Of all the flowing energies in the universe, consciousness is the most dominant, the one from which all the others proceed and into which they all merge. The ancient texts are fond of the phrase, “from consciousness down to the solid earth,” for all this is a single matrix, a tantra of energy, and within it are myriads of matrices, woven and interwoven. The human being is one such matrix of energies–ebbing, flowing, dancing at frequencies ranging from those of solid bones all the way to the subtlest waves of consciousness. Those who can understand this personality matrix will understand the whole universe.
Observe the creation of a single human personality. As two human streams of consciousness love each other, the force of their love invites a third one for whom they provide a minute body. This third one brings along in its wake a matrix of energy, and its body grows along the lines of this energy. The fetus is connected to the mother at the navel, and it is from the navel that seventy-two thousand energy channels, or nadis in Sanskrit, fan out into the personality system. Since the energy pattern is arranged in a symmetrical manner, the body grows in a beautifully symmetrical way. For instance, look at even the hairlines of the body, and you can see how they are patterned along the symmetrical paths of the energy flow.
The personality of the fetus or of a fully grown human being is not separate from the universal dance of energies. Observe how many forces interact with the biosphere, how many energies enter into it and emerge from it unceasingly. Observe how the body clock responds to solar, lunar, and stellar times, and how the blood responds to the tides in the oceans. Although all these times, tides, and forces often seem to operate individually, each answering to its own constituent rhythm, their patterns are all vibrant subsystems within the single master system of consciousness, whose dance it all is.
The vast, all-pervading oceanic energy of consciousness barely touches us with its outer fringes, and we come alive, becoming persons. The vibration frequencies in us that are too solid, too dense, not subtle enough to flow in consonance with consciousness, become our material body, the non-I. Energy thus condensed becomes a cell. The cell is filled with the vital energy called prana, which is maneuvered by the mind-energy. The I in us is pure consciousness. It owns and operates the body-vehicle, and it guides the mind. It is the purest, finest vibrating energy.
THE MATRIX OF LIFE
Thus, like the rest of the universe, we are layer upon layer of energy or light, which form complex patterns in which the subtler layers are aware of the grosser ones but not vice versa (which is why they are hierarchical). Through the process of meditation and self-awareness, however, it is possible for us to attune ourselves to these energy processes. In fact, all of our information in this regard comes to us from the experiences imparted through the oral tradition by great meditation masters. Others who follow this path of self-awareness will eventually know the dance that the personality, and the universe, and all the energies flowing between and within them, are dancing. There is no greater excitement than that of suddenly discovering that the universal ocean of prana is flowing right through us, that our brains are but so many stepping areas in the great dance of the universal mind, and that all I claim to be is simply a “thrill” passing into this person I from the universal consciousness. And then the single point of this dynamic thrill becomes diffuse, and its millions of sparks, like an incredible display of fireworks, rush out into a vast network of energy channels that are spread throughout my person, to vitalize me, to make me mentally and physically a living being, to illuminate me so that I can say “I”.
Those whose awareness if bound to the earthly level frequencies know, as the real person, only the physical body. Others, who refine their self-identification by attuning to finer frequencies, know of an undying consciousness. To know this is to know that we are immortal. But before we can reach the point of comprehending the immortality of our universal consciousness, it is essential that we understand the relationships between and among various hierarchical levels of energy. This understanding is not an intellectual process. It is a matter of letting our interior awareness travel along the lines of diffuse patters of energy so that we can actually perceive all their modes of power and its operation. The yogi does this. He sends his awareness on this incredible interior journey and returns from it to chart for others the maps of consciousness. There is no other way to comprehend what consciousness is, what roles it plays in running our personalities.
The yogi finds that the energies (of various levels of subtlety ranging from the low frequency, earthly, solid manifestation to the very high frequency, almost undetectable mental waves) all interact with each other in many forms; he finds that the relationship between the denser and finer energies is that of interdependence. The denser ones affect the finer ones in a more immediate way, but the finer ones turn out to be the masters in the long run. Take, for example, our dense body. Its bad posture adversely affects the flow of breath, but when the will in our consciousness decides that the breath be made to flow perfectly, the body has to arrange itself in a posture that will facilitate the flow.
The relationship between the body and prana may be viewed similarly. A bad posture clogs the pathways of prana. But it is the experience of those who practice the subtler varieties of hatha yoga that once the blocks on the prana’s pathways have been removed through the practice of postures, the prana itself begins to give little surges into the organs so that the body rights itself inadvertently into correct posture. What is more, many practitioners of kundalini yoga report that as a result of their practices, an involuntary cleansing of internal systems takes place, which affects the prana matrix and thereby influences the body.
The relationship between prana and mind energies is no different. An incidence of low prana may befog the mind for the time being. But again, the will of consciousness infuses the mind with a certain illumination, and then prana has no alternative but to obey the mind. Thus, through deep meditation, the mind can be used to intensify the strength of prana.
