Study Set 2
The Etheric Body
Letter from the Teaching Staff
The Physical Body is Not a Principle
The Etheric Body Defined and Described
The Nature of the Etheric Body
The Etheric Body is a Transmitting Mechanism
The Etheric Body Connects man to God
The Basis of Non-Separateness
Upon the Road the hidden stands revealed. Each sees and knows the villainy of each.
And yet there is, with that great revelation, no turning back, no spurning of each other,
and no shakiness upon the Road. The Road goes forward into day.
A TREATISE ON THE SEVEN RAYS Vol-1, pages 97-118
A TREATISE ON THE SEVEN RAYS Vol-2, pages 184-185,290-345
(some editions of these two books show an alternate title:
"Esoteric Psychology Volumes I and II")
WHITE MAGIC pages 18, top of 20, 41- 50
1.) We have been told that each form in the world of visible forms is the symbol
of an idea that exists in the invisible world.
Symbols mean different things to different people. A symbol can convey several meanings
to one person. There is no one-and-only interpretation for a given symbol. What does
each of the following symbolize to you?
A symphony orchestra
2.) How is love expressed on the mental plane?
How is love expressed in group life and group work?
3.) How does a meditating group express love in its environment?
What to your mind constitutes the environment of the entire group that
Dear Group Brother,
If a building is to stand the test of time and the vicissitudes of fortune, it must be
raised upon an adequate foundation. In a like
manner, if aspiring souls are to withstand the shocks of accelerated spiritual
growths they also must build upon a firm and true foundation. Builders who are deficient
in either knowledge, skill or integrity betray their creation even before it enters the
planning stage. Substituting enthusiasm for ability they may envision vertical walls,
horizontal ceilings, and doors fitting snugly into their frames. But, what is ultimately
erected will bear silent witness to a host of good intentions completely out of plumb.
When a group of individuals enter into conscious cooperation with the Divine Plan by
endeavoring to unfold their grouped soul potential, each person intentionally and
voluntarily exposes his personality life to a series of interlacing group disciplines.
These disciplines are simply a part of the science of building up the wherewithal to
know and to work as a group.
Many years of preparation must precede the capacity for concerted understanding. It is
essential for numerous faculties of the thinking equipment to be developed until at last
individual minds within a group gain the power to think in synthesis. By accomplishing
this they liberate themselves forever from the superstitions of those who cannot think in
synthesis. They outgrow separativeness, that greatest of all superstitions. They begin to
sense and to realize, to visualize and to comprehend as one body. Each member
supports the others' efforts and helps to ensure an adequate and complementary compound of
allied abilities. More than that, they create a whole new instrument for implementing the
soul's purposes on the physical Plane.
A certain degree of psychological development is an important prerequisite to the
meditative life. The average service minded group is willing, hopeful and as kindly as its
collective disposition will permit. But there are qualifications for effective service
that go beyond breathless optimism.
Aspiring meditators should first of all be persons of integrity. Integrity is honesty
illumined by intelligent understanding. The service activity of the group must spring from
the nobility of inner convictions. If there is a dynamic acceptance of Universal Law, the
inner and outer workings of the group will evidence growth and accomplishment within a
framework of eternal principles.
The power of discrimination must also be developed in order that the group may be
somewhat prepared to determine the comparative worth of intrinsic values. The purpose of
group discrimination is to interjointedly discover what is right and to choose to do right
regardless of conflicting and confusing opinions. When each member is prepared to
sacrifice his own personal prejudices in the interest of group enlightenment there is
every reason to hope that light will come.
To enhance spiritual synthesis (i.e., growing together; fusing of spiritual purpose)
the group members must be intelligently balanced in applying themselves to their
studies and in applying what they learn to their daily lives. They must not
scatter their faculties and resources over to large an area of activity, lest in their
attempt to do everything they do nothing well. Unqualified patience is the mark of those
with insight. The wise group does not desire to build hurriedly and, thereby recklessly.
It is resigned to the inevitable processes of Universal Law, and prefers to build truth
into its life and work with loving care and accuracy.
As the group patiently stabilizes its ability to keep the daily disciplines and to be
of service, the members will also learn to moderate their individual attitudes and
appetites. An emotion or thought allowed to persist in an uncontrolled state is as harmful
to group welfare as is an uncontrolled physical habit.
Spiritual insight must always be sought for its own sake, and not with the hope of
worldly gain. "Pride goeth before a fall", and an amassment of pride only serves
to ensure a more disastrous fall. Therefore, it is essential to the effectiveness of the
group spirit and the longevity of the group body that the group develop detachment. It
must master the impulse to possess. Any group that seeks to acquire material possessions,
or fears the loss of certain members, or is convinced that it has an exclusive patent on
THE TRUTH, is prostituting soul energy and peddling ignorance.
Every group worthy of receiving hierarchical instruction must come to the group temple
offering all that it has and all that it is for soul enlightenment, expecting no reward
for its effort other than enlightenment. The group must then apply enlightenment to
service, confident that each service rendered in the clear light of the soul leads to
further opportunity to serve, and leads to the capacity to carry an increasing measure of
responsibility in hierarchical work.
Thus is seen and traversed the Way of Group Progress upon that way let us persist and
Your loving companions,
The Staff of ARCANA
THE PHYSICAL BODY IS NOT A PRINCIPLE
0ne of the things which frequently puzzle students is the statement that the dense
physical body is not a principle. H.P.B. states this fact with emphasis; people are apt to
think (unless they are theosophical fanatics) that he was incorrect or was intentionally
misleading students. One of the points, little understood, is the nature of a principle.
