RE: [bn-study] Just a comment
Nov 16, 2004 03:03 AM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck
Nov 16 2004
The concept of reincarnation is a key factor in the theosophical philosophy.
Here is a survey of the subject and I hope it will help answer some of your
REINCARNATION AND MANAS (Mind)
The mystery about reincarnation -- as to whether it is a fact or not,
revolves around our understanding of the nature and the powers of the Mind
Ordinarily the Mind is thought to be immaterial, or to be merely the name
for brain-action, in evolving thought. Thinking is still a process wholly
unknown other than by inference. Yet it is also held that if there is no
brain, there can be no mind. A good deal of attention has been paid to
cataloging some mental functions and attributes, but the terms in our
language are absent to describe metaphysical and spiritual facts about man.
The reaction against religion in the West, prevented science from taking
anything but a materialistic view of man and nature.
THE HIGHER MAN
Theosophy states the fifth principle (man has a total of seven) is Manas,
translated Mind. Other names may have been given to it, but it is the
Knower, The Perceiver, The Thinker.
The sixth principle is Buddhi, wisdom, or spiritual discernment; the
seventh is Atma, or Spirit -- it is the "ray" from the Absolute Being that
inheres in the deepest and most sacred recesses of our spiritual "heart."
[Consider that the Deity (GOD) is everywhere -- omnipresent. We are in IT
and IT is in us.] English as a language, may suffice to describe in
part what Manas (mind) is, but not Buddhi, or Atma, and will leave many
things relating to Manas undescribed.
THE LOWER MAN
The course of evolution developed the four lower principles (Desire,
Life-energy, Astral body (an electro-magnetic pattern or mold that underlies
the Physical body) and produced at last, the form of man with a brain of
better and deeper capacity than that of any animal.
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. The Monad (Atma-Buddhi)
[Spiritual "ray" and Wisdom] was imprisoned in these forms, for without the
presence of the Monad evolution could not go forward.
THE LIGHTING-UP OF THE MIND
Going back for a moment to the time when mankind was devoid of mind, the
question arises, "who gave the mind, where did it come from, and what is
It is the link between the Spirit of God deep within each of us (or
"above") and the personality that we live in, "below." It was given to the
mindless Monads by others who had gone through this process ages upon ages
before in other worlds, and therefore the power to think (Mind) came from
older evolutionary periods which had been carried out and completed long
before the solar system began. This is the strange theory which must be
stated if we are to tell the truth about Theosophy; and this is only handing
on what others have said before. Mind, Spirit and Wisdom are immortal and
eternal principles -- they never "die."
The manner in which this Light Of Mind was given to the Mindless Men can be
understood from the illustration of one candle lighting many. Given one
lighted candle and numerous unlighted ones, it follows that from one flame
the others may also be set afire.
So in the case of Manas. It is the candle of flame. The mindless men having
four elementary principles of Body, Astral Body, Life and Desire, are the
unlighted candles that cannot light themselves.
MIND IS A GIFT FROM OUR ELDER BROTHERS -- THE WISE
The "Sons of Wisdom," who are the Elder Brothers of the family of men on any
globe, have the Mind-light. It was derived by them from others -- their
"Elders," who reach back, and yet farther back, in endless procession with
no beginning or end. They set fire to the combined lower principles and the
Monad, thus lighting up Manas in the new "men and women." And from there
began the preparing of another great race for final initiation.
This lighting up of the fire of Manas is symbolized in all great religions
and Freemasonry. In the East a priest appears holding a candle lighted at
the altar, and thousands of others come to him in a procession, to light
their candles from this one.
MANAS THE IMMORTAL THINKER REINCARNATES
Manas, or the Thinker, is the reincarnating being. It is the immortal who
carries the results and values of all the different lives lived on earth or
MIND BECOMES DUAL IN THE PHYSICAL MAN
Its nature (as a thinker) becomes dual as soon as it is attached to a body.
For the human Brain is a superior organism, and Manas uses it to reason from
premises to conclusions. This also differentiates man from the animals, for
the animal acts from automatic, or so-called, instinctual impulses. Whereas
the man, can use Reason. This is the lower aspect of the Thinker or Manas,
and not, as some have supposed, the highest and best gift belonging to man.
Its other, and in Theosophy higher, aspect, is the intuitional, which knows,
and does not depend on reason. It is Manas allied to Buddhi -- spiritual
discrimination and Wisdom. This is the source of universal ethics and
morals -- and of brotherhood -- the basis for the "family of Man."
The lower, and purely intellectual, is nearest to the principle of Desire,
and is thus distinguished from its other side which has affinity for the
spiritual principles (Buddhi and Atma) above.
If the Thinker, becomes wholly intellectual, the entire nature begins to
trend downward; for intellect alone is cold, heartless, selfish, because it
is not lighted up by the two other principles of universality and
immortality: the virtuous Buddhi and Atma.
MANAS-MIND STORES ALL THOUGHTS
In Manas the thoughts of all lives are stored. That is to say: in any one
life, the sum total of thoughts underlying all the acts of the life-time
will be of one character in general, but may be placed in one or more
classes. That is, the business man of today is a single type; his entire
life thoughts represent but one single thread of thought. The artist is
another. The man who has engaged in business, but also thought much upon
fame and power which he never attained, is still another.
