The Mystery of the Ego.    

ENQUIRER. I perceive in the quotation you brought forward a little while ago from the Buddhist Catechism a discrepancy that I would like to hear explained. It is there stated that the Skandhas — memory included — change with every new incarnation. And yet, it is asserted that the reflection of the past lives, which, we are told, are entirely made up of Skandhas, “must survive.” At the present moment I am not quite clear in my mind as to what it is precisely that survives, and I would like to have it explained. What is it? Is it only that “reflection,” or those Skandhas, or always that same EGO, the Manas?

THEOSOPHIST. I have just explained that the re-incarnating Principle, or that which we call the divine man, is indestructible throughout the life cycle: indestructible as a thinking Entity, and even as an ethereal form. The “reflection” is only the spiritualised remembrance during the Devachanic period, of the ex-personality, Mr. A. or Mrs. B.― with which the Ego identifies itself during that period. Since the latter is but the continuation of the earth-life, so to say, the very acme and pitch, in an unbroken series, of the few happy moments in that now past existence, the Ego has to identify itself with the personal consciousness of that life, if anything shall remain of it.

ENQUIRER. This means that the Ego, notwithstanding its divine nature, passes every such period between two incarnations in a state of mental obscuration, or temporary insanity.

THEOSOPHIST. You may regard it as you like. Believing that, outside the ONE Reality, nothing is better than a passing illusion — the whole Universe included — we do not view it as insanity, but as a very natural sequence or development of the terrestrial life. What is life? A bundle of the most varied experiences, of daily changing ideas, emotions, and opinions. In our youth we are often enthusiastically devoted to an ideal, to some hero or heroine whom we try to follow and revive; a few years later, when the freshness of our youthful feelings has faded out and sobered down, we are the first to laugh at our fancies. And yet there was a day when we had so thoroughly identified our own personality with that of the ideal in our mind — especially if it was that of a living being — that the former was entirely merged and lost in the latter. Can it be said of a man of fifty that he is the same being that he was at twenty? The inner man is the same; the outward living personality is completely transformed and changed. Would you also call these changes in the human mental states insanity?

ENQUIRER. How would you name them, and especially how would you explain the permanence of one and the evanescence of the other?

THEOSOPHIST. We have our own doctrine ready, and to us it offers no difficulty. The clue lies in the double consciousness of our mind, and also, in the dual nature of the mental “principle.” There is a spiritual consciousness, the Manasic mind illumined by the light of Buddhi, that which subjectively perceives abstractions; and the sentient consciousness (the lower Manasic light), inseparable from our physical brain and senses. This latter consciousness is held in subjection by the brain and physical senses, and, being in its turn equally dependent on them, must of course fade out and finally die with the disappearance of the brain and physical senses. It is only the former kind of consciousness, whose root lies in eternity, which survives and lives for ever, and may, therefore, be regarded as immortal. Everything else belongs to passing illusions.

 The Key to Theosophy pp177-179, original edition

The complete section may be read on line at: http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/key/key-10.htm

_______________________

The follow-on passages in this section are posted below (in blue font).

Part two: http://theosophynexus.com/group/key-to-theosophy/forum/topics/on-th...

Part three:  http://theosophynexus.com/group/key-to-theosophy/forum/topics/on-th...

Views: 358

 Reply to This

Upload Files

Follow – Email me when people reply

Replies to This Discussion

Delete

We now take up our study of the THE KEY once more, after the Spring break.  Perhaps a starting question might focus on the title of this section of THE KEY.  Is it significant that the title is about OUR Thinking Principle and not THE Thinking Principle?

Delete

"the sentient consciousness (the lower Manasic light), inseparable from our physical brain and senses. This latter consciousness is held in subjection by the brain and physical senses, and, being in its turn equally dependent on them, must of course fade out and finally die with the disappearance of the brain and physical senses."

Is HPB referring here to the physical or to the astral brain? I would imagine we can still "think" in cases of NDEs or any other kind of "out of body" experiences? There is probably a lot more to lower manas than just the "lower Manasic light"? If lower manas contains at the same time the bridge (antaskarana) to the higher, then lower manas per se is not solely subject to the brain? What is then the distinction between lower manas and the lower manasic light?

Delete

Pierre, those are really interesting questions.  These are a few thoughts. What have we got?...

A spiritual consciousness and a sentient consciousness.  The former is 'the Manasic mind' illuminated by Buddhi; the latter is 'the lower manasic light' inseparable from our physical brain and senses.

This is the "double consciousness of our mind" that HPB is explaining, which I would think only exists as a "double consciousness" during the period of incarnation.

HPB sometimes refers to Lower Manas as the ray of Higher Manas, projected into the physical vehicle during the period of incarnation.

'...It is the ray which emanates from the Higher Manas or permanent EGO, and is that “principle” which forms the human mind.'  CW X 246

It seems to me that it is the presence of this Ray which makes the antaskaranah bridge a possibility.  This bridge is 'formed' when the Ray (lower Manas) turns back on itself, so to speak, or turns inwards towards its source.  It can only do that 'turning back or turning inwards'  when it (the Ray) is focused (i.e. reflected) in a upadhi - in our case, the 'physical' brain.  This would be like the reflection of the sun in a pool of water.  

