Every "Round" (on the descending scale) is but a repetition in a more concrete form of the Round which preceded it, as every globe – down to our fourth sphere (the actual earth) – is a grosser and more material copy of the more shadowy sphere which precedes it in their successive order, on the three higher planes. On its way upwards on the ascending arc, Evolution spiritualises and etherealises, so to speak, the general nature of all, bringing it on to a level with the plane on which the twin globe on the opposite side is placed; the result being, that when the seventh globe is reached (in whatever Round) the nature of everything that is evolving returns to the condition it was in at its starting point – plus, every time, a new and superior degree in the states of consciousness.

The Secret Doctrine, i 232

 The archetypal image of man as the sacred seven-leaved Saptaparna plant suggests the sublime integrity of human development, encompassing the spiritual, mental, moral and astro-physical spheres of existence. The heart of the Man-Plant is the sutratman, the thread-soul spun from the distilled essence of the diverse experiences of the threefold Atma-Buddhi-Manas in its repeated incarnations in the lower quaternary. The triadic heart of hebdomadic humanity mirrors the complex differentiation of the triple Logoi which takes place at the dawn of cosmic manifestation. But to comprehend the correlation between the ONE, the twofold and the threefold in the cosmos, between Atma, Atma-Buddhi and Atma-Buddhi-Manas in man, one must understand the cyclic processes of evolution throughout the hierarchies and kingdoms of Nature. In particular, one must appreciate, morally and spiritually, the immense scope and vital significance of human self-consciousness. Unless and until human beings overcome their unnaturally protracted fascination with the lunar aspects of their evolutionary ancestry, they will be unable to discern their present predicament or discover their true status as conscious participants in the cosmic process.

 The complex ills of contemporary humanity result from a long history of abdication of responsibility in consciousness. Many souls have assuredly utilized the prerogative of self-consciousness to move closer to enlightenment, whilst others have already irreversibly fallen off the human path during this epoch of manifestation. The great bulk of humanity has failed to meet its fundamental obligations to the rest of Nature. In order to understand this collective karma, it is necessary to see human existence within the broader context of cyclic evolution. The earth, as the common theatre of evolution, is comprised of a circle of seven stages or globes, around which the evolutionary life-impulse passes seven times, each immense circling of the seven globes constituting one of the seven Rounds. Each stage of activity in each of the successive Rounds provides for the development of certain states of consciousness which correspond to the plane of matter correlative with that stage. As the Atma-Buddhic Monads engaged in this process are themselves divisible into seven kingdoms falling under seven hierarchies of being, owing to their attained development in earlier periods of evolution, their internal and external relations to each other vary enormously in the different cycles of terrestrial activity.

 Whilst all the elements of this vast and variegated process are ontologically reducible to one absolute substance-principle, no mere assertion of this metaphysical reduction will generate a sense of ethical responsibility. Instead, what is needed is a shrewd comprehension of the intimate relationship between the partially awakened self-conscious human Monad and the hosts of unself-conscious Monads which constitute the vestures of man and the deceptive veils of external nature. In regard to the laws that apply to the elemental kingdoms, H.P. Blavatsky cited the work of Henry Pratt, who sketched the Kabbalistic teaching:

 They held that, functionally, Spirit and Matter of corresponding opacity and density tended to coalesce; and that the resultant created Spirits, in the disembodied state, were constituted on a scale in which the differing opacities and transparencies of Elemental or uncreated Spirit were reproduced. And that these Spirits in the disembodied state attracted, appropriated, digested and assimilated Elemental Spirit and Elemental Matter whose condition was conformed to their own.

Ibid., 234

 The greater the purity and ethereality of a human being's vestures, the greater will be the transparency of the Buddhic light of the Atman. When the vestures are composed of a very fine set of filtering elementals, light will shine through them without obscuration. The capacity to focus the light of universal awareness resides in Manas. When acting naturally, Manas chooses universal themes for focussing the noumenal light of Atma-Buddhi. This means that Manas tends to levitate, to rise upwards higher and higher, towards ever-expanding perspectives upon consciousness, matter and energy. At the same time, as is all too evident, Manas can, through its projected ray, get locked within the lower sensorium, the mundane class of promiscuous perceptions connected with name and form, comparison and contrast, status and security, novelty and curiosity, all that is evanescent and illusive. This in itself is a result of the impure quality and leaky texture of the lower vestures, especially of the astral form. Through recurrent patterns of temporizing thought, strong associations are forged between a human being and vampirizing sub-classes of the elemental kingdoms. Through these profane alliances, the embodied human consciousness is drawn into sterile fields of suffocating material existence, following the destructive lines of its carnal attractions. These conditions vary tremendously, as Pratt suggested:

