Oh Infinite Source
Infinite Light and Bliss
Vaster than vast
Brighter than bright
Sun of all the suns together
Having no measure,
formless and eternal
I bow to thee
Over and over and over again!
without a second
Oh Holy One!
Imperishable, formless, timeless and complete.
Know Eternally Reality
Known Here as the Great Integrity
I bow to thee,
Over and over and over again.
The purpose of this presentation is to alleviate the ill effects of institutionalized ignorance. The assumption is that the average adult was once born naturally curious and desirous of knowing all about the miracle of creation in their eternal attempt to integrate the creative spark (spirit) with creation as an intimate part of that creative process which we call the intelligent evolutionary power.or shakti. That power is observably active in all children at birth, but because of transgenerational ignorance, violence is done to the child in the form of suppressing/repressing their conscious awareness of spirit and its expression.
This lack of continuity (the rend from the Great Continuum) is the widespread malaise which manifests as confusion, desire, aversion, neuroses, pride, jealousy, anger, and all the other human afflictions. In short the young human child is stripped of their innate awareness of the glory and wonder of the creative/evolutionary process which permeates all of creation, and trained to ignore it in favor of a flat plane, dead, materialist, alienated belief system consisting of solid matter and fragmented objects. Then they are trained to hold tightly onto that illusion, in the hope of conquering, controlling, or at coping/adapting to a frightening and wild universe.
In to rectify the ill effects of this negative conditioning (institutionalized ignorance) we will present an energetic model that is not based on dead matter (materialistic reality) but rather a vibrational, alive, and musical model which is more closely attuned/aligned with the cosmic symphony. Such is the purpose and alignment of authentic yoga.
The chronic problem of ingrained ignorance is that the truth appears strange, once one has their inner wisdom deeply buried and repressed. It might even be recognized as a threat (a threat to one's preconception of self) and hence ersatz egoic identity. Truth always threatens deceit and delusion. Those who hold on tightly to self deceit and conceit are apt to conclude that this is merely poppycock or a mere intellectual contrivance. The tragedy is that they have become so deeply displaced from their most deep feelings that they can not resonate with their transconceptual vibratory awareness. In that sense it is said that they have no feelings, however the feelings are merely deeply buried and inaccessible at the moment. The real danger here is to present these teachings to some one so ill equipped in the present that they will reject them out of hand, so that in the future when they might be ready to receive them, they have already made up their mind in as a pre conclusion (prejudice against it). Hence traditionally these teachings have been held secret only for initiates in order to avoid that tragedy. However given the extreme danger of man's alienated mind in the light of his powerful destructive technologies, this teaching is being made available to all, albeit running the risk of it being totally misunderstood and further rejected.
This short presentation discussing the Divine Body of God will of course not substitute for direct experience. The intent here is to point the way for interested travelers who still have rememberance --have enough of their inner wisdom intact, and are ready to proceed on the integral journey.
The author is often confronted with the proposition of where to start from. Should we start from the place of clarity, wisdom, and reality or from the state of alienation, delusion, confusion, and duality?
In this case we will start from the superficial materialistic "world" of illusion and duality and work toward clarity, insight, and eventually non-dual integration/integrity. We will start off from the normal mundane temporal flat-plane realm of conflict and opposition where there appears to be a separate "real" individual solid objects in our field of vision, a separate solid observer, and a process of observing (in short the normal fragmented dualistic way of viewing "the world") being locked into a belief system which maintains a chronic disconnection, separation, or rather the disintegrated milieu of normal alienated egoic consciousness estranged from the one Great Living Community/Great Continuum. Having recognized the mechanism of our error of perception, and then having separated ourselves from that error of separation, we can then through that awareness prescribe the remedy, fulfill the prescription, and eventually heal the rend -- the gulf of illusion which separates.
We will see that this apparent physical reality or rather superficial dualistic framework forms the very fabric of our self constructed mental jail, which many of us have become accustomed to via long term conditioning. It is a matrix of "our world" of form and structure that is based on a habituated error of seeing; i.e., as it doesn't exist as such. Understanding self or deep self awareness involves understanding what is not self (or rather the universe). Self is defined in terms of other(s). Likewise understanding other involves a view or perspective. That perspective is always skewed by the observer and hence biased unless it takes into account the skew and cancels it out. Hence the assumption of a universal unbiased view or universal Reality and Truth is possible once one has compensated for the point/space bias of the observer. Likewise the true self can be known once the Universal Self is known. This knowledge of the unity between the universal Self, and the Universal View underlies the ontological hermeneutics of yoga expressed in sanskrit as Sat-Cit-Ananda as "Truth, Consciousness and Bliss" or "Pure subjective universal beingness - pure universal objectivity and Great Bliss"..
