Moses and Yoga
A talk given by Phiroz Mehta on an unknown date
Honour thy Father and thy Mother that thy days may be long upon the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee.
Everyone understands the literal meaning of these words in the great commandment which Moses gave to his people. Moses was a great teacher. It is not so well known that he was a great yogi.
Let us look very briefly into one other possible way of looking at this commandment. “Honour thy Father and thy Mother.” The Father is God as Creator. Mother is Nature. God is the Sun — Energy. Mother is the Earth — Matter. Father is Eternity. Mother is Time. Father is prāṇa. Mother is the womb of the world — ākāśa. “Honour thy Father and thy Mother that thy days may be long.” Days — Consciousness, clear seeing of Truth, Enlightenment. “May be long upon the land.” This land is your own psycho-physical organism, your own living being. “Which the Lord thy God” (Yahweh-Elohim in the original text, which signifies the Absolute, the Incomprehensible, Unknown and Unknowable Deity, and Elahim, that Absolute and Unknown as grasped by Man in his supreme state of Enlightenment) “Which the Lord thy God giveth thee.” Not “has given”, finished with, once and for all, but gives you continuously from moment to moment, in the present tense. This is very significant indeed. This land — our individual being — starts off in the state of innocence and harmlessness, in harmony with the One Total Reality (Elohim). This innocence is the innocence of the child. It is an unawakened state, not knowing the conflict and sorrow involved in the ambivalence of the dualistic world.
Let us now briefly consider the cakras. We start at the base of the spine with what is the first cakra — the Mūlādhāra. That word means Root Support. It represents the element Earth. In the Muṇḍaka Upaniṣad there is a sentence “Earth is the footing of the Lord”, and in Isaiah, as well as in the Acts of the Apostles, you find “Heaven is My Throne, and Earth My Footstool.” Those who wrote such things were practical yogis, who had realised for themselves, and they put their knowledge in beautiful symbolic terms.
Mūlādhāra contains the unqualified, primordial energy, which serves either the functions of physical reproduction and rejuvenation or transmutes these forces into spiritual potentialities. Do remember that this energy spoken of is psychical energy. You must distinguish this from the actual physiological processes that take place in the body which give the bodily sexual impulses. Don’t get mixed up here, otherwise you will always find difficulty in understanding the meaning and significance of celibacy. This is the psychical counterpart of the physiological energy. The latent energy of this centre is called Kuṇḍalinī Śaktī. Kuṇḍalinī is the name of the Goddess who they say presides over all power. The female aspect — the negative aspect — of the whole Universe, including Man, is the active aspect, the aspect of power in operation. The male aspect has a different kind of dynamism altogether. It is a dynamism which functions in perfect stillness, which is a dynamic poise, not static. The effects of Kuṇḍalinī Śaktī can be either divine or demoniacal. The impure one is destroyed by Kuṇḍalinī Śaktī. Onlythe one who is utterly pure in mind and heart to start with, who lives a pure life, can utilise Kuṇḍalinī Śaktī, handle it with safety. Kuṇḍalinī may be regarded as, or at least analogously to, what we call in modern times “libido.” It is said to sleep coiled up like a serpent at the base of the spine. You know how Moses and Aaron and the priests of Pharaoh, his magicians, cast their rods and they turned into serpents, and those of Aaron and Moses ate up those of the priests, the magicians of Pharaoh. Unawakened, Kuṇḍalinī is absorbed into subconscious and bodily functions. Released, it finds perfect unfoldment and realisation finally in the cakra which is the seventh, known as the Sahasrāra, the thousand-petalled lotus, which corresponds to the brain itself, the cerebrum.
The second cakra is Svādhiṣṭhāna, which is situated in the genital region. Svādhiṣṭhāna is so-called because it means “own abode”. It is called “own abode” because, as far as the living body as body is concerned, and our sense of separate selfhood is concerned, it is the source of the most intense sense of “I”. The male and the female genital organs embody the strongest sense of “I-ness” in us. Svādhiṣṭhāna represents the element Water. In Buddhist yoga we have a slight difference. Buddhist yoga tends to group Mūlādhāra and Svādhiṣṭhāna together as a single root centre, as a sacral plexus, not a separate pelvic and hypogastric plexus.
The third one is called Maṇipura, which means “lustrous as a gem”. Pura also means “fortress”, and this cakra represents Fire. It is concerned with the forces of physical and psychical transformation, all the processes of digestion, and so on. The commerce of the living process — that takes place inside here. It is usually associated with the navel. Sometimes it is called the Nābipādma — the navel lotus. There is a very profound significance to the navel, because the umbilical chord connects the infant before its birth from the navel to the mother. And through the navel every one of us in the world is connected right up to our remotest ancestry.
