In our last lesson we told you something about the operation of the mind outside of the field of consciousness. In this lesson we will attempt to classify these out-of-consciousness planes, by directing your attention to the several mental planes above and below the plane of consciousness. As we stated in the last lesson, over 90 per cent of our mental operations are conducted outside of the field of consciousness, so that the consideration of the planes is seen to be an important subject.
Man is a Centre of Consciousness in the great One Life of the Universe. His soul has climbed a great many steps before it reached its present position and stage of unfoldment. And it will pass through many more steps until it is entirely free and delivered from the necessity of its swaddling clothes.
In his mental being man contains traces of all that has gone before–all the experiences of himself and the great race movement of which he is a part. And, likewise, his mind contains faculties and mental planes which have not as yet unfolded into consciousness, and of the existence of which he is but imperfectly aware. All of these mental possessions, however, are useful and valuable to him–even the lowest.
The lowest may be used to advantage, under proper mastery, and are only dangerous to the man who allows them to master him instead of serving him as they should, considering his present stage of development. In this consideration of the several mental planes we shall not confine ourselves to the technical occult terms given to these several planes, but will place them in general groups and describe the features and characteristics of each, rather than branch off into long explanations of the growth and reason of the several planes, which would take us far away from the practical consideration of the subject.
Beginning at the lowest point of the scale we see that man has a body. The body is composed of minute cells of protoplasm. These cells are built up of countless molecules, atoms and particles of matter–precisely the same matter that composes the rocks, trees, air, etc., around him. The Yogi philosophy tells us that even the atoms of matter have life and an elementary manifestation of mind, which causes them to group together according to the law of attraction, forming different elements, combinations, etc. This law of attraction is a mental operation, and is the first evidence of mental choice, action and response. Below this is Prana or Force, which, strictly speaking, is also a manifestation of mind, although for convenience we designate it as a separate manifestation of the Absolute.
And therefore we find that this law of attraction between the atoms and particles of matter is a mental action, and that it belongs to man’s mental kingdom, because he has a body and this mental action is continually going on in his body. So therefore this is the lowest mental plane to be considered in the make-up of the man. This plane is, of course, far sunken beneath the plane of consciousness, and is scarcely identified with the personality of the man at all, but rather belongs to the life of the whole, manifest in the rock as well as in the man.
But after these atoms have been grouped by the law of attraction and have formed molecules of matter, they are taken possession of by a higher mental activity and built up into cells by the mental action of the plant. The life impulse of the plant begins by drawing to it certain particles of inorganic matter–chemical elements–and then building them into a single cell. Oh, mystery of the cell! The intellect of man is unable to duplicate this wonderful process. The Mind Principle on the Vegetative Plane, however, knows exactly how to go to work to select and draw to itself just the elements needed to build up the single cell. Then taking up its abode in that cell–using it as a basis of operations, it proceeds to duplicate its previous performance, and so cell after cell is added, by the simple reproductive process of division and subdivision–the primitive and elemental sex process–until the mighty plant is built up. From the humblest vegetable organism up to the greatest oak the process is the same.
And it does not stop there. The body of man is also built up in just this way, and he has this vegetative mind also within him, below the plane of consciousness, of course. To many this thought of a vegetative mind may be somewhat startling. But let us remember that every part of our body has been built up from the vegetable cell. The unborn child starts with the coalition of two cells. These cells begin to build up the new body for the occupancy of the child–that is, the mind principle in the cells directs the work, of course–drawing upon the body of the mother for nourishment and supplies.
The nourishment in the mother’s blood, which supplies the material for the building up of the child’s body, is obtained by the mother eating and assimilating the vegetable cells of plants, directly or indirectly. If she eats fruit, nuts, vegetables, etc., she obtains the nourishment of the plant life directly–if she eats meat she obtains it indirectly, for the animal from which the meat was taken built up the meat from vegetables. There is no two ways about this–all nourishment of the animal and human kingdom is obtained from the vegetable kingdom, directly or indirectly.
And the cell action in the child is identical with the cell action in the plant. Cells constantly reproducing themselves and building themselves up into bodily organs, parts, etc., under the direction and guidance of the mind principle. The child grows in this way until the hour of birth. It is born, and then the process is but slightly changed. The child begins to take nourishment either from the mother’s milk or from the milk of the cow, or other forms of food. And as it grows larger it partakes of many different varieties of food. But always it obtains building material from the cell life of the plants.
And this great building up process is intelligent, purposeful, to a wonderful degree. Man with his boasted intellect cannot explain the real “thingness” of the process. A leading scientist who placed the egg of a small lizard under microscopical examination and then watched it slowly develop has said that it seemed as if some hand was tracing the outlines of the tiny vertebrae, and then building up around it. Think for a moment of the development of the germ within the egg of the humming-bird, or the ant, or the gnat, or the eagle. Every second a change may be noticed. The germ cell draws to itself nourishment from the other part of the egg, and then it grows and reproduces another cell. Then both cells divide–then subdivide until there are millions and millions and millions of cells. And all the while the building up process continues, and the bird or insect assumes shape and form, until at last the work is accomplished and the young bird emerges from the egg.
And the work thus commenced continues until the death of the animal. For there is a constant using-up and breaking-down of cell and tissue, which the organism must replace. And so the vegetative mind of the plant, or insect, or animal, or man, is constantly at work building up new cells from the food, throwing out worn-out and used-up material from the system. Not only this, but it attends to the circulation of the blood in order that the materials for the building up may be carried to all parts of the system. It attends to the digestion and assimilation of the food–the wonderful work of the organs of the body. It attends to the healing of wounds, the fight against disease, the care of the physical body. And all this out of the plane of consciousness–in the infant man the animal world, the vegetable kingdom–ever at work, untiring, intelligent, wonderful.
And this plane of mind is in man as well as in the plant, and it does its work without aid from the conscious part of man, although man may interfere with it by adverse conscious thought, which seems to paralyze its efforts. Mental Healing is merely the restoring of normal conditions, so that this part of the body may do its work without the hindrance of adverse conscious thought.
On this plane of the mind is found all of the vital functions and operations. The work is done out-of-consciousness, and the consciousness is aware of this part of the mind only when it makes demands upon the conscious for food, etc. On this plane also resides the elementary instinct that tends toward reproduction and sexual activity. The demand of this part of the mind is always “increase and multiply,” and according to the stage of growth of the individual is the mandate carried out, as we shall see presently.
The elementary impulses and desires that we find rising into the field of consciousness come from this plane of the mind. Hunger, thirst and the reproductive desires are its messages to the higher parts of the mind. And these messages are natural and free from the abuses and prostitution often observed attached to them by the intellect of man in connection with his unrestrained animal impulses. Gluttony and unnatural lust arise not from the primitive demand of this plane of the mind–for the lower animals even are free from them to a great extent–but it is reserved for man to so prostitute these primitive natural tendencies, in order to gratify unnatural and artificial appetites, which serve to frustrate nature rather than to aid her.