by Adam Warcup, B.Sc.

The Blavatsky Lecture
delivered at the Annual Convention
of The Theosophical Society in England

23 May 1981

as published by The Theosophical Society in England,
50 Gloucester Place, London, W1H 3HJ

A00 Bruni


To the mentally lazy or obtuse, Theosophy must 
remain a riddle; for in the world mental as in the world 
spiritual each man must progress by his own efforts. 
The writer cannot do the reader's thinking for him, nor 
would the latter be any the better off if such vicarious 
thought were possible.



The human mind is at one and the same time a blessing and a curse. It is not the most sublime aspect of man's nature, but without mind man would be unaware of his divine possibilities. On the other hand none of the human vices can exist without the active co-operation of the mind. Again, it is the mind which, in giving man self-awareness and self-consciousness, endows him with powers of choice and discrimination. It is these qualities which distinguish man from the animal kingdom.

Early theosophical literature is a rich source of both information and insight concerning this most vital component of man's being. In this area, as in many other aspects of theosophical teachings, the student will find that the subject is as profound as he cares to make it. There are a number of basic points to be understood which have an immediate bearing on everyday life. But the further he explores, the more he will discover about man and his relationship to Nature. This in turn may lead him to some of the profoundest truths about his own inner being.

A conceptual framework of the mind and its functions such as will be outlined in this study, is no substitute for real firsthand knowledge. But armed with such a framework, the student may begin the inner exploration, knowing that whatever is experienced will be understood correctly. Thus no knowledge gained can be lost again through the inability to comprehend the significance of the events that have occurred.


The starting point of our inquiry will be to ask whence mind came. In answering this question there are two avenues we can explore because, as H.P. Blavatsky says, ‘manas is a principle, and yet it is an Entity and individuality or Ego.’ [1]In the sense that it is a principle, man has possessed this attribute from the very beginning of his evolution. Indeed man has ‘the potentiality of all the seven principles as a germ from the very instant he appears in the first world of causes as a shadowy breath.’ [2] The use of the word principle in this context implies the possibility of developing mental function and faculty at a suitable stage of evolution. It does not mean that man had possessed a mind from the start. The natural course of development for man involves bringing into full function one of his seven principles in each of the seven major stages of evolution, referred to in theosophical literature as 'Rounds'. Thus, as mind is man's fifth principle, it should have been evolved primarily in the fifth Round.

Indeed man would have remained virtually mindless in our present fourth Round had it not been for the intervention of a superior class of beings called in Sanskrit, manasaputras. These superior beings endowed men with minds, and hence, through freedom of choice, with a knowledge of good and evil. In The Key to Theosophy (H.P. Blavatsky, 1889)  it is stated that ‘All our Egos are thinking and rational entities (manasaputras) who had lived whether under human or other forms, in the precedent life-cycle (manvantara) and whose Karma it was to incarnate in the man of this one.[3] But this has not always been the case. Man, as a self-conscious thinking being, has existed only since the third Root Race on this globe, at which time the manasaputras quite literally become the Egos of humanity. Before that time man was functionally indistinguishable from the animal kingdom and hardly deserved the name ‘man’ at all.

The manasaputras, the mind-born sons, are a specific class of dhyan chohans, a generic term describing all classes of being superior to man. They have all had to evolve at some time in the past through a stage corresponding to the human kingdom. In other words they have had to develop mind and self-consciousness just as we are now doing. Having reached a stage of spiritual self-awareness, they no longer live on our material planes, but inhabit realms which would appear to us as being without form or content. These beings are now what man may become in the far future. They are ‘returning Nirvanis from a preceding maha - manvantara’ [4], though even among beings of this exalted level, there are failures. Not all of them succeed in attaining the full status of dhyan chohan at the first attempt.

The fact that man’s Ego is a manasaputra, is not stressed in later theosophical writings. On the contrary, where the subject is discussed at all, it is implied that the manasaputra merely overshadows man, or perhaps passes on to him something of its own mind, while maintaining its own quite separate existence. However, the overriding impression to be gained from the early literature is that in most cases, the manasaputra completely merges its identity with that of the human being in question.

The use of the term 'Ego' in this context needs explanation. As an unqualified term it is here used to mean the quality of self-consciousness in the sense of 'I am I'. This usage is quite distinct from the term 'self' which, again unqualified, is used to define an individual, separate consciousness. But this latter consciousness need not imply self-consciousness. The term 'Ego' however, is usually modified by the addition of an adjective. H.P. Blavatsky distinguishes between three quite distinct Egos. The spiritual Ego is a perfect blend of the qualities of buddhi and manas, of wisdom and understanding. The higher or inner Ego represents the full expression of the mind, a stage which humanity as a whole is far from having reached. The personal ego combines the lower terrestrial mind and the principles of desire and emotion, kama and lower manas. (see Appendix 1, Selves, Egos and Bodies)

No human Egos or centres of self-consciousness would exist at all had it not been for the active participation of the manasaputras. 'Incarnate the Spiritual Monad of a Newton grafted on that of the greatest saint on earth — in a physical body the most perfect you can think of ... and if it lacks its middle and fifth principles, you will have created an idiot — at best a beautiful, soul-less, empty and unconscious appearance.’ [5]


The nature of the relationship between the manasaputras and man is one of the most difficult areas to understand. What precisely is meant when it is said that manasaputras incarnated in men? The Secret Doctrine offers the following explanation: 'It does not mean that Monads entered forms in which other monads already were ... The Monads are not discrete principles, limited or conditioned, but rays from that one universal absolute Principle. The entrance into a dark room through the same aperture of one ray of sunlight following another will not constitute two rays, but one ray intensified'[6] In other words no human being is the vehicle of two monads, one human and one belonging to a manasaputra or dhyani. However it would be very easy to adopt such a mistaken view. Theosophical literature speaks of human monads in the plural. Each human being is supposed to possess an individual monad, separate from others. From this it would be easy to argue that, as the dhyani has evolved from a human being, it too must possess an individual monad. Thus when it is said that the dhyani incarnated in human form, it would be logical to assume that the form was now inhabited by two monads. It is exactly this which the passage just quoted expressly denies. The whole problem hinges on the meaning of the term 'monad'. The solution lies in the same passage in which it was said that the monads are not discrete principles. This implies that they are not in any sense separate one from another. What is it then that creates the illusion of separateness?

