Religion and the Subtle Body IV.4-5




Subtle Subjects and Ethics

Jay Johnston


p. 239 increasing vogue for intersubjectivity in parasychology, and for subtle substance in metaphysics

"the subtle-body forms of subjectivity {how so? If "subjectivity" = "sense of selfhood"; and it be taken into account that Bauddha philosophy is firm in rejection of the notion of body as definitional of any notion of "self", then "subjectivity" cannot in any way depend on any body or bodies, and therefore not on any relationships amongst bodies} are a radical form of intersubjectivity {actually, they are neither "radical" nor "intersubjective"} ... ."

{"Intersubjectivity" is praecisely that which shifting of one's own consciousness among various subtle bodies (material body, dream-body, etc.) cannot involve, inasmuch as a single unified consciousness is always the basis of any "subjectivity"; never are the various subtle bodies alleged to be the basis of any consciousness, and therefore they cannot serve as basis for any "subjectivity", so that the alleged-and-claimed (by author J. J.) "intersubjectivity" cannot arise in any manner whatsoever.}

that implicitly renegotiates ... dualisms ... . {NOT QUITE! The "dualisms" remain unaltered, with merely the addition of control-mechanism, in order to assure absolute dominance of the conscious will over all bodies (both material and immaterial) which may be occupied (and thereby be absolutely dominated) by such will-to-power (over one's body).}

{No sort of "negotiation" is actually involved. Instead, the relationship is entirely managed, without "negotiation", by direct control of, e.g., material body by aitheric body, which is, in turn, strictly subject to a conscious will residing in, e.g., astral body. This direct chain-of-command may be extended into higher levels (of subtle bodies) in like manner, with never any sort of "negotiation" becoming involved. [written 17 May 2018]}

p. 240 advocacy for understanding of consciousness as innate to physical matter

"Individuals via their subtle bodies comprised varying degrees of matter-consciousness/spirit and

their spiritual development was tied to the refinement and apprehension of this subtle substance."

{"Refinement" is to be accomplished by the conscious will's rising to successively higher-level (increasingly subtle) bodies' and "apprehension" by understanding that such subtle bodies are gifts (or rather, loans) from councils of divine entities governing the loftier planes-of-existence.}

"In Theosophical discourse we also find 'matter-consciousness' :

an animated, processual and ontological 'substance' designated as the constituent of physical as well as subtle bodies."

{The dominance of the will of the consciousness over all substantial bodies occupied by it is so absolute that the situation is such as if the bodies involved were (while thus occupied) not separate nor distinct from the will-power itself.}

p. 241 Henri Bergson as an exemplar; Henri Bergson, concerning the continuum

"Henri Bergson played a very public role in the parapsychology organizations of his day, including acting as President of the Society for Psychical Research in Cambridge. ... Indeed, ... his sister was married to a ... leader of the Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn, Sameul MacGregor Matthews (Grogin 1988:75; Johnston 2008:57). ...

The ... matter-consciousness that Bergson proposed in his philosophical texts, most notably Matter and Memory (1896), presented ... analogies to the ... ontological framework that supports the Theosophical ... subtle bodies. ... For Bergson,

pure matter and pure spirit are idealized (virtual) {In ordinary physics, "pure matter" and "pure energy" could likewise be designated "idealized" and "virtual", but there would be little advantage in so designating them; nor is there much advantage in so designating them in the occult sciences.},

{In actuality, in the full occult characterization, material substance is extremely sharply distinct from all subtle (immaterial substances) : subtle substance may glow in the dark (as, e.g., in the case of ectoplasms and the bodies of ghosts), may move in a zigzagging flight at enormous velocity (as, e.g., the in case of flying saucers), may entre into dream-worlds and exit thence, etc. etc.; none of which is at all possible for material substance.}

between which is a lived continuum of mutually imbricated matter-consciousness (actual)."

{In the actual occult (including the Theosophical Society's, Umbanda's, and of that ilk) metaphysics, however, the "continuum" is effectuated by the perispirit while within the confines of the material body; such perispirit being, moreover, capable of emanating the aitheric body in its functioning as, e.g., a doppelga:nger. (Thus, the standard occult descriptionof the experiential procedure is, by far, more intricate than Henri Bergson deceptively overly-facile remarks.)}

Grogin 1988 = R. C. Grogin : The Bergsonian Controversy in France 1900-1914. Univ of Calgary Pr.

