YOGA TALK #2
THE POWER OF CHITSHAKTI
The extraordinary thing is that having created a division between 'I' and "the other," man has tried to recover the state of non-division while at the same time keeping, or holding on to the 'me'. If you examine this "I want to become one with you," you will notice that the 'I' must still be there:
I don't want to lose myself. I want to go to heaven. I want to realize God.
It's all the time "I want to... . I want to... I want to... "!
There is a lovely little book called the Yoga Anusandharam where the author wrongly criticizes every other approach except the yoga method. And while it is wrong for him to do this, some of his arguments are beautiful. One such argument concerns the ineffectiveness of practicing goodness. In order to attain self-realization, you try to become as good as possible, and do as much good as possible. By all these methods, you gain a certain sense of satisfaction. Then you go to bed at night, and sleep. You are very happy because there is no anxiety about having done anything bad. But the funny thing is that you have to wake up! Therefore, the author's criticism is that even though you have done good, you are still bound somewhere, that all these good actions have been tried quite fruitlessly because you will still go around and around in circles. He says that good action in itself has no real use. On the other hand, if you are good and therefore, all actions that spring from you are good, then that's a different story. Then you are not doing anything with a calculating mind:
If I do this, I'll get that.
If you are trying to do what is called "right action," motivated by desire to gain something, you are all the time trying for that, and the doing good is only incidental. If you were honest about it, you would realize that you are only good so long as there is something to be gained from it. That, our author friend says, is of no use. You must attain self-realization.
There is another yoga text, the Hatha Yoga Pradipika which would be interesting to discuss at some point. In it, the author paints a lovely picture
(gives Sanskrit: I-10)
which uses the metaphor of walking in a hot desert. It implies that bliss comes to the one whom, after wandering in the desert, has been able to find shelter. Then he says: "Whatever be the fire of the suffering that burns you, whether it be physical, psychological, emotional, or psychic, come into this Hatha yoga, for that will give you shelter."
This practice is not only a physical affair meant to help your liver, or to treat your phantom pain, but it is also related to emotional and psychological disturbances, right up to the ultimate problem of division between 'I' and the 'other'. If that division does not go, then all has been of no use, because the seed of mischief has been retained. So Hatha yoga is not just a set of gymnastics which can be treated purely on the physical level. Nothing happens purely on the physical level. What the body does, the mind and emotions are also involved in, as is also the spirit. When the whole thing is harmonized, and given the right direction, there is yoga. Otherwise, Hatha yoga is treated merely as gymnastics.
According to the Hatha Yoga Pradipika,
(quotes Sanskrit I-10) Whatever be the yoga practiced, this (Hatha) is the cornerstone, the foundation of any yoga practice.
If one neglects this Hatha yoga, something vital is missing. A famous quotation, quoted in many Hatha yoga books makes note:
It is only with the help of the body...
(Here body means the physical body and the intelligence built into the physical body.)
that you are able to perform anything else at all.
Swami Sivananda used to say quite often that for enjoying the pleasures of this world, or to be successful and prosper, a healthy body is necessary.
As we begin to look at the fundamental philosophical basis of Hatha yoga, we will often revert back to one fundamental truth, that the infinite alone is true; that the infinite alone is the reality. Whether you call it God, Ishvara, or Atma whatever you call it, in the infinite there is no duality. The infinite can only be one. There cannot be two infinites. The infinite by definition is indivisible. You cannot have two or three infinites. That infinite, which alone is truth, is consciousness.
Throughout the universe we see this consciousness, this intelligence, which is omnipresent, all pervasive. You can see it in the trees, in the blossoms, in water, in air, in everything. Everything is pervaded by this consciousness, this intelligence. Consciousness is not inert dead substance, but consciousness is a living ... being, living entity: not living in the sense that you and I are living, but full of energy, full of energy! Energy is the very nature of consciousness.
