“Enq: I have heard a good deal about this constitution of the “inner man” as you call it, but could never make “head or tail on’t” as Gabalis expresses it.
Theo: Of course, it is most difficult, and, as you say, “puzzling” to understand correctly and distinguish between the various aspects, called by us the “principles” of the real EGO.
It is the more so as there exists a notable difference in the numbering of those principles by various Eastern schools, though at the bottom there is the same identical substratum of teaching.
Enq: Do you mean the Vedantins, as an instance? Don’t they divide your seven “principles” into five only?
Theo: They do; but though I would not presume to dispute the point with a learned Vedantin, I may yet state as my private opinion that they have an obvious reason for it.
With them it is only that compound spiritual aggregate which consists of various mental aspects that is called Man at all, the physical body being in their view something beneath contempt, and merely an illusion. Nor is the Vedanta the only philosophy to reckon in this manner.
Lao-Tze, in his Tao-te-King, mentions only five principles, because he, like the Vedantins, omits to include two principles, namely, the spirit (Atma) and the physical body, the latter of which, moreover, he calls “the cadaver”.
Then there is the Taraka Raja Yoga School. Its teaching recognizes only three “principles” in fact; but then, in reality, their Sthulopadi, or the physical body, in its waking conscious state, their Sukshmopadhi, the same body in Svapna, or the dreaming state, and their Karanopadhi or “casual body”, or that which passes from one incarnation to another, are all dual in their aspects, and thus make six.
Add to this Atma, the impersonal divine principle or the immortal element in Man, undistinguished from the Universal Spirit, and you have the same seven again. They are welcome to hold to their division; we hold to ours.
Enq: Then it seems almost the same as the division made by the mystic Christians; body, soul and spirit?
Theo: Just the same. We could easily make of the body the vehicle of the “vital Double”; of the latter the vehicle of Life or Prana; of Kamarupa, or (animal) soul, the vehicle of the higher and the lower mind, and make of the six principles, crowning the whole with the one immortal spirit.
In Occultism every qualificative change in the state of our consciousness gives to man a new aspect, and if it prevails and becomes part of the living and acting Ego, it must be (and is) given a special name, to distinguish the man in that particular state from the man he is when he places himself in another state.”
H. P. Blavatsky