Johnson 2008 = J. Johnson : Angels of Desire : Esoteric Bodies, Aesthetics and Ethics. Oakville (CT) : Equinox.

p. 242 metaphysical immanence in Taoism and in Theosophy

"Deleuze and Guattari proposed a radically extensive form of subjectivity ... made from a type of ontological desire ... . The ontological, productive 'desire' of which it is comprised is presented as drawn from 'the field of immanence' : a 'plane of consistency'. ...

Indeed, it is to the Tao that Deleuze and Guattari turn in A Thousand Plateaus to explicate the nature and operations of 'the field of immanence' (1987:156-7). ... As an ontological stratum, the 'field of immanence' resembles the Theosophical 'planes of perception', and indeed, ... A Thousand Plateaus ... is presented as comprising several plateaus ('A plateau is a piece of immanence', 1987:158)."

Deleuze & Guattari 1987 = G. Deleuze & F. Guattari (transl by B. Massumi) : A Thousand Plateaus : Capitalism and Schizophrenia. London : Verso.

pp. 243-4 according to Luce {dialectal form of "Lucia"} Irigaray : Astika (Hindu) yoga & subtle-body with intersubjectivity along lines of gendre-difference

p. 243

"Luce Irigaray's work ... To Be Two (2000) presents a critique of the singular ontology of Western philosophy ... . The subtle body is taken up more directly in her following book, Between East and West ... (2002), in which Irigaray discusses her own yoga practice and understanding of Yoga philosophy. ...

discusses her own yoga practice and understanding of Yoga philosophy. ...

{The twisting of body-postures in yoga is repraesentative (symbolically) of twisting one's mind into an awkward stance in an effort to understand the thinking by one 's own spouse who is of opposite gendre from one's self. [written 21 May 2018]}

p. 244

Subjectivity for Irigaray is implicitly tied to the lived body (phenomenological) and, considering her earlier work on feminine subjectivity, it is also, always, gendered. ... In proposing dual subjectivity, Irigaray suggests that the gender difference is played out in terms of ... an ontological energy. ... These are relations that are founded on the presumption that ... :

'the other [i.e., her husband (or even any other male)], because he is not mine, remains mobile in me, an energy tied to him but free between us : an energy linked by an inclination and by a "not"' (2000:52)."

{This erotic (and/or semi-erotic) inclination for linkage, epitomized in that between a female's body and a male's body, is energized by the factuality that females do "not" think like males, nor do males think like females. [written 21 May 2018]}

pp. 245-6 according to Rita {short for "Margarita"} Gross : Vajra-yana (Bodish) yoga along lines of gendre-difference with mutual co-cultivation of a couple's subtle bodies

p. 245

"In Buddhism After Patriarchy : A Feminist History, Analysis, and Reconstruction of Buddhism (1993) Rita M. Gross identifies the Vajrayana Buddhist tradition as centrally concerned with gender relations. ...

p. 246

Accompanying this is an exploration of the role that the breath/energy ... plays in such intersubjective exchange. She argues ... that part of recognizing this is

becoming aware of the activity of 'space' and emphasizing relation of non-duality (1993:203). ...

{The term "space" is a rather inadequate translation of Skt \akasa\, most noted as the locus of the Akas`ik Record, which is accessed (as was done most expertly by Edgar Cayce), so that the pertinent variety of "non-duality" would be a non-difference between the praesent life and the experiential evidence of continuity into the praesent life of event-relations of past lives.}

A Tantric framework allows Gross to posit that such gender differences ... enable embodied practioners to cultivate (co-cultivate) their subtle bodies."

