Chapter 81 — Kundalini, Balance of Vital Breath, Physical & Mental Disorders, Simultaneous & Disjunct Causation; The Sun (Knowledge) and Moon (Ignorance) within

Vasishta continued:—

The seeds of the five elements are contained inside the great kundalini nadi, expanding every moment from the vibration of vital breath in all beings. The vibration of the kundalini rouses the intellect by its touch, and the rising of the intellect is attended with rising of the intellectual powers as follows.

From its vitality, this intellect is the living principle, and from its mental powers, it is the mind. From its volition, this intellect is the principle of will, and from its understanding of all things, it is called understanding. It becomes egoism with its eight-fold properties called the eight subtle bodies (puryashtaka), and it remains the principle of vitality in the body in the form of the kundalini nadi.

5 The intellect abides in the kundalini in the form of triple winds. Being deposited in the bowels and constantly flowing downwards, it takes the name of the apana wind; moving about the abdomen it is called the samana wind; and when seated in the chest it rises upwards, it is known by the name of the udana wind. The apana wind passing downward evacuates the bowels. The samana wind of the abdominal part serves to sustain the body. The udana rising upward and being let out, inflates and invigorates the body. (On account of these forces, there is balance in the system.)

If the force of the downward wind is excessive and after all your efforts, you are unable to balance that forcible and irrepressible exit of the apana wind, then the person is sure to meet his death. When one with all his efforts is unable to balance his rising breath of life and it is forced out his mouth or nostrils (the force of the upward force is excessive), death surely follows. If by continual attention one is able to balance the outward and inward flow of his vital breath and preserve calm quiet of his disposition, he is sure to have longevity accompanied with freedom from all diseases.

10 Know that the inaction of the smaller arteries is attended with diseases of the body, but the dysfunction of the greater arteries is followed by serious diseases.

11 Rama said, “Tell me, O holy sage! How are health and sickness connected with the organs and arteries of the body?”

12 Vasishta replied:—

Rama, know that both uneasiness and sickness cause pain to the body. Their remedy is healing by medicine, which is attended with our pleasure, but killing them outright by our liberation is what contributes to our true joy. 13 Sometimes the body is subject to both uneasiness and sickness, as one cause the other. Sometimes they are both alleviated to give us pleasure, and at other times they come upon us by turns only to cause our pain. 14 Sickness (vyadhis, illnesses) is the ailing of the body and what we call uneasiness (adhi, psychic disorder) is the trouble of the mind. Both arise because of our excessive desires and our ignorance of the nature of things.

15 Without knowledge of the natures and virtues of things and without control over our desires, the heart string loses its thinness and even course. It becomes swollen and hurried by the impulse of passions and inordinate desires. 16 Both the excitement of obtaining something and the desire for more boil the blood of the heart, shrouding the mind under a shadow of infatuation like an impenetrable cloud in rainy weather.

17 The ever increasing greed of the mind and the subjugation of the intellect to foolishness drive men to distant countries in search of a livelihood, 18 working at improper seasons, doing improper actions, the company of infamous men, and create an aptitude for wicked habits and practices. 19 The weakness and fullness of the intestines, caused by too little food on the one hand and too much on the other, cause the derangement of the humors and the disorder of the temperament.

20 When there is an excess or deficit of humors in the body, a great many diseases grow in it, just as a river becomes foul both when its level is low in the summer heat or swollen in the rains. 21 As the good or bad inclinations of men result from their prior actions in this and previous births, so the anxieties and diseases of the present state are the effects of the good and bad deeds both of this life as also those of the past.

22 I have told you, Rama, about how diseases and anxieties arise in most bodies of men. Now hear me tell you how to eradicate them from human temperament.

23 There are two sorts of diseases common to human nature, namely ordinary ones and the essential. Ordinary ones are the occurrences of daily life and the essential is what is inborn in our nature. 24 Ordinary anxieties are removed by balancing that which is lacking. Ordinary mental anxieties are removed by the removing the cares that make us anxious. 25 But the essential infirmities of one’s disposition, being bred in the blood and bone, cannot be removed from the body without the knowledge of the soul, just as the error of the snake in the rope is removed only by examining the rope.

26 False affections of the mind are the source of all our mental anxieties and physical illnesses. If we dam this main spring, the stream breaks its banks in the rains and carries away the trees that grew by it.

27 Ordinary diseases derived from without can be removed by drugs, the spell of mantras, propitiating and preventative charms, and various treatments according to the prescriptions of medical science and the practice of medical men. 28 Rama, you know the efficacy of baths and bathing in holy rivers. You are acquainted with the expiatory mantras and prescriptions of experienced practitioners. As you have learnt the medical scriptures, I have nothing further to direct you in this matter.

