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Cyclic Evolution Applied to History

The is no Utopia in The Secret Doctrine.

In Isis Unveiled, Utopian ideas are a non-starter.

Francis Fukuyama finished the 20th century

by claiming that history is over.

I bet he wishes he hadn’t

Posted 23/11/06

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History is over – No Way

In “The End of History and the Last Man” published in the late 1990s Francis Fukuyama claimed that we had finally arrived

His argument was that universal history was culminating in liberal democracy - with the United States as its chief embodiment - caught the tide of American optimism after the cold war.

Quite a bit has happened since the late 90s and he’s had to have a rethink.

The idea that history is over is not new

In 143 CE a Greek public orator named Aelius Aristides told the Roman emperor, Antoninus Pius, that Rome was the last of all the empires. "Now a clear and universal freedom from all fear has been granted both to the world and those who live in it"; history, he confidently predicated, had finally come to a happy and glorious end. The constitution of Rome represented the final, most perfect political form and would henceforth continue as it was uninterruptedly into the future.


What H P Blavatsky said about Cycles in her Theosophical Glossary

Cycle. From the Greek Kuklos. The ancients divided time into end less cycles, wheels within wheels, all such periods being of various durations, and each marking the beginning or the end of some event either cosmic, mundane, physical or metaphysical. There were cycles of only a few years, and cycles of immense duration, the great Orphic cycle, referring to the ethnological change of races, lasting 120,000 years, and the cycle of Cassandrus of 136,000, which brought about a complete change in planetary influences and their correlations between men and gods—a fact entirely lost sight of by modern astrologers.



Theosophical Glossary Index






To H P Blavatsky, the Cyclic Law, underlying the evolution of everything in existence, makes all attempts to create controlled regulated Utopias a recipe for misery which are doomed to failure. Evolution as reflected in social progress is not linear but has turning points which cause similar events and situations to recur often many times in the course of history, while actual evolution may be so slight that nobody notices it.  Attempts to establish Utopias may be all part of this cyclic routine but the concept of a Utopia itself is against  the natural order of things.

If evolution in all things is cyclic, then for mankind to achieve a final result would mean that we cease to evolve. If we create a Utopia and then lose it, it would not really have been a Utopia, just a Golden Age in which we reap a bit of good Karma while we can. In fact achieving and then losing a Golden Age is a good example of Cyclic Evolution.

Living through a Golden Age is usually a subjective experience, for example, my Grandfather regarded the period in Britain between the Boer War (1899-1902) and the outbreak of The First World War (1914) as a great time to be alive. Considerable social and political unrest and 80% of the population living below the poverty line doesn’t seem to have been in his reckoning. Obviously he was having such a good time (in Oldham, Lancashire), he didn’t notice.

In Isis unveiled (extract below),  H P Blavatsky, when criticizing the worrying social/genetic engineering proposals and political philosophy of Plato and August Comte, anticipated the trend towards totalitarian regimes and the victory of the state over the individual which prevailed in the hundred years after her death in 1891. In the last 20 years, the cyclic wheel of history has turned again and state dominated command economies are now a rarity. Genetic Engineering is now seriously discredited but social engineering, in various forms, is still alive and well.

These criticisms are really an attack on attempts to create a society or social order externally according to some sort of blueprint. To H P Blavatsky this leads to a “one size fits nobody” system.

It is interesting that H P Blavatsky never attacked the Tsarist system in the Russia of her time. Tsarism was simply where Russia was at the time. She seemed to believe that political and social change would occur naturally in its own time and it is one’s Karma to deal with the current situation.

If you think about it, to evolve (as a race and personally) then we have to get our experience somewhere. Perfect societies, if they existed, would be a non starter , in fact a holiday from evolution. A naturally evolving imperfect society (most of us live in one) or even a failed Utopia i.e. a Distopia should provide something of a test.

Everyone has something to learn

Being born into a society with no social challenges and in which everyone is “Excellent to Everybody” wouldn’t give you a chance to learn much and would probably be pretty boring. On the other hand being born into a society, which in an attempt to create a better society, imposes something on the lines of “Prohibition” a disastrous policy seen in 1920s America could provide phenomenal prospects for personal growth.




From Isis Unveiled

Plato, in the fifth book of the Republic, suggests a method for improving the human race by the elimination of the unhealthy or deformed individuals, and by coupling the better specimens of both sexes. It was not to be expected that the "genius of our century," even were he a prophet, would squeeze out of his brain anything entirely new.

Comte was a mathematician. Cleverly combining several old utopias, he colored the whole, and, improving on Plato's idea, materialized it, and presented the world with the greatest monstrosity that ever emanated from a human mind!

