The Theosophical Forum – September 1950

THE MEASURE OF A MAN — Allan J. Stover

[Note: page numbers cited for The Esoteric Tradition are to the 2-vol. Second Edition and do not correspond to the 1-vol. 3rd & Revised Edition.]

Once, while looking over the harvest of shells and seaweed left by the outgoing tide, a man approached with a curious question.

"Will you please tell me," he asked, "where is the ocean?"

In astonishment, I replied: "You are looking at it."

To this he said, with disappointment in his voice: "Is that the ocean? I expected to see something much larger."

I explained that due to the curvature of the earth he could see only the distance his height above the water permitted, which was not quite three miles. But by climbing a nearby hill somewhat more could be seen, but not much. (1)

Childish as the foregoing question may seem, we are even worse off when it comes to understanding the ocean of space and consciousness with which we are surrounded. Even the thoughts of the animal kingdom are hidden from us, and many deny they think at all. Many persons when first faced with one of the immensities of nature are stunned for a time with lack of comprehension, until they build a link with past experience when understanding gradually awakens. The starry multitude of the heavens, the vastness of the desert, the shifting color-music of the Grand Canyon, the size and age of the Giant Sequoia, all these require more than the brain of man to comprehend. They need the understanding of the soul as well.

Even in ordinary life there is a higher and a lower mind, and those who are accustomed to think with the higher portion stand above ordinary humanity. Not only is their thought more vivid and intense but they see intuitively into the hearts of men and are less likely to be deceived by appearances. To them also nature reveals her secrets.

Thus Mind is dual, and is the balancing point between spirit and matter. Its higher portions are linked with Buddhi, the Spiritual Soul; the lower is linked with Kama, the Animal Soul or principle of desire. Yet in man the lower mind receives a ray from the higher mind which illumines it. The materialist or one of a selfish nature who denies his spiritual nature finds it difficult to raise his thoughts above a certain level or to realize inner truths. He can see only the reflection of his own nature, the measure of his own stature.

Man and nature are sevenfold in structure, containing seven kinds of materials and states of consciousness, ranging from the physical to the Divine. In this ladder of consciousness the Human Monad or Ego exists for the length of one life on earth, breaking up soon after the death of the body. Whatever essence of a spiritual nature has been acquired during the life is drawn up into the Spiritual Monad where it rests until the next imbodiment. The Human Ego thus has a range of action limited to this earth and the experiences it offers.

The Higher Ego or Monad or Higher Manas has a range of consciousness and activity embracing the seven globes of the Earth Chain. Its span of life lasts as long as the Earth planetary chain itself. In it is preserved the spiritual essence of all the imbodiments on this planetary chain. But there are other rungs in this ladder of consciousness.

The Spiritual Monad has a range of activity embracing the seven sacred planets of our solar system and a life that endures as long as the solar system itself.

Higher still, the Divine Monad is self-conscious throughout the Galactic Universe especially through the spiritual and divine planes of the system and exists as long as the galaxy itself does. Through all the series, there runs a golden thread of divine radiance illumining each plane. (2)

The destiny of the human race is in the far future to awaken union with these higher portions of being and to realize that man's home is in very truth the universe. At present the mind can scarcely grasp the significance of this stream of consciousness which is our inmost. We live like fish in the darkness of the deep sea, bearing our feeble lights, unaware of the sun, moon and stars shining overhead.

However far away realization of this destiny may seem, since each principle is itself sevenfold and reflects in some degree the whole series, the key of analogy suggests that there are corresponding levels in the faculties we now use. And that, by living in the highest level of these, we are taking the first step upward. This everyone can do, now.

We commonly see only the outer shell of nature and little guess the spiritual reality within. The earth is not only a globe of rock but is itself a sevenfold being, divine in its upper portion, material in its lower as is man himself. As Katherine Tingley said:

"There is something very wonderful about this brain-mind of ours; there is even something sacred about it because, though it does belong to the physical make-up of man, there still shine upon it as upon a flower the rays of the Spiritual Sun."


1. Multiply the square-root in feet of the observer's eye-level above the sea by 1.15 to obtain the distance to the horizon. (return to text)

2. The Esoteric Tradition, pages 850-4, for illuminating description of the various monadic centers with their respective fields of conscious activity. (return to text)

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