This week we bring you a selection from our Key Concepts section, on Human Perfectibility.
The idea of Perfectibility is the natural result of the combination of other key concepts such as Universal Brotherhood (as a fact of Nature), Karma, Reincarnation, Cycles, and so on. In a sense we might say that the Universe is designed for and exists in service of this perfectibility.
H. P. Blavatsky once wrote that the attributes of the Universe are “self-formative, self-preserving and self-destroying, for purposes of regeneration and perfectibility.”
We can see this kind of activity clearly in Nature. During winter life is withdrawn, seeds lay in waiting, then spring arrives (self-formation) and life begins to bloom and bring forth fruit. Spring moves into summer where life enjoys the fullness of its manifestation (self-preserving). Summer moves into autumn and the seeds of those fruits are spread, as another withdrawal sets in (self-destroying). Winter marks another “death”, the end of another cycle, which is also the beginning of the next “birth” (new seeds lay in waiting for the new spring). In here we see reflections of reincarnation, of karma, cyclic motion, the interdependence and oneness of all life, and we see a sort of progression of that life. We see that these are all working together as part of a greater purpose. And in this Theosophy does not see blind forces and directionless motion; it sees order and harmony and progress. Each cycle marks a larger development for every life within it. From year to year the tree grows, brings forth more plentiful fruit. From larger cycle to cycle life-forms evolve, becoming ever more perfect through adaptation.
In theosophy, with its view of the sevenfold nature of Man and Universe, this ever-becoming evolution extends to the inner nature of every being as well. With every passing cycle humanity rises into new territory in consciousness just as it rises into new territory physically. This holistic play of Life covers every corner of existence, which theosophists view as an expansive flow of Kosmic Evolution—everything is alive, is conscious, and everything is part of the play of infinite perfectibility.
“What then is the universe for, and for what final purpose is man the immortal thinker here in evolution? It is all for the experience and emancipation of the soul, for the purpose of raising the entire mass of manifested matter up to the stature, nature, and dignity of conscious god-hood. The great aim is to reach self-consciousness; not through a race or a tribe or some favored nation, but by and through the perfecting, after transformation, of the whole mass of matter as well as what we now call soul. Nothing is or is to be left out.”—William Quan Judge
Just as some trees grow faster than others or some species evolve quicker than their relatives, so too do theosophists see the same occurring in regards to individual consciousness. Some have moved faster than others. And so we have the ideal and fact of the Adept or the Mahatma (the “great soul”). Because the entire universe is alive, and has always been ever-evolving, the idea of beings more advanced than ourselves becomes a natural one; actually, an inescapable one. As HPB says, every being “either was, or prepares to become, a man”. Being human is but one stage in a vast process of evolution. Another way of saying this is that humans are preparing to become more than human, and every tiny step of our evolution—physically, morally and spiritually—is leading in that direction.
“The whole order of nature evinces a progressive march towards a higher life.” (HPB)
The Mahatma is, according to Theosophy, the natural product of our evolution. Some have reached this stage now, ‘ahead of the curve’, so to speak, but it is a state we are all working towards in our shared journey.
For more on this key concept, drawn from the writings of an array of theosophical authors, please visit the following page: