Part II -- ASTRAL BODY AND ASTRAL PLANE
Sep 15, 2004 09:00 PM
by W.Dallas TenBroeck
Sept 15 2004
Part II -- ASTRAL BODY AND ASTRAL PLANE
ASTRAL BODY AND THE PSYCHIC PLANE -- Part 2 ===
BODY AND ASTRAL BODY
The body, as a mass of flesh, bones, muscles, nerves, brain matter, bile,
mucous, blood, and skin is an object of exclusive care for too many people,
who make it their god because they have come to identify themselves with it,
meaning it only when they say "I." …
It is made up of an infinitesimal number of "lives." Each of these lives is
a sensitive point. Not only are there microbes, bacilli, and bacteria, but
these are composed of others, and those others of still more minute lives.
These lives…make up the cells, keeping ever within the limits assigned by
evolution to the cell. They are forever whirling and moving together
throughout the whole body, being in certain apparently void spaces as well
as where flesh, membrane, bones, and blood are seen. They extend beyond the
actual outer limits of the body to a measurable distance.
“LIVES” THAT MAKE UP THE BODY -- AND LIFE-FORCE
One of the mysteries of physical life is hidden among these "lives." Their
action, forced forward by the Life energy -- called Prana or Jiva -- will
explain active existence and physical death. They are divided into two
classes, one the destroyers, the other the preservers, and these two war
upon each other from birth until the destroyers win. In this struggle the
Life Energy itself ends the contest because it is life that kills.
This may seem “unorthodox,” but in Theosophical philosophy it is held to be
the fact. For, it is said, the infant lives because the combination of
healthy organs is able to absorb the life all around it in space, and is put
to sleep each day by the overpowering strength of the stream of life, since
the preservers among the cells of the youthful body are not yet mastered by
the other class.
SLEEPING AND BALANCING OF THE LIFE FORCE
These processes of going to sleep and waking again are simply and solely the
restoring of the equilibrium in sleep and the action produced by disturbing
it when awake… So in sleep we are absorbing and not resisting the Life
Energy. When we wake we are throwing it off. But as it exists around us
like an ocean in which we swim, our power to throw it off is necessarily
limited. Just when we wake we are in equilibrium as to our organs and life;
when we fall asleep we are yet more full of life than in the morning; it has
exhausted us; it finally kills the body. Such a contest could not be waged
forever, since the whole solar system's weight of life is pitted against the
power to resist focused in one small human frame.
PHYSICAL BODY IN CONSTANT CHANGE
The physical body is considered by the Masters of Wisdom to be the most
transitory, impermanent, and illusionary of the whole series of constituents
in man. Not for a moment is it the same. Ever changing, in motion in every
part, it is in fact never complete or finished though tangible.
The ancients clearly perceived this, for they elaborated a doctrine called
…Nitya Pralaya, or the continual change in material things, the continual
destruction. This is known now to science in the doctrine that the body
undergoes a complete alteration and renovation every seven years. At the end
of the first seven years it is not the same body it was in the beginning.
At the end of our days it has changed seven times, perhaps more. And yet it
presents the same general appearance from maturity until death; and it is a
human form from birth to maturity. This is a mystery science explains not;
it is a question pertaining to the cell and to the means whereby the general
human shape is preserved.
“CELL” AS A MODEL AND IDEAL SHAPE
The "cell" is an illusion. It is merely a word. It has no existence as a
material thing, for any cell is composed of other cells. What, then, is a
cell? It is the ideal form within which the actual physical atoms -- made up
of the "lives" -- arrange themselves. As it is admitted that the physical
molecules are forever rushing away from the body, they must be leaving the
cells each moment. Hence there is no physical cell, but the privative limits
of one, the ideal walls and general shape.
The molecules assume position within the ideal shape according to the laws
of nature, and leave it again almost at once to give place to other atoms.
