The Nature of the Kama-rupa

By G. de Purucker

The kama-rupa, which becomes the vehicle for the unconscious or quasi-conscious entity in the kama-loka, is actually forming constantly during the life of the individual; in other words, it is in a continual state of modification or change, these changes beginning when the incarnated entity as a child first feels itself conscious of mental and emotional affections, attractions, etc. However, after the death of the physical body there is no further change or growth of the kama-rupic form, it remaining more or less static, all modifications being of the nature of disintegration or slow decay. It is really that portion of the human constitution which is the kama-manasic-astral seat or focus of the passional, emotional, lower mental and psychic attributes; and these as an aggregate comprise all the lower skandhas of the human constitution, usually enumerated as five.* This group of skandhas works through and has its focus in the lower portions of the auric egg, which lower layers must not be confused with the linga-sarira or model-body. During life the constantly changing kama-rupa has its seat in the linga-sarira, or uses it as a vehicle; and the linga-sarira, instantly responding to the various emotional and passional movements in the kama-rupa, in its turn communicates these as impulses to the physical body, which then responds in corresponding action.

[*H.P.B. uses the term kama-rupa in the two senses in which I here employ it: one, for the imbodied personal man, and two, for the astral entity of the man after death, whether before or after the second death in kama-loka. However, I believe that W. Q. Judge in one place strongly objects to any other use of the word kama-rupa than for the personal astral man after death, which usage is perfectly correct; nevertheless, when we go into a deeper philosophical analysis, we see that we can logically speak of the kama-rupa even during the man's lifetime. I can only suppose that this emphasis by Judge was an attempt to make the teaching in those earlier times of the Theosophical Society as simple as possible.
It stands to reason that for a well-defined rupa to exist after the death of the body, it must have been shaped or brought into being during the lifetime. The kama-rupa, the 'vehicle' between the higher manas and the physical man, is one of the most fluidic, changeable and plastic parts of our constitution, for it undergoes modification with every passing mood, indeed with every passing thought. But as each man has his own swabhava, all these minor changes in the kama-rupa, whether sudden or gradual, do not affect its essential characteristics either of form or of substance. For example, a man's face has a distinct cast or set, including features and color and expression, and yet quick as lightning his face can change quite marvelously, as every actor knows; but these passing changes, while certainly marked, do not alter the fundamental type.
We men are kama-rupas of our manifesting seven principles. All of us have a desire-principle, kama, and a mental principle, manas, and our emotions born of kama; and these attributes make the personal man. When we die and cast off the body, there remains a kama-rupa with all the higher principles still attached; and when those higher principles slough off the kama-rupa, then there is only the empty kama-rupic shell. But while imbodied on this earth we are living kama-rupas, sevenfold entities. This last is the case of the sun; the former, the cast-off shell, is the case of the moon, the decaying kama-rupa of the moon that was.
Now if we make our kama-rupa while alive the vehicle of the god within us, that kama-rupa becomes the carrier, and we become a bodhisattva, a Buddha or Christ on this plane. Actually, all men together are what we might call kama-rupas of the body corporate of mankind, the true human race being the spiritual monads of these thousands of millions of men and women.
Just so any group of suns is analogous to an aggregation of the 'atoms' forming the kama-rupa of our own immense Brahmanda, the egg of Brahma. Each sun in this solar aggregate is a cosmic atom, and therefore a manifestation of power derivative from fohat or cosmic Eros -- using Eros not in the abstract sense of divine life, but in its lower sense of kama or cosmic desire, this latter corresponding somewhat to the Latin Cupido.
The suns therefore, as cosmic 'atoms,' represent in their totatality a kama-rupa of the vaster imbodied cosmos, i.e. the mental, passional, energic side of the universe, manifesting in those balls of terrific power we call the stars. Or we may call them sons of fohat.]

Now it is the human ego which works through the kama-rupa during incarnation, exactly as the kama-rupa works through the linga-sarira, and this last again through the body. In fact, it is correct enough to say that the personal man, which is the reflection and usually distorted radiance of the reincarnating ego or human monad, is this kama-rupa itself; because, being a collection of skandhas, the kama-rupa is the expression of the merely personal qualities of the human ego.

Hence after death and after a certain time has been passed in the kama-loka, this collection of skandhic attributes still continuing as the kama-rupa holds enchained by its attractions the reincarnating ego, the personal man being unconscious. This condition lasts until the event of the second death, which simply means that the moment has arrived when the reincarnating ego has succeeded in breaking each and every link of sympathetic or psychomagnetic attraction which unites it with the kama-rupa of the personal man that was.

The second death, therefore, is an astral reproduction of what took place at physical death; for just as at physical death the body is cast off with the linga-sarira and the gross animal pranas, so at the second death the human ego, having snapped its links of psychomagnetic attraction with the kama-rupa, casts it off and enters into the devachanic condition, carrying with it all the spiritual yearnings or sympathies or memories which the personal man during earth life had stored in the web of consciousness.

This is the second death; when the last spiritual thought or image has been drawn upwards into the reincarnating ego, and there remains nothing more to keep it attached to the kama-rupa, the latter then is dropped as a kama-rupic corpse or shell. Henceforth the kama-rupa begins to disintegrate: rapidly in the case of men whose lives have been of spiritual type, less so in the case of ordinary men, and still less quickly with those who were strongly attracted to things of matter. This is the reason why after the second death the kama-rupa is called an astral shell. Moreover, if the shell is still more or less impregnated with the automatic passional impulses of a grossly materialistic or bad man, it is even an elementary of a sort; but the true elementary is the kama-rupa of a desperately evil man or of a sorcerer who cannot rise into the devachan.