To that end we will present the more subtle energetic and spiritual models that have been used in Indian systems of yoga for thousands of years (Buddhist Hindu, Jain, and eclectic). At the heart of this model, more than the most subtle level, is the formless all encompassing unlimited space and point (bindu and akasa). Before an advanced study on what is meant by bindu and akasa can proceed, one needs to understand what is meant by creation -- matter (as Mater) or the Great Matrika Shakti. Entering into a direct relationship with the Matrika (Shakti) then true self (sarupa) is defined and all answers are known (Shakti bestowing upon us the evolutionary power in this emanation in human form. Within the human form there exist the conscious living keys -- the five elements, and seed consciousness. All that is necessary is for this to be recognized and be expressed. When it is repressed then according to yoga that repression must be recognized and effectively treated with remedies (authentic yogic practice). Tragically mankind has become habitually numbed out to this awareness -- chronically left unrecognized. Reality is ever accessible to those who seek it -- who are dedicated and focused upon that realization.
We will first present three major yogic traditions of classifying the various bodies (kayas or sarira) and sheaths (koshas) that bear upon the the so called physical, energetic, mental, wisdom, and formless eternal realms/dimensions. Here are disclosed to the spiritual sojourner the inter-relationships between these systems; i.e., the kosha system, the kaya system, and the sarira system.
Later in Buddhist tantra, the rupakaya was sub-divided into sambhogakaya and the nirmanakaya. Sambhogakaya literally means the enjoyment or bliss body of the Buddha or simply the enlightened form body where unhappiness has become conquered. This is the intermediate (remediation) realm between earth and sky,-- crown (formless sky) and root chakra where yogic transformation occurs. Even though the physical body is subject to decay, this is the realm where buddha activity can none-the less exist as energetic mediator between the Dharmakaya (unbounded sky) and the finite differentiated matrix of creation. In some tantric schools it is called the illusory body, the body of light, and is associated with the astral realms. Many teachings abound that cultivate this realization in both dream and sleep, as the navigation tool through the bardos and/or to realms of intermediate rebirth which insure total realization. In Ati Yoga such practice becomes the vehicle to bring forth the realization of natural clear light in this very life. Often such conscious transference into this realm is called phowa. When all the elements have become purified and the physical body disappears into the rainbowlight body, it is considered a sign of ultimate success in phowa. Here the realization of the rainbow light body is not an end in itself, but a symptom/result of a deeper accomplishment.
The nirmanakaya is the emanation body of a completely and fully awakened buddha-being. One who has become finished with their past personal karma, kleshas, and wish only for the happiness of all beings. This enlightenment while still in the body or the jivamukti. The nirmanakaya manifestation such as Shakyamuni Buddha is rare, although everyone has the potential.
In some esoteric schools if the yogi should purify and transmute the elements through intense yogic practices (tummo, tattva shuddhi, and related) then an imperishable body can be realized beyond the normal limitations of the elements. That is called the immutable body or vajrakaya.
Taken as an integrated whole these three or four bodies are called the svabhavika kaya.
Their inter-relationships are as follows:
1) The manifestation body which is understood as the gross physical body, the sthula sharira, annamaya kosha, or nirmanakaya vehicle of the Buddhas. (all being somewhat interchangeable names in an overall integrated system of linked multiple dimensions)
2) The energy body, the subtle body, the light body of form, sukshma sharira; the combination of the pranamaya kosha, manomaya kosha, vijnanamaya kosha, is equivalent to the Buddhist sambhogakaya vehicle of the Buddhas as the more subtle (less coarse) dimension of being.
3) The Universal Soul Body, Divine Body, God's Body, the anandamaya kosha, the causal body (karana sharira), vajra body, rainbow light body, the seed body, diamond heart, and the Dharmakaya vehicle of the Buddhas. Herein we will place the Divine Body, the Hiranyagarbha kosha, the Golden seed body, the tathagatagarbha the womb of all Buddhas. Likewise the karana sharira is called the seed of all seeds -- the cause of all, but that which has no cause of itself.
In human life all three bodies (kayas/shariras) exist simultaneously, but our recognition of them will vary greatly depending on the individual's state of awakening. Hence they may be very dim, very subtle, or even appear non-existent. As we awake our awareness deepens, and this "reality" opens. Following are various ways that yogis throughout the centuries have used to categorize and thus be able to harmonize these finer forces in realizing their evolutionary potential.
For a fully integrated in the Buddhist system the integration of all the bodies together as a unity whole is called the svabhavikakaya which is one in essence. So the four kayas, includes the first three, plus the: svabhavikakaya - the body of the essential nature which represents the truth of the inseparability of the first three kayas (of relative and absolute truth or form and void).
Again in Buddhism the dharmakaya or truth body is eternal and beginningless (unconstructed and has no prior cause (hence it is primordial and indestructible). However there is also a fifth kaya referred to in esoteric tantra of an indestructible vajra body which can take physical form. This is the unchanging indestructible vajrakaya. The vajrakaya is too esoteric to discuss further in this context.
First we will discuss these bodies and sheaths from the perspective of the five koshas.
