Question: If, as you say, Jesus' body was scattered to the four winds at the time of the burial, how then did Thomas touch Jesus after death? How did He say: "Handle me and see, for a spirit has not flesh and bones as ye see me have"? Later on it is said that He ate flesh and honey. Is it possible for a Spirit without a fleshly body to eat and to be touched? (Vol. II, #105)
Answer: This question is one that occurs very often. We might refer you to the back files where it has been answered, but as so many new people come in constantly, it seems that perhaps it is better to take it up anew. As the writer (Max Heindel) never refers to back numbers himself, he will each time take up these matters from a different angle which may give new points even to those who have had them answered before, and thus the reiteration will not be without benefit.
Our latest investigations indicate that where a man spiritualizes his vehicles, the constitution of the vital body, made of ether, is most materially changed. In the ordinary man there is always a preponderance of the two lower ethers--the chemical and life ethers--which have to do with the upbuilding and propagation of the physical body, and a minimum of the light and the reflecting ethers, which are concerned with sense perception and the higher spiritual qualities. After death the body of the ordinary man is laid in the grave and the vital body hovers about two feet above the mound, gradually disintegrating. The dense body disintegrates simultaneously. However, when we say it decays we really mean that it becomes much more alive than it was while man inhabited it, for each little molecule is now taken charge of by a separate, individual life. It begins to associate with its neighbors; the unity of an individual life is superseded by a community of many lives.
Therefore we speak of such decaying corpses as alive with worms. The denser and the more gross this vehicle is, the longer time it will require for disintegration, because the vital body hovering above has a tenacious magnetic hold that keeps the dense molecules in check. The two higher ethers vibrate at a much more rapid rate than the lower, and where a man by spiritual thoughts has massed around him a great volume of this ether, whhich then composes his vital body, the vibrations of the dense body also become more intense. Consequently, when the man leaves his body at death there is little or nothing of the vital body left behind to keep the components of the physical body in check. The disintegration is therefore very rapid. This we cannot easily prove because very few people are sufficiently spiritual to make the difference noticeable, but you will recall that in the Bible it is said of certain characters that they were translated. Also, that the body of Moses was so vibrant that it shone, and his body was not found, etc.
These were cases where the body was rapidly returned to the elements, and when the Christ's body was laid in the grave its disintegration took place almost instantaneously.
However, so long as the archetype of the physical body persists, it endeavors to draw to itself physical materials which it then shapes according to the form of the vital body. Thus it is difficult for the Invisible Helper who passes out of his body to refrain from materializing. The moment his will to keep away from himself all physical impediments is relaxed, materials from the surrounding atmosphere attach themselves to him as iron filings are drawn to a magnet, and he becomes visible and tangible to whatever extent he desires. Thus he is enabled to do actual physical work wherever it is necessary, no matter if he be thousands of miles away from his body. On the other hand, what really brings about death is the collapse of the archetype of the dense body. Therefore the Spirits who pass away from this Earth life are unable to materialize save through a medium where they extract his or her living vital body, drape themselves therewith and thus attract the physical substances necessary to make themselves visible to the sitters.
There is a third class, namely, the initiated Invisible Helpers who have passed out of this life. They have learned to attract or repel physical matter by their wills, as stated previously, and therefore they are able to materialize despite the fact that their archetype has collapsed.
The Christ naturally was at the head of this class and consequently able to pass through a wall in His vital body, for as the ether interpenetrates every physical molecule, so also the vital body, made of ether, may likewise pass through physical obstructions. Once in the room with His disciples, He attracted to Himself by an exercise of will sufficient physical matter to clothe Himself in a dense body. Then it was possible for His disciples to touch and handle Him as stated in the Gospels.
You will note that fish is very, very prominent in all the Gospels. The disciples were fishermen and had miraculous drafts of fishes. Parables were told of them and people were fed with loaves and fishes. The story of Jonah and the whale and all other such narratives have an esoteric and astrological significance. We will just answer the last part of your question: "Is it possible for a Spirit without a fleshly body to eat and drink?" In the lowest regions of the Desire World which interpenetrate the Etheric Region of the Physical World there are classes of Spirits of whom we hear a great deal in spiritualistic literature. They live in houses, they eat and drink. They have, in fact, all relations of life exactly as we have them here and continue very much the same manner of existence as they did when among us in the visible world. It is also possible for a materialized Spirit or for an initiate who materializes to eat and drink, but it would then be necessary to dispose of the materials taken into the body in a different method than by the ordinary process of assimilation.
This article was adapted from "The Rosicrucian Philosophy in Questions and Answers, Vol. II," by Max Heindel.