by Jerome A. Anderson, M.D. F.T.S

(Reprinted from the “New Californian,” July 1892

and as published in “Theosophical Siftings” - Volume 7

[Page 3] A PROPER conception of re-incarnation on the human plane, or the repeated rebirth of the same human soul in new bodies, after the old have been destroyed by death, requires a close inquiry as to how much and what portion of the man as we know him returns to earth by this process. This will be best accomplished, perhaps, by a study of the nature and history of the Higher Manas, or his true Re-incarnating Ego, including necessarily that of its reflection in matter, the Lower Manas, or Personal Self.

The material Universe, according to Theosophic teaching, is embodied consciousness, or consciousness of infinite gradations, clothed in equally infinite expressions of form. As the Universe ebbs and flows from subjective to objective states throughout the eternities of Duration, it follows that worlds appear and disappear endlessly, the Great Pralaya even, being only a subjective arc of larger immensity. In the life history of all worlds, as is proven by the records now visible in the heavens, there comes a time when they cool down sufficiently to become habitable; when they pass through this stage; when, by the ebbing of their life force, or the completion of their limiting cycle, humanities can no longer exist on them in material form. There is no doubt but that their minor pralayas or deaths overtake them with the consciousness of their entities in states of infinite diversity such as we now perceive upon the earth. Hence, there would be those, passing through the human stage, overtaken when their world became uninhabitable for them; for the life cycle of a planet pursues its course perfectly uninterrupted and uncontrolled by the evolution of any humanity upon it. So, were pralaya to strike for this earth today, would every entity, human, animal or elemental, be arrested in its material evolution and be compelled to remain in subjective states, until matter in other worlds had arrived at stages capable of affording them material expression in suitable forms.

This has happened to our Higher Egos, it may be an infinite number of times, for who can estimate the period necessary in material states of consciousness for them to arrive at their present stage ? At any rate, when their last world went into pralaya they had not yet passed beyond the desire for material or sensuous existence, and so were, under the law of cause and effect, drawn to bodies which nature, or the lower "Builders" of Theosophy, had been preparing for their occupation daring those interminable periods which even geology is beginning to recognize as necessary actors in human evolution. This re-incarnation of already highly-advanced [Page 4] entities in human-animal forms, prepared for them under quite a distinct phase of the triple-sided process of evolutionary activity, is the key to the whole scheme of human evolution on this planet, as well as to the many otherwise hopelessly insoluble problems in human consciousness, such as clairvoyance, prophetic dream, and the "buried selves", so strangely dug out of their unsuspected graves by hypnotic processes.

If, then, the Higher Manas, or our Re-incarnating Egos, had evolved self-consciousness upon material planes on other worlds, in former planetary manvantaras, it does not, it seems to me, follow as a necessary corollary that they had also evolved perfect spiritual self-consciousness, or self-consciousness on spiritual planes. On the contrary, it seems reasonable to suppose that their consciousness, when their planet went into pralaya, thus compelling them to abandon it, would resemble, if not be identical with, the devachanic consciousness, obtaining after death. This would not contra-indicate an immense store of wisdom acquired on material planes, which would be only partially available here, because of the inability of the Higher Ego to express or function upon this earth, through the slow evolutionary processes of nature not yet having wrought matter up to the requisite fineness. But having through its reflection, the Lower Manas, our ordinary selves, attained to partial self-consciousness here, it now becomes possible for it to quicken the laggard steps of nature, to widen self-consciousness upon the material plane, and to begin to transfer it to the spiritual planes where it has its own proper being. For self-consciousness is the crown, end and aim of consciousness upon any plane, material or spiritual.

There may be stores of wisdom in the monad now expressing in the mineral kingdom, but how can this be utilized intelligently until self-consciousness enables it to be specifically drawn upon ? Therefore, it seems that the Re-incarnating Ego is a monadic centre of potential self-consciousness upon all the planes of nature in the Cosmos. This potentiality has become a potency upon many of these planes, some of which, as shown by its powers, must be infinitely superior to consciousness upon this earth. It now seeks cosmic perfection by the evolution or attainment of this same or perfect self-consciousness, upon all those planes yet remaining unexplored.

