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The Vital [Etheric] Body
The Rosicrucian Philosophy teaches that man is a threefold Spirit, possessing a mind by means of which he governs a threefold body, which he emanated from himself to gather experience. This threefold body he transmutes into a threefold soul, upon which he nourishes himself from impotence to omnipotence. The Divine Spirit emanates from itself the dense body, extracting as pabulum the Conscious Soul; the Life Spirit emanates from itself the vital body, extracting as pabulum the Intellectual Soul; the Human Spirit emanates from itself the desire body, extracting as pabulum the Emotional Soul. The vital body is made of ether and pervades the visible body as ether permeates all other forms, except that human beings specialize a greater amount of the universal ether than other forms. That ethereal body is our instrument for specializing the vital energy of the Sun.
It is also taught in the Rosicrucian Philosophy that our evolutionary scheme is carried through five of the seven Worlds or states of matter (Physical, Desire, Thought, World of Life Spirit, and the World of Divine Spirit) in seven great Periods of Manifestation (Saturn, Sun, Moon, Earth, Jupiter, Venus, and Vulcan Periods), during which the Virgin Spirit, or evolving life, becomes first, a man—then, a God. We are now in the fourth, or Earth Period, which is divided into seven Revolutions, as well as the following seven Epochs: the Polarian, Hyperborean, Lemurian, Atlantean, and Post-Atlantean Epochs, and the New Galilee and the Kingdom of God yet to come. (See The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception) At the commencement of the Saturn Period twelve great Creative Hierarchies were active in the work of evolution. Two of these Hierarchies did some work to help at the very beginning....and then withdrew from limited existence into liberation. Three more of the Creative Hierarchies followed them at the beginning of the Earth Period: the Lords of Flame, the Cherubim, and the Seraphim, leaving seven Hierarchies in active service when the Earth Period began: the Lords of Wisdom, the Lords of Individuality, the Lords of Form, the Lords of Mind, the Archangels, the Angels, and the Virgin Spirits.
Past Evolution Of Man's (Etheric) Vital Body—During Periods And Revolutions
The evolution of the vital body and the Life Spirit of which it is a counterpart was started in the second or Sun Period of the Seven Great Days of Manifestation. It has since been reconstructed and will reach perfection in the Jupiter Period. In a future stage mankind will no longer need this vehicle, but nevertheless, its quintessence will be retained. The Life Spirit and the vital body started their evolution in the Sun Period and are consequently the particular charges of the Son. They (the Lords of Flame) had previously given the germ of the dense body and, in the first half of the Saturn Revolution of the Sun Period, were concerned with certain improvements to be made upon it.
In the Sun Period the formation of the vital body was to be commenced, with all thereby implied of capability for assimilation, growth, propagation, glands, etc.
The Lords of Flame incorporated in the germ of the dense body only the capability of evolving sense organs. At the time now under consideration it became necessary to change the germ in such a way as to allow of interpenetration by a vital body, also capability of evolving glands and an alimentary canal. This was done by the joint action of the Lords of Flame, who gave the original germ, and the Lords of Wisdom, who took charge of material evolution in the Sun Period.
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When the Lords of Flame and the Lords of Wisdom had, in the Saturn Revolution of the Sun Period, conjointly reconstructed the germinal dense body, the Lords of Wisdom, in the Second Revolution, started the proper work of the Sun Period by radiating from their own bodies the germ of the vital body, making it capable of interpenetrating the dense body and giving to the germ the capability of furthering growth and propagation and of exciting the sense centers of the dense body and causing it to move. In short, they gave, germinally, to the vital body all the faculties which it is now unfolding to become a perfect and pliable instrument for the use of the Spirit.
We also note that, as the first, or Saturn Revolution, of any period is concerned with work in the dense body (because that was started in a first Revolution), so the second, or Sun Revolution, of any period is concerned with improvements on the vital body, because it was started in a second Revolution.
It may be said that in the Sun Period man went through the plant existence. He had a dense body and a vital body, as plants have, and his consciousness, like theirs, was that of dreamless sleep.
Thus there were two classes, or kingdoms in the Sun Period, i.e., the stragglers of the Saturn Period, who were still mineral, and the pioneers of the Saturn Period, who were capable of receiving the germ of a vital body and becoming plant-like.
In the middle of the seventh Revolution of the Sun Period, the Lords of Wisdom took charge of the germinal Life Spirit given by the Cherubim in the sixth Revolution of the Sun Period. They did this for the purpose of linking it to the Divine Spirit. Their greatest activity in this work was reached in the Cosmic Night intervening between the Sun and the Moon Periods. In the first dawn of the Moon Period, as the life wave started upon its new pilgrimage, the Lords of Wisdom reappeared, bearing with them the germinal vehicles of the evolving man. In the first or Saturn Revolution of the Moon Period, they cooperated with the "Lords of Individuality," who had special charge of the material evolution of the Moon Period. Together, they reconstructed the germ of the dense body, brought over from the Sun Period. This germ had unfolded embryonic sense organs, digestive organs, glands, etc., and was interpenetrated by a budding vital body which diffused a certain degree of life into the embryonic dense body. Of course, it was not solid and visible as it is now, yet in a crude sort of way it was somewhat organized and is perfectly distinguishable to the trained clairvoyant sight of the competent investigator who searches the memory of nature for scenes in that far-off past.
In the second, or Sun Revolution of the Moon Period, the vital body was modified to render it capable of being interpenetrated by the desire body, also of accommodating itself to the nervous system, muscle, skeleton, etc. The Lords of Wisdom, who were the originators of the vital body, also helped the Lords of Individuality with this work.
In the Sixth Revolution of the Moon Period the Cherubim reappeared and vivified the Life Spirit of those who had been left behind in the Sun Period but had since reached the necessary stage of development, and also in those stragglers of the Sun Period who had now evolved a vital body during their plant existence in the Moon Period.
The pioneers of the new Life Wave had been going through a low stage of plant existence; nevertheless the majority of them had evolved the vital body sufficiently to allow of the awakening of the Life Spirit.
Thus, the three last named all possessed the same vehicles at the beginning of the Earth Period, although only the two first named belong to our life wave, and have a chance of even yet overtaking us if they pass the critical point which will come in the next Revolution of the Earth Period. Those who cannot pass that point will be held over until some future evolution reaches a stage where they can drop in and proceed with their development in a new human period. They will be debarred from going forward with our humanity because it will be advanced so far beyond their status that it would prove a serious clog to our progress to drag them along. They will not be destroyed, but simply held in waiting for another period of evolution.
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At the end of the Moon Period these classes possessed the vehicles of various classifications, and started with them in the beginning of the Earth Period. During the time which has elapsed since then, the human kingdom has been evolving the link of mind, and has thereby attained full waking consciousness. The animals have obtained a desire body; the plants a vital body; the stragglers of the life wave which entered evolution in the Moon Period have escaped the hard and fast conditions of rock formation and now their dense bodies compose our softer soils; while the life wave that entered evolution here in the Earth Period forms the hard rocks and stones.
Thus we see that at the close of the Moon Period man possessed a threefold body in varying stages of development; and also the germ of the three-fold Spirit. He had dense, vital, and desire bodies, and divine, life and human Spirit. All he lacked was the link to connect them.
Another creative Hierarchy had special care of the three germs of the dense, vital, and desire bodies as they were evolving. They were the ones who, under the direction of the higher orders, actually did the principle work on these bodies, using the evolving life as a kind of instrument. This Hierarchy is called the "Lords of Form." They were now evolved so far that they were given charge of the third aspect of the Spirit in man—the Human Spirit—in the coming Earth Period.
Let us, therefore, analyze the matter and see what we have the right to expect from one who lays claim to being a teacher. To do this we may first ask ourselves, What is the purpose of existence in the material universe? And we may answer that question by saying that it is evolution of consciousness. During the Saturn Period, when we were mineral-like in our constitution, our consciousness was like that of the medium expelled from her body by Spirit controls at a materializing séance, where a large part of the ethers composing the vital body has been removed. The physical body is then in a very deep trance. In the Sun Period, when our constitution was plant-like, our consciousness was like that of dreamless sleep, where the desire body, mind, and Spirit are outside, leaving the physical and vital bodies upon the bed. In the Moon Period, we had a picture consciousness like that which we have in dreams, where the desire body is only partially removed from the dense vehicle and the vital body. Here in the Earth Period our consciousness has been enlarged to cover objects outside ourselves by placing all our vehicles in a concentric position, as is the case when we are awake.
The Earth Period is preeminently the Period of Form, for here the form or matter side of evolution reaches its greatest and most pronounced state. Here Spirit is more helpless and suppressed and Form is the most dominant factor—hence the prominence of the Lords of Form.
During this Revolution (the second or Sun Revolution of the Earth Period) the vital body was reconstructed to accommodate the germinal mind. The vital body was fashioned more in the likeness of the dense body, so that it could become fitted for use as the densest vehicle during the Jupiter Period, when the dense body will have become spiritualized.
The Angels, the humanity of the Moon Period, were aided by the Lords of Form in reconstruction. The organization of the vital body is now next in efficiency to the dense body. Some writers on this subject call the former a link, and contend that it is simply a mold of the dense body, and not a separate vehicle.
While not desiring to criticize, and admitting that this contention is justified by the fact that man, at his present stage of evolution, cannot ordinarily use the vital body as a separate vehicle—because it always remains with the dense body and to extract it in toto would cause the death of the dense body—yet there was a time when it was not so firmly incorporated with the latter, as we shall presently see.
During those epochs of our Earth's history which have already been mentioned as the Lemurian and the Atlantean, man was involuntarily clairvoyant, and it was precisely this looseness of connection between the dense and the vital bodies that made him so. (The Initiators of that time helped the candidate to loosen the connection still further, as in the voluntary clairvoyant.)
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Since then the vital body has become much more firmly interwoven with the dense body in the majority of people, but in all sensitives it is loose. It is that looseness which constitutes the difference between the psychic and the ordinary person who is unconscious of all but the vibrations contacted by means of the five senses. All human beings have to pass through this period of close connection of the vehicles and experience the consequent limitation of consciousness. There are, therefore, two classes of sensitives, those who have not become firmly enmeshed in matter, such as those who possess a certain low grade of clairvoyance, or are sensitive to the sounds of nature, and those who are in the vanguard of evolution. The latter are emerging from the acme of materiality, and are again divisible into two kinds, one of which develops in a passive, weak-willed manner. By the help of others they re-awaken the solar plexus or other organs in connection with the involuntary nervous system. These are therefore involuntary clairvoyants, mediums who have no control of their faculty. They have retrograded. The other kind is made up of those who by their own wills, unfold the vibratory powers of organs now connected with the voluntary nervous system and thus become trained esotericists, controlling their own bodies and exercising the clairvoyant faculty as they will to do. They are called voluntary or trained clairvoyants.
In the Jupiter Period the man will function in his vital body as he now does in his dense body; and as no development in nature is sudden, the process of separating the two bodies has already commenced. The vital body will then attain a much higher degree of efficiency than the dense body of today. As it is a much more pliable vehicle, the Spirit will then be able to use it in a manner impossible of realization in the case of the present dense vehicle.