Yet only by understanding what a principle is can the beauty and accuracy of his statement
be grasped. What, in the last analysis, is a principle? A principle is that which,
macrocosmically speaking, is being developed upon each plane of our seven planes -- the
seven subplanes of the cosmic physical plane. It is the germ or the seed on each subplane
which embodies some aspect of the divine unfolding consciousness; it is that which is
fundamentally related to some form of sensitivity; it is that to which the bodies, as they
evolve, find that they can respond. A Principle is a germ of awareness, carrying all the
potentiality of full consciousness on some particular level of divine activity. It is that
which makes knowledge and conscious response to environment possible; it is that which
connotes a sequential and "unrolling" sensitive activity, resulting in divine
understanding, possible and inevitable.
The physical body, and to a far less extent the astral and mental bodies, are automatic
in their activity as aspects of a divine response apparatus, of a mechanism which enables
the Heavenly Man, the planetary Logos and the spiritual man to register conscious response
to that which is to be contacted under the divine plan and through the medium of a
mechanism. At present, the physical body is the only one which is as yet so fully
developed that it has in this planetary scheme of ours no further evolutionary
development, except in so far as the spiritual man can affect it -- and most of the effect
is produced in the etheric body and not in the dense physical. This is a point little
grasped but of major importance.
The dense physical body reached its high point of development and of interest from the
angle of mental attention and of hierarchical action in the previous solar system. It was
then the divine goal of the entire evolutionary process. This is not an easy point for
humanity today to grasp. It is not possible or advisable for me to indicate the
evolutionary stages through which this divine mechanism passed in preparation for the task
to be undertaken in the present solar system. In this divine incarnation of our planetary
Logos through the medium of this little planet, the Earth, the physical body is not a
goal, but simply something which exists and must be accepted, and which must be adapted
and incorporated into the general evolutionary plan. That plan has to do entirely with
consciousness. The physical body is simply (no more and no less) the vehicle of
consciousness upon the physical plane, but the emphasis of attention is the etheric body
as an expression of the subtler vehicles and their state of embodied consciousness. The
physical body is important because it has to house and respond to every type of conscious
response, from that of the lowest type of human being up to and inclusive of the
consciousness of an initiate of the third degree. The bodies and forms of the indwelling
conscious life in the three subhuman kingdoms have an analogous but less difficult
problem; I am here, however, considering only the physical body of a human being, which is
not a principle because it is not in any way a goal, it is not the seed or germ of
anything. Any changes wrought in the physical body are secondary to the goal of conscious
response to the revelation of an emerging divinity. I have felt it necessary to emphasize
this because of the confusion in men's minds anent the subject.
To sum up: the physical body is not a principle; it is not a main object of attention
of the aspirant; it automatically responds to the slowly unfolding consciousness in all
the kingdoms of nature; it constantly remains that which is worked upon and not that which
has an innate influence of its own; it is not important in the active process, for it is a
recipient and not that which initiates activity. That which is important is the unfolding
consciousness, the response of the indwelling spiritual man to life, circumstances, events
and environment. The physical body responds. When the physical body becomes, in
error, the object of attention, retrogression is indicated; and this is why all profound
attention to the physical disciplines, to vegetarianism, to diet and to fasting, and to
the present modes of (so-called) mental and divine healing, are undesirable and not in
line with the projected plan. Therefore undue consideration and excessive emphasis upon
the physical body is reactionary and is like the worship of the golden calf by the
children of Israel; it is reversion to that which at one time was of importance but today
should be relegated to a minor position and below the threshold of consciousness.
I have dealt with this here because in Law VII the fact of the endocrine glands is
brought to our attention, and it is necessary that we approach this subject from the right
point of view. The endocrine glands are a tangible part of the physical body; they are
therefore a part of that created manifestation which is not regarded as a principle. They
are, however, effective and potent and may not be ignored. It is essential that students
regard these glands as effects and not causes of events and happenings and conditions in
the body. The physical body -- no matter what its victims may believe and declare
-- is always conditioned by inner causes; it is never, intrinsically, itself a
cause. It is, in this solar system and on our planet, automatic and affected by causes
generated on the inner planes or by the action of the soul. Please note the importance of
this statement. The physical body has no true life of its own, but is simply -- in this
cycle -- responsive to impulses emanating from elsewhere. Its achievement and its triumph
is that it is an automaton.
ESOTERIC HEALING, pp.611-614
THE ETHERIC BODY DEFINED AND DESCRIBED
One of the main obligations of occult students today is to testify to the fact of the
etheric body; modern science is already thus testifying because its researches have now
landed it in the realm of energy...The fact of all manifested forms being forms of energy,
and that the true human form is no exception, is the gift of science to humanity and not
the gift of occultism. The demonstration that light and matter are synonymous terms is
also a scientific conclusion. Esotericists have always known this, but their aggressive
and foolish presentations of the truth have greatly handicapped the Hierarchy. Frequently,
the Masters have deplored the technique of the theosophists and other occult groups. When
the new presentation of the occult teaching made its appearance through the inspired
activity of H.P.B, a number (an increasing number as the years slipped by) of theosophical
members presented the occult teaching in such a manner that it travestied the true
teaching and outraged the intellectual perception of the mass, of enquiring and
intelligent men. The teaching on the etheric body is an instance of this. H.P.B. was
largely responsible, because of utilizing the word "astral" to cover a mass of
information anent the etheric as well as the astral.