29 Rama replied, “But tell me sage, how do intrinsic causes produce external diseases? How are they removed by remedies other than medicinal drugs, such as the muttering of mantra incantations and observance of pious acts and ceremonies?”

30 Vasishta replied:—

A man overtaken by anger, losing sight of whatever is present before his eyes, has his mind disturbed by anxieties and his body disordered in its functions. 31 He loses sight of the broad way before him and takes a devious course of own, like a stag pierced with arrows flying from the beaten path and running into a thicket. 32 The spirit being troubled, the vital airs are disturbed and breathe out in fits and short periods, just as the waters of a river, disturbed by a herd of elephants, rise above its channel and flow over their banks.

33 When the vital airs breathe irregularly, the lungs, nerves and all the veins and arteries of the body become deranged, just as misrule in government puts the laws of the kingdom into disorder. 34 Irregular breathing unsettles the whole body by making blood vessels empty and dry in some parts, and full and stout in others, resembling the empty and full flowing channels of rivers.

35 The lack of free breathing results in indigestion, the poor digestion of food, and loss of lymph and blood that food produces. These defects in digestion bring a great many sicknesses to the system. 36 Vital breaths carry the essence of the food we eat to the interior organs, just as the currents of a river carry floating wood down its stream. 37 The crude matter that remains in the intestines, for lack of assimilation into the blood and circulation in the body because of improper breathing, in the end becomes the sources of many sicknesses.

38 This is the way that troubled states of mind and spirit produce diseases of the body. They are avoided and removed by lack of mental anxiety. Now hear me tell you how mantra-exorcism serves to drive away the diseases of the body.

39 As haritaki fruit by its nature is a purgative purging impurities from the body, so mental effort into the mysterious meaning of mantras removes crude diseases from the body. 40 Rama, I have told you that pious acts, holy service, virtuous deeds and religious observances serve to drive diseases from the body by purifying the mind of its impurities, just as the gold is purified by the touch stone. 41 Purity of the mind produces a delight in the body, just as the rising of the full moon spreads gentle moonbeams over the earth. 42 Vital airs breathe freely from the purity of the mind, and these tend to help the digestive process in the stomach, producing nutrition for the body and destroying the germ of its diseases.

43 I have told you, Rama, about the causes and cures of diseases and distempers in the living body in connection with the subject of the main nadi that is the kundalini. Now hear me tell you about the main point of one’s attainment of perfection (siddhi, mastery) through the practice of yoga.

44 The life of the eight-fold human body is confined in the kundalini nadi, just as the fragrance of a flower is contained in its inner filament. 45 When one fills the channel of this great nadi with his inhaling breath, then shuts it at its mouth and becomes as calm as a stone, he is then said to have attained his rock-like fixity and firmness, and his mastery (siddhi) of inflation (garima). 46 When the body is inflated with air this way, then the wind that is confined in the kundalini nadi is carried upwards by the vital breath (of respiration), from its base at the bottom to the crown of the head where it touches the consciousness seated in the brain and drives away the fatigue of the process. 47 From there the wind rises upward like smoke in the air, carrying with it the powers of all the nadis attached to it like vines clinging to a tree. Then it stands as erect as a stick, its head lifted upwards like the hood of a snake. 48 Then this uprising force carries the whole body, filled with wind from top to toe, into the upper sky, just as an aerosol floats upon the water or an air balloon rises in the air. 49 In this way yogis make their aerial excursions, by compressing air in the wind pipes of their bodies. They are as happy as poor people when they feel they have the dignity of the king of gods.

50 When the force of the exhaling breath (rechaka) compels the kundalini force to stand twelve inches above, outside of the head-gate (Brahma Nadi) between eye-brows, 51 and as it is held there even for a moment by preventing its entry into any other passage, then at that instant, one comes to see the supernatural beings before his sight.

52 Rama said, “Tell me sage. How can we see the supernatural spiritual masters without seeing them with the light of our eyesight and without having any supernatural organ of our own with which to see?”

53 Vasishta replied:—

It is true, Rama, as you say, that the aerial bodies of the spiritual masters are invisible to earthly mortals with their imperfect physical organs and without the aid of supernatural organs. 54 The aerial and beneficent spiritual masters become visible to us, like appearances in our dreams, through clairvoyance obtained by the practice of yoga. 55 Seeing spiritual masters is like seeing people in our dream, with only this difference. Seeing a spiritual master is accompanied by many real benefits and blessings bestowed on the beholder. 56 By the practice of holding the exhaled breath twelve inches outside the mouth one may enter into the body of another person.

57 Rama said, “But tell me sage. How you maintain the immutability of nature? I know you will not be displeased at this interruption to your discourse because good teachers are kindly disposed to solve even the intricate doubts of their hearers.”

