Astral body

Astral body is a subtle body posited by many philosophers, intermediate between the intelligent soul and the mental body, composed of a subtle material.[1] The concept ultimately derives from the philosophy of Plato: it is related to an astral plane, which consists of the planetary heavens of astrology. The term was adopted by nineteenth-century Theosophists and neo-Rosicrucians.

The idea is rooted in common worldwide religious accounts of the afterlife[2] in which the soul's journey or "ascent" is described in such terms as "an ecstatic.., mystical or out-of body experience, wherein the spiritual traveller leaves the physical body and travels in his/her subtle body (or dreambody or astral body) into ‘higher’ realms".[3] Hence "the "many kinds of 'heavens', 'hells', and purgatorial existences believed in by followers of innumerable religions" may also be understood as astral phenomena, as may the various "phenomena of the séance room".[4] The phenomenon of apparitional experience is therefore related, as is made explicit in Cicero's Dream of Scipio.

The astral body is sometimes said to be visible as an aura of swirling colours.[5] It is widely linked today with out-of-body experiences or astral projection. Where this refers to a supposed movement around the real world, as in Muldoon and Carrington's book The Projection of the Astral Body, it conforms to Madame Blavatsky's usage of the term. Elsewhere this latter is termed "etheric", while "astral" denotes an experience of dream-symbols, archetypes, memories, spiritual beings and visionary landscapes.

The Astral Sleep - by Jeroen van Valkenburg
The Astral Sleep - by Jeroen van Valkenburg

History

Planes of existence

Gross and subtle bodies

Theosophy
Rosicrucian

The 7 Worlds & the 7 Cosmic Planes
The Seven-fold constitution of Man
The Ten-fold constitution of Man

Thelema
Body of light | Thelemic mysticism
Hermeticism
Hermeticism | Cosmogony
Surat Shabda Yoga
Cosmology
Jainism
Jain cosmology
Sufism
Sufi cosmology
Hinduism
Talas/Lokas - Tattvas, Kosas, Upadhis
Buddhism
Buddhist cosmology
Gnosticism
Seven earths
Kabbalah
Atziluth > Beri'ah > Yetzirah > Assiah

Sephirot

Fourth Way

Ray of Creation
The Laws
Three Centers and Five Centers

The classical world

Neoplatonism is a branch of classical philosophy that uses the works of Plato as a guide to understanding religion and the world. In the Myth of Er, particularly, Plato rendered an account of the afterlife which involved a journey through seven planetary spheres and then eventual reincarnation. He taught that man was composed of mortal body, immortal reason and an intermediate "spirit".[6]

Neoplatonists agreed as to the immortality of the rational soul but disagreed as to whether man's "irrational soul" was immortal and celestial ("starry", hence astral) or whether it remained on earth and dissolved after death. The late Neoplatonist Proclus, who is credited the first to speak of subtle "planes", posited two subtle bodies or "carriers" (okhema) intermediate between the rational soul and the physical body. These were; 1) the astral vehicle which was the immortal vehicle of the Soul and 2) the spiritual (pneuma) vehicle, aligned with the vital breath, which he considered mortal.[7]

The word "astral" means "of the stars", thus the astral plane, consisting of the celestial spheres, is held to be an astrological phenomenon: "The whole of the astral portion of our earth and of the physical planets, together with the purely astral planets of our System, make up collectively the astral body of the Solar Logos". There are "seven types of astral matter" by means of which "psychic changes occur periodically".[8]

The Modern Era

Such ideas greatly influenced mediaeval religious thought and are visible in the Renaissance medicine of Paracelsus and Servetus. In the romantic era, alongside the discovery of electromagnetism and the nervous system, there came a new interest in the spirit world. Franz Anton Mesmer spoke of the stars, animal magnetism and magnetic fluids. In 1801, the English occultist Francis Barrett wrote of a herb's "excellent astral and magnetic powers" - for herbalists had categorised herbs according to their supposed correspondence with the seven planetary influences.

In the mid-nineteenth century the French occultist Eliphas Levi wrote much of "the astral light", a factor he considered of key importance to magic, alongside the power of will and the doctrine of correspondences. He considered the astral light the medium of all light, energy and movement, describing it in terms that recall both Mesmer and the luminiferous ether.[9]

Levi's idea of the astral was to have much influence in the English-speaking world through the teachings of The Golden Dawn, but it was also taken up by Helena Blavatsky and discussed in the key work of Theosophy, The Secret Doctrine. Levi seems to have been regarded by later Theosophists as the immediate source from which the term was adopted into their sevenfold schema of planes and bodies, though there was slight confusion as to the term's proper use.

