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Theosophical Tenets: Divisions of Man and Nature

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    Sevenfold Nature of Man & Triune Nature

    “The Christian teaching, supported by St. Paul, since upon him, in fact, dogmatic Christianity rests, is that man is composed of body, soul, and spirit. This is the threefold constitution of man, believed by the theologians but kept in the background because its examination might result in the readoption of views once orthodox but now heretical. For when we thus place soul between spirit and body, we come very close to the necessity for looking into the question of the soul’s responsibility — since mere body can have no responsibility. And in order to make the soul responsible for the acts performed, we must assume that it has powers and functions. From this it is easy to take the position that the soul may be rational or irrational, as the Greeks sometimes thought, and then there is but a step to further Theosophical propositions. This threefold scheme of the nature of man contains, in fact, the Theosophical teaching of his sevenfold constitution, because the four other divisions missing from the category can be found in the powers and functions of body and soul, as I shall attempt to show later on. This conviction that man is a septenary and not merely a duad, was held long ago and very plainly taught to every one with accompanying demonstrations, but like other philosophical tenets it disappeared from sight, because gradually withdrawn at the time when in the east of Europe morals were degenerating and before materialism had gained full sway in company with scepticism, its twin. Upon its withdrawal the present dogma of body, soul, spirit, was left to Christendom. The reason for that concealment and its rejuvenescence in this century is well put by Mme. H. P. Blavatsky in the Secret Doctrine. In answer to the statement, “we cannot understand how any danger could arise from the revelation of such a purely philosophical doctrine as the evolution of the planetary chain,” she says:

    The danger was this: Doctrines such as the Planetary chain or the seven races at once give a clue to the sevenfold nature of man, for each principle is correlated to a plane, a planet, and a race; and the human principles are, on every plane, correlated to the sevenfold occult forces — those of the higher planes being of tremendous occult power, the abuse of which would cause incalculable evil to humanity. A clue which is, perhaps, no clue to the present generation — especially the Westerns — protected as they are by their very blindness and ignorant materialistic disbelief in the occult; but a clue which would, nevertheless, be very real in the early centuries of the Christian era, to people fully convinced of the reality of occultism and entering a cycle of degradation which made them ripe for abuse of occult powers and sorcery of the worst description.

    — William Quan Judge, The Ocean of Theosophy

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Theosophical Tenets: Divisions of Man and Nature

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    SEPTENARY DIVISION IN DIFFERENT INDIAN SYSTEMS.

    “We give below in a tabular form the classifications adopted by the Buddhist and Vedantic teachers of the principles of man: —

    sd1-157

    Footnotes:

    * Kosa (kosha) is “Sheath” literally, the sheath of every principle.

    † “Life.”

    ‡ The astral body or Linga Sarira.

    § Sthula-Upadhi, or basis of the principle.

    || Buddhi.

    From the foregoing table it will be seen that the third principle in the Buddhist classification is not separately mentioned in the Vedantic division, as it is merely the vehicle of Prana. It will also be seen that the Fourth principle is included in the third Kosa (Sheath), as the same principle is but the vehicle of will-power, which is but an energy of the mind. It must also be noticed that the Vignanamaya Kosa is considered to be distinct from the Manomaya Kosa, as a division is made after death between the lower part of the mind, as it were, which has a closer affinity with the fourth principle than with the sixth; and its higher part, which attaches itself to the latter, and which is, in fact, the basis for the higher spiritual individuality of man.

    We may also here point out to our readers that the classification mentioned in the last column is, for all practical purposes, connected with Raja Yoga, the best and simplest. Though there are seven principles in man, there are but three distinct Upadhis (bases), in each of which his Atma may work independently of the rest. These three Upadhis can be separated by an Adept without killing himself. He cannot separate the seven principles from each other without destroying his constitution.”

    The student will now be better prepared to see that between the three Upadhis of the Raja Yoga and its Atma, and our three Upadhis, Atma, and the additional three divisions, there is in reality but very little difference. Moreover, as every adept in cis-Himalayan or trans-Himalayan India, of the Patanjali, the Aryasanga or the Mahayana schools, has to become a Raja Yogi, he must, therefore, accept the Taraka Raja classification in principle and theory whatever classification he resorts to for practical and occult purposes. Thus, it matters very little whether one speaks of the three Upadhis with their three aspects and Atma, the eternal and immortal synthesis, or calls them the “seven principles.”

    —The Secret Doctrine, Volume 1, p. 157-8

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    ON THE SEPTENARY CONSTITUTION OF OUR PLANET From the Key to Theosophy

    ENQUIRER. I understand that you describe our earth as forming part of a chain of earths?

    THEOSOPHIST. We do. But the other six “earths” or globes, are not on the same plane of objectivity as our earth is; therefore we cannot see them.

    ENQUIRER. Is that on account of the great distance?

    THEOSOPHIST. Not at all, for we see with our naked eye planets and even stars at immeasurably greater distances; but it is owing to those six globes being outside our physical means of perception, or plane of being. It is not only that their material density, weight, or fabric are entirely different from those of our earth and the other known planets; but they are (to us) on an entirely different layer of space, so to speak; a layer not to be perceived or felt by our physical senses. And when I say “layer,” please do not allow your fancy to suggest to you layers like strata or beds laid one over the other, for this would only lead to another absurd misconception. What I mean by “layer” is that plane of infinite space which by its nature cannot fall under our ordinary waking perceptions, whether mental or physical; but which exists in nature outside of our normal mentality or consciousness, outside of our three dimensional space, and outside of our division of time. 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. But all this will be hardly comprehensible to one trained in the modern ways of thought.