Every kingdom of nature, from elemental to dhyan chohan, is monadic in essence. In other words all the forms in any given kingdom are animated by a unitary life-wave or Monad. It is only the forms through which the life-wave manifests that produces the awareness of individuality. In the mineral kingdom this sense of separateness does not extend beyond the physical level of being. In the animal kingdom individuality extends into the psychic realms, but it is only in the human kingdom that potential individuality exists in the spiritual worlds. It is only at this stage that it makes any sense at all to talk of individual monads. The animal and plant have no such spiritual identity. But even in the human kingdom the use of the term 'monads' is one of verbal convenience. To paraphrase The Secret Doctrine, it would be more correct, though very cumbersome, to speak of the Monad manifesting in that form of matter called the Human Kingdom. [7] The factor which distinguishes one monad from another is described in the following passage from The Mahatma Letters. 'Spirit or LIFE is indivisible. And when we speak of the seventh principle it is neither quality nor quantity nor yet form that are meant, but rather thespace occupied in that ocean of spirit by the results or effects ... impressed thereon.’ [8]

It now becomes clear that a monad is not a separate 'something' distinct from others, that can be located in space and time. This is why H.P. Blavatsky, when talking of the relationship between man and dhyani, used the analogy of two rays of sunlight, passing through one aperture into a darkened room. As perceived from inside the room, it is not two rays but one intensified or reinforced. Thus for the time being, the monad that now animates individual man is coloured by the characteristics of both man and manasaputra. Man's gain is, in one sense the dhyani's loss. In merging their identity with that of man's, 'they had to give up their natural status and, descending on our globe, take up their abode on it for the whole cycle of the Mahayuga, thus exchanging their impersonal individualities for individual personalities — the bliss of sidereal existence for the curse of terrestrial life'. [9] (see Appendix 2, manasaputras and men)


Having seen that Mind is wholly derived from the incarnating manasaputra, we can now explore the effects and results of that incarnation. The most significant effect is that the human mind becomes polarised into what is loosely called higher and lower. But these familiar terms can be very misleading. It is often assumed that the higher mind is synonymous with abstract thought, and the lower with concrete, everyday thoughts. This view may create the impression that we can consciously use the faculties of both the higher and the lower mind. Nothing could be further from the truth.

In its fullness manas is the seat of the higher or inner Ego. Speaking of this H.P. Blavatsky says that it is 'so immeasurably higher than the physical man, that it cannot enter into direct relationship with the personality, except through its reflection the lower mind'. [10] The reflection here referred to, becomes in each life, a distinct thinking principle operating through the brain, nervous system and senses. This is physical intelligence which, together with a false sense of separateness, forms the basis of the personal ego. These two Egos are, during life, quite distinct. Our normal centre of consciousness is that of the personal ego just described. For the most part we are unaware of either the existence of, or the consciousness of, the higher Ego.

Man is, of course, just one entity, and both of these Egos are only aspects of his total being. Nevertheless their modes of operation are quite different. Only one of these centres of consciousness can be active at any one time. During the day the personal ego is awake, and the higher Ego is its prisoner, not free to live its own life. But during sleep, while the brain and physical body are relatively inactive, the personal ego is in abeyance. This liberates the higher Ego which then lives and acts on its own plane. Its thoughts are entirely different from those of the lower mind and personal ego. ‘In the thoughts of the real man, or the immortal “Individuality”, the pictures and visions of the Past and Future are as the Present; nor are his thoughts like ours, subjective pictures in our cerebration, but living acts and deeds, present actualities.’[11] It is only on rare occasions that we catch a glimpse of the life of the inner man. Through vivid memorable dreams which contain perhaps a warning or foreknowledge of a coming event, we can gain some idea of the nature of his world. However even these impressions are not to be taken at face value. Our brains are incapable of correctly representing the visions of the higher mind, so the lower mind clothes the formless message in symbols and images drawn from our personal experience.

It is natural for the higher Ego to be free to act during sleep, but quite abnormal for it to act in the same way during our waking hours. The conditions under which the higher consciousness may be liberated other than during sleep are set out in the following passage. 'This leads us to see the difference between the purely noetic and the terrestrial, psychic visions of seership and mediumship. The former can be obtained by one of two means: (a) on the condition of paralysing at will the memory and the instinctual, independent action of an the material organs and even cells in the body of flesh, an act which, once that the light of the higher Ego has consumed and subjected for ever the passional nature of the lower, personal Ego, is easy, but requires an adept; and (b) of being a reincarnation of one who, in a previous birth had attained through extreme purity of life and effort in the right direction almost to a Yogi state of holiness and saintship. There is also a third possibility of reaching in mystic visions the plane of the higher manas; but it is only occasional and does not depend on the will of the Seer, but on the extreme weakness and exhaustion of the material body through illness and suffering. [12] This passage shows exactly what it is that an adept has achieved. He has so completely mastered the four lower principles, including the personal ego, that he is able to evoke the higher consciousness at will. Strictly speaking he is only an adept when operating from that level of being. [13]

Some faint conception of the breadth of vision that the higher mind affords, can perhaps be glimpsed when we realise that the retrospective vision of the whole life just lived, which is seen by the dying man, is the result of the merging of the personal with the impersonal consciousness of the higher Ego. In this exalted state the man sees not only his whole past life at a glance, but also the reasons for the events as they occurred. He sees all the causes that led up to the events, if necessary looking back through several lives in order fully to understand the justice involved. There is also a prospective vision of the next incarnation seen by the higher Ego immediately prior to rebirth. Again, the Ego sees the broad course of the next life, and the causes which have created it. [14]

The duality of the higher and lower minds, and of the inner and personal Egos has not always existed. In the third Race, after the incarnation of the dhyanis, there was but one centre of consciousness in man, and that was the higher one. In those early days what passed for a physical body was ethereal and much less well defined than our bodies are today. The forms that the Third Race occupied hardly restricted the faculties of the Ego at all. Gradually though, as time passed and the cycle of involution proceeded, the forms grew more and more material. They developed additional physical senses, and the action of the brain and nervous system began to dominate consciousness. In other words they became increasingly aware of what was going on around them in the physical world, and correspondingly less aware of the spiritual world from which they had sprung. In the natural course of evolution man gradually lost the use of that spiritual perception with which he had been born, and during life came to depend increasingly on purely physical perception. Thus brain consciousness slowly became dominant, and the basis of an independent thinking principle. This was the origin of what is now the lower mind and personal ego. Man has now reached the stage where physical intellect is the only type that he knows. The 'third eye' of spiritual perception acts no longer. Its functions can only be developed through arduous spiritual discipline, which involves moral as well as perceptual development.


The gradual separation of the higher and lower mind continued until, as now, they function quite independently of one another. But as H.P. Blavatsky says; 'in truth and in nature the two minds, the spiritual and physical or animal, are one, but separate into two at reincarnation. For while that portion of the Divine which goes to animate the personality, consciously separating itself, like a dense but pure shadow from the Divine Ego, wedges itself into the brain and senses of the foetus at the completion of the seventh month, the Higher manas does not unite itself with the child before the completion of the first seven years of life. This detached essence or rather the reflection or shadow of the Higher manas becomes, as the child grows, a distinct thinking principle in man, its chief agent being the physical brain'. [15]

This is a particularly significant passage. First, it indicates that the lower mind is a part of man even before he is born. It shows the intimate connection between this 'detached essence' and the physical brain. There is a symbiotic relationship between the two; both depend on one another for their very existence and normal functioning. The effects of this dependence become apparent at the death of the brain, when man loses consciousness for a period of time. The reason for this loss of consciousness is because the lower mind has depended for so long on the brain and its attendant senses for its picture of reality, that without them, for a period, it is unable to function. Also, the quoted passage indicates that the higher manas unites itself with the child at the completion of its seventh year. This is the point in an incarnation at which individual responsibility begins. Before that time the parents or guardians are not only legally responsible, but directly karmically responsible for the child. The same passage shows that there is a relationship between the higher and lower Egos. It begins as shown, at a distinct time and continues throughout life.