Theosophy

Blavatsky frequently used the term "astral body" in connection with the Indian linga sharira which is one of the seven principles of human life. However, she said that "there are various astral bodies".[10] For example, she talked of one as being constituted by "the lower manas and volition, kama"[11] According to the Theosophical founder William Q. Judge "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; perispirit; 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." [12]

C.W. Leadbeater and Annie Besant (Theosophical Society Adyar), equated it with Blavatsky's Kama (desire) principle and called it the Emotional body. Astral body, desire body, and emotional body became synonymous, and this identification is found in later Theosophically-inspired thought. The astral body in later Theosophy is "the vehicle of feelings and emotions" through which "it is possible...to experience all varieties of desire". We have a "life in the astral body, whilst the physical body is wrapped in slumber". So the astral body "provides a simple explanation of the mechanism of many phenomena revealed by modern psycho-analysis".[13] To this extent, then, the "astral body" is a reification of the dream-world self.

Post-theosophists

Flammarion
Anonymous Flammarion engraving (1888).

According to Max Heindel's Rosicrucian writings the Desire body is made of desire stuff from which human beings form feelings and emotions. It is said to appear to spiritual sight as an ovoid cloud extending from sixteen to twenty inches beyond the physical body. It has a number of whirling vortices (chakras) and from the main vortex, in the region of the liver, there is a constant flow which radiates and returns.[14] The desire body exhibits colors that vary in every person according to his or her temperament and mood. However, the astral body (or "Soul body") must be evolved by means of the work of transmutation and will eventually be evolved by humanity as a whole. According to Heindel, the term "astral body" was employed by the mediaeval Alchemists because of the ability it conferred to traverse the "starry" regions. The "Astral body" is regarded as the "Philosopher's Stone" or "Living Stone" of the alchemist, the "Wedding Garment" of the Gospel of Matthew[15] and the "Soul body" that Paul mentions in the First Epistle to the Corinthians[16]

Many other popular accounts of post-Theosophical ideas appeared in the late 20th century. Barbara Brennan's Hands of Light distinguishes between the emotional body and the astral body. She sees these as two distinct layers in the seven-layered "Human Energy Field". The emotional body pertains to the physical universe, the astral body to the astral world. The Mother sometimes referred to the astral body and experiences on the astral plane. The Indian master Osho occasionally made use of a modified Theosophical terminology.

According to Samael Aun Weor, who popularised Theosophical thought in Latin America, the astral body is the part of human soul related to emotions, represented by the sephirah Hod in the kabbalistic Tree of Life. However the common person only has a kamarupa, body of desire or "lunar astral body," a body related to animal emotions, passions and desires, while the true human emotional vehicle is the solar astral body, which can be crystallised through Tantric sex. The solar astral body is the first mediator between the Cosmic Christ, Chokmah, and the individual human soul.[17]

George Ivanovitch Gurdjieff

"What is called the ‘body-Kesdjan,’ or, as they themselves later began to name this being-part of theirs—of which, by the way, contemporary beings know only by hearsay—the ‘Astral-body.’"[18] "At first on the planet itself the ‘second-being-body,’ i.e., the body-Kesdjan, together with the ‘third-being-body’ separate themselves from the ‘fundamental-planetary-body’ and, leaving this planetary body on the planet, rise both together to that sphere where those cosmic substances— from the localizations of which the body-Kesdjan of a being arises—have their place of concentration. “And only there, at the end of a certain time, does the principal and final sacred Rascooarno occur to this two-natured arising, after which such a ‘higher being-part’ indeed becomes an independent individual with its own individual Reason."[19] According to Gurdjieff it is an independent arising which is intermediate between the physical body and the Soul.

