The Subtle Body

  • The Subtle Body

    Posted by Jacques Mahnich on 29 December 2021 at 5:06 pm

    The charter of this group has defined the objective as : « This group will explore how esoteric truths are progressively being discovered with direct inferences deduced from and corroborated by the evidence furnished by modern exact science. »

    So, let’s start from some basics to paint the framework inside which we can share together some thoughts and researches :

    1) Reality is One, and it is viewed/sensed/lived/imagined/interpreted differently by as many existing living consciousnesses. It has various names according to the various Traditions of the world – ParaBrahman, the Absolute, That, God, . . . Science called it Nature.

    2) From this Oneness, everything evolve during the manifestation cycle. For example, according to the Samkhya Tradition (one of the 6 schools of philosophy – darshana – of the ancient India), Reality manifests Itself thru two aspects, the Spirit (Purusha) and Matter (Prakriti). And from Prakriti, impregnated by the Purusha aspect, every aspect/layer/envelope is evolved in a succession of creative acts, including the mental/intellectual plan, the emotion plan, the subtle matter plans, and finally the physical plan which is the main subject of experience for modern Science.

    3) Modern science has reached a point where it concluded that “matter”, i.e. physical matter, is but energy in motion. One of the main property of physical matter (at least 99% of it) is its mass. When we try to identify where this mass reside, we (Science) concluded that mass is but energy in motion.

    So, we have here a sound parallel between Science and Traditions.

    Now, to go further, we may want to identify the relationship, the bridge, the transfer function which must exist between physical and “subtle” matter (which is not yet recognized by Science).

    Subtle matter is described in the Traditions as the etheric body, which, according (for example) to the Buddhist Kalachakra Tantra, is a kind of matrix from which the physical body is build-up during the human intra-uterin 9-months period. Therefore, it must be “close enough” to the physical matter to be able to “communicate” its model to the physical layer.

    We know (scientifically speaking) that physical matter is always in vibration, from 0 to the max we can measure today (Cosmic Gamma-Rays).

    The question is : could the subtle matter be a mode of vibration of energy above what we can measure today, and can we design any experiment which would verify this hypothesis ?

    Rex Barker replied 6 months ago 4 Members · 11 Replies
  • 11 Replies
  • Avatar of Bo Dahlin

    Bo Dahlin

    30 December 2021 at 6:13 pm

    Hello Jacques, interesting questions and observations. The esoteric notion of a subtle or etheric body could be the first step in widening the scientific world view. I think Kant somewhere says that the lack of a substance that mediates between soul and physical body is a great problem for science. But the etheric body is just that kind of substance. My understanding of its nature comes from Steiner’s anthroposophy. He describes the etheric as a kind of anti-space of “geometrical” or formative forces. However, the notion of “vibrations” seems to me to be a materialistic metaphor that is not really applicable to the etheric. But I may be wrong. Another researcher which seems relevant here is Rupert Sheldrake and his notion of morphogenetic fields, which I imagine as fields of etheric energy or forces. His research has showed the existence of such fields quite plausible.

    • Avatar of Jacques Mahnich

      Jacques Mahnich

      10 January 2022 at 1:34 pm

      Hello Bo, and thank you for your reply and comments.

      Regarding Dr Sheldrake’s Morphogenic Field Theory, it seems to apply more to the mental plan. A form of mental “matter” which can be impressed by our thoughts and which can be “accessed” by anyone tuned to it’s “frequencies”. That would explain the simultaneity of scientific discoveries all over the world, and the telepathy phenomenon which is now scientifically proven (Dean Radin, 2013 – Supernormal).

      The subtle matter we are trying to characterize, is, according to the Ancient Indian Traditions, the subtle matrix which “create” or “mold” the forms, any form. As we know, the building blocks of physical matter where created (or re-created) at the beginning of this cycle (Science called it the Big Bang). These basic particle (quarks, electrons, neutrinos, photons) are eternal. They can undergo as many transformation/combination as we can imagine, which create forms, but they are still identical (conservation of energy law). The water we drink today is made of particles created 13.5 billion years ago… So the question is : what is the mechanism which make these particles to assemble in such a way that it allows the evolution that we can see, from mineral to vegetal to animal to human, to …

      There must be a subtle matrix to organize the cosmos and its evolution. If we start (Bottom-Up approach) from the ground (physical world), with current scientific knowledge (materialistic paradigm), it is almost impossible to have any vision of what that matrix could be. Every step of evolution is justified by Chance or Necessity. If we start with the Top-Down approach of the Traditions, we have some interesting hypothesis to study and maybe to test. The difficulty there is the complexity of the languages of each Tradition and the “veils” which have ciphered it.

      If we look at some of the 6 Schools of Philosophy of Ancient India, like the Samkhya or the Vedanta, we find a description of the process of creation of the cosmos (cosmogenesis) and of man (anthropogenesis), starting from pure Spirit, and through a “scaling down” of initial “vibration”, we see the apparition of various plans, endowed with more and more slower vibrations, to reach the physical plane as the lowest. Just above it is this plane of subtle matter which is bearing the model of the forms, inherited from the spirit. That gives us an “intelligent design” agent to transform the “divine” thought into physical forms. That is where we may want to investigate. There must be a form of continuity between this subtle plan and the physical one. This is where we need a GPS to guide our quest.

