VII – THE PERENNIAL PHILOSOPHY AND THE UNIVERSAL BROTHERHOOD:
The Diversity of the Manifested Capacities
59 - “But this Brotherhood of all souls is like the relation of brotherhood within a family; brothers are not all of the same age, though they are of the same parents.” (C. Jinarajadasa, Practical Theosophy, p. 63)
60 - “That great principle of Reincarnation must ever go hand in hand with the principle of Brotherhood if Brotherhood is to be applied, if it is to be made a working principle of ordinary life. For it is out of these differences of age that grows up all the possibilities of an ordered and happy society amongst ourselves.” (A. Besant, The Changing World, p. 79)
Let us now proceed to analyze Diversity, which co-exists with Unity and is also a fundamental aspect of the universal brotherhood of humanity. In spite of this, its importance within this law is not really as well known as that of the aspect of essential Unity. In this, as we hope to show, lies the origin of most of the incorrect interpretations within the TS concerning the law of the universal brotherhood, as well as the inability of most of the members to really understand its immense importance to the solutions of human problems. And it is because of this that we shall insist on the analysis of this aspect.
It is not possible for us to reach an exact understanding of the fundamental importance of this aspect (of the manifested Diversity) to the principle or law of the brotherhood of all humanity without taking into account the knowledge of the inner constitution of man or the evolutionary process of the human Soul through successive reincarnations. In this sense, the first fact of importance for an appropriate view of the human being as a whole which is revealed to us by the Perennial Philosophy is that of the existence of matter on many levels of density more subtle than those that are well known scientifically.
The important fact to our study is that man possesses bodies manifested on all these planes, even though, in accordance with his level of evolution, some may be quite underdeveloped. Thus, the human being is essentially a Ray or Spark of the Sun of the One Divine Consciousness, rooted in the highest or divine plane. From this point on, this Divine Consciousness in man covers itself with the body appropriate to its expression on all planes and sub-planes of density of matter, including the physical.
In accordance with the Esoteric Philosophy, if we observe all of the constitution of man, from its densest to its most subtle body, it would be as follows: (1) a physical dense body, of flesh and bone, which corresponds to the solid, liquid and gaseous levels of the physical plane; (2) a first invisible body or aura, called etheric double, which belongs to the four etheric sublevels of the physical plane; (3) an astral or emotional (body or aura), made up of matter from the seven sublevels of the astral plane; (4) a concrete mental body made up of matter from the four densest mental sublevels; (5) an abstract mental body made up of matter from the three sublevels of more subtle mental matter; (6) an intuitive or buddhic body with matter from all sublevels of this plane; (7) a body of spiritual or atmic volition made up of matter from the four inferior sublevels of the atmic plane; (8) a Monad or Divine Spark, the reflection from the Divine Trinity in man, which is expressed beginning with the three higher atmic sublevels, up to the heights of the divine plan.
The total constitution of man
described above may be visualized more easily with the help of the figures below
(pp. 9 and
The next point to be considered is how these bodies behave in the process of successive reincarnations as this will grant us a better understanding of the principal aspect of Diversity in the human brotherhood, which is the fact that humanity is made up of beings of different ages or different stages of spiritual evolution. This is so because this process of reincarnations explains the different accumulation of experiences, which lies at the basis of the different levels of maturity or spiritual development of human beings.
In a first stage, the divine energies create and surround themselves with ever denser levels of matter until reaching the physical plane. From this point on, as has been mentioned previously, these energies animate the mineral, vegetable, animal, human, and super-human kingdoms until they return fully conscious to the bosom of the One Divinity. Human beings, therefore, have immediately behind them the animal kingdom from which they rose as beings who have acquired their own individuality through the act of liberating themselves from the limitations of group consciousness typical of animal instincts.
It is only at this point in evolution, at the beginning of the human stage, that man’s Higher Ego has become an individual spiritual entity, thus acquiring freedom of thought and a much higher consciousness of self than it had in the animal kingdom. This Higher Ego, however, has not yet developed its immense latent powers. It will gradually develop these powers as the human being passes through successive reincarnations.
At the beginning of each incarnation, the Higher Ego creates a new lower quaternary to enable it to gather more experiences on the Physical, Astral, and Lower Mental planes. The physical life is usually the shortest, although the most meaningful one as it is the only one during which the human being encounters all the bodies and, therefore, has greater independence and power to generate new causes and search for new experiences.
After having existed for years in the physical body, man arrives at the passage called death when he abandons the dense physical body and the etheric double, which are both worn out and no longer of service to garner more experiences, and departs for a life on the astral plane with the help of his astral body. This life normally lasts two or three times longer than physical life, and then this astral body is left behind in a second death, which is another passage to a life normally even longer on the lower mental plane. At the end of this cycle, the Higher Ego garners the results or lessons of the experiences lived through its lower quaternary on the three densest planes.