The vital body was started in the Second Revolution of the Sun Period, was reconstructed in the Moon and Earth Periods, and will reach perfection in the Jupiter Period, which is its fourth stage, as the Earth Period is the fourth stage for the dense body.
Nothing in Nature is wasted. In the Jupiter Period the forces of the dense body will be superimposed upon the completed vital body. That vehicle will then possess the powers of the dense body in addition to its own faculties, and will therefore be a much more valuable instrument for the expression of the threefold Spirit than if built from its own forces alone.
Similarly, Globe D of the Venus Period is located in the Desire World, hence neither a dense nor a vital body could be used as an instrument of consciousness. Therefore the essences of the perfected dense and vital bodies are incorporated in the completed desire body, the latter thus becoming a vehicle of transcendent qualities, marvelously adaptable and so responsive to the slightest wish of the indwelling Spirit that in our present limitations it is beyond our utmost conception.
Yet the efficiency of even this splendid vehicle will be transcended when in the Vulcan Period its essence, together with the essences of the dense and vital bodies, are added to the mind body, which becomes the highest of man's vehicles, containing within itself the quintessence of all that was best in all the vehicles. The vehicle of the Venus Period being beyond our present power of conception, how much more so is that which will be at the service of the divine beings of the Vulcan Period!
The Polarian, Hyperborean, Lemurian, and Atlantean Epochs were recapitulations of the stages through which the Virgin Spirits had passed. Consequently, the vital body underwent changes during those epochs.
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When man first came upon this earth the dense body was built in the Polarian Epoch, and was vitalized by the interpenetration of a vital body in the Hyperborean Epoch. At that time man was like the Angels, male-female, a complete creative unit, able to create from himself, by projecting his whole creative force—which is love.
When the earth came out of chaos, it was at first in the dark red stage known as the Polarian Epoch. There humanity first evolved a dense body, not at all like our present vehicle, of course. When the condition of the earth became fiery, as in the Hyperborean Epoch, the vital body was added and man became plant-like, that is to say, he had the same vehicles as our plants have today, and also a similar consciousness, or rather, unconsciousness, to that which we have in dreamless sleep when the dense and vital bodies are left upon the bed.
The Lords of Form appeared (in the Hyperborean Epoch) with the Angels (humanity of the Moon Period), and clothed man's dense form with a vital body.
As the Polarian Epoch was really a recapitulation of the Saturn Period, it may be said that during that time man passed through the mineral state; he had the same vehicle—the dense body—and a consciousness similar to the trance state. For analogous reasons, the plant state was passed through in the Hyperborean Epoch, as man had a dense and a vital body and a dreamless-sleep consciousness.
By absorbing the crystalloids prepared by plants he evolved a vital body during the Hyperborean Epoch and became plant-like both in constitution and by nature, for he lived without exertion and as unconsciously as the plants.
In the second, or Hyperborean Epoch, a vital body made of ether was added, and man-in-the-making had then a body constituted as are those of the present plants; he was not a plant but was plantlike. Cain, the man of that time, is described as an agriculturist; his food was derived solely from vegetation, for plants contain more ether than any other structure.
Cain is described as an agriculturist. He symbolizes the man of the Second Epoch. He had a vital body like the plants which sustained him.
In the second or Hyperborean Epoch, God said: "Let there be Light," the hot gas became a luminous firemist as it was in the Sun Period, and man's dense body was clothed with a vital body and it floated hither and thither above the fiery Earth as a large, baggy thing. Man was then plant-like because of having the same vehicles as the plant has now and the Angels were his helpers in organizing his vital body, and remain so to the present day.
This may seem an anomaly, as the Angels are the humanity of the Moon Period, where man got his desire body. But is not, for only in the Moon Period did the evolving Earth condense into ether, such as now forms the substance of our vital body, and there the humanity (the present Angels), learned to build their densest bodies from etheric materials, as we are learning to build ours from the solids, liquids, and gases of the Chemical Region. They became experts at it, as we will be at building a dense body by the time the Earth Period is ended.
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In the Polarian Epoch man had only a poorly organized dense body, hence he was as unconscious and immobile as the minerals, who are now so constituted. In the Hyperborean Epoch his dense body was clothed upon with a vital body, and the Spirit hovered outside. What the effect of such a nature is we may see by examining the plant, which is similarly constituted now.
There we see constant repetition, a building upward of stem and leaf in alternating succession, that would go on ad infinitum if there were no other influence. But as the plant has no separate desire body, the desire body of the Earth, the Desire World, hardens the plant and checks this intense upward growth in a measure. The creative force that cannot find its expression by making one particular plant grow taller, seeks another channel: it builds the flower and embeds itself in the seed, so that it may grow upward anew in another plant.
In the Hyperborean Epoch, where man was similarly situated, his vital body caused him to grow to an enormous size. Acted upon by the Desire World, he threw off spore-like seed which were either appropriated by another human Ego or used by the nature spirits to build bodies for the animals who were then beginning to emerge from Chaos. (The highest life wave starts first at the opening of a period and returns last to Chaos; the succeeding life waves—animal, plant, and mineral—emerge later and leave earlier.)
Thus, in the Hyperborean Epoch, when man was similar to the plants in constitution, his vital body built vertebrae upon vertebrae, and would have gone on if the individual desire body had not been given him in Lemurian Epoch. That commenced to harden the structure and checked the tendency to grow taller, and as a result the cranium, the flower upon the stem of the spinal column, was incipiently formed.
Thwarted in its effort to build the one form taller, it became necessary for the creative force in the vital body to seek a new channel whereby it might continue its upward growth in another human being. Then man became hermaphrodite, capable of generating a new body from himself.
Then we come to the second, the Hyperborean Epoch, where man has a dense and a vital body; that was the plant stage. His food was the plants, and we hear of Cain as an agriculturist. Next comes the Lemurian Epoch, and man gets the desire body. He has three vehicles, like the animals.
Then we have that stage where he is to have food of a nature that will feed all three bodies. This he gets from living animals, as when Abel was a shepherd.
When we obtained our vital bodies in Hyperborea, the Sun, Moon, and Earth were still united, and the solar-lunar forces permeated each being in even measure so that all were able to perpetuate their kind by buds and spores as do certain plants of today. The efforts of the vital body to soften the dense vehicle and keep it alive were not then interfered with, and these primal, plantlike bodies lived for ages. But man was then unconscious and stationary like a plant; he made no effort or exertion. The addition of a desire body furnished incentive and desire, and consciousness resulted from the war between the vital body, which builds, and the desire body, which destroys the dense body.
Thus dissolution became only a question of time, particularly as the constructive energy of the vital body was also necessarily divided, one part or pole being used in the vital functions of the body, the other to replace a vehicle lost by death. But as the two poles of a magnet or dynamo are requisite to manifestation, so also two single-sexed beings became necessary for generation; thus marriage and birth were necessarily inaugurated to offset the effect of death. Death, then, is the price we pay for consciousness in the present world; marriage and repeated births are our weapons against the king of terrors until our constitution shall change and we become as angels.
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The higher vehicles of the early Atlanteans were not drawn into a concentric position in relation to the dense body, as are ours. The Spirit was not quite an indwelling Spirit; it was partially outside, therefore could not control its vehicles with as great facility as though it dwelt entirely inside. The head of the vital body was outside of and held a position far above the physical head. There is a point between the eyebrows and about a half inch below the surface of the skin, which has a corresponding point in the vital body. This point is not the pituitary body, which lies much deeper in the head of the dense body. It might be called "the root of the nose." When these two points in the dense and the vital bodies come into correspondence, as they do in man today, the trained clairvoyant sees them as a black spot, or rather as a vacant space, like the invisible core of a gas flame. This is the seat of the indwelling Spirit in the man—the Holy of Holies in the temple of the human body, barred to all but that indwelling human Ego whose home it is. The trained clairvoyant can see with more or less distinctness, according to his capacity and training, all the different bodies which form the aura of man. This spot alone is hidden from him. This is the "Isis" whose veil none may lift. Not even the highest evolved being on earth is capable of unveiling the Ego of the humblest and least developed creature. That, and that alone upon earth, is so sacred that it is absolutely safe from intrusion.
These two points just spoken of—the one in the dense body and its counterpart in the vital body—were far apart in the men of the early Atlantean days, as they are in the animals of our day. The head of the horse's vital body is far outside the head of its dense body. The two points are closer together in the dog than in any other animal except, perhaps, the elephant. When they come into correspondence we have an animal prodigy, able to count, spell, etc.
On account of the distance between these two points, the Atlantean's power of perception or vision was much keener in the inner worlds than in the dense Physical World, obscured by its atmosphere of thick, heavy fog. In the fullness of time, however, the atmosphere slowly became clearer; at the same time, the point spoken of in the vital body came closer and closer to the corresponding point in the dense body. As the two approached each other, man gradually lost touch with the inner worlds. They became dimmer as the dense Physical World became clearer in outline. Finally, in the last third of the Atlantean Epoch, the point in the vital body was united to the corresponding point in the dense body. Not until then did man become fully awake in the Physical World; but at the same time that full sight and perception in the Physical World were gained, the capability of perceiving the inner worlds was gradually lost to most of the people.
During the existence of this Race (the Original Semites) the atmosphere of Atlantis commenced to clear definitely, and the previously mentioned point in the vital body came into correspondence with its companion point in the dense body. The combination of events gave man the ability to see objects clearly with sharp well-defined contours; but it also resulted in loss of the sight pertaining to the inner worlds.
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In the ages that have passed since the Lemurian Epoch humanity has been gradually building the cerebrospinal nervous system, which is under control of the will. In the latter part of the Atlantean Epoch, this was so far evolved that it became possible for the Ego to take full possession of the dense body. That was the time (previously described) when the point in the vital body came in correspondence with the point at the root of the nose in the dense body and the indwelling Spirit became awake in the Physical World but, so far as the greater part of humanity was concerned, lost consciousness of the inner worlds.
Man's Vital [Etheric] Body In Present [Fifth] Epoch—General Nature And Function
Mankind is now evolving in the Fifth, or post-Atlantean Epoch. His vital body has functions, color, form, atomic structure and polarity. Its existence can be proved.
We have seen that man is a very complex organism, consisting of:
The dense body, which is his tool in action.
The vital body, a medium of "vitality" which makes action possible.
The desire body, whence comes desire and which compels action.
The mind, a brake on impulse, giving purpose to action.
The Ego, which acts and gathers experience from action.
The purpose of life is to transform the powers latent in the Ego into dynamic energy, whereby it may perfectly control its different vehicles and act as It pleases. We know that it does not have full sway now, or there would be no warfare in our breasts, as we say, between the Spirit and the flesh, but in reality, as we should say, between the Spirit and the desire body. It is this warfare that develops the spiritual muscle, as wrestling builds the physical muscle. It is easy to bid others do this and that, but to enforce obedience from oneself is the hardest task in the world, and it has been truly said that "the man who conquers himself is greater than he who takes a city." Goethe, the great initiate poet, gives us the reason why in the lines:
From every pow'r that holds the world in chains,
Man frees himself when self-control he gains.
