The Five Bodies

a complete model of human anatomy

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What are the Five Bodies? 

The Five Bodies depict the five layers of of every human being. It supplements and completes the partial model of human anatomy we use today. It recognizes and accommodates everything medical science has discovered about the human body while also placing a premium on how we experience ourselves, what is most meaningful to us, and what wisdom traditions around the world have understood. These Five Bodies are functioning within you right now. In the beginning, they may sound theoretical, but through experimentation they can be fully understood and appreciated experientially.

The Five Bodies, from outermost to innermost, are

5. Physical
4. Mental
3. Energetic
2. Informational
1. Awareness (sometimes called Consciousness)

Why are the Five Bodies important?

We are using a materialist perspective of science (the belief that a conscious human being is made from tiny tennis balls we call particles) to try to understand concepts that are not based in materialism. Yoga and Chinese medicine, for example, cannot be completely understood in terms of muscles, bones, and atoms, so we’ve resorted to placing different models of human anatomy side by side, without being able to translate one in terms of the other.

This map of the Five Bodies is used to place every model of the human being around the world in the same context, using philosophy and science—and most importantly, direct experience—as a translator. As we do this, we will unlock heretofore inaccessible knowledge, opening the doors to healing, cure, and human potential.

5. The Physical Body

The physical body is the one we are all familiar with. We clothe it, feed it, and exercise it. It’s the body that anatomy has most thoroughly explored. It’s our bones, muscles, organs, cells, atoms, and particles. And it is celebrated the world over in textbooks.

4. The Mental Body

The mental body includes our thoughts, feelings, memories, ambitions, and so on. It is the deeply meaningful, subtler aspect of us that influences our moment-to-moment behavior, though we do not represent it anatomically in our textbooks.

The mental body cannot be shown directly through images, but we can recognize it through observing the physical body, as seen above. Yet the mental body is at least as real as the physical one. If we think of a memory that causes us to experience stress, the body will secrete adrenaline, which causes our pupils to dilate, heart to pound faster, and blood vessels to constrict. In other words, our mental body will dictate changes in the physical body.

If you think about your experience so far today, you will see that you have been living in your mental body more than your physical one. Your day has been experienced mostly as a flow of mental thoughts, feelings, memories, and sensations. You likely did not experience your liver, kidney, left third toe, or right elbow today, though we reflexively model ourselves as these physical concepts.

3. The Energetic Body

The energetic body is described in detail in Yoga and Traditional Chinese Medicine. We call these structures chakras, nadis, meridians, tracts, and points, among other names.

In the images above, we generally depict the energetic body overlayed on the physical body. Depicting the energetic body alone without the physical body would render it unrecognizable.

We know about measures of energy, such as Joules and kilowatt-hours, but what is energy itself? A simple definition of energy might be activity. Energy is an activity that can further be organized, categorized, and measured in particular ways. The energetic body, similarly, is an activity, not an inert structure.

Recognizing the energetic body requires relaxing and refocusing the mind to see through physical and mental activity. The configuration of the mind determines what we can recognize. Therefore, a mind that has been groomed on the concept of discrete things like tennis balls will mostly recognize the physical body, and will be less likely to identity subtle organizations of activity like the energetic body. This means that if we aim to heal, cure, and discover the peaks of human potential, training in self-awareness is just as important as training in anatomy and physiology.

2. The Informational Body

As the energetic body becomes balanced, it’s full field-like nature is recognized. This deeper nature is the informational body, because like information, it does not dissipate with distance. As this informational body, you are not a localized thing, but rather a vast being extending throughout space. It is this informational aspect of human anatomy that produces what we call coincidences and synchronicity. My physical body may be sitting across the globe from yours, but our informational bodies are the same and inform our energetic, mental, and physical bodies.

1. Consciousness / Awareness

Consciousness is the deepest aspect of our anatomy. It is what we are, appearing as the outer layers of the human being. It is prior to space and time, which are of the nature of information. While healing is possible in the physical, mental, energetic, and informational bodies, consciousness is already whole.

Consciousness as I’m describing it here is easily misunderstood. These are the most common misunderstandings, along with clarification.

Tying it all together

This model of the human being as Five Bodies is a common place where we can bring science together with the knowledge of wisdom traditions around the world. When we bring these different forms of knowledge together in one place with a common philosophical and scientific foundation, we will have a translatable library of information about the human being that we’ve never had before.

Learn more

If you would like to schedule an informational session or speaking event to learn more about the Five Bodies, please use the contact form below.

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