Circulation Of Prana In Our Bodies
( Originally Published 1908 )
THE preceding study of our life-forces has taught the reader what that atmosphere of psychic ether is in which, as even modern science has at last recognized, we dwell. We are now to study the circulation of this ether — the terrestrial Prâna — as it enters the body and passes from one vital center to another, working with such marvelous intelligence and system that its component corpuscles and " ions " may well be said to be endowed with thought.
The philosophy of the Tattvic Law of the Uni-verse is beautiful in its simplicity when fully understood, and the student grasps the subtle relations of cause and effect and holds in his mind's eye a soul-uplifting picture of the whole Kosmos. But this cannot be gained without personal effort, for the law presents at the outset some facts so opposed to the accepted order of things that it seems impossible to explain the theory in words so convincingly simple as to be comprehended by all readers. It is the truth of being which the Tattvic Law discloses, but to understand these truths and reap the full benefit of the knowledge, you must weigh them with unprejudiced minds.
Think for a moment how profoundly the authority of the senses must have been shaken when the first microscope revealed to man the heretofore invisible world in touch with him everywhere, teeming with undreamed-of activities, governed by the same laws as the visible realm, and similar but infinitely finer forces than those he already knew and had weighed and classified! When the microscope opened the first gate into the invisible kingdom which surrounds us, it disclosed also the short-comings, or limitations, of the physical senses; and, with many other marvelous instruments since invented which penetrate and weigh and measure the unseen, the experience should warn us never to deny any new thing because our senses have hitherto failed to cognize it.
Then, too, when difficulties present themselves, it is defrauding self to seek outside help before trying to solve them by real thinking — such mental exercise as will make the brain more pliable and receptive. You can draw no knowledge from any printed book, from written word whatsoever, unless with receptive mind you think the matter over and make it your own. Much study and the reading of many books become a delusion and a snare unless time for thought be given and the mind assimilates and digests the facts. Only thus can we invite winged thoughts of inspiration, and encourage the development of the Higher Self.
Moreover, if you would reap full advantage from the study, a state of mind in sympathy with the subject and matter under discussion is absolutely necessary. Antipathy and antagonism, the spirit of denial, close the receptive channels be-cause blinding judgment and obscuring the intellect. An intense desire for knowledge of a particular kind — especially for Light on the Path — opens the way and attracts the vibrations that lead you almost unerringly to your goal.
Unfortunately, most people face a novel proposition with all the antagonism of previously accepted theories arrayed against it. But you must now cast any prejudices you may have behind you and prepare with inquiring mind to understand the only logical and scientific explanation which has ever been conceived of that most wonderful mechanism, the human body. It is a conception which makes natural — brings into the realm of reality — what has heretofore been considered supernatural, when not dismissed contemptuously as " mere superstition," and lifts the veil from the mysterious relations which connect the human being with the whole solar system, and make the physical instrument a sensitive harp played upon by myriads of vibrating waves.
Tantrik philosophy studies and analyzes the circulation of Prâna in the human body from the moment that its two currents - positive and negative — establish their northern and southern centers of influence in the embryo; the northern, or positive, focus becoming the brain center; and the southern, or negative, the heart. The interaction of these two currents working from center to center, back and forth in rhythm with the Great Breath of the Universe, guided, directed, and re-strained by the Tattvic vibrations emanating from every center of force in the starry firmament, gradually builds up the marvelous nervous and vascular systems connecting these two centers of life, and ramifying thence throughout the human entity till the living temple is made ready for the in-dwelling soul!
Thus, as related to each other, the nervous system is positive and the blood system. negative; but the diurnal rotation of our earth affects our bodies as it is itself affected, and gives rise to other cur-rents which divide these systems into East and West, or positive and negative halves. The right side of the body corresponds to the East, and is under positive influence; and the left side to the West, and is negatively affected. Then the cor-relative influence of all these currents develops in each center — the brain and the heart — a further division into lower and upper chambers. In the northern center we know the upper, or positive, division as the cerebrum (always recognized in physiology as the dominant part of the brain), and the lower, or negative, as the cerebellum. In the heart, we can identify the auricles as the negative, and the ventricles as the positive divisions. Notice that in both centers the positive divisions are nearest the poles of these centers; thus, the lower chambers of the southern center are positive, and the upper part of the brain; that is, the hemispheres of the cerebrum. Put yourself in imagination within your egg-shaped aura and this will be clear to you.
