Theosophy: Theosophy Basics: Part 1 / Part 2



The Psychological Key To Man: Theosophy Martin Euser ( 10 Nov 1994 writes: This article will be dedicated to a thorough analysis of the thinking faculty of man. It will also include some practical, safe, exercises for analyzing your own stream of thoughts. On the whole, it will be seen to provide the psychological masterkey to spiritual growth for the individual as well as the collective, because it provides a testable model of facts of life. By applying the practical methods given, everybody can recognize or verify the stated ideas about man, life and kosmos. Philosophers in the West have spent much time thinking about many topics. Rarely, however, did they analyze thinking itself. Now, obviously, it is a most remarkable fact that we as humans can reflect upon ourselves, ask ethical questions and make conscious decisions about our acts. So, it would seem only natural that we would ask ourselves the question: 'What is the thinking faculty?' or: 'How does this faculty work and what are its attributes or aspects?'. The fact is, that we rarely do so. Theosophy explains why this is so, by stating that we are so to speak only beginners regarding the use of the thinking faculty. This will become apparent later on in this article. For clarity I will divide this article in five sections: Section 1: The composite constitution of man. A grand scheme of what man essentially is. Section 2: The seven aspects of thinking according to Theosophy. A brief description of these aspects is provided. Section 3: Thoughts and the thinking process. This section and the next two contain the psychological key for changing your life. Section 4: Controlling the flow of thoughts. Changing the thought-pattern. Section 5: Socratic thinking: a question of mentality. What is lacking in our world? Section 1. The composite constitution of man. The purpose of this section is to present in shorthand a 'model' of man, which can greatly enlarge our understanding about the relationship between 'us' and the Universe. If we get a feeling for this, it is easier to grasp what follows in the next sections, because 'what is above, is below' (the Hermetic axiom). Theosophy presents a kind of spiritual-material model of man. Remember, matter is viewed as crystallized spirit and spirit as rarified matter in Theosophy. Spirit and matter are ultimately states of One Principle that is the One Life-force. Even science recognizes the fact that matter and force are convertible into one another. The model below is sometimes called: the egg-scheme. See figure. World of Archetypes ----------|----------------------------------------- (Several planes/spheres) | <--------/ / / / Supreme Spirit ----------|----------/ | -----| | ------------- | / | | | Vehicular aspect | / | | | Consciousness of Life | / | | | aspect of Life ( | ) / | | | ( | )/ | | | ( *|* / ) | | | ( * | * ) | | | ( * | * ) | | | Divine (-----------------------) | | | Divine Ego Soul ( * | * / | | ( * | * / ) | | ( *|* / ) | | ( | / ) | | ( %|% / ) | | ( % | % <--/ ) | | Spiritual (----------------------------------) / | Spiritual Ego Soul ( % | % ) / | ( %|% / | ( | /) | ( +|+ <-----------/ ) / Higher (------------ +-|-+ -------------) / Human ego Human Soul ( +|+ ) / (individual ego) ( | __________________/ "I am" ( -|- / ) Human Soul (--------- - | - ----------) Personal ego = ( -|- ) Reincarnating ego ( | ) "I am I" (personality) Animal Soul (--------#|#---------) ( #|# ) Animal ego ( | ) ( | ) Physical Soul (-----X------) Body Model-body, ( | ) body ( | ) \|/ The circles within the egg-scheme are so-called 'monads': sparks of the universal life-force. These are pure spirit. The monads act as foci or knots for the stream of consciousness, that flows from the Supreme Spirit at the top of our hierarchy (= most spiritual level in our hierarchy) down to the 'grosser' states of consciousness-matter. In order to manifest themselves, these monads need to make use of a dual pair of organized consciousness-matter. This dual pair is split up in the egg-scheme at the lefthand side (vehicular aspect = 'soul', carrier of consciousness) and at the righthand side (Ego or center of consciousness). Each ego in this scheme expresses the evolved faculties of the corresponding ego-emanating monad. The divine ego expresses far more faculties than the personal ego. Likewise, we as a person have evolved more qualities of consciousness than the animal monad, which forms a necessary part of our constitution. We need it and of course 'our' body in order to express ourselves in this world. Our personal consciousness is centered in the personal ego. The following table shows in a nutshell some of the developped qualities of consciousness of the diverse monads. See also lit. (1,2) Divine Monad: Inspiration, Unity-consciousness; Together with the spiritual monad: our inner god. Spiritual Monad: Enlightenment-principle (=understanding, intuition) Human Monad: Vitality, Emotion, Desire; also higher aspects of thought, and part of the understanding faculty. Personal Monad: Vitality, Emotion, Desire, Lower aspects of thought. Animal Monad: Vitality, Emotion, Desire Physical Soul: The physical soul consists