NO problem of Occult knowledge has excited more controversy than the one we must now consider, the correspondence of the Principles with color and tone, and therefore with number. For myself, I think it not merely, unwise but impossible to surround it with hard and fast lines. To suggest the reasonable scheme the one that imagination can accept, and in things Occult it is of paramount importance to see with the imagination is the utmost I shall attempt.
There is deep insight as well as truth in the statement that ” those who receive the wisdom of the past or the impressions of the present as something to have and to hold, gain absolutely nothing.” That is, one must form original mental concepts of everything; receive all light, all suggestions, with open mind, but think, ever think, oneself, till more light is thrown upon the subject. The very nomenclature employed in this subject, the multiplicity of names for a single sheath, betrays the difficulty experienced in defining and accurately limiting the activities and influences of the separate Principles.
To guard against the possible misunderstanding that these correspondences can be defined with narrow dogmatism, I shall try to ensure a broad out-look, inviting individual thought and opinion, by giving the student first a glimpse through the mental eyes of Mrs. Besant and of Râma Prasâd.
The former says, ” It is written in the Munddkopanishad that from Brahman the One . . comes Life Prâna is the word used. I shall show you presently that Prana is Atma in outgoing activity; the mind, Manas, that is the second; then the five elements as we know them ether, air, fire, water, and earth; seven in all. These are the seven regions of the Universe, the seven sheaths of Brahman, as the SELF of the All ” (The Self and its Sheaths).
As you already know, man’s sheaths correspond with these and put him in touch with the en-tire Universe. Mrs. Besant’s is a very simple classification, and clearly indicates the specific Tattvic action in the five lower sheaths, but she follows them in descent from three to seven, instead of ascent.
Râma Prasâd looks at the subject differently but is equally clear. He gives the human Principles as First, Sthula Sharira (gross body) ; second, unhappy Prâna; third, unhappy mind; fourth, happy Prâna; fifth, happy mind; sixth, the Soul; seventh, the Spirit (Nature’s Finer Forces).
Thus he places Kâma unhappy Prâna and Lower Manas next the visible body over which their uncontrolled desires have so unhappy influence. These sheaths are those builders of Karma that have so potent influence in retarding evolution. Happy Prâna comes next Higher Manas, or the Causal body, these being the sheaths through the development of which the soul is released from bondage to the lower Principles and attains the power to bring them into sympathetic unison with her own higher vibrations. Remember that the Causal body is the chief agent in evolution, and is so called because in it are gathered the effects of experiences, which ” act as causes, moulding future lives.” But all the sheaths have their use in the economy of nature. Only their misuse renders them ” unhappy.”
Notice here that the fundamental five-fold division of body, life (the subtle-sheath), mind, soul, and spirit, corresponding with the five lower Tattvas which you know best, is expanded into the septenary by including the two phases of life – as vitality exhibited in actions and of mind, the thoughts prompting the actions and determining whether they shall be evil or good.
The scheme is somewhat misleading, however, for Prana, per se, cannot be restricted to number and sheath since it is the Life in every sheath. Mme. Blavatsky gave emphasis to this fact, and though she gave Prâna a number in some diagrams, she omitted it in others. In many classifications it is included, generally as the third Principle; but the lowest plane of Pratt is compounded of the microbes of science. ” Fiery lives direct the constructive work of the building microbes. The coordinating power of all these sheaths lies in Prâna. It is through Prâna, by means of the nervous system that the ” I,” the personality of the body, acts upon and through them all; and is responsible for the development of individuality as Desire yields to the direction of Will, and soul-force becomes an active and determining principle in the life.
In all schemes of correspondence there is one unvarying agreement, the relation of Mars to the fire-element Tejas, and to red and the Kâmic sheath, or desire body; but in number it is variously considered as first, third, and even fourth. As the body of living fire within, the Tejas sheath seems essentially the first, for without it life would be impossible. The lowering of normal temperature is the first cause of most disease. The preponderating influence of desires in moulding the physical form, emotions changing the expression of the face even from moment to moment, and the thoughts that prompt them building character hour by hour, is sufficient reason for assigning to this sheath the lowest place in the evolutionary spiral. Of this sheath Mme. Blavatsky says, ” It is the grossest [that is the coarsest] of all our Principles.” The expansive character of Tejas vibrations and their vapor-like nature, give them this marvellous permeating and moulding power which enables them to enwrap the solid, cohesive atoms of Prithivi and become visible as red, and audible as Do, or Middle C, the Tonic of the first major scale.
The lower, the race, the more visible is the color of this sheath, but more of this when we study the aura. Kâmic atoms are diffused throughout the blood, but are specially active in pelvis, liver, heart, and lungs. The whole trunk of the body, including the shoulders and arms, is greatly influenced by Tejas, and there are also subtle connections of this sheath with the left ear and the little finger of the right hand. The liver is the general and the spleen is the aide-de-camp. All the work which the liver shirks falls upon the spleen. This accounts for the fact that when a man’s liver misbehaves, he is very apt to be ” spleeny “; a most trying condition due to the fact that his spleen (that supposedly superfluous organ!) is overworked.
