Unit IV.  The Higher Self


  1. Jnana Yoga - Self-Study
  2. Yoga Psychology
  3. Embodiment
  4. Chakra System and Kundalini
Materials Needed: Colored felt pens

Books needed:

 Jnana Yoga
Chakras: Energy Centers of Transformation

Practices and Exercises:
Jnana Yoga
Yoga Psychology
Yoga Psychology Reflection

* You may already have this book

You'll remember that the Higher Self is that part of us that is consciously aware of its identity with the Divine One. It is, therefore, our true identity as opposed to the false self of the personality and ego which has been learned in the course of growing up. You will also recall that the return part of the spiritual journey is called Self-Realization. This means recovery of awareness of the Higher Self and its unity with the Divine One. It is this part of the journey with which Yoga psychology is primarily concerned.

In this unit, we will investigate how all the different parts of a person are related to each other and to the Divine One according to Yoga psychology. We will begin with Jnana Yoga to provide a base of information and a more detailed explanation of the basic Yogic concepts that we'll need to understand the Higher Self. The book Jnana Yoga is an explanation of how things are in the cosmos from the standpoint of a Yogic master, Vivekananda.

Human beings have probably been trying to figure out how things work and how the world came to be since they had their first thoughts. Haven't you ever wondered, upon gazing at the night sky, who put the stars there and why they stay put? Haven't you denied the concept of no God or no order or purpose in the universe? Even if your personal beliefs don't include a Father/Mother God/Creator, you must still try to figure out how all the magic of interdependence in nature came to be. Could it be entirely random as some scientists insist?

Exercise: Jnana Yoga

Read the book, Jnana Yoga by Vivekananda. This giant of a teacher was the first Yogi to gain public attention in the U.S. He lectured here at the turn of the century and was one of the first to bring eastern philosophy to this hemisphere. Think about how his orientation toward reality is different from that to which you have become accustomed. Notice that his ideas on time, space and causality, delivered a hundred years ago are just now being discovered by modern physicists. What are his views on religion? What is maya, and is it what you have been led to believe? If not, how does it differ? What is realisation? Who is the Atman? How do we get out of the difficulty of not being able to reach perfection here on earth? And why can't we have good without evil?

What does "Thou art That" mean? How were the world and human beings created? What is meant by "reincarnation of the soul?" What is meant by "intelligence?" What is the Self and how is it different from the soul? What is the root of all evil? What part of you is immortal? What are Samskaras? What is the theme of the Vedanta philosophy? According to Vivekananda, what is the worst lie you ever tell yourself? What happens after realisation? How does Vivekananda define Yoga? What is the "key to the treasure house of knowledge?" Make some notes for yourself about what you have learned. Consider the differences between the views of reality presented here and what you have been brought up to believe. Also think about how his ideas would apply in your own life. Would it make a big difference in your customary routines if you believed as he does? Write a reflective paper on Jnana Yoga as presented by Vivekananda.

Yoga Psychology

[Note: The Sanskrit terms used in parentheses in this unit are not essential for understanding the content, but are put here for the use of those who are studying Yoga in more depth. If you are not interested in them, please ignore them.]

The earliest written records of Yoga psychology have come down to us from the Upanishads and the Vedas which are ancient songs and stories that explain our relationship to the Divine One. They were written by rishis and seers in India over 4000 years ago, perhaps even 6000 years ago (Feuerstein, et. al.,1992). These were people who had mastered the art of meditation and who were trying to pass on the results of their experience. Some were, undoubtedly, teachers and these drew the chakra diagrams that are still used by us today.

One of the oldest of these teaching is the Samkhya System whose origin goes "beyond human history" according to Mishra (1987b), a modern physician and Yoga teacher who has translated it for us. It is generally known as Patanjali's Yoga Sutras which is the classic, authoritative work on Yoga.

The Yogis didn't mean to make things complicated. It's just that the eastern mind thinks about things differently. In the west, we've been taught to believe that the world was created by God and is separate from Him. In the east, the idea is that there is only One. And that One includes all of creation and all human beings as well as the omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent Being-Presence we call God. And this One is a blissful, conscious Being. Hence the name Sat-Cit-Ananda where Sat means Being, Cit means consciousness and Ananda means bliss.

