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The First Principles. By Curuppumullage Jinarajadasa. First published in Theosophy is the wisdom arising from the study of the evolution of life and form.
This wisdom already exists, because the study has been pursued for long ages by properly equipped investigators into nature's mysteries. The investigators, who are called the Masters of the Wisdom, are those souls who in the evolutionary process have passed beyond the stage of man to the next higher, that of the " Adept ".
As man evolves to Adept, he gains knowledge by investigation and experiment. The knowledge so far gained by an unbroken line of Adepts is Theosophy, the Ancient Wisdom. As man becomes Adept, he ceases to be merely an item in the evolutionary process, and appears as a master and director of that process, under the supervision of a great Consciousness called in Theosophy the Logos.
He is enabled, as a cooperator with the Logos, to see nature from His standpoint, and to some extent survey her, not as her helpless tool, but with the vision of her Creator. Such a survey is Theosophy today. These Masters of the Wisdom, the agents of the Logos, direct the evolutionary process in all its phases, each supervising a particular department in the evolution of life and form.
They guide the building and unbuilding of forms on sea and land; they direct the rise and fall of nations, giving to each just so much of the Ancient Wisdom as is needed for its welfare, and can be assimilated by it. Sometimes that Wisdom is given indirectly, through workers in quest of knowledge, by inspiring them all unseen towards discoveries; sometimes it is given directly, as a revelation.
Both these ways are observable now in the twentieth century. The Masters of the Wisdom, who are in charge of the evolution of all that lives, are giving the Wisdom — the science of facts — indirectly, through the invisible guidance and inspiration of scientific workers; directly, they have given it in a body of knowledge known by the term Theosophy.
Theosophy is then, in a sense, a revelation, but it is the revelation of a knowledge by those who have discovered it, to those who have not yet done so.
It cannot but be a hypothesis at first to whomsoever it is offered; it can become one's own personal knowledge only by experiment and experience. In Theosophy today we have not the fullness of knowledge of all facts. Only a few main facts and laws have been told us, sufficient to spur us on to study and discovery; but innumerable gaps remain to be filled in.
They are being filled in by individual workers in our midst, but what we have of knowledge is as a drop in the ocean to what lies undiscovered or unrevealed. Nevertheless, the little we have is of wonderful fascination, and it reveals new inspiration and beauty everywhere. Theosophy today, in the modern Theosophical literature, will be found to be concerned mostly with the evolution of life.
But the knowledge concerning the evolution of form, now gathered in every department of modern science, is equally a part of the Ancient Wisdom. In both, there are gaps to be filled in; but when both are correctly viewed, each is seen to supplement the other.
In this exposition of Theosophy, as in every manual of science, there are bound to be two elements. A writer will expound what has been accepted as fact by all, or by a majority of scientific investigators, but at the same time he may include the result of the work of a few or of himself only, which may require corroboration or revision.
As he proceeds, he may not separate, unconsciously or through lack of true scientific training, these two elements. Similarly, while the leading ideas of this work may be considered "Theosophical", and as a fairly correct exposition of the knowledge revealed by the Masters of the Wisdom, there will be parts that will not deserve that dignity.
But as Truth is after all a matter of discovery by each for himself, what others can do is merely to point out the way.
Scientifically established truths, and what may be but personal or erroneous views, must all be tested by the same standard. Though in its fundamental ideas Theosophy is a revelation, yet there is no authority in it to an individual, unless he himself assents to it. Nevertheless, as a man must be ready to stand or fall by the noblest hypothesis of life which his heart and mind can conceive, this work is written to show that such a hypothesis exists in Theosophy.
There is no better preparation for a clear comprehension of Theosophy than a broad, general, knowledge of modern science. For science deals with facts, tabulating them and discovering laws; Theosophy deals with the same facts, and though they may be tabulated differently, the conclusions are in the main the same.
Where they differ, it is not because Theosophy questions the facts of the scientist, but simply because, before coming to conclusions, it takes into account additional facts which modern science either ignores or has not as yet discovered. There is but one Science, so long as facts remain the same; what is strictly scientific is Theosophical, as what is truly Theosophical is entirely in harmony with all the facts, and therefore in the highest degree scientific.
The greatest achievement of modern science is the conception offered to the thinking mind of the phenomena of existence as factors in a great process called Evolution. Let us understand in broad outline what evolution means according to science, and we shall be ready to understand what it means according to Theosophy.
Let us consider first the great nebula in Orion Fig. It is a chaotic mass of matter in an intensely heated condition, millions and millions of miles in diameter. It is a vague, cloudy mass, full of energy; but, so far as we can see, it is energy not performing any usefu1 work.
But there are other nebulae which give us an. The nebula in Canes Venatici Fig. The material of each arm, while retaining its motion round the centre, will slowly condense round one or more nuclei. Each nucleus will become a star.
A similar process can be postulated for the next stage in evolution. The material of each star undergoes a change. Either because of its internal condition, or because it is affected by a passing star, it will develop subsidiary centers. The nebular matter will condense round them, and slowly these centers will become planets circling round the star's central nucleus.
Thus, with regard to our own star, the Sun, we note what evolution has accomplished; it is today an orderly solar system, having a central sun and attendant planets circling round it Fig.
What will be the next stage? By this time, there will have appeared within the solar system the lighter chemical elements. Hydrogen, carbon, nitrogen, oxygen, phosphorus, calcium, iron, and others, will be there; they will enter into certain.
We shall now have some of the matter as protoplasm, the first form of Life. What, then, will be the next stage? This protoplasm, too, arranges itself in groups and combinations; it takes the form of organisms, both vegetable and animal.
