Kenneth Morris.

The Crest-Wave of Evolution A Course of Lectures in History, Given to the Graduates' Class in the Raja-Yoga College, Point Loma, in the College-Year 1918-19 online

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A Course of Lectures in History, Given to the Graduates' Class in the
Raja-Yoga College, Point Loma, in the College-Year 1918-1919.*





- - - - - -
* Serialized in _Theosophical Path_ in 27 Chapters from
March, 1919 through July, 1921.
- - - - - -


These lectures will not be concerned with history as a record
of wars and political changes; they will have little to tell
of battles, murders, and sudden deaths. Instead, we shall
try to discover and throw light on the cyclic movements of
the Human Spirit. Back of all phenomena, or the outward show
of things, there is always a noumenon in the unseen. Behind
the phenomena of human history, the noumenon is the Human
Spirit, moving in accordance with its own necessities and
cyclic laws. We may, if we go to it intelligently, gain some
inkling of knowledge as to what those laws are; and I think
that would be, in its way, a real wisdom, and worth getting.
But for the most part historical study seeks knowledge only;
and how it attains its aim, is shown by the falseness of what
passes for history. In most textbooks you shall find, probably,
a round dozen of lies on as many pages. And these in themselves
are fruitful seeds of evil; they by no means end with the
telling, but go on producing harvests of wrong life; which
indeed is only the Lie incarnate on the plane of action. The
Eternal _Right Thing_ is what is called in Sanskrit SAT, the
True; it opposite is the Lie, in one fashion or another, always;
and what we have to do, our mission and _raison d'etre_ as
students of Theosophy, is to put down the Lie at every turn,
and chase it, as far as we may, out of the field of life.

For example, there is the Superior-Race Lie: I do not know
where it shall not be found. Races A, B, C, and D go on
preaching it for centuries; each with an eye to its sublime
self. In all countries, perhaps, history is taught with that
lie for mental background. Then we wonder that there are wars.
But Theosophy is called onto provide a true mental background
for historical study; and it alone can do so. It is the
mission of Point Loma, among many other things, to float a
true philosophy of history on to the currents of world-thought:
and for this end it is our business to be thinkers, using the
divine Manasic light within us to some purpose. H.P. Blavatsky
supplied something much greater than a dogma: she - like Plato
- gave the world a method and a spur to thought: pointed for
it a direction, which following, it might solve all problems
and heal the wounds of the ages.

A false and foolish notion in the western world has been,
tacitly to accept the Greeks and Hebrews of old for the two
fountains of all culture since; the one in secular matter,
the other in religion and morality. Of the Hebrews nothing
need be said here; but that true religion and morality have
their source in the ever-living Human Spirit, not in any sect,
creed, race, age, or bible. I doubt there has been any new
discovery in ethics since man was man; or rather, all discoveries
have been made by individuals for themselves; and each, having
discovered anything, has found that that same principle was
discovered a thousand times before, and written a thousand times.
There is no platitude so platitudinous, but it remains to burst
upon the perceptions of all who have not yet perceived it, as a
new and burning truth; and on the other hand, there is no
startling command to purity or compassion, that has not been
given out by Teachers since the world began. - As for Greece,
there was a brilliant flaming up of the Spirit there in the
Fourth and Fifth Centuries B.C.; and its intensity, like the
lights of an approaching automobile, rather obscures what lies
beyond. It is the first of which we have much knowledge; so we
think it was the first of all. But in fact civilization has been
traveling its cyclic path all the time, all these millions of
years; and there have been hundreds of ancient great empires and
cultural epochs even in Europe of which we know nothing.

I had intended to begin with Greece; but these unexplored eras
of old Europe are too attractive, and this first lecture must go
to them, or some of them. Not to the antecedents of Greece, in
Crete and elsewhere; but to the undiscovered North; and in
particular to the Celtic peoples; who may serve us as an example
by means of which light may be thrown on the question of racial
growth, and on the racial cycles generally.

