Theme for Contemplation: The Antahkarana Bridge

"The bridge that lies within man's nature can be exercised in all circumstances of life to  build a self-conscious link between higher and empirical worlds, rendering every context sacred."

— Aquarian Almanac

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September 12, 2015 Theme for the Week: The Antaskarana

“Know that Self alone, the One without a Second,

On which are strung Heaven and Earth,

Inner Space, Mind, Vital Energy, all the organs.

Leave off other words, for this is the Bridge to Immortality.”

—Mundaka Upanishad

What is the bridge to Immortality?  If immortality is the natural condition of the soul why are we so afraid of death?

Some might fear death.  Other might welcome it.  It depends on how one understands life, the personal condition. 

I have been thinking of death and meditation.  Perhaps the two are closely related, and if so, what is there about death to fear?

Good point.  But I think it might be educational to ask the question while standing on the edge of a very high cliff or building.

True,  we've all heard some story about the "atheist in the foxhole."  What one thinks often changes when death extends its hand their way.  

Students from all branches of the Wisdom Tradition spend a lifetime consciously trying to dissociate themselves with the body, astral body, mind, and intellect- this is the meaning of yoga, derived from yuj [ युज् ]- to yoke, join, prepare, unite etc. and cross the deceptive divide.  Though, naturally one cannot be conscious of two states simultaneously, one must be abandoned, hence the crossing and joining. 

Gerry, as you had said in the "The First Ashrama: Self-Discipline" group, "radical reappraisal" of self is necessary.  Does not one experience "death" while doing such reappraisal? And, by consciously doing so, where does one happen to stand?  What makes this any different than bodily death?

In the Great Master's letter there is the point that except for Buddhism, none of the religions do an adequate job is spelling out the burdens and suffering of manifested existence.  If we had a rich inner life would we fear death as much?

अन्तःकरण [ अन्तर् + करण ] antaḥkaraṇa- Literal translation given in Monier's lexicon; 

"the internal organ, the seat of thought and feeling, the mind, the thinking faculty, the heart, the conscience, the soul."

Judge states thus;

"the channel of communication between the higher and lower aspects of manas; the seat of thought and feeling.  (antar, within; karana, instrument or means of causing.)"

Theosophical Glossary states;

[or Antaskarana.] The term has various meanings, which differ with every school of philosophy and sect. Thus Sankârachârya renders the word as “understanding”*; others, as “the internal instrument, the Soul, formed by the thinking principle and egoism”; whereas the Occultists explain it as the path or bridge between the Higher and the Lower Manas, the divine Ego, and the personal Soul of man. It serves as a medium of communication between the two, and conveys from the Lower to the Higher Ego all those personal impressions and thoughts of men which can, by their nature, be assimilated and stored by the undying Entity, and be thus made immortal with it, these being the only elements of the evanescent Personality that survive death and time. It thus stands to reason that only that which is noble, spiritual and divine in man can testify in Eternity to his having lived"

* If anyone knows from what work Sankara glosses antaḥkaraṇa as understanding I'd like to see it... Not that I think this is incorrect, but I believe there might be far more behind the word "understanding."

So we are given a lot of very considerable information regarding this "bridge" called the antaḥkaraṇa.  However, one must really consider what a bridges function is; a structure which functions only as the means of relay from X to Y.  There is something that must utilize this bridge, is there not?  The antaḥkaraṇa is nothing more than a means it seems. 

What comes to mind is the same function of a relay in regards to the electric current.  So there must be a "illumination" of manas, i.e., manas made taijasa by means of this electric current crossing the relay called the antaḥkaraṇa. 

We are also given enough information simply by the literal definitions of this word that antaḥkaraṇa suggests a cause of activity, regarding inactive consciousness

B.P. Wadia states in "Studies in the Voice"

"Before the mind can absorb the virtues the learner has to see within himself the difference between desire-mind and soul-mind. A bridge called Conscience exists as a third factor.Conscience is Antahkarana – the internal organ – and it is both the voice of experience accumulated in the world of matter and the channel of divine light streaming forth from the world of Spirit. Conscience rightly activated bridges the gulf which ordinarily exists between mental and moral activities."

The underlined is absolutely profound with understood with the wise words of T. Subba Rao;

"The Voice of Conscious is a metaphysical expression.  It is the imaginary aggregation of all human experience."

September 13, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: The Antaskarana Bridge

” He whose doubts are dispelled by the light of knowledge mounts upwards in his mind as the fearless phoenix soars into the sky.”

— Valmiki

” He who is intent upon the ineffable and dwells with mind enraptured, who is no more bound by sensory pleasures, he is declared to be ‘One bound upstream’.”

— Buddha

Is the Spiritual Path and the Antaskarana Bridge really the same thing?

I've only seen it in HPB's works, or those quoting HPB.  Judge appears to stick to the conventional spelling with an 'h'. 

At least the difference in spelling forces us to look up what HPB meant by the term, which is quite different to the meaning given to antaḥkaraṇa in Vedanta, though Judge had no problem using HPB's definition with the conventional spelling.

Understood, Nicholas.  It's more accurate to talk about this word in terms of its  transliteration rather than its correct 'spelling'.

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Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 14, 2015 at 12:00pm

Peter and Nicholas,

Though hardly a first year student of Sanskrit Grammar, I would like to point out that the confusion behind this word is simply a matter of sandhi;

The external sandhi of antas and karaṇa is antaḥkaraṇai.e., अन्तस् | करण = अन्तःकरण
Antas and Antar are used the same it appears, in this case I believe the is changed into a visarga ( :- or  ).  In no sanskrit text, that I am able to study, have I found antaskaraṇa, but find antaḥkaraṇa (अन्तःकरण).  

To answer the question... I have no idea why it has been spelled and pronounced improperly.  It is a compounded word I believe, we can formulate better ideas when we understand each word and then understand them in combination, and of corse the context where and when it is used. 

Permalink Reply by Peter on September 15, 2015 at 6:37am

Thanks for the information, Kristan.  I suspect the most important thing is what HPB means by the term, since that is the light in which we are approaching the antahkarana bridge, whatever the spelling or transliteration.

Permalink Reply by Alex Papandakis on September 15, 2015 at 4:28pm

My Theosophical Glossary is presented this way:

Antahkarana (Sk.)., or Antaskarana. The term has various meanings,
which differ with every school of philosophy and sect. Thus Sankarâchârya
renders the word as “understanding”; others, as “the internal instrument,
the Soul, formed by the thinking principle and egoism”; whereas the......

I agree with Peter.  The meaning of the concept is infinitely more important than the spelling. My suspicions about the alternative spelling has to do with westerner's pronunciation but I don't really know. Most of us butcher Sanskrit if you compare us with native speakers, not to mention it is a ancient and therefore "dead" language.  Maybe it will come back in the future?

All in all it seems to be pointing in the direction of what we call "mind" in the west.  Maybe mind in a particular posture?

