Hide and Seek: The Power of Awareness

Chapter Six

The Four Bodies

Once, a teacher and his student embarked on a nocturnal journey through the dense woods owned by the king. Late at night, they stumbled upon the grand hunting lodge of the king himself. The student, gripped by fear, turned to his teacher and asked, “Are we safe here?” The teacher replied, “As long as you refrain from becoming anything, you shall be secure.”

Finding the lodge unoccupied, they each claimed a bed and, utterly exhausted, succumbed to deep slumber. Unbeknownst to them, the king and his guards unexpectedly arrived several hours later. They attempted to engage the teacher in conversation, but he maintained a stoic silence. Consequently, the king ordered the teacher to be placed on the lawn outside.

Turning their attention to the student, they demanded to know his identity. Fatigued and provoked, the student retorted, “I am the foremost disciple of the most esteemed teacher in this realm. How dare you treat me in this manner!” In a fit of rage, the king bellowed, “You arrogant individual! Turning to the guards, he exclaimed, “This vagrant shall receive 20 lashes for his insolence!” The student was promptly escorted outside and subjected to the harsh punishment.

Upon his return to the teacher, battered and bruised, he beseeched his mentor, “Why did you not shield me from this ordeal?” The teacher calmly replied, “I did protect you. I told you that you would be safe as long as you did not become anything. I cautioned you not to assume any identity. Unfortunately, your ego compelled you to become something, and you experienced the painful consequences of what the ego can inflict upon us.”

When we attain a firm grounding in the changeless aspect of our Self, the ever-shifting conditions of our body, mind, and emotions cease to sway us. Externally, we navigate the dance of opposites – ebb and flow, birth and death, pleasure and pain. Internally, however, we can find solace in the unwavering consciousness that is our true essence. This inner sanctuary is the silent witness, devoid of attributes, untouched by action, free from change, transcending time, causality, and spatial limitations.

We are, in essence, both the mutable and immutable facets of existence. Regrettably, we have often lost touch with the immutable, rendering ourselves foundationless. Rediscovering this unchanging aspect is our purpose, the duty that upholds our evolution and expands our awareness of the Self.

This transformative process propels us from limitation to boundlessness, from individual consciousness to cosmic consciousness, and from partial understanding to complete comprehension. Living solely within the realm of relativity, among the play of opposites, often leads to a life fraught with obstacles and resistance. Conversely, embracing the absolute aspect of life, with an awareness of the witness – the Self – enables us to embody the full spectrum of life.

It is an incremental journey for most of us, characterized by steady progress. Each moment, each day, each week brings us closer to realizing our true nature. Life either evolves toward greater fullness or descends into entropy and chaos. In every moment, we are architects of our future, shaping it to be more or less abundant, more or less conscious, and imbued with varying degrees of intelligence and power. Let us look at what constitutes the waves and the ocean, the mutable aspects and the immutable Source, the limited parts we identify as and the unlimited Self that we have forgotten.

The Four Bodies:

There exist four bodies within a human being: the physical, the subtle, the causal, and the supra-causal. While our intellect tends to compartmentalize these aspects for the sake of comprehension, it is essential to understand that there is but one consciousness manifesting in four distinct states. This singular consciousness does not exist separately within four distinct bodies; rather, it is the same consciousness that experiences, operates through the senses, envisions our dreams, encounters deep sleep, and embodies the pure Self in the transcendent state. In truth, there are not four separate bodies; it is one consciousness appearing in four different states.

The Physical Body: In its gross, physical manifestation, consciousness encounters the duality of existence – pain and pleasure, joy and sorrow, good and evil. Equipped with the senses, organs of action, various pranas (life forces), and linked to the psychic instruments of the mind, this body enables us to interact physically with the world. It is the vessel for experiencing the waking state.

The Subtle Body: In its subtle or astral form, consciousness experiences the realm of dreams. Within this state, it creates imaginary worlds, scenarios, and events, primarily as a result of purification and revitalization during deep rest. The subtle body performs the three distinct functions of the mind – thinking, ego, and intellect. Additionally, it harbors impressions from past experiences that have become activated.

The Causal Body: In its causal state, consciousness experiences deep, dreamless sleep – an existence beyond the realm of the senses and devoid of desires. When illuminated, this state bestows a sense of bliss. It serves as the repository for all dormant impressions accumulated over our lifetime. This body holds the impressions and ideation responsible for shaping and causing the creation of our subtle and physical bodies.

The Supra-Causal Body: While intellectually referred to as the fourth body, the supra-causal state is not truly a body in the conventional sense. It represents the transcendental state – an embodiment of pure consciousness. This state is the pure Self. It is synonymous with pure consciousness, pure awareness unbound by form, name or attribute. It is the stillness of pure being and presence. This is the realm of the witness. This is the true, essential, authentic Self. This is the Source of all that we are and yet, it is also what we have hidden and forgotten.

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