A very little reflection will convince anyone how little material, suitable for the growth of this lofty body, he affords by his daily life; hence the slowness of evolution, the little progress made. The Thinker should have more of himself to put out in each successive life, and, when this is the case, evolution goes swiftly forward.
Persistence in evil courses reacts in a kind of indirect way on the causal body, and does more harm than the mere retardation of growth; it seems after long persistence to cause a certain incapacity to respond to the vibrations set up by the opposite good, and thus to delay growth for a considerable period after the evil has been renounced. To directly injure the causal body evil of a highly intellectual and refined kind is necessary, the ‘‘ spiritual evil” mentioned in the various Scriptures of the world. This is fortunately rare, rare as spiritual good, and found only among the highly progressed, whether they be following the Right-hand or the Left-hand Path.
The habitat of the Thinker, of the Eternal Man, is on the fifth sub-plane, the lowest level of the ‘‘formless” region of the mental plane. The great masses of mankind are here, scarce yet awake, still in the infancy of their life. The Thinker develops consciousness slowly, as his energies, playing on the lower planes, there gather experience, which is indrawn with these energies, as they return to him treasure-laden with the harvest of a life.
This Eternal Man, the individualized Self, is the actor in every body that he wears; it is his presence that gives the feeling of “I” alike to body and mind, the “ I ” being that which is self-conscious and which, by illusion, identifies itself with that vehicle in which it is most actively energizing. To the man of the senses the “ I ” is the physical body and the desire nature; he draws from these his enjoyment, and he thinks of these as himself, for his life is in them. To the scholar the “I” is the mind, for in its exercise lies his joy, and therein his life is concentrated. Few can rise to the abstract Adeptship that is used to frustrate the progress of evolution and is turned to selfish individual ends. They are sometimes called the White and Black Paths respectively.
The physiologists tell us that if we cut the finger, we do not really feel the pain there where the blood is flowing, but that the pain is felt in the brain, and is by imagination thrown outwards to the place of injury; the feeling of pain in the finger is, they say, an illusion; it is put by imagination at the point of contact with the object causing the injury; so also will a man feel pain in an amputated limb, or rather in the space the limb used to occupy. Similarly does the one “I,” the Inner Man, feel suffering and joy in the sheaths which enwrap him, at the points of contact with the external world, and feels the sheath to be himself, knowing not that this feeling is an illusion, and that he is the sole actor and experiencer in every sheath.
***From Annie Besant – The Ancient Wisdom