Psychic and Noetic Action

H. P. Blavatsky

This painting is exhibited in the H. P. B. museum in Dnepropetrovsk in Ukraine. It portraits Helena as a young girl with her mother and was received as a gift from one of the heirs of her family. The name of the artist is not known and some have doubts about the painting’s authenticity, while others ascribe it to H. P. B. herself.

From Lucifer 7.39 (November 1890): 177-185; Collected Writings 12.

“. . . . The knowledge of the past, present, and future, is embodied in Kshetrajna (the ‘Self’).” — Occult Axioms.

. . . memory has no seat, no special organ of its own in the human brain, but that it has seats in every organ of the body.
. . .
The seat of memory, then, is assuredly neither here nor there, but everywhere throughout the human body. To locate its organ in the brain is to limit and dwarf the Universal Mind and its countless Rays (the Manasaputra) which inform every rational mortal. As we write for Theosophists, first of all, we care little for the psychophobian prejudices of the Materialists who may read this and sniff contemptuously at the mention of “Universal Mind,” and the Higher noetic souls of men. But, what is memory, we ask? “Both presentation of sense and image of memory, are transitory phases of consciousness,” we are answered. But what is Consciousness itself? — we ask again.

. . .
Now, since the metaphysics of Occult physiology and psychology postulate within mortal man an immortal entity, “divine Mind,” or Nous, whose pale and too often distorted reflection is that which we call “Mind” and intellect in men — virtually an entity apart from the former during the period of every incarnation — we say that the two sources of “memory” are in these two “principles.” These two we distinguish as the Higher Manas (Mind or Ego), and the Kama-Manas, i.e., the rational, but earthly or physical intellect of man, incased in, and bound by, matter, therefore subject to the influence of the latter: the all-conscious SELF, that which reincarnates periodically –– verily the WORD made flesh! — and which is always the same, while its reflected “Double,” changing with every new incarnation and personality, is, therefore, conscious but for a life period. The latter “principle” is the Lower Self, or that, which manifesting through our organic system, acting on this plane of illusion, imagines itself the Ego Sum, and thus falls into what Buddhist philosophy brands as the “heresy of separateness.” The former, we term INDIVIDUALITY, the latter Personality. From the first Proceeds all the noetic element, from the second, the psychic, i.e., “terrestrial wisdom” at best, as it is influenced by all the chaotic stimuli of the human or rather animal passions of the living body.

The “Higher Ego” cannot act directly on the body, as its consciousness belongs to quite another plane and planes of ideation: the “lower” Self does: and its action and behaviour depend on its free will and choice as to whether it will gravitate more towards its parent (“the Father in Heaven”) or the “animal” which it informs, the man of flesh. The “Higher Ego,” as part of the essence of the UNIVERSAL MIND, is unconditionally omniscient on its own plane, and only potentially so in our terrestrial sphere, as it has to act solely through its alter ego — the Personal Self. NOW, although the former is the vehicle of all knowledge of the past, the present, and the future, and although it is from this fountainhead that its “double” catches occasional glimpses of that which is beyond the senses of man, and transmits them to certain brain cells (unknown to science in their functions), thus making of man a Seer, a soothsayer, and a prophet; yet the memory of bygone events — especially of the earth, earthy — has its seat in the Personal Ego alone. No memory of a purely daily-life function, of a physical, egotistical, or of a lower mental nature — such as, e.g., eating and drinking, enjoying personal sensual pleasures, transacting business to the detriment of one’s neighbour, etc., etc., has aught to do with the “Higher” Mind or Ego. Nor has it any direct dealings on this physical plane with either our brain or our heart — for these two are the organs of a power higher than the Personality — but only with our passional organs, such as the liver, the stomach, the spleen, etc. Thus it only stands to reason that the memory of such-like events must be first awakened in that organ which was the first to induce the action remembered afterwards, and conveyed it to our “sense-thought,” which is entirely distinct from the “supersensuous” thought. It is only the higher forms of the latter, the superconscious mental experiences, that can correlate with the cerebral and cardiac centres. The memories of physical and selfish (or personal) deeds, on the other hand, together with the mental experiences of a terrestrial nature, and of earthly biological functions, can, of necessity, only be correlated with the molecular constitution of various Kamic organs, and the “dynamical association” of the elements of the nervous system in each particular organ.
. . .
Indeed, every organ in our body has its own memory. For if it is endowed with a consciousness “of its own kind,” every cell must of necessity have also a memory of its own kind, as likewise its own psychic and noetic action. Responding to the touch of both a physical and a metaphysical Force, the impulse given by the psychic (or psycho-molecular) Force will act from without within; while that of the noetic (shall we call it Spiritual-dynamical?) Force works from within without. For, as our body is the covering of the inner “principles,” soul, mind, life, etc., so the molecule or the cell is the body in which dwell its “principles,” the (to our senses and comprehension) immaterial atoms which compose that cell. The cell’s activity and behavior are determined by its being propelled either inwardly or outwardly, by the noetic or the psychic Force, the former having no relation to the physical cells proper. Therefore, while the latter act under the unavoidable law of the conservation and correlation of physical energy, the atoms — being psycho-spiritual, not physical units — act under laws of their own, . . .
. . .
Every human organ and each cell in the latter has a keyboard of its own, like that of a piano, only that it registers and emits sensations instead of sounds. Every key contains the potentiality of good or bad, of producing harmony or disharmony. This depends on the impulse given and the combinations produced; on the force of the touch of the artist at work, a “double-faced Unity,” indeed. And it is the action of this or the other “Face” of the Unity that determines the nature and the dynamical character of the manifested phenomena as a resulting action, and this whether they be physical or mental. For the whole life of man is guided by this double-faced Entity. If the impulse comes from the “Wisdom above,” the Force applied being noetic or spiritual, the results will be actions worthy of the divine propeller; if from the “terrestrial, devilish wisdom” (psychic power), man’s activities will be selfish, based solely on the exigencies of his physical, hence animal, nature. The above may sound to the average reader as pure nonsense; but every Theosophist must understand when told that there are Manasic as well as Kamic organs in him, although the cells of his body answer to both physical and spiritual impulses.

