Aug 26, 1994 03:35 PM
by Eldon B. Tucker
This is by Brenda Tucker.
The answer to the question of the seven principles is difficult
for someone like me to express because it involves either the
repeating of someone's teachings and access to their writings or
a first-hand knowledge of the subject. I would never present the
seven principles without including atma. H.P.B. has referred to
something similar to the list which Jerry gave as the four
aspects and three principles. It is found in the fifth volume of
THE SECRET DOCTRINE, which I have loaned to my parents.
It is of interest to me that you feel this would help us to
appreciate man's condition in the existing world.
One meditation form which I found helpful when I first started
meditating describes a visualization exercise in this manner: a
physical body connected by a silver cord to a transparent mental
body. From the navel of the transparent body a golden cord rises
where floats your third body-cloudy and smoky-and embedded in
this third body lies a fourth golden body, radiant like the sun.
Similarly deep, deep in the center of the brain there lies a
golden egg. Three bodies, two cords, and an egg embedded in the
highest (and lowest) body. If you add all of this you get six
principles. (And if we add any more cords, we're going to start
My own present understanding of the subject is limited by the
fact that I can objectively know only the three ranges of
impressions which the personality is immersed in: forms or
physical, feelings, and thoughts. If we divide the first or
physical into two, which I will explain in a moment, and we also
divide the thought realm into three: perception, concept-making,
and consciousness, this also provides us with six. If we take a
very special feeling that we all have, namely love, we could add
another principle and have seven. Even so, it is the mind which
must branch forth into a hidden realm where men rarely penetrate
in waking consciousness.
So all in all, a three-fold mind with the third principle of mind
being a two-fold consciousness, and a two-fold physical body with
feelings makes seven. The most difficult of the principles to
describe are those which lead into realms which are largely
darkness for the personality in incarnation, a world of darkness
existing before the physical and a world of darkness existing
beyond the mental. In describing these difficult to penetrate
realms, we have to look to teachers who can tell us what to look
for. It's interesting to me that the seven kingdoms of nature
can be taught in explanation of how the human ego was developed.
Prior to any physical existence as a mineral, it is possible that
we lived through cycles of incarnation as etheric elementals,
astral elementals, and mental elementals. As these are on a
downward cycle and observable only to a few clairvoyants, their
study has been largely inhibited. But we can be thankful that
clairvoyants have been able to recognize and have begun to study
a vast untapped area of knowledge.
Likewise, beyond our mind, life is a mystery. It seems the only
areas open to our constant perusal are the physical, astral, and
mental. Although I disagree with the Hejka-Ekins about where to
attempt a study of theosophy and will try to show where others
have never attempted what they are attempting (to interest us in
discovering our own ethical nature), I know you must ultimately
decide for yourself which is more correct.
I would like to use an article by Chogyam Trungpa, entitled "The
Development of the Ego." It appears in a book called ENTERING THE
STREAM, and as I have mentioned earlier, this is the companion
reader to the film LITTLE BUDDHA, Boston: Shambhala, 1993.
Trungpa says that speculations which take the form of advanced
ideas and descriptions of spiritual experiences only exploit the
weaker aspects of human nature. They feed our expectations and
desires to see and hear something colorful, something
extraordinary. "If we begin our study with these dreams of
extraordinary, "enlightening" and dramatic experiences, then we
will build up our expectations and preconceptions so that later,
when we are actually working on the path, our minds will be
occupied largely with what will be rather than with what IS. It
is destructive and not fair to people to play on their
weaknesses, their expectations and dreams, rather than to present
the realistic starting point of what they are..."
Trungpa's article then proceeds to describe the five skandhas or
five heaps, which are given as form, feeling, perception,
concept, and consciousness. You may see a relationship here to
the seven principles which you asked about. You may also see
many further relationships as he (and I) continue. He describes
the mind initially and before the creation of ego (I suppose an
infant stage or animal stage or possibly even mental elemental)
as being open, free, and spacious and says that intelligence
(vidya in Sanskrit) is connected with this space (space which is
like a great room to dance around in), which is what we are. We
are one with the space. As a result of our becoming too active
in this space, which inspires us to dance around, we became
self-conscious, conscious that we are the being dancing in the
space. At this point space is no longer space, but becomes
solid. (You may think of etheric elementals and their
theoretical life.) The spaciousness is a solid, separate thing.
A duality arises and rather than being completely one with the
space there is now "space and I." This is the birth of form.
Trungpa says that at this point we black out and when we next
view solidified space, we are overwhelmed by it and lost in it.
There is a blackout and then an awakening. Now the space is no
longer openness, there is no more openness and freedom, so we
ignore it and by doing this we meet avidya (Sanskrit for
ignorance). So through development (perhaps related to the
elemental kingdoms) we become dissatisfied just to dance in
space, but want a partner. Space becomes our partner, but to
make it so we have had to solidify it and ignore its flowing,
open quality. And this is the culmination of the first skandha.