As we have hinted above, the key to the relationship between the various energies is the will that is inherent in consciousness. Will, however, should not be confused with the much-used term will power, which has become a word that almost connotes violence. Will power is an exertion of the lower mind. Will is simply an inherent quality of consciousness through which consciousness directs all its operations. These operations then affect our exterior environment and become our actions. One who cultivates self-awareness observes and, through the will, consciously controls all the interior operations of mind, prana, and body.
The higer-frequency energies contain within themselves all the power of the lower frequencies, but not vice versa (again, they are hierarchical in nature). By the same token, the mind can measure all the powers of the body and senses, but they in turn cannot measure much of the mind’s power. It is for this reason that some modern scientific instruments can measure physiological signs of a certain mental state but are powerless to measure the state itself. In other words, one may measure delta brain waves, but a “depth gauge” to measure the experience of sleep itself has not yet been invented.
This leads us to some very interesting observations about the mental state of sleep. An examination of the body, of course, reveals that one is asleep. The question then arises as to whether the signs seen in the body can tell us everything about the mental state of sleep. The answer, certainly, is no. The yogis say that only a certain surface of the mind is asleep but that a vast area of the mind never sleeps. For if the entire mind were to sleep, who is it that would continue the digestive processes during that time? Who would keep the lungs breathing and the heart pumping? If the entire mind were to sleep, who would wake us up again? Seeing that the body (which is run by the mind) maintains some of its operations during sleep, we surmise that a part of the mind must remain awake; but if we simply depend on body consciousness to experience that mind which remains awake while we sleep, we are left helpless. Yet we know that the will of consciousness is operant in the mind in order to keep the body functioning and to wake us up again. Thus it becomes clear that the finer energies cannot be contained in, or measured by, the denser ones, but the opposite is not the case.
LEVELS OF SELF-IDENTIFICATION
Our greatest concern in a study of of the relationship among energies within the human personality is with the question of self-identification, called abhimana in Sanskrit. In the average individual, consciousness has gravitated to identification with the densest energy level, the body–or so it appears. But, in fact, consciousness can identify with each of the forms the energy takes and call them all I. For instance, a person may identify his relationships with various members of his family. Consider these four statements: “He is my father, I am his son; she is my sister, I am her brother; she is my wife, I am her husband; she is my daughter, I am her father.” In each statement, the I is common, but the relationship differs. The person saying “I” has the experience of being in all four roles–those of son, brother, husband, and father. But each of his relatives can play only a single role with him. The wife cannot know him as a son, the sister cannot identify with the “father” role in him. Yet he is all four states within himself. He is also apart from these–just himself–when sitting and writing a poem to his divine lover. He is free of all human relationships at that time, yet he is even closer to his true identity. It is thus with consciousness. At the level of the body we identify consciousness with the body and it says, “Yes, body too is made of my being, but I also breathe in breath, animate the body through prana, and think when I am mind. And yet I dwell in my own nature apart from these at all times. They are my modes, but I am not their mode. They are my variations, but I am the theme.”
In other words, even though most human beings seem to identify with only the surfaces of their bodies, consciousness remains wide awake and active elsewhere too, for if their identifications were truly limited to the surfaces of their bodies (as in the case of someone sleeping), how could they breathe with the lungs, digest with the internal organs, and send out brain waves? On a still deeper level, how could they have internal emotions and other forms of thought? Obviously, consciousness is operant in and identified with each of these forms of energy even though it appears that their main identification is with the surface of the body. As we cultivate meditative self-awareness, we gradually proceed from the exterior to the interior self-identification of consciousness–first with the body, then the prana, then many stages of mind, one after another, and finally, with pure consciousness alone.
A question is often asked, “How did consciousness ever lose its purity in the first place?” The answer is that it never did. Just as one’s whole mind is never asleep even though the sleeping part does not know of the ever-awake part, and just a a person’s sister does not know him as his daughter’s father, so identification with body consciousness is vastly different from identification with pure consciousness, or the One. But the full and pure consciousness continues on, taking care of all its children–the lower-level frequencies that are powerless to contain and measure it.
Regarding this question of the purity of consciousness, the ancient texts on the nature of consciousness have repeatedly made this assertion: “Who are you that asks this question?” A being identifying yourself with the consciousness as it extends into the body? Just move a bit on the spectrum. Keep moving. All of those colors reflect the same light. When did light ever cease to be light? The green is green and the red is red, but the light is always the light. Only when you identify the light with one of its modes do you see blue or red. See all of consciousness, and your body is included.
