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The Chakras positioned along the spine.
THE two Sanskrit works here translated; Sat-cakra-nirupana ("Description of the Six Centres, or Chakras") and Paduka-pancaka ("Fivefold footstool ") deal with a particular form of Tantrik Yoga named Kundalini-Yoga or, as some works call it, Bhuta-suddhi. These names refer to the Kundalini-Sakti, or Supreme Power in the human body by the arousing of which the Yoga is achieved, and to the purification of the Elements of the body (Bhuta-suddhi) which takes place upon that event. This Yoga is effected by a process technically known as Sat-cakra-bheda, or piercing of the Six Centres or Regions (Chakra) or Lotuses (Padma) of the body (which the work describes) by the agency of Kundalini-Sakti, which, in order to give it an English name, I have here called the Serpent Power. Kundala means coiled. The power is the Goddess (Devi) Kundalini, or that which is coiled; for Her form is that of a coiled and sleeping serpent in the lowest bodily centre, at the base of the spinal column, until by the means described She is aroused in that Yoga which is named after Her. Kundalini is the Divine Cosmic Energy in bodies. The Saptabhumi, or seven regions (Lokas), are, as popularly understood, an exoteric presentment of the inner Tantrik teaching regarding the seven centres.
The Yoga is called Tantrik for a twofold reason. It will be found mentioned in the Yoga-Upanisads which refer to the Centres, or Chakras (chakras), and in some of the Puranas. The treatises on Hathayoga also deal with the subject. We find even similar notions in systems other than the Indian, from which possibly in some cases they have been borrowed. Thus, in the Risala-i-haq-numa, by Prince Mahomed Dara Shikoh, a description is given of the three centres "Mother of Brain," or "Spherical heart" (Dil-i-muddawar); the "Cedar heart" (Dil-i-sanowbari); and the Dil-i-nilofari, or "Lily heart". Other references may be found in the works of the Mahomedan Sufis. So some of the Sufi fraternities (as the Naqshbandi) are said to have devised, or rather borrowed, from the Indian Yogis the Kundalini method as a means to realization. I am told that correspondences are discoverable between the Indian (Asiatic) Sastra and the American-Indian Maya Scripture of the Zunis called the Popul Vuh.
My informant tells me that their "air-tube" is the Susumna; their "twofold air-tube" the Nadis Ida and Pingala. "Hura-kan," or lightning, is Kundalini, and the centres are depicted by animal glyphs. Similar notions have been reported to me as being held in the secret teaching of other communities. That the doctrine and practice should be widespread, we might expect, if it has a foundation on fact. This form of Yoga is, however, in particular associated with the Tantras or Agamas, firstly, because these Scriptures are largely concerned therewith. In fact, such orderly descriptions in practical full detail as have been written are to be found chiefly in the Hathayoga works and Tantras which are the manuals, not only of Hindu worship, but of its occultism.
Next, Yoga through action on the lowest centre seems characteristic of the Tantrik system, the adepts of which are the custodians of the practical knowledge whereby the general directions in the books may be practically applied. The system is of a Tantrik character also in respect of its selection of the chief centre of consciousness. Various people have in antiquity assigned to various parts of the body the seat of the "soul" or life, such as the blood, the heart and the breath. Generally the brain was not so regarded. The Vaidik system posits the heart as the chief centre of Consciousness - a relic of which notion we also still preserve in such as "take it to heart" and to "learn by heart". Sadhaka, which is one of the five functions of Pitta, and which is situated in the heart, indirectly assists in the performance of cognitive functions by keeping up the rhythmic cardiac contractions, and it has been suggested that it was perhaps this view of the heart's construction which predisposed Indian physiologists to hold it to be the seat of cognition.
According to the Tantras, however, the chief centres of consciousness are to be found in the Chakras of the cerebro spinal system and in the upper brain (Sahasrara), which they describe, though the heart is also recognized as a seat of the Jivatma, or embodied spirit, in its aspect as vital principle or Prana. It is for the reasons mentioned that the first verse of the Sat-cakra-nirupana here translated speaks of the Yoga which is to be achieved "according to the Tantras" (Tantranusarema) - that is, as Kalicarana, its Commentator, says, "following the authority of the Tantras".