    ENQUIRER. What do you mean by a different set of senses? Is there anything on our human plane that you could bring as an illustration of what you say, just to give a clearer idea of what you may mean by this variety of senses, spaces, and respective perceptions?

    THEOSOPHIST. None; except, perhaps, that which for Science would be rather a handy peg on which to hang a counter-argument. We have a different set of senses in dream-life, have we not? We feel, talk, hear, see, taste and function in general on a different plane; the change of state of our consciousness being evidenced by the fact that a series of acts and events embracing years, as we think, pass ideally through our mind in one instant. Well, that extreme rapidity of our mental operations in dreams, and the perfect naturalness, for the time being, of all the other functions, show us that we are on quite another plane. Our philosophy teaches us that, as there are seven fundamental forces in nature, and seven planes of being, so there are seven states of consciousness in which man can live, think, remember and have his being. To enumerate these here is impossible, and for this one has to turn to the study of Eastern metaphysics. But in these two states — the waking and the dreaming — every ordinary mortal, from a learned philosopher down to a poor untutored savage, has a good proof that such states differ.

    ENQUIRER. You do not accept, then, the well-known explanations of biology and physiology to account for the dream state?

    THEOSOPHIST. We do not. We reject even the hypotheses of your psychologists, preferring the teachings of Eastern Wisdom. Believing in seven planes of Kosmic being and states of Consciousness, with regard to the Universe or the Macrocosm, we stop at the fourth plane, finding it impossible to go with any degree of certainty beyond. But with respect to the Microcosm, or man, we speculate freely on his seven states and principles.

    ENQUIRER. How do you explain these?

    THEOSOPHIST. We find, first of all, two distinct beings in man; the spiritual and the physical, the man who thinks, and the man who records as much of these thoughts as he is able to assimilate. Therefore we divide him into two distinct natures; the upper or the spiritual being, composed of three “principles” or aspects; and the lower or the physical quaternary, composed of four — in all seven.

  • Profile photo of Grace Cunningham
    Grace Cunningham
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    What is the fundamental value of looking at human nature and cosmic nature in sevens?

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    The Sevenfold Division

    Excerpt from Theosophy Generally Stated

    Theosophy postulates an eternal principle called the unknown, which can never be cognized except through its manifestations. This eternal principle is in and is every thing and being; it periodically and eternally manifests itself and recedes again from manifestation. In this ebb and flow evolution proceeds and itself is the progress of the manifestation. The perceived universe is the manifestation of this unknown, including spirit and matter, for Theosophy holds that those are but the two opposite poles of the one unknown principle. They coexist, are not separate nor separable from each other, or, as the Hindu scriptures say, there is no particle of matter without spirit, and no particle of spirit without matter. In manifesting itself the spirit-matter differentiates on seven planes, each more dense on the way down to the plane of our senses than its predecessor, the substance in all being the same only differing in degree. Therefore from this view the whole universe is alive, not one atom of it being in any sense dead. It is also conscious and intelligent, its consciousness and intelligence being present on all planes though obscured on this one. On this plane of ours the spirit focalizes itself in all human beings who choose to permit it to do so, and the refusal to permit it is the cause of ignorance, of sin, of all sorrow and suffering.

    In all ages some have come to this high state, have grown to be as gods, are partakers actively in the work of nature, and go on from century to century widening their consciousness and increasing the scope of their government in nature. This is the destiny of all beings, and hence at the outset Theosophy postulates this perfectibility of the race, removes the idea of innate unregenerable wickedness, and offers a purpose and an aim for life which is consonant with the longings of the soul and with its real nature, tending at the same time to destroy pessimism with its companion, despair.

    In Theosophy the world is held to be the product of the evolution of the principle spoken of from the very lowest first forms of life guided as it proceeded by intelligent perfected beings from other and older evolutions, and compounded also of the egos or individual spirits for and by whom it emanates. Hence man as we know him is held to be a conscious spirit, the flower of evolution, with other and lower classes of egos below him in the lower kingdoms, all however coming up and destined one day to be on the same human stage as we now are, we then being higher still. Man’s consciousness being thus more perfect is able to pass from one to another of the planes of differentiation mentioned. If he mistakes any one of them for the reality that he is in his essence, he is deluded; the object of evolution then is to give him complete self-consciousness so that he may go on to higher stages in the progress of the universe. His evolution after coming on the human stage is for the getting of experience, and in order to so raise up and purify the various planes of matter with which he has to do, that the voice of the spirit may be fully heard and comprehended.

