english arabic

The Key to Theosophy

H. P. Blavatsky


Section 7





ENQUIRER. I am glad to hear you believe in the immortality of the Soul.

THEOSOPHIST. Not of “the Soul,” but of the divine Spirit; or rather in the immortality of the re-incarnating Ego.

ENQUIRER. What is the difference?

THEOSOPHIST. A very great one in our philosophy, but this is too abstruse and difficult a question to touch lightly upon. We shall have to analyse them separately, and then in conjunction. We may begin with Spirit.

We say that the Spirit (the “Father in secret” of Jesus), or Atman, is no individual property of any man, but is the Divine essence which has no body, no form, which is imponderable, invisible and indivisible, that which does not exist and yet is, as the Buddhists say of Nirvana. It only overshadows the mortal; that which enters into him and pervades the whole body being only its omnipresent rays, or light, radiated through Buddhi, its vehicle and direct emanation. This is the secret meaning of the assertions of almost all the ancient philosophers, when they said that “the rational part of man’s soul”[1] never entered wholly into the man, but only overshadowed him more or less through the irrational spiritual Soul or Buddhi.[2]

ENQUIRER. I laboured under the impression that the “Animal Soul” alone was irrational, not the Divine.

THEOSOPHIST. You have to learn the difference between that which is negatively, or passively “irrational,” because undifferentiated, and that which is irrational because too active and positive. Man is a correlation of spiritual powers, as well as a correlation of chemical and physical forces, brought into function by what we call “principles.”

ENQUIRER. I have read a good deal upon the subject, and it seems to me that the notions of the older philosophers differed a great deal from those of the mediaeval Kabalists, though they do agree in some particulars.

THEOSOPHIST. The most substantial difference between them and us is this. While we believe with the Neo-Platonists and the Eastern teachings that the spirit (Atma) never descends hypostatically into the living man, but only showers more or less its radiance on the inner man (the psychic and spiritual compound of the astral) principles, the Kabalists maintain that the human Spirit, detaching itself from the ocean of light and Universal Spirit, enters man’s Soul, where it remains throughout life imprisoned in the astral capsule. All Christian Kabalists still maintain the same, as they are unable to break quite loose from their anthropomorphic and Biblical doctrines.

ENQUIRER. And what do you say?

THEOSOPHIST. We say that we only allow the presence of the radiation of Spirit (or Atma) in the astral capsule, and so far only as that spiritual radiancy is concerned. We say that man and Soul have to conquer their immortality by ascending towards the unity with which, if successful, they will be finally linked and into which they are finally, so to speak, absorbed. The individualization of man after death depends on the spirit, not on his soul and body. Although the word “personality,” in the sense in which it is usually understood, is an absurdity if applied literally to our immortal essence, still the latter is, as our individual Ego, a distinct entity, immortal and eternal, per se. It is only in the case of black magicians or of criminals beyond redemption, criminals who have been such during a long series of lives—that the shining thread, which links the spirit to the personal soul from the moment of the birth of the child, is violently snapped, and the disembodied entity becomes divorced from the personal soul, the latter being annihilated without leaving the smallest impression of itself on the former. If that union between the lower, or personal Manas, and the individual reincarnating Ego, has not been effected during life, then the former is left to share the fate of the lower animals, to gradually dissolve into ether, and have its personality annihilated. But even then the Ego remains a distinct being. It (the spiritual Ego) only loses one Devachanic state—after that special, and in that case indeed useless, life—as that idealized Personality, and is reincarnated, after enjoying for a short time its freedom as a planetary spirit almost immediately.

ENQUIRER. It is stated in Isis Unveiled that such planetary Spirits or Angels, “the gods of the Pagans or the Archangels of the Christians,” will never be men on our planet.

THEOSOPHIST. Quite right. Not “such, but some classes of higher Planetary Spirits. They will never be men on this planet, because they are liberated Spirits from a previous, earlier world, and as such they cannot re-become men on this one. Yet all these will live again in the next and far higher Mahamanvantara, after this “great Age,” and “Brahma pralaya,” (a little period of 16 figures or so) is over. For you must have heard, of course, that Eastern philosophy teaches us that mankind consists of such “Spirits” imprisoned in human bodies? The difference between animals and men is this: the former are ensouled by the “principles” potentially, the latter actually.[3] Do you understand now the difference?