The centres, or Chakras, of the human body are described to be vortices of "etheric" matter into which rush from the "astral" world, and at right angles to the plane of the whirling disc, the sevenfold force of the Logos bringing "divine life" into the physical body. Though all these seven forces operate on all the centres, in each of them one form of the force is greatly predominant. These inrushing forces are alleged to set up on the surface of the "etheric double" secondary forces at right angles to themselves.
The primary force on entrance into the vortex radiates again in straight lines, but at right angles. The number of these radiations of the primal force is said to determine the number of "petals " (as the Hindus call them) which the "Lotus" or vortex exhibits. The secondary force rushing round the vortex produces, it is said, the appearance of the petals of a flower, or, "perhaps more accurately, saucers or shallow vases of wavy iridescent glass". In this way - that is, by the supposition of an etheric vortex subject to an incoming force of the Logos - both the "Lotuses" described in the Hindu books and the number of their petals is accounted for by the author, who substitutes for the Svadhistana centre a six petalled lotus at the spleen, and corrects the number of petals of the lotus in the head, which he says is not a thousand, as the books of this Yoga say, "but exactly 960". The "etheric" centre which keeps alive the physical vehicle is said to correspond with an "astral" centre of four dimensions, but between them is a closely woven sheath or web composed of a single compressed layer of physical atoms, which prevents a premature opening up of communication between the planes. There is a way, it is said, in which these may be properly opened or developed so as to bring more through this channel from the higher planes than ordinarily passes thereby. Each of these "astral " centres has certain functions; at the navel, a simple power of feeling; at the spleen, "conscious travel" in the astral body; at the heart, "a power to comprehend and sympathize with the vibrations of other astral entities"; at the throat, power of hearing on the astral plane; between the eyebrows, "astral sight"; at the "top of the head," perfection of all faculties of the astral life.
These centres are therefore said to take the place to some extent of sense organs for the astral body. In the first centre, "at the base of the spine," is the "Serpent Fire," or Kundalini, which exists in seven layers or seven degrees of force. This is the manifestation in etheric matter, on the physical plane, of one of the great world forces, one of the powers of the Logos of which vitality and electricity are examples. It is not, it is said, the same as Prana or vitality. The "etheric centres" when fully aroused by the "Serpent Fire" bring down, it is alleged, into physical consciousness whatever may be the quality inherent in the astral centre which corresponds to it.
When vivified by the "Serpent Fire" they become gates of connection between the physical and "astral" bodies. When the astral awakening of these centres first took place, this was not known to the physical consciousness. But the sense body can now "be brought to share all these advantages by repeating that process of awakening with the etheric centres". This is done by the arousing through will-force of the "Serpent Fire," which exists clothed in "etheric matter in the physical plane, and sleeps in the corresponding etheric centre - that at the base of the spine".
When this is done, it vivifies the higher centres, with the effect that it brings into the physical consciousness the powers which were aroused by the development of their corresponding astral centres. In short, one begins to live on the astral plane, which is not altogether an advantage, were it not that entry into the heaven world is said to be achieved at the close of life on this plane.
Thus, at the second centre, one is conscious in the physical body "of all kinds of astral influences, vaguely feeling that some of them are friendly and some hostile without in the least knowing why". At the third centre one is enabled to remember "only partially" vague astral journeys, with sometimes half-remembrance of a blissful sensation of flying through the air. At the fourth centre man is instinctively aware of the joys and sorrows of others, sometimes reproducing in himself their physical aches and pains. At the arousing of the fifth centre he hears voices "which make all kinds of suggestions to him". Sometimes he hears music "or other less pleasant sounds ". Full development secures clairaudience in the "astral" plane. The arousing of the sixth centre secures results which are at first of a trivial character, such as "half seeing landscapes and clouds of colour," but subsequently amount to clairvoyance.