At death a process begins which results in the re-union of the lower with the higher manas. [16] During life the lower mind has, to an extent, become identified with the kama or desire principle. The resultant thoughts and feelings may become embodied in a certain class of elemental beings which in turn become the habitual patterns of thought and emotional response in the individual. The passage of the ego after death through kama loka involves the gradual separation of the lower thinking principle from the subjective results of a lifetime's actions. In most cases the separation is effected successfully in a shorter or longer period depending on the purity of the personal ego. The kama rupa or psychic corpse is left behind in the psychic world, and slowly fades out as a distinct, coherent form. It may display a certain hazy consciousness of its own, but only after the separation of the lower manas and the kama rupa has taken place. [17]

The personal ego, purified by its passage through kama loka, is merged back into the higher Ego, and only now begins to regain consciousness. It is this re-united entity which then falls into the Devachanic state. The Ego is now clothed in all the noble and selfless thoughts and aspirations which it had created during life. These impressions have been recorded in that part of the universal Akasha in which individual man has his being, and which is called the auric envelope. [18] it is the latter which thus forms an ideal environment in which all noble dreams are fulfilled. It is a world of illusion created by the personal ego; it is a subjective state in which the real Ego is not free to act at will. Like a man watching an engrossing film, the Ego is captivated by the Devachanic experience, and until it has run its course, cannot realise what is happening, nor escape from it. When the dream is over, 'between Devachan and rebirth ... the Ego regains his full manasic consciousness, and rebecomes for a short time the god he was .......’ [19]


Having examined the origin of mind and its present constitution, we can now investigate the modes in which the mind operates. Mind is primarily a principle, and as has been shown it is awakened to activity by the action of the manasaputras. The resultant Ego can operate through a series of vehicles displaying in each quite distinct mental characteristics. Before considering these vehicles in detail, it must be said that nowhere in the early literature is any mention made of a specific 'mental' vehicle. This notion was introduced by later writers, perhaps with the intention of attempting to make the subject more intelligible. Use of this term will therefore be avoided as it can only cause confusion.

The most material vehicle capable of supporting mental function is the physical body. Strange though it may seem this is the principal vehicle of the lower mind. These two as we have already seen live and grow together. The lower mind feeds on the images supplied by the senses and coordinated by the brain. The mind stores impressions as memory, the content of which is entirely dependent on the perception of the physical world supplied by its material vehicle. To most of us this is not only a vivid reality but also the only reality. Although there is much talk of other worlds and other planes of being, few people have any direct experience of them.

The higher mind can also act directly on and through the physical body, and is ‘capable of exciting the brain, via the “spinal centre cord”, to a mental representation of spiritual ideas far beyond any objects on this material plane'. [20] However this is rare and would require considerable purity, both of mind and body. Even when the higher mind acts in this way it can, as the passage indicates, only induce a mental representation of spiritual ideas. Lofty though such conceptions may be, they still ultimately fall within the domain of the lower mind.

The linga sharira or astral body, called in later writings the etheric body, is not usually a vehicle of consciousness at all. Constitutionally it is an aspect of the physical complex, and only under extreme circumstances can it be extruded from the physical envelope, and thence move about in a limited area. This then is not primarily a vehicle of mental consciousness.

There is however another vehicle mentioned in the early literature which seems almost to have been forgotten by later writers. It is called the mayavi-rupa, meaning literally the body of illusion, or more loosely the the dream body. This, it must be stressed, is a temporary form, fashioned from the elements of the psychic world. Its actual shape and qualities reflect the ideas and emotions of its creator. In most cases it is formed unconsciously, sometimes during sleep, at other times under the influence of some powerful emotion. Under certain circumstances the mayavi-rupa may be projected by someone in the process of dying, especially where a strong desire exists to communicate, with an absent friend. The dying man may be totally unaware that he has thus created and projected this living image of himself to another. Normally this mind-created form inhabits the psychic world and is not seen by the living, but in may take on more or less the appearance of physical solidity. When the impulse under which the form was created disappears, the mayavi-rupa dissolves and returns to its constituent elements. Some images of the psychic world may remain in the memory on waking as a dreamlike impression, but for most people that is all. In the case of an adept, the illusion body can be projected at will, and in full consciousness. The adept endows the form with as much or as little of his own mind and consciousness as is required. While it exists the form thus created may act independently of the adept but with his full knowledge. It is this ability which accounts for stories of adepts being seen in two different places at the same time. it is called the dream body because we remember the actions of the mayavi-rupa as a dream on waking. But if this form is projected consciously, on its own plane this becomes a vehicle for the personal ego, and represents a state of activity and waking consciousness.

The third vehicle of mental consciousness is the causal or karmic body. This is the primary vehicle for the higher Ego, and as such very little can be said about its nature. The early writings prudently avoid attempting to describe its form and its function, because we are for the most part, incapable of appreciating the nature of the inner worlds. We can say that relative to our perception this vehicle of the higher Ego is without form or quality. But on its own plane and to the perception of the Ego its form is distinct enough. This form certainly has no sensory equipment, nor has it any need for it. Perception for the higher Ego is direct and immediate. It has no need for memory, nor of reminiscence, recollection and other forms of recall. Both the Past and Future are, as we have seen, as the Present to its sight. The Ego does not have thoughts in the way that we do. Our thoughts seem subjective, private to the individual, and appear to have little effect on the objective world. For the Ego, however, no sooner does it think than the thought is translated into action; its thoughts become objective as soon as they pass through its consciousness.

In very rare instances the higher Ego may appear to, and communicate with, the personal man. This appearance is not the higher Ego itself which is formless, but rather a projection from it. It may appear as if in bodily form clothed in elements drawn from the auric envelope, or it may appear formless as a body of light. Such an apparition can be evoked by the natural-born seer. It is called the Augoeides by H.P. Blavatsky. It may give advice or warning but always of an impersonal nature not related to the circumstances of physical life. [21]


The vehicles of mind consciousness provide the means for the expression of mental faculty. The primary manifestations of mind are thought, will and feeling. [22] These terms may seem at first sight an odd choice to represent mind, but there is a great deal more to mind than merely thoughts and ideas.

The term 'thought' is used here to cover the ability to know, to cognise, to understand and to comprehend. In the lower mind the knowing is direct. The content of the lower mind is mental images produced either as a result of input from the senses or from memory and imagination. Cognition is related directly to these mental images, and only indirectly to the physical world. In the higher mind, on the other hand, knowing is intuitive. In H.P. Blavatsky's words, on the plane of the higher mind, 'you see the Noumena, the essence of the phenomena. You do not see people or other consciousnesses, but have enough to do to keep your own. The trained seer can see Noumena always. The adept sees the Noumena on this plane, the reality of things, so cannot be deceived.’ [23] This is direct understanding, without the intermediate step of mental images and symbols.

The term 'will' describes the ability to turn understanding into action. Will is pure and impersonal, and stems from the higher mind. It is not to be confused with desire which stems from, and is an expression of, the karma principle. [24] To will is to do or to act. Our world, for example, was formed by the volition of the Dhyan Chohans, the Sons of Universal Mind, who project into objectivity the ideal plan from the Universal Mind. [25] In the lower mind this faculty manifests through the power called Kriyashakti which can turn subjective thoughts into objective manifestations.