Permalink Reply by David Reigle on September 17, 2015 at 9:43pm

Yes, the meaning of a term is much more important than the spelling of it. After all, what is an odd letter or so among friends? Yet, to me, there is another issue here. We recall that K.H. wrote in Mahatma letter #16: “I remark that in the second as well as in the first edition of your Occult World the same misprint appears, and that the wordSkandha is spelt Shandba — on page 130. As it now stands I am made to express myself in a very original way for a supposed Adept.” While such errors may mean little among friends, among the public they only serve to confirm the widely held opinion that the Theosophical Mahatmas are figments of Blavatsky’s imagination; hence the Theosophical teachings cannot be taken seriously.

There are many causes for the errors we find in Theosophical writings. Many of them were merely copied from erroneous writings then available, when Blavatsky annotated the material she brought out by reference to existing books. She was left on her own to do this, and she again and again disclaimed anything like infallibility. Sometimes words correctly used in existing books were copied and applied incorrectly by her, such as svabhāvāt for svabhāva. Some errors were unwitting transpositions made by her, such as narjol for naljor.

In the case of the erroneous antaskarana for the correct antahkarana (antaḥkaraṇa), it appears that Blavatsky had it right at first, copying it from a correct source, and then changed it, copying an incorrect source. This incorrect source was Sanskrit pandit Manilal Nabhubhai Dvivedi, hired by Theosophists to translate certain Sanskrit texts. Even good Sanskrit pandits can make mistakes.

Blavatsky’s first use of the term appears to be in The Theosophist, vol. 4, June 1883, Supplement, p. 1, where she had “antah-karana” (this was mistakenly changed to antaskarana in BCW 4.548). In vol. 4, Aug. 1883, p. 269, there is a footnote by the editor, also having “antah-karana,” and defining it (BCW 5.80). Then in vol. 6, Jan. 1885, pp. 79-80, Manilal Dvivedi has “antaskarana” in his translation of the Vākya-sudhā, verses 6 and 11, and the footnote from vol. 4 defining it is quoted (whether by him or by the editor). But the “antah-karana” was changed to “antaskarana” in this quotation. This is perhaps when or what caused Blavatsky to change the spelling she used. Dvivedi also has “antaskarana” in his translation of the Aparokṣānubhūti from 1885, verses 6 and 14. However, Mohinee Chatterjee in his translation of theĀtmānātma-viveka in The Theosophist, vol. 5, Dec. 1883, p. 70, has “antahkarana.” Likewise, B. P. Narasimmiah in his partly paraphrased translation of the Ātma-bodha, verses 33 and 38, in The Theosophist, vol. 6, Feb. 1885, p. 103, has “antahkarana.” So Dvivedi is alone in having “antaskarana.”

The very common Sanskrit word antar, meaning “in between, within, inner,” was compounded with the word karaṇa, “instrument” (not kāraṇa, “cause”), to form the compound antaḥkaraṇa, meaning “inner instrument.” The final “r” on antar must change to “ḥ” before the initial “k” on karaṇa, in accordance with the rules of sandhi, the changes that sounds make when they come together. Very often in Sanskrit words the “ḥ” has taken the place of “s” rather than “r”, and this is probably what led to Dvivedi’s error. But there is no Sanskrit word antas, unless it be the transformation ofantar before the letters “t” or “th”, again due to sandhi, or the declined form of the word anta, “end.” Thus, antaskarana is an error, and the correct form is antahkarana(antaḥkaraṇa).

Permalink Reply by Peter on September 18, 2015 at 2:10am

David, thanks for your thoughts on a possible explanation for the different ‘spellings’ of antahkarana used by HPB and on the correct form. Very interesting.  I hope my emphasis on the importance of meaning over spelling didn’t imply the correct form or spelling is unimportant.  Clearly it is.  Nicholas has also pointed out that the correct form is with an ‘h’, with which I agree. 

The meaning HPB gives to that term is different to the traditional meaning in Vedanta, which I think is the most important issue in our study topic.  However, there’s no reason why we can’t use the correct form of that term together with her explanation in the same way that Judge did in his writings, as I pointed out in an earlier post.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on September 14, 2015 at 9:10am

September 14, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: The Antaskarana Bridge

” If thou follow thy star, thou canst not fall of a glorious haven.”

— Euripides

” So from the world of spirits there descends

a bridge of light, connecting it with this,

O’er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,

Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.”

— Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

Permalink Reply by Peter on September 14, 2015 at 9:40am

Perhaps a simple way to conceive of the antahkarana bridge is that it is forged largely by our own spiritual aspirations during life.  It is the link between our personal consciousness (the lower manas) and the higher (divine) mind within us.  When the lower personal consciousness reaches up to 'the higher', the latter may respond in some form or another. The effort comes from 'below', so to speak. A response comes from 'above'.  The intermingling of the these two - aspiration and response - is what constitutes 'the bridge'.

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on September 14, 2015 at 11:34am

In other words the bridge is being built from both sides.  "Take one step in our direction we take one in yours" to paraphrase.   And the building of the bridge from the personal consciousness perspective involves the various virtues being practiced and disciplines chosen to aim the lower mind towards the universal or higher mind.

Permalink Reply by Peter on September 15, 2015 at 6:19am

Gerry - yes, it does seem right to think that both sides are involved.   Nice link of yours with that paraphrase.

I guess we just need to be careful not to materialise it too much by imagining a bridge being built from both ends which eventually meets in the middle. :-)   There appears to be something in the two way process which is more about creating links, gradually opening channels of communication, weaving threads, reciprocal responses & so on.  I wonder what people feel would be a good image for this two way process?

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 14, 2015 at 2:41pm

Interesting thought Peter.  

It reminds me of something I have heard about lightening strikes.  The lightening actually doesn't directly strike the ground, but it meet by a upward current coming "below."  There is a short video link below that will better explain where I am coming from.

and another one...

Let us look to Nature to see if we can find a correspondence behind this very suggestive and amazing topic of the antaḥkaraṇa

Permalink Reply by Peter on September 15, 2015 at 6:20am

Amazing videos, Kristan.  Thanks.

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 15, 2015 at 1:38pm

After watching the videos, one might consider what Judge writes;

"Antaḥkaraņa is a higher aspect of lower Manas; a projection of the lower Manas towards the Higher. ... Call it a feeler thrown out by lower Manas ... Antaḥkaraņa, when in active existence, is not evolved from lower Manas alone... H.P.B. told her pupils it is also, in part, an effect of Higher Manas. It can be illustrated thus: Lower Manas emits an efflux towards Higher Manas; this stimulates an influx of spiritual energy from Higher Manas; action and reaction as between higher and lower are thus set up. This interaction is the path of communication between the two and is called Antaḥkaraņa. From one point of view Antaḥkaraņa is a function of dual Manas. "
 (Echos. III. 374-275)

Not to be puny, but I find the relation to the nature of electricity/lightning, and the dual aspects of Manas, to be strikingly similar, if not exactly the same, as read in the above quotations and seen in the two video links. Absolutely amazing!