 ...there is a wide difference in the condition of created Spirits; and in the intimate association between the Spirit-world and the world of Matter, the more opaque Spirits in the disembodied state were drawn towards the more dense parts of the material world, and therefore tended towards the centre of the Earth, where they found the conditions most suited to their state; while the more transparent Spirits passed into the surrounding aura of the planet, the more rarefied finding their home in its satellite.


 This clearly connotes that not all human beings live in the same dimension of space-time. They may be grouped according to divergent states of consciousness; hence there could be within a single family, within a community, certainly within a nation, people representing differences of consciousness so vast that they constitute a virtual sub-species of humanity. In the most propitious cases these beings, having achieved a certain level of personal invulnerability, would always be universalizing and elevating themselves. But others, despite the best will in the world, have consolidated or inherited extremely tenacious tendencies that push them constantly towards the shadow-play of the physical senses. They are, therefore, blinded to the joyous possibilities of what would otherwise be the natural upward arc of the metaphysical imagination. Human beings of all sorts may be characterized in terms of these marked divergences in consciousness which invariably reflect the closeness or looseness of the relation between the immortal triad and the mutable quaternary, between spiritual will and material ossification. What might he called a human being's basic level of self-consciousness is directly proportional to that Monad's evolution as an independent centre of primordial formless intelligence. In any particular case, the degree of this noetic individuation is a direct function of how that ray of self-consciousness has, over a period of eighteen million years, used life-atoms and the vestures, either universalizing itself or failing to do so. This, then, is the secret history of every human soul.

 Looked at in the aggregate, all immortal souls presently experiencing the complexities of this earth chain in the Fourth Round are themselves the inheritors of an evolution that goes back to prior Rounds and earlier periods of evolution. In the first three Rounds, before reaching the stage of nascent self-consciousness, every Monad would have acquired a wealth of spiritual experiences in ethereal vestures, all of which is part of the universal memory of mankind. Each unfolding Round of evolution is like a day of Brahma, composed of one revolution of the wheel of the planetary chain or one circling of the Monadic Hosts around the seven globes. In the Fourth Round, human evolution reaches the high point of physical development, crowning its work with the development of the perfect physical vesture. This point of maximum involution of spirit into matter represents the fullest development of physical consciousness. After attaining this threshold, evolution begins its return movement towards spirit. In this vast perspective of human evolution, humanity has already passed that point of intense involvement in differentiation at the atomic and molecular level. This is evident in the subtlety and refinement of the human cellular structure, nervous system and specialized organs. There is an immeasurable gap between, for example, the human hand and an animal's paw. Each human being carries in his hands and other organs instruments that are the product of an extraordinary specialization of natural intelligence. But this privilege – having a hand with a firm thumb, five fingers and all its mounds corresponding to the different planets – is too little considered and too often taken for granted.

 Even those fortunate enough to have had access to the arcane teachings regarding Rounds and globes, the correspondences and analogies between Nature and Man, have neglected this meditation. Though supposedly liberated from both theistic and materialistic conceptions of evolution, they have succumbed to superficial views of spirituality. Few, if any, have thought to connect the ten virtues with the twice-five fingers of the two hands. However many have reflected upon the phrase "constitutionally incapable of deviating from the right path", few have tried to understand irreversibility even on the physical plane, to recognize that it might apply to leading a little child by the hand across precipitous terrain. There is no point in being more or less reliable when guiding a child along the edge of an abyss; one needs nothing less than absolute irreversible stability. Gandhi understood this well and tirelessly attempted to impress it upon his followers. Even disregarding so extreme a case, one can remind oneself that such a firm stability is the indispensable basis of industrial civilization. People must be prompt and reliable in going about their work. No matter how much they may be driven by lesser or distracting motives, they either turn up at work at a certain time or accept, and expect, the inevitable consequences. This works all the way through Nature and society, so much so that it is taken to be common sense. The difficulty, then, is for people to bring to bear this stringent sense of reliability upon the inner life, with its whirling thoughts, chaotic feelings and everyday moral choices.

