Unit VI. Manipitha/Amakala
4. Radiation – Light
5. Implications for Practice
Materials needed: Journal
Yoga of the Inner Fire
Om Mani Padme Hūm
This is the period we have all been waiting for: the blissful union sometimes
called SatCitAnanda. You will recall that this is not the end of the
line, however, but only a way station; and we shall see how that works.
But first, we have the guru.
Maņipitha means “abode of gems.” Maņi- means gem, and pitha
means an “abode.” In another place, Woodroffe tells us that the substance
of the altar is Cit or consciousness. So, we could say that the altar
is consciousness and that it is very valuable. Note the linkage of
consciousness with [the translation of Maņi as] mind from Govinda.
We are told that the altar is jewelled, and it is set on the Isle of Gems
located in the Ocean of Nectar. The Isle of Gems is a supreme
state of consciousness while the Ocean of Nectar is the infinite consciousness
itself. Nectar is its connection with Amakala. We will return
to that later.
The bindu (guru) is above the altar and nada is below it. Woodroffe
(1973, p. 488) says the place of the guru is on the altar within the triangle.
The bija Aim (Fig. 7-12)
is the basic sound or vibration of the Sahasrara Padma, so we will use
it to symbolize the guru. Curiously enough, the manipitha is called
the altar upon which we find the feet of the guru. Now who is the guru?
And why does he have his feet on the altar? The guru is Nirguna Siva.
This means the empty void (sunya). Nirguna means “without gunas,” so
this is the presence before manifestation begins, the consciousness that
is grounding the operations of creation.
Feet are what give us support, so we might speculate that the altar provides
support for consciousness who is the guru or teacher. Remember
that a guru is basically a teacher, and this teacher can come in the form
of inner guidance. Furthermore, an altar is the place where we offer
sacrifices to a god. So perhaps what we are talking about is offering
our minds as a sacrifice to inner guidance. Woodroffe (1973, p. 494)
translates part of verse 5 in The Fivefold Footstool as “The mind
there, within the triangle on the Manipitha, contemplates upon the Lotus
Feet of the Guru.” If this is true, then we must quiet the mind in order
to tune in to guidance. The connection between inner guidance and consciousness
is that our consciousness is the god within, or, to put it another way, my/your
consciousness is God’s consciousness. Swami Venkatesananda once said,
“It’s all God name.”
The Great Light
Another angle on this has to do with the hamsapitha. This is
the abode of the Hamsa. The primordial Hamsa is the combined Purusa
and Prakrti. You will recall that these two are the first projections
of the Absolute Reality in the course of creation and that they represent
consciousness and vibration. Remember that Prakrti is consciousness
as unmanifested power (the vibration) and her action is to veil or control
consciousness. She has two forms: 1) avyakta or unmanifested potential
and 2) sabdabrahman or vibration as evolution. Woodroffe (1973) says
that the Hamsa makes the triangular kamakala which is formed by the three
bindus called moon, sun and fire.
Verse 4 of The Fivefold Footstool (Woodroffe, 1973) says,
I intently meditate on the three lines above it (Manipitha),
beginning with the line of Fire, and on the brilliance of Manipitha,
which is heightened by the lustre of those lines. I also meditate
on the primordial Hamsa which is the all-powerful Great Light
in which the Universe is aborbed. (p. 490)
This Hamsa embodies Purusa and Prakrti as Hamkara and Visarga respectively
and is composed of mantras (p. 129). In another place, Woodroffe says
that the hamsapitha is within the triangle on manipitha, and on it is the
place of the guru. There are three lines above manipitha beginning
with the line of fire. Now, in order for the altar to have the three
lines of the kamakala triangle above it, we must have a pyramid with the
original kamakala as its base (Fig. 7-11). This fits with the extension
we saw happening at the Mahanada level – the line into a pyramid: 2nd
to 3rd dimensions.
Fire, or Nibodhika, is the origin of life in ancient mythology, so it is used in Yoga to symbolize life. Nibodhika is a phase of Avyakta
and is fire-like (p. 449). So in the triad Nada, Bindu and Nibodhika
we have Sun, Moon and Fire respectively. [Sometimes Bija represents Fire.]
Nibodhika is placed within Nirvana-kala (the power of consciousness in a
meditative mood) and, as life, it is the unmanifested Nada (sound or vibration).
This probably means that life is the vibratory part of the power of consciousness.
Vayu is the energy of eternal life which radiates in our bodies as nerve
force. So the latent power of consciousness is the life of all
beings and it carries the Truth. Notice that with the advent of fire,
the fact that the Manipitha is brilliant and lustrous; and, with the Great
Light from the primordial Hamsa, we now have the power of radiation.
