Self and world: One awakening – Part 2

In this process, the manas (the thinker, the spirit self) awakens as a higher mental body that ascends into the nondualistic realm. The word man is derived from this very manas;

Self and world: One awakening – Part 2

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and indeed the ability to think characterises us humans. According to theosophical teachings, which are based among other things on the Upanishads, manas is the “lowest” aspect of the true immortal self and at the same time the one that can give our lives a new direction even in the realm of the concrete. The awakening of the manas depends essentially on whether the human being succeeds in purifying his astral body and freeing it from the dialectic of attraction and repulsion. “The spirit self arises to the extent that the human ego succeeds in gaining dominion over the innate drives, sensations and desires.”[1] This is how anthroposophy describes this process. A Rosicrucian Jan van Rijckenborgh emphasises that the “astral-conscious” must be lifted up into the heart.[2] For in our astral body there do not live exclusively higher and pure sensations. On the contrary, it is populated and controlled by drives, fears and desires. When it is no longer the “belly” that directs our actions, but the heart – purifying itself further and further from the selfish, – then the manas can connect with our mental (thought) and astral (emotional) body. Liberation in the astral realm only succeeds when a person is prepared, out of his own realisation, to break down the walls that separate him from his personal environment and humanity as a whole, also from the world – and from his true self within. A parallel process takes place in thought, which gives up its dissecting, controlling grip on things[3].

Inversely, through the awakening of the manas, which then becomes possible, a penetration of the astral and mental spheres of the earth and of humanity begins, which is significant in several respects.

On the one hand, in this way the manas participates in the creation of a subtle field that nourishes all those people who want to free themselves from the bondage to duality in thinking and feeling.

Secondly, the manas enters the sphere of the abstract. It belongs to it – this too is an aspect of the true self, which is, after all, supra-personal. In everyday life, we can make abstractions even without having realised the manas. We recognise patterns in things and processes. We can perceive abstract principles and even condense them into a philosophy by which we want to live. When the manas awakens, the human being enters the sphere of abstract thoughts and discovers them as a living reality and transforming force. This is Plato’s “world of ideas “[4] in the bright sunlight that man enters after leaving the dark cave of errors. And, nota bene: the allegory of the cave describes how arduous it is to accustom the eyes to the bright sunlight. Before this awakening, the abstract seems to be a kind of checksum behind things. Afterwards, it is a living reality.

Thirdly, since the manas at the same time looks into those spheres of the planet from which the present thinking and feeling of humanity are fed, he also recognises the forces which humanity acts out largely unconsciously and which bind its thinking and feeling to the realm of impermanence.

Humanity has gone through a common process of individualisation, which was necessary for the attainment of independence and an individual sense of responsibility. In the process, humanity focused its sensibility and evolving thinking so strongly on matter that it lost the conscious connection with its universal origin. This gave rise to an awareness of all that is material that is as broad as it is analytically profound. It carries the seeds of conflict, for where everyone as an individual is focused on matter as the sphere of his or her self-realisation, a struggle for resources, power and security begins that can only pause but never end. The individualisation we have undergone has led us into loneliness and more or less isolation. Every human being has experienced this process – as a microcosm – over incarnations. At the same time, the thinking and feeling that developed in all these individuals formed collective energy fields that are in intimate exchange with their creators. These collective patterns of feeling and thinking have a life of their own, they want to be enlivened by us and provide us with the same limiting and divisive motions. Man, a basically unlimited being, wants to recognise and realise himself in limitation and in isolation from others: It is no wonder that this leads to struggles about resources. Thus humanity lives from the reservoir of its mental and astral products, and thus it also works together to develop them further. We think and feel the same thing over and over again in principle until we free ourselves from these individual and collective compulsions through the awakening of the self. As individuals and as humanity, we go through the essence of separation and bondage to matter (where “matter” means the whole of impermanence, with its subtle aspects). We experience this until our own depth touches us from within with a knowledge that transcends the former boundaries and initiates a process of liberation. The collective energy fields can dissolve when they are commonly recognised and thus overcome.

