THEOSOPHY, Vol. 25, No. 2, December, 1936
(Pages 80-82; Size: 12K)


ESOTERIC philosophy reduces the vast array of subjects and objects constituting the universe to One homogeneous Substance-Principle. In order to give the student a clearer idea of the nature of the One Source, various more or less familiar terms have been employed in Theosophy, and among such appositive words none is more expressive of the all-pervasive character of the One Substance-Principle than the term "Life." Only in the light of the basic concept that "all is Life" is it possible to erect a sound and eternally balanced superstructure of knowledge.

Life, as the One Homogeneous Unity is the source, the Sustainer and the Eternal Cause of all its differentiated and manifested aspects. Manifested Nature exhibits Life under three major aspects: That aspect -- truly no "aspect" at all -- which is the Immutable Spirit; that aspect which is perpetually changing, or Matter; and that which represents at any time the resultant of the interaction between the Immutable and the ever-changing -- Soul. Nature as a whole, as well as its countless constituent units, is therefore triune, although the proportions in which these three aspects exhibit themselves may vary tremendously. Theosophy holds that the difference between Spirit and Matter is one of degree, not of essence, the word Soul with a qualifying term before it indicating and defining the degree. Thus the term, Spiritual Soul, or Buddhi(1), indicates the ascendency of Spirit, or the Immutable Essence of Life, over matter, the transient and ever-changing. When Manas(2), the thinking principle, is indissolubly united to Buddhi, then man attains to spiritual self-consciousness -- the successful consummation of the struggle. The term Human Soul, or Manas, indicates that state where the struggle between the Self of Spirit and the self of matter is still raging, with no definite conquest one way or the other. This is the state of the great majority of Humanity. The term Animal Soul, or Kama(3), indicates that the changing and separative aspect of life has eclipsed the Spirit. In the last case, the thread which unites the Being to its Parent Essence is so attenuated that there is no direct consciousness of any connection, and the man dominated by this principle functions on a purely separative and impulsive basis. This is the state of the animal kingdom and of those humans in whom the animal has gained the ascendency.

The "Matter" here referred to as the ever-changing aspect of Life is not Primordial Matter, which is co-eternal with Spirit. In answer to a question whether the human thinking Soul or Ego could be called matter, H.P.B. replied:

Not matter, but substance assuredly; nor would the word "matter," if prefixed with the adjective, primordial, be a word to avoid. That matter, we say, is co-eternal with Spirit, and is not our visible, tangible, and divisible matter, but its extreme sublimation. (Key, p. 106.)(4)

And how do you know whether that which we refer to as ABSOLUTE CONSCIOUSNESS or Deity forever invisible and unknowable, be not that which, though it eludes forever our human finite conception, is still universal Spirit-matter or matter-Spirit in its absolute infinitude? (Key, p. 100.)

We have called the Soul aspect of life the resultant of the interaction of Spirit and matter. It might be more correctly defined as the extent to which Spirit has succeeded in impressing and overcoming matter. The power to act, whether in the form of ideation or in more concrete and material expressions, is the sole attribute of Spirit. This is Will -- the force of Spirit in action. Will links together the three major aspects of Life -- Spirit, Soul and Matter -- into one coherent Whole. Will is consubstantial on all planes.

The immutable aspect of Life-Spirit neither sleeps, dreams nor dies. It is the changeless background against which all change is noted, whether change of consciousness or of form. We may regard the phenomena of sleep, dreams and death from either the position of Spirit, or Consciousness, or from the position of matter and form. Sleep, from the point of view of the body, is due to too much Life, or Prana, rather than to an exhaustion of vital energy. Prana is that aspect of LIFE which sustains and animates bodily forms. We live in an ocean of such life, and from the viewpoint of our material vehicles both sleep and death are caused by the inability of these vehicles to resist the streams of Prana beating against them incessantly.

From the psychic or Soul point of view, sleep and death may be considered under a similar exegesis. Sleep, dreams and death apply to those aspects of soul where the Spirit has not gained control. The Spiritual Soul or Buddhi in close union with Manas, the mind principle, which H.P.B. calls the Spiritual divine EGO, neither sleeps, dreams nor dies. It is Self-Conscious, Immortal, and of the essence of Reality. The changes of state known as sleep, dreams and death apply to the Human Soul and the personal ego.

Dreams at any time and on any plane are due to ignorance and illusion. Sages do not dream. They have the wisdom to translate at once all their experiences into spiritual values -- a process which it takes the average man about 1,500 years to accomplish in Devachan(5). Since adepts can assimilate their experience as they go along, they need no Devachanic state of rest and meditation. When one thinks that his salvation or damnation is in the hands of any outside agency -- God, Savior, priest or church -- he dreams; when one thinks it possible to circumvent the inexorable course of Karma, he dreams; when one imagines that he can gain an advantage to himself at the expense of any of his fellows or any other Being, he dreams. In short, all dream who do not or will not acknowledge the unity and interdependence of all Beings and who consequently pursue selfish and separative courses of action. Such dreaming at last brings on such painful and difficult reactions that the Soul is overwhelmed and must withdraw to its own place in order to regain orientation. This occurs every night in that state of consciousness known as deep sleep, unless the man is so weighted down by Karma or desire that his day-time dreaming continues -- though in a different form. The momentum of his day-time thinking binds him during sleep to animalistic spheres of consciousness.

When man "dreams" in what we know as the waking state, he is capable of correcting his illusions and false ideas -- a process which is aided by the sharp reactions of Karma. During sleep, the will and mind being occupied outside the brain, the man has no control over the course taken by his dreams and is, in fact, their victim for the time being. The scenes, the entities, and the actions seen and felt in dreams are most real to the dreamer and he finds himself helpless to change things. His only salvation is to pass as quickly as possible out of this lower plane of dreams and into that deeper state where the real Ego is now free to live his life as a veritable god. The Higher Divine Ego now seeks to adjust the lower personal self -- this adjustment being made through the channels of a different character of dreams, having their source in the Spiritual Ego. Even when the sleeper remembers no such dreams, he is still under the protection of his Higher and true Ego, which is attested by that feeling of inner-well-being and courage which is so often felt on awakening.

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COMPILER'S NOTE: I added these footnotes; they were not in the article. If any of them don't paint an accurate enough picture, or are incorrect, I hope the Editors of THEOSOPHY magazine will spot them and point the inaccuracies out to me, so that I can make the necessary corrections.

(1) "Buddhi" means Intuition (or Spiritual Soul).
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(2) "Manas" means Mind; "Buddhi" means Intuition; "Buddhi-Manas" means Intuitional-Mind (Higher mind).
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(3) "Kama" (or the "Kamic" nature, also known as the "Kamic principle") is our lower Passions and Desires. By the way, the "Kama-Rupa" is the invisible body made up of these lower Passions and Desires.
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(4) "Key" here refers to "The Key to Theosophy", a book written in Question & Answer form, by H. P. Blavatsky.
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(5) "Devachan" is the after-death dream state that we enter into between incarnations. This state of consciousness is always that of the personality we were in the life just finished, and where we experience only pleasant dreams that play out to fruition our highest aspirations for what we could have been in the life just finished, how we wanted the people we loved and knew to be, and harmonious world conditions as we would have had them be. It lasts as long as the energy we put into those types of thoughts in our lifetime. This is where the distorted religious idea of Heaven comes from. But it is a heaven of our own making, and is unique for each of us -- as unique and different as the thoughts, words, deeds, and experiences of each of us are. Once the energy wears down naturally, and we wake up, we are soon naturally drawn magnetically by our karma to our next rebirth, where we will outwardly be known as a new personality.
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