We beg the reader to keep in view, that we do not attack Comte as a philosopher, but as a professed reformer. In the irremediable darkness of his political, philosophical and religious views, we often meet with isolated observations and remarks in which profound logic and judiciousness of thought rival the brilliancy of their interpretation. But then, these dazzle you like flashes of lightning on a gloomy night, to leave you, the next moment, more in the dark than ever. If condensed and repunctuated, his several works might produce, on the whole, a volume of very original aphorisms, giving a very clear and really clever definition of most of our social evils; but it would be vain to seek, either through the tedious circumlocution of the six volumes of his Cours de Philosophie Positive, or in that parody on priesthood, in the form of a dialogue -- The Catechism of the Religion of Positivism -- any idea suggestive of even provisional remedies for such evils. His disciples suggest that the sublime doctrines of their prophet were not intended for the vulgar. Comparing the dogmas preached by Positivism with their practical exemplifications by its apostles, we must confess the possibility of some very achromatic doctrine being at the bottom of it. While the "high-priest" preaches that "woman must cease to be the female of the man"; while the theory of the positivist legislators on marriage and the family, chiefly consists in making the woman the "mere companion of man by ridding her of every maternal function"; and while they are preparing against the future a substitute for that function by applying "to the chaste woman" "a latent force," some of its lay priests openly preach polygamy, and others affirm that their doctrines are the quintessence of spiritual philosophy.



In this extract below from The Secret Doctrine, H P Blavatsky covers the idea that we have to descend into matter or physicality to make any progress. This is true for everything not just man.




From The Secret Doctrine


Vol 1 Page 146


Before we can approach the evolution of physical and divine man, we have first to master the idea of cyclic evolution, to acquaint ourselves with the philosophies and beliefs of the four races which preceded our present race, to learn what were the ideas of those Titans and giants -- giants, verily, mentally as well as physically. The whole of antiquity was imbued with that philosophy which teaches the involution of spirit into matter, the progressive, downward cyclic descent, or active, self-conscious evolution.




In this extract below from The Secret Doctrine, H P Blavatsky outlines how the Cyclic Law permeates every aspect of existence.


I translate the phrase “Nature never proceeds per saltum” as nature never proceeds in leaps and bounds.


The septenary nature of evolution described here shows how everything evolves in seven stages cyclically thus returning to something similar to its orginal state with the fourth stage as the turning point. Applied to history, this means that current trends will not continue and history will repeat itself.




From The Secret Doctrine


Now, the writer humbly confesses complete ignorance of modern chemistry and its mysteries. But she is pretty well acquainted with the Occult doctrine with regard to correspondences of types and antitypes in nature, and perfect analogy as a fundamental law in Occultism. Hence she ventures a remark which will strike every Occultist, however it may be derided by orthodox Science. This method of illustrating the periodic law in the behaviour of elements, whether or not still a hypothesis in chemistry, is a law in Occult Sciences. Every well-read Occultist knows that the seventh and fourth members -- whether in a septenary chain of worlds, the septenary hierarchy of angels, or in the constitution of man, animal, plant, or mineral atom -- that the seventh and fourth members, we say, in the geometrically and mathematically uniform workings of the immutable laws of Nature, always play a distinct and specific part in the septenary system. From the stars twinkling high in heaven, to the sparks flying asunder from the rude fire built by the savage in his forest; from the hierarchies and the essential constitution of the Dhyan Chohans -- organized for diviner apprehensions and a loftier range of perception than the greatest Western psychologist ever dreamed of, down to Nature's classification of species among the humblest insects; finally from worlds to atoms, everything in the universe, from great to small, proceeds in its spiritual and physical evolution, cyclically and septennially, showing its seventh and fourth number (the latter the turning point) behaving in the same way as shown in that periodic law of atoms. Nature never proceeds per saltum. Therefore, when Mr. Crookes remarks to this that he does not "wish to infer that the gaps in Mendeleef's table, and in this graphic representation of it (the diagram showing the evolution of atoms) necessarily mean that there are elements actually existing to fill up the gaps; these gaps may only mean that at the birth of the elements there was an easy potentiality of the formation of an element which would fit into the place" -- an Occultist would respectfully remark to him that the latter hypothesis can only hold good, if the septenary arrangement of atoms is not interfered with. This is the one law, and an infallible method that must always lead to success,

One who follows it



In this extract below from The Secret Doctrine, H P Blavatsky looks at the concept of ideas ahead of their time. In an attempt at establishing a Utopia, ideas ahead of their time may be imposed on an unwilling population leading to conflict and a probable rejection of those ideas for a much longer period to come.


Possibly the Prohibition of Alcohol in 1920s America was several hundred years ahead of its time. It may be that on the Cyclic Principle it will be tried several times in future centuries.


From The Secret Doctrine


Vol 1 Page 298


But if we look into history we shall clearly see that, although the origin of a new opinion may be thus due to a single man, the result which the new opinion produces will depend on the condition of the people among whom it is propagated. If either a religion or a philosophy is too much in advance of a nation it can do no present service but must bide its time* until the minds of men are ripe for its reception.


* This is Cyclic law, but this law itself is often defied by human stubbornness.



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