by the Rt. Rev. C.W. Leadbeater


When we have once grasped the fact that man has reached his present position through a long and varied series of lives, a question naturally arises in our minds as to how far we can obtain any information about this earlier evolution, which would obviously be of absorbing interest to us. Fortunately such information is available, not only by tradition, but also in another and much more certain way. I have so space here to dilate upon the marvels of psychometry, but must simply say that there is abundant evidence to show that nothing can happen without indelibly recording itself, that there exists a kind of memory of Nature from which can be recovered with absolute accuracy a true, full, and perfect picture of any scene or event since the world began.

Those to whom this subject is entirely new, and who consequently seek for evidence, should consult Dr. Buchanan's Psychometry or Professor Denton's Soul of Thins; but all occult students are familiar with the possibility, and most of them with the method, of reading these records of the past. In essence this memory of Nature must be the Divine Memory, far away beyond human reach; but it is assuredly reflected into the lower planes so that, as far as events on these lower planes are concerned, it is recoverable by the trained intelligence of man.

All that passes before a mirror, for instance, is reflected on its surface, and to our dim eyes it seems that the images make no impression on that surface, but that each passes away and leaves no trace. Yet that may not be so; it is not difficult to imagine that an impression may be left, somewhat as the impression of every sound is left upon the sensitive cylinder of a phonograph; and it may be possible to recover the impression from the mirror just as it is recoverable from the phonograph.

The higher psychometry shows us that this not only may be so, but is so; and that not a mirror only, but any physical object, retains the impression of all that has happened within its sight, as it were. We have thus at our disposal a faultlessly accurate method of arriving at the earlier history of our world and of mankind, and in this way much that is of the most entrancing interest can be observed in every detail, as though the scenes were being specially rehearsed for our benefit. (See Clairvoyance, p 88).

Investigations into the past conducted by these methods show how a long process of gradual evolution, slow but never-ceasing. They show the development of man under the action of two great laws, first the law of evolution, which steadily presses him onward and upward, and secondly, the law of divine justice, or cause and effect, which brings him inevitably the result of his every action, and thus gradually teaches him to live intelligently in harmony with the first law.

This long process of evolution has been carried out not only on this earth, but on other globes connected with it; but the subject is much to vast to be fully treated in an elementary book such as this. It forms the principal theme of Madame Blavatsky's monumental work, The Secret Doctrine; but before commencing that students are advised to read the chapters on this subject in Mrs. Besant's Ancient Wisdom and Mr. Sinnett's Growth of the Soul.

The book just mentioned will afford the fullest available information not only as to manÌs past, but as to his future; and thought he glory that awaits him is such as no tongue can tell, something at least may be understood of the earlier stages which lead to it. That man is divine even now, and that he will presently unfold within himself the potentialities of divinity, is an idea which appears to shock some good people, and to be considered by them to savour of blasphemy. Why it should not be so is not easy to see, for Jesus himself reminds the Jews around Him of the saying in their Scriptures, " I said, ye are Gods," and the doctrine of the deification of man was quite commonly held by the Fathers of the Church. But in these later days much of the earlier and purer doctrine has been forgotten and misunderstood; and the truth now seems to be held in its fullness only by the student of occultism.

Sometimes men ask why, if man was at the first a spark of the Divine, it should be necessary for him to go through all these ons of evolution, involving so much sorrow and suffering, only in order to be still Divine at the end of it all. But those who make this objection have not yet comprehended the scheme. That which came forth from the Divine was not yet man, not yet even a spark, for there was no developed individualisation in it. It was simply a great cloud of Divine essence, though capable of condensing eventually into many sparks.

The difference between its condition when issuing forth and when returning is exactly like that between a great mass of shining nebulous matter, and the solar system which is eventually formed out of it. Its condition when issuing forth and when returning is exactly like that between a great mass of shining nebulous matter, and the solar system which is eventually formed out it. The nebula is beautiful, no doubt, but vague and useless; the suns formed from it by slow evolution pour life and heat and light upon many worlds and their inhabitants.

Or we may take another analogy. The human body is composed of countless millions of tiny particles, and some of them are constantly being thrown off from it. Suppose that it were possible for each of these particles to go through some kind of evolution by means of which it would in time become a human being, we should not say that because it had been in a certain sense human at the beginning of that evolution it had, therefore , not gained anything when it reached its end. The essence comes forth as a mere outpouring of force, even tough it be Divine force; it returns in the form of thousands of millions of mighty adepts, each capable of himself developing into a Logos.

Thus it will be seen that we are abundantly justified in the statement that the future of man is a future to whose glory and splendour there is no limit. And a most important point to remember is that this magnificent future is for all without exception. He whom we call the good man, that is, the man whose will moves with the Divine Will, whose actions are such as to help the march of evolution, makes rapid progress on the upward path; while the man who unintelligently opposes himself to the great current by striving to pursue selfish aims instead of working for the good of the whole, will be able to progress only very slowly and erratically.

But the Divine Will is infinitely stronger than any human will, and the working of the great scheme is perfect. The man who does not learn his lesson first time has simply to try over and over and over until he does learn it; the Divine patience is infinite, and sooner or later every human being attains the goal appointed for him. There is no fear and no uncertainty, but only perfect peace for those who know the Law and the Will.