LINES OF EVOLUTION
STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
THE AGE OF THE WORLD
THE PERMANENT INDIVIDUALITY
LINES OF EVOLUTION
Master once wrote that Nature “follows the same groove” in the ‘creation’’ of everything, whether a solar system, a planet, a man or a mosquito. Always the past, which includes both its perfections and its imperfections becomes the raw material of the present, out of which we build new edifices, which, in their turn, will be used by the Egos concerned as material from which to construct still nobler houses of life.
The genesis, the antenatal existence, the birth, life and death of a human body follow the same course as that of a planet. It begins as idea,’’ in the ‘‘nebulous,’’ the formless state. By slow process of densification and organization on lower planes, it gradually becomes a habitable form. When its purpose has been fulfilled the body dies and the elements composing it return to their own state, which is for them the starting point of new combinations. Thus the death of a man means simply that all the invisible principles desert the body, which commences to disintegrate. The lower principles themselves undergo a ‘‘second death’’—that is, they separate as principles, exactly as the body, whether of a man or of a world, disintegrates into its constituent elements.
Some of these principles recombine in their own way when the man is through with them, and thus form the lower kingdoms of nature, on this and other planes. But the teaching is that the three higher principles (Atma-Buddhi-Manas) remain coherent and united throughout the entire Manvantara. “Body,” therefore, may be taken to mean any combination of any two, three, or all four, of the lower principles. In our real nature we are a unity comprised of an indivisible trinity, but our lower principles form a separate, mortal instrument; not only are these four constituents subject to disintegration in themselves, but also to separation from each other.
In The Secret Doctrine H. P. B. discusses the birth, life and death of a planetary chain while considering the pilgrimage of the Monads connected with that chain. She makes of the two teachings one, because the principle and the process are the same in both cases. Whatever she says about the evolution of the globes deals with the line of physical evolution, but the physical process does not go on apart from spiritual evolution. There comes a time when spiritual and psychical evolution begins. In man as we know him, and man alone, the two lines, spiritual and physical, meet, opening the way for intellectual evolution. The Third Fundamental Proposition of The Secret Doctrine states that every incarnating monad, high or low, has to follow exactly the same path: each must “pass through every elemental form of the phenomenal world of that" Manvantara.” Here, psychically as well as physically, ‘‘elemental form’’ may be understood to mean the mineral, vegetable and animal kingdoms, not simply what we call a particular animal, vegetable, or mineral form. Each one of these kingdoms has seven great elemental subdivisions, and each sub-element has countless genera, species and families, just as in the human kingdom.
In order, therefore, for a Monad of the third order (counting downward in spiritual evolution) to reach the human kingdom, it has to pass, on the descending scale, through the three kingdoms of the elementals, which correspond psychically to the three physical kingdoms below man. Then, clothed with an astral form, it must pass upward through the fundamental forms of the three kingdoms below man—the mineral, vegetable and the animal. Evolving through those forms, it necessarily acquires the basic characteristics of each kingdom. (“The Monad has, during the cycle of its incarnations, to reflect itself in every root-form of each kingdom.” S. D. II, 186.) The embryonic form of man is first liquid, then gelatinous then plant-like, then a tadpole, a fish, a frog, a mammal, in its external characteristics. Our whole past as a race is reflected in the genesis of every mortal body.
Time, and the modifications produced in successive rounds, races and inter-mixtures, have modified not only the four kingdoms but every class in them, on down to the individual. The adult human being has a spinal column which shows clearly the vestiges of a rudimental tail. The principle is the same. The process of throwing off the vestigial characteristics of the kingdoms below and acquiring the rudimentary characteristics of the kingdom above is the same in all these respects. In the human family, every man has the vestigial or secondary sex characteristics of a woman, every woman has the vestigial characteristics of a man. This shows that in the processes of psychical, astral and physical evolution, that which was once androgyne has now become two sexes; and, more generally, that which was once one physical kingdom has now split up into four.
