Awakening to the Self

Laughing Man Magazine, Vol. 4, 1983

Introduction - Stage Six

The physiology of the human body is a difficult subject that, despite recent advances in medicine and biology, still has its enigmas. However, the "subtle physiology" proposed in the esoteric traditions escapes our comprehension altogether so long as we do not directly experience it. Also, it cannot mean anything to us unless we are willing to assume the possibility that our body is in fact a multidimensional reality.

This assumption is a basic premise in all the esoteric or spiritual schools. What is more, it is beginning to be confirmed by modern disciplines such as biology, quantum physics, and parapsychology. Thus, the British biologist Rupert Sheldrake recently caused a stir in and outside scientific circles with his newly formulated theory of "formative causation." He introduced the concept of "'morphogenetic fields" to account for the fact that the growth of living organisms is an orderly affair.1 In his view, these organizing "fields" exist outside the space-time framework. (In other words, they are "metaphysical" realities, or hidden or esoteric dimensions of the physical being.) This notion meshes with the quantum-physical idea of an "implicate order" developed by Professor David Bohm in his celebrated work Wholeness and the Implicate Order. According to this theory, the world or existence as such is to be viewed as a total process in which every thing is "enfolded" or "implicated" in every other thing.

Such hypotheses and models are important breakthroughs and breaks with the mechanistic world-view of scientific materialism. Yet, they are only positive and hopeful beginnings. Generally speaking, though, modern science lags considerably behind the visionary models of the esoteric traditions and the unique comprehension by the Great Adepts of the complexities of the world process. But, to be sure, there is a growing convergence between the speculations of the "new science" and the advanced models of the spiritual traditions. If the Adepts of the past lacked the kind of conceptual sophistication that would impress today's scientists, modern science is hampered by the fact that it does not have direct access to the ever more obvious "spiritual" realities of which it speaks. In his Foreword to Adi Da Samraj Free John's magnificent volume on death and dying, recently released under the title of Easy Death, Professor Kenneth Ring observes that Adi Da Samraj "is transmitting to us the greater meaning of what near-death research has only dimly seen." With this remark he acknowledges the Adept's superior "research methodology," which is not inference or speculation but direct apprehension and insight into the dimensions of existence that still (and may forever) lie outside the capacities of science.

In this light, we offer the following summary of Adi Da's disclosures about Man's esoteric anatomy or physiology with special reference to the structure known as the "heart." In the present context, we are able to focus only on some of the significant details. For a complete and thorough understanding of this subject-matter, we refer our readers to Adi Da Samraj published Teaching, notably The Enlightenment of the Whole Body and The Paradox of Instruction.

The traditional model of spiritual practice is the vertical path: the ascent to ever higher and subtler regions until the final, unsurpassable Goal is attained. In the Judeo-Christian tradition the primary image of ascent is Jacob's ladder, which has its base on earth and its topmost rungs in heaven. The historical origin of this image was in Jacob's (Old Testament) vision of a ladder, complete with ascending and, descending angels, stretching from the physical earth to the starry firmament.

However, when this picture is regarded in the light of the traditional esotericism of the East, the ladder is seen to be an archetypal description of the central nervous system of Man, or the "Energy" which it reflects. In this view, the spinal column and brain form the frame of an esoteric ladder of Energy (the Current of Life) that is felt to rise into subtler and subtler realms of experience.

This esoteric account of the nervous system and its underlying subtle "energetic" functions is given its clearest expression in the cakra2 model of Hinduism and Tantric Buddhism. In this model, the spinal axis is seen to be constituted of a hierarchical series of (generally seven) energy centers ascending from the base of the spine, or the perineum, to the crown of the head. The centers are associated with but not identical to various nervous structures of the spinal column and brain.

chakra man

Thus, we have:

1) the muladhara cakra, located at the perineum and associated with unconsciousness, or the state of sheer physical existence prior to self-conscious awareness;

2) the svadhishthana cakra, situated at the level of the sex organs and associated with the emotional-sexual being and subconsciousness;

3) the manipura cakra, located at the level of the great abdominal region from the navel to the solar plexus and associated with intention, waking consciousness, and the gross body as a whole;

4) the anahata cakra, found at the level of the heart and associated with the psychic, intuitive, feeling aspect of the being and the transition from the gross physical dimension to the subtle, mental dimension;

5) the vishuddha cakra, situated at the level of the throat and associated with the verbal mind;

6) the ajna cakra, located at the brain core and associated with higher psychic super consciousness;

7) the sahasrara cakra, situated at (or above) the crown and associated with supramental consciousness.