Trungpa says the skandha of ignorance-form has three different
aspects or stages: 1) an open field which is what we are, perhaps
heaven and earth 2) we identify ourselves as someone who notices
all of this-a grain of sand-and this is the birth of our
ignorance, and 3) "self-observing ignorance," watching oneself,
seeing where one goes as a grain of sand and not just seeing your
The next skandha is a defense mechanism to protect our ignorance.
Feeling is our reaching out to describe a situation as either
seductive, threatening, or neutral. The next mechanism and
skandha is perception-impulse. Our fascination with our own
creation makes us want to relate to it, explore it.
It's curious how these two mechanisms work together. When we
receive the information they provide, we make judgements, we
react. Perception brings us more information and feeling helps
us respond with either hatred, desire, or stupidity.
The fourth skandha of concept, is finally enough of a defense to
really protect our ignorance and guarantee our security, partly
because it isn't so automatic. With ignorance, we name and
categorize, and labelling things or events leads to "good,"
"bad," "beautiful," and "ugly" concepts, etc. Ego has become
heavier and heavier, stronger and stronger.
Trungpa writes, "We begin to experience intellectual speculation,
confirming or interpreting ourselves, putting ourselves into
logical, interpretive situations. The basic nature of intellect
is quite logical. Obviously there will be the tendency to work
for a positive condition: to confirm our experience, to interpret
weakness into strength, to fabricate a logic of security, to
confirm our ignorance."
Finally the primordial intelligence operates in such a manner
that there is no ego at all; there is no such thing as "I am."
What we have instead is an accumulation of stuff, a brilliant
work of art we call "I am." "I" is the label which unifies the
"stuff" into a disorganized whole or ego.
I'm sure you've been waiting to see what happens when
consciousness or the fifth skandha appears on the scene. What
happens, according to Trungpa, is the creation of six LOKAS which
are realms containing hallucinations and wandering minds. A man
struggling to escape ignorance still but frustrated, creates a
deva loka, an asura loka, human realm, animal realm, hungry ghost
loka, and finally the hell loka.
Again in Trungpa's words, "When we speak of "hallucination" or
"dream," it means that we attach values to things and events
which they do not necessarily have. We have definite opinions
about the way things are and should be. This is projection: we
project our version of things onto what is there. Thus we become
completely immersed in a world of our own creation, a world of
conflicting values and opinions. Hallucination, in this sense,
is a misinterpretation of things and events, reading into the
phenomenal world meanings which it does not have."
This is why I believe the Buddha is so correct by not starting
with ethics. His first noble truth is that there is suffering.
Second, there is a cause of suffering. Third, there is way to
end suffering. Fourth, that way is the Eightfold Path where we
find Buddhist ethics.
Neither do THE YOGA SUTRAS, begin or end with ethics. They are
found in the Second Book, before which a very dismal picture is
painted in Book One. It is not until the end of the Sutras, Book
Four that we find a description of "Isolated Unity" and a state
of bliss becomes possible. In Book Three of course we hear
descriptions of the yogic powers.
I don't agree with a study of ethics in itself because I don't
feel that there will ever be a proper understanding of the
conditions of our existence in that study. When we understand
where we came from and who we are we can understand where it is
we are going.
There is a dark side to the nature of man because our senses
don't reveal to us existence in the inner realms and what life
forms are present there. We only have our speculation and our
clairvoyants' testimonies. After purification, it is my opinion
that the soul powers will manifest. I don't know how this type
of situation manifests, but I am hoping that life will reveal all
of this in time, and until then there is plenty of work which we
can do that encourages and stimulates our higher senses. Also,
we should maintain the avoidance of anything destructive to the
cognition of this higher self.
Those who have studied theosophy and know some of the literature
may maintain that the work continues even after the goal is
reached because there are those who have attained such levels of
consciousness but that they would choose to forfeit their reward
to continue helping humanity. While it is simple to refer to the
elementals as the dark side of man, it may also be relatively
true that the higher egoic realms also could be categorized as
such. Until we develop senses in our higher self, it may
continue as an unreachable area of investigation and one veiled
in darkness but perceivable through the teachings of others who
have gone ahead.
So with darkness behind us and darkness ahead we again look at
seven principles as containing a porthole into these realms, but
mostly they are vehicles which we can knowingly categorize, such
as a two-fold physical (dense and etheric, etheric/prana,
whatever) and three-fold mental body (perceptual, conceptual, and
conscious) whose highest aspect is also dual and leads into man's
egoic nature. That highest aspect is consciousness and it is
stimulated by love, hence the buddhic or atma-buddhi-manas egoic
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