ENQUIRER. Yes; but this specialisation has been in all ages the stumbling-block of metaphysicians.

THEOSOPHIST. It was. The whole esotericism of the Buddhistic philosophy is based on this mysterious teaching, understood by so few persons, and so totally misrepresented by many of the most learned modern scholars. Even metaphysicians are too inclined to confound the effect with the cause. An Ego who has won his immortal life as spirit will remain the same inner self throughout all his rebirths on earth; but this does not imply necessarily that he must either remain the Mr. Smith or Mr. Brown he was on earth, or lose his individuality. Therefore, the astral soul and the terrestrial body of man may, in the dark hereafter, be absorbed into the cosmical ocean of sublimated elements, and cease to feel his last personal Ego (if it did not deserve to soar higher), and the divine Ego still remain the same unchanged entity, though this terrestrial experience of his emanation may be totally obliterated at the instant of separation from the unworthy vehicle.

ENQUIRER. If the “Spirit,” or the divine portion of the soul, is pre-existent as a distinct being from all eternity, as Origen, Synesius, and other semi-Christians and semi-Platonic philosophers taught, and if it is the same, and nothing more than the metaphysically-objective soul, how can it be otherwise than eternal? And what matters it in such a case, whether man leads a pure life or an animal, if, do what he may, he can never lose his individuality?

THEOSOPHIST. This doctrine, as you have stated it, is just as pernicious in its consequences as that of vicarious atonement. Had the latter dogma, in company with the false idea that we are all immortal, been demonstrated to the world in its true light, humanity would have been bettered by its propagation.

Let me repeat to you again. Pythagoras, Plato, Timaeus of Locris, and the old Alexandrian School, derived the Soul of man (or his higher “principles” and attributes) from the Universal World Soul, the latter being, according to their teachings, Aether (Pater-Zeus). Therefore, neither of these “principles” can be unalloyed essence of the Pythagorean Monas, or our Atma-Buddhi, because the Anima Mundi is but the effect, the subjective emanation or rather radiation of the former. Both the human Spirit (or the individuality), the re-incarnating Spiritual Ego, and Buddhi, the Spiritual soul, are pre-existent. But, while the former exists as a distinct entity, an individualization, the soul exists as pre-existing breath, an unscient portion of an intelligent whole. Both were originally formed from the Eternal Ocean of light; but as the Fire-Philosophers, the mediaeval Theosophists, expressed it, there is a visible as well as invisible spirit in fire. They made a difference between the anima bruta and the anima divina. Empedocles firmly believed all men and animals to possess two souls; and in Aristotle we find that he calls one the reasoning soul, νούς, and the other, the animal soul, ψυχή. According to these philosophers, the reasoning soul comes from within the universal soul, and the other from without.

ENQUIRER. Would you call the Soul, i. e., the human thinking Soul, or what you call the Ego—matter?

THEOSOPHIST. Not matter, but substance assuredly; nor would the word “matter,” if prefixed with the adjective, primordial, be a word to avoid. That matter, we say, is co-eternal with Spirit, and is not our visible, tangible, and divisible matter, but its extreme sublimation. Pure Spirit is but one remove from the no-Spirit, or the absolute all. Unless you admit that man was evolved out of this primordial Spirit-matter, and represents a regular progressive scale of “principles” from meta-Spirit down to the grossest matter, how can we ever come to regard the inner man as immortal, and at the same time as a spiritual Entity and a mortal man?

ENQUIRER. Then why should you not believe in God as such an Entity?

THEOSOPHIST. Because that which is infinite and unconditioned can have no form, and cannot be a being, not in any Eastern philosophy worthy of the name, at any rate. An “entity” is immortal, but is so only in its ultimate essence, not in its individual form. When at the last point of its cycle, it is absorbed into its primordial nature; and it becomes spirit, when it loses its name of Entity.