Realizing that the etheric body was an expression always of the dominant energy
controlling mankind in any particular cycle, H.P.B. used the term "astral body"
as interchangeable with the etheric body. The etheric body, in the vast majority of cases
is the vehicle or the instrument of astral energy. The mass of men are still Atlantean or
astral in their natures, and this means a far larger percentage than the average occultist
is willing to admit. H.P.B. was, however, truthful and knew that at that time and for
several hundred years afterwards (probably about three hundred years) the astral body
would continue to govern the mass of human reactions and their consequent daily life
expression. Hence the apparent confusion in the writings between these two
Here is a basic statement -- one that is so basic that it governs the control of all
thinking anent the etheric body:
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
If you are to understand clearly, it is essential that I lay down certain propositions
anent the etheric body which should govern, all the student's thinking; if they do not, he
will be approaching the truth from the wrong angle; this, modern science does not do. The
limitation of modern science is its lack of vision; the hope of modern science is that it
does recognize truth when proven. Truth in all circumstances is essential and in this
matter science gives a desirable lead, even though it ignores and despises occultism.
Occult scientists handicap themselves either because of their presentation of the truth or
because of a false humility. Both are equally bad.
There are six major propositions which govern all consideration of the etheric body,
and I would like to present them to students as a first step:
1. There is nothing in the manifested universe -- solar, planetary or the various
kingdoms in nature -- which does not possess an energy form, subtle and intangible yet
substantial, which controls, governs and conditions the outer physical body. This is the
2. This energy form -- underlying the solar system, the planets and all forms within
their specific rings-pass-not -- is itself conditioned and governed by the dominant solar
or planetary energy which ceaselessly and without break in time, creates it, changes and
qualifies it. The etheric body is subject to ceaseless change. This, being true of the
Macrocosm, is equally true of man, the microcosm, and -- through the agency of humanity --
will eventually and mysteriously prove true of all the subhuman kingdoms in nature. Of
this, the animal kingdom and the vegetable kingdom ate already evidences.
3. The etheric body is composed of interlocking and circulating lines of force
emanating from one or other, or from one or many, of the seven planes or areas of
consciousness of our planetary Life.
4. These lines of energy and this closely interlocking system of. streams of force are
related to seven focal points or centers to be found within the etheric body. These
centers are related, each of them, to certain types of incoming energy. When the energy
reaching the etheric body is not related to a particular center, then that center remains
quiescent and unawakened; when it is related and the center is sensitive to its impact,
then that center becomes vibrant and receptive and develops as a controlling factor in the
life of the man on the physical plane.
5. The dense physical body, composed of atoms each with its own individual life, light
and activity -- is held together by and is expressive of the energies which compose the
etheric body. These, as will be apparent, are of two natures:
a. The energies which form (through interlocked "lines of forceful energy")
the underlying etheric body, as a whole and in relation to all physical forms. This form
is qualified then by the general life and vitality of the plane on which the
Dweller in the body functions, and therefore where his consciousness is normally focussed.
b. The particularized or specialized energies to which the individual (at this
particular point in evolution, through the circumstances of his daily life and his
heredity) chooses to govern his daily activities.
6. The etheric body has many centers of force, responsive to the manifold energies of
our planetary Life, but we shall consider only the seven major centers which respond to
the inflowing energies of the seven rays. All lesser centers are conditioned by the seven
major centers; this is a point which students are apt to forget. It is here that knowledge
of the egoic and of the personality rays is of prime usefulness.
It can be seen, therefore, how exceedingly important this subject of energy 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. If this is grasped by him, it will
enable him to realize that he will have to shift his whole attention from the physical or
the astral planes on to the etheric levels of awareness; his objective will then be to
determine what energy should control his daily expression (or energies, if he is an
advanced disciple). He will realize also that as his attitude, attainment and
comprehension shift to ever higher levels, his etheric body will be constantly changing
and responding to the newer energies. These energies he will be will-fully bringing
in; this is the right use of the word "will-full".
It is not easy for the average seer or clairvoyant to distinguish the etheric body from
its environment or to isolate its particular type of energy or livingness, for the reason
that its automaton, the physical body -- being composed of vibrant energetic atoms -- is
itself in constant movement, and such movement involves a necessary radiation as a
consequence; animal magnetism is an illustration of this radiation. This emanation from
the dense physical body normally and naturally mingles with the energies of the etheric
body, and thus only the trained seer can differentiate between the two, particularly
within the physical body itself.
From one point of view the etheric body can be looked at in two ways: first, as it
interpenetrates, underlies and occupies the entire physical organism and, secondly, as it
extends beyond the physical form and surrounds it like an aura. According to the point in
evolution will be the extent of the area which the etheric body covers beyond the outside
of the physical body. It may extend for a few or many inches. It is only in this area that
the vital body can be studied with relative ease, once the emanatory activity of the
physical atoms is offset or allowed for.
Within the physical body, the network of the etheric body is to be found permeating
every single part. It is peculiarly associated at this time with the nervous system, which
is fed, nourished, controlled and galvanized by its etheric counterpart. This counterpart
is present in millions of tiny streams or lines of energy, to which the Eastern occultist
has given the name "nadis". These nadis are the carriers of energy. They are in
fact the energy itself and carry the quality of energy from some area of consciousness in
which the "dweller in the body" may happen to be focussed. This may be the
astral plane or the planes of the Spiritual Triad, for none of the energies can control
the physical body from any plane, no matter how high, except in this manner. According to
the focus of consciousness, the psychic state of awareness, the potency of aspiration or
desire, and the point in evolution or the spiritual status, so will be the type of energy
carried by the nadis, passing from them to the outer nervous system. This general
proposition must be accepted, for the whole subject is as yet too intricate, and the
mechanism of observation of the student too undeveloped, for me to enter into greater
detail. This will suffice as an initial hypothesis upon which to work.