of the model-body (a template), the formative cause of the physical body. It contains the astral senses, the necessary intermediaries between the outer senses and the mind. These senses are also involved with telepathy, clairvoyance, etc. The model-body is also a carrier of vital forces, that express themselves in the physical body. The connection between the Human Monad and the Personal Monad will become clearer in sections 2,3 and 4. Note that we have in the recesses of our constitution a divine core that is sometimes called: our 'Higher Self' (=Inner God). This makes the notion of theurgy in the Gnostic literature a bit more understandable. Iamblichus ("De Mysteriis") writes interesting stuff about this. The working of the Divine in man (= theurgy) is possible, *just because there is a Divine element in man's constitution* This requires a highly pure and selfless life as will be easily understood. Our responsibilities towards the animal monad and the body are great but are completely unknown in our world. Yet, we can imagine that we have a great influence on this ego whether we think negatively or positively. This influence is 'stamped' into the fabric of consciousness of the animal ego. Further elaboration of this and kindred subjects can be found in lit. (1,2, and 7,8,9). Deeper study of this scheme and related ones will reveal many facts, like the connection of the more evolved monads with the seven sacred planets, the solar system and Milky Way. Gnostics speak of the Aeons (Angels, Archangels,etc.), Kabbalists of the (Sephirotic) tree of life, Indian Purana's of the Prajapati's. These are all names for the same hierarchical emanations from the One Principle and are all involved in the formation of our Kosmos. Remember, the third jewel of wisdom is concerned with hierarchies (see my first article). Also, the subject of cycles (second jewel) is heavily involved with the relations between the several monads in our constitution (and yes, so are the other jewels!). See lit.6. If we progress in consciousness by our own and collective effort, then we will transform ourselves from being a personal soul-ego-monad to a human soul-ego-monad, taking along the animal ego towards the stage of personal ego! This example shows the interconnectedness of the monads. See lit. (1,2) for further development of these thoughts. We will not concern ourselves further with these often very metaphysical (though important) subjects and confine ourselves to something more tangible: our personality. This will be the subject of all the following sections. Section 2. The seven aspects of thinking according to Theosophy. Theosophy proceeds from a spiritual point of view. It states that consciousness is primary to form or manifestation. Everything in the universe has or better is life-consciousness that embodies itself in a suitable form according to the inherent characteristic (this is the fourth jewel of wisdom; see article #1). Thinking is a special mode of consciousness, certainly not the highest form there is, and is typical of humans. The word 'man' is derived from the Sanscrit word 'manas', meaning: thinker. So, we are unique beings in having developped the faculty of thinking, at least to some degree. [thinking as a form of perception..of thoughts..verderop behandelen] Now, we can distinguish several mental activities and qualities. To give some examples of these: 1. We can direct our mental attention to our body and outside affairs. 2. We can pay mental attention to our emotions. 3. We can plan actions. 4. We can desire to have some nice friends. 5. We can calculate our due taxes. 6. We can try to understand how nature works or why others act as they do. 7. We can have some inspiration to compose beautiful music, etc. This diverse palette of activities involve all the use of thought-energies, often converted into action of some kind. Theosophy presents in this respect a practical, sevenfold, division of thinking: 1. The physical aspect of thinking 2. The emotional aspect " " 3. The vital aspect " " 4. The desire-aspect " " 5. The intellectual aspect " 6. The understanding aspect " 7. The inspirative aspect " A short description of these aspects will clarify their meaning. Also, we will see that each of these aspects have a lower and higher form themselves. This can be understood as an example of the application of the sixth jewel of wisdom (the duality of all that is manifested). All these aspects or qualities of thinking are forces that are related to the diverse monads and layers in the egg-scheme. The hierarchies of our Kosmos reflect themselves in our constitution and also in our thinking faculty. See lit.(1,2,8,9). These aspects can hardly be separated in our thinking, though usually one or two aspects are dominating. They work together comparable to a piece of music where we can hardly separate the individual notes from the whole, though key-chords can be recognized. If this sounds harmonious or dissonant is up to us! Special emphasis will be laid on the development of the sixth aspect of thinking (understanding). This will be described later. DESCRIPTION OF ASPECTS. 