Sep 24, 2014

Sutra 1.23. Ishvarapranidhana and Chakra System

In the previous article I have outlined my idea of ishvarapranidhana conceptually. Now I will try to consider this issue from a more “practical” point, from the perspective of how to form this state proper and what are the elements it consists of. The methods of my review shall be based upon the concept of the man chakra system. And in order to avoid any misunderstandings which may arise in the process of reading the article I shall make a few remarks.

1. Of course Patanjali does not mention chakras expressly, especially in the context of ishvarapranidhana. The question of when and how this concept appeared in Yoga deserves a separate article that I hope to write. But in any case it does not prevent me from using this methodology since this is the very point of the commenting-on genre – to make the commented subject more clear and applicative while being guided by some more complex systems of signs. Besides, I treat chakras as objective elements of mental reality; therefore it is simply not possible to ignore them while giving any descriptions of psychic experiences.
2. Those readers who practice Yoga in our School know the ropes in the chakra system subject quite well. As for the rest, I must say that unfortunately there are lots and lots of profanations, schizoteric and religiously-pseudoyogic mystifications in this field that might need a separate blog to review critically. That’s why in order that we speak one and the same language I refer them to the excerpts of my book dedicated to this issue.

And we will proceed to direct discussion of the article subject rewording it in the following manner: which chakra experiences come as manifestations and elements of that more general state that Patanjali calls the ishvarapranidhana?

Obviously all Sahasrara states are directly related to the topic under study, but we will omit them due to complexity of this subject and will proceed directly to the second chakra (from the top) that - though rarely – is nevertheless available for analysis.

So, the main function of Ajna is buildup of one’s personal outlook that will come as a source of meaning for every act in one’s life. If this charka is well-developed, this outlook will be complex and internally consistent, describing maximum range of perceived elements of reality and cultural abstractions. If Ajna is not developed the person’s “outlook” will come as fragments of someone else’s opinions, beliefs, mistakes and mindsets that have not been subjected to personal verification and comprehension or, using the words of Kant, have not been put to stand court of pure reason. The inconsistency of such outlook causes psychological problems of the person, his duality in taking decisions and so on. But this is not the subject of the article because it is also a very broad topic that one can consider in the course of Ajna trainings. We speak about ishvarapranidhana.

The basic function and element of the outlook is that it gives a person answers to many questions. One as if “covers” the reality with his answers and descriptions. And it is not the rate of Ajna development that matters much here. Even a semiliterate, slow-witted person has his “point of view” regarding almost every question he is able to reach. Moreover, he is convinced that his ideas are true, even more than a real expert in this field is. “Overconfidence of amateurs is the envy of professionals” ©. Very many of those who have never had even a hundred of people under their command express their “point of view” in political issues, just like those who have this view in macroeconomics though having failed to earn for their personal needs, or in medicine - having no idea about basic anatomy, physiology and biochemistry… Of course such fragmented and underdeveloped “worldview” could be put at a stand by showing the person’s blunders, inner contradictions and incompliance with experiments. But in order to see them one should already master some basic methods of reasoning and cognition, and what is more important – should be ready to change one’s point of view under the influence of facts and evidence. The history shows that most people are not ready to. Otherwise there would be neither religions nor household scandals, neither political struggles nor the whole rest of the things that plague our life out. The most interesting thing is that these are also intelligent people who just like those with underdeveloped outlook may either be willing to develop their worldview further or remain stiff in their current opinions and answers. The feeling of “KNOWING” for many people is much more pleasant than that of “LEARNING”. Every piece of knowledge, however, is always limited and the reality shall by no means bump one against the facts that are out of tune with the theory. In order to notice them one should just look without turning the head away. As House M.D. had it, “A real scientist searches for the facts that disprove his theory”. Unlike a common man who is looking for facts that support his opinions and takes his best effort in order not to see the rest. Always feeling the limits of one’s knowledge, one’s discourse, being at any moment ready to start reconsidering one’s theories taking into account new circumstances, being open to the unknown – this is the ishvarapranidhana in the scope of one’s Ajna.