The amount of energy and the type of energy controlling any aspect of the nervous
system is conditioned by the center in its immediate area. A center is a distributing
agency, in the last analysis. Even though that energy will affect the entire body, the
center most responsive to the quality and type will potently affect the nadis, and
therefore the nerves, in its immediate environment.
It must always be remembered that the seven centers are not within the dense
physical body. They exist only in etheric matter and in the etheric so-called aura,
outside the physical body. They are closely related to the dense physical body by the
network of nadis. Five of the centers are to be found in the etheric counterpart of the
spinal column, and the energy passes (through large and responsive nadis) through the
vertebrae of the spine and circulates then throughout the etheric body as it is interiorly
active within the physical vehicle. The three head centers exist, one just above the top
of the head, another just in front of the eyes and forehead, and the third at the back of
the head, just above where the spinal column ends. This makes eight centers but is in
reality seven, as the center at the back of the head is not counted in the initiation
process, any more than is the spleen.
The powerful effect of the inflow of energy, via the energy body, has itself
automatically created these centers or these reservoirs of force, these focal points of
energy, which the spiritual man must learn to use and through the means of which he can
direct energy where needed. Each of these seven centers has appeared in the course of
human evolution in response to energy from one or other, or from several, of the seven
rays. The impact of energies upon the etheric body emanating as they do periodically and
ceaselessly from the seven rays, is so potent that the seven areas in the etheric body
become more highly sensitized than the rest of the vehicle, and these in due time develop
into responsive distributing centers. The effect of these seven centers upon the physical
body in due time produces a condensation or a state of what is called "attracted
response" from dense matter and thus the seven major sets of endocrine glands slowly
came into functioning activity. It must here be remembered that the whole development of
the etheric body falls into two historical stages:
1. That in which the etheric energy, flowing through responsive centers and creating
the endocrine glands as a consequence, gradually began to have a definite effect upon the
blood stream; the energy worked through that medium solely for a very long time. This
still remains true, for the life aspect of energy animates the blood, through the medium
of the centers and their agents, the glands. Hence the words in the Bible that "the
blood is the life."
2. As the race of men developed, and consciousness grew greater and certain great
expansions took place, the centers began to extend their usefulness and to use the nadis,
and thus to work upon and through the nervous system; this produced conscious and planned
activity upon the physical plane, commensurate to the man's place in evolution.
Thus the incoming energy forming the etheric body created a needed etheric mechanism
with its corresponding dense physical counterparts; it therefore, as will be noted from
its relationship to the blood via the glands and to the nervous system via the nadis (both
through the medium of the seven centers), became the transmitter of two aspects of energy:
one of which was kama-manasic (desire-lower mind) and the other atmic-buddhic (spiritual
will -- spiritual love) in the case of advanced humanity. Herein lies full opportunity for
all, as the Law of Evolution proceeds to dominate all manifestation. What is true of the
Macrocosm is true also of the microcosm.
THE NATURE OF THE ETHERIC BODY
In the study of the etheric body lies hid (for scientists and those of the medical
profession) a fuller comprehension of the laws of matter and the laws of health. The
word health has become too localized in the past, and its meaning confined to the
sanity of the body corporeal, to the co-operative action of the atoms of the physical body
of man, and to the full expression of the powers of the physical elemental. In days to
come it will be realized that the health of man is dependent upon the health of all allied
evolutions, and upon the co-operative action and full expression of the matter of the
planet and of the planetary elemental who is himself a composite manifestation of the
physical elementals of all manifested nature.
In the study of the etheric body and prana lies the revelation of the effects of those
rays of the sun which (for lack of better expression), we call "solar pranic
emanations." These solar pranic emanations are the produced effect of the central
heat of the sun approaching other bodies within the solar system by one of the three main
channels of contact, and producing on the bodies then contacted certain effects differing
somewhat from those produced by the other emanations. These effects might be considered as
definitely stimulating and constructive, and (through their essential quality) as
producing conditions that further the growth of cellular matter, and concern its
adjustment to environing conditions; they concern likewise the internal health
(demonstrating as the heat of the atom and its consequent activity) and the uniform
evolution of the form of which that particular atom of matter forms a constituent part.
Emanative prana does little in connection with form building; that is not its province,
but it conserves the form through the preservation of the health of its component parts.
Other rays of the sun act differently upon the forms and upon their substance. Some
perform the work of the Destroyer of forms, and others carry on the work of cohering and
of attracting; the work of the Destroyer and of the Preserver is carried on under the Law
of Attraction and Repulsion. Some rays definitely produce accelerated motion, others
produce retardation. The ones we are dealing with here -- pranic solar emanations -- work
within the four ethers, that matter which (though physical) is not as yet objectively
visible to the eye of man. They are the basis of all physical plane life considered solely
in connection with the life of the physical plane atoms of matter, their inherent heat and
their rotary motion. These emanations are the basis of that "fire by friction"
which demonstrates in the activity of matter.
In the study of the etheric body and prana comes comprehension of the method of logoic
manifestation, and therefore much of interest to the metaphysician and all abstract
thinkers. The etheric body of man holds hid the secret of his objectivity. It has its
correspondence on the archetypal plane, -- the plane we call that of the divine
manifestation, the first plane of our solar system, the plane Adi. The matter of that
highest plane is called often the "sea of fire" and it is the root of the
akasha, the term applied to the substance of the second plane of manifestation. Let us
trace the analogy a little more in detail, for in its just apprehension will be found much
of illumination and much that will serve to elucidate problems both macrocosmic and
microcosmic. We will begin with man and his etheric body.