Here it is said there is a power of magnification by means of an "etheric" flexible tube which resembles "the microscopic snake on the head-dress of the Pharaohs". The Power to expand or control the eye of this "microscopic snake" is stated to be the meaning of the statement, in ancient books, of the capacity to make oneself large or small at will.' When the pituitary body is brought into working order, it forms a link with the astral vehicle, and when the Fire reaches the sixth centre, and fully vivifies it, the voice of the "Master" (which in this case means the higher Self in its various stages) is heard.
The awakening of the seventh centre enables one to leave the body in full consciousness. "When the fire has thus passed through all these centres in a certain order (which varies for different types of people), the consciousness becomes continuous up to the entry into the heaven world3 at the end of the life on the astral plane." There are some resemblances between this account and the teaching of the Yoga-Sastra, with which in a general way the author cited appears to have some acquaintance, and which may have suggested to him some features of his account.
There are firstly seven centres, which with one exception correspond with the Chakras described. The author says that there are three other lower centres, but that concentration on them is full of danger. What these are is not stated. There is no centre lower, that I am aware of than the Muladhara (as the name "root-centre" itself implies), and the only centre near to it which is excluded, in the above- mentioned account, is the Apas Tattva centre, or Svadhistana. Next there is the Force, "the Serpent Fire," which the Hindus call Kundalini, in the lowest centre, the Muladhara. Lastly, the effect of the rousing of this force, which is accomplished by will power (Yoga-bala), is said to exalt the physical consciousness through the ascending planes to the "heaven world". To use the Hindu expression, the object and aim of sat-cakra-bheda is Yoga. This is ultimately union with the Supreme Self or Paramatma; but it is obvious that, as the body in its natural state is already, though unconsciously, in Yoga, otherwise it would not exist, each conscious step upwards is Yoga, and there are many stages of such before complete or Kaivalya Mukti is attained.
This and, indeed, many of the preceding stages are far beyond the "heaven world" of which the author speaks. Yogis are not concerned with the "heaven world," but seek to surpass it; otherwise they are not Yogis at all. What, according to this theory, manifested force apparently does is this: it enhances the mental and moral qualities of the self-operator as they existed at the time of its discovery. But if this be so, such enhancement may be as little desirable as the original state. Apart from the necessity for the possession of health and strength, the thought, will and morality, which it is proposed to subject to its influence must be first purified and strengthened before they are intensified by the vivifying influence of the aroused force. Further, as I have elsewhere pointed out, the Yogis say that the piercing of the Brahma-granthi or "knot" sometimes involves considerable pain, physical disorder, and even disease, as is not unlikely to follow from concentration on such a centre as the navel (Nabhipadma).
To use Hindu terms, the Sadhaka must be competent (Adhikari), a matter to be determined by his Guru, from whom alone the actual method of Yoga can be learned. The incidental dangers, however, stated by the author, go beyond any mentioned to me by Indians themselves, who seem to be in general unaware of the subject of "phallic sorcery," to which reference is made by the author, who speaks of Schools of (apparently Western) "Black Magic" which are said to use Kundalini for the purpose of stimulating the sexual centre. Another author says: "The mere dabbler in the pseudo-occult will only degrade his intellect with the puerilities of psychism, become the prey of the evil influence of the phantasmal world, or ruin his soul by the foul practices of phallic sorcery - as thousands of misguided people are doing even in this age." Is this so? It is possible that perverse or misguided concentration on sexual and connected centres may have the effect alluded to. And it may be that the Commentator Laksmidhara alludes to this when he speaks of Uttara-Kaulas who arouse Kundalini in the Muladhara to satisfy their desire for world-enjoyment and do not attempt to lead Her upwards to the Highest Centre which is the object of Yoga seeking super-worldly bliss. Of such, a Sanskrit verse runs "they are the true prostitutes". I have, however, never heard Indians refer to this matter, probably because it does not belong to Yoga in its ordinary sense, as also by reason of the antecedent discipline required of those who would undertake this Yoga, the nature of their practice, and the aim they have in view, such a possibility does not come under consideration. The Indian who practises this or any other kind of spiritual Yoga ordinarily does so not on account of a curious interest in occultism or with a desire to gain "astral" or similar experiences. His attitude in this as in all other matters is essentially a religious one, based on a firm faith in Brahman (Sthiranistha) and inspired by a desire for union with It, which is Liberation.
