You are a human being, "I know that," you are probably saying. "I learned about human beings somewhere in elementary school." Some times however, that which appears simple and obvious actually turns out to be complex and obscure. How many times have you been surprised to find a more comprehensive meaning in otherwise commonplace materials, events, people, and ideas. For instance, the teenager who absolutely believes that his parent's attitudes about life are narrow and old fashioned, but after a few years of maturity comes to find wisdom in those very same parental attitudes. It seems that facts have "real" meaning only so fare as you can find an experiential value in them. Facts in the form of data, gathered solely for the sake of gathering and increasing the amount of information, no matter how intricate and organized, do not automatically synthesize into their intricate value. You and our culture at large, must deliberate and ascribe meaning and corresponding value.
Somewhere in elementary school, a teacher gave you what appeared to be a complete definition of a human being. He or she explained that humans were scientifically classified as a species of mammal distinguished by having vertebrae, self-regulating body temperature, hair, and in the females, milk producing mammae. He or she also explained that humans were further distinguished from other mammals by having a superior intellectual capacity. You accepted that explanation and immediately crystalized it into "real" fact merely on the authority of the teacher. For most of you, the understanding of a human being remains at this unexamined casual level. You probably never considered that there might be something deeper to discover.
Over the ancient temple at Apollo was the carved Greek phrase, "Know thyself." This phrase was not meant as a decoration or as a catchy marketing slogan, but as a practical reminder that human life is a microcosmic of the macrocosmic principles of our cosmos. You and the cosmos are one, you in it, and it in you. Can there be any wonder why that famous oracle gave answer to many inquiries with the now famous phrase, "Know thyself." Your humanness lies within the vastness of the Universe, and is only slightly reflected in the scientific definition of a mammal.
Human beings, by comparison to all other animals, are nowhere as physically and psychologically specialized . Physically humans are generally homogenous, varying only as to size and color. The equatorial human's exterior form is not that much different from a native human being living in the arctic region. Psychologically the human mind, in relationship to animal instinct seems to exhibit a much greater potency for evolvement. While animals are relatively limited by a primary set of behaviors, human beings can transmute habitual behaviors.
You are much more then an animal of flesh and bone operating in an external environment. You are multidimensional, functioning beyond the exact measurement of any of your parts. You are a composite of several distinct but mutually inclusive elements. These elements range from the physical and psychological, to the spiritual.
Over the course of human reflection or the knowing of thyself, certain elements have been identified in the make-up of human beings. This distinction, in terms of elements, does not fully express the deep comprehensiveness of the nature of these parts of the human constitution. Humans are composite beings, and their composition can be identified and classified, yet these classified elements represent more than their mere naming and ordering. They are essentially principles of conscious energy or force, manifesting and operating under their own cosmic laws. These principles have been classified and divided into several different patterns by various human races and cultures.
One pattern was a categorization into four principles, another into five, and still others expanded into seven or ten principles. In our Western culture, three basic principles have been distinguished: body, soul, and spirit. This pattern was followed and pasted foreword by St. Paul. while the expanded patterns are the understanding of the ancient Hindus and Orientals.
A look at the pattern of seven principles will provide a good representative view as to the nature and organization of the principles. The brake down is as follows, with the original Sanskrit names and the translations:
1. Rapa.............................the body
2. Prana or Jive...................vitality
3. Lingra Shaeira................astral body
4. Kama Rupa.....................animal body
5. Manas.............................human body
6. Buddhi.............................spiritual soul
It would be impossible to separate and exhibit each of these principles because they are not on the same plane of existence. The finest gases of which the human body is in part chemically composed would be gross substances when compared to the higher principles. These principles can only be separated in a conceptual manner, allowing them to be "looked" at individually.
The following description of the principles start from the lowest to the highest. The Body, represents an atomic aggregation outlined as to body-form in enert matter. Vitality is a psycho-electric field manifesting in the individual as life current or vital fluid. It is made alive or matter as an aspect of force. Astral Body, a model body around which the physical body flows or develops as a growth process. Animal Soul, is were all the material elements dwell, various desires, affections, hates, loves, in short the various mental and psychical energies, and also the vehicle of the will. The Human Soul, is the center of the ego-consciousness, and is the seat of mental activity. The Spiritual Soul, is the principle which gives spiritual consciousness to humans, and is the vehicle of the most high part of a human spirit. The Spirit, the highest part of a human, his Higher Self, pure consciousness. The essential and radical power or faculty in humans which gives him or her knowledge of Selfhood. This is not the personal ego-self, but is the Universal Self; the inner most link with the Unutterable, Supreme Intelligent Power, which in ancient India was called the "Self."
As extraordinary as these principles of human beings may seem to you, their naming and classification only represent the most basic understanding. These same principles penetrate into the very essence of our cosmos. Truly, you are much more the a species of mammal with a larger and more potent mind capacity.