In addition to the visible body of man which we see with our physical eyes, there are other and finer vehicles that are unseen by the great majority of mankind. Nevertheless they are not superfluous appendages to the physical body, but are indeed much more important from the fact that they are the springs of all action. Without these finer vehicles the physical body would be inert, senseless, and dead.
The first of these vehicles we call the vital body because it is the avenue of vitality which leavens the dead lump of the mortal coil in the years of life, and gives us the power to move.
When our present visible body first germinated in the Spirit, it was a thought-form, but gradually it has become denser and more concrete until it is now a chemical crystallization. The vital body was next emanated by the Spirit as a thought-form and is in the third stage of concretion which is etheric.
Besides the dense body which is visible to all of us, there are finer vehicles which interpenetrate this organism and which are the springs to its activities. One is the vital body, composed of ether and concerned in building the dense body by the food which we take into the system. It controls all the vital functions, such as respiration, digestion, assimilation, etc., and works through the sympathetic nervous system. Another, still finer vehicle, is called the desire body. This is the vehicle of our emotions, feelings, and desires which expends the energies stored in the dense body by the vital processes through control of the cerebrospinal or voluntary nervous system. In its activities this desire body is constantly destroying and breaking down tissue built up by the vital body and it is the war between these two vehicles which causes what we call consciousness in the Physical World. The etheric forces in the vital body act in such a manner that they convert as much of the food as possible into blood, and this is the highest expression of the vital body.
Propagation is a faculty of the vital body which is the shadow of the Life Spirit, the second aspect of the threefold Spirit in man. Cherubim are described as having been put on guard with a flaming sword when man was driven out from Eden, lest he eat of the Tree of Life and become immortal, for they are the great creative Hierarchy which had charge over the Earth in the Sun Period, when the vital body germinated and the Life Spirit was awakened.
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In our Bible there is a description of the first people upon earth. They are called Adam and Eve; but properly interpreted this means the human race, which gradually arrogated to itself the power of procreation and thereby became free agents. Humanity was thus given its freedom and made responsible to the Law of Consequence, for it had arrogated to itself the power to create new bodies, and was then separated from the Tree of Life and the state which we are now cognizant of as etheric. When we learn that we have a vital body made of ether, and that it is the tree of life to everyone of us and furnishes us the vitality whereby we are enabled to make the movements of the body, we may understand why the power to recreate and regenerate ourselves was taken away from us lest we learn how to vitalize the imperfect dense body; and we also see why, as stated in the Bible, there were placed at the gate of the Garden of Eden Cherubim with flaming swords to guard that region.
It was for a good purpose that this power was taken away. It was not through malice in order that man should suffer in sorrow and pain, but because it was only by repeated existences in an inferior body that we could learn to build for ourselves such a vehicle as would be fit to immortalize. Man gradually came down from the etheric state to the present solid condition. He could dwell in the etheric state as easily then as he can today dwell in the present three elements of the Physical World. In the past etheric state he contacted internally the life currents that we now contact unconsciously. He was then able to center the energy of the Sun in his body and draw it in a manner different from that at present used. This power was gradually taken away from him as he entered the more solid state of the present.
That body of ours which is composed of ether is called the vital body in Western Mystery Schools, for, as we have already seen, ether is the avenue of ingress for vital force from the Sun and the field of agencies in nature which promote such vital activities as assimilation, growth, and propagation.
This vehicle is an exact counterpart of our visible body, molecule for molecule, and organ for organ, with one exception, which we shall note later. But it is slightly larger, extending about one and one-half inches beyond the periphery of our dense vehicle.
The spleen is the entrance gate of forces which vitalize the body. In the etheric counterpart of that organ solar energy is transmuted to vital fluid of a pale rose color. From thence it spreads all over the nervous system, and after having been used in the body it radiates in streams, much as bristles protrude from a porcupine.
During the daytime the vital body specializes the colorless solar fluid which is all about us, through the organ we call the spleen. The vitality permeates the whole body and is seen by the clairvoyant as a fluid of a pale rose color, having been transmuted upon entering the physical body. It flows along every nerve, and when it is sent out by the brain centers in particularly large quantities it moves the muscles to which the nerves lead.
During the waking state there is a constant war between the vital body and the desire body. The desires and impulses from the desire body are constantly impinging upon the dense body, impelling it to action, regardless of any damage resulting to the latter instrument, so that desire is gratified. It is the desire vehicle that urges the drunkard to fill his system with liquor, so that the chemical combustion of spirit may raise the vibrations of the dense body to such a pitch as to make it the willing tool of every mad impulse, wasting its stored energy with reckless prodigality. The vital body, on the other hand, has no other interest than the preservation of the dense vehicle. By way of the spleen it specializes the colorless solar energy which pervades space, and by some strange chemical process transforms it into a vital fluid of a beautiful pale rose color, sending it along every nerve and fiber of the body. The vital body ever aims to husband the energy it has stored in the dense body. It is constantly concerned in rebuilding the tissues when they are broken down and destroyed by the powerful onslaughts of the rampant desire body.
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Four of these colors are quite indescribable, but the fifth—the middle one of the five—is similar to the tint of an new blown peach blossom. It is in fact the color of the vital body.
Man's dense and vital bodies have straightened, but his higher vehicles still retain their ovoid form.
It has been determined by physical science that the atoms in our dense body are constantly changing so that all the material which composes our present vehicle at this moment will have disappeared in a few years, but it is common knowledge that scars and other blemishes perpetuate themselves from childhood to old age. The reason for this is that the prismatic ether atoms which compose our vital body remain unchanged from the cradle to the grave. They are always in the same relative position—that is to say, the prismatic ether atoms which vibrate the physical atoms in the toes or in the fingers do not get to the hands, legs, or any other part of the body, but remain in exactly the same place where they were placed in the beginning. A lesion of the physical atoms involves a similar impression on the prismatic ether atoms. The new physical matter molded over them continues to take on shape and texture similar to those which originally obtained.
The foregoing remarks apply only to the prismatic ether atoms which correspond to solids and liquids in the Physical World, because they assume a certain definite shape which they preserve. But in addition each human being at this stage of evolution has a certain amount of the light and reflecting ethers, which are the vehicles of sense perception and memory, intermingled in his vital body. We may say that the light ether corresponds to the gases in our Physical World; perhaps the best description that can be given of the reflecting ether is to call it hyperetheric. It is a vacuous substance of a bluish color resembling in appearance the blue core of a gas flame. It appears transparent and seems to reveal everything that is within it, but nevertheless it hides all the secrets of nature and humanity. In it is found one record of the Memory of Nature.
The light and reflecting ethers are of an exactly opposite nature to that of the stationary prismatic ethers atoms. They are volatile and migratory. However much or little a man possesses of this material, it is an accretion, a fruitage, derived from his experiences in life. Inside the body it mingles with the blood stream and when it has grown by service and sacrifice in life's school so that it can no longer be contained within the body, it is seen on the outside as a soul body of gold and blue. Blue shows the highest type of spirituality, therefore it is smallest in volume and may be compared to the blue core of the gas flame, while the golden hue forms the larger part and corresponds to the yellow light which surrounds the core in the gas ring. The blue color does not appear outside the dense body save in the very greatest of saints—only yellow is usually observable there. At death this part of the vital body is etched into the desire body with the life panorama which it contains. The quintessence of all our life experience is then eventually impressed upon the seed atom as conscience or virtue which urges us to avoid evil and to do good in a coming life.
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When we analyze the human being, we find that in him all four ethers are dynamically active in the highly organized vital body. By means of the activities of the chemical ether he is able to assimilate food and to grow; the forces at work in the life ether enable him to propagate his species; the forces in the light ether supply the dense body with heat, work on the nervous system and the muscles, thus opening the doors of communication with the outside world by way of the senses; and the reflecting ether enables the Spirit to control its vehicles by means of thought. This ether also stores past experience as memory.
The vital body of plant, animal, and man, extends beyond the periphery of the dense body as the Etheric Region, which is the vital body of the planet, extends beyond its dense part, showing again the truth of the Hermetic axiom "as above, so below." The distance of this extension of the vital body of man is about an inch and a half. The part which is outside the dense body is very luminous and about the color of a new-blown peach blossom. It is often seen by persons having very slight involuntary clairvoyance. The writer has found, when speaking with such persons, that they frequently are not aware that they see anything unusual and do not know what they see.
The dense body is built into the matrix of this vital body during ante-natal life, and with one exception, it is an exact copy, molecule for molecule, of the vital body. As the lines of force in freezing water are the avenues of formation for ice crystals, so the lines of force in the vital body determine the shape of the dense body. All through life the vital body is the builder and restorer of the dense form. Were it not for the etheric heart the dense heart would break quickly under the constant strain we put upon it. All the abuses to which we subject the dense body are counteracted, so far as lies in its power, by the vital body, which is continually fighting against the death of the dense body.
The exception mentioned above is that the vital body of a man is female or negative, while that of a woman is male or positive. In that fact we have the key to numerous puzzling problems of life. That woman gives way to her emotions is due to the polarity noted, for her positive vital body generates an excess of blood and causes her to labor under an enormous internal pressure that would break the physical casement were not a safety valve provided in the periodical flow, and another in the tears which relieve the pressure on special occasions—for tears are "white bleeding."
Man may have and has as strong emotions as woman, but he is usually able to suppress them without tears, because his negative vital body does not generate more blood than he can comfortably control.
Unlike the higher vehicles of humanity, the vital body does not ordinarily leave the dense body until the death of the latter. Then the chemical forces of the dense body are no longer held in check by the evolving life. They proceed to restore the matter to its primordial condition by disintegration so that it may be available for the formation of other forms in the economy of nature. Disintegration is thus due to the activity of the planetary forces in the chemical ether.
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In texture the vital body may be crudely compared to one of those picture frames made of hundreds of little pieces of wood which interlock and present innumerable points to the observer. The vital body presents millions of points to the observer. These points enter into the hollow centers of the dense atoms, imbuing them with vital force that sets them vibrating at a rate higher than that of the mineral of the earth which is not thus accelerated and ensouled.
When a person is drowning, or falling from a height, or freezing, the vital body leaves the dense body, the atoms of which become temporarily inert in consequence, but at resuscitation it re-enters the dense body and the "points" are again inserted in the dense atoms. The inertia of the atoms causes them to resist the resumption of vibration, and that is the cause of the intense prickly pain and the tingling sensation noted at such times, but not ordinarily, for the same reason that we become conscious of the starting or stopping of a clock, but are oblivious to its tick when it is running.
There are certain cases where the vital body partly leaves the dense body, as when a hand "goes to sleep." Then the entire etheric hand of the vital body may be seen hanging below the dense arm like a glove, and the points cause the peculiar pricking sensation felt when the etheric hand re-enters the dense hand. Sometimes in hypnosis the head of the vital body divides and hangs outside the dense head, one half over each shoulder, or lies around the neck like the collar of a sweater. The absence of prickly sensation at awakening in cases like this is because during the hypnosis part of the hypnotist's vital body had been substituted for that of the victim.
