"The etheric body is the vital-energy body which interpenetrates all so-called space-form, relating, feeding, and sustaining the many informing lives within the One Life."
This quote from "The Nature of the Soul" by Lucille Cedercrans describes the esoteric view of the etheric body and its relationship with the etheric web of life. Science appears to be steadily working towards the same conclusions
As early as 1935 H. Saxton Burr and F.S.C Northrop proposed the existence of a regulating field around life-forms in a paper titled "The Electrodynamic Theory of Life", which Dr. Harold Saxton Burr called L-fields, "fields of life".
"The pattern or organization of any biological system is established by a complex electro-dynamic field which is in part determined by its atomic physiochemical components and which in part determines the behaviour and orientation of those components. This field is electrical in the physical sense and by its properties relates the entities of the biological system in a characteristic pattern and is itself, in part, a result of the existence of those entities. It determines and is determined by the components."
Measurement by modern electric instruments developed in the last few years has "revealed that man - and, in fact, all life forms - are ordered and controlled by electro-dynamic fields which can be measured and mapped with precision." And that all living organisms have electric fields which govern their growth and decay.
As H. S. Burr (one time professor at Yale University) stated, "So far as our present information goes, there is unequivocal evidence that wherever there is life, there are electrical properties." As an example, Burr points to the human body. Its molecules and cells are always being torn apart and rebuilt with fresh material from the food we eat. But thanks to the controlling L-Fields, the new molecules and cells are rebuilt as before, and arrange themselves as the old ones. The body's L-Fields "serves as a matrix or mould which preserves the 'shape' or arrangement of any material poured into it."
Burr proved that the L-Field can be influenced directly by external phenomena by measuring the voltage gradients of a number of trees over a period of 30 years. He found that the L-Fields of the trees fluctuated with sunlight, darkness, sunspots, magnetic storms and moon cycles. From this we can extrapolate that human L-Fields are similarly affected. "The field of a living system is an ordered pattern which represents the universe. It can be argued therefore, that the universe is an electrical field and that everything that exists in it is a subsidiary or component part of the total field." Thus "we are fully justified in regarding the fields of life as the instruments of physical evolution, of which, on this planet at least, the human nervous system is the masterpiece."
Cleve Backster went on to discover that this energy field, which serves as a communication link between plants and other animate forms, is not within the different known frequencies AM, FM, or any form of signal which we can shield by ordinary means ....... and distance doesn't seem to impose any limitation.
However, it appears this is not new knowledge, but rediscovered wisdom of the ancient world.
A similar concept exists in the Huna Code of Hawaii, which dates back long before the days of European settlers. The basic tenets of Huna, which is not a religion but more a sacred way of living, can be summarized in these words: "no hurt: no sin," where the Huna concept of "sin" is doing something hurtful. Their living philosophy is "serve to deserve," that is, be of help and service to others in order to feel worthy of good things in your life.
Part of their tradition refers to "aka bodies", which bear a distinct relationship to the concept of living fields. The kahuna or priesthood of ancient Hawaii talked of the three selves of man, each having exact duplicates, which they referred to as aka bodies. The Huna Code states that around each person is an original blueprint or pattern, printed on transparent material, which fits each of the three selves in every detail. This aka substance forms a sort of invisible pattern or aura around each of the three selves, keeping the blueprint intact, but capable of changing shape temporarily to form a connecting thread between the basic self, the middle self, and the High Self.
Aka is the Hawaiian Huna word for the energy substance which surrounds us and connects us to each other. It is how information and mana (life force and energy) travel. All contact, whether in the physical or on another level, involves the exchange of threads of aka material or energy. Ongoing relationships will build cords, and energy and information is exchanged along these cords and connections. Since aka has an adhesive quality and stretches without breaking, when contact is made between two people, a long, sticky thread is drawn out between the two like a silver spider-web, and a connection is made between them. Further contact will add other aka threads which are braided together into an aka cord creating a strong rapport, but with casual contacts the cord will soon disappear. Similar aka cords exist between the three selves and higher spiritual patterns. As these connections give access to inspiration and natural healing energies, the aka cord must be kept strongly braided between the three selves in order for them to work harmoniously together.
The High Self contacts us of its own accord in our sleep, making use of the connecting aka cord. Our thoughts of the day, with our plans, hopes, fears, loves, and hates, are examined, taken as duplicate thought-forms, along with some vital force which is stepped up to a higher "voltage" and is used by the High Self to construct a shadowy body which will materialize as part of our future. Such thought-forms were described by the kahuna as "seeds" which were vitalized by the High Self and grew into actualities of the future.
The same idea is echoed in the ageless wisdom, through its past associations with the Upanishads and the lore of India where 'The Thread Soul' relates to this same idea of the cord or aka shadowy thread:
"All force, whether of mental, astral, or etheric nature, reaches the consciousness of an individual, or a group, via the etheric lines of force which connect him or it with its originating source."