Man represents the middle line of evolution. The Monadic is the first and eternal line of evolution, the higher one. The physical is the third and mortal line of evolution. When our intellectual evolution is complete we will no longer have any need, for our own purposes, of physical evolution. The physical line will have become absorbed in our mind, instead of the reverse, as is the case at present. Masters have no need of bodies, so far as they are concerned. They take them only in order to keep in touch with their younger brothers who are still involved in matter. The true bodies of the Masters are said to consist of seventh state matter of this plane, whereas our bodies consist of fourth and fifth state matter of this plane, otherwise called our Astral Body and Mind. On each of the planes there are seven sub-states of the matter of that plane, and the body of a Mahatma—if it can he called a “body” at all—consists of the homogeneous matter of every plane. Masters are the “Sons of Wisdom,” the spiritual Dhyanis, who, before incarnating on earth, ‘‘had become ‘intellectual through their contact with matter, because they had already reached during previous cycles of incarnation, that degree of intellect which enabled them to become independent and self-conscious entities on this plane of matter.’’ (S. D.)
STATES OF CONSCIOUSNESS
IN the beginning of evolution, The Secret Doctrine tells us, there are three distinct classes of Monads which pursue three distinct lines of evolution. They all start from the plane of Spirit, that state in which all individual consciousness is absorbed in the universal—“absorbed,” not lost.
Leaving the highest state, the Monads enter upon hierarchal existence, in which the consciousness of the individual is still latent, because absorbed in the consciousness of its hierarchy. This is true of Egoic consciousness. We might call the Nirvanic state—”Atma-Buddhic” consciousness, and the hierarchical state—”Buddhi-Manasic” consciousness.
From the hierarchical state there is a further descent to individual consciousness, whether that individual consciousness is the consciousness of an elemental, an atom, a cell or any other form of inorganic or organic existence. This individual consciousness may be, or may not be, self-consciousness. Thus, all the Monads were, at the close of the last preceding Manvantara, each and every one reabsorbed in Universal consciousness, so remaining throughout Nirvana. Upon the beginning of this period of Manifestation, the three successive steps of descent from state to state took place.
Because each state of matter has seven sub-states, it follows that so long as there is Manvantaric manifestation there is objectivity and subjectivity on every plane. On the highest plane of manifested substance the matter of that plane is just as objective to our spiritual senses as the matter of this plane is objective to our physical senses. This is equally true on any of the five intervening planes between the highest and the lowest states of substance—on each of them the matter of that plane is as objective to the corresponding psychic or super-psychic senses as gross physical matter is to the waking man.
There is a correspondence between the dreaming and sleeping states of the living man and the Kama-lokic and Devachanic states of the “dead man.” It is possible for the living man during sleep to rise higher than the state or plane called Devachan, just because the living man is in conscious possession of all his principles, which is not true of the Devachanee. While we do not recover full memory of that spiritual existence, we bring back something every morning; whereas, when the Devachanee is re-born, he has no conscious memory at all of the long life passed in the sleep of Devachan.
Thus, in earth life, we have an opportunity not given to anyone, except an Adept, after death. The “dead” man goes into Kama Loka and then into Devachan, but in neither case is it possible for him to be aware of his existence there. Had he self-consciousness while in those states, he would be either a sorcerer or an Adept; but in our waking human life it is possible for a man to identify consciously the state in which he finds himself. Every time we have the ‘blues,” every time we are despondent, every time we are discouraged or disposed to ‘kick,” whether at ourselves or at others or to be ‘conceited, vain of our learning and proud, dear,” we are actually in Kama Loka or Avitchi, and we ought to recognize this fact. Equally, when our hearts and our minds are full of courage, confidence, goodwill and the active disposition to serve our fellows, we are on the plane of Buddhi-Manas, the plane where the Masters live and move.
When we become fully conscious of the plane we are on, we shall begin to read the teachings in another way altogether from the way in which they now are “translated” by us. As children we were awake; we participated in life’s experiences and read them in a certain way, being then quite sure we saw all there was to learn; yet all around were men and women who were viewing the same experiences in an altogether different light. Then, when we were young men and women, we gained from the experiences of life quite other meanings than those we understood as children.