The notion of consciousness with its inherent energy or power was expressed in Sanskrit texts long ago. Chit is the Sanskrit word for consciousness, and Shakti is the Sanskrit word power. Consciousness in which energy is inherent, not merely latent but inherent, was called chitshakti. Masters of yoga saw these two as non-different and indivisible. These masters said that you cannot take heat away from fire. After all, what is fire without heat? You may transfer the heat it to another substance, but that only means that you have kindled one flame from another. And so, the nature and the substance, -whose nature it is-, cannot be divided or separated.
We have always had some kind of compulsion to divide and separate, to analyze. We talk of man and his nature as if they were two completely different things. In the same way, chitshakti has been divided in two: divided into God and His nature, into Purusha and Prakriti, as though they were also two different entities. But the division is totally arbitrary. One must realize that these two are forever inseparable. The substance whose nature it is, is indivisible and inseparable.
In this cosmic consciousness, energy keeps moving all the time, everywhere! In this movement, there is still no division but, mysteriously, there is a power (which some have called "maya") which can make us see a division where no division exists, very much like dipping a cup into the ocean and seeing the water in that cup as something distinct and separate from the rest of the ocean. How that mysterious power came about, nobody knows. Mysteriously, it seems as if the cosmic being, with its inherent movement of energy on a cosmic scale, becomes limited. Does it? Perhaps yes, perhaps no. It is best not to rush to any conclusions regarding this. We see the division. And, we see the division exists as long as we see the division! We are caught in this same tight vicious circle, this circular argument: "How do I know that the division exists? Because I see that the division exists. As long as I see that the division exists, that division continues to exist."
Through this mysterious power of maya, the chitshakti comes to be regarded as jiva, the living consciousness, the apparent division giving rise to the I. Even so there is still no division! It may not be on a cosmic scale, but it is the same cosmic energy, but with an apparent individuality. What is this "apparent individuality?" It is the thought, the concept, the notion... "I am."
When you are sleeping, and sleep comes to an end, the first principle of awareness that becomes manifest is I am. Afterwards,you add to it all the rest: "I am still in bed... I am no longer sleeping... I am trying to wake up... I am here in a room.... I am going to... sleep a little more."
Without the "I am," there is no externalized awareness. In this cosmic consciousness, somehow the "I am" thoughts or notions spring up as if on a cosmic scale. This is what we have called the jiva, and this is also what we call the chitta, or the mind-stuff.
The mind is cosmic consciousness, apparently limited by this "I am" notion. Visualize, if you will, a small glass bottle. Looking at the bottle, you seem to see space inside it, don't you? And you also see this space inside the glass bottle as somehow distinct, separate, and different from the space outside it. You call the space in which we are now a "room" because you see the space as something separate from the space "outside." But to see the space in the bottle, or the space in the room as different from the space outside the bottle or outside the room is absurd! It is equally absurd to say that when the space outside the bottle is broken, the space in the bottle "becomes one with all space outside."
We think that way, don't we? Was the space ever part of the so called "room space?" No, you cannot call it "a part" unless it can be parted! This is a funny, but good little axiom, isn't it? You cannot call it a part unless it can be parted. The finger is a part of me, because you can take it off. However, space is not part of the "bottle space," or the "room space," because space cannot be taken away. You can't open a jar, fill it with space, close it, and take the space away (you can take the air away, but not the space), thinking that "Ah, I have taken some space from that room."
Yet, when the glass bottle was here, you did see space within it that was apparently distinct and separate from the space outside the bottle. The notion of the jiva of an individualized soul, of individualized consciousness, is nothing more than a notion. Similarly, the notion of cosmic consciousness, the notion of consciousness, is chitta, my mind. In the same way, as there is no such thing called "the space in that particular glass bottle," there is no such thing as "my mind. "There is only mind! However, because this mind, this consciousness, this intelligence seems to have a notion called I (which may be likened to the jar), it thinks: "This is my mind." The cosmic energy is somehow able to give rise to a notion:
I am a living personality.
