MAN: Whence, How, and Whitherby Annie Besant
THE problem of Man's origin, of his evolution, of his destiny, is one of inexhaustible interest. Whence came he, this glorious Intelligence, on this globe, at least, the crown of visible beings? How has he evolved to his present position? Has he suddenly descended from above, a radiant angel, to become the
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An excerpt from the beginning of the INTRODUCTION:
THE problem of Man's origin, of his evolution, of his destiny, is one of inexhaustible interest. Whence came he, this glorious Intelligence, on this globe, at least, the crown of visible beings? How has he evolved to his present position? Has he suddenly descended from above, a radiant angel, to become the temporary tenant of a house of clay; or has he climbed upwards through long dim ages, tracing his humble ancestry from primeval slime, through fish, reptile, mammal, up to the human kingdom? And what is his future destiny? Is he evolving onwards, climbing higher and higher, only to descend the long slope of degeneration till he falls over the precipice of death, leaving behind him a freezing planet, the sepulchre of myriad civilisations; or is his present climbing but the schooling of an immortal spiritual Power, destined in his maturity to wield the sceptre of a world, a system, a congeries of Systems, a veritable God in the making?
To these questions many answers have been given, partially or fairly fully, in the Scriptures of ancient religions, in the shadowy traditions handed down from mighty men of old, in the explorations of modern archaeologists, in the researches of geologists, physicists, biologists, astronomers, of our own days. The most modern knowledge has vindicated the most ancient records in ascribing to our earth and its inhabitants a period of existence of vast extent and of marvellous complexity; hundreds of millions of years are tossed together to give time for the slow and laborious processes of nature; further and further back ` primeval man' is pushed; Lemuria is seen where now the Pacific ripples, and Australia, but lately rediscovered, is regarded as one of the oldest of lands; Atlantis is posited, where now the Atlantic rolls, and Africa is linked to America by a solid bridge of land, so that the laurels of a discoverer are plucked from the brow of Columbus, and he is seen as following long-perished generations who found their way from Europe to the continent of the setting sun. Poseidonis is no longer the mere fairy-tale told by superstitious Egyptian priests to a Greek philosopher; Minos of Crete is dug out of his ancient grave, a man and not a myth; Babylon, once ancient, is shown as the modern successor of a series of highly civilised cities, buried in stratum after stratum, glooming through the night of time. Tradition is beckoning the explorer to excavate in Turkestan, in Central Asia, and whispering of cyclopean ruins that await but his spade for their unburying.
Amid this clash of opinions, this conflict of theories, this affirmation and repudiation of ever-new hypotheses, it may be that the record of two observers, two explorers—treading a very ancient path that few feet tread to-day, but that will be trodden more and more by thronging students as time its stability—may have a chance of being read. Science is to-day exploring the marvels of what it calls the ` subjective mind,' and is finding in it strange powers, strange upsurgings, strange memories. Healthy and balanced, dominating the brain, it shows as genius; out of equilibrium with the brain, vagrant and incalculable, it shows as insanity. Some day Science will realise that what it calls the subjective mind, Religion calls the Soul, and that the exhibition of its powers depends on the physical and super-physical instruments at its command. If these are well-constructed, sound and flexible, and thoroughly under its control, the powers of vision, of audition, of memory, irregularly up-welling from the subjective mind, become the normal and disposable powers of the Soul; if the Soul strive upwards to the Spirit—the Divine Self—veiled in the matter of our System, the true Inner Man, instead of ever clinging to the body, then its powers increase, and knowledge, otherwise unattainable, comes within its reach.
Metaphysicians, ancient and modern, declare that Past, Present, and Future are ever simultaneously existent in the divine Consciousness, and are only successive as they come into manifestation, i.e., under Time which is verily the succession of states of consciousness. Our limited consciousness existing in Time, is inevitably bound by this succession; we can only think successively. But we all know, from our experience of dream-states, that time-measures vary with this change of state, though succession remains; we know also that time-measures vary even more in the thought-world, and that when we construct mental pictures we can delay, hasten, repeat, the succession of thought-images at will, though still ever bound by succession. Pursing this line of thought, it is not difficult to conceive of a mind raised to transcendent power, the mind of a LOGOS or WORD—such a Being, e.g., as is described in the Johannine Gospel...
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