 Put another way, the fundamental problem is to generate a sufficient sense of reality for the inner pilgrimage when it is freely chosen and when it is neither baited by external rewards nor buffeted by internal fears. Not all human beings are the same in this regard. Some need the stimulus of fear more than others. This is due to the aggregate character of all the impressions they have made upon the life-atoms in their vestures during their incarnations over the past eighteen million years. At any given time, through one's predominant state of consciousness, one establishes a link with elementals, which on different planes belong by affinity to quite different classes. They themselves function in groups and are connected with the five visible and two invisible elements of nature. They are also therefore connected, by analogy, with other globes of the earth chain, and are consubstantial with matter, either in a rarefied form corresponding to the first three Rounds or in an extremely dense state connected with the point of maximum differentiation in the Fourth Round.

 Viewed in a larger time scale than is ordinarily accessible to human beings, the entire process of nature is circular; every Round on the descending scale is but a more concrete repetition of the one preceding it. Similarly, every globe within a Round on the descending arc is a materialized copy of a more ethereal sphere which preceded it in the successive descents of consciousness through the three higher planes of the earth chain. On the fourth globe in the Fourth Round, humanity has completed the involutionary arc of this process and is now engaged in the difficult push upwards and inwards towards the source of all life-energy. The immense suffering of present humanity comes from the lapses of irresponsible beings who lost touch with the great evolutionary thrust. Regardless of the exact nature of these collective failures of prior civilizations, and regardless of the particular burdens that these failures have placed on present humanity, it is now necessary for all human beings to learn to move upwards self-consciously in the ascending arc.

 In practice, this means that human beings must acquire greater control over their conscious energies, a much greater capacity to withdraw from external stimuli and deformed images. This internal refinement of consciousness is the method of evolution itself, which acts to spiritualize and etherealize the complex nature of all beings, bringing them successively on to the levels of the globes in the descending arc of evolution. Thus, on the ascending arc the fifth globe corresponds to the third globe of the descending arc, the sixth to the second and the seventh to the first. A corresponding relationship exists between the Rounds themselves. This upward process is essentially the sublimation of matter and its impressibility by intelligence, which is the constructive function of thinking beings in the creative use of matter. The general sum-total of impulse given by thought to matter includes the laser-sharp contributions of legions of Adepts as well as the more haphazard effusions of millions of laggard souls. Without being an Adept, it is impossible to assess the awesome nature of this sum-total. Most human beings are, by definition, active at a middle level of consciousness and therefore are unable to understand the enormous range of alchemy that arises in human experience. They touch only a minute segment of meaningful experience in any given lifetime. Whilst the humanity of a particular Race and Round will act under a general limiting curve of consciousness, present humanity falls far short in optimizing its opportunities under the curves that apply to it, and this is largely through compulsive identification with lower classes of elementals negatively impressed in the past.

 For the Manasa, the pure self-conscious intelligence burning brightly in the divine sphere of every human Monad, there is no inherent difficulty in understanding the nature of embodied experience. Yet for the incarnated ray, the personality, merely to talk of SAT, to talk of the eternal bliss experienced by the higher Triad, does nothing to bring about the progress of the Monad as a sevenfold being. On the contrary, idle and egotistic speech about spirituality precipitates the terrible dead weight of religious orthodoxy which stultifies human aspiration. The selfish desire for liberation, the warped assumptions of self-righteous judgementalism and the delusion that human souls can somehow opt out of the cosmic programme have never been a part of the true esoteric Teaching. What is true, however, and comprehensible is that any human being can by deep meditation, by noble association and by good fellowship learn to apply the sacred Teachings at some level, gaining brief though nourishing glimpses of spiritual realities. When through moral perseverence such moments are threaded together, they may become the basis of lines of noetic ideation which will have a definite bearing upon the quality of astral vesture and the degree of refinement one will possess in the next life. Given the great sum-total of thoughts and choices made over eighteen million years, no human being can make an abrupt or marked difference to these factors in one brief incarnation. Half of life is spent in sleep, childhood and old age; there is hardly sufficient time and continuity of effort to make a radical difference to one's vestures in the next life. But there is time enough to change the direction of one's consciousness, the type of impression one is continually making upon elementals, and the pattern which one can extend and refine in future incarnations. After successive lifetimes of such endeavour, it is possible to create a refined and pellucid brain-mind, exquisitely tuned centres in the astral form, immediately responsive to the highest aspirations, to the most impersonal ideation.