    He is a religious being because he is a spirit encased in matter, which is in turn itself spiritual in essence. Being a spirit he requires vehicles with which to come in touch with all the planes of nature included in evolution, and it is these vehicles that make of him an intricate, composite being, liable to error, but at the same time able to rise above all delusions and conquer the highest place. He is in miniature the universe, for he is as spirit, manifesting himself to himself by means of seven differentiations. Therefore is he known in Theosophy as a sevenfold being. The Christian division of body, soul, and spirit is accurate so far as it goes, but will not answer to the problems of life and nature, unless, as is not the case, those three divisions are each held to be composed of others, which would raise the possible total to seven. The spirit stands alone at the top, next comes the spiritual soul or Buddhi as it is called in Sanskrit. This partakes more of the spirit than any below it, and is connected with Manas or mind, these three being the real trinity of man, the imperishable part, the real thinking entity living on the earth in the other and denser vehicles by its evolution. Below in order of quality is the plane of the desires and passions shared with the animal kingdom, unintelligent, and the producer of ignorance flowing from delusion. It is distinct from the will and judgment, and must therefore be given its own place. On this plane is gross life, manifesting, not as spirit from which it derives its essence, but as energy and motion on this plane. It being common to the whole objective plane and being everywhere, is also to be classed by itself, the portion used by man being given up at the death of the body. Then last, before the objective body, is the model or double of the outer physical case. This double is the astral body belonging to the astral plane of matter, not so dense as physical molecules, but more tenuous and much stronger, as well as lasting. It is the original of the body permitting the physical molecules to arrange and show themselves thereon, allowing them to go and come from day to day as they are known to do, yet ever retaining the fixed shape and contour given by the astral double within. These lower four principles or sheaths are the transitory perishable part of man, not himself, but in every sense the instrument he uses, given up at the hour of death like an old garment, and rebuilt out of the general reservoir at every new birth. The trinity is the real man, the thinker, the individuality that passes from house to house, gaining experience at each rebirth, while it suffers and enjoys according to its deeds – it is the one central man, the living spirit-soul.

    Now this spiritual man, having always existed, being intimately concerned in evolution, dominated by the law of cause and effect, because in himself he is that very law, showing moreover on this plane varieties of force of character, capacity, and opportunity, his very presence must be explained, while the differences noted have to be accounted for. The doctrine of reincarnation does all this. It means that man as a thinker, composed of soul, mind and spirit, occupies body after body in life after life on the earth which is the scene of his evolution, and where he must, under the very laws of his being, complete that evolution, once it has been begun. In any one life he is known to others as a personality, but in the whole stretch of eternity he is one individual, feeling in himself an identity not dependent on name, form, or recollection.

    — from Theosophy Generally Stated, Lucifer, December 1893

    • Profile photo of David Reigle
      David Reigle
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      Profile photo of David ReigleDavid Reigle

      This is one of the clearest statements of the central teachings of Theosophy that I have ever read. I wish that the whole world could read it. This comes from William Q. Judge’s address to the World Parliament of Religions in 1893, right?

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        Pierre Wouters
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        Didn’t see this until now David.

        Yes, it is by Mr. Judge, it’s also the first article in the Theosophy Company edition of the two volumes with articles by Mr. Judge.
        William Q. Judge Theosophical Articles, Vol. I p. 1. It is indeed from the Official Report of the World’s Parliament of Religions that appeared in Lucifer for December 1893 as above indicated.

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    We realize a mood of intense desire or passion as something apart from our spiritual nature, and more akin to the physical; and we sometimes speak even of our “physical consciousness” as a thing that we do not therefore perceive with our senses. This is the lowest aspect of our consciousness, and is called in Sanskrit Kama-rupa, or “the body of desire.” This is, of course, a highly figurative expression.

    Then comes our intelligent consciousness, the Mind itself, the thinking part of us, which differentiates us from the brute; and we all realise that this aspect of our consciousness has a dual nature, and may drag us down to the level of the animal or raise us to the height of the god. Therefore we speak of the higher and lower Manas, or mind.

    The physical body, its passions, and that lower aspect of mind which tends to gravitate downward and which belongs to the physical brain, are dependent upon life, or the vital principle, a form of the Divine Energy within us. So also is that phantom body, the shadow of the real one, which disperses after death like the light of a distant star, that to us appears to be still shining, although in reality long ago fallen from its sphere.

    If we can imagine the lower aspect of our intelligence or mind tending downward, we can also realise its higher phase aspiring to unite itself to our spiritual consciousness or Buddhi, the vehicle of the Divine, of that Universal Spirit which makes us one. Our highest intelligence and our spiritual consciousness, overshadowed by the radiation of the Absolute, form the Monad or re-incarnating Ego.

    Of this Madame Blavatsky says on p. 92 of the Key, that it alone can be thought of as the highest “principle in man”. Because, as she explains it is always the predominating element in man that counts, and in one man passion is the ruling and foremost phase; in another, intellect; in another, spirituality.

    But however we choose to arrange these phases in our minds, let us remember always that they are not entities, and that, as Mme. Blavatsky says, “There is but one real man, enduring through the cycle of life and immortal in essence, if not in form, and this is Manas, the Mind-man or embodied consciousness.” (Key, p. 100.)

    — K. Hillard, The Path, June 1890

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    Grace Cunningham
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    Do the colors of the rainbow and the notes in a scale constitute a “hierarchy” or are they of equal value and standing?

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      Tom Kehoe
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      Profile photo of Tom KehoeTom Kehoe

      Perhaps each color and each note correspond to a hierarch(?)

      • Profile photo of barbara
        barbara
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        “Perhaps each color and each note correspond to a hierarch(?)”

        Hi Tom:

        Can you elaborate on your thought above? What does each hierarch represent?

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    1. Can someone expand on the meaning of this sentence from the Key of Theosophy, pg 196.

    -Manas, the derivation or product in a reflected form of Ahamkara, “the conception of I,” or Ego-self.

    This makes it sound like manas is a product of the ego; I thought it was the other way around.

