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Funny to see that between New World and Old World the terms Soul and Spirit tend to be used reversed. Where I'm from (NL) Soul is the highest and Spirit comes second. In US apparently Spirit is highest and Soul comes second.

"Where I'm from (NL) Soul is the highest and Spirit comes second. In US apparently Spirit is highest and Soul comes second."

I've never been too clear on the hierarchy, myself. For purposes of consistency, I decided to follow Crookall's usage, which ranks "spirit" higher than "soul." The choice is arbitrary, of course.

The way I remember it is that, in the Christian tradition the third part of the Holy Trinity is the Holy Spirit, not the Holy Soul. So "spirit" is closer to God, and therefore higher. This is just a mnemonic device, not any kind of philosophical statement. :-)

This can be quite interesting, but what does physics say about it? According to their descriptions, these bodies clearly have physical properties, so it should be physics that deals with these issues, but it is not.

In addition there is another question: according to this approach, the lifeless apparitions are the corpses of the energy body, but what are apparitions of inert objects? Throughout history there have also been reported cases of apparitions of inert objects such as ships or cars and I do not believe that inert objects have an energy body.

I would say that only the physical body is clearly measurable by physics. Just possibly the energy body may also be measurable by scientific instruments. Some people claim to have detected and even photographed the human aura, though these claims are not widely accepted. The soul body and spritual body are presumably not physical matter in any way known to us. Perhaps some kind of "afterlife physics" could measure these bodies, but it would require going beyond the paradigm of physicalism (the philosophical position that everything can be reduced to physical matter and energy).

Crookall's view is that some apparitions involve extrasensory perception of the discarded energy body, but that other apparitions are telepathic or clairvoyant in nature. I’m not familiar with too many cases where an object like a ship or a car has been seen as an apparition, but I would guess that these cases involve a telepathic or clairvoyant impression rather than any sort of energy body.

The soul body and spritual body are presumably not physical matter in any way known to us.

And matter at a quantum level is not matter as it is commonly understood, so that excuse does not work.

Perhaps some kind of "afterlife physics" could measure these bodies, but it would require going beyond the paradigm of physicalism (the philosophical position that everything can be reduced to physical matter and energy).

It is not about going beyond physicalism, but about elaborating theories and instruments to detect those bodies; It is difficult to believe that they can be detected for some gifted but we do not have any instrument for that detection.

"And matter at a quantum level is not matter as it is commonly understood, so that excuse does not work."

I wouldn’t call it an excuse; I’d say it’s valid to draw a distinction between matter (and energy) in the physical world and "matter" (and "energy") in a nonphysical world. I think it’s a category error to expect to detect and measure the soul with instruments designed to detect and measure physical things. It’s like trying to weigh love on a scale or photograph someone’s conscience.

"It is not about going beyond physicalism, but about elaborating theories and instruments to detect those bodies." Physical instruments? Physics-based theories? Maybe a quantum theory of consciousness can be developed (people are certainly trying), but I suspect that, at most, it will help explain how the physical nervous system interfaces with consciousness. I doubt it will explain consciousness as such.

My best guess is that consciousness is ontologically primary and hence beyond explanation. But this view entails "going beyond physicalism," which you seem reluctant to do.

I doubt it will explain consciousness as such.

But those bodies have physical properties and are not the same as we usually understand by consciousness, so they should be the object of a hypothetical physics.

“People who are psychically sensitive may find it relatively easy to perceive the energy body (as an apparition or in a dream, etc.) and to mistake it for the soul body.”

This gave me goosebumps. In mid July 2014 our 13 year old son Cameron died in his sleep of undiagnosed, asymptomatic Cardiomyopathy. Life long, difficult road since and although the burden remains, it’s weight lessens. Below is a journal entry I wrote less than a month after his death.

“Shortly before I woke up this morning I had a brief vivid dream of Cameron. He had a bin with dirt in it containing fishing worms. We were outside at the SE corner of the garage under his room. I told him if he dug with a hand rake in the dirt he could get some worms out. He began digging and then I remember telling him that I wanted to give him a hug. He hugged me back as I told him I loved him, I could feel the warmth of his body, the smell of his hair and he told me as he always does, "I love you too Dad".

Everything seemed vividly real and right except as he walked away I realized that it was his body and mind but that his Soul was not there, he had already moved on, his essence had left his body...