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Permalink Reply by Laura on September 15, 2015 at 5:09am
Does the Bridge relate to the following passage from page 15 Vol 2 of SD? "...THE One Unity in which they are synthesized, so ,I'm the manifested Universe, there is "that" which links spirit with matter, subject to object. " Does the Bridge relate to the Egyptian Ankh?
Permalink Reply by Peter on September 15, 2015 at 6:34am

One can't help but feel there is a connection, Laura, between the passage you quoted and the antahkarana bridge, even if only by the principle of analogy and correspondence. In that passage the movement appears to be from 'within-outwards' as Divine Thought impresses itself on matter through the dynamic cosmic energy called Fohat.  Whereas we are looking at the way in personal consciousness (the without) can link with and impress itself, so to speak, on the higher consciousness.  Good find.

What's your thinking about the connection with the egyptian ankh?

(BTW.  The reference I have for that passage is page 16 of SD vol 1 in the original edition.)

Permalink Reply by Laura on September 15, 2015 at 5:09am
In not Im
Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on September 15, 2015 at 10:17am

September 15, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: The Antaskarana Bridge

“The ‘Higher Ego’ as part of the essence of the UNIVERSAL MIND, is unconditionally omniscient on it own plane, and only potentially so in our terrestrial sphere, as it hs to act solely through it alter ego – the Personal Self.”

— H.P. Blavatsky

“Every aspiration higher brightens up the road connecting the Higher and lower self.”

— W.Q. Judge

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 15, 2015 at 1:32pm

Regarding the quote from HPB, I'd like to post some selections from the Vedantasutras regarding this topic.  I figure, since we are speaking of a sanskrit word, it might be wise if one were to understand how it may be used rather than an unfamiliar word with no grounds to some;

"Thus, it is seen that Brahman who is essentially Existence, Intelligence and Bliss, and whose essential nature is the Supreme Light, enjoys the Bliss of His essential nature by mind alone, independent of external ojgans of sensation as implied by the epithet Mana-a'nauda.'  This epithet also implies that the emancipated souls who have attained to the state of Brahm are possessed of the antah-karana or mind, the organ which acts independently of external organs, and  by which they experience the unsurpassed bliss of their essential nature....

... Indeed, the antah-karana, jñâna or knowledge, which is the organ whereby He enjoys the Bliss of His own essential nature, exists through eternity, without beginning."

VS. III.II.17; 
"Brahman is Âkâs'a, that which shines everywhere,  the Light, the all-pervading Intelligence (Chidambara). He is the Existence. He delights in life, i.e , in Him- self, not in external things.  His bliss lies in manas, in mind, not in external senses,  Here ‘manas’ means intelligence, the inner sense (antah-karana) and it is in virtue of His knowledge- which stands in no need of external organs…

The above was from the translation of Pndt. Alladi Mahadeva Sastri found in "SIDDHANTA DEEPIKA" or "The Light of Truth."

If is one principle with dual aspects, then wouldn't we consider the antahkarana as being the "bridge" between the two, not referring to any specific part of manas, ie., merely a mode of consciousness? 

Permalink Reply by Alex Papandakis on September 15, 2015 at 4:09pm

Perhaps we are over complicating this.  Isn't the bridge between "lower" and "higher" mind in its totality?  Mind is the transition point between the unmanifest and the manifest.

Permalink Reply by Alex Papandakis on September 15, 2015 at 4:38pm

Is there an unnatural separation between lower and higher manas in humanity at this point in evolution? Thereby needing a "bridge"?

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 15, 2015 at 5:18pm

I believe ideas like 'Higher' and 'Lower' mind are complicating things.  Both are aspects of one mind, just as positive and negative are both poles on one single magnet.  Cut the magnet anywhere you like, and there will constantly be a positive and negative pole. 

The Amritabindu-Upanisad of the Atharvana veda states;

1. Manas, verily, is said to be two fold, pure and impure; the impure one is that which has thoughts of objects of desire (kâma), and the pure one that which is free from desire.

2. Manas, verily, is the cause of bondage and liberation of men: engrossed in objects (it leads) to bondage; free from objects (it leads) to liberation; so they say.

The interesting thing about this word, Antaḥkaraņa, is that is suggests initial activity.  It is both the higher and lower manas if I am not mistaken.  This is what makes the topic so grand and mysterious.  It is the cause (karaņa) of the "inner-equipment" in one sense. When speaking about reflective Consciousness, the Antaḥkaraņa in one sense, is the cause of the "refraction" of Consciousness and its illusionary activity on a "lower plane" i.e., the thinker within a compound body.  Many layers my friend... many layers.

Can you explain what you mean about the mind being the "transition point between the unmanifest and the manifest." ?  What do you mean by the unmanifest?

Permalink Reply by Alex Papandakis on September 15, 2015 at 5:43pm

Maybe one way of thinking of it is in the analogy of a building.  There is the concept of shelter.  But shelter can take many forms, so before we build anything shelter is a fairly abstract (unmanifest) idea.  An architect creates a set of blue prints to enable building of the structure but the drawing is not the building but a symbol for it perhaps.  The formulation and details of the building are all imaginary at this point (mind).  The contractor takes the blue print and translates it into an actual structure (mind being used but perhaps at a far less abstract level0. Mind is spanning the gap between unmanifest and manifest. The Anatahharana bridge has something to do with the hand off and recognition  of the blue prints to the builder perhaps.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on September 16, 2015 at 10:04am

September 16, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: The Antaskarana Bridge

“To see a World in a grain of sand,

and Heaven in a wild flower,

Hold Infinity in the palm of your hand,

And Eternity in an hour.”

— William Blake

Permalink Reply by Peter on September 18, 2015 at 2:15am

How would you see the connection between William Blake's passage and the antahkarana bridge?  Can you say a bit more? 

ps:  would the moderators be kind enough to put their name to their posts, so we know who is commenting and who we are replying to? That would be much appreciated.

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on September 18, 2015 at 2:59pm

The ModetatorTN role is to post materials selected by the administrative staff of the web site. Various people provide this assistance and prefer to remain anonymous.  When posting thoughts, comments, ideas, questions and the like we shall post with our names but the mechanical process of posting passages from the Gita, SD, Ocean etc. need have no name connected to them.  This is true for the themes for the week and the quotes assembled for them. This anonymous contribution saves us the uncomfortable situation of having our name and face or icon posted over and over again.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on September 17, 2015 at 10:57am

September 17, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: The Antaskarana Bridge

“The smallest wave of longing or regret for Maya’s gifts illusive, along Antaskarana — the path that lies between thy Spirit and thy self, the highway of sensations, the rude rousers of Ahankara — a thought as fleeting as the lightening flash will make thee thy three prizes forfeit — the prizes thou hast won.”

— The Voice of the Silence

Permalink Reply by Peter on September 18, 2015 at 6:15am

This is just by way of information for those who aren’t familiar with the traditional meaning of 'antahkarana' or who don’t appreciate that the same terms may have different meanings to the traditional ones when used to express theosophical teachings.  For those familiar with theosophy the different meanings of the terms used below will no doubt be obvious.

