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A Treatise on Cosmic Fire - Section One - Division C - The Etheric Body and Prana

I. The Nature of the Etheric Body

In our consideration of the internal fires of the system we shall find much of very real interest to the coming [78] generation of thinkers for three main reasons, which might be enumerated as follows:

1. Its Purpose and Description

First. In the study of the etheric body lies hid (for scientists and those of the medical profession) a fuller comprehension of the laws of matter and the laws of health. The word health has become too localized in the past, and its meaning confined to the sanity of the body corporeal, to the cooperative action of the atoms of the physical body of man, and to the full expression of the powers of the physical elemental. In days to come it will be realized that the health of man is dependent upon the health of all allied evolutions, and upon the cooperative action and full expression of the matter of the planet and of the planetary elemental who is himself a composite manifestation of the physical elementals of all manifested nature.

Second. In the study of the etheric body and prana lies the revelation of the effects of those rays of the sun which (for lack of better expression), we will call "solar pranic emanations." These solar pranic emanations are the produced effect of the central heat of the sun approaching other bodies within the solar system by one of the three main channels of contact, and producing on the bodies then contacted certain effects differing somewhat from those produced by the other emanations. These effects might be considered as definitely stimulating and constructive, and (through their essential quality) as producing conditions that further the growth of cellular matter, and concern its adjustment to environing conditions; they concern likewise the internal health (demonstrating as the heat of the atom and its consequent activity) and the uniform evolution of the form of which that particular atom of matter forms a constituent part. Emanative prana does little in connection with [79] form building; that is not its province, but it conserves the form through the preservation of the health of its component parts. Other rays of the sun act differently, upon the forms and upon their substance. Some perform the work of the Destroyer of forms, and others carry on the work of cohering and of attracting; the work of the Destroyer and of the Preserver is carried on under the Law of Attraction and Repulsion. Some rays definitely produce accelerated motion, others produce retardation. The ones we are dealing with here - pranic solar emanations - work within the four ethers, that matter which (though physical) is not as yet objectively visible to the eye of man. They are the basis of all physical plane life considered solely in connection with the life of the physical plane atoms of matter, their inherent heat and their rotary motion. These emanations are the basis of that "fire by friction" which demonstrates in the activity of matter.

Finally, in the study of the etheric body and prana comes comprehension of the method of logoic manifestation, and therefore much of interest to the metaphysician, and all abstract thinkers. The etheric body of man holds hid the secret of his objectivity. It has its correspondence on the archetypal plane, - the plane we call that of the divine manifestation, the first plane of our solar system, the plane Adi. The matter of that highest plane is called often the "sea of fire" and it is the root of the akasha, the term applied to the substance of the second plane of manifestation. Let us trace the analogy a little more in detail, for in its just apprehension will be found much of illumination and much that will serve to elucidate problems both macrocosmic and microcosmic. We will begin with man and his etheric body.

The etheric body has been described as a network, permeated with fire, or as a web, animated with golden light. It is spoken of in the Bible as the "golden bowl." [80] It is a composition of that matter of the physical plane which we call etheric, and its shape is brought about by the fine interlacing strands of this matter being built by the action of the lesser Builders into the form or mould upon which later the dense physical body can be molded. Under the Law of Attraction, the denser matter of the physical plane is made to cohere to this vitalized form, and is gradually built up around it, and within it, until the interpenetrating is so complete that the two forms make but one unit; the pranic emanations of the etheric body itself play upon the dense physical body in the same manner as the pranic emanations of the sun play upon the etheric body. It is all one vast system of transmission and of interdependence within the system. All receive in order to give, and to pass on to that which is lesser or not so evolved. Upon every plane this process can be seen.

Thus the etheric body forms the archetypal plane in relation to the dense physical body. The thinker on his own plane stands, in relation to the physical, as the Logos to His system. In the synthesis of thought it might be expressed thus: The thinker on the astral plane, the plane of desire and of necessity, stands to the physical body as the Logos on the cosmic astral plane stands to His system.

As we continue the study we will work out the correspondence in the cosmos, the system, and in the three worlds, for we need to remember that the analogy must be perfect.

  1. Man, the Microcosm, the manifesting Monad, or One.
  2. The Heavenly Man, the planetary Logos, or the manifesting group.
  3. The Grand Man of the Heavens, the Macrocosm, the solar Logos, the manifestation of all groups and of all evolutions within His Body, the solar system. [81]

All these bodies - the body of a man, a planetary Logos, and a solar Logos - are the product of desire originating on the planes of abstract mind, whether cosmic, systemic, or mind in the three worlds, whether cosmic desire-mind or human desire-mind, and all their bodies are "Sons of Necessity," as H.P.B. so aptly expressed it. 35, 36

34 "Prana, or the vital principle, is the special relation of the Atma with a certain form of matter which by the relation of Atma, organizes and builds up as a means of having experience. This special relation constitutes the individual Prana in the individual body. The cosmic all-pervading Prana is not Prana in the gross sense, but is a name for the Brahman as the author of the individual Prana... All beings, whether Devas, men or animals, exist only so long as the Prana is within the body. It is the life duration of all... Prana, or vitality, is the common function of the mind and all the senses."
- Serpent Power, pp. 94, 95.

35 S. D., I, 74.

36 "This whole solar system being conceived of as one vast mechanism, with an exquisite adjustment of its parts in all major details, is only the physical expression of Vishnu, or the ethereal basic substance, as we may understand the word for the present. All the harmonies observable in the manifested cosmos are only the result of the harmoniously working energies that resolve ether into the expression that we recognize. All planets, worlds, human beings, etc., are only parts of the body, each functioning in subordination to the law which governs the whole. The evolution, preservation and destruction of the world is therefore one vast process called Yagna, which takes place in the body of Yagna Purusha, or the psychical body of nature. Humanity taken collectively is the heart and brain of this Purusha and therefore all the Karma generated by humanity, physical, mental, or spiritual, determines mainly the character of this Yagnic process... Shri Krishna therefore calls the process the Yagnic life that he has been giving out to Arjuna as Yoga (1st Sloka 4th Chr). In fact, Yoga and Yagna are very closely allied and even inseparable, though at the present day people seem to disconnect the two. Yoga derived from the root Yuj to join means an act of joining. Now as the heart is the great center in man, likewise the Yogi of the heart keeps his central position in the universe and hence his individuality. The individuality or the Higher Manas being the pivot of the human constitution or the center on which two hemispheres of higher and lower existence turn as I have already said, the Yogi of the heart has a heavenly dome above and earthly abyss below and his yoga becomes twofold as a consequence. He joins himself on to the thing above in dhyana and the thing below in action. The word Yagna derived from the root Yaj - to serve also means a twofold service, service done to the thing above through service done unto its expression the thing below."
- Some Thoughts on the Gita, pp. 18, 134.

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