{The pertinent subtle bodies would be the antara-bhava (bar-do) bodies of both persons constituting a married couple, such that their bodies in the antara-bhava (transition-between-lives) state mediate the couple's ongoing domestic relationship. [written 22 May 2018]}

p. 246 according to Anne Klein : understanding (of gendre-differences) in a way between constructivism and essentialism

"This emphasis on the process of perceptive cultivation is also key to Anne Carolyn Klein, ... practitioner of Tibetan Buddhism. For Klein, it is the practice ... that provides a 'third' way of thinking about subjectivity (rather than just as either constructivist or essentialist ...) :

[quoted :] ... internal coherence akin to 'essentialist' forms ... and at the same time ... compatible with constructionist ... sensibiities because of intense awareness of the flow that ... can ameliorate the tension between ...

perspectives in feminist contexts. ... theories and practices envision a ... groundedness ... of the constructed nature of self ...,

{The illusion of existence of atman ('self') is thus considered to be (instead of an independent "essence") "grounded in" (pragmatically based on) outlooks inhaering in other persons (especially in one's spouse).}

so that there is never a necessity to 'choose' strategically between them. There is a place ... for both. (1995:68-69)"

{Therefore it would be needless to puzzle out what the essential nature of one's self might be; and instead of "choosing" between one's one understanding of situations and one's spouse's understanding of such, simply accept both outlooks as sufficiently valid. [written 22 May 2018]}

Klein 1995 = Anne K. Klein : Meeting the Great Bliss Queen : Buddhists, Feminists, and the Art of the Self. Boston (MA) : Beacon Pr. {Is the Great Bliss (maha-sukha) queen identical with Nanto-suelta, protectrix of home-and-hearth (CM&F, s.v. "Natosuelta", p. 349a), so that there not be need of choice between home and hearth (viz., between wooden home [of Taoist wood-dragon god, the male] and hearth's fire [of Shinto fire-goddess; or the more-antient-than-the-male original Chinese stove-goddess, the female])? For, the attainment (for the sahajiya 'innate') unto maha-sukha, which attainment is in the pure-land abode SUKHa-vati ('bliss-providing'), may be where leaf-crowned god SUCellos is connected with (CM&F, s.v. "Sucellus", p. 431b) Nanto-suelta. Aequivalent to goddess Svar (< *\SWAL\)-bhanavi (MBh, "Adi Parvan" 75:26 -- PE, s.v.), Nanto-SUELta (evidently of Narbonensis's tribe Nantuates, mentioned in B.G. 3:1 & 4:10) could carry the Eddic sun's shield SVALin (similarly as the aigis carried by Athene [= goddess \Svadha\ in cakra Svadhisthana]). Because the simplest of hearths will be 3 stones (for setting, on them, a cooking-pot), therefore the "three rocks in a background scene" ("5CN") of the comic-strip Nancy, might possibly indicate her to be intended as goddess Nanto-suelta. The hammer carried by Sucellos could be, in West African fashion, for hammering nails into a wooden idol while making a prayer to heaven, such prayers tending to requaest domestic peace (e.g., between husband and wife). [written 24 May]}

CM&F = Patricia Monaghan : The Encyclopedia of Celtic Mythology and Folklore. Checkmark Bks (imprint of Facts On File), NY, 2004.

PE = Vettam Mani : Puranic Encyclopaedia. Motilal Banarsidass, Delhi, 1975.

"5CN" = "Five Card Nancy".

p. 247 "new materialism"

"In characterizing the proposition of 'new materialism', Coole and Frost argue that one of the traits of this 'movement' is 'its antipathy towards oppositional ways of thinking (2010:8)".

Coole & Frost 2010 = D. Coole & S. Frost : "Introducing New Materialisms". In :- D. Coole & S. Frost (edd.) : New Materialisms : Ontology, Agency, Politics. Durham (NC) : Duke Univ Pr.




Subtle-Body Processes

Geoffrey Samuel


p. 250 internal structure of subtle body

"The subtle body in the Indic and Tibetan Tantric contexts ... consists of ... channels (nad.i) and

junction points (cakra),

{each such junction being a confluence of nad.i-s, which appear as if petals (dal) of a waterlily-blossom}

through which flow a substance (pran.a ...) that is closely related to breathing ... and sexual energy."

pp. 254-5 different persons' differing perceptions of subtle reality

p. 254

"Human beings are certainly capable of perceiving {though the subtle senses innate to their subtle bodies} ... subtle realities, but individuals rarely agree with any precision about what they are observing. ...