    2. Another interesting sentence from pg 109 is – The “principles,” as already said save the body, the life and the astral eidolon, all of which disperse at death, are simply aspects and state of consciousness.

    My idea of “a principle” may be too concrete and materialistic if I am reading this right.

    • Profile photo of Pavel Axentiev
      Pavel Axentiev
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      1. Maybe you can find more by using the Index, but here is from Isis Unveiled (Before The Veil, p. xviii, 1877), quoting from Manava-Dharma-Sastra:

      “He (the Supreme) drew from his own essence the immortal breath which perisheth not in the being, and to this soul of the being he gave the Ahankara (conscience of the ego) sovereign guide.” Then he gave to that soul of the being (man) the intellect formed of the three qualities, and the five organs of the outward perception.”

      So, it appears from this that Ahankara came first, and then the Manas.

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      Peter
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      Hello Barbara – just some thoughts on your fist question (#5975). It’s not unusual in Hindu philosophy to find that manas proceeds from ahamkara. In the Samkhya philosophical system, for example, they have the two fundamental principles of Spirit (Purusha) and Matter (Prakriti). From Prakriti evolve all the other principles, the first being Mahat from which comes Ahamkara, from which comes Manas along with the organs of sense and action; the subtle and gross elements. There are some variations in the literature but the order of Ahamkara followed by Manas is constant.
      In the Secret Doctrine, HPB argues that this is the correct order when quoting Medhātithi, a commentator on the Laws of Manu correcting the following mis-translation of the latter by orientalist:

      (14.) “ From Self (âtmanah) he created mind, (1) which is and is not ; (2) and from mind, Ego-ism (Self-Consciousness) the ruler ; (3) the Lord.”

      ‘The mind is Manas, Medhâtithi, the commentator, justly observes here that it is the reverse of this and shows already interpolation and rearranging ; for it is Manas that springs from Ahamkara or (Universal) Self-Consciousness, as Manas in the microcosm springs from Mahat, or Maha-Buddhi (Buddhi, in man). For Manas is dual, and as shown and translated by Colebrooke, “ is serving both for sense and action, is an organ by affinity, being cognate with the rest.” “ The rest ” means, here, that Manas, our fifth principle (the fifth, because the body was named the first, which is the reverse of the true philosophical order)* is in affinity both with Atma-Buddhi and with the lower four principles. Hence, our teaching : namely, that Manas follows Atma- Buddhi to Devachan, and that the lower (dregs, the residue of) Manas remains with Kama rupa, in Limbus, or Kama-loka, the abode of the “ Shells.”’
      (SD I 333-4)

      Ahamakara or Ego-ism is often seen as something negative, associated with ignorance and personal selfishness. This is particularly the case when we consider the nature of manas linked with kama (kama-manas), which we associated with self interest, personal desire and egoism. However, the order of the principles outlined above and HPB’s definition of Ahamkara as (Universal) Self-Consciousness suggests that there is a spiritual aspect as well as a materialistic aspect of ahamkara depending on whether Manas tends towards Atma-Buddhi or the lower principles. In fact, in a footnote on the following page in the SD, HPB says that Ahamara has a triple nature:

      Ahamkara, as universal Self-Consciousness, has a triple aspect, as also Manas. For this conception of “ I,” or one’s Ego, is either sattwa, “ pure quietude,” or appears as rajas, “ active,” or remains tamas, “ stagnant,” in darkness. It belongs to Heaven and Earth, and assumes the properties of either.’ (SD I 335)

      This makes sense when we consider that from a theosophical perspective we speak of the personal ego (kama-manas) and the Spiritual Ego (Buddhi Manas). Ahamkara is defined as essentially a feeling of ‘I am-ness’ or ‘self-consciousness. Thus, the nature of the ego we create (form) for ourselves depends on whether it is heaven aspiring or of the earth earthy. Without self-consciousness how could we learn to be moral agents, to consciously work as co-workers with nature. Is it possible for the Realisation of ’That I am’ (Tat twam asi) without the initial awareness of ‘I am’? The process of ‘identification’ of consciousness, of the feeling of ‘I am’, perhaps plays an important part in this – is it with the part or with the Whole?

      ~~

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        Hi Peter and Pavel:

        Thank you for your clarification. This is indeed very interesting.

        If Ahamkara is followed by Manas, then what is the relationship between Buddhi and the former? Similarly, what is the relationship between one’s individuality (Ego) and Ahamkara? There are many writings about the sevenfold nature of man, but Ahamkara is not mentioned regularly in this context.

        If Manas is a reflection of Mahat; is there a macrocosmic correspondence to Ahamkara? Does it serve as a vehicle to something higher? I wonder if our thoughts cease or our mind stops, would our sense of self persist?

        When we were studying the after-death states, it was mentioned that Ahamkara is necessary because, otherwise, there would be no one to experience the state of Devachan. Our sense of “self” is very elusive; it changes as we grow.

        Thank you.

        • Profile photo of Ramprakash ML
          Ramprakash ML
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          Profile photo of Ramprakash MLRamprakash ML

          As I remember :-

          Third Logos is Mahat, the Cosmic Ego. It is the synthesis of primordial seven Rays or Hierarchies.

          What is called Ahankara is the “I” principle which emanate from one of the seven Rays of Mahat Tattva.

          Such I – principles emanate like millions of sparks, as it were, from the Central Fire, or like millions of Rays of the Central Sun.

          These l principles are called in Sankhya system as Aham-tattva, or as Ahankara.