This is a simple description of the process through which the Higher Ego develops its infinite powers until it reaches a stage of maturity and perfection in which this cycle of reincarnations is no longer mandatory. In other words, at the end of this long journey through hundreds of reincarnations, the human being achieves Liberation, and his consciousness enters a super-human stage of development, one of whose characteristics is the fact of having achieved conscious immortality and the other is the unity with the Divine Will. One of the names given to this Liberation is that of “Adeptship.” The Adepts or Mahatmas who inspired the founding of the TS are believed to be examples of beings who have already achieved this evolutionary level.
All human beings are engaged in this process of development of their divine powers because, as has been stated previously, all are essentially divine. However, the billions of incarnate human beings, as well as those (in even larger numbers) without a physical body in the cyclical astral or mental life, will not start out on their human journey at the same time. Some of them have begun their journey long before others. Thus, while some have already arrived at their destination and others are nearing the end of their journey, the greater part of humanity can be found along this way, some of them even at its beginning. This is a very important fact as it explains the great diversity in stages of spiritual development (reflected in the differences of character and ability) in human beings.
In view of the above, it is not difficult for us to understand that this aspect of the great Diversity in the levels of spiritual development is almost as important in helping us understand the true nature of the universal brotherhood of humanity, as that of the Unity underlying all beings.
Let us now consider some excerpts from the writings of Geoffrey Hodson, a great clairvoyant of the TS, in which he deals with the Higher Mental (Causal) body as well as with its development. These excerpts will clearly explain what has already been touched on in preceding paragraphs:
61 - “In Sanskrit, the causal body is known as the Karana Sharira, Karana meaning cause. Briefly, the causal body has two main functions:
(1) To act as a vehicle for the ego: the causal body is the “body of Manas,” the form aspect of the individual, the true man, the Thinker.
(2) To act as a receptacle or storehouse for the essence of man’s experiences in his various incarnations. The causal body is that into which is woven everything which can endure, and in which are stored the germs of qualities, to be carried over to the next incarnation. Hence one sees that the lower manifestation of man, i.e., his expression in his mental, astral and physical bodies, depends ultimately upon the growth and development of the real man himself, the one “for whom the hour never strikes”.
“At its inception, the causal body, or form-aspect of the true man, is described as a delicate film of subtlest matter, just visible, marking where the individual begins his separate life. That delicate, almost colourless, film of subtlest matter, is the body which will last through the whole of the human evolution: on this, as on a thread – the thread-self, or Sutratma, as it is sometimes called – will all the future incarnations be strung.
“The causal body, as said, is the receptacle of all that is enduring – i.e., only that which is noble and harmonious, and in accordance with the law of the spirit; for every great and noble thought, every pure and lofty emotion, is carried up, and its essence worked into the substance of the causal body. Hence, the conditions of the causal body is a true register – the only true register – of the growth the man, of the stage of evolution to which he has attained. (...)
“In the Thinker, residing in the causal body, are all the powers that we class as Mind, i.e., memory, intuition, will, the Thinker gathers up all experiences of the earth-lives, through which he passes, to be transmuted within himself, by his own divine alchemy, into that essence of experience and knowledge which is Wisdom. Even in the one brief earth-life we distinguish between the knowledge we acquire and the wisdom we gradually – often too rarely – distil from that knowledge. Wisdom is the fruitage of life’s experience, the crowning possession of the aged. In a much fuller and richer sense, Wisdom is the fruitage of many incarnations, the produce of much experience and knowledge. In the Thinker, thus, is the store of experiences, reaped in all his past lives, harvested through many rebirths.
“In ordinary people the causal body is not yet fully active, and consequently only that matter which belongs to the third sub-plane is vivified. As the ego, during the long course of his evolution, unfolds his latent possibilities, the higher matter is gradually brought into activity; but it is only in the perfected men whom we call Adepts, or Masters, that it is developed to its fuller extent.
“It is difficult to describe a causal
body fully, because the senses belonging to the causal world are altogether
different from and higher than those we employ at the physical level. Such
memory of the appearance of a causal body, as it is possible for a clairvoyant
to bring into his physical brain, represents it as an ovoid, that being, in
fact, the shape of all the bodies, and as surrounding the physical body of the
man, extending to a distance of about
“A human being, who has just individualised from the animal kingdom, has a causal body of a minimum size.