    • Avatar of Alex Sullivan

      Alex Sullivan

      25 May 2022 at 9:23 pm

      Rhythmic Oscillations in Proteins to Human Cognition

      In my brief study of algal phenomics last year, I had come across this resource that you may find of interest. Highlighting the group involved in chapter 8 of the book above. => A recent publication given below.

  • Avatar of Bo Dahlin

    Bo Dahlin

    20 January 2022 at 3:28 pm

    Hello Jacques

    I believe that Sheldrake’s morphic fields contain more than ”mental matter”. I know he has done a lot of studies of how certain ”mental forms” are more easily learned the greater the number of people is who have learnt them before. But he applies the concept to the formation of crystals and also to the formation of plants. And – if I understand him rightly – even to the “form” of natural laws, which he considers to be habits of nature, rather than eternal principles.

    I adhere mostly to Rudolf Steiner’s spiritual science in these questions, which has also a top-down perspective, like the Indian philosophies you refer to. According to Steiner the etheric energy field is the supernatural realm closest to physical plane. In the human being, Steiner calls this level “the body of formative forces” – Bildekräfteleib. It is also the realm of our mental life, where thought-forms appear and disappear. But the etheric realm as such is of course part of all existence, not only of the human being.

    So yes, the question is how to study scientifically this level of being, whether we call it etheric, or formative, or morphogenetic. As long as we have not ourselves developed supersensible perception of these forces, we can only study them indirectly, in terms of what effects they have on the visible plane. Again, I think Sheldrake’s research has some interesting approaches to this problem.

    As for the quantum particles they are subnatural, or subphysical – “fallen” forms of the etheric. How do we know that they are eternal? Could it not be that we create them by our testing instruments?

  • Avatar of Alex Sullivan

    Alex Sullivan

    23 May 2022 at 10:38 pm

    Insubstantiality and substatiality should be clearly differentiated.

    One place

    has insubstantiality and substantiality;

    every place

    has the same insubstantiality and substantiality.

    All parts of the body are strung together

    without the slightest break.


    comes from

    Wu Chi

    and is the mother of Yin and Yang (insubstantiality and substantiality… Purusha and Prakriti…Shiva and Shakti… Spirit and Matter).

    In motion it separates;

    in stillness they fuse.

    It is not excessive or deficient;

    accordingly when it bends,

    It then straightens.

    Form is(to me) peripheral. I like to think of said form as a mere emulation of spirit (of which in motion may be referred to as the Great River or Great Way); thus, illusionary in our experience of it.

    Like attracts like.

    The dust dwels in niches.

    May we discern whether the question is being asked in space or time? Path or state? What is it that is wanting to know? A radio must be tuned to receive. Is it the Form or form you talk of?

  • Avatar of Alex Sullivan

    Alex Sullivan

    23 May 2022 at 10:57 pm

    May we discern whether the question is being asked in space or time or from a central equilibrium? What is it that is wanting to know? Is it the objective or subjective form we seek knowledge of? If it is objective form, is that an appropriate yearning? And, if so, for what end?*

  • Avatar of Alex Sullivan

    Alex Sullivan

    23 May 2022 at 11:05 pm

    If I may, please do forgive my ignorance and its potential expression as arrogance. I highly regard the many years experience beyond mine. I merely seek to entrain to converse.

    • Avatar of Bo Dahlin

      Bo Dahlin

      24 May 2022 at 3:16 pm

      Hello Alex, whatever I do when I try to answer you it turns up as a “Reply to: Jacques Mahnich” – rather frustrating. Anyway, I have some problems in comprehending all your points… the questions who it is that wants to know and why are of course highly relevant from a taoist and zen point of view – but here we are engaged in another kind of discourse, or at least I am. There are levels of knowledge and each level is expressed in a certain kind of discourse. What you are saying seems related to the Absolute, whereas what Jacques and I were saying relates to the Relative, to “form” rather than “Form” one could perhaps say. It seems rather plausible to me that even the old taoists had to descend to the level of form if they wanted to talk about f ex medicine or art, or even alchemy…

      My 2 cents…

    • Avatar of Alex Sullivan

      Alex Sullivan

      25 May 2022 at 8:56 pm

      Thank you. 🙏

      I seemed to have recognised my immaturity here post recognition of our inability to delete these replies (at least, to my current knowledge). Nevertheless, a little requisite humbling does me wonders; for that, I am grateful. Especially your respect shown in not condemning my impulsive and dumbfounded input. I had momentarily lost footing in my frame of reference. Clearly, I was overly excited to see activity here!

      Will take a step back to recompose.

  • Avatar of Alex Sullivan

    Alex Sullivan

    24 May 2022 at 12:48 am
  • Avatar of Rex Barker

    Rex Barker

    18 January 2024 at 11:56 am

    In reading Massimo Citro’s The basic code of the universe I found a basis for appreciating the relationship between the ‘void’ that appears absent of matter and matter than has mass and therefore exists in time and space. The distinction between the void that gives life to matter is of particular interest, and even more the concept of ‘field’ that has no time/place.

    In meditative states I have found the absence of ‘matter’ to be akin to being in a’ field’ state where nothing exists yet everything resides in potential. The leap into time/space seems so restrictive, and yet seeps slowly into consciousness as we end our meditation.

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