The Path – August 1895


Man is essentially a Divine Being, and his ultimate perfection is the aim and end of all evolution. The divine potency promises human perfectibility. Evolution is the process of its attainment. Men differ only in the stage of their evolution. They are in essence one; the process of evolution differs only in details and in time, circumstance, and place, in order that individuality may be presented. Self-consciousness is derived from, and finally again merges into, universal consciousness. The beginning and the end are the same with all, the details of the journey only differ. The potency of divinity and the diversity of nature are the two poles of the life-current along which man journeys, and of the spiral up which he climbs. The pivot around which the life-wave cycles in man is the Mind. Dividing the seven principles in man, or, strictly speaking, the seven planes or aspects of the One Eternal Divine Principle — into two groups, we have an upper triad that is changeless and pure, and a lower quaternary that is transient and perishable. Speaking symbolically, it is the presence of the upper triad in the lower quaternary that gives man his humanity. Previous to this man is only an animal. Losing this he sinks bodily and permanently to the animal plane. If we unite the human intelligence to the ferocity of the beast, evolution ceases and atavism rules supreme. Margrave, Mr. Hyde, and Jack the Ripper are illustrations. It is the presence of the lower quarternary in the upper triad that merges man in divinity. This is precisely the meaning of the "Fall" and the "Redemption" of man. It is not a. foolish fable, nor an irreconcilable paradox, but an epitome of human evolution with its descending and ascending arcs. Its plan is a complete philosophy: Its process an exact science: Devotion to its pursuit and obedience to its behests are the essence and acme of all religion. Jesus and Buddha, all the Avatars of all the Ages, are illustrations. The battle-field of human evolution is the Mind. When the triad touches the animal quarternary the circuit is closed, a spark flashes out and the dawn of reason and intelligence begins. That which follows is the "fruit of the tree of knowledge of good and evil." The fruit of the tree of Life is withheld. That awaits man at his goal, not at his beginning. This fact of the mind as the battle-ground of evolution, as the field of all human endeavor, has been recognized in all ages. "As man thinketh, so he is." "My mind to me a kingdom is." "I think, therefore I am." "All that I am is the result of what I have thought." These and many more are the flashes of intuition radiating out from the inner consciousness of man, the waking of the lower sense to the higher truth. Theosophy transforms these flashes of light into full-orbed spheres and fortifies them with a complete philosophy and an exact science, so that with chart and compass man no more sails an unknown sea, but guides his journey at will.

But what is the mind that is thus the theatre of man's ceaseless evolution? Modern materialism masquerading in the garb of Science tells us that "Mind is a property of Matter;" a result of aggregation, combination, differentiation and the like. But Materialism does not tell us how Matter thinks, or becomes conscious, or how aggregations of molecules come to possess or to manifest qualities absent from the molecules themselves. In fact, they describe phenomena and point to results, but tell us nothing as to real causes or essential nature.

If my body is conscious, or my brain thinks, it is on another plane, a lower degree. I think, and act, and manifest consciousness through them: they are my servants, and even their aggregate is not me, they are mine. Name all their qualities and phenomena; classify all their properties, and I am still the "Catagorical Imperative." They are conscious, each on its own plane and in its own degree, but I am conscious of consciousness, I alone dominate the aggregate. "I, am I." What then is the mind? But first, what is the Ego, the I am? To use the expression of Descartes — "My self-consciousness and all that is contained in it, that is my true Ego." Aristotle had postulated a nutritive, a scientific, a motive and a thinking soul, but Descartes restored the unity of the spiritual being. But according to Theosophy the true Ego is more than the sum of individual self-consciousness, because that expansion of animal consciousness into human self-consciousness as one stage of evolution is, nevertheless, a limitation, and the next stage of evolution removes the very limitation that, while it makes man human, prevents him from being a God in the platonic sense. This philosophy never for a moment loses sight of the Divine nature of man, and perfection as his final goal. While, therefore, the Ego is the centre of man's consciousness and while it represents the sum of all his experiences, we must not overlook its derivation on the one hand, nor its destiny on the other. Otherwise evolution would have no meaning, and, accepting self-consciousness as a fact, experience could only result in elaboration and differentiation. We should be involved in a vicious circle, and doomed to ring the changes of an endless series of complications in experience. Instead of this, as plane after plane has been passed, so plane after plane stretches before us as evolution proceeds. The circle of experience, instead of being a hollow sphere that hems us in, is a spiral that leads us upward and onward.

It is in the upper triad that the real Ego abides, while "my self-consciousness and all that is contained in it" results from the union of the upper triad with the lower quaternary. Mind and self-consciousness are the result of this union. The immediate organ of these is the human brain, while the entire physical structure stands as intermediate organs and tributary to the self-conscious centre. The existence and consciousness of the Ego, then, is our starting-point. The Ego is limited by the body which it inhabits, and by its environment. Consciousness per se is the sum of all evolution of the Ego up to the human plane, and self-consciousness is the crown of all previous evolution but is derived from the higher Ego. We thus become conscious of consciousness, i.e., self-conscious. That which is the crown of all subhuman evolution and which determines the human endowment, is but the starting-point of the next evolutionary stage, the crown of which will be Divine, or Universal Consciousness. When man has conquered his environment and adjusted all his volitionary impulses to all external conditions and sequences, he will have attained to a degree of knowledge and power that is superhuman and hence Divine.

In answering the question "What is mind?" we thus have in view man's origin, nature and destiny, and the whole philosophy of his ceaseless evolution. We have shown the mind to be the theatre of man's evolution because it is the seat of his self-consciousness, in which he gains experience or knowledge of good and evil. The bodily avenues of sense and feeling relate him to the world about him in the varied experiences of life. Man is potentially a mirror or epitome of the universe, and his varied experience converts the potentiality into actuality. It is thus that his ideas become realities and the Divine Ideal is at last attained. Man's experiences are the phenomena of his daily life represented in terms of self-consciousness. As this progressive series of daily experiences, changing and evanescent, are individual and not universal, the mind is the theatre of their display. The mind is not, however, a passive screen but the living-phantasmagoria with Imagination to create, with reason to combine, adjust, weigh and measure; with judgment or desire to discriminate and with will to execute. The mind is therefore, not only the theatre for all these varied experiences but the succession and the sum of all our states and conditions of consciousness. It is in this final synthesis that the mind is united with the Ego. It is thus with the moving panorama of events and experiences of the daily life of the individual that man realizes his ideas, and it is thus again that "Ideas move the world." These human ideas are feeble and imperfect caricatures of Universal and Eternal Ideals. Thus it is that the human gropes its way to the Divine.

It is the Light of the Logos, the spark of Divinity dwelling in the Higher Ego that thus lures man on, and pushes him toward his final destiny. The physical brain is but a senseless clod; matter cannot think; but illuminated by this divine light, this sphere of man's self-consciousness functioning through the physical brain, converts the world into terms of experience and slowly transforms the lower quaternary — the man of flesh and blood — into the higher triad, the Divine Man.

(Concluded next month)

The Path