The Ego’s Mental Tools

In the First Lesson we gave instruction and exercises designed to awaken the consciousness of the Candidate to a realization of the real “I.” We confined our instructions to the preliminary teachings of the reality of the “I,” and the means whereby the Candidate might be brought to a realization of his real Self, and its independence from the body and the things of the flesh. We tried to show you how you might awaken to a consciousness of the reality of the “I”; its real nature; its independence of the body; its immortality; its invincibility and invulnerability. How well we have succeeded may be determined only by the experience of each Candidate, for we can but point out the way, and the Candidate must do the real work himself.

But there is more to be said and done in this matter of awakening to a realization of the “I.” So far, we have but told you how to distinguish between the material coverings of the Ego and the “I” itself. We have tried to show you that you had a real “I,” and then to show you what it was, and how it was independent of the material coverings, etc. But there is still another step in this self analysis–a more difficult step.

Even when the Candidate has awakened to a realization of his independence of the body, and material coverings, he often confounds the “I” with the lower principles of the mind. This is a mistake. The Mind, in its various phases and planes, is but a tool and instrument of the “I,” and is far from being the “I” itself. We shall try to bring out this fact in this lesson and its accompanying exercises. We shall avoid, and pass by, the metaphysical features of the case, and shall confine ourselves to the Yogi Psychology. We shall not touch upon theories, nor attempt to explain the cause, nature and purpose of the Mind–the working tool of the Ego–but instead shall attempt to point out a way whereby you may analyze the Mind and then determine which is the “not I” and which is the real “I.” It is useless to burden you with theories or metaphysical talk, when the way to prove the thing is right within your own grasp. By using the mind, you will be able to separate it into its parts, and force it to give you its own answer to the questions touching itself.

In the second and third lessons of our “Fourteen Lessons,” we pointed out to you the fact that man had three Mental Principles, or subdivisions of mind, all of which were below the plane of Spirit. The “I” is Spirit, but its mental principles are of a lower order. Without wishing to unduly repeat ourselves, we think it better to run hastily over these three Principles in the mind of Man.

First, there is what is known as the Instinctive Mind, which man shares in common with the lower animals. It is the first principle of mind that appears in the scale of evolution. In its lowest phases, consciousness is but barely perceptible, and mere sensation is apparent. In its higher stages it almost reaches the plane of Reason or Intellect, in fact, they overlap each other, or, rather, blend into each other. The Instinctive Mind does valuable work in the direction of maintaining animal life in our bodies, it having charge of this part of our being. It attends to the constant work of repair; replacement; change; digestion; assimilation; elimination, etc., all of which work is performed below the plane of consciousness.

But this is but a small part of the work of the Instinctive Mind. For this part of the mind has stored up all the experiences of ourselves and ancestors in our evolution from the lower forms of animal life into the present stage of evolution. All of the old animal instincts (which were all right in their place, and quite necessary for the well-being of the lower forms of life) have left traces in this part of the mind, which traces are apt to come to the front under pressure of unusual circumstances, even long after we think we have outgrown them. In this part of the mind are to be found traces of the old fighting instinct of the animal; all the animal passions; all the hate, envy, jealousy, and the rest of it, which are our inheritances from the past.

The Instinctive Mind is also the “habit mind” in which is stored up all the little, and great, habits of many lives, or rather such as have not been entirely effaced by subsequent habits of a stronger nature. The Instinctive Mind is a queer storehouse, containing quite a variety of objects, many of them very good in their way, but others of which are the worst kind of old junk and rubbish.