The Celtic Empire of old Europe affects us like some mysterious
undiscovered planet. We know it was there by its effects on
other peoples. Also, like many other forgotten histories, it has
left indications of its achievement in a certain spirit, an
uplift, the breath of an old traditional grandeur that has come
down. But to give any historical account of it - to get a
telescope that will reach and reveal it - we have not to come to
that point yet.

Still, it may be allowed us to experiment with all sorts of
glasses. To penetrate that gloom of ancient Europe may be quite
beyond us; but guessing is permitted. Now the true art of
guessing lies in an intuition for guiding indications. There is
something in us that knows things directly; and it may deign at
times to give hints, to direct the researches, to flash some
little light on that part of us which works and is conscious in
this world, and which we call our brain-minds. So although
most or all of what I am going to say would be called by the
scientific strictly empirical, fantastic and foolish, yet I shall
venture; aware that their Aristotelio-Baconian method quite
breaks down when it comes to such a search into the unknown; and
that this guessing, guided by what seems to be a law, would not,
perhaps, have been sneered at by Plato.

Guided by what seems to be a law; - guided, at any rate, by the
knowledge that there are laws; that "God geometrizes," as Plato
says: that which is within flows outward upon a design; that
life precipitates itself through human affairs as it does through
the forms of the crystals; that there is nothing more haphazard
about the sequence of empires and civilizations, than there is
about the unfolding of petals of a flower. In both cases it is
the eternal rhythm, the Poetry of the Infinite, that manifests;
our business is to listen so carefully as to hear, and apprehend
the fact that what we hear is a poetry, a vast music, not a
chaotic cacophony: catch the rhythms - perceive that there is a
design - even if it takes us long to discover what the design
may be.

You know Plato's idea that the world is a dodecahedron or
twelve-sided figure. Now in Plato's day, much that every
schoolboy knows now, was esoteric - known only to the initiated.
So I think Plato would have known well enough that this physical
earth is round; and that what he meant when he spoke of the
dodecahedron, was something else. This, for example: that on
the plane of causes - this outer plane being that of effects
- there are twelve (geographical) centers, aspects, foci,
facets, or what you like to call them: twelve _laya centers,_
as I think the Secret Doctrine would say: through which
the forces from within play on the world without. You have
read, too, in _The Secret Doctrine,_ Professor Crooke's theory,
endorsed by H.P. Blavatsky, as to how the chemical elements
were deposited by a spiral evolutive force, a creative impulse
working outward in the form of a caduceus or lemniscate, or
figure '8.' Now suppose we should discover that just as
that force deposited in space, in its spiral down-working,
what Crookes calls the seeds of potassium, beryllium, boron,
and the rest - so such another creative force, at work on the
planes of geographical space and time, rouses up or deposits
in these, according to a definite pattern, this nation and that
in its turn, this great age of culture after that one; and that
there is nothing hap-hazard about the configuration of continents
and islands, national boundaries, or racial migrations?

H.P. Blavatsky tells us that the whole past history of the race
is known to the Guardians of the Secret Wisdom; that it is all
recorded, nothing lost; down to the story of every tribe since
the Lords of Mind incarnated. And that these records are in the
form of a few symbols; but symbols which, to those who can
interpret or disintegrate them, can yield the whole story. What
if the amount of the burden of history, which seems so vast to us
who know so very little of it, were in reality, if we could know
it all, a thing that would put but slight tax on the memory; a
thing we might carry with us in a few slight formulae, a few
simple symbols? I believe that it is so; and that we may make a
beginning, and go some little way towards guessing what these
formulae are.

As thus: A given race flowered and passed; it had so many
centuries of history before its flowering; it died, and left
something behind. Greece, for example. We may know very little
- you and I may know very little - of the details of Greek history.
We cannot, perhaps, remember the date of Aegospotami, or what
happened at Plataea: we may have the vaguest notion of the
import of Aeschylus, or Sophocles, or Plato. But still there is
a certain color in our conscious perceptions which comes from
Greece: the 'glory that was Greece' means something, is a
certain light within the consciousness, to everyone of us. The
Greeks added something to the wealth of the human spirit, which
we all may share in, and do. An atmosphere is left, which
surrounds and adheres to the many tangible memorials; just as an
atmosphere is left by the glories of the Cinquecento in Italy,
with its many tangible memorials.

