The first of the levels of being beyond the physical body is the formative-field body or what the Theosophists call the "Etheric" body. This "Etheric Body" is the subtle life-force body, which sustains the life of the physical body, and serves as the mould or matrix for physical metabolic functions.
The term "etheric body" can have several different possible meainings. Quiote apart from the fact that with some New Age/theosophical/esoteric belief systems the "etheric" is used to define a high or even the highest spiritual body, there is the fact that even as the body of formative force or auric energy there is
In any case the Etheric body is the repository of the life-force or vitality principle (variously called ch'i, ki, prana, vayu, pneuma, orgone, libido, etc) for the entire psycho-physical organism. Hence we can speak of an energy flow between the different levels of one's being. This life-force is often identified with the breath, and hence we find the term for the "soul" or "spirit" (in this case, actually the Etheric body) in many cultures having "breath" or "wind" as their primary meaning: e.g. ruah, psuche, pneuma, anima, spirtus, atma, etc etc.
This vital-energy flows through the various channels or nadis or meridians, and is processed in the energy-centres or chakras. The Etheric body is also the locus of the "subtle anatomy" of chakras, nadis, meridians, etc, that form a central part of Indian and Tibetan Tantra and Chinese Yoga and Medicine. This vital force or ch'i-energy flows through the various channels or nadis or meridians, and is processed in the energy-centres or chakras
Alternative Medicine, whether Chinese, Tibetan, homoeopathic, Reiki, etc etc, likewise works on the level of the Etheric or subtle body. These practices are "alternative" only relative to Western Materialistic medical science, which treats the Physical body. Criticism of alternative medicine is due to conventional medicine's inability to recognise the existence of a more subtle body in or upon which these therapies do work.
Although Theosophical and New Age writers often speak of every subtle body or vehicle of consciousness possessing chakras, and describe these chakras as energy vortexes or whatever, it is really only the Etheric body that is so endowed. This is because any higher bodies, being non-physical, do not have a
specific form, but take on or imitate the form of the Etheric and/or the Physical bodies. Hence the Astral and higher bodies may appear to possess chakras, but they only have them through association with the Etheric body, and not as an innate part of their being. Often what is described as the supra-etheric bodies are actually higher octaves or "resonances" of the etheric body (these are for the most part the "vehicles" of the Adyar school of Theosophy, and the human energy fields Barbara Brennan refers to).
|Cosmic Ch'i Energy
|Instinctual self||Emotional Subconscious||Mental Subconscious|
Energy (thick arrows) and Information/Consciousness (fine arrows) flow between the different faculties. Note: this very simplistic diagram does not take into account energy or consciousness from the chthonic or other such planes.
Barbara Brennan indicates there are two grades of Etheric Body
|The Etheric Body||The Etheric Template|
There is no reason why there cannot be others though. Such higher grades of Etheric body would pertain to totally transpersonal states of consciousness.
The Body Etheric - a small site (only a few pages), but nicely presented - good introduction to the topic
Auras - the Etheric Body - what auras are and how to see them - by RiverWind
The Etheric Body - by S.G.J. Ouseley - a page from this guy's book
| Cosmic Ch'i Energy | The Etheric Plane | Formative Causation | Etheric Formative Forces in living beings |
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