Chapter 6 Constitution of Man

-54- Constitution of Man, Diagram

We now come to our next important set of facts; the constitution of man, physically, psychically, and spiritually. (Diagram) These divisions correspond to those of the Pauline classification of body, soul, and spirit; they provide a key to the understanding of many problems relating to man, his behaviour patterns, his psychology as currently understood, his dreams, his long term destiny, and his after-death states. According to the Esoteric Doctrine, man is a sevenfold entity. In life he is a single whole being, not many beings, but one with seven aspects or principles. These are:

7. Spirit. The Universal Essence of Life, Power, the source of all dynamism and consciousness.

6. The Vehicle of Spirit. Universal Soul, sometimes called the Over Soul, that which at the highest level gives expression to Spirit.

5. Mind. The seat of individual consciousness in man. Mind has two aspects; the upper orientated toward the 6th and 7th principles, and when combined with them known as the inner or higher Ego; the lower orientated toward the 4th principle. It is then the ordinary personal reasoning mind.

4. The Principle of Desire and Passion. The seat of our emotional feelings. In conjunction with the lower elements of mind it becomes a mind-cum-emotion complex, the psyche, the ego of the psychologist, sometimes called the animal soul, the rudimentary beginnings of which are apparent in some animals, which show signs, sometimes considerable, of emotion and of intelligence.

3. The life-force, vitality, the possession of which distinguishes a live body from a dead one.

2. A counterpart of the physical body, in subtle


material, sometimes called the astral body or ethereal double. This is a collector of and container for the life force. It has an organization such that centres in it correspond to nerve and other cent ers in the physical body. It is through this double that the physical body is vitalized and it is through it that non-physical operations such as willing, thinking, and feeling, including sensation, are conveyed to the physical brain.

I. The physical gross body. The proper study of this is anatomy and physiology and we need not here concern ourselves with its marvelous make-up in detail. We must, however, note that it is our means of perception and action in this physical world and that all our activities, both subjective (interior) and objective are referred to it. Our very consciousness arises in the physical brain in our normal waking state. Furthermore, we must never forget that it is itself a living organism composed of millions of lesser lives in its cells and organs.

In this classification, the upper three principles, seven, six and five, comprise man's spiritual Self, his divine triplicity or upper triad. It is in the fifth principle, mind, that consciousness wells up as "1 am I", wherein man knows himself to be, and whereby he can be aware not only of his surroundings but of himself in them. The Ego is said to be imperishable, virtually immortal. It is that which puts a ray of itself down into physical, objective existence in each successive "personality" in its periodical incarnations. It is the reincarnating entity.

The four principles, first to fourth, sometimes referred to as the lower quaternary as opposed to the higher triad - the reincarnating, persisting individuality - comprise the successive personalities that are born and die after their due periods of existence and activity. It has been said they are like beads strung together on the thread of Egoic being. The cumulative harvest of their experience is garnered by the Ego. The distinction between the individuality and the personalities should be noted.

Another and deeper aspect of the constitution of man is that which "entifies" him as a whole spiritual, mental-psychic being, and makes him individual or separate from the whole, a life


distinct from the general Cosmic Life. In esoteric literature this is referred to as the Auric Egg. This egg or envelope is said to "contain and be directly related to both the Divine and the physical man. In its essence ... it is eternal; in its constant correlation and transformation, it is a kind of perpetual motion machine during the reincarnating process of the Ego on this earth." (S.D. III, 494)

In the processes of his very long term evolution man is seen to be the product of two main streams, the physical which provided him with his physical body and the mental which provided him with his distinct individual human Soul.

One of the difficulties confronting the student of Occultism is the lack of clear cut, definitive, and concise statements as to the nature of things. This is because of their almost infinite complexity in their total being. Any exposition must vary with the aspect being considered. An attempt to analyse man's principles, as a kind of overall, i.e. inner and outer "physiology," results in a classification such as we have just given, but when we wish to consider man in relation to the generality of the living Cosmos, or see him as part of the universal evolutionary process of unfoldment of spiritual potentiality, the language of exposition sometimes changes. Further, in the literature from which illustrative excerpts are freely used in this book, some technical language is frequently met with. As this terminology is also in general use and as it has some quite specific meanings, it might be helpful if we now introduced the reader to some of it. Most of the technical terms are taken from Sanskrit, the ancient religious language of the East, no longer spoken. Most of these terms are from Hindu- ism but some come from Buddhism in India and Tibet in local language.