And as it is thus with the body, so is it with the earth and with the solar
system. Thus also is it, though in slower measure, with all material
objects. They are all in constant motion and change. This is modern and also
ancient wisdom. This is the physical explanation of clairvoyance,
clairaudience, telepathy, and mind-reading. It helps to show us what a
deluding and unsatisfactory thing our body is.
LIFE-FORCE AND THE ASTRAL PLANE
Although, strictly speaking, the second constituent of man is the ASTRAL
BODY -- called in Sanskrit Linga Sarira -- we will consider Life Energy --
or Prana and Jiva in Sanskrit -- together, because to our observation the
phenomenon of life is more plainly exhibited in connection with the body.
Life is not the result of the operation of the organs, nor is it gone when
the body dissolves. It is a universally pervasive principle. It is the ocean
in which the earth floats; it permeates the globe and every being and object
on it. It works unceasingly on and around us, pulsating against and through
When we occupy a body we merely use a more specialized instrument than any
other for dealing with both Prana and Jiva. Strictly speaking, Prana is
breath; and as breath is necessary for continuance of life in the human
machine, that is the better word. Jiva means "life," and also is applied to
the living soul, for the life in general is derived from the Supreme Life
itself. Jiva is therefore capable of general application, whereas Prana is
It cannot be said that one has a definite amount of this Life Energy, but
rather that it works with whatever be the mass of matter in it. We, as it
were, secrete or use it as we live. For whether we are alive or dead,
life-energy is still there; in life among our organs sustaining them, in
death among the innumerable creatures that arise from our destruction.
We can no more do away with this life than we can erase the air in which the
bird floats, and like the air it fills all the spaces on the planet, so that
nowhere can we lose the benefit of it nor escape its final crushing power.
But in working upon the physical body this life -- Prana -- needs a vehicle,
means, or guide, and this vehicle is the ASTRAL BODY.
ASTRAL BODY -- NAMES IN OLDER SYSTEMS
There are many names for the ASTRAL BODY. Here are a few: Linga Sarira,
Sanskrit, meaning design body, and the best one of all; ethereal double;
phantom; wraith; apparition; doppelganger; personal man; perisprit;
irrational soul; animal soul; Bhuta; elementary; spook; devil; demon.
Some of these apply only to the astral body when devoid of the corpus after
death. Bhuta, devil, and elementary are nearly synonymous; the first
Sanskrit, the other English. With the Hindus the Bhuta is the Astral Body
when it is by death released from the body and the mind; and being thus
separated from conscience, is a devil in their estimation. They are not far
wrong, if we abolish the old notion that a devil is an angel fallen from
heaven, for this bodily devil is something which rises from the earth.
It may be objected that the term Astral Body is not the right one for this
purpose. The objection is one which arises from the nature and genesis of
the English language, for …as its philosophers have not admitted the
existence of these inner organs, the right terms do not exist in the
language. So in looking for words to describe the inner body the only ones
found in English were the "astral body."
This term comes near to the real fact, since the substance of this form is
derived from cosmic matter or star matter, roughly speaking. But the old
Sanskrit word describes it exactly -- Linga Sarira, the design body --
because it is the design or model for the physical body.
This is better than "ethereal body," as the latter might be said to be
subsequent to the physical, whereas in fact the astral body precedes the
material one. The astral body is made of matter of very fine texture as
compared with the visible body, and has a great tensile strength, so that it
changes but little during a lifetime, while the physical alters every
moment. And not only has it this immense strength, but at the same time
possesses an elasticity permitting its extension to a considerable distance.
It is flexible, plastic, extensible, and strong.
ASTRAL BODY IS OF ELECTRIC AND MAGNETIC MATTER
The matter of which it is composed is electrical and magnetic in its
essence, and is just what the whole world was composed of in the dim past
when the processes of evolution had not yet arrived at the point of
producing the material body for man. But it is not raw or crude matter.
