Theosophy as Divine Wisdom
⮎ Theosophy as a Living Power

Theosophical Terms: Principles of Human Nature


The Sevenfold Nature of Man Infused by Spirit, the One Life

“Every aspiration higher brightens up the road connecting the Higher and lower self.” W. Q. Judge

“The bridge that lies within man’s nature can be exercised in all circumstances of life to build a self-conscious link between higher and empirical worlds, rendering every context sacred.” Hermes

We would say that the lower man is a composite being, but in his real nature is a unity, or immortal being, comprising a trinity of Spirit, Discernment, and Mind which require four lower mortal instruments or vehicles through which to work in matter and obtain experience from Nature.  This trinity is called Atman-Buddhi-Manas in Sanskrit, difficult terms to render in English.  Atma is Spirit, Buddhi is the highest power of intellection, that which discerns and judges, and Manas is Mind.  This threefold collection is the real man; and beyond doubt the doctrine is the origin of the Theological one of the trinity of Father, Son, and Holy Ghost.

William Quan Judge

(Each Sanskrit terms has its own seven levels of meanings.)

A. The Higher Triad or Higher Nature

ATMA or ATMAN (Sk.).
The Universal Spirit, the divine Monad, the 7th Principle, so-called, in the septenary constitution of man. The Supreme Soul.
A specialized ray of Atman, Universal Soul or Mind; also the spiritual Soul in man (the sixth principle), the vehicle of Atman, exoterically the seventh.  A seat of intuition or direct insight.
MANAS (Sk.).
“Lit., “the mind”, the mental faculty which makes of man an intelligent and moral being, and distinguishes him from the mere animal; a synonym of Mahat.  Contains thought-will-feeling. Esoterically, it means, when unqualified, the Higher Ego, or the sentient reincarnating Principle in man.  When qualified, it is called by Theosophists Buddhi-Manas or the Spiritual Soul in contradistinction to its human reflection—Kama-Manas or “the mind of desire”.

B. The Temporary Quaternary or Lower Self

Kama is the desire principle.  Kama is a most mysterious and metaphysical subject.  Kama is pre-eminently the divine desire of creating happiness and love, connecting Manas with pure Atma-Buddhi.  It is only many ages later, as mankind began to materialize by anthropomorphization its grandest ideals into cut and dried dogmas, that Kama became the power that gratifies desire on the animal plane.
The “body”, i.e. the vehicle of Prana. The aerial symbol of the body.  This term designates the doppelganger or the “astral body” of man or animal.  It is the eidolon of the Greeks, the vital and prototypal body; the reflection of the man of flesh.  It is born before and dies or fades out, with the disappearance of the last atom of the body.  It is the seat of our earthly sensations.
PRANA (Sk.).
Life-principle; the breath of Life.
Gross physical body consisting of differentiated and conditioned matter.

Theosophical Glossary by H.P. Blavatsky (The Theosophy Company, Los Angeles, California)

These correlative living intelligences are not separate from each other, but are of a sevenfold nature within the One Consciousness.  Through the inner light of understanding and the refinement of conscious choice, one can develop the ability to place one’s consciousness on one’s higher nature or triad.  To rise or to awaken our ability to intuit and think at a more abstract and universal level we attract influences of the realities pointed to.  In doing so, one can regulate, direct, and refine over time lower vestures and personality such that they are attuned to the One Life. This is the basis of centering our consciousness in noetic discrimination (nous:  a Platonic term for the Higher Mind or Soul.  It means Spirit, divine consciousness or mind in man).

“One should not imagine rigid Aristotelian rifts between Buddhi and Manas, between Atman and Buddhi, or between Atman and Buddhi-Manas.  These are really the three hypostases or aspects of one abstract reality.  All the human principles should be seen as specializations of a supreme principle, different kinds of lenses through which one central light can be focussed at varying degrees of differentiation.  This fundamental fact is itself the enduring basis of analogy and correspondence in nature, and hence of the myriad opportunities people have, with the help of simple analogies, to recognize how the same light is focussed in different ways in all beings . . . To realize this fully is irreversibly to alter one’s way of looking at the world and oneself.” (Raghavan Iyer, Hermes, “Self-Emancipation”, November 1980)

“The classical concept of noetic insight could be explained in a variety of ways.  A simple and very relevant rendering of the Platonic concept of insight is that it enables one person to learn from a single experience what another will not learn from a lifetime of similar experiences.  In their capacity to extract meaning and significance out of a pattern or medley of recurrent experiences, human beings are markedly different from each other.”  (Raghavan Iyer, Parapolitics, P. 100)

“The crucial difference between individuals lies in whether they are enslaved by the astral light (the region of psyche) or whether they are capable of rising above it to a calm awareness of the wisdom and compassion latent in their higher nature, the realm of nous.  Beyond the region of psychic action lies the pristine sphere of noetic awareness called Akasha, from which empyrean individuals could derive the inspiration needed to go forth and inaugurate a Golden Age by laying down the foundations of a regenerated civilization.”  (Raghavan Iyer, Theosophical Tenets, P. 18)

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So from the world of spirits there descends

A bridge of light, connecting it with this,

O’er whose unsteady floor, that sways and bends,

Wander our thoughts above the dark abyss.


(T)here are two distinct classes of what are called Thoughts:  those we produce by our reflection and the act of thinking, and those that bolt into the mind of their own accord.  I have always made it a rule to treat these voluntary visitors with civility . . . and it is from them I have acquired almost all the knowledge I have.


Understanding by the higher mind and apperception by intuition are not sufficient unless these produce the action which is altruism.


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