What is competency for Tantra (Tantra-sastradhikara) is described in the second chapter of the Gandharva-Tantra as follows: The aspirant must be intelligent (Daksa) with senses controlled (Jitendriya), abstaining from injury to all beings (Sarva-himsa-vinirmukta), ever doing good to all (Sarva-prani-hite ratah), pure (Suci); a believer in Veda (Astika), whose faith and refuge is in Brahman (Brahmistah, Brahmavadi, Brahmi, Brahmaparayana), and who is a non-dualist (Dvaita-hina). "Such a one is competent in this Scripture, otherwise he is no Sadhakah". (Sossmin sastre-s dhikari syat tadanyatra na sadhakah.) With such an attitude it is possible that, as pointed out by an Indian writer (Ch. VII post), concentration on the lower centres associated with the passions may, so far from rousing, quiet them. It is quite possible, on the other hand, that another attitude, practice, and purpose, may produce another result. To speak, however, of concentration on the sexual centre is itself misleading, for the Chakras are not in the gross body, and concentration is done upon the subtle centre, with its presiding Consciousness, even though such centres may have ultimate relation with gross physical function. Doubtless, also, there is a relationship and correspondence between the Saktis of the mental and sexual centres, and the force of the latter, if directed upwards, extraordinarily heightens all mental and physical functioning. In fact those who are "centred" know how to make all their forces converge upon the object of their will, and train and then use all such forces and neglect none. The experienced followers of this method, however, as I have stated, allow that this method is liable to be accompanied by certain inconveniences or dangers, and it is therefore considered inadvisable except for the fully competent (Adhikari).
There are, on the other hand, many substantial points of difference between the account which has been summarized and the theory which underlies the form of Yoga with which this work deals. The terminology and classification adopted by that account may be termed "Theosophical"; and though it may be possible for those who are familiar both with this and the Indian terminology to establish points of correspondence between the two systems, it must by no means be assumed that the connotation even in such cases is always exactly the same. For though "Theosophical" teaching is largely inspired by Indian ideas, the meaning which it attributes to the Indian terms which it employs is not always that given to these terms by Indians themselves. This is sometimes confusing and misleading, a result which would have been avoided had the writers of this school adoptcd in all cases their own nomenclature and definitions. Though for the visualization of our conceptions the term "planes" is a convenient one, and may be so employed, the division by "principles" more nearly adumbrates the truth. It is not easy for me to correlate with complete accuracy the Indian and Theosophical theories as to man's principles. It has, however, been stated that the physical body has two divisions, the "dense" and "etheric" body; that these correspond to the Annamaya and Pranamaya-Kosas, and that the "astral" body corresponds to the Kamik or desire side of the Manomaya-Kosa or mental sheath. Assuming for argument the alleged correspondence, then the "etheric centres" or Chakras, according to this account, appear to be centres of energy of the Prana-vayu or Vital Force. The lotuses are also this and centres of the universal consciousness. Kundalini is the static form of the creative energy in bodies which is the source of all energies, including Prana. According to this author's theory, Kundalini is some force which is distinct from Prana, understanding this term (Prana) to mean vitality or the life-principle, which on entrance into the body shows itself in various manifestations of life which are the minor Pranas, of which inspiration is called by the general name of the force itself (Prana).
Verses 10 and 11 say of Kundalini: "It is She who maintains all the beings (that is, Jiva, Jivatma) of the world by means of inspiration and expiration." She is thus the Prana Devata, but, as She is (Comm., vv. 10 and 11) Srsti-sthiti-layatmika, all forces therefore are in Her. She is, in fact, the Sabda-brahman or "Word" in bodies. The theory discussed appears to diverge from that of the Yogis when we consider the nature of the Chakras and the question of their vivification. According to the English author's account, the Chakras are all vortices of "etheric matter," apparently of the same kind and subject to the same external influence of the inrushing seven-fold force of the "Logos" but differing in this, that in each of the Chakras one or other of their sevenfold forces is predominant. Again, if, as has been stated, the astral body corresponds with the Manomayakosa, then the vivification of the Chakras appears to be, according to this account, a rousing of the Kamik side of the mental sheath. According to the Hindu doctrine, these Chakras are differing centres of consciousness, vitality and Tattvik energy.