First there will be a discussion of the five chief koshas (sheaths). Classically they are the
1) Annamaya kosha which is translated as the "food" sheath (kosha) and corresponds roughly to the physical body. It is characterized by the most dense and slow vibrational frequency patterns. It is the realm of the sthula sharira (coarse body). This is the realm of the manifest form body of the Buddha, the nirmanakaya. This body can not exist without contact with the other sheaths (koshas) or bodies, yet for the most part it remains barely activated in regards to its highest evolutionary potential. When a human being is fully awakened in this very life, it is said that they have a fully manifested Buddha body (nirmanakaya).
2) The second sheath is composed of the pranamaya kosha or energy sheath. It interconnects the annamaya kosha (physical body) with the other more subtle sheaths (the manomaya, vijnanamaya, and anandamaya koshas). It is associated with the suksmah sharira (subtle body).
3) Next there is manomaya kosha or mental and emotional sheath which also is included in the sukshma sharira (subtle body),
4) Next the vijnanamaya kosha or the prajna wisdom sheath of Gnosis (transconceptional and transpersonal knowledge) which also is included in the sukshma sharira (subtle body). Taken together, the annamaya, pranamaya, and vijnanamaya sheaths comprise the subtle body (sukshma sharira) which is the vehicle for Buddha's bliss body (sambhogakaya).
5) The anandamaya kosha (literally the bliss sheath) which is associated with the karana sharira or causal/seed body. In some systems there is a sixth sheath, the Hiranyagarbha kosha (which here will be discussed as existing as one aspect inside the anandamaya kosha). This karana sharira corresponds to the vajra body or diamond heart -- the immutable changeless and indestructible body of the primordial Buddha whose vehicle is the Dharmakaya.
The purpose of these systems of classification is to allow the yogi to consciously map out the causal dynamic interactions that occur between the physical body, health, breath, energy fields, mind, emotions, inner wisdom, nature, and Source, so that spiritual healing as purification, activation, transformation, reconfiguration, and integration on all planes of human existence can be expedited. Even from the most gross standpoint of the physical body all five sheaths are intertwined (present simultaneously) in space. To the degree that they interconnect harmoniously and without conflict or tension is the degree that they exist they produce health or disease in the body/mind.
A simple example follows. Our thoughts are transmitted to the body through the neuro-endocrine system. Scientists have found that these mental processes such as thoughts and emotions can not be separated from bodily mechanisms and function as all thought and emotions are involved in biochemical and neurological activities.
Here adhis (mental/emotional disturbances in the manomaya kosha or astral sheath) cause corresponding disturbances at the physical level (annamaya kosha). These disturbances are called vyadhi. This is transmitted through the intermediary of the pranamaya kosha (or energy body) causing disturbances in the prana. The good news is that we can consciously work with the body and/or pranamaya kosha to effect healing in the manomaya kosha and vice versa, we can consciously work in the manomaya kosha to effect positive healing changes in the pranamaya and annamaya koshas. It is believed that a lasting cure is only possible when the causal disturbance is completely remedied; i.e., the previously unhealthy tensions and conflicts between the bodies or sheaths have been harmonized and resolved.
Here the adhis which originate in the manomaya kosha are considered causal and primary which in turn cause physical ailments (vyadhi). These adhis can also occur in the vijnanamaya kosha and/or karmic sheath when our belief systems are out of synch with the inner wisdom karmic body and/or strong unresolved karmic forces are at play. Thus when the adhis are destroyed in the subtle or causal bodies, then the vyadhis are no longer generated or manifest. In addition there exist two kinds of adhis. One is ordinary or samaya (caused by the mind or emotions) and the other one is called, sara, which is intrinsic to a more causal spiritual malaise that can be successfully treated only through processes that affect the life style, belief system, self identification process, karma, or in general our energetic relationship that we cling to as "s(S)elf" in relationship to "Reality" i.e., through modalities which reach into the vijnanamaya and anandamaya koshas. In either case, physical disease is caused by disturbances/corruption and/or obstruction of the nadis (psychic nerves) and energy patterns which have become disrupted, distorted, and patterned into corruptive patterns causing degeneration, dissipation, dis-ease, pain, suffering, stasis, and death. Thus effective therapy is aimed at removing the source of the disturbances, opening up these blocked pathways, and rechanneling and repatterning the energy flow.
The five kosha model originated in an earlier time at the dawn of man's discovery of self awareness via the intellect (analytical knowledge of a seemingly objective world) as well as the conscious awareness of a seemingly individual will power as an ability to act consciously and hence seemingly independently. We will consider this as an indicator of mankind's adolescent stage in terms of conscious understanding and intelligent evolution -- a dawning of primitive awareness, yet lacking in full realization.