'Feeling' is the term used to cover all perceptive faculties of the mind. The senses provide the data for the lower ego but it is the mind which perceives significance of this information, and presents it in an ordered way to consciousness. It is for this reason that the mind is sometimes referred to as the sixth sense. 

In the higher Ego these three faculties begin to blend together into one. To perceive is to know, without misunderstanding, and uncoloured by emotion. Equally to know is to do. No sooner has the higher mind understood than its comprehension is translated into action. However at the level of the lower ego these faculties appear to remain distinct and furthermore manifest themselves under slightly different guises. The three primary faculties of the lower mind are memory, imagination and reason.


Memory is a form of perception, and thus is an extension of the 'feeling' faculty described earlier. Every action, as every thought, creates an impression in the world, and these impressions can be retrieved by our inner senses in the right circumstances. The whole of Nature is, from one point of view, a vast archive of the Past. Akasha, which may be described as the universal mind-substance, is the medium in which all events are recorded. It exists everywhere and has various degrees of differentiation from the spiritual to the material. Man draws the substance for his auric envelope from the various manifestations of Akasha. Its lowest reaches are described by H.P. Blavatsky as the Astral Light. Each planet or globe develops its own Astral Light. Intrinsically impure because of its differentiated nature, it becomes further corrupted through men's selfish thoughts and deeds. The Astral Light is the repository of Nature's memory at the level of man's physical and psychic nature. 

A man's thoughts and actions are first recorded in his own auric envelope which thus forms the basis of memories of the current life. The brain is no more than the mechanism for recording impressions, and later for recalling them to consciousness. It does not itself contain the actual content of the memory. Those words, deeds, thoughts and feelings which relate to the personality are also recorded indelibly in the Astral Light, the storehouse accessible to those endowed with the appropriately developed psychic senses. Past time clairvoyance and psychometry are thus extensions of the faculty of memory. To bring before consciousness events other than those impressed on one's own auric envelope, requires the added ability to see clairvoyantly into the Astral Light. Such events will be seen from the point of view of the person whose actions originally formed them. To the inexperienced these impressions will appear to belong to the psychic himself. It is easy to confuse one's own memories with those of other people. 

At death that part of the auric envelope which contained all the personal recollections is used to form the kama rupa; it is this latter which may be contacted by mediums. Although capable of providing information of an intimate and personal nature the kama rupa will be entirely unaware of the higher knowledge and experience of the Ego. The remaining memories in the auric envelope, of 'the good, the true and the beautiful' are used to form the experiences for the Devachanic Ego. Once assimilated these are impressed on the universal Akasha as a permanent, but now impersonal, record of the deeds of the higher Ego.


The second major faculty of the lower mind is that of imagination. There are two significant aspects which we will explore. First, imagination is a creative process. The images which well up in the field of consciousness as a result of imagination are not the insubstantial subjective pictures that most people take them for. On their own plane these pictures are as real as any objects in the physical world. It may be that through lack of attention and interest these images dissolve rapidly back into their basic elements. But it is possible to fix them so that they persist, and become substantial entities in their own right. Through concentration and continued attention such images take on an independent life. They coalesce with elemental entities which thus ensoul them. As is said in The Mahatma Letters '... thoughts are things - have tenacity, coherence and life .....they are real entities.......[26] . This form-building faculty operates through the power called Kriyashakti which translates thoughts into objective reality. Speaking of this power of the mind, T. Subba Row says that it is ‘... the mysterious power of thought which enables it to produce external, perceptible, phenomenal results by its own inherent energy. The ancients held that an idea will manifest itself externally if one's attention is deeply concentrated upon it. Similarly an intense volition will be followed by the desired effect.’ [27] 

The second aspect of imagination is that it is related to cognition or knowing. It is impossible to imagine anything whose prototype does not already exist in the Astral Light or the Akasha. Thus imagination can be a means of exploring the inner worlds. Imagination opens doors to worlds which otherwise would have remained closed. This faculty, therefore, becomes another avenue for the student of occultism who wishes to understand the workings of Nature. Suppose for example that he wishes to understand more of the nature of a dhyan-chohan. Rather than using the lower mind to assemble all the available data and to ponder on it, it would be more profitable to imagine what consciousness and life must be like at that exalted level of being. Initially only a faint perception of the imagined state may come, but through intense and prolonged practice it will grow stronger and may eventually merge into the real state. This is a process of evocation. In this manner it is possible to acquire new knowledge and deep understanding without any external help. Of course there are dangers. It is very easy to become self-deluded, and to create a world of seeming reality which bears no relationship to the real world.


The third major faculty of the lower mind is reason. It includes logic but extends beyond it. Logic, or the ability to use both inductive and deductive thought, is but a formal expression of reason. In its widest sense reason is the ability to impose order on chaos. Reasoning and logical thought are attempts by the lower mind to impose order on the welter of information produced by memory, imagination and the senses. The personal ego would like to believe that it wields control over this faculty, but it is not so. As with many other faculties it operates best when the personal ego does not interfere. Many people have discovered that the best way to solve a problem is to sleep on it, as the saying goes. We recognise that reasoning can take place at a level outside waking consciousness. When a given problem is posed and then left, the personal ego may find that a solution has become apparent through no particular effort on its part.

It is reason which allows man to make connections and comparisons between one set of images and another, thus giving rise to concepts. Our so-called abstract ideas are further concepts produced by the personal ego using other concepts as their basis. Thus it is impossible to understand the idea of 'green' until we have seen a series of green objects. Once reason has formed the association between them, the mental idea of 'green' is born. The concept of colour is a further concept which arises, presumably, through a comparison with other concepts such as blue, yellow and red. 'Colour' then is an abstraction. Although useful, such abstractions are not in themselves reality. All such concepts lie firmly within the realms of the lower mind, and have nothing to do with the higher. True knowledge relies on direct perception, not on abstractions.

The sense of individuality which characterises the personal ego is evolved in a very similar manner. The notion that 'I' am different from all others, and that it is 'I' who am in control of 'my' life, is an abstract idea that the lower mind has built. This idea conditions our every action and indeed colours our perception of who and what we feel ourselves to be. The sense of self-identity is an acquired idea of a high degree of abstraction created by the lower mind. It is the exercise of reason which has given birth to such a notion. No animal appears to be aware o any such self-identity. The mind, then, becomes obsessed with this idea of individuality and believes itself to be separate and different from all others. From this attitude stems the idea of personal rights and personal property. This is the root of all problems such as self-centredness and self-interest.

We habitually use the term 'I' to refer to the personal ego, and this term implies that there is only one. But a moment's thought will show that we have many self-images. Each one fits a particular set of circumstances, and each has its own aims, preferences and moods. We behave differently in different situations and in different company. Each of us is one person with our parents, another with wife or husband and yet another at work. In a normal person these selves are sufficiently similar to be recognised as belonging to the same individual, but in the case of a schizophrenic the selves may become totally dissimilar.

