Occult science teaches that man is a complex being who possesses:
1) A Dense Body, which is the visible instrument he or she uses in this world to fetch and carry; the body we ordinarily think of as the whole man.
2) A Vital Body, which 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.
3) A Desire Body, which is our emotional nature. This finer vehicle pervades both the vital and dense bodies. It is seen by clairvoyant vision to extend about sixteen inches outside our visible body, which is located in the center of this ovoid cloud as the yolk is in the center of the egg.
4) The Mind, which is a mirror, reflecting the outer world and enabling the Ego to transmit its commands as thought and word, also to compel action.
The Ego is the threefold Spirit which uses these vehicles to gather experience in the school of life.
The dense body was the first vehicle built and has therefore an enormous period of evolution back of it. It is in its fourth stage of development and has now reached a great and marvelous degree of efficiency. It will, in time, reach perfection, but even at present it is the best organized of man's vehicles. It is a wonderfully constructed instrument and should be recognized as such by everyone pretending to have any knowledge of the constitution of man.
The germ of the dense body was given by the Lords of Flame during the first Revolution of the Saturn Period, the first of the Seven Great Days of Manifestation according to the Rosicrucian Teachings. This germ was somewhat developed during the remainder of the first six Revolutions, being given the capacity for developing the sense organs, particularly the ear. Therefore the ear is the most highly developed organ we possess.
In the first half of the Saturn Revolution of the Sun Period, the second of the Seven Great Days of Manifestation, the Lords of Flame were concerned with certain improvements to be made upon the germ of the dense body. 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 and the Lords of Wisdom.
In the first or Saturn Revolution of the Moon Period, the third of the Seven Great Days of Manifestation, the Lords of Wisdom cooperated with the Lords of Individuality to reconstruct the germ of the dense body. This germ had unfolded embryonic sense organs, digestive organs, glands, etc., and was interpenetrated by a budding vital body. Of course, it was not solid and visible as it is now, yet in a crude sort of way it was somewhat organized. In the Moon Period it was necessary to reconstruct it and make it capable of evolving a nervous system, muscle, cartilage, and a rudimentary skeleton. This reconstruction was the work of the Saturn Revolution of the Moon Period. These Moon beings were not so purely germinal as in the previous periods. To the trained clairvoyant they appear suspended by strings in the atmosphere of the fire-fog, as the embryo hangs from the placenta by the umbilical cord. Currents, which provided some sort of nourishment, flowed in and out from the atmosphere through these cords.
When the Earth came out of chaos, at the beginning of the Earth Period, it was at first in the dark red stage known as the Polarian Epoch. There humanity first evolved a dense body, the germ of which was given by the Lords of Flame during the First Revolution of the Saturn Period. It was not then 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.
At that time, in the Hyperborean Epoch, the body of man was like an enormous gas bag, floating outside the fiery Earth, and it threw off plant-like spores, which then grew and were used by other incoming entities. At that time man was double-sexed, a hermaphrodite.
In the Lemurian Epoch, when the Earth had somewhat cooled and islands of crust had begun to form amid boiling seas, then also man's body had somewhat solidified and had become more like the body we see today. It was apelike, a short trunk with enormous arms and limbs, the heels projecting backward, and almost no head — at least the upper part of the head was nearly entirely wanting. Man lived in the atmosphere of steam which occultists called fire-fog, and had no lungs, but breathed by means of tubes. He had the gill-like apparatus still present in the human embryo while passing through the stage of antenatal life corresponding to that epoch. He had no warm, red blood, for at that stage there was no individual Spirit. He had a bladder-like organ inside, which he inflated with heated air to help him leap enormous chasms when volcanic eruptions destroyed the land upon which he was living. From the back of his head there projected an organ which has now drawn into the head and is called by anatomists, the "pineal gland," or the "third eye," although it was never an eye, but a localized organ of feeling. The body was then devoid of feeling, but when man came too close to a volcanic crater, the heat was registered by this organ to warn him away before his body was destroyed.