The eastern and western currents of Prâna make for themselves two main channels called respectively Pingalâ (the positive) and Idâ (Ee-dah — the negative), which run down the length of the spine forming the trunks of the great sympathetic system. The spinal canal is the Sushumnâ, the conjunction of the two currents where the Prâna changes from side to side. There is also a cardiac Sushumnâ midway between the right and left lobes of the heart. To all these conduits of force nerves, arteries, and veins — the Tantrists give the name " Nâdi," and for the sake of its simplicity we will retain it. The three Nâdis above mentioned are the most important in the body being the great reservoirs and conduits of life-force.
Radiating from both the Idâ and the Pingalâ are fifty principal Nâdis, and these branch into hundreds and other hundreds till 10,100 branch-Nâdis are reckoned ; and through the ramification of these into thousands of " twigs," the Nâdis of the third degree become so minute as to be visible only under the microscope ; and the total number is reckoned as 727,210,201 Nâdis. Wherever this vast net work of nerves spreads throughout the body there are blood vessels running side by side proceeding from the Nâdis of the heart.
Thus, you see, the real force of life dwells in the nervous system, which receives the positive solar current of Prâna; while the blood vessels receive through the nerves the negative lunar current. The one, therefore, represents the sun, and the other the moon; but these two phases of life-sustaining matter are merely different conditions or states of the same substance,— Prâna, the solar matter; and its manifestations in the body are an exact expression of the terrestrial Prâna as is that of its solar source.
I shall also use the Tantrik term Chakra — signifying a disc or circle in describing the pairs of sensory and motor nerves branching from the spinal cord. These thirty-one Chakras of the spine are brought into existence by the thirty-one sunrises in a zodiacal sign, and the Tantrists recognize a like number of Chakras in the heart which correspond with the sunsets. Animating and inspiring the " thousand-petalled lotus" of the brain are twelve pair of nerves which correspond with the signs of the Zodiac in their positive phase; and, likewise, from the four-petalled lotus of the heart proceed twelve Nâdis — conduits of blood — which reflect the negative aspects of the zodiacal signs (these can be identified in any good illustration of the heart).
Thus the microcosm mirrors in itself the macrocosm, and every Nâdi and Chakra therein is connected with the greater sphere by invisible lines of a power and influence that human intellect has never yet weighed nor measured. Although there have come down through the ages hints of these mysterious relations which would not be silenced, modern thought has brushéd them aside contemptuously as rank superstition. Ere long all the text-books will have to be re-written.
Mme. Blavatsky says: "The heart is king, the most important organ in the body of man." And she further states that esoterically it is the " seven-leaved lotus . . . the cave of Buddhi, with its seven compartments " and corresponding " brains; " that is, states of spiritual consciousness. The Hindu Trimurti (Trinity) corresponds in the world of matter with Fire (Sun), Water, and Earth; and is symbolized by the Lotus, which, rooted in the earth, grows up through the water to expand in the sun-warmed air into leaf and bud and blossom. A most sacred symbol to the Hindu, this transition from root to sun-kissed lily expressed to him the evolution of the soul through its earthly, physical vehicle to spiritual consciousness. Here, again, we have proof of the aptness of the symbology; for these descriptions of both heart and brain are corroborated by clairvoyant sight, which sees, surrounding both these centers, countless radiations of exquisite opalescent prismatic colors. They circle and return, outlining in very fact the many-petalled sacred lily of. the Orient (For striking illustration of this see Babbitt's Principles of Light and Color. P. 481).
The sympathetic cords — the Pingalâ and the Ida— consist of chains of ganglia which are centers of Tattvic influence,— the Padmas or lotuses of the Tantras. These Tattvic centers are of five sorts, taking the form of the prevalent Tattva. Thus the Prithivi centers are quadrangular; the Apas, semi-lunar; Tejas, triangular; Vâyu, spherical; and Akâsha, circular; and Tattvic permutations form composite. ganglia. It is of interest to record here that five distinct types of cells in the spinal ganglia of our friend, the dog, are known to anatomists, every one of which could probably be identified with the Tattvic force therein manifested. Although the record of the human neurons is incomplete, it has been noticed that the spherical germinal cells, " partly for reasons at present not clear, later assume, in different regions, very different shapes." The signficance of this change of form, however, seems never to have been surmised by the anatomists.