Gurdjieff refers to the astral body as the "body Kesdjan" or "vessel of the soul": it is of the sun and all planets, just as the physical body is of the earth. While it is not developed one is a "human being only in quotation marks", who cannot be considered in any meaningful sense to have a soul and who will "die like a dog".[20]

Scientific reception

There is no scientific evidence that an astral body exists. Psychologist Donovan Rawcliffe, who assumes the existence of the astral body to be a myth, has written that "delusions and hallucinations due to acenesthesia or hysteria have undoubtedly helped to perpetuate the myth of the astral body."[21]

References

  1. ^ Arthur A.Powell, stral Body and other Astral Phenomena, The Theosophical Publishing House, London, England; Wheaton,Ill, U.S.A.; Adyar, Chennai, India, 1927, reprinted in 1954 and 1965, page 7, online July 2012 at http://hpb.narod.ru/AstralBodyByPowell-A.htm
  2. ^ Suki Miller, After Death: How People around the World Map the Journey after Death (1995).
  3. ^ Dr. Roger J. Woolger, Beyond Death: Transition and the Afterlife, accessed online June 2008 at the website of the Royal College of Psychiatrists, http://www.rcpsych.ac.uk/PDF/RWoolgerTransition.pdf.
  4. ^ Powell, op.cit.
  5. ^ C.W. Leadbeater, Man, Visible and Invisible; Barbara Brennan, Hands of Light; Dora Van Gelder Kunz, The Personal Aura; Barbara Y. Martin, Change Your Aura, Change Your Life.
  6. ^ Plato, The Republic, trans. Desmond Lee, Harmondsworth.
  7. ^ Dodds, E.R. Proclus: The Elements of Theology. A revised text with translation, introduction, and commentary, 2nd edition 1963, Appendix.
  8. ^ Powell, op. cit. page 9.
  9. ^ Chic Cicero, Chic C, Sandra Tabatha Cicero The Essential Golden Dawn, Llewellyn Worldwide, 2003.
  10. ^ Blavatsky, Helena Petrovna. "Collected Writings vol. XII". (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House), 705.
  11. ^ Collected Writings vol. V (Wheaton, IL: Theosophical Publishing House), fn. 81
  12. ^ William Judge, The Ocean of Theosophy 2nd Ed. TPH, 1893, Chapter 5, book online June 2008 at http://www.theosociety.org/pasadena/ocean/oce-hp.htm
  13. ^ Powell, op. cit. Ch.1 passim.
  14. ^ Currents in the desire body
  15. ^ Cf. Matthew 22:1-14
  16. ^ Cf. 1Cor 15:44 (concordance Greek/Textus Receptus): "It is sown a soul body [Gr. "soma" – body and "psuchicon" – psu(y)che – soul; mistranslated "natural body"]; it is raised a spiritual body (...)"
  17. ^ Samael Aun Weor (1953), The Seven Words, Thelema Press
  18. ^ All and Everything: Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, CH 16 The Relative Understanding of Time
  19. ^ All and Everything: Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, Ch 39 The Holy Planet Purgatory
  20. ^ Kenneth Walker, A Study of Gurdjieff's Teachings.
  21. ^ Rawcliffe, Donovan. (1988). Occult and Supernatural Phenomena. Dover Publications. p. 123. ISBN 0-486-25551-4

Sources

  • Besant, Annie, Theosophical Manual No. VII: Man and His Bodies, London, Theosophical Publishing House, 1914.
  • Brennan, Barbara Ann, Hands of Light : A Guide to Healing Through the Human Energy Field, Bantam Books, 1987.
  • ----- Light Emerging: The Journey of Personal Healing, Bantam Books, 1993.
  • C. W. Leadbeater, Man, Visible and Invisible, London, Theosophical Publishing House, 1902.
  • Kunz, Dora van Gelder, The Personal Aura, Wheaton, IL, Quest Books/Theosophical Publishing House, 1991.
  • [Carl Edwin Lindgren]. 2005. Debunking Auras and Aura Cameras.
  • Martin, Barbara Y., with Dmitri Moraitis, Change Your Aura, Change Your Life, Sunland, CA, Wisdomlight, 2003.
  • The Mother (Alfassa, Mirra) Collected Works of the Mother.
  • ----- The Agenda
  • Poortman, J.J. Vehicles of Consciousness; The Concept of Hylic Pluralism (Ochema), vol I-IV, The Theosophical Society in Netherlands, 1978.
  • Powell, Arthur E. The Astral Body and other Astral Phenomena
  • Steiner, Rudolf, Theosophy: An introduction to the supersensible knowledge of the world and the destination of man. London: Rudolf Steiner Press. (1904) 1970.
  • ----- Occult Science - An Outline. Trans. George and Mary Adams. London: Rudolf Steiner Press, 1909, 1969.
  • Heindel, Max, The Rosicrucian Mysteries (Chapter IV: The Constitution of Man: Vital Body - Desire Body - Mind), 1911, ISBN 0-911274-86-3.
  • Walker, Benjamin, Beyond the Body: The Human Double, Routledge and Kegan Paul, London, 1974, ISBN 0-7100-7808-0; Fitzhenry, Toronto, 1974; Arkana, 1988, ISBN 0-14-019169-0.
  • Yogananda, Paramahansa, Autobiography of a Yogi, Los Angeles, CA: Self-Realization Fellowship, 1946, Chapter 43.