To develop the analogy - the sun is the Higher Manas, its ray is the lower manas, and the reflection in the water is the resultant personal consciousness.  The personal or sentient consciousness is constituted by both the Ray and the substance in which the ray is reflected, so in this sense the personal consciousness is inseparable from that substance and fades out when that substance dissipates.  To what extent the personal consciousness is able to turn inwards towards its source (i.e. to reflect the source back to itself as spiritual self consciousness) will also depend on nature and quality of that substance in which the Ray finds itself and to what extent the resultant personal consciousness can assert itself on behalf of the source from which its Light alone derives.   

So, one possible answer to your question is that Lower Manas is the Ray and in essence is one with the Higher Manas, while the lower manasic light is the reflected or personal consciousness constituted as a result of both the Ray and the substance in which it is reflected.

Delete

Is not lower manas merely an extension of higher manas like a beam of light from a flash light? If the connection is broken the lesser light is cut short.  In this sense can we see them entirely as two separate things?

Delete

Tamiko,  Yes, I think the beam or ray of light is a helpful way to look at the relationship between Higher and Lower manas.  After all the intrinsic nature of mind or consciousness is to 'illumine'.  I imagine we can conceptualise Manas as either light or substance, depending on the perspective from which we view it.

Delete

Might we say the thinking principle (manas) is the "understanding principle"?

Light and illumination imply understanding do they not?

Delete

I agree, Tamiko - light and illumination imply understanding, which leads us to conceive of Manas as an "understanding principle."  

Just thinking out loud - I think it's helpful to play with these analogies and associated imagery as a way of understanding our metaphysical nature.  The analogy is never the thing itself and different analogies about the same thing can appear on the surface to contradict each other, as some of HPB's do.  It's really about what they point to and what they reveal (or illumine) that's most important.

Delete

What a wonderful point you make here Peter.  The analogies are pointers.  The words and constructs of our conceptualizations are in differing degrees of accuracy representations of the metaphysical realities we seek access to.  As you say or at least imply we must not confuse the two. Perhaps one day, with sufficient preparation more and more of us will be able to gaze on formless spiritual essences as stated in the Aquarian Axioms.

Delete

Peter, Tamiko Yamada's query whether lower manas is merely an extension of higher manas, like a beam of light from a flash...and your response. Can I add a thought ?

Tamiko's query is very thoughtful. HPB says that the lower Manas is an "efflux" from the higher Manas--implying that it is of the same essence as the Higher Manas--which incarnates; while the Higher Manas remains beyond or above (standeth on high unaffected) as a mere witness, over-brooding the mortal man.

Lower Manas is the functioning essence of the Higher in the body, its agent on earth or its ambassador.

On one side, the lower manas is caught up in and imprisoned by the principle of Kama, and on the other, (in its higher aspect) it is the Antahkarana, the bridge that connects man to his Higher Mind.

Lower Manas is endowed with all the potentialities of its parent essence--Reason, judgment, will, discrimination, imagination etc. Man has to exercise these, master and control the lower passions, purify itself and merge with its parent essence.

When man turns inwards and begins to follow the behests of the Higher Self, the latter becomes active Guide and raises up the man. Otherwise, the higher remains a mere witness.

Delete

Very helpful and clearly stated.  Your explanation here sheds light on why an Enlightened Being might say "My Father and I are one."

Delete

We usually read about the lower and higher manas.  How about manas itself when it is not drawn to the higher or pulled down to the lower?  Would you say rational or logical thinking fall into this category? 

Delete

This question has been pretty well answered in the Key. Manas proper is divine in its nature, a Ray of the Universal Mind, Eternal, a god, impersonal and cosmic in dimension. (Key, p. 183, last para, Theosophy Company, LA, 1930 edition)

It becomes dual, lower and higher, only during its incarnated condition on earth. It is a Kumara (celibate eternal youth, a personified symbol of Manas). Its purpose is to grow into full self-consciousness, in full possession of Absolute Truth (Paramartha), becoming a Dhyani Bodhisattva or a Dhyani Buddha. It is a god but not a complete GOD, to attain which is its Karmic destiny, which it can only accomplish by going through numberless reincarnations, checked by its own Karma, assimilating the essence of its experiences of each its earthly existence. 

Its ideation, it is taught, in not like our, lower Manasic, thinking but wholly different. It is Knowledge itself, knows past, present and future, immortal. If it were possible for it to manifest itself on earth through our normal consciousness, it would appear to be an exraordinary Genius, a godly personage.

Its mission is to gradually rid its lower reflection--the lower manasic being, of its illusions and deceptions and purify it of all Kamic affinities, so that the two--the lower and the higher, the Father and the Son--blend into One, assimilated to Buddhi, and become divine. It is thus that man is raised to divinity.