The meaning of the term antahkarana in Vedanta is ‘inner organ’ or ‘inner instrument’.  Thisinner organ is said to consist of four aspects (though some schools differ).  These four aspects are generally given as manas (mind), ahankara (ego), buddhi (intellect), and citta (memory, thought, impressions from experience & so on).  

The ‘inner organ’ cannot operate in the external world directly and therefore does so via the five organs of perception i.e the senses (jnanendriya) and the five organs of action (karmendriya).

The manas (mind) is that aspect of the antahkarana which receives information through the sense organs and also cognises thoughts, feelings, and past experiences impressed on citta.  Mind is the organ of cognition (knowing) and is often swayed this way and that by all the ‘information’ and demands (inner and outer) which it gathers or receives.  Hence, in Vedanta it is often portrayed  as changeable or indecisive.  The determinative faculty, that which reasons and comes to conclusions, is buddhi (intellect).  Thus discriminative knowledge or wisdom is said to arise in buddhi.    Ahankara, is the sense of doership, i.e. the feeling of egoity or ’I am the doer’ which attaches itself to our thinking, experiencing and action. 

The human constitution during life from this perspective could be said to consist of:

The Self (Atman)

The Inner Organ (antahkarana)

The organs of perception and action (jnanendriya and karmendriya)

It is the antahkarana in which are stored the characteristics and latent tendencies which an ‘individual’ carries over from one incarnation to the next.

The above is only a general description, the sort you might find in the advaita school, and there are many variations and disagreements with regards the detail of the above between various schools and even within the the same schools.   Further, some commentaries may use the term ‘Mind’ to refer to the antahkarana as a whole, in which case buddhi would be its higher aspect and manas its lower.  Some commentaries and schools use the term citta to mean consciousness in general with the activity of the antahkarana constituting the modifications (vrittis) of this otherwise pure consciousness (citta).  There are, therefore, many variations and uses of these terms depending on the traditions and sub-schools & so on.  

As said at the beginning, theosophy is often explained using the terminology common to other traditions.  However, even though the terms may be identical, the meaning might be quite different at times.  If the moderators and knowledgeable members were to post some actual passages from HPB on the antahkarana bridge this might help members and especially those new to theosophy gain a proper understanding of this theosophical teaching from HPB and why it has such a practical value in life.

Permalink Reply by Casady on September 18, 2015 at 11:35am

In response to Peter's request, I propose the following for the consideration of the perspicacious aspirant:


From  A.R.O. — Is the idea conveyed by the explanation of the “Antah-karaņa” the same as an esoteric student might get from the story of “Jacob’s Ladder” of the Old Testament, (and which is symbolically adopted in Freemasonry); also, by the expression, “I am the way,” found in the New Testament, which might have been used figuratively by an “Initiate,” or “twice-born,” or one who knew the Pathway between the lower and Higher Self?

Ans.— It seems that the explanation given in the papers of the Section by H.P.B. is quite clear in itself, and any other way of explaining it will not tend to make the matter more clear. The explanation given by her is as to a fact in our constitution and was made very plain by the illustration of the candle. Very possibly Jesus — if he ever existed — may have had that in his mind when he used the expression referred to, but at the same time he may not, and if we take him as rep-resenting the Higher Self then he will only refer to the Self as a whole and not to the bridge such as the Antaḥkaraņa is known to be. Further, Jacob’s Ladder more properly is a figure for the cycles as they move through the eternity and form a ladder up which all men are made to pass as well as the angels. A ladder is in no sense a bridge and cannot be made to fit that idea, but a ladder composed of rings or steps is a very proper symbol for the greater and the lesser cycles. They, if imagined and looked at from one side only, will form a ladder exactly, since the line of vision cutting the ascending or descending circles on one line at one side will make of them a series of steps. (Echoes 3 314-15)

4. What is the Antahkaraņa?

Ans. — The Antahkaraņa is an imaginary bridge of communication between the divine and the human Ego. In Instructions III [631] it is compared with the air of a room in which there is a brilliant lamp. The lamp represents the divine Ego, the light [thrown on the wall] the human Ego, the wall of the room the physical body, and the atmosphere or air without which no light could pass at all represents the Antahkaraņa. In Plate I [580] Antahkaraņa is represented as a narrow strip which connects the indigo blue and green triangles, and in it is stated, in The Voice of the Silence, to be the link between Higher and lower Manas. The strip in Plate I is only an indication, as it is not such a definite strip. Antaḥkaraņa is only half in action during sleep, and at death it is destroyed as a Bridge. For the personal man awake and acting in the lower Manas, Antahkaraņa is the only means by which he can aspire to and recognize the divine in himself. The personal man has therefore to keep open the bridge of communication, else it may be destroyed and he be converted practically into a “soulless being.”H.P.B. described Antahkaraņa as a mode of consciousness. TheVoice  speaks of it as the path between the personal and impersonal Self, (page 50) “the highway of sensations” (p. 56), a projection of the lower Manas (p. 88, note), and shows it as the battlefield where takes place the struggle for mastery over the personal self, for we traverse this bridge whenever we aspire unselfishly. As said in the Voice  (p. 55), at the termination of the struggle, and at the initiation, “behold the very battlefield is now engulfed.” This state is present in any individual during the moments when he turns his thoughts towards the spiritual life. Antaḥkaraņa may also be described as that action of Consciousness which draws it (Consciousness) up and down — in this case up. That is, by aspiring in our consciousness to Higher Manas and Buddhi, we con-tinue to improve that power located there between Higher and lower Manas, so that it remains with us as a Bridge, because, in con sequence of the general race development, we are not normally able to remain consciously on the plane of Higher Manas. (Echoes 3 377)

The Antahkarana, or Bridge between Higher and Lower Manas

Examination II [Question 4; see pp. 377] showed that consider-able confusion and doubt exist as to the nature of Antahkaraņa. As H.P.B. said Antahkaraņa is a bridge or path by means of which the ascent into Higher Manas and descent from it is effected by us while incarnated, and is necessary in making the ascent and descent; we need to grasp the idea more fully. Antahkaraņa must not be viewed as being merely an offshoot of Manas in its lower aspect. Antahkaraņa is a higher aspect of lower Manas; a projection of the lower Manas towards the Higher. Viewed as “a mode of consciousness” (H.P.B.) it consists of the aspirations of lower Manas towards the spiritual state. Call it a feeler thrown out by lower Manas and indrawn at death, when Antahkaraņa per se is “utterly destroyed as a vehicle” (H.P.B.’s words). The personal consciousness pervading it is that of lower Manas, and as such its “remains survive as Kāma-Rūpa” (No. III, [BCW XII:); the word “its” here refers to lower Manas. When the Instructions say “the consciousness of Antahkaraņa . . . is transformed into Kāma-Rūpa”, the personal con-sciousness of lower Manas (at times thrown upward, and then only becoming Antahkaraņa) is meant and not Antahkaraņa per se,which “is destroyed at death”, i.e. that specific mode or action of consciousness is then blotted out, by being again merged into that lower mode, which now becomes fixed in the Kāma-Rūpa.