Nothing else exists. And, therefore, everything has to be some part of that One. So how is this figured out? First of all the Being or Ultimate Reality is awake and aware. I use the term aware because it does not imply an object of that awakeness. One can simply be aware. In deep meditation when all attention is withdrawn from the outside world and from all of the internal workings of the mind, one can experience this awareness without an object. It is called Samadhi. The One may also be thought of as the basic Energy of which everything is composed.

Consciousness. Consciousness, on the other hand, requires an object. One is aware of some thing. So the Yogis deal with this by explaining that the One separates Itself into Consciousness and Matter (Figure 3. Yoga Psychology).

Figure 3

Here we have Consciousness as the subject who is perceiving, and Matter as the object, that which is perceived. Matter is believed to not be conscious. However, both of these factors are forms of the original energy of the One. Consciousness is seen as unmanifest energy and is often symbolized as Shiva, one of the Hindu deities. Shiva is male, probably because the male role in creation is not immediately obvious. Matter is viewed as manifested energy or everything that has been created. And this is symbolized as Shakti,the female of the pair, probably because women were observed to create life. The union of these two forms of energy constitutes enlightenment or the Samadhi we met above.

Universal Mind. Now we get to the interesting part. Consciousness is reflected from Matter to create the Universal Mind and all of creation. How does this work? Well, think about your own perception for a moment. In order to receive information through your senses you must first focus your attention on something. You do this with your mind. It's as if the mind is a kind of lens through which the energy of your awareness or consciousness is directed to and focused on the object. The energy is then reflected back to you from the surface of the object in a pattern peculiar to that object, and your senses pick up the patterned vibrations. Then your nervous system interprets what the vibrations mean and you have perception. In other words, you recognize what the object is.

We also do this same kind of thing with our relationships. Psychologists have long been aware of a phenomenon called projection. In projection, one puts out some quality of oneself, usually but not necessarily one that is rejected, and projects it onto another person. Then the other person is rejected because of the quality disliked in oneself. This is also called mirroring because I see what is really myself reflected by another person. Can you see that this is a similar process.

It is possible, too, to do this entire operation with the mind. It's called introspection. A part of the mind that is conscious looks at another part of the mind and reflects upon it. The phrase "throwing light on it" is an example of this process. Consciousness is frequently referred to as "Light" because it allows us to "see" something. In Yoga, the example often given is that of the sun striking a mirror. If the mirror is clean and bright, the sun is reflected accurately. If it is dirty, the image is dull and distorted, or there is no reflection at all. The latter is the condition called maya or ignorance. The former is called enlightenment because we can see clearly how everything really is and become aware of our own divine identity. In this example from Yoga, the sun represents Consciousness and the mirror represents Matter.

Universal Mind is called Cosmic Consciousness, and it is the reflection of Pure Consciousness from Matter. It is rather like a hologram, if I understand holograms correctly. Focused (laser) light strikes the object and is reflected to a photographic plate in a pattern that is a replica of the object. Another part of the beam of light goes directly to the photographic plate. When the plate is later illuminated with the same laser light that made the film, the object appears in midair looking very real and three-dimensional. Think of Universal Mind as the photographic plate, Matter as the object and Consciousness as the coherent laser light. Furthermore, to extend the analogy, any piece of the film, however small, will reproduce the entire image of the original object.

So we could say that the Light of Consciousness strikes Matter and is reflected back to a point where it is met by the direct Light from Consciousness which is observing the reflection. This produces Mind. You can see the similarity to the description of ordinary perception offered above. Itzhak Bentov (1988)came to this same conclusion in A Cosmic Book: On the Mechanics of Creation:

The implications of this holographic model are monumental. It implies that all the knowledge in the Universal Mind is available to anyone who can tune into it, be-cause, as in all holograms, the information is totally distributed throughout the universe. Mystical aphorisms such as 'We are all one,' 'As above, so below,' 'God is within you,' and 'The universe in a grain of sand' take on a new meaning when seen in the light of the holographic model... So here we are - all part of this great hologram called Creation, which is everybody else's SELF. You can't blame any-body for doing anything to you - you are doing it to yourself. You create your own reality. It's all a cosmic play, and there is nothing but you! (P. 94-5)*
The result of all this reflection is knowledge. Now this isn't knowledge in the usual sense of information or something we have learned in school. Knowledge, in Yoga means direct experience. It means we really are sure about what we know because we have had a direct experience of it This applies to insight and intuition as well as to ordinary everyday happenings. In fact, Yogis say that each of the senses can be refined into a higher sense. These higher senses are called siddhis. We think of them as extrasensory perceptions such as telepathy, clairvoyance, etc. It follows, then, that if we want to experience ourselves as the Divine One, we must purify our minds, so they reflect accurately.