1. The physical aspect of thinking. This aspect is well known to us all. We say: "I'm hungry" and "I'm tired", etc. Of course, we mean to express something as: "My body is in a state of needing food", etc. This seems trivial, but it is not. It indicates that we often identify ourselves with our bodies. Our thoughts are very much involved with our bodies. Interesting enough, we can experience the opposite state of consciousness, when we are absorbed in doing something that really interests us, causing us temporarily to forget about the needs of the body. Of course, we have to take care of our bodily needs. A proper question arises in this respect: how much attention and time should we spend to bodily needs and how much to other affairs? This pertinent question can only be answered by us if we are conscious of the place our body takes in the totality of life, i.e. when we are conscious of the proper place of this aspect of thinking in relation to the other aspects. We will come back to this question later on. The higher form of this aspect can be found in dedication to the well-being of others and oneself. Some examples: medical care, care for bodily health for oneself and one's children, doing our duties regarding the world ,etc. [In fact, we see that we can hardly separate the several aspect of thinking. Vitality, emotion, aspiration, understanding, use of our body, all these aspects/forces work together.] The lower form of this aspect finds expression in thoughts of seperateness (the greatest heresy in Buddhism!). We think often that we have nothing to do with others ('mind your own business'), but this is not in accord with the spiritual point of view. 2. The emotional aspect of thinking. This aspect of thinking is related to the reaction on sensory impressions on our mind. If we don't use our conscious thinking before reacting, then it can be said that we react instinctively, comparable to what animals do. In fact the animal ego, and our body of course, is closely involved with the lower aspects of thinking. The emotional aspect is an important part of ourselves, as we all know. The higher form of this aspect can be seen in emotional involvement with issues in society, e.g. when we are committed to ameliorate bad conditions in slums, stimulating others to give their best, etc. The lower form of this aspect can be observed if someone feels hurt if a rightly critical remark is made or even a good advice is construed as a negative remark. More examples: false romance; strongly fluctuating feelings of sympathy and antipathy; egocentric feelings of 'how bad this world is' without real concern for suffering of others and no active partake in trying to change things. 3. The vital aspect of thinking. In (Western) societies we often see that people want to organize or fix about everything you can think of. We can observe that a great deal of energy or vitality is spent in these actions. It often turns out that we didn't think properly before we acted. We didn't foresee the consequences of our actions. Also, we lack in understanding that we can often leave things to the wise mind of nature itself. A positive example is using your vitality for positive ends. A negative example is the destructive use of vitality for selfish purpose. This can be literally destroying things, but also building up business by manipulation or force ('maffia'). 4. The desire-aspect of thinking. The desire-aspect or force plays a major role in human thinking. The greater part of our actions arise from a desire towards something in this world. This can be anything: work, money, status,etc. but also an aspiration towards the realization of ideals. Theosophy looks at this force as a neutral force, like electricity that flows through a wire ('the body'). Often, the notion of 'sin' is associated with 'desire'. This is a very limited point of view. Understanding the *motive* for our acts is of fundamental importance in the process of self-knowledge. This motive can be selfish or selfless. Rather than talking about 'good' or 'bad', which are relative terms, different in each culture and historical period, we better use the terms selfish or selfless as a criterion for judging our own acts and thoughts. We can deceive ourselves, however, by subtle motives, e.g. ambition which may be altruistic or may involve quite a bit of egoism, pride, etc. It takes a lot of sincerity to see our motives clearly for what they are. According to the degree of developped discrimination (discernment) or understanding we will recognize these subtle motives better. Are we slaves of our passions or do we control our mind's activities? This important subject is part of the discussion Krishna has with Arjuna in the Bhagavad Gita. Example of higher form: Lofty aspirations . Example of lower form: Gross passions. 5. The intellectual aspect of thinking. While most of us equate intellectuality with thinking, Theosophy states that this is only one aspect, and not the highest, of thinking. Intellect works mostly with isolating problems out of their context. It gives fragmented, partial, knowledge. It has a limited ability to get to the core or essence of things, unless coupled with real understanding. It often leads to fighting against symptoms, solving nothing. Higher form: use of intellect to work out practical solutions in the context of really understanding what the core of a problem is or what a situation is really about. Lower form: sheer use of 'models' in science or wherever, without the necessary understanding of its inherent limits and shortcomings. 