It is now that the distinction between the terms 'self' and 'ego' becomes apparent. The sense of self arises when consciousness, ultimately derived from Atma, is focused in a given Vehicle. Personal consciousness arises through the  interplay of the consciousness of the higher Ego and the vehicle supplied primarily by the physical brain. The resultant stream of consciousness wells up as imagination and reason, aided and abetted by memory, living complex thoughts are brought into existence. These thoughts, ensouled by elemental entities, persist and thus become the various personal selves whose behaviour we are capable of displaying. Collectively they form what we loosely call the personal ego. Consciousness becomes almost completely identified with and dominated by these self-created entities. It is they who produce the continuous stream of ideas, feelings and volitions which unbidden arise in us, and determine our characteristic behaviour. It is only in rare moments of stillness such as meditation, that consciousness may free itself from their thrall. For the most part we are not free-willed, self-directing beings, but on the contrary we are controlled and dominated by the very creatures that we have produced.


The emphasis so far has been to show that the two minds, the higher and the lower, are distinct, and operate in quite different modes. We will examine now, by way of contrast, the ways in which the two aspects are related. As mentioned earlier the mind is dual only in its functions, not in its essence. Consciousness or the self, is one and the same throughout man's constitution, but is limited and conditioned by the vehicles through which it operates. Although the mind works in different ways at different levels, it does not mean that there are two minds simultaneously working within the same individual. We may either use the powers of the lower mind, or by changing the focus of attention, employ the faculties of the higher. However we cannot operate at both levels at once. But an adept who is by his very nature proficient at unlocking the door to the higher mind, may alternate between the two states at will. Even so the adept's 'normal' state of consciousness is that of the lower mind, although he is much more capable of evoking the inner man when need arises than is an ordinary mortal.

How is this change in the level of consciousness brought about? In philosophical terms there is a bridge or link between the lower and higher mind which in Sanskrit is called antahkarana. In a sense it is imaginary in that it is not a substantial entity that can be objectively identified, yet it is real enough for the experiencing centre of consciousness. More specifically, antahkarana is that part of the lower mind which retains its purity and does not become involved and identified with kama, desire and emotion, and thus corrupted. As it is an emanation of the higher mind, it is intrinsically part of it, and may thus be re- united within its parent source. But this can only happen when the personal man has been so purified, and the separative mind so paralysed as to remove the restrictions.

Thus each step across the bridge antahkarana is won by controlling and purifying the lower nature. This process is one of moral purification. One must learn to control the storms of sensation, emotion, desire and endless mental chatter before the calm and peace of the higher state can manifest itself. It is for this reason that H.P. Blavatsky said that there is a correspondence between the steps of antahkarana and the 'Seven Portals' described in The Voice of the Silence (Fragment 3) . Each portal passed marks the development of a new virtue, the whole process culminating in the development of Prajna, perfect perception.

Each step also brings a change in the quality of consciousness. We have all experienced consciousness drawn into emotions such as anger, jealousy and fear. Equally we have from time to time experienced those more lofty states evoked through ennobling literature, inspiration and meditation. It is these latter states that must be cultivated. But the groundwork of moral development must be accomplished first in order to build a sound foundation. Otherwise in touching the higher reaches of being we will evoke forces which in playing through our personal natures may do great damage if we do not have the strength to control them.

Antahkarana is, then, the Path spoken of in all occult and mystical literature. We have spent long ages developing our personal natures; we have identified our consciousness with the content of the lower mind in order to develop self-consciousness and self-awareness. Now we must turn consciousness inward and start to develop true character from which stems the strength to scale the Path. (see Appendix 3, Antahkarana)


A study of man's thinking principle is of considerable practical significance. The more deeply these matters are studied and understood, the more clearly one's responsibilities are seen. Responsibility depends on the ability to choose between real alternatives, or in other words to be able to exercise discrimination. This ability in man is derived solely from the mind principle. The animals, not possessing mind, cannot be held morally responsible for any of their actions. Mind is solely derived from the incarnating manasaputra which is or rather becomes the higher Ego. Thus responsibility ultimately rests with the higher or inner Ego. This, however, creates paradoxes. The lower ego, although wholly derived from the higher, during life is capable of acting entirely-independently of the higher. Nonetheless, the higher, although unable to control the lower, is still completely responsible for its misdeeds, and will have to suffer the karmic consequences along with the lower in this and later lives.

The relationship of parent to child provides a good analogy. The parent is held responsible in law for all the actions of the child until such time as the child becomes sufficiently developed to be responsible for its own actions. But until that time arrives it is the task of the parent to teach, to instruct and to try to restrain the child so that it does not commit acts for which the parent will suffer. If the parent neglects or cannot fulfil his duty, he must inevitably suffer when the child goes astray. Equally the child has a responsibility to take heed of the advice given lest he involve the parent in consequences that are unmerited. The bond works both ways.

Thus it is with the two egos. It is the responsibility of the higher Ego to infuse thoughts of an ennobling nature into the consciousness of the lower ego. And indeed this is what happens if we allow it. All promptings of conscience stem from the higher Ego. Equally remorse for deeds that should not have been committed comes from the inner nature not the outer. In a more positive sense all feelings of brotherhood and altruism come directly from the same source. However it is the task of the lower ego to learn to respond to these promptings from within. We too can choose. We can elect to heed this inner voice, and thus take the road which ultimately leads to the reunion of the higher and lower egos, or we can choose to ignore this subtle inner advice. If we clothe ourselves in selfishness and love of possessions, if we encourage the development of the meaner and baser elements in our lower natures, it is possible gradually to cut ourselves off entirely from the influence of the higher Ego. There is no third choice.

None of this inner growth towards the union of the higher with the lower can happen without effort. It is completely up to us whether, life by life, the personal develops into the impersonal, and the terrestrial is merged back into the spiritual, or whether through indolence we allow ourselves to drift into self-centred isolation wherein compassion can find no foothold. In such a case the time will come when the stream of personalities will come to an end. The immortal Ego will lose all influence over its lower selves and the tenuous connection between the two will become severed for ever. The fate of the personal ego which loses its higher Ego is dreary beyond compare. There is no annihilation in Kama Loka for this entity after death. It is drawn out of the earth's atmosphere and exists for ages in a state in which it will relive all the steps which led it hence before finally dying out altogether. The higher Ego is also affected by such a failure. Having failed to gain the experience of earthly life that its personalities were supposed to supply, it too becomes a failure in its own realm. For the remainder of the manvantara it falls into a dreamless sleep. But at the beginning of the next Planetary cycle it awakes. Now it will have to re-evolve its humanity through all the forms of the lower 'kingdoms, but this time in full consciousness. For these reasons if for no others, the speed at which we evolve should not be a matter of indifference to us. 

Mind is at the heart of what makes us human. For this reason it is the most significant topic that we can study. It lies at the root of our personalities, and when The Voice of the Silence declares that 'The Mind is the great slayer of the Real' it is the lower mind that is meant. The development of the brain mind has been a necessary step for us, but the time has come to aspire towards higher goals, and to begin to develop our inner faculties. The Voice of the Silence advises us to 'let the disciple slay the slayer', but who is the disciple? It is not a specific class of individuals but is an aspect of all of us. We must evoke the disciple in each of us, and from that inner fortress allow the illusion-creating, argumentative, analytical lower mind to cease its chatter. We must allow ourselves to become aware of a greater reality. We must do this not for our sakes but because we are an integral part of humanity. If we have reached that point in our development from which this next gigantic step can be taken, then it is our sacred duty to take it. By doing so, we take the whole of mankind with us. This is just the beginning, for as the same source tells us, ‘to live to benefit humanity is the first step.’ 



