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The dense body is the physical body, the visible, tangible outer form, composed of various tissues. The etheric double is the ethereal counterpart of the body, composed of the physical ethers. Prâna is vitality, the integrating energy that co-ordinates the physical molecules and holds them together in a definite organism; it is the life-breath within the organism, the portion of the universal Life-Breath, appropriated by the organism during the span of existence that we speak of as “a life”.
The human body is constantly undergoing a process of decay and of reconstruction. First builded into the etheric form in the womb of the mother, it is built up continually by the insetting of fresh materials. With every moment tiny molecules are passing away from it; with every moment tiny molecules are streaming into it.
Death consists, indeed, in a repeated process of unrobing, or unsheathing. The immortal part of man shakes off from itself, one after the other, its outer casings, and—as the snake from its skin, the butterfly from its chrysalis—emerges from one after another, passing into a higher state of consciousness. Now it is the fact that this escape from the body, and this dwelling of the conscious entity either in the vehicle called the body of desire, the kâmic or astral body, or in a yet more ethereal Thought Body, can be effected during earth-life; so that man may become familiar with the excarnated condition, and it may lose for him all the terrors that encircle the unknown. He can know himself as a conscious entity in either of these vehicles, and so prove to his own satisfaction that “life” does not depend on his functioning through the physical body.
Man is primarily divine, a spark of the Divine Life. So when Death unlocks the door for him, he knows the country into which he emerges, having trodden its ways at his own will. And at last he grows to recognize that fact of supreme importance, that “Life” has nothing to do with body and with this material plane; that Life is his conscious existence, unbroken, unbreakable, and that the brief interludes in that Life, during which he sojourns on Earth, are but a minute fraction of his conscious existence.
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