          In Theosophical paralance it is Ego.

          Ego or Aham Tattva is Higher Manas.

          In Vedanta system it is Vijnanaatma or Vijnanamaya Kosha

          It is immortal Divine Ego, unborn, deathless, throughout the mahamanvantara, the age of Brahma, at the end of which they, the Egos, are reabsorbed in Mahat, the parent luminary, which itself will merge into Absolute – Parabrahm.

          The Ahamkara, Rgo, is the reincarnating Ego, threading upon itself the quintessential experiences from each
          One of the innumerable earthly personalities which it over-shadows, and thus evolve through assimilation of these into Atma-Buddhi. When it completely merges into Atma-Buddhi, or, when Atma-Buddhi is centered in Higher Manas, the Divine Ego becomes MAHATMA , Master of Wisdom, Nirvana.

          “We” are all, every one of us, is that Ego, on pilgrimage whose end is Nirvana, complete Self-consciousness.

          In every rebirth, the Ego emanates a ray from itself, from its own essence. This ray of the Higher Manas is what we call mind. Mind is mortal Lower Ego, enveloped in Kama, passions and desires, during life on earth.

          This lower mind works through brain, it’s instrument, during earhlife. It is dependent on brain for earthly experiences, and brain is dependent on mind for its functions. Modern psychologists study the lower mind-brain function, and think that there is no mind apart from brain. They know nothing of the Higher psychic faculties and functions of lower mind, nor the true nature of mind, and much less about Higher Manasic Ego, which is independent of its earthly reflection and the brain sunstance, passions and desires.

          Higher Ego, standing on high, unafffected, tries to influence its earthly reflection, and those prompting from on high is called Conscience.

          Progression or regression, happiness or sorrow, death or immortality of the earthly mortal man depends on whether he lives and acts in conformity with his divine parent or otherwise, and thus makes Karma, and cause future rebirths in good and evil wombs.

          Important point to remember is that it is from Aham Tattva–pervaded as it is by the three qualities of Sattca, Rajas and Tomas—that subtle elements (called Tanmaatras), gross elements, five faculties of sensation (Jnanendriyas) and five faculties or organs of action (Karmendriyas) and Mind are evolved at every rebirth.

          So we have eleven senses, mind being the king, Raja of the senses.

          The mystery is, as HPB points out in the Key, Manas is both the Principle and an Entity. It is the thinking principle as well as the Thinker, the Soul.

          • Profile photo of barbara
            barbara
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            “What is called Ahankara is the “I” principle which emanate from one of the seven Rays of Mahat Tattva.
            Such I – principles emanate like millions of sparks, as it were, from the Central Fire, or like millions of Rays of the Central Sun.
            These l principles are called in Sankhya system as Aham-tattva, or as Ahankara.
            In Theosophical paralance it is Ego.
            Ego or Aham Tattva is Higher Manas.”

            Hi Ram:

            Your statements above provide much food for thought. I will need to ponder on it. For now, just one question, doesn’t Ahamkara also mean the personal ego which gives rise of a sense of a separate self? If true, is there a higher and lower Ahamkara?

            • Profile photo of Pierre Wouters
              Pierre Wouters
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              Profile photo of Pierre WoutersPierre Wouters

              Hi Barbara,

              I don’t know if Ramprakash misread your comment by using Antahkarana instead of Ahamkara, and it would certainly be interesting to hear him explain the distinction between the two. Notwithstanding, his explanation of Antahkarana is very much to the point as it is one of the most crucial topics to pay attention to in the study of theosophy. I do think there’s a strong connection between these two terms – as everything in theosophy, being the expression of the One Life, of necessity has a connection with everything else – and from that perspective Ramprakash certainly answered your question.

              The answer to your question with respect to the term Ahamkara itself, can be found in HPBs Secret Doctrine I:335* (footnote):

              “* Ahamkara, as universal Self-Consciousness, has a triple aspect, as also Manas. For this conception of “I,” or one’s Ego, is either sattwa, “pure quietude,” or appears as rajas, “active,” or remains tamas, “stagnant,” in darkness. It belongs to Heaven and Earth, and assumes the properties of either.”

              Note that HPB is referring to Ahamkara as having a triple aspect, while saying the same of Manas. So we see some relationship here between Ahamkara and Antahkarana, although we wouldn’t call Antahkarana universal Self-Consciousness, as it is indeed the higher aspect of lower manas as Ramprakash pointed out and discussed in the Voice of the Silence. I forgot the reference to the page, but HPB at some point refers to Antahkarana as being 7-fold as well, which makes sense, as everything that is 3-fold will also be 7-fold. Man can be seen as an aggregate of Spirit, soul and body, but we can equally call him a 7-fold being, or a 2-fold, a 4- fold or 49-fold being. It’s all a matter of perspective and context, theory or practice – see for example the table in SDI:157 where HPB shows the distinction between the different Indian systems or theory and practice.

              A connection can equally be made between the term Ahamkara and Svasamvedana “the reflection which analyses itself”, yet a synonym of Paramârtha (See Glossary and SDI:53-54) and in a certain sense also universal Self-Consciousness.

