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Annie Besant

(1847 -1933)




The Seven Principles of Man


Annie Besant



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The Higher Manas


The immortal Thinker itself, as will by this time have become clear to the reader, can manifest itself but little on the physical plane at the present stage of human evolution. Yet we are able to catch some glimpses of the powers resident in it, the more as in the lower Manas we find those powers "cribbed, cabined and confined" indeed, but yet existing.


Thus we have seen that the lower Manas "is the organ of the freewill in physical man." Freewill resides in Manas itself, in Manas the representative of Mahat, the Universal Mind. From Manas comes the feeling of liberty, the knowledge that we can rule ourselves – really the knowledge that the higher nature in us can rule the lower, let that lower nature rebel and struggle as it may.


Once let our consciousness identify itself with Manas instead of with Kâma, and the lower nature becomes the animal we bestride, it is no longer the "I." All its plungings, its struggles, its fights for mastery, are then outside us, not within us, and we rein it in and hold it as we rein in a plunging steed and subdue it to our will.


On this question of freewill I venture to quote from an article of my own that appeared in the Path – "Unconditioned will, alone can be absolutely free: the unconditioned and the absolute are one: all that is conditioned must, by virtue of that conditioning, be relative and therefore partially bound. As that will evolves the universe, it becomes conditioned by the laws of its own manifestation.


The manasic entities are differentiations of that will, each conditioned by the nature of its manifesting potency, but, while conditioned without, it is free within its own sphere of activity, so being the image in its own world of the universal will in the universe. Now as this will, acting on each successive plane, crystalises itself more and more densely as matter, the manifestation is conditioned by the material in which it works, while, relatively to the material, it is itself free.


So at each stage the inner freedom appears in consciousness, while yet investigation shows that, that freedom works within the limits of the plane of manifestation on which it is acting, free to work upon the lower, yet hindered as to manifestation by the unresponsiveness of the lower to its impulse. Thus the higher Manas, in whom reside free will, so far as the lower quaternary is concerned – being the offspring of Mahat, the third Logos, the Word, i.e., the Will in manifestation – is limited in its manifestation in our lower nature by the sluggishness of the response of the personality to its impulses.


In the lower Manas itself – as immersed in that personality - resides the will with which we are familiar, swayed by passions, by appetites, by desires, by impressions coming from without, yet able to assert itself among them all, by virtue of its essential nature, one with that higher Ego of which it is the ray.


It is free, as regards all below it, able to act on Kâma and on the physical body, however much its full expression may be thwarted and hindered by the crudeness of the material in which it is working. Were the will the mere outcome of the physical body, of the desires and passions, whence could arise the sense of the " I " that can judge, can desire, can overcome?


It acts from a higher plane, is royal as touching the lower whenever it claims the royalty of birthright, and the very struggle of its self-assertion is the best testimony to the fact that in its nature it is free. And so, passing to lower planes, we find in each grade this freedom of the higher as ruling the lower, yet, on the plane of the lower, hindered in manifestation.


Reversing the process and starting from the lower, the same truth becomes manifest. Let a man’s limbs be loaded with fetters, and crude material iron will prevent the manifestation of the muscular and nervous force with which they are instinct: none the less is that force present, though hindered for the moment in its activity. Its strength may be shown in its very efforts to break the chains that bind it: there is no power in the iron to prevent the free giving out of the muscular energy, though the phenomena of motion may be hindered.


But while this energy cannot be ruled by the physical nature below, its expenditure is determined by the kâmic principle ; passions and desires can set it going, can direct and control it. The muscular and nervous energy cannot rule the passions and desires, they are free as regards it, it is determined by their interposition.


Yet again Kâma may be ruled, controlled, determined by the will; as touching the manasic principle it is bound, not free, and hence the sense of freedom in choosing which desire shall be gratified, which act performed. As the lower Manas rules Kâma, the lower quaternary takes its rightful position of subserviency to the higher triad, and is determined by a will it recognises as above itself, and, as it regards itself, a will that is free.


Here in many a mind will spring the question, ‘And what of the will of the higher Manas ; is that in turn determined by what is above it, while it is free to all below? But we have reached a point where the intellect fails us, and where language may not easily utter that which the Spirit senses in those higher realms.


Dimly only can we feel that there , as everywhere else, "the truest freedom must be in harmony with law, and that voluntary acceptance of the function of acting as channel of the Universal Will must unite into one perfect liberty and perfect obedience."