Traditionally, these cakras, or centers of consciousness, are connected by three subtle "pathways" or "currents" - ida, pingala, and sushumna. Ida and pingala are a polarized pair of currents, or the two poles of a single current. They twine about the spinal axis, meeting and crossing at the cakras. Pingala, or the current associated with the right side of the body, is "positive in charge ('yang'), sun-like or hot, stimulated and stimulating, and centrifugal (outward, expansive) in tendency."3 Ida, associated with the left side, is "negative in charge ('yin'), moonlike or cool, calm and calming, and centripetal (inward, contracting, centralizing) in tendency."4

The third current, sushumna, represents the equanimity, harmony, or union of the two polar currents of ida and pingala. It is the central current that runs between the twin currents, coincident with the core of the spinal line. While the currents of ida and pingala are associated with the polarized play of opposites in the gross physical dimension, the single, balanced current of sushumna is connected to the harmonized play of energy and mind in the subtle, spiritual dimension. It is the vehicle of the more advanced or esoteric processes of traditional yogic and mystical spirituality, in which attention is directed inward and upward to the light contacted at the topmost center.


The Heart

However, in the ultimate extreme of ascent, the Life-Current does not terminate above or at the crown of the head, as most traditions teach. The traditional view is incomplete. As Adi Da Samraj explains, the Current falls in an S-shaped curve into the right side of the heart, the root of attention. Thus, there exists a third vertical structure beyond the twin currents of ida and pingala, and the single current of sushumna. This S-shaped current that runs between the center at (or above) the crown of the head and the right side of the heart is the vertical structure corresponding to the causal, formless dimension of thoughtless, bodiless pure awareness.

As Adi Da Samraj points out, within this description of the vertical structure of the body-mind the heart plays a central role. It is the dividing point between what is above and subtle and what is below and gross. The three centers below the heart are connected with the various functions of the gross physical being: vital-physical, emotional-sexual, and verbal-intentional activity. The three centers above the heart are associated with the functions of the ascended, subtle being: mental (verbal), higher mental (comprehending), and supramental (intuitiverealizing). The heart center itself is the feeling, psychic core of the whole body, expressing the unity of the body-mind.

The heart is the center of both the upper and lower coils of the being:

"The structure on which the whole body rests is shaped like a seahorse. The heart and trunk is its prominent and controlling center or horizontal median. Extending from it vertically are two coils. One passes down, through the solar plexus, behind the navel, to the lower back, then coils forward, through the anus, perineum, and sex organs, into the front of the navel, and comes to rest in the deep core of the lower body (between the navel and the sex organs and above the perineum). It also includes the legs, or lower extremities. The other coil extends above, through the throat, to the lower rear of the brain, then coils forward along the line of the crown, down behind the forehead, up into the mid-brain, and comes to rest in the deep core of the head, above the level of the eyes, and below and slightly forward from the aperture or dent in the upper crown. It also includes the arms, or upper extremities. Manifest existence, as it is communicated in Man, is the play within and between the conditions inherent in the milieu of these two coils. "5

However, the heart, the central locus of the two coils of the being, is not to be identified exclusively with the anahata cakra. The Teaching of Adi Da provides a unique description of the "heart" as a complex horizontal structure of the body-mind. The "heart," which is not to be equated simply with the physical organ,. is the "horizontal foundation" of Man. s such, it is senior to the vertical structures of ida, pingala, sushumna, and the S-shaped current descending to the right side of the heart. Just as the vertical structures are evolutionary, dualistic, and linear--ascending toward subtler and subtler theatres of experience-the horizontal structure of the heart is prior, unitary, and central. It is the structural core of the three conventional states of awareness (waking, dreaming, and deep sleep) and the locus or root of egoic differentiation itself.

As Adi Da Samraj explains, the great horizontal structure of the heart contains within it a hierarchy of three substructures or loci associated with the three states of waking, dreaming, and deep sleep. Each of these loci also relates directly to one of the three vertical dimensions or realms of manifest experience: the gross physical dimension, the subtle, spiritual dimension, and the causal, formless dimension of manifest consciousness without subtle or gross appearances. Similarly, each locus of the heart relates to a corresponding vertical structure connecting it to the two vertical coils of the being.

