An edited extract from the course ‘Esoteric Understanding of the Human Being’
IN TERMS OF APPEARANCE, consciousness and function, the mineral, plant and animal aspects can be identified in the human being. But there is another aspect that sets the human being apart from these kingdoms of nature and warrants the naming of a fourth kingdom which is above the minerals, plants and animals: the human kingdom. This aspect of the human being is known as the I AM. It is this aspect that distinguishes the human being from the animal kingdom.
The fact that both humans and animals can experience the feeling of hunger, for example, does not mean the animal has an I AM consciousness. The animal kingdom possesses an astral body. The animal experiences pleasure and pain and senses objects in the world and develops experience of these sensations. An animal avoids pain, seeks pleasure and the fulfillment of instinct. Animals are creatures of habit. The human being also has an astral body and so shares this astral aspect with the animal kingdom.
The animal becomes attuned to and regulated by its feelings of pleasure and pain. The human being can however transcend these feelings and become motivated by other desires or thoughts that are independent of the external environment or internal astral impulses. The source of this ability is the I AM.
The I AM enables the human being to say ‘I’ and to have a sense of the ‘I’ continuing. Therefore the true nature of the I AM is separate from everything that belongs to the external world and to the other bodies of the human being. It can be described as the divinity within. From the esoteric point of view the I AM is of the same nature and essence as God, but is not God.
The individual personality we are clothed in for this incarnation is unique but is not what reappears in the next incarnation. It is the I AM that is eternal and which manifests from life time to life time embodied and clothed in a new and different personality, one which is appropriate for the tasks and lessons to be learned for the new incarnation.