Having been through a vast period of evolution and undergone purifying
processes of an incalculable number, its nature has been refined to a degree
far beyond the gross physical elements we see and touch with the physical
eye and hand.
ASTRAL IS THE MODEL FOR THE PHYSICAL
The astral body is the guiding model for the physical one, and all the other
kingdoms have the same astral model. Vegetables, minerals, and animals have
the ethereal double, and this theory is the only one which will answer the
question how it is that the seed produces its own kind and all sentient
beings bring forth their like. Biologists can only say that the facts are as
we know them, but can give no reason why the acorn will never grow anything
but an oak except that no man ever knew it to be otherwise…
ASTRAL IS ONE OF THE EARLIEST FORMS IN EVOLUTION
This doctrine is, that in early times of the evolution of this globe the
various kingdoms of nature are outlined in plan or ideal form first, and
then the astral matter begins to work on this plan with the aid of the Life
principle, until after long ages the astral human form is evolved and
This is, then, the first form that the human race had…. After another long
period, during which the cycle of further descent into matter is rolling
forward, the astral form at last clothes itself with a "coat of skin," and
the present physical form is on the scene.
This is the explanation of the verse of the book of Genesis which describes
the giving of coats of skin to Adam and Eve. It is the final fall into
matter, for from that point on the man within strives to raise the whole
mass of physical substance up to a higher level, and to inform it all with a
larger measure of spiritual influence, so that it may be ready to go still
further on during the next great period of evolution after the present one
ASTRAL MODEL IN THE WOMB AND CHILD
So the model for the growing child in the womb is the astral body, already
perfect in shape before the child is born. It is on this model the molecules
arrange themselves until the child is complete, and the presence of the
ethereal design-body will explain how the form grows into shape, how the
eyes push themselves out from within to the surface of the face, and many
other mysterious matters in embryology which are passed over by medical men
with a description but with no explanation.
The growing physical form is subject to the astral model; it is connected
with the imagination of the mother by physical and psychical organs; the
mother makes a strong picture from horror, fear, or otherwise, and the
astral model is then similarly affected. In the case of marking by being
born legless, the ideas and strong imagination of the mother act so as to
cut off or shrivel up the astral leg, and the result is that the molecules,
having no model of leg to work on, make no physical leg whatever; and
similarly in all such cases.
But where we find a man who still feels the leg which the surgeon has cut
off, or perceives the fingers that were amputated, then the astral member
has not been interfered with, and hence the man feels as if it were still on
his person. For knife or acid will not injure the astral model, but in the
first stages of its growth, ideas and imagination have the power of acid and
POSSIBILITY OF ASTRAL TRAVEL
In the ordinary man who has not been trained in practical occultism or who
has not the faculty by birth, the astral body cannot go more than a few feet
from the physical one. It is a part of that physical, it sustains it and is
incorporated in it just as the fibers of the mango are all through that
But there are those who, by reason of practices pursued in former lives on
the earth, have a power born with them of unconsciously sending out the
astral body. These are mediums, some seers, and many hysterical, cataleptic,
and scrofulous people.
Those who have trained themselves by a long course of excessively hard
discipline which reaches to the moral and mental nature and quite beyond the
power of the average man of the day, can use the astral form at will, for
they have gotten completely over the delusion that the physical body is a
permanent part of them, and, besides, they have learned the chemical and
electrical laws governing in this matter. In their case they act with
knowledge and consciously; in the other cases the act is done without power
to prevent it, or to bring it about at will, or to avoid the risks attendant
on such use of potencies in nature of a high character.