Its immortality as a form is limited only to its life-cycle or the Mahamanvantara; after which it is one and identical with the Universal Spirit, and no longer a separate Entity. As to the personal Soul—by which we mean the spark of consciousness that preserves in the Spiritual Ego the idea of the personal “I” of the last incarnation—this lasts, as a separate distinct recollection, only throughout the Devachanic period; after which time it is added to the series of other innumerable incarnations of the Ego, like the remembrance in our memory of one of a series of days, at the end of a year. Will you bind the infinitude you claim for your God to finite conditions? That alone which is indissolubly cemented by Atma (i.e., Buddhi-Manas) is immortal. The soul of man (i.e., of the personality) per se is neither immortal, eternal nor divine. Says the Zohar (vol. iii., p.616), “the soul, when sent to this earth, puts on an earthly garment, to preserve herself here, so she receives above a shining garment, in order to be able to look without injury into the mirror, whose light proceeds from the Lord of Light.” Moreover, the Zohar teaches that the soul cannot reach the abode of bliss, unless she has received the “holy kiss,” or the reunion of the soul with the substance from which she emanated—spirit. All souls are dual, and, while the latter is a feminine principle, the spirit is masculine. While imprisoned in body, man is a trinity, unless his pollution is such as to have caused his divorce from the spirit. “Woe to the soul which prefers to her divine husband (spirit) the earthly wedlock with her terrestrial body,” records a text of the Book of the Keys, a Hermetic work. Woe indeed, for nothing will remain of that personality to be recorded on the imperishable tablets of the Ego’s memory.

ENQUIRER. How can that which, if not breathed by God into man, yet is on your own confession of an identical substance with the divine, fail to be immortal?

THEOSOPHIST. Every atom and speck of matter, not of substance only, is imperishable in its essence, but not in its individual consciousness. Immortality is but one’s unbroken consciousness; and the personal consciousness can hardly last longer than the personality itself, can it? And such consciousness, as I already told you, survives only throughout Devachan, after which it is reabsorbed, first, in the individual, and then in the universal consciousness. Better enquire of your theologians how it is that they have so sorely jumbled up the Jewish Scriptures. Read the Bible, if you would have a good proof that the writers of the Pentateuch, and Genesis especially, never regarded nephesh, that which God breathes into Adam (Gen. ch. ii.), as the immortal soul. Here are some instances:—“And God created… every nephesh (life) that moveth” (Gen. i. 21), meaning animals; and (Gen. ii. 7) it is said: “And man became a nephesh” (living soul), which shows that the word nephesh was indifferently applied to immortal man and to mortal beast. “And surely your blood of your nepheshim (lives) will I require; at the hand of every beast will I require it, and at the hand of man” (Gen. ix. 5), “Escape for nephesh (escape for thy life, it is translated), (Gen. xix. 17). “Let us not kill him,” reads the English version (Gen. xxxvii. 21.) “Let us not kill his nephesh, is the Hebrew text. “Nephesh for nephesh, says Leviticus. “He that killeth any man shall surely be put to death,” literally “He that smiteth the nephesh of a man” (Lev. xxiv. 17); and from verse 18 and following it reads: “And he that killeth a beast (nephesh) shall make it good… Beast for beast,” whereas the original text has it “nephesh for nephesh.” How could man kill that which is immortal? And this explains also why the Sadducees denied the immortality of the soul, as it also affords another proof that very probably the Mosaic Jews—the uninitiated at any rate—never believed in the soul’s survival at all.


ENQUIRER. It is hardly necessary, I suppose, to ask you whether you believe in the Christian dogmas of Paradise and Hell, or in future rewards and punishments as taught by the Orthodox churches?

THEOSOPHIST. As described in your catechisms, we reject them absolutely; least of all would we accept their eternity. But we believe firmly in what we call the Law of Retribution, and in the absolute justice and wisdom guiding this Law, or Karma. Hence we positively refuse to accept the cruel and unphilosophical belief in eternal reward or eternal punishment. We say with Horace:—

“Let rules be fixed that may our rage contain,

And punish faults with a proportion’d pain;

But do not flay him who deserves alone

A whipping for the fault that he has done.”

This is a rule for all men, and a just one. Have we to believe that God, of whom you make the embodiment of wisdom, love and mercy, is less entitled to these attributes than mortal man?

ENQUIRER. Have you any other reasons for rejecting this dogma?

THEOSOPHIST. Our chief reason for it lies in the fact of re-incarnation. As already stated, we reject the idea of a new soul created for every newly-born babe. We believe that every human being is the bearer, or Vehicle, of an Ego coeval with every other Ego; because all Egos are of the same essence and belong to the primeval emanation from one universal infinite Ego. Plato calls the latter the logos (or the second manifested God); and we, the manifested divine principle, which is one with the universal mind or soul, not the anthropomorphic, extra-cosmic and personal God in which so many Theists believe. Pray do not confuse.