Let us first watch what happens to it, as it becomes vegetable organisms. Two activities will be noticeable from the beginning in this living matter: one, that the organism desires to retain its life as long as possible, by nutrition; the other, to produce another organism similar to its own. Under the impulse of these two instincts, it will "evolve", that is, we shall see the simple organism taking on a complex structure. This process will continue, stage by stage, till slowly there will arise a vegetable kingdom on each planet, such as we have on our own Fig.
Each successive stage will be developed from its predecessor; each will be so organized as to prolong its existence longer and to give rise to better offspring. Each will be more "evolved" than what has gone before. From unicellular organisms, such as bacteria, algae and fungi, spore plants will be developed, able to disseminate offspring in a new way; later, a better method of propagation will be evolved, by means of seeds.
Later still, there will come the stage of flowering plants, where the individual organism, with least expenditure of energy, will retain its own life, while at the same time it gives rise to a large number of off-spring. Stage by stage, the organism increases in complexity; but that very complexity enabIes it to "live" more satisfactorily, that is, to give rise to offspring with the least expenditure of force, to prolong its life, and at the same time to produce a type of progeny with new and greater potentialities of self-expression than its parent.
A similar process of evolution takes place in protoplasm, as it gives rise to the animal kingdom. From protozoa, simple unicellular organisms, we find evolved step by step the various groups of the invertebrate kingdom Fig. From unicellular organisms to multi-cellular organisms with tissues and nervous and circulatory systems, complexity increases group after group. Then a new step comes in the building of organisms; the central nerve trunk is sheathed by vertebrae, and thus we have the vertebrates.
Of this last order of the animal kingdom, the most highly organized is Man. The instincts of self-preservation and propagation are seen in the animal kingdom also. As structure becomes more complex, the organism is better fitted to adapt itself to the changing environment, better able, with less. But a new element of life appears among the higher vertebrates. Each improvement in organization, achieving some economy or other, makes the maintenance of life easier; so that the energies evolved from a given quantity of food more than suffice to provide for the individual and for progeny; some unused energy is left.
As we rise to the higher types of creatures having more developed structures, we see that this surplus energy becomes greater and greater; and the highest show us long intervals of cessation from the pursuit of food, during which there is not an infrequent spontaneous expenditure of unused energy in that pleasurable activity of the faculties we call play.
This general truth has to be recognized as holding of life in its culminating forms — of human life as well as of other life. The progress of mankind is, under one aspect, a means of liberating more and more life from mere toil and leaving more and more life available for relaxation — for pleasurable culture, for aesthetic gratification; for travel, for games.
From the chaotic nebula, once upon a time, to man today, thinking, playing and loving — this is the process called Evolution. A chaos has become a cosmos, with orderly events, which the human mind can tabulate as laws; the unstable, "a-dharma", has become the stable, "dharma". We note what are the principles which nature has followed, as the One becomes the Many, as disorder becomes order, in the next diagram Fig. True, no eye of man saw the beginning of this process, nor has continuously watched it to the present day, and so can describe from direct observation each step in evolution, and say that evolution is a fact.
We can only reconstruct the process by observing different kinds of nebulae, by studying the structures of extinct and living organisms, by piecing together here a tail with there a wing. None can say that the universe did not arise in all its complexity a few thousand years ago, just before historical tradition began; and none can say that the universe will not tomorroww cease to be. But man cannot be satisfied with taking note only of the few brief moments of the present which his consciousness can retain; he must construct some, conception of nature, and postulate a past and a future.
Such a past and a future are propounded, largely from analogy, in the process called evolution. In a sense, evolution is a hypothesis; but it is the most satisfactory hypothesis so far in the history of mankind, and it is also one which, when once accepted, shows evolution everywhere, for all to see. Fascinating as is the survey of the cosmos in the light of evolution as taught by modern science, there is nevertheless one gloomy element in it, and that is the insignificant part played by the individual in the timeless drama.
Nature at work, "evolving", lavishly spends her energies, building form after form. But a terrible spendthrift she seems, producing far more forms than she provides sustenance for.
Time is of no account, and the individual but of little, only indeed so long as he lives. During the brief life of the individual, nature smiles on him, caresses him, as though everything had been planned for his welfare. But after he has made the move she guides him to make, after he has given rise to offspring, or has slightly modified the environment for others by his living, death comes and he is. That "I am I", which impels each to live, to struggle, to seek happiness, ceases to be; for it is not we who are important, but the type — "so careful of the type she seems, so careless of the single life".
Where today are Nineveh and Babylon, and "the glory that was Greece and the grandeur that was Rome"? From this aspect, evolution is terrible, a mechanical process, serene in its omnipotence and ruthlessness.
Yet, since it is a process after all, perhaps to bring in personal considerations whether we like it or not may not be to the point. But since we are men and women who think and desire, we do bring in the personal element to our conception of life; and when we look at evolution, the outlook for us as individuals is not encouraging. We are as bubbles of the sea, arising from no volition of our own, and we cease to be, following developments in a process which we cannot control.
First Principles Theosophy by Jinarajadasa
The First Principles. By Curuppumullage Jinarajadasa. First published in Theosophy is the wisdom arising from the study of the evolution of life and form. This wisdom already exists, because the study has been pursued for long ages by properly equipped investigators into nature's mysteries. The investigators, who are called the Masters of the Wisdom, are those souls who in the evolutionary process have passed beyond the stage of man to the next higher, that of the " Adept ". As man evolves to Adept, he gains knowledge by investigation and experiment.
First Principles Of Theosophy
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