Being a Ray from the Absolute, emanating as it must from the CAUSELESS CAUSE, lying hidden behind all manifestation, the Higher Ego possesses the creative and ideative functions involved in its own expression, or being. This creative power in the Re-incarnating Ego — creative in the sense of changing or renewing form, only — is most important to bear in mind. It must not be supposed that ordinary men consciously create — a power reached by Adeptship alone — or even that the Re-incarnating Ego [Page 5] consciously creates or builds its own bodies; that again is only possible for those in whom the Higher and Lower Egos have become one. But the Re-incarnating Ego does build astral and thought forms unconsciously, under the potency of that power or force which it carries with it in its emanation from the CAUSELESS CAUSE. This creative power is the source of the Linga Shârîra, the third human principle; the latter being the Thought Form, or Astral Image, of the Higher Ego, by the creative force of the latter calling into activity, unconsciously to itself and to them, the " Lower Builders", upon its again seeking re-incarnation under the law of cyclic Karma. These Lower Builders — the same which are concerned in the production of all animal or vegetable forms, under Universal or Dhyân-Chohanic Ideation — having thus received the necessary impulse from the Higher Ego, mould around the Linga Shârîra, or Higher Manas Thought Form, the physical molecules which constitute the Sthula Shârîra, or physical form. This impulse thus given must not be looked upon as an active supervision by the Higher Ego. It is not; else would purely physical heredity of form and feature be unaccounted for, if not impossible.

Under this pressure coming from the Higher Ego, the Builders must set to work, but this work is very greatly modified by the stamp upon the physical cells, given by the parents of the physical form, under the law of physical heredity, the lowest phase of the triple evolution. On the other hand, this physical impress is again modified, in a greater or lesser degree, by the urgent tendencies of the Higher Ego to express in certain dominant directions, under the force of skandhas or results of past incarnations. Unmodified by the Higher Ego, the physical form would represent the exact average of the sum of the parents' qualities, both physical and mental, as is seen in the almost endless continuation of identical forms in the vegetable kingdom and in the lower animal — in molluscs. Unmodified by the Lower Builders, the Higher Ego would have no real karmic hold upon the earth; and working unconsciously, as far at least as this plane is concerned, might fail entirely to construct those sense organs by which alone it can relate its consciousness to terms of matter. The physical impress given by the parents under the lower law of physical heredity, affords the opportunity required to develop the Higher Ego's functions and potencies upon this plane of consciousness, and satisfies the law of cause and effect, or Karma, which compels egos having certain characteristics to seek parents having similar ones, in order that Karma may be satisfied. Did physical heredity not modify the habitation and powers of the Reincarnating Ego, there would be no reason why it should seek expression through one parent rather than another, and we would be forced back upon the old, unjust Christian hypothesis of the human soul having no voice in [Page 6] the selection of its body. Did not the Re-incarnating Ego have the power to very greatly modify its material tenement, the faculties and mental powers of the child would represent the average of the sum of its parents at best, and the innumerable instances where these are very greatly transcended, as well as those where the account is on the debit side, would be wholly unaccounted for.

The creative power of the Higher Manas, then, acting upon sub-conscious planes, produces or creates a Linga Shârîra; just as on the subconscious planes of the Lower Manas, our personal self, all the vital activities, as well as the repair of wounded or diseased tissue, goes on quite independently of our conscious supervision.

On its own planes its creative potencies are exercised consciously in the production of those higher astral forms, which the Adept uses when he abandons the physical, in his journeyings. With this higher creative faculty mankind at large are not, at present at least, concerned. But since the Higher Manas builds, or rather, causes to be built, its physical body, through creative forces thus unconsciously exercised, in what manner is it consciously, and so karmically, connected with the body ?

