- an article from Insight21 - answers for the 21st Century
As reflected in the world of nature, a human being is composed of four sheathes, or bodies.
The mineral kingdom resonates with the physical body, the plant kingdom with the etheric body, and the animal kingdom with the human astral body. The fourth element resides as an aspect that is uniquely human - the Ego - although can still be considered part of the natural world for two reasons. One, we are also rooted in the Earth like the other three kingdoms. And two, the animals, at least on a species level, also have an egoic component.
What is “matter?” is a great riddle of our time. Does matter exist in the way we conceive it? To strive to ascertain the nature of physicality is to enter into a deep pool.
Our physical body is a remarkable masterpiece, an incredible interweave of not only minerals, but functions and processes that attain a level of complexity that could only be orchestrated by the genius of Spirit. It is not feasible to analyze any of these complex biological processes in such a way as to suggest that they could proceed independent of the spiritual plane.
That the deeper we delve into physicality, the more we come into the spiritual plane, has been demonstrated repeatedly by humanity’s most advanced scientific inquiry. Witness the findings of atomic, and sub-atomic, research. At the core of “matter” is encountered a living, pulsing energy, as well as a wide-open spaciousness. The scale of a typical atom’s structure has been compared in such a way that if the nucleus were the size of a basketball, the “orbiting” electrons would be moving at the outer edges of a football field. Enough spaciousness to make any dyed-in-the-wool materialist giddy.
Etheric energy is the essence of the plant kingdom. If you were to take away the etheric forces of a plant, it would collapse into a heap of minerals. Etheric energy is the life force of the plant, just as the etheric body in ourselves is the life force of the physical body. The etheric body is the primary cause of the physical body (in turn, the Egoic and astral bodies are the first cause of the etheric and physical bodies).
This is one of the prime reasons why homeopathic remedies can be so effective and produce such enduring results - an arena of primary cause is being treated, and so the results are reflected into the physical, by due process.
The etheric body is, by nature, a body of pattern and structured process. It is “at home” repeating patterns, so to speak. This is why an organ, our heart, for example, keeps its form and process - the etheric body is stamping its impress, continuously, into the physical body. In a similar vein, we find repeating forms in the plant kingdom, such as the leaves on a tree, all finely fashioned and with an unbroken continuity of pattern.
The animal kingdom embodies the next subtle layer, the astral realm. The astral body is the embodiment of emotions, instincts, desires, cravings, color, dreams, and animality. Just as homoeopathic remedies address issues on the etheric level, flower-petal remedies address the astral, or emotional, level.
The astral body and the Ego work in consort. If a person drives out their own Ego - perhaps by drinking alcohol, or some other kind of de-basing substance - they fall back on their astral element - with varying results, depending on the nature of the individual.
The astral aspect of ourselves comprises a broad and multi-dimensional landscape, or soulscape. All that is found in the world of nature is reflected in the astral realm within us - the many forms and expressions in the animals and their environment. So wild and encompassing is this realm, so wide-ranging and limitless, that its true fullness can not be conceived by the mind. Only a soul level perception can hope to ascertain the breadth of our astral configuration - and then only over time and application of rigorous process. The result of such a process, combined with raising and purifying our astrality, would be a fully functional and liberated soulhood, an aspiration that calls to us from within, a state that can be attained by virtue of the Egoic element of the individual striving over time. A mega-project worthy of our current epoch.
Ideally, the vast sea of astrality is piloted by the human Ego, or individuality of Spirit. This “I” is the modern “jewel in the lotus”, the leading edge of human spiritual evolution. According to how individuals strive to make progress through life, through lives really, they become increasingly adept at purifying and uplifting the astral body, at refining and developing sleeping powers and qualities. Progress made to this end can be compared to amassing wealth, in our spiritual account.