The following passages, drawn from the early literature, are included here in order to illustrate and reinforce some of the major points made in the main body of the study. The first, from The Key to Theosophy, sets down some definitions of the various selves and Egos, and also shows which principles function within each.

'The HIGHER SELF is Atma, the inseparable ray of the Universal and ONE SELF. It is the God above, more than within us. Happy the man who succeeds in saturating his inner Ego with it!

The SPIRITUAL divine EGO is the spiritual soul or buddhi, in close union with manas, the mind principle, without which it is no Ego at all, but only the Atmic Vehicle.

The INNER or HIGHER EGO is manas the “fifth” principle, so called, independently of buddhi. The mind principle is only the spiritual Ego when merged into one with buddhi, — no materialist being supposed to have in him such an Ego, however great his intellectual capacities. It is the permanent Individuality or the “reincarnating Ego”.

The LOWER or PERSONAL EGO is the physical man in conjunction with his lower Self, i.e. animal instincts, passions, desires etc.. It is called the false personality and consists of the lower Manas combined with kama-rupa, and operating through the physical body and its phantom “double” '.

The Key to Theosophy pp 175-176

The second passage comes from an article entitled A Dialogue between the two Editors, the two editors being H.P.Blavatsky (H.P.B.) and Mabel Collins (M.C.), the editors of the magazine Lucifer at that time. This extract describes the various vehicles of consciousness through which man may operate.

M.C. Great confusion exists in the minds of people about the various kinds of apparitions, wraiths, and ghosts or spirits. Ought we not to explain once and for all the meaning of these terms? You say there are various kinds of “doubles” — what are they?

H.P.B. Our occult philosophy teaches us that there are three kinds of “doubles to use the word in its widest sense. (1) Man has his “double” or shadow, properly so called around which the physical body of the foetus — the future man is built. The imagination of the mother, or an accident which affects the child, will affect also the astral body. The astral and the physical both exist before the mind is developed into action, and before the Atma awakes. This occurs when the child is seven years old, and with it comes the responsibility attaching to a conscious sentient being. The “double” is born with the man, dies with him and can never separate itself far from the body during life, and though surviving him, it disintegrates, pari passu, with the corpse. It is this which is sometimes seen over the graves like a luminous figure of the man that was, during certain atmospheric conditions. From its physical aspect, it is, during life, man's vital double and, after death, only the gases given off from the decaying body. But, as regards its origin and essence, it is something more. This “double” is what we have agreed to call the linga sharira, but which I would propose to call, for greater convenience, “Protean” or “Plastic Body”.

M.C. Why Protean or Plastic?

H.P.B. Protean, because it can assume all forms; e.g., the shepherd magicians whom popular rumour accuses, perhaps not without some reason, of being werewolves, and “mediums in cabinets”, whose own Plastic Bodies play the part of materialised grandmothers and “John Kings”. Otherwise, why the invariable custom of the “dear departed angels” to come out but little further than arm's length from the medium whether entranced or not? Mind, I do not at all deny foreign influence in this type of phenomena. But I do affirm that foreign influence is rare, and that the materialised form is always that of the medium's “Astral” or Protean Body.

M. C. But how is this astral body created?

H.P.B. It is not created; it grows, as I told you, with the man and exists in a rudimentary condition even before the child is born.

M.C. And what about the second?

H.P.B. The second is the “Thought” body, or the dream body, rather; known among occultists as the mayavi-rupa, or “Illusion” body. During life this image is the vehicle of both the animal passions and desires, drawing at one and the same time from the lowest terrestrial manas (mind) and kama, the element of desire. It is dual in its potentiality, and after death forms, what is called in the East, Bhoot, or kama-rupa, but which is better known to theosophists as the “Spook”.

M.C. And the third?

H.P.B. The third is the true Ego, called in the East by a name meaning causal body, but which in the Trans-Himalayan schools is always known as the “Karmic body”, which is the same. For Karma or action is the cause which produces incessant rebirths or “reincarnations”. It is not the Monad, nor is it Manas proper; but is, in a way, indissolubly connected with, and a compound of the Monad and Manas in Devachan.

Collected Writings Vol 10, H.P. Blavatsky pp 218-219

The third passage is one of the rare descriptions of the nature of the Auric Envelope or Egg. Among other things it shows that all of man's inner vehicles are derived to a degree from it.

'Thus the Auric Egg, reflecting all the thoughts, words and deeds of the man, is:

a) The preserver of every Karmic record.

b) The storehouse of all the good and evil powers of man, receiving and giving out at his will — nay, at his every thought — every potentiality, which becomes, then and there, an acting potency; this Aura is the mirror in which sensitives and clairvoyants sense and perceive the real man, and see him as he is, not as he appears.

c) As it furnishes man with his Astral form, around which the physical entity models itself, first as a foetus, then as a child and man, the astral growing apace with the human being, so it furnishes him during life, if an Adept, with his mayavi-rupa, or Illusion body, which is not his Vital-Astral body; and after death, with his Devachanic Entity and Kama-Rupa, or body of Desire (the Spook).'

The Secret Doctrine Vol.3, H.P. Blavatsky, p495; Vol.5, p472

The following diagram is the author's attempt to synthesise the preceding passages into a form which, it is hoped, is slightly more memorable than the complexities of the text itself.

Centres of Consciousness

Vehicles of Consciousness








Pure Akasha; the source and basis of all other vehicles or “bodies”




Becomes the Devachanic Ego after death





Vehicle of dream consciousness for average man; a vehicle of waking consciousness for an adept.




Formed after death from the dregs of the mayavi rupa

Only a vehicle of consciousness under rare and abnormal circumstances.

Vehicle of normal waking consciousness




The picture painted in the main body of this study is an overview of the relationship between the manasaputras and mankind. The early literature in fact provides much more information on this subject, some of which is summarised below. 

The human kingdom can be divided into three broad categories. The most highly evolved group, referred to as the Lunar Pitris, are responsible for evolving the human form in the first Round. In subsequent Rounds they act so as to preserve that form for the use of the less developed human monads who follow them. The next group represents average humanity. Monads within this group incarnate in truly human forms sometime between the beginning of the second Round and the middle of the fourth. Before incarnating in human forms, these monads would have been occupying transitional forms appropriate to the lower kingdoms. The third group are the laggards. These monads were still occupying animal forms at the middle of the fourth Round. By that time they are too far behind the rest of the human kingdom to catch up. They will not now incarnate in human forms at any time during the whole Planetary manvantara. They will apparently receive their compensation by becoming a more advanced humanity in due course at the next major planetary re-imbodiment. 

