A44 Our Five Bodies: We actually have subtle bodies of which we are not generally aware, but which control our lives to a great degree


In chapter two we discussed various models which help us comprehend to some extent the enigma of our separate identity and simultaneously our spiritual unity. We now understand that there is one Universal Spirit which is expressing itself as all of the material universe and all the beings in it. Remember also that this Universal Consciousness may be called by you and others by various names such as: Universal Energy, the Absolute, the Divine, God, the Divine Ground, the Father, the Logos, Divine mother, the Christ, Supreme Being, Brahman, Allah, the Void etc. It makes no difference how you are used to calling it. The following discussion concerns that Highest Reality. This Universal Consciousness is said to have three qualities. Firstly it is eternal existence. There never was a time when it did not exist. Never will there be a time when it will not exist. In fact time itself is its creation. It existed before the creation of the universe and time and space. Thus, even if all the universe collapses and disappears, this eternally existent consciousness will still exist. Secondly it is pure, unlimited consciousness which permeates all things, space and beings but is not limited by any of them. We cannot find or even imagine something, or some place or someone which is not permeated by this consciousness. It is in every person, tree, animal, insect, rock, star, planet, even in our thoughts and emotions. Imagine an infinitely large T.V. screen which is lit up but without any image. This is pure unlimited consciousness. Various images appear then on the screen. They seem to limit this consciousness to a specific form. But all the time this unlimited consciousness (the light of the T.V. screen) is responsible for their existence. At some time the «program» ends and the images disappear and we are left again with the pure, undistorted lit screen – pure consciousness. The third aspect of the absolute is everlasting, unchanging bliss. The bliss is not like our ordinary happiness which is usually the result of something which happens or does not happen. Our happiness has a cause, a stimulus usually some event. It is dependent on external factors and constantly changes. Bliss is without external cause and undergoes no change. It is experience of total inner fullness and ultimate existence. This state of bliss has been described by the various religions and philosophical systems as ecstasy, union, transcendence, Samadhi, the Kingdom of Heaven, the Kingdom of God, Nirvana, Satori, enlightenment, and some psychologists call an experience of this type a «peak experience» or «mystical experience». These three qualities describe the state of the Supreme Being. But this Being is in all beings. In a sense this Universal Consciousness is the sum total of all consciousness in the universe (manifest and unmanifest). Thus it can also be called the «Over Soul» or the «Collective Spirit». All the spirits (incarnated and not) in the Universe make up this one Universal Spirit. We, as spirits, then are constituted of the same qualities as is the Universal Spirit, just as a drop of water or a wave on the ocean is made up of exactly the same qualities as the ocean itself. We as spirit are in fact those same three qualities of eternal existence, pure unlimited consciousness and unending bliss. This is our true nature when we are not immersed in ignorance of our true self and identification with the various bodies through which we are expressing ourselves. Thus, in reality, the spirit does not actually undergo birth, death, change, evolution, decay or improvement. The spirit remains always perfect, unlimited and unaffected by whatever the personality or the body may be experiencing. All suffering and change is taking place in the various bodies through which the soul expresses itself on the earth. For example the sun’s image (Diagram No.6, Chapter II) shows in millions of different ways on the thousands of bodies of water all over the planet. Thus the One universal spirit projects itself as the various beings existing on the planet. Now, when we disturb the water, the image changes its shape, but is the sun in any way affected by the ripples in the water? Obviously not. In the same way the spirit, which is pure existence, consciousness, bliss is in no way affected by the ups and downs experienced by the body, mind and personality.


