The author of Esoteric Buddhism — which book ought to be consulted by all students of Theosophy, since it was made from suggestions given by some of the Adepts themselves — gave the name Kama rupa to the fourth principle of man's constitution. The reason was that the word Kama in the Sanskrit language means "desire," and as the idea intended to be conveyed was that the fourth principle was the "body or mass of desires and passions," Mr. Sinnett added the Sanskrit word for body or form which is Rupa, thus making the compound word Kamarupa. I shall call it by the English equivalent — passions and desires — because those terms exactly express its nature. And I do this also in order to make the sharp issue which actually exists between the psychology and mental philosophy of the west and those of the east. The west divides man into intellect, will, and feeling, but it is not understood whether the passions and desires constitute a principle in themselves or are due entirely to the body. Indeed, most people consider them as being the result of the influence of the flesh, for they are designated often by the terms "desires of the flesh" and "fleshly appetites." The ancients, however, and the Theosophists know them to be a principle in themselves and not merely the impulses from the body. There is no help to be had in this matter from the western psychology, now in its infancy and wholly devoid of knowledge about the inner, which is the psychical, nature of man, and from this point there is the greatest divergence between it and Theosophy.
The passions and desires are not produced by the body, but, on the contrary, the body is caused to be by the former. It is desire and passion which caused us to be born, and will bring us to birth again and again in this body or in some other.* It is by passion and desire we are made to evolve through the mansions of death called lives on earth. It was by the arising of desire in the unknown first cause, the one absolute existence, that the whole collection of worlds was manifested, and by means of the influence of desire in the now manifested world is the latter kept in existence.
[*In The Theosophical Forum, June, 1894, page 12, Judge corrected this to: "in some body on this earth or another globe."]
This fourth principle is the balance principle of the whole seven. It stands in the middle, and from it the ways go up or down. It is the basis of action and the mover of the will. As the old Hermetists say: "Behind will stands desire." For whether we wish to do well or ill we have to first arouse within us the desire for either course. The good man who at last becomes even a sage had at one time in his many lives to arouse the desire for the company of holy men and to keep his desire for progress alive in order to continue on his way. Even a Buddha or a Jesus had first to make a vow, which is a desire, in some life, that he would save the world or some part of it, and to persevere with the desire alive in his heart through countless lives. And equally so, on the other hand, the bad man life after life took unto himself low, selfish, wicked desires, thus debasing instead of purifying this principle. On the material and scientific side of occultism, the use of the inner hidden powers of our nature, if this principle of desire be not strong the master power of imagination cannot do its work, because though it makes a mold or matrix the will cannot act unless it is moved, directed, and kept up to pitch by desire.
The desires and passions, therefore, have two aspects, the one being low and the other high. The low is that shown by the constant placing of the consciousness entirely below in the body and the astral body; the high comes from the influence of and aspiration to the trinity above, of Mind, Buddhi, and Spirit. This fourth principle is like the sign Libra in the path of the Sun through the Zodiac; when the Sun (who is the real man) reaches that sign he trembles in the balance. Should he go back the worlds would be destroyed; he goes onward, and the whole human race is lifted up to perfection.
During life the emplacement of the desires and passions is, as obtains with the astral body, throughout the entire lower man, and like that ethereal counterpart of our physical person it may be added to or diminished, made weak or increased in strength, debased or purified.
At death it informs the astral body, which then becomes a mere shell; for when a man dies his astral body and principle of passion and desire leave the physical in company and coalesce. It is then that the term Kamarupa may be applied, as Kamarupa is really made of astral body and Kama in conjunction, and this joining of the two makes a shape or form which though ordinarily invisible is material and may be brought into visibility. Although it is empty of mind and conscience, it has powers of its own that can be exercised whenever the conditions permit. These conditions are furnished by the medium of the spiritualists, and in every seance room the astral shells of deceased persons are always present to delude the sitters, whose powers of discrimination have been destroyed by wonderment. It is the "devil" of the Hindus, and a worse enemy the poor medium could not have. For the astral spook — or Kamarupa — is but the mass of the desires and passions abandoned by the real person who has fled to "heaven" and has no concern with the people left behind, least of all with seances and mediums. Hence, being devoid of the nobler soul, these desires and passions work only on the very lowest part of the medium's nature and stir up no good elements, but always the lower leanings of the being. Therefore it is that even the spiritualists themselves admit that in the ranks of the mediums there is much fraud, and mediums have often confessed, "the spirits did tempt me and I committed fraud at their wish."