The atoms of the chemical and life ethers gather around the nuclear seed atom located in the solar plexus are shaped like prisms. They are all located in such a manner that when the solar energy enters our body through the spleen, the refracted ray is red. This is the color of the creative aspect of the Trinity, namely Jehovah, the Holy Spirit, who rules Luna, the planet of fecundation. Therefore the vital fluid from the Sun which enters the human body by way of the spleen becomes tinged with a pale rose color, often noted by seers when it courses along the nerves as electricity does in the wires of an electric system. Thus charged, the chemical and life ethers are the avenues of assimilation which preserve the individual, and of fecundation which perpetuate the race.
During life each prismatic vital atom penetrates a physical atom and vibrates it. To form a picture of this combination, imagine a pear-shaped wire basket having walls of spirally curved wire running obliquely from pole to pole. This is the physical atom; it is shaped nearly like our earth, and the prismatic vital atom is inserted from the top, which is widest and corresponds to the north pole of the earth.
Thus the point of the prism penetrates the physical atom at the narrowest point, which corresponds to the south pole of our earth, and the whole resembles a top swinging, swaying, and vibrating. In this manner our body is made alive and capable of motion. (It is noteworthy that our earth is similarly permeated by a cosmic body of ether, and that those manifestations which we note as Aurora Borealis and Aurora Australis are etheric currents circling the earth from pole to equator as currents in the physical atoms do.)
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The light and reflecting ethers are avenues of consciousness and memory. They are somewhat attenuated in the average individual and have not yet taken definite form; they interpenetrate the atom as air interpenetrates a sponge, and they form a slight auric atmosphere outside each atom.
If we had said that the vital body is built of prisms instead of points, it would have been better, for it is by refraction through these minute prisms that the colorless solar fluid changes to a rosy hue as observed by other writers beside the author.
Other new and important discoveries have also been made; for instance, we know now that the silver cord is grown anew in each life, that one part sprouts from the seed atom of the desire body in the great vortex of the liver, that the other part grows out of the seed atom of the dense body in the heart, that both parts meet in the seed atom of the vital body in the solar plexus, and that this union of the higher and lower vehicles causes the quickening. Further development of the cord between the heart and solar plexus during the first seven years has an important bearing on the mystery of child-life, likewise its fuller growth from the liver to the solar plexus, which takes place during the second septenary period, and is a contributory cause of adolescence. Completion of the silver cord marks the end of child-life, and from that time the solar energy which enters through the spleen and is tinted by refraction through the prismatic seed atom of the vital body located in the solar plexus, commences to give a distinctive and individual coloring to the aura which we observe in adults.
As the ether carries to the sensitive film in the camera an accurate impression of the surrounding landscape, taking in the minutest detail regardless of whether the photographer has observed it or not, so the ether contained in the air we inspire carries with it an accurate and detailed picture of all our surroundings. Not only of material things, but also the conditions existing each moment within our aura. The slightest thought, feeling, or emotion is transmitted to the lungs, where it is injected into the blood. The blood is one of the highest products of the vital body, as it is the carrier of nourishment to every part of the body and the direct vehicle of the Ego. The pictures it contains are impressed upon the negative atoms of the vital body, to serve as arbiters of the man's destiny in the post-mortem state.
In many women, in whom the vital body is positive, and in advanced people of either sex where the vital body has been sensitized by a pure and holy life, by prayer and concentration, this superconscious memory inherent in the Life Spirit is occasionally, to some extent, above the necessity of clothing itself in mind stuff and desire matter in order to compel action. It does not always need to incur the danger of being subjected to and perhaps overruled by a process of reasoning. Sometimes, in the form of intuition or teaching from within, it impresses itself directly upon the reflecting ether of the vital body. The more readily we learn to recognize it and follow its dictates, the oftener it will speak, to our eternal welfare.
By their activities during waking hours the desire body and the mind are constantly destroying the dense vehicle. Every thought and movement breaks down tissue. On the other hand, the vital body faithfully endeavors to restore harmony and build up what the other vehicles are tearing down. It is not able, however, to withstand entirely the powerful onslaughts of the impulses and thoughts. It gradually loses ground and at last there comes a time when it collapses. Its "points" shrivel up, so to say. The vital fluid ceases to flow along the nerves in sufficient quantity; the body becomes drowsy, the Thinker is hampered by its drowsiness and forced to withdraw, taking the desire body with him. This withdrawal of the higher vehicles leaves the dense body interpenetrated by the vital body in the senseless state we call sleep.
Like a wise general, the Ego followed a similar course of action. It did not commence its campaign by getting control of one of the glands, for they are expressions of the vital body; nor was it possible to get control of the voluntary muscles, for they are too well garrisoned by the enemy. That part of the involuntary muscular system which is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system would also be useless for the purpose. It must get into a more direct touch with the cerebrospinal nervous system. To do this, and secure a base of operations in the enemy's country, it must control a muscle which is involuntary, and yet connected with the voluntary nervous system. Such a muscle is the heart.
The blood is the highest expression of the vital body, for it nourishes the entire physical organism. It is also, in a sense, the vehicle of the subconscious memory, and in touch with the Memory of Nature, situated in the highest division of the Etheric Region. The blood carries the pictures of life from ancestors to descendants for generations, where there is a common blood, as produced by inbreeding.
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The love and unity in the World of the Life Spirit find their illusory counterpart in the Etheric Region, to which we are correlated by the vital body, which latter promotes sex love and sex union. The Life Spirit has its seat primarily in the pituitary body and secondarily in the heart, which is the gateway of the blood that nourishes the muscles.
Looking at the matter from an esoteric standpoint, all consciousness in the Physical World is the result of the constant war between the desire and the vital bodies.
The tendency of the vital body is to soften and build. Its chief expression is the blood and the glands, also the sympathetic nervous system, having obtained ingress into the stronghold of the desire body (the muscular and the voluntary nervous systems) when it began to develop the heart into a voluntary muscle.
We ourselves, as Egos, function directly in the subtle substance of the Region of Abstract Thought, which we have specialized within the periphery of our individual aura. Thence we view the impressions made by the outer world upon the vital body through the senses, together with the feelings and emotions generated by them in the desire body, and mirrored in the mind.
All things are in a state of vibration. Vibrations from objects in our surroundings are constantly impinging upon us and carry to our senses a cognition of the external world. The vibrations in the ether act upon our eyes so that we see, and vibrations in the air transmit sounds to the ear.
The Sun works in the vital body and is the force which makes for life, and wars against the death-dealing Moon force.
As when reflected in a pond, the images of trees appear inverted, the foliage seeming to be the deepest down in the water, so the highest aspect of the Spirit (the Divine Spirit) finds its counterpart in the lowest of the three bodies (the dense body). The next highest Spirit (the Life Spirit) is reflected in the next lowest body (the vital body). The third Spirit (the Human Spirit) and its reflection, the third body (the desire body), appear closest of all to the reflecting mirror, which is the mind, the latter corresponding to the surface of the pond—the reflecting medium in our analogy.
In the same way that the planetary vital and desire bodies interpenetrate the dense material of the Earth, so the vital and desire bodies interpenetrate the dense body of plant, animal, and man.
A vital body made of ether pervades the visible body as ether permeates all other forms, except that human beings specialize a greater amount of the universal ether than other forms. That ethereal body is our instrument for specializing the vital energy of the Sun.
The vital body which is eventually transformed, transmuted, and spiritualized into soul is of the opposite sex. It is formed organ for organ exactly like the dense physical body with this one exception, and this elucidates many facts otherwise unexplainable. The faculties inherent in the vital body are growth, propagation, assimilation, and memory. The woman, having the positive vital body, is matured earlier than the male, the parts which remain plant-like, such as, for instance, the hair, grows longer and more luxuriant, and naturally a positive vital body will generate more blood than the negative vital body possessed by the masculine, hence we have in woman a greater blood pressure, which it is necessary to relieve by the periodic flow, and when that ceases at the climacteric period there is a second growth in woman, particularly well expressed in the saying "fat and forty."
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The impulses of the desire body drive the blood through the system at varying rates of speed, according to the strength of the emotions. Woman, having an excess of blood, works under much higher pressure than man, and while this pressure is relieved by the periodic flow, there are times when it is necessary to have an extra outlet; then the tears of a woman, which are white bleeding, act as a safety valve to remove the excessive fluid. Men, although they may have as strong emotions as women, are not given to tears because they have no more blood than they can comfortably use.
Being positively polarized in the Etheric Region of the Physical World, the sphere of woman has been the home and the church where she is surrounded by love and peace, while man fights the battle of the strong for the survival of the fittest, without quarter in the dense Physical World, where he is positive.
Thus woman became the pioneer in culture, being the first to develop the idea of "a good life," of which she became the esteemed exponent among the ancients and in that respect she has nobly led the vanguard ever since. Of course, as all Egos incarnate alternately as male and female, there is really no preeminence. It is simply that those who for the time being are in a dense body of the feminine gender have a positive vital body, and are therefore more responsive to spiritual impacts than when the vital body is negative as in the male.
Woman has the positive vital body and as a result is intuitively in touch with the spiritual vibrations of the universe. She is more idealistic and imaginative, taking a great interest in all the things which make for the moral upliftment of the race, and as it is only by the moral and the spiritual growth that humanity can advance at this time, she is really the prime factor in evolution. It would be of an enormous benefit to the race if she were given an equal right with man in every particular. For not until then can we hope to see reforms brought about that will really unite humanity. We see that by analogy if we will look into the home, where woman is really the central pillar around which both husband and children cluster. According to her ability she makes the home what it is, she is the cementing influence and the peacemaker. The father may pass out by death or otherwise, the children may leave, while the mother remains, the home is there; but when the mother is taken away by death, the home is at once broken up.
We said in the beginning of this description that the vital body is an exact counterpart of the dense body with one exception: it is of the opposite sex, or perhaps we should rather say polarity. As the vital body nourishes the dense vehicle, we may readily understand that blood is its highest visible expression, and also that a positively polarized vital body would generate more blood than a negative one. Woman who is physically negative has a positive vital body, hence, she generates a surplus of blood which is relieved by the periodical flow. She is also more prone to tears, which are white bleeding, than man, whose negative vital body does not generate more blood than he can comfortably take care of. Therefore it is not necessary for him to have the outlets which relieve excess of blood in woman.
The Angels, who were the humanity of the Moon Period, work with man, animal, and plant, for in the Moon Period the universe was of the consistency of "ether" and the vital bodies of the three kingdoms named are formed of that material. The Angels are, therefore, properly helpers in the vital functions such as assimilation, growth, and propagation, and in their work with humanity they are family spirits. They cause the increase in the family, in man's cattle, and in the yield of his fields.
Since this ancient time the lunar Angels have taken charge principally of the moist, aqueous vital body composed of the four ethers and concerned in the propagation and nourishment of the species, while the Lucifer Spirits are singularly active in the dry and fiery desire vehicles. The function of the vital body is to build and sustain the dense body, while that of the desire body involves destruction of the tissues. Thus, there is a constant war going on between the desire and vital bodies, and it is this war in heaven that causes our physical consciousness on earth.