The incarnating manasaputras, like man, may also be divided into three classes. The Stanzas of Dzyan, describing that point in the third Root Race when the process of mental evolution began, express it thus: ' “We can choose”, said the Lords, “We have wisdom”. Some entered the chhayas. Some projected a spark. Some deferred till the fourth Race.' This passage is phrased in the usual cryptic terminology of the Stanzas, and needs some explanation. The 'Lords' are, of course, the manasaputras. Of these, the most progressed class are said to enter the chhayas. The chhayas refer to the ethereal, semi-physical forms, developed by the Lunar Pitris, and are the habitation of the incipiently human monads. At this stage in their development, these monads were almost totally unaware of their physical surroundings. The monad per se is too pure and too near its spiritual source to be able to span the abyss between spirit and matter unaided. The key word however in the passage just quoted, is 'entered'. As opposed to 'projecting a spark', the word 'entered' indicates that this class of manasaputras was immediately able to infuse the whole of its essence into the nascent human being. The combination of the human and Dhyani produced a quite distinct race called 'The Sons of Will and Yoga'. This group forms 'the nursery for future human adepts, on this earth and during the present cycle.'

The second class of manasaputras who only 'projected a spark', is associated with the average class of humanity. The use of the term 'spark' indicates that the resultant being, that is the the human and Dhyani when blended, is generally only capable of displaying the attributes of the lower mind on this terrestrial plane. In the fifth Round, those who succeed in their evolutionary efforts, will be ready for the full incarnation of the manasaputras. At that point man will be able to use all the capabilities of the mind. In saying that this class of Dhyani only projected a spark, no criticism is implied in the Stanzas. They did all that was in their power to do. They could only infuse a little of their essence into man, because that class of humanity with whom they were associated by Karma, was incapable of responding to anything greater. 

The third class of Dhyanis who deferred till the fourth Race, did so because the human forms that it was their destiny to inhabit were so unattractive that they refused to carry out their task. They waited, hoping that as time passed, the human forms might improve in quality. This led to unfortunate consequences for which the Dhyanis were wholly to blame. The mindless human beings interbred with a certain class of animal, and thus produced an intermediate race which was in form half-human and half-animal. Such interbreeding was no part of Nature's plan, and had the effect of degrading the physical human stock. In order to prevent this trend continuing to further pollute their future bodies, the Dhyanis finally incarnated in the remaining undefiled stock. However the damage had been done. 

The human laggards, those still occupying animal forms in the middle of the fourth Race, will never develop into human beings with minds in this Planetary manvantara. They are not associated with any class of manasaputra. The sole exception to this rule is the anthropoid apes. Ages after mindless man had interbred with the animals producing a new stock, fully self-conscious men of the fourth or Atlantean Race, mated with the descendants of that intermediate race. As man was endowed with mind at this point, he was fully responsible for his actions, unlike his earlier forebears. The outcome of this second interbreeding produced the stock from which our present anthropoids are descended. They are fully part of the human kingdom, and in the fifth Round will become endowed with mind like the rest of humanity. 

Among the second and third classes of Dhyanis there are those who did not entirely succeed in achieving the full status of manasaputra. The following passage from The Mahatma Letters describes their subsequent fate. 'But still as these failures are too far progressed and spiritualised to be thrown back forcibly from their Dhyan Chohanship into the vortex of a new primordial evolution through the lower kingdoms — this then happens. When a new solar system is to be evolved these Dhyan Chohans are .... borne in “ahead” of the elementals and remain as a 'latent or inactive spiritual force in the aura of a nascent world of a new system until the stage of human evolution is reached. Then Karma has reached them and they will have to accept to the last drop the bitter cup of retribution. Then they become an active force, and comingle with the elementals ... to develop little by little the full type of humanity. In this commingling they lose their high intelligence and spiritually of Devaship to regain them in the end of the seventh ring in the seventh Round.'



The following two passages are included here by way of further amplification of the nature and function of the antahkarana.

'Antahkarana is the name of that imaginary bridge, the path which lies between the Divine and the human Egos, for they are Egos during human life, to rebecome one Ego in Devachan or Nirvana. This may seem difficult to understand, but in reality, with the help of a familiar, though fanciful illustration, it becomes quite simple. Let us figure to ourselves a bright lamp in the middle of a room, casting its light upon the wall. Let the lamp represent the Divine Ego, and the light thrown upon the wall the lower manas, and let the wall stand for the body. That portion of the atmosphere which transmits the ray from the lamp to the wall, will then represent the Antahkarana. We must further suppose that the light thus cast is endowed with reason and intelligence and possesses, moreover, the faculty of dissipating all the evil shadows which pass across the wall, and of attracting all brightness to itself, receiving their indelible impressions. Now, it is in the power of the human Ego to chase away the shadows, or sins, and multiply the brightness, or good deeds, which make these impressions, and thus through Antahkarana, ensure its own permanent connection, and its final reunion, with the Divine Ego. Remember that the latter cannot take place while there remains a single taint of the terrestrial, or of matter, in the purity of that light. On the other hand, the connection cannot be entirely ruptured, and final reunion prevented, so long as there remains one spiritual deed or potentiality to serve as a thread of union; but the moment this last spark is extinguished, and the last potentiality exhausted, then comes the severance.'

The Secret Doctrine, H.P. Blavatsky, Vol.3, p519; Vol.5, p495

'The Higher Ego is, as it were, a globe of pure divine light, a Unit from a higher plane, on which is no differentiation. Descending to a plane of differentiation it emanates a Ray, which it can only manifest through the personality which is already differentiated. A portion of this Ray, the lower Manas, during life, may so crystallise itself and become one with Kama that it will remain assimilated with Matter. That portion which retains its purity forms Antahkarana. The whole fate of an incarnation depends on whether Antahkarana will be able to restrain the Kama-Manas or not. After death the higher light (Antahkarana) which bears the impressions and memory of all the good and noble aspirations, assimilates itself with the Higher Ego, the bad is dissociated in space, and comes back as bad Karma awaiting the personality.'

The Secret Doctrine, H.P. Blavatsky, Vol.3, pp580-581; Vol.5, p553



The teachings on the constitution of man's nature were presented gradually over a number of years. Whereas this was a necessary process at the time, it is possible that it may lead to some confusion in the student's mind when reading the early literature. It has to be borne in mind that the meanings attached to certain terms changed and evolved over a period of fifteen years. When attempting to study a given passage the student should always bear in mind the period in which it was written lest he mistake the subtle nuances associated with the words used. In this appendix an attempt is made to present some of the major stages in the development of the teachings on this subject. 

The original classification used by HPB in Isis Unveiled was a three-fold one:

1. Spirit
2. Soul
3. Body

This is a classical analysis of man's nature, and would now call for little comment or justification. However, at the time, spiritualist writers distinguished between only 'body' and 'spirit'. One of the purposes that Isis set out to accomplish, was to introduce a further element into the discussion, so as to explain more satisfactorily some of the phenomena then occurring in the séance rooms. The distinction between 'soul' and 'spirit' was used by HPB to explain that most of the trivial manifestations were not the action of the immortal spirit, but rather the near automatic operations of the discarded soul elements. 

By 1880 the more familiar sevenfold classification had been introduced, but only in a preliminary and rudimentary form. It was used throughout The Mahatma Letters and thus was adopted by Sinnett for use in Esoteric Budhism [A.P. Sinnett]. HPB also used this terminology in her articles for The Theosophist during this period. The following list is to taken from Esoteric Budhism:

1. Body, Rupa, or Sthula Sharira
2. Prana or Vitality
3. Linga Sharira or Astral Body
4. Kama Rupa or Animal Soul
5. Manas or Human Soul
6. Buddhi or Spiritual Soul
7. Atma or Spirit

The duality of manas was not apparent from this description. At this stage manas was equated to physical intelligence, the brain mind, or what was later to be described as the lower mind. Buddhi included the higher manas, and might better be equated to buddhi-manas in later writings. The fourth principle was called kama rupa, though during life there is no form or rupa associated with this principle. The second and third principles were reversed in later expositions. The term astral body is used consistently by HPB to refer to the linga sharira, and not to the psychic vehicles of consciousness. 