External links

Astral plane

The astral plane, also called the astral world, is a plane of existence postulated by classical (particularly neo-Platonic), medieval, oriental, and esoteric philosophies and mystery religions. It is the world of the celestial spheres, crossed by the soul in its astral body on the way to being born and after death, and is generally believed to be populated by angels, spirits or other immaterial beings. In the late 19th and early 20th century the term was popularised by Theosophy and neo-Rosicrucianism.

Another view holds that the astral plane or world, rather than being some kind of boundary area crossed by the soul, is the entirety of spirit existence or spirit worlds to which those who die on Earth go, and where they live out their non-physical lives. It is understood that all consciousness resides in the astral plane. Some writers conflate this realm with heaven or paradise or union with God itself, and others do not. P. Yogananda wrote in Autobiography of a Yogi, "The astral universe . . . is hundreds of times larger than the material universe . . .[with] many astral planets, teeming with astral beings." (p.416) When Alice Bailey writes of seeing "Masters . . . upon the inner spiritual planes [who]. . . work with Christ and the planetary hierarchy," she refers to a vision she had of the unseen astral realm that these and countless other beings inhabit. Christ being in that realm, it is hard to construe it as a non-heaven.The Barzakh, olam mithal or intermediate world in Islam is a related concept. In Judaism, it is known as the "World of Yetzirah", according to Lurianic Kabbalah.

Astral projection

Astral projection (or astral travel) is a term used in esotericism to describe a willful out-of-body experience (OBE) that assumes the existence of a soul or consciousness called an "astral body" that is separate from the physical body and capable of travelling outside it throughout the universe.The idea of astral travel is ancient and occurs in multiple cultures. The modern terminology of 'astral projection' was coined and promoted by 19th century Theosophists. It is sometimes reported in association with dreams, and forms of meditation. Some individuals have reported perceptions similar to descriptions of astral projection that were induced through various hallucinogenic and hypnotic means (including self-hypnosis). There is no scientific evidence that there is a consciousness or soul which is separate from normal neural activity or that one can consciously leave the body and make observations, and astral projection has been characterized as a pseudoscience.

Centers (Fourth Way)

In G.I. Gurdjieff's Fourth Way teaching, also known as The Work, centers or brains refer to separate apparatuses within a being that dictate its specific functions. According to this teaching, there are three main centers: intellectual, emotional, and moving. These centers in the human body are analogous to a three-storey factory, the intellectual center being the top storey, the emotional center being the middle one, and the moving center being the bottom storey. The moving center, or the bottom storey is further divided into three separate functions: sex, instinctive, and motor.

Gurdjieff classified plants as having one brain, animals two and humans three brains. In Beelzebub's Tales to His Grandson, Gurdjieff greatly expanded his idea of humans as "three brained beings".

In the book The Fourth Way, Ouspensky refers to the "center of gravity" as being a center which different people primarily operate from (intellectuals, artists, and sports enthusiasts, for example, might represent each of these centers).

Dievturība

Dievturība is a Neopagan religious movement which claims to be a modern revival of the folk religion of the Latvians before Christianization in the 13th century. Adherents call themselves Dievturi (singular: Dievturis), literally "Dievs' keepers", "people who live in harmony with Dievs".

The Dievturi movement was founded in 1925 by Ernests Brastiņš. It was forcibly suppressed by Soviet communists in 1940, but lived on in émigré communities and was re-registered in Latvia in 1990. In 2007, approximately 650 persons were officially active members of Dievturi movement.

Etheric body

The etheric body, ether-body, æther body, a name given by neo-Theosophy to a vital body or subtle body propounded in esoteric philosophies as the first or lowest layer in the "human energy field" or aura. It is said to be in immediate contact with the physical body, to sustain it and connect it with "higher" bodies.

