Man, the highest manifestation of the Absolute, as far as this planet is concerned, is a wonderfully organized being–although the average man understands but little of his real nature.
He comprises within his physical, mental and spiritual make-up both the highest and the lowest, as we have shown in our previous lessons (the “Fourteen Lessons” and the “Advanced Course”). In his bones he manifests almost in the form of mineral life, in fact, in his bones, body and blood mineral substances actually exist. The physical life of the body resembles the life of the plant. Many of the physical desires and emotions are akin to those of the lower animals, and in the undeveloped man these desires and emotions predominate and overpower the higher nature, which latter is scarcely in evidence. Then Man has a set of mental characteristics that are his own, and which are not possessed by the lower animals (See “Fourteen Lessons”). And in addition to the mental faculties common to all men, or rather, that are in evidence in a greater or lesser degree among all men, there are still higher faculties latent within Man, which when manifested and expressed render Man more than ordinary Man.
The unfoldment of these latent faculties is possible to all who have reached the proper stage of development, and the desire and hunger of the student for this instruction is caused by the pressure of these unfolding latent faculties, crying to be born into consciousness. Then there is that wonderful thing, the Will, which is but faintly understood by those ignorant of the Yogi Philosophy–the Power of the Ego–its birthright from the Absolute.
But while these mental and physical things belong to Man, they are not the Man himself. Before the Man is able to master, control, and direct the things belonging to him–his tools and instruments–he must awaken to a realization of Himself. He must be able to distinguish between the “I” and the “Not I.” And this is the first task before the Candidate.
That which is the Real Self of Man is the Divine Spark sent forth from the Sacred Flame. It is the Child of the Divine Parent. It is Immortal–Eternal–Indestructible–Invincible. It possesses within itself Power, Wisdom, and Reality. But like the infant that contains within itself the sometime Man, the mind of Man is unaware of its latent and potential qualities, and does not know itself. As it awakens and unfolds into the knowledge of its real nature, it manifests its qualities, and realizes what the Absolute has given it. When the Real Self begins to awaken, it sets aside from itself those things which are but appendages to it, but which it, in its half-waking state, had regarded as its Self. Setting aside first this, and then that, it finally discards all of the “Not I,” leaving the Real Self free and delivered from its bondage to its appendages. Then it returns to the discarded appendages, and makes use of them.
In considering the question: “What is the Real Self?” let us first stop to examine what man usually means when he says “I.”
The lower animals do not possess this “I” sense. They are conscious of the outer world; of their own desires and animal cravings and feelings. But their consciousness has not reached the Self-conscious stage. They are not able to think of themselves as separate entities, and to reflect upon their thoughts. They are not possessed of a consciousness of the Divine Spark–the Ego–the Real Self. The Divine Spark is hidden in the lower forms of life–even in the lower forms of human life–by many sheaths that shut out its light.
But, nevertheless, it is there, always. It sleeps within the mind of the savage–then, as he unfolds, it begins to throw out its light. In you, the Candidate, it is fighting hard to have its beams pierce through the material coverings When the Real Self begins to arouse itself from its sleep, its dreams vanish from it, and it begins to see the world as it is, and to recognize itself in Reality and not as the distorted thing of its dreams.
The savage and barbarian are scarcely conscious of the “I.” They are but a little above the animal in point of consciousness, and their “I” is almost entirely a matter of the consciousness of the wants of the body; the satisfaction of the appetites; the gratification of the passions; the securing of personal comfort; the expression of lust, savage power, etc. In the savage the lower part of the Instinctive Mind is the seat of the “I.” (See “Fourteen Lessons” for explanation of the several mental planes of man.) If the savage could analyze his thoughts he would say that the “I” was the physical body, the said body having certain “feelings,” “wants” and “desires.” The “I” of such a man is a physical “I,” the body representing its form and substance.
Not only is this true of the savage, but even among so-called “civilized” men of to-day we find many in this stage. They have developed powers of thinking and reasoning, but they do not “live in their minds” as do some of their brothers. They use their thinking powers for the gratification of their bodily desires and cravings, and really live on the plane of the Instinctive Mind. Such a person may speak of “my mind,” or “my soul,” not from a high position where he looks upon these things from the standpoint of a Master who realizes his Real Self, but from below, from the point-of-view of the man who lives on the plane of the Instinctive Mind and who sees above himself the higher attributes.
To such people the body is the “I.” Their “I” is bound up with the senses, and that which comes to them through the senses. Of course, as Man advances in “culture” and “civilization,” his senses become educated, and are satisfied only with more refined things, while the less cultivated man is perfectly satisfied with the more material and gross sense gratifications. Much that we call “cultivation” and “culture” is naught but a cultivation of a more refined form of sense gratification, instead of a real advance in consciousness and unfoldment. It is true that the advanced student and Master is possessed of highly developed senses, often far surpassing those of the ordinary man, but in such cases the senses have been cultivated under the mastery of the Will, and are made servants of the Ego instead of things hindering the progress of the soul–they are made servants instead of masters.