One of the things that repel many persons who have had their attention directed to the subject of Metempsychosis for the first time, is the idea that they have evolved as a soul from individual lowly forms, for instance that they have at one time been an individual plant, and then an individual animal form, and then an individual higher animal form, and so on until now they are the particular individual human form contemplating the subject. This idea, which has been taught by many teachers, is repellent to the average mind, for obvious reasons, and naturally so, for it has no foundation in truth.
While this lesson is principally concerned with the subject of the Spiritual Evolution of the human soul, since it became a human soul, still it may be as well to mention the previous phase of evolution, briefly, in order to prevent misconception, and to dispel previously acquired error.
The atom, although it possesses life and a certain degree of mind, and acts as an individual temporarily, has no permanent individuality that reincarnates. When the atom is evolved it becomes a centre of energy in the great atomic principle, and when it is finally dissolved it resolves itself back into its original state, and its life as an individual atom ceases, although the experience it has gained becomes the property of the entire principle. It is as if a body of water were to be resolved into millions of tiny dew-drops for a time, and each dew-drop was then to acquire certain outside material in solution. In that case, each dew-drop when it again returned to the body of water, would carry with it its foreign material, which would become the property of the whole. And subsequently formed dew-drops would carry in their substance a particle of the foreign matter brought back home by the previous generation of dewdrops, and would thus be a little different from their predecessors. And this process, continuing for many generations of dew-drops, would ultimately cause the greatest changes in the composition of the successive generations.
This, in short, is the story of the change and improving forms of life. From the atoms into the elements; from the lower elements into those forming protoplasm; from the protoplasm to the lower forms of animal life; from these lower forms on to higher forms—this is the story. But it is all a counterpart of the dew-drop and the body of water, until the human soul is evolved.
The plants and the lower forms of animal life are not permanent individual souls, but each family is a group-soul corresponding to the body of water from which the dew-drop arose. From these family group-souls gradually break off minor groups, representing species, and so on into sub-species. At last when the forms reach the plane of man, the group-soul breaks itself up into permanent individual souls, and true Metempsychosis begins. That is, each individual human soul becomes a permanent individual entity, destined to evolve and perfect itself along the lines of spiritual evolution.