During the life of the physical body, Kâma is pronounced ” a shapeless thing,” but after death its astral atoms form a separate and distinct entity, which strives to attach itself to the Higher Ego. Mrs. Besant, (The Seven Principles of Man, p. 20), makes the nice distinction of confining the use of the term rupa (Sanskrit for ” form “) to this after-death ” vesture of animal nature,” which exists in the astral sphere for a length of time proportioned to the tenacity of the physical desires which created it.* Being devoid of ethical sense, possessing only the lower animal consciousness, its rapid disintegration is the greatest blessing. Thus Klima is the most material Principle in the human septenary group, hence the sheath whose composite links of desires for material pleasures and experiences bind us fastest to the physical plane and retard the Soul’s progress.
The second Principle is the Sthula-sharira (gross body), corresponding to Prithivi (earth) through its state of matter, solid; but in color and tone, because so permeated by Tejas, with orange and Re. It influences the nose, lower posterior lobes of cerebrum, the liver, and the lower limbs from knees downward. Orange has always been recognized as synonymous with physical force; and it is, perhaps, for this reason and also as being the color of the gross body, that Occultists assign this color to vital-force, or Prâna. This, however, is not the teaching of the Shivâgama. Rama Prasâd, who follows the Sanskrit work, describes the positive current of Prâna as reddish-white,” and the negative, as ” pure white; both being modified and tinged by the flow of the’ Tattva at the time prevailing. This teaching is corroborated by known physiological distinctions between the sensory and motor nerves; the former the receptive and negative –being bluish-white; and the latter – the outgoing, positive agentsreddish gray. The Tantrists always refer to the negative, or Rayi as ” the cooler state of life-matter, which is only a shade of Prâna, the original state.” Rayi receives the impressions from ” the motion-imparting phase of life-matter,” that is, the positive phase of Prâna.
Yellow is the color of the purest state of Prithivi, the spiritual element in the earth, its ensouled force, and predominating in the solar-terrestrial cur-rents flowing round it; therefore, it is uncommon in the crust of the earth, which is composed of the grossest of its manifold permutations, but shines forth in its perfected things the most precious metal, the citron fruits, ripened grains, and flowers. The fragrance of flowers is a spiritual essence stimulating to the nerves and conveying direct nutriment to the soul. Yellow is a very precious color, deemed the culmination of light. I think it could be proved that the foods most valuable to mankind are yellow. The liver is most favor-ably affected by oranges and by herbs of a yellow or orange hue, which are also cerebral and nerve stimulants ; vitalizing, therefore, to the whole system, and laxative. The more harmonious the human body becomes and the purer and higher the aims of its indwelling Soul, the stronger, more electric and magnetic is the flow of the Prithivic currents through the Nâdis.
The Sûkshma-sharira, or Etheric-double, third Principle, is under the rule of Venus; for it corresponds with Apas (water), and in color and tone with yellow and Mi. But, being composed of four grades of subtle ethers, the red and the blue Principles are present to form its negative violet. The absorbent, solvent, and reflecting powers (as in a mirror!) of this Tattva, and there-fore of the sheath, whose substance has like qualities, make it inadvisable to attempt to establish hard and fast color-rules in their connection. Holding the septenary of colors latent, receiving colors from every source, and reflecting every-thing above and below, who can say positively that Apas is this or that? In its primary state we know it as white and colorless. But we can venture to assign it an orderly place in the scale of progression as the normal state after permutations fitting it for physical activities. The moon is sometimes designated as the ruling; planet of this sheath; but are not all negative conditions influenced by the moon? I believe it will eventually be proved that they are. Violet is the color some-times attributed to the moon a marvellously translucent silvery violet, the hue that silver assumes in certain conditions – and her mysterious power over water has always baffled the scientist. There are no doubt very subtle and strong relations between the moon and Venus.
The spleens are the vital links between the gross and etheric bodies, for through them Prâna is brought forth upon the physical plane. The subtle spleen absorbs the vital currents and transmutes and changes them into the coarser particles that become in the gross body its ” elemental lives,” animating the molecules and cells. The positive connection of these shariras, through motor nerves, is within the medulla oblongata; and the negative union, through the nerves of sensation, is in the solar plexus. Brown-Séquard says, ” When a violent sudden emotion causes death, it is by the action on the medulla oblongata.” The explanation is that the shock ruptures the union of the physical body with its double and thereby severs connection with the vital force (see Chapter XXI I) . The thoughtful reader will recall in this connection the prevalence of Apas stimulator of taste in the throat.
Besides these profoundly important centers, the little finger of the left hand is influenced by the Etheric-double (through the spleen, as is the right through the liver; the little fingers corresponding with these organs), and it is this sheath which transmits all sense perceptions to the Kâma-rupa, the sheath of feeling and sensation; hence, in the Etheric-double lies the mysterious power to receive them in abnormal ways, as seeing through the ears and smelling with the toes. By so much as one sense is weakened or dulled is the connection between the Etheric body and its counterpart impaired.
One immediate benefit derived from practicing the breathing exercise for Prânâyâma, or control of Prâna the exercise distinguished as the ” Held Breath “ is that it invigorates and harmonizes all these immensely important connections, restoring them when disordered to their normal balance and union, and by so much as they are strengthened, strengthens the hold upon life itself.
The psychic breath is the breath of the spirit, and we cannot limit it to the thought-power setting into vibration the molecules of the nerve-cells. It is also the subtle breath of the Etheric body through the pores of the skin and it is something altogether finer than oxygen and nitrogen that it inhales in this psychic breath. The purity and healthful activity of the skin thus yields in importance to no other function of life.