A clear understanding of the nature of the mental body would much modify modern education, and would make it far more serviceable to the Thinker than it is at present. The general characteristics of this body depend on the past lives of the Thinker on earth, as will be thoroughly understood when we have studied Reincarnation and Karma. The body is constituted on the mental plane, and its materials depend on the qualities that the Thinker has garnered within himself as the results of his past experiences.
All that education can do is to provide such external stimuli as shall arouse and encourage the growth of the useful faculties he already possesses, and stunt and help in the eradication of those that are undesirable. The drawing out of these inborn faculties, and not the cramming of the mind with facts, is the object of true education. Nor need memory be cultivated as a separate faculty ; for memory depends on attention—that is, on the steady concentration of the mind on the subject studied—and on the natural affinity between the subject and the mind. If the subject be liked—that is, if the mind has a capacity for it—memory will not fail, provided due attention be paid. Therefore education should cultivate the habit of steady concentration, of sustained attention, and should be directed according to the inborn faculties of the pupil.
Let us now pass into the “formless” divisions of the mental plane, the region which is man’s true home during the cycle of his reincarnations, into which he is born, a baby soul, an infant Ego, an embryonic individuality, when he begins his purely human evolution.”‘ The outline of this Ego, the Thinker, is oval in shape, and hence H. P. Blavatsky speaks of this body of Manas which endures the matter of the three highest sub-divisions of the mental plane, it is exquisitely fine, a film of rarest subtlety, even at its first inception; and, as it develops, it becomes a radiant object of supernal glory and beauty, the shining One, as it has been aptly named.
What is this Thinker? He is the divine Self, as already said, limited, or individualized by this subtle body drawn from the materials of the “formless” region of the mental plane. This matter—drawn around a ray of the Self, a living beam of the one Light and Life of the universe—shuts off this ray from its Source, so far as the external world is concerned, encloses it within a filmy shell of itself, and so makes it ‘”an individual.”
The life is the Life of the Logos, but all the powers of that Life are lying latent, concealed; everything is there potentially, germinally, as the tree is hidden within the tiny germ in the seed. This seed is dropped into the soil of human life that its latent forces may be quickened into activity by the sun of joy and the rain of tears, and be fed by the juices of the life-soil that we call experience, until the germ grows into a mighty tree, the image of its generating Sire. Human evolution is the evolution of the Thinker; he takes on bodies on the lower mental, the astral, and the physical planes, wears them through earthly, astral, lower mental life, dropping them successively at the regular stages of this life-cycle as he passes from world to world, but ever storing up within himself the fruits he has gathered by their use on each plane.
At first, as little conscious as a baby’s earthly body, he almost slept through life afterlife, till the experiences playing on him from without awakened some of his latent forces into activity; but gradually he took more and more part in the direction of his life, until, with manhood reached, he took his life into his own hands, and assumed an ever-increasing control over his future destiny. The growth of the permanent body which with the divine consciousness forms the Thinker, is extremely slow. Its technical name is the causal body, because he gathers Tip within it the results of all experiences, and these act as causes, moulding future lives.
It is the only permanent one among the bodies used during incarnation, the mental, astral and physical bodies being reconstituted for each fresh life; as each perishes in turn, it hands on its harvest to the one above it, and thus all the harvests are finally stored in the permanent body; when the Thinker returns to incarnation, he sends out his energies, constituted of these harvests, on each successive plane, and thus draws round him new body after body suitable to his past.
The growth of the causal body itself, as said, is very slow, for it can only vibrate in answer to impulses that can be expressed in the very subtle matter of which it is composed, thus weaving them into the texture of its being. Hence the passions, which play so large a part in the early stages of human evolution, cannot directly affect its growth. The Thinker can only work into himself the experiences that can be reproduced in the vibrations of the causal body, and these must belong to the mental region, and be highly intellectual or loftily moral in their character, otherwise its subtle matter can give no sympathetic vibration in answer.
***From Annie Besant – The Ancient Wisdom