More recently, Rupert Sheldrake, in his book "The Presence of The Past", proposed the idea of morphogenetic fields in his Hypothesis of Formative Causation. These are structure-creating fields unique to each single concept that co-exist within a nested hierarchial relationship that can act as a unified field of extreme complexity, such as would be necessary to sustain human life.
These information fields are responsible for all varieties of objective existence both natural and man-made, as well as the more subjective aspects of talents and skills. By organising the basic physical material at a molecular level, such as DNA, they provide the ability to continue a tradition so that new skills and achievements are more easily accomplished by future generations because the strength of the fields are increased by use and are also completely adaptable to new sets of prevailing circumstance.
Sheldrake works on the assumption that the morphogenetic fields contain all information concerning the structure and form of each organism, including "inanimate" material. These fields have a holographic structure, which means that the corresponding information is theoretically omnipresent in the universe and can be called up accordingly. The morphogenetic fields are not essentially electromagnetic and are presumably on a plane other than space/time. In this way they differ significantly from Saxton Burr's L-fields.
The existence of such a plane transcending space/time has even been postulated as an inevitability by some physicists. David Bohm, in this connection, refers to a "holographic universe" and defines the two areas of existence as having an "implicit" (folded-up) and "explicit" (unfolded) order. It is obvious that there are remarkable similarities between these morphic fields, the Huna concept of aka threads and bodies, and the vedic concept of the Thread Soul. However Sheldrake doesn't limit his perception of morphic fields to life on this world, but sees all creation as a unified process:
"The hypothesis of formative causation, in the spirit of the philosophy of organism, regards the morphic fields of systems at all levels of complexity as fundamental rather than as derivative from the known fields of physics. From this point of view, the matter fields of quantum physics could be regarded as the morphic fields of particles, nuclei, and atoms. But just as the different kinds of subatomic field cannot be reduced to each other, neither can the morphic fields of holons such as cells, plants, and societies be reduced to each other and still less to the fields of subatomic particles. Rather, there are nested hierarchies of fields: the fields of molecules contain those of atoms, nuclei, and subatomic particles; the fields of cells contain and embrace those of molecules; and so on."
"A natural extension of the morphic field approach would be to regard living ecosystems as complex organisms with morphic fields that embrace the communities of organisms within them, and indeed to regard entire planets as organisms with characteristic morphic fields, and likewise planetary systems, stars, galaxies, and clusters of galaxies. Certainly, stars, galaxies, and galactic clusters can be classified into types or species. From the present point of view, the individual examples of each type are organized by morphic resonance from previous similar systems."
This is borne out in James Lovelock's Gaia hypothesis, that "...the biosphere is a self-regulating entity with the capacity to keep our planet healthy by controlling the chemical and physical environment." Gaia is a metaphor for "the web of Life", a fundamental world view of many native traditions. Lovelock proposed that the earth was a living, self-organizing entity, and called it Gaia after the Greek goddess of creation who became the earth itself.
Plato alluded to a similar concept when he wrote: "We shall affirm that the cosmos, more than anything else, resembles most closely that living Creature of which all other living creatures, severally or genetically, are aportion; a living creature which is fairest of all and in ways most perfect."
It is also one of the fundamental ideas of esoteric lore that all existence is dependent on a web of basic etheric material, as demonstrated by these two quotes from the theosophical writings of Alice Bailey.
"The individual etheric body is not an isolated and separated human vehicle but is, in a peculiar sense, an integral part of the etheric body of that entity which we have called the human family; this kingdom in nature, through its etheric body, is an integral part of the planetary etheric body; the planetary etheric body is not separated off from the etheric bodies of other planets but all of them in their totality, along with the etheric body of the sun constitute the etheric body of the solar system. This is related to the etheric bodies of the six solar systems which, with ours, form a cosmic unity and into these pour energies and forces from certain great constellations. The field of space is etheric in nature and its vital body is composed of the totality of etheric bodies of all constellations, solar systems and planets which are found therein. Throughout this cosmic golden web there is a constant circulation of energies and forces and this constitutes the scientific basis of the astrological theories. Just as the forces of the planet and of the inner spiritual man (to mention only one factor among many) pour through the etheric body of the individual man upon the physical plane, and condition his outer expression, activities, and qualities, so do the varying forces of the universe pour through every part of the etheric body of that entity we call space and condition and determine the outer expression, the activities and qualities of every form found within the cosmic periphery." (Alice A Bailey - Esoteric Astrology)
"The etheric body has been described as a network, permeated with fire, or as a web, animated with golden light. It is spoken of in the Bible as the "golden bowl." It is a composition of that matter of the physical plane which we call etheric, and its shape is brought about by the fine interlacing strands of this matter being built by the action of the lesser Builders into the form or mould upon which later the dense physical body can be moulded. Under the Law of Attraction, the denser matter of the physical plane is made to cohere to this vitalized form, and is gradually built up around it, and within it, until the interpenetrating is so complete that the two forms make but one unit; the pranic emanations of the etheric body itself play upon the dense physical body in the same manner as the pranic emanations of the sun play upon the etheric body. It is all one vast system of transmission and of interdependence within the system. All receive in order to give, and to pass on to that which is lesser or not so evolved. Upon every plane this process can be seen."
