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Volume 2:656-674

In Chapter II, H.P. Blavatsky continued her presentation of the "Essentialist" theory.

  1. (Chapter II). THE ANCESTORS MANKIND IS OFFERED BY SCIENCE: In speaking on the limitations of the materialistic approaches held by Charles Darwin and the German naturalist Ernst Haeckel in relation to evolution, H.P. Blavatsky offered an Essentialist alternative. Referring to the generative powers in mankind and the transmission of the "life-principle" from "father to son," she wrote in The Secret Doctrine 2:671-673, "The life-principle, or life energy, which is omnipresent, eternal, indestructible, is a force and a PRINCIPLE as noumenon, atoms, as phenomenon." The life-principle and atoms are fundamentally the same, but they appear different based on the degree of their conditioned state of being. That is, the life-principle, originating in the Pranic and Astral currents, gradually physicalizes into the triplicate germ plasm (see August Weismann's late 19th century hypothesis) of the ovum and sperm as the essence of the unborn child. On the one hand, the life-principle and the atoms are "one and the same thing and cannot be considered as separate." On the other hand, the life-principle is an "independent, eternal, conscious factor." The apparent contradiction resolves itself depending on which Indian philosophical system one is using, per The Secret Doctrine 1:157. In the Taraka Raja Yoga classification, the life-principle as Prana, the Astral as the vehicle of Prana, and the physical as Sthula-Sarira all belong to Sthulopadhi; they are an inseparable unity. But in the Vedantic classification, the Astral and Prana as Pranamaya kosa are independent from the physical Annamaya kosa. From one viewpoint, the Astral begins to fall apart when the physical body dies. They don't seem independent. From another viewpoint, the Pranic currents can invigorate the Astral without being transferred as noumenal energies into phenomenon; the physical body alone dies. Here, they do seem independent. The subject is left open for us to consider the issue from different perspectives. Regardless, the germ plasm of the ovum and the sperm contains the memory of human history: Root-Races, Sub-Races, Family Races, National Races, Tribal Races, and Tribal Generations all the way down to the individual and his karma. In Man and Evolution on page 210, G. de Purucker confirmed, "It means that in our bodies exists the very germ plasm that existed in the most distant of our progenitors; so that, for instance, our first race, physically speaking, even yet lives in us, because the plasm of its body has come down through the vast multitudes of our progenitors to our own bodies." Further, "We carry in our bodies today the very germ plasm which first came into being from the astral realms, and which lived in that first race, and which has been transmitted down to our own time through all the races to the fifth, our present one." The soul of the unborn child is drawn to the memory inherent in the germ plasm which subsequently materializes from the life-principle into the atoms. In Fountain-Source on page 621, G. de Purucker added, "As the reembodying ego works its ray 'downwards,' irresistibly drawn by the reawakening of memories of a previous incarnation, it is gradually pulled psychomagnetically to the planes wherein it had lived before." For H.P. Blavatsky, these "memories" are precisely the "memory in every atom, of will and sensation" transferred from the life-principle as noumenon to the atoms as phenomenon. Now obviously human beings do not retain the memories in the way that they once existed, as made clear in Verse 166b of Plato's Theaetetus, "In the first place, do you expect anyone to agree that the present memory of a pst experience is in any sense a similar experience to the past one which is no longer being experienced? That's not so at all." But since the "soul" can "never die" or be "destroyed" in Verse 81b of Plato's Meno, its memory must reside somewhere. In the descent of the unborn child enshrouded in its most delicate, gossamer, Astral fabric into the mother's womb even before conception, the embedded memories of the life-principle transmitted into the atoms begin work on the consciousness of the maturing fetus. The vision of the past and the future is seen in these webs of Astral light in the darkness of the mother's abyss as the Reimbodying Ego drops through its phases with conception and childbirth. It has no choice in the matter; it is in an automatic stream of living just like when one is in an automatic stream of dying. A person cannot alter the pictures that are seen mirrored in the river of one's life.


H.P. Blavatsky, The Secret Doctrine (Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 2019).

Plato, Protagoras and Meno, trans. Adam Beresford (London: Penguin Books, 2005).

Plato, Theaetetus, trans. Robin A.H. Waterfield (London: Penguin Books, 2004).

G. de Purucker, Fountain-Source of Occultism (Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 1974).

G. de Purucker, Man in Evolution (Pasadena: Theosophical University Press, 1977).

(Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash)

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