“The light body” is one of those almost meaningless terms that float around in spiritual circles. While experiencing inner light is very nice, what is it being experienced? And does that really have anything to do with other things you’ve heard?
For example, all seven koshas (sheaths) can be experienced as “light bodies.” From the glow of consciousness right up to reflected light from physical bodies, all the sheaths can be perceived with light; from infinite and formless to cloud-like to solid form. Usually by “light body” people are talking about the prana (energy body) or an aura of it. But many are just talking limited concepts and “supposed-to’s,” not experience.
But the “light” of these different bodies is not all the same. At its essence, light is Divinity in alive flow or Shakti. The effulgence of consciousness and beyond express this. As we move through denser layers, light takes on properties and qualities like colour and intensity that are progressively more localized until we have photons – apparent particles of light. Apparent because science has found that the wave form only collapses to a particle when attention is on it*. Prior to that it is a probability.
The Yoga Sutra (3v40) tells us that with mastery of Samana, the energy of digestion, we gain effulgence. This is a natural tendency illustrated in the iconography of both eastern and western art with halos and glowing forms. It’s subtle light that’s “loud” enough to be seen physically. We might say prana that expresses into the physical light spectrum. Is this a light body?
And there is the cosmic body of all bodies which is shaped much like our manifest body and expresses through the layers to give us our human form. The cosmic is essentially an idea in the cosmic mind driven by divinity. It too can be called a “light body” that arises within the body of consciousness.
In other words, we can see the layers of creation as “bodies” or layers that culminate in specific forms and we can see the expressions of the cosmic body as “bodies” that also culminate in forms. The first gives the qualities of the layers of the “cake,” the second structures the details of the form. The 2 branches come together in the local body.
Some ascension/ ascended master material talks about gaining a light body but it’s never been clear to me what they’re talking about. I’m not sure that’s even clear to the people speaking about it.
There are also the changes to the body that develop with embodying divinity. While most of us gradually age, there is research showing markers of aging like telomere length can be reversed with long practice. There is also some talk about “rebooting” or “youthing.”
Most people I know doing very well are a blend. The hair continues to gray but perhaps the skin gets more youthful. Some are experiencing a gradual dissolution of physicality.
The later is sometimes described as a dissolution of the earth element or as the conversion of inertia (tamas) into sattva in the physiology. I’ve talked about the second quite a bit but in relation to unfolding clarity of consciousness. In this case, the transformation is moving into the physiology too.
As the body is more dense, it will tend to shift more gradually than more subtle layers. It’s good if this process takes time or we’d have to relearn how to walk. How do we move in the world if the body has little mass?
This shift means a gradual dissolving of limitations. This will bring more of the abilities described in the Yoga Sutra on-line. When the last karma completes, the last limitation falls away. We live as expressed power rather than mass.
This doesn’t mean the physical appearance dissolves or we become transparent or blazing light. It means the appearance isn’t driven by the past although it may be maintained by habit. (laughs)
I’ve written about this in other ways previously, such as in Melting the Body.
The esoteric Buddhist traditions speak of a “rainbow” body. I have little expertise here but it sounds like this is widely misunderstood too. The essential idea is that once the karma is done, the physical body dissolves into light at death, expressing a rainbow of colour. Think Luke dissolving into the Force but with more of a light show. But this is a rare achievement requiring high purity akin to what I describe above. Evidently, even Buddha didn’t reach this.
More typically, eastern traditions speak of the heaven we’re able to reach after death where we can continue to evolve. We’d inherently continue in a body of light. Many of the ancient masters can be discovered this way in various places at subtle levels.
Another option would be to continue in the “physical” body post-karma. Rather than dying on schedule, we sustain the body for continued use. That’s an intriguing option – to live in form and yet not be bound by the rules of it. It would also give us more time to dissolve the inertia.
Subtle beings who show up to our physical senses would be expressing as a light body but this differs from staying in the world.
Of course, much of this is speculative. I know people going through an embodiment process but I don’t know how this will unfold. I’m fascinated to see what happens – what will group consciousness and personal dharma support?
* Attention collapses the probability wave form, even in the past. Also, the speed of light is considered a constant and a maximum for our universe. Yet the speed of light being constant to every observer suggests it is outside space-time. Science suggests light does not experience itself as a particle moving but rather as simultaneous.