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Part 6; Tri

Tri-Sharira - The Three Bodies
Sthula Sharira         – Gross = Physical body
Sukshma Sharira     – Subtle = Etheric body, individual mind and intuitive level of mind
Karana Sharira        – Causal body
“Divine Paradox – what seems to have all the power has none while what may seem to have none of the power – has all of it.” Caroline Myss
“I don’t eat junk food and I don’t think junk thoughts.[1]” Peace Pilgrim
In Yoga three bodies are identified, for the maintenance of good ‘health’ at each of the levels, each requires similar treatment in terms of meeting its needs, if that term can be usefully stretched a little.
The needs of the physical body are well known even if we continually choose to abuse them!
-        Food – of sufficient quality, appropriate quantity and time of day
-        Rest – including quality sleep and respite from ‘buzzy-busy’
-        Air of sufficient quality for breathing
-        Relaxation – of appropriate quality and quantity
-        Companionship
-        Stimulation – all forms of activity
-        Challenge – useful forms of ‘stress’
This paper examines the other two bodies and whether these ‘needs’ could be applied to them.
Sthula Sharira – Gross = Physical body
We may know perfectly well what food choices would serve us well for lunch, yet (almost like a kid trying to sneak a fast one on teacher) so often we make the choice that actively abuses our body. It may seem like no one notices – perhaps it is true – no one does! And yet it seems that cumulatively, every cell in our body suffers when we repeatedly make the unhealthy choice. It seems evident from medical research that poor life-style choices eventually leads to a weakened immune system and disease. The trouble is the consequences of our actions are not sufficiently immediate – it is so easy to over-ride the red light that goes on in our brain!
My dog loves to eat some yummy-to-him garbage. I try to stop him. I know he will have an upset gut later, but he never seems to make the connection between the forbidden rubbish and the belly-ache – and yet… maybe I underrate the intelligence of the animal – perhaps he is more like me than I think – maybe he has indeed made the connection, but that moment of pleasure, of smelling and of eating, far outweighs the knowledge of the effect it will have on his body.
Just as our moment-by-moment choices, support or undermine the health of the body in ways that are not at all attractive to us, this paper suggests that, in much the same way, there is an ‘absolute’ cause and effect found in the Mental and Causal Bodies also. What you put in is what you get out. There may well be a time lag, but eventually, we reap the harvest of what we have sown.
“The unconscious life is just that – unconscious. You aren’t even aware that you aren’t aware of anything. You just think about the basics of life – food, clothing, money. It never occurs to you to wonder about for what purpose were you created. And then, once you ask the question, you can’t stop asking it again and again. It always leads to another truth.[2]
Sukshma Sharira – Subtle Body
Etheric body, individual mind and intuitive level of mind
It equates to the entire psychomental complex, the mental-emotional field of consciousness, as distinct from the anatomical brain.
In what ways do we meet the needs of the Sukshma?
How do we ‘feed’, provide rest etc. for it?
Most of what goes on in everyday life is ‘feeding’ this level of being human. Let us take ‘normal human behaviour’ as being what the human mammal has evolved to cope with over the last few hundred millennia or so. With that perspective, much of contemporary life is extremely ‘abnormal’. In a passive way we routinely ‘ingest’, or ‘breathe in’ vast quantities of commentary and sound through all the various media. It is perhaps hard to quantify the effect such a diet has on the mind and energy, it is probably far greater than we realise. Reading the thought and opinions of other minds is also a relatively ‘new’ activity. There is nothing inherently right / wrong, or good / bad, in the sounds and words that surround us; similarly the foods available to us are in themselves neutral; however as with the foods it is the long-term out-come that could be worth examining.
Perhaps it could be useful to examine more closely what it is we are absorbing?
Undoubtedly we are very attached to our food habits; we are even more deeply attached to our habits of mind, emotion and personality since they are so insidiously absorbed and maintained. It can feel extremely threatening to look at what we ‘feed’ our energetic self – best to approach it gradually, gently and with compassion.