‘We need to remember also that just as here we go through distinct states of consciousness, that is, we are awake, half awake, or dreaming, with regard to externalities, so there are corresponding states on all other globes and planes. The Devachanic state, therefore, means that on the plane of substance to which the departed Ego goes he is asleep as regards externalities; he is not himself in conscious communication with the life and action of the beings who are awake on that same plane. His consciousness is internal to himself, just as a living man engaged in deep thought or in “day dreaming” is in the midst of the life and action of this world, but is withdrawn from it because his consciousness has turned inward.
The ‘liberation” which the
great scriptures of the world all urge the aspirant to strive for is simply that
state or condition of being in which the soul, paradoxically, is no longer the
subject of any state or condition, but is able to pass from state to state in
full consciousness and self-directing power. Then has the soul freed itself from
the bonds of karma, the delusions of matter, and entered into true spiritual
existence, the life of conscious immortality.
THE REAL AGE OF THE WORLD
The real age of the world is asserted by Theosophy to be almost incalculable, and that of man as he is now formed is over eighteen millions of years. What has become at last man is of vastly greater age, for before the present two sexes appeared the human creature was sometimes of one shape and sometimes of another, until the whole plan had been fully worked out into our present form, function, and capacity. This is found to be referred to in the ancient books written for the profane where man is said to have been at one time globular in shape. This was at a time when the conditions favored such a form and of course it was longer ago than eighteen millions of years. And when this globular form was the rule the sexes as we know them had not differentiated and hence there was but one sex, or if you like, no sex at all.
During all these ages before our man came into being, evolution was carrying on the work of perfecting various powers which are now our possession. This was accomplished by the ego or real man going through experience in countless conditions of matter all different one from the other, and the same plan in general was and is pursued as prevails in respect to the general evolution of the universe to which I have before adverted. That is, details were first worked out in spheres of being very ethereal, metaphysical in fact. Then the next step brought the same details to be worked out on a plane of matter a little more dense, until at last it could be done on our present plane of what we miscall gross matter. In these anterior states the senses existed in germ. as it were, or in idea, until the astral plane which is next to this one was arrived at, and then they were concentrated so as to be the actual senses we now use through the agency of the different outer organs. These outer organs of sight, touch and hearing, and tasting, are often mistaken by the unlearned or the thoughtless for the real organs and senses, but he who stops to think must see that. the senses are interior and that their outer organs are but mediators between the visible universe and the real perceiver within. And all these various powers and potentialities being well worked out in this slow but sure process, at last man is put upon the scene a sevenfold being just as the universe and earth itself are sevenfold. Each of his seven principles is derived from one of the great first seven divisions, and each relates to a planet or scene of evolution, and to a race in which that evolution was carried out. So the first sevenfold differentiation is important to be borne in mind, since it is the basis of all that follows; just as the universal evolution is septenary, so the evolution of humanity, sevenfold in its constitution, is carried on upon a septenary Earth. This is spoken of in Theosophical literature as the Sevenfold Planetary Chain, and is intimately connected with Man’s special evolution.
Following the general plan outlined in preceding pages, the Earth is sevenfold. It is an entity and not a mere lump of gross matter. And being thus an entity of a septenary nature there must be six other globes which roll with it in space. The earth is one of seven globes, in respect to man’s consciousness only, because when he functions on one of the seven he perceives it as a distinct globe and does not see the other six. This is in perfect correspondence with man himself who has six other constituents of which only the gross body is visible to him because he is now functioning on the Earth—or the fourth globe—and his body represents the Earth. The whole seven “globes” constitute one single mass or great globe and they all interpenetrate each other. But we have to say “globe,” because the ultimate shape is globular or spherical. These globes are united in one mass though differing from each other in substance, this difference of substance being due to change of centre of consciousness.
