Are There Parallel Lines Of Evolution Or A Single Evolutionary Chain?

It is unfortunate that the majority of Theosophists today seem to think that Theosophy teaches that the angels – as also the elementals – are in a parallel and separate line of evolution from ours, i.e. that they have evolved, and will evolve, along their own lines and that the angelic beings of today have not evolved up through the human kingdom and the elementals of today will not ever pass through the human stage but will eventually evolve into angels through their own distinct “line.”

Theosophists often speak of this teaching in such terms as “parallel lines of evolution,” “the angelic line of evolution,” “the devic line,” “the elemental line of evolution,” etc. This idea can now be found in numerous New Age teachings also, having been copied from Theosophical Society books and literature.

But let us make very clear: this idea is not part of the Theosophy of H. P. Blavatsky and the Mahatmas or Masters of Wisdom who were her Teachers. It is in fact completely contradictory and opposite to what genuine Theosophy repeatedly emphasises on this subject.

The “parallel lines of evolution” teaching originates with C. W. Leadbeater of “The Theosophical Society – Adyar” and was accepted as true by his colleagues and supporters such as Annie Besant and later Alice Bailey, who incorporated it into their own writings. Leadbeater claimed to have discovered it (in the early 20th century, approximately 10-20 years after HPB had passed away) through his self-proclaimed clairvoyant powers and investigations. It was this alleged clairvoyance that eventually led Leadbeater to declare that almost everything HPB had taught had been incorrect in one way or another and that he had been tasked by the Masters to “correct” it on Their behalf. Largely thanks to the internet, many people nowadays are aware that Leadbeater was unfortunately a conscious fraud, liar, and a highly immoral individual. Those who doubt this or wish to learn more of the real facts are invited to read The Case Against C. W. Leadbeater.

The Leadbeater/Besant/Bailey doctrine of the parallel lines of evolution is just one of around fifty significant differences and contradictions that can be found between Original Theosophy and the more prevalent later version. Five of the main differences have been summarised here.

Perhaps the worst part of it is that some Theosophists (those who have not read HPB for themselves) sincerely believe that this doctrine originates with HPB; one can thus find several websites which speak of “Blavatsky’s teaching of the human and angelic lines of evolution” etc. HPB herself actually prophesied in her article titled “On Pseudo-Theosophy” that the real would soon be confused with the false, unless at least some Theosophists would engage in the uncomfortable, unpopular, but unfortunately very necessary work of showing to the world what is real Theosophy and what is just masquerading under that sacred name.

Having explained all that, let’s now see directly what the actual Mahatmas of the Trans-Himalayan Brotherhood wish for humanity to know about this subject, which teaches that there is only one path or chain of evolutionary progress for all the kingdoms of Nature, from the elementals through the mineral, vegetable, animal, and human kingdoms, eventually culminating in that more transcendental side of the human kingdom known in Eastern esotericism as the Dhyan Chohans or celestial beings, i.e. the angels:

“No being can become God, or Deva, unless he passes through the human cycles.” (H. P. Blavatsky, “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 2, p. 322)

“Every “Spirit” so-called is either a disembodied or a future man. As from the highest Archangel (Dhyan Chohan) down to the last conscious “Builder” (the inferior class of Spiritual Entities), all such are men, having lived aeons ago, in other Manvantaras, on this or other Spheres; so the inferior, semi-intelligent and non-intelligent Elementals – are all future men. That fact alone – that a Spirit is endowed with intelligence – is a proof to the Occultist that that Being must have been a man, and acquired his knowledge and intelligence throughout the human cycle.” (HPB, “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 1, p. 277)

“The whole Kosmos is guided, controlled, and animated by almost endless series of Hierarchies of sentient Beings, each having a mission to perform, and who – whether we give to them one name or another, and call them Dhyan-Chohans or Angels – are “messengers” [Note: The word “angel” or “angelos” in Greek literally means “messenger.”] in the sense only that they are the agents of Karmic and Cosmic Laws. They vary infinitely in their respective degrees of consciousness and intelligence; and to call them all pure Spirits without any of the earthly alloy “which time is wont to prey upon” is only to indulge in poetical fancy. For each of these Beings either was, or prepares to become, a man, if not in the present, then in a past or a coming cycle (Manvantara). They are perfected, when not incipient, men; and differ morally from the terrestrial human beings on their higher (less material) spheres, only in that they are devoid of the feeling of personality and of the human emotional nature – two purely earthly characteristics. The former, or the “perfected,” have become free from those feelings, because (a) they have no longer fleshly bodies – an ever-numbing weight on the Soul; and (b) the pure spiritual element being left untrammelled and more free, they are less influenced by maya than man can ever be, unless he is an adept who keeps his two personalities – the spiritual and the physical – entirely separated. . . . Therefore Young was right in saying that “Angels are men of a superior kind” and no more.” (HPB, “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 1, p. 274-275, 276)

“As the doctrine teaches, there are no such privileged beings in the universe, whether in our or in other systems, in the outer or the inner worlds, as the angels of the Western religion and the Judean. A Dhyan Chohan has to become one; he cannot be born or appear suddenly on the plane of life as a full-blown angel. The Celestial Hierarchy of the present Manvantara will find itself transferred in the next cycle of life into higher, superior worlds, and will make room for a new hierarchy, composed of the elect ones of our mankind.” (HPB, “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 1, p. 221)

