It is of great importance for us to know and understand exactly who and what we are and what we consist of. Most people are familiar with the three words spirit, soul, and body but these three do not sufficiently or adequately explain the true nature of the human constitution. Besides this, many people confuse the terms “soul” and “spirit” and mistakenly think that they are one and the same thing.
In the teachings of Theosophy, H.P. Blavatsky and the Masters describe the human being as consisting of Seven Principles, divided into a Higher Triad and a Lower Quaternary. These seven principles or seven parts of our nature are the divine part, the spiritual part, the intellectual part, the passional part, the vital part, the astral part, and the physical part. The first three of these comprise the Higher Triad and they last forever, while the lower four last just for one lifetime and are new in each lifetime that we have.
Theosophy states that this teaching about the Seven Principles – along with that of Karma and Reincarnation – is of the utmost importance to humanity. This article only provides a brief overview and introduction but hopefully it will be of interest and benefit to many. It is a companion article to A Right Understanding of Karma and A Right Understanding of Reincarnation, both of which can be read by clicking on the title links.
THE SPIRITUAL TRIAD
#7. ATMA – The Divine Part
Atma (also written “Atman”) is the highermost and supreme part of man’s spiritual being. It is pure eternal Spirit. It is the Higher Self, the Divine Self, the Real Self of the human being and it is literally one and the same in essence and identity as the Infinite Supreme Self. This is in accordance with the fundamental teaching of Hinduism; that our Self (the Atman) IS the Supreme Self (Brahman). Atman literally means Self. It is the only one of our Principles to which the unqualified term “the Self” may be applied.
It is not an individual thing. There is no such thing as “my Atman” or “your Atman.” The Eternal Spirit is neither yours nor mine and is not the separate individual possession of anyone. There is neither “my Atman” nor “your Atman” but only THE Atman, the ONE Universal Self of all. It is here that all is truly one. The golden key to understanding universal oneness, divine allness, and non-duality (and thus the key to world peace!) is contained in this teaching about the Atman. I am the Atman. You are the Atman. Atman is Who and What we really are. It is our essential nature, it is our true self, it is the All IN All. In fact, It is the one and only Reality. As the Upanishads say, “This Atman IS Brahman.”
Since the Atman is literally Divinity Itself, we should always remember that it never incarnates or reincarnates, nor is it ever affected by our Karma or even by anything whatsoever. It just simply IS.
#6. BUDDHI – The Spiritual Part
Buddhi is the second highest Principle of man’s constitution and is referred to as the Spiritual Soul, the vehicle through which Atma (the highest Principle) radiates its light. There is nothing individual about the Buddhi principle. As with Atma, we cannot talk in terms of “my Buddhi” or “your Buddhi.” Contrary to popular opinion, Buddhi is not the faculty or quality of intuition and has nothing to do with this. It has nothing to do with anything except serving as the vehicle for Atma, the Self.
“The Monad” (meaning “ultimate unit” or “primary unit”) is a term used to describe the conjunction of the two highest Principles of the human constitution – Atma and Buddhi. There is nothing higher than Atma; Atma is the highermost and supreme part of man’s spiritual being. Because Atma is literally Divinity Itself, it has to have a vehicle through which to radiate its light to the individual soul. Buddhi is this vehicle and so the two in conjunction with each other are called the Monad.
#5. MANAS – The Intellectual Part
Manas is the mind principle in man, the consciousness aspect, the thinker, the permanent individuality which incarnates and reincarnates. It is in fact the human soul. Manas is the mind and the mind and the soul are one and the same thing. It is a mistake to confuse the mind and the brain, as if they are the same thing. The brain is only a physical organ and serves but as a physical vehicle for the mind/soul – who is the true thinker – to manifest through while in physical incarnation.
In the teachings of Theosophy, the Manas principle is often called the Ego. This is using the term “Ego” in its true and literal sense, of meaning the true “I” of our being.
It is the Manasic entity, the individual human soul, which sets the causes in motion in each lifetime – through every thought, word, and action – which have to have their corresponding Karmic effects in this and subsequent lifetimes. It is the maker and the experiencer of Karma.
It has a dual nature, that of Higher Manas and Lower Manas. When the mind and consciousness are lifted, raised, and elevated towards higher things, spiritual things, abstract things, intellectual things, things of goodness, truth, purity, love, compassion, and beauty, it is then functioning as the Higher Manas and rising ever closer towards the divine shining light of Buddhi, theSpiritual Soul. When the mind and consciousness are instead allowed to sink downwards towards the lower, separative, selfish, and sensual things of life, it is Lower Manas, attaching itself to the principle of Kama, the Animal Soul.
