What is the place of Man in the grand Scheme of Evolution – the complexity of the Cosmos in which we form so small a part?
From a lecture delivered at the Theosophical Inquirers Study Group, June 2017
What is the place of Man in the grand Scheme of Evolution – the complexity of the Cosmos in which we
form so small a part?
Theosophy answers that we are each of us participants in the Grand Plan. We are part of an endless and
cyclical evolutionary process in which our purpose, over the spans of many hundreds of thousands of
lifetimes in physical form, is to progress in accordance with Cosmic Law and the overarching Grand Plan,
to emerge, in time, into our heritage as divine and spiritual beings. In this grand scheme of evolution, we
each pass through the various kingdoms of nature, from the mineral to the animal and ultimately the
human stage. The mission of humanity is to reach the stage of “Superhumanity”, in which we will attain
to a higher degree of spiritual knowledge and achievement than currently comprehensible to our yet
evolving minds. We are each ascending the ladder to godhood.
This final accomplishment is achieved over the course of many lifetimes in which the individual
progresses through a series of initiations, each of these signifying the attainment of a greater degree of
mastery over one’s self. Simply put, an initiation is the attainment of a higher state of consciousness.
The final goal is variously referred to in the religious and spiritual literature of the world by such terms
as enlightenment, moksha, nirvana, salvation, and so forth.
Theosophy thus postulates a Divine Plan, and that plan is Evolution. It conceives of two lines in the
Evolution of Man – that of Spirit and that of Matter. It is by the coalescence of Spirit and Matter that the
entire manifested universe is brought into being. This is the role of the Logos – the manifestation of the
phenomenal world through the marriage of Spirit and Matter. Like everything else in existence, Man too
is evolving on both a physical and a spiritual level. This spiritual evolution takes place over a succession
of individual lifetimes through this process of reincarnation, in a series of esoteric initiations.
Theosophy reconciles the seemingly divergent views of science and religion as relates to the question of
the meaning of life. Science holds that the universe came into being and has evolved over many aeons
through an accidental process; it does not recognise any overseeing plan. On the other hand, religion
postulates that existence is the handiwork of God – that the purpose of life is essentially to return to a
state of communion with God. Theosophy is a synthesis of these two positions, in that it puts humans at
the very heart of the evolutionary process, whilst recognising that this process is in fact the outward
expression of the ultimate Divine Plan. Man, in the theosophical conception, is not sinful, nor has he
“fallen from grace”; he is, rather, emerging into godhood and divine potential.
Life, therefore, is a pilgrimage – a sacred journey of return from the Many to the One. Each human soul,
or Monad, is gradually progressing closer towards the final goal, and along the way is learning the lessons and gathering the experience necessary to that particular stage in his evolutionary expedition.
For the majority, however, there is no recognition of the fact that they are bound for a specific
destination – that there is a purpose and design to evolution and to life. Thus most who walk along this
path are wanderers; they stumble onwards aimlessly, unaware of the reality and grandness of evolution;
unaware of the purpose of their lives upon this earth. There are others, who grasping here and there a
scattered gems of truth, declare: “Behold! I have grasped the key to life!” And yet, blinded by the
certainties of their comforting beliefs, they fail to perceive the broader view, and their true place within
the grander scheme.
The theosophist is a deliberate pilgrim; he does not wander, but rather walks purposely along the path,
striving to keep ever upon the proper road, and not to fall astray along the wayside. His is the path of
duty, of selfless service and assistance to others in the quest to attain that common and final goal. With
knowledge as his staff, the theosophist progresses steadily forward, paving his own path along the way.
The trail may be rough at times, at other places smooth, but in all circumstances, it remains for the
theosophist to forge the way forward, whatever adversity or obstacle may come.
And so, Theosophy offers us the knowledge whereby we may arrive at such an understanding of the
evolutionary process and our place within the Grand Plan. It reveals to us the indisputable fact that we
ourselves are the architects of our own futures and the builders of our fate. Thus does it free us from
the limitations of thought which have shaped the mind of Man throughout the many millennia of his
evolutionary procession. We now stand at a threshold, upon which we are presented with a crucial
choice: we may decide to be the passive consequence of evolution, to blow to and fro like a leaf in the
wind, aimlessly onwards with no sense of direction or goal in mind. Or else, we may march boldly
forwards, our path illumined in the light of truth, to pave our way through thickets and thorns towards
the grand goal upon the horizon of our potential.
This is what it means to live the theosophic life; to live purposefully and responsibly in the recognition of
one’s place within the Grand Plan, to cultivate a spirit of altruism and compassion by which we may
assist others along the way, to remain ever confident in the defense of one’s principles, and to recognize
that lying latent within the heart of all, there resides that Divine Spark from the Central Sun from which
we each of us came forth, and to which we will, in time, return.