This is truly an obscure and difficult problem, but the student will find much light fall on it by following the lines of thought thus traced.


Another power resident in the higher Manas and manifested on the lower planes by those in whom the higher Manas is consciously master, is that of creation of forms by the will. The Secret Doctrine says: "Kriyashakti". The mysterious power of thought which enables it to produce external, perceptible, phenomenal results by its own inherent energy. The ancient held that any idea will manifest itself externally if one’s attention is deeply concentrated upon it.


Similarly and intense volition will be followed by the desired results" (vol. I, p. 312). Here is the secret of true "magic," and as the subject is an important one, and as Western science is beginning to touch its fringe, a separate section is devoted to its consideration farther on, in order not to break the connected outline here given on principles.


Again we have learned from H.P.Blavatsky that Manas, or the higher Ego, as "part of the essence of the Universal Mind, is unconditionally omniscient on its own plane," when it has fully developed self-consciousness by its evolutionary

experiences, and "is the vehicle of all knowledge of the past and present, and the future."


When this immortal entity is able through its ray, the lower Manas, to impress the brain of a man, that man is one who manifests abnormal qualities, is a genius or seer. The conditions of seership are thus laid down: -


"The former [the visions of the true seer] can be obtained by one of two means:


(a) on the condition of paralysing at will the memory and the instinctual independent action of all the material organs and even cells in the body of flesh, an act which, when once the light of the higher Ego has consumed and subjected for ever the passional nature of the personal lower Ego, is easy, but requires an adept;


(b) of being a reincarnation of one who, in a previous birth,

had attained through extreme purity of life and efforts in the right direction almost to a Yogi-state of holiness and saintship.


There is also a third possibility of reaching in mystic visions the plane of the higher Manas ; but it is only occasional, and does not depend on the will of the seer, but on the extreme weakness and exhaustion of the material body through illness and suffering. The Seeress of Prevorst was an instance of the latter case ; and Jacob Boehme of our second category" (Lucifer, November, 1890, p. 183).


The reader will now be in a position to grasp the difference between the workings of the higher Ego and of its ray. Genius, which sees instead of arguing, is of the higher Ego; true intuition is one of its faculties. Reason, the weighing and balancing quality which arranges the facts gathered by observation, balances them one against the other, argues from them, draws conclusions from them – this is the exercise of the lower Manas through the brain apparatus; its instrument is ratiocination; by induction it ascends from the known to the unknown, building up a hypothesis; by deduction it descends again to the known, verifying its hypothesis by fresh experiment.


Intuition, as we see by its derivation, is simply insight – a process as direct and swift as bodily vision. It is the exercise of the eyes of the intelligence, the unerring recognition of a truth presented on the mental plane. It sees with certainty, its vision is unclouded, its report unfaltering. No proof can add to the certitude of its recognition, for it is beyond and above the reason.


Often our instincts, blinded and confused by passions and desires, are miscalled intuitions, and a mere kâmic impulse is accepted as the sublime voice of the higher Manas. Careful and prolonged self-training is necessary, ere the voice can be recognised with certainty, but of one thing we may feel very sure: so long as we are in the vortex of the personality, so long as the storms of desires and appetites howl around us, so long as the waves of emotion toss us to and fro, so long the voice of the higher Manas cannot reach our ears.


Not in the fire or the whirlwind, not in the thunderclap of the storm, comes the mandate of the higher Ego: only when there has fallen the stillness of a silence that can be felt, only when the very air is motionless and the calm is profound, only when the man wraps his face in a mantle which closes his ears even to the silence that is of earth, then only sounds the voice that is stiller than the silence, the voice of his true Self.


On this H. P. Blavatsky has written in Isis Unveiled: "Allied to the physical half of man’s nature is reason, which enables him to maintain his supremacy over the lower animals, and to subjugate nature to his uses. Allied to his spiritual part is his conscience, which will serve as his unerring guide through the besetment of the senses; for conscience is that instantaneous perception between right and wrong which can only be exercised by the spirit, which, being a portion of the divine wisdom and purity, is absolutely pure and wise.


Its promptings are independent of reason, and it can only manifest itself clearly when unhampered by the baser attractions of our dual nature. Reason being a faculty of our physical brain, one which is justly defined as that of deducing inferences from premises, and being wholly dependent on the evidence of other senses, cannot be a quality pertaining directly to our divine spirit.


The latter knows – hence all reasoning, which implies discussion and argument, would be useless. So an entity which, if it must be considered as a direct emanation from the eternal Spirit of wisdom, has to be vied as possessed of the same attributes as the essence of the whole of which it is part.