In Standard dictionary, under the word " Perineurium," an interesting illustration can be seen of a cross-section of a nerve. There are five coils of wire-like fibres grouped together in the general sheath. They vary greatly in size, and every coil has its own insulating sheath, pre-serving to every Tattva its inviolate line, though all run over the same wire, or nerve. Presumably, the sizes of the coils vary according to the dominance of the Tattvas.
The Padmas of the sympathetic cord are closely connected with all the thirty-one Chakras of the spine. Those of the Pingalâ are, of course, positively electrified, and they owe allegiance to the brain; and those of the Idâ are negative and owe allegiance to the heart.
The movement of Prâna through the nervous system corresponds with the course of the sun through the signs of the Zodiac and with terrestrial rotation. As the sun passes from one sign to another, the Prâna moves to the corresponding Nâdis of the brain. At sunrise, the rays of this localized Prâna descend every day to the spinal Chakra on the Pingalâ side corresponding with the position of the sun in the zodiacal sign. Thus, every Chakra in turn, day by day, is the microcosmic correspondence with the ecliptical Prâna of the macrocosm; and from it the Prâna streams along the nerves of the right side, gradually entering the arteries and veins.
Always, under normal conditions, Prâna is stronger till noon in the nerve than in the blood Chakras. At mid-day these two great life-distributing systems of the body are equally balanced; and this perfect equilibrium fits the individual for the fullest expression of his physical and mental powers. He is in the enjoyment of the noon-day of his strength. It is most unscientific and a brutal imposition upon the stomach to load it up at this time, when the day's labor is but half-done, with a hearty meal of foods difficult to digest. It is a flagrant waste of both strength and food. Only a light luncheon of easily digested foods should be taken. Especially for all sedentary workers this rule should be made a hard and fast one.
From noon on the blood is the great absorber, and at sunset the solar Prâna has passed entirely into the Nâdis of the blood. The impact of these positive vibrations has beaten upon the Tattvic cords of the various sensuous and active organs until they are weary and have lost the power of sympathetic response to external stimuli. Therefore, the fatigue and lassitude commonly felt as night approaches are perfectly normal, and are Nature's warning signals to halt, the hour for rest has come. When the positive current gains more than ordinary strength, as when will-power flogs an exhausted mind or body to continued effort, the senses are so over-stimulated that they cease to respond to external excitants, and pro-longed abuse causes their breakdown. After sun-down, the heart — the negative southern center — gathers the Prâna to itself, whence it spreads gradually into the left-side Nâdis of the blood, and returns from them into the nerves. At midnight the two systems are again equalized in strength; but at sunrise, the Prâna has passed into the nerves and is ready for the daily circuit, descending to the spinal Chakra succeeding the one through which it streamed the previous day.
The moon, moving twelve times faster than the sun, is the source of minor lunar currents of Prâna that move correspondingly faster than the solar current whose diurnal circuit we have just traced. These movements correspond with the movements of the sun and moon through the zodiacal signs; and their interaction is the immediate cause of the periodical changes of breath. Thus while the sun's rays are reflected in one Chakra, those of the moon pass through twelve odd Chakras; and the lunar current of Prâna streams from the spine to the heart in a fraction less than an hour,— 58 M. 4 s.— and returns in the same time. While it is passing from the spine to the right; that is, from the northern center to the East, the breath flows out of the right nostril and, as the Shivâgama describes it, the right side of the body is the " full side."
When the Prâna enters the cardiac canal, the heart Sushumna, the breath, for a few seconds, is imperceptible in the nostrils. As it leaves the heart from the left — that is, moving to the West — to return to the brain, the breath flows from the left nostril. And thus, hour by hour, or a duration of two and a half Gharis (1 Ghari equals 24 minutes), the solar and lunar currents alternate; and thus they would rotate, " forever and a day," in agreement with the unchanging laws of the universe, but for the disturbing factors of human will and emotions. But the freedom which has wrought so much evil is simply a power misused. It is even more powerful for good.
The periodicity of special wave vibrations which stamps upon every mind its bias, imparting its individuality, is established at the moment of birth by the Prânic current prevalent at the time. But never forget that we have the ability to overcome unfavorable vibrations, and the overcoming develops latent power as nothing else can. Self-conquest is the greatest achievement, and the self-conquest won by the light of the Tattvic Law is a process of uplifting development, a growth of soul-power, not of humiliating self-abasement.