58 Vasishta replied:—

It is certain that the power known as nature is manifest in the will of the spirit in its acts of the creation and preservation of the world. 59 Nature is nothing in reality other than the states and powers of things. These are sometimes seen to differ from one another, just as autumn fruits are found growing in spring in Assam.

60 All this universe is one Brahman. The immensity of God and all its variety is the unity of God. When we talk of different existences and appearances, these are only verbal distinctions for ordinary purposes proceeding from our ignorance of the true nature of Brahman. We do not know why these words attempting to describe divine nature, which are irrelevant to the main subject, are introduced in this place.

61 Rama asked, “Tell me sage. How do bodies become thinned or thickened in order to enter into very narrow passages or occupy large spaces?”

62 Vasishta replied:—

As wood and a saw rubbed together causes the wood to split, and as the friction of two things produces a fire between them, so friction between the inhaling and exhaling breath divide the two prana and apana air currents, producing digestive fire in the stomach.

63 There is a muscle in the abdominal part of what is the ugly machine of the internal body. It extends like a pair of bellows above and below the navel, their mouths joined together and shaking to and fro like a willow moved by water and air. 64 Under this bladder the kundalini nadi rests in its quiet state, tied like a string of pearls in a casket. 65 Here the kundalini string turns and twirls around like a string of beads counted about the fingers. It is coiled and has a head like the hood of a snake, and it makes a hissing sound like a snake that has been stricken by a stick.

66 The kundalini thrills in the string of the lotus-like heart, just as a bee flutters over the honey of a lotus flower. It kindles our knowledge in the body like the bright sun over the earth and sky. 67 It is then that the action of the heart moves all the blood vessels in the body to their various different functions, just as a breeze shakes the leaves of trees.

68 As powerful winds rage in the sky and break down the weaker branches and leaves of trees, so the vital airs coil in the body and crush the soft food that has been taken in the stomach. 69 As the winds of air batter lotus leaves, at last dissolving them into its native elements, so the internal winds break down food like the leaves of trees and convert the food ingested in the stomach into chyle (lymph and fat fluids), blood, flesh, skin, fat, marrow and bones one after another. 70 The internal airs clash against one another to produce gastric fire, just as bamboo in the woods produces living fire by their friction. 71 The body is naturally cold and cold-blooded. It becomes heated in all its parts by this internal heat, just as every part of the world is warmed by the sun.

72 Ascetic yogis meditate upon this internal fire, pervading and fluttering throughout the body like golden bees or twinkling stars over the lotus-form heart. 73 Reflections of these lights are attended with the full blaze of intellectual light. A yogi meditating upon these lights sees objects in his heart which are millions of miles away from him. 74 This digestive fire, continually fed by the fuel of food, continues to burn in the lake of the lotus-like muscle of the heart, just like an undersea fire burns in the waters of the seas.

75 But the clear and cold light which is the soul of the body bears the name of the serene moon, somagni or the residence of the moon and fire. It is the product of the other fire of the body. 76 All hotter lights in the world are known by the names of suns or solar fire, and all colder lights are designated as moons or lunar fire. These two lights cherish the world. 77 Know that the world is a manifestation of the combination of intelligence and ignorance, and also a mixture of reality and unreality by the one who has manifest this form. 78 The learned use the terms knowledge, sun and fire to refer to the light of intelligence, and the names dullness, darkness, ignorance and the coldness of the moon to describe the unrealities of ignorance.

79 Rama said, “I well understand that the product of the air of breath and the like, and that the air proceeds from the moon. But tell me sage, from where does the moon come into existence?”

80 Vasishta replied:—

Fire and moon (in the body) are mutual causes and effects of each another, just as they produce and destroy each other by turns. 81 Their production alternates like the seed and its sprout. Their repetition is like the return of day and night. They last a while and are lost instantly, like the succession of light and shade. 82 When these opposites appear at the same time, you see them standing side by side like light and shade in daytime. When they occur at different times, you see only one without any trace of the other, just like daylight and nocturnal darkness follow each other.

83 I have told you about two kinds of causality, namely, one in which the cause is co-existent with its effect and the other in which the effect appears after its cause disappears. 84 Synchronous causation is simultaneous with its effect, like the seed is coexistent with its germ and the tree is coexistent with the seed it produces. 85 The other, called the earlier cause, disappears before the appearance of its effect, such as the disappearance of the day causes its subsequent night, and the passing of night causes the following day. 86 The former kind of united cause and effect is exemplified in the example of the doer and the earthen pot, both of which are in existence. This being evident to sight requires no example to elucidate it. 87 The succession of day and night is sufficient proof of antecedent causality, the kind of disunited cause and effect in which the effect is unassociated with its cause.

88 Rationalists who deny the causality of an earlier cause are to be disregarded as fools for ignoring their own experience, and must be spurned with contempt. 89 Know Rama, that an unknown and absent cause is as evident as any present and tangible cause that is perceptible to the senses. Who can deny the fact that the absence of fire produces cold? It is quite evident to every living body.