Strange as the statement may seem, it is nevertheless true that the great majority of mankind are partially asleep most of the time, notwithstanding the fact that their physical bodies may seem to be intensely occupied in active work. Under ordinary conditions the desire body in the case of the great majority is the most awake part of composite man, who lives almost entirely in his feelings and emotions, but scarcely ever thinks of the problem of existence beyond what is necessary to keep body and soul together. Most of this class have probably never given the great questions of life, Whence have we come, why are we here, and whither are we going? any serious consideration. Their vital bodies are kept active repairing the ravages of the desire body upon the physical vehicle, and purveying the vitality which is later dissipated in gratifying the desires and emotions.
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It is this hard-fought battle between the vital and desire bodies which generates consciousness in the Physical World and makes men and women so intensely alert that, viewed from the standpoint of the Physical World it seems to give the lie to our assertion that they are partially asleep. Nevertheless, upon examination of all the facts it will be found that this is the case, and we may also say that this state of affairs has come about by the design of the great Hierarchs who have our evolution in charge.
This destruction is constantly going on and it is not possible to keep all the destroyers out, nor is such the intention. If the vital body had uninterrupted sway, it would build and build, using all the energy for that purpose. There would be no consciousness and thought. It is because the desire body checks and hardens the inner parts that consciousness develops.
The threefold Spirit cast a threefold shadow into the realm of matter, and thus the dense body was evolved as a counterpart of the Divine Spirit, the vital body as a replica of the Life Spirit, and the desire body as the image of the Human Spirit. Finally, and most important of all, the link of mind was formed between the threefold Spirit and its threefold body. This was the beginning of individual consciousness, and marks the point where the involution of Spirit into matter is finished and the evolutionary process whereby the Spirit is lifted out of matter begins. Involution involves the crystallization of Spirit into bodies, but evolution depends upon the dissolution of the bodies, the extraction of the soul-substance from them, and the alchemical amalgamation of this soul with the Spirit.
There are a number of ways to prove the existence and reality of the vital body....In the first place, there is the camera. Perhaps you can find in your town among the Spiritualists one able to take Spirit photographs. Though there are tricks well known to photographers whereby such pictures may be produced, it is nevertheless a fact that under conditions where there was absolutely no fraud, photographs have been taken of people who have passed into the beyond. They have been able to clothe themselves in ether, the material whereof the vital body is constructed, and which is visible to the eye of the lens. The writer himself was once caught by the camera when he traveled in his vital body from Los Angeles to San Pedro to see a friend off on a steamer. It so happened that he came between this friend and the camera of another friend who was just taking a snapshot of the ship, and the likeness was so good that it was recognized by a number of people.
Then we have the phenomenon of dogs following certain persons by the scent obtained from clothing they have worn. This clothing is impregnated by the ether from the vital body, which latter protrudes about an inch and a half beyond the periphery of the dense body. Hence also at every step we take the earth is penetrated by this invisible, radiating fluid. But it has been found that blood hounds following the fleeing criminal were baffled and lost the scent because the fugitive had put on skates and made his way over the ice. This raised him above the ground so that the vital body protruding below his feet did not impregnate the ice and therefore there was no scent whereby the bloodhounds could trace him. Similar results have been obtained by a person walking on stilts from the place of his crime.
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Then there is the case of the magnetic healer who draws from his patient the diseased parts of the vital body which are then replaced by fresh ethers that allow the life forces to course through the diseased physical organ and thereby affect a cure. If the magnetic healer is not careful to throw off the black, jelly-like, miasmatic, etheric fluid which he has drawn into his own body, he in turn will become ill, and if there were no such invisible fluid as we speak of, the phenomena of the patient's recovery and the magnetic healer's illness could not take place.
Finally, we may say that if you can find the conditions and are to go to the trouble, there is one way and one condition under which a very large number of people are able to see the vital body for themselves. This is most easily accomplished in southern countries where the dead bodies are buried quickly after demise. Select a time as close to the Full Moon as possible. Then watch the papers for funeral notices and go to the cemetery in the evening following the funeral of someone who has died within twenty-four hours. You will then probably see above the newly made grave, flickering in the moonlight, the filmy form of the vital body which remains there and decays synchronously with the body in the grave. This may be seen at any time by the seer, but it is dense enough to be visible to ordinary people only on the first night after the funeral. If you do not see it at first, walk around the grave and look steadfastly at it from different angles. Then you will probably get the most convincing ocular proof for your friend.
Though science has not directly observed this vital body of man, it has upon several occasions postulated the existence of such a vehicle as necessary to account for facts in life and the radiations have been observed by a number of scientists at different times and under varying conditions. Blondlot and Charpentier have called them N-rays after the city of Nantes, where the radiations were observed by these scientists, others have named them "the Odic fluid." Scientific investigators who have conducted researches into psychic phenomena have even photographed it when it has been extracted through the spleen by materializing Spirits. Dr. Hotz, for instance, obtained two photographs of a materialization through the German medium, Minna-Demmler. On one a cloud of ether is seen oozing out through the left side of the medium, shapeless and without form. The second picture, taken a few moments later, shows the materialized Spirit standing at the medium's side. Other photographs obtained by scientists from the Italian medium Eusapio Palladino show a luminous cloud over-hanging her left side.
The Vital [Etheric] Body—In Health And Sickness
The vital body plays an important part in health and in sickness. It is affected by amputation, accidents, anesthetics, drowning, shock, regret and remorse. When it is not in a concentric position, in relation to the Ego's other vehicles, insanity and idiocy may result.
If strict attention is paid to hygiene and diet, the dense body is the one principally affected, but at the same time there is also an effect on the vital body and the desire body for, as purer and better materials are built into the dense body, the particles are enveloped in pure planetary ether and desire-stuff also. Therefore the planetary parts of the vital and desire bodies become purer. If attention is paid to food and hygiene only, the personal vital and desire bodies may remain almost as impure as before, but it has become just a little easier to get into touch with the good than if gross food were used.
On the other hand if, despite annoyances, an equable tempter is cultivated, also literary and artistic tastes, the vital body will produce an effect of daintiness and fastidiousness in physical matters and will also engender ennobling feelings and emotions in the desire body.
Seeking to cultivate the emotions also reacts upon the other vehicles and helps to improve them.
The building tendencies of the vital body, which is the vehicle of love, are not so easily watched, but observation proves that contentment lengthens the life of any one who cultivates this quality, and we may safely reason that a child conceived under conditions of harmony and love stands a better chance of life than one conceived under conditions of anger, inebriety, and passion.
The vital body is born at about the age of seven, or the time when the child cuts its second teeth.
There are certain important matters which can be taken care of only during the appropriate period of growth, and the parent should know what these are. Though the organs have been formed by the time the child comes to birth, the lines of growth are determined during the first seven years, and if they are not properly outlined during that time, an otherwise healthy child may become a sickly man or woman.
In everything that lives, the vital body radiates streamers of light from the force that has spent itself in building the dense body. During health they carry away all poisons from the body and keep it clean. Similar conditions prevail in the vital body of the earth, which is the vehicle of Christ. The poisonous and destructive forces generated by our passions are carried away by the life forces of the Christ, but every evil thought or act brings Him its own proportion of pain, and therefore becomes a part of the Crown of Thorns—the crown because the head is always thought of as the seat of consciousness. We should realize that every single evil act of ours reacts upon the Christ in the manner stated and adds another thorn of suffering.
Minerals cannot be assimilated because they lack a vital body, which lack makes it impossible for man to raise their vibratory rate to his own pitch. Plants have a vital body and no self-consciousness, hence are most easily assimilated and remain with man longer than cells of animal flesh, which is permeated by a desire body. The vibratory rate of the latter is high, and much energy is required in assimilation; its cells also quickly escape and make it necessary for the flesh eater to forage often.
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Sickness shows itself first in the desire body and in the vital body, which become thinner in texture and do not specialize the vital fluid in the same proportion as usual during health. Then the dense physical body becomes sick. When recovery takes place the higher vehicles show improvement before the manifestation of health is apparent in the Physical World.
When a seer examines one who is about to become ill, he will find that the vital body is actually becoming more attenuated, and when it has reached a point of tenuity where it can no longer support the physical body, the latter commences to manifest signs of what we call disease. Again, some time before we see physical recovery, the vital body gradually becomes more dense in structure; then the period of convalescence commences.
During ill health the vital body specializes but little solar energy. Then, for a time, the visible body seems to feed upon the vital body as it were, so that the vehicle becomes more transparent and attenuated at the same rate as the visible body exhibits a state of emaciation. The cleansing Odic radiations are almost entirely absent during sickness, therefore complications set in so easily.
Man, who has the positive physical body, has a negative vital body. Thus he is not able to resist disease as well as woman, who has a negative physical body, but a positive vital vehicle. For that reason woman is able to endure a siege of sickness that would kill a man twice her weight and apparent vitality. She suffers more keenly than man, but bears pain with more fortitude. When the favorable turn comes, her positively polarized vital body seems to suck in, as with a million mouths, the solar energy. It swells and begins almost immediately to radiate the streamers so characteristic of health, with the result that the physical body recuperates apace.
On the other hand, when a man has been brought very low by sickness and the turn of the tide sets in, his negatively polarized vital body is like a sponge. It will absorb all the solar energy it can get, but the avidity noticeable in the vital body of the woman is lacking. Therefore he lingers a long while in the shadow of death, and as it is easier to give up than fight, he succumbs oftener.
When one looks with the spiritual sight at a person who is diseased, the patient's vital body looks thin and emaciated in proportion to the ravages made by the disease. There are no radiating lines from it as when the body is in health, but a sickly emanation which curls up in eddies and spirals that hang close to the dense body. Instead of being pinkish-purple it is usually a dull gray in most places, and the part that is particularly diseased is enveloped in something which resembles a mass of black jelly. That is what we might call the vibrations of disease, and at the time when the person receives a magnetic healing treatment it is this black poisonous mass which is absorbed into the hands of the healer. When he or she throws it off by a vigorous movement of the arms it sinks to the floor. Then if the patient happens to step close to that place where it lies he or she will reabsorb it. Therefore, it has always been the writer's practice to throw these emanations either out of the window or into a fireplace where they may be burned. Then they can do no harm.
So long as an organ is diseased it generates this poison stuff which hangs about it and prevents the currents of the vital body from coursing through it. What a magnetic healer does is simply to cleanse this organ for the time being and thus he opens the way for the influx of life-giving and health-promoting currents. The relief is usually only temporary, for the weak and diseased organ continue to generate the poison "miasma," as we call it, so that shortly it requires another cleansing by the magnetic healer.
This continues until the vital currents finally become sufficiently strong to over-master and throw off the poison stuff and cleanse the organ themselves. Then health returns.
The osteopathic physician goes at the matter from the opposite angel by manipulation of the nerves which are avenues for the vital currents. This strengthens these currents and they begin to scatter the miasma in the diseased part of the body. However, it usually requires a number of treatments from him also before health is restored, because the poison miasma blocks up the nerves again shortly after he has ceased his manipulations. Therefore, it would seem to the writer, though he has never tried it, that a combination of the two methods: opening up the nerve currents and strengthening them by means of osteopathic treatments, at the same time removing the poison miasma by magnetic healing, being careful either to burn or otherwise dispose of the effluvia, ought to facilitate the treatment of disease wonderfully.
