The Theosophical Forum – October 1940

HUMAN NATURE, IN THE LIGHT OF THEOSOPHY — B. Finkernagel

There are comparatively few people who are aware of the fact that their constitution is composed of three distinct evolutionary streams of life, which we speak of as the animal soul, the human soul, and the spiritual soul. Each of these in itself is an evolving entity with a distinct evolutionary growth and destiny of its own. These three streams of life are enshrined in a physical body, the presiding human consciousness of which, by its modes of thought, feeling, and action, and by persistent endeavor, can so attune the physical brain, that it slowly acquires the power to respond to any impulses appropriate to the individual's aims and objectives. The complexity of our human constitution at times gives rise to phenomena which will often baffle the understanding of the academic psychologist, but are well enough understood by one who has acquired a clear understanding of what Theosophy has to teach in regard to the septenary constitution of man.

The supreme importance of what Theosophy teaches in regard to this subject cannot be over-estimated, for without this information it is well-nigh impossible to understand our human nature, or to live our lives intelligently and well. We should never allow our waking consciousness to engage in any thoughts, desires, feelings, or emotions, without subjecting them continuously to our discrimination, so that we may clearly realize from what part of our human constitution they have come and particularly if they come from our lower nature, that is to say, the animal soul. We should discriminate whether these impulses are, from the higher human point of view, desirable or not, and refuse instantly to give them "house-room" if they do not conform to the objectives and ideals for which we are striving. It is just because the great mass of the people do not understand the processes which educe their thoughts, emotions, and feelings, that we find so much sorrow and suffering among men.

Quite a large proportion of mankind live entirely in their animal soul, as a result of which their human soul and spiritual soul find but little expression in physical life. In this type of person, the life of sense dominates almost completely the individual's thinking and acting. He will have no knowledge whatever of his higher nature. He identifies himself completely with his body, emotions, and feelings, and if this continues throughout the term of the physical life, he is sure to repeat, in his next imbodiment on earth, the same follies and the same mode of life as characterized his previous life on earth; for as he has failed to generate spiritual causes, which alone can produce effects of a spiritual and elevating nature, there will then be but little spiritual material which would predispose him to something higher than he was in his previous existence on earth. Although such a man resides in a physical human body, he lives altogether in his animal soul, and therefore he is actually less than man. It is quite impossible to help such a person, unless his human soul awakens from its stupor and torpidity, so that it may be able to see life as it actually is, and not what it appears to be, or what he thinks it is.

It is quite a relief to pass from this gloomy review, to a higher type of man, and to be able to point out that the average human type stands far higher in the evolutionary scale. In the average man discrimination is certainly active, although it is always more or less hampered by ignorance of the higher nature, as well as by the insistence with which the animal impulses are trying to impose themselves upon the human consciousness. Nevertheless, the average man, instinctually, though vaguely, is beginning to realize that he must endeavor to control all those lower impulses which, if indulged in by him, will bring pain and suffering upon himself, as well as upon other beings; and to his credit it should be said, that he often follows this higher impulse, provided his will-power is strong enough to hold out against the imperious demands of his animal promptings, and his still deeply-rooted selfishness. But there are usually many instances in the waking life of this type of man where his humble efforts to live a higher life — be those efforts successful or not — do generate spiritual effects, which do presage a nobler existence in future lives on earth.

As we ascend the evolutionary scale of our race, we shall find that this type slowly merges into a still higher one, in which the meaning and the purpose of life are much better understood and the universal fact of Unity and Non-separateness is definitely perceived. It is this higher understanding of life which forces the realization upon the ever more awakening spiritual man, of his greater responsibilities and duties to his fellow-beings, than hitherto he has recognised. He begins to see that this fuller understanding demands of him a never-ceasing watchfulness, and an obligation to eliminate ever more and more completely from his character, all the countless evidences of human frailty and selfish tendencies, which are still able to influence his thoughts and feelings.

When the individual perceives that in his higher nature he is actually a Ray of Divinity, and identical with the Heart of the Universe, which is all-inclusive, then the fact becomes self-evident that selfishness in all its forms, great or small, is a direct violation of the Cosmic Harmony, and of the Law of Being. When this is fully seen, the aspiring soul, if sincere, will find neither peace nor rest, unless the efforts it puts forward are at least equal to the greater spiritual illumination that has come to it. There will, therefore, be an ever increasing stimulus for greater efforts, as the growth of the individual proceeds, and thus every ounce of will-power, devotion, and determination is marshalled to the fore, so that the person may realize his aims and ideals. The soul perceives that it must become godlike before it can become at one with Divinity, before it can link its consciousness with the Master-soul which resides at the core of its being. He is thus ever on guard, alert and watchful, in regard to all that he allows himself to think, feel, say, or do. From henceforth, this man's daily task will be to make himself incapable of yielding to anger, hate, or wrath; to cast out all traces of vanity, pride, malice, envy, strife, or fear; to become utterly humble, meek, and lowly in heart and mind; patient, calm, and self-controlled; never to strike back, or to retaliate; never to respond to hate with hate, but instead, to respond to all injuries and insults with instant forgiveness, sympathy, and pity, realizing that the person who is ill-using him, lacks spiritual understanding, and that these unbrotherly actions are due to the man's soul-destroying identification with his animal body and passions. The aspirant is trying to do all this without complaint, trusting utterly to the Law of Life, and therefore he finds the strength to suffer silently, forgivingly, patiently, and with an attitude of heart and soul which is ever shedding rays of love, sympathy, and pity — like our glorious Solar Orb shining in its effulgence in the heavens upon good and bad alike.