This is the phase of the human being breaking away from the womb (mother nature), questioning and formulating his own inquiry, opinions, world view, concepts, and beliefs, and then attempting an autonomous existence as in the process of conscious individuation. This marks man's age of adolescence where critical, rebellious, and independent thought dominate. Here life is analyzed and broken down into its constituent parts (samkhya). In that stage of evolution it would be correct to reduce the koshas into:
Annamaya kosha: The gross or coarse physical body (sthula sharira)
The pranamaya kosha: as consisting of the pranas as they manifest in the body (prana vayu, apana vayu, udana vayu, vyana vayu, and samana vayu) which animate all the activities of the gross physical body underlying the functions of the five karma indriyas ("organs of action") according to Ayurvedic frameworks.
Manomaya kosha: comprising man's ability to consciously discern and analyze the sense data - the five jnana indriyas (organs of knowledge, i.e. ears, nose, skin, eyes, and tongue) which, in association with the intellect (buddhi) and will comprise the individual mind (manas) or lower mind.
The vijnanamaya kosha is the realm of the higher transconceptual mind (the wisdom sphere) where information from the hologram is available and flows freely once the pathways to the manomaya kosha is opened. When these koshas are harmoniously interconnected a higher level of intelligent functioning (vijnana) occurs. The human being becomes directed by the more subtle and finer forces in nature (Mahat).
These last three (pranamaya, manomaya, and vijnanamaya koshas) collectively comprise the realm of the subtle/astral body (sukshma sharira). It is also the Buddhist Sambhogakaya (pain free state). This occurs when the evolutionary power has become awakened, the nadis are open, the pathways purified, and the chakras are activated and energized. In this realm instead of separating oneself from the entanglements in the fragmented existence of seemingly fragmented events, here a shift in consciousness occurs wherein the human being wakes up to the interconnected presence of spirit and conscious pervading all and everything (as Siva/Shakti).
The anandamaya kosha (literally bliss sheath) then was defined as independent from these four other bodies however capable of linking to them in manifest existence. It is independent of the patternings and distortions of the ego and individual will. Rather it is the transpersonal gate available here and now, the innermost sheath and pathway to the causal universal that contains the causal body (karana sharira). It is in this last phase of integration does the adept understand their own soul divinity (as empty of a separate self) and highest purpose in life as the expression of that infinite love. The seeker then abides within the heart of hearts at the core of existence, the heart of hearts, the anandamaya kosha having penetrated all the sheaths and integrated all the bodies as one under divine transpersonal will (isvara pranidhana) and love. Love is the law, will under love!
That is the classical system in which to to deal with these interactions consciously. For the spiritual practitioner who is beyond the adolescent stage this larger model is more impelling. The spiritual adept has transmuted and purified his body, energy system, mind, emotions, will, and intellect. He/she has integrated it with divine will and universal intelligence hence the old model that is applied to the adolescent man no longer applies to the adult (the mature yogic practitioner).
As all five sheaths intertwine and are simultaneously present their energetic matrix and relationship itself (the energetics of their energetics) can be mapped out in the yogic practitioner with a non-classical model. In order to map out these common interactions utilizing we will draw a diagram of circles within circles ending at the inner most center which is the primal seed (bindu). In this evolutionary diagram the center most core (hridayam) found within the anandamaya kosha is the natural unconditioned all encompassing Mind which manifests as the union of form and emptiness (shakti/shiva). When it is obscured and defiled by old karma the center is black and the mind is disturbed. When the karma is cleared out, the individual mind and will has merged with Universal Source (Shakti's mate) and is naturally clear and undisturbed.
Assuming that the prana (energy) is reflected in the breath and that in turn the prana can be changed by the breath, we can draw the gross body as the outer most superficial layer. Going inward, the next layer is the breath. Then going even further inward the next layer is the harmonized/mature mind and emotional body, the next layer inward would be the wisdom body (the transmuted/mature vijnanamaya kosha), and the last innermost layer is the body purified from karma (the unconditioned eternal beginningless creative Source manifesting as Creativity (Shiva/Shakti).
1) So starting again at the most dense and coarse, the outer most circle can be represented by the annamaya kosha. Here we will call it simply the earthly body (sthula sharira). It's vibrations is most gross and slow. Again even here all other sheaths and bodies inter operate and are present to an extent. Their quality of interaction is reflected in the breath.
2) The next layer in, is the subtle body (sukshma sharira) or energy body which is comprised and shaped by the combined interactive dynamics of the pranamaya, manomaya, and vijnanamaya koshas. Again here all other sheaths and bodies inter operate and are present to an extent. The quality of interaction between the mind, emotions, physical body, and energy body are also reflected in the breath.
3) Next again is the causal body (karana sharira) in the center of the circles, which is normally obfuscated by karma which when not purified in turn imprisons the organism to duality and suffering. When the karma is dispelled and loosened, then this center represents unconditional reality -- the natural unconditioned primal unspoiled pure citta or Siva consciousness (reflected in the world of form to the senses as shakti). This relationship is also reflected in the breath or its absence.
