(Note - This essay was originally published in "Macro News" the now defunct newsletter of the old Macrobiotic Grocery and Learning Center, Oakland, California, in 1987).
I have previously introduced the concept of the human body being more than merely a physical organism. In the last four hundred years or so the human body has become more and more regarded as being a purely physical structure operating on the purely mechanical laws and principles of physics and chemistry. So much so that all of scientific medicine is geared toward treating the body as if it were some kind of mechanical device with moving , and removable, replaceable parts. In recent years we have seen a tremendous interest in biogenetics and the leading edge of this trend is called nanotechnology.
Nanotechnology is really the technology of creating replacement organisms, of any kind, be they animal, vegetable or human, or any part of those organisms, such as human skin, lungs, heart etc. At present this technology is in its infancy, but with the acceleration of time in which we are living, it won't be long before we can avail ourselves of these techniques to replace any worn out parts we may have. And of course the proponents of this technology are making all kinds of grandiose statements about how this technology will do away with disease and illnesses, that we will live indefinitely, we will always be young, etc., etc. However, they are unaware of one salient consequence of this technology with regard to human beings -- human beings who avail themselves of this synthetic technology of genetic material will no longer be human beings, but some kind of organism which is the result of the miscegenation of artificial and organic material, ie a cyborg, a cross between man and machine. Necessarily this will be a disaster for the human race. I do not intend to prove the obvious, but to demonstrate that the human being is more than a mechanical structure.
In the previous essay I introduced the idea that the human organism is in fact a three-fold organism, comprised of three 'bodies', namely the physical body, the etheric, informational body, and the soul body. These three are the reflection in the human being of the three kingdoms in which we live, the physical, material world of dead matter (i.e., carbon, nitrogen, hydrogen etc.), to which the physical body corresponds; the world of plants, to which the etheric, informational body corresponds; and the world of animals, to which the soul body corresponds. In addition, human beings have a consciousness of "Self or 'I'" which animals do not possess, which what distinguishes us from them. In the above, it is more accurate to say that these three kingdoms are actually spread out before us as a memory of what we once were, in order that we may develop beyond the stages of physical, vegetal and animal to become truly human. In other words, human beings are not animals, we do not belong to the kingdom of mammals.
As to demonstrating beyond reasonable doubt that we are not merely physical, it should be pointed out that the world of matter is essentially dead, that the constituents of soil and rock do not show any evidence of life, of animation. And yet, it is this material of which are bodies are composed, and our bodies show every evidence of being alive. So, what is it that makes dead, inert matter appear alive?
If we observe plants, we note that they remain stationary, rooted to the ground, and yet they are obviously alive, for they grow, and produce leaves, flowers, fruits and seeds. And they die, and what one observes when they die is that they wither and the physical material of which they are composed returns back to its origin, the soil. So, what is it that takes this dead matter and fashions a plant out of it -- it cannot be the sun, albeit the sun is necessary for growth to occur, nor can it be the rain, wind, air, etc, for all these are present when a plant dies. Thus, there must be something invisible to the senses which fashions the plant out of the soil, transforms, so to speak, the soil into a plant, and when this invisible force departs, the physical plant withers and returns to the soil. This is the etheric, informational body.
The human being, similarly, has an etheric, informational body. It performs a similar function for our physical body in that it takes the material available to it in the form of food, water and air and informs it such that the physical organism is fashioned as a living totality of heart, bone, lungs, skin etc., and organises the rhythmical interweaving of the different functions of these tissues and organs in a dynamic flux so that the physical body functions with miraculous harmony and wisdom.
Now, we must be more than a physical and informational body, because if we observe a plant, which is comprised of only these two, we can readily admit that it does not show any evidence of being conscious, or if it does, the consciousness of the plant is more akin to the state of consciousness we call dream.
The body we have in addition to the physical and etheric, informational body (sometimes referred to as the Life Body) is the soul body. Animals are comprised of these three bodies and what distinguishes animals from plants is their behaviour, which is essentially instinctive, habitual, and very much driven by the need for survival, with each species of animal very easily recognised by its patterns of behaviour, of eating, mating, territoriality, patterns of movement etc. Thus, we may say animals have an instinctive, reactive consciousness, but they are not self-conscious of themselves as separate identities apart from other members of their own species. Which is not to say that animals are not intelligent, but that their intelligence is not conscious in the sense that animals know that they are doing whatever they happen to be doing. This is why it easy to hunt and kill animals, for after observing any animal species for a period of a few months one can unerringly predict what they will be doing at any particular time of day and where they will be doing it.
In regard of human beings, the soul body is the locus of the activities of our consciousness, of our perceptions, memory, thinking, feelings and emotions. However, if we were comprised of only the three bodies, the physical, informational and soul bodies, then we would be indistinguishable in behaviour from animals. In addition to these three we have what is called the higher self, ego, or "I am", which gives each one of us the sense of being independent, self-contained beings. It is this higher self which is unique to human beings, but it must be realised that the higher self is not fully developed in us at this stage of our evolution, it being our task to purge ourselves of all that is of a lower order in us, ie., our animal passions and instincts, so that in the course of time the higher self may gradually flower in us so that we rise to ever higher levels of spiritual consciousness, spiritual thinking etc.
The point of this discussion, to follow on from the previous essay(which is on the page Food and You), is to relate the proximities of the three bodies. That is, the soul body is inserted into the etheric, informational body, which in turn is inserted into the physical body. In the last essay I concentrated on relating how the food we eat serves to provide the information which the informational body takes up and fashions into blood cells, enzymes, hormones, etc. Here, it is necessary to point out that the condition of the physical body influences the condition of the soul body by way of the etheric informational body, and that the reverse process also occurs -- that the state of the soul body influences the condition of the physical body indirectly via the etheric, informational body.
In other words, our emotional state, our attitudes and our way of thinking has a definite effect on the condition of our physical organism, as does the condition of our physical body effect the condition of our soul, via the medium of the informational body. One of the most useful concepts for describing these relationships is the Five Transformation Theory where you can go to learn more.
Thus, my heartfelt wish is, that after reading this essay, you strive to recognise that everything vegetal, animal or human is the interweavings in the physical plane of divine, spiritual wisdom so that you are no longer deluded into thinking, when any one of your friends or colleagues, or the man or woman on the street, presents him or herself to your vision, that the physical body you see is all there is to them.
If you wish to know more about nanotechnology and the wonders it has in store for the human being who continues to be asleep at the wheel, or wishes to become an immortal cyborg, check out "The Engines of Creation- The Coming Era of Nanotechnology" by K.Eric Drexler.