In this post I go into more detail regarding the 5th and 4th subplanes of the Physical Plane showing what elements they are associated with and how you can see them become active at birth and withdraw at death
NOTE: This book is now in the process of being edited. Once it is completely edited it will no longer be free online. As of 4/5/20 this chapter has been edited.
5th Subplane Physical Plane
The next subplane of the Physical Plane, the 5th, is connected to the gaseous element and the pineal gland in the Bailey model. In the Tibetan Book of the Dead system we also see the element of fire potentially connected here. Gas and fire help produce heat in the body. Heat helps maintain the vitality that is said to come into the body from the etheric planes. Heat also helps the body burn off disease. That increasing gas, or heat, in the body helps babies and very small children become more oriented towards the outer world helping them to be more present, animated, and focused within the world around them. That is why they seem “alive” and full of energy.
This growing “rambunctious” (ram relates to the fire sign Aries), or animated, behavior especially asserts itself more fully around two years old. Developmental psychologists state that the “terrible twos” behavior begins around this time because the child starts to recognize her or himself as an individual apart from the environment and separate from the mother figure. Esoteric psychologists claim this is because the fire element starts to dominate at this time giving the child more of the “spark of mind.” The connection to mind is interesting because this is the 5th subplane of the Physical Plane, which relates it to the 5th Plane of the Mental Plane.
Though I have no evidence for this assertion, it might be interesting to discover if some of the “spark of mind” that kicks in is also related to the greater activation of the pineal gland, which Bailey associates with this 5th subplane of the Physical Plane. Science now understands that the pineal gland has hallucinogenic and light producing qualities. It’s growing predominance in young children might explain why young children start to develop such a great imagination. From an esoteric perspective that imagination may also be comprised of real perceptions that they are having of the etheric and astral planes around them. They may not, however, at this time be able to discern enough the distinctions between the Physical Plane and these more etheric and astral realms. And, the awakening of the pineal gland may explain why so many young children have that quality of intense and beautiful light reflected in their eyes. In many ways their eyes may truly still have a “window to the soul” (Egoic Lotus) realms.
On the flip side as a person reaches the end of life, we know that people who are 60 to 90 plus are frequently more “gaseous.” As the enzymes in the body break down elderly people are not able to consume, digest, process, or “burn up” what they take in from the outer world in the same way. Maybe the need to slow down our consumption (of not just food but other things in life) is a sign that these “fires” need to be applied more not just to helping us assimilate our food, but our emotional and mental experiences from our lifetimes. If we fail to do digest our life experiences and the underlying lessons well, then we may become more “gassy.” Then instead of sounding wise in our elder years, we may just sound like a bunch of “hot air,” which can symbolize that our thoughts and views of the world have become meaningless and no longer apply to the generations that are following us. Looked at another way, as older people retreat back onto this 5th subplane of the Mental Plane they also begin to “loose their minds.” Remember how through Bailey’s Law of Correspondences how the 5th subplane of the Physical Plane is connected to the 5th Plane of the Mental Plane. The shutting down of the brain and physical body as one approaches old age and death and the connection to this 5th subplane of the Physical Plane and 5th Plane of the Mental Plane may also explain why elderly people tend to become more demented and forgetful.
As people age we also know that the body is more likely to alternate between being hot and cold. Many elderly people complain of feeling cold when others around them are not. Again this may be a sign of the withdrawal process from the 5th subplane of the Mental Plane going on. This alternation between hot and cold happens more dramatically in may women who go through menopause and experience “hot flashes.” Though I have no evidence to backup this theory, we might assert that these hot flashes that occur during menopause (when “men are on pause”), take place in part because the woman’s biological system is readjusting and trying to get her to re-orient her life away from the biological function of reproducing children, and get her to focus more strictly on mental activity. To say it another way, the flow of life is no longer going down the 5th subplane of the Mental Plane into the outer world of physical affairs, it is reversing the flow to go up into the realm of thought and ideas.
Another sign that the gas, or fire, element is withdrawing happens more as the person approaches death. People who are older or nearing death often complain about their physical bodies not being able to warm themselves sufficiently. As we get even closer to death typically the mouth and nose become dry. I view this as the gaseous element failing to act as a “thermostat” where it can regulate the body from getting too hot meaning it starts to dry out. Finally, as this gas or heat element exhausts itself more and more the physical body becomes increasingly cold. Eventually at death the heat will completely leave the body and the person will become “stone cold” because the gaseous link that takes the vitality from the etheric body into the physical body is gone.
Another interesting correspondence that comes from the Bailey books is how the sense of hearing is connected to the 5th subplane of the Physical Plane. Perhaps this is why so many elderly people start to lose their hearing, which metaphysically can be viewed as them needing to longer listen so much to what is going on in the outer world, as to hear more what is happening in the interior of their psyches and in spiritual realms. We also know that those who are close to death, or are in a coma state, appear not to hear what is going on around them. The truth of the matter is they do still hear if they are focusing their attention there. That is why it is so important to behave as if a dying or comatose person can still hear what you are saying when you are in the room with them.
Borrowing insights from the Tibetan Book of the Dead we are told that at this stage the person will look out into the world and increasingly see something like sparks or fireflies dancing about. I believe this to connected to how the “lights” are going out, meaning the photo receptors in the pineal gland itself are shutting down causing increasingly dimmed or spotty vision. This image of dancing lights also interests me because I remember how fascinated I was as a child to close my eyes and watch the play of “sparks” or “dancing lights” taking place when the eyelids are shut. Since those who are in the process of dying often have their eyelids closed, the sparks or “fireflies” talked about in the Tibetan Book of the Dead may also refer to this phenomena.
