Models of Nature

Models of Nature

Towel by Dean Hochman
Towel by Dean Hochman

There are various ways people may experience and model the structure of creation, also known as nature or Prakriti. Recently, there have been several insights that allowed integrating some models. First, I’ll explore some models, then I’ll show the chart.

On the broadest level, you have:
– local or personal experience
– shared, collective, or universal values common across this universe
– cosmic values that are creation-wide
– Divine layers that are totally inclusive

The model I use most commonly on this site is the kosha or sheath model. This starts with the physical body and steps back through 7 primary layers into our origins in consciousness. This is like Russian nested dolls but starts with the innermost one. It starts with our surface experience rather than the source. In brief, the 7 koshas are: physical, energy/ emotions, mind, intellect, bliss/ causal, flow, and consciousness itself. Brahman and ParaBrahman are beyond the koshas.

The 7 primary chakras or energy centers in the body run up the spine. They reside in the causal (universal) through energy bodies, appearing differently in each layer. Each chakra primarily supports a corresponding kosha even though they function on fewer levels.

Jyotish or Vedic astrology associates the various “planets” with the chakras and thus the koshas.

I can also note that the sequence aligns with the solar zodiac rulerships if you follow them around the chart, starting with Aquarius at the root. When you reach the sun, you return back down the higher octave chakras (the 12 chakra model). They continue to align if you skip the moon as it only rules one sign. Some models put both the Sun and Moon at the 6th chakra for the 2 petals, viewing the crown as transcendent. If you looped across them at the 6th, then it would align exactly.

Did you know that how we measure space and time arises almost entirely out of astrology? 12 hours on a clock, 360 degrees on a compass (both zodiac), 7 days in a week (Saturnday, Sunday, Moonday), 12 months in a year (names edited a few times), and so on.

The Vedic tradition has 6 systems of philosophy to handle the perspectives of each stage of unfolding. Samkhya lists fundamental quantities that make up our subjective and objective experience. It begins with a dualistic purusha and prakriti, cosmic spirit (observer) and nature. Like Shiva and Shakti, they represent a fundamental polarity of subject and object at the foundation of our world experience.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi used a simplified version with 8 “prakritis” or fundamental qualities.

Five of them are the basic qualities of the world, the 5 elements: earth, water, fire, air, and space.

Three of them are about the structure of the personal experiencer: intellect, mind, and the intellect distinguishing self from other as the ego or I-sense. These overlap with the elements when comparing to a kosha model because the driver of the mind is the 3rd chakra and fire, the intellect the 4th and air.

A blend of these principles gives rise to the objects of the world, the means of experiencing them, and the vehicle of the experiencer.

The first 8 Prakritis cover the personal, collective, and universal arenas.

There is a second 8 known as paraprakriti that overlaps the universal and covers the cosmic. This brings out more detail in the sub-layers of the 6th kosha.

And finally, there is a Divine set that overlaps the cosmic and into the Divine. These are Divine qualities, prior to nature.

Update: Note that the values of Prakriti are expressed. The values of ParaPrakriti are flavours that are only expressed in the cosmic, in consciousness. They set the stage but are not manifest. The values of the Divine are qualities that seed consciousness, a bit more than alertness and liveliness.

Update 2: I made the mistake of applying principles upward, nature to Divinity. It’s the other way around as I outlined on Structure of Divinity.
Intelligence, Alertness, & Liveliness become self-aware consciousness.
Self-aware consciousness > space, Love > air / Intellect > ego, Power > fire / mind, Action > water, Being > earth

The reason for the overlap is what I refer to as nested spaces. Each set covers the nature of that space. Also, the subject/ object overlap I mentioned above. When this is seen, the values of prakriti align with the kosha model.

