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The Soul and its Mechanism - Soul, Ether and Energy
Vivekananda, who did so much to reveal the soul of India to the West, says:

"According to the philosophers of India, the whole universe is composed of two materials, one of which they call Akasha. It is the omnipresent all penetrating existence. Everything that has form, everything that is the result of the compounds, is evolved out of this Akasha. It is the Akasha that becomes the air, that becomes the liquids, that becomes the solids; it is the Akasha that becomes the sun, the earth, the moon, the stars, the comets; it is the Akasha that becomes the body, the animal body, the planets, every form that we see, everything that can be sensed, everything that exists. It itself cannot be perceived; it is so subtle that [97] it is beyond all ordinary perception; it can only be seen when it has become gross, has taken form. At the beginning of creation there is only this Akasha; at the end of the cycle the solids, the liquids, and the gases all melt into the Akasha again, and the next creation similarly proceeds out of this Akasha.

By what power is this Akasha manufactured into this universe? By the power of Prana. Just as Akasha is the infinite omnipresent material of this universe, so is this Prana the infinite omnipresent manifesting power of this universe. At the beginning and at the end of a cycle everything becomes Akasha, and all the forces that are in the universe resolve back into the Prana; in the next cycle, out of this Prana, is evolved everything that we call energy, everything that we call force. It is the Prana that is manifesting as motion; it is the Prana that is manifesting as gravitation, as magnetism. It is the Prana that is manifesting as the actions of the body, as the nerve currents, as thought force. From thought, down to the lowest physical force, everything is but the manifestation of Prana. The sumtotal of all force in the universe, mental or physical when resolved back to its original state, is called Prana...
- Vivekananda, Swami, Raja Yoga, pp. 29, 30.

A more modern writer, Ramacharaka, says:

"In order to avoid misconceptions arising from the various theories regarding this great principle, which theories are usually attached to some name given the principle, we, in this work, will speak of the principle as Prana, this word being the Sanskrit term meaning 'Absolute Energy.' Many occult authorities teach that the principle which the Hindus term Prana is the universal principle of energy or force, and that all energy or force is derived from that principle, or, rather, [98] is a particular form of manifestation of that principle... We may consider it as the active principle of life - Vital Force, if you please. It is found in all forms of life, from the amoeba to man - from the most elementary form of plant life to the highest form of animal life. Prana is all pervading. It is found in all things having life, and as the occult philosophy teaches that life is in all things - in every Atom - the apparent lifelessness of some things being only a lesser degree of manifestation, we may understand their teachings that Prana is everywhere, in everything. Prana must not be confounded with the Ego - that bit of Divine Spirit in every soul, around which clusters matter and energy. Prana is merely a form of energy used by the Ego in its material manifestation. When the Ego leaves the body, the Prana being no longer under its control, responds only to the order of the individual atoms, or groups of atoms, forming the body, and as the body disintegrates and is resolved to its original elements, each atom takes with it sufficient Prana to enable it to form new combinations, the unused Prana returning to the great universal storehouse from which it came. With the Ego in control, cohesion exists and the atoms are held together by the Will of the Ego.

"Prana is the name by which we designate a universal principle, which principle is the essence of all motion, force or energy, whether manifested in gravitation, electricity, the revolution of the planets, and all forms of life, from the highest to the lowest. It may be called the soul of Force and Energy in all their forms, and that principle which, operating in a certain way, causes that form of activity which accompanies life."
- Ramacharaka, Yogi, The Hindu-Yogi Science of Breath, pp. 16, 17.

This prana is therefore the universal life principle in all forms, and the so-called energies or [99] life of the human body are the differentiated quota of that universal principle which any particular human soul has appropriated.

The energies which utilize the akasha (ether) in the universe are divided into three main divisions according to the Ageless Wisdom.

  1. Fohat, is analogous to what the Christian regards as the spirit; it is the will-to-exist, the determining life principle of God, Who, we can predicate, is the sum total of all forms, and of all states of consciousness; it is divine Purpose, actively functioning.
  2. Prana, is analogous to the activity of the consciousness principle, the Soul of the Christian. This prana is an effect of the union of spirit or life, and matter or substance, and demonstrates as the energy of the form, as it produces cohesion, animation and sensitivity, carrying out divine purpose.
  3. Kundalini, as it is called in connection with the human form, is the force latent in matter itself; it is the integral life of the atom, apart from any form in which that atom may participate in its tiny cycle of experience.

Shakti is power or energy. Arthur Avalon defines it as follows:

"What then is Shakti and how does it come about that there is some principle of unconsciousness in things; a fact which cannot be denied. Shakti comes from the root 'shak' 'to be able,' 'to have power.' It [100] may be applied to any form of activity. The power to burn is Shakti of fire and so forth. These are all forms of activity which are ultimately reducible to the Primordial Shakti (Adya Shakti) whence every other form of Power proceeds."
- Woodroffe, Sir John (Arthur Avalon), Shakti and Shakta, p. 207.

These three types of energy are therefore aspects of the one universal life, as it expresses itself through a solar system, utilizing the ether as its medium or field of activity, and producing therefrom all the objective forms. The process repeats itself in man, according to the Hindu philosophy.

The physical body is the expression in its component parts or atoms of the third type of energy, and the sumtotal of that atomic energy is called Kundalini:

"The center where all residual sensations are, as it were, stored up is called Muladhara chakra, and the coiled up energy of action is Kundalini, 'the coiled up'."

It is the individual bodily representative of the great cosmic power (Shakti) which created and sustains the universe."
- Rele, Vasant G., The Mysterious Kundalini, p. 40.

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