Therefore it is with a certain degree of logic that the ancient Theurgists maintained that the rational part of a man’s soul (spirit) never entered wholly into the man’s body, but only overshadowed him more or less through the irrational or astral soul, which serves as an intermediary agent, or a medium between spirit and body.


The man who has conquered matter sufficiently to receive the direct light from his shining Augoeides, feels truth intuitionally; he could not err in his judgement, notwithstanding all the sophisms suggested by cold reason, for he is illuminated. Hence prophesy, vaticination, and the so-called divine inspiration, are simply the effects of this illumination from above by our own immortal spirit" (Volume I, page 305-306).


This Augoeides, according to the belief of the Neo-Platonists, as according to the Theosophical teachings, "sheds more or less its radiance on the inner man, the astral soul" (Volume, page 315) i.e.., in the now accepted terminology, on the Kâma-Manasic personality or lower Ego.


(In reading Isis Unveiled, the student has to bear in mind the fact that when the book was written, the terminology was by no means even as fixed as it is now ; in Isis Unveiled is the first modern attempt to translate into Western language the complicated Eastern ideas, and further experience has shown that many of the terms used to cover two or three conceptions may with advantage be restricted to one and thus rendered precise. Thus the "astral soul" must be understood in the sense given above.)


Only as this lower Ego becomes pure from all breath of passion, as the lower Manas frees itself from Kâma, can the "shining one" impress it ; H.P. Blavatsky tells how initiates meet this higher Ego face to face. Having spoken of the trinity in man, Âtma-Buddhi-Manas, she goes on: "It is when this trinity, in anticipation of the final triumphant reunion beyond the gates of corporeal death, became for a few seconds a unity, that the candidate is allowed, at the moment of the initiation, to behold his future self.


Thus we read in the Persian Desatir of the ‘resplendent one’ ; in the Greek philosopher-initiates of the Augoeides – the self-shining ‘blessed vision resident in the pure light’ ; in Porphyry, that Plotinus was united to his ‘god’ six times during his lifetime, and so on" (Isis Unveiled, Volume II, pages 114-115).


This trinity made into unity, again, is the "Christ" of all mystics. When in the final initiation, the candidate has been outstretched on the floor or altar stone and has thus typified the crucifixion of the flesh, or lower nature, and when from this "death" he has "risen again" as the triumphant conqueror over sin and death, he then, in the supreme moment, sees before him the glorious presence and becomes "one with Christ," is himself the Christ.


Thenceforth he may live in the body, but it has become his obedient instrument ; he is united with his true Self, Manas made one with Âtma-Buddhi, and through the personality which he inhabits he wields his full powers as an immortal spiritual intelligence. While he was still struggling in the toils of the lower nature, Christ, the spiritual Ego, was daily crucified in him ; but in the full Adept Christ has arisen triumphant, lord of himself and of nature. The long pilgrimage of Manas is over, the cycle of necessity is trodden, the wheel of rebirth cease to turn, the Son of man has been made perfect by suffering.


So long as this point has not been reached, "the Christ" is the object of aspiration. The ray is ever struggling to return to its source, the lower Manas ever aspiring to re-become one with the higher. While this duality persists the continual yearning towards reunion felt by the noblest and purest natures is one of the most salient facts of the inner life, and it is this which clothes itself as prayer, as inspiration, as "seeking after God," as the longing for union with the divine.


"My soul is athirst for God, for the living God," cries the eager Christian, and to tell him that this intense longing is a fancy and is futile to make him turn aside from you as one who cannot understand, but whose insensibility does not alter the fact. The Occultist recognises in this cry the inextinguishable impulse upwards of the lower Self to the higher from which it is separated, but the attraction of which it vividly feels.


Whether the person pray to the Buddha, to Vishnu, to Christ, to the Virgin, to the Father, it matters not at all ; these are questions of mere dialect, not of essential fact. In all the Manas united to Âtma-Buddhi is the real object , veiled under what name the changing time or race may give ; at once the ideal humanity and the "personal God," the "God Man" found in all religions, "God incarnate," the "Word made flesh," "the Christ who must be born in " each, with whom the believer must be made one.


And this leads us on to the last planes with which we are concerned, the planes of Spirit, using that much abused word merely as the opposite pole to matter ; here only very general ideas can be grasped by us, but it is necessary none the less to try to grasp these ideas if we are to complete, however poorly our conception of man.





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