Antahkaraņa, when in active existence, is not evolved from lower Manas alone. H.P.B. told her pupils it is also, in part, an effect of Higher Manas. It can be illustrated thus: Lower Manas emits an effux towards Higher Manas; this stimulates an influx of spiritual energy from Higher Manas; action and reaction as between higher and lower are thus set up. This interaction is the path of communication between the two and is called Antahkaraņa. From one point of view Antahkaraņa is a function of dual Manas. At death “the bridge,” so to say, parts in the middle and is reabsorbed; the influx withdraws into its source — Higher Manas; the effux retreats into the personal basis of lower Manas; Manas rebecomes one, its dregs sloughing off as the Kāma-Rūpa. The interaction is extinguished — and that was Antahkaraņa. Its personal basis in lower Manas — the fuel from which sprang the flame — is what becomes the Kāma-Rūpa so far as Antahkaraņa is concerned. Both influx and efflux are governed by Karma; we cannot say which is prior to the other.

We find ample illustrations of the above in Voice of the Silence, Light on the Path, a collection of ethical injunctions and teachings, was so named because such aspirations, if continuous, themselves form Antahkaraņa, the Path. (Echoes 3 385-86)

Ques. 30 (M.K.S.) — What would lead to the destruction of antahkarana? 

Ans. — Antahkarana being a mode of consciousness which may be said to exist only when the Higher and lower Manases are related to one another as separate principles, its destruction may take place in two ways: (a) by merging the lower in the Higher, and making them one, (b) by so separating them as to destroy the possibility of any relationship between them. The first may be performed by aspiration, and by constantly dwelling on the highest ideals reflected in the mind. The second by an absolute refusal to regard or listen to any of the higher promptings — which thus gradually lessen and finally disappear They can be reawakened however by steady and persistent effort to that end. (Echoes 408)

Permalink Reply by Peter on September 19, 2015 at 11:02am

It would seem from that last paragraph from Judge that the completely materialistic person (one who has been such throughout their whole life) is one that has not developed any kind of a bridge between the personal consciousness and the higher manas.  

Perhaps such a person is few and far between, in that each one of us at some time in our life (maybe only as children) may have had moments of aspiration and longing for something higher?

Permalink Reply by barbaram on September 19, 2015 at 1:01pm

"A ladder is in no sense a bridge and cannot be made to fit that idea, but a ladder composed of rings or steps is a very proper symbol for the greater and the lesser cycles. They, if imagined and looked at from one side only, will form a ladder exactly, since the line of vision cutting the ascending or descending circles on one line at one side will make of them a series of steps. (Echoes 3 314-15)"

The symbol that the Antahkarana is the influx and exflux between the lower and higher mind or a ladder made up of steps or rings is consistent with the occult teaching that neither Buddhi or Atma is within man; hence the spirit does not descend into the mortal vehicle.  

Mahatma Letters, pg 455 - Neither Atma nor Buddhi ever were within man - a little metaphysical axiom that you can study with advantage in Plutarch and Anaxagoras.  ....this nous always remained without the body;  that it floated and overshadowed so to say the extreme part of the man's head, it is only the vulgar who thinks it is within them.....The permanent  never merges with the impermanent although the two are one.  But it is only when all the outward appearances are gone that there is left that one principle of life which exists independently of all external phenomena.

"Ans. — Antahkarana being a mode of consciousness which may be said to exist only when the Higher and lower Manases are related to one another as separate principles, its destruction may take place in two ways: (a) by merging the lower in the Higher, and making them one,"

This is mentioned in the VOS - Before thou standest on the threshold of the Path; before thou crossest the foremost Gate, thou hast to merge the two into the One and sacrifice the personal to SELF impersonal, and thus destroy the "path" between the two - Antaskarana

Permalink Reply by Peter on September 23, 2015 at 9:52am

Hi Barbara - yes, I can see what you mean about the ladder.  If the monad (atma-buddhi) is above ‘man’ rather then within ‘man’ then a ladder seems a reasonable analogy.  I’m not sure why Judge objects so strongly to the ladder analogy, seeing it only applicable to cycles.  

At the same time it might be worth reflecting upon what the Mahatma KH meant by the term “within man” when he wrote to Sinnett that “neither Atma nor Buddhi ever were within man.”   Atma and Buddhi are certainly part of the sevenfold constitution on ‘Man’. As you know (but newcomers might not), together with Manas these form the higher triad of which Manas is the true Individuality behind all our incarnations, each with its own personality which changes from life to life.  Perhaps the Mahatma meant that Atma and Buddhi, which are eternal and universal principles, never were in the mortal and ever changing frame which constitutes ‘the man of the world’ - our personality.  This would be similar to the Buddha saying that ‘the self’ cannot be found in any of the skandhas (the five aggregates that make up the person).

If the antahkarana bridge is formed of our spiritual aspirations could we say that in one sense it is a certain state of mind (of the lower manas) which brings us in sympathy with the higher or divine mind for as long as those aspirations are present?  Perhaps it’s not unsimilar (albeit not identical) to the state of the Ego in Devachan?  Indeed the experience of the devachanic ego may well be made up of the totality of those spiritual aspirations which formed the antahkarana bridge during the lifetime.  Such aspirations may have been few or many, weak or strong.

As you say, Judge explains the antahkarana bridge as “a mode of consciousness which may be said to exist only when the Higher and lower Manases are related to one another as separate principles.”  (Echoes of the Orient III, 395)

Both HPB and Judge describe two ways in which it may be destroyed. The first is by the complete merging of the lower with the higher. The second is the complete disregard of the higher or universal in preference to the personal and separative.  A form of the first means of destruction happens at death and during the after death states, when all that is worthy of the ex-personality is assimilated by the higher and divine mind and the dregs of the lower are left behind.  The Arhat is said to achieve this merger consciously while still in the body during incarnation.  I think it is to this latter process that HPB is referring in that passage from the Voice of the Silence you referred to:

“Before thou standest on the threshold of the Path; before thou crossest the foremost Gate, thou hast to merge the two into the One and sacrifice the personal to SELF impersonal, and thus destroy the "path" between the two - Antahkarana.”  (VOS, p50, original edition)

Although it sounds like this is an initial step on the way, we might consider whether this is actually quite an advanced stage of the overall Path.  In fact, the Path referred to in this last and third Fragment of ‘The Voice’ is referred to as ”the secret Path.” The candidate who stands before it has already successfully traversed the previous stages outlined in Fragment 2, in which s/he chose between The Open Path and The Secret Path.