The next one is called Anāhata. Now here we come to something extremely interesting and significant. Anāhata means the place where the munis hear the sound which comes without striking two things together. The muni is the Holy One who is the Silent One. This does not mean that he never talks or utters any words. He speaks only when necessary, and only what is necessary. That is merely the physical aspect. Any one of us could with a little practice be part munis. But there is the profounder aspect. This silence is the silence of the Mind. It means the end of that incessant chatter that goes on in the brain despite ourselves, day and night. During the talk last April I tried to explain a little bit about the tremendous significance of this. So the muni is the Silent One in that sense far more than in the physical sense, and Anāhata is the cakra — the place where munis hear the sound which comes without striking two things together. One hears the sound of the Pulse of Life, of prāṇa. Whilst one is the embryo only, perhaps the first thing one becomes aware of inside the mother’s body is the sound of the beating of the mother’s heart, and that peculiar roaring sound which you hear if you dive into water, the sound of the circulation of the mother’s blood. That is on the physical level. There is another sound — the Pulse of Life itself. Indescribable. You must experience it for yourself, and it has no relationship, remember, to physical sound as we know it — as investigated by science. And physical sound reaches us through physical media, the air, any gaseous medium, any liquid medium, any solid medium. Sound does not travel through a vacuum. But strangely enough this sound is the sound whose medium, whose source, they declare is ākāśa as ether, not ākāśa as solid, liquid or gas. I am using the word which we used up to the end of the last century purely for convenience. There is no English word equivalent to it, so I have to use a word which is now disused in modern science, ether. So again one uses the word “hear”, but obviously one doesn’t hear with the physical ears in the usual physical way. This is another kind of hearing. Anāhata represents Air, but I often wonder whether they meant Air in the sense in which we use the word Air today — the gaseous state, as we know it scientifically. Or did it include what we used to call ether? I myself suspect it included that. Like the heart, Anāhata is concerned with respiration, and it is situated on the vertical, central axis of the body.
The next cakra is called the Viśuddi cakra, and Viśuddi means “made pure.” It is called the throat centre sometimes. It is concerned with speech, and with mantric sound — that is, the use of the voice to produce deep, psychical effects. It is concerned with speech, but do not understand speech here in the ordinary sense, as for instance speech in the sense of “I am talking to you now, and that is speech.” True, that is speech. But the speech with which they were concerned, as far as the Viśuddi cakra was concerned, was Prophetic Speech. He who could take Kuṇḍalinī safely up to the Viśuddi cakra was very much in tune now with the realm of Transcendence, and whatsoever he said, or any gesture he made, which somehow inspired the listener or onlooker, to get a sense of Transcendence thereby, that was Prophetic Speech. So you see, the Viśuddi cakra, as far as its mantric effect is concerned, must be regarded as the source of the Word of Power, and it represents very definitely ākāśa as ether.
Next we come to the Ajñācakra, associated with the Medala, so called because the command of the Teacher is received from above. That is the symbolic language in which it is put. I would prefer to put it this way; it is heard from within, because you yourself are both disciple and teacher, learner and master. What you receive from someone else stimulates you, and if the stimulation is of the right sort, then that which enlightens you is within yourself; and if you are quiet and alert and sensitive, you learn, and you learn the deep things that are beyond words, and beyond concepts, and all the limitations of discursive thinking. So this is what Ajñā deals with. It represents insight into the Truth which is Transcendence.
Finally, the Sahasrāra, the crown centre, or the thousand-petalled lotus as it is called. It represents the infinite variety and sum total of all that is represented by all the six cakras already mentioned. It is as if a new octave of being and consciousness begins with Sahasrāra. It is the abode of Śiva Sadāśiva. Śiva, as you know, is the name of the third person of the Hindu Trinity, and Śiva means “the Auspicious One.” Sadāśiva means “the Ever Auspicious One.” It is the abode of the Supreme Deity within your own being. The transition from Ajñā to Sahasrara represents the liberation out of all separate selfhood into Transcendence. One is no longer in charge of oneself. That means the separate self-consciousness is no longer in charge of one’s total being, because Transcendence itself has taken over. In Christian terminology, “the Manhood is taken up into the Godhead.” This is the transition from Ajñā to Sahasrāra. Since Ajñā and Sahasrāra are so close to each other, they are sometimes, as in Buddhist yoga, regarded as a single crown centre. The word cakra means a wheel, the crown and throat centres are the front wheels, and the heart and navel centres are the rear wheels of the fiery chariot of the spirit in its ascent to Transcendence. Think of Elijah being taken up to heaven in the fiery chariot.
Now a few words about the Nadīs — the channels.