This calls for an examination of its creative functions on ideative or mental planes, or the reflection in matter of its true, individualizing consciousness. This reflection — perhaps refraction would be the better term —of itself is quite another process to that concerned in the formation of the Linga Shârîra, which we have been considering, and is the most important of all. The Linga Shârîra may be said to represent its purely physical expression, so to speak; this refraction, the Lower Manas, is itself, mirrored in material thought processes. The former expresses its purely physical karma, or its physical creative force taking the lines of least resistance; the latter connects it karmically with the thoughts and mental processes of past lives. Being, when its devachanic or subjective existence between two lives is closing, drawn to the parents presenting the greatest sum of karmic affinities, its presence, and brooding over the expanding form sets up in the physical brain of the latter a thinking principle, just as a magnet upon being brought in contact with non-magnetic iron imparts magnetism to this, without having caused the smallest change in those physical qualities which constitute it iron. And, as the evolution of the physical.form, which it took ages for the "Lower Builders", or the ordinary evolutionary forces in nature to accomplish, is repeated swiftly during the first few weeks of gestation, so is the entire evolution of the Lower Manas also repeated during the first few years of the child's life. For these monadic Lower Builders only push matter up to the animal or kamic plane; the brooding presence of the Higher Manas must impart the stimulus which brings it where it is of sufficient transparency, so to speak, [Page 7] to receive and refract its image. It will be at once plain that our Lower Manas, the ordinary self, is thus a portion of the very essence of the Higher, just as the magnetism in the iron is a portion of that in the magnet. And just as the magnet may be withdrawn from its contact with the iron, leaving a portion of its magnetic qualities to slowly dissipate, so may the Higher Manas be separated entirely from its lower reflection, thus constituting a veritable "loss of the soul".

For this portion of the Higher Manas actually refracted or "incarnated" in matter is ourselves, the "I am Myself", of our earthly life. Could it remain simply a portion of the Higher, its functions and fate might be different, but this is impossible. As the pure ray of light is coloured by the colour of the glass, which transmits it until it is indistinguishable from that tint, so is the Lower Manas coloured and changed by its contact with Karma [Sensuous Desire], the chief and ruler of the earthly Quaternary. All the fierce desires, the unrest, the sensuous appetites, the "lusts of the flesh", of the latter at once seize upon it, and impart to it that curious mixture of the animal with the Divine which we name the Lower Self, or Personality. This could not occur had not the Kamic Principle in the Lower Quaternary already been evolved to a point where it is able to receive the magnetic impress of Manas and to colour this with its own qualities of sensuous passion and desire.

It must not be inferred from the above that only a portion, as it were, of the Higher Manas incarnates in the Lower Quaternary, leaving the rest to enjoy a kind of superior consciousness upon other planes. While the teaching is somewhat reserved upon this point, still there is enough given out, in the Secret Doctrine and elsewhere, to make it certain that each individuality has but one centre of consciousness, and that this can not be in full activity in two places, nor in two or more states, at the same time. While it is active upon one plane it may have a sub-consciousness on others, just as we may be reading and yet be conscious of noise about us, But this is only a sub-consciousness, not a splitting of it. Therefore, when once the Higher Manas has perfected its vehicle sufficiently to permit this, it only functions through that vehicle when this is active, for its very activity compels its use as a vehicle. In other words, our "I am myself", or individualising centre of consciousness which comes from the Higher Manas and is its distinguishing characteristic, is functioning actively only through the body when this is in the waking state, although its sub-consciousness may extend over many higher planes. When the body ceases its activity, as in sleep or death, then it can of course retire to its own proper spheres, to be dragged down from these by its karmic connection with the body when this awakens. It follows, then, that when awake and occupied by material or sensuous thoughts only, the Higher Manas is [Page 8] simply paralyzed; its consciousness a potentiality only, somewhat, perhaps, like that of the lower consciousness when paralyzed by hypnotism. This is its daily crucifixion, and the true meaning of all the religious myths of crucified Saviours.

