Within the all-embracing framework of unity we can now consider the fundamental nature of Man as a reflection of the Whole. He is inseparable from The ALL and is himself also a unit, a whole, in spite of his complex component nature.
The Cosmos is permeated by the Universal Spirit; so also is Man. Man is essentially a spiritual being. In whatever terms we are thinking, whether it be the Cosmos, the world or ourselves, spirit needs a vehicle or form through, and in which to express its powers and have being. The vehicle is commonly referred to as soul. The spiritual soul of man is a spark of the Universal Over-Soul, sharing its nature completely.
There is Universal Intelligence stemming from Universal Mind. Man shares this Mind but in him it is limited and becomes individual. It is here, in his mind that a man knows himself as 'I', as a seemingly separate unit of consciousness. His individual spark of mind, in conjunction with Spirit and Universal Soul, its vehicle, is a trinity forming the three-fold essence of man as a spiritual individuality. This spiritual divine Self is sometimes referred to as the human soul. It is virtually immortal. It is the reincarnating entity, the Ego, which persists through a long series of many personal incarnations, from which it slowly gathers a vast experience.
Universal Mind, acting through the hierarchies of intelligent or quasi-intelligent beings of all grades, is the creative power in Cosmos and the source of all ideation and separate ideas.
Cosmos becomes manifest from within outwards, from the subjective to the objective. Universal Mind is Universal Memory, wherein are stored those archetypal blue-prints from which emerge the ideal patterns of all specific forms either as potentialities to be developed, or as the actualities such as those, for example, of roses, cats, diamonds and so on, which have been unfolded by nature in aeons of evolutionary time. The modus operandi of creation is that Universal Will acting through what we could only describe as feeling, desire, projects the subjective archetypal ideas into an inner formative world. This subtle inner realm gives them existence as shadows, subtle images, designs within the 'force field' of nature, which become forms in ethereal substance, whence they are reflected into the physical world. The One Absolute, as such, never manifests; it is represented by the aggregate of all life and the countless lives of almost infinite diversity, peopling the earth. It is through these lives, as intelligent agents of the law, that the creative process is executed. These lives constitute the numerous hierarchies of beings in the various inner, invisible realms, and in the outer objective ones, to which we have already referred.
The forms in the ethereal realms immediately beyond the physical are the patterns, subtle moulds filled out by physical substance, to make the objective world and all that is in it. This is the process of 'creation'. The ideal designs include the shape, size, colour and texture of all nature's more or less temporal forms that we see, feel, touch, use, and modify, in our daily lives. Our bodies are such forms. In Man, Universal Mind underlies his individual mind; the equivalent of universal feeling underlies his emotional nature. The cosmic life-force becomes his life principle, the vitality that quickens his physical body. This universal vital fluid is absorbed by, and operates through, a special vehicle of so-called 'etheric' stuff, constituting what is known as man's vital body, often referred to as his astral double. It is this that is said to be the model of his physical one; it is an exact replica of it in subtle material. This subtle body distributes the universal 'life fluid' about the physical body, through the nervous system and blood, and it forms the bridge between man's inner subjective world, his thoughts, feelings, volition and so on and his outer physical body. Stimuli from these inner worlds are conveyed by it to the brain, and so to man's ordinary consciousness. The brain is an extraordinarily sensitive receiver and transmitter of subtle (subjective) impulses. An apt analogy is that of a radio or television broadcasting and receiving set, the sounds or pictures from which must register in our consciousness for us to know anything about them. It is through the brain and our nervous systems that our bodies are directed to do what we want them to. The volition arises in the inner realms.
Whereas Man derives from the universal life principle the vitality of his physical organism, his physical energy comes from the food he eats and the air he breathes. His etheric vital body leaves his physical body at death. They then both begin to disintegrate simultaneously. Co-ordination of the activities of the various parts of the physical body, which comes from the inner man, ceases at death; the life elements of the body then become disorganised and the process of dissolution and putrefaction start.
Apart from the intricacies of his physical body, with its numerous organs all working in unison, man's constitution is wonderfully complex, particularly in the elements and principles of his inner being. He has been described as being three-fold in his nature: body, soul and spirit. We now see however, that his soul is a complex of several parts.
His spiritual essence is itself also three-fold; he has a spiritual principle, operating through a vehicle of spirit, and an individualised mind principle. Together these constitute his higher or reincarnating Ego, his true individuality. In life, however, he is, and operates as, a personality, as distinct from his spiritual individuality. This personality is a fourfold entity having a physical vehicle, its etheric counterpart, its 'life' principle, and a mento-emotional or psychic principle: the latter is sometimes referred to as his personal ego, and sometimes as his animal soul as opposed to his spiritual or human soul, because its component elements of emotion and mind are present, in some degree, in animals.
There are two distinct aspects of mind - the individuality mind which is orientated 'upwards' towards spirit, and the personality mind oriented 'downwards' and which is concerned wholly with the personal life and its interests, with family, business, enjoyment, ambition etc.. This lower mind together with the man 's desire nature, with its wholly personal concerns and its often darker side and instinctual urges, is the personal ego of so much interest to the present-day psychologist. It is the seat of self-identity and selfishness. Few of us in the ordinary way manifest much of our spiritual Self. In so far as we can raise our consciousness to its level or in so far as we respond to it or sense anything of it, we feel our essential unity with other men, other creatures, with nature as a whole. Our higher Ego is the seat of unselfishness, of altruism, of self-forgetfulness. If we could live as from that Spiritual Self we would, so to speak, know right from wrong, and virtue would unconsciously motivate our every act. Sacrifice, patience, self- control, honesty, conscientiousness, love, wisdom, are the natural qualities of the higher Self. Only when our living is spontaneously motivated in these ways are we being truly human. For the rest of the time we are less than that, and then we must be guided by the commonly accepted codes of conduct, ethics and morals. In the one case our conscience would be a sure guide, in the other we have to submit to external controls and restraint.
In this view we see man, like an iceberg, with the greater part of his being hidden beneath the surface of appearances. He has psychic powers and he has spiritual powers. We are told that our higher Ego, as an entity , lives a life of its own on its own plane of being, of which we are unaware in the ordinary way. Its powers and consciousness only become ours as we acquire the necessary personal faculties to contact them and give them expression in our normal waking consciousness. This is a high degree of development. Psychic powers are more common and are, for example, demonstrated at spiritualistic séances as clairvoyance and clairaudience. These do not, in themselves, indicate any advanced spiritual condition.
The knowledge that we are creatures of such deep and complicated being, with hidden powers far beyond our ordinary conception, can greatly alter our opinion of ourselves, the part in life we can, and perhaps should play and indeed our whole attitude to it.
The future of ourselves and of our race is fairly on our shoulders. We lack nothing, potentially, of wisdom or power to fulfil our responsibility adequately if we will but realise that it is so and work with dedication to bring them to fruition within ourselves.
For a further exploration of this topic >> Chapter 6 'Consitution of Man' from 'Exploring the Great Beyond'
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