What might support this view is HPB’s statement in her Instructions, in which she says:

“…the faculty and function of Antahkarana is as necessary as the medium of the ear for hearing, or that of the eye for seeing, so long as the feeling of Ahamkāra (of the personal “I” or selfishness) is not entirely crushed out in a man, and the lower mind not entirely merged into and become one with the Higher (Buddhi Manas), it stands to reason that to destroy Antahkarana is like destroying a bridge over an impassable chasm: the traveller can never reach the goal on the other shore.”  (Collected Writings XII, 634)

There may be a very good reason that on the facing page to Fragment 1 in the Voice of the Silence, HPB writes: ‘Dedicated to the few.’  

Permalink Reply by David Reigle on September 19, 2015 at 7:59am

Thanks, Peter, for this very helpful summary of the antahkarana as understood in Vedanta. We need to know this, both for ourselves and for others.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on September 22, 2015 at 1:50pm

Thank you, Peter, for a wonderful summary of the traditional meaning on the antahkarana.

Permalink Reply by Casady on September 24, 2015 at 10:08am

a few more hints:

Q. We are told in The Voice of the Silence that we have to becomethe path itself,and in another passage that Antahkarana is that path. Does this mean anything more than that we have to bridge over the gap between the consciousness of the Lower and the Higher Egos?

A. That is all.

Q. We are told that there are seven portals on the Path: is there then a sevenfold division of Antahkarana? Also, is Antahkarana the battlefield?

A. It is the battlefield. There are seven divisions in the Antahkarana. As you pass from each to the next you approach the Higher Manas. When you have bridged the fourth you may consider yourself fortunate.(sd3 546)

7, 6, 5, represent respectively, Shiva, Vishnu, Brahma being the lowest.

Shiva is the four-faced Brahma; the Creator, Preserver, Destroyer, and Regenerator.

Between 5 and 4 comes the Antahkarana. The represents the Christos, the Sacrificial △ Victim crucified  between the thieves: this is the double-faced entity. The Vedantins make this a quarternary for a blind: Antahkarana, Chit, Buddhi, and Manas. (sd3 557)

The seven steps of Antahkarana correspond with the Lokas.(sd3 570)

The Lower Manas is an emanation from the Higher Manas, and is of the same nature as the Higher. This nature can make no impression on this plane, nor receive any: an Archangel, having no experience, would be senseless on this plane, and could neither give nor receive impressions. So the Lower Manas clothes itself with the essence of the Astral Light; this astral envelope shuts it out from its Parent, except through the Antahkarana which is its only salvation. Break this and you become an animal.(sd3 578)


Permalink Reply by ModeratorTN on September 18, 2015 at 11:41am

September 18, 2015 Theme for Contemplation: The Antahkarana Bridge

“I would be a protector for those without protection, a guide for those who journey; a boat, a bridge and a passage for thos who desire to pass to the other shore.”

— Shantideva

“Don’t attitudenize.”

— Samuel Johnson

Permalink Reply by Peter on September 19, 2015 at 10:57am

“Don’t attitudenize.”  — Samuel Johnson

I've no idea what that means.  :-)

Permalink Reply by Gerry Kiffe on September 21, 2015 at 10:20am

Here in the States we have an expression, "Don't cop an attitude" which is slang for stop making yourself and your desires the center of everyone else's attention.  It is kind of walking backwards from building a bridge to the higher self, it is more like tearing it down.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Peter on September 26, 2015 at 3:34am

Gerry, I missed your response, earlier. I don’t seem to get all the messages that people post, even though I click “follow” for each section of the study. I wonder if other members have the same problem?

Thanks for the reference to USA slang. I don’t think this is what Samuel Johnson had in mind. ‘Attitudenise’ means to strike a pose in order to create an effect. Apparently Johnson disliked people creating these effects when they talked.

“He [Johnson] had a great aversion to gesticulating in company. He called once to a gentleman who offended him in that point, 'Don't ATTITUDENISE.' And when another gentleman thought he was giving additional force to what he uttered, by expressive movements of his hands, Johnson fairly seized them, and held them down.”

James Boswell, “The Life of Samuel Johnson” (1791)

Permalink Reply by Grace Cunningham on September 19, 2015 at 9:22am

Perhaps there is something of the Shila Virtue in the Voice of the Silence in the idea of the Antahkarana Bridge: "Shila, the key of Harmony in word and act, the key that counterbalances the cause and the effect, and leaves no further room for Karmic action."

We must bring the lower nature in alignment with the Higher Nature.  We harmonize the lower with the higher. This takes the form of aspiration, devotion and spiritual striving. It shows up in how we treat others because the higher nature has to do with the whole, the all, The One. The personal mind must supplicate to the Mind of Nature.  Or in the words of the Voice again, the drop re-become the ocean.

Permalink Reply by Peter on September 19, 2015 at 10:51am

Grace, I'm sure you're right about the importance of Shila - one of the six perfections.

I wonder what it means in practice to 'counterbalance the cause and the effect' and how Shila (sīla) might lead to such a harmony?  

We also have the very evocative phrase "...and leaves no further room for Karmic action."

What exactly is karmic and non-karmic action in our daily lives and how might these be related to the presence or absence of the antahkarana bridge?  

Since sīla is one of the six perfections in Mahayana buddhism, I also wonder how the above might relate to the Buddha's injunction 'Cease to do evil; learn to do good'?

I'm just thinking out loud, Grace. I'm not expecting you to answer all the above!

Permalink Reply by barbaram on September 24, 2015 at 11:39am

Hi Peter and Grace,

These are very good questions.  I wonder what is harmony in our present state? How can we live in harmony, both inner and outer, when we are in a "battlefield?"  As long as we are striving, it inevitably denotes a component of struggle which conflicts with the idea of harmony.  


Permalink Reply by Peter on September 24, 2015 at 1:35pm

Perhaps the clue is that Shila - a sanskrit term - means virtue, ethics and moral discipline.  So, this Perfection appears to be saying that a life based on virtue, ethics and moral discipline is one that becomes "the key of Harmony in word and act, the key that counterbalances the cause and the effect, and leaves no further room for Karmic action."

Permalink Reply by barbaram on September 24, 2015 at 3:23pm

Thank you, Peter.  This makes a lot of sense.  It is not harmony that is the focus in this sense but a moral discipline which leads to Harmony in word and act.

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 24, 2015 at 12:19pm

I've been reading a lot of comments about higher and lower, inner and outer, transcendence etc. etc., regarding this subject of concentration.  In all humble honestly, I do not understand this.  Can someone point out what all this talk of direction is in reference to? 

"When, therefore, the Secret Doctrine—postulating that conditioned or limited space (location) has no real being except in this world of illusion, or, in other words, in our perceptive faculties—teaches that every one of the higher, as of the lower worlds, is interblended with our own objective world; that millions of things and beings are, in point of localization, around and in us, as we are around, with, and in them; it is no metaphysical figure of speech, but a sober fact in Nature, however incomprehensible to our senses.

