Monday, August 14, 2006

Chakras vs. Psychic Centers

The following is taken from one of my many Rosicrucian (AMORC) manuscripts. Since I have been formally Initiated into their highest Temple Degrees, I will be adding teachings which I feel have value from the AMORC view, as I continue to build my Blog.

Eternal Flame

Chakras and Psychic Centers: Are They The Same?

A student, rises to address the Forum as follows: "When I first joined the Order I made the mistake of using the term chakra, not knowing that the Rosicrucians use the term psychic center instead. The member to whom I was speaking tried to convince me that what Rosicrucians call psychic centers are not the same as chakras. However, I am not convinced. Is there really a difference?"

In approaching an answer to our student's question, it is important to realize that from the beginning of time, all creation has been supported by two great principles. These two principles are known under many names but for purposes of our present discussion are referred to allegorically as the Tree of Knowledge and the Tree of Life. In the human body, these two principles are associadated with the brain and nervous system on the one hand, and with the heart and circulatory system on the other.

According to Rosicrucian philosophy, there are certain points in the human body at which the enormously high frequencies of the psychic self are stepped down in order that the energies of the cosmic realm may become useful to man on the physical plane. Insofar as the human body is concerned, these points of contact between the psychic and physical worlds are referred to collectively as psychic centers and are associated with the activities of certain glands.

From a physiological point of view, glands are of two kinds, namely exocrine and endocrine. All glands produce secretions which have important influences in the workings of the body. Exocrine glands release their secretions directly onto the surfaces where they are to exert their influence. Endocrine glands, on the other hand, release their secretions, known as hormones, into the bloodstream which then takes them to all tissues of the body. There is no function of the body, no activity within the cells of the body, including the replication of DNA itself, that does not come under the direct or indirect influence of hormones. Psychic centers are associated with endocrine glands and are, therefore, the governors of all activities in the body.

On the other hand, chakras are defined as centers of force at which energy flows between the psychic and physical bodies of man. On the strength of this limited definition it would appear that there is little or no functional distinction between psychic centers on the one hand, and chakras on the other. However, according to the experts, chakras are seen as "saucer-like depressions or vortices" in the surface of the psychic body. Each chakra gives the appearance of being composed of petals with a stem extending inward from the surface of the body and finally making contact with certain nerve ganglia of the sympathetic arm of the autonomic nervous system. The overall appearance is, therefore, that of a number of flowers having their stems firmly rooted in the sympathetic nervous system.

From an esoteric point of view, the nervous system is a vehicle by means of which man may eventually gain mastery over the forces of Nature. By the phrase "gain mastery over" we do not mean to imply dominance in the sense that man will learn to use the forces of Nature in no matter which way he chooses. Rather, this phrase is intended to mean that man will learn to bring his personal, individual will into harmonious relationship with the Cosmic so that "the forces of Nature will be happy to do his bidding," as is promised to each Rosicrucian Neophyte.

The physical body, as a manifestation of the law and order of the Cosmic, is therefore the great crucible in which this Great Work is to be wrought. And the nervous system is the vehicle through which we will each eventually learn how to bring our individual consciousness into harmony with the Cosmic Consciousness manifesting in every cell of every tissue of the body.

For purposes of our discussion, the nervous system of the human body may be divided into three functional segments, namely cerebrospinal, which is associated with the objective/subjective phase of consciousness; the sympathetic nervous system which is associated with the subconscious phase; and the parasympathetic nervous system which is associated with the cosmic phase of consciousness. According to this scheme, then, chakras are associated with and reflect the workings of the subconscious phase of mind which, according to Rosicrucian philosophy, is the essential mind of the psychic body. This subconscious phase of mind is amenable to suggestion and it is by faulty reasoning that we, through autosuggestion, unconsciously interfere with the harmonious functioning of the subconscious phase of mind.

The challenge to each student on the Path is to so organize his or her relationship with the activities of the subconscious phase of mind that it becomes a true vehicle for the Cosmic Mind which is immanent within it. The discipline leading to such a harmonization is called mysticism. Naturally there are different paths. In the Hindu system of chakras, the path to illumination involves a tech­nique commonly referred to as "raising the kundalini."

Kundalini is considered to be a force or energy which resides in the chakra at the base of the spine and represents the basic energy of the body. It is referred to as a fire which is in striking contrast to the energy or vitality entering the body from the sun. Kundalini is, therefore, an energy of negative polarity as compared with the positive polarity of Nous which enters the body with each breath. From a Rosicrucian point of view, then, kundalini is predominantly spirit energy which we know is not absolutely negative but only relatively so. Strictly speaking then, kundalini has little to do with so-called sex energy with which it is associated in the minds of some people.

