THEOSOPHY, Vol. 42, No. 9, July, 1954
(Pages 402-405; Size: 14K)
(Number 3 of a 6-part series)

THE MYSTERY OF INDIVIDUALITY

III: IS "I-AM-NESS" IMMORTAL?

WHEN we pass to such questions as whether individuality has a beginning, and therefore an ending, and whether there are self-conscious beings actively present at the commencement of an earth or solar system, we are brought face to face with profound philosophical problems that penetrate to the heart of the universe and of man. And we border on mysteries, the ultimate solution of which will be man's only at the moment of highest spiritual evolution.

The concept of immortality held by some students of Theosophy would lead one to believe that the soul has existed eternally in the past, and will exist eternally in the future, as an individualized entity. Also, that such self-conscious beings assumed an active, conscious part in the production of our solar system. Perhaps these ideas have naturally arisen owing to an acquaintance with the oft-repeated truism that immortality implies the existence of a soul which has never been created, and therefore must be without beginning or ending. But where in the teachings can be found the statement that the soul uninterruptedly exists as an individualized unit, a separate I-am-I consciousness, independent of all the rest?

It becomes necessary, therefore, to scrutinize carefully all available statements as to the source of egoity in man, what actually constitutes individuality, and what may be its limitations as well as ultimate destiny.

Far from regarding man's individuality as a continuous reality, H. P. Blavatsky indicates that man's higher principles are "individualized and separated only on the spheres of Illusion by a differentiation as illusive as the rest." (S.D. I, 275.) In the Transactions of the Blavatsky Lodge, a most interesting reference is to be found:

...all labour more or less under illusions, and chiefly under the great illusion (Maya) that they are, as personalities, distinct beings from other beings, and that even their Selves or Egos will prevail in the eternity (or sempiternity, at any rate) as such; whereas not only we ourselves, but the whole visible and invisible universe, are only a temporary part of the one beginningless and endless WHOLE, or that which ever was, is, and will be. (p. 32.)
It is in this WHOLE that we are apparently to seek for our uninterrupted immortality. Elsewhere she states that "the spark will re-become the Flame." (S.D. I, 265.) The flame is in itself Unity. "The rays from this flame will be complex, each acting in its own straight line." (Trans., p. 26.)

And what, then, of self-consciousness, that wondrous power that makes man man? Does that too have beginnings and endings? "...there are no finite differentiated minds during Pralaya," states the same Teacher. "Everything outside of the Absolute and immutable Sat (Be-ness), is necessarily finite and conditioned, since it has beginning and end." (Trans., p. 19.)

The Secret Doctrine definitely states, however, that "the Monad of every living being ... is an individual Dhyan Chohan, distinct from others, a kind of spiritual individuality of its own, during one special Manvantara." (I, 265.) And in one of her articles, H.P.B. suggests that each Ego has a body which is "immortal, throughout the manvantara unless Nirvana puts an end to it before." (THEOSOPHY 3: 16.) [Note: This reference is to the article by HPB entitled "Dialogues Between the Two Editors". A link to it, as well as the number of the paragraph that the quote is found in, has been placed at the end of this article. --Compiler.] It is pertinent to ask, however: When does the Manvantara commence, for the active self-conscious Ego? This is a most important point to ascertain, inasmuch as the impression is sometimes gathered by students that our universe came into existence through an act or series of acts of great, perfected self-conscious men! Certainly, at the beginning of our universe, all beings were present who were to be concerned in that evolutionary period, but how were they present, and in what condition? To quote again from the Transactions, where H.P.B. describes the nature of the highest hierarchies of being, the Ah-hi or Dhyan Chohans:

Like all other Hierarchies, on the highest plane they are arupa, i.e., formless, bodiless, without any substance, mere breaths. On the second plane, they first approach to Rupa, or form. On the third, they become Manasa-putras [Sons of Mind], those who become incarnated in man. With every plane they reach they are called by different names ... The Ah-hi of this Manvantara exist no longer; they have long ago become Planetary, Solar, Lunar, and lastly, incarnating Egos, for, as said, "they are the collective hosts of spiritual beings."

A man can choose what he will think about; can the analogy be applied to the Ah-hi?

No; because a man has free will and the Ah-hi have none. They are obliged to act simultaneously, for the law under which they must act gives them the impulse. Free will can only exist in a Man who has both mind and consciousness, which act and make him perceive things both within and without himself. The "Ah-hi" are Forces, not human Beings.

But are they not conscious agents in the work?

Conscious in as far as they act within the universal consciousness. But the consciousness of the Manasa-putra on the third plane is quite different. It is only then that they become Thinkers. (pp. 23-5.)