The downward spiral on which, driven by matter-bound forces, we anchor ourselves within matter, seek security there, crave power and control, and endure fears because our control is threatened by others or by our own weakness time and again is terrible. Fears continue to arise that lead to new security measures or aggression. This includes withdrawal, mistrust and further isolation. The average citizen then builds a house with an alarm system, camera surveillance and high walls, and he ends up ordering a security service to guard it. He never really feels safe.

Countries do something very similar. They are constructs that represent their citizens, i.e. “the nation”. As political-military-economic-cultural agents on the world stage, they act out the concentrated energies of their citizens. To this end, they often make use of traditional narratives, once deeply rooted in the soul, which unite historical greatness, universal values and concrete strength in order to cover up their often questionable, aggressive (and seemingly necessary) deeds. The bigger the state, the higher the claim and the higher the pressure to defend greatness and power with all means, if not to expand them. Nationalism, in turn, is the handle and the narrative that leads people to blindly serve the respective superego. For individuals, it is a way of giving their own lives the grandeur that the personal life often seems to lack. Without the people who believe the narrative and are willing to sacrifice for it, states are just administrative apparatuses (and as such, necessary and meritorious). The awakening from the nationalist narratives that turn nations and the people within them into competitors and enemies is at hand. However, it is only fully possible for those who find the eternal foundation of their being and who awaken to universal humanity. Then there are no more fears and no more enmities. He who is awakened sees the suffering of all human beings that arises in these old models of identification. He can place the freedom of universal humanity next to it, or rather let it shine from the centre.

Buddhi is the next aspect of the universal self that can be realised after the awakening of the manas. When people are ready to let their self-preservation, rooted in the etheric body, be overcome by their innermost being, only then can they become the universal soul that unites with the spiritual soul of the earth. This is a kind of mystical death, because as ego-men we cannot and will not give up the engrained self-preservation that is dissolved by the awakening of buddhi. At the same time, it is buddhi that enables people to abandon their roots in impermanence and consciously anchor themselves in the eternity in which their original core of being has always existed.

As a living, albeit transient, nature, the earth also possesses a soul that permeates and sustains the entire planet. But it also possesses a higher aspect of soul, buddhi, which serves as a nourishing field of spiritual awakening. Whoever overcomes isolation and self-preservation, whoever dries up the above mentioned source of involuntary boundaries and defensive attitudes, becomes free to experience and treat all people as brothers and sisters. He awakens to the buddhi of the earth, a universal soulfulness that no longer knows any boundaries. In the Christian view, this aspect is the Christ-spirit of our planet.

Manas – buddhi – atman are together the true, eternal self. Manas ultimately is all-pervading knowledge, buddhi is all-embracing love and âtman the being that transcends all boundaries and reaches to where our ego consciousness can only assume non-being. Therefore, âtman (which in Indian spirituality is one with brahman[5]) is also the source of all being. The manas possesses knowledge of the earthly as well as the heavenly. In principle, this knowledge is centreless, it does not belong to any person, it is a participation in the universe. Buddhi merges into the joy of spiritual unity. Here man, like the Christ, begins to mature into a great soul that can create and be a field of development for others. Âtman is the great unfathomable mystery of being.

The awakening of the true self frees new creative powers in the human being, which thus becomes a source of strength for others. This being reveals what being human actually means.

[1]in, 2022/08/23. Anthroposophy sees the “I” on a continuous path to the awakening of the Christ within the human being. The path of the Rosicrucian, on the other hand, emphasises the necessity of surrendering and handing over the “I” to the awakening Self.

[2]Jan van Rijckenborgh: Die ägyptische Ur-Gnosis und ihr Ruf im ewigen Jetzt, Band II, Haarlem 1991, S. 116ff. The “astral-conscious” can be perceived in the human being as an energetic principle which has its own aspect of consciousness, hence this designation. It is either a tool of the drives and instincts, or it develops into an aspect of the awakening soul.

[3]In this process, the concrete cognitive faculty is not impaired. The ability to think out of and for the whole emerges.

[4]Please find correct source of the quotation in Plato’s Allegory of The CavePlato, The Republic, Book VII.

[5]Brahman, not the deity brahma.

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Date: March 27, 2023
Author: Angela Paap (Germany)
Photo: cave-StockSnap auf Pixabay

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