We know that crash diets (or denial) are unhelpful in the long run with food habits, so too with the entire psychomental complex.
“I don’t eat junk food and I don’t think junk thoughts.[3]” Peace Pilgrim
Once one has bravely reviewed the possibility that what is ‘fed’ to the mind and intuition could benefit from the bright light of awareness – perhaps one can look at the other components of good health… can they apply?
Can ‘sleep’ be applied to the Sukshma Sharira?
What is physical sleep?
Perhaps a useful definition might be; -
Ø     the suspension of all voluntary activity, letting the automatic systems freewheel on auto-pilot, while they run repair and restore procedures (that science is only beginning to fathom).
Sleep does benefit our brains. But this Sukshma Sharira is rather different from the brain, in fact it is quite difficult to locate and may well be a ‘whole-body’ phenomenon[4]. Let us then separate the brain and the mind. We then place the brain and its discernable chemical functions in the file marked ‘Gross-Body – Sthula Sharira’. ‘Mind-Body – Sukshma Sharira’ then becomes all the nebulous, numinous psychomental functioning that locates physically within the entire organism. We can see then, that physical sleep affects the chemical processes and functions of the brain.
Can we then return to the question, does the ‘Mind-Body – Sukshma Sharira’ have an equivalent to ‘sleep’?
Meditation is the equivalent.
True meditation, as defined by: -
Ø     The suspension of all activity in the mind[5], is probably impossible for most of us stressed-out folks, but then many of us don’t physically sleep all that well at night either! Our sleep can be anything from passing out with exhaustion and waking almost as tired, to a worry-filled restlessness!
‘Meditation’ as the concept popularly understood can be described as
Ø     A time intentionally set aside, to allow the mind space to suspend all the usual voluntary agenda-driven thought-activity
Ø     A time where the mind-emotions can ease off the straightjacket imposed by will power.
In this downtime (as with the brain) the mind runs repair and restore procedures, that science has hardly begun to suspect, but that Yoga has understood for a hundred centuries.
Besides the movement classes in commonly known as Yoga, there are also the pre-meditative practices of Yoga known as Antar Mouna (Inner Silence), Yoga Nidra (Yogic Sleep), Pranayama (Breath Awareness), Mantra (Symbolic Sound), Ajapa-japa (Mental Repetition of Symbolic Sound)[6]. Indian mysticism, and indeed the mysticism of all faiths, contains a host of practices that quickly develop some detachment, create pre-meditative states in which the mind-emotions can become calmer, more spacious and heal-up a little, by letting go of its obsessions.
All mystical traditions consider the development of detachment from emotional involvement is necessary, but it is not a popular idea. 
“Detachment does not mean ceasing to care. It means stilling one’s fear-driven voices.”[7]
“detachment feels too cold… the meaning of detachment [is] the realisation that no one person or group of people can determine you life’s path… We are drawn into a desire to stretch the parameters of our minds through the mysteries we encounter. All of us experience, and will continue to experience, relationships that cause us to re-examine our understanding of reality.”[8] 
The body’s needs for ‘Quality’ relaxation, companionship, stimulation and challenge sometimes provide similar for the Mind-Body – but what could ‘quality’ mean? All those things, places, substances, people, habits etc. that undermine self-esteem in both overt and subtle ways cannot be called ‘quality’. Everyone’s journey is unique and these things are neutral in and of themselves. There are no absolutes in this area. What would damage my self-esteem might be fine for everyone else.
In fact, I suspect that my own judgemental nature single-handedly does more harm to my self-esteem, than any outside factor. It is this very aspect of my nature that provides the lens through which I view the world of my senses. It is my unique judgement of my world that provides my interpretation of what I perceive, it contains the conditioning provided by my life to this moment. It could be said that my judgement / perception ‘creates’ the world I experience. The ‘quality’ of any experience is provided moment-by-moment by my understanding of it and consequently my attitude to it. If I can perform mental gymnastics and change my attitude, then the whole scene shifts and shape-changes. Perhaps this rapid build-up and transformation is the fundamental basis of the entertainment industry; humour is the twist to the anticipated outcome; horror is the expectation of what will come next.[9]
Could it be possible that I can determine the quality of my experience by becoming responsible for my attitude to it? How can I do that?
