The Birth and Evolution of the Soul, Part I

Two Lectures given at 19, Avenue Road, London, in 1895.

These two lectures might better perhaps be described as one lecture in two parts, for I am really going to try and give you in the two a connected tracing of the progress of the soul. There is so much confusion in thought as to the origin of the individual, as to what the individual really means, as to how he is developed, and what is to be his ultimate destiny, that I thought I could take no better subject for a Lodge, which ought to be a Lodge of students, than to trace out somewhat in detail this most important matter in the light of Theosophy. Important, because on it turns your whole view of the purpose of the Universe; and if the growth of the Soul were better understood than it is, we should not hear the continual questions asked as to why there should be a Universe at all, and why there should be manifestation; why, if everything comes out of One and goes back to One again, why this intermediate condition of multiplicity should occur. The whole of these questions really turn on misunderstanding, or on lack of accurate knowledge, and it is to the clearing up of that misunderstanding that I am going to address myself to-night and this night week.

In order to make the origin of the individual clear, I must ask you to come back with me to the time when the human race was evolving, but when, as yet, the individual had not come into existence. Come back to what you know, in Theosophical literature, as the first Race of man. You may remember that--according to the teachings which you find in The Secret Doctrine and in the great Scriptures of the world--you may remember that the first Race had its bodies built up, as it were, round a form that is said to have been derived from the Moon. The Pitris, or ancestors, who afforded the first matrix for humanity, who gave the first ethereal form through and by the help of which the physical in man was to evolve--those are spoken of as the Lunar Pitris, because of their connection with the Moon. Into that connection I have not time to go in detail, but the traces of it are around you on every side at the present time. You must be perfectly well aware that the effect of the Moon upon the earth is marked and constant, and above all you may notice that it is the measure in time of all great physiological periods. The fact that you still find that to be the case after so many millions of years should make it at least not surprising to you when you read in ancient books that there is a causal relation between the Moon and the Earth, and between the ancestors of humanity and forms of living beings who existed on the lunar globe in ages gone by.

Now these Lunar Pitris that came and projected their astral forms, as it is said, in order that the first Race of man might develop, came to the Earth, this Earth on which we are now, which is the central globe in the ring of globes, and they came to it--so far as we need trouble about it to-night--for the Fourth Round; of course not for the first time, but 1 am ignoring the first three Rounds. When they arrived at this globe for the Fourth Round, they threw out these shadows--ethereal bodies, as they are called. The reason--and 1 may as well mention it in passing--why an ethereal body, or body of astral matter, should in point of time come before the physical body that we know, is that you cannot have any vital energies at work, you cannot have any electrical or magnetic currents, or any of those currents which have to do with the various phenomena of life and of chemical action, without the presence of ether. So that it is not possible to draw together physical molecules for the making of a dense body unless you have what we may call a matrix of ether through which these forces are able to act, and so to draw together, and hold together after they are drawn, the physical molecules. In fact, every physical molecule has its envelope of ether, and is permeated therewith, and it is by means of this ethereal envelope of the molecule that these life-forces are able to draw and hold the physical body together.

During the first and second Races of man, this physical body was built up by the action of what are called Nature-Spirits, who made this outer clothing of man, the tabernacle of flesh, as it is sometimes entitled. Out of the first Race evolved the second; and of the second evolved the third. No break; nothing that would be called a new creation, but definite and sequential evolution. The materials used in these bodies had been worked up in previous ages through mineral and vegetable and animal, and so had taken on, as far as their atoms were concerned, an internal differentiation, which is of enormous importance when they enter into the body of the higher animals and of man.