Each of the five lower Chakras is the centre of energy of a gross Tattva - that is, of that form of Tattvik activity or Tanmatra which manifests the Mahabhuta or sensible matter. The sixth is the centre of the subtle mental Tattva, and the Sahasrara is not called a Chakra at all. Nor, as stated, is the splenic centre included among the six Chakras which are dealt with here.
In the Indian system the total number of the petals corresponds with the number of the letters of the Sanskrit Alphabet, and the number of the petals of any specific lotus is determined by the disposition of the subtle "nerves" or Nadis around it. These petals, further, bear subtle sound-powers, and are fifty in number, as are the letters of the Sanskrit Alphabet.
This Sanskrit work also describes certain things which are gained by contemplation on each of the Chakras. Some of them are of a general character, such as long life, freedom from desire and sin, control of the senses, knowledge, power of speech and fame. Some of these and other qualities are results common to concentration on more than one Chakra. Others are stated in connection with the contemplation upon one centre only. Such statements seem to be made, not necessarily with the intention of accurately recording the specific result, if any, which follows upon concentration upon a particular centre, but by way of praise for increased self-control, or Stuti-Vada; as where it is said in v. 21 that contemplation on the Nabhi-padma gains for the Yogi power to destroy and create the world.
It is also said that mastery of the centres may produce various Siddhis or powers in respect of the predominating elements there. And this is, in fact, alleged. Pandit Ananta-Krsna-Sastri says:
"We can meet with several persons every day elbowing us in the streets or bazaars who in all sincerity attempted to reach the highest plane of bliss, but fell victims on the way to the illusions of the psychic world, and stopped at one or the other of the six Chakras. They are of varying degrees of attainment, and are seen to possess some power which is not found even in the best intellectuals of the ordinary run of mankind. That this school of practical psychology was working very well in India at one time is evident from these living instances (not to speak of the numberless treatises on the subject) of men roaming about in all parts of the country."
The mere rousing of the Serpent Power does not, from the spiritual Yoga standpoint, amount to much. Nothing, however, of real moment, from the higher Yogi's point of view, is achieved until the Ajna Chakra is reached. Here, again, it is said that the Sadhaka whose Atma is nothing but a meditation on this lotus "becomes the creator, preserver and destroyer of the three worlds"; and yet, as the commentator points out (v. 34), "This is but the highest Prasamsa-vada or Stuti-vada, that is, compliment - which in Sanskrit literature is as often void of reality as it is in our ordinary life. Though much is here gained, it is not until the Tattvas of this centre are also absorbed, and complete knowledge of the Sahasrara is gained, that the Yogi attains that which is both his aim and the motive of his labour, cessation from rebirth which follows on the control and concentration of the Citta on the Siva-sthanam, the Abode of Bliss. It is not to be supposed that simply because the Serpent Fire has been aroused that one has thereby become a Yogi or achieved the end of Yoga. There are other points of difference which the reader will discover for himself but into which I do not enter, as my object in comparing the two accounts has been to establish a general contrast between this modern account and that of the Indian schools. I may, however, add that the differences are not only as to details. The style of thought differs in a way not easy shortly to describe, but which will be quickly recognized by those who have some familiarity with the Indian Scriptures and mode of thought. The latter is ever disposed to interpret all processes and their results from a subjective standpoint, though for the purposes of Sadhana the objective aspect is not ignored. The Indian theory is highly philosophical. Thus, to take but one instance, whilst the Rt. Rev. Leadbeater attributes the power of becoming large or small at will (Anima and Mahima Siddhi) to a flexible tube or "microscopic snake" in the forehead, the Hindu says that all powers (Siddhi) are the attributes (Aisvarya) of the Lord Isvara, or Creative Consciousness, and that in the degree that the Jiva realizes that consciousness he shares the powers inherent in the degree of his attainment.