The spleen is the gate of the solar forces, but the transmutation of the solar energy to a pale rose-colored fluid takes place in the solar plexus, where the prismatic seed-atom of the vital body is located.
With respect to what takes place after the spleen has been removed, it will help us to recall that the physical body accommodates itself so far as possible to altered conditions. If a wound in a certain part of the body makes it impossible for the blood to flow in the normal channels, it finds another set of veins by which it may take its circuit. But an organ never atrophies so long as it can serve any useful purpose. It is similar with the vital body composed of the ethers. When an arm or a limb has been amputated, the etheric counterpart of that member is no longer required in the economy of the body, therefore it gradually wastes away. But in the case of an organ like the spleen where the etheric counterpart has an important function as gateway for the solar energy, naturally no such disintegration will take place.
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It should also be remembered that wherever disease manifests in the physical vehicle that part of the vital body has first become thin, attenuated, and diseased, and it was its failure to supply the necessary vital energy that caused the manifestation of physical symptoms of ill health. Conversely, when health returns, the vital body is the first to pick up, and this convalescence is then manifested in the dense body. Therefore, if the physical spleen is diseased, it is a foregone conclusion that the etheric counterpart is also in subnormal health, and the wisdom of removing the organ is doubtful. However, if it is done, the body will seek to accommodate itself to the new conditions and the etheric counterpart of the spleen will continue to function as before.
The natural tendency of the desire body is to harden and consolidate all it comes into contact with. Materialistic thought accentuates this tendency to such an extent that it very often results, in succeeding lives, in that dread disease, consumption, which is a hardening of the lungs. These should remain soft and elastic. It also sometimes happens that the desire body crushes the vital body in the next life, so that it fails altogether to counteract the hardening process, and then we have quick consumption. In some cases materialism makes the desire body brittle, as it were; then it cannot perform its proper hardening work on the dense body, and as a result we have rachitis, where the bones soften. So we see what dangers we run by entertaining materialistic tendencies: either hardening of the soft parts of the body, as in consumption, or softening of the hard, bony parts, as in rachitis. Of course not every case of consumption shows the sufferer was a materialist in a former life, but it is the teachings of esoteric science that such a result often follows materialism.
In the case of one who is really nearly ready for initiation, the pitch of vibration is higher than that of the average man or woman. Therefore he does not need breathing exercises to accelerate this pitch, but certain spiritual exercises suited to him individually which will advance him on the proper path.
If such a person at this critical period meets someone who ignorantly or unscrupulously gives him breathing exercises, and if he follows the instructions accurately in the hope of getting quick results, he will get them quickly but in a manner he has not looked for, since the vibratory rate of the atoms in his body will in a very short time become accelerated to such a pitch that it will seem to him as if he were walking on air; then also an improper cleavage of the vital body may take place, and either consumption or insanity follows.
When anesthetics are used the vital body is partially driven out, along with the higher vehicles, and if the application is too strong and the life ether is driven out, death ensues. This same phenomenon may also be observed in the case of materializing mediums. In fact the difference between a materializing medium and an ordinary man or woman is just this: In the ordinary man or woman the vital body and the dense body are, at the present stage of evolution, quite firmly interlocked, while in the medium they are loosely connected. It has not always been so, and the time will again come when the vital body may normally leave the dense vehicle, but that is not normally accomplished at present. When a medium allows his or her vital body to be used by an entity from the Desire World who wishes to materialize, the vital body generally oozes from the left side—through the spleen, which is its particular "gate." Then the vital forces cannot flow into the body as they do normally, the medium becomes greatly exhausted, and some of them resort to stimulants to counteract the effects, in time becoming incurable drunkards.
The vital force from the Sun, which surrounds us as a colorless fluid, is absorbed by the vital body through the etheric counterpart of the spleen, wherein it undergoes a curious transformation of color. It becomes pale rose-hued and spreads along the nerves all over the dense body. It is to the nervous system what the force of electricity is to a telegraph system. Though there be wires, instruments, and telegraph operators all in order, if the electricity is lacking no message can be sent. The Ego, the brain, and the nervous system may be in seemingly perfect order, but if the vital body be lacking to carry the message of the Ego through the nerves to the muscles, the dense body will remain inert. This is exactly what happens when part of the dense body becomes paralyzed. The vital body has become diseased and the vital force can no longer flow. In such cases, as in most sickness, the trouble is with the finer invisible vehicles. In conscious or unconscious recognition of this fact, the most successful physicians use suggestion—which works upon the higher vehicles—as an aid to medicine. The more a physician can imbue his patient with faith and hope, the speedier disease will vanish and give place to perfect health.
During health the vital body specializes in super-abundance of vital force, which, after passing through a dense body, radiates in straight lines in every direction from the periphery thereof, as the radii of a circle do from the center; but during ill health, when the vital body becomes attenuated, it is not able to draw to itself the same amount of force and in addition the dense body is feeding upon it. Then the lines of the vital fluid which pass out from the body are crumpled and bent, showing the lack of force behind them. In health the great force of these radiations carries with it germs and microbes which are inimical to the health of the dense body; but in sickness, when the vital force is weak, these emanations do not so readily eliminate disease germs. Therefore the danger of contracting disease is much greater when the vital forces are low than when on is in robust health.
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In cases where parts of the dense body are amputated, only the planetary ether accompanies the separated part. The separate vital body and the dense body disintegrate synchronously after death. So with the etheric counterpart of the amputated limb. It will gradually disintegrate as the dense member delays, but in the meantime the fact that the man still possesses the etheric limb accounts for his assertion that he can feel his fingers or suffer pain in them. There is also a connection with a buried member, irrespective of distance. A case is on record where a man felt a severe pain, as if a nail had been driven into the flesh of an amputated limb, and he persisted until the limb was exhumed, when it was found that a nail had been driven into it at the time it was boxed for burial. The nail was removed and the pain instantly stopped. It is also in accordance with these facts that people complain of pain in a limb for perhaps two or three years after amputation. The pain will then cease. This is because the disease remains in the still undetached etheric limb, but as the amputated part disintegrates, the etheric limb follows suit and the pain ceases.
It is also patent to all who have to do with victims of accidents that they do not suffer as keenly just after the accident as later; this is because the vital body at the time of the accident is uninjured, and therefore the whole effect of the accident is not felt until this vehicle has become attenuated and unable to support the vital processes. Thus we see that there are changes in the ether of the human being; and according to the mystic axiom, "As above, so below," and vice-versa, there are also changes in the planetary ether which constitutes the vital body of the Earth Spirit. As the conscious memory of recent events which is strong in the human being gradually fades, also the etheric record, which is the lowest aspect of the Memory of Nature, fades in time.
When a falling body has attained a certain velocity, the higher ethers leave the dense body, and the falling man becomes insensible. As the body reaches the ground, it is mangled but the poor man may regain consciousness when the ether has reorganized itself. He will then begin to suffer from the physical consequences of the fall. If the fall continues after the higher ethers have left, the increased velocity dislodges the lower ethers, and the silver cord is all that remains attached to the body. This is ruptured at the moment of impact with the ground, and the seed atom passes on to the breaking point, where it is held in the usual way.
From these facts we came to the conclusion that it is the normal air pressure which holds the vital body within the dense. When we move with an abnormal velocity, the pressure is removed from some parts of the body and a partial vacuum is formed, with the further result that the ethers leave the body and flow into this vacuum. The two higher ethers, which are most loosely bound, are the first to disappear and leave the man senseless after they have produced the panorama of life in a flash. Then if the fall continues to increase the air pressure in front of the body and the vacuum behind, the more closely bound lower ethers are also forced out, and the body is dead before it reached the ground.
It was found by examining a number of people in normal health that each of the prismatic atoms composing the lower ethers radiated from itself the lines of force which set spinning the physical atom in which it is inserted, enduing the whole body with life. The united trend of all these units of force is toward the periphery of the body, where they constitute what has been called the "Odic Fluid," also designated by other names. When the air pressure from without is lowered by residence in a high altitude, a tendency to nervousness becomes manifest because the etheric force from within rushes outward unchecked; and were the man not able to shut off the outflow of solar energy in part by an effort of will to overcome the difficulty, no one could live in such places.
Now comes the crux of our explanation. Ether is physical matter, and while people shot with small arms in a minor engagement may sometimes be seen walking away somewhat dazed but nevertheless conscious, the awful detonations of the big guns used so extensively have the effect of throwing the prismatic ether atoms topsy-turvy, and shattering (not scattering) the auric envelope of light and reflecting ethers which is the basis of sense-perception and memory. Until this resolves itself into its original relativity, the man remains in a stunned, comatose condition which often lasts for weeks. Under such conditions this fine etheric stuff does not lend itself to the formation of pictures of the past life—it is congealed to a certain extent.
During accidents by drowning or asphyxiation the person feels very clam and restful after the first struggle, though he realizes his peril in a measure. The vital body is extracted before the silver cord has parted, so it retains the properties of attracting matter from the Physical World. Therefore, people who died by drowning and asphyxiation, have been seen by their relatives many thousand miles away perhaps for an instant, lifelike in the extreme. An inclination or desire to be with their friends from whom they were separated had been in their minds for a long time, perhaps, and being themselves free from the fetters of the body, they are at once borne thither upon the wings of desire. Arrived in the place, the vital body attracted to itself sufficient of the particles of the atmosphere to be visible to the person visited. Then perhaps at that moment the silver cord broke, the vital body collapsed and the vision was gone.
There are a considerable number of cases of phantasms of the living. All that is required is that the body should be in a very deep state of sleep or unconsciousness, such as usually occurs when the person is near the door of death. It may be in the act of drowning, or when induced by the fall from a horse, automobile, or similar conditions, or after receiving a blow on the head, or on the sickbed, when the physical body is very emaciated and frail and close to dissolution. Then most of the ether constituting the vital body may be drawn out of the physical vehicle, which is left in a trance-like condition that may last only a few minutes, but as space is no barrier in the invisible worlds, the desire of the person thus momentarily liberated may carry him to the ends of the world and cause him to appear to some loved one many thousands of miles from the place where his body is lying.
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It is much easier for such a Spirit to materialize than for those who have left the body at death, because with these phantasms of the living the silver cord is still intact—connection with the seed atom in the heart has not been broken.
Indiscriminate breathing exercises do not effect this cleavage, but tend to lift the whole vital body out of the dense body. Thus, in some cases, connections between etheric sense centers and brain cells are ruptured or strained and insanity results. In other instances the line of cleavage occurs between the life ether and the chemical ether, and as life ether is the cementing material in assimilation and the particular avenue for specialization of solar energy, this rupture results in consumption. Only proper exercises bring about the right cleavage. When purity of life has turned the unused sex force generated in the life ether upwards through the heart, that force takes care of the limited amount of circulation necessary during sleep. Thus physical functions and spiritual development are carried on side by side along proper and harmonious lines.
The writer was at one time quite apprehensive of the effect which war might have in respect to locking the desire and vital bodies together and bringing to birth legions of monsters to afflict future generations.
