The Theosophical Forum – July 1941

COMPOSITE MAN — Allan J. Stover

A five-year-old San Diego child met her father as he came home one evening and said "Daddy, are we animals? Do we belong to the animal kingdom?"

His reply was "There is a mineral, a vegetable, and an animal kingdom. We are not minerals. We are not vegetables. We belong to the animal kingdom."

The little girl then went to her mother with the same question and was told "No, dear, we are not animals. We belong to the Kingdom of Heaven."

Was the child satisfied? Would you have been?

The questions and answers quoted are representative not only of individual instances, but are also representative of the confusion and questioning throughout modern civilization. Men question, and science and religion answer to the puzzlement and confusion of the questioners.

Truth itself is not divided into compartments or differing schools. There can be only one truth regarding the universe or man, although there are many ways of viewing truth and also many distortions of truth. Theosophy tells us that we are composite, with a higher and a lower self. This anyone can prove by a little — a very little — self-study. If we study the fundamentals of esotericism we learn further that there is in man a divine ego, a spiritual ego, a human ego, a personal ego, a beast ego, and a physical body. While each of the egos is an evolving, conscious entity within the greater man, and each has its own range of consciousness, still, if we watch closely we may catch glimpses of these various selves, or some of them at least.

The beast ego is represented by the lower physical functions and desires, and when we give way to anger, greed or envy we have been manifesting through the beast or animal part of ourselves. The personal ego thinks "I am John Jones," of "me," of "mine." The human ego thinks "I am I," and but little of "me" or "mine." It is more interested in humanity, of which it feels itself to be a part.

With the spiritual ego, the thought "I am I" has given way to that of "I am," with a sweep and range of consciousness beyond ordinary human conception. With the divine ego, one becomes, is, the Universal Self — deathless, omnipotent, one with the Gods.

The egos below and including the personal ego are mortal. These as vehicles of the deathless spirit are limited to one life. All above the personal is immortal, or relatively so.

As to the little girl's question, both answers were correct, though partial and misleading. Man is composite. There is an animal or beast self, a human, thinking self, a spiritual self, and a divine god within him.

Recently a well-known scientist said, "There is no plan, no purpose in Nature. Further, there is no law, for every law has so many exceptions as to make it no law."

No law in nature? How about death and birth? Do not all things have a beginning and an end? And if that is so, isn't a law of cycles established, and are there any exceptions to it? Here is one law that is universal in its sweep.

Again, if we examine any cycle — a day, or a year — we find that while it returns to a new beginning at regular periods, the beginning of each succeeding cycle is in every case different from the preceding one. In other words, progress has been made in certain ways, and progress is evolution. Here we have another law universal in its scope.

Once more consider the various cycles, the rotation of the electrons in an atom, the heart-beat of a man, the sun-spot cycle of a sun, the rise and fall of universes. Here are cycles, here is evolution, here also is something else, for each cycle is the life-course of some being — an atom, a man, a solar system, a universe, each contained within a greater, and that in a still greater, and that in a greater still.

This structural plan or habit of Nature is called the law of hierarchies, and may be found operating everywhere.

To return to the first questions and the various egos or monads of man: If we apply the teaching of hierarchies here, we find these various aspects of man — each one, from the physical body to the divine ego — while living its own life, existing also in a larger, more fully conscious being, and that in a still greater. Here is the beginning of the answer to the little girl's question.

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