The value in this map is to lay out a conscious pathway for techniques that link harmoniously all three bodies. Here our platform will start at the energetic matrix of the all pervading causal matrix -- the Mother of Creativity existing as an aspect of the causal body. This focus will thus focus on the pure undiluted instructor/teaching from the beginningless beginning. Next we will investigate how Pure Creativity interacts with the subtle body, and lastly to the gross body.
All three bodies are reflected by the breath and are accessed by it. So according to this map, it is the breath that intermediates between the subtle and the causal body as well as between the physical body and the subtle body. In the latter the breath reflects the qualitative interaction of the five prana vayus and the six sense organs (manas being the sixth). This connection is made through the cleansing of the network of subtle channels (nadis) and then the activation of the dormant evolutionary circuits (chakras).
In turn a yogi investigates thoroughly energetic components (prana) of the emotions/thoughts which were classically the province of the pranamaya and manomaya koshas. Through such inner explorations the yogi then discovers how the mental and emotional sheaths transmit energy to the physical body via the pranamaya kosha which in turn alters the breath, as well as to alter the breath to effect change in the mental/emotional states. The yogi discovers how concepts, belief systems, intellectual processes, and acts of individual will power that exist outside of his natural alliance with siva/shakti will distort the breath. In fact each thought and our attitude in general) as our stance in life that is ordered by any limited identification affect the breath and our energy levels. So through this map we can re-establish a natural connection with the innate Self -- an innate intelligent and creative order and as such aligning to this regulator, we come into an authentic, evolved and fully functional type of self regulation
So here in this complete model we have identified the breath and consciousness as causal agents/methods in effecting and monitoring both the physical and the mental/emotional processes. As such this observation allows the yogi to alter such activities for health and spiritual function.
As the breath and prana affects consciousness, the mind and emotions, it also affects our beliefs and karma, just as our judgments, beliefs, and karma effect the mind, emotions, prana, breath, and physical body. Here the yogi one distinguishes between karmic breathing and the wisdom breath (jnana prana). here the nadis are purified and opened, then the subtle energetics that flow in the ida and pingala nadis are harmonized and synchronized activating the evolutionary potential (kundalini). Then the circuitries are further integrated and aligned with the primal source residing in the karana sharira Such a conscious relationship between mind, body, breath, emotions, creation (as manifest in all living systems in nature), and beginningless Source (Divine creativity) becomes a continuous conscious dynamic integrated in All our Relations.
So as a spiritual practice, wise yogis use these interactions to destroy karma and thus gain liberation. The above is a short outline of these processes. What we will describe further is the process of refining the breath and prana, activating the subtle and causal bodies, and operating consciously from there with full awareness, thus ridding ourselves from dualistic illusion.
Although we all started with beginningless Source, we will start our brief discussion here with the gross or coarse body called the sthula sharira. As shown above this corresponds to the annamaya kosha of Ayurveda and the Nirmanakaya (or form body of the Buddha).
The salient feature of these bodies is that the outer bodies are intimately connected with the core/heart body (causal body) at all times to a lesser or greater extent. The inner and outer, up and down, crown and root, left and right, ha and tha, female and male are connected, harmonized, and married. The point of yoga is to open up the pathways of these connections (whose channels have become obstructed) and to activate and harmonize these networks and circuitry as a high functioning seamless whole. Then the human body becomes the manifestation body (nirmanakaya) reflecting the undiluted teachings of the primordial Buddha (dharmakaya) in body, speech, and mind.
So it is here again that all the koshas and the three bodies either act in harmony and are activated and integrated (in yoga) or they are disconnected (in a relative sense). When these connections are obstructed or unempowered then stress, conflict, confusion, lack of internal self regulation, lack of inspiration, disease (mental or physical vyadhis) and other maladies are more often present. When the sthula sharira becomes entirely disconnected from the causal body, then physical death occurs (the nirmanakaya form body of that particular incarnation of the Buddha disintegrates. This alters the subtle body which either itself may also disintegrate or else if it has become spiritually matured and attuned to the causal body's influence, it will continue on it's own in an altered state (bardo) without the sthula sharira.
Here it is yoga which makes the connections opening up and inspiring the lower two bodies to light and spirit. Yoga binds us all together with the common unconditioned heart/core center which is eternal -- the central axis of the universe found deep in the anandamaya kosha.
Since this is an intertwined system, all other bodies have pathways to the other. The energetics of the physical body are influenced by the more subtle energetics of the energy body (sukshma sharira) as well as the quality of the pathways with the causal body (karana sharira). Vice versa, the physical body (sthula sharira) is influenced by its relationship with the subtle and causal body.
In other words there exists a two way street between all three bodies (or all five koshas) and thus such activities as hatha yoga asana practice, breath work, certain herbs, drugs, and other activities on what is considered the the physical level can influence the subtle body and one's connections to the infinite unconditioned (causal body). Indeed there are many physical practices (remember nothing is entirely physical but all the bodies simultaneously coexist in space) which make these pathways whole and aligned. There are types of physical movements and breathing techniques that clear out the nadis, activate the circuitry, and remove karma creating yoga, the gross breath being a gross representation of the interaction between the energy body and the physical/coarse body.