When this happens, the cosmic energy is able to manifest power which we call the life-energy, or the life force. The yogis have a name for this. They call it "prana." Prana is also not divisible, but cosmic. This is the reason that we cannot avoid interacting with each other.
Although we go on spinning concepts to distinguish one from the other, these words -jiva, chitta, prana- are all identical in their meaning. If we can see this clearly, it may be possible for us to see how, on an individual level, each one of these can, and does react upon the other: how, for instance, pranayama helps control of mind, and how a wayward mind disturbs the flow of prana; how a disturbance in one causes a disturbance in the other: how the flow of energy on the body, if disturbed or having become haphazard, will disturb your mind, and how, when the harmony gets restored, the prana also gets restored. One must see that the only difference between the chitta, the prana, and the jiva is the spelling. There is no other difference. And the same thing has also been given another name, "kundalini."
"Kundalini" literally means "coil." It's amazing to realize that the yogis of long ago actually visualized the source of energy as being coiled, because that is the current view today. Armature, engines, motors, and so on, all these modern inventions are based on some kind of coil, like coiled copper wire. If you look into the insides of an electric light bulb, you find the wire IS coiled. Energy seems to be well represented by a coil. Yet, there is something more to it, and it is very interesting.
Can you visualize a coil? You begin the visualization with a point. Starting there, should you go around and back to the point, you have a circle, a closed circle. In order to draw a coil, the interesting thing which has to happen is that after beginning at the starting point, after moving down and then back up again, you come close to the starting point but... miss it! And that fashion, missing and missing, you go 'round and 'round and 'round.
This movement is a good way of representing what we commonly call "maya," an "illusion," or "delusion," or "ignorance." There is movement of energy in consciousness. This movement takes place on a cosmic scale, at an infinite number of points, everywhere, all at the same time! This movement has consciousness as a basis, because energy is inherent in that conscious. Yet, as it goes on whirling, it seems to miss the starting point. Why does it do so? It does so! There begins an outgoing tendency. If the circle becomes complete, there is no outgoing tendency: the movement can only go around and around, staying completely with the circle. Once the closing point is missed, there is an out-going tendency, and the spiral is formed.
This is the basis of Hatha yoga. There is movement in consciousness, and as it begins to vibrate and move, it misses forming a complete circle. Had it formed a complete circle, there would have been an end to it; there would have been liberation! All motion would remain within the center with no spiral movement, no disturbance, no disharmony. That is what happens in samadhi, or deep meditation. In meditation there is tremendous movement, but not away from the center. (That is what the Buddhists call "collectedness," or "recollectedness." The whole thing is collected; it is not dispersed.)
In relation to the human body, the center of consciousness is the Sahasrara Brahma-randhra which is located on top of the head where there is movement of energy, movement of prana. In normal activity, this movement of energy is not circular, but "misses," and comes 'round to the eyebrow center where a notion, a thought arises. The thought becomes the seed for the mind, and the mind is formed.
Since the movement of energy has missed its starting point, becomes lost, so to speak, there is further spiraling movement of energy away from its center. The energy spirals past the center of the forehead, the ajna-chakra, down to the visuddachakra, located in the base of the throat. The energy is still lost, but since the visuddha-chakra is the equivalent of macrocosmic space on the micro-cosmic level, there is the experience: "I am lost in space." The spiral continues to move the energy away from its center. From the visudda-chakra, it spirals to the anahata-chakra in the heart region. From the anahata-chakra it spirals to the manipura-chakra in navel region. From the manipura-chakra, it spirals to the svadhisthana-chakra in region of the genitals, and from the swadhisthana-chakra it spirals to the muladhara-chakra below the genitals and above the anus, in the region of the perineum.