As we remember, Vishuddha is the chakra of speech, artistic activity, creation of new forms. Ask yourself a question: what is the difference between a talented artist, composer, a brilliant wit - and a common person. It is that when observing a “normal”, “ordinary” world he notices there something that the majority would simply never pay attention to. And having noticed it the creator makes it so distinct that it becomes noticeable to the rest of people. And then, at the exhibition of a well-known photographer people would ask: “where was it pictured? In the city of ours… Really? We have never thought it is so nice here…” The capability of a person with well-developed Vishuddha to notice the elements of harmony and beauty of the world – this is the ishvarapranidhana on Vishuddha. It is opposed to the state of perceiving the world as uniform and monotonous… In its nature Vishuddha comes prior to Ajna. Things perceived as beautiful can be understood by means of Ajna much later. Pythagoras discovered the laws of harmonious sound of the string two and a half thousand years ago having actually laid the foundation of music while the equations of the string that explained why these laws were exactly like this were solved only 300 years ago. This is the difference between Vishuddha and Ajna.

Anahata is the chakra of feelings. Yet why do people fall in love, have other feelings? The answer to this question is not that complicated if we look at the results. When affected by feelings, a person does the things that he would never do when in his normal state. Admiration makes you learn things that are not necessary for survival, love – get along with someone who differs from you so much that it would be easier to survive on one’s own, makes learn the inner world of another person. Kindness motivates to forgive the caused damage that seems impossible to compensate, etc. Any feeling on Anahata “takes” a person beyond his boundaries, and this is a great paradox that was noticed by many spiritual teachings. In order to cognize the world around one should listen to one’s heart. It is not easy because in our everyday life we use to ignore our real feelings in favour of social roles. A person who has done something for no reason, merely out of kindness, might be suspected of foolishness, even by himself (“why the hell have I done it?”), the one inspired is considered insane, the one benevolent may be treated as self-interested… No other chakra is exploited in such a merciless way. Feelings are much talked about, but they prefer to have them as rare as possible [1]…. In general, the ishvarapranidhana on Anahata is the ability to open to one’ own feelings.

Manipura is the chakra which spirituality is sometimes difficult to accept, since this is a “hard” chakra. But let us remember Bhagavad Gita. It was in the course of manipuric situation that Arjuna comprehended Yoga. Let us remember Chinese and Japanese martial arts… The Miyamoto Musashi who attained enlightenment while having a single combat. Let us remember - and continue searching…

Sometimes when a person just starts developing Manipura he might get the feeling that Manipura is the aggressiveness. Or the dominance rank. Or the ability to put pressure on people, to “ram” one’s interests. The person pushes through his interests in a way that after a while he accumulates swarm of claims and blames. And oddly enough Manipura “goes smash”. Because the actual core point of Manipura is different. It was yet Sun Tzu who used to say in the Art of War that “the true object of war is peace”. That is, nobody (sane enough) will conflict for the sake of pure conflict. The conflict is launched in order to establish new ‘peaceful’ relationships with resources distributed in a new different mode. No one exerts pressure on a man for no special reason. We put pressure because we want to obtain something from the man or because we want him to do something. But when possible – and this is the basic principle of diplomacy – if any problem can be solved without war, it is better to solve it without war. The guns of Louis XIV bore the inscription “Ultima ratio regum” on them stating they were “The last argument of kings”. The last! That is, you should be ready for it. But it is better to do without it. And now, this is the core point of the situation, or better say, the core point of Manipura. The true point of Manipura is neither ramming nor satisfying one’s interests. The idea of satisfying one’s interests itself is quite absurd from the point that the interests of the man are rather finite. That is, they are limited by 70 years of his life. You understand? And what comes then? What are the interests of the man? Not to be eaten by worms that much, or what? That is, on global scale all these interests are illusory. While the development of the system as a whole is topical. And in this sense the key point of Manipura is streamlining and regulation. Not a conflict but regulation; finding new, improved structural bonds. Mind here that every time after wars ended and peace came, the world turned yet more complicated. After the First World War the new organization, the “League of Nations”, was launched, with all respective consequences. After the Second World War there came the United Nations, the World Trade Organization and so on. There appeared yet more complex structures. In case no structures emerged the war would continue. And now, the establishment of these new organizations is the essence of Manipura. That is, the essence of dominance is not to press someone down. “The courage to rage and kill is cheap” [2]; if you’ve pressed someone down, he will take vengeance on you. The basic point of dominance, of leadership is different. The essence of leadership is that when having a leader people live better than they used to live without him. Then the leader will be able to manage people as long as he wants to.