So in asana, pranayama, bandha, mudra, visualization, concentration, and pratyhara practices do we work the gross to activate and realize the subtle body and causal bodies, or do we call on the causal and subtle bodies to activate the physical -- manifest the Buddha nature in Buddha activity. The answer is both, and at the same time.
When young and just beginning we use the hatha yoga practices (trul khor in Tibetan) to become aware of the subtle energetics, to the clean the nadis (energy channels), enliven and activate the dormant evolutionary circuits, and align more harmoniously in a vital way the yantras of the three bodies (which when united form one) utilizing movement, breath, concentration (dharana), and awareness. This two way street activates and purifies the subtle body which acts increasingly consciously as the wise director and organizer of the body and on the otter hand it also purifies, activates, and aligns the gross physical body so that more spirit, light, inspiration, and creative force manifests from it (the form body of the Buddha as the nirmanakaya is empowered as skillful activity of body, speech, and mind. In short the energy is neither drawn exclusively "up" to the subtle body, nor is it exclusively drawn down into the physical as spirit's manifestation, but rather the energy is mutually synchronistic -- flowing in both directions and no direction continuously.
Instead of looking at this yogic process as artificially constructing a jeweled ship or anything else that is contrived piece by piece, rather the correct view for the yogi is to accept these energetics as allowing the innate intelligent circuitry to simultaneously arise in its primordial natural state because the krama and obstructions (the pre-existing artificial programming is becoming removed).
The infant and youth being new from the dharmakaya (great undifferentiated space) are naturally curious, interested, and preoccupied in exploring the territory of embodiment -- bringing spirit down into manifestation, but instead of seeing this experience as part of the Great Continuum in the overall context of the marriage of emptiness and form (Shiva/Shakti) they too often fall into forgetfulness through negative conditioning, forgetting whence they came and hence the nature of "Reality". An artificial wall becomes constructed between the realms of form and space and the energetic flow of Spirit becomes slowly strangulated ending in physical death and disintegration, normally.
They are prevented from being acclimated fully to Buddha's manifest body (nirmanakaya) and fail to wake up and express the non-dual transpersonal love which is inherent in the evolutionary power. Once they have become accustomed to being choked off from this energy flow (numbed out as it were), then they will continue to deny its reality and armor around belief systems that reinforce separate dualistic mindset of the egoic mind. In that way they have become mesmerized by the world of "I" and "it" having bought into the lie of a materialistic world of dead phenomena or things devoid of living spirit.
Here the sheaths are pierced through if one is lucky or is so inclined and focused bringing forth fruition, manifestation, and actualization.
In the stage of midlife, one is attempting to manifest and express their creative/evolutionary power in their activities. That is the summer of their life here the power manifests and flows forth generously in wi8se action. In the autumn of life such activities become more refined and subtilized if one is wise.
In the winter of life those who are preparing for the death of the physical body (usually in old age) are more willing to give up such an obsession/fixation. They are then more ripe to contemplate the overall process of birth and death as parts of a larger picture -- a greater beginningless and endless Continuum. They are more apt to renounce the world that younger people depend upon, and thus become concerned in practices that bring the energy back up into the subtle and causal body integrating all the spheres and bodies on the most subtle layers. A balanced and integrative practice can thus be most effective through the gift of old age. Here one views this practice as a both/and situation, mutually non-exclusive, as simple as the inhalation and exhalation -- inspiration and expiration..
Instead of working from the sthula body in order to purify and reestablish the subtle or causal interconnections, one can work the physical directly from the subtle body once we have learned the territory. In this way changing the circuitry in the subtle energy body, will effect corresponding changes in the physical body. As stated because the beginner's awareness is coarse and unrefined at first, his awareness of the subtle body energetics is dull and obstructed. So beginners usually must start with the sthula body, purifying and activating its latent powers, opening up the nadis, and sharpening the mind. Then through the awareness of the subtle body, work from the subtle body into the physical (sthula) as well as the karana (causal) bodies become more effective.
Here one starts to mature/evolve not only the physical body in a natural way removing learned and accumulated impurities from the physical, but also the subtle body is purified, activated, and attuned it being capable of acting upon itself. The subtle body (just like the gross body) becomes brighter as the gross body weighs it down less. More light is available and shines forth. The mind and emotions become less entangled in confusion and illusion, and the subtle body's connections with the causal body (anandamaya kosha) are strengthened. New spiritual strength becomes available within one's physical and psychic space.
Now the transformed subtle body, becomes the bright body as one moves consciously from this more causal space. This is Buddha's bliss body of the sambhogakaya. Here one works with the nadis, prana, kundalini, chakra system, time, and space energetically. Guidance from the matured vijnanamaya kosha no longer is governed by ego, intellect, and will power but having been cleared out from dualistic distractions and dissipations, it then can access the wisdom storehouse as the alayavijnana ( the akashic records ort storehouse consciousness) which in their maturity exist beyond the normal limitations of time and space, yet still have form. Such dimensions become easily accessible naturally and effortlessly as the will and intellect no longer dominate the the lower two bodies -- as the subtle energy body becomes purified, energized, and stabilized in the transformed vijnanamaya kosha.
