In the Integral system we read about 3 to 5 bodies that we each possess from gross to subtle to casual. The terms Integral uses for these bodies are traditionally borrowed from Buddhism, especially Tibetan Buddhism. For those involved in the Ageless Wisdom system it is important to understand what the parallels to these “bodies” might be in regards to the language we use. This blog post is an attempt at that.
To begin with I would like to share the system used by Integral in regards to the bodies of a human being. I will begin with the 3 level system and then expand it into the 5 level system. As you can see there are three states that every human being is said to move through each and every day regardless of what level of consciousness they “reside in” (or to use Wilber’s terms, what stage they are at).
They are waking consciousness where we encounter the world through our gross physical body and its five senses, dreaming consciousness that is experienced in what is called our subtle bodies, and deep sleep that is associated with what the Integral system refers to as the causal body. These bodies are also connected to the Buddhist system as the Nirmanakaya (gross), Sambhogakaya (subtle), and Dharmakaya (casual). Ken Wilber has since extended these original 3 emphasized in the Integral system to include two more found in Buddhism. To quote him, “These 5 bodies, supporting those 5 natural states of consciousness, are: 1) gross or physical body (Nirmanakaya in Buddhism—“kaya” means “body”), 2) subtle body (Sambhogakaya in Buddhism, 3) causal body (in Vedanta; “very subtle” body in Vajrayana, also called Dharmakaya or “Truth Body”), 4) Svabhavivakaya (in Buddhism, “Integrative Body”), and 5) Vajrakaya (in Buddhism, “Diamond Body”).” (Note: To read his views where this quote was lifted go to this article, The Fourth Turning of Buddhism – Part 2 – Structures and States). Sticking with just the three main bodies now, I am posting this picture below known as the Trikaya Doctrine (Tri = three, kaya = bodies) of Buddhism.
What I would like to do now is propose some correlations to the Ageless Wisdom teachings as that is what this blog is about. I am only making a proposal here and I am open to suggestions if you have a different understanding. Feel free to leave a respectful comment below. But, first a clarification. In the Ageless Wisdom teachings you evolve beyond the human form. At some point you can even go on to become a planet or a sun or more. Of course we already always are these things in Truth. But, in the play (lila) of the manifest world we apparently evolve our outer forms. But, I have never heard of other systems like Christianity, Hinduism, Buddhism talking about this kind of evolution. You have the notion of Indigenous cultures talking about Gaia and mother Earth as a living conscious entity. You have the Christian phrase of “living, moving and having our being within God.” You have scientists taking photos of our planet. Still most of them act as if our planet is not conscious. It is just a dead thing we live on. True, when Gautama Buddha awoke he touched the ground so the Earth could bear witness to his enlightenment. She sent Goddesses to testify for him to Mara (their version of a kind of tempter or devil). Apart from the Ageless Wisdom teachings to my knowledge none of them talk about becoming a planet or a sun.
You may go up to heaven somewhere. You may become a God or Goddess (Tibetan Buddhism sees this as possible). As for the “body” in the three fold Trikaya once you reach the Truth body you realize the Truth of who you are as the All in All and you are done. Of course Wilber as we see says that they really go on much further than this as he talks about the “Integrative body” and the “Diamond body.” Keeping all of this in mind, here are some of my correlation thoughts beginning with the repost of the chart used by the Alice Bailey Ageless Wisdom model.
For those unfamiliar with this chart the main thing to focus on is the seven “planes.” These are numbered with Roman Numerals. I. II.. III. and so forth. What I am proposing is that the “bodies” are really correlated with the matter of the “planes” in this system. For example:
VII. Physical = Gross = Nirmanakaya = Waking
- Buddha or any human in physical dense form.
VI. Emotional = Subtle = Sambhogakaya = Dreaming
- The “Astral” plane is often known as the subtle plane. A big challenge is to learn to distinguish between astral subtle energy and that which is much higher. Many people dream primarily on the astral level, and in fact when you look at the collective dreams of especially our Western society (in movies etc.) you see the collective unconscious (or astral life) is focused mainly on emotional themes.
V. Mental = Casual = Dharmakaya = Deep Sleep
- Of course most people would not associate this level with the mind. Those of us in the Ageless Wisdom teachings know that the mental plane is divided into seven sub-planes (as are each major plane). At the lower sub-planes of the mental planes you have the dense concrete mind still operating at the dense levels of the senses. At night as you go into sleep the mind (mental unit) shuts off. In a sense you return back to the causal body (named that in the chart above as well). Much of this blog has talked about the unfoldment of the various symbolic “petals” in this body as echoed in the chart below.