Kosha Experience Chakra Planet Prakriti   Paraprakriti   Divine  
Anna- food body, physical root Saturn earth          
Prana- energy, emotional sex Jupiter water          
Manon- mental, sensory gut Mars fire mind        
Vijnana- intellect, intuition heart Venus air intellect, ego para-earth      
Ananda- bliss, celestial, causal throat Mercury space   Para-water      
Chitta- flow, cosmic mind 3rd eye Moon     Para-fire Para-mind    
  structure of creation         Para-air Para-intellect/ ego Being  
  space of consciousness         Para-space   Action  
Atma- cosmic Self, consciousness crown Sun     Rishi, Devata, Chhandas   Power D-Mind
(beyond)               Love D-Intellect, cosmic personality/ Krishna
Brahman No-thing             Alertness  
ParaBrahman Pure Divinity             Source  

Rig Veda
Vyasa composed the Rig Veda in 10 Mandalas or books. Maharishi spoke of how the first was about Prakriti as a whole, then each of the 8 prakritis were assigned to Mandalas 2-9, then Brahman to the 10th mandala.

With the overlapping prakritis, you end up with almost 10 rows that almost align with this model. I’ve not researched this further.

The 19 Enclosures

There’s another value that I didn’t try to align because it was a loka, not creation itself. In the Shrimad Devi Bhagavatum, the Divine mother Gayatri’s abode in Sarva loka is described in some detail.

Because it’s a loka or world and surrounded by an ocean, it’s likely a heaven in the bliss body or perhaps structured in consciousness. (I’ve not experienced this.) Lorn Hoff observed that if you “stack” the first 8 prakritis, then the 8 paraprakritis, and then the 3 aspects of consciousness (8+8+3), they align with the 19 enclosures. The first 8 enclosures have metal walls, then the next 8 have walls made of gems, then the final 3 are things like “gems of mind and consciousness.” I’ve not taken this correspondence further, but this would be a specific space that mirrors the space of creation (or inversely, creation reflects this loka).

The Kosha model doesn’t cover the whole territory, but I still prefer it to the prakriti model. It’s based on our personal experience rather than abstract principles around us.

Last Updated on August 25, 2020 by Davidya

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  1. Lew

    Two points that sort of fit in here but I’d like to hear your points of view anyway. …. Maharishi used to say that life begins at enlightenment… If I can recall, he may have been said that life begins in Unity… Perhaps you can extrapolate on that (and even if you have better recall of his comments) … I would like to hear more definitively what that means on the level of the experience and what comes after… When life begin at unity…..Where does it go from there?
    Also from reading this article I’m reminded that he was once answering a question… I think it was about the Brahma Sutras and he said that to an enlightened person the text… and I assume the Vedas and the epics as well… is like a person going to a golf course…. A fun recreational activity!… Has this been the case with you?…. The scriptures always seemed like serious stuff but he presented them as a source of enjoyment! Like to get your take on that… Thank you….

    1. Hi Lew
      Well, I’d say there is layers to the statement. For example, life begins after we stop suffering. Also, life itself arises from the liveliness in consciousness. Life begins when consciousness is awake to that. But also, each time you change stage of development, your sense of self and the world changes. It feels like you’re back in kindergarten, learning about reality again. Life begins again.

      Some describe this as being reborn or born again too, being twice born or thrice born.

      With Cosmic Consciousness/ Self Realization, we shift from being a person to being cosmic Being. We cease being the doer, etc. With Unity Consciousness, we experience ourselves as being everything. Subject and object merge in one wholeness. In Brahman, almost the reverse, we are beyond being and experiences and any thing.

      Same things are going on. Just our perspective has changed significantly. A new life blossoms.

      When we read texts describing things that are not our reality it’s like reading quantum physics. Seems a serious subject that stretches the mind and taxes the intellect. But when we read the texts when it is the experience, then it can be bringing us new ways of looking, expanded vistas, etc. An adventure.