Could it be possible that: -
-        The mind would benefit from a careful examination of its ‘feed’
o      In what comes into it from outside
o      How that is ‘digested’ on the inside
-        Above all the mind-emotions need ‘sleep’ in the form of pre-meditative practices, until such time as it heals enough to be able to achieve true meditation.
To enjoy basic good health the body needs the food one puts into it preferably at regular times of the day and needs regular sleep, the mind is not so different. Attention to the times activities occur effects the health of the mind. 
Karana Sharira – Causal body
What can the Karana Sharira be?
What can comprise the ‘cause’ of the physical and mental-emotional bodies?
“If you can say what it is – then that is not it” Buddhist Koan
Words totally fail to able to describe this level of being which is so far beyond daily experience that the Reductionist approach dismisses it completely. 
And yet….
Coincidences occur and situations and people attract themselves to each other.
How does this happen?
Again and again in the ancient teaching of Yoga and Indian Philosophical thought one encounters a ‘beyond’. In New Age thought, there is an emerging concept that ‘All is One’, that is not so dissimilar. Even within the scientific community the Reductionist solution is under the onslaught of evidence that the Universe(s) is (are) much bigger, more interconnected, more complex, and perhaps (as yet) unbelievably more subtle and noetic than had been thought.
The research of Rupert Sheldrake leads to coining new words, ‘morphic fields’ to describe the ‘group-mind’ that holds whole sections of sentient beings together.
“Morphic fields hold together and co-ordinate the parts of a system in space and time, and contain a memory from previous similar systems. Human social groups such as tribes and families inherit through their morphic fields a kind of collective memory. The habits, beliefs and customs of the ancestors influence the behaviour of the present, both consciously and unconsciously. We all tune into collective memories, similar to the ‘collective unconscious’ proposed by the psychologist C.G. Jung.
“Termite colonies, schools of fish, flocks of birds, herds, packs and other animal groups are also held together and structured by morphic fields, and these fields are all shaped by their own kinds of collective memory… if a member of the group goes to a distant place, it still remains connected to the rest of the group through this social field, which is elastic.” [10]
Can the concept of applying the physical body’s need for healthy choices also be applied to the Karana Sharira – Causal Body?
Cause – even the ultimate Cause – and Effect inevitably interact.
The relationship may be qualitatively different. There is a time lag between eating rotten food and being sick, also a lag between ingesting toxic mental-emotional food and its effect, it is plausible that there could be an ‘lag’ in the link between the Causal ‘diet’ / ‘sleep’ or other ‘need’ and its effects so that the relationship is ill-defined. If it requires wisdom to equate cause and effect, it may involve maturity to take responsibility for it – and not many of us are comfortable with taking the mature position.
In her teachings Caroline Myss frequently emphasises the Divine Paradox, that which seems to have all the power has none while what may seem to have none of the power, has all of it. For the Reductionist, the concrete and physical is where the power lies – nothing else exists. Mystics see this seeming to be so ‘real’ as a mass of confused misapprehension created by a fevered psychomental complex[11] – the real or causal is unchanging, yet not static,
“in self-organising systems at all levels of complexity there is a wholeness that depends on a characteristic organising field of that system, its morphic field. Each self-organising system is a whole made up of parts, which are themselves wholes at a lower level. At each level, the morphic field gives each whole its characteristic properties and makes it more than the sum of its parts…. Morphic fields guide the systems under their influence towards characteristic goals of end-points.”[12]
If this is true, then it may follow that: -
“…your community benefits from you inner-directed path of service as much as you do…each person is capable of making deeply significant contributions to the lives of others… through the quality of the person they become… recognise the contributions of our spirits to others lives far more than the contributions of our tasks.”[13]
Could this be the ‘food’ that nurtures the Causal Body? 