ASTRAL BODY AND THE REAL SENSES
The astral body has in it the real organs of the outer sense organs. In it
are the sight, hearing, power to smell, and the sense of touch. It has a
complete system of nerves and arteries of its own for the conveyance of the
astral fluid which is to that body as our blood is to the physical. It is
the real personal man. There are located the subconscious perception and the
latent memory, which the hypnotizers of the day are dealing with and being
ASTRAL BODY AFTER DEATH
When the body dies the astral man is released, and as at death the immortal
man -- the Triad -- flies away to another state, the astral becomes a shell
of the once living man and requires time to dissipate. It retains all the
memories of the life lived by the man, and thus reflexly and automatically
can repeat what the dead man knew, said, thought, and saw. It remains near
the deserted physical body nearly all the time until that is completely
dissipated, for it has to go through its own process of dying. It may become
visible under certain conditions.
ASTRAL GHOST OR SPOOK CAN BE EVOKED, MATERIALIZED
It is the spook of the spiritualistic seance-rooms, and is there made to
masquerade as the real spirit of this or that individual. Attracted by the
thoughts of the medium and the sitters, it vaguely flutters where they are,
and then is galvanized into a factitious life by a whole host of elemental
forces, and by the active astral body of the medium who is holding the
seance or of any other medium in the audience.
PHOTOGRAPHIC PROJECTION OF MEMORIES OF LAST LIFE
>From it (as from a photograph) are then reflected into the medium's brain
all the boasted evidences which spiritualists claim go to prove identity of
deceased friend or relative. These evidences are accepted as proof that the
spirit of the deceased is present, because neither mediums nor sitters are
acquainted with the laws governing their own nature, nor with the
constitution, power, and function of astral matter and astral man.
The Theosophical philosophy does not deny the facts proven in spiritualistic
seances, but it gives an explanation of them wholly opposed to that of the
spiritualists. And surely the utter absence of any logical scientific
explanation by these so-called spirits of the phenomena they are said to
produce supports the contention that they have no knowledge to impart. They
can merely cause certain phenomena; the examination of those and deductions
therefrom can only be properly carried on by a trained brain guided by a
living trinity of spirit, soul, and mind. And here another class of
spiritualistic phenomena requires brief notice. That is the appearance of
what is called a "materialized spirit."
Three explanations are offered:
First, that the astral body of the living medium detaches itself from its
corpus and assumes the appearance of the so-called spirit; for one of the
properties of the astral matter is capacity to reflect an image existing
unseen in ether.
Second, the actual astral shell of the deceased -- wholly devoid of his or
her spirit and conscience -- becomes visible and tangible when the condition
of air and ether is such as to so alter the vibration of the molecules of
the astral shell that it may become visible. The phenomena of density and
apparent weight are explained by other laws.
Third, an unseen mass of electrical and magnetic matter is collected, and
upon it is reflected out of the astral light a picture of any desired person
either dead or living. This is taken to be the "spirit" of such persons, but
it is not, and has been justly called by H. P. Blavatsky a "psychological
fraud," because it pretends to be what it is not. And, strange to say, this
very explanation of materializations has been given by a "spirit" at a
regular seance, but has never been accepted by the spiritualists just
because it upsets their notion of the return of the spirits of deceased
Finally, the astral body will explain nearly all the strange psychical
things happening in daily life and in dealings with genuine mediums; it
shows what an apparition may be and the possibility of such being seen, and
thus prevents the scientific doubter from violating good sense by asserting
you did not see what you know you have seen; it removes superstition by
showing the real nature of these phenomena, and destroys the unreasonable
fear of the unknown which makes a man afraid to see a "ghost."
By it also we can explain the apportation of objects without physical
contact, for the astral hand may be extruded and made to take hold of an
object, drawing it in toward the body. When this is shown to be possible,
then travelers will not be laughed at who tell of seeing the Hindu yogee
make coffee cups fly through the air and distant objects approach apparently
of their own accord untouched by him or anyone else.
CLAIRVOYANCE AND CLAIRAUDIENCE
All the instances of clairvoyance and clairaudience are to be explained also
by the astral body and astral light. The astral -- which are the real --
organs do the seeing and the hearing, and as all material objects are
constantly in motion among their own atoms the astral sight and hearing are
not impeded, but work at a distance as great as the extension of the astral
light or matter around and about the earth. Thus it was that the great seer
Swedenborg saw houses burning in the city of Stockholm when he was at
another city many miles off, and by the same means any clairvoyant of the
day sees and hears at a distance.