Manas cannot go in both directions at once. It can only either go up or down…up towards spirituality or down towards sensuality. Spirituality and sensuality can never and will never mix. Manas, the human soul, stands right in the middle between the two and must make a choice between them. Our primary battleground in life is that of the mind.
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THE LOWER QUATERNARY
#4. KAMA – The Passional Part
Kama, which literally means “Desire” in Sanskrit, is the desire principle of the human being when in physical incarnation. It is the source and centre of his desires, passions, lusts, and sensual nature. It is sometimes referred to as the “animal soul” because it is the more animalistic and beastly part of us.
During human life this Principle is called Kama. After the lifetime has come to an end, the Kama principle forms itself into Kama Rupa, which literally means “desire form.”
One of the stages after death is that the desire nature objectifies itself into a sort of senseless, disembodied form which remains in Kama Loka (the atmosphere and attraction of our Earth) until it finally gradually fades out and disintegrates of its own accord. It will survive and remain until the force of those desires and passions has drained away and how long this takes will naturally be determined by how sensually oriented the individual was during the lifetime just ended.
#3. PRANA – The Vital Part
This is the Life Force, Vitality, or Energy which keeps the physical body alive. It is the Life Principle, the “breath of life” in the individual. A person remains in physical incarnation for as long as Prana remains active within them. As soon as Prana departs and ceases to flow, the physical body has no other option than to die, since it is the force of Prana which keeps it going.
#2. LINGA SHARIRA – The Astral Part
Linga Sharira – called the astral body – is the subtle, unseen “double” of the dense physical body. It is the form, mould, and blueprint upon and around which the dense physical body is built. It comes into existence before the physical body and it only fully fades out and dies when the very last remaining particle of the deceased physical body disappears and disintegrates, excepting the skeleton.
The astral body can also be thought of as the “vital body” or “energy body” of the human being because it is the vehicle through which Prana (the 3rd Principle) flows to the physical body. It is this part of our constitution which is utilised in the activities which have become known as astral travel, astral projection, and so forth. The term “astral” is used in Theosophy simply as a synonym for “subjective,” “subtle” or “inner.”
Its main connection point with the physical body is in the area of the spleen and these two bodies that we have are connected with one another throughout each lifetime by a sort of unseen umbilical cord which some have called the “silver thread” or “silver cord.”
#1. STHULA SHARIRA – The Physical Part
Sthula Sharira is the Sanskrit name for the dense physical body. It is not in strict truth a Principle in itself but is simply the vehicle of all the other Principles during physical incarnation. Sthula Sharira is described as being the child of Linga Sharira (its mother) by conception of Prana (its father). It is our outer shell and really nothing more. We often place far more importance and emphasis on our outer shell than is really necessary or worthwhile.
We are not doing ourselves any favours if we identify ourselves with our body or with any other aspects of our lower nature. These simply comprise our present personality, in distinction to the permanent individuality of the soul, the Reincarnating Ego. And higher still than the soul is our Real Self, pure eternal Spirit. Souls are many but Spirit is ONE. The whole aim of life is to realise Who and What you really are and to rebecome it in consciousness. Only the inner is the real.
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~ Blavatsky Theosophy Group UK ~
If you liked this article, you may also like A Right Understanding of Karmaand A Right Understanding of Reincarnation.
Some NEW related articles include:
Atman – The Higher Self
The Buddhi Principle
Manas – The Mystery of Mind
Mysteries of the Astral Body
The Buddhi Principle
Manas – The Mystery of Mind
Mysteries of the Astral Body
THE SEVEN BODIES OF MAN - A brief exploration
The Ageless Wisdom – Theosophy – tells us of the seven fold constitution of human beings. It tells us that as well as the physical body we have and Etheric Body, an Astral Body, a Mental Body (with a lower and higher configuration) a Buddhic Body, an Atmic or Spiritual Body, and a Monadic Spark or ray of the Divine Over-Soul.
The Etheric Body is the matrix of the Physical Body and is regarded as the energy body. The Etheric Body has centres of awareness and energy known as Chakras. These are likened to flowers – such as the lotus flower – and are said to have petal like formations, which vary in each Chakra. The Chakras are funnel shaped, protruding out from the Etheric Body some four to six inches. Each Chakra is connected to the central nerve system of the Etheric Body and conducts earth energy, known as Kundalini or the Serpent Power, from the base of the etheric spine. In the reverse direction the Chakras also take in energies from the inner planes – Astral, Mental, Buddhic, and Atmic. When seen by clairvoyant sight the Chakras appear to be spinning but this is more likely the effect of the two opposing energy flows at the mouth of the funnel as they spiral passed each other.