HPB's discourse on the mystery of dreams in Transactions of Blavatsky Lodge, her article on Psychic and Noetic action, are very helpful in grasping the deep mystery of Manas.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by barbaram on May 17, 2014 at 7:07am
Delete

In other words, manas is always divided into higher and lower in humans.  Hence I gather lower manas also includes rational and logical thinking which at times are devoid of kama.  If so, this broadens the definition of lower manas. 

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on May 18, 2014 at 4:26am
Delete

Certainly. Lower Manas has higher and lower aspects. Otherwise how can Lower Manasic Man, who is to attain salvation by his own effort, ever reach salvation ? Lower aspect is the thief; the higher aspect is a thief also, but repentant, and sincerely tries to rise to his Divine Parent. The former becomes Kama Rupa after death, the latter goes to heaven (Devachan). Higher Ego is Christ crucified on the cross of flesh between the two thiefs.

It seems to me :

But even the higher aspect of Lower Manas--Antahkarana--is not entirely free from Kama. If Lower Manas succeeds in freeing itself entirely from Kama--which is its Duty to continually to strive after--then its essence blends with, and become one with, its parent or higher Manas. This is the first stage in the series of stages of spritual regeneration, towards Adeptship. This stage is a high stage of development, so well portrayed in the 3rd fragment of the Voice : passage from the Gate of Dana to the Gate of Viraga, the 4th and the balancing Gate.

Then comes 2nd major, still greater, effort, higher path : from Gate of Virya to the Gate of Prajna, the 7th Path.

These two stages are succinctly put in the Voice (p. 41):

"Restrain by the Divine thy lower self." : 1st stage.

"Restrain by the Eternal the Divine." : 2nd stage.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on May 18, 2014 at 10:29am
Delete

Is it possible that as long as consciousness, at whatever state it may be in, has contact with the material plane (uses a body as an instrument on the physical plane) there lies the danger of kama (desire) dragging down or perhaps obscuring what is noetic?  Would this account for why HPB says that Mahatmas are not infallible and that there is a great sacrifice for a high being to enter into this plane?

In the Ramayana we learn, for example, that Ravana was a high being who fell as opposed to the idea of him being some sort of biblical devil.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on May 18, 2014 at 2:33pm
Delete

Yes, this makes a lot of sense and it is a point that always puzzles me. To think of the Lower-Manas equating only to Kama-Manas is not complete because there are many other attributes and functions the lower-mind possesses that are relevant.     

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on May 19, 2014 at 9:31pm
Delete

Perhaps, to follow the organization given to us in the Secret Doctrine, Manas like the other priniciples contains within it elements of all seven principles.  What makes Manas particularly important and interesting is that it serves as the pivot point between Spirit and Matter, bridging the two so to speak.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on May 24, 2014 at 4:24pm
Delete

Hi Gerry,

"What makes Manas particularly important and interesting is that it serves as the pivot point between Spirit and Matter, bridging the two so to speak."

I totally agree that understanding Manas is important because it serves as a bridge between the mortal to the immortal.  Mind plays a pivotal role in our present stage of evolutionary development.  One theosophical author wrote that when we look back at our lives, it is nothing more but a flow of consciousness.     

 

Permalink Reply by Peter on May 17, 2014 at 8:21am
Delete

Ramprakash, your replies on this topic are very helpful, indeed, and certainly add to our/my understanding of Manas.  Many thanks.

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on May 18, 2014 at 11:50pm
Delete

Thanks Peter

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on May 19, 2014 at 12:07am
Delete

Gerry's observation / query :

"Is it possible that as long as consciousness, at whatever state it may be in, has contact with the material plane (uses a body as an instrument on the physical plane) there lies the danger of kama (desire) dragging down or perhaps obscuring what is noetic?  Would this account for why HPB says that Mahatmas are not infallible and that there is a great sacrifice for a high being to enter into this plane?"

In several writings of HPB and WQJ it is said that however high a Being may be, when He incarnates He has to struggle against the tendencies of the body, an heir to racial, national and family Karmic tendencies. It is indeed a terrible sacrifice for Him to come down into generation for the benefit of mankind. To bring the body selected for incarnation to accord with the Real Man within is a struggle. 

Masters said that to find a body in the race suitable for a High Being to come down into is a hard task. They said that HPB's was the best that was available and that They may not find a more suitable one for many years to come. This was in response to some misguided people who thought HPB made mistakes and who looked upon her as an ordinary person like themselves.

Permalink Reply by Peter on May 19, 2014 at 12:08pm
Delete

Gerry and Ramprakash -there must be a point when the kama principle is no longer a danger.  Towards the end of The Voice of the Silence we read that when the disciple has finally crossed over and won the “Aryahata Path”…

“There Klesha is destroyed forever, Tanha’s roots torn out.” (p69, original edition)

The glossary in the Voice defines Klesha as “the love of pleasure or of worldly enjoyment, evil or good.”  It appears that one can progress very far on the path without totally destroying Klesha.  Until it is destroyed for good, one can always fall back.  The kleshas are really the latent tendencies impressed on the mind over many lifetimes of 'good' and 'bad' living. As one can see from Book 1 of Patanjali's Yoga, it is possible to reach high states of samadhi with destroying these latent impressions.  This takes further and repeated spiritual practice before the latent impression (kleshas or vasanas) are finally burnt out or parched.  That this can and does happen is referred to in the passage from 'The Voice', above.