Matter. Now, to look at Matter for a moment. Remember that everything is basically energy which is vibrating? Well, the forms that Matter takes depend upon the rate of vibration. The higher the frequency of vibration, the finer or more refined the perception or experience is. So as we go down the tree of Matter in Figure 3. Yoga Psychology,  the slower the vibrations and the more dense the energy becomes until it becomes immediately perceptible by the senses. Since physicists have now extended our senses through intense, electronic magnification, we are able to observe smaller and smaller particles of Matter until they disappear , in fact, and begin to change back and forth into a wave form rather like the manifest form of Matter and the unmanifest form of Consciousness.

Gunas. The gunas, of which there are three, are the basic characteristics or attributes of which everything is formed according to Samkhya Yoga. Any item or manifestation of Matter is composed of all three of the gunas. The identity of the item is defined by the proportion of each guna in it. There are infinite possibilities of combinations just as there are in the atoms and molecules we know of. In fact, Mishra (1987b) suggested that the protons, electrons and neutrons were the gunas. I think this is pushing it a bit.

The three gunas are sattva, rajas, and tamas. Sattva has the highest vibrations and is seen as the equilibrium of rajas and tamas. Nearly pure vibration, it is credited with the characteristics of Light, purity, consciousness and intelligence. Rajas is the quality of energy, motion and mobility. It is a driving force that makes things move. Tamas is the force of stability which takes the forms of inertia, dullness and ignorance.

It is the impact of Consciousness on Matter that upsets the initial equilibrium of the gunas which are all the attributes of which the universe is formed. In its primordial state, the characteristics of Matter are in perfect balance. When this balance is disturbed, all the forms of the universe can arise. The attributes or gunas work with the Universal Mind to create the world as we know it as well as our ability to perceive it.

The combination of Energy and Inertia produces what are called Tanmatras or Potential Energy. These are the subtle sensations of hearing, touch, sight, taste and smell which are allied with the gross elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth. Ether, in this context, means space. The attributes of Light and Energy taken together contribute to the ability of the Sensori-motor Mind to interact with the outside environment because human sensation depends upon the ability of the body to take in and recognize the vibrations given off by all things in the universe. The solid material in the world and universe have a large component of Inertia which gives it its stability and density.

Individual Mind. Going back up to Universal Mind in Figure 3. Yoga Psychology (14K) and following down the left side of the diagram, we see that all of what we call our personal Mind is an offshoot of Universal Mind. Here we are talking about the individual's mind. In Yoga, this is called the manifesting center of consciousness (Chitta or Antahkarana) (Refer back to Figure 3 (above) and to Figure 4. Antahkarana.

Figure 4

And it includes much more than what we usually think of as mind. It is seen as "..a universal medium through which consciousness functions on all the planes of the manifested universe... It is like an intangible screen which enables the Light of consciousness to be projected in the manifested world " (Taimni, 1975, pp. 7-8). Here we have the reflection theme again. Each individual Mind has three major divisions: Higher Mind (Buddhi), Ego (Ahamkara) and the Sensori-motor Mind (Manas). And they are related in a hierarchial manner.

The Higher Mind is responsible for decision-making, discrimination, integration and understanding. Figure 4. Antahkarana (see above) shows a breakdown of the functions of each part of Mind. Intuition, Knowledge and Truth-consciousness are the main functions of the Higher Mind. At this level, sensory input comes in the various forms of intuition. Information comes as knowledge or wisdom and the various factors of discrimination support a faculty of Truth identification. The Higher Mind is that part of us which directly reflects the Pure Consciousness of the Higher Self. When it is influenced mainly by the Attribute of Light or purity, it enables the person to enter the state of enlightenment or samadhi.

The Ego is that part of us that separates. It is the "I" consciousness or self-consciousness that keeps us feeling separate from others. It discriminates the real and the unreal, subject and objects, and works on the principle of dualities. Because it is not well-informed by the Light of Pure Consciousness, it falls into ignorance, identity, attachment, aversions, love of life and fear of death - the kleshas or obstacles to enlightenment. Note differences from the western, psychological concept of ego.