              This triple aspect of manas is also discussed in SDII:254* (footnote):

              “* “Follow the law of analogy” – the Masters teach. Atma-Buddhi is dual and Manas is triple; inasmuch as the former has two aspects, and the latter three, i.e., as a principle per se, which gravitates, in its higher aspect, to Atma-Buddhi, and follows, in its lower nature, Kama, the seat of terrestrial and animal desires and passions. Now compare the evolution of the Races, the First and the Second of which are of the nature of Atma-Buddhi, their passive Spiritual progeny, and the Third Root-Race shows three distinct divisions or aspects physiologically and psychically; the earliest, sinless; the middle portions awakening to intelligence; and the third and last decidedly animal: i.e., Manas succumbs to the temptations of Kama.”

              These 2 (Atma-Buddhi) + 3 (triple manas) = 5, is equally seen as part of a pentagram (SDII:576* footnote):

              “* What is the meaning and the reason of this figure? Because, Manas is the fifth principle, and because the pentagon [or pentagram – PW] is the symbol of Man – not only of the five-limbed, but rather of the thinking, conscious MAN”.

              An example of the 2-fold nature of manas (instead of 3 or 7) can be found here (SDII:639* footnote):

              “* As Mahat (universal intelligence) is first born, or manifests, as Vishnu, and then, when it falls into matter and develops self-consciousness, it becomes Egoism, Selfishness, so Manas is of a dual nature. It is respectively under the sun and moon, for as Sankaracharya says “The moon is the mind, and the sun the understanding.” The sun and moon are the deities of our planetary Macrocosmos, and therefore Sankara adds that “the mind and the understanding are the respective deities of the (human) organs” (vide Brihadaranyaka, pp. 521, et seq.) This is perhaps why Arjuna Misra says that the moon and the Fire (the self, the sun) constitute the universe.”

              One could say that it is a fundamental principle in the study of theosophy, that there is nothing that only exists as a singular nature, but that everything – whether manifested or unmanifested, rupa or arupa – has its subdivisions, either expressed or as a potentiality. A simple example being the “The Three in One” and “The One in Three”.

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    Ramprakash ML
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    Hi Barbara

    A very important question.

    Antahkarana (also pronounced as Antashkarana) literally means Internal organ.

    It has one meaning in Vedanta, and quite another in Theosophy.

    In Vedanta Antahkarana means mind (chitta), intellect, Buddhi

    In Theosophy it means the higher aspect of Lower Manas.

    Lower Manas has two aspects : One caught up and imprisoned in Kama; and the other rising higher than Kama and capable of controlling it, the better part of man or the purer part of man, which links him to his Divine Ego.

    It is part of the Lower Manas, and is the Path or bridge between the Higher and the Lower Manas, between the Divine Ego and the personal soul of man.

    It “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 thus be make immortal with it, these being the only elements of the evanescent personality that survives death and time.” (Theosophical Glossary)

    We are taught that personality has to keep this “bridge” constantly in use by higher aspirations, kindness, compassion, gratitude, unselfishness, charity.

    If not, if evil tendencies of Kama Manas are allowed to grow and become predominant character of the man, then a terrible calamity will occur : destruction of the Antashkarana; nothing of nobler qualities will be there that Antashkarana can convey to the Higher Ego after the death of man. It is the spiritual death of man.

    • This reply was modified 4 months, 1 week ago by Profile photo of Ramprakash ML Ramprakash ML.
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    William Quan Judge on the Septenary Nature of Cosmos (from The Ocean of Theosophy)

    The teachings of Theosophy deal for the present chiefly with our earth, although its purview extends to all the worlds, since no part of the manifested universe is outside the single body of laws which operate upon us. Our globe being one of the solar system is certainly connected with Venus, Jupiter, and other planets, but as the great human family has to remain with its material vehicle — the earth — until all the units of the race which are ready are perfected, the evolution of that family is of greater importance to the members of it. Some particulars respecting the other planets may be given later on. First let us take a general view of the laws governing all.

    The universe evolves from the unknown, into which no man or mind, however high, can inquire, on seven planes or in seven ways or methods in all worlds, and this sevenfold differentiation causes all the worlds of the universe and the beings thereon to have a septenary constitution. As was taught of old, the little worlds and the great are copies of the whole, and the minutest insect as well as the most highly developed being are replicas in little or in great of the vast inclusive original. Hence sprang the saying, “as above so below” which the Hermetic philosophers used.

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    ONE RAY — VARIOUS ASPECTS
    Man is not a single, indivisible homogeneous unit, but is a composite entity made up of many different elements and principles, under normal conditions operating harmoniously together during Man’s life on Earth. Besides his visible, physical body, he is endowed with an inner, invisible, complex constitution, part of which is inferior to his ordinary mental Consciousness, and part superior to this Consciousness.

    The essential part of Man is a Ray or stream of consciousness, a part of the Universal Consciousness, the Divine Source of all life. This Ray is inseparable from the One Universal Life, just as a sunbeam is inseparable from the sun, but while embodied it appears as a separate unit.

    This Ray is the core around which Man’s composite nature is built. The various principles of his constitution are all different aspects or manifestations of this Ray, and all are vitalized into activity by its presence.

    As this Ray descends through the various planes or levels of Nature, it focuses its essence into active centers at each of these levels and builds for itself vehicles suitable for existence thereon. In each case the vehicle is built from the materials and energies of the plane in which it is to operate, and each such vehicle enables the Ray to evolve and progress by experience on one or another of these planes.

    The idea of a stream of consciousness using different vehicles or appearing under different aspects, might be illustrated by comparing the stream of consciousness to a ray of sunlight. This appears as a single ray, but is in reality a combination of different radiations and can be made to appear under different aspects as the seven prismatic colors.

