Planes & Bodies - to Brigitte
Oct 28, 2001 08:24 AM
by Jerry S
Brigitte, there are several ways of looking at the planes and bodies issue.
Blavatsky gives is an astral or protean body, a casual body, a mayavirupa,
an after-death kamarupa, and so on. CWL clearly says that we have a body on
each plane, made of the same substance as that plane and with sensory organs
that can detect/observe that plane. However, CWL is out of favor with most
Theosophists today, so lets look at Purucker:
"Every cosmic plane .. provides its own suitable vehicles ... and ... no
such vehicle or body can leave the sphere ... to which it belongs." (G de
Purucker, FS of O, p 637).
Thus we have a physical body/vehicle on the physical plane, an astral body
on the astral plane, a mental body on the mental plane, and so on.
Experientially we can visit and observe each plane. We can interface with
denizens on each plane and learn things about ourself and our world. This is
a fact that is demonstrated by many magicians and occultists. However,
whether we have only one subtle body or many is debatable, and is simply not
clear from the experiential evidence.
When we dream at night, if a dream has normal objective form content (ie
objects that are similar to our physical waking state) coupled with strong
emotional content, then we are probably having an experience on the astral
plane. If we have a dream with similar content but without emotion it is
probably on the mental plane. In both we maintain a sense of self (probably
not the waking ego, though) and a sense of having a body - usually a healthy
body without pain or limitation. This is a subtle body, often called the
dream body, although it seems substantial enough while dreaming. Now, we can
say that it is a single dream body in both cases, or we can say that the
former case is an astral body and the latter case a mental body. Who can
tell the difference? Well, its difficult to tell while dreaming, but after
waking up and reflecting on the dream, maybe then we can tell. Well, the
very same thing can be said for meditative out-of-body experiences - it is
difficult to tell an astral body from a mental body while having the OBE.
However, it is real obvious when in the causal plane, because there the body
is relatively formless, and most people have no sense of body at all when on
the causal plane. Deep dreamless sleep takes place on the causal plane,
although CWL said that the upper three subplanes of the mental plane are
formless as well, but I haven't been able to verify that, nor have I found
any substantiation in the literature. Deep dreamless sleep is usually
experienced as a coma-like nothingness - but we actually are consciously
functioning in a body there (the causal body) but memory of its relatively
formless nature is lost to us when we wake on the physical plane or enter a
dream on the astral or mental planes (our mind typically passes back and
forth through the astral, mental, and causal planes many times every night).
Now, some say that we have to meditate and practice yogic techniques in
order to create these subtle bodies before we can use them. However, this
idea fails to account for spontaneous OBE experiences that occur all the
time to folks who wouldn't know how to meditate or practice yoga. So, I feel
sure that we already have these bodies (also, Blavatsky tells us that no
plane can be skipped during manifestation) and that the yoga is all about
becoming conscious of them and learning to consciously use them. (This topic
parallels evolution - do we actually evolve or is it all just a process of
becoming aware of what already exists?)
The drops were bindus in my day, and the wind was prana - the original
Sanskrit terms were used in the literature back then. Today we read about
drops and winds and channels and psychic centers and so on. This is all
about kundalini yoga and the so-called subtle body of chakras and nadiis
(usually this is explained as the etheric body). I can tell you this - at
first one begins with imagination, posture, and breathing exercises, and if
done properly one ends up actually stimulating those chakras and actually
bringing the winds into the central channel and actually getting those
subtle bodies and subtle senses functioning. I know from my own experience
that by breathing a certain way, I can extract prana from inhaled air, and
can direct that prana to any point in my body. When prana enters my central
channel, my breathing is temporarily suspended (hyperventilation?) and my
body often jerks or twitches which causes great bliss (amrita? ananda? I
don't know, but the only description that comes close is a whole-body
orgasm), and my body temperature usually goes up (I measured it to rise by 4
degrees once). I largely avoided the difficulties described by Gopi Krishna.
I have also discovered two important things: (1) Such practices do arouse
kundalini and this does activate the upper chakras which does offer a direct
connection to spirituality (energy forces at the sub-atomic or quantum
level?), and (2) the "powers" said to come from such arousal are highly
Hope this helps some.
Jerry: "we all have a "suitable vehicle" on each of the 7 planes, and
that all we have to do is to learn how to focus consciousness through
each of the corresponding sensory organs"
Could you expand on that, explain it a bit more ?
Could you also explain something regarding the enjoyment states,
along with the drops and winds meditations in Tibetan Buddhism ,
maybe also in relation to the above
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