I felt relief remembering this dream as I got out of bed. I was reassured that even in the presence of Cameron's living body, voice and smell that something was missing. It wasn't Cameron- his essence was somewhere else.”

Peace an Love to you Michael, thanks for the work you do, much appreciated.

This is not quite relevant, but maybe worth discussion. I listened to an excellent Tedx talk on near-death visitations, involving people who are very near death but are still conscious, and who describe seeing deceased loved ones with them.

The comment section, aside from a skeptic who felt driven to repeatedly state that death is the ultimate end (as if no one had ever considered this), was perhaps the most interesting. Person-after-person stated that the dying stated that their deceased relatives were there. The skeptic admonished many of these people, and very cruelly in some instances, stating that these were just misfirings of a dying brain. And yet, she could still not explain why so many saw deceased relatives. Why don't they see the cast of a TV sitcom, characters in a movie, celebrities, politicians, etc., and why not living people? As with NDEs, it's hard to believe that these are just evolutionary mechanisms designed to comfort the dying, as nature appears only to favor individual survival and survival of the species. It's hard to see how near death visitations and experiences could be hard-wired into the brain to aid survival of the individual or species.

"In mid July 2014 our 13 year old son Cameron died in his sleep of undiagnosed, asymptomatic Cardiomyopathy." I’m very sorry to hear this. What a terrible loss.

In Richard Matheson's novel What Dreams May Come, the protagonist (who has died) sees a medium trying to connect with his discarded astral shell (energy body), which she mistakes for his spiritual being. Matheson based his novel on extensive readings in spiritualism and theosophy, as well as parapsychology literature. Odd as it seems, this kind of thing does apparently happen.

Thank you for sharing your story.

" ... a skeptic who felt driven to repeatedly state that death is the ultimate end (as if no one had ever considered this)." LOL. Yes, some Skeptics seem to regard this opinion as strikingly original and profound.

The most striking cases of deathbed visions involve perceptions of people who are deceased but are not known to be deceased at the time, either because the news has not yet reached the family or because the information was deliberately withheld from the patient. These cases are rare, but they have been documented. Sir William Barrett was the first to write them up in a systematic way, I believe.

https://www.survivalafterdeath.info/library/barrett/dbv/contents.htm

I am about one year doing meditation with some regularity and I have not yet been able to do any astral travel or access the akashic records. What is missing? Is this just for some more sensitive people? thanks for your Blog

Crookall would say that the energy body is more loosely attached to some people's physical bodies, making it much easier for them to have OBEs. I guess it’s as good an explanation as any.

Some people seem to have spontaneous OBEs very easily, while others never have an OBE no matter how hard they work at it.

I’ve never had an unambiguous OBE. I did have a few exceptionally vivid dreams that had the qualities of an OBE, but I can’t be sure about them. I’ve never had an OBE while meditating.

Some people report success in using the HemiSync technology developed by the Monroe Institute. I tried it, but the closest I came to an OBE was a sudden intense tingling sensation throughout my body. This could have been the preparatory step in taking an OBE. Unfortunately I panicked and the feeling passed. It never happened again.

I am puzzled why Michael Prescott pays so much attention to Crookall scheme, while four-five fold body imagology is present virtually everywhere. You can find it in yoga with its koshas (see works by Mircea Eliade or David Gordon White); in Western occultism (theosophists like Leadbeater or anthroposophists like Rudolf Steiner or long-winded but clear Max Heindel's "Rosicrucian Cosmo-Conception"). For a serious scholarly discussion of Sufism, Henry Corbin's "Man of Light in Iranian Sufism" & "Celestial Earth", chapter on Shaykh Al-Aksai(and Corbin's other works, popularized in readable Harold Bloom's "Omens of the Millennium") or any Western perennial tradition rooted in Plato/Plotinus (physical, soul & spirit "body" - sarx, psyche, nous & One/God/To Hen). Basically- what's the big deal with Crookall?

I’m not familiar with most of those sources, although I have noticed the parallels with Gnosticism. Crookall strikes me as interesting because he’s starting from empirical studies (or at least anecdotes) and then trying to make sense of these facts (or claims) by developing a formal scheme.

Most of the traditions you cited may have begun with reported experiences, but they developed into philosophical-religious systems with little empirical content, as far as I know.