There are likely to be other reasons than the kama principle for the Mahatmas not being infallible when they act on the human plane.  Perhaps members could find and share some passages from HPB or the Mahatma Letter which refer to this and also to the notion of sacrifice and what that entails if a High Being incarnates on earth. 

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on May 19, 2014 at 12:33pm
Delete

Maybe the lesson for us normal folks is the need for "eternal vigilance".

Permalink Reply by barbaram on May 10, 2014 at 5:20pm
Delete

The way I read this passage is that the lower Manasic light is referring to the sentient consciousness, and not to the lower manas itself.  When the brain and senses disappear, the sentient consciousness related to the physical plane fades as well.  It would seem that we “think” differently on different planes because each plane has different kinds of the building blocks or substances.  For instance we “think” differently in our dreams and our sense of time and space is not the same as our ordinary waking consciousness.  I see the lower manas manifesting and functioning not just on the physical but on all the lower planes.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on May 10, 2014 at 5:53pm
Delete

The illustrations and examples are much appreciated when these abstract points are made.  Thank you Barb.

Permalink Reply by Steven Levey on May 10, 2014 at 6:30pm
Delete

    It might be helpful to recall that while we think of the seven principals, we have also been informed that there are "49 fires" Meaning that the 7 principals are actually 7x7, in which each principal contains all of the other principals. Therefore it makes sense to think of lower manas being in all of the others, although sublimated to the main principal in which lower manas resides. In this way, as lower manas is reconfigured skhandically (my word) through our work internally, it will be more and more capable of reflecting it's "parent"-manas per say (per Patanjali's Yoga Aphorism's), the repository of self consciousness-well lit by Buddhi. it may also helpful to consider that the "physical" (sthula sharira) is actually the most modified or "frozen"-least permeable, of the vestures, not really a thing unto itself as somehow not including the more abstract astral model, upon which it is based and all of the other principals. Then it makes sense to see the senses, imbedded in the sthula sharira (eyes, ears, nose, skin, etc, each referred to as a consciousness or fire in the Buddhist Heart Sutra) as the final, most exterior outlets and inlets to the inner man. I mean, anything we can do to see the, so called, physical man as little permanent as we can, the better.

Permalink Reply by Peter on May 12, 2014 at 10:03am
Delete

Yes, that is helpful, Steven.  It's so easy to forget the 7 x 7 aspect and to end up thinking of each principle as fundamentally separate from the rest.  Great reminder.  Thanks.

Permalink Reply by Ramprakash ML on May 16, 2014 at 5:35am
Delete

Two points made above by Barabaram are valid. : i. that lower manasic light is sentient consciousness. it is true. It pervades the lower quaternary, down to the consciousness of cells of the body. In this sense it is nephesh, instinctual consciousness,  which we, as physical creatures, share with the animal world; ii. it is dependent on the integrity and health of the physical body and cerebral cortex. It is in fact sustained by food we take. This is very nicely demonstrated by Uddalaka to Swetaketu in Chandogya Upanishad (Selections from Upanishads and Tao Te King, Bobay edition, p. 74 onwards)

Body and brain are so intricately interblended that it is not surprising that Neuro-biologist hold to the dogma that mind is the product of the brain, and not an independent entity. They are quite honest but lack in intuition.

Yet, lower mind has its higher aspect also, and that is Antaskarana. (Please see Key and Glossary) This is a very important truth we must never forget. It is the sliver thread that links man of the world to his Higher Divine Self. The bridge of Antaskarana has to be constantly kept clean and clear by every man and woman by attending to the our duty to the Higher Self--our Father in Heaven. This is our Dharma. If we allow ourselves to be carried away by lower passions, and neglect our higher duties of spiritual discipline and ethical life, the Antaskarana will gradually fade away, or atrophied, and man incurs the terrible prospect of "Spiritual Death" than which there is no worse calamity that can befall man.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on May 6, 2014 at 12:02pm
Delete

What is the difference between Ego and ego in theosophical writings?  What role does skandhas play in the difference?

Permalink Reply by Steven Levey on May 7, 2014 at 7:30pm
Delete

Hello,

Actually, asking what role skhandas play in the difference between the ideals of Ego and ego, seems a bit of a leading question. In other words the answer is hinted at in the question, where skhandas are seen as quantities of the gunas (tama rajas and sattva), which retain memory and identity through magnetic affinity, as in the lower astral content. If the Ego is therefore intended to mean a more rarified sense of astral or akasa-Higher Self, then we are speaking more of a reflection of Buddhi which means less individuality obscuration through attachment to the skhandas. It is explained in the literature that there is really a flow (if you will) of connection between the principals such that there can not be an on and off effect between principals. So, obscuration and freedom from it, will be graduated, even though there can be a flash of intuitional awareness, like the sun breaking through clouds. One of the wonderful things about being essentially consciousness based beings is that the skhandas, however obscuring, are only able to obscure very little in comparison to the power and light of the Higher man. Obscuration of our Self, is therefore a problem psychologically, where we are attached to the skhandas through suffering/happiness of different sorts, and freedom is a moment away through such a break in the cloud cover. Hence the need for an understanding of the 4 Noble truths and practice of the Portals or perfections (Paramitas). Sorry for the long winded response. But its all so connected.