Yet, though the Higher Manas be paralyzed as to conscious functioning, it cannot be said to be wholly or even partially incarnated in the body, nor is it even ever fully conscious on this plane except when its Higher and Lower aspects have been enabled to unite, through the latter having conquered in its contest with Kama. The one-ness and yet the separateness of the Higher and Lower Manas is one of the hardest of mystic teachings to understand. It is another illustration of "the Same and the Other", of which Plato taught that the Universe was constructed. Perhaps the phenomena of an ordinary Faradic electrical battery may help us, by analogy, to a better conception. In this, the current, generated by the zinc and carbon, or other elements, in the presence of an acid or saline solution, is passed through a coil of insulated wire. Around this, in what is technically termed the helix, is coiled another wire, also completely insulated, and entirely disconnected from the first, or "primary" coil. There ought, therefore, to be no current in this latter or "secondary" coil, yet the instant the current from the chemical cell is passed through the primary coil there is set up in the secondary a greatly modified or differentiated current, known as "induced" electricity. Because there has been no actual contact between the two coils, this secondary current is thus said to have been produced by "induction" — one of those convenient terms by means of which science seems to explain so much, while really explaining nothing. To account for the appearance of a current by saying that it has been "induced" is exactly equivalent to Topsy's explanation of her origin by saying that she "spected she just growed". However, Theosophy may explain or account for this second current, as the analogy to the origin of the Lower Manas and its relation to the Higher, is very close. The presence of the Higher Manas, overshadowing the body, originates a distinct Thinking Principle in the brain of the latter, in a manner exactly similar, it seems to me, to the induced current of electricity — that is, by imparting to the latter its own essential qualities. Thus it can be at once seen, that while the Lower Manas is caused by, and is of the very essence of the Higher, it is yet distinct without being separate. Withdraw the primary current, and the induced will disappear; withdraw the Higher Manas, and the Lower perishes, the chief distinction being in the slower process in the latter case.

A closer analogy to the behaviour of the Higher and Lower Thinking Principles after death is afforded in the phenomena of transferred magnetism, referred to in the beginning of this paper. For, in the illustration [Page 9] given, when artificial magnetism has been imparted to non-magnetic iron, upon the withdrawal of the true magnet is seen almost identically that phenomenon which takes place upon the separation of the Higher and Lower Manas. A portion of magnetism remains in the iron, to be slowly or quickly dissipated, as the case may be; it having apparently become entangled, so to speak, in the molecules of the latter, or having, more correctly, caused a polarized arrangement among those molecules whose vibratory ratio exhibits the qualities of magnetism. So, at death, only that portion of the Lower Manas is withdrawn which is untainted by Kama. That portion coloured by Kama is left; a residue, having by virtue of its original Manasic origin, enough still of the unconscious creative power, before referred to, to clothe itself with an astral form; thus constituting the "Kama Rûpa", which, senseless and fallen as it is, is still the "guide" of many a poor, obsessed "medium". For while having no centre of consciousness capable of feeling and functioning as such, still it is capable, again by virtue of its Mânasic origin, of having a false feeling of personality reflected into it by the Lower Manas of a "Medium". This reflection may so synthesize its fading consciousness as to enable it to connect it with its past life, and to relate the leading events of this quite accurately. Its feeling of, "I am myself", is thus an illusion of an illusion, if we may be allowed the expression, for the feeling of "I am myself", which we experience in our waking state, real as it seems, is entirely illusive, being reflected there in a similar manner by the overshadowing of the Higher Manas. It only exists because of its connection with the latter, and is added to the sum total of the experience of its parent at death as the memory of each day may be said to be added to the sum of the consciousness of our personal selves. For, having drawn what of wisdom it may, from each association with a body, the Higher Manas returns to its own state, leaving the compound of Lower Manas and Kama, which, no longer an entity, can survive only as a memory in the consciousness of the former. And as there are many days that leave little or no impress upon the consciousness of our personal selves, so there may be many lives having but small record on the tablets of the Higher Manas, while some may be forgotten altogether.