But indeed, we may go further, and say that an atmosphere is
left, and that we can feel it, by many ages and cultures
which have left no tangible memorials at all; or but few and
uninterpretable ones, like the Celtic. And that each has
developed some mood, some indefinable inward color - which we
perceive and inherit. Each different: you cannot mistake the
Chinese or the Celtic color for the Greek; thought it might be
hard to define your perception of either, or of their difference.
It would be hard to say, for instance, that this one was crimson,
the other blue; not quite so hard to say that this one affects
us as crimson does, that other as blue does. And yet we can
see, I think, that by chasing our impressions to their source,
there might be some way of presenting them in symbolic form.
There might be some way of reducing what we feel from the Greeks,
or Chinese, or Celts, into a word, a sentence; of writing it down
even in a single hieroglyph, of which the elements would be such
as should convey to something in us behind the intellect just the
indefinable feeling either of these people give us.

In the Chinese writing, with all its difficulty, there is
something superior to our alphabets: an element that appeals to
the soul directly, or to the imagination directly, I think.
Suppose you found a Chinese ideogram - of course there is no such
a one - to express the forgotten Celtic culture; and it proved in
analysis, to be composed of the signs for twilight, wind, and
pine trees; or wind, night, and wild waters; with certain other
elements which not the brain-mind, but the creative soul, would
have to supply. In such a symbol there would be an appeal to the
imagination - that great Wizard within us - to rise up and supply
us with quantities of knowledge left unsaid. Indeed, I am but
trying to illustrate an idea, possibilities.... I think there is
a power within the human soul to trace back all growths, the most
profuse and complex, to the simple seed from which they sprung;
or, just as a single rose or pansy bloom is the resultant, the
expression, of the interaction and interplay of innumerable
forces - so the innumerable forces whose interaction makes the
history of one race, one culture, could find their ultimate
expression in a symbol as simple as a pansy or rose bloom - color,
form and fragrance. So each national great age would be a flower
evolved in the garden of the eternal; and once evolved, once
bloomed, it should never pass away; the actual blossom withers
and falls; but the color, the form, the fragrance, - these remain
in the world of causes. And just as you might press a flower in
an album, or make a painting of it, and preserve its scent by
chemical distillation or what not - and thereby preserve the
whole story of all the forces that went to the production of
that bloom - and they are, I suppose, in number beyond human
computation - so you might express the history of a race in a
symbol as simple as a bloom... And that there is a power, an
unfolding faculty, in the soul, which, seeing such a symbol,
could unravel from it, by meditation, the whole achievement of
the race; its whole history, down to details; yes, even down to
the lives of every soul that incarnated in it: their personal
lives, with all successes, failures, attempts, everything.
Because, for example, the light which comes down to us as that of
ancient Greece is the resultant, the remainder of all the forces
in all the lives of all individual Greeks, as these were played
on by the conditions of place and time. Time: - at such and such
a period, the Mood of the Oversoul is such and such. Place: - the
temporal mood of the Oversoul, playing through that particular
facet of the dodecahedron, which is Greece. The combinations and
interplay of these two, plus the energies for good or evil of the
souls there incarnate, give as their resultant the whole life of
the race. There is perhaps a high Algebra of the Soul by which,
if we understood its laws, we could revive the history of
any past epoch, discover its thought and modes of living, as
we discover the value of the unknown factor in an equation.
Pythagoras must have his pupils understand music and geometry;
and by music he intended, all the arts, every department of life
that came under the sway of the Nine Muses. Why? - Because, as he
taught, God is Poet and Geometer. Chaos is only on the outer rim
of existence; as you get nearer the heart of thing, order and
rhythm, geometry and poetry, are more and more found. Chaos is
only in our own chaotic minds and perceptions: train these
aright, and you shall hear the music of the spheres, perceive the
reign of everlasting Law. These impulses from the Oversoul, that
create the great epochs, raising one race after another, have
perfect rhythm and rhyme. God sits harping in the Cycle of
Infinity, and human history is the far faint echo of the tune he
plays. Why can we not listen, till we hear and apprehend the
tune? Or History is the sound heard from far, of the marching
hosts of angels and archangels; the cyclic tread of their
battalions; the thrill and rumble and splendor of their drums and
fifes: - why should we not listen till the whole order of their
cohorts and squadrons is revealed? - I mean to suggest that there
are laws, undiscovered, but discoverable - discoverable from the
fragments of history we possess - by knowing which we might gain
knowledge, even without further material discoveries, of the lost
history of man. Without moving from Point Loma, or digging up
anything more important that hard-pan, we may yet make the most
important finds, and throw floods of light on the whole dark
problem of the past. H.P. Blavatsky gave us the clews; we owe it
to her to use them.