As I have gone through the Groups and Initiations, I have spoken about how at the first initiation (expansion of consciousness) there is a sense of Oneness or Unity Consciousness. However, this is only the first initiation with many more to come. I also wrote in my blog on Unity Consciousness how distorted a lot of the teaching is about this topic. I have asked the question Unity with what? Most people would feel that question is absurd. It is Emptiness, the One Without the Second, the Void, the Absolute. YET, Michael Robbins from the Ageless Wisdom teachings discusses many levels of “Oneness” in his excellent and hefty treatise, Infinitization of Selfhood. And, in my recent studies listening to commentaries on Buddhist texts from author Robert Thurman he talks about there being several kinds of Emptiness. Obviously, something is going on here that requires an extension of our understanding.
We are told by Wilber that EVERYONE no matter what your Integral Level (correlated to the various Groups in this blog) goes through the Waking, Dreaming, and Deep Sleep state every day and every night no matter what level of consciousness they primarily reside on in the manifest world. This makes sense in light of the Ageless Wisdom chart above. The vast majority of all humanity exists on the mental plane and below. Most we would say dissolve in deep dreamless sleep (and the delta state of consciousness) into the “gap” that exists where the dotted line is and come out in residence somewhere in the casual body or as we also call it the egoic lotus. (Please see my post on Unity Consciousness as I attempt to visualize in a poor but beginning manner this process).
What the chart above shows is that within this casual body there is an entire evolution going on, which I have explained in more detail in this blog. When we go beyond the casual body and move into the next plane things change. And, here is where I feel the other bodies mentioned by Wilber and Buddhism correlate.
IV. Intuitional = Integrative Body = Svabhavivakaya
- Also known as the Buddhic plane, this level is known for being “integrative.” Another name is that it synthesizes all that is known both below and above. Often people confuse this level with the astral plane, which is understandable. We are told the Buddhic plane reflects into the astral plane. That also means the Integrative body reflects into the subtle body, or the realm of dreams. Some dreams are “clear” and truly “lucid” which starts to reflect more the clear light, or lucidity of the buddhic plane. But, the majority are just astral tripping out. They are not coherent, are easy to forget, and don’t have much meaning or significance within them. Like a lot of Western movies they are full of astral “junk.” That is not at all what the Buddhic plane represents. Those functioning here we are told are much more conscious, often are bodhisattvas (or Christ like), and exist at this level having increasingly mastered the three levels (mental, emotional, and physical) below.
III. Atmic Plane = Diamond Body = Vajrakaya
- Similar to the Double Dorje symbol found in Tibetan Buddhism, the Vajra (diamond) takes us up towards the Monad (the jewel in the heart of the lotus). In the Ageless Wisdom teaching we are told that everyone has a Monad, a divine spark, that anchors them within the Cosmic Physical Realm that this entire chart shows. At some point as mentioned at the start of this post, we are no longer human. Beyond the Atmic plane the sense of “self” and even “Self” dissolves. This is perhaps the basis of the argument between Buddhism and Hinduism. The Hindus believe in an Atman, a permanent Self. The Buddhists say there is such a thing, but it is relative, there are many more levels of to go. That certainly makes sense when we look at the Ageless Wisdom chart put here again below.
In conclusion, it might be said that there are many more bodies to come beyond even the Diamond Body. The Monadic plane could be said to have a body. The Divine plane of Adi could be said to have a body. In the Ageless Wisdom teachings these are not the bodies of the Gods and Goddesses, the Archetypes so often talked of. There is something more going on here. To imagine that we have to think increasingly of energy and formlessness, not of form as we know it even on a subtle level or beyond. It is hard for many to actually think that we may be meant to evolve out of human state at some point. Yes, if we want to be on what the Ageless Wisdom teachings call the “Path of Earth Service” we will continue to take on human form to evolve what we can in this human world. From what I am learning about Buddhism in listening to Robert Thurman, it seems however that we are supposed to remain Buddhas creating Pure Lands everywhere throughout the universe. This seems what I might call a “Buddha bias.” One guy, named Buddha, and all the humans who become Buddhas, change the multi-Universes everywhere.
This idea if I have it correct (and I am happy to be corrected if I do not), again does not include the notion that at some point we evolve beyond all of this. We become something far more than human. Unless you want to see Buddhas and Christs as planets, stars, and eventually even galaxies, this notion of Integral and Buddhism fall apart. But, that requires a different view of both consciousness and form. It demands a recognition that just as cells live within our human bodies, we are merely cells within the planetary body, the solar body, the cosmic body and more. Meaning if we want to talk about “bodies” as correlated to states of consciousness we have a long, long way to go.
Copyright ©2016 by Lisa Love. All rights reserved. No part of this blog may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopy, recording, computer, or any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the author.
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