“Following these steps may help you attain symbolic sight and increase your ability to reach the dimension of Divine reasoning.
Ø      Develop a practice of introspection, and work to become conscious of what you believe and why.
Ø      Keep an open mind, and learn to become aware when you mind is ‘shutting down’.
Ø      Recognise defensiveness as an attempt to keep new insights from entering your mental field.
Ø      Interpret all situations and relationships as having a symbolic importance, even if you cannot immediately understand what it is.
Ø      Become open to receiving guidance and insight through your dreams. Work toward releasing any thoughts that promote self-pity or anger, or that blame another person for anything that has happened to you.
Ø      Practice detachment. Make decisions based upon the wisest assessment you can in the immediate moment, rather than working to create a specific outcome.
Ø      Refrain from all judgements – not just those rendered against people and situations, but those that concern the size and importance of tasks. Rather, remind yourself continually of the higher truth that you cannot possibly see all the facts or details of any situation, nor visualise the long-term consequences of your actions.
Ø      Learn to recognise when you are being influenced by a fear pattern. Immediately detach from that fear by observing its influence on your mind and emotions; then make choices that weaken the influence of those fears.
Ø      Detach from all values that support the belief that success in life means achieving certain goals. Instead view a successful life as a process of achieving self-control and the capacity to work through the challenges life brings you. Visualise success as an energy force rather tan a physical one.
Ø      Act on your inner guidance, and give up your need for ‘proof’ that your inner guidance is authentic. The more you ask for proof, the less likely you are to receive any.
Ø      Keep all you attention in the present moment – refrain from living in the past or worrying about the future. Learn to trust what you cannot see far more than what you can see.
Ø      Let go of how you thought your life should be, and embrace the life that is trying to work its way into you consciousness.”[14]
Definitions of the Tri Sharira[15]
STULA (‘gross’ or ‘coarse’), the outer-most, or visible material aspect of a thing
Thus the ‘coarse body’ (Sthula Sharira) is the mortal physical frame, the ‘sheath composed of food’ (anna-maya-kosha). The opposite is Sukshma.
SUKSHMA-SHARIRA (‘subtle body’), the entire psychomental complex that, according to Yoga metaphysics, can exist independent of the physical or coarse body
This is the bodily ‘field’ that remains after death and that serves as the precondition for a future embodiment.
KARANA (‘cause’), as opposed to ‘effect’ (karya)
References: -
Anatomy of the Spirit Caroline Myss, PhD
ISBN 0 553 50527 0
The Mystical Mind – Probing the Biology of Religious Experience  Eugene d’Aquili and Andrew B. Newberg
ISBN 0 8006 31630 3
Dogs That Know When Their Owners Are Coming Home Rupert Sheldrake
ISBN 0 09 180150 8
The Shambhala Encyclopaedia of Yoga Georg Feuerstein
ISBN 1 57062 555 7

[1] AS p. 255
[2] AS p.244
[3] AS p. 255
[4] The Mystical Mind – Probing the Biology of Religious Experience  Eugene d’Aquili and Andrew B. Newberg
[5] The Yoga Aphorisms of Patanjali in any translation you find will describe this in great detail.
[6] There are many teachers and books available for these techniques – contact us for assistance in finding what is suitable for you.
[7] AS p.239
[8] AS p.242
[9] “The Empiric Modification Cycle (EMC) is a crucial characteristic of the mind/brain function: it is what allows us to adapt our behaviours and ourselves to the world around us. Thus we approach each new experience based on our previous experiential and behavioural repertoire. Then, based on a given new experience the mind/brain develops new behaviours that help us adapt to the experience.” MM p.58
[10] DOH p. 12
[11] Sanskrit Viparyaya
[12] DOH p. 259
[13] AS p. 238
[14] AS 255 -6

[15] SEY p. 294 p.295

by Adrienne  Crowe;; 15 Heytesbury Street, Dublin 8    T 353 1 453 9971

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