No question of any kind will enable the man who has not yet contacted his own soul, to understand this inner self, his hidden observer and director. Fortunately among normal intelligent men there are few who, consciously or unconsciously, have not at times been aware of this inner ruler. Of those who have made this contact, there are many, however, who have not consciously recognised the deeper meaning of this experience, or else they have not yet reached the stage where this inner constitution of their being has become of interest to them, and consequently they do not devote any serious thought to the subject. Others again are so involved in the struggle for achievement in the three worlds of human expression, by scrambling for material things, by attempting to satisfy every emotion and desire, and gathering all knowledge that might serve their ambitions, that they are regrettably is the position, and although one is inclined to be saddened by this, it should be remembered that it all forms part of the Plan of Life, and that with the course of time—and incarnations—all these individuals will yet become consciously aware of the Self, the Inner Guide and the Path of Life.
The soul of each individual has reached its own specific stage of unfoldment; each soul has to endure every possible phase of experience that life in the material world can offer—the good and the bad, the bitter and the sweet, and to learn from these experiences, until eventually the essence has been extracted and assimilated from all that physical life can offer, and the urge to withdraw from the three worlds and to return to the Father’s home become paramount.
 Matter is the vehicle of the manifestation of soul on this plane of existence, and soul is the vehicle on a higher plane for the manifestation of Spirit, and these three are a trinity synthesised by life, which pervades them all. Through the use of matter the soul unfolds and finds its climax in the soul man. [He who thinks.]
 The soul . . . is neither spirit nor matter but is the relation between them. The soul is the mediator between this duality; it is the middle principle, the link between God and His form. Therefore the soul is another name for the Christ aspect, whether in nature or in man . . . The soul is the form-building aspect, and is that attractive factor in every form . . .which drives all God’s creatures forward along the path of evolution, through one kingdom after another, towards an eventual goal and a glorious consummation. The soul is the quality which every form manifests. It is that subtle something which distinguishes one element from another, one mineral from another. It is the intangible essential nature of the form which in the vegetable kingdom determines whether a rose or a cauliflower, an elm or a watercress shall come into being; it is a type of energy which distinguishes the varying species of the animal kingdom, and makes one man different from another in appearance, nature or character.
 The soul is responsible for the Quality and characteristics of life, and represents the latent powers of expression in every human being.
 The soul’s contribution is self-consciousness, and the source through which the form registers conscious awareness of its environment. The extent, to which the consciousness is expanding, is therefore an indication of the progressive integration of the soul with its instrument of expression.
 The soul represents the principles of sentiency and intelligence in man, demonstrating as mind and mental awareness, and giving rise to the power to discriminate, to analyse, to distinguish, and to decide.
 The soul is immortal. When a particular life has fulfilled its purpose, the soul withdraws, the physical body ‘dies’ and disintegrates, and the soul returns to egoic levels.
 The immortal soul is the link between successive incarnations; it therefore provides continuity. By extracting and assimilating the essence from experience gained during each incarnation, the soul initiates the unfoldment and evolution of the consciousness.
Humanity is an expression of two aspects of the soul –the animal soul and the divine soul—and these two, blended and fused in man, constitute the human soul. It is this fact that is the cause of man’s special problems, and it is these two factors which involve him in the long struggle which eventuates in the liberation of the divine soul, through the sublimation of the animal soul.
On the plane of soul existence, there is no separation, no “my soul and thy soul”. It is only in the three worlds of illusion and maya that we think in terms of souls and bodies. Just in so far as a person comes under soul impression, then soul control, and final identification with the soul, just so far does he move towards the centre of fusion. As your love for humanity increases, and your interest in yourself decreases, so will you move towards that centre of light and love where the Masters stand in spiritual being.
The personality is a triple combination of forces, impressing and absolutely controlling the fourth aspect of the personality, which is the dense physical body. The three personality types of energy are the etheric body, which is the vehicle of vital energy, the astral body, which is the vehicle of the feeling energy or sentient force, and the mental body, which is the vehicle of the intelligent energy of will, that is destined to be the dominant creative aspect . . . These forces constitute the lower man.
