Explanation

On the seven principles in human beings, according to theosophy

The Theosophical constitution of man (and woman) In theosophical and other spiritual literature there is a way of seeing man that is quite different from the way science sees it. In this short article I will try and explain this to the best of my abilities. First I will give a general scheme:
 
Physical Body (1) the body science knows so much about, with cells, genes etc. 

Physical body, Astral body and Kama Rupa together make the mortal part of man. This does (according to theosophy) NOT reincarnate. These bodies die one at a time after the death of the physical body. 

Astral Body (2) or (3) also called Linga Sharira. Here the differences in terminology even among theosophists come into play. H.P. Blavatsky uses it to mean the Double, a phantom body, with the same shape as the physical body, but visible only to clairvoyants. It shapes to a large extent the physical body and is in its turn shaped by the imagination (if strong enough) of the person.
Kama Rupa (3) or (4) The seat of animal desires and passions. Present day theosophists usually translate this with their emotional selves, or emotional body.
Manas (5) Mind, intelligence The link between the higher and the lower, the eternal and the temporary.
Buddhi (6) That which is above our thinking principle, but not yet the eternal spirit. Blavatsky calls it (in her Key to Theosophy) the spiritual soul. Sometimes it is said that it is our intuition. Sometimes it is said that it is the ability to see what is, without having to reason about it.  Buddhi and Atma together make that which reincarnates. Only the best part of Manas reincarnates with these two. 

 

Atma (7) Spirit. Blavatsky says: "One with the Absolute, as its radiation" (Key, p. 92) This is our Highest self, the divine spark, etc. 

These together make six principles, as they are called in theosophy. There is a seventh, but I hesitate to put it in with the others, as it does not go very well with the linear presentation from low (physical) to high (Atma or spirit). This principle is Prana (referred to as second or third principle). Prana is the life-force that invigorates the three lower 'bodies'. That is it gives life to the physical, the astral and the emotional bodies.

Another, simpler way of putting it is the following: we have (clearly) a physical body. We also have emotions, mind and something that goes beyond mind. Theosophists will add to this list only that there is something even beyond that which goes beyond mind (Atma). That which goes beyond mind is Buddhi. Mind is also called Manas. Emotions are called Kama. Last is then the physical body, of which it is said (and confirmed by clairvoyants) that it has a form-body aside from the physical body we see with our ordinary eyes. The form-body is called Linga Sarira, or astral body. The physical body is called just that, but also sometimes Sthula-Sarira.

The terms Sthula-Sarira, Prana, Linga Sarira, Kama rupa, manas, buddhi and atma are all from the Sanskrit, the ancient and sacred language of India.

Katinka Hesselink


The basics: Three Fundamental Propositions

Also important: Summing Up

Very interesting: Ten Fundamental Propositions from Isis Unveiled