Man again is nearly the first being that appears on this globe at the stage of evolution that we are considering. Pass, then, from the first and second Races to the third. When the third Race was evolving, slowly and gradually through almost incalculable periods of time, the animal development took place; that is, the development of the physical and astral bodies went on during the first and second Races, and in the third that of the body of sensation, as you know it in yourselves and in the lower animals, the body which receives and translates into feeling all impressions from without. Your outside body receives contacts from the external universe, and certain parts of it are modified to answer to those contacts; these modified parts we call the sense-organs, but you are aware that the sense-organ in the body, while it answers by way of vibration to any vibration of its own particular class that comes to it from without, is not that which feels or perceives. This vibration has to be transmitted inwards in a very real sense, and not only inwards to the sense-centres, as they are called, in the brain; but inwards from this again, by way of the astral body--and this action shows itself always by the passing of electrical and magnetic currents--into this third body that I am now speaking of, the body of sensation. You may have a break between the outer impact and what we call feeling, between the outer vibrations of the ether on the retina of the eye and what we called sight. The power of sight, the power to tasting, of smelling, of hearing, of feeling, all these powers reside in this body of sensation, and that is, of course, why it has that particular name. Now, the lower animals have this body as well as we. You find it in the animals with which you are familiar around you. They feel, and not only do they feel, but they show emotions, passions, and appetites. You will see the passion of anger in some animals; you will see sex passion; you will find hunger, thirst--all these things are present in the lower animals, and we may group them all together, in order that a single phrase may describe these activities, as the "body of sensation," or, as it is often called, the "body of desire."

As you are a Lodge of students, I many venture to use a Sanskrit word, the word Kama. This body is spoken of as the Kama body, Kama Rupa, which is only the Sanskrit for "desire-body"; and I use the name because I want in a moment to quote a phrase in which that word Kama occurs. In the animal it is developed. Now, it is part of the truth of evolution that every stage of an evolving organism contains within itself in germ the next stage by which evolution is to proceed. Take what stage of evolution you like in the outer world, and you will always find that at any stage there is a germ which, if it proceeds, will develop into a new individual. This is characteristic of all forms of living things, and by the improvement from the germ evolution proceeds. You may take vegetable, you may take animal, you may take man, take what you like: always you will find that, if an individual is to be produced, a germ will be present which is to form part-helper of his grown. Part helper only; and this is always present in what is called the passive side of Nature.

You remember that if you go right back almost to the beginning of things you find what are called the "pairs of opposites," and the first appearance of these in the Second Logos is often spoken of as being Spirit-Matter, in order to give the two great poles of existence between which all organisation takes place. Two characteristics mark those two poles. One of them is active, and the other is passive; one of them is positive, the other is negative; one of them is that which gives impulse, the other is that which gives form; and these two are present everywhere, inseparable in Nature. Right through Nature, not only in physical Nature but through all realms of Nature, you will find this diversity; and without the union of these two together you will find nowhere fresh growth, progress in evolution. There must always be the stimulating force, and there must be the form that develops. You may call them, if you like, male and female, as in physical Nature; you may call them, if you like, Father and Mother; but keep the idea plainly in mind, because on this the understanding of the origin of the individual soul depends.

Now, let me remind you of the line of evolution, which is the line of form, which comes from the Moon originally, and evolves downwards to Kama. This, I say, is found in the animal just as it is in man, and you need to keep that in mind. In that Kama, or desire--which builds a body with the power of sensation, the power of not only answering to outside impact of translating it into feeling--lies the root of self-consciousness. Consciousness in germ is simply the power to respond to a vibration that comes from outside; and when to that power of response there is added feeling, then you get what we may call the "germ of mind"--not mind, but its germ, the negative side of mind .in which and by means of which mind may evolve.

If for a moment you will look at the lower animals you will see a startling difference between the wild and the domesticated. You will find in the domesticated animal very much more of what you would call mind than you find in the wild animal; and for a very simple reason, that you will see as we go on. If you take the wild animal that has never come across man at all, you will find in it plenty of response to the impacts of the external world; but you will find in it comparatively little reasoning, little judgment, little linking together of inner sensation and outer object, unless the object be present, or unless some craving of the organism gives an impulse to action. Food, for instance, being within the sight of an animal, even if it is not very hungry, will cause movement towards the food; or the craving of the organism for sustenance will make it seek for food. .But you do not get in the wild animal much of what may call "ideal action," action without an impulse which comes from bodily necessities, or from the presence of an external object: that is, you have not there present much of what we know as mind, of which the lowest and earliest manifestations are the connection between an outer object and an inner sensation, and the power of recalling that connection and acting upon it without the object being present--the qualities which technically are called perception and recollection.

