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Our Physical Body

Servant or Master?

Shifting the Centre of Gravity from the Physical Body

to the Consciousness is a major empowerment.

In “Gods in Exile”, J J Van Der Leeuw goes further

by postulating that control of the Mental Body through

the imagination is essential in making our sure that

our Physical Body is our servant.

Posted 24/12/06

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The Physical Body is a vehicle for your consciousness and one of the several bodies which you have for the duration of your physical life. It makes sense to see to it that your physical body knows its place as your servant or instrument for dealing with your life rather than the other way round.


Below are extract for J J Van Der Leeuw’s “Gods in Exile” in which describes the problems which arise when the Physical Body is in charge. He advocates a change in attitude as the first step in achieving mastery.


“By identifying ourselves with the physical body, or its subtler counterpart the etheric body, we make ourselves subservient to their desires and their conditions of existence; consequently our body responds to every change of circumstances to which it is subjected and it follows its own

way instead of ours. The result is weakness and ill-health, and a certain heaviness or dullness in the body which makes it unable to respond to the Self



The Change in the Physical Body


All that changes when we overcome the illusion of being the body and see it as just what it is, as our servant or instrument in the physical world. We must, as it were, change the polarity of the whole relation; instead of the physical world dominating us through the physical body with which we have

identified ourselves, we must control the physical world through the physical body which we have made subservient to ourselves. The centre of gravity must be shifted from the physical body to the consciousness which is ours, we must as it

were feel that we withdraw the centre of our consciousness and feel ourselves standing behind and working through the physical body, not one with it. The result produced by this change of attitude towards the physical body is profound; as small particles of iron filings group themselves round one common centre when a magnet is brought near, and become all arrayed along the

lines of force in the magnetic field thus caused, even so the particles of the etheric and physical bodies, instead of being chaotic and aimless and subject to any chance influence from without, become subservient to the one controlling

influence of the will within. We must feel them like that, feel the change brought about by our assertion that we are not the body but that the body is ours. We must feel that henceforth it is vitality from within which nourishes and energizes the etheric and physical bodies, more so than vitality from without. The entire change is one which must be experienced and felt rather than

thought about and discussed. We must feel our physical body becoming vibrant and responsive to the consciousness within, subject to its laws and

conditions rather than to those of the physical world around.”



J J Van Der Leeuw goes on to outline how our true self becomes entangled with the physical and other bodies to create the illusion of what he termed “Separateness”:


“It is by the identification of our true spiritual Self with the temporary bodies through which the Self is manifest, that the illusion of our separate self is born. It is as if the consciousness of the true Self or Ego were stretched downward into the bodies and there got entangled and twisted in such a manner that it forms a separate sphere of consciousness centered round the bodies to which it is thus attached. But it is not a normal state, it is

distinctly and essentially abnormal and unnatural.


As well might we call it normal and natural if a band of India-rubber were to be pulled down and

stretched out in one particular spot and the extension thus formed be attached to some fixed object. The attachment is abnormal and the moment it is disentangled from that fixture it will resume its natural shape and the band of

rubber will once again be one harmonious whole.


In like manner we need only release our consciousness from the bodies to which we have attached it. We need only surrender the illusion of separateness which we so tenderly foster all

day long, and the extension of consciousness, which forms the separate personality, will naturally and automatically flow back into the greater Self

which we really are.”


J J Van Der Leeuw goes on to outline how control of the Mental Body through imagination is the essential requirement in making the Physical (and other) bodies our servant

“when often repeated, thoughts set up a habit or custom and many a time we become powerless to resist the thing we ourselves have created.


All that would not be harmful if we determined our thought-images from with-in, if we, the divine Self, made the image in full consciousness. The

danger, the terrible danger to our entire life, lies in the fact that we allow the creation of thought-images to be incited from without, that we allow stimuli from the outside world to call up images in the mental body, to throw the creative mental matter into thought-forms, charged with energy, which will necessarily seek to discharge and thus realize themselves. In this ungoverned activity of the mental body lies the source of practically all our inner struggle and spiritual difficulties.”



J J Van Der Leeuw now gives a dire example of the possible effects of an uncontrolled imagination


“The Danger of an Undisciplined Imagination


Consider the example of a man craving for drink. He knows the misery caused by his weakness, he knows how it wastes his wages and starves his family, and, in his sane moments, he determines to give it up. Now he passes a place in the street where he can get drink, sees people go in and out and perhaps even smells the drink. Up to that moment he is safe from temptation, safe from

struggle; but what happens now? In that short fraction of a second he imagines himself drinking; he makes a thought-image and for a moment lives and acts in that thought-image of himself enjoying his drink. He feels how it satisfies his craving, but in reality it has only increased it and made the ensuing action almost unavoidable. Then, having created the image, he belatedly calls upon his

will and says: "I do not want to do this thing."  But then it is too late, then the struggle is practically futile. Once the thought-image has been created,

realization in action generally follows. Sometimes of course the image is not quite strong enough and he succeeds in repressing it. But even then

there is all the struggle and exhaustion of the bodies and the suffering which results. The better way is to prevent the creative thought-image from being formed, to intervene when intervention is still effective.”




This entry contains only a tiny fragment of the methods and rationale contained in “Gods in Exile”, which is effectively a comprehensive manual for inner work. Strategies for control of the Mental and Astral-Emotional bodies are also covered as well as the Physical. A link to the complete article is therefore included.


Johannes Jacobus Van Der Leeuw was a member of the Liberal Catholic Church as well as a Theosophist and he makes very skillful use of a considerable amount of Christian imagery to illustrate Theosophical concepts.


Gods in Exile (Complete text)

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