The Newsletter of the Northwest Branch of the Theosophical Society
October 2005 -- Vol. 8 Issue 8
The Mind is the great Slayer of the Real.
Let the Disciple slay the Slayer. -- H. P. Blavatsky, Voice of the Silence
What brings about diversity of feeling or opinion among human beings? What is it that prevents our receiving a greater truth than that which we now have? Preconceptions, prejudices, feelings against this or that -- the mind, the brain-mind. What is it that prevents intuition from flowing to human consciousness in a steady stream? The mind through which it must pass. The mind is but an intermediate organ or faculty, and does things either from below or from above; and alas, most of us humans live in the lower mind.
Can't you see why the mind is the slayer of the real? Of course the word "'slayer" is but a figure of speech. You might phrase it otherwise and say the mind filled with its tramping, useless, fugitive, silly thoughts keeps out all higher intuitions, all higher thoughts, all higher things. In other words, there is no room for them. The French monk Bernard of Clairvaux once wrote in substance: Empty the mind of all that it has and is, cleanse the mind of all the little lower passional small things, and the spirit of Truth will enter in. -- G. de Purucker
Human beings receive impressions from the outside world through their five senses. These impressions are no-thing else than vibrations reaching the mind through the brain cells. These mental vibrations and images the soul perceives according to its development, and forms respective conclusions through its faculty of reasoning. It works like the movies do: just as a man in the theater sees a series of luminous pictures on the screen, the human soul sees similar pictures on the screen of its mind.
When a person thinks, the opposite operation takes place. His soul, the thinker in him, creates its own pictures on his mind or mental canvas. As the painter paints, using paint, brush, and canvas, what he sees outside or what he sees inside in his mind, in the same way the soul uses the faculties of imagination and visualization and projects on its mental body, as on a canvas, the creations of its consciousness. The product of this function of the human soul projected and taking form in its mental body, we call thought, and the operation by the soul we call thinking.
The faculty of the soul that compares several, various mental pictures and seeks a harmonious relationship between them to its inner satisfaction, we call reasoning. The painter who can paint the clearest and most vivid picture with such an arrangement of the objects involved as to cause a pleasing feeling in the spectator, is often considered the best painter. In exactly the same way, the soul that can imagine and create in the human mind (mental body) the clearest and most vivid mental picture with the most harmonious relationship to human desires, motives, emotions, and objects, is considered the best thinker. We, therefore, can see that thinking depends upon the development of the consciousness of the human soul, the training of the mental body, the thought materials available to the soul, and its ability to imagine, visualize, and correctly compare among several, various mental pictures or thoughts. -- John H. Manas, Ph.D.
There was a man who, beginning to learn archery, faced the target with two arrows. His teacher immediately said: "A beginner must not indulge himself with two arrows at a time, for if he does he will be careless with the first from trusting the second. He must concentrate upon the one arrow."
Two arrows only! How should it occur to him that he could neglect either under the eye of his teacher! Yet it had occurred to his teacher. Now, this illustration is of universal application.
A learner, in his anxiety, will at night remember the morning and vice versa. Thus he is always working with his eyes fixed on something as yet non-existent. He is unable to realize the risk of a moment's negligence. -- Yoshido Kenko, 13th-century Japanese monk
Our topic this month is "Mind: Trickster, Transformer." We will be discussing such questions as: What is mind? How is it related to the ego, to our inmost self, to our body and brain? What roles does it play in evolution and personal growth? Why has mind been symbolized as the Trickster in myths around the world, and what insights do myths give into its constructive and destructive aspects? Is there mind in nonhuman beings and in nature generally, and how might it compare with ours? Come share your ideas!
Open to the public, unsectarian, non-political, no charge
November 17: The Seven Jewels of Wisdom
December 15: The Inner Nativity
The topics for the monthly discussions are chosen by members of the Northwest Branch. If there is a subject that particularly interests you, or if you have ideas or suggestions about the meetings, please do not hesitate to email or mail them to the Branch or to mention them after the meetings.
(Adapted from Theosophical Manuals, Katherine Tingley Series)
Perhaps the most interesting of all the seven human principles is manas or mind, because it is the critical or turning point in our nature and that which marks the superi-ority of mankind over the lower kingdoms of nature. The word manas may be translated as the "thinker." We could say that it is the real human self.
Manas is a differentiation from what the Hindus call mahat or universal mind; mahat, the universal principle, is the source of manas, the human principle.
In practical terms, the most important fact about manas is that its nature is dual. As H. P. Blavatsky says, speaking of the incarnating egos:
Once imprisoned, or incarnate, their essence becomes dual; that is to say, the rays of the eternal divine Mind, considered as individual entities, assume a twofold attribute, (a) their essential inherent characteristic, heaven-aspiring mind or higher Manas, and (b) the human quality of thinking, or animal cogitation, rationalized owing to the superiority of the human brain, the kama-tending or lower Manas. One gravitates toward Buddhi [spritiual consciousness], the other tends downward, to the seat of passions and animal desires.
We thus see that there are in us two selves, so to say: the lower self, an illusion produced by the union of manas with the passions; and the higher or real self, formed from the union of manas with the spiritual soul. Yet even the lower mind is superior to that of animals because the human brain has been perfected by its contact with manas. But above this mind there is a still higher mind illuminated by buddhi.
Manas is the knower, thinker, perceiver:
The course of evolution had developed the lower principles and produced at last the form of a man with a brain of better and deeper capacity than that of any other animal. But this man in form was not man in mind, and needed the fifth principle, the thinking perceiving one, to differentiate him from the animal kingdom and to confer the power of becoming self-conscious. -- W. Q. Judge
Manas acts as the link between the divine and the animal nature. Through it the course of evolution is enabled to proceed. "It was given to the mindless monads by others who had gone through all this process ages upon ages before." Thus it not only endows the lower mind, making it far superior to that of even the highest animals, but it connects it directly with the highest planes of cosmic intelligence and renders mankind's future possibilities infinitely greater than its present attainments.
We may think of manas in one sense is the reincarnating being who carries the fruition of all the different lives lived. In it is stored the memory of all this experience, together with the results and values thereof. From this it follows that anyone who has manas fully developed remembers all this; and also that, as most of us do not remember it, we do not have manas fully developed. Memory is a faculty which can exist in very varying degrees of cultivation, as we all know. But it should be borne in mind that the word "memory" includes two functions -- that of storing up, and that of bringing back or recollecting; and an inability to recollect does not necessarily imply that the memory is not there. It may be there but we are unable to bring it back; the "muscles" of the mind are too weak. It would be possible to train the memory so as to preserve an accessible record of all the ordinary events of life. It is possible to go still further and train the memory until it shows us the events of past lives. But it will be readily understood that this latter feat involves a vast amount of other kinds of training also. The real character of the immortal self is recorded in the higher aspect of manas.
In thought each human being possesses a power of unlimited scope. It is a divine power and its possession makes of us a god, capable of any height of attainment. Yet how we neglect and abuse this power! For the most part we allow our mind to be the playground of wandering ideas and fancies that drift in from we know not where, and of passions and emotions that rise up from our lower nature. We cannot approach the higher self except by relegating the lower self to its place of subordination. The powers of manas are great indeed -- for those pure enough to be able to avail themselves of them.