This part of the mind also is the seat of the appetites; passions; desires; instincts; sensations; feelings and emotions of the lower order, manifested in the lower animals; primitive man; the barbarian; and the man of today, the difference being only in the degree of control over them that has been gained by the higher parts of the mind. There are higher desires, aspirations, etc., belonging to a higher part of the mind, which we will describe in a few minutes, but the “animal nature” belongs to the Instinctive Mind. To it also belong the “feelings” belonging to our emotional and passional nature. All animal desires, such as hunger and thirst; sexual desires (on the physical plane); all passions, such as physical love; hatred; envy; malice; jealousy; revenge, etc., are part of this part of the mind. The desire for the physical (unless a means of reaching higher things) and the longing for the material, belong to this region of the mind. The “lust of the flesh; the lust of the eyes; the pride of life,” belong to the Instinctive Mind.

Take note, however, that we are not condemning the things belonging to this plane of the mind. All of them have their place–many were necessary in the past, and many are still necessary for the continuance of physical life. All are right in their place, and to those in the particular plane of development to which they belong, and are wrong only when one is mastered by them, or when he returns to pick up an unworthy thing that has been cast off in the unfoldment of the individual. This lesson has nothing to do with the right and wrong of these things (we have treated of that elsewhere) and we mention this part of the mind that you may understand that you have such a thing in your mental make-up, and that you may understand the thought, etc., coming from it, when we start in to analyze the mind in the latter part of this lesson. All we will ask you to do at this stage of the lesson is to realize that this part of the mind, while belonging to you, is not You, yourself. It is not the “I” part of you.

Next in order, above the Instinctive Mind, is what we have called the Intellect, that part of the mind that does our reasoning, analyzing; “thinking,” etc. You are using it in the consideration of this lesson. But note this: You are using it, but it is not You, any more than was the Instinctive Mind that you considered a moment ago. You will begin to make the separation, if you will think but a moment. We will not take up your time with a consideration of Intellect or Reason. You will find a good description of this part of the mind in any good elementary work on Psychology. Our only idea in mentioning it is that you may make the classification, and that we may afterward show you that the Intellect is but a tool of the Ego, instead of being the real “I” itself, as so many seem to imagine.

The third, and highest, Mental Principle is what is called the Spiritual Mind, that part of the mind which is almost unknown to many of the race, but which has developed into consciousness with nearly all who read this lesson, for the fact that the subject of this lesson attracts you is a proof that this part of your mental nature is unfolding into consciousness. This region of the mind is the source of that which we call “genius,” “inspiration,” “spirituality,” and all that we consider the “highest” in our mental make-up. All the great thoughts and ideas float into the field of consciousness from this part of the mind. All the great unfoldment of the race comes from there. All the higher mental ideas that have come to Man in his upward evolutionary journey, that tend in the direction of nobility; true religious feeling; kindness; humanity; justice; unselfish love; mercy; sympathy, etc., have come to him through his slowly unfolding Spiritual Mind.

His love of God and of his fellow man have come in this way. His knowledge of the great occult truths reach him through this channel. The mental realization of the “I,” which we are endeavoring to teach in these lessons, must come to him by way of the Spiritual Mind unfolding its ideas into his field of consciousness. But even this great and wonderful part of the mind is but a tool–a highly finished one, it is true, but still a tool–to the Ego, or “I.”

We propose to give you a little mental drill work, toward the end that you may be able more readily to distinguish the “I” from the mind, or mental states. In this connection we would say that every part, plane, and function of the mind is good, and necessary, and the student must not fall into the error of supposing that because we tell him to set aside first this part of the mind and then that part, that we are undervaluing the mind, or that we regard it as an encumbrance or hindrance. Far from this, we realize that it is by the use of the mind that Man is enabled to arrive at a knowledge of his true nature and Self, and that his progress through many stages yet will depend upon the unfolding of his mental faculties.

Man is now using but the lower and inferior parts of his mind, and he has within his mental world great unexplored regions that far surpass anything of which the human mind has dreamed. In fact, it is part of the business of “Raja Yoga” to aid in unfolding these higher faculties and mental regions. And so far from decrying the Mind, the “Raja Yoga” teachers are chiefly concerned in recognizing the Mind’s power and possibilities, and directing the student to avail himself of the latent powers that are inherent in his soul.