The Earth Chain of seven globes as thus defined is the direct reincarnation of a former chain of seven globes, and that former family of seven was the moon chain, the moon itself being the visible representative of the fourth globe of the old chain. When that former vast entity composed of the Moon and six others, all united in one mass, reached its limit of life it died just as any being dies. Each one of the seven sent its energies into space and gave similar life or vibration to cosmic dust—.matter—and the total cohesive force of the whole kept the seven energies together. This resulted in the evolving of the present Earth Chain of seven centres of energy or evolution combined in one mass. As the Moon was the fourth of the old series it is on the same plane of perception as the Earth, and as we are now confined in our consciousness largely to Earth we are able only to see one of the old seven—to wit: our Moon. When we are functioning on any of the other seven we will perceive in our sky the corresponding old corpse which will then be a Moon, and we will not see the present Moon. Venus, Mars, Mercury and other visible planets are all fourth-plane globes of distinct planetary masses and for that reason are visible to us, their companion six centres of energy and consciousness being invisible.
The stream or mass of Egos which evolves on the seven globes of our chain is limited in number, yet the actual quantity is enormous. For though the universe is limitless and infinite, yet in any particular portion of Cosmos in which manifestation and evolution have begun there is a limit to the extent of manifestation and to the number of Egos engaged therein. And the whole number or stream of Monads now going through evolution on our Earth Chain came over from the old seven planets or globes which I have described. It reached this planetary mass, represented to our consciousness by the central point our Earth, and began on Globe A or No. I, coming like an army or river. The first portion began on Globe A and went through a long evolution there in bodies suited to such a state of matter, and then passed on to B, and so on through the whole seven greater states of consciousness which have been called globes. When the first portion left A others streamed in and pursued the same course, the whole army proceeding with regularity round the septenary route.
This journey went on for four circlings round the whole, and then the whole stream or army of Egos from the old Moon Chain had arrived, and being complete, no more entered after the middle of the Fourth Round. The same circling process of these differently arrived classes goes on for seven complete Rounds of the whole seven planetary centres of consciousness, and when the seven are ended as much perfection as is possible in the immense period occupied will have been attained, and then this chain or mass of “globes” will die in its turn to give birth to still another series.
Each one of the globes is used by evolutionary law for the development of seven races, and of senses, faculties and powers appropriate to that state of matter, the experience of the whole seven globes being needed to make a perfect development. Hence we have the Rounds and Races. The Round is a circling of the seven centres of planetary consciousness; the Race, the racial development on one of those seven. There are seven races for each globe, but the total of forty-nine races only makes up seven great races, the special septenate of races on each globe or planetary centre composing in reality one race of seven constituents or special peculiarities of function and power.
And as no complete race could be evolved in a moment on any globe, the slow, orderly processes of nature, which allow no jumps, must proceed by appropriate means. Hence sub- races have to be evolved one after the other before the perfect root race is formed, and then the root race sends off its off -shoots while it is declining and preparing for the advent of the next great race.
As illustrating this, it is distinctly taught that on the Americas is to be evolved the new—sixth—race; and here all the races of the earth are now engaged in a great amalgamation from which will result a very highly developed sub-race, after which others will be evolved by similar processes until the new one is completed.
Between the end of any great race and the beginning of an other there is a period of rest, so far as the globe is concerned, for then the stream of human Egos leaves it for another one of the chain in order to go on with further evolution of powers and faculties there. But when the last, the seventh, race has appeared and fully perfected itself, a great dissolution comes on, similar to that which I briefly described as preceding the birth of the earth’s chain, and then the world disappears as a tangible thing, and so far as the human ear is concerned there is silence. This, it is said, is the root of the belief so general that the world will come to an end, that there will be a judgment-day, or that there have been universal floods or fires.
Taking up evolution on the Earth, it is stated that the stream of Monads begins first to work up the mass of matter in what are called elemental conditions when all is gaseous or fiery. For the ancient and true theory is that no evolution is possible without the Monad as vivifying agent. In this first stage there is no animal nor vegetable. Next comes the mineral when the whole mass hardens, the Monads being all imprisoned within.
