To the student of this subject of Spiritual Evolution, a great world of interesting facts open itself. Light is thrown upon history and the progress of mankind, and a most fascinating field of research is presented. We must resist the temptation to go into this branch of the subject, as it would lead us in attractive paths which we are forbidden to take up in these elementary lessons owing to the lack of space. We may find room, however, to say a little about these matters.
The earth is one of a chain of planets, belonging to our solar system, all of which are intimately connected with the others in this great law of Spiritual Evolution. Great waves of life sweep over the chain, carrying race after race along the chain, from one planet to another. Each race stays on each planet for a certain period, and then having developed, passes on to the planet next highest in the scale of evolution, finding there conditions best suited for its development. But this progress from planet to planet is not circular – it resembles a spiral, circling round and round and yet rising higher with each curve.
Let us suppose a soul dwelling upon any of the planets of our planetary chain, in a comparatively undeveloped state of spiritual growth – occupying a low place in the scale of evolution. The soul gains the experiences coming to it in that stage, in a number of incarnations, and then is swept away toward the next highest planet in the chain, together with the rest of its particular race, and is reincarnated there. In this new home it occupies a plane distinctly in advance of the one occupied in the last one – its entire race forming the nucleus of a new race there, some being pioneers while the others follow after. But still this advanced stage (as compared with its stage on the planet just left behind it) may be much lower in the scale of progress than other races dwelling on the same planet with it.
Some of the races, lowest in the point of evolution on this earth, may have been much nearer the highest stage of development on the last planet inhabited by them, and still they have progressed greatly by the change – the highest on a lower planet perhaps being less highly developed than the lowest on one farther along the planetary chain. Many of the races that formerly inhabited the Earth, traces of whom we occasionally find, have passed on to a higher stage of development. History shows us that race after race came to the front in the earth’s development – played their part upon the stage of action – and then passed on – where? The occult philosophies furnish the missing link of explanation. And our race has grown from the stone – age stage – and still further back – and will continue to progress – and will then pass on, making way for some newer race which may be even now sending out pioneers from some other planet.
This does not mean, necessarily, that each race that history tells us of has passed from the earth. On the contrary, occultists know that some, and in fact most of the races known to history, have incarnated in some of the races today. The confusion is explained by the fact that each race has several sub-races, which really belong to the main race. For instance, occultists know that the ancient Egyptians – he Romans – the Greeks – the Atlanteans – the ancient Persians, etc., etc., are now living on this earth – that is the souls which formerly incarnated in these races, are now incarnated in some of the modern races. But there are other races – prehistoric races – which have passed away from the earth’s attraction entirely, and have gone on to the higher planes of action in the higher planets. There are a number of planets lower in the scale of progress than our earth, and there are several higher, toward which we are moving. There are of course, other solar systems – other chains of suns – other sub-Universes (if we may be pardoned for using the term), and all this is ahead of every soul, no matter how lowly or how humble.
Our race, at present, is going through a most important period of evolution. It is passing from the unconscious stage of spiritual development, into the conscious stage. Many have already attained their conscious stage, and many more are awakening to it. The whole race will ultimately have it, this being precedent to their moving on. This gradual awakening to spiritual consciousness, is what is causing all this unrest in the world of thought, this breaking away from old ideals and forms – this hunger for the truth – this running to and fro after new truths, and old truths restated. It is a critical period in the history of the race, and many hold that it implies a possible division of the race into two sub-races, one of whom will be possessed of spiritual consciousness, and will move on ahead of the remaining sub-race of slower brothers, who must work up by degrees.
But the race will again be united, before it finally passes on from the earth, as it is bound together by the Law of Spiritual Cause and Effect. We are all interested in each other’s progress – not only because we are brothers but because our own soul must wait until the whole race develops. Of course the more rapidly developed soul does not have to be reincarnated simply because its slower brother has to do so. On the contrary the highly developed soul spends a long period of waiting on the higher planes of the Astral World while its slower brother works out his evolution in repeated births, the sojourn in the higher planes giving the developed soul great happiness and benefit, as explained in other lessons.
Many of these “waiting souls,” however, choose to sacrifice their well earned rest, by coming back to earth to help and uplift their brethren, either in the form of Astral Helpers, or even by a deliberate and conscious rebirth (which is not needed for their development) they deliberately taking on the body of flesh, with all its burdens, in order to assist their weaker brothers toward the goal. The great teachers of the races, have been largely composed of these self-sacrificing souls, who voluntarily “renounced heaven” for the love of their fellow man. It is very hard to imagine what a great sacrifice this is – this coming back to a comparatively low developed civilization, from a high plane of spiritual development. It is like Emerson doing missionary work among the Bushmen.
Toward what goal is all this evolution tending? What does it all mean? From the low forms of life, to the highest – all are on The Path. To what place or state does The Path lead? Let us attempt to answer by asking you, to imagine a series of millions of circles one within the other. Each circle means a stage of life. The outer circles are filled with life in its lowest and most material stages, each circle nearer the center holding higher and higher forms – until men (or what were men) become as gods. Still on, and on, does the form of life grow higher, until the human mind cannot grasp the idea. And what is in the center? The brain of the entire Spiritual Body – The Absolute – God! And we are traveling toward that center!