ENQUIRER. But where is the difficulty, once you accept a manifested principle, in believing that the soul of every new mortal is created by that Principle, as all the Souls before it have been so created?

THEOSOPHIST. Because that which is impersonal can hardly create, plan and think, at its own sweet will and pleasure. Being a universal Law, immutable in its periodical manifestations, those of radiating and manifesting its own essence at the beginning of every new cycle of life, IT is not supposed to create men, only to repent a few years later of having created them. If we have to believe in a divine principle at all, it must be in one which is as absolute harmony, logic, and justice, as it is absolute love, wisdom, and impartiality; and a God who would create every soul for the space of one brief span of life, regardless of the fact whether it has to animate the body of a wealthy, happy man, or that of a poor suffering wretch, hapless from birth to death though he has done nothing to deserve his cruel fate—would be rather a senseless fiend than a God. (Vide infra, “On the Punishment of the Ego”) Why, even the Jewish philosophers, believers in the Mosaic Bible (esoterically, of course), have never entertained such an idea; and, moreover, they believed in re-incarnation, as we do.

ENQUIRER. Can you give me some instances as a proof of this?

THEOSOPHIST. Most decidedly I can. Philo Judaeus says (in De Somniis, p. 455): “The air is full of them (of souls); those which are nearest the earth, descending to be tied to mortal bodies, παλινδρομούσι αύθις, return to other bodies, being desirous to live in them. In the Zohar, the soul is made to plead her freedom before God: “Lord of the Universe! I am happy in this world, and do not wish to go into another world, where I shall be a handmaid, and be exposed to all kinds of pollutions.”[4] The doctrine of fatal necessity, the everlasting immutable law, is asserted in the answer of the Deity: “Against thy will thou becomest an embryo, and against thy will thou art born.”[5] Light would be incomprehensible without darkness to make it manifest by contrast; good would be no longer good without evil to show the priceless nature of the boon; and so personal virtue could claim no merit, unless it had passed through the furnace of temptation. Nothing is eternal and unchangeable, save the concealed Deity. Nothing that is finite—whether because it had a beginning, or must have an end—can remain stationary. It must either progress or recede; and a soul which thirsts after a reunion with its spirit, which alone confers upon it immortality, must purify itself through cyclic transmigrations onward toward the only land of bliss and eternal rest, called in the Zohar, “The Palace of Love,” חיכל אחכת; in the Hindu religion, “Moksha”; among the Gnostics, “The Pleroma of Eternal Light”; and by the Buddhists, “Nirvana.” And all these states are temporary, not eternal.

ENQUIRER. Yet there is no re-incarnation spoken of in all this.

THEOSOPHIST. A soul which pleads to be allowed to remain where she is, must be pre-existent, and not have been created for the occasion. In the Zohar (vol. iii., p. 61), however, there is a still better proof. Speaking of the re-incarnating Egos (the rational souls), those whose last personality has to fade out entirely, it is said: “All souls which have alienated themselves in heaven from the Holy One—blessed be His Name—have thrown themselves into an abyss at their very existence, and have anticipated the time when they are to descend once more on earth.” “The Holy One” means here, esoterically, the Atman, or Atma-Buddhi.

ENQUIRER. Moreover, it is very strange to find Nirvana spoken of as something synonymous with the Kingdom of Heaven, or the Paradise, since according to every Orientalist of note Nirvana is a synonym of annihilation!

