Saturday, April 25, 2015

Archetypal Model Revisited

In January of this year, I posted Archetypal Model on this site. In it, I presented a well-known Eastern model of the subtle body. At the time of my kundalini rising in late 2005, this model was instrumental in providing me with a framework for understanding the kundalini process, allowing me to integrate these changes into a life that was experiencing a major renovation and restoration.  

Carl Gustav Jung

This model can be reviewed in detail by re-reading the original post, but a summary is provided here.

The invisible subtle body lies beyond all that represents our solid physical bodies, but is interconnected with it. It is made up of three diaphanous sheaths:
  1. Energy sheath is partially made up of energy channels that intersect six major chakras. These chakras can be associated with the physical body’s nerve plexuses and glandular system.
  2. Mental sheath consists of the conscious and unconscious mind broken down into three aspects: chitta, or the unconscious storehouse of past impressions and imprints; manas, or the sensory motor mind which carries out and responds to bodily functions, impulses etc.; and the ahankara, or ego which creates all our boundaries, self-definitions, and self-concepts, our sense of I-ness.
  3. Discernment sheath, our reflective consciousness or higher mind often referred to as the voice of reason.
Visual representaion of the three sheaths

This archetypal model provided a visual representation that helped me understand and integrate the phenomenon of Kundalini as it carried out its life changing agenda over a period of many months turning into years.

The purpose of this post is to complete the portion of the Archetypal Model not covered in the previous post by extending it to include the Causal Body.

Just as the Physical Body ends with the skin and then the Subtle Body begins, the Subtle Body ends with the discernment sheath and then the Causal Body begins.

What is this Causal Body? Other terms that could be used to describe it are the celestial realm, pure consciousness or pure essential reality. It is the place where one has moved beyond false and limited identification with the transitory world of illusion, beyond space and time, beyond phenomena, beyond dualism.


The first three sheaths described in Archetypal Model can be presented and understood conceptually, as a kind of body/mind/soul paradigm. That’s why, at that time, I chose to end it there.

The three sheaths represent the areas of consciousness where I noticed most of the renovation and restoration process taking place. In the energy sheath, I experienced the opening of the energy channels and chakras and the many physical and psychological symptoms that resulted from their opening. In the mental sheath, I experienced a collapse in my previous world view as kundalini energy influenced and modified chitta with its past imprints and impressions, unresolved issues, drives, parental and church injunctions. As it moved into ahankara, I experienced what seemed like hitting the immovable wall of the ego, and a dismantling of its self-constructs, self-definitions, boundaries and unconscious attachments. In the discernment sheath, I experienced the observer, looking on, surrendering and submitting to all that was happening.

The movement to the Causal Body cannot be as easily explained, but there is a story which illustrates it.

Buddha reflected in a lotus

"It is said that the Buddha loved all sentient beings with a love of a father for his children. But the children did not listen to their loving master. Though there was wealth in their own outer house, they did not want it, and instead they went running around outside in confusion. All the master could do was to sew a jewel into each of their garments so that when they were impoverished and starving, they might discover it themselves and be rich in ways they would not otherwise expect. This was the master’s tender compassion and love." 

What is this own outer house? It is our physical bodies, sprung from our parent’s union. It is that place made up of our form, sensitivities, concepts, syntheses and consciousness, born of time and space, with the appearance of permanence, but fleeting, all the same. What is this garment? It is the Causal Body. Inside it is the precious jewel. In Chinese Taoism, they speak of using the false to cultivate the real. Without the outer house, there would be no way to find the real. But this real is an inner secret.

The door to the Causal Body is opened when we recognize the impoverishment and emptiness of all that precedes it. Our physical form, and even our subtle bodies with all of its kundalini activity is constantly changing. There’s nothing permanent about it. The same is true with every aspect of our sensibilities. They provide a window to the world as we see it, but they are empty of any sort of permanence. All of our conceptions of reality are only constructs of what we have inherited or assumed. They are constantly changing as our views change. Even events like birth and death are only moments in time, the beginning when physical form takes shape, and then changes and dissipates. All such syntheses built into our lives are constantly in a state of change. And finally, our consciousness or awareness, our ability to discriminate is constantly changing and therefore empty of permanence.

We use what is false to discover what is real, and the real is the jewel hidden in the garment. And the real cannot be spoken about because it is beyond the comprehension of the intellect; beyond what can be described in words.  

The lover and the beloved

No more my heart shall sob or grieve.
My days and nights dissolve in God's own Light.
Above the toil of life my soul
Is a Bird of Fire winging the Infinite.
I have known the One and His secret Play,
And passed beyond the sea of Ignorance Dream.
In tune with Him, I sport and sing;
I own the golden Eye of the Supreme.
Drunk deep of Immortality,
I am the root and boughs of a teeming vast.
My Form I have known and realized.
The Supreme and I are one; all we outlast.

From "My Flute" by Sri Chinmoy