The great mass of self-sacrificing, courageous, and strong, poor people who
have but little time to think, constitute another distinct class. In all
these, the total quantity of life thoughts makes up the stream or thread of
a "life's meditation" -- "that upon which the heart was set" -- and those
are stored in immortal Manas. All those will be brought out again at any
time in whatever life the brain and bodily environments are similar to those
used in engendering that class of thoughts.
PERCEPTION BY THE MIND
It is Manas which sees the objects presented to it by the bodily organs and
the actual sense organs (which are seated in the Astral body) within. When
the open eye receives a picture on the retina, the whole scene is turned
into vibrations in the optic nerves which disappear into the brain, and
there Manas is enabled to perceive them as ideas. And so with every other
organ or sense. If the connection between Manas and the brain be broken,
intelligence will not be manifested unless Manas has by training found out
how to project the astral body out and away from the physical, and thereby
keep up communication with fellow men.
OUR ORGANS OF PERCEPTION ARE TOOLS FOR THE MIND
That the organs and senses do not cognize objects, hypnotism, mesmerism, and
spiritualism have now proved. For, as we see in mesmeric and hypnotic
experiments, the object seen or felt, and from which, all the effects of
solid objects may be sensed, is often only an idea existing in the
operator's brain. In hypnotism there are many experiments, all of which go
to show that so called matter is not per se solid or dense; that sight does
not always depend on the eye and rays of light proceeding from an object;
that the intangible for one normal brain and organs, may be perfectly
tangible for another; and that physical effects in the body may be produced
solely from an idea.
The well-known experiments of producing a blister by a simple piece of
paper, or preventing a real blistering plaster from making a blister, by
force of the idea conveyed to a subject, either that there was to be or not
to be a blister, conclusively prove the power of effecting an impulse on
matter by the use of that which is called Mind (Manas). But all these
phenomena are the exhibition of the powers of Lower Manas acting in the
Astral Body and the fourth principle -- Desire, using the physical body as
the field for the exhibition of those forces.
In the same way Manas, using the astral body, has only to impress an idea
upon the other person to make the latter see the idea and translate it into
a visible body from which the usual effects of density and weight seem to
LOWER MANAS AND ITS POWERS
It is this Lower Manas which retains all the impressions of a life-time and
sometimes strangely exhibits them in trances or dreams, delirium, induced
states, here and there in normal conditions, and very often at the time of
physical death. But it is so occupied with the brain, with memory and with
sensation, that it usually presents but few recollections out of the mass of
events that years have brought before it.
It interferes with the action of Higher Manas because just at the present
point of evolution, Desire and all corresponding powers, faculties, and
senses are the most highly developed, thus obscuring, as it were, the white
light of the spiritual side of Manas. It (Lower Manas) is tinted by each
object presented to it, whether it be a thought-object or a material one.
That is to say, Lower Manas operating through the brain is at once altered
into the shape and other characteristics of any object, mental or otherwise.
This causes it to have four peculiarities.
. First, to naturally fly off and away from a selected point, object,
. Second, to fly to some pleasant idea;
. Third, to fly to an unpleasant idea;
. Fourth, to remain passive and considering nothing.
The first is due to memory and the natural motion of Manas; the second and
third are due to memory alone; the fourth signifies sleep when not abnormal.
And when abnormal is trending toward insanity.
HIGHER MANAS AND ITS WORK
These mental characteristics all belonging to Lower Manas. It is these
which the Higher Manas, aided by Buddhi and Atma, has to fight and conquer.
Higher Manas, if able to act, becomes what we sometimes call Genius. If
completely master, then one may become a god.
But memory continually presents pictures to Lower Manas, and the result is
that the Higher is obscured. Sometimes, however, along the pathway of life
we do see here and there men who are geniuses or great seers and prophets.
In these the Higher powers of Manas are active, and the person is
illuminated. Such were the great Sages of the past, men like Buddha, Jesus,
Confucius, Zoroaster, and others. Poets, too, such as Tennyson, Longfellow,
and others, are men in whom Higher Manas now and then sheds a bright ray on
the man below, to be soon obscured, however, by the effect of dogmatic
religious education which has given memory certain pictures that always
prevent Manas from gaining full activity.
In this higher Trinity, we have the God above each one; this is Atma, (the
7th principle) and may be called the Higher Self. Next, (the sixth) is the
spiritual part of the soul called Buddhi; when thoroughly united with Manas
(the fifth) this may be called the Divine Ego, or the Spiritual Soul.
THE REINCARNATING SELF IS AN IMMORTAL
The inner Ego (Manas), who reincarnates, taking on body after body, storing
up the impressions of life after life, gaining experience and adding it to
the Divine Ego, suffering and enjoying through an immense period of years,
is the fifth principle -- Manas -- not united to Buddhi.