THE DESIRE-NATURE AND THE ASTRAL BODY
During life the emplacement of the desires and passions [Kama] is, as
obtains with the astral body, throughout the entire lower man, and like that
ethereal counterpart of our physical person it may be added to or
diminished, made weak or increased in strength, debased or purified.
DESIRE-NATURE AFTER PHYSICAL DEATH -- KAMARUPA
At death [Kama] informs the astral body, which then becomes a mere shell;
for when a man dies his astral body and principle of passion and desire
leave the physical in company and coalesce. It is then that the term
Kamarupa may be applied, as Kamarupa is really made of astral body [Rupa],
and Kama in conjunction.
This joining of the two makes a shape or form which though ordinarily
invisible is material and may be brought into visibility. Although it is
empty of mind and conscience, it has powers of its own that can be exercised
whenever the conditions permit. These conditions are furnished by the medium
of the spiritualists, and in every seance room the astral shells of deceased
persons are always present to delude the sitters, whose powers of
discrimination have been destroyed by wonderment.
It is the "devil" [Bhut] of the Hindus, and a worse enemy the poor medium
could not have. For the astral spook -- or Kamarupa -- is but the mass of
the desires and passions abandoned by the real person who has fled to
"heaven" [Devachan] and has no concern with the people left behind, least of
all with seances and mediums.
Hence, being devoid of the nobler soul, these desires and passions work only
on the very lowest part of the medium's nature and stir up…always the lower
leanings of the being. Therefore it is that even the spiritualists
themselves admit that in the ranks of the mediums there is much fraud, and
mediums have often confessed, "the spirits did tempt me and I committed
fraud at their wish."
DANGER OF EXECUTIONS AND SUICIDE
This Kamarupa spook is also the enemy of our civilization, which permits us
to execute men for crimes committed and thus throw out into the ether the
mass of passion and desire free from the weight of the body and liable at
any moment to be attracted to any sensitive person.
Being thus attracted, the deplorable images of crimes committed and also the
picture of the execution and all the accompanying curses and wishes for
revenge are implanted in living persons, who, not seeing the evil, are
unable to throw it off. Thus crimes and new ideas of crimes are wilfully
propagated every day by those countries where capital punishment prevails.
KAMA-RUPA IN THE SÉANCE ROOM
The astral shells together with the still living astral body of the medium,
helped by certain forces of nature which the Theosophists call "elementals,"
produce nearly all the phenomena of non-fraudulent spiritualism.
The medium's astral body having the power of extension and extrusion forms
the framework for what are called "materialized spirits," makes objects move
without physical contact, gives reports from deceased relatives, none of
them anything more than recollections and pictures from the astral light,
and in all this using and being used by the shells of suicides, executed
murderers, and all such spooks as are naturally near to this plane of life.
The number of cases in which any communication comes from an actual spirit
out of the body is so small as to be countable almost on one hand. But the
spirits of living men sometimes, while their bodies are asleep, come to
seances and take part therein. But they cannot recollect it, do not know how
they do it, and are not distinguished by mediums from the mass of astral
The fact that such things can be done by the inner man and not be
recollected proves nothing against these theories, for the child can see
without knowing how the eye acts, and the savage who has no knowledge of the
complex machinery working in his body still carries on the process of
digestion perfectly. And that the latter is unconscious with him is exactly
in line with the theory, for these acts and doings of the inner man are the
unconscious actions of the subconscious mind.
These words "conscious" and "subconscious" are of course used relatively,
the unconsciousness being that of the brain only. And hypnotic experiments
have conclusively proved all these theories, as on one day not far away will
be fully admitted. Besides this, the astral shells of suicides and executed
criminals are the most coherent, longest lived, and nearest to us of all the
shades of Hades, and hence must, out of the necessity of the case, be the
real "controls" of the seance room.