Prāṇa reveals itself in the form of two dynamic tendencies. The polar currents of force which flow through the body are Solar energies, and the vehicle is piñgalā nadī, which is on the right side of the vertebral column. These represent the forces of the day (remember, not day in the purely physical sense of the term, but in the sense which I suggested at the beginning of this talk). That is, centrifugal forces which tend towards conscious awareness, objective knowledge, differentiation, intellectual discrimination. Those are the Solar energies. And there are the Lunar energies, of which the vehicle is the idā nadī, which is on the left side of the vertebral column. These symbolize the forces of the night, working in the darkness of the subconscious mind. They are the undifferentiated, regenerative, centripetal forces, flowing from the all-encompassing source of Life, and tending towards re-unification, for example in the impulses of love, of all that had been separated by the intellect.
The most important channel is the suṣumnā nadī, which runs like a hollow channel through the centre of the spinal column, meeting idā and piñgalā in the perineum at the base of the spine. The suṣumnā is not only able to cause a synthesis between the solar and lunar currents, which are forms of praṇā, but also of the seven centres vertically, upwards from the base of the spine to the brain. This integration is experienced successively through the cakras. The suṣumnā is a symbol of all potentialities lying dormant in every human being, and which are realized by the yogi. One such potentiality is the faculty of becoming directly conscious of the inner relationship between ideas, things, facts, sense data and forces.
Now, you see, your Chairman sits in one of the postures which we learn and practise in yoga. The postures are called āsanas, and the point I want to emphasis is this, that in this posture Mūlādhāra is in touch with Earth. The old yogis, of course, used to sit out in the open on the earth. So, we have the contact of earth to earth, because Mūlādhāra represents earth. It is the root — earth to earth — the microcosm touches the macrocosm. Similarly, earth in relation to space is the microcosm related to the macrocosm. So all the psychic energies which emanate out we call matter in the ordinary way, and the psychic energies which are concerned with man, the living person, are in right relationship — earth to earth. Now the spinal column is called the merudaṇḍa — daṇḍa means a stick, and in this case it happens to be a living stick, the vertebral column — and it’s called the merudaṇḍa. Mount Meru is the mystical, sacred mount where the ultimate realization takes place and it is this daṇḍa which leads right up to the top which is Mount Meru, the Mount Meru of the individual, which is the point at which Transcendence itself makes contact with you, the living person. So now, the merudaṇḍa is upright, as if it were a lightning conductor, and Sahasrāra, the topmost cakra, points to the celestial zenith. So, earth to earth, and, just as the earth is related to the celestial zenith, so is the individual yogi related through Sahasrāra to the celestial zenith. The energy praṇā of matter radiates out macroscopically from the earth to cosmos, and in the person up microscopically from Mūlādhāra to Sahasrāra. The energy of Transcendence responds through Sahasrāra down to Mūlādhāra, sensitizing, refining and transforming you. That is why if you sit properly at ease, elastic, still and silent, you experience all the extraordinary benefit that comes out of such practice. But never forget the indispensable preliminary of the purity of the mind and the heart, and of daily life. When this is accomplished, the finite you is fully subsumed in the infinite. The divorce between Man and God is out. Once again there is the primordial Unity. Benediction floods your being and spreads through you all over the earth. Merudaṇḍa, whilst you are still caught fast in worldliness, was as the Tree of Good and Evil, Merudaṇḍa, after the complete reversal of worldliness, and consequently living in the state of holiness, is the Tree of Life.
We must consider just a few points more. We must deal very briefly with the transformation of consciousness, which is the fundamental objective of the yogi. When Kuṇḍalinī Śaktī, the latent energy lying dormant at the root centre, is awakened by the purified one, by means of meditation and physical techniques which are kept secret, Śaktī — that is Power — is led upwards from Mūlādhāra to Sahasrāra, the crown centre, step by step through all the cakras. Each of these stages marks a transformation of consciousness. As you go upwards and emerge into a profounder state of consciousness, the old is not destroyed or annihilated, but all its essence is taken up into the new state. There is no annihilation whatsoever. The ascent spans the entire range from worldly consciousness to Transcendence itself.
Now, Mūlādhāra to Maṇipūra, the navel centre, deals with the worldly life. As we have already seen, our daily life is concerned fundamentally, primarily because of our animal descent, as far as the body is concerned, with the preservation of oneself and the species. That means, all that is bound up with food and drink and sex. So, these three centres belong to this world, so to say, and to all that is involved with this world of everyday physical living.