      More deeply, the core Vedas are encoded experiences that can be explored. I talked about the layers of that here:

  2. Lew

    Good article on experiences. Just as Maharishi said… Life actually begins when you experience it more from the top down…. There must be quite a shift in the nervous system to incorporate and integrate all of the new levels of experience…. and then the perceptions of the seeds and composers of Vedic literature them take on a new level of clarity… The intellect must now shift as well from merely supposition and reason to intuition and experiential knowingness… Maharishi’s metaphor of the golf game holds true…. There is the ability to “play” on new levels of understanding and experience…. Just reading about Pakriti, the planets, chakras and Vedic interpretation can be pretty dry and takes on the flavor of mere academics and theorizing…. However what you discussed and Maharishi states is a new beginning …. Birth and integration of experiences from the top down…. That takes away some of the confusion… I remember Maharishi taking about the Buddhist 8 Fold Path… He said those actions occur after enlightenment, not necessarily an actual path to enlightrnment… Right or perfected actions etc..are the result of gaining enlightenment… Although practicing goodness is beneficial and may lead to obtaining good experiences, ultimately some experiential practices that lead to higher states of consciousness and the infusion of what might’ve considered perfect action, speech etc. are needed to cultivate the actual infusion of an enlightened state of being in each of us.

    1. Hi Lew
      There are quite a few changes, yes, but if the person has a regular and long spiritual practice, the changes can be gentle. One of the things that often surprises someone awakening is how normal and ordinary it is. Nothing changes and yet everything does, from the new perspective.

      Clarity depends on sattva and soma. And part of that relates to prior life development. We pick up where we left off, although karma may make it unclear where that is until it completes.

      Key with the intellect is it shifts from associating with the mind and being tossed around by experiences to associating with stable being. It becomes what Maharishi called resolute. Then discrimination gets much better which further helps clarity, etc. And yes, intuition too.

      Later, the intelligence within experiences becomes more conscious so we understand what is arising much better. We know its nature.

      And yes, when the various levels between the surface and pure consciousness become conscious and relatively clear, they become new fields of exploration. However, it varies widely what a given person develops. Depends on the local laws of nature and inclinations. Keep in mind these are infinite fields so we can only explore so much. We can be broadly familiar but focus on this or that level. 🙂

      When it’s all mind and theory it can be quite dry. But when it’s the experience, it can be fascinating to hear how another has experienced it. That leads to different models that suit different people. I thought it a useful exercise to compare them a bit. As the Updates note, I’ve tweaked it a bit for precision. A model is inherently conceptual but there are degrees how closely they match what is. I like the kosha model but I’m also rather stretching it’s conception.

      Yes, when you try to describe an office tower from the mezzanine, it’s a little weak. But after you’ve gone up the floors and describe it from the top down, it makes more sense. Yet it’s easy to mess that up as I first did with the Divine section above, applying bottom up when it was getting near the top.

      And yes, it’s true of a number of traditions where the description of the result has come to be taken as the method. Yoga also. Spiritual practices are generally taught one on one, then benefits and results written up.

      Maharishi also tended to speak intentionally – a cultural thing. The ideal is perfect right action but it takes time for the shift to be fully integrated in the surface levels of life and for the shadows to lift (karma) that can cause mistakes. We tend to wind down creating new karmas, then work through some of the unfolding seeds. Makes a big difference though when you’re acting with nature, unattached, and in the flow.

      Perfect speech arises when it’s consciousness speaking, not the person. The habit will be there for the mind to speak and tell it’s stories and complaints. But with clarity, we see through that and step deeper into being. Speech arises from the Para level. You see that with spiritual teachers who seem to be speaking directly to you even though in a big group. They speak to what needs to be heard rather than what may be asked. And they say things the person speaking didn’t know.

      The awakening shift takes just a moment. But it takes awhile to integrate it. The denser the area of life, the slower. Some texts suggest 10-12 years to be fully established. But of course it varies by person. Often in that time further stages unfold, adding another layer of integration underway, etc. 🙂

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