That means we can see. So we now have Life and Light.
Where is Love? Coming up!
Ama means “nectar dropping.” So amakala means “blissful union.”
This is what we usually think about as one of the rewards of achieving enlightenment.
We talk about people getting “blissed out.” And it is a stage of development
on the path though it is not the final one.
Kripananda (1995) says that the moon mandala contains a pot of nectar. Amrita is the nectar
and it drops down from the union of the parents who are represented by Shiva
and Shakti. It is depicted here as part of the Manipitha stage.
The red part represents the 17th digit of the moon which is what drips the
nectar (Fig. 7-4). We now have the addition of bliss or ananda to the
equation in order to form SatCitAnanda which means Being, Consciousness and
Bliss. Ananda is Supreme Love. You might want to consider what the implications are of a triad of Light, Love and Life.
According to the Kalicharana, the moon has fifteen phases that are known
and two that are secret. These latter ones are called the 16th and
17th digits of the moon. The 16th is Amakala and the 17th is Nirvana-kala.
They can only be seen in meditation, are crescent-like and downward turned
(Fig. 7-4). Here is the source of the nectar. Muktananda (Kripananda,
1995, p. 116-7) says that
When the thunder (the megha nāda) sounds in the inner spaces, . . .
a shower of nectar begins
to fall. There is a pool of nectar behind
the forehead, and. . . this nectar is released and drops onto the root
of the tongue. . . when
the inner nectar travels down to the gastric
fire in the solar plexus, it spreads through all the nerves. . . it flows
through all the nādīs and rejuvenates the body.
I leave the interpretation of this passage to your imagination. However,
that this nectar is life-giving can be seen in practitioners who have reached
this stage. The aging process is virtually arrested, and vibrant health
Consciousness and Being
Maithuna which is the union of Shiva (Consciousness) and Shakti (Being) is
the rapturous state of bliss created by the amrita or nectar. It feels
like you are walking on air and can continue for several days at a time.
Samarasya, the bliss of physical union, reflects spiritual bliss.
You may have seen a picture of the Yab-Yum embrace. It is a visual
representation of maithuna; and, as such, it is symbolic of enlighten-ment.
An experience of ecstasy plus coldness of the body are signs that the kundalini
power is rising to this level of development. Kundalini or Shakti is
the 24th tattva, Sadashiva is the 25th tattva and their union is the 26th
tattva. Translated this means Being is the 24th tattva, Consciousness
is the 25th tattva and their union, bliss, or SatCitAnanda is the 26th tattva.
So we are trying to describe the essence of bliss as a union of consciousness
and beingness. In terms of samadhi, we are talking about Savikalpa
samadhi which enables an experience of the ecstasy and a return to the world.
With practice, we can learn how to go back and forth. Many seekers
prefer to remain at this level of development in order to enjoy both the
bliss and the world. In Laya Yoga, Kundalini does the work and the
seeker enjoys the results. Raja Yoga goes beyond bliss to Ultimate
The causal plane associated with the Manipitha and Amakala is called Vyapika.
There is not much information about this level, but we are told that this
is an energy expansion in consciousness. The energy is diffuse and
not yet focused. Vyapti means “one who pervades.” In the
context of the creation myth when it is seen as procreation, this stage would
correspond to pregnancy. Figure 7-8 borrowed from Harrigan (2002) does
resemble birth, doesn’t it? When the expansion reaches the critical
moment, it expands into the Parabindu of the following stage of development.
The Vyapini-tattva is also called Nirvana-kala and is said to grant
tattva-jnana or divine, liberating knowledge. It is composed of the
void (Supreme Shiva or the Supreme Light) plus Nirvana-Shakti and is located
within the crescent of the moon. We will come back to Nirvana-kala
in the next unit.
Now, you may be thinking, are we supposed to put the chicken back in the
egg? The answer is, Yes we are, in a sense, since we are trying to
reverse the process. However, keep in mind that we are talking about
aspects of consciousness in this padma. So it may be easier to reverse
its direction since it has no physical parameters.
Practice: Symbolic meditation
To achieve Bhavana-samadhi, it is necessary to restructure your life
so that every act is an act of worship. How do we do this? By
studying the symbolism of everything we do. For example, if I am washing
dishes, I think to myself, I am becoming as clear as this glass so I can
contain the Truth. If I am mowing the lawn, I might think I am removing
some unwanted growth that is an obstacle in my life. As I drive to
work, I see that I am moving to manifest something good in the world.
