THEOSOPHY, Vol. 28, No. 9, July, 1940
INQUIRERS into Theosophy experience little difficulty in endorsing the Theosophical ideal of the brotherhood of man, the doctrine of the universality of law and of self-induced progress, and similar teachings -- truths more or less self-evident even to the personal mind that is dominated by the senses. But when Theosophy suggests the reality of inner planes and states of man and nature, it approaches what many deem to be forbidden territory. Their instinctive response (rooted in soul-starving, materialistic education) is to make a rapid retreat from anything suggesting an invisible universe. Consequently, Theosophy is often considered to be at best the invention and imaginings of men, and is consigned without investigation to the limbo where properly belong the fantastic and illogical teachings of a material heaven and hell, anthropomorphized God, angels and devils, and other fables of religious superstition believed in by the various Christian sects.
Theosophical teachings on the unseen cosmos are no invention of man, nor are they a revelation from some hypothetical supreme being. They are simply facts seen and known by very wise beings; facts which can be seen and known by anyone who is willing to comply with the conditions requisite for such perception and knowledge. Those versed in the wisdom of the hidden world arrived at their learning after developing the instruments and acquiring the power to see behind the curtain that hides the operations of nature from the ordinary mind. But initiation into these perceptive mysteries can no more be accomplished by the unequipped and unprepared than can the abstract mathematical equations of an Einstein be understood or proved by one who has not gone through years of intensive training in higher mathematics. The investigations of the great adepts, the knowers and Teachers of Theosophy, were conducted in the spirit of the genuine scientist, the experiments of one sage never being accepted as conclusive until they had been checked, verified and proved by the independent investigations of countless generations of fellow seers. These spiritual scientists have offered mankind not only a portion of this precious knowledge, but, more important, perhaps, than anything else, they have provided the rules of moral and occult discipline through which a man may in time be able to subject these teachings to the test of first-hand experience. Even so, the student is not asked to believe blindly until he has reached that far-off terrace of enlightenment. Every opportunity is at hand to satisfy himself with regard to the familiar facts of nature and common human experience; and by employing the law of analogy and correspondence, he can perceive the reasonableness, if not the full import, of the teachings concerning those aspects of life as yet beyond his direct vision.
It would be impossible to appreciate the Theosophical statements concerning the invisible realms of nature without a preliminary acquaintance with the inner being of the man who does the traveling through all states. Man, Theosophy teaches, is an immortal being who can approach the universe from several points of view, and his field of manifold experience is in, through, and upon degrees of life or substance corresponding to his various levels of perception.
Man's approach to life from the viewpoint of physical material existence is familiar to all. When thus engaged he is using earthly matter, molding it to serve his own purposes. Every man may also view the world of manifestation through the channel of desires and passions. He is then employing the elemental lives which correspond to and are a reflection of those desires. A desire harbored in the mind is no nebulous abstraction. It is tangible and substantial, though more tenuous than the earthy material contacted with the dull physical senses. This must be true in that a single desire fixed in a man's mind is often the moving power behind an entire lifetime of action. A man obsessed with the ambition for power over his fellows has this prevailing motive in his relations with other men, and he may change the destiny of a whole nation by the attainment of his end. Surely a desire with such dynamic power, giving concentration and power to every faculty and instrument of the personal man, is neither hazy nor non-substantial; it is a causal force objectively perceived by our minds -- a force superior to, and therefore more real, than any merely physical power.
In every movement man uses his vital energy, his pranic(1) basis of action; the animated activities of the child, of the man of exuberant physical health, may be regarded as in themselves a mode of experience. Those whose spirits rise and fall accordingly as they are well or sick, or the weather favorable or unfavorable, look at life predominantly from this pranic point of view.
Seeing life through the lens of the reasoning mind marks another means of perceiving this living universe. Here, too, man works with life, but uses substance still more subtle and refined. The fact that mental processes are so rapid, that a thought flashing through the mind, for example, may react immediately on the physical body, producing good or evil result, suggests that the material or lives on and in which thought operates, are highly responsive and well trained.
The higher manasic(2) and the soul or spiritual point of view and their corresponding states complete the field with conscious, Egoic experience. The substratum for the activities of this trinity is said to be composed of lives of a nature so nearly homogeneous as to be instantly and entirely plastic to the nature of the Real Man. Action on this plane, however, is beyond the ken of ordinary mortals, although the voice of conscience, the suggestions found in dreams, and occasional flashes of intuition are glimmerings reaching the brain-mind from the spiritual intelligence of these higher principles.
The sole self-conscious actor in the universe, man, thus plays simultaneously several great roles in the drama of cosmic existence. The characters and costumes for those parts are represented in Theosophy as the principles of man's sevenfold constitution; and the stage and scenery for the activities of the players are provided by the seven planes of nature. Each performance (incarnation) reaches its climax when man enters into physical embodiment, for then he is a complete septenary being in immediate touch with the whole of nature, inner and outer.
Man acts on inner planes with every thought and feeling, and his ignorance of this does not affect the fact. In ordinary bodily action, a man is oblivious of the complex physiological processes the body undergoes in executing the slightest mandate of his will. Because we do not see or feel these invisible bodily functionings, would we be justified in asserting their non-existence? No more are we justified in denying to man the possibility of inner powers, faculties and instruments. Applying all this to after-death states, it should be evident that these are not far-off "places," of which the man has no living experience. He is daily sustained in all these inner states, while appearing to occupy only a physical instrument; after death he is limited to the use of one stratum of life and instrument at a time.
The permanent factor in all human experience is the imperishable triad of Atma-Buddhi-Manas(3). This is the real being and its perfectly responsive or soul instruments. The four lower bases for action are not yet under man's complete control; hence, they are imperfect and subject to death and decay as a combination. Man's task in evolution is to bring his lower nature under the perfect guidance of his spiritual will, so that it, too, will share in the immortality of the trinity and afford the Ego an unobstructed channel for the expression of Self on every plane of being.