Most Esoteric and Spiritual traditions teach that we have many lives, but in fact in reality we only have One. There are many sojourns into the transitory world of illusions, but there is only One Being witnessing all of this.
In Theosophical teaching man is divided into seven principles, but these are in fact only different ways of viewing the worlds we live in. There is only One consciousness, One Life in everything. On the lowest level we have six senses- sight, smell, touch, taste, hearing and in Buddhist philosophy the mind is also included. These senses are known as the six thieves, as they steal our perception of reality and the mind is called the ‘chief hoodlum’ as it is the main cause of our delusions.
As we progress to higher levels of being our senses become more refined, as the veils between us and the pure Spirit become thinner and thinner. It’s like the dance of the seven veils; as each veil is removed, we become nearer to the naked Truth! Perhaps this is what it was originally meant to symbolise.
Theosophy tells us that we have an upper triad which consists of Atma (Spirit), Buddhi (Intuition) and Manas (Mind). This is named as the Individuality or Sutratma. This Sanskrit word means the ‘thread soul’, as all our transitory lives are strung upon it like pearls upon a thread. This is what Buddhists refer to as the ‘True Man’. It is as the “Voice of the Silence” by HP Blavatsky tells us: “…the man that was, that is, and will be, for whom the hour shall never strike. “The mind is dual in nature, it can either immerse itself in the passing illusions of the lower nature or gravitate towards the Spiritual Life, where it becomes the illumined mind.
The personality or the four lower principles are: kama rupa (desire form), astral body, prana (life force) and the physical body. These are transitory and change with every life. It’s like an actor taking many parts, from a king to a beggar; but always leaving the stage as who he really is. The actor is our upper triad. (see the “Key to Theosophy” by HP Blavatsky).
Practically we must be aware that all the hardships, misfortune and illness only affect the lower aspects of our being, the True Man or Woman is untouched by all of this and merely observes. It is in a constant meditative state. We become more and more aware of its presence by a correct attitude to the experiences of life that we go through, whether ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Everything is helpful towards or ‘soul awakening’ if only we use these experiences as stepping stones on our journey. Everything we learn on our Spiritual quest should be useful towards our ‘awakening’. As Plato tells us “all (true) learning is merely recollection.”
The meditation is to take the stance of being this Immortal entity which is the real being, as long as we maintain the concept of an ‘I’. Again the “Voice of the Silence” tells us to “have perseverance as one who doth forever more endure”. We become as we think, so we need to begin to distance ourselves from the idea that we are just mortal beings. Also, from the idea that the Spiritual Path is something weird and mysterious. Living in a world created from materialistic concepts and ideals has made it seem like that. In fact, when we take to the Spiritual Path, we are re-establishing our place in nature. It is a return to sanity amidst the insanity of a world devoid of any true understanding of who and what we truly are. It is this reliance on the guidance of the spiritually blind that has led the world into the “great dire heresy of separateness that weans us from the rest” as the “Voice of the Silence” says, and therefore into wars and conflicts on all levels as a result of the selfish belief in separateness. Losing touch with our place in natures unfolding we have abused our planet and fellow sentient beings into many ways and it seems the only way to rectify this is to come to realise that One Spirit animates all things and that essentially we are all Brothers and Sisters in the true sense of the expression.
I will finish with a quote from the Fortieth Case from the “Blue Cliff Record”, as series of Zen Koans from around the 12th century AD and leave the reader to ponder the meaning:
“As the officer Lu Hsuan was talking with Nan Chu’an, he said, “Master of the teachings Chao said ‘Heaven, earth and I have the same root; myriad things and I are one body.’ This is quite marvellous.”
Nan Ch’uan pointed to a flower in the garden. He called to the officer and said, “People these days see this flower as a dream.”