THEOSOPHIST. Taken literally, with regard to the personality and differentiated matter, not otherwise. These ideas on re-incarnation and the trinity of man were held by many of the early Christian Fathers. It is the jumble made by the translators of the New Testament and ancient philosophical treatises between soul and spirit, that has occasioned the many misunderstandings. It is also one of the many reasons why Buddha, Plotinus, and so many other Initiates are now accused of having longed for the total extinction of their souls—“absorption unto the Deity,” or “reunion with the universal soul,” meaning, according to modern ideas, annihilation. The personal soul must, of course, be disintegrated into its particles, before it is able to link its purer essence for ever with the immortal spirit. But the translators of both the Acts and the Epistles, who laid the foundation of the Kingdom of Heaven, and the modern commentators on the Buddhist Sutra of the Foundation of the Kingdom of Righteousness, have muddled the sense of the great apostle of Christianity as of the great reformer of India. The former have smothered the word ψυχικός, so that no reader imagines it to have any relation with soul; and with this confusion of soul and spirit together, Bible readers get only a perverted sense of anything on the subject. On the other hand, the interpreters of Buddha have failed to understand the meaning and object of the Buddhist four degrees of Dhyana. Ask the Pythagoreans, “Can that spirit, which gives life and motion and partakes of the nature of light, be reduced to nonentity?” “Can even that sensitive spirit in brutes which exercises memory, one of the rational faculties, die and become nothing?” observe the Occultists. In Buddhistic philosophy annihilation means only a dispersion of matter, in whatever form or semblance of form it may be, for everything that has form is temporary, and is, therefore, really an illusion. For in eternity the longest periods of time are as a wink of the eye. So with form. Before we have time to realize that we have seen it, it is gone like an instantaneous flash of lightning, and passed for ever. When the Spiritual entity breaks loose for ever from every particle of matter, substance, or form, and re-becomes a Spiritual breath: then only does it enter upon the eternal and unchangeable Nirvana, lasting as long as the cycle of life has lasted—an eternity, truly. And then that Breath, existing in Spirit, is nothing because it is all; as a form, a semblance, a shape, it is completely annihilated; as absolute Spirit it still is, for it has become Be-ness itself. The very word used, “absorbed in the universal essence,” when spoken of the “Soul” as Spirit, means “union with.” It can never mean annihilation, as that would mean eternal separation.

ENQUIRER. Do you not lay yourself open to the accusation of preaching annihilation by the language you yourself use? You have just spoken of the Soul of man returning to its primordial elements.

THEOSOPHIST. But you forget that I have given you the differences between the various meanings of the word “Soul,” and shown the loose way in which the term “Spirit” has been hitherto translated. We speak of an animal, a human, and a spiritual, Soul, and distinguish between them. Plato, for instance, calls “rational SOUL” that which we call Buddhi, adding to it the adjective of “spiritual,” however; but that which we call the reincarnating Ego, Manas, he calls Spirit, Nous, etc., whereas we apply the term Spirit, when standing alone and without any qualification, to Atma alone. Pythagoras repeats our archaic doctrine when stating that the Ego (Nous) is eternal with Deity; that the soul only passed through various stages to arrive at divine excellence; while thumos returned to the earth, and even the phren, the lower Manas, was eliminated. Again, Plato defines Soul (Buddhi) as “the motion that is able to move itself.” “Soul,” he adds (Laws X.), “is the most ancient of all things, and the commencement of motion,” thus calling Atma-Buddhi “Soul,” and Manas “Spirit,” which we do not.

“Soul was generated prior to body, and body is posterior and secondary, as being according to nature, ruled over by the ruling soul.” “The soul which administers all things that are moved in every way, administers likewise the heavens.”

“Soul then leads everything in heaven, and on earth, and in the sea, by its movements—the names of which are, to will, to consider, to take care of, to consult, to form opinions true and false, to be in a state of joy, sorrow, confidence, fear, hate, love, together with all such primary movements as are allied to these… Being a goddess herself, she ever takes as an ally Nous, a god, and disciplines all things correctly and happily; but when with Annoia—not nous—it works out everything the contrary.”

In this language, as in the Buddhist texts, the negative is treated as essential existence. Annihilation comes under a similar exegesis. The positive state is essential being, but no manifestation as such. When the spirit, in Buddhistic parlance, enters Nirvana, it loses objective existence, but retains subjective being. To objective minds this is becoming absolute “nothing”; to subjective, NO-THING, nothing to be displayed to sense. Thus, their Nirvana means the certitude of individual immortality in Spirit, not in Soul, which, though “the most ancient of all things,” is still—along with all the other Gods—a finite emanation, in forms and individuality, if not in substance.

ENQUIRER. I do not quite seize the idea yet, and would be thankful to have you explain this to me by some illustrations.

THEOSOPHIST. No doubt it is very difficult to understand, especially to one brought up in the regular orthodox ideas of the Christian Church. Moreover, I must tell you one thing; and this is that unless you have studied thoroughly well the separate functions assigned to all the human “principles” and the state of all these after death, you will hardly realize our Eastern philosophy.