Then the first Monads emerge into vegetable forms which they construct themselves, and no animals yet appear. Next the first class of Monads emerges from the vegetable and produces the animal, then the human astral and shadowy model, and we have minerals, vegetables, animals and future men, for the second and later classes are still evolving in the lower kingdoms. When the middle of the Fourth Round is reached no more Monads emerge into the human stage and will not until a new planetary mass, reincarnated from ours, is made. This is the whole process roughly given, but with many details left out.
To state it in another way. The plan comes first in the universal mind, after which the astral model or basis is made, and when that astral model is completed, the whole process is gone over so as to condense the matter, up to the middle of the Fourth Round. Subsequent to that, which is our future, the whole mass is spiritualized with full consciousness and the entire body of globes raised up to a higher plane of development. In the process of condensing above referred to there is an alteration in respect to the time of the appearance of man on the planet. But there is no vagueness on the point that seven great races have to evolve here on this planet, and that the entire collection of races has to go seven times round the whole series of seven globes.
Human beings did not appear here in two sexes first. The first were of no sex, then they altered into hermaphrodite, and lastly separated into male and female. And this separation into male and female for human beings was over 18,000,000 years ago. For that reason it is said, in these ancient schools, that our humanity is 18,000,000 years old and a little over.
IN OUR ANALYSIS OF MAN’S NATURE we have so far considered only the perishable elements which make up the lower man, and have arrived at the fourth principle or plane—that of desire—without having touched upon the question of Mind. But even so far as we have gone it must be evident that there is a wide difference between the ordinary ideas about Mind and those found in Theosophy. Ordinarily the Mind is thought to be immaterial, or to be merely the name for the action of the brain in evolving thought, a process wholly unknown other than by inference, or that if there be no brain there can be no mind. A good deal of attention has been paid to cataloguing some mental functions and attributes, but the terms are altogether absent from the language to describe actual metaphysical and spiritual facts about man. This confusion and poverty of words for these uses are due almost entirely, first, to dogmatic religion, which has asserted and enforced for many centuries dogmas and doctrines which reason could not accept, and secondly to the natural war which grew up between science and religion just as soon as the fetters placed by religion upon science were removed and the latter was permitted to deal with facts in nature. The reaction against religion naturally prevented science from taking any but a materialistic view of man and nature. So from neither of these two have we yet gained the words needed for describing the fifth, sixth, and seventh principles, those which make up the Trinity, the real man, the immortal pilgrim.
The fifth principle, Manas, is usually translated Mind. Other names have been given to it, but it is the knower, the perceiver, the thinker. The sixth is Buddhi, or spiritual discernment; the seventh is Atma, or Spirit, the ray from the Absolute Being. The English language will suffice to describe in part what Manas is, but not Buddhi, nor Atma, and will leave many things relating to Manas undescribed.
The course of evolution developed the lower principles and produced at last the form of man with a brain of better and deeper capacity than that of any other animal. But this man in form was not man in mind, and needed the fifth principle, the thinking, perceiving one, to differentiate him from the animal kingdom and to confer the power of becoming self conscious. The monad was imprisoned in these forms, and that monad is composed of Atma and Buddhi; for without the presence of the monad evolution could not go forward. Going back for a moment to the time when the races were devoid of mind, the question arises, “who gave the mind, where did it come from, and what is it ?“ It is the link between the Spirit of God above and the personal below; it was given to the mindless monads by others who had gone all through this process ages upon ages before in other worlds and systems of worlds, and it therefore came from other evolutionary periods which were carried out and completed long before the solar system had begun. This is the theory, strange and unacceptable today, but which must be stated if we are to tell the truth about theosophy; and this is only handing on what others have said before.
