primitive tribes (and in the drunken 'tribes' that infest some of our city centres on a Saturday night!), until after many incarnations, he or she becomes a scientist, musician, poet, artist, or even a dictator, have they then reached the highest point they can reach as men and women, and have they nothing further to learn? Do they have to return to the beginning and start all over again, or is it possible to slide back in the scale of evolution and gradually lose all that they have previously gained?

Is it possible to be a great artist in one life and be completely incapable of such achievements in the next? Occult Science says—YES—most definitely! We have only to look back at the great civilisations of the past and their achievements; or even individual nations, mighty in the past, and now prostrate in the dust or struggling for a bare existence; the poor relations of their once weak but now mighty neighbours. Need we mention Greece here? Or the 'glorious' British Empire upon which the sun never set, but must now go cap-in-hand to those nations which it once lorded it over!

Or we may consider science itself and think for a moment of the things the ancients could do of which the secrets are now lost or forgotten. Where is the violin-maker who has the secrets of Stradivarius, where the scientist who can restore to us the unfading colours of Luxor and Thebes, as bright today as when they were painted thousands of years ago. Who can produce the indestructible concrete found in the cyclopean walls of Tartessos in Spain? Where is the glass-manufacturer who can produce the gorgeous, unparalleled tints of stained glass found in some of the medieval cathedrals? Where is the thinker who can rival Plato, Pythagoras or Leonardo Da Vinci?

And so we could go on for page after page, citing example after example of things that were known as well, and often much better thousands of years ago. So if civilisations and nations can lose the impetus of progress, halt, sicken and die, why not individuals? Occult Science tells us that the cyclic scales of evolution take each individual, nation or civilisation along a certain path until they reach a point where further progress ceases. When an individual has learnt all there is to learn about a subject and has become what we call a genius, or an adept, or a master of that subject, the laws of evolution compel then to follow another path in their next cycle of incarnations. In this way, the reincarnating Ego or Higher Mind gathers all knowledge gradually, instead of developing in a one-sided manner. That which the Higher Self has learnt is never lost. It is retained in the Higher Mind memory, which is a higher order of memory than the memory stored in the physical brain. For this reason we find so many people capable of fully appreciating and understanding scientific things, or art, music or religion, without ever having studied these things in their present incarnation. The old memories are still there and will be spontaneously recalled when needed. This accounts for the strange manner in which we seem to sense or know certain things at times, without knowing why.

To say that a man or woman—because they are now occupied in a seemingly humble manner—have never been persons of greater importance in the past is nonsense. To assume such a claim is as silly as judging a book by its cover, for although we can look inside a book, we cannot, unless we have learnt to do so by mastering certain occult exercises, look into all our own incarnations, never mind anyone else's. A man may go through a long line of incarnations in which he will gradually ascend to a position in which he occupies a throne. When he has reached the top of this line of experiences he may be a clerk in his next incarnation, commencing a new cycle, ending up eventually as a great biologist, mathematician or physicist.

Moreover, as we have seen in our previous article on reincarnation, positions of great worldly power and wealth are for what are wrongly termed 'young' souls, who need the hard lessons these conditions can teach them. Depending on the use or misuse they make of them, so shall they find themselves in humbler conditions in their next incarnations. For we should never forget that earthly riches and power are no indication of high spiritual status; remember the greatest of all who worked at the carpenter's bench! Does all this seem an endless process of evolution? Remember that Eternity is also endless! There is no hurry in Eternity! Do not consider time and space with the limited capacity of your brain, which is simply a material instrument employed by the Higher or lower self, but attune yourself with the wisdom of God; for whom neither time nor space exist as we understand and experience them.

The real purpose of evolution

One of the most important things we are here for is to learn attunement with God. In the Divine Pymander which forms part of the Corpus Hermetica we may read: "In the beginning of time the great invisible one had his hands full of celestial matter which he scattered throughout the infinity; and lo, behold! It became balls of fire and balls of clay; and they scattered like the moving metal into many smaller balls, and began their ceaseless turning; and some of them which were balls of fire became balls of clay; and the balls of clay became balls of fire; and the balls of fire were waiting their turn to become balls of clay; and the others envied them and bided their time to become balls of pure divine fire. And the heaven was visible in seven circles, and the planets appeared with all their signs, in star-form, and the stars were divided and numbered with the rulers that were in them, and their revolving course was bounded with the air, and borne with a circular course, through the agency of the divine Spirit."

In the great temple of Memphis, in Egypt, Synesius discovered a number of stone tablets, on one of which was written: "One nature delights in another, one nature overcomes another, and the whole of them are one." In these two quotations lie concealed all the occult mysteries of creation and evolution and it would be possible to write many large books about them. In a short article like this it is only possible to hint; in the hope of encouraging new lines of thought. Occult science teaches that these particles of divine fire impregnated such particles as electrons, atoms and molecules and that each particle develops along such lines as are most suitable to it. Thus each particle will attract other particles of similar propensities and grow into a being, like the growth of coral formations (although some of these consist of a variety of many things); or it may attract a diversity of particles of a different nature and become a complex creature like a minute cell. Several of these may attract other complex formations and join together in masses to produce a tiny shell, a mollusc, a sponge, and so on, all outwardly different but all containing the inner spark which gives them life and makes all life akin. And within each tiny separate particle, a tiny living spark as well!

All these tiny creatures or formations, so small we cannot see them, will all grow in different directions and develop at last into a fish, a reptile, a bird, a mammal, and finally man appears. All coming from the same source, but growing out in different directions until such time as the divine plan decides to call a halt and presents the earth with a finished product of each kind. And the tiny sparks combining to form one vital principle—yet—each retaining its own individuality. This is the Darwinian theory of evolution with a difference. True Microcosms of which we are the gods. And now, as intelligent human beings, possessing the sum total of all experience in various forms, we are ready to soar above, to take up the greater work among the creative hierarchies under God. What INTELLIGENCE really is, we will discuss in our next article in this course.

Published 12 March 2013 — © Copyright occult-mysteries.org. Updated 11 February 2024.

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