In the sense of a self-conscious spiritual being, the teaching seems to be that there never was any man on this planetary chain, or in this round, or on this globe, until 18 million years ago. Hundreds upon hundreds of millions of years have elapsed, but so far as the seven classes of Monads under the sway of Karmic Law are concerned, intellectual evolution did not begin until eighteen million years ago. Then there was no differentiation into individual egos. The teaching in The Key to Theosophy that "every human being is the bearer, or Vehicle, of an Ego coeval with every other Ego; because all Egos are of the same essence and belong to the primeval emanation from one universal infinite Ego" (p. 110), appears to refer to this very period prior to separation. In The Secret Doctrine, H.P.B. quotes from a Master's letter in which reference was made to certain classes of Dhyan Chohans who "are too far progressed and spiritualized to be thrown back forcibly from Dhyan-Chohanship into the vortex of a new primordial evolution through the lower Kingdoms."
"... Then they become an active force and commingle with the Elementals, to develop little by little the full type of humanity." That is to say, to develop in, and endow man with his Self-conscious mind, or Manas. (S.D. II, 233 fn.)
The feeling of egoity dates from this period, it would appear, but even then was not firmly established, for we are informed that "individual Manasa-putras are the direct radiations of the divine Ideation -- 'individual' in the sense of later differentiation, owing to numberless incarnations." (Trans., p. 65.) "The sense of 'being'," states Robert Crosbie, "comes from perceptive power in action; as the range of perception and reflection increases, the realization of 'being' becomes stronger." (Answers to Questions, p. 20.) [Note: Answers to Questions on The Ocean of Theosophy is listed in the publications catalog of The Theosophy Company, publishers of THEOSOPHY magazine. --Compiler.]

A sense of individuality commences on the plane of mind. On the plane of Atma or Buddhi such feeling is impossible:

...Buddhi in man is the vehicle of Atman, which vehicle is of the essence of the highest plane of Akasa and therefore does not differentiate. (Trans., p. 28.)

There is no potentiality for creation, or self-Consciousness, in a pure Spirit on this our plane, unless its too homogeneous, perfect, because divine, nature is, so to say, mixed with, and strengthened by, an essence already differentiated. It is only the lower line of the Triangle [Manas or Mind] ... that can furnish this needed consciousness on the plane of differentiated Nature. (S.D. II, 80.)

Apart from Cosmic Substance, Cosmic Ideation could not manifest as individual consciousness, since it is only through a vehicle of matter that consciousness wells up as "I am I," a physical basis being necessary to focus a ray of the Universal Mind at a certain stage of complexity. (S.D. I, 15.)

Intellectual evolution was not possible before the incarnation for another excellent reason. Until then there was no contrast. The moment we incarnate, there is the contrast between the spirit and matter in us. The purely spiritual man is not intellectual; his consciousness is said to be universal. He had to incarnate to progress intellectually. The activity of Manas depends on contrast. It becomes inactive when there is no material to work on. Thus when we are in the various sleep or after death states, we are not self-conscious. And during Pralaya, where is Manas? Non-existent. Manas is absorbed in Buddhi at the close of each life, Buddhi-Manas is absorbed in Atman at the close of each Manvantara. But they do not cease to be.

Every night of our lives we go into a comparable condition, yet re-emerge in all our integrity the following day. So, it is said that "The thread of radiance which is imperishable and dissolves only in Nirvana, re-emerges from it in its integrity on the day when the Great Law calls all things back into action...." (S.D. II, 80.)

Nor is the individuality -- nor even the essence of the personality, if any be left behind -- lost, because re-absorbed. For, however limitless -- from a human standpoint -- the paranirvanic state, it has yet a limit in Eternity. Once reached, the same monad will re-emerge therefrom, as a still higher being, on a far higher plane, to recommence its cycle of perfected activity. (S.D. I, 266.)

At the "Day be with us" every Ego has to remember all the cycles of his past reincarnations for Manvantaras.... It sees the stream of its past incarnations by a certain divine light. It sees all humanity at once, but still there is ever, as it were, a stream which is always the "I". --H.P.B. (From The Friendly Philosopher, p. 98.) [Note: This book is also listed in the publications catalog of The Theosophy Company, publishers of THEOSOPHY magazine. --Compiler.]


[Note: Here is the link to HPB's article, entitled "Dialogues Between the Two Editors", that was quoted from by the Editors in the above article, when the reference was to THEOSOPHY magazine. The excerpt quoted is from H.P.B.'s response to the 6th question by M.C. -- the whole article is in this running form of a question or a comment by "M.C." and then the response by "H.P.B." --Compiler.]
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THE MYSTERY OF INDIVIDUALITY
IV: BEINGHOOD OF PERFECT MAN
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