Universal, all pervading Spirit (seventh principle) has many names; the common one is Atma. The Vehicle of Spirit (sixth principle) is commonly called Buddhi.

The fifth principle, mind, with its upper and lower aspects, is commonly / referred to as Manas. When orientated towards Buddhi, it is Buddhi-Manas and when orientated towards the fourth principle, Kama-Manas.

The fourth principle, which we referred to as that of desire and passion is, in this nomenclature, Kama, having a range of meanings all centring on emotional feeling. These include anger, lust,


hatred, jealousy; but especially is it used for desire, the internal prompter to action. We commonly do what we want or feel we should.

In this connection we should notice the word Rupa which means a form, sometimes taken to mean body, that through which action can take place. Kama-rupa is the body of desire.

The third principle (Sanskrit: Prana) is not private to man but is common to all living things. It is the universal vital principle, the life force, a "reflection of Atma, at lower 1evel. It becomes a principle of individual man only insofar as it is assimilated into his vital body, his second principle.

Our astral double or vital body, our second principle, is, in the Sanskrit classification, the Linga Sarira. This is the inner body forming the pattern or mould of our physical body. It is the repository of the elements of our being, stored from our previous lives, which condition our present one, particularly as far as the physical body is concerned.

Our first principle is our physical body, the Sthula Sarira. During waking life this is the focus, the seat of action in the physical world of all the other principles of man, insofar as they can operate through it. This depends on its degree of development and refinement.

A few more terms should be introduced before we go on with our narrative, but see also the Glossary. One of these terms is Monad. This is a word applied to the combination of Spirit and it’s vehicle, Atma and Buddhi. Together these form the inner essence of conditioned existence, but they are universal principles, and while they underlie consciousness, Monad itself is said not to be conscious in any sense that we know. Consciousness arises in he association of Monad with Mind. Such a combination when elated to an individual mind, is sometimes referred to as a monad. The spiritual essence overshadowing a life atom is also sometimes referred to as a Monad. But Monad, proper, is always whole and indivisible.

As we shall see later, man has several "doubles," the double of his physical vehicle, a "double" of his conditioned mental principle, and the "double" which, so to speak, encloses the totality of him, all his principles, demarking him from the universal, as a drop of water is demarked, when separate, from the ocean. This last is the Auric Envelope or Egg, already mentioned.


The mind body (lower or Kama-Manas) is known as his body of illusion, or Mayavi-rupa (maya = illusion), of great significance in the context of our theme as the body of astral travel, etc.

Astral is a word which causes much confusion because it is used in so many ways. We are familiar with it in the connection with astral body, astral travel, the Astral Light and the astral man. In formal Occultism all these have proper meanings. The astral body is a synonym for the second principle, Linga Sarira, but sometimes it is also applied to Kama-rupa. This leads to confusion because the Kama-rupa as such, as we shall see, does not exist until after death. Further, the term astral man is sometimes applied to the totality of the inner man, i.e. all his invisible principles from the second to the fifth; sometimes to the personal soul elements of the man, Kama-Manas, i.e., up to and including the lower parts of the mind, (the fifth principle). Sometimes it refers to the mental elements of the Kama-Manas principles. This is, as we have seen, more specifically the Mayavi-rupa. In our reading we have to gather from the context in which of these senses the word "astral" is used.

Here we should notice a further complication because it ex- plains some finer points in the understanding of man's constitution in terms of his modes of consciousness and behaviour, as well as some aspects of phenomena. Each of man's principles - reflecting those of Cosmos - comprises seven sub-principles, each reflecting one of the seven main principles. For example, Manas would have seven sub principles as Manas-atma, Manas-buddhi, Manas-manas, Manas-kama, Manas-prana, Manas-astral and Manas-physical (or something corresponding to physical at that level).