These "forgotten lives" are the most dreadful fate which may befall a personality, for they are truly "lost souls". The whole of the reflected portion of the Higher Manas has been sunk so low in Kamic desires and passions that there is no union possible after death, and the personality, strong by virtue of this robbing of the qualities of its parent, clothes itself in an astral form and becomes an active agent for evil, meanwhile descending its own arc to utter annihilation amidst indescribable suffering, of which the realisation of its impending fate is not the least. [Page 10]

We may now, perhaps, faintly perceive the relation between Higher Manas, the Thinker, which, with Atma and Buddhi, is the Re-incarnating Ego, and Kama Manas, its reflection in matter which is the personal self. The one is the result of the evolution through unthinkable aeons of time, of individualised, spiritual consciousness; a potentially self-conscious Ray of the Great Cosmic Thinking Principle; the potency of Pure Thought in the Monadic Ray individualised. It persists throughout all minor manvantaras and pralayas; through all obscurations or destructions of worlds or systems. Yet of itself it is not immortal. It must become one in essence with Buddhi, the Eternal KNOWER, to win eternal persistence as an individual entity, just as the Lower Manas can only survive one life by becoming one in essence with its source; by freeing itself from the attractions of Kama and returning to its parent with the tribute of its conscious experiences in matter, to add to the already stored wisdom of the latter. The other, the Lower Manas, is thus but the illusory reflection of the Higher, when this has been karmically drawn to a human animal-body by its desire and necessity for complete knowledge of the material and sensuous state of consciousness on this plane of existence. This reflection, or refraction, thus produced, wins its immortality according as it approximates towards its Divine parent or yields to the sensuous delights of Kama. And not only this, but of even more importance, since personal immortality is more the concern of many incarnations, it determines, in each life, by its thoughts and acts, the social environment, the race, the nation, the family, the intellectual trend and capacity, and the ease or difficulty, even, with which the Higher Manas can control the following life or personality; so intimate is the Karmic relation between the two. For while the Higher Manas, as compared to its reflection, is god-like in its wisdom and powers, it by no means follows that it has perfected wisdom on this plane. If it had, the necessity for repeated incarnations might be questioned. And the tendencies of our finite minds is, all the time, to take the finite view of everything; to want to complete and round out the whole scheme and plan of the Cosmos in a few years. This is the pitiful mistake which Christian theology falls into in predicating the completion of man's earthly destiny in one short life. Our Higher Manas may have spent manvantaras in other humanities developing on quite distinct lines from those which we vaingloriously imagine include all possible mental and spiritual characteristics; it may spend manvantaras to come, evolving consciousness along equally unsuspected lines.

Yet, god-like and wise as is the Higher Manas, it has, as we have thus shown, to descend life after life to overshadow, impart its own essence to, and acquire wisdom through and from the human bodies with which it is [Page 11] karmically, or under the law of Cause and Effect, associated. During the waking state of these bodies it can only function through them by means of its reflection, the Lower Manas, which is thus during this time its only conscious avenue. Yet so dimmed and discoloured is the Lower Manas by the desires and passions of Kama, that the consciousness transmitted through it by the Higher Manas, may well be compared to the light from a sunbeam struggling to penetrate an opaque, densely-stained, prison window. To the prisoner within, who has never known any other light, the purity and brilliancy of the source of the dim, scarcely-discernable ray, penetrating the gloom of the cell, might well remain a matter of doubt, or even of absolute disbelief. Yet in a precisely similar manner does our Higher Ego overshadow our gross, material body, struggling to penetrate and enlighten its inner darkness; whispering to our Lower Soul in the Divine voice we recognise as conscience; prompting us to altruistic work for humanity; filling our hearts with its divine compassion; the true source of every aspiration to become purer, wiser, and more unselfish than we feel ourselves to be.

And the task of every human soul is to help in this great evolution of spiritual consciousness; to turn the strength of a purified will consciously to the aid of nature in the warfare between good and evil; between light and darkness; between Life and Death. This struggling, sinning, suffering Personality can only return to, and become one with, its divine progenitor, by freeing itself from all colouring of Kama; by the utter killing out of desire. How important, then, a correct conception and realisation of the nature, interrelations and mutual dependence, of our Higher and Lower Egos, becomes ! By this knowledge, and only by it, is it possible to formulate a theory of ethics, a rule for human action, for right living and thinking, which shall explain why a man ought to strive to be pure, passionless, altruistic; to live in the spiritual portion of his nature; to yield a willing, loving obedience to the dictates of his Higher Self; to treasure each glimmering Ray from its Divine Light, even though it take the form of stern rebuke, as of a million times more value than all the gold of Ophir !

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