{The reason for differences in such perceptions is, quite simply, that different persons' souls naturally vibrate at different frequencies (innate to the crystalline structures of their unique souls), and thus resonate with different subtle planes-and-subplanes-of-existence, all whereof differ much from each other.}

Thus the detailed structure of cakra (psychic centres) and nad.i (channels) differs between two of the main Tantric lineages within which it

p. 255

is presented, the Cakrasamvara and Kalacakra."

{The meaning of \samvara\ is 'magic', thus a function of one's oversoul (mediating with one's spirit-guides); whereas the meaning of \kala\ is 'time', thus a function of one's aitheric counterpart, which is bound into the temporality of the aitheric plane.}

p. 256 methodological difficulties

"as Garfield notes, ... studies have shown '... that long-term meditators experience dramatic, long-term transformations in cognitive function ...' (Garfield 2012 ...). It is true that, as Garfield notes, this is hardly a surprising discovery to anyone who has been seriously involved with meditation".

Garfield 2012 = J. Garfield : "Ask Not What Buddhism Can Do for Cognitive Science; Ask What Cognitive Science Can Do for Buddhism". BULLETIN OF TIBETOLOGY 47:15-30.

p. 257 evidence from parapsychology

"There is ... a substantial amount of evidence from parapsychology and related fields ...; a convenient recent summary is the volume Irreducible Mind by Edward Kelly and others (2009). Much of this research is substantial and extensive ... . ... Much the same is true of other bodies of data, such as that of visions by dying persons, or by people undergoing near-death experiences ... (Greyson 2010)."

such as that of visions by dying persons, or by people undergoing near-death experiences, of dead people of whose deaths the viewer was unaware ... (Greyson 2010)."

{Far more convincing still is the power of remote-viewers (often working for top-secret classified projects of the major governments of the world) to see, on peremptory demand and immediately, any view of anywhere in the world, including of top-secret bases maintained by other governments.}

Greyson 2010 = B. Greyson : "Seeing Dead Persons Not Known to Have Died : "Peak in Darien" Experiences". ANTHROPOLOGY & HUMANISM 35.2:159-71.

p. 258 subtle layers

"the Theosophical approach ... essentially consists of naive physicalism with a series of a series of 'subtle' layers added on." {The material body (and likewise the material universe) is proprely accounted-for by describing it as impure, in being composite (and thus impermanent) : i.e., as a sort of aggregate-alloy of the grossly interacting substances extending out of the pure subtle planes.}

{This characterization by author G.S. is a woefully inadequate account of the general occult scheme of planes-of-existence. The actual standard system is : there are at least 3 basic planes, namely the causal plane (relating to ethics, serving as universal co-operative government), the mental plane (relating to communication, to language, and to symbolism), and the astral plane (relating to emotions). Deluded mortals (and their defiled material universe) are directed by a combination (though in this function not mutually interactive amongst the triplicity, and thus not defiled nor impure) of these pure planes-of-existence. [written 23 May 2018]}

p. 258 "downwards causation" (in controlling processes within the brain)

"I return here to a passage by the late Chilean cognitive scientist ... Francisco Varela and his colleague


{named after "the wife of the 4th-century martyr Saint Adrian of Nicomedia" ("GNN"), "Hadrianic Severianic Nicomedia" (OCD, s.v. "Nicomedia")}

Depraz ... (Samuel 2006). Varela and Depraz point to the ... process of 'downward causation' :

[quoted]... . ... this global level, the self, has direct efficacious actions over the local components. It ... constrains and affects these local components."

{The conscious mind ("self") is in control of ("constrains and affects") the various regions ("local components") of the brain.}

"GNN" = "Given Name NATALIE".

OCD = Hammond & Scullard (edd.) : Oxford Classical Dictionary. 2nd edn. Clarendon Pr, 1970.

Samuel 2006 = Geoffrey Samuel : "Tibetan Medicine and Biomedicine : Epistemological Conflicts, Practical Solutions". ASIAN MEDICINE : TRADITION & MODERNITY 2.1:72-85.