6. The understanding part of thinking. Some people might equate understanding with intellectuality. That this is not the case, will be clear by now. Understanding is sometimes called: 'intuition'. Sometimes we 'see' at once a solution to a complicated problem. We see this with the 'mental eye', so to speak. It can take considerable time after this flash of insight occurred to us, to work this out in a systematic fashion, by use of our intellectual aspect. Understanding is involved with grasping the relationship between parts and the whole. One sees the relationship between science, spirituality and philosophy. One appreciates the fact that you cannot really seperate the individual from the collective, etc. One recognizes the inbuilt harmony and order in man, nature, the Kosmos in general. Theosophy calls this aspect of thinking: the *enlightenment* aspect. If one has fully developped this aspect,not only on the thinking level but above that, one is technically called: a Buddha. Example of higher form: use our understanding of things to help others, to improve conditions of humanity,etc. Example of lower form: using our understanding of the character of others to manipulate them. 7. The inspirative part of thinking. The influence of inspiration can be seen in great works of art. Also, mystics of all ages have witnessed great visions in a state of unity consciousness, an experience of the actual wholeness of all life. Sometimes we ourselves feel connected to all, absorbed into a feeling of unity, while walking in a forest,etc. In general terms, we can develop (identify ourselves with) this aspect only through developping our understanding or intuitive faculty. Example of higher form: creating masterpieces of art; bringing new concepts into science (based on genuine intuition) Example of lower (lowest) form: inspiring others to evil acts and thoughts. Often in charmfull disguise:'Operation Charm'; A wolf in sheep's clothes. If all seven aspects of thinking are completely developped, we can speak of a truly complete, harmonious, whole man. We have transformed ourselves from a personal ego to a human ego! Remember, the human ego type has developped already all the aspects of thinking. We, as a person, have just started to evolve some of the higher aspects a little bit. Section 3. Thoughts and the thinking process. The contemporary world with all its science and technology doesn't know much about the thinking faculty, thoughts, etc. Sure, science can register activities of the brain. A simple question however remains: what lies behind these activities? What is the cause or, maybe, are the causes, behind idea's, thoughts, etc. Recall the experiences of telepathy many people have had. And what about mystical experiences? These last ones certainly point in the direction of the possibility of spiritual communion with Higher, or better: Inner worlds of silence (to most of us), worlds full of life to others. The Old Wisdom-Religion (nowadays called Theosophy) clearly states that One Life is at the foundation of all manifested. Theosophy denies the existence of so called dead-matter. (The minerals are not dead, but in a 'sleeping' state so to speak) Everything has some mode of consciousness, is consciousness, enwrapped in some form, consisting in its turn of minor consciousnesses. We see here again an example of the principle of hierarchies. The conclusion must be that even thoughts are living beings. Besides having a vibratory aspect they have life in themselves. We will present strong arguments for this shortly. The stream of thoughts that pass through our mind consists of hosts of living beings. Our thinking faculty is so to speak the capability of *perceiving* thought-forms or images. We will see soon that we do not have to passively undergo the influences of these beings. The concept of the stream of thought as a host of LIVING beings provides an important *key* to changing our lives! By applying this knowledge (see also subsequent sections) we can open new vistas of perception and experience. Of course, we have to experience the correctness of this point of view in our own thinking, before we can apply this key. Let's have a look at the characteristics of living beings. What is required for something to be called alive? 1. Living beings are subject to the processes of birth and death. 2. Living beings require food of some kind. 3. Living beings have a character of their own. 4. Living beings can procreate in some way. 5. Living beings do have some consciousness of their own. Analysis of thoughts will learn, that they conform to all of these points: 1. Regarding history, one often talks of the 'birth of an idea' in a certain era. Many examples can be given. Not only such dramatic events as the French Revolution but many other gradually unfolding episods like the Renaissance, the industrial revolution, the computer-era, the information super-highway, etc. can be seen in this way. After birth of an idea, it will grow, evolve to some extent and finally die, to be replaced by another idea (thought). 