Manas, Buddhi and Monad
Akasa is the fifth universal cosmic Principle. Immutable in its higher Principles, it is the ‘Soul of the World’. Correlative in its grossest aspects and portions, it is creative in its physical nature. The human ‘Manas’ or Mind proceeds from this Principle and strictly corresponds to this.
Cosmic Ideation, when focused in a Principle or a Body, becomes the consciousness of the Individual Ego, and depending upon the capacity of the body it occupies, manifests its faculties. When Cosmic Ideation is focused on the Mind, it becomes the Mind-consciousness.
Manas is triple in its nature: It stands out as a Principle; when gravitated to the higher principles, Atma and Buddhi, it is another; and the third is when pulled down by Kama to the lower desires and passions. Normally, we say the mind is dual in its character: the lower and the higher. These can also be seen as the lunar and solar influences.
Apart from its functional division, it is Immortal. After every incarnation it adds something of its own to Atma-Buddhi, and eventually to the Monad. Assimilating itself into the Monad, it shares its Immortality. The lower element, the Kama, all the time attempts to pull it down, but a better or enlightened mind does not get distracted and moves towards the Buddhi. When Buddhi conquers it shall carry Manas with it to the ‘real of eternal spirit’
Manas springs from Ahamkara (Self-consciousness), it is the microcosm springing from Mahat (Maha-Buddhi, the Buddhi in Man). Manas serves as a vehicle, both for senses and action, and is also the affiliated entity with Atma-Buddhi. Considering the septenary division of man’s principles, mind is the ‘fifth’, four – lower quaternary below-- and the higher two above, with which it gets termed as Upper triad (Atma-Buddhi-Manas). That part of the Manas which follows Buddhi moves on to Devachan, and the lower balance remains as Kama-rupa in the Kama-loka. It listens to the voice of the animal-soul and also to the after-death separation of the divine from the animal man.
As Madame Blavatsky puts it, ‘It is a strange law of Nature, on this plane, the higher (Spiritual) Nature should be, so to say, in bondage to the lower. Unless the Ego takes refuge in the Atman, the ALL-SPIRIT, and merges entirely into the essence thereof, the personal ego may goad it to the bitter end. This cannot be understood unless the student makes himself familiar with the mystery of evolution, which proceeds on triple lines – spiritual, psychic and physical.’
She continues to say, ‘It is the Fifth and Fourth principles -- Manas and Kama-rupa – that contain the dual personality: the real immortal Ego (if it assimilates itself to the two higher) and the false and transitory personality, the mayavi or astral body, so called, or the animal-human Soul – the two having to be closely blended for purposes of a full terrestrial existence.’
The golden thread of continuous life, sensuous and super-sensuous, is always with us. It is the Sutratma, the luminous thread of immortal impersonal monadship, on which our earthly lives are strung as so many beads. It is our mind which is the temper as well as the redeemer. The conscious mind is the bridge between Spirit and Matter.
We already said that the manas is the reflection of the cosmic ideation and it wells up as Mind-consciousness. Resting on its basis of experience and the more ‘finely differentiated fabric of sixth state of matter, the Buddhi, it invites into itself the stream of spiritual Intuition.
Buddhi is ‘the faculty of cognizing the channel through which divine knowledge reaches the Ego, the discernment of good and evil, divine consciousness’. It is the Spiritual soul which is the vehicle of Atma. Buddhi (Anandamaya Kosha) is a mirror reflecting the absolute bliss, though this reflection is not totally free from ignorance. It is an effect of the spiritual modifications of Prakriti and is not yet the Supreme Spirit.
Buddhi is considered the sixth principle in human and is passive and latent. It is the spiritual vehicle of Atma, inseparable from the manifested Universal soul. In union with self-consciousness, it becomes the Higher-Self and the divine discriminating Soul. It becomes conscious by the ‘accretions it gets from Manas after every new incarnation and the death of the man.’
Madame Blavatsky asserts that Buddhi has neither a discreet nor an indiscrete quality, but partakes in both, in man as in Kosmos; a unit – a human monad on the plane of illusion – when once freed from Ahamkara and terrestrial Manas, becomes truly a continued quality, both in duration and extension, because it is eternal and immortal.
The septenary Man has to add his three lower principles and cement them with the spiritual Monad, and for this to happen both Manas and Kama are necessary. ‘The Human ego is neither Atman nor Buddhi, but the higher Manas: the intellectual fruition and the efflorescence of the intellectual self conscious Egotism.’
Atma and Buddhi cannot have individuality on earth, unless there is (a) the Mind, the Manas-ego, to cognize itself, and (b) the terrestrial false personality, or the body of egotistical desires and personal Will, to cement the whole, as if round a pivot (which it is, truly), to the physical form of man.
The sixth principle in Man ( Buddhi, the Divine Soul) is a ‘breath’ for us, and yet is still matter and material compared to the divine Spirit (Atma) for which it acts as a vehicle. It cannot have independent (conscious) existence ‘before the spark which issued from the pure Essence of the Universal Sixth principle – or the OVER-SOUL has passed through every elemental form of the phenomenal world of the Manvantara, and acquire individuality’.
The Human Monad is the combination of the principles in man, Manas and Buddhi, though it is a compound and does not go with the true meaning of the term ‘monad (=one). But divorced from Atma, Buddhi alone cannot have its existence, and therefore the Monad is Atma-Buddhi-Manas. Spirit and Matter are two differentiated facets of the Absolute, and are inseparable and exchangeable; so also Atma and Buddhi go together in the Man. The Whole Universe (=One Piece of Poem) itself is one Unit; and the man is a self-conscious unit of that Whole. Madame Blavatsky adds, ‘the Monad is impersonal and a god per se, though unconscious on this plane. For, divorced from its third principle, Manas, it can have no consciousness or perception of things on this earthly plane. “The highest sees through the eye of the lowest” in the manifested world; Purusha (Spirit) remains blind without the help of Prakriti (Matter) in the material spheres; and so does Atma-Buddhi without Manas’.
Dr N C Ramanujachary