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An Essay on the Nature of Man
According to Yogic philosophy, man is an integral part of Nature: not separate nor superior. Nature is a manifestation of the interaction of three forces known as the Gunas acting on matter/energy. The way matter/energy interacts is a result of Consciousness - set laws/equations that form the basis of what we know as mathematics and science. All of this is in a constant state of fluctuation/evolution due to the interaction of the three forces which compose Nature (Prakriti). All of this sources from Spirit - the divine spark that animates All That IS.
The universe exists on various planes or dimensions. The most basis plane is labeled "physical" and can be perceived by human senses and scientific instruments. It is composed of energy that bundles together to form matter in the time/space continuum. This physical plane is in a constant state of wave function - either in a potential or kinetic state. Scientific laws that reveal the way this plane functions have been discovered by many great minds throughout human history - Copernicus, Galileo, Newton, Bohr, to name only a few. This process of discovery is ongoing today.
Other planes exist in a state of superposition with the physical plane with the degree of subtlety increasing with each sequential plane. Most living "beings" on the planet have an awareness of the next plane known as "subtle" or "astral" plane. We experience this plane as the place/space in which our personal thoughts, feelings, dreams, memories and imagination occur. I refer to this place as "Inner Space" when I lead meditations. Quantum physicist, Amit Goswami, calls this space "local" consciousness - individual awareness - that is part of all consciousness - "nonlocal" - that underlies this entire universe ( read "Self-Aware Universe" by Amit Goswami to learn more on this subject).
This plane was given great importance in religious/esoteric/mystical teachings for thousands of years prior to Renee Descartes (1596-1650), who purported that the universe was a machine rather than a living organism. This concept turned the perception of the subtle plane in Western Thought on its head until the late 1800's when study of the mind and human behavior surfaced in Europe. With the advent of psychology and behavioral studies, the importance of the subtle plane re-emerged though it definitely influenced by the scientific method. To truly understand it nature, you must delve into mystical/esoteric studies.
This subtle plane is your own private world; and yet, it is a part of all consciousness.
When considering the universe, it is called "Cosmic Consciousness". It can be said that the universe is "self-aware" or "non-local". Within every entity, there exists a "borrowed" consciousness - a "local" rather than "non-local self-awareness. This holds true whether the individual particle is alive or not. It can be thought of as the "intelligence" or coding that instructs all matter how to function.
Most humans experience Life as a manifestation of the physical plane and subtle planes (though mystics know there to be several more). However, that does not explain the essence of Life that flows through all that is living. This essence is referred to as Spirit or "Purusha" (Sankrit) in Yogic philosophy. This extremely subtle energy flow moves through time and manifests in a linear pattern - having a beginning and end to its manifestation within each individual entity. You can think of it as the "being" part of existence. Its initial manifestation is known as "conception". Its disappearance is known as "death".
Homo Sapiens call themselves "human beings". The word "human" identifies the existence of a creature that has a body, a mind and takes up space. The word "being" acknowledges the qualitative state of animation that happens and then ceases to happen to all living entities on this planet. This animating essence cannot be explained scientifically since it lies in a dimension of reality that man has not yet been able to replicate.
So, when we think of an individual, we need to acknowledge the body, the mind and the spirit in order to embrace the whole being. As this trio moves through the time/space continuum, a pattern is created that is remembered. The recording of this pattern is called the "soul" and it
is a perfect recollection of experience for each individual "being". At the core is a remembrance of Oneness - a singularity that exists in the "Bliss" dimension or Etheric plane, as it is labeled in esoteric studies. This singularity consists of pure consciousness, also known as "Sat" in Yogic Philosophy. It is Truth in its unadulterated form. Surrounding it, lies the record of "ignorance" or "not" truths that are expressed through the individual mind and body. This record of "ignorance" or mis-perception of the the truth forms the layers of the soul which must be released; they are known to most as "karma". Unwinding oneself from the karma one creates through ignorance is the underlying purpose of manifesting as a human being. This is coupled with the experience of "bhoga" or enjoyment that leads to the manifestation of patterns of suffering followed by joy that flow like a sine-waving "roller coaster ride" we call Life. In Yogic philosophy, it is noted that a single desire to experience ITself, led to manifestation of the universe. It is in a constant state of evolution through manifesting the multifarious ways IT can experience existence in multi-dimensions.
Thus, man exists to "be" an evolutionary manifestation of that which is pure Oneness, in its essence, and paradoxically, all refracted forms of the same Oneness as it unfolds in the time/space continuum. Unchanging & changing simultaneously. Witness/doer/act of doing and that which is done upon........it all depends on your perspective.
The Natural Evolution of Consciousness through Meditation