4TH SUBPLANE OF THE PHYSICAL PLANE
Now we come to the subplanes that “cross the dotted line” in the Bailey model that have to do with the etheric subplanes. Drawing again from the association with from the Tibetan Book of the Dead we might infer that the fourth ether on this subplane connects to the element of air (or wind in some traditions). Wind is an interesting word to use here since when we combine air and gas people are often said to have the “winds” (or farts). Farts are associated with an inability to properly digest what the body is assimilating causing “air” or “gaps” within the digestive track that have to be squeezed out. Perhaps this “windy” problem is symbolic then of certain “gaps” in mental understanding regarding the lessons of outer life events and how they relate to the inner world and a more spiritual understanding of what is occurring in the life. The “windy” problem may also reflect that there is no longer smooth flow taking place between the connection of the etheric body to the physical.
The movement into etheric substance and the association with the air element also implies that the focus is shifting more into the subtler realms that are more difficult to sense with the five senses. Likewise, mental concepts may be more difficult to see or understand because they are too subtle, abstract, symbolic, or esoteric to comprehend. The subtle nature of the etheric subplanes may be why the highest levels of the Physical Plane are called “atomic” or “subatomic” since these words refer to particles that are invisible to the naked eye. This subtle aspect also points to the notion that everyone of us has an etheric, or subtle body, underlying the physical body. In the East many of the features of this subtle body have been mapped out and are known as the channels or “nadis” of the subtle body. The acupuncture meridians are also said to be a reflection of this subtle body. Though some try to connect these nadis with the nervous system they are not meant to be the same thing. The nadis and meridians are said to be able to function independently of the nervous system. Most human beings have no conscious understanding or control of their subtle bodies. But, in some Eastern traditions it is claimed that you can learn to consciously control and master these various energy currents, helping to keep the physical body alive for a very long time. Finally, knowledge and mastery of this subtle body is even said to be essential in the process known as “conscious dying.” (Note: In Paramahamsa Yogananda’s great work The Bhagavad Gita, there is a chart showing an intricate system of connections of the various petals of the head center to the other centers in the body. Perhaps this is a clue regarding how this conscious death process takes place if one masters this “laya yoga” system, known as kriya yoga in this book).
Regarding the stage when this 4th subplane of the Physical Plane becomes more active as we enter the physical world, we might infer that this air element helps young children become more active, verbal, and capable of communicating and connecting more socially with others as it takes hold. On the flip side when someone is just a few days or weeks before death, people frequently report that loved ones have a harder time breathing. Especially as the final moments of death approach the person’s breathing becomes more labored and difficult, inhalations become very short, and rasping and panting may even be heard. The famous “death rattle” that can be heard when a person dies, is actually known to be a gurgling sound that is taking place because fluid is filling up the lungs. This is another interesting connection to the air element since the lungs are what pump air in and out of the body.
As for the sense that is connected to this 4th subplane, we are told that touch is associated here. The touch association is interesting to contemplate. Does it mean we are finally “touching” the other realms? Does it refer to when people “touch” us at some emotional or mental level when we are communicating with them? Could it be a hint of how we need to use touch to get a point across? Is it indicative of the healing power of touch as found in the therapeutic touch movement? Or, are we referring to an etheric sense of touch such like that is used in energy healing? The 4th subplane of the Physical Plane by correspondence connects us to the Bailey’s 4th Plane of Intuitional (or Buddhic Plane). This is the realm of understanding, comprehension, and the ability to synthesis various levels of thought. Does the association with touch at this level refer to how “touched” we are when someone finally understands or comprehends what is going on with us especially at an emotional level? Is that what is implied in the Nonviolent, or Compassionate, Communication model put forward by Marshall Rosenburg when he says we need to have a “felt sense” that people have really heard us (especially since that connects to feeling touched more than heard?). How interesting that we use the phrase being “out of touch” when we also feel that people don’t comprehend or understand us and what is going on in the world. Finally, youth are often viewed as being more “in touch” with new ideas emerging on our planet, and the elderly may also be seen as “out of touch.” These various phrases may all give clues as to the underlying functions of this 4th subplane of the Physical Plane and this more etheric realm.
As for the Tibetan Book of the Dead association it states that something like a “butter lamp” is seen at this stage by those who are dying. The sparks found at the previous level are now thought to be concentrated into a single flame. This flame is also said to always be flickering or “blowing in the wind” bringing us back to the air, or wind, association at this level. (Note: I am also reminded of songwriter Bob Dylan and his lyric that the “answer my friend is blowing in the wind” leading us once again to needing to access the subtler, or more etheric realms, if we are going to gain a deeper insight and understanding of something).
Some say this image of a flame is the precursor to the tunnel of light experience that so many people claim to have in near death episodes. Perhaps the flame is even the tunnel of light itself. Regardless, the idea here is that an image of focused light emerges. Again, this could be a reference to the pineal gland finally shutting down, a process that began at the 5th subplane level of the Physical Plane and is completing itself at this stage. Finally, those who sit with the dying know that often the dying report having visions of things going on around them that other people cannot see. As with young children and their active imaginations, we can either discount the visions of the dying, or recognize that they are having increased etheric and astral vision. Some spiritual traditions also believe that these visions are a sign that the winds are starting to sweep away the connections between the physical and etheric bodies, giving a clear sign that the Spirit inside the physical body now feels free to exit our physical world.
- Chapter Thirteen: The Physical Plane, Intro plus 6th & 7th Subplanes
- Chapter Thirteen: The Physical Plane, 1st, 2nd, 3rd Subplanes
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