The Astral Body is the centre of emotion. All our feelings are generated here as vibrations of varying frequencies. Emotions display as colours within the aura and make up the majority of what is called the oval or egg shaped aura surrounding a human being. Astral awareness can be cultivated by sensitive people. This gives them the power to sense the astral energies of living things such as trees and animals. The Astral Body is part of the Astral Plane, just as our physical bodies are part of the Physical Plane. The Astral Plane is a world in itself, with colours of a much higher vibrancy than the earth world. When we dream at night during our sleep, we experience something of what the astral world is like, but all too often our recollection of it is vague and uncertain. However, it is possible to become fully conscious in the Astral World – usually during sleep – and to experience it as a real, solid reality, just as we do the Physical World. Full consciousness on the Astral Plane is known as Astral Travel but this can also mean travelling out of the body in the etheric part of the physical as well.
The mental body is of course the mind or the vehicle of thought vibrations. When we think we are modifying mental matter into waves or vibrations, which spread out from us on the Mental Plane rather like ripples on a pond. Some psychically developed persons can detect and decode these waves of mental energy or thoughts and this is known as telepathy. The lower mind is concerned with reason and logic; it is the mind of our everyday thinking and is very dependant on the orderly functioning of memory. Memory is associated with elemental forces, which respond to the impulses of thought and shape and sustain them into what are known as thought forms. Each time a thought is formed and sustained in this way it is registered in the malleable, universal field of Akasa or Astral Light. The Akasa is impressed by these thought forms and the more frequent the thought the deeper and enduring the impression. When we try to remember something the elementals are drawn to the relevant and associated impressions in the Akasa, and from these they reproduce the thought, which we then experience as memory. The Lower Mind is part of the Personality. It is a temporary configuration used only for a single life.
The Higher Mental Body, on the other hand, is part of the Spiritual Trinity and as such is permanent. It is concerned with abstract ideas, with the idea of a thing rather than the thing itself. All qualitative assessments or considerations are vibrations in higher mental matter. Deep states of meditation and reflective abstraction, contemplation, and ecstasy are experienced in the Higher Mind. This is the home of innovation, imagination, and invention. Virtually everything that can be found on the physical plane has started its inner life and journey in the Higher Mental Plane as vibrating energy in the higher Mental Body of a human, angel, or god. It is a universal law that manifestation is achieved from the within to the without. Spiritual development is largely a question of opening up awareness in the higher areas of mind because the Higher Mind is spiritual in nature, and is universal in its perception. Separateness and self concern are not part of the higher consciousness; they are residents of the lower mind and emotions. To be able to centre one’s awareness in the Higher Mind is to rise above the petty concerns of the Personality and experience Spiritual Unity.
The Buddhic Body is the seat of Spiritual Love and Wisdom. It is the developing vehicle of the Spiritual Self. The Buddha is so called because he had so risen above the mundane human condition that his consciousness was directly connected to his Buddhi Nature. This is the condition known as Samadhi or At-one-ment. His expression was of Spiritual Love for humanity and the Wisdom of Enlightenment. His teachings were those of Theosophy or the Ageless Wisdom, which has been taught by every enlightened man and woman in one form or another for thousands of centuries.
The Atma or Atman is the highest aspect of an individual human being. It is what we refer to as our Spirit. Its experience is not known to us because it experiences no separateness in our terms, only Unity. It is known as Christ Consciousness and some call it Nirvana. This is the highest state attainable from a human point of view, but it is not attained without great struggle and the highest sacrifice over many thousands of life times. The Lord Maitreya is said to embody this exulted state and to overshadow great Masters - such as Jesus - from time to time in order to bring the healing and redeeming light of this purest of vibrations to the Earth Plane and to all those who are ready to respond to its uplifting vibrations. When all that can do so have reached this Holy of Holies the earth life will no longer be part of human experience. Human evolution will have reached its peak, will have gone full circle, or rather full spiral. All of those that have made it will reside in Nirvana, a prize of pure bliss that the Buddha and many others have so far rejected for the sake of the rest of us lagging behind. They stand near the portal to immortality, guiding and encouraging us to ascend the steep pathway to the spiritual heights and the great light beyond.
The Monadic Spark is a ray of the pure, Universal Spiritual Flame; a spark thrown out into the descending and ascending cycles of Involution and Evolution. Over untold aeons these sparks gather experience and evolve through all known states of existence, becoming conscious by infinitesimal degrees, until they eventually pass through the animal kingdom and graduate into the human state. In a human, the Divine Spark has become a continuous thread or ray from the Spiritual Plane to the Physical brain, with nodes or centres of awareness in all of the intervening bodies. As humans we are self conscious and aware beings superior to all lesser life forms but still have a long way to go before completing our evolution. When we have completed the whole cycle, from divine spark to divine being, we will join the ranks of the Devas or Shining Ones, or the Creative Hierarchies of Gods from previous aeonic cycles.
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‘May all beings fulfil their divine potential’.