Permalink Reply by Peter on May 8, 2014 at 3:49am
Delete

Hi Steven, thanks for your thoughts.  No, they are not long winded, but any time you feel like being so, then go right ahead.

Permalink Reply by Peter on May 8, 2014 at 5:28am
Delete

Gerry, if we were to use the very simplistic and rather crude analogy I offered earlier of Sun, Ray and reflection in substance, then 'EGO' would relate to the Spiritual Consciousness' which is immortal, while 'ego' would relate to the reflected sentient-consciousness or personality which "fades out" with the death of the body.  

In a way, the substance in which the Ray is reflected is, in its modified form,  'the material skandhas'.  The combination of the two  (Ray and Substance) results in conditioned consciousness.  Perhaps there is the correspondence of 'as above, so below' here where our own incarnation reflects the macrocosm of Purusha and Prakriti?

What are your own thoughts, Gerry?  I appreciate your question is offered in a facilitative way, not out of ignorance.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on May 9, 2014 at 3:36pm
Delete

I often think of skandhas as a group of attributes that make up our personality, which includes our physical form and mental inclinations.  It is our skandhas, formed by previous thoughts and deeds, which shape us; in a way, they are our parents.  They come to action when we are born.  There are five aggregates of skandhas in Buddhism: form, sensation, perception, mental formation and consciousness.

In the Secret Doctrine, Vol V. pg.560 -

Skandhas are the germs of life on all the seven planes of Being, and make up the totality of the subjective and objective man. Every vibration we have made is a Skandha. The Skandhas are closely united to the pictures in the Astral Light, which is the medium of impressions, and the Skandhas, or vibrations, connected with subjective or objective man, are the links which attract the Reincarnating Ego, the germs left behind when it went into Devachan which have to be picked up again and exhausted by a new personality. The exoteric Skandhas have to do with the physical atoms and vibrations, or objective man ; the Esoteric with the internal and subjective man.

Based on this passage, it looks like the Skandhas pertain not only to our lower four principles, or the ego, but to all seven principles of our constitution.  It is interesting to see how the Ego, our immortal Self, is drawn by the vibrations of our individual Skandhas.  I wonder how these “life germs” could have the power to affect the higher three principles. 

Permalink Reply by barbaram on May 9, 2014 at 10:38am
Delete

There are some very poignant and deep quotes in the passages above; the ideas put everything, our earthly existence specifically, in perspective.

-What is life? A bundle of the most varied experiences, of daily changing ideas, emotions, and opinions.

-It is only the former kind of consciousness, whose root lies in eternity, which survives and lives for ever, and may, therefore, be regarded as immortal. Everything else belongs to passing illusions.

Related to the “dual nature of the mental principle" mentioned,  in Patanjali Yoga Sutras, we learn that the mind has five modifications: right knowledge, wrong knowledge, sleep, memory and imagination.  I would imagine that, other than wrong knowledge, both the higher and lower manas express themselves through these activities. How can we discern the motion that are prompted or a result of the higher manasic light? 

We are told that buddhi is that which allows the higher manas to perceive abstractions.   Most philosophers and scientists think and perceive abstractions but their minds are not necessarily illumined by buddhi.   Would there be a better way of understanding the manifestation of buddhi?

Permalink Reply by Steven Levey on May 10, 2014 at 6:13pm
Delete

It might be helpful to see the lower principal, as the vesture of the higher, more permeable one. In this respect the, so called, body is the vehicle for the astral and on "up", until we see manas as the vehicle for Buddhi. The apparent dharma of manas is to focus into the incarnation, the universal nature of Buddhi, to the extent that it is "clarified" as in The Voice of the Silence ("It needs the gentle breezes of soul wisdom to brush away the dust of our illusions."). As manas does reflect Buddhi clearly, this is called Buddhi Taijasa. It might be seen as the life of deep sleep, come "awake" for one. And as "abstract" as this awareness may be, it is known to the perceiver as Boddhichitta- the compassion and need to serve others.

Permalink Reply by Peter on May 12, 2014 at 9:59am
Delete

Barbara - given your comment about philosophers and scientists perceiving abstractions, it raises the question, 'what kind of abstractions is HPB referring to in her reference to Buddhi?'

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on May 13, 2014 at 10:22pm
Delete

Your question brings to mind one of the Aquarian Axioms:

"Spirituality is not what we understand by the words "virtue" and "goodness". It is the power of perceiving formless spiritual essences."

Permalink Reply by barbaram on May 16, 2014 at 3:05pm
Delete

Hi Peter-

"There is a spiritual consciousness, the Manasic mind illumined by the light of Buddhi, that which subjectively perceives abstractions........."