The English term "etheric" in this context seems to derive from the Theosophical writings of Madame Blavatsky, but its use was formalised by C.W. Leadbeater and Annie Besant due to the elimination of Hindu terminology from the system of seven planes and bodies. (Adyar School of Theosophy).

The term gained some general popularity after the 1914-18 war, Walter John Kilner having adopted it for a layer of the "human atmosphere" which, as he claimed in a popular book, could be rendered visible to the naked eye by means of certain exercises.The classical element Aether of Platonic and Aristotlean physics continued in Victorian scientific proposals of a Luminiferous ether as well as the cognate chemical substance ether. According to Theosophists and Alice Bailey the etheric body inhabits an etheric plane which corresponds to the four higher subplanes of the physical plane. The intended reference is therefore to some extremely rarefied matter, analogous in usage to the word "spirit" (originally "breath"). In selecting it as the term for a clearly defined concept in an Indian-derived metaphysical system, the Theosophists aligned it with ideas such as the prana-maya-kosha (sheath made of prana, subtle breath or life-force) of Vedantic thought.

In popular use it is often confounded with the related concept of the astral body as for example in the term astral projection - the early Theosophists had called it the "astral double". Others prefer to speak of the "lower and higher astral".

Hun and po

Hun (Chinese: 魂; pinyin: hún; Wade–Giles: hun; literally: 'cloud-soul") and po (Chinese: 魄; pinyin: pò; Wade–Giles: p'o; literally: 'white-soul") are types of souls in Chinese philosophy and traditional religion. Within this ancient soul dualism tradition, every living human has both a hun spiritual, ethereal, yang soul which leaves the body after death (the mental astral body), and also a po corporeal, substantive, yin soul which is eternal and is the soul astral body. Controversy exists over the number of souls in a person; for instance, one of the traditions within Daoism proposes a soul structure of sanhunqipo 三魂七魄; that is, "three hun and seven po". The historian Yü Ying-shih describes hun and po as "two pivotal concepts that have been, and remain today, the key to understanding Chinese views of the human soul and the afterlife."

List of psychic abilities

This is a list of alleged psychic abilities that have been attributed to real-world people. Many of these abilities are also known as extrasensory perception or the sixth sense. Superhuman abilities from fiction are not included.

Mental body

The mental body (the mind) is one of the subtle bodies in esoteric philosophies, in some religious teachings and in New Age thought. It is understood as a sort of body made up of thoughts, just as the emotional body consists of emotions and the physical body is made up of matter. In occult understanding, thoughts are not just subjective qualia, but have an existence apart from the associated physical organ, the brain.

Mental plane

The mental plane, or world of thought, in Hermeticism, Theosophical, Rosicrucian, Aurobindonian, and New Age thought refers to the macrocosmic or universal plane or reality that is made up purely of thought or mindstuff. In contrast to Western secular modernist and post-modern thought, in occult and esoteric cosmology, thoughts and consciousness are not just a byproduct of brain functioning, but have their own objective and universal reality quite independent of the physical. This reality itself constitutes only one gradation in a whole series of planes of existence (the total number of planes varies, although seven is a common number in Theosophical formulations). In most such cosmologies and explanations of reality, the mental plane is located between, and hence is intermediate between, the astral plane below and the higher spiritual realms of existence above.

Mental projection

Mental projection is a supposed or experienced form of consciousness/spirit/intelligence projection from the emotional/astral plane to the mental plane. Adepts say they are able to project first to the emotional/astral plane (or directly from it after death) and then onward to the mental plane by completely calming their emotional processes and withdrawing their emotional senses. Like astral projection, mental projection is performed during sleep, between lives, during meditation-contemplation, or through 'psychic' (soulful) separation of the mental body from the emotional/astral body via the silver cord. Planes beyond the mental are accessible through use of the 'gold cord'. According to many esoteric philosophers, when projecting in these higher planes one has no humanoid shape and is just a lotus- or egg-shaped 'auric body' of consciousness.Certain philosophers consider the mental plane optimal for projection as it is divine enough to avoid black magic and 'lower psychism' yet also grounded enough to preserve a rational quality of experience (rational but not emotionally detached; mental encloses emotional). Others think it is better to proceed beyond humanoid form to the causal and mental auras, as these reflections of yet higher formless consciousness also transcend deeper flaws of humanity (like 'egotistic self-identification') that cause the lower psychism. These philosophers recommend striving to project into divine consciousness, not necessarily leaving one's lower consciousness, but becoming aware of spirit and divine will.