In order for the spirit to express itself on earth, it must project a series of bodies, vehicles or instruments, (however you would like to call them) through which it can perceive and interact with the physical and subtle worlds. We might imagine that these are sheaths or coverings for the spirit. Although the spirit is omnipresent, it appears to be limited by these sheaths or coverings. The spirit exists beyond these coverings in time and space, for these bodies are mortal and finite whereas the spirit is immortal and infinite. These bodies are called: the causal body, intellectual body (or higher intellect), mental body, energy body, and physical body. The most subtle body projected by the spirit is the Bliss body, or the causal body. This body is far more subtle than the mind. It is the store house of experiences of all the various incarnations this particular spirit has projected into the material plane. All the actions, thoughts, words and perceptions of all the previous bodies having belonged to this spirit are recorded in this subtle body which continues to exist after the death of the physical bodies. This body exists between lives and is carried along by the spirit through the various incarnations until final liberation. Self-realization is the giving up of every identification with these coverings and the realizing of the spirit’s true eternal, unlimited existence. When this happens even this subtle body is destroyed and the spirit exists in its union with the Divine. It is called causal body because these recorded experiences of the past lives form the limiting factors of the present and future lives through the law of “Action and Reaction”. Because these actions must be re-payed, they determine the type of body, personality and life experiences which are fated for each particular life. The law of Action and Reaction (or cause and effect or «Karma») dictates that all thoughts, words and actions which have been committed by the bodies must return to the bodies. The spirit is not in any way affected by this karmic reaction. But the present and future bodies and minds which are projected by the spirit are affected by the actions and reactions of the previous bodies used by that spirit. This may take place somewhat like the transfer of momentum from one billiard ball to another.


A billiard ball is set into motion. When it hits another ball, it stops and the other ball continues. The direction of the second ball is dependent on the speed and direction of the first. If it hits a third ball, it will stop and the third ball will continue. Its direction will depend on the velocity and direction of the second ball which was a reflection of the first ball. So, the so-called «Karma» is the momentum and direction of the previous bodies which is transferred to the newly created bodies. This continues until finally one of the balls (bodies) escapes through the hole of self-realization. Thus the information stored in the causal body, causes the states of the next bodies such as the physical and mental characteristics, the various inherited strengths and weaknesses, the social class one is born into, the major relationships and experiences, and the length of the life itself. Hereditary and chromosomes then are simply physical manifestations of the tendencies, or impulses, which are stored in the causal body. A spirit will choose parents who can supply the chromosomes necessary to create the type of body and mind it needs in order to work out its «Karma». The exact choice of this chromosone combination is guided by the spirit out of the millions of possible combinations. These tendencies, or characteristics, are not only reactions from previous actions, but also qualities which we develop as we seek to survive and evolve on this material plane. We bring with us tendencies such as compassion, anger, self rejection, guilt, self confidence, mental clarity, confusion, sexual desires, love, peace, humility, an obsession with food, talents in art, music, writing, technical abilities in mathematics, machinery, gardening, running a business, fears of various types from claustrophobia or agoraphobia, to fear of heights, water, dogs, insects, fire, earthquakes, magic; and an unlimited variety of other qualities, talents, emotional states and mental tendencies. We bring much of this with us as the result of the ways in which we have lived, thought and acted in our previous incarnations. These are all stored in and transferred from the previous bodies and minds to the next through the vehicle of the causal body. (In the next chapter you will find some recent scientific theories which support the concept of the causal body).


The next most subtle body is the intellectual body, or the pure intellect, or higher intellect. The intellect mentioned here has nothing to do with the intellect of the university professor or of the «intellectual individual». Here intellect means the power of spiritual discrimination between the changing relative reality of emotions, thoughts and actions, and the unchanging reality of the spirit. The higher Intellect observes the lower mental body and determines the correctness of its functioning and hopefully is eventually able to control it. It is the vehicle which enables us to become objectively aware of our minds in meditation or in normal daily functioning. It observes and evaluates the functioning of the mind. When it is developed we are able to watch the various changing emotional and physical conditions as a passing drama. We then understand that we are not those emotions, but rather that they are temporary waves of experience which will pass through us if we allow them. The development of the higher intellect through meditation and philosophical inquiry is essential for anyone seeking a way out of the nightmare of the emotional and mental confusion plaguing so much of society today. As the higher intellect is developed, we become more and more the witness of life’s drama. We gain perspective and clarity concerning events and choices. We become more clear concerning what is useful and beneficial for our real happiness and evolution. We are able to govern our lives and direct our energies much more effectively. Problems are solved more easily, and we learn much more from them. We are happier because we fear less, and are more self confident. The higher intellect is our spiritual eye which guides us out of Plato’s cave of ignorance into the Truth of the brilliant sun light.


