Re: The [Revised] Russian Doll
Dec 05, 1996 08:22 PM
[Please delete the previous version of the following. Thanks.]
A few years ago one of my students brought in a "Russian doll" she got on a
family trip to the Soviet Union. The doll works like this: you open it up
and there is a smaller doll inside; you open that up and there is a smaller
doll inside of that; you open that up and there is a smaller doll inside of
that, etc. . . .
Yesterday, I received a post from some who mentioned the need for something
to "explicitly promote or present to the public and say 'This is Theosophy.'"
The person showed no lack of confidence whatever about his ability to handle
me should I again go into one of my "big-T-small-t" tirades; thus I am sure
many of you can guess who this substantial person was. . . .
Anyway, it got me thinking again about what "core philosophy" really should
be most closely associated with the Theosophical Society. The popular view,
naturally, is that it should be the literal version of HPB's Anthropogenesis
I say ~maybe not~. Maybe not everything HPB said about Anthropogenesis and
Cosmogenesis was meant to be taken ~literally~. In particular, it seems to
me that much of what she said about Rounds, Root-Races etc. may almost be a
little ~too~ perfect as a ~figurative~ representation of the
"psychomaturation" and then further development of the human psyche ("soul")
to also be intended as an inerrant, straight-forward explanation of an exact
"esoteric physical anthropology" as well.
If a growing number of deeper-thinking Christian theologians can find truths
about human nature in the Adam and Eve story without shying away from the
word ~myth~, perhaps there are even some theosophists who can entertain the
idea that some parts of HPB's Anthropogenesis and Cosmogenesis were simply
intended to convey in veiled form some of the hidden mechanisms of
"Psychogenesis"--the "birth" of progressively more "viable" forms of the
But of course in many places HPB is not figurative on this subject at all.
It is difficult to patch together, but I am convinced that her view of the
soul may at least be generally consonant with something like this: for the
soul to be regarded as being at the "human level" at all, it must involve the
ability to remain "Self-aware" at least until it reaches some level of manas
consciousness--kama-manas, manas, or Buddhi-manas. Strictly speaking, these
states of consciousness are not "souls" themselves; rather, they merely
indicate the upper levels of the ever-more rarefied strata of "Substance"
(Prakriti) which can still be partially "en-souled" by the Self (Purusa,
Undifferentiated Consciousness, Ultimate I AM), thereby giving rise to their
own types of "egoic delusions," of course.
Strictly speaking, a soul always remains Soul and has no qualities other than
a possible sense of itSelf. It can, perhaps in the very highest individuals,
act as a "Once-Removed Vantage" on the animating, physical, desire-feeling,
desire-mental, mental, and Spiritual-mental nature that it may be partially
"in association with" at any given moment.
The problem, of course, is that the more rarefied the state of consciousness,
the more difficult it is to keep a Once-Removed-Vantage upon it--i.e., the
harder to stay "Self-aware." The "Degree" of the soul may be thought of as
the level at which a person completely merges with the gradient of
consciousness he or she is utilizing. The lowest "human" soul (as HPB seems
to imply and which I call the "Fourth-Degree" because it can still have a
sense of itSelf vis-a-vis any of the first three levels of consciousness),
would be one which could maintain a Vantage on animating, physical, and
desire states of consciousness but lose the "Silent Watcher" function as it
~became~ the like/dislike/emotion-tainted thoughts, ideas, etc. of the
Let's say a person has such a so-called Fourth-Degree soul. Again, this
would mean that the person ~could~ "hold the reins" in most basic kama
(desire) situations. He or she would be able to do this because the
Once-Removed-Vantage, which although "missing" when 100% "contaminated" by
desire-mental consciousness, would SUDDENLY RE-APPEAR because it cannot so
easily be 100% contaminated by simple (non-ideational-related) desire.
Naturally, the person could still indulge the desire and for a while perhaps
even lose the Once-Removed-Vantage on the third-level type of consciousness.
It would return soon enough, of course, and often as a very acute Witness
indeed on any third-level or lower consequences of the indulgent actions.
"Existential pain," some people might call it; "lessons of incarnation,"
other people might say.
But this, at least, would be a Fourth-Degree soul in the process of change:
either ~up~ because Self-awareness might be improved when a similar
temptation presented itself in the future, or ~down~ because repeated
indulgences might gradually degrade the Fourth-Degree
Self-Awareness--especially if even more gross indulgences (e.g., alcohol or
drugs) were regularly used to "mask" any unpleasant consequences.
All well and good. We have just discovered a little doll which can
apparently EN-SOUL--"imbue with a soul"--Third-Level consciousness. For
example, if a momentary, third-level "semi-Self" like "~I AM~ my desire to go
to bed with my neighbor's wife," is created, it is no longer a 100%
Self-deluding creation; there is also an "untransformed modicum" of
heightened Self-awareness now present to monitor and perhaps mediate the
But to repeat for emphasis: What about a Fourth-Degree soul confronting the
temptation to indulge kama-manas consciousness rather than mere kama
consciousness? For example, what if it were the soul of a political
conservative who was arguing an abortion issue he or she had a strong feeling
about? Answer: the person would undoubtedly ~become 100%~ the ideas etc. he
or she was espousing because there would be no Fifth-Degree soul to be the
Once-Removed-Vantage for that level of consciousness. In other words, no
even-littler doll to imbue the Fourth Level consciousness with a soul.
What about a Fifth-Degree soul who was indulging pure manas (mental)
consciousness? Similarly, a 100% delusion that he or she ~really was~ the
logical, dispassionate ideas and mentation he or she was utilizing. No
even-littler-littler doll. . . .
I don't know . . . if we must have something to capitalize and proclaim "This
is Theosophy," why not make it the Russian-doll model of "esoteric
psychology"? HPB was Russian, so who knows what inspired her to take an
interest in the ~uphadhis~ ("vehicles") etc. in the first place?
And indeed, if such a "Psychogenetic" perspective became identified with the
Theosophical Society, we might have a core philosophy which would attract
some attention for a change, mightn't we? In so many words, we would be
suggesting the Hierarchy of all Hierachies--the possibility that individuals
are higher or lower NOT because of I.Q., race, gender, age, etc., but BECAUSE
THEY ARE HIGHER OR LOWER AS SOULS IN PROGRESS.
"Oh yes," the core philosophy might proclaim, "individuals ARE different, but
the only really important difference is in their PSYCHOGENETIC DEGREE. The
soul of each occupies his or her own special position along the Continuum
leading toward perfect Self/Universal-Soul-Awareness . . . but unfortunately
the little, penultimate Buddhi-manas doll is the last one that anyone has
been able to find and thus we can't really speak with so much authority about
the exact Nature of What en-souls ~it~." . . .
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