When we look at a human being, we see a physical body with a set of characteristics such as size and shape. Inhabiting that body and expressing through it we experience what we call a personality with mental, emotional and physical components, or as psychologists suggest, cognitive, affective and behavioral elements. Within or behind the personality we posit a deeper force we call the person’s soul. Thus we can say there are five aspects which constitute the human being: soul, personality, mental, emotional and physical. (We could recognize a deeper force behind soul, but that is beyond the scope of this note.)
Our study of the dynamic of the five aspects begins with the scientifically well established and widely understood fact that everything in the world is energy in action. Whether an atom or a planet, an animal, plant or piece of granite, the air we breathe or the rays of the sun, all is energy vibrating at different frequencies and with different qualities and having different effects. And so too the constituents of a human being. We are, fundamentally, fields of energy.
Before examining the structure of the energy fields, we’ll make one more distinction regarding that part of a human which functions on the physical plane. There are two parts to what we have called the “physical body:” the first we refer to as the dense physical body – the flesh and bones; the second part is an energy “template” of the dense physical called the “etheric body” or “vital body” or “etheric double.” Both are left behind when the soul withdraws at the death of the dense physical: the first, the dense physical, disintegrates into its basic chemical components; the second, the energy template, blends into the planetary etheric body of which it is an integral part.
The planetary etheric body is a network of energy channels which underlies and gives shape and coherence to every form of manifested life in every kingdom of nature, carrying the life of the planet itself. Thus, it is through the planetary etheric body that all life is related, all life is part of the whole. All life is one life.
Within the planetary etheric body flow many energies of different frequencies and qualities which shape our manifested world, such as the emotional and mental energies, the higher frequency planes of intuition and soul, the seven building or qualifying energies of the seven rays, and others. When a soul incarnates, it apprehends – gathers to it – a portion of the planetary etheric body which then subtends – underlies, embraces and includes – the dense physical body. Through the energy channels of this apprehended etheric substance flow some or all of the energies that are carried by the planetary etheric body, the nature of the flow depending on the evolutionary development of the person’s energy sensitivities. The nature of the flow manifests in the functioning of the five aspects of the human being.
The structure of the energy channels of a human’s etheric body resembles, and in fact subtends, the nervous system. There is a major channel up the spine and many focal points or centres where the channels merge and blend, corresponding to small and large ganglia of nerves. All of these channels and centres transmit the energies flowing in the etheric body – and their effects – to the dense physical body. There are seven major focal points, called chakras, which are located at the top of the head, between the eyebrows, and down the spine at the throat, heart, solar plexus, sacrum and coccyx. These seven find physical externalization in glands of the endocrine system, respectively, the pineal, pituitary, thyroid, thymus, pancreas, reproductive glands and adrenals. In addition there are many secondary centres located in all parts of the body.
Each chakra has a particular function that relates the energies flowing through the etheric body to the dense physical body. In very simple terms, which understate the depth and complexity of their functions, we can say the crown chakra is like an entry for the soul; the centre between the eyebrows, called the third eye or ajna centre, opens the way for intuitive knowing; the throat chakra is the centre of creative expression; the heart chakra is the love connection to humanity; the solar plexus chakra is the focus of the emotional life; the sacral chakra is concerned with physical creation; and the base chakra carries the vitality of life.
Among the energies flowing in the etheric body, and qualifying all of the others, are the seven rays, the building forces of the Solar Logos. One or more of these rays qualifies all forms in all kingdoms of nature – mineral, plant, animal and human. Within a human being, each of the five aspects is qualified by one of the rays and the effects of the pattern of rays manifest in our behaviour. In overly simple terms, which belie the reality of their effects, the rays have been labeled as follows: First Ray of Will or Power; Second Ray of Love-Wisdom; Third Ray of Active Intelligence; Fourth Ray of Harmony Through Conflict; Fifth Ray of Science; Sixth Ray of Idealism and Devotion; Seventh Ray of Ceremonial Order. Together, the seven rays animate and shape the evolutionary development of the human being, the world, and indeed the solar system.
At a level more abstract than rays, there is a trinity of fundamental, universal functions necessary for all manifestation: a creative impulse, an organizing power, and a manifesting force. In a human being, these are the three functions of soul, the representative of Deity within us. You might see the relationship of the first three rays to these three soul qualities. For practical purposes, we represent the three qualities or functions by A,U, M. (Incidentally, the three qualities are actually represented in the sounding of the AUM.) Thus we have the One, expressing the three and subsequently the seven.
The three functions correspond to three zones of the body and parallel the body’s physical functioning: The A zone (the head); the U zone (the trunk); the M zone (the hips), the universal functions expressing more concretely as we move from the A zone to the M zone. In each of the zones, there is a Centre of Awareness or centre of activity, for each of the three functions, making nine centres in all. Although some of the Centres of Awareness are located in close proximity to the chakras, they are quite distinct from chakras and their location is not exactly the same. Thus, the nine centres are: the top of the head (aA); middle of the forehead (uA); the back of the head parallel to the eyes (mA); top of the sternum (mU); centre of the sternum (aU); bottom of the sternum (uU); just below the navel (mM); top of pubic bone (uM); end of spine (aM).
A human being is a complex set of interpenetrating fields of energy, more abstract than concrete words can convey, and it is important not to let a description of elements, such as set out here, to impose a picture of a static mechanical structure.