When I get my email, I am opening myself to a connection with another manifestation
of the Divine One. If it does not feel divine, then that is an opportunity
to remove another veil.
So, pick a day when your schedule is not too demanding and try this out.
With further practice, it can become a habit, and then you can make
use of every aspect of your life as a spiritual practice. You may recognize
this as a variant of mindfulness meditation, but it has the added benefit
of specifically associating a necessary activity with your spiritual advancement.
The monk who wrote The Cloud of Unknowing (Progoff, 1981) said that
Light might appear as a blind stirring of love for God. It has its
origin in the dark night of the soul and unconsciously moves toward God with
love. This is the beginnng of the experience of enlightenment.
When we make a cry of desperation to God out of a sincere intensity of need,
the answer comes as light enabling us to “see” and gives new knowledge.
This is not a knowing or feeling of God but a state of unity – as One.
Trungpa (1985) says that the practice of vipassana meditation develops sympathy
for others and “clear seeing.” It links insight and daily experience
toward understanding of the role of mind in creating confusion. It
also brings unconditional clarity and brilliance which radiates outward.
This clarity is not “clear light” but luminosity which means seeing things
clearly, precisely, and as they are, i.e., What Is. At the same time,
things are seeing us precisely at a meeting point that occurs when we are
exposed, open and unafraid to be seen.
Roberts (1985) says that What Is sees and is seen and the act of seeing all
in One. It cannot be seen by the relative mind nor become an object
to itself. The key to seeing it is to not look at all. What is
to be known is simply there and what is not known is not there. . Knowing,
Seeing and Doing are a single act with no gaps in between. Sounds like
our triangle. She goes on to say that the Eye, which is not of the
mind, alone sees and knows itself as all that exists; it is Oneness, and
it is itself all that remains when there is no self. Beyond the relational,
there is only the Eye seeing itself, which is not static; rather, it sees
itself as so continuously new that the now moment is never the same.
We have seen that the first movement in creation is to “see” or to ideate
which means to imagine something or to think. This is, obviously, a mental
operation. But how does it apply at this point and how is it related
to Being-Consciousness-Bliss? Well, first we have the generation of
light that has just occurred, and that makes seeing possible. Recall
also that fire which gives light and heat and sight is a tattva of the third
chakra. But what about the level we are now dealing with? We
have to refine the senses as we move upward. So seeing might become
insight or understanding. We say, “Oh, I see!” when someone explains
something to us. Or, “Do you see?” when telling someone something.
“Seeing” is also a term used for the psychic power of telepathy or precognition
when a person is able to look into another time or place. And, in case
you don’t believe this is possible, it has been documented beyond question.
For a good summary of the research, see The Field by Lynn McTaggart
(2002). So, seeing can also mean a form of intuition which is a function
of the right hemisphere of the brain.
Another form of seeing is a mental image or inner vision, and we met that
in the previous unit, so we know that a clear inner vision of what is to
be created is an essential part of the creation process. It is said
that Shakti “sees.” And the Dhyani Buddha, Amitabha, was the symbol
for clear inner vision. In some contexts, that can mean direct perception
of events without any distortions. In Dzogchen, the term Rig pa means
“. . the intuitive and direct knowledge of the primordial condition, maintained
as a living presence. . . [or] the state of presence” (Norbu, 1996, p. 136).
So it appears that seeing can refer to either direct perception or direct
knowledge meaning without interference from the monkey mind. “Clarity
is the pure quality of all thought and of all perceived phenomena, uncontaminated
by mental judgment” (p. 53). It is the point at which perception is
vivid and present but before the mind gets into the act.
Norbu (1996) goes on to say:
In the moment of the manifestation of the energy of the primordial
state, if one recognizes it as a projection of one’s own original
qualities, one realizes oneself in the dimension of pure vision. . .
the cause.. is.. the manifestation of the light of the primordial state.
So Norbu is saying that pure (or clear) vision is a manifestation of the Great Light.
The Blue Pearl
In meditation, you may experience everything receding from your consciousness
into a tiny dot that Muktananda called the “blue pearl.” Kripananda
(1995) says the blue pearl explodes into a huge expansion of light:
One day the Blue Pearl explodes, and its light fills the universe,
and you experience your all-pervasiveness. You lose the aware-
ness of your own body, and merge with the body of God. (p. 123)
So, when the tattvas are withdrawn into the Supreme Bindu, the “blue pearl”
becomes the Light of Consciousness itself. In essence, we move all
manifestations into the Light. This is the purpose of The Divine Light Invocation (Appendix A.) Review Chapter 8 in The Sacred Power for a fuller account of Muktananda’s experience with it.