The etheric body has been described as a network, permeated with fire, or as a web,
animated with golden light. It is spoken of in the Bible as the "golden bowl."
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 vitalized 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. In the synthesis of thought it might be expressed thus: The thinker on the
astral plane, the plane of desire and of necessity, stands to the physical body as the
Logos on the cosmic astral plane stands to His system.
The body of a man, a planetary Logos, and a solar Logos are the product of desire
originating on the planes of abstract mind, whether cosmic, systemic, or mind in the three
worlds, whether cosmic desire-mind or human desire-mind, and all their bodies are
"Sons of Necessity," as H.P.B. so aptly expressed it.
Therefore, we can arrive at certain dicta anent the etheric body which for purposes of
clarity might well be enumerated:
First. The etheric body is the mould of the physical body.
Second. The etheric body is 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
Third. The etheric body is a web or network of fine interlacing channels, formed
of matter of the four ethers, and built into a specific form. It forms a focal point for
certain radiatory emanations, which vivify, stimulate and produce the rotary action of
Fourth. These pranic emanations when focalized and received, react upon the
dense matter which is built upon the etheric scaffolding and framework.
Fifth. 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 of escape. This can be seen in both the microcosm and the
macrocosm. 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. When the Logos has expanded His
Consciousness on cosmic levels He can then transcend the logoic etheric web, and escape
beyond the ring-pass-not of His objective manifestation. In thinking out this analogy we
must hold closely in mind the fact that the seven major planes of our solar system are the
seven subplanes of the cosmic physical or the lowest cosmic plane. We might note here the
accurate working out of the correspondence in matter and the radiatory correspondence is
COSMIC FIRE, 78-83
THE ETHERIC BODY IS A TRANSMITTING MECHANISM
The etheric body is a web of light energy, impulsed or motivated by the type or
the quality of the energies to which it responds, from the angle of evolutionary
development. It might be stated that:
1. Unevolved or savage man responds simply to prana or physical energy, vitalizing the
appetites of the lower nature, developing the instincts and thus laying the foundation of
a physical vehicle as the outer garment of the soul. At this stage, intellect is
embryonic; the physical appetites and the five senses are dominating factors. All this is
due to the activity of prana as it pours through the etheric or vital body.
2. Average man is impulsed by desire which is an energy, emanating from world desire
and which -- developing or organizing the astral body --generates desire-energy. It pours
into the vital body and galvanizes physical man into those activities which will lead to
the satisfaction of desire. This is a parallel process to the work of prana, impelling the
animal instinctive nature into activity. These necessarily parallel and produce conflict
-- the first clash (within the man) of the pair of opposites. Gradually, the pranic
energy becomes automatic in its activity; the shift of the consciousness is into the
astral or desire body and the functioning of the instinctual nature drops below the
threshold of the consciousness. Man then focusses his life in the astral vehicle and his
etheric body becomes animated by the potent inflow of desire-energy.
3. The developed man, with an integrated personality, gradually brings the etheric body
under the control of mental energy and his physical plane activity is not then so much
implemented by instinct or desire as by thought energy, dedicated to and expressing
the nature of the man's plan. This plan indicates increasingly his intelligent desire --
selfish in the early stages, complex and dualistic in the intermediate stages but slowly
responding to the world plan and to the divine intent for humanity.
4. Finally, when the power of the Triangles (the spiritual name given in The Secret
Doctrine to the soul) is being imposed upon the personality, then their energy
supersedes the other energies and the personality -- focussed now in the mind and
responsive to soul impression -- expresses upon the physical plane, through the medium of
the physical brain and the body, the intent, potency and nature of the all-inclusive soul.
The individual etheric web galvanizes the automatic physical body into activity. The
energies, controlling the physical body through the medium of the etheric web, are the
four mentioned above. The conflict in the brain consciousness of the evolving human unit
begins to assume importance when the man starts to recognize these controlling energies,
their source and their effects.
It is immediately obvious that the work of the disciple is, therefore, almost entirely
within the realm of energy and forces. The study of occultism is the study of forces and
of their origin and effects.
DISCIPLESHIP IN THE NEW AGE I, pp.699-700
THE ETHERIC BODY CONNECTS MAN TO GOD
Students should never forget the Law of Analogy as an interpretive agency. Esotericism
teaches (and modern science is rapidly arriving at the same conclusion) that underlying
the physical body and its comprehensive and intricate system of nerves is a vital or
etheric body which is the counterpart and the true form of the outer and tangible
phenomenal aspect. It is likewise the medium for the transmission of force to all parts of
the human frame and the agent of the indwelling life and consciousness. It determines and
conditions the physical body, for it is itself the repository and the transmitter of
energy from the various subjective aspects of man and also from the environment in which
man (both inner and outer man) finds himself.
Two other points should here be added. First: the individual etheric body is not an
isolated and separated human vehicle but is, in a peculiar sense, an integral part of the
etheric body of that entity which we call the human family; this kingdom in nature,
through its etheric body, is an integral part of the planetary etheric body; the planetary
etheric body is not separated off from the etheric bodies of other planets but all of
them. in their totality, along with the etheric body of the sun constitute the etheric
body of the solar system. This is related to the etheric bodies of the six solar systems
which, with ours, form a cosmic unity and into these pour energies and forces from certain
great constellations. The field of space is etheric in nature and its vital body is
composed of the totality of etheric bodies of all constellations, solar systems and
planets which are found therein. Throughout this cosmic golden web there is constant
circulation of energies and forces and this constitutes the scientific basis of the
astrological theories. Just as the forces of the planet and of the inner spiritual man (to
mention only one factor among many) pour through the etheric body of the individual
man upon the physical plane, and condition his outer expression, activities and qualities,
so do the varying forces of the universe pour through every part of the etheric body of
that entity we call space and condition and determine the outer expression, the
activities and qualities of every form found within the cosmic periphery.
