Understanding of the etheric body
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.
Thus, we can say that the etheric body has been described as a network, permeated with fire, or as a web, animated with golden light. It is a composition of that matter of the physical plane which we call etheric, and its shape is brought about by the fine interlacing strands of this matter being built by the action of the lesser Builders into the form or mould upon which later the dense physical body can be moulded. Under the Law of Attraction, the denser matter of the physical plane is made to cohere to this vitalised form, and is gradually built up around it, and within it, until the interpenetration is so complete that the two forms make but one unit; the pranic emanations of the etheric body itself play upon the dense physical body in the same manner as the pranic emanations of the sun play upon the etheric body. It is all one vast system of transmission and of interdependence within the system. All receive in order to give, and to pass on to that which is lesser or not so evolved. Upon every plane this process can be seen.
Thus the etheric body forms the archetypal plane in relation to the dense physical body. The thinker on his own plane stands, in relation to the physical, as the Logos to His system.
Last, we can say, the etheric body is primarily composed of the dominant energy or energies to which the man, the group, the nation, or the world reacts in any particular time cycle or world period.
The centres are formed entirely of streams of force, pouring down from the Ego, who transmits it from the Monad.
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.
One of the results of the development of the centres in the course of human evolution, was that the energies radiated from these seven centres were precipitated or ‘condensed’ in the physical body, culminating in the generation of the seven major endocrine glands, each of which being associated functionally with their corresponding etheric centre.
It should be kept in mind, however, that in addition to the seven major centres there are also many smaller centres of subsidiary importance. These secondary centres also have their counterparts, reflected as unobstructed or even unknown glands in the physical body.
The etheric centres therefore constitute the causal source of the endocrine system, which is determined and conditioned according to the quality and source of the energy flowing through the centres. The relationship is as follows:
The glands react to impulses received from the centres by secreting substances or ‘hormones’ in the blood stream, thereby transferring the stimulus or energy to the physical system and pervading the entire physical man with its life forces. The endocrine system is therefore one of the main controlling factors in the human body, forming a direct link with the etheric energies. It is therefore one of the determinants in the general health of the individual. When the ductless glands are in perfect balance with the etheric system, and are functioning correctly, there will be no diseased areas in the body.
On the physical plane man is emotionally or mentally the product of his glandular system: his physical condition thus also depends on his psychological balance. It may therefore be said that ‘a man is what his glands make him’, but they, in their turn depends on the energy centres, which are again influenced and animated by the soul. For medical science, therefore, to begin treating the glands themselves is equivalent to treating symptoms instead of causes, which lie in the first instance within the etheric body and its centres. The healer should therefore focus his attention primarily on the condition and reactivity of the vital body and its controlling centres.
As stated before, the centres are formed entirely of streams of force, pouring down from the Ego, who transmits it from the Monad. In this we have the secret of the gradual vibratory quickening of the centres as the ego first comes into control, or activity, and later [after initiation] the Monad, thus bringing about changes and increased vitality within these spheres of fire or of pure life force. The centres in physical matter are recognised as being simply focal points of energy located on the etheric body, and having a definite use. This use is to act as transmitters of certain forms of energy consciously directed by the Ego, with the intent of driving the physical body [which is not a principle] to fulfil egoic purposes.
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.
When the physical body, with the brain, becomes aligned with the sentient body and subsequently with the mental body, then the lower mind can communicate freely with the physical brain, feeding facts and ideas into this computer for further elaboration and recasting. This is how the thinkers of the world are actuated. When the causal or egoic body is also brought into line, the soul can function through these instruments, and the potential is then created for the appearance of outstanding leaders of the race, who can not only sway the masses emotionally and intellectually, but can also inspire them with more elevated ideals. Such alignment will also produce inspirational writers, idealist, abstract thinkers, and inspired musicians and other artists.
For the beginner on the path of spiritual evolution, such alignment with the soul will only occur periodically—at first only as flashes during periods of intense aspiration, or when acting in service of humanity. In due course the aspirant will find, however, that such soul contact is facilitated by abstracting the mind from the diversions produced by sensory, emotional and mental contacts; he will find that this abstraction can be implemented most effectively by suitable techniques of meditation, leading to the awakening of the abstract consciousness.
The problem of aligning the various bodies really amounts to raising the vibrations of the lower vehicles to those of the soul. This may be effected through purification of the reactions arising from the lower planes, and subduing the desires and emotions. This entails endless struggle with the lower nature, but persistent effort is bound to prevail. When reciprocal vibration has been attained, abstract ideas will begin to filter through to the lower mind with increasing frequency, and these will eventually be followed by flashes of illumination and real intuition from the soul.
As a rule this process of alignment or integration is not accomplished in a single incarnation, but is spread over many lives of constant endeavour before the emotional body is sufficiently stilled, and a mental body is constructed with the proper balance, which can act as a suitable filter, and not as an impediment to the inflow of inspiration.
Alignment should, however, not be seen as limited to co-ordinating the functions of the soul and personality. Alignment will also involve contact with the spiritual realms and ultimately with the Monad, thus initiating the disciple into even higher levels of consciousness, revelation, inspiration and service. The various processes of alignment form part of the early stages of construction of the “Bridge of Light” which eventually will span the gap between the Monad and the material bodies.
The centres, therefore, when functioning properly, forms the ‘body of fire’ which eventually is all that is left, first to man in the three worlds, and later to the Monad… when the form is destroyed there is left this intangible spiritual body of fire, one pure flame, distinguished by seven brilliant centres of intenser burning.
The evolution of the centres is a slow and gradual thing, and proceeds in ordered cycles varying according to the ray of a man’s Monad.
Based on the works of AAB and DK.
lick to add text, images, and other content