INVOLUTION AND EVOLUTION
There is a phenomenon of physical life which has never been explained
by exoteric thought — the chaotic life bound up with sleep and
called the life of dream.
What is the dream? It is an activity which has survived from
prehistoric times. To understand it by analogy, let us consider
certain phenomena which do not any longer belong, properly speaking,
to physical life — organs which have now become useless,
rudimentary organisms of which the naturalist can make nothing. Such
are the motor organs of the ear and eye which function no longer, the
appendix and, — notably, the pineal gland in the brain which has
the form of a tiny pine cone. Naturalists explain it as a product of
degeneration, as a parasitic growth in the brain. This is not correct.
In the lasting creations of Nature, nothing is without its use. The
pineal gland is the surviving remnant of an organ of great
significance in primitive man, an organ of perception which served
simultaneously as antenna, eye and ear. This organ existed in man
during his rudimentary period of development, in days when the
semi-fluid, semi-vaporous Earth was still united with the Moon. Man
moved through the semi-fluid, semi-gaseous element like a fish,
guiding his way by means of this organ. His perceptions were of a
visionary, allegoric nature. Currents of warmth evoked in him the
impression of dazzling red and of powerful sound. Currents of cold
evoked the impression of shades of green and blue, silvery, rippling
The rôle played by the pineal gland was thus of great significance.
But with the mineralisation of the Earth, other organs of sense made
their appearance, and with us the pineal gland has no apparent
Let us now turn to the phenomenon of the dream.
The dream is a rudimentary function of our life — seemingly
without use or purpose. In reality it represents an atrophied function
— a function which in days of yore gave rise to a very different
mode of perception.
Before the Earth became metallic, it was only perceptible in the
astral sense. All perceptions are relative; they are merely symbolic.
The central core of truth is ineffable and divine. This is wonderfully
expressed in the words of
“All things transitory are but
Astral vision (which is still present in the dream) is allegoric and
Examples of dreams provoked by physical and bodily causes:
A student dreams that a companion gives him a blow, whereupon a duel
is fought and he himself is wounded. He wakes up to find that the
cause of the dream is a chair that has fallen over. Again someone may
dream of a trotting horse but the sound is really caused by the
ticking of a watch.
The bodily nature of man lies at the root of certain dreams but others
are directly related to the astral and spiritual worlds. This latter
class of dreams are the origin of myths.
In the opinion of modern scholars, the myths are poetic interpretations
of the phenomena of Nature. If, however, we study certain
folk-legends, we shall find that they are more than this. Myths and
legends are based upon astral visions which have been travestied,
changed and added to by tradition.
Think of the Slavonic legend of the ‘Woman of Noonday.’ If
peasants who are labouring at the harvest in the oppressive heat of
summer lie down to rest on the ground at midday instead of going to
their homes, the figure of a woman appears and places a number of
enigmas before them. If the sleeper can solve these enigmas, he is
saved; if not, the woman slays and cuts him in two with a scythe. The
legend goes on to say that this phantom can be exorcised by reciting
the verses of the Lord's Prayer in backward order. Occultism teaches
us that the Woman of Noonday is an astral figure, an incubus who
appears and oppresses man during his sleep. The reversed Lord's Prayer
indicates that in the astral world everything is reflected as in a
mirror (inversion). In
The Riddle of the Sphinx,
Ludwig Laistner says that the origin of the legend of the sphinx is to
be found among all races. He also proves that all legends have been
conceived in a condition of higher sleep where realities are
perceived, and that the sphinx is in truth a daemonic figure.
A state of dream-consciousness, or perception of a real world in
astral symbols-this, then, is the origin of all the myths. Myths
describe the astral world seen in symbolic visions.
In the course of history we find that the creation of myths ceases
when the life of logic and intellectuality begins to develop.
A law known to occultism is that with every new stage of evolution, an
element from the past makes its appearance. Ancient faculties,
survivals from past epochs which have atrophied in the being of man,
act as ferments for subsequent development; they are like the yeast
which makes the dough rise. Man's present faculty of dreaming will
beget a new kind of vision, a perception of the astral and spiritual
The man of today lives only in his senses and intellect which
elaborates what the senses tell him. The intellect of man of the
future will awaken to the full light of consciousness and he will live
consciously in the astral world.
The trance of the hypnotised subject and of the medium is an atavistic
phenomenon, bound up with lowered consciousness. The initiated
clairvoyant is not an unbalanced visionary; he possesses, in advance,
the consciousness which will be possessed by all men in future ages;
he has his feet on solid ground just as firmly as the most
matter-of-fact human being; his reason is just as clear and certain
but he sees in two worlds.
It is a law of evolution that certain organs atrophy, subsequently to
take on new functions.
The pineal gland has a certain physiological relation with the
lymphatic system. In olden times this gland was the organ of
perception of the outer world and it is still to be seen near the top
of the head of newly-born babes where the soft matter recalls the
nature of man's body in olden times.
In our life of intellect, the dream plays a rôle similar to that of
the pineal gland in the physiology of the human body.
Why is there a descending and an ascending process in evolution? What
is the purpose of evil? These are weighty questions which have never
been solved by science or religion. Yet the whole problem of education
depends upon their solution.
We cannot speak of evil in the absolute sense. Evil, indeed, plays a
part in the development of beings and the unfolding of freedom.
The materialist will not admit that the thoughts stimulated in us by
Nature are, in fact, already contained in her being. He imagines that
we infuse our thoughts into Nature.
The Rosicrucians in the Middle Ages were wont to place a glass of
water before the neophyte and say to him: ‘This water would not
be in the glass if some being had not put it there.’ Thus it is
in regard to the ideas we find expressed in Nature. They must have
been implanted there by divine Intelligences, by servants of the
The thoughts we derive from the universe are actually there. All that
we create is contained somewhere in the universe.
It is a false idea on the part of certain mystics to disparage the
value of the physical body. It has just as much value as the astral
body; its mission is to become the temple of the soul.
Think of the marvelous structure of the femur, of the bone which bears
the whole body. Its construction is such that the maximum amount of
strength is produced with the minimum amount of substance. No engineer
could create such a wonder-structure. In comparison with the physical
body, the astral body — the seat of passions and desires — is
rudimentary and crude.
The physical world is the expression of wisdom incarnate, divine
The Rosicrucians taught that the Earth, in primeval times, was an
Earth of wisdom. Today we may call it an Earth of love.
The mission of man is to accomplish for the imperfect part of his
being what divine wisdom once accomplished for his physical body. He
must ennoble his astral body and therewith the world around him.
All that has entered into us without our conscious will under
the influence of divine wisdom — that is Involution. All that we
must bring out of ourselves by dint of conscious will —
that is Evolution.
The pyramids will perish in the course of the centuries but the ideas
which gave them birth will develop onwards. The cathedral of today
will take another form. Raphael's pictures will fall into dust but the
soul of Raphael and the ideas which his creations represent will be
living powers forever. The Art of today will be the Nature of tomorrow
and will blossom again in her. Thus does Involution become Evolution.
Here we have the point of intersection between the divine and the
human, the twofold power which brings God to man and raises man to