Unit X.  Integration and the Search for Wholeness

1.  Nabho-mandala
2.  Candra-mandala
3.  Ambara
4.  Role of ego
5.  The search for God

Materials needed: Journal, drawing materials, puja cup

Books needed:

The circle of love*
Ashtanga Yoga primer*
Paradoxes of love*
“Labyrinth” Parabola or The mystic spiral
The Grail

Exercises and practices:

The invisible center
The body of God
Obedience and freedom
The Grail

* You may already have these books

Fifth Chakra In the fifth chakra we have two circles.  The larger one is bluish-gray and the smaller one is white.  Woodroffe (1973) says, “In the pericarp [shell or seed capsule] of this Lotus is the Nabho-mandala (ethereal region): inside the latter is the triangle (Trikona); inside the triangle is the Candra-mandala [lunar region]; and inside it is the Nabho-bija. . . Think of the full moon in the triangle within the pericarp; there think of the snowy Akasa seated on an elephant, and whose raiment is white. . . ‘whose raiment is white’ qualifies Akasa” (p. 389).  

I offer this quotation because Woodroffe’s descriptions often use different words to designate the same thing.  Candra means moon, Mandala means a circle, Akasa means ether which is the element of the fifth chakra.  Ether is also called Nabho and VyomaAmbara refers to the bija or essence of ether [“On an elephant white as snow is seated the Bija of Ambara, who is white in colour” (p. 384].  The Bija of Ambara is the Sanskrit letter on the back of the elephant.  The ethereal circle is also called Vyoma-mandala or Nabho-mandala.  White is the color of space, according to Woodroffe (p. 391).  However, the Nabho-mandala is bluish-grey, not white.  Instead the bija, or essence, is white.  So is the Candra-mandala and, in this case, white means purity.  Purity refers to the condition of the aspirant who must cleanse all sense perceptions as well as the mind [“whose mind (Buddhi) is illumined” (p. 384)] and become free of the impurities of worldly pursuits.  Visuddha, the name of the chakra, also means pure, ethereal, great and excellent.  


Let us begin with the Nabho-mandala, the larger, bluish-grey circle.  Circles always denote wholeness, and wholeness implies that some kind of integration has occurred.  In this case, we are talking about reconciliation of the ego, personality, soul, Spirit and Higher Self.  The smokey color of the Nabho-mandala suggests that there is still some corruption by the ego and personality, and that there is still purification work to be done (cf. Unit VI. Persisting Issues).  However, the practices of this guidebook should have made inroads into that problem and led to clarification of the relationships between all the parts of the person with which we have been concerned.  The ego and personality are still needed to interface with the outside world, so are still in the picture.  The inner work or purification of the soul is reflected in the second circle, the Candra-mandala.


The Candra-mandala is the stainless, full moon, a symbol of purity.  It is considered to be the Gateway to Liberation because the aspirant has nearly finished removing the veils of ignorance and cleansing the mind of its impurities.  As that occurs, the usual tendencies to classify everything into opposites disappear and we become aware of the seamlessness of reality.  We will see the reconciliation of polarities occurring in the sixth chakra.  It begins in this chakra.

Freedom from polarities is represented by Sada-Siva who is pictured as androgynous, half male and half female.  This figure has five heads and ten arms and is seated on a white bull.  According to Johari (1987) the five heads represent the five senses and the five elements, all in union and all purified.  The aspirant is now centered  and understands “the human plane in all totality” (p. 74).  According to Woodroffe (1973, p. 387), Sada-Siva’s tools and their reminders are: 1) Noose - warns of being caught in unawarenesses, 2) goad - effort is still needed, 3) cobra - wisdom, 4) trident - physical, subtle and causal bodies integrated, 5) fire - purifier, 6) bell - reminder to listen and hear, 7) vajra - power of wisdom, 8) sword - discrimination still needed, 9) battle-ax - to cut away veils of maya, 10) Abhaya-mudra- gesture of fearlessness.  To see a picture of Sada-Siva view the colored plates in Chakras: Energy centers of transformation (Johari, 1987).  
Note: Even Woodroffe vacillates between the number of Sada-Siva’s arms, either four or ten (cf also Johari, 1987, p. 73).