Are there special procedures, processes, or connections that consciousness follows in running our personalities? The universal consciousness principle may be compared, for our purpose here, to a current into which, through many sockets, various electric appliances are plugged. The same one current supplies cooling power to the cooler, heating power to the heater, helps a radio to tune into sound waves, and the TV to gather and project visual images. So also is the consciousness principle (the primary force from which all other energies are derived) connected into all living beings, supplying to each its/his/her power for will, knowledge, and action.
CENTERS OF CONSCIOUSNESS
In human beings this primary consciousness becomes operative through a system of psychophysiological centers. So far we have been traveling along the finest current. Now we begin to look from the opposite, grosser end called the physical body. This body with all its cells, as we said earlier, is run by prana; the prana is directed by the mind and the mind is guided by consciousness. There are areas in our human personality where these various energies are joined together in close consonance, resonating to each other’s vibrations, deriving their power from consciousness,which, however, is absolute in itself and resonates to no other. In these specific areas the vibration passes from consciousness into the mind-prana-body system–and from these areas the energy is distributed into the rest of the personality. These are the psychophysiological centers that are plugged into the current of consciousness and that respond to its universal rhythm.
Take, for example, our breathing processes. What is the origin of breath which, when looked at physically, is nothing but a series of pockets of air trapped into certain cavities? What turns that air into flowing breath? The rhythm of the movement of certain organs. What moves the organs? The prana. What causes the prana to vibrate so that the organs linked to its specific areas should thus move rhythmically? The mind, of course. The mind is moved by consciousness.
Again, look at it differently. The universal consciousness, which makes the world dance by its power, sends the tiniest spark of its thrill through the mind into our psychophysiological centers in such locations as the navel, cardiac center, throat, and the pineal area. The thrill creates a pulsation in the prana system that in turn creates certain rhythmic movements in the organs connected therewith. The rhythm is synchronized, coordinated, because it originates with the same original thrill. Through this process, air, which would otherwise remain trapped in the cavities (as in a dead body) begins to flow as a smooth stream, and we say that the child has begun to breathe. On the other hand, when the thrill of consciousness is withdrawn, the breath simply becomes trapped air, and the doctor says that the person is dead. He who understands the source of the thrill knows that the rhythm of his breath responds to the same vibration that produces pulsations in the hearts of suns. It is thus that the yogis give to some of their breathing exercises names such as “piercing through the sun,” surya-vedhana.
We need to further elaborate as to how consciousness becomes operative in the personality. It is not subject to limitations of space, time, dimensions, or personalities in its full universal identification. It is sent forth into our being, which is made of lower and denser frequencies, like a straight beam of light penetrating through a rocky cave. Because the lower-frequency energies vibrate in a time-space reference, creating a physical body, a physical locus has to be assumed in us for that light which transcends all loci. So the yogis say that this immense, intense energy beam of consciousness, the kundalini, is located in us in a channel extending from the base of the spine up to and engulfing the entire brain region. Though nonphysical (and therefore not tangible), it is experienced by the yogis in deep meditation as an unceasing flash of rod-like lightning shining with a light like that of ten thousand suns, yet as slim as though it were a ten-thousandth of a hair’s breath in width. It passes through seven ever-vibrant and dynamic psychophysiological stations or centers into which it sends its sparks, whereby they become functional and the personality becomes operant. Thus the consciousness touches us and we come alive, becoming persons.
It is not difficult to locate these centers of consciousness or chakras. They are all marked one way or another. Their locations are: (1) the base of the spine and the perineum, (2) the root of the genitals, (3) the navel, (4) the cardiac region between the breasts, (5) the hollow of the throat, (6) between the eyebrows, and (7) the top of the head.
Many times it is asked if the consciousness and the energy of these centers or chakras flow in the spine or in the front of the body. The answer is that the distinction is arbitrary and imaginary. The front and back locations exist only with reference to the materially dense body, but the field of finer energies permeates the entire region and does not correspond to the dimensions that are assumed with reference to the spaces and times to which the body is bound.
TUNING TO THE HIGHER LEVELS
The consciousness that has descended into us as the kundalini contains in it both life and awareness. It may be called the life force (jiva-shakti) or the consciousness force (chit-shakti). Through the chakras, a division of its two powers occurs, for in order for the personality to function, a certain specialization becomes necessary. A semblance of awareness is imparted to the energy called the mind, and at the same time aliveness and vitality of the cells, organs, and senses also comes into operation through prana receiving the infusion of life energy from the kundalini. Thus the two powers of the kundalini consciousness devolve onto the mind and prana, and through them they are further infused into the entire personality. The thrill of life and awareness, however, that passes through the psychophysiological stations into the personality, is so minute compared to the actual power of consciousness, that yogis repeatedly tell us that the true consciousness is lying dormant, asleep in us.
