. . . the surplus of life very quickly passes through the previously developed atman-sthula-sarira, gives the buddhi touch to it, and passes down. . . .
— G. de Purucker, THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, Sept. 1943, p. 403
Given a "birth" of each of man's principles from the previous higher principle, during the process of involution, can it be assumed that the atman of each such principle has some subtle connection with the sthula-sarira of the one higher?
This body of ours, nay the very stones on which we tread — all manifested matter, has a grossness and a divinity; that divinity which "liveth in the heart-life of all things." What is the atman of matter? Is it that divine immanence which broods on the hills, and in masterpieces of art, in sculpture and in architecture?
In the wild melodies of old Orphic singers, or before the images of those gods of whose perfect beauty the divine theosophists of Greece caught a fleeting shadow, and with the sudden might of artistic ecstacy smote it, as by an enchanter's wand, into an eternal sleep of snowy stone — in these there flashes on the inner eye a vision beautiful and terrible, of a force, an energy, a soul, an idea, one and yet million-fold, rushing through all created things like the wind across a lyre. — Charles Kingsley, Hypatia, p. 126, ed. Dent and Sons, Ltd.
That which is physical, however sublime, must have form; and as this idea of form seeps through the antaskarana of the eye, does it not become the "Form of Idea" or the garment of linga-sarira? G. de P. has given us a hint (THEOSOPHICAL FORUM, Sept. 1943, p. 404):
. . . it will be a marvelous instrument, attuned to the harmonics of nature, individualized man himself. It will be like a sounding board catching every vibration.
Will it be a sounding board for the vibrations of prana? Is the atman of linga-sarira just this side of the bridge whose other posts lie on pranic ground? Has vitality a basis in complete awareness of the inner sentient existence, of transcendent imagination?
Where, now, comes the acme of vitality or prana? We are told that it will become an individualized force capable of supernormal powers such as Wotan is said to have wielded.
Can one detect, or does one only fancy the connection between use of such a power, in its destructive aspect, and that principle of the passions and desires which is kama?
Did the ancient "berserker" (and maybe his modern war-time counterpart) summon up the last surge of his vitality by flying into a passionate rage? From sane gentle humanity, mankind can let its ego-consciousness sink even below desire, to this level of the animal passions.
What of the atman of kama? We know it as aspiration — desire upward. Do we also know it as ambition, and only find substance for it, as such, in the brain-mind, in the lowest aspect of manas?
Is wisdom the highest altitude in manas? Then maybe wisdom ctherealized is the justice-compassion footstool of buddhi. Then maybe the Bodhisattva attains to that boundless space, which, in turn, is but the form of consciousness per se.
HEIGHTS BEYOND AND BELOW
If we grant this end-on evolution of the principles of man, we seem to belittle, even to castigate, in turn, the highest manifestations of each of the planes of being. We have supposed the rarest works of art to contain no higher intrinsic worth than "ideas of form." Beyond this, any other sensation they arouse "flashes on the inner eye," which is self-illumined.
Of course the lower hierarchies of the physical atoms live their own consciousnesses in their own "boundless space," and who knows but that each of the atoms in a statue, or in the colors of a portrait, has its own sensations to its own degree? Yet these are irrespective of the sculptor's chisel and of the artist's brush.
Perfection of the inner senses we have analyzed as being still a sentient existence. Prana at its strongest we have indicted as consort to passion, whilst kama at its best is suspect of ambition. Manas to wisdom, which paled before the "attainment" of buddhi, which in turn, merged into the Shining Sea of Consciousness. And even this Consciousness may harbor the seed of self in the Pratyeka Buddha.
Must we disown each of these summits as we ascend the heights beyond?
"Kill out ambition," says Light on the Path yet "Work as those work who are ambitious." Here perhaps is our answer. It will apply on all planes.
As ambition turns to ashes, so does material beauty fade. Be alive to it, appreciate it to the full, but do not become enslaved to it. There is many a sovereign soul under a rough exterior, and many a bright verdure which conceals a deadly bog.
H. G. Wells finds (in his Experiment in Autobiography) that there is a certain beauty in the taste of cheese on the palate, and in the savor of beer. Many of us will take his word for the latter, but I think he would be among the first to agree that this beauty of sentient existence is not the highest of man's faculties, nor the ultimate purpose of his life.
Let us enjoy our cheese, (and our beer, if we take it!) but incidentally, and for the sake of living.
In prana-vitality, we have the beauty of the rhythm of that life-force which sparkles in the running brook and is absent in the stagnant pool, until the water and plant life seek to grow to their own pranic fruition.
We, too, must grow to our pranic fruition. As the aeons roll will come those powers, and the responsibilities surrounding them. Is not the Warrior in the Bhagavad-Gita abjured to stand detached in the heat of "battle," to fight the good fight, yet not allow passion to cloud the vision?
There is a beauty in kamic aspiration which will not be gainsaid, nor shall we be free from the desire to become perfect until perfection is attained. Yet if Caesar was ambitious, ""Twas a grievous fault."
What is our motive in this universal urge to perfection? Is it to "attain," or is it to become more useful to brother man? The first implies ambition. For the second we can bend all our efforts. We are working as those work who are ambitious.
There is a beauty of philosophical thought in the wisdom — atman of manas. Yet we are told that to live the Life is to know the doctrine. "First seek ye the Kingdom of Heaven," and even that same wisdom, which is sublime in its own sphere, "shall be added unto ye" — as an incidental concomitant.
Maybe these superlatives of manas, buddhi and atman — man's highest principles — had best be left inviolate. Any attempt to dethrone them by the pen would have a worldly savor of "sour grapes." Yet does not Aeschylus have Prometheus foretelling the supercession of Zeus, in his Prometheus Bound?
Beauty, Truth, and Goodness, then, are present on all the planes of existence. They are qualities which can excite a responsive chord in each of man's seven principles. If the atman of sthula-sarira is of less puissance than the atman of linga-sarira, it is no more so than is the glorious Atman of man less puissant than Brahma, or Brahma than Parabrahman.
Who are we to ignore the goddess of beauty, Aphrodite, because she is divine of matter only? Who are we to question the divinity of Pegasus, steed of imagination? True enough he can only wing us to the gods on pinions of aspiration.
Thomas Carlyle defined the province of literature and drama as the means of interpreting great thoughts through the emotions. Great thoughts can also be interpreted by good works, by a cheering vitality, by hitching our wagon to a star, by sharing such of the wisdom of the Masters as we have heard, and by demonstrating, each one of us, that Universal Brotherhood is a Fundamental Fact in Nature.
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