THEOSOPHY, Vol. 54, No. 4, February, 1966
(Pages 104-107; Size: 12K)

LETTERS-QUESTIONS-COMMENT

[Article number (25) in this Department]

Theosophy teaches that the power of discerning values, resident in the principle of Manas, is the true locus of will in human nature. Why, then, is Manas so easily made the servant of the egocentric aspects of personality -- the selfish, combative passions and desires?

This inevitably-recurring question provides an opportunity for establishing the uniqueness of theosophical teachings regarding "natural" inclinations. The view of mind which has largely characterized Christian theology refers to one or another version of "original sin" -- an almost ineradicable assumption being that the intelligence of the individual, if not checked by dire warnings concerning the consequences of wrongdoing, will be lustful and tyrannical. The goal, theologically speaking, is to overcome this soul-destroying fate by entering the Kingdom of Heaven after death.

Now this is a way of saying that something called the "soul" and the "mind" must be separated. The mind, which is inclined towards evil, is then presumably "left behind after death"; it has been identified with the image of Satan. Heaven is not a place for reflection and evolution, but the symbol of a release from the temptations and obligations of thought. This view, broadly speaking, defines a terminus of the mind and, because the mind is thought of as terminating, it can easily be characterized and defined.

The physicalist-materialist approach to an analysis of mind similarly proposes to reduce the mystery of self-generative thought by definition of thought's function in human evolution; thought becomes, though a tool of some subtlety, only an instrument in the interests of self-preservation and status advancement. The "lust for power" is accepted as fundamental to human nature, finding expression according to various societal conditions in wars of conquest, the acquisition of wealth and status, and in the gratification of an optimum of sensual pleasure. As in the case of the traditional theological view, the mind is therefore defined by fixed referents, and is not regarded as a quality or a power in and of itself.

The theosophical philosophy, whether expressed in the Bhagavad-Gita, in Platonic or Neo-Platonic writings, or in any thoughtful reincarnationist presentation, intimates that the mind of man cannot be defined by reference to anything else, for mind is not a "thing." The mystery of mind is, therefore, eternal, and will only be penetrated in degree by the individual when he exercises the power of evaluation and choice. The "selfish, combative passions and desires" represent the temptation to exploit the vast power of mind over physical and psychic realms.

So it is the aptitude of self-consciousness which is dual, and higher and lower manas do not represent two distinct entities, but rather an alternating attitude towards experience. It may be an oversimplification to say that, theosophically speaking, "mind is God," but this is the implication of H. P. Blavatsky's reference to the first use of the word "theosophy" by the Egyptians who antedated the Alexandrian Theosophists. The mind is an eternal mystery because it is both uncreate and ceaselessly creating. And since there is no terminal point for its pilgrimage and its possible heroic adventures, it cannot be explained by reference to inclinations which alternately hold sway. Buddhi-manas is omnipresent and eternal, a principle upon which the usual sort of speculation is impossible.

The "egocentric aspects of the personality" may, as in the psychological story of the Bhagavad-Gita, be educated to serve a transcendental conception of the meaning of human life. The liberated mind, the mind of the man who has truly entered the "kingdom of heaven," has achieved a willingness to forego any status quo of existence. Each definition of life's ultimate purposes must be revised, and, becoming free of the fear of "losing" inadequate self images, the "mind" of the individual finds ever wider and richer scope for activity.

These broad philosophical conclusions derive from any prolonged reflection upon the proposition that true individuality is gained "throughout a long series of metempsychoses and reincarnations." (S.D. I, 17.) Such reflection, moreover, provides a proper background for consideration of some central Indian Wisdom-Religion teachings regarding Yugas and Kalpas. Therein the ascent towards spiritually oriented consciousness is described as possible only after ages of confusing involvements of mind with materiality -- a process represented in Hindu chronology by vast periods of time in which certain inclinations temporarily predominate.