But in case your courage fails you as you read this formidable list of what the aspiring human soul must accomplish before it can definitely enter upon that steep and thorny Path which will lead it to a stage in evolution where it becomes more than man — let me add that no ordinary man can possibly acquire fully all these divine accomplishments in one short month, or year, or lifetime, even. What has just been said outlines the ideal which every earnest aspirant must ever hold before himself, and which must become, so to speak, the background of all that he thinks, feels, says and does.

Let us all clearly realize that the good Law of Life requires no more from anyone, be he high or low, than what he or she is able to accomplish. If one does all he can, as he struggles onward towards his ideal, be that all much or little, it is all that is expected of him.

The three types of people above described are, so to speak, landmarks, indicating the general road along which our humanity, during its aeonian past upon this globe, has been evolving. But human history, as well as tradition does record the occasional appearance of glorious Beings, who tower far above even the highest types of ordinary humanity. These Beings are the very imbodiment of divine power and wisdom, of compassion and self-sacrificing love. They have always appeared on earth, whenever our human race was approaching a serious crisis, invariably brought about through agelong false thinking and acting by mankind in the mass. It is at such times as these that Supermen do appear — meteor-like — on our human horizon, for the purpose of bringing help, counsel, and spiritual understanding to an ignorant, suffering and spiritually perverted world. I am referring to such Supermen as the Buddha Gautama-Sakyamuni, Sri-Krishna, Jesus, Lao-Tse, Tsong-Kha-Pa, and many others.

I submit that any perspicacious mind on reflexion should be able to perceive that these outstanding figures are indeed more than ordinary men, and that they belong to, and have their native home in, a world which stands far above the place which our physical earth occupies in the cosmic scheme of things. They have their true home in a world which in all respects corresponds to their exalted stage of evolution to which they have attained through self-directed evolutionary effort. They come into this nether-world of ours — which is indeed a veritable hell to them — for the purpose of helping, instructing, and uplifting mankind. The intuitive mind will perceive in these occasional appearances of Supermen, an actual proof of the existence of subtler worlds than our own, worlds which are invisible to ordinary men, because human selfishness and materiality has so coarsened our human lower nature, that these higher worlds, which are of exceeding subtilty and purity, cannot be perceived by our coarse lower principles. Our humanity has befouled its human constitution, through ages of false thinking and acting.

The cocksureness with which the materialist usually denies the existence of invisible worlds, as taught in Theosophy, and also of everything which is beyond his powers of physical perception, invariably produces feelings of profound pity and regret in a clearer-seeing and spiritually perceiving mind. It is painful to think that rational and often scientifically trained minds can be so utterly blinded by bias, prejudice, and foregone conclusions, as to deny the existence of anything super-physical, when even the familiar processes of our daily experiences and consciousness so often point to — and I feel tempted to add — prove the existence of these super-physical worlds. If those able but misguided men were only willing to approach with an open mind the subject of Theosophy, they would before long discover to their utter surprise, that it imbodies in its teachings the highest wisdom ever perceived by man, and that it is not only absolutely consistent throughout its entire range of thought, but that it is vast; for it is an all-inclusive exposition of the entire universe and of man, dealing not only with the visible worlds, their scope and their destiny, but also with the invisible worlds. It may well be claimed by Theosophists that Theosophy is the Supreme Science of all sciences. And when it is perceived that its teaching is the combined wisdom, gathered throughout all the ages of the greatest Seers and Sages of all time, and that every portion of it has been subjected to the most meticulous methods of research on all the four lower planes of our world, and that the findings of these Supermen have been checked and counter-checked innumerable times by other Seers and Sages in all ages — then, perhaps, this cocksureness, this presumptuous attitude of mind, will disappear, and a more fitting and humble willingness to learn what they do not know, will take its place.

Theosophy is indeed a great and synthetic Whole, of which every portion is necessary for the full understanding of every other part. Let it, therefore, be clearly understood that one cannot in fairness and justice take any single portion of the teaching and pull it to pieces, apart from all the rest, and then denounce it. Every part of the teaching must be kept in mind, and must have its place in the consideration of any particular part of it, for one cannot possibly come to any correct conclusions otherwise. If it is not so considered, then any, or all conclusions arrived at, lose all their value and claim for recognition.

And now in conclusion, may I be permitted to express the ardent hope that this humble attempt to point to a few aspects of these sublime teachings in respect to the highly complex nature of the Universe and of man, may educe from within us all a sympathetic consideration of what has been said, as well as a sincere attempt and firm resolve to live, and to be in some measure — equivalent to each one's capacity — the noble ideal of the Spiritual Man. This Universe exists for this purpose, and even the least of men, as countless ages succeed each other, must and will attain to this noble ideal.


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