For a certain period of brief duration, which depends in every instance upon the individual, kama-rupas retain a wavering, shadowy kind of quasi-animal consciousness because of the fact that they imbody manasic life-atoms of low type whose thought-impulses and emotional activity have not yet run down, much as a machine will keep running for a while after the power is turned off. As these low-grade manasic life-atoms leave the kama-rupa, it disintegrates and thereafter is as the shell of an egg from which the contents have been removed. Such kama-rupic shells are no longer even elementaries of a feeble type, but are completely emptied of consciousness and gradually dissipate as does a cloud. Some kama-rupas disintegrate in a few months; those of average humanity may take eight, ten, fifteen, possibly twenty years; while those of extremely materialistic or bad men, but who still had some spiritual good in them, may endure for several scores of years.

Now the term elementaries generally signifies two things: (a) the phantoms or spooks or astral eidola, i.e. the kama-rupas of all excarnate persons whose habitation is the kama-loka; and (b) what H.P.B. calls the "disembodied souls of the depraved" (Theosophical Glossary, p. 112), that is, the depraved souls of those who after they die have a long and difficult time in the kama-loka before their upper triad or collective monad can free itself for its devachanic rest.

An especial application of the word elementaries is made again in the case of lost souls on the one hand, and inveterate sorcerers on the other, neither of which have any second death and consequently no devachan. These elementaries are really disimbodied humans whose habitat is the astral light and who, though deprived of the body and also of the spiritual monad, can find neither unconsciousness nor devachan, but remain in the astral light until reimbodiment on earth, which takes place usually in a short time. Such lost souls and confirmed sorcerers reimbody themselves in bodies of continually decreasing efficiency; and if their condition of being 'lost souls' is so far complete that the human kingdom no longer attracts them they will, in their desperate hunger for physical imbodiment, turn to animal wombs and even, in the worst cases, attach themselves to plants.

It is to be noted in these last instances of completely lost souls that they are really astral monads, each one detached from its spiritual monad; they are properly called elementaries because they are thrown back to a condition of 'elementary' evolution and therefore return to the kingdoms through which they had previously passed as 'elemental souls.' However, they do not take imbodiment in these lower kingdoms as the monads of such animals or plants. The process is rather that of the lost soul or elementary coalescing astrally, psychically, and magnetically, with the auric egg of either the beast or the plant -- and thus they are in a true but unconscious sense 'haunters' or 'dwellers' of these animal or plant entities. Hence it would be wrong to suppose that this or that animal is not an ordinary one with its own seven principles; but where such an event does occur, the animal or plant is afflicted by the coalescing with it of the astral life-atoms belonging to the elementary.

All elementaries of whatever kind are, generally speaking, reliquiae or remnants of what once had been imbodied human beings on earth. Sooner or later they are caught by the swirling currents of efflux carrying them into the Cloaca Maxima of our globe, these degraded astral monads being finally swept out of the earth's atmosphere into the Pit, the Planet of Death.

To consider the subject from a somewhat different angle: when a man dies, he is still a human being, except that he has cast off his physical body, the linga-sarira, and the gross astral pranic vitality. This therefore leaves him a complete human in the sense that all the higher qualities remain in the kama-rupa; he is a four-principled entity, the atman, buddhi, manas and kama-manas being still conjoined. The human qualities and attributes are asleep, as it were, in the kama-rupa in the kama-loka, and therefore are unconscious -- a blessed provision of nature!

When the second death takes place the triune monad, the atman-buddhi-manas, releases itself from all its lower kama-manasic substances and energies. These perishable elements remain in the kama-rupic shell and gradually fade out like the radiance in the sky after sunset; the energies producing this fading radiance gradually vanish 'upward' and, being belated life-atoms, become attached like sleeping seeds or tanhic elementals to the auric egg of the human ego which now has entered its devachan. It is these sleeping seeds of lower attributes and qualities, i.e. dormant skandhas which, preceding the next incarnation, will spring into action and take initial parts in forming the astral body-to-be.

At the separation of the triadic monad from the kama-rupa, all the most spiritual and highly intellectual attributes are withdrawn as a still more brilliant radiance into the reincarnating ego; and it is this spiritual aroma, the truly human being, which becomes the devachani sleeping in the bosom of the reincarnating ego, the human monad. Distinguish here the human monad from its ray the human ego.

Thus, after physical death, the seven-principled man has become four-principled, consisting of the two duads, atma-buddhi, and manas with the spiritual parts of kama. Now when the four-principled man enters at the second death into the devachan, these two duads coalesce into the upper triad of atma-buddhi and the higher part of manas, because of the dropping of the lower kama-manasic attributes.

As to the divine ray, at the instant of true death it flashes home to its parent star. While it is our inmost essence, it is only the most advanced of the human race who are cognizant of the dwelling within themselves of this supernal glory; and the greater in spiritual and intellectual power the imbodied man is, the more fully does the influence of the divine ray manifest itself in his life.

Average men today are only occasionally illumined by flashes of intuition that there abides Something within them which is higher than intellect, incomparably more glorious than emotion or feeling, and which is the "light that lighteth every man that cometh into the world" -- the Light of Eternity. Such rare moments of inner illumination are the efflux from the spiritual monad within. Then, there are the noblest of the sons of men who, by a sudden wondrous and mystical transformation of their consciousness, experience as a reality that living Presence within them which transcends both time and space.

  • (From Fountain-Source of Occultism by G. de Purucker. Copyright © 1974 by Theosophical University Press)

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