The Seven Bodies of Man in relation to the Three Divisions of Christian Theology
Consciousness, as we have seen, is like an inner screen and all that goes on in a human being is projected onto it. Actually, it would be more accurate to say that not everything that goes on in a person is projected onto this screen, only a small proportion of it; all the rest, all that fails to reach their consciousness, remains in what we call the unconscious.
But there are two quite distinct zones of unconsciousness: that of the lower consciousness, which we call the subconscious, and that of the higher consciousness or superconsciousness. In fact, very little of what goes on inside us ever reaches our consciousness; it is a screen with a very limited scope. The vital processes – digestion, circulation, respiration, elimination and growth, for example – are completely outside the range of our consciousness and yet, if we managed to develop the possibility, even these processes would become conscious.
Years ago I gave you this diagram that represented all the different bodies that go to make up a human being. Beginning at the bottom we see the physical body (which includes the etheric body); the astral body (seat of feelings and emotions), and the mental body (which is the conductor of thought). Above these three bodies you see a dividing line and, above this line, the Causal body, which is the body of wisdom and omniscience; the Buddhic body, which is the seat of selfless love, and finally the Atmic body, the body of divine omnipotence.
The Two Trinities of Man’s Higher and Lower Natures
In most human beings it is only the three lower bodies that have reached some degree of development; the three higher bodies are no more than the germ of what they could become, they hardly manifest themselves at all. The three lower bodies correspond to the personality and the three higher bodies to the individuality (or Higher Self). Man possesses two natures, therefore, both of which have the power to act, to feel and to think, but on two different levels: the personality on a lower level and the individuality on a higher level.
In reality, these two natures are not separated from each other. As you can see from the concentric circles in the diagram, each of the lower bodies is linked to the corresponding body on the higher level: the physical body is linked to the Atmic body, the astral body to the Buddhic body and the mental body to the Causal body. And this is precisely the goal of human evolution: the incarnation of each of the higher bodies in the corresponding lower body so that man is illumined by the divine nature within him.
The line between the lower and the higher bodies represents consciousness; it is like a screen between the personality and the individuality on which both natures are reflected and if it is too limited it means that we ourselves will be limited in our activity.
All human beings possess the germ of their higher bodies and one day they will be fully matured. In fact, I am sure that you have all felt their presence at one time or another. You hear a snatch of music or glimpse a face that causes something to stir within you and gives you the desire to accomplish deeds of extraordinary generosity for the good of the whole world: this is a manifestation of your Buddhic body which is beginning to vibrate within you.
Or perhaps you feel an inner force rising within you that is capable of moving the whole earth: your Atmic body is beginning to stir. Or, again, you experience such illumination that you begin to perceive the structure of the universe and to understand how it functions: this is your Causal body which is beginning to filter into your brain.
If these manifestations occur frequently, it means that your three higher bodies – Causal, Buddhic and Atmic – are already beginning to take possession of your whole being.
Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov
Complete Works Vol. 17, ‘Know Thyself’ – Jnana Yoga
Chapter 7 Consciousness
Izvor Book 222, Man’s Psychic Life, Elements and Structures,
Chapter 3, Several Souls and Several Bodies