Consciousness is a subject that has been pondered by philosophers all over the world for many thousands of years. In many spiritual traditions, there exists a concept of the three bodies – three overlapping entities that comprise the human being. They are often referred to as the physical body, mind body, and spirit body. This is a very useful concept that has become somewhat lost in the modern world.
In our capitalist societies, there is a heavy emphasis on the physical body, with the focus on chasing pleasure and avoiding pain. In educational and corporate institutions, there is a heavy focus on the mind – in gaining knowledge, using logical thinking, and solving problems.
The concept of the soul or spirit as a part of human nature is sometimes neglected in the Western world, except in spiritual and religious communities. But whether you believe in its existence or not, it can be very useful to understand why our ancestors put so much emphasis on the idea that humans were made up of three overlapping bodies. Interestingly enough, Maslow’s hierarchy of needs closely mirrors this concept, as we can see below.
The Three Bodies
In many spiritual philosophies around the world, the concept of the three bodies is a rather prominent idea. This concept is discussed in the philosophies of Hinduism, Buddhism, Taoism, New Age, and Christianity. The emphasis is often on wholeness and the balance between the three bodies. This has to do not only with health and well-being, but also with self-actualization.
In the different spiritual traditions that talk about the three bodies, they can be referred to by different names, but the idea is more or less the same. The physical body is the realm of biological functions responsible for survival, and is home of the five senses. The mental body (also called astral or subtle body) is where our thoughts, emotions, imagination, logical reasoning, and understanding of abstract concepts happen. The spirit body (also called the causal body) is the limitless aspect of our nature where all things exist, where self-actualization and transcendence happen.
These concepts also overlap with Maslow’s hierarchy of needs. We can think of the bottom tiers as corresponding to the physical body – our physiological and safety needs. The middle tiers correspond to the mental body – love, self esteem, desire for knowledge, individuality. The top tier corresponds to the spiritual body – reaching one’s full potential, purpose, meaning, and transcendence.
Environments, Technology and States of Consciousness
In the second half of this podcast episode, we talk about how environments affect different states of consciousness. We compare different locations around the world, and how city design affects social interaction and lifestyle. We discuss how we can engineer environments that foster healthy states of body, mind, and spirit.
We also touch on how modern technology is in its “awkward teenage phase”. We talk about how future technology will be more seamlessly integrated into our lives.
In This Episode of Future Thinkers Podcast:
- Consciousness, the three bodies and the balance between them
- How they are represented in Eastern and Western spiritual traditions
- Understanding the needs of the different bodies
- Collective consciousness and transcendence
- Consumerism and physical body-identification
- The problem with the political correctness culture
- City design, and how it affects us
- Engineering micro and macro environments for specific states
- Future technology and seamless integration
Download the Meditation App:
The Cutting Machinery Meditation app we made with Vinay Gupta is available for iPhone and Android
Mentions and Resources:
- Plovdiv, Bulgaria, our current home base
- Joe Rogan on PC Culture
- South Park Kanye West joke
- Yogananda on the Three Bodies
- The Three Bodies in Hinduism
- The Three Bodies in Christianity
- The Three Bodies in Buddhism
Recommended and Mentioned Books:
Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda
The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle (we recommend the audiobook)
Big Magic by Elizabeth Gilbert
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