Each spiral of energy has both a top and a bottom, and sparks the micro/macro cosmic connection. This is how the individual is linked with the cosmos. There is movement resulting in "I think," but at the very same time, there is (the link to) cosmic mind. Thus, you are linked to cosmic space at the throat chakra, linked to cosmic air at the heart chakra, linked to cosmic fire in the manipura-chakra, linked to cosmic water in swadhishtana-chakra, and linked with cosmic earth in muladhara-chakra.
To summarize, the fundamental basis of Hatha yoga is that consciousness polarizes itself into energy, and there is movement of energy in consciousness. When this movement is unable to fulfill itself immediately, the incomplete circle becomes a spiral and there is concentric but outward motion. The entire Hatha yoga practice lies in reversing the total movement of this energy so that instead of becoming dispersed, it is gathered inwards, back to its center. When the energy is gathered in, the consciousness is also gathered, until eventually the polarization of consciousness and energy is also overcome, and the circle... is! This is known as "lays," which means "absorption," or "return to the source."
There is a beautiful doctrine that says that consciousness, in which energy is inherent, wants to know itself. Awareness, which is energy (chitshakti, wills to know its own potency. In other words, it is much like asking yourself: "Am I strong enough to stand on one toe?" How will you answer this question for yourself? The only way is by getting up on your one toe. It is then that you are realizing, manifesting, and in a manner of speaking, throwing out your energy.
But then, out of this comes a dichotomy, 'me' and 'my energy, because a notion arises:
I am manifesting... my energy.
Before this happens, before I am moving, while I am still what seems to be a static state, I and my energy are one. Suddenly I ask myself to show it. When I have realized my energy, I am left with this dichotomy, this division.
However, the consciousness-energy at the sahasrara is not divided. It is where the kundalini is neither separate nor distinct from consciousness, or, in orthodox terminology, is "where shakti is not different from siva, but are at one." There is total at-one-ment in the sahasrara. That is the consciousness which remains conscious when the mind and the ego-sense are asleep. In this consciousness, there arises kama,"a wish" or "a desire" (desire not in the same way someone may desire a cup of coffee), but desire in the sense of a stress point which the yogis call a "bindu." The wish is a stress point, the binds, and the wish which arises in this intelligence is:
What is power? Can I experience this power?
and immediately the spiraling starts.
It has been said that in the case of "the gods," the circle is completed immediately, there itself, and the being does not lose its being-ness. This is perfection, perfection in all respects. There is movement, but the movement is within the center itself! God in manifestation, what you and I call the "manifest God," where there is no delusion, no conceptualization, no notion, but simply pure awareness. In which case, the wish that arises finds fulfillment there itself without having to spiral up and down: there is pure awareness, self awareness. The wish to know myself arises, and there is realization of self:
Wish to know myself ends in realization of self.
That is a circle! Even in the case of what the yogis called "the perfected beings," it has been suggested that they can still act in the world without getting involved in it. The perfected one acts like a crystal. A crystal ball simply reflects the color of object continuous to it without actually changing color at all. In the same way, the perfected one does not leave the center. Therefore, there is no spiraling no missing of the mark.
As the spiral weaves in consciousness where there is movement of energy, it assumes a particularized notional consciousness, which is the jiva, the 'I am.' When the 'I am' begins to move, there is the awareness: "I am moving in space." This "I am moving in space" wants... to hear! When it wants to hear, space is created on the upper arc of the spiral, and the sense of hearing is created on the lower arc. It doesn't stop there, but moves, and starts to become larger with the wish: "I want to touch."
The sequence in which sensation happens in this spiraling is not different from the sequence of sensation that happens when you wake up. First thing, you hear some noise. When notional consciousness-energy wishes to touch, the second spiral is formed with air on macrocosmic side, and the sense of touch, arbitrarily located at the heart center, on the microcosmic side. One side of the arc representing the macrocosm, the other side representing the microcosm, parts of the same spiral, they are the same thing! The spiral expands (or deepens-whatever you wish to call it), and much like opening your eyes after sleep,
I want to see what is going on here.