Plato’s use of the cave as an example of man’s ignorance and lack of spiritual sight is an excellent one. Imagine a society of people all living in a cave, all chained with their hands, legs and heads in such a way that they could not get up, not turn right, left nor around. They are limited to looking at the wall in front of them. This is in fact the case of most of society which is so programmed into thinking automatically and mechanically that we are like horses with blinders. We have no possibility of looking at something in a different way. We are unable to change our position and see something from another vantage point.

Diagram No.11 PLATO’S CAVE
Imagine that behind them there is another wall and behind that wall a pathway where farmers pass holding their tools over their shoulders. Behind the passing farmers is a fire. The light of the fire creates shadow forms on the wall in front of this chained society. They see in front of them the moving shadows of the tools carried by the farmers back and forth in front of the fire which is behind them. Their only reality is these shadows. They study them, make up theories about them, gossip about them and wait for them with much expectation, because it is their only reality and only form of recreation. It is the only thing they know. This is their «reality». Imagine that one day one of them breaks free from his chains. In other words he breaks free from the limiting belief system and preconceptions which prevent him from seeing clearly and moving freely. He begins to move upwards towards the mouth of the cave. He begins to see a light there. The light is blinding, perhaps creating fear at first. This is something unfamiliar, strange, perhaps he feels fear and danger. But it is also very enticing, interesting and alluring. Many experience this stage when they have their first intense experiences in meditation, or begin to perceive the world differently. This sometimes creates fear, or at least a difficulty in readjustment, and frequently problems in communication with others, who have not yet experienced this dimension of reality. He decided to risk it, and goes out into full daylight and is temporarily blinded by the power of this «real» reality in comparison to the limited reality which he has been experiencing until now. Gradually his eyes become accustomed and he is overwhelmed by the beauty of this true reality. He is filled with joy and the desire to share this wonderful news with his friends in the cave. He rushes down to tell them all of the truth, that what they have been seeing all their lives is illusion, only shadows of the farmers tools, that the truth is much greater, much more beautiful, that the world they know is nothing in comparison to this. What is their reaction? The same reaction they had towards Socrates and Christ. No one is ready to hear this. People fear change. They will kill if you push them too quickly towards change. What happened to the man in the cave? His higher intellect started working. He began to see a different reality.We do not have to go anywhere special to do this. Both the cave and the sunlight are in our minds. We all have so much to gain by awakening the higher intellect and climbing out of the cave of ignorance. The four methods of evolution mentioned in chapter III are the way out: service, worship, control of the mind and philosophy.


We make up words in order to help us to communicate needs, desires, feelings, thoughts and concepts. We give meanings to these words. They have the meaning which we agree upon to give them. The various philosophies, spiritual systems and religions use the words soul and spirit in various contexts. There is no right or wrong meaning. Thus, for the sake of clarity, we will define what we mean in this book by the words soul and spirit. That does not mean that it is wrong to use these words differently. Also, because we already have the habit of using these words interchangeably to describe some higher aspect of man, we may not be able to avoid occasionally using the one where perhaps it would be more accurate to use the other. Thus, we are defining the soul as the combination of the causal and intellectual bodies. And we will call that which is perfect throughout the whole evolutionary process, and always in union with God, the «spirit». The two subtle bodies which the spirit takes then are the «soul». We make this distinction because these bodies, unlike the mental and physical bodies, do not perish upon the death of the physical body. Rather they (or what we now refer to as the soul) exist between lives and undergo a gradual process of purification and development until they realize their true identity as the spirit. Thus when we speak of the evolution of soul we mean the causal and intellectual bodies. We cannot speak about the evolution of spirit, for how can something which is eternal, omniscient and ever blissful evolve? The spirit is pure consciousness which cannot actually be born, or grow, or diminish or die. The spirit or pure consciousness of all beings is one in the same. The consciousness in a child is the same as that of a learned adult. Consciousness is the same in the genius and the dullard, the saint, the criminal, the tree, the fly, the sun; they are all projections of the one pure consciousness called God or spirit. (Brahman or Atman). The model of an ever shining light is helpful.