This Kamarupa spook is also the enemy of our civilization, which permits us to execute men for crimes committed and thus throw out into the ether the mass of passion and desire free from the weight of the body and liable at any moment to be attracted to any sensitive person. Being thus attracted, the deplorable images of crimes committed and also the picture of the execution and all the accompanying curses and wishes for revenge are implanted in living persons, who, not seeing the evil, are unable to throw it off. Thus crimes and new ideas of crimes are wilfully propagated every day by those countries where capital punishment prevails.
The astral shells together with the still living astral body of the medium, helped by certain forces of nature which the Theosophists call "elementals," produce nearly all the phenomena of non-fraudulent spiritualism. The medium's astral body having the power of extension and extrusion forms the framework for what are called "materialized spirits," makes objects move without physical contact, gives reports from deceased relatives, none of them anything more than recollections and pictures from the astral light, and in all this using and being used by the shells of suicides, executed murderers, and all such spooks as are naturally near to this plane of life. The number of cases in which any communication comes from an actual spirit out of the body is so small as to be countable almost on one hand. But the spirits of living men sometimes, while their bodies are asleep, come to seances and take part therein. But they cannot recollect it, do not know how they do it, and are not distinguished by mediums from the mass of astral corpses. The fact that such things can be done by the inner man and not be recollected proves nothing against these theories, for the child can see without knowing how the eye acts, and the savage who has no knowledge of the complex machinery working in his body still carries on the process of digestion perfectly. And that the latter is unconscious with him is exactly in line with the theory, for these acts and doings of the inner man are the unconscious actions of the subconscious mind. These words "conscious" and "subconscious" are of course used relatively, the unconsciousness being that of the brain only. And hypnotic experiments have conclusively proved all these theories, as on one day not far away will be fully admitted. Besides this, the astral shells of suicides and executed criminals are the most coherent, longest lived, and nearest to us of all the shades of hades, and hence must, out of the necessity of the case, be the real "controls" of the seance room.
Passion and desire together with astral model-body are common to men and animals, as also to the vegetable kingdom, though in the last but faintly developed. And at one period in evolution no further material principles had been developed, and all the three higher, of Mind, Soul, and Spirit, were but latent. Up to this point man and animal were equal, for the brute in us is made of the passions and the astral body. The development of the germs of Mind made man because it constituted the great differentiation. The God within begins with Manas or mind, and it is the struggle between this God and the brute below which Theosophy speaks of and warns about. The lower principle is called bad because by comparison with the higher it is so, but still it is the basis of action. We cannot rise unless self first asserts itself in the desire to do better. In this aspect it is called rajas or the active and bad quality, as distinguished from tamas, or the quality of darkness and indifference. Rising is not possible unless rajas is present to give the impulse, and by the use of this principle of passion all the higher qualities are brought to at last so refine and elevate our desires that they may be continually placed upon truth and spirit. By this Theosophy does not teach that the passions are to be pandered to or satiated, for a more pernicious doctrine was never taught, but the injunction is to make use of the activity given by the fourth principle so as to ever rise and not to fall under the dominion of the dark quality that ends with annihilation, after having begun in selfishness and indifference.
Having thus gone over the field and shown what are the lower principles, we find Theosophy teaching that at the present point of man's evolution he is a fully developed quaternary with the higher principles partly developed. Hence it is taught that today man shows himself to be moved by passion and desire. This is proved by a glance at the civilizations of the earth, for they are all moved by this principle, and in countries like France, England, and America a glorification of it is exhibited in the attention to display, to sensuous art, to struggle for power and place, and in all the habits and modes of living where the gratification of the senses is sometimes esteemed the highest good. But as Mind is being evolved more and more as we proceed in our course along the line of the race development, there can be perceived underneath in all countries the beginning of the transition from the animal possessed of the germ of real mind to the man of mind complete. This day is therefore known to the Masters, who have given out some of the old truths, as the "transition period." Proud science and prouder religion do not admit this, but think we are as we always will be. But believing in his teacher, the theosophist sees all around him the evidence that the race mind is changing by enlargement, that the old days of dogmatism are gone and the "age of inquiry" has come, that the inquiries will grow louder year by year and the answers be required to satisfy the mind as it grows more and more, until at last, all dogmatism being ended, the race will be ready to face all problems, each man for himself, all working for the good of the whole, and that the end will be the perfecting of those who struggle to overcome the brute. For these reasons the old doctrines are given out again, and Theosophy asks every one to reflect whether to give way to the animal below or look up to and be governed by the God within.
A fuller treatment of the fourth principle of our constitution would compel us to consider all such questions as those presented by the wonder workers of the east, by spiritualistic phenomena, hypnotism, apparitions, insanity, and the like, but they must be reserved for separate handling.