The Sensori-motor Mind which is more or less synonymous with the Intellect is the conditionable mind that is studied by modern psychology. It is the instrument of perception and action, thinking and cognition, concentration and attention. It runs constantly whenever one is awake and often while asleep. Because of its constant activity (vrittis), it is responsible for all the distractions and scatteredness of our mental activity. It is the direct link between the world of matter and the higher forms of Mind.

Yogis say that the Sensori-motor Mind feeds information to the Ego which separates the real from the unreal and then presents the data to the Higher Mind which evaluates it and makes decisions about what action to take, if any.

Exercise: Yoga Psychology

In Yoga and Psychotherapy, read Chapters 3-5 and pp. 206-213 and compare the information presented there to what you have just read. See if you can relate each of the concepts to something you experience personally. For instance, what is Buddhi to you, Manas, Ahamkara? Does it feel to you like your mind operates in this fashion? What, if anything, has been left out? What do you think of the idea that your soul is the reflection of Spirit from your mind? How would that work in actuality? Have you a better explanation? Can you fit this information into what you already know about the way the universe is constructed or what you have learned in school? If not, why not; what gets in the way? How will you resolve any discrepancies? Bear in mind that this perception of how things are is probably held by more people in the world than the one you learned in this culture, so it must have some workable value. Do not reject your own system, however, without an attempt at reconciliation. After all, both systems are based on human experience.


One of the big questions we all ask is "Why am I here?" "What does my life mean?" "What am I supposed to be doing with my life?" The Yogic answer to those queries is Evolution - Return to Spirit.

There are two opposing processes at work in the universe. One is involution, the descent of Spirit (Purusa) into Matter or, on a more concrete level, the incorporation of a soul (jivatman or purusa) in a body. The reason for this is to give the soul an opportunity for learning and for it to gain mastery over matter. In the process of birth and growing up, the soul becomes increasingly separated from its knowledge of its divine identity. This is called maya or ignorance. It is the result of cultural and social conditioning. Pure Consciousness or Spirit or the Higher Self is never changed, but Its experience in and/or of the world may be such that It forgets Its Divine Identity with the Ultimate Reality and begins to believe it is the person entangled in the world. It forgets that the whole universe and all of Mind is just a reflection of Pure Consciousness from Matter, so that It has no independent existence. Note that the Higher Self, with a capital "S" is only One. That means that the Self of each of us is that same One. This is Spirit, also called Purusa with a capital "P." Each individual soul is the agent of the Self in a separate human life. This means that all of us are living separate lives for the one true Self in order to give It experience of life in the world. It is in this sense that we are all One. The Soul is said to be a reflection of Pure Consciousness or Self or Spirit from the Higher Mind. When the Higher Mind is totally clear, we are able to see ourselves first as the Higher Self or Spirit, then, finally, as the Ultimate Reality.

The Higher Self is called the Witness Self because It does nothing, is not changed, but is the only conscious entity in the whole schema. That is, It is able to be conscious of objects. However, as long as It is part of the split into Consciousness and Matter, It is not Aware in the sense that Ultimate Reality is aware. At the highest levels of enlightenment, Consciousness becomes both aware and conscious of objects simultaneously. The Soul and the Ego may think they are conscious, but that is due entirely to the reflection of Pure Consciousness from the Higher Mind.

Evolution is the process of disentangling ourselves from these illusions and ignorances in order to return to the pure state of Ultimate Reality. When this is accomplished the Ultimate Reality is enriched by the experiences of life in the universe. The individual soul does not simply merge with the Ultimate Reality and lose its individuality, but rather the individuality enriches the Absolute. If enlightenment is achieved during a person's lifetime, s/he becomes a master of all of Nature's processes and is, thereby, better qualified to serve others in their journeys. Such a person is called a Siddhi-master. If an enlightened one is reincarnated in a body, but without any veils of ignorance, s/he is called an avatar or bodhisattva. Jesus and Buddha were avatars.

The goal of the evolution process is called Self-realization because the end result is recognition of one's identity with the Self or Spirit. We realize that we are the Self. Because embodiment is experienced as a kind of bondage, Self-realization is also called "Liberation" because we are freed from these illusions and misperceptions. It is fair to say that everything on the diagram in Figure 3 is basically unreal except the Ultimate Reality.

