A historical look at how advanced thinkers of the past have seeded civilizations with new-age ideas/goals for human advancement.
In A Treatise on White Magic, p. 402, the Master Djwhal Khul describes a preliminary phase of the Hierarchy’s work in preparing the world for the Age of Aquarius. "The Elder Brothers of the race called a conclave of all departments about the year 1500 AD. Their object was to determine how the urge to integration, which is essentially the keynote of our universal order, could be hastened, and what steps could be taken to produce that synthesis and unification in the world of thought which would make possible the manifestation of the purpose of the divine life which had brought all into being."
The Hierarchy determined that two things were necessary for humanity to receive the potencies of the coming age: (1) the elevation of humanity’s consciousness to the mental plane, and (2) the destruction of the barriers of separateness, isolation, and prejudice existing between nations, races, and individuals. To accomplish these goals, they stimulated the formation of certain groups which would operate in four areas: cultural, political, religious, and scientific.
What follows is a brief view of the world of 1500 AD, a look at the advanced minds of the time and the political and cultural milieu in which they moved. The energy and impact of this era is mirrored in another — that of 500 BC. In that more distant time, the forms of Aries were beginning to break up as the energies of Pisces gathered in strength. Likewise, in 1500 AD, the forms of Pisces were beginning to crumble as the energies of Aquarius began to be felt.
Each era was graced with advanced intellects who were far ahead of their time. Each saw great social movements that led to the dispersion and intermingling of peoples and ideas. Each witnessed the blossoming of science, rationality, and new spiritual ideas.
I. The advance of science and thought
"The Ashram of a Master on the 5th ray has an important part to play in the work of preparation, for it is through the scientific use of energy that the world will be rebuilt and the factual nature of the Hierarchy be proved." (The Externalization of the Hierarchy, p. 577 — The Master DK)
A. 500 BC
Into the Athens of 500 BC came a group of men who expressed the creative genius of the Grecian mind. Their body of work has inspired intelligent minds in every century since.
The mind of Pythagoras (c.582-500 BC) (2.2 degrees initiate) must have dwelt in the heavens for he propounded theories of mathematics, music, and astronomy that await our understanding today. Socrates (469-399 BC) (2.4) was the cynical and rugged philosopher whose only loyalties were to virtue and knowledge. Both Pythagoras and Socrates were martyred for their thoughts, yet 25 centuries later their ideas can still be found in the libraries and universities of the world.
An artistic writer and utopian visionary, Plato (427-347 BC) (2.4) deeply believed in mankind’s ability to fashion a righteous and equitable society. In an expedition funded by Alexander the Great, Aristotle (384-322 BC) (2.4), the philosopher/scientist, sent 1,000 men into the countryside of Europe and Asia to gather specimens for his book on natural history.
Their work was as much spiritual as it was scientific; for them there was no separation. They were the first to struggle with the great problems that confront humanity — questions of social harmony and human unity. For this inquiry they invented the tools of thought — the rationality, discipline and analysis that are a necessary prelude to true objectivity and true solutions.
They challenged the common idea that men were helpless, ruled by the whims of their leaders and gods. They believed in a personal responsibility and creativity that could take control of the world and create a humanity that reflects the good, the true, and the beautiful.
B. 1500 AD
In the dimly-lit days of the 13th century, Roger Bacon warned the world: "Cease to be ruled by dogmas and authorities; look at the world." Three centuries later, his prophetic call was reflected in the work of the most noteworthy group of scientists since the days of Athens’ glory. Together they challenged the claim of the Catholic Church to the domain of truth. Together they initiated ideas and inventions that would ease the bitter lives of the labouring classes. Together they began a success story that is almost unparalleled in any other field.
Leonardo da Vinci (1452-1519) (4.4) was a naturalist, anatomist, engineer, and artist. His notebooks predicted inventions only now realized. Copernicus (1473-1543) (2.3), Galilei (1564-1642) (2.2), and Kepler (1571-1630) (1.7) peered into space and refashioned the popular view that held earth as its center. Their work was harshly condemned by a Church certain of its own importance in the universe.
Newton (1640-1727) (2.2) and Leibniz (1646-1716) (1.7) followed, with basic laws of mathematics, motion, and gravitation. In medical science, Harvey (1578-1657) (1.6) demonstrated blood circulation, and Leeuwenhoek (1632-1723) (1.7) invented the microscope.
Of equal importance was the development of printing in the 1400s. Knowledge became a commodity for all, not locked away in monasteries and the schools of the affluent. Interpretation of the Bible was no longer the exclusive domain of the church when copies became available for rich and poor alike.
II. Great migrations and political movements
"The drift of the people from every nation ... indicate(s) a breaking down, upon a world-wide scale, of all outer boundaries and the institution of a process of blending and amalgamation such as the world has never seen before. The outer change is producing an inner synthesis and cleavages are working out interiorly in closer relations and a more tolerant spirit of understanding." (Externalization of the Hierarchy, p. 134 — The Master DK)
A. 500 BC
In pre-Christian times communication was primitive and transportation so limited that only a few adventurers and seers could conceive of a world beyond the horizon. Yet within each separate region there were signs of a developing unity.
The North and South American Indian groups were connected by trade routes, both overland and by sea. In China, Confucius (551-479 BC) (5.0) was turning his country from an amalgamation of war-like states to a unified society. The settled populations of Europe were being infused with a steady stream of nomads from the East and North.
