Our Ego is a ray of the Universal Mind, individualized for the space of a cosmic life-cycle, during which space of time it gets experience in almost numberless reincarnations or rebirths, after which it returns to its Parent-Source.
The Occultist would call the “Higher Ego” the immortal Entity, whose shadow and reflection is the human Manas, the mind, limited by its physical senses. The two may be well compared to the Master-artist and the pupil-musician. The nature of the Harmony produced on the “organ,” the Divine melody or the harsh discord, depends on whether the pupil is inspired by the immortal Master, and follows its dictates, or, breaking from its high control, is satisfied with the terrestrial sounds produced by itself conjointly with its evil companion—the man of flesh—on the chords and keys of the brain-organ.
What is mind? The dictionary defines mind as (1) that which thinks, perceives, feels, wills, etc.; (2) intelligence or intellect, being the faculty of mind by which one knows or understands, as distinguished from that by which one feels or wills. It is the capacity for thinking and acquiring knowledge; (3) conscious and the unconscious together as a unit or psyche. H.P.B. defines mind as: “a name given to the sum of the states of Consciousness grouped under Thought, Will and Feeling.”
Modern Science is unable to understand the true nature of the mind as it continues to neglect the moral values of life associated with it. Some of the modern scientists accept that there is order and intelligence in the universe and dimly sense the link between mind and matter.
In the human constitution, Manas is the fifth principle—loosely translated as Mind. Mind is an instrument of the Soul. In The Ocean of Theosophy, Mr. Judge mentions that Manas becomes dual at birth when it inhabits, informs or inheres in a body. Manas uses the brain to reason from premises to conclusions. If our premise is wrong then our conclusion also will be wrong. This is the lower aspect of the Thinker or Manas that is nearest to Kama or the principle of Desire. Manas differentiates man from the animals. Its other aspect is the Higher Manas that has affinity with the spiritual principles in man. When a conjunction of Manas with Buddhi occurs, it gives rise to spiritual intuition. In a spiritually regenerated man, this conjunction is permanent. When a person is able to act from the plane of Buddhi-Manas, he becomes a genius.
In Manas the thoughts of all lives are stored. The Lower Manas operating through the brain is at once altered into the shape and characteristics of any object, mental or otherwise, it dwells on. Patanjali says that “the mind is ‘modified’ by any object or subject brought before it, or to which it is directed. Four peculiarities of the Lower Manas are: (1) Like a butterfly, it flies to any object or subject. (2) It flies to a pleasant idea. (3) It flies to an unpleasant idea. (4) It remains passive.
Patanjali says that the real experiencer and knower is the soul and not the mind, i.e., it is only an instrument used by the soul to get in touch with nature and garner experience in life. Mr. Judge’s comment on Aphorism 24 in Book IV is very illuminating.
The mind is merely a tool, instrument, or means, by which the soul acquires experiences and knowledge. In each incarnation the mind is, at it were, new. It is a portion of the apparatus furnished to the soul through innumerable lives for obtaining experience and reaping the fruit of works performed. The notion that the mind is either knower or experiencer is a false one, which is to be removed before emancipation can be reached by soul. It was therefore said that the mind operates or exists for the carrying out of the soul’s salvation, and not the soul for mind’s sake. When this is fully understood, the permanency of soul is seen, and all the evils flowing from false ideas begin to disappear. (The Yoga Aphorism of Patanjali, p. 70)
In the Third Proposition of the The Secret Doctrine, H.P.B. states that all souls are emanations of the Universal Over-Soul that is an aspect of the Unknown Root. During the course of evolution, man, the divine monad, has passed through all the forms, i.e., the elemental, vegetable, plant and animal kingdoms before reaching the human stage. In the elemental kingdom the monad is asleep, and in the other three kingdoms it is in a state analogous to the dream state. Man was amanasa, i.e., mindless, as the mind remained dormant like an unlit candle. The Solar angels—Agnishwatta pitris—lighted up the manas, endowing man with self-consciousness and apperception. Henceforth, man could look within and without and had the power of choice—between right and wrong. Evolution proceeds by natural impulse in the lower kingdoms. When the human stage is reached the force of free-will overrides the natural impulse, so that further progress is accomplished by one’s own self-efforts, checked by Karma. This vast scheme of evolution ranges from the mineral atom to the mightiest archangels, through a long series of mempsychoses and reincarnations.
H.P.B. explains that for the noumenon to become phenomenon on any plane of existence, an appropriate vehicle on that plane is required. On the cosmic plane, Dhyan-Chohans—Collective Host of Spiritual Beings—serve as the vehicle for the manifestation of Divine Thought and Will. Man is an emanation of these Divine Beings at the third stage. Thus:
The divine, purely Adi-Buddhic monad manifests as the universal Buddhi (the Mahabuddhi or Mahat in Hindu philosophy) the spiritual, omniscient and omnipotent root of divine intelligence, the highest anima mundi or the Logos. This descends “like a flame spreading from the eternal Fire, immovable, without increase or decrease, ever the same to the end” of the cycle of existence, and becomes universal life on the Mundane Plane. From this plane of conscious Life shoot out, like seven fiery tongues, the Sons of Light (the logoi of Life); then the Dhyani-Buddhas of contemplation: the concrete forms of their formless Fathers—the Seven Sons of Light, still themselves, to whom may be applied the Brahmanical mystic phrase; “Thou art THAT”—Brahm.” It is from these Dhyani-Buddhas that emanate their chhayas (Shadows) the Bodhisattvas of the celestial realms, the prototypes of the super-terrestrial Bodhisattvas, and of the terrestrial Buddhas, and finally of men. (S.D., I, 572)
In The Key to Theosophy, explaining the nature and source of Manas, H.P.B. writes:
MAHAT or the “Universal Mind” is the source of Manas. The latter is Mahat, i.e., mind, in man. Manas is also called Kshetrajna, “embodied Spirit,” because it is, according to our philosophy, the Manasa-putras, or “Sons of the Universal Mind,” who created, or rather produced, the thinking man,” manu,” by incarnating in the third Race mankind in our Round. It is Manas, therefore, which is the real incarnating and permanent Spiritual Ego, the INDIVIDUALITY, and our various and numberless personalities only its external masks.
Copyright Theosophical Society