    The descent of the Ray of Consciousness through the planes of Nature might be compared to the passage of a sunbeam through several layers of glass. There are varieties of glass that will permit the passage of certain radiations from the sun, while excluding others. Let us imagine a sunbeam passing through seven different grades of glass, of which the first one will allow all the radiations to pass; the next one will be impervious to one wave-length with its corresponding color, but lets the other six pass through, and so on down through the different strata or layers of glass until finally, in the last instance only a single color penetrates and illumines the objects under the lowest glass. Even though the light, that penetrates to the lowest level, is feeble and gives an inadequate idea of the brilliance of its source, yet it is a part of the original ray and carries with it a faint glimmer from the highest to the lowest level.

    — Life’s Riddle by Nils A. Amneus

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    Tom Kehoe
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    Profile photo of Tom KehoeTom Kehoe

    “…looking into the question of the soul’s responsibility….we must assume that it has powers and functions.” We wonder if an important responsibility of the soul (dual natured mind?) isn’t ethics. Our ethic in any particular endeavor might be reflected by the quality of concomitant relationships. Whether bio-ethics, business ethics, or proper conduct on the sports field, our ethic toward others about us may be an objective signal of the status of our ethic toward our own nature within. Do we listen with an open heart? Do we have patience with ourself? Do we exercise reflection when things get a little out of hand? If so, then that may be a sign we’re on the right path. That may be a sign that we’re exercising powers and functions constructively. In the light of Theosophy, what would a high ethic toward our own inner nature result in? Well, would it not simply result in trust? Would it not result in conditions which inwardly permit greater power and wider function to find expression in service to others about us? “Self-knowledge is of loving deeds the child…”

    “Whatsoever you do to the least of your brothers, that you do unto me…” says Krishna…or Christ(?)…or Buddha(!?)…same same either way. In certain ways, we as soul beings have responsibility to exercise inherent powers and functions. Let us do so in humble service, guided by the Voice of Intuition, in the Spirit of Universal Brotherhood.

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    From the Key to Theosophy

    ON THE SEPTENARY CONSTITUTION OF OUR PLANET

    ENQUIRER. I understand that you describe our earth as forming part of a chain of earths?

    THEOSOPHIST. We do. But the other six “earths” or globes, are not on the same plane of objectivity as our earth is; therefore we cannot see them.

    ENQUIRER. Is that on account of the great distance?

    THEOSOPHIST. Not at all, for we see with our naked eye planets and even stars at immeasurably greater distances; but it is owing to those six globes being outside our physical means of perception, or plane of being. It is not only that their material density, weight, or fabric are entirely different from those of our earth and the other known planets; but they are (to us) on an entirely different layer of space, so to speak; a layer not to be perceived or felt by our physical senses. And when I say “layer,” please do not allow your fancy to suggest to you layers like strata or beds laid one over the other, for this would only lead to another absurd misconception. What I mean by “layer” is that plane of infinite space which by its nature cannot fall under our ordinary waking perceptions, whether mental or physical; but which exists in nature outside of our normal mentality or consciousness, outside of our three dimensional space, and outside of our division of time. 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. But all this will be hardly comprehensible to one trained in the modern ways of thought.

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    This Oneness expresses itself on all planes of the Cosmos through transitory vehicles, built of the substances, forces and life-energies of the planes upon which it may be manifesting. These vehicles or sheaths of consciousness become ever more condensed, more material, as the Ray from the Monad descends through children-vehicles down into ever increasingly material spheres. Each plane is the sphere of being or consciousness, the home, of a ray of the Chief Monad of any entity whether a mineral or a God. The core of the vehicle of such a manifesting Jiva is called the Sutratman in the Vedantic philosophy, the thread soul, which has strung upon it various children monads. Each of these minor monads in the constitution is exactly the same in essence as the Chief Monad, the fountain from which they have all issued and in which they have their being; each is constituted in the same essences, vehicular bodies, and consciousness centers, although of varying degrees depending upon its evolutionary standing.

    Now with this picture in mind, and with a general concept of the various methods of dividing man, we might say that the manner which is the most basic, in that further sub-divisions can be made, is the Threefold. Further separations should be made by each student according to the mode which gives him the clearest understanding and satisfies his mind and heart the most fully — with the added thought, however, that we should ever strive to keep an open mind and not allow ourselves to become crystallized in any one way of looking upon a subject, if we hope to expand our consciousness and the teachings as time goes on.

    The triune division of man is the Self, the Ego, and the Soul. Every Monad may be said to express itself first consciously and then self-consciously through these primary Upadhis which it has built for itself and which are the reflexions in their respective fields of the One.

    The Self, the I AM, is the immortal spark of any entity, which never dies or descends directly into the lower planes, but sends forth shoots or rays which are the spiritual heart of the pranic forces or life-energies of those planes. The Self of a monad, such as the human, which is largely unrealized, acts unselfconsciously as the “medium” through which these life-essences are transmitted to the human, through the Higher Ego, and which develops into self-consciousness in conjunction with the Ego.

    The Ego, which is a garment or vehicle of the Self, of the I AM, is like a mirror which reflects the I AM, making of it the I AM I. It is that portion of us which in its higher parts gives us our spiritual yearnings and sublime realization of the essential Divine Root from which everything evolves and from which come our flashes of intuition. In its lower aspects it joins with the soul to give us our individualized personalities, our human self-consciousness.