Reading the sentence above, I get the impression it refers to any abstractions and not limited to any specific types.  How would you categories abstractions? 

Permalink Reply by Peter on May 17, 2014 at 9:37am
Delete

Hi Barbara - yes, I thought the same as you when reading that passage by HPB, but your earlier mail got me wondering.  I might have been wrong to wonder, of course!

The usual definition of an abstract term or noun is that it is a general term that has no physical referent.   In other words it's a term that refers to something that cannot be perceived by the senses.  Love, bravery, and trust are abstract terms.  From this we could say that it's not philosophers and scientists alone who deal in abstraction, but we all do so on a daily basis.

Perhaps both the higher and lower manas perceive abstractions but they are of different kinds - both in quality and substance.  The former (higher-manas) being direct perceptions enabled by buddhi,  that latter indirect perceptions helped by the rationality of manas and brain working together?  Just a passing thought.

For those members who are not sure what passage we are referring to, see below:

"There is a spiritual consciousness, the Manasic mind illumined by the light of Buddhi, that which subjectively perceives abstractions; and the sentient consciousness (the lower Manasic light), inseparable from our physical brain and senses.'  (The Key, p179)

Permalink Reply by Peter on May 12, 2014 at 10:21am
Delete

Here are the next passages in our study:

Part two:

ENQUIRER. What do you really understand by illusion in this case?

THEOSOPHIST. It is very well described in the just-mentioned essay on “The Higher Self.” Says its author:

“The theory we are considering (the interchange of ideas between the Higher Ego and the lower self) harmonizes very well with the treatment of this world in which we live as a phenomenal world of illusion, the spiritual plane of nature being on the other hand the noumenal world or plane of reality. That region of nature in which, so to speak, the permanent soul is rooted is more real than that in which its transitory blossoms appear for a brief space to wither and fall to pieces, while the plant recovers energy for sending forth a fresh flower. Supposing flowers only were perceptible to ordinary senses, and their roots existed in a state of Nature intangible and invisible to us, philosophers in such a world who divined that there were such things as roots in anotherplane of existence would be apt to say of the flowers, These are not the real plants; they are of no relative importance, merely illusive phenomena of the moment.” This is what I mean. The world in which blossom the transitory and evanescent flowers of personal lives is not the real permanent world; but that one in which we find the root of consciousness, that root which is beyond illusion and dwells in the eternity.

ENQUIRER. What do you mean by the root dwelling in eternity?

THEOSOPHIST. I mean by this root the thinking entity, the Ego which incarnates, whether we regard it as an “Angel,” “Spirit,” or a Force. Of that which falls under our sensuous perceptions only what grows directly from, or is attached to this invisible root above, can partake of its immortal life. Hence every noble thought, idea and aspiration of the personality it informs, proceeding from and fed by this root, must become permanent. As to the physical consciousness, as it is a quality of the sentient but lower “principle,” (Kama-rupa or animal instinct, illuminated by the lower manasic reflection), or the human Soul ―it must disappear. That which displays activity, while the body is asleep or paralysed, is the higher consciousness, our memory registering but feebly and inaccurately―because automatically―such experiences, and often failing to be even slightly impressed by them.

Key to Theosophy 179-180 (original edition)

 

Permalink Reply by Peter on May 12, 2014 at 10:45am
Delete

The essay HPB refers above to is by A.P. Sinnett, which we looked at in the previous sections.  Sinnett talks about "the interchange of ideas between the Higher Ego and the lower self."  What does HPB take this to mean in her own explanation?

Permalink Reply by barbaram on May 16, 2014 at 3:53pm
Delete

"Sinnett talks about "the interchange of ideas between the Higher Ego and the lower self."  What does HPB take this to mean in her own explanation?"

HPB portrays the Higher Ego as the root, though invisible to our senses, continually sustains and feeds the plant.  Without the former, the latter would not exist.  It is interesting to read her description regarding the lower parts that are influenced by the higher and which eventually will become part of the immortal.   Is the immortalizing process initiated by the Higher Ego or lower self?

"Of that which falls under our sensuous perceptions only what grows directly from, or is attached to this invisible root above, can partake of its immortal life. Hence every noble thought, idea and aspiration of the personality it informs, proceeding from and fed by this root, must become permanent."

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on May 13, 2014 at 10:29pm
Delete

How does the concept of conscience play into this Higher Self,  lower self communication idea?

When we talk about the lower self in theosophy are we by and large talking about personal consciousness on the physical plane?

Permalink Reply by Peter on May 18, 2014 at 6:30am
Delete

Here are the next passages in our study.

Part three:

ENQUIRER. But how is it that MANAS, although you call it Nous, a “God,” is so weak during its incarnations, as to be actually conquered and fettered by its body?