KAMA -- PASSION AND DESIRE ARE NOT THEMIND
Passion and desire, together with astral model-body, are common to men and
animals, as also to the vegetable kingdom, though in the last but faintly
developed. And at one period in evolution no further material principles had
been developed, and all the three higher, of Mind, Soul, and Spirit, were
but latent. Up to this point man and animal were equal, for the brute in us
is made of the passions and the astral body.
The development of the germs of Mind made man. because it constituted the
The God within begins with Manas or mind, and it is the struggle between
this God and the brute below which Theosophy speaks of and warns about. The
lower principle is called bad because by comparison with the higher it is
so, but still it is the basis of action. We cannot rise unless self first
asserts itself in the “desire to do better.”
In this aspect [in the philosophy of the “Bhagavad Gita”] it is called rajas
or the active and bad quality, as distinguished from tamas, or the quality
of darkness and indifference. Rising is not possible unless rajas is present
to give the impulse, and by the use of this principle of passion all the
higher qualities are brought to at last so refine and elevate our desires
that they may be continually placed upon truth and spirit [sattva].
By this Theosophy does not teach that the passions are to be pandered to or
satiated, for a more pernicious doctrine was never taught, but the
injunction is to make use of the activity given by the fourth principle so
as to ever rise and not to fall under the dominion of the dark quality that
ends with annihilation, after having begun in selfishness and indifference.
But believing in his teacher, the theosophist sees all around him the
evidence that the race mind is changing by enlargement, that the old days of
dogmatism are gone and the "age of inquiry" has come, that the inquiries
will grow louder year by year, and the answers be required to satisfy the
mind as it grows more and more. Until at last, all dogmatism being ended,
the race will be ready to face all problems, each man for himself, all
working for the good of the whole, and that the end will be the perfecting
of those who struggle to overcome the brute. For these reasons the old
doctrines are given out again, and Theosophy asks every one to reflect
whether to give way to the animal below or look up to and be governed by the
MANAS -- THE MIND
In our analysis of man's nature we have so far considered only the
perishable elements which make up the lower man, and have arrived at the
fourth principle or plane -- that of desire -- without having touched upon
the question of Mind.
But even so far as we have gone it must be evident that there is a wide
difference between the ordinary ideas about Mind and those found in
Theosophy. Ordinarily the Mind is thought to be immaterial, or to be merely
the name for the action of the brain in evolving thought, a process wholly
unknown other than by inference, or that if there be no brain there can be
no mind. A good deal of attention has been paid to cataloging some mental
functions and attributes, but the terms are altogether absent from the
language to describe actual metaphysical and spiritual facts about man.
This confusion and poverty of words for these uses are due almost entirely,
first, to dogmatic religion, which has asserted and enforced for many
centuries dogmas and doctrines which reason could not accept, and secondly
to the natural war which grew up between science and religion just as soon
as the fetters placed by religion upon science were removed and the latter
was permitted to deal with facts in nature. The reaction against religion
naturally prevented science from taking any but a materialistic view of man
and nature. So from neither of these two have we yet gained the words needed
for describing the fifth, sixth, and seventh principles, those which make up
the Trinity, the real man, the immortal pilgrim.
The fifth principle is Manas, and is usually translated Mind. Other names
have been given to it, but it is the knower, the perceiver, the thinker.
The sixth is Buddhi, or spiritual discernment; the seventh is Atma, or
Spirit, the ray from the Absolute Being. The English language will suffice
to describe in part what Manas is, but not Buddhi, or Atma, and will leave
many things relating to Manas undescribed.
Part 3 == will be continued in the next posting
“PSYCHIC PHENOMENA AND LAWS”
[From the OCEAN OF THEOSOPHY ( Extracts ) ]
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