The Evolution of Consciousness-Part 1

This is the first in a series of articles by KAMLESH D. PATEL about the evolution of consciousness, and how spiritual practices are designed to help consciousness expand and evolve.

The Science of Spirituality

Part 1 – The Three Bodies

When we talk about weaving a destiny, a future for ourselves, what do we mean? In the worldly sense, we want a good life. From my one-bedroom apartment, I want a five-bedroom house; from owning one factory I hope to own ten factories; I dream of being promoted from the position of a clerk to that of a CEO; I want a happy and fulfilling family life, and to raise children who also have fulfilling lives.

From the spiritual perspective, we are concerned with a much bigger picture. In order to explore this further, we need to first describe the human make-up. We have a physical body made of flesh and blood that is the most solid part of us. While it changes a little bit, according to how we live our lives, it doesn’t change much. Physical evolution happens over longer periods than one lifetime, so we don’t expect our physical body to evolve in this life. The physical body is associated with matter.

We also have a subtle body, also known as the astral or mental body, that is associated with energy and vibration. This is what we call the heart and mind. The third body we have is our causal body, the cause of our existence, which is also known as the soul. The causal body is associated with the absolute state of nothingness, the substratum of existence. This causal body is pure, unchanging and immutable, so it is does not need to evolve.

With the physical and the causal bodies, we cannot expect to find evolutionary changes. When we want to change our thinking and our patterns of behaviour, during any process of self-development, be it psychological or spiritual, what evolves or transforms is the middle layer, the subtle body. Spiritual destiny has everything to do with the purification of the subtle body by removing the layers that surround it. In the mineral kingdom, all three bodies are so closely tied together that it is difficult to separate them; they don’t have much freedom. To the extent to which they can free themselves vibrationally, they have different qualities and we give them names like Gold, Lead, Osmium, etc.

Spiritual destiny has everything to do with
the purification of the subtle body by
removing the layers that surround it.

In the plant kingdom, the three bodies are a little looser. Look at a tree. How do you know it has a subtle body that responds? Have you seen flowers that open up when the sun comes? How do they know? They respond so nicely, turning as the sun moves. There is also a plant called Lajvanti, and when you touch it the leaves fold in. When there is
a breeze, or even a storm, the leaves and branches of trees dance, but the moment someone tries to cut the branch of a tree, it becomes agitated.

You can feel it. In plants, the subtle body and the causal body are very tightly tied together, and the subtle body cannot express much. In animals, there is a still greater separation, and in human beings all the three bodies are labile or loosely connected. Among different human beings, there are also differences in separation. The three gunas in Vedic philosophy – tamasic, rajasic and sattvik – are based on how loosely or how strongly the bodies are connected.

In a sattvik person, the subtle body can move around, whereas a tamasic person is more stone-like. One person can think of something somewhere else, but another person with limited mental capacity may not grasp what is happening around them. Even if you tell them about it, their mind cannot reach there. Sometimes, when we communicate, certain concepts are not understood by the other person because of the subtle body’s inability to grasp them.

So at the level of the subtle body, we can
choose to evolve and go beyond the animal level
of existence to the human level to the divine level,
by expanding our field of consciousness.

So at the level of the subtle body, we can choose to evolve and go beyond the animal level of existence to the human level to the divine level, by expanding our field of consciousness.

How can we describe the subtle body, and how does it evolve? There are four main functions of the subtle body that we will consider and they are:

Chit or consciousness,
Manas or our contemplative faculty,
Buddhi or intellect, and
Ahankar or ego.

They all have a role to play in our evolution, and in the next issue we will explore them further

To be continued..


Kamlesh D. Patel

About Kamlesh D. Patel

Kamlesh Patel is the world teacher of Heartfulness, and the fourth spiritual Guide in the Sahaj Marg system of Raja Yoga. He oversees Heartfulness centers and ashrams in over 130 countries, and guides the thousands of certified Heartfulness trainers who are permitted to impart Yogic Transmission under his care. Known to many as Daaji, he is also an innovator and researcher, equally at home in the inner world of spirituality and the outer world of science, blending the two into transcendental research on the evolution of consciousness, and expanding our understanding of the purpose of human existence to a new level.

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  1. Thank you, good overview and reminder.

  2. Very nice one. Simply put.

  3. Most helpful. I look forward to the next part.

  4. A very straight forward explanation of the three bodies. Looking forward to reading more. Thanks.

  5. Avatar Khushboo Saraf : April 19, 2016 at 4:08 am

    Very interesting topic!

  6. I always struggled to understand the thin line of difference between these three bodies. After reading this article, it’s very clear. Very well articulated, Thank you! Looking forward to the continuation.

  7. Avatar Manoj Kumar Sharma : April 23, 2016 at 9:56 pm

    We are waiting for part 2. Thank you for beautifully explaining this topic in a simple and understandable manner.

  8. Avatar Manjunath Ramaswamy : April 23, 2016 at 11:29 pm

    It is amazing to learn something new. Thank you.

  9. Beautifully explained thru simple words. It’s very clear. Eagerly waiting for further updates on this topic.

  10. So clearly put, but the one thing I always struggle to understand is: what is the difference between psychological self development and spiritual development? Working on one’s thoughts, behaviour and attitude comes under what? Looking forward eagerly to the next part.

  11. Avatar Sudhanshu saxena : April 26, 2016 at 1:07 am

    Thank you for explaining it so clearly and reminding me where I need to work! Looking forward for Part 2, to know more about Chit, Manas, Buddhi and Ahankar

  12. Avatar Sonam bhutia : May 1, 2016 at 4:08 am

    Thank you. Eagerly looking forward to the next part.

  13. Good article. Am trying to understand and feel it.

  14. Very nice. Thank you.

  15. One knows it deeply to be true. Only someone like this author who has realized it within himself can express it. Thanks.

  16. Avatar Saroja Sampth : February 8, 2017 at 5:20 pm

    It took me one year to fully understand the three bodies. Now, still not clear how much I understood about the subtle body and how it grows.

  17. Very nice article. Looking forward to learning more from your articles and experiencing the states rather than believing. Thank you for sharing.

  18. Awesome tutorial. Thanks alot!

  19. Avatar Balasubramanyam Veluru : January 15, 2018 at 1:41 am

    Wonderful article in simple language.

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