“In the case of a primitive man, the causal body resembles a bubble and gives the impression of being empty. It is a mere colourless film, just sufficient, apparently, to hold itself together and make a reincarnating entity, but no more. Although it is filled with higher mental matter, this is not yet brought into activity, and so remains colourless and transparent. As the man develops, this matter is gradually stirred into alertness by vibrations which reach it from the lower bodies. This comes but slowly, because the activities of man in the earlier stages of his evolution are not of a character to obtain expression in matter so fine as that of the causal body. But when a man reaches the stage where he is capable either of abstract thought, or of unselfish emotion, the matter of the causal body is aroused into response.
“The vibrations thus aroused show themselves in the causal body as colours, so that, instead of being a mere transparent bubble, it gradually becomes a sphere filled with matter of the most lovely and delicate hues, an object beautiful beyond all conception.
“In the case of spiritually developed man, an enormous change is noticed. The glorious iridescent film is now completely filled with the most lovely colours, typifying the higher form of love, devotion and symphathy, aided by an intellect refined and spiritualised, and by aspirations reaching ever towards the divine. Some of these colours have no place in the physical plane spectrum.
“The inconceivably fine and delicate matter of such a causal body is intensively alive, and pulsating with living fire, forming a radiant globe of flashing colours, its high vibrations sending ripples of changing hues over its surface – hues of which earth knows nothing – brilliant, soft and luminous beyond the power of language to describe. Such a causal body is filled with living fire, drawn from a still higher plane, with which it appears to be connected by a quivering thread of intense light.
“Furthermore, from the upper part of the causal body there ascends a crown of brilliant sparks, indicating the activity of spiritual aspiration, and of course adding very greatly to the beauty and dignity of the man’s appearance. (...)
“This very upward rushing of spiritual aspiration, which makes so glorious a crown for the developed man, is itself the channel through which the divine power descends: so that the fuller and stronger his aspiration become, the larger is the measure of the grace from on high.” (Basic Theosophy, pp. 21-25)
The information given above makes it possible for us to understand how Diversity of levels of development is one of the fundamental aspects of human brotherhood, as is also its essential Unity. In the light of this knowledge we are then able to embark on a general visualization of the universal brotherhood of humanity as it is presented during earthly life. We shall do this through a quotation from C. Jinarajadasa, well-known author and former International President of the TS. In these paragraphs he states in simple language the fundamental aspects of human brotherhood, giving due emphasis not only to the aspect of Diversity but also to some of its principal practical implications, using as examples questions concerning government and the treatment of criminals:
62 - “Since a man is a unit of a social organization, the value which any ethical teaching may have for the individual is inseparable from its application to the community of which he is a part. Just as an understanding of certain simple truths modifies a man’s conception of himself, so too the conception of what constitutes the true state, when viewed in the light of the Esoteric Philosophy, profoundly modifies a man’s attitude to his life among his fellow men. (...)
“The individuals who compose the state are Souls, immortal egos in earthly bodies; they are the members of the State in order to evolve to an ideal of perfection. As souls, and as all partaking of one Divine Nature, all within the State are brothers; whether rich or poor, cultured or ignorant, law-abiding or law-breaking, all are brothers, and nothing one soul does can modify that fact of nature.
“The educated or the proud may refuse to see an identity of nature with the ignorant and the lowly; the weak and the criminally minded may show more attributes of the brute than that of the God. Yet is there in high and low alike the one nature of the Divine Life, and nothing a man does can weaken the bond of brotherhood between him and all the others.
“But this Brotherhood of all souls is like the relation of brotherhood within a family; brothers are not all of the same age, though they are of the same parents. So too, among the souls that compose a state, there are elder souls and younger souls; it is just this difference of spiritual age and capacity which makes possible the functions of the real State.
“The age of the soul is seen in the response to ideals of altruism and co-operation; he is the elder soul who springs forward to help in the welfare of others, and that soul is the younger who thinks of self-interest first and follows its needs in preference to self-sacrifice on behalf of others.
“The divisions which we now have in a state’s life of rank and of wealth are no true distinctions which divide the elder souls from the younger souls; one man born into a high class or caste may yet be a very young soul, while another whose birth is ignoble, according to the world’s conventions, may be far advanced as a soul.
“There being in each state elder souls and younger souls, the Law of Brotherhood requires that the elder shall be more self-sacrificing, on behalf of the younger, than the younger should be towards the elder. Since life through long ages has given more to the elder souls than to the younger, more is required from the elder, both of self-sacrifice and of responsibility.
“By the natural order of events, the direction of a state’s affairs will fall inevitably on the elder souls. (...) when the state begins to perform its true functions, the direction of its affairs is by an aristocracy, by the best souls, that is, the elder and more capable souls. (...)