The second point I would make is that within the human etheric body there are to be
found seven major force centers which are in the nature of distributing agencies and
electrical batteries, providing dynamic force and qualitative energy to the man; they
produce definite effects upon his outer physical manifestation. Through their constant
activity his quality appears, his ray tendencies begin to emerge and his point in
evolution is clearly indicated.
This "control of form through a septenate of energies" (as it is defined in
the Old Commentary) is an unalterable rule in the inner government of our universe
and of our particular solar system, as well as in the case of individual man. There are,
for instance, in our solar system, seven sacred planets which correspond to the seven
individual force centers in man. The seven solar systems, of which our solar system is
one, are in their turn the seven energy centers of the One to Whom I have referred in my
other books as the One About Whom Naught Can Be Said.
..... It is essential that he [average astrologer] learns to think in larger Wholes and
to be more deeply concerned with the emanating Sources and with the eternal persistent
Causes than with the effects of these Sources upon that ephemeral creation, a human being
and his temporary existence upon a most unimportant planet. As he seeks to do this, he
will discover for himself the signs of the essential divinity of man -- a divinity which
is to be found in the infinite grasp of man's consciousness when illumined by the light of
the soul and in his power to project his thought into the consciousness of those manifold
Lives Whose "energetic movements" he must perforce share because his small
modicum of energy is an integral part of Theirs.
ESOTERIC ASTROLOGY, 10-12
THE BASIS OF NON-SEPARATENESS
The use of the creative imagination is of value here. It may not give a true picture on
all points, but it will convey one great reality. The reality to which I refer is that
there is no possible separateness in our manifested planetary life -- or elsewhere for
that matter, even beyond our planetary ring-pass-not. The concept of separateness, of
individual isolation, is an illusion of the unillumined human mind. Everything -- every
form, every organism within all forms, all aspects of manifested life in every kingdom in
nature -- is intimately related each to each through the planetary etheric body (of which
all etheric bodies are integral parts) which substands all that is. Little as it may mean,
and useless as it may appear, the table at which you write, the flower you hold in your
hand, the horse on which you ride, the man to whom you talk, are sharing with you the vast
circulatory life of the planet as it streams into, through and out of every aspect of the
form nature. The only differences which exist are those in consciousness, and peculiarly
so in the consciousness of man and of the Black Lodge. There is only the ONE LIFE, pouring
through the mass of forms which, in their sum total, constitute our planet -- as we know
All forms are related, inter-related and interdependent; the planetary etheric body
holds them together so that a cohesive, coherent, expressive Whole is presented to the eye
of man, or one great unfolding consciousness to the perception of the Hierarchy. Lines of
light pass from form to form. Some are bright and some are dim; some move or circulate
with rapidity, others are lethargic and slow in their interplay; some seem to circulate
with facility in some particular kingdom in nature and some in another; some come from one
direction and some from a different one, but all are in movement all the time; it is a
constant circulation. All are passing on and into and through, and there is not one single
atom in the body which is not the recipient of this living, moving energy; there is no
single form that is not "kept in shape and livingness by this determined inflow and
outflow, and there is therefore no part of the body of manifestation (which is an integral
part of the planetary vehicle of the Lord of the World) which is not in complex but
complete touch with HIS divine intention -- through the medium of HIS three major centers:
Shamballa, the Hierarchy, and Humanity..... The objective of the circulating energies --
as it appears to us when we seek to penetrate divine purpose -- is to vivify all parts of
His body, with the view of promoting the unfoldment of consciousness therein.
This is basically true from the angle of Shamballa "where the Will of God is
known"; it is partially true of those Members of the Hierarchy Who sense the Purpose
and formulate the Plan and then present it in an understandable form to the lesser
initiates and disciples and aspirants. These two groups work entirely on the consciousness
side, which motivates and directs (as needed) the moving, circulating energies, This is
not true of the bulk of humanity, who are conscious but only conscious within their
ring-pass-not, and are therefore fundamentally separated off by their emphasis upon form
as it exists in the three worlds -- the dense physical levels of the cosmic physical
plane. On the lowest of these levels, the outer physical form reacts and responds to the
circulating energies through the medium of the etheric energy which comes from the lowest
of the four levels of the etheric plane.
Gradually the consciousness within these forms reacts to the nature of the outer
vehicle as it is impulsed from etheric levels, and a profoundly significant development
takes place. This development -to make a wide generalization -- falls into three
1. The outer form changes under the impact of the etheric energies entering in, passing
through and disappearing from (ceaselessly aeon after aeon) the form. The energy that is
there one minute is gone the next.
2. This ceaseless play of energy varies in time and space, and moves lethargically,
rapidly or rhythmically according to the type or nature of the form through which it is at
any moment passing.
3. The energy of the etheric plane changes considerably as the aeons pass away,
according to the direction or the source from which it comes. The directing energy alters
significantly as evolution proceeds.
Students have been apt to speak simply of the etheric body as an entire integral entity
and as constituted solely of etheric substance, forgetting that the etheric body is the
medium for the transfer of many types of energy. They forget the following facts:
1. That the etheric body is itself composed of four types of substance, each of which
is definitely specialized and found on one or other of the etheric levels.