Physical plane

The physical plane (also known as a hyperplane), physical world, or physical universe, in emanationist metaphysics such as are found in Neoplatonism, Hermeticism, Hinduism and Theosophy, refers to the visible reality of space and time, energy and matter: the physical universe in Occultism and esoteric cosmology is the lowest or densest of a series of planes of existence (hyperplanes that are said to be nested).

Plane (esotericism)

In esoteric cosmology, a plane is conceived as a subtle state, level, or region of reality, each plane corresponding to some type, kind, or category of being.

The concept may be found in religious and esoteric teachings—e.g. Vedanta (Advaita Vedanta), Ayyavazhi, shamanism, Hermeticism, Neoplatonism, Gnosticism, Kashmir Shaivism, Sant Mat/Surat Shabd Yoga, Sufism, Druze, Kabbalah, Theosophy, Anthroposophy, Rosicrucianism (Esoteric Christian), Eckankar, Ascended Master Teachings, etc.—which propound the idea of a whole series of subtle planes or worlds or dimensions which, from a center, interpenetrate themselves and the physical planet in which we live, the solar systems, and all the physical structures of the universe. This interpenetration of planes culminates in the universe itself as a physical structured, dynamic and evolutive expression emanated through a series of steadily denser stages, becoming progressively more material and embodied.

The emanation is conceived, according to esoteric teachings, to have originated, at the dawn of the universe's manifestation, in The Supreme Being who sent out—from the unmanifested Absolute beyond comprehension—the dynamic force of creative energy, as sound-vibration ("the Word"), into the abyss of space. Alternatively, it states that this dynamic force is being sent forth, through the ages, framing all things that constitute and inhabit the universe.

Semantic neural network

Semantic neural network (SNN) is based on John von Neumann's neural network [von Neumann, 1966] and Nikolai Amosov M-Network. There are limitations to a link topology for the von Neumann’s network but SNN accept a case without these limitations. Only logical values can be processed, but SNN accept that fuzzy values can be processed too. All neurons into the von Neumann network are synchronized by tacts. For further use of self-synchronizing circuit technique SNN accepts neurons can be self-running or synchronized.

In contrast to the von Neumann network there are no limitations for topology of neurons for semantic networks. It leads to the impossibility of relative addressing of neurons as it was done by von Neumann. In this case an absolute readdressing should be used. Every neuron should have a unique identifier that would provide a direct access to another neuron. Of course, neurons interacting by axons-dendrites should have each other's identifiers. An absolute readdressing can be modulated by using neuron specificity as it was realized for biological neural networks.

There’s no description for self-reflectiveness and self-modification abilities into the initial description of semantic networks [Dudar Z.V., Shuklin D.E., 2000]. But in [Shuklin D.E. 2004] a conclusion had been drawn about the necessity of introspection and self-modification abilities in the system. For maintenance of these abilities a concept of pointer to neuron is provided. Pointers represent virtual connections between neurons. In this model, bodies and signals transferring through the neurons connections represent a physical body, and virtual connections between neurons are representing an astral body. It is proposed to create models of artificial neuron networks on the basis of virtual machine supporting the opportunity for paranormal effects.

SNN is generally used for natural language processing.

Septenary (Theosophy)

The Septenary in Helena Blavatsky's teachings refers to the seven principles of man. In The Key to Theosophy she presents a synthesis of Eastern (Advaita Vedanta, Samkhya) and Western (Platonism, 19th century Occultism) ideas, according to which human nature consists of seven principles. These are:

Atma - Spirit or Self - one with The Absolute as Its Radiation.

Buddhi - Spiritual Soul - vehicle of pure universal spirit.

Manas - consisting of Higher Manas, the spiritual, inner, or higher Ego; and Lower Manas, the ordinary mind.

Kamarupa - the "desire body", seat of animal desires and passions.

Prana - the vital principle.

Linga Sharira - the double, or astral body.

