The personality receives energy from two sources: the spiritual energy drawn into it through the realizations of the mind, and the elemental energy flowing into it through the etheric double.
The practice of yoga works directly upon the etheric double. Yoga is a form of psycho-physical conditioning wherein the mind directs the current of elemental energy in the etheric body, developing that body in the same way that athletics develop the physical body. The etheric double is as responsive to exercise and regimen as its physical counterpart; the development and training of this non-physical body can produce a great extension of both consciousness and physical energy.
The results of this cultivation are neither merely physical nor merely psychic but can lead on to genuine mystical experience. Training the etheric body can result in increased psychism, heightened intuition, manifestational power, charisma and magnetism. In short, yoga makes us better at producing “magical” changes in the world around us because it strengthens the energy body that effects changes on non-physical planes. The etheric double is the link between mind and matter.
Organs of Mind
Within the etheric double or aura, we find energy centers which are correlated with different levels of consciousness— recognized independently by the practical systems of Eastern Yoga and Western Magic. These are commonly known as the chakras.
When these vehicles of consciousness are in perfect correlation in an individual, a current of energy can flow through him from the spiritual well-spring of All-That-Is, through the mind as inspiration, intuition and vision, into the heart as Will, ultimately to be translated into manifestation in the physical world. This is the process by which anything comes into being, and so the conditioning of the etheric body is of extraordinary utility.
A strong aura makes us more receptive to the intimations from the divine; we are more “inspired” and have a strong sense about which path we should follow to success. It makes us more attuned to the hearts and minds of other people, facilitating smoother communication and stronger alliances. We may then be of greater service to ourselves, to others, and to the planet. If the vehicles of consciousness are correlated, when higher knowledge is revealed one may act as link between that which is above and one’s fellow man, who may as yet stand upon a lower step of the great stair.
It is useful to think of these vehicles as something separate from oneself— as tools which we may use to carry out our work. The direction of life energy through these centers must be removed from the domain of the desires to that of the will. Until this is done our centers will remain imbalanced and out of sync with one another. Without sharpening the tool of each center, our energy spills haphazardly and randomly according to whatever external stimulus we happen to encounter. Our aim must be to control this life force so that we may direct it deliberately from within.
A Unified Whole
The body, correlating to the bottom-most center, the Root chakra, must be transformed from an imperious tyrant into a devoted servant which has no longer the power to make its desires paramount. It is to this end that much of the extreme asceticism of the yoga methods is directed.
Most of us will not spend twelve hours a day in meditation, nor undertake extreme fasting regimens. However it is of critical importance that we gain some mastery over the body and its turbulent torrents of desire, craving and reactivity. The body should be like a trustworthy horse in reins that responds easily to our direction; we do not want to be bucked off by a wild stallion at the wrong moment.
Yogic breath work is shown to give the yogi the power over processes that have long been considered autonomic and outside of our domain of control— including digestion, heartbeat and the sympathetic/parasympathetic nervous systems. A daily practices of yoga, meditation or breathwork give one the power to hack one’s own neuro-physiology so to avoid falling prey to stressful situations through panicked autonomic reactions. A magician, or deliberate creator, must be able to assert his will in any and every situation, and he should not have to fight against his entire physical organism to do it. Simple protocols of discipline like calorie restriction, abstaining from technology or limiting consumption of intoxicants help to strengthen one’s control over the body, making this easier to do in the moments when it really counts.
Similarly, the emotions and aspirations— which correlate to the Sacral and Solar Plexus Chakras— must flow freely without conflict or distortion. We are less receptive to the intimations of spiritual energy if we cannot quiet the cacophony of resentful, bitter, anxious, sorrowful, fearful or jealous voices within.
Emotions must be clearly processed and communicated so that we do not remain in their bondage. Similarly one must honor one’s preferences and desires in life, asserting oneself healthily and productively in one’s environment. If the personal truth of the self is left unexpressed, energy will be blocked in the lower chakras, preventing us from receiving insight through the upper chakras, and from manifesting these insights in the physical world. Yoga helps to unearth emotions or “ego”-based attachments that reside in the etheric double, helping us to become conscious of what we are holding onto so that we may then let go.
It is perhaps counterintuitive that the higher states of consciousness can be controlled and inhibited by the lower states of consciousness, yet this is the truth of our three dimensional reality. So long as consciousness is trapped in the lower centers of the “personal self” on the physical plane, then it is in abeyance on the higher planes of the transpersonal or Universal self.
If one wishes so shift from the lower to the higher, the initiative must come from the personal self; the transpersonal self will not force its way through and intrude upon vehicles of consciousness which have not been opened to it— much as we may wish it would. Divine intervention can only enter when the personality opens a way for it.