At this stage, then, of this single line that I have brought down thus, we have got as far as the development of Kama, in which is the germ of mind, the stage in which, if there is to be a higher evolution, some impulse from without must be given. The passive side of Nature, brooded over by the Divine Spirit, could not by itself get any further than this stage--the development of a germ; and when you have the body of desire present, that contains in it this germ of mind; think of it now, if you like, as the female or mother side of Nature.

Now, for a moment leaving this altogether, take an analogy from lower Nature. Let me ask any of you who happen to be botanists--and probably all of you know enough of botany to follow the illustration--to take what is called the ovule of a plant, that which develops into a seed; left to itself that ovule which is in the female organ will never be anything more than an ovule: it will simply wither up and perish But it contains within it all the nourishment by means of which a new plant will grow; it has stored up, as it were, a stock of food, if any new life, an individual, should there begin But an individual cannot begin there simply by the action of the ovule itself; it needs a stimulus which comes from the contents of the male organ of the plant, the pollen, and if that pollen throws out a minute cell which enters the ovule and comes into contact with the germ cell within the ovule, then there will be an interaction between these two microscopic cells, and by the union of the two a new impulse will be given, and an individual will result which will develop for a time within this ovule which has now become the seed, and after a time will show marks characteristic of its parents; but it will separate itself from the parents and carry on life on its own account, having its own root, its own stem, and its own leaves. The starting-point of that is the junction of the two microscopic cells, differing in their nature, the one positive, impulse-giving, fertilizing, the other receptive, passive, nutrient, showing the characteristics of the two sides of Nature. Now we have here got the passive nutrient side developed along this line which I characterized as lunar--coming from the moon. It is the side of form, and it may perhaps interest you to notice that it is the side that receives from outside, the passive side again, and that all these emotions and everything else in it are set up in answer to this impulse from without, thus showing its characteristic as the receptive or female side.

Now, in past Universes a process of development has gone on similar to that which is going on in the present world to-day; in those past Universes minds were developed as we develop minds now, and their process of development will be clearer when you follow the process of development amongst ourselves. The minds that developed in those preceding Universes, that passed into Nirvana, that passed out of Nirvana again at the beginning of the present age, have many names both in The Secret Doctrine and in other books. Let us take the name of "Sons of Mind" because it describes their most salient characteristic. They are sometimes spoken of under the name of Kwanaras, which means "youths," sometimes they are called Solar Pitris; but I prefer to take the name most often used in The Secret Doctrine, where of course you get it in the Sanskrit form, Manasa Putra; we will take it in English, as "Sons of Mind." They have developed Intelligence. Now what is Intelligence? Intelligence is the result of vital activity working in a particular form of matter and developing connecting links between the external Universe and itself. It is a thing of slow growth; it is made by experience; it is evolved, it does not come into existence suddenly. Intelligence is the outcome of these repeated contacts, and of the working of life on the contacts; so that you never can get Intelligence apart from organism. You have something which may be called the Supreme Life; but it is a mistake to speak of It then as Intelligence; it is higher and deeper and sublimer than anything we know as Intelligence, and Its processes are far beyond and above everything that we call thought. Thought always consists in this linking together of the external and the internal, of making ideal links between the two, and hence images--ideas, as we call them; and Intelligence is only developed by the Supreme Life manifesting Itself, as what we for want of a better word, are obliged to call Spirit in the English tongue--Atma is the familiar name in our own philosophy--by thus manifesting Itself in the subtlest form; and then gradually working through matter and thereby evolving what we call Intelligence. That is, all these connecting links that go to build mental faculties.

This process then had gone on in a past age, so far as these great Sons of Mind are concerned; these mighty Spiritual Intelligences had accomplished what we are aiming at now. They are the successful men of past ages, who have developed into perfect men, perfect Intelligences, and now are, so to speak, co-operating in the building of a new race, co-operating in the production of a new humanity. But up to the point at which we are, they had taken no part in this evolution that had been going on--the physical side, the evolution of form. Now from These is to come a second line, from the Sons of Mind, Lords of Light, They are called sometimes Pillars of Light, and so on; These coming down to the Earth, when the Tabernacles were ready to receive Them came to give the necessary impulse in order that at this point of junction a new individual might arise, and afforded the active, impelling positive energy.