Sthula Sharira - the physical body.Each of these principles are embodied as such:

The first body is called sthula-sarira (Sanskrit, from sthula meaning coarse, gross, not refined, heavy, bulky, fat in the sense of bigness, conditioned and differentiated matter + sarira to moulder, waste away). A gross body, impermanent because of its wholly compound character. The physical body is usually considered as the lowest substance-principle. The physical form is the result of the harmonious co-working on the physical plane of forces and faculties streaming through their astral vehicle or linga-sarira, the pattern or model of the physical body.

The second body is called Linga-Sarira, (Sanskrit, from linga meaning characteristic mark, model, pattern + sarira, from the verbal root sri to moulder, waste away). A pattern or model that is impermanent; the model-body or astral body, only slightly more ethereal than the physical body. It is the astral model around which the physical body is built, and from which the physical body flows or develops as growth proceeds.

The third body is prana (Sanskrit, from pra before + the verbal root an to breathe, to live). In Theosophy, the breath of life. This life or prana works on, in, and around us, pulsating unceasingly during the term of physical existence. Prana is "the radiating force or Energy of Atma – as the Universal Life and the One Self – its lower or rather (in its effects) more physical, because manifesting, aspect. Prana or Life permeates the whole being of the objective Universe; and is called a 'principle' only because it is an indispensable factor and the deus ex machina of the living man."

The fourth principle is kāma (Sanskrit, from the verbal root kam meaning to desire). Desire; the desire principle is the driving, impelling force. Born from the interaction of atman, buddhi, and manas, kama per se is a colourless force, good or bad according to the way the mind and soul use it. It is the seat of the living electrical impulses, desires, and aspirations, considered in their energetic aspect.

The fifth principle is manas (Sanskrit, from the verbal root man meaning to think). The seat of mentation and egoic consciousness; in humanity Manas is the human person, the reincarnating ego, immortal in essence, enduring in its higher aspects through the entire manvantara. When embodied, manas is dual, gravitating toward buddhi in its higher aspects and in its lower aspects toward kama. The first is intuitive mind, the second the animal, ratiocinative consciousness, the lower mentality and passions of the personality.

The sixth principle or vehicle is Buddhi (Sanskrit, from the verbal root budh to awaken, enlighten, know). The vehicle of pure, universal spirit, hence an inseparable garment or vehicle of atman, which is, in its essence, of the highest plane of akasa or alaya. In man buddhi is the spiritual soul, the faculty of discriminating, the channel through which streams divine inspiration from the atman to the ego, and therefore that faculty which enables us to discern between good and evil: spiritual conscience. The qualities of the buddhic principle when awakened are higher judgment, instant understanding, discrimination, intuition, love that has no bounds, and consequent universal forgiveness.

The seventh is called Atman (Sanskrit). Self; pure consciousness, that cosmic self which is the same in every dweller on this globe and on every one of the planetary or stellar bodies in space. It is the feeling and knowledge of "I am," pure cognition, the abstract idea of self. It does not differ at all throughout the cosmos except in degree of self-recognition. It may also be considered as the First Logos in the human microcosm. During incarnation the lowest aspects of atman take on attributes, because it is linked with buddhi, as the buddhi is linked with manas, as the manas is linked with kama, etc.Despite using Sanskrit terminology, many of these concepts are expressed differently from their Indian counterparts. The Atman or Self in monistic Vedanta for example is considered the Universal Self that is the same as, and not just a "ray" of, the Absolute or Brahman.

These seven principles can be grouped into a threefold division of Monad (transcendent Spirit, consisting of Atma and Buddhi), Ego (the higher immortal spiritual Personality, made up of the Higher Manas only) and Lower Quaternity (the mortal personality, the Lower Manas and the remaining principles). In this, the Lower Manas is a transitional principle, the soul so to speak, which can choose to join either with the Kama (Desire) principle to form the "Kama-Manas", which becomes an "elementary" or "astral" spirit after death (equivalent perhaps to the preta or hungry ghost of Buddhism), or link with the higher or Buddhi principle to form a higher spiritual consciousness, the "Buddhi-Manas".

Theosophists believe that the most material of the vestures of the soul are interpenetrated by the particles of the more subtle vesture. The Sthula Sarira or gross physical body is mostly space at its atomic level, as all matter is known to be. The interstitial space is inhabited by the subtler particles of the Astral body or Linga sarira, and so on for the other more energy-like envelopes of the Soul. Because of the interpenetration of each sheath the so-called inner person is a fluid and unbroken continuity, although varying in density/flexibility and energy. Therefore, it is progressively more susceptible to its true spiritual nature as it is progressively less encumbered by material boundaries; the image of a suspension or colloid in chemistry is a similar perspective. Matter is postulated to be the physical counterpart of consciousness (ultimately our aspect being pure consciousness); the interpenetration of sheaths allows for consciousness to interpenetrate man's nature and is a Theosophical explanation of sensory experience.