 As so few have grasped the logic and the mathematics of the Teachings of the Brotherhood of Mahatmas, many have, alas, grossly oversimplified the doctrine of Adeptship and cheapened the notion of chelaship. They never asked themselves how, if over eighteen million years they had made themselves what they were, they could expect in one short lifetime to become so different from all others. Perhaps they thought of elementals as nothing more than a convenient category of explanation for unusual phenomena, with no application to the most intimate details of mundane experience. Nonetheless, the fact remains that every human being has an inheritance of karma extending back over eighteen million years, and Nature is not about to exchange its integrity for the wishful thinking of would-be neophytes. Every human being needs to realize the texture of the sevenfold vestures and to refine them to a degree that is coordinate with the entire Fourth Round and to the Races within that Round. In the far distant future, in the Fifth Round, will come the decisive moment of choice after which no one can go any farther who has not already become benevolent and altruistic, not just in intention or on one plane, but at the primary level of root consciousness, at the level of polarity of life-atoms. A human being who has not done this will not be able to go beyond the Fifth Round at a certain threshold.

 This is the crucial juncture which is being anticipated by analogy in the Fifth Race of the Fourth Round right now. Owing to the enormous retardation in evolution in the past, it became absolutely necessary for the original vibration of the Planetary Spirit, the Avataric vibration of eighteen million years ago, of a million years ago in the time of Rama, of five thousand years ago in the time of Krishna, to be resoundingly struck again so that the resultant karma would force a widespread quickening of choice. In this way, those who cannot really keep pace may be eased out of the human form, and what would otherwise be resolved in the Fifth Round through a titanic struggle between benevolent and malevolent magic may be facilitated at this point in the Fifth Race.

 This compelling necessity makes the compassionate programme of the Bodhisattvas crucial and indeed indispensable. Selfish dreams of salvation have no place in our philanthropic work for the humanity of the future. It is altogether inadequate to entertain some vague intellectual awareness that there is SAT. To live SAT, to impress every life-atom with SAT, is to become a Magus. As Gandhi understood from the ancient Indian texts, to be able to exemplify one great act of saccakriya, with the potent energy of pure altruistic truth, is to release so powerful a force that it can radically transform the consciousness of a myriad souls and minds over great spans of space and time. This is the perpetual theurgy enacted by the Brotherhood of Bodhisattvas. Even to apprentice oneself in this benevolent art requires lifetimes of rigorous mental and moral training. Knowing at one level that there is SAT in no way dispenses with the immensity and complexity of this programme. Whosoever hopes or tries to circumvent this necessarily arduous course has simply not begun to understand the profound Teaching concerning cosmic hierarchies.

 The psychic complement of selfish salvationism and shallow spirituality is the equally destructive view that there is something inescapably evil about the physical body. There is very little to choose between orthodox religion, which condemns the physical body, and empirical pseudo-science, which refuses to really respect the human form. From the standpoint of the Wisdom Religion the physical body is a temple. Materialist and religious creedalists alike, whether prating of original sin or taking pride in mechanistic innovation, degrade the most divine form on earth. If children learnt to revere their bodies before the age of puberty, there would result a cultural revolution of fundamental proportions. As one of the Mahatmas explained in the last century:

 Man (physically) is a compound of all the kingdoms, and spiritually – his individuality is no worse for being shut up within the casing of an ant than it is for being inside a king. It is not the outward or physical shape that dishonours and pollutes the five principles – but the mental perversity. Then it is but at his fourth round, when arrived at the full possession of his Kama-energy and completely matured, that man becomes fully responsible, as at the sixth he may become a Buddha and at the seventh before the Pralaya – a "Dhyan Chohan".


 The root of all retardation is the persistent refusal to learn, to revere elders and to keep still. If children do not learn silence and respect, they have learnt nothing. Reverence must be instilled so firmly that it prevails in adolescence against that cowardly minority which is endemically perverse owing to its protracted inability to use its creative faculties. This perversity is a kind of demoniac defiance, often a desperate desire for inordinate attention; but it is also sometimes the influence emanating from the astral light of the soulless beings who are increasingly converging with the decay of the old order. Congregating in the so-called centres of urban civilizations and of global tourism, they have nothing but a total contempt for everything that lives and breathes. Individuals must learn to shield themselves against these appalling and polluting influences.