The purpose of the coming together of the Purusa [Self] and Prakrti [Matter] is gaining by the Purusa of the awareness of his true nature and the unfoldment of powers inherent in him and Prakrti. (Taimni, 1961, p. 191)*
This is verse II:23 in Patanjali's Sutras, the definitive work on Yoga put into writing some 4000 years ago. Taimni (1961) explains this as:

We have been sent down into the lower worlds in order that we may attain perfection through the experience of these worlds (p. 197)... The whole drama of creation is being played in order to provide experience for the growth and Self-realization of the Purusas [here meaning individual souls]who are involved in the show (p. 188)... [In the ultimate stage,] the multiplicity of the Purusas on the one hand, and the duality of the Purusas and Prakrti [Matter] on the other, are integrated into a higher conception of the One Reality (p. 190).*
You can see the central focus on Mind. In fact, it seems that Mind is the main instrument for returning to Spirit. It is composed of both Spirit and matter, so it represents all of creation. I think of my personal mind as a kind of radio receiver or satelite dish which can be tuned in to Universal Mind and, theoretically, receive any information which is out there. It's only the dirty mirror that may prevent or distort it.

Exercise: Yoga Psychology Reflecion

Write a reflective paper on what you have learned from this material. Can you come up with a system of your own that selects the best and most believable aspects of both eastern and western thought with respect to how things are?

The Chakra System and Kundalini Energy

Nowadays the word "chakra" hardly needs quotation marks around it as so many people are familiar with the concept. Our understanding of chakras comes from Kundalini Yoga which is not, as many folks believe, a quick and easy way to achieve liberation nor to experience a spiritual "high." Some of the misunderstandings come from overzealous and ill-prepared pseudo-gurus who are out to make a quick buck and enjoy a concurrent power trip. They tend to be ego-involved with psychic powers and should be avoided at all costs. You'll recognize them by the hyper ads they use to lure clients. They prey on the American tendency to want a "quick fix." However, there is no easy way to liberation.

The other misunderstandings come, I think, from the mythology connected with Kundalini and the fact that sometimes Kundalini arousal has sexual overtones. The same can be said of Tantra Yoga. However, neither are basically nor intentionally sexual. And use of the practices to enhance sexual intercourse is a gross distortion of the teachings. Both schools (Kundalini Yoga and Tantra Yoga) work with psychic energy or prana which is our basic neutral life energy. Sex is only one of a great many forms in life that it may take. The initial and primary intention of the practices is to achieve unity consciousness. It's important not to lose sight of that. Misuse of the practices especially without preliminary preparation can lead to psychosis or serious physical illness. We won't be doing the more esoteric practices in these guidebooks as they require the close personal supervision of a well-trained teacher.

The Kundalini system presented here was brought to the west by Sir John Woodroffe in 1918. His book, The Serpent Power (1973) is very taxing and timeconsuming to understand, so I have asked you to study Johari's book which covers the same ground at a simpler level and is easier to read. Another source, if you want to go further is Kundalini: Yoga for the West by Swami Sivananda Radha (1978). She has worked out a no-nonsense approach to Kundalini Yoga that she inherited from her east Indian guru, Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh. Yasodhara Ashram in British Columbia offers training in her approach.

Chakras are swirling centers of energy in the etheric or energy body also called the pranamayakosa sheath. Its outlines are the ones closest to the physical body, and it interpenetrates the physical body and is somewhat larger. It may be seen if you relax your eyes while looking at someone and it appears as an aura of energy around the body.

Within the etheric body is a network of fine channels called nadis which convey this energy. The main one of these lies close to the spinal cord and is called the sushumna. It runs from near the tailbone (Muladhara Chakra) to the crown of the head dividing into two subchannels at the base of the skull. One branch goes up the back of the head to the crown (Sahasrara Chakra) and the other goes to the space between the eyebrows (the Ajna Chakra). The sushumna contains three subsidiary channels called the Brahma, Sattvika Chitra and Rajasika Vajra nadis. See your Johari book for more detail. On either side of and winding around the sushumna, rather like a strand of DNA, are two secondary nadis called the ida and the pingala. The ida conducts negative energy and the pingala conducts positive energy in the sense of positive and negative charges. I think the nadis correspond to the acupuncture meridians in oriental systems.