Concentration on this chakra is said to produce uninterrupted peace of mind and ability to see into the three periods of time: past, present and future.  This fits with what we know about the non-linearity of time which can be perceived by the intuitive mind when released from past conditioning.  The practitioner also becomes free of disease, healthy and long-lived.  And, because s/he is free of maya, there is no longer any sorrow.  Further the person becomes like the Hamsa for s/he can destroy dangers and open the Gate of Liberation.

A new level of wisdom is achieved through knowledge of the Atma or Higher Self.  This means a realization of the all-pervadingness of the Universal Reality has occurred.  Such an understanding comes gradually and as a result of the perfection attained through Yoga and its practices.  This means not only Hatha Yoga but all the Yogas of purification [cf. Patanjali’s Sutras for more details (Mishra, 1987; Taimni, 1975)]. 

The Jnani (or knowing) person can be recognized by the qualities of his/her demeanor: peaceful, merciful, constant, gentle, steady, modest, courageous, forgiving, self-controlled, pure and humble (Woodroffe, 1973, p. 391).  In addition, s/he is free from greed, malice, pride and the other ego “sins” discussed earlier.  This person may be perceived by others as a sage or wise person.  Notice the lack of ego referencing in the qualities mentioned above.  All of these characteristics describe the Authentic Self or Ambara.


Ambara is the essence of ether.  If we translate that into simpler English and decode the symbols, it means the personal essence, soul or spiritual nature of each person.  Sometimes this is called Atman or Vak in Sanskrit.  Atman means the Divine Self or inner guru.  Vak is the power of speech or “great Lord of Speech. . the undifferentiated illuminating Self” (Woodroffe, 1973, p. 172).   Remember that speech, in Yoga, is analogous to Logos or the ability to create.  Ether refers to space or spaciousness, limitlessness beingness.  It has no boundaries, no physical properties, no qualifications.  So this is who you are.  It is your true identity, your divinity.  Jung calls it the Self.  Because the Ambara is found in the candra-mandala, it is identified with perfection.  Among other things this means the person has achieved a balance of body, mind and speech.  Therefore, as it becomes purified, the role of ego slowly changes in relationship to the soul’s journey and the Creator’s desire.

Exercise: Mandala

1.  Collect your drawing materials before beginning the meditation so you are not distracted later.  Sit for meditation and allow yourself to slip into that spacious meadow of beingness that has no words nor concepts.  If you are able to contact your inner guidance, do so and, after a devotional greeting, ask for an image of your soul as it is in progress.   If you are unable to contact the inner guide, lie down on the floor and do the Twilight Imaging.  When you meet your Higher Self, ask for the image.  When you return to normal space, quickly sketch the image you have seen, so you do not forget it.

2.  Make a mandala of the image of your soul that you received.  Take good care and select your colors to represent the feeling tones of the image.  If it feels right to you, you might try drawing the image on black paper with pastel crayons.  This would give a feeling of the numinousness of the soul coming out of the void.  If you need instructions for how to make a mandala, you might want to consult Mandala: Journey to the center by Bailey Cunningham (2002).

Role of Ego

There is something for ego to do in this new regime.  It is always necessary to have some aspect of oneself that can interface with the outside world.  This may be more obvious  to introverts than to extroverts who tend to focus outwardly anyway.  As long as we are in bodies, we have to interact with others and with our surroundings.  We have to take responsibility for getting our basic needs met, so that we do not draw too heavily on the energies of others and upset their balances with unnecessary dependencies.  And we have to maintain our boundaries when others try to invade our inner privacy or human dignity.  This aspect of ego is different from the parts that are engaged in self-gratification and power mongering.  Discernment is necessary when faced with temptations to give ego unlimited powers, so it is important to make these distinctions.

