Understanding your vehicle: the 3 bodies and 5 layers.
This is a concept in yoga that you need to master because without that you cannot understand the teachings. The teaching is that you are not just the physical body, but also the subtle bodies. You have 3 bodies or vehicles. Subtle is comprised of 3 layers. You have to distinguish.
The main thing you need to understand is the 3 bodies. What that means? You function at 3 different levels.
- One is the physical body (level), the gross body. The physical body is needed to function in the physical world in the awakened state. When you are awake, you are centered in the physical body.
- Second is the astral body, the subtle body that is very connected to the physical body. You use it in the Dream state when you are sleeping and you are dreaming.
- Then third the Causal body is our core functioning. It is also called the seed body. From the seed comes the tree and the leaves. If you dig under tree, you will not find the seed because the seed has become the tree. The causal body is the reason, the core reason of our existence. That means within you there is a core reason why this body and this mind come about. In the same manner, from a banana seed comes a banana tree. And from the banana tree comes the fruit. Can a coconut tree come from a banana seed? No. This means that we have specific reason for our existence and why we are born in a body which is different from one another, and also our mind. That is the reason why we are born is different from one another.
To understand prana you have to understand these different instruments, because you will see that sometimes you don’t know very well and you put too much energy into one and not enough into the other and that is a problem. Yoga helps you to balance and harmonize the energy that goes through all the different instruments or bodies.
Now divide the subtle portion, the astral body, into 3 more layers. These layers are connected. Here we examine the energies of our mind.
- One layer is called the vital air or energy, the pranic sheath. The technical name is the Pranayama Kosha. Here are the feelings of thirst, hunger, heat, and cold. When you are hungry your whole system changes, or when you are thirsty. At that moment of feeling hungry or thirsty you are functioning out of the vital energy body.
- Next comes the mental, emotional energies layer. For some, the emotional energy is very active and can take over everything. The mental body (the emotions) is linked with the senses. The emotional energy can be very active and also very conflicted, overpowering and can also be blocked which creates problem with the vital energy sheath. The emotional energy affects the vital energy sheath. For example if you have fear in your emotional sheath you become cold. If you have anger you become hot.
- The last layer of our astral body is called the intellectual energy layer which is linked to the ego. The ego is also energy. Everything is energy. It takes a lot of energy to be egoistic. Once the energy of ego is there it blocks everything else. It veils the picture.
We are an energy being, very complex. The Physical body is very gross. There is subtle energies playing in our life all the time. We need to know how to balance (harmonize) the energy in all layers of our existence. We need to learn to increase its wavelength. We need to learn to make it work for you. What does this mean? It means make it more worth it. More energy, more power and this will make you free. Yoga is the practice that will set you free. How are you going to do it?
Understanding the subtle
Number 1, you have to understand that you are not this gross body. Get out of the idea that you are this gross body living in this gross world. Here in the ashram we never mention the body. The understanding and training in the world is based on the physical. What you see is the picture of reality. It is what you are. But here is an esoteric school. It is a yogi school. Yoga is a science 1000 years old. The teachings here come from the sages who have much more understanding of what is life. They say the physical is only the gross end of it. The more you can go to the subtle and manipulate things from the subtle level, the more you can understand and be aware and the more powerful it is, because subtle is more powerful than gross. Example, shouting is gross, thinking is subtle. If you tell somebody that you love them they hear you but if you think that you love them it is more powerful.
The core, subtlest of all, above it all is the Self. This is the pure consciousness of who you are. This is the Source of all prana of the universe and it is there for its own purpose. That is a good thing to know. That means the energy is everywhere, but sometimes we feel disconnected and cut off, because we are not driving our vehicles properly or tuning ourselves to the energy of the Universe properly. That is why, we feel unfulfilled and imbalanced. We need to balance the physical and the spiritual. We are not balanced, that is why we are feeling disconnected.