Of all the mystical symbols known to Initiates, Man (we use the term “Man” to refer to both genders) is considered as the most ancient among them. Man possessing the masculine and feminine natures, is the epitome of the Cosmos on a microcosmic scale. Within Man’s being lies all of the forces, powers, and principles of Nature; embodied within Man are the laws of the universe; mysteriously written within the sacred heart you will find the source of the sacred scriptures of the world. Mystery schools of the past and present regard that being created and considered “good” by the Archcreator as a reflection of the macrocosm; hence the term “microcosm” to refer to the totality of Man, and the usage of mirrors to symbolically convey the teaching of Man’s true pristine nature as exemplified in the teachings of Taoism and Dzogchen.
Paracelsus, the medieval alchemist, believed Man to be a miniature solar system. All of the creative powers utilized in the making of a solar-system are to be found inherent within this cosmic child, within Man–the god-in-becoming. Creative and spiritual powers, however, lie dormant in a latent state within Man; their unfoldment will occur as the result of evolution, the process of growing into God’s perfect image. It really takes a great deal of involvement with the study of the “Book of Man”–with internal inquiry, with introspection, with the application of principles of mysticism and the occult, and the practice thereof to discover exactly why Man is the universe on a lesser scale, on a lower octave. St. Martin, the enlightened “Theosophist,” taught that the study of the nature of Man was the most proper for humanity, especially for the “Man of Desire,” for the aspirant–the seeker of Truth. Qabalists of the Jewish mystical tradition refer to Man as the “microprosopus,” or lesser countenance,” that is, a reflected God upon the realms of formlessness and form. This belief is based on the statement in Genesis of Man being created in God’s image. In Javanese mysticism, Man is known as the “Jagad Alit,” or the “small universe.” There are parallels of this in almost every mystical tradition of the world.
While posing as a microcosmic being, Man is a macrocosmic system to the lower kingdoms in his charge. This is in accord with the principles and famed verse of Hermes; “as above, so below”–to the Law of Correspondence. By studying the microcosm, we in fact study the macrocosm. One of the Quarternary laws of Martinism propounds this particular principle of the “Thrice Greatest.” Sentient beings of the lower lifestreams look upon Man as a God–sometimes as a wrathful one. Animals, with their fine instincts developed for them by their group-spirits, their directors of evolution, perceive Man with a sense of love, and a sense of awe and fear. This ambivalent feeling and response in animals are caused by the complexity of Man’s egoistic expression, the imperfect manifestation of his innate divinity and his relationship towards life as a whole. Primitive Man, or the primitive mind responds in a similar manner towards Nature, but for a different reason–ignorance, the lack of understanding towards God and Self. The problem of apparent inharmony within Nature therefore, lies within Man himself, and only within his Self, within the microcosmic kingdom of God, will he truly find the solution to right living and right relationships. Though the ordinary mind is the slayer of the Real, it is the spiritualized mind that will nullify its miscreations. Such a principle of the mind, the function of reason of which imbued by Buddhi–intuition, love, and the higher intellect–the “intelligence of the heart” of the hierophants of ancient Egypt, would reveal to Man his “Naked Face,” his “Natural State,” his true nature, the foundation of his existence, and the unreality of phenomena–the impermanence of form and aggregates.
Initiates of the hoary past, such as to be found among the secret societies of the Compagnons, Knights Templer, Dionysiac Artificers, and the Operative Masons, designed and built their temples, cathedrals, lodges, and places of worship after the geometric design and anatomy of Man’s body. King Solomon’s Temple and the Great Pyramid are just two examples of sacred edifices constructed after the harmonic proportion embodied within Man. In one sense, Man is the source of all measures, and is himself, the measurer of all things. Within archetypal Man, lies a tome of cosmic measurements, harmonics, and balance. Ancient Greeks produced art-forms–sculptures of the human physical form that stimulated the aesthetic sense and subtly aroused and awakened in the onlooker the memory of his divinity, spiritual nature, and origin. Symmetry in an artist’s soul results in the symmetry of created forms, the harmony and beauty of which triggers in the witnessing soul through impressions impinging upon the consciousness, an alignment with the spiritual SELF. By gazing at spiritual beauty one instinctively feel the presence of the Divine.
Various symbols in the past have been used by esotericists to represent Man. Among the well-known emblems are the pentagram, the five-pointed star, numerologically the pentad; and the hexagram, the six-pointed star–the hexad. The former represents Man’s occult nature, while the latter symbolizes the unity of Man and God; or “coordinated Man”–Man with the perfect harmonization of the lower principles of his four-fold personality and his spiritual triad.
The cross, of which there are many versions, is another ancient design that portrays Man. The use of this symbol probably had its inception during the age of Man’s adoration and veneration towards the Sun. Awakening at dawn, man would face the rising sun with outstretched hands to receive the beneficent rays of life. This pose casts a shadow on the ground in the form of a cross. This was how man was symbolically equated with it. The daily ritual of sun veneration and adoration is still to be found in some cultures, in India especially. It is believed that the rite invokes an additional amount of vital force, or prana that fills the energy-structure of the microcosm. Mantras such as the beautiful Gayatri are also sometimes recited in the rite in conjunction with physical movements, making it a sacred exercise.