Another vital function for ego is to generate and support self-love based on an intrinsic sense of worthiness.  Most of us have been wounded by the socialization practices to which we were subjected as children.  And, as a consequence, we may have developed self-images that tell us we are not good or that we are lacking in certain, essential qualities that would endear us to others.  Because these images were established so early and have been defended by the ego for so many years, they are deeply entrenched.  And even though we may be fully aware on a cognitive level that they are wrong it can take a great deal of effort to pull out all the roots.  There are almost reflexive reactions to certain trigger stimuli that happen before we have time to think.  Especially between parents and children do these patterns tend to persist.  You may find yourself acting out an old argument with your mother or father that simply is neither germane nor rational in the present context.  Nevertheless, you do it perhaps every time you meet or at the slightest provocation.

It helps to become aware of the distinction between our true identity and divinity and our old self-images.  We are not egos, we are gods.  Jesus said, “Ye are Gods” (St. John 10:34)  so did the God of Genesis (Genesis 3:5).  The Upanishads say “Tat Twam Asi” (That Thou Art).  The Sufi Invocation says, “The only Being.”  The more we connect ourselves with the only Being, the easier it will become to behave like It.  This is the reason for spiritual practices.

Exercise: The Invisible Center

Read chapter 7 in The circle of love.  Then sit quietly and reflect on what it means to stay in the world with an ego and simultaneously what it means to “know that we are not.”  Write a short essay in your journal on how you experience these two dimensions of your existence.

Another role for ego is to maintain balance between all powers, senses and personality aspects.  Included in this would be the relationships between the spiritual parts or functions of yourself as well as between the spritual parts of yourself and the outside world.  How do you manifest your soul in the world? for example.  How do you cope with your needs for solitude so you can meditate and reflect on your journey?  How do you share your time and energies between family, work, recreation and spiritual practice?  All such issues are ego tasks and may be eased by figuring out how your daily responsibilities offer opportunities to your soul to both learn new lessons and to create new beauties.  It helps to ask the Beloved what It wants you to do and thereby gain Its support.

Exercise: Body of God

Think about and list the ways in which you can be the eyes, ears, hands, feet, and mouth of God in your daily life.  Then create a ritual in which you can dedicate these parts of your body to service of the Divine One.  You might bless them with Light or water (maybe in the shower?), for instance, or purify them with smoke from a fire.  Most ashrams keep an altar in the kitchen, and the beginning of each day starts with a short prayer of dedication:  All that I do is for You.  Bless my eyes, hands and mouth to Your service today.  Bring Light into everything I do today.  You may word this any way that fits your soul’s purpose.

The ego can maintain focus on continuing the work towards developing finer feelings, the refinement of the senses we have been developing.  Spending a little time reflecting on your ideals from time to time and certainly at the New Year will help keep this work in the forefront of your attention.  Use your journal to keep track of what you are doing and to chart your progress.  Along with this, continue your purification practices.  Since the cosmic fire is generated in this chakra, you might want to work out a puja (fire ceremony) for yourself.  

Practice: Puja

A Puja or an Arati is a devotional service offered to the Beloved.  A typical Arati can be found in your copy of Ashtanga Yoga Primer (Dass, 1981).  You can use any format you have available as long as it is devotional and purificatory.  Include an invocation, cleansing ritual, chanting, prayers or meditation, scriptures, etc. closing with an expression of gratitude.  If you have access to a Yoga Center, you can attend a satsang there in which you will experience the same things.  Other traditions offer analogous ceremonies, but keep in mind that your goal here is purification, dedication and support for your continuing work on yourself, so choose services that meet those qualifications.  In Christian Churches, for example, a confession qualifies as purification if it is deeply intended.

Finally, the ego must remember to subject itself to the Divine One, so it would help to figure out some daily reminders.  “I have an ego but I am not my ego, I am Divine Light” would do nicely for an affirmation if you like to use affirmations.  You could find a piece of jewelry that would represent the Beloved to you and wear it.  Then whenever you happen to look at it, send your love to the Beloved or make a subtle touch to your heart which is the domain of both of You.  Sufis greet each other by placing a hand over their hearts.  “The Divine in me salutes the Divine in you.”  Placing the palms of your hands together at heart level as a greeting is “Namaste” in Yogic communities and means the same thing.  Crossing yourself, as Christians do, is a good idea.  Practicing a mantra until it becomes self-generating is another good idea as it would name the One.  Put up small altars around your dwelling and make offerings on them.  Include an altar in the garden if you have one.  Fountains are good as water is symbolic of the soul and of the spirit.  Running water is music to the soul.  Put pictures, icons and other items that are meaningful to you around the house as reminders.