But it is with great thankfulness that he records his conviction that we need have no fear on that score. Only when people are premeditatively malicious and vindictive, and persistently harbor a desire and a purpose to get even with some one, only when such feelings are hugged, nursed, and entertained do they harden the vital body and cause the interlocking grip of these vehicles. We know from the records of the great war that the rank and file have no such sentiments against one another, but that enemies meet as friends whenever chance brings them into such relationship that they may converse one with another. So, though war is responsible for the awful mortality now and will cause deplorable infant mortality in a future age, it will be blameless with regard to the dreadful diseases engendered by obsession and the crimes suggested by these demoniacal sin bodies.
Though mental disabilities, when congenital, are generally traceable to abuse of the creative function in a past life, there is at least one notable exception to this rule, namely, cases such as mentioned in The Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception and elsewhere in our literature, and described as follows: Where a Spirit, who has a particularly hard life before, it, comes down to rebirth and feels upon entering the womb that the panorama of the coming life then shown it marks an existence too hard for it to undergo, it sometimes tries to run away from the school of life. At that time the Recording Angels or their agents have already made the connection between the vital body and the sense centers of the brain in the forming fetus; therefore the effort of the Spirit to escape from the mother's womb is frustrated, but the wrench that is given by the Ego deranges the connection between the etheric and physical sense centers, so that the vital body is not concentric with the physical, causing the etheric head to extend above the physical cranium. Thus it is impossible for the Spirit to use the dense vehicle; it is tied to a mindless body which it cannot use, and the embodiment is practically wasted.
We also find cases where a great shock later if life causes the Spirit to endeavor to run away with the invisible vehicles. As a result a similar wrench is given to the etheric sense centers in the brain, and the shock deranges the mental expression. Everybody has probably felt a similar sensation on receiving a fright: a surging as of something endeavoring to get out of the dense body; that is the desire and vital bodies, which are so swift in their motion that an express train is as a snail by comparison. They see and feel the danger and are frightened before the scare is transmitted to the inert and slow physical body in which they are anchored, and which prevents their escape under ordinary strain.
Insanity is always caused by a break in the chain of vehicles between the Ego an the physical body. This break may occur between the brain centers an the vital body, or it may be between the vital and the desire body, between the desire body and the mind, or between the mind and the Ego. The rupture may be complete or only partial.
When the break is between the brain centers and the vital body, or between that and the desire body, we have the idiots. When the break is between the desire body and the mind, the violent and impulsive desire body rules and we have the raving maniac. When the break is between the Ego and the mind, the mind is the ruler over the other vehicles and we have the cunning maniac, who may deceive his keeper into believing that he is perfectly harmless until he has hatched some diabolical, cunning scheme. Then he may suddenly show his deranged mentality and cause a dreadful catastrophe.
There is one cause of insanity that it may be well to explain, as it is sometimes possible to avoid it. When the Ego is returning from the invisible world toward re-embodiment, it is shown the various incarnations available. It sees the coming life in its great and general events, much as a moving picture passing before its vision. Then it is given the choice, usually, of several lives. It sees at that time the lessons it has to learn, the fate it has generated for itself in past lives, and what part of that fate it will have to liquidate in each of the embodiments offered. Then it makes its choice and is guided by the agent of the Recording Angeles to the country and family where it is to live its coming life.
This panoramic view is seen in the Third Heaven where the Ego is naked and feels spiritually above sordid material considerations. It is much wiser then than it appears here on earth, where it is blinded by the flesh to an inconceivable extent. Later, when conception has taken place and the Ego draws into the womb of its mother, on about the eighteenth day after that event, it comes in contact with the etheric mold of its new physical body which has been made by the Recording Angels to give the brain formation that will impress upon the Ego the tendencies necessary to work out its destiny.
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There the Ego sees again the pictures of the coming life, as the drowning man perceives the pictures of his past life —in a flash. At that time the Ego is already partially blind to its spiritual nature, so that if the coming life seems to be a hard one, it will oftentimes shrink from entering the womb and making the proper brain connections. It may endeavor to draw itself out quickly and then, instead of being concentric as the vital and the dense bodies should be, the vital body formed of ether may be drawn partially above the head of the dense body. It that case the connection between the sense centers of the vital body and the dense body are disrupted and the result is congenital idiocy, epilepsy, St. Vitus dance, and similar nervous disorders.
Insanity is a rupture in the vehicles between the Ego and the physical body, and this derangement may occur between the Ego and the mind, between the mind and the desire body, or between the desire body and the vital body, and also between the latter and the dense body. If the break is between the dense and the vital body or between that and the desire body, the Ego will be perfectly sane in the Desire World immediately after death, because it has then discarded the two vehicles which were afflicted.
Where the break occurs between the desire body and the mind, the desire body is, as a matter of course, still rampant, and often causes the Ego much trouble during its existence in the Desire World; for the Ego, of course, is at no time insane. What appears as insanity arises from the fact that the Ego has no control over its vehicles; the worst of all, obviously, is where the mind itself has become affected and the Ego is tied to the personality for a long time until these vehicles are worn away.
We have seen that in the waking state the dense body and the vital body are surrounded and interpenetrated by an egg-shaped cloud comprising the desire body and the mind. These vehicles are all concentric, and form so many links in a chain. It is the interpolation of one into the other, so that the sense centers in one are in proper alignment with the sense centers of the other, which enables the Ego to manipulate the complex organism and perform in an ordered manner the life processes which we call reason, speech, and action. If there is a maladjustment anywhere the Ego will be correspondingly hampered anywhere the Ego will be correspondingly hampered in its expression. This perfect balance is health, the opposite is disease.
Disease takes many forms; one is insanity, and that also is of different kinds. Where the connection between the sense centers of the dense body and the vital body is askew, where sometimes the head of the vital body towers above the dense head instead of being concentric with it, the vital body is out of adjustment with both the higher vehicles and the dense body. Then we have the docile idiot. Where the dense and vital bodies are in adjustment but the break is between the vital body and the desire body, a similar condition obtains, but when the break is between the desire body and the mind we have the raving maniac, who is more ungovernable that a wild animal, for that is checked by the Group Spirit. In that case all the animal propensities are followed blindly.
While there are very few who will defend the abuse of the generative function, many people who follow spiritual precepts in other things still have the feeling that frequent indulgence of the desire for sexual pleasure works no harm; some even have the idea that it is as necessary as the exercise of any other organic function. This is wrong for two reasons: First, each creative act requires a certain amount of force which burns up tissue that must be replenished by an extra amount of food. This strengthens and augments the chemical ether. Secondly, as the propagative force works through the life ether, this constituent of the vital body is also augmented with each indulgence. Thus we strengthen the two lower ethers of the vital body by sending the creative force downwards for gratification of our desire for pleasure; and their interlocking grip upon the two higher ethers which form the soul body becomes tighter and more powerful as time goes on. As the evolution of our soul powers and the faculty of traveling in our finer vehicles depends upon the cleavage between the lower ethers and the soul body, it is evident that we frustrate the object we have in view and retard development by indulgence of the lower nature.
As soon as the vital body has been placed the returning Ego, clothed in its bell-shaped covering, hovers constantly near the future mother. She alone does the work upon the new dense body in the first eighteen to twenty-one days after fertilization, then the Ego enters the mother's body, drawing the bell-shaped covering down over the fetus. The opening at the bottom closes, and the Ego is once more incarcerated in the prison house of the dense body.
The moment of entrance into the womb is one of great importance in life, for when the incoming Ego first contacts the before-mentioned matrix vital body it sees there again the panorama of the coming life which has been impressed upon the matrix by the Recording Angels in order to give the tendencies required to work out the ripe causation due to be liquidated in the coming life.
At this time, the Ego is already so much blinded by the veil of matter that it does not recognize the good end in view in the same unbiased manner as when making its choice in the Region of Abstract Thought, and when a particularly hard life reveals itself to the vision of the returning Ego at the moment of entering the womb, it sometimes happens that the Ego is so startled and frightened that its seeks to rush out again. The connection cannot be severed, however, but may be strained, so that instead of the vital body being concentric with the dense body, the head of the vital body may be above the head of the dense body. Then we have a congenital idiot.
As a vampire sucks the ether from the vital body of its victim and feeds upon it, so perpetual thoughts of regret and remorse concerning certain things become a desire-elemental which acts as a vampire and draws the very life from the poor soul who has shaped it, and by the attraction of like for like, it fosters continuance of this morbid habit of regret.
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If we indulge in regrets and remorse during every waking hour as some do, we are outdoing Purgatory, for though the time there is spent in eradication of evil, the consciousness turns from each picture when it has been torn out by the force of repulsion. Here, because of the interlocking of the desire and vital bodies, we are enabled to revivify a picture in memory as oft as we please, and while the desire body is gradually dissolved in Purgatory by the expurgation of the panorama of life, a certain small amount is added while we are living in the Physical World, to take the place of that which is ejected by remorse. Thus, remorse and regret when continually indulged in have the same effect on the desire body as excessive bathing has on the vital body. Both vehicles are depleted of strength by excessive cleansing, and for that reason it is as dangerous to the moral and spiritual health to indulge indiscriminately in feelings of regret and remorse as it is fatal to physical well being to bathe too much. Discrimination should govern in both cases.
As the force latent in gunpowder and kindred explosive substances may be used to further the greatest objects of civilization or to outdo the most savage acts of barbarism, so also, this emotion of remorse may be misused in such a manner that it becomes a detriment and a hindrance to the Ego instead of a help. When we indulge in remorse daily and hourly, we are actually wasting a great power which might be used for the most noble ends of life, for the constant indulgence of regret affects the desire body in a manner similar to that which follows excessive bathing of the physical body. . . . . Water has a great affinity for ether and absorbs it most greedily . . . . . When we take a bath under normal conditions it removes a great deal of poisonous miasmatic ether from our vital bodies, providing we stay in the water a reasonable length of time. After a bath the vital body becomes somewhat attenuated and consequently gives us a feeling of weakness, but if we are in our usual good health and have not stayed in the bath too long, the deficiency is soon made good by the stream of force which flows into the body through the spleen. When this influx of fresh ether has replaced the poisoned substance carried off in the water, we feel renewed vigor which we rightly attribute to the bath, though usually without realizing the full facts as here stated.
But when a person who is not in perfect health makes a habit of bathing every day, perhaps even twice or three times, an excess of ether is taken from the vital body. The supply entering by way of the spleen is also diminished on account of the loss of tone of the seed atom located in the solar plexus and the attenuated condition of the vital body. Thus it is impossible for such people to recuperate between such oft repeated depletions, and as a consequence the health of the dense body suffers; they lose strength continually and are apt to become confirmed invalids.
The Vital [Etheric] Body—In Sleep And Dreams
The vital body is active in sleep as well as in the waking state and may be acted upon by the power of suggestion. Sleep may be induced by hypnosis.
We have in our body two nervous systems, the voluntary and the involuntary. The first named is operated directly by the desire body, and controls the movements of the body, tends to break down and destroy, only partially restrained in its ruthless task by the mind. The involuntary system has its particular vantage ground in the vital body; it governs the digestive and respiratory organs, which rebuild and restore the dense body.
It is this war between the vital body and the desire body which produces consciousness in the Physical World, but did not the mind act as a brake on the desire body, our waking hours would be very short, and so would our lives, for the vital body would soon be overridden in its beneficent offices by the reckless desire body, as evidenced in the exhaustion which follows a fit of temper, for temper is a condition where the man has "lost control" and the desire body rules unchecked.
