Four Sheaths of Identity

alt. title: Paean to D. H. Lawrence and Walt Whitman

alt. alt.: The Meaning of Holding Hands

The Vedantic philosophy of the East sees human identity in terms of sheaths housing the true self. It gets pretty complicated, but we can settle on four sheaths: physical, emotional, intellectual and spiritual. Think of each as a sock the Self is wearing. The sheaths are not actually separate, but coextensive, so they are really different ways of looking at the same sock, but seeing them as separate layers makes them more comprehensible from the everyday point of view.

When I hold your hand, it’s not merely a physical act, but a trigger, an indicator, an objective marker of all sorts of transcendental knots and connections forming at the emotional and intellectual and spiritual layers of being. If I go deep within myself at that moment, I can feel it to be so.

Today’s religious followers too often feel only the mock-spiritual, an economy of meaning perversely separated from the physical, which leaves them with something dry and unsensual. Obliged to deny sensual richness, they remain sensually impoverished.

Today’s materialists too often feel only the physical and “demystify” the other sheaths into anemic scientific formulas, abstractions with all the transcendental and cosmic life drained out of them. And they wonder why they are unfulfilled, or half-fulfilled, in life.

I feel within myself the measure and vanishing point of all sheaths.
I am the fulfillment of a destiny.
You are the fulfillment of a destiny.
We are the fulfillment of a destiny.

And we know this to be true.

We can fight against it and tie ourselves in knots of neurosis and frustration. Or we can untie the knots, accept the full freedom that destiny expresses through us, and open the flow.

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Painting (“Ghost in the Range”) by Kyle Nugent (

Who sees dead people?

A friend recently inquired whether my oft-inflated sagacity could cast any light on mystical experiences involving a recently deceased relative. Some, it is true, may be overeager to accept such communication, or to accept apparent evidence for reincarnation, at face value. Some dismiss it all as nonsense. It is tempting to say that every case of communication with the deceased is self-deception, and every reincarnation tale a hoax, and for all I know they may be just that. But let’s take some ideas from the Vedantic religions of the East and see if we can work through to a place that alienates neither the claimant nor the skeptic.

The akashic record in the Eastern mythos is the record of everything normally considered past, present, and future (in our clumsy linear sense of time). Every thought, every movement of every leaf, is contained in this vast database, as it were. But the akashic record is more than a database. It is the ultimate reality. All our daily actions are reflections of, or abstractions from, the akashic record. We are right now living the akashic record, experiencing it from one orientation point.

All forms of prayer, meditation, yoga, etc., are strategies for bringing us closer to the akashic record (or God-consciousness), where all things past, present, and future are perceived as oneness. Who knows how many levels of transcendence are folded between our localized consciousness and the all-embracing God-consciousness of the akashic record, but if we could reach bottom we would recognize that we ourselves, at the deepest level of our existence, are living all lives past, present, and future simultaneously – we would be viewing reality not from the orientation point of our individual consciousness but from the orientation point of the akashic record.

It may be that if we stripped away all hoaxes and self-deception, and found some instances of communication with the other world still standing, those instances would be the result of a dipping down into the roots of consciousness in the akashic record, and bringing back up what fragments we could find.

So as of today that is my “unified field theory” of reincarnation, precognition, clairvoyance, and all manner of communication with the dead. I now reserve the right to come at this topic from mutually exclusive orientation points as suits my whim in the future.