Another term very commonly met with in connection with the after-death states, discussed fully later (see Chapter 8) is Devachan. This is a subjective condition of bliss enjoyed by everyone in the normal course after death and after some processes involving our inner principles have been completed.

Karma, as opposed to Kama, is another word that needs some explanation now. It means literally action but is commonly applied to universal law by which the- whole process of Nature (its action) is governed. It is commonly regarded as the law of action and reaction, particularly as applied to man. It too is more fully discussed later.


We have now made sufficient preliminary explanations for some significant extracts from the literature to be appreciated.

Regarding man as a spiritual entity operating in a set of vehicles, the Auric Egg .'containing" all his principles. Out of these and associated with which "a distinct Astral Form is ... produced for each forthcoming personality of the reincarnating series of each Ego." Thus the Auric Egg, reflecting all the thoughts, words and deeds of 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 very 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, 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).[1]

In the case of the Devachanic Entity, the Ego, in order to be able to go into a state of bliss, as the "I" of its immediately preceding incarnation, has to be clothed (metaphorically speaking) with the spiritual elements of the ideas, aspirations and thoughts of the now disembodied personality; otherwise what is it that enjoys bliss and reward? Surely not the impersonal Ego, the Divine Individuality.

Therefore it must be the good Karmic records of the deceased, impressed upon the Auric Substance, which furnish the Human Soul with just enough of the spiritual elements of the ex- personality to enable itself to still believe itself that body from which it has just been severed, and to receive its fruition, during a more-or-less prolonged period of "spiritual gestation." For Devachan is a .'spiritual gestation" within an ideal matrix, that

[1] It is erroneous when speaking of the fourth human principle to call it the "Kama-Rupa." It is no Rupa, or form at all, except after death, but the Kamic elements, animal desires and passions, such as anger, lust, envy, revenge etc., etc., the progeny of selfishness and matter. (S.D. iii p495 fn.)


ends in the new birth of the Ego into the world of effects, which ideal, subjective birth precedes its next terrestrial birth-the latter being determined by its bad Karma-into the world of causes. (Note: Here the world of effects is the Devachanic state, and the world of causes, earth life.) In the second case, that of furnishing the Kama-rupa for the ghost or spook of the entity, it is from the animal dregs of the Auric Envelope with its daily Karmic record of animal life, so full of animal desires and selfish aspirations, that it is furnished.[2] Now, the Linga Sarira remains with the physical body, and fades out along with it. An astral entity then has to be created (a new Linga Sarira provided) to become the bearer of all the past Tanhas (longings, cravings) and future Karma. How is this accomplished1 The mediumistic "spook", the "departed angel" fades out and vanishes also in its turn.[3]

If spirituality prevailed, then the Larva "spook" will fade out very soon; but if it was very materialistic, the Kama-rupa may last centuries and-in some-though very exceptional cases, even survive with the help of some of its scattered skandhas, which are all transformed in time into Elementals. See Key to Theosophy. pp. 141, et seq. [original edition], in which work it was impossible to go into details, but where the Skandhas are spoken of as Karmic effects, as germs, or even as an entity, or full image of the personality that was, and which leaves in the Kamalokic world of effects only the records of its misdeeds and sinful thoughts and acts, known in the phraseology of the Occultists as Tanhic or human elementals. (S.D. Vol. iii, pp. 495-96.)

We have seen that in the long sleep of death the 'personalized' Ego enters its Devachanic rest and there enjoys its subjective experiences, feeling itself to be its old personal self in the places and with the people it held dear in life. We have seen that the psychic principles disintegrate after, in their own time, but that the skandhas remain. In the Esoteric Science there are seven skandhas, as opposed to five in the exoteric systems, and they are described in roughly equivalent terms, as ... "the material properties or

[2]. It is this Kama-rupa alone that can materialize in mediumistic séances, which it occasionally does, when it is not the astral double or Linga Sarira, of the medium himself which appears. Therefore, how can this bundle of vile moral passions and terrestrial lusts, resurrected by, and gaining consciousness only through the organism of the medium, be accepted as a "departed anger' or the spirit of a once human body? As well say of the microbic pest which fastens upon a person that it is a sweet departed angel. (S.D. Vol iii p495 fn)

[3]. This is accomplished in more or less time according to the degree that the personality - whose dregs it now is - was spiritual or material. (S.D.)