THEOSOPHIST. I might retort with the same question and ask: “How is itthat he, whom you regard as 'the God of Gods' and the One living God, is so weak as to allow evil (or the Devil) to have the best of him as much as of all his creatures, whether while he remains in Heaven, or during the time he was incarnated on this earth?” You are sure to reply again: “This is a Mystery; and we are forbidden to pry into the mysteries of God.” Not being forbidden to do so by our religious philosophy, I answer your question that, unless a God descends as an Avatar, no divine principle can be otherwise than cramped and paralysed by turbulent, animal matter. Heterogeneity will always have the upper hand over homogeneity, on this plane of illusions, and the nearer an essence is to its root-principle, Primordial Homogeneity, the more difficult it is for the latter to assert itself on earth. Spiritual and divine powers lie dormant in every human Being; and the wider the sweep of his spiritual vision the mightier will be the God within him. But as few men can feel that God, and since, as an average rule, deity is always bound and limited in our thought by earlier conceptions, those ideas that are inculcated in us from childhood, therefore, it is so difficult for you to understand our philosophy.

ENQUIRER. And is it this Ego of ours which is our God?

THEOSOPHIST. Not at all; “A God” is not the universal deity, but only a spark from the one ocean of Divine Fire. Our God within us, or “our Father in Secret” is what we call the “HIGHER SELF,” Atma. Our incarnating Ego was a God in its origin, as were all the primeval emanations of the One Unknown Principle. But since its “fall into Matter,” having to incarnate throughoutthe cycle, in succession, from first to last, it is no longer a free and happy god, but a poor pilgrim on his way to regain that which he has lost. I can answer you more fully by repeating what is said of the INNER MAN in ISIS UNVEILED (Vol. II. 593):

     “From the remotest antiquity mankind as a whole have always been convinced of the existence of a personal spiritual entity within the personal physical man. This inner entity was more or less divine, according to its proximity to the crown. The closer the union the more serene man's destiny, the less dangerous the external conditions. This belief is neither bigotry nor superstition, only an ever-present, instinctive feeling of the proximity of another spiritual and invisible world, which, though it be subjective to the senses of the outward man, is perfectly objective to the inner ego. Furthermore, they believed that there are external and internal conditions which affect the determination of our will upon our actions. They rejected fatalism, for fatalism implies a blind course of some still blinder power. But they believed indestiny or Karma, which from birth to death every man is weaving thread by thread around himself, as a spider does his cobweb; and this destiny is guided by that presence termed by some the guardian angel, or our more intimate astral inner man, who is but too often the evil genius of the man of flesh or the personality. Both these lead on MAN, but one of them must prevail; and from the very beginning of the invisible affray the stern and implacable law of compensation and retribution steps in and takes its course, following faithfully the fluctuating of the conflict. When the last strand is woven, and man is seemingly enwrapped in the net-work of his own doing, then he finds himself completely under the empire of this self-madedestiny. It then either fixes him like the inert shell against the immovable rock, or like a feather carries him away in a whirlwind raised by his own actions.”

Such is the destiny of the Man―the true Ego, not the Automaton, the shell that goes by that name. It is for him to become the conqueror over matter.

The Key to Theosophy pp180-182

Permalink Reply by Peter on May 22, 2014 at 12:33pm
Delete

From the passage above:

"...an ever-present, instinctive feeling of the proximity of another spiritual and invisible world, which, though it be subjective to the senses of the outward man, is perfectly objective to the inner ego. Furthermore, they believed that there are external and internal conditions which affect the determination of our will upon our actions."

What does HPB mean by external and internal conditions and how might we make use of these conditions in practical theosophy?

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on May 24, 2014 at 11:44am
Delete

That is a very interesting question. Maybe the analogy of a musician might shed some light on it.  No matter how skillful and adept the player might be the quality of the music played will be limited by the condition of the instrument.  If it is in poor condition and badly tuned the player will be limited.   Additionally the degree of focus and  training of the player will condition the quality of the music played as well no matter how good the instrument. Therefore there are both internal and external conditions that will determine how well the music is produced.

The practical part of the question is even more important. You might say that in theosophy it is not enough to do the right thing but it is also important to do the right thing for the right reason.  In other words the motivation and spirit of an enterprise is crucial for its overall value.

Another idea inspired by the question is that to fully respect and dignify the spirit of an enterprise one ought to pay attention to the form and beauty of its expression. Taking a little bit of extra care, to get the words right, or use the right tone of voice, or present something in a beautiful setting shows respect for the inner spiritual quality.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on May 24, 2014 at 4:07pm
Delete

I take it the internal conditions to mean the skandhas we are born with and external conditions to mean the circumstances and families in which we find ourselves.  Both are results of karma.  Practically speaking, every situation offers us an opportunity to learn, to master ourselves, to uplift others, and to become a beneficent force in nature. 

Permalink Reply by Peter on May 25, 2014 at 12:36pm
Delete

Yes, that makes a lot of sense, Barbara. And.. if only we could remember that every moment is an opportunity!

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on May 24, 2014 at 6:00pm
Delete

I found it interesting to read HPBs self-reference in Isis II:593 in context. She seems somehow to be rather fond of that section as she repeats the same in a slightly different way in the Secret Doctrine I:639, which brings the context of "external" and "internal" a little bit closer.