    -The Three Monadic Vestures Studley Hart, The Theosophical Forum July 1941

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    On the subjective plane our relations are determined by attractions and intrinsic conditions, and an individual full of all evil passions, inflamed by alcohol, will attract entities of like degree, and so on to the end of the chapter. To say that all such cases result from pure imagination is not even to make them thinkable. Many persons assume that when they have named a thing they have explained it, and that further questions are an impertinence. Perhaps the most important consideration in regard to the shifting states of consciousness from the objective to the subjective condition regards that vague and varying state known as insanity. As a rule, with the insane this transfer of consciousness is partial, seldom complete. Consciousness is rather out of joint than actually transferred from plane to plane. There is usually an organic lesion, or a functional obstruction that tends to tissue change in some of the nerve centers. The result in many cases is to break down that sharp line of demarcation between the objective and subjective worlds. The individual becomes bewildered, loses his bearings. His experiences are no longer coordinate. The instrument through which consciousness manifested is out of tune, and the result is discord. The great mistake in regard to all these cases of perverted function arises from the fact that no differentiation is made as to planes or states of consciousness. Practically but one state of consciousness is recognized, and the still further mistake is made of looking upon all objects cognized, and all experiences outside the ordinary plane of consciousness, as altogether non-existent, a figment of the imagination. But pray what is imagination? Ask the artist, the poet, the painter; ask genius that is so closely allied to insanity; ask all who create from ideal forms; and they will tell us, one and all, that imagination is the wings of the soul that bear up the lagging fancy, the slow and plodding mind, till it enters the ideal world and gazes there on both beauty and deformity in all their nakedness. They will tell us that what we call the real world is at best but a poor and colorless caricature as compared to the ideals open to the imagination, and that what the world is pleased to call the work of genius bears but a touch of that transcendent truth and reality that veils its face from every faculty of man on the phenomenal plane. Ask the true scientist what we knew of anything, of matter, space, time, or motion, — of the whole phenomenal world —, and he will tell us, and tell us truly, that we have our own ideas of these, and nothing more. Finally, ask that greatest of all modern philosophers, Schopenhauer, what is imagination? and he will tell us that not only the world, but ourselves included, is reducible to two terms, Imagination and Will; the one, the essence and the creator of all forms in nature; the other, the creative and motive power; and that these powers are as potent on the subjective plane as on the objective; are as active in drunken delirium, in mania, and insanity, as in that other condition of consciousness that we call sanity, but which is often more insane than any other. There is no subject likely to yield more valuable results to the earnest student than the various planes and conditions of consciousness.

    — J. D. Buck, The Path, December 1888

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      Gerry Kiffe
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      What is the role imagination plays in moving through various planes of consciousness?

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        “What is the role imagination plays in moving through various planes of consciousness?”

        Imagination can lift our mind out of the dullness and take our heart through the infinity of space. It is the bridge to that outside of ourselves. We can see how imagination plays active role in our understanding others.

        In terms of moving through various planes of consciousness, using an example with the passages below, we may notice when we read through the sentences, our imagination invariably fill in the gaps while our mind try to grasp the concepts. If we ponder on these profound ideas, our imagination and intuition would help us tap into the current, uplifting us into another state of mind. We can do this with any writings that inspire us.

        Mahatma Letters page 158, 159 –

        But what is “Spirit” pure and impersonal per se? Is it possible that you should not have realized yet our meaning? why
        such a Spirit is a nonentity, a pure abstraction, an absolute blank to our senses—even to the most spiritual. It becomes something only in union with matter—hence it is always something since matter is infinite and indestructible and non-existent without Spirit which, in matter is life. Separated from matter it becomes the absolute negation of life and being, whereas matter is inseparable from it……………

        We will say that it is, and will remain for ever demonstrated that since motion is all-pervading and absolute rest inconceivable, that under whatever form or mask motion may app>ear, whether as light, heat, magnetism, chemical affinity or electricity—all these must be but phases of One and the same universal omnipotent Force, a Proteus they bow to, as the Great ** Unknown “—(See Herbert Spencer) and we, simply call the •* One Life ” the ” One Law ” and the ** One Element.”

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    From B.P. Wadia’s Studies in the Secret Doctrine

    The Theosophical teachings about planes, worlds, globes, and spheres, have been often misunderstood. Tendencies begotten of theological creeds and beliefs are inherent in most of us and these unconsciously to ourselves color our imagination, our image-making faculty, which is an aid in our understanding of Theosophical truths about worlds—physical, psychical, spiritual. We are very apt to picture hell beneath our feet and heaven on the other side of the blue sky though we name them Kama-loka and Devachan. Our theological and Theosophical geographies get mixed. Next, our scientific education inoculates us with the serum of materialism and although we do not know it we have a strong tendency in the direction of materializing Theosophical teachings, so that we may be “able to sense the meaning of it all,” as people so often put it. Metaphysical concepts are not to be sensed—they cannot be seen either by telescope or microscope; they have to be conceived in the womb of mind and what is conceived must be reflected upon. The conception of truths followed by a reflection upon them are two definite steps in the process of understanding Theosophical teachings. Reflecting upon what is conceived is a difficult practice; conceiving is a process which involves the thinker and his instrument of thought, the man and his mind, and it produces a definite relationship between them. Conception takes place in the womb of mind and reflection is the energizing power of the man himself, who feeds, nourishes and sustains what has been conceived.

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