The etheric web not only constitutes an intrinsic part of every form on our planet, but this system is carried forward throughout our solar system, and eventually beyond this complex, to include every other star, constellation and galaxy within the infinite macrocosm. It is this etheric network which serves as the channel for the flow of energy and life essence, and it is through this system that each form is eventually linked up with every other form, not only within our Earth life, but throughout the solar system and the Cosmos in its totality. Although these concepts really go beyond all human comprehension, it is because of this interlinked system that every action of whatever nature, from a flash of thought to a nuclear explosion must have some influence on all the rest of the great Surround. There are of course many impulses that are so slight that the vibrations which they set in motion can hardly be registered. Others again may be sufficiently violent to have their effects throughout the ethers. And in this way our planet, with all that it encompasses, is persistently being subjected to forces that have been generated from sources from within its sphere of normal interaction or its ring-pass-not, and in addition to constant streams of impulses or rays of energy issuing forth either from sources within the surrounding solar system or otherwise from wider stretching celestial spheres.
This cosmic etheric system, intimately connected with and reticulated down to the tiniest atom, could be regarded as the nervous system of the Universe, through which all energies and forces are canalised and distributed, and it is the medium through which all the forms are interrelated, leading to reciprocal association. This network serves a double purpose: as a medium for conducting the incoming and, simultaneously, as an avenue for the outgoing forces. In the case of human beings it is along these etheric channels that invocative appeals may be directed to Higher Spheres, and along these same paths responses are evoked and manifested.
The vital body, or etheric body, is a material body, though composed of subtler material than that of the dense physical body. it is essentially a transmitter of energies and not a generator; it is a clearing house for all the forces reaching the physical body, and the condition of the ‘etheric centres’ will largely determine the extent to which the relatively free flow of forces is affected. It is the receiver of Life Forces, transmitting them to the physical body through the nervous system, the blood stream and the endocrine system.
Although of a tenuous nature, the vital body nonetheless remains the foundation and framework on which the material body is constructed, underlying and sustaining every part of the tangible body. It provides the network of ‘nadis’ [more about them later] which forms the etheric counterpart of the nervous system. Therefore any debility or congestion occurring in the etheric system itself, or any deficiency in the relation or co-ordination between this inner structure and the outer form, will immediately be reflected in the physical, emotional or mental condition of the individual concerned. Free and unimpeded flow of energy between the various vehicles must therefore be regarded as an essential good health conditions.
The etheric body has no life of its own. With the ‘death’ of the physical body, the vital body withdraws its occupation, and these etheric forces are then dissolved into the surrounding general etheric reservoir.
To conclude it can therefore be stated that the vital body is the field where two worlds meet—the subjective or spiritual, and the world of matter. It represents the most important feature of man’s response apparatus, not only qualifying the five senses and affording the needed contact with the world of matter, but simultaneously providing the channel for the expanding consciousness to register the subtler worlds. Once control is taken over by the soul, this will also be the portal through which entry into spiritual realms will be furnished.
Furthermore, defining the etheric body; in the etheric body, which is an exact replica of its denser counterpart, we have the organ of active radiator fire, and . . . the vehicle of prana. Its function is to store up the rays of radiator light and heat which are secured from the sun, and to transmit them, via the spleen, to all parts of the physical body. The etheric body is the mould of the physical body, the archetype upon which the dense physical form is built, whether it is the form of a solar system or of a human body in any one incarnation. It is a web or network of fine interlacing channels, formed of matter of the four ethers, and built into a specific form. . . . These pranic emanations when focalised and received, reacts upon the dense matter which is built upon the etheric scaffolding and framework. . . . This etheric web, during incarnation, forms a barrier between the physical and astral planes, which can only be transcended when consciousness is sufficiently developed to permit escape. . . . When a man has, through meditation and concentration, expanded his consciousness to a certain point, he is enabled to include the subtler planes, and to escape beyond the limits of the dividing web.
The etheric body is vitalised and controlled by thought, and can be brought into full functioning activity. When the man is on the Path of Discipleship and, the etheric body becomes the transmitter of soul energy and not of personality force. It is a potent receiver of impressions, which are conveyed to the human consciousness through the medium of the awakened centres. There is, for instance, no true clairvoyance until either the solar plexus or the ajna centre is awakened.
The interlocking and circulating lines of energy and forces are related to seven points or centres, to be found within the etheric body. These centres are related, each of them, to certain types of incoming energy. When the energy reaching the etheric body is not related to a particular centre, then that centre remains quiescent and unawakened; when it is related and the centre is sensitive to its impact, then that centre becomes vibrant and receptive, and develops as a controlling factor in the life of the man on the physical plane.
These seven centres are present in the etheric vehicle of each individual. In the life of the average man some of these centres may remain more or less dormant, and a gradual awakening and vivification will only take place in accordance with spiritual unfoldment. In this connection aspirants need a special word of warning, because grave danger threatens the man who, in his eagerness to obtain results, resorts to improper practices and experiments to arouse the fires of the system. If by unlawful means he should actually succeed in intensifying these fires, his ignorance or wilfulness may eventuate in serious consequences by actually burning and destroying either vital body or brain tissue, which then might induce various forms of mental aberration.
