The Theosophical Forum – May 1937

THE REAL MAN — A. Trevor Barker

Mr. Sidney King at our White Lotus Day celebration the other night (1) made the statement that the teachings of H. P. B. could be understood as a kind of algebraic formula, which, rightly understood, could be applied to the understanding of any problem of life. We are to consider tonight the subject of what in Theosophy is called the Real Man. Let us apply the proper algebraic formula to an understanding of what is meant by this term. The Real Man signifies that there is something else besides reality in man, and if you turn to H. P. B.'s statements of fundamental principles of the Oriental philosophy, you find her laying it down that man is not his objective body, but that there is within him this something which she calls the Real Man, which is an indwelling and energizing principle; and that this Inner Man is ever striving, acting, thinking, feeling, on this evolutionary journey through earth-life, upwards to that ever-brooding Divinity which is at once its parent and its inspirer. We understand our algebraical formula to suggest that man divided into the simplest terms for easiest comprehension may be considered as spiritual, intellectual, and vehicular. In other words there are conjoined in man at any one time three actual streams of evolution. I do not know whether you have brooded upon this question. Three streams of evolution seems to suggest that there are entities evolving on all three levels of man's constitution.

Now then, this question of the Real Man will not be comprehensible unless we succeed in showing that that which we call reality in man is something eternal and indestructible. The permanent individuality in man is actually rooted in the spiritual pole of his being, which is in itself dual in character. You notice that H. P. B. in the Fundamental Propositions of the Secret Doctrine lays it down that duality pervades the manifested universe directly you drop in thought from the highest metaphysical Triad, of which Eternal Duration, Space, and Motion are the three symbolic terms. Therefore we need not be surprised when we find that man in his highest spiritual part is dual. Even his Monadic Essence could not express itself did it not do so in two streams or parts: one spiritual and having the aspect of consciousness, and the other, having the aspect of substance, the vehicle side of spiritual conscious life: and these two together make the dual Atma-Buddhic Monad. It is this which is the highest entity evolving in that septenary Cosmos which we call the human being. That entity is performing an evolutionary journey — a long one; and because it is doing so it may be said that it actually expresses the highest of the three evolutionary streams that are combined in man.

Let us drop in thought to the next part of our being, which H. P. B. in a generalizing way calls the Real Man. This also is dual. According to the septenary classification you get Manas and Kama. Now here you have the center of what is called the Human Ego, and this Human Ego passes actually from life to life. The Reincarnating Ego is the higher part of this kama-manasic dual entity, and during life the consciousness is centered mostly in the lower part of it. But the Real Man is centered in the higher part; and it is this higher part of the dual Human Ego which owes the permanence of its individuality to the spiritual brooding presence of the Monadic Essence above it.

Therefore, as you would expect, after death there comes a division which cuts in twain this dual Human Ego which H. P. B. calls the Real Man, and that is why this division of man into a three-fold entity, consisting of two duads and a triad, is a very good one, because it shows us how the different workings of man's nature, during life and after death, actually take place. After death there occurs a division between the manas and the kama, and the higher part of it is drawn upwards until it becomes permanently grafted by a process of interior disruption, as it were, on that eternal principle which is represented by man's spiritual nature. And so you gain immediately the conception that it is we men living here in earth-life who are the transient beings; but that there is an eternal Pilgrim within the heart of every man, which is here not once but many times, expressing itself through bodies of flesh, but relatively remaining untouched — that is to say no more touched than the actor is by playing the successive roles that fall to his lot.

This immediately suggests the thought to us: since most of us are necessarily absorbed, identified to a very large extent, with the material pursuits of life — the struggle for existence and what not — there is an urgent necessity to find a means of refreshing our objective daily consciousness, if I may so express it: that part of our being which not only suffers fatigue, but is overburdened with the cares of this world; that suffers fears and anxieties and what not — which are but a symbol of the unreal man, but a symbol of the transient personality: Theosophy, if it does anything at all, attracts men's attention to that higher part of their being where in the midst of storm and material difficulties the Real Man may be like a Master Mariner with his hand upon the helm of the ship of life. He may provide, as it were, for the harassed human soul the port that is always calm, and into which the lower man can enter, if he will, at any time — whether it be while he is at work, or whether he deliberately enters into a state of spiritual meditation. It is because the Real Man is a fact that, if we go about it in the right way, we can raise our consciousness and fix it in that higher state from which balance, discrimination, pure and compassionate judgment flow. This is the application of the Theosophical formula, this algebraic formula that we were speaking of the other night.

Now another thought immediately occurs; it is that this permanent individuality lasts for an almost inconceivably long period of time, and it actually incarnates on this planet — let alone the other planets and globes of the planetary chain — I do not know, and should be afraid to say, how many times, how many incarnations it has to go through; but eventually this Human Ego wins what is called its Immortality. If you have studied the question you will know that mankind as they are — average men and women — are at best but conditionally immortal: in other words the human part of them is not sufficiently united to, not sufficiently illuminated by the higher part of their being, to be able to claim that they are immortal entities. To be an immortal entity is the supreme achievement of evolution — not as ordinarily understood, but understood in terms of occult science.

When a Mahatma reaches the end of the first five steps on the initiatory Pathway, he enters into an indissoluble state of union between the human Ego and the God within him. It is to this: the first part, the beginning of this process, that all Theosophists are striving: otherwise our endeavors have no meaning at all. Step by step we are learning to raise this Human Ego, this reincarnating entity, to a recognition that there is that eternal reality in the depths of our being, from which we may get hurried away by the affairs of life, by the domination of what the Bhagavad-Gita calls the objects of the senses. These things serve to becloud man's vision: the Real Man identifies himself with the lower man and he forgets the reality not only of his Divine origin but of his permanent home: and then such a man loses his calm, loses his perspective; he is unable to concentrate and do those things which a spiritual man is able to do. The Real Man is actually composed of all the inherent characteristics or character of the individual. In other words it is Karma. Karma is that moral kernel of the individual which is indestructible, but at the same time which can only be modified from within without — by growth. Therefore if we want to change our destiny, our Karma, and therefore our character, we simply have to recognise that it is our whole being which has to alter. Whatever we are today is simply an expression of that inherent, essential keynote of our being which has been sounding down through all the ages as we incarnated here, always sounding out a similar kind of note, until step by step we learn to clarify, to purify, and to raise the tone pitch and the key, until finally we ourselves become convinced that the Real Man is a fact, and we strive from that point forward to realize its presence in our lives from day to day.


1. This meeting was held at the London Headquarters, Point Loma T. S., in conjunction with the Phoenix Lodge of the Adyar Society, May 10, 1936. It was the first of the series of joint meetings between the two branches of the T. S., which have proved so successful during the past year.

For extracts from Mr. Sidney King's address above referred to see the following article, "The Algebraic Equation." (return to text)

The Theosophical Forum