There is a very important rule about Manipura that is grounded on this meditation on long-term prospects. Manipura starts from thinking about “what am I ready to die for?” And if a person in the last analysis is not ready to die for anything his Manipura cannot be strong, this person can anyhow be finally pressed down. Because some inner primordial stem is missing. And if he has something that in this case is very important for him? It is this very state of “very important for him” that means going out to some more global system for which sake the things are done and that is not limited by the duration of human life. And the more global the system that a person works for is, the stronger will be the feeling on his Manipura. This is the ishvarapranidhana on Manipura.

Svadhisthana and ishvara? Comprehension of God and sexuality? The majority of people who have been raised within a post-Christian paradigm where body and sex are evil might feel uneasy when merely seeing these two words together (although I have already kicked up a row by having enclosed the article with such a photo J)… But in India things are not better. They have been also overwhelmed with the wave of puritanism (not without the help of their western “friends”, of course), so that the guides in Khadjurakho dream up crazy “excusatory” explanations of how it happened that the temples are covered with images of erotic scenes. However while telling these decent stories (for instance, that a believer used to come to the temple and in case he understood that having seen the images he became aroused he would not go to the temple and return home) they eye hungrily and lasciviously. But there’s nothing you can do about it – puritanism and sexual concern have always come as two sides of the coin… Still it is a fact that many schools of Yoga and even Tantra, been overwhelmed with religiosity, consider Svadhisthana to be a chakra that one should better get rid of than develop. And the result is – see above. Though they’d better not. After all, if you look closely you will see that it is Svadhisthana that comes as the first cognitive chakra. Why is a child (or a baby animal) able to master some skills so quickly? Because he learns them while playing. And as soon as this playing is substituted by some serious activity it becomes tedious and inefficient from the point of learning. But playfulness is just one of Svadhisthana’s manifestations (petals). There is also sexuality – the one that makes us interact with other people, and gusto that makes us relish the things, takes us deeper into sensing and experiencing, and other petals… In his search for Svadhisthana experiences – be it sex, delicious food or surfing – the man masters the main reality that is available to him – his own body. Learning ishvara starts from learning prakriti that is impossible without total acceptance of one’s materiality and corporeality. In my opinion this is the fundamental nature of such cluster of doctrines as Tantra. Besides, Svadhisthana as the chakra of the body also comes as a bridge that goes beyond the limits of one’s physicality, for this is the first transpersonal chakra. There’s no better place for a man to forget himself and his ego than a bright sexual experience. To feel the body of the partner just like that of one’s own, to learn about existence of energy and subtle invisible links between people on the example of the context. It is not for nothing that in Ancient India one of the epithets that Kama, the God of Love, had was Mara – the killer. Greeks used to say that orgasm is a little death. And death is the occasion for a new birth…

If to speak generally and without delving further, the ishavara in terms of Svadhisthana is the willingness to totally learn one’s corporeality, resign oneself to one’s desires and sensual experiences.


Although I have written that the first transpersonal chakra is Svadhisthana, there is at least one transpersonal experience that is referred to Muladhara – the feeling of one’s kinship, the ancestors and descendants; the desire to have posterity, the feeling of continuity of life. The fulfillment of this once again takes one beyond the limits of one’s self. And this is the ishvarapranidhana in the context of Muladhara.

[1] Please refer to my books in order to learn the difference between feelings on Anahata and the states of breached Anahata, the types of grudge and jealousy.

[2] G. B. Shaw. Arms and the Man.

No comments:

Post a Comment