Then we come to Anāhata, the heart centre, where true egohood is realized — true egohood, which is devoid of egoism. True egohood means that one is rightly self-conscious; self-responsibly self-conscious, free of the tyranny of desire. Such true egohood contains within itself the energy for its own Transcendence. Now the Transcending will take place very consciously, and only from within yourself. Nature cannot go any further, without our deliberate co-operation. We have the power to say ‘Yea’. We have the power to say ‘Nay’. You must care, and if you really care, Man comes to fulfilment and fruition, through each and every one of you, otherwise there is no such thing as fruition or fulfilment for any man. So now — in Anāhata there takes place the pacification of sense consciousness, and in Anāhata one enters the first deep state of meditation, real meditation begins there. And here, as I said, the pacification of the sense consciousness takes place. If you examine the process that goes on in your mind throughout the day you will find that all the sense impressions and sense images keep rising up all the time, after they have sunk into the sub-conscious, they keep rising up and clamour for attention. We may have our drawing room spick and span and like a shop window for tidyness and order, and what-not. But look at what happens inside one’s own brain. It’s a wonderful wilderness, a jungle, a confusion. Complete confusion. The labyrinth through which you have to find your way, and arrive safely at the other end. Watch it. Follow it. Don’t fight against it, don’t give way to it. Don’t indulge it. That is your task — a tricky one, a difficult one, but when you do it, the clamour of the sense-consciousnesses will subside, and for the first time you will know the meaning of peace. It is not the mere opposite of turmoil and strain, but that which transcends the conflict of the dualities, of quiet and turmoil.
The next is the Viśuddhi cakra. Here one goes quite beyond the word, which means beyond finitude and mortality. I won’t say anything about this tonight, because I spoke quite a lot about it last April. Here is the realm of Prophetic Speech. It is the second deep stage of meditation where all discursive thinking as such comes to an end. Thoughts will rise up still; they will flow along; but all self-association with those thoughts has ceased, and the origination of those thoughts out of one’s own self through one’s own desire, and frustrations, and unfulfilments and so on — all that has ceased. This is the great significance of the Viśuddhi cakra as such. Here Unified Mind — unified, made One, Whole, for the first time, functions at its own level and in its own rights, the Receptive-Responsive Sensitivity that I spoke of earlier, is at its peak and there is the release from isolative self-consciousness. At the Ajñā cakra — concerned with the medulla — one goes beyond all ideation. There is direct perception of the great archetypes.
And in Sahasrāra there is complete pacification of all sense consciousnesses, freedom from isolative self-consciousness and self-obtrusion upon the Totality. We as we are obtrude upon the world, but that obtrusion, that obtrusiveness, completely ceases, and there is no conflict between self and not self — between Being and Non-Being, in fact all those barriers are out, and you realize the Wholeness of existence. There is no such thing in that state which one may call ‘my’ mind, because one has become empty, transparent, and so that mind which is commonly spoken of as the Divine Mind, or the Cosmic Mind, functions freely through you. In this state power can be handled safely, otherwise in the ordinary worldly state we always mishandle power, for now Love and Wisdom are in perfect harmony.
So — in the ascent from Mūlādhāra, Kuṇḍalinī Śaktī works in and through finitude, constraint and mortality, and ascends right up to Śiva — the abode of Śiva — peaceful, auspicious, non-moving, universally active, infinite, immeasurable. And there Śaktī enjoys bliss with her Lord; the bliss of union with Śiva — Father and Mother are One. It is in this state that one realizes, I believe, the meaning of the words of Jesus, after he had ascended — “All Power is given unto Me in Heaven and Earth”. The united ŚivaŚaktī returns to Mūlādhāra, as they say in the books. But I say it not only returns to Mūlādhāra, the united Śiva Śaktī rise up again and make their final abode, during the lifetime of the yogi, of Anāhata, because it is at this level that one is in tune with all mankind. What happens? The united Śiva Śaktī, coming right down to Mūlādhāra, completely purified, refined, and sensitized the whole being, so that every vestige of impurity is out, you are the Perfected Holy One, but if you just remain there you are isolated. But when the united Śiva Śaktī ascends again to Anāhata it transcendentalizes all the worldly functions represented by Mūlādhāra, Svadhiṣṭhāna and Maṇipura, and the work which falls to our lot in ordinary, everyday life. This, as far as I am aware, is not stated in the books. But that is what happens. Śiva Śaktī resides there in the Perfected Holy One, and at the time of death rises right up to Sahasrāra again, and the end of the body takes place. So from Mūlādhāra to Sahasrāra is from Earth to Heaven. The Maitreya and the Skanda Upaniṣads say — “The Body (of the Purified One, of course) is the Temple of the Lord”. The dweller in that Temple is Śiva himself.
Once again, the words of Isaiah, and I’ll give you the full quotation this time — “The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool; what manner of house will ye build unto me? And what place shall be my rest?”