As more refinement is made (as karmic impediments are removed), the siddhis (like astral travel, levitation, supramundane knowledge, etc.) occur by themselves when called for. Thus the subtle body before maturity may look gray, occluded, dense, coarse, full of emotional and mental turmoil, heavy laden, unhappy, rife with kleshas, and disease, but as yoga's fruits are realized, it is purified, refined, activated, inspired, empowered, and integrated into the subtler light body, the bright body, an astral body, and/or angelic body motivated no longer by the kleshas but rather imbued by love and light - an emissary of the Mother of All creativity.
So again, the salient understanding is that all three bodies co-exist as one in space and time. As the energy body (sukshma sharira) becomes cleaned out, matures, empowered, and evolves then the practitioner may go to the reality of the subtle body to move the physical, to energize the voice, and to activate and creatively inspire one's thought processes.
For example our bodily actions, speech, and thoughts are now quickened as a reflection from the activated sukshma sharira. It's presence now shines through the physical space that we occupy. Likewise when we do healing we act from the energy body first. The physical body starts to retrain/organize itself around this activated energy body of light. Here the energy body and the coarse physical body act harmoniously and as one.
Likewise as we meditate or do other spiritual practice we start from the subtle body. This allows us to clear out the most subtle pathways that lead in and out of the causal body (anandamaya kosha, karana sharira, or dharmakaya (the primordial formless body of all the Buddhas). Here the body of light becomes fully charged, inspired, and spiritualized reinforcing its connections with the immutable body, causal body, diamond heart, or vajra body. The dharmakaya represents that which can not be represented nor defined, the formless realm outside of time and space -- the eternal primordial abode of all the Buddhas -- That place which has always been with us intimately from the beginningless beginning, that core/heart deepest place which we have never left except in delusion. Here the end of ignorance (avidya) is realized and hence the end of suffering and bondage. Thus the anandamaya kosha is full bliss and beauty when the gateway of the sahasrara chakra has been opened.
So what characteristics does this formless disembodied have? Are we limited then in addressing how the Buddha's bodies manifest in the gross and subtle bodies only? Certainly we can describe the pathways to the causal body easily and we can also describe how it "manifests" when the pathways have been cleared out (granted the pure causal body requires a subtle and/or coarse body to manifest).
So as the connections between the subtle body and the causal body are cleaned out and opened , there eventually occurs sympathetic harmony and attunement between all the bodies and sheaths which then occurs naturally and spontaneously as Grace without effort, will, or decision. This happens when the old habits (vasana), samskaras (old psychic imprints and traumas), kleshas, and karma become eliminated thus illuminating the self luminous disclosing the true Nature of Being and Consciousness in Satchitananda.
Deep within the anandamaya kosha after all the karma has been cleaned up, there is only a seed potential. Here there is no sthula, sukshma, nor even karana shariras, the latter only in seed form. As such this is Siva in his absolute formless state, attributeless, nirguna, timeless but replete.
Here the unbounded essence of the mystery is unclothed, known without words in its utterless nakedness. Here the mystery of absolute emptiness (sunyata) devoid of any constituent thing and absolutely complete is represented as the infinite buddha potential that permeates all of time and space (the Tathagatagarbha). Here in the birthless state rebirth takes place or not. If it does it is not a birth driven by karma or conditions, but a divine birth ,motivated by pure unconditional love.
This is the essential of all the essentials -- the heart of hearts (hridayam) -- the causal essence which itself has no cause -- the seed and womb -- containing the seed of all seeds, the impetus and chalice both, known HERE all ways, by the virtue of no words and no concepts -- by acceptance and non-acceptance -- by not doing and not not doing -- by being and not being -- through blessed peace -- through her Grace. I bow over and over and over again.
So what happens at the time of physical death when the sthula sharira disconnect from the other two bodies? This depends upon the maturing and evolutionary state of the subtle body. If the subtle body has not evolved, then the subtle body having not established or completed the pathways to Infinite Spirit still is subject to karma. It must work out its mental, emotional, and belief system conflicts (karma, vasana, klesha, and samskaras). These resolve themselves by themselves according to the uniqueness of one's karma and desire body. Here the sambhogakaya becomes a desire body and reincarnates driven by the winds of one's past karmic formations.
Secondly, at this time of physical death, there is a greater window of opportunity to realize one's timeless nature, the grace of the dharmakaya as one is no longer attached to worldly dissipations. Here having matured the subtle body to a certain extent either through good krama or yoga, one may be able to recognize the clear light of one's essential nature and forging through toward realizing one's true nature. This can result in the activation of the matured subtle body (the bliss body aspect of the sambhogakaya) where one can chose one's destiny either to reincarnate consciously (in order to work out more karma) or work out the remaining karma in the bliss body state, then achieve total reintegration reabsorption into the dharmakaya (anandamaya kosha).