You remember at the beginning of the second volume of The Secret Doctrine, those Stanzas called the Stanzas of Dzyan, which deal with the Evolution of Man. They have been said lately by Mr. Coleman to be purely modern productions; but they were never found out in modern writings until Madame Blavatsky found them. But leave that to return to this. You will find it said that when these Sons of Mind came down, "from their own Rupa they filled the Kama." That is why I was obliged to trouble you with this word, because I wanted to quote that particular Stanza: "From their own Rupa they filled the Kama." Coming down to animal-man they threw part of Their own nature into him, filling the Kama wherein the germ of sensation and feeling had been evolved, and They contributed to that the spark of intelligence. And so again in one of those same Stanzas it is said: "Some projected a spark."' The more careful readers amongst you may remember it is said: "Some entered. . . . Those who entered became Arhats." Those are the great Teachers of Humanity in the earlier days of our Race--the fourth and the fifth Races, and the third and a half. The Great Teachers---Those who took this infant Humanity under Their care, and trained it, Those who absolutely entered into these bodies that were prepared, with Their highly developed Intelligences--were the mighty Adepts of the past; They formed what were called the nurseries of Adepts for the present age; the Great Teachers who came in order that this infant Humanity might be guarded and protected and helped in its earlier stages. With Them, so far as ordinary Humanity is concerned, we need not deal; They entered in and took these bodies as Their vehicles. But They also, some of Them, projected the spark which fell into the kamic receptacle: Their essence filled it. Now the individual begins where that union takes place. Before that there is no Ego in man; before that there is no Soul in man in the full sense of the term, although the word Animal Soul is occasionally used for the feelings, emotions, and so on. The lower Soul this is often called, or the Animal Soul; but the true Ego, that which is capable of achieving immortality, is not there. Remember how that phrase is used sometimes; it has not necessarily immortality in itself, although it has in it the power of achieving immortality, by virtue of its connection with these immoral Sons of Mind, Who have already achieved. Man may become immortal "if he will." That was a phrase used, you may remember, in one of the letters from Master K. H. to Mr. Sinnett, published in The Occult World; part of the : work of the Society was there said to be to teach man that he may become immortal if he will, not that he necessarily is immortal, but that he may achieve immortality. Immortal in the essence of the Soul? Yes; but not in its developed self-conscious intelligence. For intelligence has to be worked out and built up by slow degrees; intelligence has to be evolved by this spark, working through the matter into which it has come, and unless it works successfully, acquires experience slowly, and gradually builds it up into faculty in the course of that pilgrimage of the Soul that lies in front of our thought, immortality will not be achieved. For it is necessary, in order that immortality may be achieved, that this which is to acquire experience and build up accumulated experiences shall regain unity. That which is compounded does not last; that which is compounded will be at some time disintegrated; only the unit persists. The individual begins at this point, and he is a compound. He will weave into his own existence all these endless experiences, and will become so to speak, more and more compound--a more and more complex combination. But this has in itself the seed of destruction; everything that thus goes on combining has in it the conditions of disintegration, and the compound disintegrates. How, then, can this compound achieve immortality? By a process of unification that will form the last stages of its pilgrimage; by that Yoga, or union, which will make it again the One. Having achieved individuality by many, many incarnations, through which this individuality will be built up, it then unifies all these experiences, and by a subtle alchemy extracts as it were a unit experience out of the multiplicity, and in a way beyond words--beyond words because it is beyond brain experience and thought, but which is not beyond the "sensing " of some who have at least begun the process--this individual evolves into a unity higher than its own combined nature; and while it may be said to lose individuality as we know it, it gains something which is far greater. Without losing the essence of individuality it re-becomes a unit consciousness, and by that becomes incapable of disintegration and achieves its final immortality. But here is the beginning point--and on that I want to lay a good deal of stress--that it begins then, that before that the Ego which is now in each of you was not in existence as Ego, any more than the plant which will develop from a germ, if the germ be fertilised, is in existence before that fertilisation takes place. True, that which will form it exists, because there is no increase either of energy or of matter; but the combination which makes the new individual does not exist until the junction has taken place, and the Ego does not exist before this union has taken place. It is there that originates the individual. You will forgive me for repeating that so often. But this is the point where the mistake comes in, and where there is so much confusion in thought; and it is because of that that I am laying stress upon it, in order that you may have clearly in your minds this fact: that individuals begin in each Manvantara or Age, that the purpose of each Universe is the evolution of individuals, that the Universe comes into existence in order that individuals may be born, that it is maintained in existence in order that individuals may be evolved, that when it passes out of manifestation its harvest is the perfected individuals who regain unity and outlast the Universe, passing into what is called Nirvana, to re-emerge for a new Universe as Sons of Mind, if in the former Universe they have been completely successful. There are other intermediate stages, points where failure may come in--and where evolution may have to be taken up again as it were midway, points of failure in one Universe that do not throw back the fallen, as Master K. H. pointed out, to the beginning of things again, but are such as to allow them to take up their evolution at the point where it ceased. The failures of one age become, so to speak; the pioneers of another. But leaving those complications out of consideration, the harvest of every Universe is these triumphant individuals, who have evolved unity out of diversity, and thus have achieved their immortality.