ENQUIRER. I have heard a good deal about this constitution of the “inner man” as you call it, but could never make “head or tail on’t” as Gabalis expresses it.

THEOSOPHIST. Of course, it is most difficult, and, as you say, “puzzling” to understand correctly and distinguish between the various aspects, called by us the “principles” of the real EGO. It is the more so as there exists a notable difference in the numbering of those principles by various Eastern schools, though at the bottom there is the same identical substratum of teaching.

ENQUIRER. Do you mean the Vedantins, as an instance? Don’t they divide your seven “principles” into five only?

THEOSOPHIST. They do; but though I would not presume to dispute the point with a learned Vedantin, I may yet state as my private opinion that they have an obvious reason for it. With them it is only that compound spiritual aggregate which consists of various mental aspects that is called Man at all, the physical body being in their view something beneath contempt, and merely an illusion. Nor is the Vedanta the only philosophy to reckon in this manner. Lao-Tze, in his Tao-te-King, mentions only five principles, because he, like the Vedantins, omits to include two principles, namely, the spirit (Atma) and the physical body, the latter of which, moreover, he calls “the cadaver.” Then there is the Taraka Raja Yoga School. Its teaching recognises only three “principles” in fact; but then, in reality, their Sthulopadi, or the physical body, in its waking conscious state, their Sukshmopadhi, the same body in Svapna, or the dreaming state, and their Karanopadhi or “causal body,” or that which passes from one incarnation to another, are all dual in their aspects, and thus make six. Add to this Atma, the impersonal divine principle or the immortal element in Man, undistinguished from the Universal Spirit, and you have the same seven again.[6] They are welcome to hold to their division; we hold to ours.

ENQUIRER. Then it seems almost the same as the division made by the mystic Christians: body, soul and spirit?

THEOSOPHIST. Just the same. We could easily make of the body the vehicle of the “vital Double”; of the latter the vehicle of Life or Prana; of Kamarupa, or (animal) soul, the vehicle of the higher and the lower mind, and make of this six principles, crowning the whole with the one immortal spirit. In Occultism every qualificative change in the state of our consciousness gives to man a new aspect, and if it prevails and becomes part of the living and acting Ego, it must be (and is) given a special name, to distinguish the man in that particular state from the man he is when he places himself in another state.

ENQUIRER. It is just that which it is so difficult to understand.

THEOSOPHIST. It seems to me very easy, on the contrary, once that you have seized the main idea, i.e., that man acts on this or another plane of consciousness, in strict accordance with his mental and spiritual condition. But such is the materialism of the age that the more we explain the less people seem capable of understanding what we say. Divide the terrestrial being called man into three chief aspects, if you like, and unless you make of him a pure animal you cannot do less. Take his objective body; the thinking principle in him—which is only a little higher than the instinctual element in the animal—or the vital conscious soul; and that which places him so immeasurably beyond and higher than the animal—i.e., his reasoning soul or “spirit.” Well, if we take these three groups or representative entities, and subdivide them, according to the occult teaching, what do we get?

First of all, Spirit (in the sense of the Absolute, and therefore, indivisible ALL), or Atma. As this can neither be located nor limited in philosophy, being simply that which is in Eternity, and which cannot be absent from even the tiniest geometrical or mathematical point of the universe of matter or substance, it ought not to be called, in truth, a “human” principle at all. Rather, and at best, it is in Metaphysics, that point in space which the human Monad and its vehicle man occupy for the period of every life. Now that point is as imaginary as man himself, and in reality is an illusion, a maya; but then for ourselves, as for other personal Egos, we are a reality during that fit of illusion called life, and we have to take ourselves into account, in our own fancy at any rate, if no one else does. To make it more conceivable to the human intellect, when first attempting the study of Occultism, and to solve the A B C of the mystery of man, Occultism calls this seventh principle the synthesis of the sixth, and gives it for vehicle the Spiritual Soul, Buddhi. Now the latter conceals a mystery, which is never given to any one, with the exception of irrevocably pledged chelas, or those, at any rate, who can be safely trusted. Of course, there would be less confusion, could it only be told; but, as this is directly concerned with the power of projecting one’s double consciously and at will, and as this gift, like the “ring of Gyges,” would prove very fatal to man at large and to the possessor of that faculty in particular, it is carefully guarded. But let us proceed with the “principles.” This divine soul, or Buddhi, then, is the vehicle of the Spirit. In conjunction, these two are one, impersonal and without any attributes (on this plane, of course), and make two spiritual “principles.” If we pass on to the Human Soul, Manas or mens, every one will agree that the intelligence of man is dual to say the least: e.g., the high-minded man can hardly become low-minded; the very intellectual and spiritual-minded man is separated by an abyss from the obtuse, dull, and material, if not animal-minded man.