In spite of all its efforts, however, the vital body slowly loses ground as the day goes along, the poisons of decaying tissue accumulate and impede the flow of the vital fluid, its motion become more and more sluggish. In consequence the visible body shows signs of exhaustion. At last the vital body, so to say, collapses, the vital fluid ceases to flow along the nerves in sufficient quantity to maintain the poise of the dense body, and that renders it unconscious and therefore unfit for the use of the Spirit. That is sleep.
So also with the temple of the Ego, our dense body, when that has been exhausted. It is then necessary that the Ego, mind, and the desire body vacate and give the vital body full sway, that it may restore the tone of the dense body; and thus, when the dense body goes to sleep, there is a separation. The Ego and the mind, clothed in the desire body, draw out from the vital body and the dense body, the two latter remaining on the bed, while the higher vehicles hover above or near the sleeping body.
The process of restoration now begins. In a fight in the Physical World the injuries are never all on one side; the winner always has some lesions. The fiercer the fight, and the more evenly the combatants are matched, the more lesions go to each. So with the combating vital and desire bodies, the desire body wins every time, yet its victory is always a defeat, for it is then forced to leave the battle field and the prize, the dense body, in the hands of the vanquished vital body and withdraw to repair its own shattered harmony.
When it withdraws from the sleeping body it enters that sea of force and harmony called the Desire World. Here it lives over the scenes of the day, but in reverse order, from effects to causes, straightening out the tangles of the day, forming true pictures to replace the wrong impressions due to the limitations of the life in the dense body, and as the harmonies of the Desire World pervade it, and wisdom and truth replace error, it regains its rhythm and its tone, the time required to restore it varying according to how illusive, impulsive, and strenuous had been the life of the day.
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Then, and then only, does the work of restoring the vehicles left on the bed commence, and the restored desire body starts to revive the vital body, pumping rhythmic energy into it, and that in turn starts to work upon the dense body, eliminating the products of decay, principally by means of the sympathetic nervous system, with the result that the dense body is restored and overflowing with life when the desire body, mind, the Ego enter in the morning and cause it to wake.
It sometimes happens, however, that we have become so absorbed and interested in the affairs of our mundane existence that even after the vial body has collapsed and rendered the dense body unconscious we cannot make up our minds to leave it and commence the work of restoration; the desire body will cling like grim death, is dragged perhaps only half out by the Ego, and starts to ruminate over the happenings of the day in that position.
During the waking state, when the Ego is functioning consciously in the Physical World, its various vehicles are concentric—they occupy the same space—but at night, when the body is laid down to sleep, a separation takes place. the Ego, clothed in the mind and desire body, extricates itself from the dense body and the vital body, which are left upon the bed. The higher vehicles hover above or near. They are connected to the denser vehicles by the silver cord, a thin, glistening thread which take the shape of two figure sixes, one end being attached to the seed atom in the heart and the other to the center vortex of the desire body.
During sleep the Ego also withdraws from the dense body, but the vital body remains with the dense body and the silver cord is left intact.
The Desire World is an ocean of wisdom and harmony. Into this the Ego takes the mind and the desire body when the lower vehicles have been left in sleep. There the first care of the Ego is the restoration of the rhythm and harmony of the mind and the desire body. This restoration is accomplished gradually as the harmonious vibrations of the Desire World flow through them. There is an essence in the Desire World corresponding to the vital fluid which permeates the dense body by means of the vital body. The higher vehicles, as it were, steep themselves in this elixir of life. When strengthened, they commence work on the vital body, which was left with the sleeping dense body. Then the vital body begins to specialize the solar energy anew, rebuilding the dense body, using particularly the chemical ether as its medium in the process of restoration.
In the waking state, the different vehicles of the Ego, the mind, desire body, vital body, and dense body are all concentric. They occupy the same space, and the Ego functions outwardly in the Physical World. But at night, during the dreamless sleep, the Ego, clothed in the desire body and the mind, withdraws, leaving the physical and the vital body upon the bed, there being no connection between the higher and lower vehicles, save a thin, glistening thread, called the silver cord. It happens, however, that at times the Ego has been working so interestedly in the Physical World and the desire body has become so stirred up that it refuses to leave the lower vehicles and is only half withdrawn. Then the connection between the sense centers of the desire body and the sense centers of the physical brain are partly ruptured. The Ego sees the sights and scenes of the Desire World which, in themselves, are extremely fantastic and illusory, and they are transmitted to the brain centers without being connected by reason. From this condition come all the foolish and fantastic dreams which we have.
It happens, however, that at times the desire body does not fully withdraw, so that part of it remains connected with the vital body, the vehicle of sense perception and memory. The result is that restoration is only partly accomplished and that the scenes and actions of the Desire World are brought into the physical consciousness as dreams. Of course most dreams are confused as the axis of perception is askew, because of the improper relation of one body to another. The memory is also confused by this incongruous relation of the vehicles and as a result of the loss of the restoring force, dream-filled sleep is restless and the body feels tired on awakening.
The vital body may be said to be built of points which stick out in all directions, inward, outward, upward, and downward, all through the body, and each little point goes through the center of one of the chemical atoms, causing it to vibrate at a higher rate than its natural speed. This vital body interpenetrates the dense body from birth to death under all conditions except when, for instance, the blood circulation stops in a certain part, as when we rest a hand upon the edge of a table for some time and it "goes to sleep,' as we say. Then, if clairvoyant, we may see the etheric hand of the vital body hanging down below the visible hand as a glove, and the chemical atoms of the hand relapse into their natural slow rate of vibration. When we slap the hand to cause it to "wake up," as we say, the peculiar prickling sensation we feel is caused by the points of the vital body which then re-enter the sleeping atoms of the hand and start them into renewed vibration.
The vital body leaves the dense body in a similar manner when a person is dying. Drowning persons who have been resuscitated experience an intense agony caused by the entrance of these points, which they feel as a prickling sensation.
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During the daytime, when the solar fluid is being absorbed by the man in great quantities, these points of the vital body are blown out or distended, as it were, by the vital fluid, but as the day advances and poisons of decay clog the physical body more and more, the vital fluid flows less rapidly; in the evening there comes a time when the points in the vital body do not get a full supply of the life-giving fluid; they shrivel up and the atoms of the body move more sluggishly in consequence. Thus the Ego feels the body to be heavy, dull, and tired. At last there comes a time when, as it were, the vital body collapses and the vibrations of the dense atoms become so slow that the Ego can no longer move the body. It is forced to withdraw in order that its vehicle may recuperate. Then we say the body has gone to sleep.
Sleep is not an inactive state, however; if it were there would be no difference in feeling in the morning and no restorative power in sleep. The very word restoration implies activity.
When a building has become dilapidated from constant wear and tear and it is necessary to renovate and restore it, the tenants must move out to give the workmen full play. For similar reasons the Ego moves out of its tenement at night. As the workmen work upon the building, to make it fit for re-occupancy, so the Ego must work upon its building before it will be fit to re-enter. And such a work is done by us during the nighttime, although we are not conscious of it in our waking state. It is this activity which removes the poisons from the system, and as a result the body is fresh and vigorous in the morning when the Ego enters at the time of waking.
It depends upon the manner in which we have used our dense bodies in the daytime as to how long the desire body requires to perform the work of restoration of rhythm to the vital body and the dense body. If we have used our bodies strenuously during the previous day, inharmonies will, of course, be correspondingly prominent, and it will take the desire body most of the night to restore harmony and rhythm. Thus the man will be tied to his body day and night. But when he learns skill in action, controls his energy in the daytime, and ceases to waste his strength on unnecessary words and actions, when he commences to govern his temper and to stop inharmony due to incorrect observation, the desire body will not be occupied during the entire time of sleep in restoring the dense body. A part of the night may be used for work outside. If the sense centers of the desire body are sufficiently evolved, as they are with most of the intelligent class, the man may and does then slip the cable and soar into the Desire World. He takes in the sights and scenes there, though he does not usually remember them until he has effected a cleavage between the higher and lower parts of the vital body, as previously explained.
In the natural sleep the Ego, clothed in the mind and desire body, draws outside the physical body and usually hovers over the body, or at any rate remains close to it, connected by the silver cord, while the vital body and the dense body are resting upon the bed.
It is then possible to influence the person by instilling into his brain the thoughts and ideas we wish to communicate. Nevertheless, we cannot then get him to do anything or to entertain any idea except that which is in line with his natural proclivities. It is impossible to command him to do anything and to enforce obedience, the same as it is when he has been driven out by the passes of the hypnotist, for it is the brain which moves the muscles, and during the natural sleep his brain is interpenetrated by his own vital body and he is in perfect control of himself, while during the hypnotic sleep the passes of the hypnotist have driven the ether of which its vital body is composed out of the brain, down to the shoulders of the victim, where it lies around his neck and resembles the collar of a sweater. The dense brain is then open to the ether from the hypnotist's vital body, which displaces that of the proper owner. Thus in the hypnotic sleep the victim has no choice whatever as to the ideas he entertains or the movements he makes with his body, but in the ordinary sleep he is still a free agent. In fact, this method of suggestion during sleep is something which mothers will find extremely beneficial in treating refractory children, for if the mother will sit by the bed of the sleeping child, hold its hand, speak to it as she would speak when it is awake, instill into his brain ideas of such a nature as she would wish it to entertain, she will find that in the waking state many of these ideas will have taken root. Also in dealing with a person who is sick or is addicted to drink, if the mother, nurse, or others use this method, they will find it possible to instill hope and healing, materially furthering recovery or aiding self-mastery.
This method may of course be used for evil, but we cannot refrain from publishing it, as we believe that the good which can be done in this way will much more than offset the few cases where some misguided person may use it for the wrong purpose.
Looked at from the standpoint of one life, such methods as for instance those employed by the healers of the Immanuel movement, are undoubtedly productive of an immense amount of good. The patient is seated in a chair, put into a sleep, and there he is given certain so-called "suggestions." He rises and is cured of his bad habit; from being a drunkard he becomes a respectable citizen who cares for his wife and family, and upon the face of it the good seems to be undeniable.
But looking at it from the deeper standpoint of the esotericist, who views this life as only one in many, and looking at it from the effect it has upon the invisible vehicles of man, the case is vastly different. When a man is put into a hypnotic sleep, the hypnotist makes passes over him which have the effect of expelling the ether from the head of his dense body and substituting the ether of the hypnotist. The man is then under the perfect domination of another; he has no free will, and, therefore, the so-called "suggestions" are in reality commands which the victim has no choice but to obey. Besides, when the hypnotist withdraws his ether and wakens the victim he is unable to remove all the ether he put into him. To use a simile, as a small part of the magnetism infused into an electric dynamo before it can be started for the first time is left behind and remains as residual magnetism to excite the fields of the dynamo every time it is started up, so also there remains a small part of the ether of the hypnotist's vital body in the medulla oblongata of the victim, which is a club the hypnotist holds over him all his life, and it is due to this fact that suggestions to be carried out at a period subsequent to the awakening of the victim are invariably followed.
Contemporary Mystic Christianity
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