All that humankind has ever accomplished or created, all that ever passes through an individual human being, is no more than a minute fraction of the universal consciousness. But the majority of human beings are not capable of experiencing even this minute thrill at its fullest, because the lower-level energies are not capable of containing or measuring higher-level energies. By the same token, if given more than the requisite voltage, any energy system will overload and blow up the circuits. We have established such strong identification with lower-level energies (the body, emotions, etc.) that we have weakened our power system and made it incapable of receiving a larger dose of the thrill. So we have to purify the personal consciousness and gradually tune it to its higher-level energies until enough strength is built up in the system for us to be able to awaken to the full glory that is flowing into us even as we read this. Those who have tried experimenting with the kundalini consciousness without such preliminary purification and without expert guidance have only suffered damage to both the psyche and the body.
In us, the gates of the chakras are thus open only enough to permit a mild infusion of consciousness. But look at the intense awareness we have in these centers. Even that mild infusion of dormant energy leaves us restless in each center. Look at what going on in us at each of these stations: in the perineum and the genital areas, the sensations can sometimes seem to be uncontrollable; in the navel region, the hungers cannot be satiated; the pul of rising emotions felt in the cardiac region keeps thousands of psychiatrists busy; and all the words that we have ever spoken from the larynx are not quite enough. As to the forehead and the brain–they are the devil’s workshop. The energy already disposed through each of these centers often seems to be excessive to us, and we then say, “I just don’t know what to do with my restlessness.” This feeling of overload, that we are about to blow a fuse, is a common experience. It happens because the lower-frequency energies (such as those involved in ordinary physical and sense experiences) do not have the capacity to absorb all the power that is being infused into us from consciousness.
THE INWARD PATH
The yogi resorts to a different path–the inward one. And here we come to the difference between closed stations and open stations. It is stated in the kundalini literature that an average person is living with closed chakras that are waiting to be opened. Many who are not initiated into this science erroneously think that with the opening of a chakra the outward activity in that center of consciousness will increase, thus making, let us say, a sexy person yet sexier, or an articulate person voluble! But such externalized activity only dissipates the energy at its lowest frequencies. It has nothing to do with highly refined interior consciousness.
The pulsations that we experience in ordinary daily life in the various psychophysiological stations are nothing but reminders of a higher presence within. They are like lighthouses guiding ships. Each pulsation says to our lower-level energy consciousness: “Come, this way; here is a gate through which you enter inward into the highest awareness.” It leads to the place from which this minute light is sent forth. If we observe each pulsation in our personality as such a reminder, we begin to listen to an inner music, and we may use each such pulsation first as a point of focus, then as a thread leading inward. For example, let us consider the sexual thrill in the second station. It makes an average person restless, for the infusion of energy from within is so powerful (even though it is infinitesimal compared to all the power of consciousness) that no amount of sexual activity can bring total satiety. The yogi, however, regards this center only as a gateway to higher-level energy consciousness. Its pulsations he sees only as reminders of the inner sources. He closes the outward flow, and that is called opening the chakra. All externalized restlessness then ceases. The lower-frequency energy is returned to the higher-frequency.
In other words, any time a sexual pulsation is felt in a yogi’s person, he responds to is, considers it a blessing as a reminder, and uses it as the end of a thread leading inward to pure consciousness. He reverses the flow. Compared to the ecstasy of this inward flow of the personal consciousness into the universal consciousness, the outward sexual flow is a useless discharge, and all of its intense enjoyment is like sucking on the peel of an orange after squeezing out and, alas, throwing away the juice. Again, when the throat center begins to open, the yogi seeks silence. When he does utter a word it is so power-packed as to be recorded as sacred scripture and repeated for millennia around the globe. Such were the words uttered by the Buddhas and Christs of history.
We may divide human beings into those of the inward-flowing consciousness (antar-vritti) and those of the outward-flowing consciousness (bahir-vritti). Those in the first category live and walk in the awareness of their cosmic connection. They are unceasingly and interminable conscious of the thrill of the universal divine consciousness running through them. They do not utilize any of their energies as mere persons, but serve as channels for the cosmic flow. They are dependent on nothing external and on no person, but many are dependent on them for succor, solace, knowledge, and healing. Those in the second category are those who believe that only the information passing through the senses and into the brain constitutes personality and consciousness. Their excitements are derived not from the inner thrill, but from the contact that dense senses make with yet denser exterior objects. Thus their psychology is that of a dependent person, however much they may clamor for individual freedoms and claim self-independence. Those in the first category, the rare few in he history of mankind, are committed to turning sensory awareness inward in order to free themselves from the bondage of dependence on the limited exterior and to experience the unlimited flow of cosmic energies that are at their disposal.
We need to understand how this is accomplished, how the outward flow of awareness may be reversed so that the intricate dance of the interior energies may become real. We need to understand that through the application of will we can cultivate a resolve to change our self-identification from lower-frequency energies to the higher one. That is immortality. That is freedom of consciousness from the bonds of space, time, karma, and causation. It is the dance of the freedom of energies.