The manner in which this light of mind was given to the Mindless Men can be understood from the illustration of one candle lighting many. Given one lighted candle and numerous unlighted ones, it follows that from one light the others may also be set aflame. So in the case of Manas. It is the candle of flame. The mindless men having four elementary principles of Body, Astral Body, Life and Desire, are the unlighted candles that cannot light themselves. The Sons of Wisdom, who are the Elder Brothers of every family of men on any globe, have the light, derived by them from others who reach back, and yet farther back, in endless procession with no beginning nor end. They set fire to the combined lower principles and the Monad, thus lighting up Manas in the new men and preparing another great race for final initiation. This lighting up of the fire of Manas is symbolized in all great religions and Freemasonry. In the east one priest appears holding a candle lighted at the altar, and thousands of others light their candles from this one. The Parsees also have their sacred fire which is lighted from some other sacred flame.
Manas, or the Thinker, is the reincarnating being, the immortal who carries the results and values of all the different lives lived on earth or elsewhere. Its nature becomes dual as soon as it is attached to a body. For the human brain is a superior organism and Manas uses it to reason from premises to conclusions. This also differentiates man from animal, for the animal acts from automatic and so-called instinctual impulses, whereas the man can use reason. This is the lower aspect of the Thinker or Manas, and not, as some have supposed, the highest and best gift belonging to man. Its other, and in theosophy higher, aspect is the intuitional, which knows, and does not depend on reason. The lower, and purely intellectual, is nearest to the principle of Desire, and is thus distinguished from its other side which has affinity for the spiritual principles above. If the Thinker, then, becomes wholly intellectual, the entire nature begins to tend downward; for intellect alone is cold, heartless, selfish, because it is not lighted up by the two other principles of Buddhi and Atma.
In Manas the thoughts of all lives are stored. That is to say: in any one life, the sum total of thoughts underlying all the acts of the life-time will be of one character in general, but may be placed in one or more classes. That is, the business man of today is a single type; his entire life thoughts represent but one single thread of thought. The artist is another. The man who has engaged in business, but also thought much upon fame and power which he never attained, is still another. The great mass of self-sacrificing, courageous, and strong poor people who have but little time to think, constitute another distinct class. In all these the total quantity of life thoughts makes up the stream or thread of a life’s meditation—“that upon which the heart was set”—and is stored in Manas, to be brought out again at any time in whatever life the brain and bodily environments are similar to those used in engendering that class of thoughts.
Each human being has a definite
character different from every other human being, and masses of beings
aggregated into nations show as wholes that the national force and
peculiarities go to make up a definite and separate national character. These
differences, both individual and
national, are due to essential character and
not to education. But all these differences, such as those shown by babes from
birth, by adults as character comes forth more and more, and by
nations in their
history, are due to long experience gained during many lives on earth, are the
outcome of the soul’s own evolution. A survey of one short human life gives no ground for the production
of man’s inner nature. It is needful that each soul should have all possible
experience, and one life cannot give this even under the best conditions.
IT is Manas which sees the objects presented to it by the bodily organs and the actual organs within. When the open eye receives a picture on the retina, the whole scene is turned into vibrations in the optic nerves which disappear into the brain, where Manas is enabled to perceive them as idea. And so with every other organ or sense. If the connection between Manas and the brain be broken, intelligence will not be manifested unless Manas has by training found out how to project the astral body from the physical and thereby keep up communication with fellowmen. That the organs and senses do not cognize objects, hypnotism, mesmerism, and spiritualism have now proved. For, as we see in mesmeric and hypnotic experiments, the object seen or felt, and from which all the effects of solid objects may be sensed, is often only an idea existing in the operator’s brain. In the same way Manas, using the astral body, has only to impress an idea upon the other person to make the latter see the idea and translate it into a visible body from which the usual effects of density and weight seem to follow. And in hypnotism there are many experiments, all of which go to show that so called matter is not per se solid or dense; that sight does not always depend on the eye and rays of light proceeding from an object; that the intangible for one normal brain and organs may be perfectly tangible for another; and that physical effects in the body may be produced from an idea solely. The well-known experiments of producing a blister by a simple piece of paper, or preventing a real blistering plaster from making a blister, by force of the idea conveyed to a subject, either that there was to be or not to be a blister, conclusively prove the power of effecting an impulse on matter by the use of that which is called Manas. But all these phenomena are the exhibition of the powers of lower Manas acting in the astral body and the fourth principle—Desire, using the physical body as the field for the exhibition of the forces.