2. We all know that we often have some desires, maybe to buy something or so. If we fulfill this desire, the associated thought often quickly dies. If we can't fulfill it, one of two things can happen: we either forget about it or this desire becomes real strong, up to the point that we have to fulfill this desire. We almost drive ourselves crazy untill we have got this wish fulfilled. We are constantly feeding this thought with our desire-energy (the fourth aspect of thinking), making this thought real strong and big. Many examples can be found of this process, showing that we can loose control of ourselves and get entangled in some acts resulting in a real messy situation. Oh, how do we desire that we never had done these things.. Thoughts take form and last longer corresponding to the degree to which they are sustained. They will die sooner when we spend little attention to them. 3. The own character of a thought can be understood as follows: if we recall the fact that we are sometimes confronted with strange or incomprehensible thoughts, which we soon forget, then we can understand this to be due to the deviance of the character of these thoughts from our own character. These thoughts simply cannot find a proper soil in us to root and sprout. Inversely, a thought or idea will strike a note in our consciousness much easier if the character of this idea conforms to the character of our personality. Racist ideas will easier resonate in one's mind if one has an element of or tendency towards racism already in oneself. Art will be more appreciated if we have a sense of beauty or harmony developped in ourselves. 4. The procreation of thought might seem a little odd at first sight. Yet, we all know about this. If a teacher tells us about something, and we 'buy' it, then these thoughts find a fertile soil in our minds, enabling them to grow, flower and come to fruition. On our turn we can transfer these ideas to others ('sow these thought-seeds'), where they can find a new life, etc. 5. A thought has its own consciousness. We all know, that we can be quite 'obsessed' by thoughts sometimes. We have great difficulty to break out of some strong thought-influence. The thought has grown to gigantic proportions, blocking other thoughts out of our consciousness. How to deal with such a situation? We must concentrate with all our efforts on other thoughts, do some action, to break out of this iron hold. A constructive approach is given in the next section. A positive example of this own consciousness is when we are caught by some grand, inspirative thought, leading us into unselfish acts we normally would not do. In order to investigate the nature of thoughts as living beings, it is advised to see oneself more as a witness of thoughts than as a creator of thoughts. Think of oneself as a part of the One Life that is the essence of all. That will make it easier to get in the state of witnessing thoughts. A good exercise to learn in what 'track' your thoughts naturally flow, is to observe your thought-flow on the moments before you fall asleep. Just observe as a witness (in this exercise). You can learn to recognize the quality or character of these thoughts, and, to recognize the several aspects of thinking. This will be a help in the process of getting to understand yourself better. You can also do this exercise on a quiet moment of the day. If you don't like what you see, then you can apply the methods in the next sections for changing your thought-pattern. The thinking process. Theosophy makes a division in conscious thinking and unconscious thinking. This has to be clarified. Unconsciousness thinking is what we all do too often. We uncritically accept the dogma's of science, commercial slogans, technological innovations (are these ever being discussed worldwide or even nationwide on their ethical implications?), political propaganda, etc,etc. It's quite easy for strong personalities to force these idea's into the minds of the people, as long as these last ones don't know anything about the effects of thoughts on the situation in the world. Yet, we should know better. We all know how war propaganda can drive people crazy. This ignorance about the thought-process and the effects of thoughts on others and ourselves has brought many disasters to mankind. We are in the illusion that we think consciously, that we control our thoughts, while the facts point in another direction.. Fact is that we are drifting on the waves of thoughts projected and amplified by strong personalities who have clear reasons to do so (for personal gain, political power, commercial reasons, etc.). Mind, that this is all cleverly done.. We are made to believe to have so many rights (what about our duties?), made to believe that we need this or that latest object of technology (do we need it really?), made to belief almost anything. It's a scary situation. How can we break out of this passive kind of thinking? By *conscious* thinking. The recognition of thoughts as living beings is an important step towards conscious thinking, because it