Realising that, then, let us take our individual and see what kind of an entity this is at its origin. And I think I will throw in here a very, very brief digression, which will make it a more living thing to you. Take one of the lower animals. Now we will come to the domesticated. I mentioned that with regard to the wild animal there is the germ of mind, but very little that you can really call mind. Suppose you take an animal and domesticate it, and suppose you domesticate it for generations, you will have handed on in the three bodies of that animal--the physical, the astral, and the kamic--you will have handed on a very definite heredity; and if these individuals are domesticated time after time you will find greater and greater intelligence, as it may be called, evolving.

Now, supposing that you take a puppy, and supposing that from that puppy's birth you keep it continually with yourselves, and you do not permit it to associate with the lower creatures, but you keep it with yourselves. Some lonely person, for instance, takes a puppy, and it is always with him or her; what is the result? The result is that in that puppy, as it grows up, there is developed a startling amount of some quality that you are forced to call Intelligence. You will develop in it a limited reason; you will develop in it a limited memory; you will develop in it a limited judgment. Now, these are qualities of the mind, not qualities of Kama. How is it that in this lower animal these qualities are developed? They are developed artificially by the playing upon it of the human intelligence. To that animal the mind in you to some extent plays the part which the Son of Mind plays to Humanity; and thrown out from the comparatively developed Intelligence in man, these rays, these energetic rays of mental influence, vitalize the germ in the Kama of the animal and so produce artificially, as it were, an infant mind.

Now I say that, in order that you may realise more clearly perhaps than otherwise you would, the first slow stages of the growth of mind. Let me say that this process is not good of the animal, and it is not good for the human being who does it. Neither the one nor the other is the better for the process, in fact very often both are exceedingly the worse, and it is not a wholesome practice--this over stimulation of the domesticated animal and this artificial forcing of a mental life for which the animal body is not yet fitted, for which the animal nervous system has not yet developed he proper natural basis, and in which it is really forced, in a kind of artificial hot-house, to the detriment of the creature, and probably to its retardation in a later stage of its existence.

But it is well to remember that there is no such thing as a break in nature; every evolution is sequential, and it is therefor possible to force evolution in this way, although it be unwise. *1

Coming back from that little digression, let me take up again my infant Soul, to whom I will give the name of the baby Ego, and he is very much, as regards his metal capacities, what the new-born baby is as regards his power of manifesting these faculties. Of course, the new-form baby has mental faculties which very soon force the brain to prepare itself for their manifestation, so that there is not a real analogy between the two. The want of knowledge, so to speak, in the new-born baby is simply due to the clumsiness of the instrument; the brain is new, and it takes some little time for the links to be set up between the instrument and the player. But the player is there, when you are dealing with our race at the present time, and therefore we have not really the condition in which the Ego itself is in the state of baby-hood.