Crookall is, from what I see, no more empirical than Max Heindel, his magnum opus here (he actually uses Heindel's terminology): You got Heindel here (voluminous reading): https://www.rosicrucian.com/rcc/rcceng00.htm ; http://www.rosicrucian.com/pdf_plaza/Rosicrucian%20Cosmo-Conception.pdf

I don't see something new or more empirical in Crookall.

Yoga world-view with various bodies is briefly addressed here: https://www.yogajournal.com/yoga-101/getting-know In detail, in D.G.White: http://libgen.io/book/index.php?md5=0AEB78899477A40B28E35007B06A9623

Real stuff is from prophets, great cultural heroes & thinkers like Plato,Valentinus of Alexandria, Ibn Arabi, Corpus Hermeticum...
Most "moderns", quasi-rational tentative empiricists lack prophetic voice & visionary energy one encounters among truly great ancients. Cf. Valentinus: "From the beginning you have been immortal and you are children of eternal life. And you wanted death to be allocated to yourselves so that you might spend it and use it up, and that death might die in you and through you. For when you nullify the world and are not yourselves annihilated, you are lord over creation and all corruption"

Popular exposition of developed Sufi doctrine can be seen in Bloom: http://libgen.io/book/index.php?md5=A638725244AA7E2ADA6E49241B269426 .. Each human being, Corbin comments, possesses four aspects of a body. Corbin charts them, and I adapt them here in simplified form:

1. The “elemental” or apparent body, the one that we can see, touch, and weigh: it is accidental and perishable. Let us call it the “apparent body,” for convenience. 2. Within (1) there is a hidden body, also elemental but essential and imperishable: “spiritual flesh,” as Corbin calls it, which I will adopt. 3. The traditional “astral body,” not elemental yet still accidental, not everlasting, because it will be reabsorbed by divinity in the resurrection. I will call it the “astral body” proper. 4. The eternal, subtle body, essential and angelic, the ultimate guarantee of individuality, and akin to the zelem of Kabbalah and the “immortal body” of the Hermetic writings. Let us call it the “angelic body.” What are the advantages, spiritual and expositional, of this fourfold scheme? Its added complexity is to give us two versions of the astral body of tradition, “astral” yet not eternal, and “angelic” or everlasting. The relation between the “apparent body” and “spiritual flesh” is parallel to that between the “astral body” and the “angelic body.” Since orthodox, Sunni Islam interpreted the Koran as literally as many Christians have read the New Testament, resurrection to them meant the return to the “apparent body,” just as it was. But in the Shi’ite Sufi vision, both the “apparent body” and the “astral body” eventually vanish, while a fusion of “spiritual flesh” and “angelic body” ultimately abides. That “spiritual flesh” is equivalent to the ancient Gnostic metaphor of the “spark,” or innermost self, which
is no part of Creation but is already a particle of God, since it is as old as God. When Gnostics, ancient or modern, speak of the Resurrection as already having taken place, they mean that they firmly distinguish between the outward body and the spark. The Sufi “angelic body” is akin to the ancient Gnostic “Angel Christ,” the fulfilled form of the surviving sparks. But there still remains the subtle imaginal distinction between the “astral” and “angelic” bodies. What can we gain by resorting to this distinction? Essentially, the Shaikhis’ complexity renews the ancient Gnostic difference between soul (or psyche), and self (or pneuma, or spark). The “astral body” is like the Gnostic soul, and both are impermanent. The spark, or “spiritual flesh,” survives and rejoins a more authentic soul, in a fusion of self and angelic soul that truly is the Resurrection Body, and that guarantees a survival of individual identity, while dispensing with the accidental “apparent body” and accidental soul, or “astral body.”

Very interesting, Bardon. That so many of these traditions agree, at least on some essential points, is additional evidence of an abiding truth behind this multi-body concept.

At the same time I wouldn’t want to over-emphasize the agreement of all these disparate traditions. The Gnostics, for instance, seemed to hold that immortality was available only to psychic and pneumatic people (i.e., those who had attained some degree of spiritual advancement), while sarkic (fleshly) people were destined for oblivion. This is very different from the view embraced by Spiritualism, which insists that every person has an immortal soul. I’m sure there are other points of conflict.

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