In our First Lesson we called your attention briefly to the three lower principles of man – i.e., (1) the physical body; (2) the astral body; (3) Prana, or vital force. We also led up to the subject of the mental principles, which form the fourth, fifth, and sixth, respectively, of the seven principles of man.
For convenience sake, we will again enumerate the four higher principles:
(6) Spiritual mind.
(4) Instinctive mind.
This terminology is more or less unsatisfactory, but we adopt it in preference to the Sanscrit terms which prove so puzzling and elusive to the average Western student. The three lower principles are the most material, and the atoms of which they are composed are, of course, indestructible, and go on forever in countless forms and aspects; but these principles, so far as the ego is concerned, are things merely to be used in connection with a particular earth – life, just as man uses clothing, heat, electricity, etc., and they form no part of his higher nature.
The four higher principles, on the contrary, go to make up the thinking part of man – the intelligent part, so to speak. Even the lowest of the four, the instinctive mind, goes to form the higher part of the man. Those who have not considered the subject at all are apt to regard as absurd the suggestion that the mind of man functions on more than one plane. Students of psychology, however, have long recognized the varying phases of mentation, and many theories have been advanced to account for the same. Such students will find that the Yogi philosophy alone gives the key to the mystery. Those who have studied the dual-mind theories of certain Western writers will also find it easier to conceive of more than one plane of mentality.
At first sight it would seem that the conscious, reasoning part of man’s mind did the most work if, indeed, not all of it. But a little reflection will show us that the conscious, reasoning work of the mind is but a small fraction of its task. Man’s mind functions on three planes of effort, each plane shading imperceptibly into the planes on either side of it – the one next higher or the one next lower.
The student may think of the matter either as one mind functioning along three lines, or as three minds shading into each other; both views have more or less of the truth in them; the real truth is too complex to be considered in detail in an elementary lesson. The principal thing is to get the idea fixed in the mind – to form mental pegs upon which to hang future information. We will touch briefly upon the several “minds,” or planes of mental effort, beginning with the lowest, the instinctive mind.