Who are we ? Or rather, WHAT are we …? Descartes once said: “I think, therefore I am”. What does “being” mean? Are we our thoughts? But what would our thoughts be if our body did not exist? And what about our soul? Some believe that it survives after death … Then would we be our soul if it survives after death despite the disappearance of our body?
In reality, we are a mix of all of this. We are multidimensional. In his book “The 7 spiritual laws of yoga”, Dr. Deepak Chopra explains that “our existence unfolds simultaneously on several planes”. He teaches us that there are three fundamental elements that constitute our unlimited essential nature:
- the physical body: the body, which alerts us when something is wrong in our environment,
- the subtle body: the mind, which often blocks the exchange between our physical body and our soul,
- the causal body: the soul, which wishes to rise to its full potential and guide us daily through intuitions and signs.
This is what I call the triangle of being. Let’s see what these three entities represent.
The physical body (the body)
This is the field of molecules.
From a superficial point of view, we would be tempted to say that the body is a set of molecules assembled to form this carnal envelope made up of bones, muscles and blood. But in reality our physical body is much more than that. It is itself made up of three envelopes.
The expanded body
It is our immediate environment : the air we breathe, the water we drink, the food we ingest, the words and sounds we hear, the images we see… All of this comes to shape our body and our mind step by step. There is no clear border between our expanded body and our personal body: each breath we take reminds us of the permanent connection of our physical body to our environment. Our expanded body is just as important to master as our personal body. We are embedded in our ecosystem.
The personal body
We also have a personal body made up of molecules that “temporarily” inhabit our cells, tissues and organs. Temporarily because our body is constantly changing: the skin cells are renewed every day, those of the liver change every six weeks, etc. Our personal body is the result of the transformation of our food. Therefore, the link between personal body and expanded body described above takes on its full meaning here: a healthy body begins with an expanded body (environment) of quality.
The energetic body
This is the layer of vital energy that flows through us. The energetic body is the breath of life that circulates in you and makes your cells work. You have surely already noticed that your energy varies according to the days, your sleep, your environment, or even according to the people around you. In the same way as our personal body, our energetic body is influenced by our environment. In this sense, it is an indivisible part of our physical body.
The subtle body (the mind)
The subtle body is the field of thoughts.
In our current society, it is easy to get lost in the subtle body because it attaches to roles, external relationships and objects. As a result, many people identify with their minds. The subtle body is also made up of three envelopes.
The mental is the entity that stores our sensory impressions. The sight of an object, the smell of a dish, the pleasant or unpleasant sensation of a texture, the sound of a noise or even the taste of a food, are all sensory impressions that our mind stores. all day long. All these impressions are engraved in our consciousness, at different levels and states. Their transcription will be different depending on the state of consciousness. For example, the transcription of our sensory impressions during a waking state will be different from that transcribed during our dreams.
It’s the dimension of the mind that chooses. She is the one who is capable of logic, analysis and calculation. The intellect weighs the “pros” and “cons” of dilemma situations. It brings together the beliefs and feelings of our mind to arrive at a rational decision. According to yoga, the ultimate goal of this dimension is to distinguish the real from the unreal. It is the part of the subtle body which has long been, wrongly, put forward as proof of intelligence through in particular the IQ (intelligence quotient). But intelligence is not just about the intellect (see Article on emotional agility).
The ego is the dimension of our being that identifies with social position and material goods. He is at the origin of the concept of property, through “my / my”, “mine”, “me” and “I”. According to Dr. Deepak Chopra, “he seeks security through control”. Unfortunately, it is responsible for many of our emotional pains. Indeed, our emotional reactions are, most of the time, the result of an injury of the ego which could not see outside its field of control.
The causal body (the soul)
Under the field of molecules (physical body) and under the field of thoughts (subtle body), there is a third dimension of being: the causal body, also called soul. The soul resides in the field of pure potentiality.
They are the source of our thoughts, emotions, desires, dreams and feelings. But above all it is the origin of the molecules that make up our physical body. It is the source of creation. Just like the physical body and the subtle body, the causal body has three envelopes.
The personal soul
It’s our soul in our physical body. This is the place where the seeds of the desires of each of us rest. We are all endowed with a unique set of talents and each have a specific objective to accomplish on earth, also called Dharma (cf. article on dharma: here). Placed in the right environment (healthy body and mind), the seeds grow and then we are able to express our talents in the world. When this happens, our personal soul experiences a sense of accomplishment and personal success.
The collective soul
We are a living story. The collective soul is the set of beliefs common to many human beings and even to all of humanity. This is the case, for example, of common myths known to all, such as the myths of Icarus who flew too close to the Sun or that of Daphne who turns into a laurel due to the too insistent court of Apollo. These myths are present in our modern world. The collective soul is also observed at the level of a country or a region of the world. Have you ever felt the soul of a place just by stepping foot out of the plane? Indeed, there is a collective soul to a people or a country. Because just like the personal soul, a country or a region has a dharma to accomplish to change the course of history. So, just like our immediate environment, the country where we live is also part of our being.
The universal soul
The deepest aspect of our being resides in the universal soul. This envelope goes beyond the dimensions of time, space and causality. It is the origin of the entire universe. It is the most difficult envelope to perceive because most human beings on Earth are simply not able to sense this dimension. The universal soul does not have its own qualities and we cannot describe it even with our sensory and energetic impressions.
“This field without location, unlimited, is the source of the goal of life.”
Dr Deepak Chopra
In summary, Dr. Deepak Chopra schematizes the triangle of being as follows:
Reading this article, I can bet that you see your being very differently …