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Subtle Bodies
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What Are Subtle Bodies?

Just as we have a physical anatomy, so too we possess a subtle anatomy. The term ‘subtle body’ is the common english translation of the Indian vedantic term: sūkṣma śarīra. In the past subtle bodies were implicitly self-evident, standing in no need of explanation. They formed a part of the contextual background to spiritual traditions both east and west, whether or not explicitly mentioned. But in today's world, apart from a very small circle of practitioners, the notion of subtle bodies is not well-known or widely understood. As modern people focused on the physical body we have lost our experiential awareness of the subtle and energetic layers of our being. So much so, even the strange assertion that consciousness does not exist is taken seriously by some philosophers of mind. The loss of this awareness has had a profoundly detrimental effect on the modern psyche. If subtle bodies are discussed in meditation classes at all, attention is rarely paid to their experiential role in practice and ordinary life. The 'mind' remains an abstract container of thoughts and emotions, rather than tangibly felt vehicle of energetic forms, qualities and structures which can be transformed through practice.

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