The importance of reincarnation and its connection with evolution in The Secret Doctrine
H. P. Blavatsky continually emphasized reincarnation as one of the central elements of Theosophy and that a proper understanding thereof is fundamental to all esoteric students. Why did Blavatsky emphasize the importance of reincarnation? This presentation seeks to answer this question by exploring the connection between reincarnation and evolution in Blavatsky’s The Secret Doctrine. The Secret Doctrine includes a vast panorama of the cosmos, including humankind and many theories are discussed, but reincarnation in connection with the idea of evolution is one of the cornerstones of all the theories mentioned in her work. Evolution as an idea gained great prevalence in the late nineteenth century among scientists, especially with Charles Darwin’s The Origin of Species (1859) and The Descent of Man (1871). While Blavatsky agreed with some of the perspectives posed by the scientists, she however also found the implications of cultivating a purely biologically oriented view of evolution to be dangerous to human progress as such a materialist view would ultimately lead to the degradation of humankind to a purely animalistic state and thus to moral indifference. ‘Modern, or so-called exact science,’ she wrote ‘holds but to a one-sided physical evolution, prudently avoiding and ignoring the higher or spiritual evolution.’ This one-sidedness was clearly of great concern to Blavatsky and she thought that it was possible to innovatively counteract this with a correct spiritual and rational comprehension of the ancient secret doctrine of reincarnation, which in addition to biological evolution includes spiritual evolution.