“The great principle to guide them in their administration is that in all the state’s affairs the principle of Brotherhood shall dominate in all things. This will mean the clear recognition that any preventable suffering or ignorance or backwardness of even one citizen is to the detriment of the welfare of all citizens; since the destiny of each is inseparable from the destiny of all, as rises one so rise all, and as falls one so fall all; that there must be no shadow of exploitation of one man by another, of one class or caste by another. Since, too, all men are souls and, even the least developed, Gods in the making, it becomes the duty of the administrator in all laws and institutions continually to appeal to the hidden Divinity in man. (...)
“When there comes in the state the recognition of this hidden God in man, a complete revolution will take place in our attitude to and in our treatment of the criminal. First and foremost, whatever he does, he is our brother. He is a younger brother truly to those of us who are the elders and give implicit and willing obedience to the laws of the state; but though he falls a thousand times, he is our brother even after the thousandth time.” (Practical Theosophy, pp. 61-66)
These quotations from C. Jinarajadasa show the relevance of the aspect of Diversity to the universal brotherhood of humanity and reveal some of its major practical implications. Unfortunately, the importance of this aspect is not so well known in either theoretical or practical terms. The following quotation from N. Sri Ram is a clarion call in this direction:
63 - “It is not enough to realize our underlying brotherhood, but there has to be skill and wisdom in dealing with the outer differences, the inequalities of development and circumstances.” (Thoughts for Aspirants, 2nd Series, p. 122)
There is a passage from the writings of HPB which is also worth mentioning in this context, in which she remarks on the importance of the law of reincarnation in explaining the differences in human beings and on the harm done by the lack of a logical explanation for these differences:
64 - “Cultured people have been brought up in that most pernicious idea that the wide difference found between the units of one and the same mankind, or even race, is the result of chance; that the gulf between man and man in their respective social positions, birth, intellect, physical and mental capacities – every one of which qualifications has a direct influence on every human life – that all this is simply due to blind hazard, only the most pious among them finding equivocal consolation in the idea that this is ‘the will of God.’ They have never analysed, never stopped to think of the depth of the opprobrium that is thrown upon their God, once the grand and most equitable law of the manifold rebirths of man upon this earth is foolishly rejected.” (CW, Vol. XIV, p. 57)
Before we end our analysis of this aspect, of the existence of a Diversity of individual developments simultaneous with the existence of an underlying Unity, we shall quote a few examples of passages from several of the great religious traditions as a means of corroborating the above perspective through the method of comparison. Most of these quotations were taken from The Wisdom of the Living Religions, by Joseph Gaer: [GAER, Joseph. The Wisdom of the Living Religons. New York, Dodd, Mead & Co., 1956. 338 pp.]
65 - “And we have known and believed the love that God hath to us. God is love; and he that dwelleth in love dwelleth in God, and God in him.” (1st Epist. John, 4:16)
66 - “If a man say, I love God, and hateth his brother, he is a liar: for he that loveth not his brother whom he hath seen, how can he love God whom he hath not seen? And this commandment have we from him, That he who loveth God love his brother also.” (1st Epist. John, 4:20-21)
67 - “And hath made of one blood all nations of men (...)” (Acts, 17:26)
68 - “Verily I say unto you, inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Matthew, 25:40)
69 - “True knowledge is to see one changeless life in all the lives, and in Separate, One Inseparable.” (Bhagavad-Gita, XVIII. Gaer, p. 135, n. 133)
70 - “True religion is to love, as God has loved them, all things, whether great or small.” (Hitopadesha Upanishad. Gaer, p. 142, n. 55a)
71 - “O People, serve your Lord (Allah) who created you and those who went before you. He made the earth as your resting place and the sky as your canopy; and sends down rain from heaven to bring forth fruit with which to sustain you.” (Koran, 2:19-20. Gaer, p. 226, n. 3)
72 - “The LORD by wisdom hath founded the earth; by understanding hath he established the heavens. By his knowledge the depths are broken up, and the clouds drop down the dew.” (Proverbs, 3:19-20)
73 - “Have we not all one Father? Hath not one God created us all?” (Malachi, 2:10. Gaer, p. 187, n. 238)
74 - “All men are brothers; all receive the blessings of the same heaven.” (Proverb of the “Kurozomi Kyo”. Gaer, p. 255, n. 36)
75 - “The Tao (Way) is nameless and hidden, yet all things gain their fulfillment in it.” (Tao-Te-King, 41. Gaer, p. 266, n. 93)
76 - “Few are the men who arrive to the other side of the river; the majority of them are satisfied in staying in the same side, going up and down the same margin.” (Dhammapada, 49a)