At a later period, in the days of the mushrooming of esoteric schools and secret societies in Spain and the rest of Europe during the 12th and 13th centuries, the mystic rose was added to the cross, thus expanding and elaborating upon its symbolism. The union of cross and rose, is in a dynamic sense, the unity of Islamic and Christian mysticism unified by the Knights Templar and expressed in their doctrines. The “Rosy Cross” as it came to be called, was adopted by a certain mystical brotherhood that called itself “Rosicrucian” after the appellation “Rosy Cross,” or “Rosae Crucis,” to give its original Latinized version. So exquisite in form, and so sweet its perfume that the rose signified Man’s unfolding spiritual nature, his innate God-attributes. Qabalistically speaking, the cross has its origin in Malkuth, whereas the rose has its roots in Kether. The substance of the rose is divine, being composed of light, life and love; whereas crystallized spirit is the substance of the cross. Hindu philosophers would say that the rose is a manifestation of Purusha, or Soul; and the cross, Prakriti, or Matter. From one point of view, the rose attached to the cross represents the unfoldment of the anahata (heart) chakra. Rich with metaphysical significance, the Rosy Cross may be considered as one of the Secret Doctrine’s most profound Word made manifest in symbolical form. Meditating upon such a symbol, like the Holy Grail, puts us in touch with a vast fount of wisdom–with the egregore, the archetypal force, the group consciousness, and the psychic pool of spiritual ideas represented by the symbol.
Helena Blavatsky, the messenger of the Himalayan Masters of the 19th century, taught that Man is a being whose highest and lowest principles are linked together by the mental principle, by human intelligence. According to the Ancient Wisdom all beings that exist, have been, or will be Man at a certain phase of their spiritual evolution. It is believed by some occult students that Man lies midway between the higher and lower kingdoms in Nature. He is the link between the celestial kingdoms of be-ing and the natural kingdoms of becoming. St. Martin considered Man as an enigma, for although a divine son of God, with a “superior principle,” generally, Man believes himself to be a contemptible creature, a lowly being devoid of any divine spark and moral strength who was born a sinner and doomed to the eternal flames of Hell unless his faith in an external saviour is strong enough to save him.
Another puzzling feature of Man is the way he expresses himself, the way he contradicts his inner nature; he thinks of one thing, on one hand; then he says another, and later he goes on to act in a manner in opposition to his original thoughts and words–while all along the inner voice is prompting the outer consciousness with its wisdom–quite a queer creature this being called Man. Man is also regarded as a puzzle by the mortal mind because much of Man’s being and function lies hidden in his occult nature, in his immortal identity waiting to be discovered and realized by the progressive mind. Man’s spiritual, invisible being is Man unrevealed, the veiled Isis. To solve the puzzle of Man’s true identity and of his relationship to the universe, Man would have to look within, to stretch his mind and imagination, to allow his intuition full play and to expand his consciousness to new spiritual vistas. The narrow, closed, biased, caged mind will never succeed in the quest of Self-discovery. It is the open mind that will allow the unfoldment of divine seeds; for they are to sprout into the Light and ascend to new spiritual frontiers and possibilities. The mature mind is thoughtful of its place and origin in the scheme of things; the puerile mind is thoughtless regarding its raison d’etre. The riddle of the Sphinx propounded to Oedipus, and his subsequent answer, sums up the main concern of the Mystery Schools of the past of which Man was the prime subject.
Man, evolving from the quadruped phase of a dependent child-on-fours to the adult biped cycle and the tripodal phase of being, in the plane of mind corresponds to the growing spiritualized consciousness of Man. A person who thinks in finite terms is a mortal entrapped by the limitations and constrains that he imposes upon Self. Conversely, a person who regards the Self in the proper light of infinity, eternity, and immortality, commences the process of liberation and salvation. Man, on earth, in the kingdom of Malkuth, is the expression of Self in a certain phase of becoming. The carnal mind, or finite consciousness, subjects Man to the laws of Samsara, to Maya, to the laws of mortality. Attaining the spiritual mind, even that which was in Jesus Christ, we acquire or realize immortality as our true estate. We must first; however, sacrifice our animal indulgences in order for the Christ to appear in our consciousness. We should “die daily” to our self-centeredness like St. Paul. Manly Hall, an occult philosopher of the 20th century and last millennium, made this pertinent statement in his monumental work, “The Secret Teachings of All Ages”:
“Man’s status in the natural world is determined, therefore by the quality of his thinking. He whose mind is enslaved to his bestial instincts is philosophically not superior to the brute; he whose rational faculties ponder human affairs is a man; and he whose intellect is elevated to the consideration of the divine realities is already a demigod, for his being partakes of the luminosity with which his reason has brought him into proximity.”
