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The Causal Body
Mark: Dear James, in your new book you write extensively about the causal body. You say, “The causal body is opinionated and overconfident and seems to know what is happening irrespective of the indeterminacy of a given situation. The subtle body is less confident, owing to its doubting function, and it will usually allow the dogmatic and hastily-constructed intuitions of the causal body to determine its reactions.
“The causal body looks like a memory because it recycles experience, but it has no memory. It is incredibly present and aware, as it is ever-present, eternal awareness in its original form. Because it is the source of desire and fear, it causes the subtle body to jump to conclusions…”
My question: What exactly do you mean by saying that the causal body is eternal awareness in its original form?
James: Awareness is formless. When maya is operating, the causal body comes into being first, then the subtle and gross bodies. So the causal body is the original or first form.
Mark: Okay, everything is awareness, but being opinionated, being the repository of the vasanas, etc. how can it be awareness in its original form? Wouldn’t awareness in its original form be nirgunaha, free of attributes, paramatma?
James: No. Awareness free from attributes is brahman, paramatma. It is nirguna. Awareness with attributes is Isvara. It has the three gunas, the five elements, etc. These are attributes.
When I use the words “opinionated” and “overconfident” I am personifying to contrast it to the subtle body which doubts and whose opinions are just biases based on the heuristic nature of the causal body which simplifies the vast amount of data that Isvara presents to awareness. If the jiva had to process all the information that Isvara is designed to process it would go mad. Its subtle body is limited. So Isvara as the causal body simplifies the information so jiva can handle it. Unfortunately, in the process a lot of the nuances are discarded and jiva's decisions and actions are not fully informed – so it suffers.
This is a very subtle topic and if you still have questions, please write.