"Yes; "our destiny is written in the stars!" Only, the closer the union between the mortal reflection MAN and his celestial PROTOTYPE, the less dangerous the external conditions and subsequent reincarnations—which neither Buddhas nor Christs can escape. This is not superstition, least of all is it Fatalism. The latter implies a blind course of some still blinder power, and man is a free agent during his stay on earth. He cannot escape his ruling Destiny, but he has the choice of two paths that lead him in that direction, and he can reach the goal of misery—if such is decreed to him, either in the snowy white robes of the Martyr, or in the soiled garments of a volunteer in the iniquitous course; for, there are external and internal conditions which affect the determination of our will upon our actions, and it is in our power to follow either of the two. Those who believe in Karma have to believe in destiny, which, from birth to death, every man is weaving thread by thread around himself, as a spider does his cobweb; and this destiny is guided either by the heavenly voice of the invisible prototype outside of us, or by our more intimate astral, or inner man, who is but too often the evil genius of the embodied entity called man. Both these lead on the outward man, but one of them must prevail; and from the very beginning of the invisible affray the stern and implacable law of compensation steps in and takes its course, faithfully following the fluctuations. When the last strand is woven, and man is seemingly enwrapped in the net-work of his own doing, then he finds himself completely under the empire of this self-made destiny. It then either fixes him like the inert shell against the immovable rock, or carries him away like a feather in a whirlwind raised by his own actions, and this is—KARMA."

A rather unusual correspondence can be made  to SD I:293, that might throw some further light on this concept of inner and outer:

"KUNDALINI SAKTI. The power or Force which moves in a curved path. It is the Universal life-Principle manifesting everywhere in nature. This force includes the two great forces of attraction and repulsion. Electricity and magnetism are but manifestations of it. This is the power which brings about that "continuous adjustment of internal relations to external relations" which is the essence of life according to Herbert Spencer, and that "continuous adjustment of external relations to internal relations" which is the basis of transmigration of souls, punar janman (re-birth) in the doctrines of the ancient Hindu philosophers. A Yogi must thoroughly subjugate this power before he can attain Moksham. . . ."

and SD II:173

"Kriyasakti — the mysterious power of thought which enables it to produce external, perceptible, phenomenal results by its own inherent energy. The ancients held thatany idea will manifest itself externally, if one's attention (and Will) is deeply concentrated upon it; similarly, an intense volition will be followed by the desired result. A Yogi generally performs his wonders by means of Itchasakti (Will-power) and Kriyasakti."

Since HPB makes several references to the WILL, it makes sense to include the ref that links the internal to the external, SD I:292-293:

"ITCHASAKTI—the power of the Will. Its most ordinary manifestation is the generation of certain nerve currents which set in motion such muscles as are required for the accomplishment of the desired object."

The above references show that the section in the Key on pp.180-182 goes in quite a different direction than the excellent comments made so far, although that doesn't exclude them either as "the language of occultism is varied" as HPB mentions in SD II:616. I kept the refs brief, so reading it all in context is helpful.

Permalink Reply by Peter on May 25, 2014 at 12:42pm
Delete

These are really very helpful connections you've made for us Pierre, and worth the follow up study - as you suggest.

"Those who believe in Karma have to believe in destiny, which, from birth to death, every man is weaving thread by thread around himself, as a spider does his cobweb; and this destiny is guided either by the heavenly voice of the invisible prototype outside of us, or by our more intimate astral, or inner man, who is but too often the evil genius of the embodied entity called man."

This passage certainly dramatises the statement HPB makes in THE KEY that,

"The future state and karmic destiny of man depends on whether Manas gravitates more downward to Kama rupa, the sear of animal passions, or upwards to Buddhi, the Spiritual Ego." (p92, original edition).

Permalink Reply by Pierre Wouters on May 25, 2014 at 2:28pm
Delete

Here's another ref to this subject that can be helpful - SD I:274

"(6.) The Universe is worked and guided from within outwards. As above so it is below, as in heaven so on earth; and man—the microcosm and miniature copy of the macrocosm—is the living witness to this Universal Law, and to the mode of its action. We see that every external motion, act, gesture, whether voluntary or mechanical, organic or mental, is produced and preceded by internal feeling or emotion, will or volition, and thought or mind. As no outward motion or change, when normal, in man's external body can take place unless provoked by an inward impulse, given through one of the three functions named, so with the external or manifested Universe. The whole Kosmos is guided, controlled, and animated by almost endless series of Hierarchies of sentient Beings, each having a mission to perform, and who—whether we give to them one name or another, and call them Dhyan-Chohans or Angels—are "messengers" in the sense only that they are the agents of Karmic and Cosmic Laws."

Permalink Reply by Peter on May 27, 2014 at 2:06pm
Delete

That's a beautiful passage, Pierre. Thanks.  How might we relate the above passage from the SD to HPB's passage in The KEY, in particular to 'external and internal conditions'?  What might these be and how might we make use of them or work with them?  This question is open to anyone.

"...an ever-present, instinctive feeling of the proximity of another spiritual and invisible world, which, though it be subjective to the senses of the outward man, is perfectly objective to the inner ego. Furthermore, they believed that there are external and internal conditions which affect the determination of our will upon our actions."