leaves no room for doubt about the responsibility one has for one's thoughts. Thoughts are simple, elemental beings that follow slavishly the impulse that is given to them. They mostly express their own consciousness when the thought-process gets out of control... Many psychological disturbances could be prevented if these facts were known and the knowledge of these things was correctly applied. In order to illustrate the process of thinking, one can think of the technique of transmitting radio or television waves. A receiver can pick up certain frequencies and by attuning to one of the channels messages are made visible and can be understood. Likewise, a person picks up thoughtwaves that lie within his bandwidth of thoughtfrequencies. The human thinking faculty can function both as a transmitter and receiver. When we look at a child, we can observe that it has its own character already at birth. Gradually it starts expressing its character during the first years of life. This character forms so to speak the bandwidth within which thoughts can be received or perceived. Nurture, education, and all kind of other factors influence the child and limit this bandwidth further by offering a narrow perspective on life. Not that the child doesn't resist tradition and prejudice, e.g in puberty, but the milieu's influences are usually too strong to resist. And so another 'decent' citizen is born, neatly adapted to the utilitarian way of life. This explains why new, refreshing ideas have so much trouble to enter into the human mind. Our minds are just too crystallized in traditional concepts and notions of life. The receiving brainmind can only pick up thoughts of certain frequencies and (re)transmit them. This fact is unconsciously (?) misused for commercial and political ends. How to change this all? First of all, the process of change should begin with the individual himself, because he must realize in which mental situation or state he is in. Then only he can decide to change his way of thinking. He can tune in to other frequencies of thought, i.e. the higher aspects of thinking we spoke of before, finer qualities of thought. Now, we won't book any success if we try to combat our faults of character. Why not? This is because by combat we *feed* our thoughts, which are living beings. So they will grow stronger instead of starve to death. Instead of combat, we should forget about the unwanted thoughts, let them die. For this we need recognition of these thoughts and give them a positive impulse by simply thinking an opposite, positive thought. By thinking and acting according to this positive thoughts we outweigh, outbalance the effect of the negative thoughts. By persisting in this practice we can change the quality of thoughts and also make our thinking faculty function on other frequencies, more brotherly, spiritual, positive, etc. After some practice we will even no longer receive these negative thoughts. By using this information about thoughts and the thinking process, we can make a big step towards selfless thinking, enhancing our understanding of things and open up the road to inspirative thinking! This is a practical, feasible, testable procedure which every sincere person can apply to his or her own life! Section 4. Controlling the flow of thoughts. Changing our thought-pattern. The reason for getting control over our thought-life will be clear by now: by controlling the kind of thoughts that enter into our minds, we can exert a powerfull, positive, harmonious influence on this world and also avoid being carried away by harmfull desires. We can use the force of thoughts without any danger if we concentrate our mind on a high ideal, that aims at the well-being of humanity in general, e.g. the ideal of human brotherhood. Think about this ideal and eliminate all elements in your thinking that are in conflict with this, by replacing these with positive building stones (thoughts). These thoughts will touch many minds and create a driving-force for changing conditions in this world. Persistent and purposeful thinking is necessary to achieve this. By practising selflessness and selfforgetfulness one will also see effective ways to help others to help themselves. Many, but not enough, people are doing this kind of things already for a long time. Do you want to join them? Changing the thought-pattern. A further investigation. We have seen already how we can change our thought-pattern. To elucidate this process further we will look at some important issues of character. Marcus Aurelius says in his 'Meditations' that: "your life is what your thoughts make of it". This truth is based upon the fact that behind each act there stands a corresponding thought and the fact that a repeated act becomes a habit. Habits form our character, i.e. our pattern of life. A critical investigation into our own thought-life will render an understanding of these facts. From this follows the conclusion that changing our habits of thinking will lead to changes in our character! Of course, we will have to exercise this practice of changing our habits of thinking. The direction of change should be towards impersonal, selfless thoughts. There are great examples in history