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The Emotional or Orectic Being

The Emotional or Orectic Being represents the diminished part of the universal Orectic Principle, including elements of the Astral plane and the Subtle Physical. This is scaled down to the emotional body, the physical embodiment of emotions, and in turn progresses further down the scale of gradation of consciousness, in the same manner as the mental, becoming increasingly rigidified. These various substages (physical of Mental and so on) have been described by Theon, Sri Aurobindo, Ouspensky and Bennett, and other esoteric psycholgists. At the Physical Emotional Subplane all that is left of the original cosmic love impulse are bodily and physical-brain emotional thoughtforms.

Emotional Body At the individual level this would clearly seem to be equivalent to the "Emotional body" or second energy body of Barbara Brennan's sequence of seven energy bodies. This is represented (as indicated by the illustration at the left) as the rainbow body of Adyar Theosophy and the New Age movement; the various coloured chakras and so on. This would seem to be the lowest grade at which thought forms move in an amorphous fashion. Below the Emotional body things congeal into the emotional subconscious; fixed complexes, frozen auric structures, and so on, due to the increasing densification of matter

Feelings - The Emotional Being

Following Sri Aurobindo's classification of the "vital" being, the emotional faculty is here used to refer not to emotions in the widest sense of the term, but to the developed emotions. As such it is one of the four "vertical" subdivisions of the Orectic or Emotional (=Vital) being.

"...the emotional the seat of various feelings, such as love, joy, sorrow, hatred, and the rest;"
[Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga vol 1, pp.334 (Sri Aurobindo Ashram, Pondicherry)]

Elsewhere in Letters on Yoga, Sri Aurobindo writes that the Emotional Being corresponds to the Anahata or heart chakra

The Emotional Being is sometimes grouped with the desire nature in that they are both "irrational", but the two are quite distinct. The latter two pertain to more intense and self-centered instinctual feelings, the other to a larger and more empathic feeling.

In Barbara Ann Brennan's description of the subtle bodies, the emotional body represents the second of the "human energy field" auras, the lower octave of the astral and celestial bodies/auras. This however is a completely different meaning to that of Sri Aurobindo.

The Orectic being

The term Orectic being is here used to designate the intermediate principle in the psyche or consciousness, between the physical body and consciousness and the mental being. This is derived from Orexis, a technical term used by Aristotle, and usually translated (especially in medieval psychology) as "appetites". Orexis therefore represents one's desires, also the will.

Equivalent terms are Epithymia and Thymos (Plato), Irrational Soul (Platonism and Neoplatonism), Kama (Blavatsky), Astral/Emotional (Adyar Theosophy), Nervous Being (Theon), and Vital (Sri Aurobindo and the Mother).

A modern psychological term is affects. "Affects" refer to emotions, feelings, instincts, desires etc that can rise up and overwhelm the consciousness. Jung for example speaks of the archetypes as being mediated in the consciousness by affects

Thus the dualism of physicalist and cartesian theory is replaced by a triadism consisting of the three principles of body, affect, and mind or cognition. (There is also the Higher Self and the higher spiritual levels above, and the chthonic subconscious and hylic inconscient below, but the psychological triad refers to the ordinary consciousness)

It is relatively easy to discipline one's thinking, as we are, indeed , "thinking beings". To control the affective nature is much harder. Many mystics and ascentics developed world-negating, guilt-ridden, body and sexuality hating philsophies and teachings out of frustration at their inability to deal with and control their affective nature. We see this attitude of ascetism in Hinduism (concerning maya), Christianity (seven deadly sins), Gnosticism ("matter" as evil), and other such dualistic teachings. However, as both tantric Buddhists and Sri Aurobindo and the Mother explain (in the respective paths of Vajrayana/Tantra and Integral Yoga), it is not that these lower faculties have to be repressed or denied (after all, repression just makes things worse) but they have to be transmuted and transformed. In Sri Aurobindo and the Mother's teachings this is done through the psychic (Higher Self, Divine Soul) conversion

The levels of the emotional or orectic being (following Sri Aurobindo's lead) are as follows:

Psychophysical Level of Self Level/Stratum /Description Chakra Plato Aurobindo "Theosophy"/
New Age
Conation Intentionality, will Vishuddha   Vital Mind Higher Emotional
Emotions/Feelings Feelings, Higher Emotions Anahata Mental Vital
Thymos Ambition, Striving, Power Manipura Thymos Central Vital
Epithymia Desires Swadhisthana Epithymia Physical Vital Lower Emotional

In addition to the individual affective being, there is the collective and universal Kosmic Affective reality; the macrocosmic equivalent of the indidividual emotional-affective being. This is a vast region, much of it little known and little explored, even by occultists and esotericists. Cosmology and psychology go together, having the relation of macrocosm and microcosm.

I n t e g r a l Y o g a

(individual and cosmic transformation)

Aspect Outer being (Transitional) Inner Being (Transitional) Realization Divinization
Spiritualization Divinization/
Evolving Divine Soul
Mind Exoteric Postmaterialism Gnosis/
ego-shadow (I-It) duality
I-Thou Empathy
Body Physical

note: the above represents a simplistic linear interpretation only; in fact all these stages interact and overlap. Rarely do all these levels develop at the same time, and the Integral/Divine Realization encompasses all of them.

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text content and html by M.Alan Kazlev
emotional aura artwork from Barbara Brennan, Hands of Light, © Bantam Books
this page uploaded 7 April 2007, includes material from merged pages from 2001, 2004, and 2005; last modified 21 July 2009