The four lower bodies are four sheaths consisting of four distinct frequencies that surround the soul—the physical, emotional, mental, and etheric—providing vehicles for the soul in her journey through time and space. The vehicles provided by God for his individualization of the God flame and for the soul’s expression in the world of material form. As interpenetrating forcefields, these bodies are focal points for the step-down transformation of the energies of Spirit which coalesce as Matter.
The interaction of the four lower bodies
Although each of the four planes corresponding to the four bodies has a unique atomic frequency, providing the opportunity for a unique expression of the soul’s potential, the four lower bodies interpenetrate one another and are connected through the etheric chakras anchored in the physical body through the central nervous system and the endocrine system. In this way the bodies function as a unit; and thought, feeling, and memory patterns passing through the physical body create ripples of vibration simultaneously on the mental, emotional, and etheric planes.
The four vehicles may be thought of as four colanders or drums, one inside of the other. The etheric body is the largest; within that is the mental body, then the emotional body, and finally the physical body. The light of the Christ consciousness flows through a dot pattern perforated upon the fabric of each of man’s bodies. The dot pattern of each body is different. (They also vary from one individual to the next according to the divine blueprint.) However, certain corresponding keys within the patterns provide for the meshing of the energies of the four “drums,” allowing each individual to integrate his four body functions and his personality. Only when the perforations are in perfect alignment (when the holes of the four “colanders” are directly opposite each other) can the light flow brilliantly and steadfastly. When the holes of the “colanders” are completely out of alignment, the light can at best only seep through and the individual becomes sluggish and inefficient.
The etheric body
The etheric or memory body corresponds to the side of the north in the City Foursquare and at the base of the pyramid. It is the fire body and, as such, has the highest vibration of the four lower bodies. The etheric body, or etheric envelope, is the only one of the four lower vehicles that is permanent. It is carried over from one embodiment to the next, whereas the mental, emotional, and physical bodies go through the process of disintegration. (Nevertheless, all virtue and righteousness that man qualifies through these bodies is stored in the causal body so that nothing of value or enduring worth is ever lost.)
Within the etheric body there are two forcefields. These are sometimes called the higher etheric body and the lower etheric body. The higher etheric body is designed to record the perfection of the I AM Presence and to anchor in man the divine blueprint of his Christed individuality. It cradles the soul and the pure energies of God that flow into man’s being released through the power of the spoken Word. The lower etheric body is the subconscious mind, that computer which stores the data of man's life—all of his experiences, his thoughts, his feelings, his words, and his actions, which are expressed through the mental, emotional, and physical bodies.
The mental, emotional, and physical bodies form the chalice for the trinity of Christ-action—thought, word, and deed—in the world of form. The mental body is the cup into which God pours his wisdom; the emotional body is the cup that holds his love; and the physical body is the cup that dispenses his power through service to all. When these three bodies—a triunity in the diversity of man—are respected as delicate instruments and are kept properly attuned with the faculties of the Christ, they have instant awareness and rapport with the laws of God and of his universe and with all phases of human endeavor. The senses of the soul function through the mental, emotional, and physical bodies when man dedicates these vehicles as temples of the Holy Spirit and consciously returns to the Edenic state.
The mental body
The mental body, at the east of the city, was designed to be the chalice of the mind of God through his Christ, providing man with perfect attunement with the very Hub of Life in the center of Cosmos and with the white fire core of every atom in manifestation. Through the geometric matrices of perfection established in the mental body, man is able to command the forces of Nature, to control his universe, and to be the Great Alchemist.
When the mental (air) body of man becomes filled with the vanities of worldly wisdom, it is no longer resilient, no longer responsive to the delicate chords of the lost Word. ’Tis then that the logic of the serpent captivates his mind, and he lowers the cup of his consciousness to partake of the double standard. In this manner the carnal mind displaces the image of the Christ; usurping the throne of authority in the mental body, it reigns supreme in the synthetic consciousness.
The emotional body
The emotional body corresponds to the south side of the City Foursquare as the reflector of the feelings of God and his Christ; of mercy and compassion; of faith and hope; of buoyant love, joyous determination, fiery zeal, and the appreciation of cosmic law, cosmic science, and the divine arts. It is also the repository of man’s own feelings, his desires, and his emotions (his energies-in-motion), which in many are more often turbulent than they are peaceful. When man learns the mastery of the water element, the emotional body can be the mirror of the Real Image and its energies can be directed to reflect the feelings of the soul and its innate contact with Reality; or, when trained upon the lurid and hypnotic emotions of the world—on human pathos, the angry mob, the melodrama of soap opera trivia—it may make of the synthetic image a caricature of human folly.
As the tides of the sea are affected by the cycles of the moon, so the water body is pulled by lunar influences, evidenced in the extreme emotions people experience during the full moon. But the waters of the emotional body also respond to the command of the individual Christ Self “Peace, be still!” When man brings his emotional body under God-control, he has at his command one of the greatest powers of the universe to implement Good and to expand throughout Cosmos the freedom of Truth, the peace of Life, and the power of Love.
The physical body
The physical body, corresponding to the side of the west, provides the opportunity for man to express the summum bonum of his consciousness in Matter. As the higher etheric body contains the blueprint of individuality in higher planes, so on earth man sculpts the pattern of his identity upon the substance of his physical body. Formed “of the dust of the ground,” which no longer sparkles with the radiance of the white fire core, this tabernacle of the soul, this temple of the living God, is not transparent as it used to be, emitting the radiance of the Universal Christ. Instead of being the focal point for the crystallization of the divine plan, man’s physical (earth) body has become the sepulcher of the imperfect thoughts and feelings recorded upon his lower etheric body.
Karma and the four lower bodies
Man’s karma determines the capacities and limitations of his four lower bodies. Thus, in order to outpicture perfection in his physical form, man must take the leaven of the Christ consciousness—“which a woman [the Divine Mother] took and hid in three measures of meal”—and carefully place it in the etheric, mental, and emotional bodies in order that the leaven might leaven “the whole lump.”
Mark L. Prophet and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, The Path of the Higher Self, volume 1 of the Climb the Highest Mountain® series, chapter 4, 6.
- Matt. 13:33; Luke 13:21.