The balanced man should strive to lead a life of disciplined altruism, characterised by sustained training, refined and purifying of his lower vehicles, thus gradually bringing them under soul control. The mental vehicle should be equipped by persistent and suitable study and disciplined thought-life. If in addition these efforts are then co-ordinated by dedicated, suitably directed and selfless service to humanity, this will ensure that the aspirant’s vibrations are stabilised and are raised to the required intensity. He will then find that, although the centres have received no direct attention, they have followed a natural and parallel course of development, and that their functioning and radiation will be adequate to all the demands of his particular circumstances. Therefore by conforming to esoteric laws he has awakened the etheric fires without running any risks.
For the average man the centres below the diaphragm will prove to be more active than those above. Those beginning to aspire towards spiritual unfoldment, will have the lower centres in an active state, with the heart and throat centres slowly awakening, whilst with fairly advanced disciples the ajna centre will also be vivifying. When the head centre is coming into vibrant activity, the disciple is nearing the initiate stage, and it now remains to bring all the centres into co-ordinated and rhythmic vibration.
Each individual will follow his own specific pattern of development, depending on the combination of Rays to which his vehicles are subjected, the time factor, and the complex of influences determining his existence. At some future stage when more is known about the etheric vehicle and which is something quite different from the control of the centres by the lower mind—but for this the majority of men are not yet ready.
The etheric network within the physical body is characterised by millions of tiny streams or lines of energy, to which the Eastern esotericist has given the name of ‘nadis’. These nadis are the carriers of energy, and they underlie the nervous system, which they nourish, control and galvanise; they thus determine the nature and quality of the nervous system.
All energy influencing or controlling the physical body, whether originating from the astral plane or from higher spiritual levels, must utilise the etheric system and therefore also these carriers of energy, to effect the necessary contact. The type and quality of energy carried by the nadis for reciprocal interchange with the nervous system will consequently depend in the first instance on the man’s focus of consciousness, his psychic sensitivity, the potency of his aspiration and desire, the set of Rays impinging on his vehicles, and finally the stage of his spiritual evolution. On the other hand the network of nadis within the physical body will also closely relate this internal etheric system to the seven main etheric centres located in the aura surrounding the physical vehicle, thus simultaneously linking the individual body with the comprehensive etheric system.
The nadis therefore represent the mechanism which energies are externalised or manifested through the super-imposed nervous system, and form the point or rather the area where contact is made between the subtle energies and forces, and the dense physical body. The nerves in their turn relay the impulses received to the physical brain. This same procedure also functions in the reverse order, and when the brain reacts to impulses from the mind, these will be channelled via the nervous system to the nadis, and thence through the etheric centres on into the etheric world, as directed by the brain. This is what happens with ‘thought direction’ which is the underlying principle of telepathy.
It can be seen, how exceedingly important this energies of the etheric body becomes, because it controls and makes the man what he is at any given moment, and likewise indicates the plane on which he should function, and the method whereby he should govern his environment, circumstances and relationships. As his attitude, attainment and comprehension shift to even higher levels, his etheric body will be constantly changing and responding to the newer energies.
Only when the etheric body is swept into activity under the influence and through the “impressed forces” of the soul, the mind, and temporarily, of the astral body, can man become aware of all the worlds, all phenomena, and all states of consciousness, and so achieve that omniscience which is the birthright of all the sons of God.
In connection with the centres and integration, and the training of the aspirant, the objective should be the following.
 Training the aspirant so that he can enter into subtler realms.
 Giving him power over the mind, so that it is his instrument to use as he will as an organ of vision into the higher worlds and as a transmitter or intermediary between the soul and the brain.
 Awakening the light in the head so that the aspirant can become a radiant centre of light and illumine all problems, and through its light see light everywhere.
 Arousing the fires of the body so that the centres become active, luminous, connected and coordinated.
 Producing a coordination between:
· The ego or soul on its own plane,
· The brain via the mind,
· The centres. By the act of the will they can then all be thrown into uniform activity.
 This effected, the fire at the base of the spine, dormant hitherto, will be aroused and can proceed upwards with security, blending ultimately with the fire or light in the head, and so pass out, having ‘burned out all dross, and left all channels clear’ for the use of the ego.
 Developing thus the powers of the soul, the higher and the lower, so that an efficient server of the race is produced.
[From the works of AAB and Master DK.]
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