... the Occultist does not locate these spheres either outside or inside our Earth, as the theologians and the poets do; for their location is nowhere in the space known to, and conceived by, the profane. They are, as it were, blended with our world—interpenetrating it and interpenetrated by it. There are millions and millions of worlds and firmaments visible to us; there still greater numbers beyond those visible to the telescopes, and many of the latter kind do not belong to our objective sphere of existence. Although as invisible as if they were millions of miles beyond our solar system, they are yet with us, near us, within our own world, as objective and material to their respective inhabitants as ours is to us."


How true can this be regarding the Antahkarana, or any other principle?  This comment isn't directed any anyone, but simply an observation.  

I understand the Antahkarana as being very closely related to what T.S.R states;

"[the guardian angel ] is and yet is not one of the principles of the human Soul, because it pervades the whole human being.  It is strictly speaking the human being."

"It is everywhere and nowhere and can manifest on any plane and is not found on any plane."

As Casady pointed out in is most recent post, that the Antahkarana is the battlefield... with seven divisions...each corresponds with the Lokas."

Truly a deep and metaphysical idea regarding the Antahkarana.  I do understand that out reality often dictates our thoughts. As most of us, I'm willing to say, happen to belong to a reality based on some sort of objective reference, it makes discussion very difficult if we no longer used "higher and lower, inner and outer" etc... I'm just wondering if we can perhaps find some ways to discuss this without including specific localization. 

Permalink Reply by Peter on September 25, 2015 at 7:19am

Kristan, I'm not sure I fully understand the concern you raise at the beginning of your post.  As students, do we not keep in mind that such terms as 'higher and lower', 'inner and outer' etc are all metaphors of one kind or another.  Even if we take them literally we would still need to consider that all such terms are relative.  Perhaps I've not understood what you mean?

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 25, 2015 at 12:19pm

"...such terms as 'higher and lower', 'inner and outer' etc are all metaphors of one kind or another"

Quite so, agreed.  

Although simply stated, what I am asking is; why must we continue to use metaphorical language?  Students are warned about the usage metaphors, least they be understood as facts, or materialized.  One must recognize that perhaps the use of metaphors, if held on to and constantly used, acts somewhat like a hinderance,  don't you agree?    

We can recognize mind as being one, which inherent with variations and aspects depending on the predominate qualities (or gunas). These qualities, existing nowhere apart from the mind, as Spirit-Mind and Matter-Nature are continuously bound.  Consider the positive pole and negative pole of a magnet,  Neither of the two can be separated for both qualify the magnet.  

When we study texts regarding cosmogenesis, rarely are there words or metaphors used suggesting movement from one location to another.  Why then, when we speak of the principles of the human, we've given location to things, even if they are metaphor? 

This is all I'm asking.  There could be a chance that I've read into it too much.  Lately, these words like Higher Manas and Lower Manas, seem empty, almost meaningless*, when there is only the perception of Mind in its apparent fluctuations of qualities and tendencies corresponding to its natures- these being minds duality- exists nowhere apart from the Mind. 

Again, I understand that at our current stage we're given only so much material to formulated these ideas, and often some basic metaphors will have to suffice. 
*- just to state the obvious, I am by no means denying this 'higher' and 'lower' mind, however, I wonder if there are better ways to show this without the inherent tendency (of our current mental capacity) to polarize this idea.

Permalink Reply by Peter on September 25, 2015 at 1:00pm

Understood, Kristan.  It's good and important to question these things as we have to come to our own understanding of ourselves and the 'world'.   It's not enough for us just to be able quote or recall what the teachings may be, though knowing what the teachings are gives us a base to work from and can act as a starting point for our enquiries.

As HPB says in the Preface to The Key to Theosophy:

That it should succeed in making Theosophy intelligible without mental effort on the part of the reader, would be too much to expect; but it is hoped that the obscurity still left is of the thought not of the language, is due to depth not to confusion. To the mentally lazy or obtuse, Theosophy must remain a riddle; for in the world mental as in the world spiritual each man must progress by his own efforts. The writer cannot do the reader's thinking for him, nor would the latter be any the better off if such vicarious thought were possible.

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 26, 2015 at 3:22am

Very true, knowledge from personal experience and observation is necessary, otherwise we are left with theoretical statements and stagnant discussions.

What can we say about this relationship between thought and word, and how can this be related to the antahkarana?

Again, to point out Casady's post of quotations;

Q. We are told in The Voice of the Silence that we have to becomethe path itself, and in another passage that Antahkarana is that path. Does this mean anything more than that we have to bridge over the gap between the consciousness of the Lower and the Higher Egos?

A. That is all.

Obviously, that gap and bridge spoken of is absolutely fictional.  However, the importance here is the idea that one must dissolve one into the other, but even this is a misconception because the two are one and no dissolution of Higher or Lower is needed.  The only dissolving or "bridging" is to give up a notional divide and separative perception between the Path and Thyself.

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 26, 2015 at 4:36pm

" In a universe of which Periodicity of manifestation is a fundamental, 'absolute fiction' seems a misconception."

True, however, I wasn't referring to manifestation (periodical or otherwise) as "absolute fiction."  I was simply saying that the notional divide of Matter is fiction.

Replies to This Discussion

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 27, 2015 at 7:00am

Yes, friend.

I believe we are saying the same thing essentially.  Perhaps  there was a misunderstanding somewhere. I didn't realize we were dealing with absolutes... I sure didn't mean to imply absoluteness of a particular (truth/fiction) in my previous comment.  All I just meant to say is that agap in anything is a misconception.  

What does a gap, in conventional language imply, and what does it refer to in an esoteric interpretation? 

These ideas of duality, though quite apparent, are only founded upon an egocentric perception, meaning everything (in its dual manifested sense) is known in reference to an agent; which is an effect.

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 25, 2015 at 3:02pm

"even non-sensory states, there are definite feelings of movement up or down, through, beyond etc.;"

Can you name one that we might be familiar with?  If it were truly a non-sensory state, how can one describe the sensation of movement?

"So Higher Manas is known as more subtle, beautiful & significant than Lower Manas which is experienced as coarser, lurid & petty in comparison"

Exactly so.  Subtleness, beauty, coarser and luridness are qualities found within the wide expanse of Mind, as you had quoted and so many texts quote, "... all is mind and mind alone."  We can find this same exact teaching in the Bhagavadgita.

Permalink Reply by Peter on September 26, 2015 at 5:04am

Interesting points, Kristan and Nicholas.  

I go along with your wanting to question the terminology, Kristan.  Nicholas also makes a good point that the same terms to describe spiritual experience have been used universally and for thousands of years.  This suggests such terms are important and not to be lightly dismissed.  However, that doesn’t mean the terms themselves aren’t metaphors used to describe real experiences.  

When these terms are used literally instead of metaphorically we might consider whether such terms have an absolute or a relative value.   For example, above and below, higher and lower, within and without are all relative terms, but that doesn’t mean they don’t reflect our actual experience.  To meet half way I might have to rise and you may have to descend - this may be physically or in consciousness.  To say that rising and descending are relative to each one’s point of view doesn’t discount the actual experience of each person.