If one still has earthly karma to work out, then one can rest in the soul of the earth, the mother of creativity as she manifest on this planet, and gain nurture and inspiration from there. Here one can rest, become at one, and merge with the matrix of this entire world -- the entire manifest universe or other Nirmanakaya system, reincarnating/manifesting there as a conscious soul with universal consciousness. yet if ones yoga and forged pathways has not been strong, then a certain amount of forgetfulness is risked. What appears to be the common situation is that from the perspective of the matured subtle body there is a tendency to overlook the pollution problems of reincarnating in realms where ignorance, karma, klesha, and coarseness reign. Yet without a physical manifestation body (nirmanakaya) it is difficult to reach/interact with beings who are so engrossed.here the impurity of attachment must be wisely considered (when contemplating whether or not to reincarnate.
Thirdly, those who have worked with the physical and subtle bodies in yoga in their past life and/or through extremely fortunate karma in past lives, or otherwise through Grace, then gather up their consciousness and energy consciously into the subtle body and from there having forged the connections to the karana sharira consciously bathe in pure bliss of undiluted love. Here one understands that the yogic practice of pratyhara is not as much of an energetic gathering up and withdrawal from the dissipations and attachment to the objectified/externalized world of gross materialism (attachment to impermanence always creates a disintegration and corruption in the end), but further more it is simply a redirection of energy through focusing attention. Here the astral body (sukshma sharira) actually simply empowers itself, not as a separate entity, not as a body, but as an open pathway to the divine -- knowing oneself as an integral instrument and limb of the Great Integrity having re-found its place in the great magnitude and magnificence that orders all things as it is in its natural, spontaneous, and perfect intelligent expression.
To sum up, in the winter of life one is gifted by recognizing the circumstance of the body, and are more willing to give up obsession/fixations with materiality. On the other hand an unprepared non-yogin may needlessly become frightened at the possibility of loosing all they are familiar with. That is because they have entered into the sleep of forgetfulness -- they have forgotten the continuity which they have left behind in infancy.
At the time of physical death people naturally ripe to contemplate the overall process of birth and death as elements of the larger picture -- a greater beginningless and endless Continuum. They can then enter into practices that bring the energy back into the subtle and astral body (sukshma Sharira) and hence commune deeply while still in the body with the causal body being able to integrate all the spheres and bodies on the most subtle layers .Through the gift of old age these subtle interfaces or vectors are known while one's practice becomes increasingly subtilized. It is as simple as the inhalation and exhalation -- inspiration and expiration-- the miracle of the breath -- the cosmic symphony and great swara..
This all encompassing/pervasive undistracted and unfiltered rainbow light that shines forth through the subtle body signals total re-integration with infinite beginningless eternal Source -- the dharmakaya. Here the subtle body becomes the rainbowlight body, diamond heart, or the vajra (indestructible body) signaling the total realignment and and ultimate manifestation of the unmanifest. Although this manifests through the subtle body, it is the result of an integration with the timeless causal/source body. In total reintegration there is no association/alignment with the human form per se.
When one has lost all specific limited ersatz identifications and bias-- as all karma has become cleansed -- as all attachments cease, then the Universal Soul of the Creative/Evolutionary power springs forth like a raincloud of universal dharma -- the essence seed of creativity itself -- the mother/father of all creativity manifests in an instant that lasts forever-- endlessly in the entire multiverse all at once. One becomes at once, the Universal Soul of the entire Universe, its seed, and its all pervading matrix non-exclusively. All barriers are lifted for such a jubilant yogi.
List of Articles at Rainbowbody
Chakra Purification Meditation
Chakra and Energy Body Healing
Swara Yoga: Utilizing the Energy Valves at the Nares (swaras) as a Liberation technique
Patanjali's Yoga Sutras; Pada III (Vibhuti Pada), Sutras III.41-46. Also see III.31 commentary on the Kurma Nadi
"Nature's Finer Forces and the Science of Breath (Pranayama Yoga)" was originally published in Sanskrit as "Science of the Breath and the Philosophy of the Tatwas"), by Rama Prasad, is available here in PDF format,
Swara Yoga (according to the Bihar School of Yoga). Much excellent data about Swara Yoga at http://www.swarayoga.org
Bhuta Shuddhi (presented by Swami Rama)
Presentation of Bhuta Shuddhi by Swami Satyasangananada Saraswati
The Stages of Life: Birth, Youth, Old Age, Sickness and Death
The Long Body: Portal to Earth Based Spirituality (includes "TWO TREES" by W. B. Yeats)
Tree Legends Myths, the Central Column, Chakras, and Wisdom Tails
The Tree of Life/Cabala: as related to the yoga chakra system
An Energy Body Approach to Hatha Yoga Asana Practice