Visualization is a process that involves creating a mental image and investing
it with a sense of intention and direction. It is “seeing” with energy
behind it. We do this all the time having a picture of what we want
or want to accomplish in mind along with plans for how to accomplish it.
As a spiritual practice, Trungpa (1985) says, it involves perception plus
a way of relating to all sense -perceptions including mental ones with the
entire range of sensory experience – all at the same time It is also
a way of relating to state of mind and of working with our experience.
To make it work, we have to acknowledge that we are willing to enter fully
into life at the level of both body and speech. Then we invite a state
of wakefulness, openness and a sense of cosmic principles along with a humorous
attitude toward life. This latter is at the level of mind. It
is pretty obvious that this process is not meant to be applied to gaining
worldly goods or services in the sense that the Law of Attraction is being
misused at the time of this writing. But it can be employed as a practice
to assist our spiritual journeys.
This is a process that works best if handled lightly. So, instead of
intense concentration, let an image of what you want flare into your mind.
Then let it go. You must do this with your intuitive mind, not your
intellectual mind. So there is a quality of allowing and almost playfulness
involved. “Touch and go” as my Buddhist friends used to say.
Begin with something relatively simple until you get the hang of it.
Maybe you need a music book for your practice. Or there is something
you want for your altar. Or you long for someone with whom to meditate.
You get the idea. Just let an image of it float through your mind,
and then let it go. Don’t worry about it. Forget about it if
you can. Time does not exist in this realm, and so it may take days
or weeks for it to materialize. It may also take some practice.
When it does work, consider how you did it that time. Then try again.
. . lightly, of course. I am constantly amazed at how the books I need
for this project or to answer a question I have just turn up. Often
I have already bought them some time ago not knowing why at the time.
Prajna is the highest level of knowledge or wisdom. In Buddhism it
is represented by a feminine figure. In that tradition, the goal is
to become aware of sunyata or emptiness. In doing so, we are not going
to join and unite with the powers of the universe as in Kundalini Yoga, but
to transform them in the fire of knowledge so they become forces of enlightenment.
So, instead of creating more differentiation, they flow in the opposite
direction toward union, wholeness and completeness. In becoming conscious
of the “uncreated, unformed state of sunyata from which all creation proceeds” (Govinda, 1982, p. 97) we achieve prajna. Then prajna is united with the masculine principle (upaya) of active, universal compassion called karuna.
When this happens, we have enlightenment informed by the ecstasy of Love.
Translated, this means the knower and its knowledge become one.
Amitabha is called the Buddha with the Wisdom of Discriminating Clear Vision.
This refers to intuitive clear vision, uninfluenced by logical or conceptual
thought. It is achieved when “. . sense-perception and intellectual
discrimination are converted into the transcendental faculties of inner vision
and spiritual discernment in the practice of meditation” (Govinda, 1982,
What we are getting here are some clues as to how to take the next step.
We have to dissolve the visions and ecstasy that are the outcomes of union
into the Great Light of the Supreme Bindu. When this happens, both
the mind and the body become luminous, and light radiates from the individual
which is visible to the spiritual eye. The flame that is its source
comes from the unity of direct knowledge and love; or, to put it another
way, the unification and integration of the power of knowledge with the primordial
force of life. When these two forces collaborate, the sacred flame
of bodhicitta or enlightened mind arises and radiates both light and warmth.
In this condition, knowledge becomes living wisdom and the blind urges of
life becomes the power of universal love. Each tempers and refines
the other. All the forces of our being are concentrated and integrated
like the sun’s rays through a magnifiying glass. This unifying process
is symbolized by the symbol of the flaming drop or bindu and expressed by
the seed-syllable HŪM (pronounced “hoong”).
Implications for Practice
Since what Is is an undivided whole, no single manifestation or form can know
the totality of itself. This completeness can only be known when the manifested
falls back into the unmanifested, or when the tension is released between act and
being – as a sunburst that retracts its ray back into itself. (Roberts, 1985, p. 84)
There are an assortment of practices that are relevant to this level of development.
Some have already been mentioned – meditation, devotion or worship, prayer
and mantra – and these are, no doubt, familiar to you.
Practice: The Yoga of Inner Fire
This is a very complicated method of untying the knots that keep us bound in samsara. However, the process is detailed in Foundations of Tibetan Mysticism
by Lama Anagarika Govinda (1982). If you are motivated to study the
entire book to develop an understanding of the underpinnings of the practice,
it would probably work for you.
Practice: Om Mani Padme Hūm
A less demanding practice is the chanting of Om Mani Padme Hūm. This
is an ancient mantra that combines reverance for the five Wisdom Buddhas.
