PeterB wrote:Perhaps Sacha G you could point to the Sutta which describes the existence of an astral body ?
Specifically where would you posit an "astral body" in the schemata of the khandhas ?
I'd say that the idea of "astral body" is a reification (or to use a neologism, "thingification") of the aggregate of consciousness, and so it's kind of a poor explanation for what happens at death. There is certainly no "thing" that "leaves" the body. But consciousness is said to continue to *occur* so long as there is nutriment for it. I.e. as long as there is craving there will be consciousness, and the time of death is simply no exception.
"What one intends, what one arranges, and what one obsesses about: This is a support for the stationing of consciousness. There being a support, there is a landing of consciousness. When that consciousness lands and grows, there is the production of renewed becoming in the future. When there is the production of renewed becoming in the future, there is future birth, aging & death, sorrow, lamentation, pain, distress, & despair. Such is the origination of this entire mass of suffering & stress."
- Cetana Sutta: Intention
This hardly describes the existence of an astral body but it's easy to see how it can be interpreted that way, since we are accustomed to thinking of things and objects and not processes.
Which leads us to the cultural problem. It's possible that there is a cultural variation in the ability to contemplate things in a less subject-object oriented fashion, that is, dividing things into bits and pieces, and always trying to find the "thing" rather than be satisfied with a process. I'm not going to make clichéd blanket statements about "east vs. west" but my observation of my own culture (American) is that we are largely obsessed with acquisition, so our idea of learning something is to acquire facts about it, and in order to do that we must have "things" that can be categorized.
So we want to know "what is that *thing*" that supposedly "leaves the body" so that we can add that information to our accumulated knowledge and until we do this we feel we cannot fully understand it.
Anyway that's my take as of this moment. It may change tomorrow.