Now this entity which has thus been formed at this junction of the two lines, and which I call the baby Ego, is absolutely ignorant. It has no mind, it has no thought, it has nothing more than the sensation it gets from Kama at present, except the power of evolving which it has received from the stimulating spark of the Son of Mind. Sensations are there; it has to make the link which we call perception. How will that link be made? The sensation will be

caused by way of the body through which it has come into contact with some external object. Let us say that the body, by the mouth, comes upon an external object which gives rise to a pleasant sensation of taste--something which is sweet. The animal of course has developed this already, and in the body it will be a habit that when it sees this thing, or feels hunger, it will go towards it. The baby Ego will experience the sensation which is pleasurable, but it will only be a momentary sensation, and at first apparently nothing more--a little impact on this germ of mind; over and over again such an impact will take place. At last there is set up in this baby Ego by this repetition a connecting link between the external object that gives rise to a pleasant sensation and the pleasant sensation, and it will thus make its first thought. This connecting link between the external and the internal, between the contact which comes from an outside object and the pleasure which that contact gives, will be what is called a "percept," and you have in perception the first activity of the mind; when this perception has been repeated over and over and over and over again, it will be remembered, and conscious memory begins.

Built up in this baby by these repeated contacts, and repeated pleasurable sensations, and repeated connections between the object and the sensation, at last memory will develop which is the ideal contact; the idea is built out of a number of these sensations. And that faculty of memory will be a faculty of the baby Ego which will be evolved by these constant experiences; and it will take a long time evolving--perhaps a whole life, or part of a life. I cannot measure it off; but I want you to realise that it is a thing which will take a considerable time, that the memory will be a thing which will need much experience at this early stage, before it will really become recognisable and workable.

There are human beings even at the present time in which this faculty of the Soul is so little developed, that it will not last over even twelve hours, and in which heir view of the world is quite different in the morning and in the evening. Some of the lowest aborigines in Australia in whom the spark has burned very low, in whom it has not developed and grown, are on record as having so little memory that they cannot remember through the course of a whole day, and blankets given away in the evening will be clung to because the night has begun and the night is cold. But when the next morning comes round and the immediate use for the blanket is over, and while they do not want the blanket they do want food--the food is an immediate want, but the blanket won't be wanted till evening--some of them have not sufficiently developed what we should call the idea of invariable sequence in their minds to remember that night will come back again after the day is over, and that the blanket which they do not want while the sun is out they will want when the sun has set. The sunset of yesterday is, so to speak, a past incarnation to them, and they do not carry on the memory through the night; therefore, they will part with their blanket for a mere trifle in the morning, although they will not part with it in the evening--a most striking illustration of the baby sense, if I may so call it, of the Ego which is incarnated in these aborigines. They are dying off very fast, and no English government will be able to keep them alive, because their work is done. A race dies when it is of no more use to the Soul; it becomes sterile when its purpose in the evolution of the Soul is over. For as the Universe only exists for the sake of the Soul, so all these stages in the Universe exist for the Soul, and when there are no more Souls so little developed that such a race is of any use to them, it becomes sterile and gradually disappears. I do not mean when it is helped to disappear by the superior races, though that is often the case; but even if they do not help it to disappear rapidly, it will inevitably disappear slowly on its own account, by the barrenness which falls upon it. It is of no more use, therefore it does not continue

