Man, Know Thyself
The above words are familiar to most men, and to most men have but little meaning. Centuries of dogmatic theology with the subsequent admixture of an equally dogmatic materialism, have befogged the perception of humanity to such an extent that the average intelligence is but little better than a rationalized animalism. Exceptions there have been and are, and these are rapidly increasing, for on all sides there is shown a desire for knowledge other than which has prevailed, as witness the many speculative systems of thought of the day.
But, when we consider these in all their bearings, are we any the wiser, any nearer the solution of the problem of life? We must sadly confess that we are not, and so confessing endeavor to console ourselves by saying “No one knows” “No one can know.”
May it not be that we have not sought far enough, or con-find our search within a narrow range. It must be so. For when we consider the conquest that man is making in the material world, the unattainable, untiring search in that direction with full hope and expectation of results, it is wise to assume that any door is so closely sealed that we may not open it? Other ages have not thought so; there are many records of their achievements, which have been preserved for us by those who have sought out and found; not only preserved but promulgated far and wide under the name “Theosophy.” It is this body of knowledge, and this alone, which furnishes the solution that mankind needs.
The words “Man, know thyself” immediately give rise to the question “ What is man?” Is he his body? No, for that is constantly changing; it is formed by food, sustained by food; he is the same person through all the changes. Is he than his mind? Again we must say no, for a man can change his Mind; he does change it as he see necessity for such change, and with every change, no matter how great or how extended, the man remains with power to further change his instrument the Mind.
By this process of elimination it is seen that Man is not his body; he is not his mind; indeed the possessive pronoun “his” tells the story did we but apply our logical faculty. What then is Man? Have we any word or words in our language that will give us an understanding? We speak of Soul, Spirit, and Consciousness. Can we describe them? They are indescribable. Many deny Spirit and Soul, but no one can deny Consciousness, so we may take that word as comprising all that Man is. There is a very old book, which says, “ The Soul (Consciousness) is the perceiver, vision itself, pure and simple, and it looks directly on ideas.” This accurately describes it; Man is the “Perceiver” is Consciousness, Life Spirit, for these three essence are one. All experiences, down to the slightest sensation “we” must be conscience of or they are not known; so it comes to this, that the real Man is Spirit, Life, Consciousness and immortal, and that his instruments of Mind- composed of the ideas he holds in regard to Life, – and Body-which expresses those ideas, -are the ever changing and mortal constituents of His being.
The question naturally arises; if Man is Spirit and Immortal, why are there so many different kinds of men and minds? All beings have one thing in common, namely the power to perceive, call it by what name you will, Spirit, Life or Consciousness; from this all force and forces flow as the lower instrument the Mind directs; the Mind of each being is made up of the ideas held in regard to existence, and bodily action is guided by these ideas. Each being holds a bundle of ideas in regard to life, and this bundle he calls his mind; he acts in accordance with them, and as there are many conflicting ideas or sets of ideas held, so there are what we call differing minds and actions. The difference is not in the real nature of Man, but in his instruments, the chief of which is his Mind.
An ancient writing says; “For Mind is like a mirror; it gathers dust while it reflects. It needs the gentile breezes of Soul- wisdom to brush away the dust of our illusions.” Soul-wisdom is a realization of our Real, permanent, immortal nature; the Mind has to be turned inward, for realization comes from dwelling on the thing to become realized. Experience of every kind is a conscious realization; so immortality has to be realized in consciousness.
This cannot be done as long as the idea of separateness is held. Theosophy is the philosophy of Unity; this has to be understood as meaning all that the word Unity implies. It is not unity here diversity there but unity throughout. There is but one Supreme Self; each being should act for and as the Self, for the Self acts only through the beings. We must see self in all things and all things in the Self; as we think and act from that basis a greater and greater realization dawns upon us. “The Self of Matter and the Self of Spirit can never meet. One of the twain must disappear; there is no room for both.” This means that the idea of Self as being based on the ever –changing conditions of Matter can never bring true knowledge; we have to realize a conscious existence in Spirit, not in Matter.
To really know ourselves we have to first admit and then to realize that we are in fact Spiritual beings using a mind and body, these latter the products of evolution and amenable to change under law as the Spirit or Soul of man directs. So as human beings our work is with our Minds, to a just them in accordance with our real nature and the basic nature of all things. We have to see that all spring from One great source and that all are travelling towards One great Goal, and that the path differs in accordance with the Mind of the pilgrim. Once we see this, we begin to correct our basis and modes of thought to conform to the ideal progression of humanity, and do our part toward a realization of Universal Brotherhood. Theosophy is in the world for no other purpose than to aid.