Monday, April 21, 2014

Subtle bodies

The issue of subtle bodies has again come up at IPS. Perhaps it might help to revisit Excerpt G, toward a comprehensive theory of subtle energies? I agree with Lingam when he says:

"If, in the following, I question the adequacy of some of these interpretations, I am not at all questioning the authenticity of the experiences or realizations of these great sages. I am simply suggesting that, as evolution itself continues to move forward, new horizons can be used to recontextualize and reframe these experiences in interpretive meshworks that are more adequate in the light of modern and postmodern contributions" (8).

I question some of his reframing as more of a rehash, but it's a place to start.

On p. 9 of G matter is not the lowest rung on the great chain but is the exterior of every level. Hence even the highest levels of consciousness are not meta-physical. Each one has a 'body.' As gross form complexifies (human brain) there are corresponding subtle energy bodies (18). However on 19 he still uses traditional Vedanta to interpret these subtle bodies. But they are still tied to the complexification of the brain: "These subtle fields cannot be reduced to matter, but neither are they ontologically disconnected from matter altogether" (20). Figure 7 shows this relationship to brain structure (21). Psychic (mental) energy emerges with triune brains (24). Causal and nondual are related to the overmind and supermind (28).

On 36 though he goes back to the traditional Vedanta-Vajrayana interpretation of these bodies. See table 2 on 37. He here brings in waking, dreaming and deep sleep to correspond with gross, subtle and causal bodies. And also the difference between states and stages. He admits though that "I have incorporated those aspects, virtually unchanged, in my own model of Integral Psychology" (40). And therein lies the problem. I've recontextualized this system keeping the notion that each level must have a body without keeping the "virtually unchanged" metaphysical tenets inherent to this paradigm. See for example the "states, stages" thread and the "postmeta definition of states" thread.

The whole thing completely derails in the discussion of reincarnation starting on 42, where we can now separate the gross body from the subtle and causal bodies. This is how he maintains that a 'body' is still required, just not a gross-material body. I obviously don't accept this. He mentions that for Varela and Thompson this is not possible, and they are 'Buddhists' (43). Agreed. I have a thread on Thompson here where he has been doing neurological tests on advanced Buddhist practitioners for a long time. His findings are consonant with my notions. E.g. from this post:

"But whereas the Advaitin takes this minimal selfhood to be a transcendental witness consciousness, I think itʼs open to us to maintain that it is my embodied self or bodily subjectivity, or what phenomenologists would call my pre-personal lived body. In this way, I think we can remove the Advaita conception of dreamless sleep from its native metaphysical framework and graft it onto a naturalist conception of the embodied mind."

Also see this post quoting Thompson:

"I describe a dialogue on this question I had with the Dalai Lama at his refugee home in Dharamsala, India, and I explain the basis in Buddhist philosophy for the Dalai Lama’s view that consciousness transcends the brain. I argue, however, that there’s no scientific evidence to support this view. All the evidence available to us indicates that consciousness, including pure awareness, is contingent on the brain. Nevertheless, my viewpoint isn’t a materialist one" (33).

The post following expands on this.

Also recall Levin's bodies, which also go into subtle and causal bodies but defined postmetaphysically.

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