ENQUIRER. But why should not man be represented by two “principles” or two aspects, rather?

THEOSOPHIST. Every man has these two principles in him, one more active than the other, and in rare cases, one of these is entirely stunted in its growth, so to say, or paralysed by the strength and predominance of the other aspect, in whatever direction. These, then, are what we call the two principles or aspects of Manas, the higher and the lower; the former, the higher Manas, or the thinking, conscious EGO gravitating toward the spiritual Soul (Buddhi); and the latter, or its instinctual principle, attracted to Kama, the seat of animal desires and passions in man. Thus, we have four “principles” justified; the last three being (1) the “Double,” which we have agreed to call Protean, or Plastic Soul; the vehicle of (2) the life principle; and (3) the physical body. Of course no physiologist or biologist will accept these principles, nor can he make head or tail of them. And this is why, perhaps, none of them understand to this day either the functions of the spleen, the physical vehicle of the Protean Double, or those of a certain organ on the right side of man, the seat of the above-mentioned desires, nor yet does he know anything of the pineal gland, which he describes as a horny gland with a little sand in it, which gland is in truth the very seat of the highest and divinest consciousness in man, his omniscient, spiritual and all-embracing mind. And this shows to you still more plainly that we have neither invented these seven principles, nor are they new in the world of philosophy, as we can easily prove.

ENQUIRER. But what is it that reincarnates, in your belief?

THEOSOPHIST. The Spiritual thinking Ego, the permanent principle in man, or that which is the seat of Manas. It is not Atma, or even Atma-Buddhi, regarded as the dual Monad, which is the individual, or divine man, but Manas; for Atman is the Universal ALL, and becomes the HIGHER-SELF of man only in conjunction with Buddhi, its vehicle, which links IT to the individuality (or divine man). For it is the Buddhi-Manas which is called the Causal body (the United 5th and 6th Principles) and which is Consciousness, that connects it with every personality it inhabits on earth. Therefore, Soul being a generic term, there are in men three aspects of Soul—the terrestrial, or animal; the Human Soul; and the Spiritual Soul; these, strictly speaking, are one Soul in its three aspects. Now of the first aspect, nothing remains after death; of the second (nous or Manas) only its divine essence if left unsoiled survives, while the third in addition to being immortal becomes consciously divine, by the assimilation of the higher Manas. But to make it clear, we have to say a few words first of all about Re-incarnation.

ENQUIRER. You will do well, as it is against this doctrine that your enemies fight the most ferociously.

THEOSOPHIST. You mean the Spiritualists? I know; and many are the absurd objections laboriously spun by them over the pages of Light. So obtuse and malicious are some of them, that they will stop at nothing. One of them found recently a contradiction, which he gravely discusses in a letter to that journal, in two statements picked out of Mr. Sinnett’s lectures. He discovers that grave contradiction in these two sentences: “Premature returns to earth-life in the cases when they occur may be due to Karmic complication…”; and “there is no accident in the supreme act of divine justice guiding evolution.” So profound a thinker would surely see a contradiction of the law of gravitation if a man stretched out his hand to stop a falling stone from crushing the head of a child!


[1] In its generic sense, the word “rational” meaning something emanating from the Eternal Wisdom.

[2] Irrational in the sense that as a pure emanation of the Universal mind it can have no individual reason of its own on this plane of matter, but like the Moon, who borrows her light from the Sun and her life from the Earth, so Buddhi, receiving its light of Wisdom from Atma, gets its rational qualities from Manas. Per se, as something homogeneous, it is devoid of attributes.

[3] Vide Secret Doctrine, Vol. II., stanzas.

[4] Zohar, Vol. II., p. 96.

[5] Mishna, “Aboth,” Vol. IV., p. 29.

[6] See Secret Doctrine for a clearer explanation. Vol. I., p. 157.






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