Now I want to suggest a few ideas along these lines that may
throw light on ancient Europe; of which orthodox history tells us
of nothing but the few centuries of Greece and Rome. As if the
people of three thousand years hence should know, of the history
of Christendom, only that of Italy from Garibaldi onward, and
that of Greece beginning, say, at the Second Balkan War. That is
the position we are in with regard to old Europe. Very like
Spain, France, Britain, Germany and Scandinavia played as great
parts in the millennia B.C., as they have done in the times we
know about. All analogy from the other seats of civilization is
for it; all racial memories and traditions - tradition is racial
memory - are for it; and I venture to say, all reason and common
sense are for it too.

Now I have to remind you of certain conclusions worked out in an
article 'Cyclic Law in History,' which appeared some time back in
_The Theosophical Path:_ - that there are, for example, three
great centers of historical activity in the Old World: China and
her surroundings; West Asia and Egypt; Europe. Perhaps these are
major facets of the dodecahedron. Perhaps again, were the facts
in our knowledge not so desperately incomplete, we should find,
as in the notes and colors, a set of octaves: that each of these
centers was a complete octave, and each phase or nation a note.
Do you see where these leads? Supposing the note _China_ is
struck in the Far Eastern Octave; would there not be a vibration
of some corresponding note in the octave Europe? Supposing the
Octave _West Asia_ were under the fingers of the Great Player,
would not the corresponding note in Europe vibrate?

Now let us look at history. Right on the eastern rim of the Old
World is the Chino-Japanese field of civilization. It has been,
until lately, under pralaya, in a night or inactive period of its
existence, for something over six centuries: a beautiful pralaya
in the case of Japan; a rather ugly one, recently, in the case
of China. Right on the western rim of the Old World are the
remnants of the once great Celtic people. Europe at large has
been very much in manvantara, a day or waking period, for a
little over six hundred years. Yet of the four racial roots or
stocks of Europe, the Greco-Latin, Teutonic, Slavic, and Celtic,
the last-named alone has been under pralaya, sound asleep, during
the whole of this time. Let me interject here the warning that
it is no complete scheme that is to be offered; only a few facts
that suggest that such a scheme may exist, could we find it.
Before Europe awoke to her present cycle of civilization and
progress, before the last quarter of the thirteenth century, the
Chinese had been in manvantara, very much awake, for about
fifteen hundred years. When they went to sleep, the Celts
did also.