Exercise: Obedience and Freedom

Read pages 132-141 in The paradoxes of love.  What does Vaughan-Lee suggest we do to actualize our role as a servant of God?  How does this relate to wholeness?

The Search for God

You might say, well I have found Him or Her or It.  So why is this topic coming up now?  Well, the answer is because the journey has no end which is why it is often represented by a spiral.  It goes on as long as we are embodied.  Mentally understanding that I am God is not the same thing as Being God or as feeling I am God.  We are always Being God even in the depths of ignorance and wrongdoing because there is nothing outside of God.  It is the conscious experience of feeling God that we seek, that unification of soul with its Home.   Once that is achieved, we still have to figure out how to function as God and for God in everyday life in the world.  So we are all seekers and always seekers.  This quest is represented in mythology by spirals, labyrinths and the Grail quest.


The heart is a sanctuary at the Center of which there is a little space, wherein the Great Spirit (Wakantanka) dwells, and this is the Eye.  This is the Eye of Wakantanka by which He sees all things, and through which we see Him. – Black Elk

Labyrinths are a circular path to the center.  They are found in all cultures and all religious traditions in some form or other.  Most  recently, they have been popularized by the Episcopal Church.  Trainings are given to teach people how to lead workshops on labyrinth.  Typically, members of a group walk the labyrinth in silence to the center where they stand quietly meditating on what it means to them to be at the center of themselves or of life.  Then they walk the same path out again.  Each time I do it, I gain a new insight.  The first time it was, “The way in is the way out.”  To me, this meant that the solution to my dilemma was to go within.

Labyrinths vary in their complexity.  The most beautiful is probably the one built into the floor of the cathedral at Chartres.  The inner ear is, appropriately for this unit, a labyrinth.  Theseus is well-known for his trip to the center of the labyrinth at Knossos from which he found his way out by means of a thread given him by Ariadne.  The path up to the Tor at Glastonbury is a labyrinth.  

Newgrange   Figure 6 is a labyrinthine pattern found on the wall at Newgrange in Ireland which was built 5000 years ago.  You can find labyrinths everywhere as they are not hard to make and can be used over and over again.  Check it out with your favorite search engine.  Celtic knots are forms of labyrinth.  Other knots composed of interlocking rings are often seen as threshold guardians.  This would include the granthis in the chakra system.

The journey to the center and back is reminiscent of the journey to the center of the earth, the initiatory path of death and rebirth we have already met.  In every case, the seeker is looking for his or her true identity as divinity and the spiritual Home.

Exercise: Labyrinth

1.  Read the “Labyrinth” edition of Parabola or The mystic spiral by Jill Purce and compare the many forms it can take.  How does the spiral resonate with your vision of the spiritual journey?  What do spirals and labyrinths have in common and how are they different?  What aspects of the journey do these similarities and differences represent?

2.  Draw a map of your soul’s journey showing the center and how you got there or would get there.  Choose those symbols to adorn it that are most meaningful to you.  If music is your thing, compose a piece of music that indicates the same journey.  You could also dance it or sculpt it.

The Grail

The Grail is a fascinating symbol.  It was believed to be the cup that Jesus offered at the last supper.  Another interpretation of it is that it was the cup in which the blood from the wound in Christ’s side was caught at the crucifixion.  Many people believe that the Grail was brought to Glastonbury, England by Joseph of Arimathaea who took Jesus’ body down from the cross.  The court of King Arthur and the knights of the round table revered the Grail and many of the knights went in search of it mostly without success.  Galahad was the only one who found it, and he was a virgin knight (i.e., pure and undefiled).  There are numerous other stories that have the Grail as the central motif, and all are myths of the spiritual journey.

