Connection Of The Zodiac With Vital Centers
( Originally Published 1908 )
YOU are now prepared to appreciate the significance of the statement that the constellations of the Zodiac severally reflect every stage of the involution of the Spirit into mat-ter and its evolution out of it. Every zodiacal sign is the geometrical symbol of a great truth and fundamental law of existence; for it corresponds with successive stages in racial development through its connection with some physical center and the abstract principle which that center influences.
The internal man is formed in the image of the whole Kosmos, and the germ of correspondence with every principle, from the lowest to the highest, is in every human being. All aspiration and striving for excellence, all recognition of the value of the best, even on the material plane, and dissatisfaction with anything short of that best, is the struggle of these potentialities for recognition and for opportunity to develop. God's plan of perfection for the race can never be thwarted no matter how blindly we go astray. If we would shorten the period of our probation and trial, we must recognize the Truth of Being, and work with the law of constant unfoldment and developing improvement. There is a divine discontent that spurs us onward and upward, but far from being incompatible with poise and confidence and trust it is furthered by these; and it is wide as the poles asunder from fret and worry and anxiety.
Our problem is to adjust the outer man, the physical self, to harmonious relations with his inner spiritual self ; for this is the only path to the over-coming of temptations, folly, and disease,— all the evils in short which purely physical or material living generates. The right use of the power of thought is the medium of adjustment, and we choose for ourselves what use shall be made of it. When an evil thought enters the mind promptly, replace it with a good one. This is much better than to engage in a struggle to resist evil. It is the quickest method of shunting the mind to an-other track and of shutting the door between you and temptation, if the evil be of that nature. And at the same time it strengthens the mind to admit only the good, and trains desire to long for it and choose it. You thus cultivate receptivity to the highest, the best, and the purest; and are constantly refining and harmonizing the vibrations in every sphere of your being.
I wish to impress upon every reader the overwhelming importance of realizing individual responsibility for the perfection of the physical body,— the soul's medium of expression. It is in our power to steadily improve and purify these bodies of ours through the renewing materials we supply them. It is a significant sign of the times that Congress has at last passed a Pure Food bill. For years, highly protected interests have defeated all efforts to obtain legislation for this protection of the people, but a few stout hearts have kept up the fight till they roused such force of public opinion to support them that legislators no longer dared defy completely the will of the people. But pure foods and drinks are not enough. The world at large needs to recognize that pure air and pure thoughts as well. as pure environment — the people and things forming our associations and moulding our tastes — are even more important than what we shall eat and drink.
To make these physical tenements receptive to the subtle vibrations of higher planes of activity — that is higher human development -- we cannot be too careful concerning the materials in all these varied forms which they are constantly assimilating. Let not a day pass that you do not aspire for the highest and best things in the mental and the spiritual life,— for more Light on the Path," and for steadfastness of purpose in pursuing it; remembering always that the Path is within! in your choice of every thought and act.
The parts of the body through which the higher Principles operate lie in juxtaposition to the spine or are immediately connected therewith, and herein lies the supreme importance of the special exercises in Concentration by means of which we gain the power to rouse the Kundalini, and raise the la-tent, " coiled-up " energy through the Sushumnâ; the opening of which even a little way marks a distinct advance in spiritual and mental power, and in the overcoming of the physical.
Along the line of the Sushumna are ranged the seven padmas, or " lotuses" of the Yogi, stations, as it were, in the path of progress from the physical to the spiritual, which correspond with the principal nerve-plexuses from the basic, or sacral, to the pineal gland. In the head are seven "Master Chakras" which are said to govern and rule these nerve-plexuses in the body. Exactly in the proportion that the Kundalini is raised in the Sushumna the power of the current increases; for it stimulates every plexus as it passes through it, and also gathers to itself a tremendous increase from the essence or energy of the successive plexuses.
This force of supernormally pure and subtle vibrations reacts upon the whole nervous system, vastly increasing the power (through refining the vibrations) of every ganglion and strengthening and stimulating the zodiacal centers of the higher Principles. In this practice for Concentration, deep, slow rhythmic breathing should be so established that it will take care of itself. A mental image should be formed of the upward flow of the vital current. You must endeavor to both feel and see it rising in the Sushumnâ in obedience to your command, and gaining force as it ascends.
Leo, the zodiacal house of the sun, corresponds with and is the influence which develops life,— the vital force which we know as Prâna. But the form which that life-principle shall mould depends upon the character of our thoughts. The thought-principle, as you have learned, develops under the influence of Sagittarius. In the circle of the Zodiac, Sagittarius is on the same plane with Leo (life), but it is its opposite and complement, marking the immense evolution from mere animal life to the development of conscious mentality ; and it stands, as explained in the last chapter, at the parting of the ways. If brought under a soul-governed Will, it leads the life, through the development of individuality to the upward arc of evolution, the divine quarternary,— to the release of the soul from its physical chains forged by sense-perceptions.