Kundalini is conceived as being dual, consisting of a positive, masculine polarity, and a negative, feminine polarity. When the kundalini is raised, the negative polarity is thought to travel up the left-hand chain of the sympathetic nervous system. This left-hand chain is referred to as the Ida. Analogously, the positive polarity of kundalini is considered to travel up the right-hand chain of the sympathetic nervous system, while a mixture of the two polarities travels up the canal or chamber in the spinal cord. The right-hand chain of the sympathetic nervous system is referred to as the Pingala while the canal in the spinal cord is referred to as the Sushumna.

In their raising, the three streams of kundalini are considered to travel upward from the chakra at the base of the spine to make contact with, and to vivify in turn, each of the other chakras along the path, and eventually resides within the crown chakra at the top of the head. In this process the entire nervous system, including the brain, becomes highly sensitized, with the result that the individual becomes receptive to a greater range of vibratory frequencies than before.

However, because of the dangers inherent in this "rite of passage" from one level of psychic sensitivity to another, the neophyte requires the guidance of a guru who is experienced in such matters. The Hindu approach to enlightenment, therefore, concentrates upon improving the sensitivity of the nervous system, thereby expanding the activities of the Tree of Knowledge. What, then, of the Rosicrucian approach?

The Rosicrucian approach to enlightenment is reflected in the ancient injunction: "Science without conscience brings nothing but ruin to the soul personality." Science here refers to acquired knowledge, while conscience refers to that inner knowing, that cosmic knowledge that resides within each of us and is reflected in the activities of the Tree of Life. For this reason the Rosicrucian way is referred to as "The way of the Heart" and begins with the God of our Heart.

From the Rosicrucian point of view, enlightenment is irrevocably linked to one's conception or experience of the Infinite. Thus, rather than focusing exclusively on direct sensitization of the nervous system, we bring our efforts to bear on how best to harmonize our individual consciousness with the Cosmic Consciousness of which we are a part. It is this constant striving to evolve the character and soul personality that leads inevitably to the necessary and concomitant sensitization of the nervous system and the accompanying increase in psychic sensitivity. In this way the Tree of Knowledge is harmonized with the Tree of Life. This process of harmonization is directed by the God of our Heart, the ultimate guru, rather than by someone external to ourselves.

Thus, a second point of distinction between the Rosicrucian system, based on psychic centers, and that of the Hindu, based on chakras is as follows: While the Hindu approach requires the guidance of a personal teacher or guru, the Rosicrucian depends only upon the God of his or her Heart. In this manner the neophyte takes conscious control of his or her evolution and develops a partnership with the Master Within which is the only true guide. It is through the Master Within that the functions of the psychic centers are harmonized, with the concomitant increase in the sensitivity of the nervous system.

Is it to be taken then that in the Rosicrucian approach there is no altered flow of energy among the various branches of the nervous system? In order to approach an answer to this question, let us take a brief look at the polarities existing in the autonomic nervous system.

First of all, it should be realized that the various segments of the nervous system manifest an inherent duality. Thus, there is the right-hand chain of the sympathetic system which is associated with energies of a positive polarity, and the left-hand chain which is associated with energies of a negative polarity. The parasympathetic nervous system is likewise dual, consisting of nerve fibers which arise within the upper portion of the brain stem, and nerve fibers which arise within the lowermost portion of the spinal cord. Hence, the parasympathetic system manifests a vertical, top-to-bottom division while the sympathetic system manifests a lateral, right-to-left division. The two sympathetic chains are located between the top and bottom sections of the parasympathetic system, and appear to be associated with the body's right-side-to-left-side electrical polarity. In an analogous manner, the two poles of the parasympathetic nervous system may be associated with the body's well-known head to foot electrical polarity.

Many members who follow only the Rosicrucian approach report experiencing an energy flow starting at the base of the spine and rising up the spinal column. In some cases the energy flow is experienced during the meditative state and travels up the spine to lodge at a point in the forehead between the eyes. In no case has there been any report of fear or discomfort associated with this energy flow. This energy flow may be a reflection of a greater harmony or increased resonance between the two poles of the parasympathetic nervous system. On the other hand, there have also been reports from students who have attempted to mix the Rosicrucian and Hindu approaches. Such students report a sudden, violent flow of energy starting at the base of the spine and rushing toward the brain. These students invariably report fear, sometimes terror, and generally seek the aid of the Council of Solace.

Thus, a third point of distinction is that, insofar as enlightenment is concerned, in the Rosicrucian approach not only is the nervous system of the student sensitized, but the consciousness of the student is gradually and naturally expanded so that evolution of the soul personality occurs in an orderly, harmonious manner. This gradual, orderly approach reflects the Rosicrucian point of view which holds that there is no quick way to mystical illumination, for true knowledge is to be found in the Tree of Life which is not amenable to sudden and violent shifts in its activities.

Marked Elect

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