 In his solemn warning Mahatma M. was hinting that this mental perversity is rooted over the last five million years in Atlantis. In the Fifth Root Race it is wholly abnormal, because by the end of the Fourth Race it was largely eradicated. There was a tremendous victory and as a result of the tragedy of what transpired in those closing million years of the Atlantean race, the wise deliberately sought to lay down the great norms and patterns of human life at the foundation of the Fifth Root Race. The complex codes of Manu spring from this era over a million years ago. The archetypal injunctions regarding monogamous family life, reverence for elders, mutual responsibility between social orders, and the correct participation through gratitude and devotion in the Guru-chela relation were all exemplified and set down by the divine law-givers at the inception of the present Race. Everything in present humanity that is truly ethical and based upon divine wisdom goes back to that origin, though obscured in its inner meaning through the course of time and through the hypocritical misuse of sacred Teachings by people enthralled by external forms. So great has been the recrudescence of Atlantean pride and wilfulness that the mighty victory of light over darkness at the inception of the Fifth Root Race has been eclipsed in the consciousness of many human beings. Many have wavered and wandered under the karmic pressure of atavistic tendencies, so that they are now altogether too suggestible to the forces of superstition, materialism and self-destruction.

 One must clearly delineate the moral lines within the fivefold field of the middle human principles. Eschewing idle claims about the Atman and a preoccupation with the physical form, mature human beings must, in full possession of fohatic energy, nurture a sense of full responsibility for themselves. The only authentic mental standpoint to take is that of total responsibility for oneself, never descending to transfer blame to anything outside oneself. The right discipline for the present and coming age is that of "the mango principle" enunciated in The Voice of the Silence. One must learn to be as soft as that fruit's pulp to the woes and limitations of others, and as hard as its stone to one's own weaknesses and limitations. Only by doing this can one gain the inner firmness and moral strength needed to withdraw consciously from the astral form, and eventually to dissipate that form at will. This in itself is a high stage of development, and it cannot be attained until one has paid one's debts to other human beings. Even where one is still carrying debts to others both mentally and morally, it should still be possible to be profoundly grateful and responsible in relation to one's opportunities as a self-conscious Monad. Nothing less is being aimed at than the fullest possible recovery of the true meaning of the word "man". Derived from manu and manushya, "the thinker", it is man alone in Nature who is capable of keeping his head erect, capable of standing firm, capable of having a straight spine and above all capable of consciously directing benevolence towards all beings. But before one can gain full control over, or some comprehension of, the ultimate destination, one must set one's inward course in the right direction. Every human being is intuitively capable of knowing whether one is going in the right direction or not.

 The forward march of human evolution has nothing to do with cowardliness or evasion, with pseudo-chelaship or nefarious manipulations. These belong to the murderers of souls, whether they parade themselves in the garb of science or sexology, psychology or religion. Every decent human being will have a natural distaste towards these grotesque mockeries of human life which only serve to weaken human responsibility. But those who consult their own consciences will discover a natural sympathy with that essential tendency in nature which evinces a progressive march towards self-mastery. They will learn to discern a design and compassion in the activity of the apparently blind forces in the vastitude of visible and hidden Nature. They will learn to appreciate the intimate adaptations of natural form to intelligent purpose; through their joyous meditations, they will learn how to assist evolution onwards from within. Rejecting all irrational conceptions of evolution based upon truncated categories, they will begin to cherish the beauty and integrity of the continual process of sifting that is spiritual evolution.

 Though sharp in their immediate results and distressing to the inflated personal shadow, the tests of karma are entirely moral. In the long run they can only serve to instruct humanity in the dual law of universal justice and unconditional compassion. Those who willingly submit themselves to these ethical tests and who become freely capable of breathing for the sake of others will earn an entitlement to share in the resplendently noetic civilization of the future. Those who do not will be spewed forth by Nature. Under the ancient though eternally young Avataric impulse of the Aquarian Age, there is challenge, guidance and protection for every human being who aspires to work truly on behalf of the humanity of the future. The choice belongs to each and all.

Guard thou the Lower lest it soil the Higher.

– The Voice of the Silence

Hermes, August 1983
by Raghavan Iyer