It is this lower Manas which retains all the impressions of a lifetime and sometimes strangely exhibits them in trances or dreams, delirium, induced states, here and there in normal conditions, and very often at the time of physical death. But it is so occupied with the brain, with memory and with sensation, that it usually presents but few recollections out of the mass of events that years have brought before it. It interferes with the action of Higher Manas because just at the present point of evolution, Desire and all corresponding powers, faculties, and senses are the most highly developed, thus obscuring, as it were, the white light of the spiritual side of Manas. It is tinted by each object presented to it, whether it be a thought-object or a material one. That is to say, Lower Manas operating through the brain is at once altered into the shape and other characteristics of any object, mental or other wise. This causes it to have four peculiarities. First, to naturally fly off from any point, object, or subject; second, to fly to some pleasant idea; third, to fly to an unpleasant idea; fourth, to remain passive and considering naught. The first is due to memory and the natural motion of Manas; the second and third are due to memory alone; the fourth signifies sleep when not abnormal, and when abnormal is going toward in sanity.
These mental characteristics all belonging to Lower Manas, are those which the Higher Manas, aided by Buddhi and Atma, has to fight and conquer. Higher Manas, if able to act, becomes what we sometimes call Genius; if completely master, then one may become a god. But memory continually presents pictures to Lower Manas, and the result is that the Higher is obscured. Sometimes, however, along the pathway of life we do see here and there men who are geniuses or great seers and prophets. In these the Higher powers of Manas are active and the person illuminated. Such were the great Sages of the past, men like Buddha, Jesus, Confucius, Zoroaster, and others. Poets, too, such as Tennyson, Longfellow, and others, are men in whom Higher Manas now and then sheds a bright ray on the man below, to be soon obscured, however, by the effect of dogmatic religious education which has given memory certain pictures that always prevent Manas from gaining full activity. In this higher Trinity, we have the God above each one; this is Atma, and may be called the Higher Self.
Next is the spiritual part of the soul called Buddhi; when thoroughly united with Manas this may be called the Divine Ego. The inner Ego, who reincarnates, taking on body after body, storing up the impressions of life after life, gaining experience and adding it to the divine Ego, suffering and enjoying through an immense period of years, is the fifth principle—Manas—not yet united to Buddhi. This is the permanent individuality which gives to every man the feeling of being himself and not some other; that which through all the changes of the days and nights from youth to the end of life makes us feel one identity through all the period; it bridges the gap made by sleep; in like manner it bridges the gap made by the sleep of death. It is this, and not our brain, that lifts us above the animal.
Each man feels and knows that he has an individuality of his own, a personal identity which bridges over not only the gaps made by sleep but also those sometimes supervening on temporary lesions in the brain. This identity never breaks from beginning to end of life in the normal person, and only the persistence and eternal character of the soul will account for it.
So, ever since we began to
remember, we know that our personal identity has not failed us, no matter how bad may be our memory.
This disposes of the argument that identity depends on recollection, for the
reason that if it did depend alone on recollection we should each day have to
begin over again, as we cannot remember the events of the past in detail, and
some minds remember but little yet feel their personal identity. And as it is
often seen that some who remember the least insist as strongly as the others on their
personal identity, that persistence of feeling must
come from the old and immortal soul.
THE PERMANENT INDIVIDUALITY
THIS PERMANENT INDIVIDUALITY in the present race has therefore been through every sort of experience, for Theosophy insists on its permanence and on the necessity for its continuing to take part in evolution. It has a duty to perform, consisting in raising up to a higher state all the matter concerned in the chain of globes to which the earth belongs. We have all lived and taken part in civilization after civilization, race after race, on earth, and will so continue throughout all the rounds and races until the seventh is complete. At the same time it should be remembered that the matter of this globe and that connected with it has also been through every kind of form, with possibly some exceptions in very low planes of mineral formation. But in general all the matter visible, or held in space still unprecipitated, has been moulded at one time or another into forms of all varieties, many of these being such as we now have no idea of. The processes of evolution, therefore, in some departments, now go forward with greater rapidity than in former ages because both Manas and matter have acquired facility of action. Especially is this so in regard to man, who is the farthest ahead of all things or beings in this evolution. He is now incarnated and projected into life more quickly than in earlier periods when it consumed many years to obtain a “coat of skin.”