{The conscious mind is indeed in direct control of the cerebrum; but only to a lesser extent of the cerebrum; and only indirectly of the processes of the medulla oblongata.}

p. 259 autonomy (freedom from being controlled : especially freedom of the conscious mind from being controlled by the mere material brain), as in auto-poietic ('self-making') systems

"The argument here goes back to ... Varela's first major work, Autopoesis and Cognition, written jointly with his teacher and colleague at the University of Chile, Humberto Maturana, of living organisms as 'autopoetic' (self-constructing) systems (Maturana and Varela 1972). ...

Varela's work ... allows for ... autonomy from the material base."

Maturana & Varela 1973 = Humberto Romecin Maturana; Francisco J. Varela : Autopoesis and Cognition. Dordrecht : D. Reidel Publ. (translation of Maquinas y Seres Vivos. 1972.)

p. 260 Bateson, on learning and on models of reality

"There is nevertheless astrlong sense, particularly in Bateson's later work, that Learning 2 (and even more Learning 3) involves something that might be termed self-awareness, and even a spiritual dimension." [p. 264, n. 13 "See the article 'Style, Grace and Information in Primitive Art' included in Bateson 1973".]

Bateson 1973 = G. Bateson : Steps to an Ecology of Mind : Collected Essays in Anthropology ... and Epistemology. St Albans : Paladin.

p. 261 inhaerently incomplete validity of models of reality

"Bateson argues that any repraesentation of the world is by definition incomplete, since inevitably less complex than the world itself (Bateson 1973:115-16).

In this respect, the models of both Varela and Bateson havean affinity with the Buddhist sense that reality is somehow far more complex than the ability of any given organism to fathom".

{WRONG! Throughout rN~in-ma litterature, it is very frequently asserted that the universe is so very simple, that all its structure is reflected (modeled) in every an.u (quark) of it.}

{The "principle is to turn mystery into reality, and transform complexity into simplicity." (ROS)} {This is in accord with "a central tenet of Plotinus's mystical philosophy : simplicity is a reliable guide to truth." (ROPGu, p. 259)} {"The postulate that a universe identical {throughout} is more satisfying, intellectually or emotionally, than a universe that is heterogenous, seems to be at the heart of every monistic {viz., RIGOROUSLY self-consistent} system that takes itself seriously." ("AMMI", p. 232)} {Thus, the universal truth (logical structure of the universe) is repraesentationally too simple to be modeled. Bateson was, in effect, dead wrong. [written 24 May 2018]}

ROS = Ricardo B. Serrano : Return to Oneness with Spirit through Pan Gu Shen Gong. HolisticWebs, North Vancouver (BC), 2011.

ROPGu = Brian Hines : Return to the One : Plotinus's Guide to God-realization. Unlimited Publ, Bloomington (IN); Adrasteia Publ, Salem (OR), 2004.

J. Loewenberg : "The Apotheosis of Mind in Modern Idealism". PHILOSOPHICAL REVIEW 31 (1922).3:215-36.

p. 262 the subtle body in its unprojected state

"one sees the subtle body ... as a kind of view of the brain and central nervous system from within". {Yea, particularly in some forms of Taoist yoga, one's own bodily organs may be witnessed, and the particular deities who (though based in another transcendent world) communicate with the material world via one's own bodily organs, can be detected.}

{This could be effectively true so long as the subtle body involved hath not as yet been projected out from the material body. Only in hypn-agogeia, in hypno-pompeia, in dreaming, or in certain particular states of "clear light" (>od gsal : a state of seeing undifferentiated luminosity), namely in the "clear light of sleep" and in the "clear light of death" -- is there a complete separation from the material body. In trances (wherein one may witness an alternative reality, yet remain sensibly in the material body) the separation may be less than complete.}


ROUTLEDGE STUDIES IN ASIAN RELIGION AND PHILOSOPHY, 8 = Geoffrey Samuel & Jay Johnston (edd.) : Religion and the Subtle Body in Asia and the West : Between Mind and Body. Routledge (an imprint of Taylor & Francis Group), Abingdon (Oxon), 2013.