Man, through his involvement and evolvement in matter, reveals various facets of the dark side of his psyche in the symbolical picturization of his consciousness with objects of mundane experience, such as the parasite, the beast, the robot, and the zombie. Devoid of divine illumination, Man expresses himself with such carnal personas. For instance, one moment he lives upon the sweat of another’s brow like a blood-sucker, and the next moment, he moves mechanically like a machine and aimlessly like an undead with no feeling and mental or spiritual direction in his consciousness and will. As can be seen from this, Man plays a part on the world’s stage in more ways than one, and Shakespeare probably had an inkling of this situation. The protean transformations and expressions of Man’s psyche are the manifestations of the false ego’s unstable nature, and also of Man’s false conception of his true Ego. Man identifies himself with forms, with his desires and mortal aggregates. It deludes him into thinking that he is a separate being, a unique creation, apart from the essence of all manifestations. This causes needless pain and suffering, for the identification with the false, the ephemeral, results in spiritual death and degradation, and the loss of divine light–or “Nur,” to give the Sufic designation. Unity of existence is the basis of Life, and it is wisdom to realize this fundamental condition of the Cosmos. A being who loves, extends out of its Self, to its greater SELF–the universe as a whole, the vital energies and forces that sustains the harmony of the Tao, the orderly functions of the Cosmos.
Wisdom is the way of thinking from God’s point of view, and it is acquired by attuning one’s heart with the heart of the All. Man must grow out of the personality cult, to cease worshipping this idol, this mark and symbol of the beast. This self-proclaimed god is carnal in nature, it is self-centered and egoistic. Its breath is that of sulphur, and the anguish experienced by Man who considers himself as this idol is great, and Man, as a result, undergoes a self-triggered cosmic penalty–that of suffering.. Suffering is the consequence of Man’s own willful violation or the misuse and abuse of the laws of God, of Omneity, for his self-centered purposes. One of the major laws that Man breaks each day is his identification with the false image that he creates for himself. Man should instead realize the true Self, the image of God that he essentially is. God saw that this image, this archetype, this blueprint, was good; therefore Man should likewise see the goodness in this archetypal image which is the reflection of God’s, instead of demeaning and condemning his basic identity. Man must shed his mortality, his mortal habits, his finite way of thinking and living before the “coat of various colors,” the vesture of immortality is bestowed upon him. Man’s focus should be upon his innate divinity and not on the shadow upon the wall of matter. Thinking that Man is mortal is the sin of Adam and Eve, and it caused Eden to fade from their gaze and awareness. The consequences of sin is death–spiritual deal–and this operates in an automatic fashion. Gautama Buddha declared that we are punished by our sins, our karma, and not for them. The all-merciful compassion of God, as embodied by the Bodhisattva Kuan Yin, does not throw the first stone and never will at any misguided individual. Man’s mistakes rebound back to him of their own accord, and this law is inexorable and immutable in its application in the samsaric worlds.
Man, Know Thyself
“What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man that thou visitest him?” (Psalms 8:4)
The above biblical quotation shows that the concern and enquiry into Man were of prime importance not only to the Greek sages who admonished their disciple to “know thyself,” but also to their Hebrew brethren across the Mediterranean; in fact, the wise men of all ancient cultures were of the opinion that unless one occupied one’s time and energy with the seeking out of one’s true nature, of knowing one’s Self, knowing one’s Reality–one’s presence in this physical plane is wasted and not easily acquired again for aeons; one would linger in a hell-like realm called “Hades,” or what Tibetan Buddhism calls “Bardo,” remorsing over all of one’s karmic mistakes and sins. The human form is really a precious jewel, very fragile in its structure and precious in the eyes of Divinity–for it is its instrument in this plane of existence. We should not make the mistake of thinking that the physical form would endure for a considerable period in this three-dimensional world. There are no guarantees in life. The Angel of Death may at any given moment say that our alloted time is spent. Living a hedonistic life robs us of a considerable amount of life-energy that should be returned to our Source in joyous gratitude. The energy at our disposal does not really belong to us–not to the false ego or personality–it belongs to God. For so long we have given to Caesar that which is his and not thought about rendering to God his due. It is an error to utilize the energy given for self-indulgence, for egoistic purposes. Understanding this, we should occupy ourselves with spiritual pursuits, even in the midst of everyday living.
Forsaking egoism or self-centeredness which is Qabalistically, the qlipphotic side of Man, we automatically dethrone most, if not all of the lesser gods, the devils in disguise, such as greed, sloth, jealousy, and lust. On the converse side, transcendental virtues–the Paramitas, such as giving, morality, patience, and perseverance ought to be practiced and lived by Man. Expressions of compassion, mercy, and the serving of life are just some of the many ways that we “cast bread (energy) upon the waters” and have it returned to us tenfold. Spiritual aspirants must learn to be responsible for their own actions, and to control their minds and emotions. Thinking compassionately, calmly, and impersonally is the way of the Divine.[Note: This paper contains images which may be seen as originally published at our website]
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