This coming into life over and over again cannot be avoided by the ordinary man because Lower Manas is still bound by Desire, which is the preponderating principle at the present period. Being so influenced by Desire, Manas is continually deluded while in the body, and being thus deluded is unable to prevent the action upon it of the forces set up in the life time. These forces are generated by Manas, that is, by the thinking of the life time. Each thought makes a physical as well as mental link with the desire in which it is rooted. All life is filled with such thoughts, and when the period of rest after death is ended Manas is bound by innumerable electrical magnetic threads to earth by reason of the thoughts of the last life, and therefore by desire, for it was desire that caused so many thoughts and ignorance of the true nature of things. An understanding of this doctrine of man being really a thinker and made of thought will make clear all the rest in relation to incarnation and reincarnation. The body of the inner man is made of thought, and this being so it must follow that if the thoughts have more affinity for earth-life than for life else where a return to life here is inevitable.
Viewing life and its probable object, with all the varied experience possible for man, one must be forced to the conclusion that a single life is not enough for carrying out all that is intended by Nature, to say nothing of what man himself desires to do. The scale of variety in experience is enormous. There is a vast range of powers latent in man which we see may be developed if opportunity be given. Knowledge infinite in scope and diversity lies before us, and especially in these days when special investigation is the rule. We perceive that we have high aspirations with no time to reach up to their measure, while the great troop of passions and desires, selfish motives and ambitions, war with us and among themselves, pursuing us even to the door of death. All these have to be tried, conquered, used, subdued. One life is not enough for all this. To say that we have but one life here with such possibilities put before us and impossible of development is to make the universe and life a huge and cruel joke perpetrated by a powerful God who is thus accused, by those who believe in a special creation of souls, of triumphing and playing with puny man just because that man is small and the creature of the Almighty. A human life at most is seventy years; statistics reduce this to about forty; and out of that little remainder a large part is spent in sleep and another part in childhood. Thus in one life it is perfectly impossible to attain to the merest fraction of what Nature evidently has in view. We see many truths vaguely which a life gives us no time to grasp, and especially is this so when men have to make such a struggle to live at all. Our faculties are small or dwarfed or weak; one life gives no opportunity to alter this; we perceive other powers latent in us that cannot possibly be brought out in such a small space of time; and we have much more than a suspicion that the extent of the field of truth is vastly greater than the narrow circle we are confined to. It is not reasonable to suppose that either God or nature projects us into a body simply to fill us with bitterness because we can have no other opportunity here, but rather we must conclude that a series of incarnations has led to the present condition, and that the process of coming here again and again must go on for the purpose of affording us the opportunity needed. The mere fact of dying is not of itself enough to bring about development of faculties or the elimination of wrong tendency and inclination.
We come back to earth because on it and with the beings upon it our deeds were performed; because it is the only proper place where punishment and reward can be justly meted out; because here is the only natural spot in which to continue the struggle toward perfection, toward the development of the faculties we have and the destruction of the wickedness in us. Justice to ourselves and to all other beings demands it, for we cannot live for ourselves, and it would be unjust to permit some of us to escape, leaving those who were participants with us to remain or to be plunged into a hell of eternal duration.
At the present day Manas is not fully active in the race, as Desire still is uppermost. In the next cycle of the human period Manas will be fully active and developed in the entire race. Hence the people of the earth have not yet come to the point of making a conscious choice as to the path they will take; but when in the cycle referred to, Manas is active, all will then be compelled to consciously make the choice to right or left, the one leading to complete and conscious union with Atma, the other to the annihilation of those beings who prefer that path.