In the period from 1888, in which both the SD and the 'Key' were published, the above classification underwent some revision. The following version is fairly typical:

1. Body or sthula sharira
2. Linga sharira
3. Prana
4. Kamarupa
5. Manas — both higher and lower
6. Buddhi
7. Atma

Although at first sight the changes appear to be minor, the associated meanings had changed fairly considerably. The linga sharira is now shown to be the vehicle of prana, and is thus listed below it. Manas is now clearly stated to be dual in its functions, the higher mind moreover, being identified with the Reincarnating Ego. Buddhi has receded from being only just removed from human consciousness, to a position in which it is well beyond anything that man may expect to touch in full consciousness. There are also clear hints that prana is not really a human principle, but rather a universal principle. 

The next major developments came in 1889, when HPB presented to her Esoteric Section a series of study papers in which much new material was given out. These papers were subsequently published as part of the so-called Third Volume of the SD (Fifth volume of the Adyar Edition). The student must remember that some of these teachings were given orally, and although HPB saw some them in written form, it is possible that she would have re-worded them herself had she lived.

In Paper 1, a diagram showing the relationship between the macrocosm and the microcosm, provides a new classification of man's principles:

1. Linga sharira (7)
2. Prana (2)
3. Kama rupa (1)
4. Lower manas (4)
5. Manas (6)
6. Buddhi (3)
7. Auric Egg or Envelope (5)

Atma has been excluded altogether from this list. It is included in the diagram and is described thus: 'ATMAN, although exoterically reckoned as the seventh principle, is no individual principle at all, and belongs to the Universal Soul ...... The seventh individual principle is the auric envelope. These Papers are the only place where explicit reference is made to this principle, and from this it can be seen how important it is. Passages descriptive of this principle have already been given in the main body of this study. The mind principle is now clearly divided into two, and again many references have been given to the nature and functions of both principles in this study. HPB still occasionally refers to the desire principle as kama rupa despite her own comments that this is a misnomer, as has been explained elsewhere. The physical body has also been excluded on the basis that it is not, nor ever was a principle as such, but rather the ultimate vehicle of all the other principles. Also, as it is on the same plane as the linga sharira, it is regarded as being functionally integral with the latter vehicle, and only an outgrowth of it. Lastly the numbers in parentheses which follow the principles in the above list, are the numbers to which the principles correspond in Occultism, and the numbers normally associated with the principles are no more than a convenient reference for exoteric purposes. A table showing the correspondences between not only the principles but also the planets, the days of the week, the precious metals etc., is also to be found among these Papers.

The following diagram is an attempt to show in graphic form the parallels between the terms used to describe the principles at various stages in the early literature.

Isis Unveiled (1877)

The Mahatma Letters &
Esoteric Budhism

The Secret Doctrine &
Key to Theosophy

The Esoteric Writings — also The Secret Doctrine Vol. 3 (1889-1891)

Collected Writings Vol.10 - A Dialogue between the Two Editors - 1888





Causal or Karmic Body.
(The Devachanic Ego after death)



Auric egg


Higher Manas

Higher Manas



Lower Manas Lower Manas

Mayavi Rupa 
(The Kama Rupa after death)

Kama Rupa

Kama Rupa

Kama (Rupa)


Linga Sharira


Prana Protean or Plastic Double
The Astral Body


Linga Sharira

Linga Sharira

Sthula Sharira

Sthula Sharira

Sthula Sharira

The Physical Body



Key to some abbreviations

S.D. The Secret Doctrine by H. P. Blavatsky. 
Volume and page numbers refer to the first, third and Adyar editions respectively. Where only 2 page references occur, they refer to the 3rd and Adyar Ed. respectively.

Key. The Key to Theosophy by H. P. Blavatsky. 
References are to the original edition. As so many editions exist, it would be impossible to refer to them all.

M.L. The Mahatma Letters to A. P. Sinnett edited by A. Trevor Barker. 
References are to the second and third editions respectively.

C.W. H.P. Blavatsky Collected Writings edited by B. de Zirkoff.

^1 The Key to Theosophy, H. P. Blavatsky, 1889, p183
^2 The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, 3rd edition 1962, p74
^3 The Key to Theosophy, H. P. Blavatsky, 1889, p138 footnote
^4 The Secret Doctrine, Vol.2, H. P. Blavatsky, Page 79; Page 83; Vol.3, Page 89
^5 The Secret Doctrine, Vol.2, H. P. Blavatsky, page 242 and 252; Vol.3, page 244
^6 The Secret Doctrine, Vol.2, H. P. Blavatsky, Page 167 and Page 176; Vol.3, Page 174
^7 The Secret Doctrine, Vol.1, H. P. Blavatsky, Pages 178, 210 and 230
^8 The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, 2nd & 3rd editions, page 74
^9 The Secret Doctrine, Vol.2, H. P. Blavatsky, Vol.2, Page 246 and 257; Vol 3, Page 248 and 249
^10 The Secret Doctrine, Vol.3, H. P. Blavatsky, Page 518; Vol.5, Page 494
^11 Collected Writings, H. P. Blavatsky, Vol.10, Page 248
^12 Studies in Occultism, H.P. Blavatsky, page 94
^13 The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, 2nd & 3rd editions, pages 180 and 177
^14 The Key to Theosophy, H. P. Blavatsky, 1889, pages 162-163
^15 The Secret Doctrine, Vol.3, H. P. Blavatsky, Pages 511-512; Vol.5, Pages 487-488
^16 The Secret Doctrine, Vol.3, H. P. Blavatsky, Page 579; Vol.5, Page 552
^17 The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, 2nd & 3rd editions, Page 171, pages 171 and 168
^18 The Secret Doctrine, Vol.3, H. P. Blavatsky, Pages 495-496; Vol.5, Pages 472-473
^19 The Key to Theosophy. H. P. Blavatsky, 1889, page 163
^20 Studies in Occultism, H.P. Blavatsky, Page 92
^21 The Secret Doctrine, Vol.3, H. P. Blavatsky, Page 446; Vol.5, Page 427
^22 The Secret Doctrine, Vol.1, H. P. Blavatsky, Pages 38, 69 and 111
^23 The Secret Doctrine, Vol.3, H. P. Blavatsky, Page 582; Vol.5, Page 554
^24 Collected Writings, H. P. Blavatsky, Volume 8, Page 108 and The Secret Doctrine, Vol.3, H. P. Blavatsky, Page 584; Vol.5, Page 557
^25 The Secret Doctrine, Vol.1, H. P. Blavatsky, Page 104, 130 and 165
^26 The Mahatma Letters to A.P. Sinnett, 2nd & 3rd editions, Page 49 - in both editions
^27 A Collection of Esoteric Writings, T. Subba Row, Page 7

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