As well as seven subtle bodies, there are also seven Cosmic planes of existence. However, in Blavatsky's teachings, the Planes and Principles don't match up (post-Blavatskian re-interpreters like C.W. Leadbeater reinterpreted the seven principles so they equate with the seven planes; this interpretation since became standard everywhere but original or orthodox Blavatskyian Theosophy).

While undergoing some changes and modifications in the hands of later esotericists such as C.W. Leadbeater, Rudolf Steiner, and Alice Bailey, Blavatsky's description of the seven bodies or principles remained a central part of western esoteric and New Age thinking ever since.

Silver cord

The silver cord in metaphysical studies and literature, also known as the sutratma or life thread of the antahkarana, refers to a life-giving linkage from the higher self (atma) down to the physical body. It also refers to an extended synthesis of this thread and a second (the consciousness thread, passing from the soul to the physical body) that connects the physical body to the etheric body, onwards to the astral body and finally to the mental body.In other research, it is described as a strong, silver-colored, elastic cord which joins a person's physical body to its astral body (a manifestation of the physical body that is less distinct).Alfred Ballabene, an astral projector whose works are mostly published and accessed online, observed that during his out-of-body experiences "glue-like strings" appear as the astral body tries to separate itself from the physical body. As the astral body moves further away from the tangible body, some of the strings break apart and clump into a specific and smaller region - preferably the head, breast, back, stomach, and the abdomen area - thus forming the silver cord.

Some prophets and soothsayers in ancient times also claimed to have seen the silver cord during their out-of-body experiences

Subtle body

A subtle body is one of a series of psycho-spiritual constituents of living beings, according to various esoteric, occult, and mystical teachings. According to such beliefs each subtle body corresponds to a subtle plane of existence, in a hierarchy or great chain of being that culminates in the physical form.

According to Bhagavad Gita, one of the most sacred texts of Hinduism, the subtle body is composed of mind, intelligence and ego, which controls the gross physical body. It is also known in other different spiritual traditions: "the most sacred body" (wujud al-aqdas) and "true and genuine body" (jism asli haqiqi) in Sufism, "the diamond body" in Taoism and Vajrayana, "the light body" or "rainbow body" in Tibetan Buddhism, "the body of bliss" in Kriya Yoga, and "the immortal body" (soma athanaton) in Hermeticism. The various attributes of the subtle body are frequently described in terms of often obscure symbolism: Tantra features references to the sun and moon as well as various Indian rivers and deities, while Taoist alchemy speaks of cauldrons and cinnabar fields.

Sufi philosophy

Sufi philosophy includes the schools of thought unique to Sufism, a mystical branch within Islam, also termed as Tasawwuf or Faqr according to its adherents. Sufism and its philosophical traditions may be associated with both Sunni Islam and Shia Islam. It has been suggested that Sufi thought emerged from the Middle East in the eighth century, but adherents are now found around the world. According to Sufism, it is a part of the Islamic teaching that deals with the purification of inner self and is the way which removes all the veils between divine and man.

It was around 1000 CE that early Sufi literature, in the form of manuals, treatises, discourses and poetry, became the source of Sufi thinking and meditations. Sufi philosophy, like all other major philosophical traditions, has several sub-branches including metaphysics and cosmology as well as several unique concepts.

Sylvan Muldoon

Sylvan Muldoon (February 18, 1903 – October 1969) was an American esotericist who promoted the concept of astral projection. According to Muldoon, astral projection is an out-of-body experience (OBE) that assumes the existence of an astral body separate from the physical body and is capable of travelling outside it. A 2012 Princeton University Press publication by Hugh Urban asserted that one of Muldoon’s most popular books formed the basis for theories of the Church of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard which he claimed were his own.

Thelma Moss

Thelma Moss (born Thelma Schnee, January 6, 1918 – February 1, 1997) was an American actress, and later a psychologist and parapsychologist, best known for her work on Kirlian photography and the human aura.

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