Evolution of the Higher Consciousness: An In-Depth Study into H.P. Blavatsky’s Teachings

Ojai, Calif.: Fohat Productions, 2018. xxvi + 201 pp., hardcover $34.95; paperback $24.95.

Theosophists are often reproached for failing to put their somewhat abstruse teachings into practice. Many people believe that the principles of Theosophy are so abstract and lofty that they are of no practical use in the real world. In the present book, Theosophical teacher Pablo Sender rises above such criticism by presenting Theosophical theory as it was put forth by its original teachers (H.P. Blavatsky and the Mahatmas) and showing how it can be put to work on a practical, everyday level.

Following a brief preface and an introduction setting out the purpose, the book is divided into two parts appropriately labeled “Theory” and “Practice.” This is followed by a short but very complete glossary of Sanskrit and other technical terms commonly used in Theosophical texts.

The theoretical analysis is largely based on the unique Theosophical system of seven “principles” into which the human constitution and that of the universe can be divided. This system is grounded in the simple threefold division (spirit, soul, and body) presented in Isis Unveiled (1877), which evolved over the next few decades into a much more elaborate and complicated sevenfold division. This system, which is characteristic of modern Theosophy, is easily recognizable, even when it is presented by other writers using variant terminology.

The system was originally presented orally by H.P. Blavatsky to two English students, A.O. Hume and A.P. Sinnett, and was further elaborated by her trans-Himalayan collaborators. It was explained from many angles in later writings, including The Secret Doctrine. During the last years of her life, HPB added details and offered refinements. This early material, including some private teachings only recently made available to the public, forms the basis for the present book.

The first chapter explains the human constitution and the three “streams” of evolution explained in The Secret Doctrine: the spiritual stream, the physical stream, and the intellectual stream, which brings together the other two. The spiritual stream traces the journey of the Monad (atma-buddhi) through the kingdoms of life with the ultimate goal of establishing “spiritual self-consciousness.” We see the fruits of the physical stream in the human body and the other living organisms around us. The third or intellectual stream brings about the development of manas or mind, which becomes the “human soul” or “reincarnating Ego.” The goal of this Ego is, as Sender writes, “to become the master of the lower Principles and to merge with the spiritual monad.”

After this introduction, the author moves on to a detailed discussion in chapters entitled “Atman: The Higher Self”; “The Monad”; “Manas: The Ego”; and “Kama: The Animal Soul.” In these chapters, he describes the universal spirit and the three aspects of “soul”—spiritual, human, and animal. The explanations are clear and well-written, and they are supplemented with helpful quotations from the original literature of Theosophy. Useful tables and charts are sprinkled throughout the text to illustrate the points. For the most part, these are original with the author and offer new perspectives on several issues. The theoretical part of the book is completed by the chapters “Communication with the Higher Consciousness” and “Evolution of the Higher Ego.” These tell us what is to be accomplished in order to complete the course of human evolution and bring all three streams to fruition.

The second part of the book, “Practice,” was written in the stated hope that “the more these ‘abstractions’ become a reality to us, the more they will have a bearing on our actions.” The guiding principle in this discussion is the concept of manas taijasa, a Sanskrit term that can be translated as illumined mind. This term was introduced by Mme. Blavatsky, who explained it as “the human soul illuminated by the radiance of the divine soul, the human reason lit by the light of the spirit.” To achieve this state, it is necessary to abandon negative qualities or attitudes while cultivating positive ones. The exercises and meditative practices that follow are meant to enable the reader to carry out these goals.

The chapters “States of Consciousness” and “The ‘Thought-Producer’” are well worth studying, and the time invested in trying the exercises and thought experiments will be amply rewarded. This is not easy material, however, and the exercises require a serious commitment. The book closes with a chapter on “The Sense of Space,” which expands and elaborates upon HPB’s instructions in her diagram of meditation. Once again, the goal is practical realization, and serious effort is required.

Despite the author’s effort to make these teachings accessible and practical, some readers may still find this book to be abstract and hard to follow in places. This is inherent in the nature of the teachings themselves, which, as HPB explained, are not for the lazy or mentally obtuse.

All in all, this is an excellent book. It brings together a wealth of authentic Theosophical material from its original sources. Students familiar with this literature will find it stimulating, and those who have not been exposed to the early Theosophical writings will find it to be an excellent introduction.

Doss McDavid

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