2. That these substances., functioning actively in any particular etheric body, create
a network of channels; they produce fine tubes (if I may use so inappropriate a word)
which take the general form of the dense material or tangible form with which they may be
associated. This form underlies every part of the physical body and can be seen extending
for a certain distance outside of the recognizable form.
3. These channels or tubes -- according to the type of energy they carry -- pass to
certain areas of the body, via three main stations:
a. The seven major centers, of which you have heard much.
b. The twenty-one minor centers, which I outlined for you earlier.
(A Treatise on the Seven Rays, Volume IV, 72-73.)
c. The forty-nine focal points, scattered all over the body.
4. All these centers and focal points for the transmission of energy are connected each
with each by larger channels than the mass of channels which constitute the etheric body
as a whole, because many lesser channels and lines of force or energy merge and blend as
they near a center or focal point.
5. The mass of the smaller channels or the channeling tubes of energy eventually create
in all forms that layer of corresponding nerves which are not yet recognized by medical
science but which are like an intermediary web or network. These relate the etheric body
as a whole to the entire two-fold nervous system (cerebro-spinal and the sympathetic
nervous systems) which science does recognize. It is this system underlying the nerves
which is the true response apparatus and which -- via the brain -- telegraphs information
to the mind or, via the brain and mind, keeps the soul informed. It is this system of
nadis which is used in full consciousness by the initiate who has related the Spiritual
Triad and the soul-infused personality, and has therefore seen the soul-body, the causal
body or the egoic lotus totally disappear, being no longer of any true importance.
6. The physical body, therefore, like so much else in nature, is itself triple in
design. There is:
a. The etheric body.
b. The substantial nadis.
c. The dense physical body.
These form one unit and in incarnation are inseparable.
7. The centers in their totality and the many focal points of contact found in the
etheric body are responsible for the creation and preservation of the endocrine glandular
system in a form either limited and inadequate, or representative of the spiritual man and
entirely adequate. The nadis, in their turn, are responsible for the creation and
precipitation of the twofold nervous system. This is a point most carefully to be borne in
mind and is the clue to the problem of creativity.
8. The type of the etheric substance "substanding" any form is dependent upon
a. The kingdom of nature concerned. Basically the four kingdoms draw their pranic life
each from one or other of the four levels of etheric substance, counting upwards from the
1. The mineral kingdom is sustained from plane 1.
2. The vegetable kingdom is sustained from plane 2.
3. The animal kingdom is sustained from plane 3.
4. The human kingdom is sustained from plane 4.
That was the original condition; but as evolution proceeded and there was an
inter-acting emanation established between all the kingdoms, this automatically changed.
It was this "esoteric emanating change" which, aeons ago, produced animal-man. I
give this as an illustration and a key to a great mystery.
b. Curiously enough, in the human kingdom (and only in the human kingdom) the etheric
body is now composed of all four types of etheric substance. The reason for this is that
eventually (when mankind is spiritually developed) each of these four planes or types of
etheric substance will be responsive to the four higher levels of the cosmic physical
plane -- the etheric levels, to which we give the names: the logoic level, the monadic,
the atmic level and the buddhic. This will happen as a result of conscious growth
9. It must be remembered that the substance of which these etheric channels or
channeling tubes are composed is planetary prana, the life-giving, health-giving energy of
the planet itself. Through these tubes, however, may flow all or any of the possible
energies -- emotional, mental, egoic, manasic, buddhic or atmic, according to the point in
evolution which the man concerned has reached. This always means that several energies are
pouring through these tubes unless he point in evolution is exceedingly low, or unless one
is dealing with a cleavage; these various energies are fused and blended together but find
their own focal points in the etheric body when entering directly within the circumference
of the dense physical body. Just as it can be said of the soul or of the Deity, so it can
be said of the energetic or vital etheric body or entity: "Having, pervaded this
whole universe with a fragment of myself, I remain."
There is within the human body a wonderful symbol of distinction between the higher
etheric levels and the lower so-called physical levels. The diaphragm exists, separating
that part of the body which contains the heart, throat and head, plus the lungs, from all
the rest of the organs of the body; these are all of them of the utmost importance from
the angle of LIFE, and that which is determined in the head, impulsed from the heart,
sustained by the breath and expressed through the apparatus of the throat determines what
the man IS.
Below the diaphragm are found organs whose use is far more objective even if of great
importance; though each of these lower organs has a life and purpose of its own, their
existence and functioning is impulsed, determined and conditioned by the life and rhythm
emanating from the higher part of the vehicle. This is not easy for the average man to
comprehend, but any serious limitation or physical disease above the diaphragm has a
compelling and serious effect on all that is found below the diaphragm. The reverse is not
the case to the same extent.
This symbolizes the potency and essentiality of the etheric body, both microcosmic and
macrocosmic, and the macrocosmic expression of the fourfold Life conditions all living
Each of the four ethers, as they are sometimes called, is intended -- as far as man is
concerned -- to be a channel or expression of the four cosmic ethers. At present this is
very far from being the case. It can only truly be so when the antahkarana is built and
acts, therefore, as a direct channel for the cosmic ethers to which we have given the
names of universal life, monadic intensity, divine purpose and pure reason. Ponder for a
while on these types of energy and creatively imagine their effect when, in due course of
time and spiritual unfoldment, they can pour unrestrictedly into and through the etheric
body of a human being. At present, the etheric body is responsive to energies from:
1. The physical world. These are not principles but are the feeders and controllers of
the animal appetites.