In the section, "Cyclic Evolution and Karma" (S.D. I), H.P.B. supplies a connective between cyclical philosophy and classical doctrine:

Do those mysterious divisions of time, called Yugas and Kalpas by the Hindus, and so very graphically "cycle," ring or circle, by the Greeks, have any bearing upon, or any direct connection with, human life? There are "Cycles of matter" and there are "Cycles of Spiritual evolution." Racial, national, and individual cycles. May not esoteric speculation allow us a still deeper insight into the workings of these?

As our planet revolves once every year around the sun, and at the same time turns once in every twenty-four hours upon its own axis, thus traversing minor circles within a larger one, so is the work of the smaller cyclic periods accomplished and recommenced, within the Great Saros.

The revolution of the physical world, according to the ancient doctrine, is attended by a like revolution in the world of intellect -- the spiritual evolution of the world proceeding in cycles, like the physical one.

The great kingdoms and empires of the world, after reaching the culmination of their greatness, descend again, in accordance with the same law by which they ascend; till, having reached the lowest point, humanity reasserts itself and mounts up once more, the height of its attainment being, by this law of ascending progression by cycles, somewhat higher than the point from which it had before descended. (p. 641.)

When a man finds himself seemingly enwrapped completely under the empire of his destiny, it then either fixes him like the inert shell against the immovable rock, or carries him away like a feather in a whirlwind raised by his own actions. (p. 639.)

It is the constant presence in our midst of every element of strife and opposition, and the division of races, nations, tribes, societies and individuals into Cains and Abels, wolves and lambs, that is the chief cause of the "ways of Providence." This state will last till man's spiritual intuitions are fully opened, which will not happen before we fairly cast off our thick coats of matter; until we begin acting from within, instead of ever following impulses from without; namely, those produced by our physical senses and gross selfish body. (Pp. 643, 644.)

Contemporary speculations about the psychological significance of the Hindu yugas appear in many treatments of symbolism. An article titled "Vicissitudes of Creativity," by Professor Henry Murray of Harvard, for example, suggests that the purport of Hindu chronology carries the implication of man's present "spiritual adolescence." Dr. Murray writes:
In the phase of spiritual adolescence, authority is denied, decomposed, reduced; there may be deicide and regicide, justified by the glorification of uncorrupted human nature, human reason, and the vox populi, the fraternal peer group; or there may be greater insistence on freedom of personal thought, speech, and decision, the idealization of individuality, resulting in ever-greater heterogeneity, division, disunity, disorder. The time comes when "the center cannot hold, things fall apart"; Siva is predominant. This is the era of egocentrism, competitions of egocentrism, nihilism, and teen-age terrorisms, largely due to the fact that the spiritually adolescent parents have not given their offspring the needed experience and steady discipline of the phase of spiritual childhood at its best. In short, adolescents are not prepared for the responsibilities of individuality and temperate rebellion and in a state of chaos become susceptible to the dictatorial leadership and machinations of a Moloch, who brings them back as physiological adults to a secularized phase of spiritual childhood under the cloud of an inflexible and infallible doctrine.

Today, however, there are evidences, here and there, that people are approaching, with more knowledge and more insight than has been heretofore available, the phase of spiritual manhood and womanhood, the era of Brahma, with its mythology of creativity, fundamentally derived from that period of life when a man and woman participate in the formation of a dyad, of a home, of offspring, and of a new family culture. This spiritual phase, this symbolism, might be exemplified, it seems to me, on all levels; an embracement and re-union of the opposites; man and nature, male and female, conscious and unconscious, superego and id, reason and passion, rational and irrational, science and art, enjoyable means and enjoyable ends, upper class and lower class, West and East. Instead of thesis and antithesis, we may achieve synthesis at the center; creation for creation -- let us say, creativism -- rather than creation for a giant suicidal murder. It is in view of this barely possible ideal that I have subtitled this essay: the fortunate change of creativity.

This is certainly an arresting description of the conditions which will obtain for the majority of men before a transition is accomplished from "the man possessing a germ of mind to the man of mind complete."

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[Article number (26) in this Department]

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