The spiral having gone one more round by the time this has happened, has, on its macrocosmic side, fire, the luminosity, the light, and has, on the microcosmic side, the sense of vision, whose center is the manipura. Again the spiral "expands," and there is the wish to taste:
Here, the macrocosmic arc or sphere becomes water, while on the microcosmic sphere it becomes the sense of taste. Lastly, there is smell. On the macrocosmic sphere it is what you call the earth element, while on the microcosmic sphere it is the sense of smell. Thus, simultaneously, the movement of energy-consoiousness has created both the world and me, the two being non-different.
It can be said, if you will forgive the grammar, that 'I' exists because the world exists, and the world exists because 'I' exists. The two are simultaneously brought into being by the combination of energy-consciousness plus a wish. It takes place during every moment of our life. It's one of the reasons yogis insist that one who is trying to practice yoga seriously must not further one's desire syndrome. If one keeps on desiring, there is two way movement.
The energy, or kundalini, which was on the top of the head, comes to rest, after all this spiraling, not exactly in the lowest center, the muladhara, where it is supposed to be dormant, being neither awake, nor active but merely asleep. This beautiful concept of the "sleeping kundalini" down below and the "awakened kundalini" up on top is full of common sense. Unfortunately, some people have made a scripture out of this.
Consciousness is perpetual. Consciousness is, even in between thoughts! It is there all the time, and is totally unaffected by what you do. No matter where your attention is focused, the consciousness inside is totally unaffected. Even in sleep, the inner consciousness is not affected, because sleep is an activity of the mind, and not of consciousness. Consciousness knows no sleep! It flows perpetually like a stream.
It is impossible to imagine what it means for the consciousness to be unbroken throughout. It is equally impossible to grasp the workings of this spiraling movement. That which you and I may call the "lower elements" and the "higher elements" are all modifications of the same consciousness-energy. Earth is water: water is fire; fire is earth, etc., etc., etc.! Their molecular structure may be different, but essentially, basically, they are nothing but energy and consciousness which are inseparable, and which have combined in response to a wish that has arisen in consciousness.
This is all corroborated by the very latest discoveries in science. All matter is condensation of energy, and all energy is indwelled and prompted by consciousness. Differences in the structure of elements are superficial differences, not fundamental. All those differences arise from the wish that arises in consciousness. In Biblical language, God said: "Let there be light." And there was light.
The wish acted on this cosmic consciousness-energy, and the necessary combination took place. Why did it do so? It's an absurd question. It did so.
In his book called Japa Yoga, Swami Sivananda mentions that the constant repetition of a mantra, like "Om Namah Sivaya," can effect change in molecular structure. It cannot affect consciousness but it is able to produce that re-combination of the molecular structure because of consciousness. It is the inherent potency of consciousness and energy, chit-shakti, that makes it possible for this molecular combination to happen. What is intriguing is that merely repeating "Om Namah Sivaya" makes nothing happen. For such a thing to become operational, that which is merely external must become internalized, operate from within outward.
In other words, there must be contact with the chitshakti within. If what we call "prayer" can start from there, it can work wonders. That, again, is beyond "the me." 'My' prayers are never heard, but if prayer touches the chitshakti within, then it springs to action. So for the mantra to realize the potential within consciousness, more must happen than the verbal repetition of it. In psychological language, your subconscious mind must repeat the mantra.
Here one must distinguish between automatic or mechanical and the spontaneous. One cannot know whether an action that springs from someone else is spontaneous or automatic. one can only know this for oneself. Spontaneous action is not only non-mechanical but is also motiveless.
To see this spontaneous action, one need only look at a baby not yet eight weeks old. This baby does not have what your mind interprets as likes and dislikes. One should be able to see this. However, if your own mind is conditioned by likes and dislikes, you will necessarily see likes and dislikes in the actions of the baby.
YASODHARA YOGA TALKS
Copyright © 1997