Planes of Existence


Planes of Being or Subtle States of Awareness

What are Planes of Existence?

Central to metaphysical theories is the idea that apart from the physical world that we witness there are other more subtle and intangible planes of existence or being.

These are also states of awareness that we can move in and out of throughout our day.

These planes are interconnected and all present in every moment and every phenomenon.

There are different ways of classifying these levels from different cultures, religions and for differing purposes.

Some traditions work with the notion of five levels of being while others look at three.

The one presented here is fairly common to western magical traditions.

It is important to understand that they are not linear or hierarchical so much as subtleties of energetic density or dimensions.

The three bodies of Mahayana Buddhism
The trikaya or ‘three bodies’ teaching in Mahayana Buddhism describes the three bodies of a Buddha. They are the dharmakaya (truth body), sambhogakaya (bliss body or ‘body of mutual enjoyment’), and the nirmanakaya (body in time and space.)

Five Planes of Existence

The Physical Plane

Gross State

This is the level we are most familiar with, the one of material substance.

There is generally little argument about the existence of this gross level of manifestation. However, occultists and the Eastern Religious traditions would claim that many scientific theories are incomplete in their limited assumptions with regard to physical substance.

We are able to have a direct effect on physical planes – move something, change something.

The Etheric Plane

Part of Subtle State

This is the energy of life-force or Qi, the framework of subtle energies on which all material substance is arranged.

In humans it is the level related to the aura. It also corresponds to the ego, a tangible but formless presence.

This state is close to matter and exists in time and space and can affect the material world directly. as in moving Qi in martial arts.

The energies of this level can be affected by consciousness and will. It can appear to have substance and be mistaken for solid matter, such ghostly manifestations.

It can also be intangible and impossible for some to detect.

This level can be the energy source for many different types of consciousness. It will carry an effect from astral forces that are focused by will, conscious imagination, or a life form.

Often times it is our awareness in this Plane of Being that allows us to read various earth energies as well as practice other divinatory arts. It is the realm of many psychic phenomena we encounter in Geomantic work. 

Astral Plane

Part of Subtle State

This is the level of consciousness is the realm of dreams and imagination. In humans, this relates to the astral body. However, all physical and etheric forms have an astral presence.

Shamanically these realms are accepted as realities in their own right.

According to this model, the astral is often divided into the upper and lower astral, with the lower astral being related to the etheric and physical plane and the upper astral relating more to the mental and spiritual planes.

This is the realm one might journey to dialogue with angels and guides.

Mental Plane

Causal State

Space-less and timeless this plane provides the fundamental patterns of the cosmos.

All other lower levels are formed from this plane.

And so it is often referred to as the Casual state, as it is the cause of the denser states.

It is the plane of natural law, archetypes, abstract consciousness, and logic.

In humans it corresponds to the mental body and the blueprint or essential immortal pattern of the self.

Spiritual Plane

Ultimate Truth

The level of unity from which all other planes emanate and to which they return.

It is the Dao. That which cannot be named.

In humans, it relates to the spiritual body, the transcendent core of being.

As above so below

An energy pattern in any plane will have an effect on the planes below.

That is to say the astral realm shapes the etheric, just as the etheric has an effect on the physical plane.

If an event occurs on the physical plane those patterns are already established on the planes above, with the spiritual plane being the source of all being. The physical plane is a level of manifestation, not cause.

Everything that exists on the physical plane has a corresponding energy field in the levels above, though there are energies and beings, such as those in the elemental kingdoms of the etheric planes, that don’t necessarily come to physical manifestation.

As we exist on all planes we are still affected by the energies of the other realms.

Planes of Existence
Five Levels or Planes of Existence

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