Our subtle bodies and souls

The cabbalists also teach that the human being has several souls: the emotional or astral soul known as Nephesh; the intellectual or rational soul, Ruah, and the three higher souls, Neshamah, Haia and Yehida.

The Hindus, on the other hand, speak of bodies rather than souls and this is equally correct, for every particle of matter contains its own energy. This energy is the masculine principle, and the matter is the feminine principle.

Everywhere, on every level of the universe, matter contains energy, and the human being’s material, physical body possesses its own specific energy. It is this energy which we call the soul.

But above and beyond their physical body, humans have other, subtler bodies, and each one of these subtle bodies possesses its own soul. The vital soul belongs to the physical body; the emotional or sensitive soul belongs to the astral body; the intellectual or rational soul belongs to the mental body, and the three higher bodies, causal, buddhic and atmic, possess three higher souls.

Each body, therefore, contains its soul: the body is the form or container and the soul is the energy that animates it. The two cannot be separated.

Nature itself, the cosmos as a whole, is a body, the body of God, and its soul is the universal Soul. All this is perfectly clear.

But let us get back to the different bodies of the human being. The three fundamental activities characteristic of humans are thought (by means of the intellect or mind), feelings (by means of the heart) and action (by means of the physical body). You must not think that only the physical body is material; the heart and mind are also material instruments, but the matter of which they are made is far subtler than that of the physical body.

An age-old esoteric tradition teaches that the support or vehicle for feeling is the astral body and the support for intelligence is the mental body. But this trinity made up of our physical, astral and mental bodies constitutes our imperfect human nature. The three faculties of thought, feeling and action also exist on a higher level, their vehicles being, respectively, the causal, buddhic and atmic bodies, which go to make up our divine self.

In this diagram, the three large concentric circles indicate the relationships that link the lower and the higher bodies. The physical body, which represents strength, will and power on the material level, is linked to the atmic body, which represents divine power, strength and will.

The astral body, which represents our egotistical, personal feelings and desires, is linked to the buddhic body, which represents divine love. The mental body, which represents our ordinary, self-serving thoughts, is linked to the causal body, which represents divine wisdom.

In our lower, earthly self, therefore, we are a trinity that thinks, feels and acts. But this trinity is only a very inferior reflection of that other, heavenly trinity that is waiting for us to become one with it.

To be continued…

Omraam Mikhaël Aïvanhov
Izvor Book 222, Man’s Psychic Life, Elements and Structures,
Chapter 1, ‘Know Thyself’

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