90 Rama, see how fire ascends upward in the air in form of fumes which take the shape of clouds in the blue sky, which, being transformed afterwards into fire, becomes the immediate cause of the moon. 91 Again the fire, being extinguished by cold, sends its watery particles upwards. This moisture, as the absent or remote cause, produces the moon. 92 Similarly, the undersea fire, falling and feeding on the foulness of the seven oceans, swallows their briny waters, disgorging their gases and fumes in the open air. These flying to the upper sky in the form of clouds, drop down their purified waters in the form of sweet milky fluids in the Milky Ocean.

93 The hot sun devours the frigid ball of the moon during the dark fortnight, then ejects her in the bright half of every month, just as the stork throws off the tender stalk of the lotus which it has taken. 94 Winds that suck up the heat and moisture of the earth in the spring and hot weather, drop them down as rainwater in the rainy season, which serves to renew the body of exhausted nature. 95 The earthly water, carried up by sunbeams which are called his hands, are converted into the solar rays which are the immediate cause of fire. 96 Here the water becomes fire by deprivation of its fluidity and frigidity, which deprivation is the remote cause of the formation of fire and its qualities of dryness and warmth. 97 Fire being absent, there remains the presence of the moon. The absence of the moon presents the presence of fire. 98 Again, the fire being destroyed, the moon takes its place in the same way as the departure of the day introduces the night.

99 Now in the interval between day and night, between daylight and darkness, and in the middle of shade and light, there is a middle point and a certain truth which eludes even the learned. 100 That point is neither nothingness nor an empty emptiness. Nor is it a positive entity. It is the real pivot and connecting link between both sides. It never changes its central place between both extremes of this and that or the two states of being and not being. 101 All things exist in the universe because of the two opposite principles of the intelligent soul and inert matter, just like the two opposites of light and darkness bring on day and night in regular succession.

102 The world began with the union of mind and matter, or the mover and the moved, just like the body of the moon was formed by a mixture of water and nectar particles in the air. 103 Rama, know that sunbeams are made of fiery particles, sunlight is the brightness of the intellect, and the body of the moon is only a mass of dull darkness. 104 The sight of the outer sun in the sky destroys the spreading darkness of night, but the appearance of intellectual light dispels the spreading gloom of the world from the mind.

105 If you see your intellect in the form of the cooling moon, it becomes as dull and cold as that satellite itself. If you look at a lotus at night, you will not find it blooming as it does in the sunshine. 106 Fire in the form of sunlight brightens the moon in the same way as the light of the intellect illuminates the inner body. Our consciousness is like the moonlight of the inner soul. Our consciousness is the product of the sunbeams of our intellect.

107 Consciousness has no action. It is without attribute or name. It is like light on the lamp of the soul and it is known like any common light from the lantern. 108 The eagerness of this consciousness after the knowledge of phenomena makes it aware of the world of the senses. Its thirst after the unintelligible one brings the precious gain of its oneness (kaivalya) with the self same one.

109 The two powers of fire and moon (agni-soma) are united with one another in the form of the body and its soul. The scriptures describe their union as the contact of light with a lighted room, or the reflection of sunshine on a wall. 110 They are also known separately in different bodies and at different times. Bodies addicted to dullness are said to be moved by the lunar influence, and persons advancing in their spirituality are said to be led on by force of solar power.

111 The rising breath (prana), by its nature hot and warm, is said to be agni or fiery. The setting breath of apana, cold and slow, is termed the soma or lunar. They abide as light and shade in everybody, the one rising upward and passing through the mouth and the other going down by the anus. 112 The downward breath (apana) being cooled gives rise to the fiery hot breath of prana, which remains in the body like the reflection of something in a mirror.

113 The light of the intellect produces the brightness of consciousness, and sunbeams reflect themselves as lunar orbs in the dew drops on lotus leaves at early dawn. 114 In the beginning of creation, there was a certain consciousness. Its thought of the properties of heat and cold, agni and soma, came to be combined to form the human body and mind.

115 Rama, strive to settle yourself at that position twelve inches outside the mouth where the sun and moon of the body (prana and apana) meet in conjunction. 116 Remain in that place where the moon has merged with the sun in the heart-space. 117 The sun of pure consciousness is said to be of the form of agni or heat, and the moon has the form of cold. Stay firm in the realization that the moon is the reflection of the sun (prana and apana). 118 Know, O sinless one, that the transit and concurrence of agni and moon take place in the body. The other transits and combinations that occur outside in time are worthless.

119 O Rama, you shall shine among the wise if you can appreciate and know and feel that the external transits and combinations like uttarayana and dakshinayana occur inside the body (by the movements of vital energies). Otherwise, you cannot shine.