The light is shining through an aperture like that of a camera. There is a long lens attached which has five filters on it representing the five bodies, causal, intellectual, mental, energy and physical. The light is the eternal, unchanging, pure consciousness aspect of the spirit. Although it is ever the same, its projection into the physical world is altered by the size of the aperture and the purity and clarity of the lenses. Before birth the aperture is closed and there is no appearance of the light of consciousness in the physical world. In the process of the birth of a being into the physical world, the aperture opens and consciousness then manifestes physically. Was it born, or created? Of course not, it always existed, it has simply now become visible to the gross physical senses. In the same way, when the aperture is closed, we call this death for there is no more physical sign of this consciousness. Has consciousness died? No, it is simply not apparent to the physical senses. The quality of light filtering out, through the body and mind will depend on the purity of the various bodies. Karmic conditions may call for the creation of a mentally handicapped being. Is the consciousness less? No, the vehicle through which it is expressing itself is simply damaged and imperfect. As we evolve through the many incarnations, hopefully we are learning and purifying the filters so that the amount of that consciousness which is being expressed through our thoughts, words and actions is increasing, and thus we manifest greater energy, love, power, understanding, and creativity in our lives. But consciousness remains the same. The aperture has become wider and the lenses more pure. Jesus Christ was an example of a wide open aperture and perfectly clear lenses. He had no ego. He was all Love and Wisdom. Please notice that the two subtle lenses of the soul (causal and intellectual bodies) are on the inside of the aperture. Thus they continue to enjoy the light of the spirit even after death and before rebirth. As mentioned before, these bodies exist between lives and are given up only upon final self-realization. The grosser vehicles, such as the mind, energy body and physical body, are destroyed and recreated with each successive incarnation.


The mind or mental body is the next filter or vehicle. It is responsible for interacting with the external world. It is the aspect of mind which experiences the various ups and downs of life, which is often confused and misdirected. The lower mind usually seeks to find security and happiness in the external world of possessions and relationships. Because it is unable to succeed in finding this security or happiness, it often experiences suffering and depression. It becomes disillusioned with the «world of shadows». Eventually, after failing to find what it desires in the external world, it begins to look within. It is then that the higher intellect can be awakened. It is developed through experience, spiritual disciplines and the Grace of God. As it develops, it guides the mind as a loving parent would guide a child, with compassion and discipline. The mind cannot function without the energy body, the vital body, or etheric body, which exists as the sustaining force for the mind’s functions. This Bioenergy also activates the physical body and provides the communication link between the mind and the physical body. This cosmic energy can be expressed in any variety of ways i.e., nervous energy, thought energy, sexual energy, heat energy, physical movement, healing energy, chemical energy, solar energy, wind energy, nuclear energy; all energies are forms of it. This cosmic energy can be likened to the electrical energy which we have in our homes. It can be expressed in myriad ways depending on our needs, desires and interests. It can become heat, cold, sound, light, mechanical movement, air movement, images on a screen, a vacuum which cleans. This one energy is expressed differently by different instruments. Each individual will be disposed to use this cosmic energy in his own characteristic way. Some will be more intellectual, others emotional. Others will be more interested in physical or sexual activity; some will express this energy through creative activities such as music or art. When the supply of energy is low, then the mind and body cannot function properly, and are more susceptible to illness and breakdown. There is a whole science of keeping this energy in an abundant and harmonious flow. This can be done through regular proper diet, physical exercise, breath control, concentration and mastery of the behavior and emotions. It is important to realize that, although this cosmic energy is universal and limited, our personal access to it is limited by the degree to which we are open to it. Most of us are not yet fully open to and in tune with it and thus experience limited amounts of energy. Since we have limited energy resources, we will need to study a little «energy management». A person or a business with limited economic energy (money) needs to pay close attention to where there are money leaks, or where money is being spent in a way which does not offer much benefit. When we discover these leaks or wastes or perhaps internal blockages to money flow, we will want to correct them. The same is even more true concerning our «energy assets» because our health, happiness, harmony, mental clarity and spiritual evolution are much more dependent upon our vital energy than upon our «economic energy”. Thus one will do well to study the science of human energy production, regulation and attunement. (This matter is taken up in the books «Self Therapy» and «The Art of Meditation».) Because such techniques are learned more easily from persons than from books, check for seminars or classes concerning physical, emotional and mental harmony which might be available in the city where you live). The most gross projection of the spirit is the physical body or the body made from food. The energy body communicates the messages of the higher vehicles to the physical body through the use of the nervous system and endocrine system. These master systems then control the rest of the physical body. We create a whole world of attachments, habits and fears based on our identification with this physical body. It certainly is an important part of our existence, but as we can see now, a very small part. It is like the tip of the iceberg of which the visible portion is so small compared to the invisible portion. Spiritual evolution then, is a process of purifying these various bodies and developing the higher ones so that they may guide the lower ones. Thus self-knowledge is gained and one ceases to identify with them realizing that his real existence is far beyond these bodies. He sees them as clothing which he puts on in order to play his part in the drama of life. He realizes that he will take off this clothing at the end of the drama just as the actor undresses after the performance. He understands that he has played other parts in other plays (past lives) and will play other parts in future dramas (future lives), until he learns to play his part perfectly without becoming deluded into thinking he is really the role he is playing. He remains constantly aware of the temporary and relative nature of his chosen role and the whole drama itself. The following diagram may help us to put all of what we have said until now into perspective. In the center we have the universal, eternal and omnipresent consciousness. This is represented by an eternal, unchanging light. This light flows out through the various beings who are presently incarnated on the earth level giving life to their temporary drama. Each being has the five vehicles, bodies or filters which we have just discussed: the causal body, the higher intellect which are closest to the universal spirit. Then, falling outside the line separating “life” from “death”, we have the three lower bodies; the mental, energy and physical.