I pass by with a mere note of recognition the two dragons, the
one on the Chinese, the other on the Welsh flag; just saying
that national symbols are not chose haphazard, but are an
expression of inner things; and proceed to give you the dates of
all the important events in Chinese and Celtic, chiefly Welsh,
history during the last two thousand years. In 1911 the Chinese
threw off the Manchu yoke and established a native republic. In
1910 the British Government first recognized Wales as a separate
nationality, when the heir to the throne was invested as Prince
of Wales at Carnarvon. Within a few years a bill was passed
giving Home Rule to Ireland; and national parliaments at Dublin
and at Cardiff are said to be among the likelihoods of the near
future. The eighteenth century, for manvantara, was a singularly
dead time in Europe; but in China, for pralaya, it was a
singularly living time, being filled with the glorious reigns of
the Manchu emperors Kanghu and Kien Lung. In Wales it saw the
religious revival which put a stop to the utter Anglicization of
the country, saved the language from rapid extinction, and
awakened for the first time for centuries a sort of national
consciousness. Going back, the first great emperor we come to
in China before the Manchu conquest, was Ming Yunglo, conqueror
of half Asia. His contemporary in Wales was Owen Glyndwr, who
succeeded in holding the country against the English for a number
of years; there had been no Welsh history between Glyndwr and
the religious revival. In 1260 or thereabouts the Mongols
completed the conquest of China, and dealt her then flourishing
civilization a blow from which it never really recovered. About
twenty years later the English completed the conquest of Wales,
and dealt her highly promising literary culture a blow from which
it is only now perhaps beginning to recover. In the eleventh,
twelfth, and thirteenth centuries the great Sung artists of China
were painting infinity or their square feet of silk: painting
Natural Magic as it has never been painted or revealed since. In
those same centuries the Welsh bards were writing the Natural
Magic of the Mabinogion, one of the chief European repositories
of Natural Magic; and filling a remarkable poetical literature
with the same quality: - and that before the rest of Europe
had, for the most part, awakened to the spiritual impulses
that lead to civilization. In the seventh and eighth centuries,
when continental Europe was in the dead vast and middle of
pralaya, Chinese poetry, under Tang Hsuan-tsong and his great
predecessors, was in its Golden Age - a Golden Age comparable to
that of Pericles in Athens. In the seventh and eighth centuries,
Ireland was sending out scholars and thinkers as missionaries to
all parts of benighted Europe: Ireland in her golden age, the
one highly cultured country in Christendom, was producing a
glorious prose and poetry in the many universities that starred
that then by no means distressful island. In 420, China, after a
couple of centuries of anarchy, began to re-establish her
civilization on the banks of the Yangtse. In 410, the Britons
finally threw off the Roman yoke, and the first age of Welsh
poetry, the epoch of Arthur and Taliesin, which has been the
light of romantic Europe ever since, began.

Does it not seem as if that great Far Eastern note could not
be struck without this little far western note vibrating in
sympathy? Very faintly; not in a manner to be heard clearly by
the world; because in historical times the Celtic note has been
as it were far up on the keyboard, and never directly under the
Master-Musician's fingers. And when you add to it all that this
Celtic note has come in the minds of literary critics rather to
stand as the synonym for Natural Magic - you all know what is
meant by that term; - and that now, as we are discovering the old
Chinese poetry and painting, we are finding that Natural Magic is
really far more Chinese than Celtic - that where we Celts have
vibrated to it minorly, the great Chinese gave it out fully and
grandly - does it not add to the piquancy of the 'coincidence?'

Now there is no particular reason for doubting the figures of
Chinese chronology as far back as 2350 B.C. Our Western
authorities do doubt all before about 750; but it is hard to see
why, except that 'it is their nature to.' The Chinese give the
year 2356 as the date of the accession of the Emperor Yao, first
of the three canonized rulers who have been the patriarchs,
saints, sages, and examples for all ages since. In that decade a
manvantara of the race would seem to have begun, which lasted
through the dynasties of Hia and Shang, and halfway through the
Chow, ending about 850. During this period, then, I think
presently we shall come to place the chief activities and
civilization of the Celts. From 850 to 240 - all these figures
are of course approximations: there was pralaya in China;
on the other side of the world, it was the period of Celtic
eruptions - and probably, disruption. While Tsin Shi Hwangti,
from 246 to 213, was establishing the modern Chinese Empire, the
Gauls made their last incursion into Italy. The culmination of
the age Shi Hwangti inaugurated came in the reign of Han Wuti,
traditionally the most glorious in the Chines annals. It

Online LibraryKenneth MorrisThe Crest-Wave of Evolution A Course of Lectures in History, Given to the Graduates' Class in the Raja-Yoga College, Point Loma, in the College-Year 1918-19 → online text (page 1 of 55)