- 61-

attributes; sensations; abstract ideas; tendencies both physical and mental; and mental powers, an amplification of the fourth- meaning the mental, physical and moral predispositions, ...and two more connected with, and productive of. ..the 'heresy or delusion of individuality ' and ... 'the doctrine of Self', both of which (in the case of the fifth principle the soul) lead to the maya of heresy and belief in the efficacy of vain rites and ceremonies; in prayers and intercession." (M.L.S.. p. III.)

It is these elementals which - upon entering into the composition of the " Astral form" of the new body into which the Ego, on its quitting the Devachanic state, is to enter according to Karmic decree - form that new astral entity which is born within the Auric envelope, and of which it is often said "Karma with its army of skandhas, waits at the threshold of Devachan." For no sooner is the Devachanic state of reward ended than the Ego is indissolubly united with (or rather follows in the track of) the new astral form. Both are karmically propelled towards the family or woman from whom is to be born the animal child chosen by Karma to become he vehicle of the Ego which has just awakened from the Devachanic state.

Then the new Astral form, composed partly of pure Akasic essence of the Auric Egg and partly of the terrestrial elements of the punishable sins and misdeeds of the last personality, is drawn into the woman. Once there, nature models the foetus of flesh around the Astral, out of the growing materials of the male seed in the female soil. Thus out of the essence of decayed seed the fruit or eidolon of the dead seed, the physical fruit producing in its turn within itself another, and other seeds for future plants. (S.D. III, pp. 495-6)

There is much confusion in "Occult" literature concerning the meaning of the terms (a) The astral body, the double, eidelon or phantom, (b) the desire body, Kama-rupa and (c) the Mayavi-rupa, the body of astral travel and of apparitions at a distance. These are sorted out in a paper " A dialogue between Two Editors" on Astral Bodies or Doppelgangers, by H.P.B., (C. W. Vol. X pp. 217 et seq.); she says:

Our occult philosophy teaches us that there are three kinds of "doubles," to use the word in its widest sense, (I) 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 (highest Spirit) awakes. This occurs when the child is seven years old and with it comes the responsibility attaching to a conscious sentient being. This "double" is born with 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 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 body is what we have agreed to call linga-sarira, but which I would propose to call, for greater convenience, "Protean" or "Plastic Body" ... Protean, because it can assume all forms, e.g. the "shepherd magicians" whom popular rumour accuses, perhaps not without some reason, of being "were-wolves" and "mediums in cabinets," whose own "Plastic Bodies" play the part of materialised grand- mothers and "John Kings." Otherwise, why the invariable custom of the "dear departed angels" to come out but little further than arms length from the medium whether entranced or not? Mind, I do not at all deny foreign influences in this kind of phenomena. But I do affirm that foreign interference is rare and that the materialised form is always that of the medium's "Astral" or Protean body.

Question. How is this Astral body created?

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

Question. And what about the second?

Answer. The second is the "Thought" body, or Dream body, rather; known among Occultists as the Mayavi- Rupa, or "Illusion-body." During life this image is the vehicle of thought and of the animal passions and desires, drawing at one and the same 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".

Question And the third?

Answer. The third is the true Ego, called in the East, by a name meaning the "causal body" but which in the trans-Himalayan schools is always called 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, an a compound of, the Monad and Manas in Devachan.

Question. Then there are three doubles?

Answer. If you can call the Christian and other Trinities "three Gods" then there are three doubles. But in truth there is only one under three aspects or phases; the most material portion disappearing with the body; the middle one surviving both as an independent, but temporary, entity in the land of shadows; the third, immortal, throughout the manvantara unless Nirvana puts an end to it before.

More was said on this subject by H.P.B. in the same paper but it pertains more to the condition of our state after death and has been included in Chapter 8. But another question asked :

Question. But shall not we be asked what difference there is between the Mayavi and the Kama Rupa or as you propose to call them, the "Dream body" and the Spooks?