The sushumna runs through seven main chakras. As vortices of subtle energy chakras may be open or closed. When open, they are able to accept prana, life energy, from the environment and convey it thoughout the body. This means they may or may not conduct energy or prana depending upon their condition at any given time. They were often called lotuses by the ancient yogis because they were believed to have petals which could open or close. The symbolic representations of chakras usually depict these petals which are associated with sound vibrations. The word chakra means "wheel" a name that reflects its swirling energy patterns.

Clairvoyants can see these chakras (Brennan, 1987), and they also tell us that the human being is a field of brilliant light which extends far beyond the physical boundaries to about arm's length in a shape surrounding the body rather like a huge egg. This probably contains all five koshas or bodies. So we are talking about the movement of life and light energy through the body in a system that, although it is usually not visible, is still orderly and lawful. Auras are part of this system.

Ancient seers and rishis thousands of years ago in India, through their spiritual practices and meditation, gained access to direct perception of the chakras and used diagrams of them as teaching tools for their students and disciples. Chakra diagrams provided symbols that could reach the intuitive mind directly, bypassing linguistic barriers and the conceptual mind. These diagrams have been passed down through the centuries, so we now have access to their wisdom. (See Johari book for pictures of them.)

Chakra 1 This is the first chakra.  Each chakra has associated with it an element, one of the senses including the mind as the sixth sense, petals that represent sound and language, colors, animals, geometric shapes and other pertinent symbols that represent aspects of spiritual development that are relevant to each level of development. A different seed sound (bija) in each chakra indicates what mantra will activate and/or tune the chakra. The whole system is designed to guide the growth of consciousness back to unity or reunion of the personality with the Higher Self and from there to the Divine One. And each one matches neatly the psychological developmental stage that was the original undoing (see Table 1 in Unit 3 for a partial comparison).

The first three chakras represent the personality, the last three, the Higher Self. The fourth (heart) chakra is the meeting place of the personality self and the Higher Self or the Divine One. We will begin to work with the first chakra (see image above), clearing all the issues of your life that are associated with that level of development. Then we will proceed through the second and third in subsequent guidebooks. When you reach the level of the fourth chakra there are subtle changes which will occur because you then will be more open to the energy of the Higher Power. The last three chakras are characterized by increasing surrender to the Higher Power, integration of perception, Self-awareness and wholeness leading to unity consciousness.

Kundalini energy is basically one's vital, life energy in static and kinetic form. In its static form it is pure consciousness (symbolized by Shiva or Purusa) and in its dynamic form it is creative energy (symbolized by Shakti or Prakriti). It is believed to be coiled at the base of the spine and is inactive until it is aroused by various spiritual practices. When activated, it may be channeled into the sushumna and will rise through the chakras if they are open and clear until it reaches the Sahasrara Chakra at which point, one is said to be enlightened. The myth says that Shakti is awakened and rises to meet her lover, Shiva, at the crown chakra. For more details on this system, see Chakras: Energy Centers of Transformation, a text that accompanies this guidebook (pp171-18).

It is important not to take these myths and Sanskrit names too literally. Remember that we are dealing with a different way of conceptualizing reality. The eastern systems rely heavily on symbolism to convey information; that is, symbols are used instead of words. So you need to let go of your customary habits of learning and information processing and allow the symbols to speak to you directly. What follows has to do with symbolic associations connected with the chakras. So it will help to relax and open to your intuitive mind whenever symbols appear. I will be skipping back and forth between the intellectual and intuitive modes throughout the modules. So, if you can allow yourself to do that also, it is possible to open the intuitive "book," and perhaps to balance the two modalities as well... a highly desirable outcome in this work.

Exercises: Chakras

1. Read Chakras: Energy Centers of Transformation. Notice the symbolism in each. Back in the early days of Yoga before written language, the rishis or seers used these diagrams of the chakras to teach their students. Symbolism is the language of the intuitive mind, so it is able to convey information of a much more subtle type than is usual in our culture. It speaks to the right hemisphere of the brain instead of to the left which is verbal. Each person has their own, unique symbol system (cf dreams), but there is also a universal system which is collective for all humanity. Angeles Arrien has collected some of this information in her books, Signs of Life, The Tarot Handbook (1987b) and Maori Drawing. You may also refer to The Mystic Spiral by Jill Purce (1980) and to Man and His Symbols (1964) and Psyche and Symbol (1958), both by C.G. Jung.

