Seven Principles of Man

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Seven Principles of Man

By Annie Besant

Principle One - The Dense Physical Body

THE dense physical body of man is called the first of his seven principles, as it is certainly the most obvious. Built of material molecules, in the generally accepted sense of the term — with its five organs of sensation — the five senses — its organs of locomotion, its brain and nervous system, its apparatus for carrying on the various functions necessary for its continued existence, there is little to be said about this physical body in so slight a sketch as this of the constitution of man. Western science is almost ready to accept the Theosophical view that the human organism consists of innumerable “lives,” which build up the cells. H.P. Blavatsky says on this: 

Science has never yet gone so far as to assert with the Occult doctrine that our bodies, as well as those of animals, plants, and stones, are themselves altogether built up of such beings [bacteria, etc.]: which, with the exception of the larger species, no microscope can detect…. 

The physical and chemical constituents of all being found to be identical, chemical science may well say that there is no difference between the matter which composes the ox and that which forms the man. But the Occult doctrine is far more explicit. It says: Not only the chemical compounds are the same, but the same infinitesimal invisible lives compose the atoms of the bodies of the mountain and the daisy, of man and the ant, of the elephant and of the tree which shelters him from the sun. Each particle — whether you call it organic or inorganic — is a life. Every atom and molecule in the universe is both life-giving and death-giving to such forms.

The microbes thus “build up the material body and its cells” under the constructive energy of vitality — a phrase that will be explained when we come to deal with “life” as the Third Principle, and with these microbes as part of it. When the “life” is no longer supplied the microbes “are left to run riot as destructive agents,” and they break up and disintegrate the cells which they built, and so the body goes to pieces.

The purely physical consciousness is the consciousness of the cells and the molecules. The selective action of the cells, taking from the blood what they need, rejecting what they do not need, is an instance of this self-consciousness. The process goes on without the help of our consciousness or volition. Again, that which is called by physiologists "unconscious memory" is the memory of the physical consciousness, unconscious to us indeed, until we have learned to transfer our brain consciousness there. What we feel is not what the cells feel. The pain of a wound is felt by the brain-consciousness, acting, as before said, on the physical plane; but the consciousness of the molecule, as of the aggregation of molecules we call cells, leads it to hurry to the repair of the damaged tissues — actions of which the brain is unconscious — and its memory makes it repeat the same act again and again, even when it has become unnecessary. Hence cicatrices on wounds, scars, callosities, etc. The student may find many details on this subject in physiological treatises.

The death of the dense physical body occurs when the withdrawal of the controlling life-energy leaves the microbes to go their own way, and the many lives, no longer coordinated, separate from each other and scatter the particles of the cells of “the man of dust” and what we call decay sets in. The body becomes a whirlpool of unrestrained, unregulated lives, and its form, which resulted from their correlation, is destroyed by their exuberant individual energy. Death is but an aspect of life, and the destruction of one material form is but a prelude to building up of another.



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