Individuality has its physical seat in the spine back of the heart, and is under the influence of Capricornus, always recognized as possessing a mysterious organizing power. Capricornus is on the boundary line of the manifested, or visible universe. On this gross plane of the physical man the constellation rules the knees. When you say of a man, " He is weak-kneed," you are unconsciously recognizing his lack of development in the Occult center of Capricornus, where, as individuality in-creases, courage keeps pace with it in the high council-chamber of the heart.
The correspondence of Leo with the body is through the solar plexus and the heart. The solar plexus (also called epigastric plexus) is to the nervous system what the heart is to the vascular system; therefore, it claims pre-eminence as the most vital center in the body. It is the largest of the great. sympathetic plexuses, and is situated in the upper part of the abdomen, back of the stomach and in front of the aorta. Its dominating influence has won for it the titles of " abdominal brain and king brain." In this life-center, the three Tatt-vas which predominate in our terrestrial lives mingle most closely, and exercise the one upon the other that restraint which secures their harmonious co-operation in physical activities. Prithivi here unites with Tejas, and both come under the tempering; welding influence of Âpas, resolving them into a higher power. Remember the solvent and contracting properties of Apas. These act with beneficent restraint upon the two others; therefore, concentration upon the solar plexus has an immediate effect in calming and purifying the nerves and restoring the equilibrium. It is the most important center upon which to concentrate for relief from any disturbance of the digestive function, whether gastric or intestinal.
Next above Capricornus in the circle of the Zodiac, is the zodiacal influence of the soul, Aquarius. The physical correspondence of this constellation is with that part of the spinal cord situated between the shoulders. Reference has already been made to the mystic relations between Apas (water) and the soul, and this makes still clearer the bond between the two. Soul is that Principle in all things which relates the visible to the invisible; and in humanity it is the real, immortal Self,— the garment of the Spirit. It is that principle of universal love which makes the whole world kin. All self-sacrifice and self-forgetfulness in devotion to high principle is a manifestation of the soul. Only by such exercise does the soul come into conscious government of its own individual kingdom,— a conquest which must precede all realization of its oneness with infinite life and with power.
You must now have learned past forgetting that' our bodies are the fields of marvellously subtle activities which, by reflection and transmutation from one plane to another lower one, are gradually precipitated into the visible form that constitutes the physical self. But never is there any separation. These activities are wheels within wheels; spheres within spheres. Also, you know that these Tattvic vibrations can be evil as well as beneficent; and that thought is the dynamic power which controls the vibrations, and can make them whatever you choose!
The relations of mind and body as you must certainly recognize by this time, are so intimate that the control of one is indispensable for the control of the other; for the mind really moulds the body from moment to moment through the instant effect of its every emotion upon the vibratory currents active therein, which are beneficent or evil according to the direction given them by habitual thoughts.
When you are told that the speed of the spirillć within the atoms is " several hundred trillion " vibrations per second, the fact may help you to understand why intense emotion thrills the body so instantaneously and is capable of killing or curing according to its nature.
The ordinary everyday life which is absorbed with purely utilitarian occupations,— the life which is allowed to drift, and honestly believes it has no time to think purposefully,— wastes an in-calculable force daily and hourly in ungoverned thinking and idle talking, and is fortunate when it does not suffer physical weakness and discord as direct and speedy consequence. Many headaches, attacks of indigestion, and even colds (following mental depression) have no other origin than talk which, waxing into controversy, develops irritation, heated excitement and unhappiness.
You are now at a stage in this study of Self and its forces where you can readily understand that exercises in Concentration should always conclude with concentration upon the higher centers, and with an upward direction of currents, as these are psychical and spiritual, while downward-flowing currents are physical.
Never allow the body to become tense and strained during concentration ; and avoid gazing fixedly at any object as a help in centering the mind. The practice (frequently commended) strains and injures the optic nerves, impairing their power of focal adjustment. As directed in an early chapter, it is much better to close the eyes when concentrating; and when the immediate purpose of the exercise is to restore physical harmony, confine consciousness — the inward gaze — as far as possible unwaveringly to the chosen center.
I think it must be clearly understood now that these exercises in Concentration are not to be considered from a purely utilitarian standpoint, the gain in physical well-being. No; the reward is far greater than that. It is a development, a remoulding on a higher plane, of the whole character strengthening and giving firmness to every good quality, and disclosing talents and abilities before unsuspected. Harmony and serenity become the habitual mental state, and a source of unvarying courage and confidence in every perplexity and emergency. Thus we are moulding the Self to loftier purpose, to greater usefulness, to activities subliminal as well as conscious that affect for great good ourselves and all who come within our environment.