The physical heart is not situated in the center of the chest, but is tilted slightly so that its bulk lies mainly to the left of and below the center of the chest. Likewise, the . first structural locus of the heart is found on the left, epitomized by the physical bag of the heart. Esoterically speaking, the left side of the heart is associated with the waking state, the vertical structure of ida and pingala, and the attachment of attention to gross physical objects or its diffusion throughout the gross body. Additionally, ':the heart on the left is linked up with the manipura and vishuddha cakras, the centers of the intentional, waking consciousness and the verbal mind.

The second structural locus of the heart is located in the middle of the chest, the region of the thymus gland and the anahata cakra. It is associated with the dreaming state, the subtle body, and the attachment of attention to subtle and mental states, mystical phenomena, dreamlike conditions, brain phenomena, and internal sensory states. The middle region of the heart is also associated with the svadhishthana and ajna cakras, the centers of the subconscious and the superconscious mind.

The third and most senior structural region of the heart is to be found on the right side, in the region of the sinoatrial node (or pacemaker) in the right atrium of the physical heart. The region of the right side of the heart is associated with deep sleep, the causal, formless dimension, and the root of attention. Additionally, the heart on the right is related to the muladhara and sahasrara cakras, the centers of premental and supramental consciousness.

The region of the right side of the heart is the locus of the paradoxical association between the self and the Self. At the same time, it is the terminus of the vertical structure of ascent. The traditional explanation of the vertical structure of the body-mind is self-based. It depends on the manipulation of attention, directing it inward and upward. But when attention falls into the right side of the heart, then attention is transcended in its Source. and the self is Realized as the Self.

Ultimately and paradoxically, the right side of the heart is realized not to be a place at all. From the point of view of the body mind, the right side of the heart is the origin of self-differentiation, the root of the mechanism of attention that is the ego. But when attention is transcended at its root, the Self is Realized beyond all of the structures of the body-mind, beyond association with any place. Thus, to paraphrase Adi Da , the Self is not seated in the right side of the heart, or anywhere else. The heart on the right is the reference point of the self-knot, not the locale of the Self. Reality is not contained in either the vertical or the horizontal structures of the body-mind. It is the Transcendental Condition of both.

The typical yogin or mystic practicing in the sixth stage of life seeks to maintain identification with the Self by excluding attention from its objects, thereby resting in the root of attention in the right side of the heart. "In other words, association with the Self is still ego-based, or based in the individuated consciousness. Apart from the effort of exclusion, the intuition of the Self is lost."6 It is only when the motive of exclusion is released, in the seventh stage of life, that the Transcendental Self is simply and directly Realized in perfect Sacrifice, with "open eyes," to be the native Condition, not dependent on the efforts of the ego.

In the seventh stage of life the heart on the right is no longer the means or locus for penetrating the root of attention in Self Realization. It is the means or locus for recognizing conditional existence as "Only God." The current between the sahasrara and the heart is then regenerated without the separate self-sense. This is Amrita Nadi, the Current in which the self and all worlds are recognized and Outshined. "It is the Heart itself, prior to ego, mind, life, body, and worlds. It neither excludes nor includes any arising. It is Radiance itself, which pervades all things, is all things, and which is eternally unchanged."7

1. See A New Science of Life: The Hypothesis of Formative Causation, by Rupert Sheldrake (Los Angeles: J. P. Tarcher. 1981).

2. The Sanskrit word cakra, often spelled "chakra" in English, means literally "wheel," which is in reference to the "revolving" energy foci as which the cakras disclose themselves to the yogin's inner vision.

3. [Da] Free John, The Paradox of Instruction (San Francisco: The Dawn Horse Press. 1977), p. 226.

4. Ibid.

5. ibid., p. 225

6. Excerpted from a talk given by Da Fee John on January 26, 1983.

7. The Paradox of Instruction, pp. 235-37.

Suggested Readings Related to the Sixth Stage of Life


The Seven Stages of Human Life

Maharshi, Bhagavan Sri Ramana, trans. by A. R. Natarajan. Sat-Darshana (Forty Verses on Reality). Bangalore: Ramana Maharshi Centre for Learning, 1982.

Osborne, Arthur, ed. The Collected Works of Ramana Maharshi. New York: Samuel Weiser and Co., 4th ed., 1966.

Radhakrishnan, S., trans. The Principal Upanisads. London: George Allen and Unwin, 1974.

Vidyaranya, Swami, trans. by Hari Prasad Shastri. Panchadasi: Treatise on Advaita Metaphysics. London: Shanti Sadan, 2d ed., 1965.