That illustration may give you some idea of what the spark is like in its early stages, as you find it in these sparks that have burned low and not developed. Memory will be very, very slowly developed, but when it is developed, even in a limited way, you will at once see that an element is present conducing to more rapid growth, because the moment that this baby remembers past experiences it is then beginning to accumulate a little store which will impel it to action without impulse from without. It will have an impulse beginning from within which will lead it to seek experiences. Farther, not until it has memory can it distinguish, in their absence, between pleasurable and painful experiences, good and evil, as it will call them, and so begin to develop in itself a power of comparison and selection, i.e., of judgment, which will serve as a guide for action. Let me take the case of taste, which I chose before. It was pleasurable. Of course, some tastes will be unpleasant, and those will be marked off as painful, to be avoided. So that the Ego will get, as it begins to remember, two classes of things in the outer world; one labelled in its own mind--if I may call it mind at this stage: "pleasure; to be sought, to be followed;" and the other labelled: "painful; to be avoided, to be run away from, to be escaped." And at this stage, the Universe, so to speak, will divide itself into two for this baby Ego, things to be run after and things to be run away from. It will not have gone any further than that. Going out into an unknown world where it comes into contact with objects, the first great division will be things that it wants, and things that it does not want; and the wanting or the not wanting will depend on whether it meets something which it desires to repeat because it gives it pleasure, or something which it desires to avoid repeating because it gives it pain. This is the beginning of experience. In this way it will begin, as it accumulates these experiences of pleasure and of pain, to learn something more; it will begin to learn that this world that it has come into is a very definite kind of thing, and that it has got to accommodate itself to it; it will find some things in it that do not give way, and that if it runs up against those things certain unpleasant results always follow. Memory of course is wanted for this, to notice that always the same thing comes from the same object under the same circumstances; and when sufficient of these sensations have been accumulated to give rise to the definite idea that doing a particular thing will cause pain, there is the first glimpse of law, of something external to itself which it cannot overcome, which throws it back, as it were, and gives what it feels as pain, something repellent when it comes against it. So the idea begins to arise that not only are some things to followed and others to be avoided, but that the things which are to be followed, and which are pleasure-giving, are things which are good--which only means at first harmonious--and that others are inharmonious and unpleasant and therefore "evil"; that there is a law of pleasure and of pain to which it must adapt itself if it wants to live in comfort, that nothing that it can do will break this law, and that therefore it will be wise to accommodate itself to the law. This observation of sequence will be made by our baby Ego and will give rise to the idea of Law, and of the need to adapt itself to these laws if it is to live at all comfortably. And then a little more will come as the experience goes on; that sometimes a thing begins by giving pleasure and goes on by giving pain--a most confusing experience. Let us cling to our taste. The body of our baby Ego eats and pleasure is felt; because of this it makes the body go on eating till it eats too much. It then finds that by repeating this gratification pain has come where there was pleasure. It makes its body ill, and it gets a new view of the outside Universe--that the gratification of this which began by being pleasurable works out into pain, and that the pleasure which began in flavour may end in most uncomfortable aches; and not only so, but, persisted in, may cause perennial aches which later on it will know as disease. This very much emphasises its idea of law, and it begins to accumulate now a sequential experience of different pleasures and pains, and to realise that it bears a certain relationship to these outside contacts; it learns that it is not the outside object in itself that is pleasure-giving or pain-giving, but some relation that arises between itself and the outside object--a great advance--and that these outside objects are neither pleasure-giving nor pain-giving in themselves, but only in relation to itself, the same thing sometimes giving the one and sometimes giving the other. So that the idea of pleasure and pain, in this further experience of our baby Ego, will go on into the relationships that itself sets up with the outer world, and that change the character of the outside impact from pleasurable to painful. And then the law will begin to take on, as it were, a compelling power, and it will realise that it can adapt itself to this strange external apparent change, and that by adapting itself it can persist in pleasure or persist in pain, and that the pleasure and pain will depend on its attitude to the outer world. And so this next lesson of experience will be learned. And there I must leave my baby Ego for to-night, having reached as far as the recognition of an outer world, the receiving of pleasure and of pain, the recognition of relations, therefrom evolution of memory, evolution of judgment--which recognises the relationship as having in itself this difference of pleasure and pain--so that we have the beginnings of perception, memory, judgment--three things that are wanting for what we call reason of an elementary kind. Reason only exists certainly in the baby Ego as a mere germ; and we will leave him as he passes through death, carrying with him these germinal mental faculties which he has evolved. We cannot say how much progress would be made in one of these early lives; probably many lives would be needed to arrive at the stage just described. In order to make our study complete in outline, let us take him at the end of his first life, to see the principle underlying post-mortem evolution. Let us see him having begun his pilgrimage and passing for the first time through the gate of death. On the other side of that we will leave him to take him up again next week.

*1 It is with much inner pleasure that I find that a statement current in Theosophical circles, and repeated by me above, is incorrect in fact. It seems, with regard to some animals at least--as the dog and the cat--that the development caused "by the playing upon it of human intelligence" is well caused, and lifts the animal forward, so that the germinating individuality does not return to animal incarnation, but awaits elsewhere the period at which its further development shall become possible. The "forcing" is therefore helpful and beneficial, not harmful, and we may rid ourselves of the incongruous idea that, in a universe built on and permeated by Love, the out-welling of compassion and love to our younger relatives is injurious to them. There are a good many Theosophists, I think, who will share my pleasure in getting rid of a view against which one's instinct secretly rebelled. Return to main text.
Go to next chapter
Go to table of contents