Primarily, a cup is a container.  It holds things.  In Christian communion, it symbolically holds Christ’s blood which represents the sacrifice of Jesus’ life (or ego or soul) for us.  Blood is essential for life.  The Grail legends in England equated the Grail with Mary, mother of Jesus.  It was the womb from which our salvation sprang.  The Glastonbury Abbey was built to honor Mary.  (It was later destroyed by Henry VIII.)  A cup of hemlock escorted Socrates to the other world.  The logo for SpiritSong is a cup overflowing with water upon which a fire burns.  Cups and/or grails appear in every religious tradition and usually contain something infinitely precious to the human soul even in the case of Socrates.  Historically, the Grail has been a symbol of spiritual wholeness offering a potion that leads to unity consciousness.  Hence the search for the Grail is also a representation of the search for wholeness and integration.  We celebrate this potential in a variety of communion rituals.

Exercise and practice: The Grail

1.  Read The Grail by John Matthews.  Then select the form and interpretation that most attracts you and make, select or buy a cup or chalice that will represent it to you.

2. Add a communion action to your puja or arati ritual using your own grail.  To make this deeply meaningful, take the time to sacralize and internalize what you are doing.  Make what the cup contains be as important as the cup itself.  Together the cup and its contents should symbolize your journey and the goal.  Meditation and/or prayer creates an appropriate setting for communion.

We have seen how the journey to wholeness involves a lifetime of seeking.  This does not mean that there are no achievements only that embodiment places some limitations on how ethereal we can get.  There are many who would insist that the body is an essential part of the wholeness under discussion and has its own essential role to play in enlightnment.  That it is a critical part of the soul’s learning is certainly unquestionable since we incarnate into a physical vehicle in order to address our soul’s lessons.  

The journey to wholeness can be seen as a continuation of the dark night journey and other forms of initiation that involve death, descent and rebirth into Light.  All are pilgrimages to the center of Being where we may expect to meet the Beloved.  Now our pilgrim stands at the threshold or gate of liberation deliberating the next move.


Appelbaum, D. (1996).  “The Soul.”  Parabola: Myth, tradition, and the search for meaning, 21 (2).

Cunningham, B.  (2002).  Mandala: Journey to the center.  New York: DK Publishing.

Dass, Baba H. & Ault, K. (Ed.). (1981), Ashtanga Yoga Primer: The eight-limbed Yoga as taught by Baba Hari Dass.  Santa Cruz, CA: Sri Rama Publishing.

Draper, E.  (1992).  “Labyrinth.”  Parabola: the Magazine of Myth and Tradition, 17 (2).

Johari, H.  (1987).  Chakras: Energy centers of transformation.  Rochester, VT: Destiny Books.

Lamsa, G. (Tr.). (1968).  Holy Bible from the ancient eastern text.  New York: HarperCollins.

Matthews, J.  (1981).  The Grail: Quest for the eternal.  New York: Thames and Hudson.

Mishra, R.  (1987).  The textbook of Yoga psychology: The definitive translation and interpretation of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras for meaningful application in all modern  psychologic disciplines.  New York: The Julian Press.

Purce, J.  (1974).  The mystic spiral: Journey of the soul.  New York: Thames and Hudson.

Taimni, I.  (1975).  The science of Yoga: The Yoga-Sutras of Patanjali in Sanskrit with transliteration in Roman,  translation in English and commentary. Wheaton, IL: The Theosophical Publishing House.

Vaughan-Lee, L.  (1996).  The paradoxes of love.  Inverness, CA: The Golden Sufi Center.

Vaughan-Lee, L.  (1999).  The circle of love.  Inverness, CA: The Golden Sufi Center.

Woodroffe, Sir J.  (1973).  The serpent power: Being the Sat-Cakra-Nirupana and Paduka-Pancaka.  Pondicherry, India:  Ganesh & Co.

We have examined the search for wholeness and the spiritual journey in a number of its forms.  Unit XI. Healing will offer some healing practices and principles and conclude this guidebook.

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