Why Races Die Out
A THEOSOPHIST’S REASON FOR IT
The Path, October, 1891
In our own times we have instances of the disappearance of races, and very often it is attributed to the influence of civilized vices. The Hottentots have entirely gone, and the decimation of the Hawaiian Islanders is about complete. Similarly the Red Indians of the Continents of North and South America have been surely, if slowly, passing away, so that now there is only a remnant of them left, and soon after the Spanish conquest the great masses of the aboriginal inhabitants had faded away.
The Hottentots had reached almost the acme of decline when we knew them, but the Aztecs, Toltecs, and other South Americans had not reached such a pitch when they encountered the Spanish. The Red Indians had gone down between the two, while the Hawaiians were still below the Indians. It has always seemed to me that the claim that these races were destroyed by taking up our vices is not well founded. It is pleasant, perhaps, to the pessimist who dislikes this civilization, but it will not agree with all the facts. The decrease of population in the Hawaiian Islands cannot be justly attributed to rum and social evils taken over from us, although a great deal of injury no doubt arose from those abuses. About the Hottentots we may feel pretty sure, because their degradation was almost complete when they were discovered, and the Mexicans and South American people had no time to adopt Spanish vices, nor did such exist in a degree to kill off the inhabitants.
The theory outlined by H. P. Blavatsky is that when the Egos inhabiting any race have reached the limit of experience possible in it, they begin to desert that race environment and seek for another, which, in the sure processes of natures evolution, is certain to be in existence elsewhere on the globe. The Egos then having left the old families, the latter begin to die out through sterility attacking the females, so that fewer and fewer bodies are made for inhabitancy. This goes on from century to century pari passu with mental decay. And this mental deterioration arises from the fact that the small stock of what we might call the retarded Egos who come in during the process have not had the experience and training in that particular environment which had been gone through by those who have deserted to another race, and hence—on the theosophical theory that brain is not the producer of mind—the whole personnel of the old race rushes down in the scale, sooner or later presenting the sad spectacle of a dying race. Final extinction is the result when the process has gone far enough.
At the time when the first steps toward old age and decrepitude are taken by such a race, the eternal cyclic laws that always bring about a universal correspondence between the affairs of man and the operations of cosmos cause cataclysms to happen, and even in the seeming height of a nation’s power great numbers of bodies are destroyed. Some indications of this may be seen in our own day in the great destruction of human life that has begun to overtake the older portions of the Chinese nation. These are finger posts that declare the beginning of the exodus of the Egos who have had such a long experience in that race environment that they have begun to emigrate elsewhere because their experience has wrought in their character changes which unfit them for dealing with the old bodies, and those are left for the starting of other less progressed men. After the lapse of more years the natural cataclysms will increase in violence and extent, engulfing more and more millions of bodies and preparing for other cycles.
We may suppose that the Red Indians predecessors went through similar experiences, for there are in the Americas evidences of great convulsions such as upheavals from below and overflowing by water that deposited great masses of mud. In one of the States there was lately found good evidence that animals had been thus buried for ages. The men, having reason to guide them, removed themselves to other parts to carry out the sad decrees of Karma which had ordered their demise. And under the suggestion made above, the egos untried in that environment only occupied the racial body for the sake of the experience which might be gained during the time that is left. Now our civilization with weapons and other means is completing the work, as it on its part fulfils the law by creating on the old soil an entirely new race in which the experience gained by the mind in prior cycles of existence may show itself forth.
This process is almost exactly that which happens in families. Reincarnating egos continue in families that suit their mental progress just so long as is needed; and if no more egos are in the cycle of rebirth exactly fitted to the physical, psychical, and mental state of the family, it begins to die out. And it even exhibits often in its own small way the phenomena of natural cataclysm, for we know that sudden ruin and quick extinction often carry off an entire family, leaving not even a descendant in the very remotest degree.
Hence I conclude that, like families, Races disappear when they are of no further use in the gaining of experience by the great pilgrim soul.