Verily that body, so desecrated by Materialism and man himself, is the temple of the Holy Grail, the Adytum of the grandest, nay, of all, the mysteries of nature in our solar universe. That body is an Aeolian harp, chorded with two sets of strings, one made of pure silver, the other of catgut. When the breath from the divine Fiat brushes softly over the former, man becomes like unto his God — but the other set feels it not. It needs the breeze of a strong terrestrial wind, impregnated with animal effluvia, to set its animal chords vibrating. It is the function of the physical, lower mind to act upon the physical organs and their cells; but, it is the higher mind alone which can influence the atoms interacting in those cells, which interaction is alone capable of exciting the brain, via the spinal “centre” cord, to a mental representation of spiritual ideas far beyond any objects on this material plane. The phenomena of divine consciousness have to be regarded as activities of our mind on another and a higher plane, working through something less substantial than the moving molecules of the brain. They cannot be explained as the simple resultant of the cerebral physiological process, as indeed the latter only condition them or give them a final form for purposes of concrete manifestation. Occultism teaches that the liver and the spleen cells are the most subservient to the action of our “personal” mind, the heart being the organ par excellence through which the “Higher” Ego acts — through the Lower Self.

Nor can the visions or memory of purely terrestrial events be transmitted directly through the mental perceptions of the brain — the direct recipient of the impressions of the heart. All such recollections have to be first stimulated by and awakened in the organs which were the originators, as already stated, of the various causes that led to the results, or, the direct recipients and participators of the latter. In other words, if what is called “association of ideas” has much to do with the awakening of memory, the mutual interaction and consistent interrelation between the personal “Mind-Entity” and the organs of the human body have far more so. A hungry stomach evokes the vision of a past banquet, because its action is reflected and repeated in the personal mind. But even before the memory of the personal Self radiates the vision from the tablets wherein are stored the experiences of one’s daily life — even to the minutest details — the memory of the stomach has already evoked the same. And so with all the organs of the body. It is they which originate according to their animal needs and desires the electro-vital sparks that illuminate the field of consciousness in the Lower Ego; and it is these sparks which in their turn awaken to function the reminiscences in it. The whole human body is, as said, a vast sounding board, in which each cell bears a long record of impressions connected with its parent organ, and each cell has a memory and a consciousness of its kind, or call it instinct if you will. These impressions are, according to the nature of the organ, physical, psychic, or mental, as they relate to this or another plane. They may be called “states of consciousness” only for the want of a better expression — as there are states of instinctual, mental, and purely abstract, or spiritual consciousness. If we trace all such “psychic” actions to brain-work, it is only because in that mansion called the human body the brain is the front door, and the only one which opens out into Space. All the others are inner doors, openings in the private building, through which travel incessantly the transmitting agents of memory and sensation. The clearness, the vividness, and intensity of these depend on the state of health and the organic soundness of the transmitters. But their reality, in the sense of trueness or correctness, is due to the “principle” they originate from, and the preponderance in the Lower Manas of the noetic or of the phrenic (“Kamic,” terrestrial) element.

For, as Occultism teaches, if the Higher Mind-Entity — the permanent and the immortal—is of the divine homogeneous essence of “Alaya-Akasa,”* or Mahat — its reflection, the Personal Mind, is, as a temporary “Principle,” of the Substance of the Astral Light. As a pure ray of the “Son of the Universal Mind,” it could perform no functions in the body, and would remain powerless over the turbulent organs of Matter. Thus, while its inner constitution is Manasic, its “body,” or rather functioning essence, is heterogeneous, and leavened with the Astral Light, the lowest element of Ether. It is a part of the mission of the Manasic Ray, to get gradually rid of the blind, deceptive element which, though it makes of it an active spiritual entity on this plane, still brings it into so close contact with matter as to entirely becloud its divine nature and stultify its intuitions.
. . .
Blessed is he who has acquainted himself with the dual powers at work in the ASTRAL Light; thrice blessed he who has learned to discern the Noetic from the Psychic action of the “Double-Faced” God in him, and who knows the potency of his own Spirit––or “Soul Dynamics.”

* Another name for the universal mind




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