As you read this book, remember that we are dealing with an energy system, not a physical one. See if you can identify any of the chakras in yourself. How would you tell whether a chakra was active or not? How would you know whether it was open or not? What is the relationship between an element and a tattva? See if you can identify the main theme of each chakra. Why do you think each one is associated with deities? And why are these deities different in each chakra?

2. Begin a symbol diary or file. As you read through the chakra book, sketch each of the main symbols you encounter and make a note of what it means. If you like, you may add your own interpretations of them, but keep them separate from the traditional meanings. Obviously there will be overlap. You will see later on that some of these same symbols may turn up in your dreams, and then you will have some basis for determining what the dreams mean.

3. Color the chakra picture for the first chakra following Johari's instructions on page 2 using felt pens or watercolors because these provide more vibrant colors than crayons. Then work with it doing the visualizations Johari recommends until you can call up the image in your mind quite clearly. Check the next day to see what you remember. This will be the beginning of training yourself to visualize.

4. Read pages 216 - 231 in Chapter 7 in Yoga and Psychotherapy for additional information.

These are only a few of the possible models one might use as a way of understanding life's journey. Any model is only an approximation of reality since each individual experiences life differently. However, models help organize information, so that's how we will be using them here.

We have looked at both the western psychological model of development from birth to adulthood and at the eastern offerings in Yoga psychology that show us how to return to the Source. And we have seen how the first model takes us to the turning point on the spiral of spiritual development and how the latter model helps us to complete the journey Home


Arrien, Angeles. Cross-cultural values and transpersonal experiences. Palo Alto, CA: Institute of Transpersonal Psychology, 1987a.

Arrien, Angeles. Maori drawing: A cross-cultural diagnostic tool. Petaluma, CA: Arrien Books and Tapes (P.O. Box 2008).

Arrien, Angeles. Signs of life: The five universal shapes and how to use them. Sonoma, CA: Arcus.

Arrien, Angeles. The Tarot handbook: Practical applications of ancient visual symbols. Sonoma, CA: Arcus, 1987b.

* Bentov, Itzhak with Mirtala. A cosmic book: On the mechanics of creation. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books, 1988. Permission to quote has been granted by Inner Traditions International of which Destiny Books is an imprint. Copyright © by Mirtala, e-mail: info@gotoit.com.

Brennan, B. A. Hands of Light: A guide to healing through the human energy field. New York: Bantam Books, 1987.

Feuerstein, G., D. Frawley & K. Subhash. "A new view of ancient India." Yoga Journal, 1992, July/August, 66-69, 101-2.

Johari, Harish. Chakras: Energy centers of transformation. Rochester, VT: Destiny Books, 1987.

Jung, C. G. Man and his symbols. NY: Dell, 1964.

Jung, C. G. Psyche and symbol: A selection from the writings of C. G. Jung. Garden City, NY: Doubleday Anchor, 1958.

Mishra, R. S. The textbook of Yoga psychology: The definitive translation and interpretation of Patanjali's Yoga Sutras. NY: Julian, l987b.

Purce, Jill. The mystic spiral: Journey of the soul. NY: Thames & Hudson, 1980.

Radha, Swami Sivananda. Kundalini: Yoga for the West. Spokane, WA: Timeless Books, 1978.

Rama, Swami, Ballentine, R. & Ajaya, Swami. Yoga and psychotherapy: The evolution of consciousness. Honesdale, PA: Himalayan International Institute, 1981.

* Taimni, I. K. The science of Yoga. Wheaton, IL: The Theosophical Publishing House, 1975. Permission to quote has been granted by the publisher.

Vivekananda, Swami. Jnana yoga. Hollywood, CA: Vedanta.

Woodroffe, Sir John. The serpent power. Hollywood, CA: Vedanta Press, 1973.

At this point, we have completed the introductory material. The following units will take up each important symbol in the first chakra to help us investigate our beginnings.

Unit. 5. The Power of Life deals with our life energy and how we use it. We'll look at Light, Sound and Vibration, Thought, Creation, Polarities, The Gunas, Kundalini energy, Work, Strength and Selfless Service, Granthis and Seals, Cycles and Circuits and see how all of these relate to our spiritual development. You will learn some new spiritual practices and have a chance to think about how you use your own energy.

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