Although on the surface (on the circumference of the circle) there seem to be many different beings, in reality they are all lit up by one light. What makes this one light appear differently through each being is the quality and state of the filters which limit and distort this light, giving form and color to it. Each filter has various impurities which reduce and eventually almost totally conceal this light so that we can barely perceive it. Looking around us at the way people drag themselves through life, it is difficult to remember that within that body there is the ever-shining universal light. But it is true, and as our eyes become clearer, we will see it also in them. Now we may be able to see it more easily in those who have proceeded spiritually and shine more brightly. This diagram helps us understand what is meant by the total equality of all beings. Beings are not equal in their performance or ability on the mental, emotional and physical levels. But each is equally an expression of the one Universal Consciousness, and thus each deserves the same respect and love independent of what he does or does not do on the external levels. From now on when we see someone who stands out either negatively or positively in respect to the others, we will be able to remember that they too are simply expressions of the one universal light. The differences are in the filters, the bodies which are distorting that light. Consciousness is one in all beings. Consciousness does not evolve, but it is simply gradually uncovered or exposed more and more to the lower levels of existence. In the case that all the filters may be blocked and someone is not mentally capable or even in a coma, this does not mean that he has less consciousness as a spirit. It means that this consciousness is at the present unable to express itself on the mental or physical level because of blockages in the bodies. Thus the same consciousness exists in the wise man of eighty and the child of two. The vehicles of the one are simply more exercised in expression on the material level. The same consciousness exists in the saint and the criminal; it is simply expressed differently by the vehicles. The same universal light is shining through both. There is the same consciousness flowing through men and women, and even the animals and plants. The same consciousness flows through the intellectual and the uneducated, between the healthy and the ill, between the spiritually advanced and the less spiritually advanced. The only difference between all these categories is what happens to this one universal consciousness on its way towards being expressed in the material world. We can start giving much less importance to titles, religions, nationalities, intelligence, color, physical appearances, illnesses, physical handicaps and a wide variety of other factors which cause us to put people into different categories, and more unfortunately, to place them into hierarchies of importance in our minds. This causes us to have a biased behavior towards the various groups of people because we see them as being more important or less important than others. Let us free ourselves from this tendency and feel the same unity with the rich and poor, with the prime minister and the beggar, with men and women, with people of all nationalities, with people from all social classes, because all these labels are simply the costumes which we actors are wearing in the play of life. We are all, in reality, one. May we too attempt to play our parts perfectly, while remembering that we have played many others and will still play others. May we be more objective and full of the peace which comes in realizing that all the physical reality is a temporary ever changing state of affairs and that we are the spirit which exists above and beyond all this. May you be filled with the love of oneness with your fellow man by realizing that, on the spiritual level, there is only one being who is expressing itself as the many bodies which you call your self and others.

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