This is the permanent individuality which gives to every man the feeling of
being himself and not some other; that which through all the changes of the
days and nights from youth to the end of life makes us feel one identity
through all the period; it bridges the gap made by sleep; in like manner it
bridges the gap made by the sleep of death. It is this, and not our brain,
that lifts us above the animal.
The depth and variety of the brain convolutions in man are caused by the
presence of Manas, and are not the cause of mind. And when we either wholly,
or now and then, become consciously united with Buddhi, the Spiritual Soul,
we "behold God," as it were. This is what the ancients all desired to see,
but what the moderns do not believe in, the latter preferring rather to
throw away their own right to be great in nature, and to worship an
imaginary god, made up solely of their own fancies, and not very different
from weak human nature.
DUTY AND WORK OF THE REINCARNATING MIND-MANAS
This permanent individuality in our present race has therefore been through
every sort of experience, for Theosophy insists on its permanence and in the
necessity for its continuing to take part in evolution. It has a duty to
perform, consisting in raising up to a higher state all the matter concerned
in the chain of globes to which the earth belongs.
We have all lived and taken part in civilization after civilization, race
after race, on earth, and will so continue throughout all the Rounds and
Races until the seventh is complete. At the same time it should be
remembered that the matter of this globe, connected with it, has also been
through every kind of form, with possibly some exceptions in very low planes
of mineral formation.
But in general all the matter visible, or held in space still
unprecipitated, has been molded at one time or another into forms of all
varieties, many of these being such as we now have no idea of. The processes
of evolution, therefore, in some departments, now go forward with greater
rapidity than in former ages because both Manas and matter have acquired
facility of action.
Especially is this so in regard to man, who is the farthest ahead of all
things or beings in this evolution. He is now incarnated and projected into
life more quickly than in earlier periods when it consumed many years to
obtain a "coat of skin."
This coming into life over and over again cannot be avoided by the ordinary
man because Lower Manas is still bound by Desire, which is the
preponderating principle at the present period. Being so very influenced by
Desire, Manas is continually deluded while in the body, and being thus
deluded is unable to prevent the action upon it of the forces set up in the
These forces are generated by Manas, that is, by the thinking of a whole
life time. Each thought makes a physical as well as mental link with the
Desire in which it is rooted. All life is filled with such thoughts, and
when the period of rest after death is ended, Manas is bound by innumerable
electrical magnetic threads to earth by reason of the thoughts of the last
life, and therefore by desire, for it was desire that caused so many
thoughts and ignorance of the true nature of things. This is called by the
Hindu philosophies "maya." (illusion).
An understanding of this doctrine of man being really a thinker and made of
thought, will make clear all the rest in relation to incarnation and
The body of the inner man is made of thought, and this being so it must
follow that if the thoughts have more affinity for earth-life than for life
elsewhere a return to life here is inevitable.
At the present day Manas is not fully active in the race, as Desire still is
uppermost. In the next cycle of the human period Manas will be fully active
and developed in the entire race. Hence the people of the earth have not yet
come to the point of making a conscious choice as to the path they will
take; but when in the cycle referred to, Manas is active, all will then be
compelled to consciously make the choice to right or left, the one leading
to complete and conscious union with Atma, the other to the annihilation of
those beings who prefer that path of an isolated selfishness.
The COMPLEXITY OF NATURE IS FOCUSED IN MAN
How man has come to be the complex being that he is and why, are questions
that neither Science nor Religion makes conclusive answer to.
This immortal thinker having such vast powers and possibilities, all his
because of his intimate connection with every secret part of Nature from
which he has been built up, stands at the top of an immense and silent
He asks why Nature exists, what the drama of life has for its aim, how that
aim may be attained. But Science and Religion both fail to give a reasonable
reply. Science does not pretend to be able to give the solution, saying that
the examination of things as they are (as Nature has arranged them), is
enough of a task. Religion offers an explanation both illogical and
unmeaning and acceptable but to the bigot, as it requires us to consider the
whole of Nature as a mystery and to seek for the meaning and purpose of
life, with all its sorrow, in the whimsical and fanciful pleasure of a God
who cannot be found out. The educated and enquiring mind knows that dogmatic
religion can only give an answer invented by man while it pretends to be
I hope this will help, let me know if more is desired
Sent: Monday, November 15, 2004 4:15 PM
Subject: [bn-study] Just a comment
I am new to Theosophy...I have studied other teachings which seem to
complement Theosophy but the reincarnation portion really intrigues me.
I recently lost my husband due to a heart attack and not a few weeks
before he died, I was trying to explain to him who we are and where we
go. After he died I really wondered about where he went and where he's
going to end up. In his last few minutes he was unable to speak due to
having a mini stroke and he seemed pretty frightened. I would like to
know your thoughts regarding that, not so much for comfort as for my
continuing knowledge. A few months later after his death, I lost my own
fear of death in part by reading some really good books on the subject,
and I started looking back at who I might even be.
I had read somewhere that when you reincarnate, you tend to stay with
your "family line". Do you think that's true? Or do you just go where
Also, I had read that when you die, you don't necessarily see your other
family members depending on how much time they spent on the "astral
plane", that if some reached perfection they would kind of "breeze
through", so to speak. Any thoughts on that?
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