Human Structure According to Hindu and Christian Philosophy - Sheath 1 - 3
In this, the first episode of the Happiness Through Spirituality series, we begin to understand three of the five sheaths that make up the human structure. Understanding that there is more to the human being than merely a body and mind, is the starting point for an evolution of perspective that will carry us into our happiest state of being, as modelled by `Jesus Christ. To this end, understanding our selves is the most basic and most necessary knowledge that we could acquire.
For thousands of years, religious philosophies were interpreted in isolation, in cultural or geographical silos, their secrets locked away by antiquated languages, parables, and analogies; their wisdoms guarded by the silence of monasteries and caves. But now, in the age of information accessibility, there has been no greater time in human history to access, interpret, and combine religious philosophies such that they add to the understanding of each other and thus to the body of religious knowledge that the world possesses. At the same time, humanity is crying out for some reprieve - for knowledge on how to navigate these turbulent waters of life, and for a hope that is true, dependable, and guaranteed.
Hi, I am Natasha Subbiah, and I have used combined religious philosophies to steadily increasing degrees of happiness and peace in my life. This series is an explanation of that combined philosophy - a philosophy that forms the hidden foundations of major religions, but more than that, the hidden foundation of all life, including your own. This ancient yet eternally-relevant philosophy and knowledge gives us an understanding of what we are, what all else is, and, how we can shape our lives to fulfil its ultimate purpose – and that is to be happy.
Peace, joy, and comfort is our natural place. They are our inheritance and birth right. And, like a conventional inheritance, our right to it is based solely on who we are. Unless, of course, we do not know who we are, in which case, we would not come forward to claim this glorious inheritance. The perceptions that we now hold about who we are and what we are, have been based on what seems like reliable evidence that we have gathered through our limited senses, and by what we have been taught by those around us, who, in turn, have learned what we are, and what they are, in the same way. But can the evidence of the senses be trusted? Are the limitations we assume about ourselves true? Is there more to us? Does the identity we keep so securely imprinted on our minds serve us well in our ultimate goal of attaining unbridled JOY?
The science of evolution as documented by Charles Darwin dealt only with the evolution of physical bodies. However, there is more to us than this gross body, and what really keeps us ahead on the evolutionary chain is more subtle than this body. Hindu Vedic philosophy reveals what those subtle aspects of man's composition are. This philosophy has been reintroduced to us by guru, miracle-worker, and God-man, Sri Sathya Sai Baba, a philosophy that will be laid out in today's episode.
Sai Baba explains that the human being is constituted of five sheaths. These five sheaths are however only tools of our true selves, and not our permanent being. Instead, these five sheaths encase our true selves like a scabbard encases a sword. The sheaths start at the gross and tangible level and then become increasingly more subtle - beginning with the only physically tangible sheath - the physical body. The physical body is known as the food sheath in Vedic philosophy because the body is built from food and will return to food one day – displaying its impermanence. And, like food - the physical body is easily subject to change, and disintegration. The physical human body is the most impermanent of the five sheaths; yet we identify with it so strongly. When we identify ourselves with the physical body, we are said to be in a state of ordinary consciousness. Thus, the realisation that we are not the physical body is critical to our progress beyond the ordinary, into knowing our truth and expanding into experiencing it. Yes, the human body is lovingly created in all its complexity, but it is only a very small taste of what love there is beyond it. There is so much more to us.
However, it is only in these human bodies, that we could ascend to the heights of our actual greatness. We should, therefore, appreciate the opportunities we have within them, with all the potential it provides. It is said that even the Devas ( angels as referred to in Hinduism) are, in a way, jealous of human beings, because of the opportunities a human birth provides to scale the heights of happiness through union with God.
How can we reconcile being so small compared to the universe, almost insignificant in size, and yet, so much indicates that we are far from insignificant? But this insignificant size is only true if we are the physical body. Through this philosophy we learn that this is simply not so; we are not limited to and defined by the human body, and we are certainly not insignificant as our size seems to indicate. The body is merely a tool to be used and then set aside. It is our perceptions that have led us to believe that we are only the body. It is thus simply a change in perceptions that could set us free from the same old experiences built up around our limited senses.
Most of us start our spiritual journeys by learning how to control the inputs into the physical body, such that it assists our spiritual progress. Sensory inputs of all kinds do have an influence on this journey, especially in the beginning. But as one progresses, and finally reaches the realisation that we are not the body, even these factors drop their influence over us.
When we believe that we are the body, we become enslaved to it - to its impulses, inputs, limitations, and illnesses. But when we know and perceive that we are much, much more, it is then that we take our rightful place as the masters of the body. This is what is taught to us in the revolutionary book, A Course In Miracles, which is an inner voice received by Helen Schucman, the record of which was published in 1976.
Dr. Helen Schucman identified the voice that dictated the book to her as the voice of Jesus. Is this the philosophy that Jesus used to overcome the physical limitations of the world: to heal illnesses, to take charge of wind, storm, and sea, and to resurrect the dead? Did he, through some means or the other, come to the realisation and then the perception that he is not the body? Was it this belief and faith that gave him the courage and conviction to allow his body to be crucified on the cross, as a lesson to the world that he is more than a body?
The inspired inner dictation which resulted in the book, 'A Course in Miracles', is not unheard of in spiritual groups. It is known as Revelation in Islam and Christianity, and Shruti in Hinduism (meaning that which is heard). Revelation is considered to be the source of the Holy Vedas, the Holy Quran, and many parts of the Holy Bible. Much of the contents of this series, Happiness Through Spirituality, is based on Revelation. Some are widely accepted by major religions, others lesser known, and some are personal to me. In addition to this, I make use of knowledge taught by figures widely accepted as Avatars or Incarnations of God on earth. And thus, I have tried to put together a body of knowledge that is as close to the "source" of knowledge, as possible.
Sheath two is described as the life sheath or Pranamaya Kosha.
Prana is also known as 'life-force'. Prana is that energy that animates all movement, all change, and even all life, operating from atomic to cosmic level. In respect of the human structure, pranic energy is divided into five aspects known as the five Vital-Airs, each of which have their own function including energising, and managing the various bodily processes, even recording your thoughts and actions, and carrying out their resulting effects within the body and perhaps, beyond it too. But it, too, is not who we are, only an instrument we use within this world.
The third sheath is the mind sheath which consists of the "sphere of the five organs of perception (or the senses), plus the mind." The mind is responsible for the ego. The ego is the false belief that we are the body and mind, and thus, it is the false belief that we are separate from all others and all else. The mind is useful but, only to a degree and, only when used with discretion. It is helpful in preserving our safety in this world, but its perception is limited to the realm of the physical, and can thus only take us so far in the experience of our reality. The first steps for our spiritual growth start in the mind, but it is beyond the mind where our true power lies. And therefore, we cannot be this highly praised tool, the mind.
If we are not the body, nor the mind. What are we?
~ Written by Natasha Subbiah
Transcribed by Wesley Subbiah
Edited by Jayson Perumal
Happiness Through Spirituality
When you need to make sense of your world and how you fit into it, when your happiness becomes your priority, Unity Mama can assist you with a philosophy that stitches together the pieces of the puzzle, from several major religions of our world - to map the highest path to the highest goal - happiness!