(Alice A Bailey - A Treatise on Cosmic Fire)"
The origins of Theosophy lie in the early literature of the East, which includes some of the oldest extant religious works in the world. The ancient Rig-Veda has about 250 hymns dedicated to Lord Indra, the king of the gods in Indian mythology, and in the Buddhist text Avatamsaka Sutra, which originated in India in the early centuries after Christ, Indra's Net is described as a net with a jewel at each intersection, each jewel reflecting all the other jewels of the net. The net can be envisioned as a kind of spider's web in which each node or gem reflects all the others within a kind of holographic fractal.
"Far away in the heavenly abode of the great god Indra, there is a wonderful net which has been hung by some cunning artificer in such a manner that it stretches out indefinitely in all directions. In accordance with the extravagant tastes of deities, the artificer has hung a single glittering jewel at the net's every node, and since the net itself is infinite in dimension, the jewels are infinite in number. There hang the jewels, glittering like stars of the first magnitude, a wonderful sight to behold. If we now arbitrarily select one of these jewels for inspection and look closely at it, we will discover that in its polished surface there are reflected all the other jewels in the net, infinite in number. Not only that, but each of the jewels reflected in this one jewel is also reflecting all the other jewels, so that the process of reflection is infinite."
This concept has recently become a popular metaphor for universal structures such as the internet. Tim Berners-Lee, the particle physicist and "inventor" of the World Wide Web, used the metaphor of Indra's Net to describe the power potential of global communication made possible through this interpretation of the internet: "an infinitely nested and interrelated monadology in which each singularity reflects and embodies a boundless totality."
Bringing things up to date, in the last decade there has been much speculation in quantum physics about the existence of a subatomic field of infinite size which exists in so-called empty space consisting of pure quantum energy. This is the Zero Point Field which connects everything to everything else like a vast invisible web of energy.
"Science now views our material world as illusionary, as nothing but a sea of sub-atomic particles constantly moving across the background of this sea of energy. All of what we consider as our real world is nothing more than electrical charges interacting with this Zero Point Field."
"One discovery is that every molecule emits its own unique frequency, which is used for communication. French scientists have shown that you can record the frequency of a molecule, play it to another molecule and the signal itself can take the place of chemicals in initiating biological processes. New evidence shows the brain's conversations with the body might also occur on the quantum level, with waves and frequencies, rather than with chemical or electrical impulses alone. In fact, studies in America on humans and animals show that the cerebral cortex responds to certain limited bands of frequencies."
"As incredible as it seems, it appears that when we see things, we are reading information from the Zero Point Field on a quantum level and our brain 'reads out' this information to create the images we see in front of us. Some scientists have gone as far as to say that our memories don't sit inside our heads at all. Our brains are simply the retrieval and read-out mechanism of the ultimate storage medium - The Field."
"As this giant energy field operates outside of space and time ..... the idea that there is absolute time and space has to be replaced with a truer picture of a universe which exists in one vast 'here' where 'here' represents all time and all space at a single instant."
"..The Zero Point Field might operate as a kind of 'collective consciousness' (and) ..it follows that humans can affect the world around them outside of space and time. "
(Lynne McTaggart - The Field)
Or in the words of Albert Einstein: "Field is the only reality, there is no physical matter, only denser and denser fields."
We can end as we began, with another relevant quote from Lucille Cedercrans' "The Nature of the Soul":
"A man is an aggregate of energies, held together in time and space, via his etheric network, informed by an individualized spark of Logoic consciousness, and with all other men is a center or focal point through which Logoic Purpose is finally worked out into manifestation. Thus, we say humanity in its sum total is the Planetary throat center through which the Word of God sounds forth in time and space."
And finally, this piece from Chief Seattle, apparently said when surrendering "his lands" to the American military in 1854:
"This we know: All things are connected like the blood that unites us. We did not weave the web of life, we are merely a strand in it. Whatever we do to the web, we do to ourselves. We love this earth as a newborn loves its motherís heartbeat. If we sell you our land, care for it as we have cared for it. Hold in your mind the memory of the land as it is when you receive it. Preserve the land and the air and the rivers for your childrenís children and love it as we have loved it."