At that time the body had already so far solidified that it was impossible for man to continue to propagate by spores, and it was necessary that he should evolve an organ of thought, a brain. The creative force which we now use to build railways, airplanes, computers, etc., in the outer world was then used inwardly for the building of organs. Like all forces it was positive and negative. One pole was turned upward to build the brain, leaving the other pole available for the creation of another body. Thus man was no longer a complete creative unit. Each possessed only half the creative force, and it was therefore necessary for him to seek his complement outside himself.
In the latter part of the Lemurian Epoch the form of man was yet quite plastic. The skeleton had formed, but man himself had great power in molding the flesh of his own body and that of the animals about him.
At this time, when he was born, man could hear and feel, but his perception of light came later. The Lemurian had no eyes. He had two sensitive spots which were affected by the light of the Sun as it shone dimly through the fiery atmosphere of ancient Lemuria, but it was not until nearly the close of the Atlantean Epoch that he had sight as we have it today.
His language consisted of sounds like those of Nature. The sighing of the wind in the immense forests which grew in great luxuriance in that super- tropical climate, the rippling of the brook, the howling of the tempest, the thunder of the waterfall, the roar of the volcano — all these were to him voices of the Gods from whom he knew himself to have descended.
Of the birth of his body he knew nothing. He could no see either it or anything else, but he did perceive his fellow beings. It was, however, an inner perception, like our perception of persons and things in dreams, but with this very important difference, that his dream-perception was clear and rational.
But when "their eyes were opened" (as told in the story of the "Fall") and their consciousness was directed outward toward the facts of the Physical World, conditions were altered. Propagation was directed, not by Angels, but by man, who was ignorant of the operation of the Sun and Moon forces. His consciousness became focused in the Physical World, although things did not appear to his vision with clearly defined outlines until the latter part of the Atlantean Epoch. Still he came by degrees to know death because of the break made in his consciousness when it was shifted to the higher worlds at death and back to the Physical World at rebirth.
However, what has been said about the enlightenment of the Lemurians applies to only a minor portion of those who lived in the latter part of that epoch, and who became the seed for the seven Atlantean Races. The greater part of the Lemurians were animal-like and the forms inhabited by them have degenerated into the savages and anthropoids of the present day.
In the Atlantean Epoch, which followed the Lemurian, man was very different from anything existent on Earth at the present time. He had a head, but scarcely any forehead; his brain had no frontal development; the head sloped almost abruptly back from a point just above the eyes. As compared with our present humanity, he was a giant; his arms and legs were much longer in proportion to his body than ours. Instead of walking, he progressed by a series of flying leaps, not unlike those of the kangaroo. He had small blinking eyes and his hair was round in section.
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 half an inch below the surface of the skin, which has a corresponding point in the vital body. When these two points come into corresspondence, as they do in man today, they form the seat of the indwelling Spirit in the man.
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, being united to it in the last third of the Atlantean Epoch.
The Rmoahals were the first of the Atlantean Races. They had but little memory and that little was connected with sensations. They remembered colors and tones, and thus to some extent they evolved Feeling. With memory came to the Atlanteans the rudiments of a language. They evolved words and no longer made use of mere sounds, as did the Lemurians, giving names to things.
The Tlavatlis were the second Atlantean Race. Already they began to feel their worth as separate human beings. They became ambitious; they demanded that their works be remembered. Memory became a factor in the life of the community. Thus began ancestor worship.
The Toltecs were the third Atlantean Race. They inaugurated monarchy and hereditary succession, originating the custom of honoring men for the deeds done by their ancestors. Experience came to be highly valued, and memory was developed to a very great degree.
In the middle third of Atlantis we find the beginning of separate nations. In time the Kings became intoxicated with power, and began to use their power corruptly, for selfish ends and personal aggrandizement instead of for the common good.
The Original Turanians were the fourth Atlantean Race. They were especially vile in their abominable selfishness, erecting temples where the kings were worshiped as Gods.