2. The astral world, determining the desires, emotions and aspirations which the man
will express and go after upon the physical plane.
3. The lower mental plane, the lower mind, developing self-will, selfishness,
separateness and the direction and trend of the life upon the physical plane. It is this
directive instinct which, when turned to higher matters, opens the door to the higher
cosmic etheric energies.
4. The soul, the principle of individualism, the reflection in the microcosm of the
divine intention and -- speaking symbolically -- being to the entire monadic expression
that which "stands at the midway point," the instrument of true sensitivity, of
responsive ability, the spiritual counterpart of the solar plexus center which is found at
the midway point between that which lies above the diaphragm and that which is found below
When the antahkarana is constructed and the higher three are directly related to the
lower three, then the soul is no longer needed. Then, reflecting this event, the four
etheric levels become simply the transmitters of the energy emanating from the four cosmic
etheric levels. The channel is then direct, completed and unimpeded; the etheric network
of light is then of great brilliance, and all the centers in the body are awakened and
functioning in unison and rhythm. Then -- corresponding to the directly related Monad and
Personality -the head center, the thousand-petalled lotus, the brahmarandra, is as
directly related to the center at the base of the spine. Thus complete dualism, in place
of the previous triple nature of the divine manifestation, is established:
With the threefold soul no longer needed.
Head center......... . ....Center at base of spine.
With the intermediate five centers no longer required.
The word "prana" is almost as much misunderstood as are the words
"etheric" or "astral". It is this loose connotation which is
responsible for the great ignorance prevalent in occult circles.
Prana might be defined as the life-essence of every plane.
It is the LIFE of the planetary Logos, reduced within limits, animating, vivifying and
correlating all the seven planes and all that is to be found within and upon them. The
fact that we call only that tangible which we can see or touch and contact through the
medium of the five senses is entirely wrong. All is regarded as belonging to the
world of form which is found on the physical plane, the astral plane and the levels of the
lower mind. All that lies above that on mental levels, and on up to the highest of the
cosmic physical planes, is formless. These distinctions must be most carefully borne in
The etheric body of man receives prana in different ways and of different kinds, and
all these ways bring him in touch with varying entities.
1. Solar prana
This is that vital and magnetic fluid which radiates from the sun, and which is
transmitted to man's etheric body through the agency of certain deva entities of a very
high order, and of a golden hue. It is passed through their bodies and emitted as powerful
radiations, which are applied direct through certain plexi in the uppermost part of the
etheric body, the head and shoulders, and passed down to the etheric correspondence of the
physical organ, the spleen, and from thence forcibly transmitted into the spleen itself.
These golden hued pranic entities are in the air above us, and are specially active in
such parts of the world as California, in those tropical countries where the air is pure
and dry, and the rays of the sun are recognized as being specially beneficial. Relations
between man and this group of devas are very close, but fraught as yet with much danger to
man. These devas are of a very powerful order, and along their own line, are further
evolved than man himself..... When the etheric body and its assimilative processes are
comprehended scientifically, man will then be immune from dangers due to solar radiation.
He will protect himself by the application of laws governing magnetic repulsion and
attraction, and not so much by clothing and shelter. It is largely a question of
polarization... When the etheric body is in good order and functioning correctly, enough
of this prana is absorbed to keep the form organized. This is the whole object of
the etheric body's functioning, and is a point which cannot be sufficiently emphasized.
The remainder is cast off in the form of animal radiation, or physical magnetism -- all
terms expressing the same idea. Man therefore repeats on a lesser scale the work of the
solar devas, and in his turn adds his quota of repolarized or remagnetized emanation to
the sumtotal of the planetary aura.
2. Planetary prana.
This is the vital fluid emanated from any planet, which constitutes its basic coloring
or quality, and is produced by a repetition within the planet of the same process which is
undergone in connection with man and solar prana. The planet (the Earth, or any other
planet) absorbs solar prana, assimilates what is required, and radiates off that which is
not essential to its well-being in the form of planetary radiation. Planetary prana,
therefore is solar prana which has passed throughout the planet, has circulated through
the planetary etheric body, has been transmitted to the dense physical planet, and has
been cast off thence in the form of a radiation of the same essential character as solar
prana, plus the individual and distinctive quality of the particular planet
concerned. This again repeats the process undergone in the human body. The physical
radiations of men differ according to the quality of their physical bodies. So it
is with a planet.
Man and devas act on every planet as intermediaries, or as transmitting agencies. Where
they are not found, then certain great activities become impossible, and disintegration
COSMIC FIRE, 90-93
The Microcosm receives prana from the sun after it has permeated the
planetary etheric vehicle, so that it is solar prana, plus planetary quality. Each planet
is the embodiment of some one ray aspect, and its quality is marked predominantly on all
Prana, therefore, which is active radiatory heat, varies in vibration and quality
according to the receiving Entity. Man passes the prana through his etheric vehicle,
colors it with his own peculiar quality, and so transmits it to the lesser lives that make
up his little system. Thus, the great interaction goes on, and all parts blend, merge and
are interdependent; and all parts receive, color, qualify and transmit. An endless
circulation goes on that has neither a conceivable beginning nor possible end from the
point of view of finite man, for its source and end are hid in the unknown cosmic fount.
Were conditions everywhere perfected this circulation would proceed unimpeded and might
result in a condition of almost endless duration., but limitation and termination result
as the effects of imperfection giving place to a gradual perfection. Every cycle
originates from another cycle of a relative completeness, and will give place ever to a
higher spiral; thus eventuate periods of apparent relative perfection leading to those
which are still greater.
COSMIC FIRE, 102