That which is the general characteristic of the Indian systems, and that which constitutes their real profundity, is paramount importance attached to Consciousness and its the states. It is these states which create, sustain and destroy the worlds. Brahma, Visnu and Siva are the names for functions of the one Universal Consciousness operating in ourselves. And whatever be the means employed, it is the transformation of the "lower" into "higher" states of consciousness which is the process and fruit of Yoga and the cause of all its experiences. In this and other matters, however, we must distinguish both practice and experience from theory. A similar experience may possibly be gained by various modes of practice, and an experience may be in fact a true one, though the theory which may be given to account for it is incorrect.
The following sections will enable the reader to pursue the comparison for himself. As regards practice I am told that Kundalini cannot be roused except in the Muladhara and by the means here indicated, though this may take place by accident when by chance a person has hit upon the necessary positions and conditions, but not otherwise.
Thus the story is told of a man being found whose body was as cold as a corpse, though the top of the head was slightly warm. (This is the state in Kundalini-yoga, Samadhi.) He was massaged with ghee (clarified butter), when the head got gradually warmer. The warmth descended to the neck, then the whole body regained its heat with a rush. The man came to consciousness, and then told the story of his condition. He said he had been going through some antics, imitating the posture of a Yogi, when suddenly "sleep" had come over him. It was surmised that his breath must have stopped, and that, being in the right position and conditions, he had unwittingly roused Kundalini who had ascended to Her cerebral centre. Not, however, being a Yogi he could not bring her down again. This, further, can only be done when the Nadis (v. post) are pure. I told the Pandit (who gave me this story, who was learned in this Yoga, and whose brother practised it) of the case of a European friend of mine who was not acquainted with the Yoga processes here described, though he had read something about Kundalini in translation of Sanskrit works, and who, nevertheless, believed he had roused Kundalini by meditative processes alone. In fact, as he wrote me, it was useless for him as a European to go into the minutiae of Eastern Yoga. He, however, saw the "nerves" Ida and Pingala (v. post), and the "central fire" with a trembling aura of rosy light, and blue or azure light, and a white fire which rose up into the brain and flamed out in a winged radiance on either side of the head. Fire was seen flashing from centre to centre with such rapidity that he could see little of the vision, and movements of forces were seen in the bodies of others. The radiance or aura round Ida was seen as moonlike-that is, palest azure - and Pingala red or rather pale rosy opalescence. Kundalini appeared in vision as of intense golden-like white fire rather curled spirally. Taking the centres, Susumna, Ida and Pingala, to be symbolized by the Caduceus of Mercury, the little ball at the top of the rod was identified with the Sahasrara or pineal gland, and the wings as the flaming of auras on each side of the centre when the fire strikes it. One night, being abnormally free from the infection of bodily desires, he felt the serpent uncoil, and it ran up, and he was "in a fountain of fire," and felt, as he said, "the flames spreading wingwise about my head and there was a musical clashing as of cymbals, whilst some of these flames, like emanations, seemed to expand and meet like gathered wings over my head. I felt a rocking motion. I really felt frightened, as the Power seemed something which could consume me. My friend wrote me that in his agitation he forgot to fix his mind on the Supreme, and so missed a divine adventure. Perhaps it was on this account that he said he did not regard the awakening of this power as a very high spiritual experience or on a level with other states of consciousness he experienced. The experience, however, convinced him that there was a real science and magic in the Indian books which treat of occult physiology.
The Pandit's observations on this experience were as follows: If the breath is stopped and the mind is carried downwards, heat is felt. It is possible to "see" Kundalini with the mental eye, and in this way to experience Her without actually arousing Her and bringing Her up, which can only be effected by the Yoga methods prescribed. Kundalini may have thus been seen as Light in the basal centre (Muladhara). It was the mind (Buddhi) (v. post) which perceived Her, but as the experiencer had not been taught the practice he got confused. There is one simple test whether the Sakti is actually aroused. When she is aroused intense heat is felt at that spot but when she leaves a particular centre the part so left becomes as cold and apparently lifeless as a corpse. The progress upwards may thus be externally verified by others. When the Sakti (Power) has reached the upper brain (Sahasrara) the whole body is cold and corpse-like; except the top of the skull, where some warmth is felt, this being the place where the static and kinetic aspects of Consciousness unite.