King Philip of Macedonia (382-336 BC) (1.7) was a trusted friend of Aristotle who conceived of a world state, a union of all known people. When his son Alexander (356-323 BC) (1.5) conquered the vast kingdom of Persia, the dream was realized and the doors between East and West were opened for a great exchange that irrevocably changed them both.
B. 1500 AD
It takes little imagination to apply the words of the Master DK to the world of the 1500s. The Turks and Mongols were ruling Eurasia from China to Hungary. To the Westerner they had brought the compass and shadowy knowledge of unknown lands. Motivated by power, greed, and sheer curiosity, Columbus (1451-1508) (2.0), Magellan (1480-1521) (2.0), and Vasco da Gama (1469-1524) (1.6) opened an era of migration unequaled in recorded history. Cortez (1485-1547) (1.7) conquered the Aztec nation of Central America; Pizarro (1476-1541) (1.5) took Peru. Slavery scattered the peoples of Africa across the globe.
Although most of these efforts were accompanied by excesses of bloodshed and thievery, still there began a mentality of exploration which breathed a new expansiveness of spirit into the settled populations of Europe and Asia. People everywhere began to dream of a better life, free from joined forces to accomplish these dreams: never again would the churches and monarchs of the world so completely dominate their subjects. If the future unity the Masters foresaw was not yet a reality, surely the stage was being set for its possibility.
III. The blossoming of religion and culture
"The religious groups have ... all served their purpose and have led man to the point of revolt and away from acquiescence to authority. They have driven man to the stage of thinking for himself by the force of their unique example. They stood for freedom and the personal right to know." (A Treatise on White Magic, pp. 409-410 — The Master DK)
A. 500 BC
Into this era were born the great religions of the world. In India, Gautama Buddha (563-483 BC) turned his people from a preoccupation with asceticism and taught his simple truths of the middle way. Two hundred years later, the Emperor Ashoka (269-232 BC) (3.0) abandoned warfare and modelled India after the precepts of the Buddha.
China saw the blending of the mystical teachings of Lao-tse (604 BC -?BC) (4.2) with the practicality of Confucius and the primitive strains of ancient Taoism. The Persian prophet and religious teacher Zoroaster (628-551 BC) (4.5) inspired a religion that eventually spread west through Europe as the cult of Mithras. Gnostic Christianity contains teaching and rituals of worship that are similar to the Mithraic mysteries.
The mound builders of North America and the pyramid builders to the south devised ceremonies and teachings intertwined with the life of the natural world.
In the Mediterranean, the fusion of spiritual and cultural values was focused in the city of Alexandria. Here converged the rational mind of the Greek, the ordered life of the Roman, the monotheism of the Jews, and the occult practices of the Egyptians. Filtering in over centuries were the mystical practices of the Eastern cultures. So many gods were represented in Alexandria that its people could not help but recognize the unity underlying their separate views. A form of worship to Serapis, a triune god, developed here; it anticipated Christian ideas by 200 years.
B. 1500 AD
Europe had just faced the Black Death, and everywhere the thoughts of its peoples were turned toward freedom and change. The peasants were sick of their bleak lives, and the first faint cries of revolution echoed across the land.
The decadence of the Roman Catholic Church was eroding its authority. Demand for change, from within and without, shook its walls for decades. Three centuries before, St Francis (3.5) had begged his Pope to return to the original goodness of Jesus. Now there were Martin Luther (1483-1546) (2.3) and John Calvin (1509-1566) (1.8) to remind the priestly caste of its divine founder. They denied the right of the Church exclusively to interpret the Bible and taught their followers to take responsibility for their own salvation.
During these same years, the literary and artistic revolution called the Renaissance was born. In literature, Shakespeare (1564-1616) (3.5), Milton (1608-1674) (1.8), Montaigne (1533-1592) (1.7), and Cervantes (1547-1616) (1.7), infused their work with profound spiritual and philosophical inquiry.
Michelangelo (1475-1564) (3.3), Titian (1476-1576) (3.0), Rubens (1577-1640) (3.0), and Rembrandt (1606-1669) (3.0) truly lifted painting from the dark ages into a new era. They began a strictly scientific research into an accuracy of representation that imbued their art with movement and realism.
The Rosicrucians revived the esoteric and occult sciences of ancient Egypt through the writings of Johan Valentin Andreas (1586-1654).(2.3). Sir Francis Bacon (1561-1626) (3.7), Paracelsus (1493-1541) (2.3), Jakob Boehme (1575-1624) (1.8), and the Comte de St Germain were presumed to be associated with this secret fraternity.
In The Outline of History, H.G.Wells (1.7) describes "three of the great structural ideas that rule the mind of contemporary mankind" — the idea of science, the idea of one Universal God of Righteousness, and the idea of a world policy. In the latter days of the age of Aries we see these dimly expressed ideas barely begin to take root. The Christian era saw their growth, and our age, the Age of Maitreya, will see a planetary unfolding, brought by the grace of those Sacred Beings who influence our evolution from beyond, and who, from time to time, walk among us with the gift of Their presence.
This, then, is how we evolve — by dint of these great ideas "spreading out from the minds of the rare and exceptional persons and peoples in which they first originated, into the general consciousness of the race, and giving first a new colour, then a new spirit, and then a new direction to human affairs." (H.G.Wells)
(For more information, see Maitreya’s Mission, Volume One and Maitreya’s Mission, Volume Two by Benjamin Creme.)