“This explains also the hidden Kabalistic meaning of the saying: “The Breath becomes a stone; the stone, a plant; the plant, an animal; the animal, a man; the man, a spirit; and the spirit, a god.” The Mind-born Sons, the Rishis, the Builders, etc., were all men – of whatever forms and shapes – in other worlds and the preceding Manvantaras.” (HPB, “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 1, p. 107)

“These “Elementals” will become human Monads, in their turn, only at the next great planetary Manvantara.” (HPB, “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 1, p. 184)

“As the seven months’ old unborn baby, though quite ready, yet needs two months more in which to acquire strength and consolidate; so man, having perfected his evolution during seven Rounds, remains two periods more in the womb of mother-Nature before he is born, or rather reborn a Dhyani, still more perfect than he was before he launched forth as a Monad on the newly built chain of worlds.” (HPB, “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 2, p. 257)

So we can see that Theosophy repeatedly and emphatically reminds us that the so-called “angels” are in reality ex-humans – though existing in an extremely wide and varied range, “from the highest Archangel (Dhyan Chohan) down to the last conscious “Builder” (the inferior class of Spiritual Entities)” – and the elementals are pre-humans.

It is taught that there are three main elemental kingdoms or three degrees of elemental essence. That means there are therefore seven kingdoms of Nature (the three elemental kingdoms, the mineral kingdom, vegetable kingdom, animal kingdom, and human kingdom) and this makes sense, seeing as Theosophy always states that everything in manifestation is septenary and follows a sevenfold pattern. The ex-humans who we call Dhyan Chohans or angels are counted as being part of the seventh kingdom, i.e. the human kingdom, because they are ““men of a superior kind” and no more.”

In the book “Five Years of Theosophy” there is a short but important article by HPB (which was later referred to in “The Secret Doctrine”) between p. 273-278 titled “About The Mineral Monad.”

While the mineral kingdom or mineral stage of evolution might appear inert, lifeless, and relatively uninteresting to most people, it is in fact of tremendous importance. As just shown, it is the fourth – and therefore the central or pivotal – of the seven kingdoms of Nature, the seven stages through which all monads must inevitably pass. That article illustrates that the three elemental kingdoms can be thought of as a downwards curve, then there is the mineral kingdom at the base line, and an upwards curve which completes the arc consists of the vegetable, animal, and human kingdoms. The mineral kingdom is thus “the first really manward stage” as said in “The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 1, p. 176. The mineral “is light itself, crystallised.” (“The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 2, p. 169)

We mention the “About The Mineral Monad” article because this particularly important passage is found in it:

“There are seven kingdoms. The first group comprises three degrees of elementals, or nascent centres of forces – from the first stage of the differentiation of Mulaprakriti to its third degree – i.e., from full unconsciousness to semi-perception; the second or higher group embraces the kingdoms from vegetable to man; the mineral kingdom thus forming the central or turning-point in the degrees of the “Monadic Essence” – considered as an Evoluting Energy. Three stages in the elemental side; the mineral kingdom; three stages in the objective physical side . . . the three stages of organic life, vegetable, animal, human . . . – these are the seven links of the evolutionary chain. A descent of spirit into matter, equivalent to an ascent in physical evolution; a re-ascent from the deepest depths of materiality (the mineral) towards its status quo ante, with a corresponding dissipation of concrete organisms up to Nirvana – the vanishing point of differentiated matter.”

People are of course free and at liberty to choose whichever version of “Theosophy” they prefer. But all students of Theosophy have a right – as well as a responsibility – to know what the Theosophy of H. P. Blavatsky and her Adept-Teachers actually says.

“The Dhyan-Chohans . . . neither the collective Host (Demiurgos), nor any of the working powers individually, are proper subjects for divine honours or worship. All are entitled to the grateful reverence of Humanity, however, and man ought to be ever striving to help the divine evolution of Ideas, by becoming to the best of his ability a co-worker with nature in the cyclic task.” (“The Secret Doctrine” Vol. 1, p. 280)

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“I have also noted your thoughts about the ‘Secret Doctrine.’ Be assured that what she [i.e. HPB] has not annotated from scientific and other works, we have given or suggested to her. Every mistake or erroneous notion, corrected and explained by her from the works of other theosophists was corrected by me, or under my instruction. It is a more valuable work than its predecessor, an epitome of occult truths that make it a source of information and instruction for the earnest student for long years to come.”

“You do not realize that when speaking of, or as from us, she dares not mix up her own personal opinions with those she tells you are ours. None of us would dare do so, for we have a code that is not to be transgressed.”

“This you must tell to all: – With occult matters she has everything to do. . . . She is our direct agent. . . . there is no likelihood of our finding a better one . . . – and your theosophists should be made to understand it. . . . Theosophists should learn it. You will understand later the significance of this declaration so keep it in mind. Her fidelity to our work being constant, and her sufferings having come upon her thro’ it, neither I nor either of my Brother associates will desert or supplant her. As I once before remarked, ingratitude is not among our vices.”

~ The Master K.H., extracts from letters to Col. Olcott ~

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This article may have raised questions about the related subject of guardian angels. You can click here to discover what Theosophy has to say on that point or click here to see the complete list of over 300 articles on all aspects of Theosophy and the Theosophical Movement.