This is important because the section just quoted could seemingly be taken to mean that they are one and the same.

Answer. We shall answer, in addition to what has been said, that the "thought power" or aspect of the Mayavi or "Illusion body," merges after death entirely into the causal body or the conscious thinking Ego. The animal elements, or power of desire of the "Dream body," absorbing after death that which it has collected (through its insatiable desire to live) during life; i.e. all the astral vitality as well as all the impressions of its material acts and thoughts while it lived


in possession of the body, forms the "Spook" or Kama rupa ... after death the higher Manas unites with the Monad and passes into Devachan, while the dregs of the lower manas or animal mind go to form this Spook. This has life in it, but hardly any consciousness, except as it were by proxy; when it is drawn into the current of a medium. (C.W. X, pp. 217-220)

In these extracts, the treatment of the constitution of man is somewhat different from usual but it has been included for the description not only of the nature of the principles of our inner being, but also something of their origin. The points made here should be noted as data for the explanations concerning the after- death states and of so-called astral travel in the Mayavi-rupa. Again the description of the various "doubles" of man's constitution should be particularly noted because there is so much confusion about them.

It is hoped that the setting into which we have put this description of the principles of man will help with the expansion of the theme of the great beyond. Man is a denizen of all the inner worlds and it helps us to know the vehicles of his constitution which correspond to them.

Here is some additional information about the astral body-the phantom double-of man and it's functions, which answers difficulties arising from questions concerning consciousness apart from a physical body or brain.

The centres of sensation, or of internal action, that is, of seeing, hearing, smelling etc., called Indryas in Eastern systems - are located in the Astral man, the physical molecules being only the necessary material agents for receiving impulses from without and transmitting them to the centres. The organs of action, or Karmen-driyas, are Indryas, or centres acquired for Karma (external action in this case). The true centres which impel to action are in the Astral man, i.e. belong to Astral Consciousness. ...Self-Consciousness proper only begins between Kama (4th principle) and Manas (fifth principle). (Es. Inst. 4, p. 98)

With the advent of new instruments able to tell us something of what is going on in the brain, its functions as a vehicle of mind


activity are now being understood in a totally different way from what we were able to learn from methods of examination of the conventional psychologist, if the word conventional can be used in this context. The picture of the mind that the non-specialist layman has been building up has been a synthesis of the pronouncements of those engaged in research, clinical and otherwise, in this field. Among these have been the work and writings of pioneers such as Adler, Freud and Jung. Their theories of the workings of the mind, which included the emotions, were necessarily conjectural because they lacked this framework of Occult knowledge. Those that were empirically based have proved useful therapeutically and many people have been helped.

Now. however, much that was indistinct in our vision of our psychological workings and their influence on our bodies and our behaviour can become clearer. The subject is immensely complicated.

The encephalograph (EEG) and the electromyograph (E.M.G.) have helped to clear some of the mists, and the techniques of bio-feedback are opening up avenues of exploration which are not only very exciting but they seem to be confirming the teachings of esoteric Science, particularly in the field of "mind over matter."

In learning what functions are performed by the various parts of the brain we are also learning something more about the functions themselves. For example, it has now been established that le left hand side of the brain deals with our ordinary thinking concerning ourselves, our business, and with physical concrete things generally. The function of this side seems to be analytical and ratiocinative, matter-of-fact. The right hand side deals with our aesthetic, artistic, religious, and mystical activities insofar as we indulge them. It has been discovered that in general in Western countries the development of the left hand side of the brain is emphasized, whereas in the East the reverse is true.

In terms of the lower or personal mind, and the higher spiritual mind classification given in the Occult constitution of man, we see the corresponding left and right side development of the brain. Further research may tell us of areas of the brain that are functioning only in the highly developed man and how, for example, by biofeedback techniques we may come to develop them for ourselves. Such research may produce some effective meditational techniques, graduated to suit people at all stages.

If this is possible religious instruction, both in and outside of schools, may be given a revolutionary turn.

Exploring the Great Beyond > Next Page Chapter 7 Universal Law


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