The Editor has handed me a communication from a reader upon this subject which I insert here, as it on the one hand shows a very common defect of students-inaccuracy of reading, thought, and reference, and on the other will serve as a question which arises in other minds. It reads:
Inaccuracies like those in the foregoing are not uncommon. They are constant and all-pervading. It is probably the fault of modern education, accentuated by the reading of a vast amount of superficial literature such as is poured out day by day. Any close observer can detect the want of attention displayed in metaphysical studies in contrast with the particular care given to matters of business and practical affairs of life. All those who are studying Theosophy ought to make themselves aware of this national defect, and therefore give the strictest attention to what they read upon metaphysics and devote less attention to the amount of such reading than to thinking upon what is read.
In the first place, the Secret Doctrine does not say on the page quoted, nor anywhere else, what "Ignotus" writes. Instead of reading as quoted, the passage is:
I. Everything in the metaphysical as in the physical Universe is septenary. [p. 158] . . . The evolution of life proceeds on these seven globes or bodies from the first to the seventh in Seven Rounds or Seven Cycles [p. 159].
I insert in italics the omitted words, the word proceeds having been put out of its place by "Ignotus." The error makes a completely new scheme, one unphilosophical and certainly not given out by the Masters. But though some may wonder why I notice such a false assumption, it is right to take it up because it must have arisen through carelessness, yet of such a sort as might perpetuate an important error. It follows from the restoration of the passage that the Globes do not "revolve around the world chain." The supposition of the correspondent is not peculiar among the many hurried ones made by superficial readers. He first assumed that the various globes of the Earth-Chain revolved, in some way which he did not stop to formulate, in seven rounds-I presume in some imaginary orbit of their own-in what he called the "world chain," and then he went on adapting the rest of the evolutionary theory to this primary assumption. By reading the Secret Doctrine and the former articles on this subject in the PATH, the point in question will be made clear. Evolution of the monad, which produces and underlies all other evolutions, proceeds on the seven planetary bodies of any chain of evolution. These seven places or spheres for such evolution represent different states of consciousness, and hence, as written in the Secret Doctrine and attempted to be shown in these articles, they may and do interpenetrate each other with beings on each. Therefore all such words as "round," "around," "chain," and the like must be examined metaphysically and not be allowed to give the mind a false notion such as is sure to arise if they are construed in the material way and from their materialistic derivation. "To go around" the seven globes does not mean that one passes necessarily from one place to another, but indicates a change from one condition to another, just as we might say that a man "went the whole round of sensations."
As to the other questions raised, Esoteric Buddhism is right in saying that the monads pass several times around the globes as minerals and vegetables, but wisely does not make the number and order very definite. In the Secret Doctrine one of the Masters writes that at the second round the order of the appearance of the human kingdom alters, but the letter goes no farther on that point except to say, as is very definitely put in the Secret Doctrine on p. 159, para. 4;
This states quite distinctly (a) that after the second round the order alters, and (b) that in the fourth round, instead of animals appearing as the first moving forms for the monads to inhabit, the human form comes first, preceded by mineral and vegetable, and followed by the brute-animal.
This change always comes on at any fourth round, or else we never could
have evolutionary perfection. Other monads come originally from other spheres
of evolution. In a new one such as this the preliminary process and order
of mineral, plant, animal, human must be followed. But having in two or
three rounds perfected itself in the task, the monad brings out 'the human
form at the turning point, so that man as the model, means, guide, and savior
may be able to intelligently raise up not only humanity but as well every
other kingdom below the human. This is all made very clear and positive
by repeated statement and explanation in the Secret Doctrine, and
it is a matter for surprise that so many Theosophists do not understand
(ii) Kali Yuga is said by the Brahmins and by the Secret Doctrine to be 432,000 years long. We will have to accept the calculation for the present.
(2) Many thousands of years will pass before the next race will be here, and you will have died several times over before that, and also it is probable you will be one of that race unless you go to some other planet. You have made the error of sup-posing that the end of the cycle in 1898 is the end of the race. It is not. It is but a minor cycle, though quite important in its way. Hence-
(3) As we, including you, will be members of the new race in all probability if we take advantage of our opportunities, there is no profit in the question or its answer, for the sixth race not being due for so many centuries, and you being eligible for membership in it, there is no sequence. When the sixth race has fully come, many degenerate examples of the bodies of the fifth will be here with it and among it, but no special place will be kept for its development.
Path, January, 1895