The Original Semites were the fifth and most important of the seven Atlantean Races, because in them we find the first germ of the corrective quality of thought. Therefore the Original Semitic Race became the "seed-race" for the seven races of the Fifth Epoch. They were the first to discover that "brain" is superior to "brawn." During the existence of this race, 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.
The Akkadians were the sixth and the Mongolians were the seventh of the Atlantean Races. They evolved the faculty of thought still farther, but followed lines of reasoning which deviated more and more from the main trend of the developing life. As the heavy fogs of Atlantis condensed more and more, the increasing quantity of water gradually inundated that continent, destroying the greater part of the population and the evidences of their civilization.
Central Asia was the cradle of the Fifth Epoch Races, who descended from the Original Semites. Thence have the different races gone out.
In the Saturn Revolution of the Earth Period the dense body was given the ability to form a brain and become a vehicle for the germ of mind which was to be added later. The impulse was given to building the frontal part of the brain. The brain and the nervous systems are the highest expression of the desire body. They call up pictures of the outside world, but in mental image-making, the blood brings the material for the pictures; therefore, when thought is active the blood flows to the head.
In man the brain is the link between the Spirit and the outside world. He can know nothing of the outside world except through the medium of the brain. The sense organs are merely carriers to the brain of impacts from without and the brain is the instrument which interprets and coordinates those impacts. The Spirit, aided by the Angels, built the brain to gather knowledge of the Physical World. When the Ego entered into possession of its vehicles it became necessary to use part of the creative force for the building of a brain and larynx. The Lucifers are the instigators of all mental activity, by means of the part of the sex force that is carried upward for work in the brain. Thus did the evolving entity obtain brain consciousness of the outside world at the cost of half its creative power.
Physiologists note that certain areas of the brain are devoted to particular thought activities, and phrenologists have carried this branch of science still farther. Now it is known that thought breaks down and destroys nerve tissues. This and all other waste of the body, is replaced by the blood. When, through the development of the heart into a voluntary muscle, the circulation of the blood finally passes under the absolute control of the unifying Life Spirit it will then be within the power of that Spirit to withhold the blood from those areas of the mind devoted to selfish purposes. As a result, those particular thought centers will gradually atrophy. Brain-knowledge, with its concomitant selfishness, was bought by man at the cost of the power to create from himself alone. He bought his free will at the cost of pain and death; but when man learns to use his intellect for the good of humanity, he will gain spiritual power over life, and in addition, will be guided by an innate knowledge as much higher than the present brain- consciousness as that is higher than the lowest animal consciousness. The brain is, at best, only an indirect way of gaining knowledge and will be superseded by direct touch with the Wisdom of Nature, which man, without any cooperation, will then be able to use for the creation of new bodies.
In the Moon Period it was necessary to reconstruct the dense body to make it capable of being interpenetrated by a desire body, and also capable of evolving a nervous system, muscle, cartilage, and a rudimentary skeleton. This reconstruction was the work of the Saturn Revolution of the Moon Period.
The reconstruction of the dense body in the Saturn Revolution of the Earth Period gave the first impulse to the incipient division in the nervous system which has since become apparent in its subdivisions: the voluntary and the sympathetic. The latter was the only one provided for in the Moon Period. The voluntary nervous system (which has transformed the dense body from a mere automaton acting under stimuli from without, to an extraordinary adaptable instrument capable of being guided and controlled by an Ego from within) was not added until the present Earth Period.
When the division of the Sun, Moon, and Earth took place, in the early part of the Lemurian Epoch, the more advanced portion of humanity-in-the-making experienced a division of the desire body into a higher and a lower part. The rest of humanity did likewise in the early part of the Atlantean Epoch. This higher part of the desire body became a sort of animal soul. It built the cerebrospinal nervous system and the voluntary muscles, by that means controlling the lower part of the threefold body until the link of mind was given.
Part of the involuntary muscular system is controlled by the sympathetic nervous system.
The seat of the Human Spirit is primarily in the pineal gland and secondarily in the brain and the cerebrospinal nervous system, which controls the voluntary muscles.
This article was adapted from "Rosicrucian Principles of Health and Healing," page 11-22, by Max Heindel.