The Animal Kingdom is the previous evolutionary stage to human beings.
In the Theosophical view, there is a moral responsibility for unnecessarily killing animals by civilized people. As Master K.H. wrote:
As it is no fault of the former, if born a "savage" with an instinct to kill — though it caused the death of many an innocent animal — why, if with it all, he was a loving father, son, husband, why should he not also enjoy his share of reward? The case would be quite different if the same cruel acts had been done by an educated and civilized person, from a mere love of sport. The savage in being reborn would simply take a low place in the scale, by reason of his imperfect moral development; while the Karma of the other would be tainted with moral delinquency.
Annie Besant wrote:
Large numbers of the higher animals in a state of domestication have... really become separate re-incarnating entities, although not as yet possessing a causal body - the mark of what is usually called individualisation. The envelope derived from the Group-Soul serves the purpose of a causal body... Following the analogy of human ante-natal life, we see that this stage corresponds with its last two months. A seven-months’ babe may be born and may survive, but it will be stronger, healthier, more vigorous, if it profits for yet another two months by its mother’s shielding and nourishing life. So is it better for the normal development of the Ego that it should not too hastily burst the envelope of the Group-Soul, but should still absorb life through it, and strengthen from its constituents the finest part of its own mental body. When that body has reached its limit of growth under these shielded conditions, the envelope disintegrates into the finer molecules of the sub-plane above it, and becomes, as above said, part of the causal body.
It is the knowledge of these facts that has sometimes caused occultists to warn people who are very fond of animals not to be exaggerated in their affection, nor to show it in unwise ways. The growth of the animal may be unhealthily forced, and its birth into individuality be hastened out of due time. Man, in order to fill rightly his place in the world, should seek to understand nature and work with her laws, quickening indeed their action by the co-operation of his intelligence, but not quickening it to the point whereat growth is made unhealthy and its product frail and “out of season”. It is true that the Lord of Life seeks human co-operation in the working out of evolution, but the co-operation should follow the lines which His Wisdom has laid down.
James S. Perkins has written:
Animal consciousness is not only evolved through individual forms, but through group experience and growth. This group development occurs throughout the third chain, particularly during the seven periods during which the Life wave occupies its Globe D. Animals are united in groups, each animal sharing the soul life of its group...
The group-soul is an admirable conveyance for sharing the collective experience of numbers of animals. A number of lions may be seen linked together in a single sphere of consciousness [in the illustration at right].
Through the common shelter of this immortal group-soul that is experiencing life and death in any forms, there is a constant stimulation of consciousness in all the creatures attached to the group. the sheltering feature of group-soul existence indicates that the animal is not aware of aloneness...
In the illustration the star Monad above is radiating its influence into the sphere through the medium of an angelic presence that represents the immortal group-soul intelligence. This entity is visualized gathering the essential quality of each member's experiences and redistributing it to the whole group...
Into this arena of mutual existence radiates the dominant ray influence from the Monad. The ray factor is a decisive feature in group-soul evolution. A first-ray Monad evolves through a first-ray group-soul; and only first-ray animals are attached to it. Lions will be found only in a first-ray group-soul. All animals are evolving their natures on one or another of the seven rays.
Thus it may be seen that there is a common influx of spiritual forces from above, in addition to the flow of impacts from all the environmental experiences pouring into the group-soul. Together these unfold the lion's characteristic nature and action...
There is individual progress in the group-soul. A domestic animal in a group-soul, due to human association, advances more rapidly than others of his type that remain in the wild kingdom. When this individual progress occurs, the group-soul may be reduced in number... Thus the animal unit of consciousness gradually approaches entry into the human kingdom.
- Animals and Us: Quotations from Ahimsa, by Nathaniel Altman
- Men and Animals by Annie Besant
- Have Animals Souls? by H. P. Blavatsky
- Why Do Animals Suffer? by H. P. Blavatsky
- Do Horses Gallop in Their Sleep: The Problem of Animal Consciousness by Matt Cartmill
- Animals and Humans: Evolving Together in Conscious Universe by Judith Hensel
- About Killing Animals by William Q. Judge
- Reincarnation in Animals by William Q. Judge
- "Boids," the Group Soul, and Universal Brotherhood by George M. Young
- Vicente Hao Chin, Jr., The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett in chronological sequence No. 68 (Quezon City: Theosophical Publishing House, 1993), 192.
- Annie Besant, A Study in Consciousness, (Adyar, Madras: The Theosophical Publishing House, ???), ??.
- James S. Perkins, Visual Meditations on the Universe (Wheaton, IL:Theosophical Publishing House, 1984), 71-72.