The present work is issued, not with the object of establishing the truth or expediency of the principles and methods of this form of Yoga, a matter which each will determine for himself, but as a first endeavor to supply, more particularly for those interested in occultism and mysticism, a fuller, more accurate and rational presentation of the subject. An understanding of the recondite matters in the treatise here translated is, however, only possible if we first shortly summarize some of the philosophical and religious doctrines which underlie this work and a knowledge of which in his reader is assumed by its author.
The following sections, therefore, of this Introduction will deal firstly with the concepts of Consciousness and of the unconscious, as Mind, Matter and Life and with their association the embodied Spirit or Jivatma. Next the kinetic aspect of Spirit, or Sakti, is considered; its creative ideation and manifestation in the evolved Macrocosm and in the human body or Microcosm (Ksudra-brahmanda), which is a replica on a small scale of the greater world. For as is said in the Vivasara-Tantra, "What is here is elsewhere. What is not here is nowhere" (Yad ihasti tad anyatra yannehasti na tat kvacit). After an account of the "Word" and the letters of speech, I conclude with the method of involution or Yoga. The latter will not be understood unless the subject of the preceding sections has been mastered.
It is necessary to explain and understand the theory of world-evolution even in the practical matters with which this work is concerned. For as the Commentator says in v. 39, when dealing with the practice of Yoga, the rule is that things dissolve into that from which they originate, and the Yoga process here described is such dissolution (Laya). This return or dissolution process (Nivrtti) in Yoga will not be understood unless the forward or creative (Pravrtti) process is understood. Similar considerations apply to other matters here dealt with.
So also will a short analysis of the Sakta doctrine of Power be of value.
All that is manifest is Power (Sakti) as Mind, Life and Matter. Power implies a Power-Holder (Saktiman). There is no Power-Holder without Power, or Power without Power-Holder. The Power-Holder is Siva. Power is Sakti, the Great Mother of the Universe. There is no Siva without Sakti, or Sakti without Siva. The two as they are in themselves are one. They are each Being, Consciousness and Bliss. These three terms are chosen to denote ultimate Reality, because Being or 'Is-ness', as distinguished from particular forms of Being, cannot be thought away. 'To be' again is "to be conscious" and lastly perfect Being-Consciousness is the Whole, and unlimited unconstrained Being is Bliss. These three terms stand for the ultimate creative Reality as it is in itself. By the imposition upon these terms of Name (Nama) and Form (Rupa) or Mind and Matter, we have the limited Being-Consciousness and Bliss which is the Universe.
What then of Power when there is no Universe? It is then Power to Be, to self-conserve and resist change. In evolution it is Power to become and to change, and in its manifestation as forms it is as material cause, the changeful Becoming of Worlds. Becoming does not = God, for it is finite form and He is the formless infinite. But the essence of these forms is infinite Power which = infinite Power-Holder. It is He who puts forth Power and creates the Universe.
Rest implies Activity, and Activity implies Rest. Behind all activity there is a static background. Siva represents the static aspect of Reality and Sakti the moving aspect. The two, as they are in themselves, are one. All is Real, both Changeless and Changeful. Maya is not in this system "illusion", but is in the concise words of the Sakta Sadhaka Kamalakanta 'the Form of the Formless' (Sunyasya akara iti Maya). The world is its form and these forms are therefore Real.
Man is then as to his essence the static Power-Holder, or Siva who is pure Consciousness; and, as Mind and Body, he is the manifestation of Siva's Power, or Sakti or Mother. He is thus Siva-Sakti. He is as he stands an expression of Power. The object of Sadhana or Worship and Yoga is to raise this Power to its perfect expression, which is perfect in the sense of unlimited experience. One mode of so doing is the Yoga here described, whereby man exchanges his limited or worldly experience for that which is the unlimited Whole (Purna) or Perfect Bliss.
Extract from: The Serpent Power (see Bibliography)
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