The silver cord in metaphysical studies and literature, also known as the sutratma or life thread of the antahkarana, refers to a life-giving linkage from the higher self (atma) down to the physical body. It also refers to an extended synthesis of this thread and a second (the consciousness thread, passing from the soul to the physical body) that connects the physical body to the etheric body, onwards to the astral body and finally to the mental body.[unreliable source?]
In other research, it is described as a strong, silver-colored, elastic cord which joins a person's physical body to its astral body (a manifestation of the physical body that is less distinct).[unreliable source?]
Alfred Ballabene, an astral projector, reported observing that during his out-of-body experiences "glue-like strings" appear as the astral body tries to separate itself from the physical body. As the astral body moves further away from the tangible body, some of the strings break apart and clump into a specific and smaller region – preferably the head, breast, back, stomach, and the abdomen area – thus forming the silver cord.
During astral projection and out-of-body experiences, some claim they can (at will or otherwise) see a silver cord linking their astral form to their physical body. This cord mainly appears to a beginning projector as an assurance they will not become lost. However, even experienced projectors find it useful, claiming it is a fast way to return to the body. Bellallabene, unlike some astral projectors who claim to travel great distances,, stated that the cord not only serves as a link between the two bodies, but it also limits the astral body from wandering great distances, describing his experience that as the astral body moves farther away from the physical body and reaches a distance of "50 to 70 meters," the silver cord pulls the astral form right back into the physical body.
Others asserted, though, that the cases of silver cord observations during out-of-body experiences and astral projections are rare;[unreliable source?] rather, no astral body is observed and the projector sees himself or herself as a "disembodied awareness or a point of view" in most cases.
Passing through a tunnel is compared to the birth canal, and the silver cord resembling the umbilical cord – these are a few observations during out-of-body experiences that are sometimes likened to childbirth. "Birth theories" hypothesized that people who were delivered by Caesarean section do not have tunnel experiences during astral projections. On the contrary, one study showed that there is no discrepancy between the experiences observed by people who are born through Caesarean section and those born naturally during their OBE or astral projection.
The attachment point of the cord to the astral body differs, not only between projectors, but also from projection to projection. These points correspond to major chakra positions. According to the observations of Robert Bruce, there is not a single point of connection to the denser body, but rather a locally converging collection of strands leading out of all the major chakras, and some minor ones (Astral Dynamics, p398).
The silver cord is mentioned by mystics, especially in contexts of dying and of near-death experiences. It is said that the cord must remain connected to the astral and the physical bodies during the projection because if it breaks, the projector will die. If a person gets older or if their death is near, the astral body slowly separates itself from the physical body and the silver cord breaks, making a complete and irreversible separation of the two bodies. In this situation, the idea of death and dying is interpreted as a "permanent astral projection" that cannot be undone.[unreliable source?]
Origin of the term
As translated from the original Hebrew in The Complete Tanakh:
- "Before the silver cord snaps, and the golden fountain is shattered, and the pitcher breaks at the fountain, and the wheel falls shattered into the pit. And the dust returns to the earth as it was, and the spirit returns to God, Who gave it."
As rendered in the Authorised Version:
- "Or ever the silver cord be loosed, or the golden bowl be broken, or the pitcher be broken at the fountain, or the wheel broken at the cistern. Then shall the dust return to the earth as it was: and the spirit shall return unto God who gave it."
Or from the New International Version:
- "Remember him—before the silver cord is severed, or the golden bowl is broken; before the pitcher is shattered at the spring, or the wheel broken at the well, and the dust returns to the ground it came from, and the spirit returns to God who gave it."
These verses, Ecclesiastes 12:6-7, are variously translated, and there is a lack of consensus among Bible commentators as to its meaning. Matthew Henry's commentary, for example, states that the silver cord refers simply to the "spinal marrow."
- Bailey, Alice. Education in the New Age (PDF). Lucis Trust. pp. 19, 21, 76–9. ISBN 9780853301059.
- Smed, Jouni A. (2013). "Out-of-body experience studies". www.monroeinstitute.org. The Monroe Institute. Archived from the original on 2013-04-15.
- Ballabene, Alfred (1997). "The silver cord (observations and traditions)".
- Blackmore, Susan (2004). "Out-of-body experience". In Gregory, Richard L. (ed.). The Oxford Companion to the Mind (2nd ed.). Oxford University Press. ISBN 9780198662242.
- "Life after death". hpb.theosophy.org.nz. Auckland Theosophical Centre: HPB Lodge. 2013-06-08.
- "The Complete Tanach with Rashi's Commentary - English translation with Rashi's commentary".
- Henry, Matthew; Scott, Thomas (1835). A Commentary Upon the Holy Bible. Vol. 3: Job to Salomon's song. London: Religious Tract Society. p. 496.
- Fredrick, James; Tildes, Olga (1946). The Silver Cord or Life Here and Hereafter. Christopher Pub.
- Barham, Martha; Greene, James Tom (1986). The Silver Cord: Lifeline to the Unobstructed. De Vorss & Co.