The Power of Subtle Impressions

This article first appeared on Christopher Wallis's website, tantrikstudies.org. The yogic theory of saṃskāras, or subliminal impressions of past painful or pleasurable experiences, is one of India's most fascinating contributions to our understanding of human psychology. Briefly, when we experience aversion to a painful experience, or attachment to a pleasurable one, then an impression of that experience is laid down in our psyche, which is said to be a 'seed' of experience which will sprout again.

In other words, when we are unable to fully 'show up' for any given experience, a remnant of it is deposited in our psyche — or, in Tantrik theory, in the 'subtle body' which is simply the extension of the psyche. The subtle body is said to interpenetrate and underlie the physical body in the sense that it is a

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