77 - “A fool may associate with a wise man all his life, but perceive the truth as little as the spoon perceives the taste of soup. An intelligent man may associate with a wise man one minute, and perceive the truth as the tongue perceives the taste of soup.” (Dhammapada, 64-65. Gaer, p. 17, n. 38a)
78 - “Look upon this world, glittering like a royal chariot! The fools are immersed in it; but the wise are not attached to it.” (Dhammapada, 171. Gaer, p. 21, n. 87a)
79 - “Let great and small and equals all do their best.” (Jatacas, 121. Gaer, p. 36, n. 36b)
80 - “For the kingdom of heaven is as a man traveling into a far country, who called his own servants, and delivered unto them his goods. And unto one he gave five talents, to another two, and to another one; to every man according to his several ability; and straightway took his journey.” (Matthew, 25:14-15)
81 - “And he spake many things unto them in parables, saying, Behold, a sower went forth to sow; and when he sowed, some seeds fell by the wayside, and the fowls came and devoured them up; some fell upon stony places, where they had not much earth: and forthwith they sprung up, because they had no deepness of earth: and when the sun was up, they were scorched; and because they had no root, they withered away. And some fell among thorns; and the thorns sprung up; and choked them: but other fell into good ground, and brought forth fruit, some an hundredfold, some sixtyfold, some thirtyfold.” (Matthew, 13:3-8)
82 - “The superior man thinks of his character; the inferior man thinks of his position (…). The superior man seeks what is right; the inferior one, what is profitable.” (Analects, IV. Gaer, p. 101, n. 34-37)
83 - “The good and the bad government both depend on the leaders. The posts should be trusted, not to the favorites of the prince, but only to the capable men. The functions should be trusted, not to the vicious men, but to those eminent by their virtues and by their talents.” (Chu-King, VIII, II, 5)
84 - “Of many thousand mortals, one, perhaps, strives for truth.” (Bhagavad-Gita, VII. Gaer, p. 128, n. 74)
85 - “Speak to men according to their mental capacities; for if you speak to men of things they cannot understand, they may fall into error.” (Hadith, 143. Gaer, p. 238, n. 59a)
86 - “When the righteous are in authority, the people rejoice; but when the wicked rule, the people mourn.” (Proverbs, 29:1. Gaer, p. 182, n. 178)
87 - “There are four characters among men. He who says: ‘What is mine is mine, and what is yours is yours’ – his is a neutral character. He who says: ‘What is mine is yours, and what is yours is mine’ – he is a boor. He who says: ‘What is mine is yours, and what is yours is yours’ – he is a saint. And he who says: ‘What is mine is mine, and what is yours is mine’ – he is a wicked man.” (Sayings of the Fathers, 5:13. Gaer, p. 194, n. 69a)
88 - “In all things, whether great
or small, find the right man, and they will be well managed.” (Nihongi, or Chronicles of
89 - “The great Tao (Way) is easy to follow, but people wander off on the bypaths.” (Tao-Te-King, 53. Gaer, p. 267, n. 116)
As seen above, we can find in the different religious traditions teachings that corroborate the perspective presented by the Perennial Philosophy stating the fundamental principles of the universal brotherhood of humanity – the facts of the essential Unity and the Diversity of manifested capacities. Nor could it be different since all major religions have their roots in the living tradition of those Adepts for whom the principles of the Perennial Philosophy are unquestionable facts, since for Them they are subjects of experience. Taken together, these two aspects of the universal brotherhood make up the only perspective that can inspire not only a correct system of ethics but also new socio-political institutions capable of organizing humanity in a satisfying manner, since this is the only perspective that truly describes humanity.
These quotations from the major religious traditions also serve incidentally to confirm the afore-mentioned statement from HPB’s The Key to Theosophy regarding brotherhood and the TS, from which we quote the paragraph most relevant to our text:
90 - “This Society was organized on this one principle, the essential Brotherhood of Man, as herein briefly outlined and imperfectly set forth. It has been assailed as Buddhistic and anti-Christian, as though it could be both these together, when both Buddhism and Christianity, as set forth by their inspired founders, make brotherhood the one essential of doctrine and of life.” (HPB quoting J.D. Buck, The Key to Theosophy, p. 18)
The aspect we analyzed above – of the Diversity of the levels of evolution of the individuals who make up the universal brotherhood of humanity – will become even clearer in the following pages when we deal with the current stage in the evolution of humanity considered as a whole; in other words, when we try to understand the relative proportions of the groups of different evolutionary ages within the human family. And, in like manner, the importance of this aspect in the solution of the great problems faced by humanity will also become clearer as we proceed with our analysis.