Om represent Vairocana, Mani is Ratnasambhava, Padme is Amitabha, Hūm is
Aksobhya and the whole mantra represents Amoghasiddhi. The melody I
was taught follows:
(repeat three times)
(These are As above middle C)
Ah Um Ah Um Ah Um
Where letters are close together, that indicates eighth notes. Hūms are whole notes.
As in all mantra chanting, you should be in a state of devotion and aware
of the meaning of each step of the mantra. When you are finished, sit
for meditation and let the vibrations work on you.
Practice: Namo Amitabha
This mantra is specifically addressed to Amitabha, the Lord of Distinguishing Wisdom and Inner Vision.
F# F# E E
DEB A (Bs & As are low)
Na mo A mi ta bha,
D D BD
EF# DEB A (Bs & As are low)
Na mo A mi
F# F# E E
DEB A (Bs & As are low)
Na mo A mi ta bha
D D BD
EF# DEB A (Bs &
As are low)
Na mo A mi
Where letters are close together, that indicates half notes. Bhas are whole notes.
What may be a bit more difficult is to move all manifestations into Light.
But there are practices designed to do just that. The Divine Light Invocation
(Appendix A) brought to the west by Swami Sivananda Radha is the one I know
best. It invokes the Light and offers a visualization of it coming
down into our bodies to purify and clarify us. It can then be expanded
to include other people, projects and the planet.
The Cloud of Unknowing (Progoff, 1981) offers some practices that
might elicit the Light. One of these is persistently sending
darts of love into the cloud that separates us from God. Another is
renunciation. Still another is a single-word prayer. And he says
that, in time, the answer may come as a beam of spiritual light which pierces
the cloud of unknowing; and that we would then become able to see, and what
we would see gives us knowledge of a kind that no degree of ordinary consciousness
could have brought us before.
Surrender is one of the most effective and most difficult means of dissolving
into light. But it is also one of the most obvious. We
have to let go of our self-image, our self-consciousness, our mental chatter
and fantasies, our separation and our fears. The voluminous literature
on the spiritual journey is testimony to the enormity of the job. We
have to wrap our minds somehow around the idea that we do not exist as we
think we do, that there is no ground to stand on, that our egos have misled
us all our lives and are useless on the journey. Furthermore, nothing
is permanent, everything is in flux and change including our ideas about
ourselves and our lives. It is a tall order and not one for the faint-hearted.
At one point we may feel like we are losing our minds in the sense of going
crazy, and there is little support for this as a spiritual practice.
It comes from disempowering the rational, analytic mind or intellect.
What arises in its stead is the awakening, recognition, and activation of
the Higher Mind that is associated with Consciousness. And that assumes
the essential mental tasks.
Silence is a rare commodity in our western culture and increasingly so in
the rest of the world as other nations mimic the consumerism and frenetic
activity of the United States. But there is nothing so effective in
resting the soul. Furthermore, the mind needs a rest, and when it rests,
the spirit can emerge and have a taste of life. Someone once said that
silence is golden which gives us an idea of how unusual it is. But
silence, itself, might be able to bring us to enlightenment because it shuts
off all the interactivity that hustles us. Try a two-week silence in
the midst of a group or a family and watch what happens. You could
come to love it. You can communicate through writing, but no talking.
People will ignore you and will soon not talk to you. It is a fascinating
exercise. Try it.
In this solitude we
encourage each other to enter into the silence of our innermost
being and discover there the voice
that calls us beyond the limits of human togetherness
to a new communion. In
this solitude we can slowly become aware of a presence of
him who embraces friends and lovers and offers us the freedom to love each other,
because he loved us first (see 1 John 4:19). (Nouwen, 1975, p. 44)
Solitude is a partner to silence. Being alone tests our ability to
be with ourselves alone without any outside diversions to distract our attention.
It can be a real challenge for an extrovert; but, exactly for that reason,
may be a very valuable practice. Solitude invites introspection.
It opens our senses so we can experience direct perceptions. It may
invite us back to nature and all its healing powers. In it, we may
discover who we truly are. Nouwen (1975, 1991) offers more information
on both silence and solitude particularly in The Way of the Heart.
Meditation is the royal road to enlightenment. If you do nothing else,
it will eventually take you there. It is the essential practice of
Raja Yoga. And it should be added to whatever other practices you employ.
We have examined the Manipitha and Amakala aspects
of the causal plane and discovered the roles of Light, Love and Life
In Unit VII. Supreme Bindu we reach the cause of all causes.
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