Kristan points out there is a difference between terms that refer to qualities and terms that refer spatial directions.   To talk about the one Mind (all is mind and mind alone)  in terms of beautiful & significant or  coarser, lurid & petty in comparison might be more meaningful than describing the mind as divided in two - one higher, the other lower.  However, we are also taught that Higher Manas, while omniscient on its own plane, cannot act on the physical plane, whereas the lower manas can.  This suggests that the occult constitution of the human being and nature is also an important factor to take into account with regards terminology.  HPB tells us, for example, that:

‘Each of the seven fundamental planes (or layers) in space―of course as a whole, as the pure space of Locke's definition, not as our finite space―has its own objectivity and subjectivity, its own space and time, its own consciousness and set of senses.’  (Key to Theosophy, p88, original edition)

Thus, each of the seven fundamental planes has its own varieties of experience, its own ups and downs, both literally and metaphorically. (I think this is what Nicholas may be pointing towards.) At the same time terms like ‘higher and lower’, when applied to the seven fundamental planes, appear to be used in a metaphorical or qualitative sense rather than a spatial sense. In other words we not meant to think the seven planes are like a row of steps, one above the other.  They all interpenetrate each other.

Just some thoughts.  It’s a big topic!

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 27, 2015 at 7:53am

Thanks Peter, 

Wonderful information and observations. Truly appreciated.

It is a huge topic, agreed.  I truly understand that language is relative, it must be.   Language is an expression of the current reality which also undergoes modifications and developments.  Language develops when perspective and observations develop, it is a Law.  So, to speak of subtle concepts and experiences/observations require a subtle language.  One cannot use an axe for fine carving, just so, one cannot convey subtle topics and observations with words and expressions belonging to a grosser caliber of thought-matter.  Hence, metaphors and poetic expressions are best suited- they being finer expressions of a finer quality  of Mind.

This relates to the below;

"However, we are also taught that Higher Manas, while omniscient on its own plane, cannot act on the physical plane, whereas the lower manas can."

Simply turn to the Dream selection of Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge, or Gaudapadacaryas Karika on the Māṇḍūkyopaniṣad (1.2-6) regarding this topic.  Consider that substance determines the quality.  

I'm considering that this is just a personal opinion of mine, these "ups and downs", "higher and lowers" etc..  But when one is able to observe the mind when these words are used, it becomes very difficult not to conceptualize these metaphorical concepts considering our reality is based on higher and lowers, ups and downs and so on.  This is all.

Permalink Reply by Peter on September 28, 2015 at 8:39am

Kristan - Indeed,  I don’t think we fully appreciate just how much our conceptual consciousness overlays itself upon our direct experience - sensory or otherwise.  With regards to metaphors, we tend to think these are special ways of describing our experience that we draw upon occasionally for effect.  However, a great deal of our communication is based upon metaphor - much more that we think. 

Sometimes our own questions hold an energy or quality for us that is simply not present for other people or fellow students.  They quite often hold out the promise of a meaning yet to be discovered and may lead us to unexpected ‘places’ even if the original issue might fade in significance.  So they shouldn’t be discounted, in my view.

BTW,  below is a passage from HPB that appears to relate to and support the ideas you are raising, especially in relation to ‘qualities’ of substance.

“…all these, Aryan Yogis, Greek philosophers, and modern spiritualists, affirm that possibility on the ground that the embodied soul and its never embodied spirit—the real self—are not separated from either the Universal Soul or other spirits by space, but merely by the differentiation of their qualities; as in the boundless expanse of the universe there can be no limitation. And that when this difference is once removed—according to the Greeks and Aryans by abstract contemplation, producing the temporary liberation of the imprisoned Soul; and according to Spiritualists, through mediumship— such an union between embodied and disembodied spirits becomes possible. Thus was it that Patañjali’s Yogis and, following in their steps, Plotinus, Porphyry, and other Neo-Platonists, maintained that in their hours of ecstasy, they had been united to, or rather become as one with, God, several times during the course of their lives.”

(Collected Writiings, vol 2, 94)

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 28, 2015 at 9:17am

Thanks Peter.  

I do understand.  I truly didn't intend to sound like I was aiming to discredit anything.  I have just noticed how conditioned the mind was to organize thoughts and concepts spatially.  Its difficult to move beyond (see!) as most concepts we have/formulate are bound to this mode of thinking. 

Great quotation by the way.  Its defiantly what I was thinking. From which article is this pulled from? 


Permalink Reply by Peter on September 28, 2015 at 9:56am

Kristan, you are silly!

Of course you didn't sound like you were discrediting anything!  I was referring to your remarks: 'I'm considering that this is just a personal opinion of mine, these "ups and downs", "higher and lowers" etc..'

I appreciate these personal views and questions of yours.  I think they are valuable.

Permalink Reply by barbaram on September 25, 2015 at 3:25pm

As a sutra put it 'all is made of mind alone'.

Can you let me know which sutra you are referring to?  I would like to know. 

Thank you.

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 25, 2015 at 3:52pm


Off the top of my head, I believe there are numerous slokas found in Valmikis Yogavasistha, and some locations in the Bhagavatam Purana that state this.  I think it is mentioned in the Brhadaranyakopanisad, and other Upanisads as well.  

If Nicolas had a specific source, I'm sure he'd mention it. 

ब्रह्मणा तन्यते विश्वं मनसैव स्वयम्भुवा । मनोमयं अतो चिश्वं यन्नाम परिदृश्यते ।
The universe is spread (or projected) by the Self-Existent Brahmâ only by the mind.  Therefore, the universe which, verily, is seen all around is made of the mind.

यत् अर्थप्रतिभानं तत् मन इत्यभिधीयते । नास्त्यस्य मनसो रुपं संकल्पात् तत् न भिद्यते
That which is the understanding of objects is called the mind.  There is no form for this mind.  It is not separated from thought (or imagination).

-Yogavasistha of Valmiki

Permalink Reply by Kristan Stratos on September 28, 2015 at 11:42am

I have found in an introduction to the wonderful Sikh text; Japji  by the Great Adept Sri Guru Nanak Dev, introduction by a Kirpal Singh the following;

"...The repetton of the Varn-Atamak Naam is used for Simran purposes and in four dfferent ways: (1) with the tongue, (2) in the throat, (3) in the heart, and (4) in the navel. These methods are respectvely called (1) Bakhr, (2) Madhma, (3) Paschant, and (4) Pra.  With the repetition of Naam in any of these four ways, the Antish Karan (the Conscience) is purified and some supernatural powers, including previson and transvison, are achieved (the use of which is however depreciated and prohibited)."

ANTISH KARAN — Inner four-petalled lotus of the mind, symbolc of four mental facultes : chit (memory), manas (feelng mnd), buddh (thinking ntellect) and aham-kar (the self-assertve ego).

The spelling is differing only because I believe Sikhism is of Punjab origin.  It is close enough to original Sanskrit spelling.