In order for you to understand this the structure of the various subtle bodies must be fully elaborated upon. The individual can be divided into seven bodies. The first body is the physical body which we all know. The second is the etheric body, and the third – which is beyond this second – is the astral body. The fourth – which is beyond this – is the mental or psychic body; and the fifth – which is beyond this again – is the spiritual body. The sixth is beyond the fifth, and it is called the cosmic body. Then the seventh and the last is the nirvana sharir, or the nirvanic body, the bodiless body. A little more information about these seven bodies will make it possible for you to understand the kundalini fully.
1. The Physical Body
In the first seven years of life, the sthul sharir – the physical body alone is formed. The other bodies are in seed form. They have a potential for growth but they lie dormant in the beginning of life. So the first seven years are years of limitation. There is no growth of intellect, emotion or desire during these years. Only the physical body develops within this period. Some people never grow beyond seven years; they stagnate at this stage and are no more than animals. Animals develop only in the physical body; the other bodies remain untouched within them.
2. The Etheric Body
In the next seven years – that is from seven years to fourteen years – the bhawa sharir, the etheric body, develops. These seven years are years of emotional growth of the individual. This is why sexual maturity, which is the most intense form of emotion, is reached at the age of fourteen. Now some people stagnate at this stage. Their physical bodies grow but they are stuck with the first two bodies.
3. The Astral Body
In the third seven-year period, between the ages of fourteen and twenty-one, the sukshma sharir, the astral body, develops. In the second body emotion is developed; in the third body reasoning, thinking and intellect are developed. This is why no court of law holds a child responsible for his actions up to the age of seven, because the child has only the physical body. We treat the child the same way as we would treat an animal; we cannot hold him responsible. Even if a child commits a crime it is assumed that he has committed it under the guidance of someone – that the real criminal is someone else. After the development of the second body a person reaches adulthood. But this is the adulthood of sex. Nature’s work is complete with this development, and this is why nature gives its full cooperation up to this stage. But at this stage man is not man in the full sense of the word. The third body, where reason, intellect and the thinking power develop, is an outcome of education, civilization and culture. This is why the right to vote is granted to a person when he is twenty-one years of age. Though this is prevalent all over the world, some countries are debating whether to allow an eighteen-year-old the right to vote. This is natural, because as man is becoming more and more evolved the usual span of seven years for the growth of each body is becoming less and less. All over the world girls reach puberty at the age of thirteen to fourteen years. Since the last thirty years the age for this is becoming less and less. Even a girl of eleven reaches puberty. The lowering of the voting age to eighteen is an indication that man now completes the work of twenty-one years in eighteen years. Normally, however, twenty-one years are required for the growth of the third body, and the majority of people do not develop further than this. Their growth stops short with the development of the third body, and there is no further development for the rest of their lives.
4. The Mental Body
What I call the psyche is the fourth body – the manas sharir. This body has its own wonderful experiences. Now a person whose intellect is not developed may not be able to take interest in or enjoy mathematics, for instance. Mathematics has its own charm, and only Einstein can be absorbed in it as a musician is in music or a painter is in colors. For Einstein mathematics was not work but play, but the intellect must reach this peak of development in order to turn mathematics into play. With each body that develops infinite possibilities open before us. One whose etheric body does not develop, who stagnates after the first seven years of development, does not have any interest in life beyond eating and drinking. So the cultures of those civilizations where the majority of people have developed only up to the first body revolve entirely around their taste buds. The civilization where the majority of people have got stuck at the second body will be sex centered. Their personalities, their literature, their music, their films and books, their poetry and paintings, even their houses and vehicles, will all be sex centered: all these things will be completely filled with sex, with sexuality. In the civilization in which the third body develops fully, people will be intellectual and contemplative. Whenever the development of the third body becomes very important in a society or in a nation, many intellectual revolutions take place. In Bihar, the majority of people were of this caliber at the time of Buddha and Mahavira. This is why eight persons of the stature of Buddha and Mahavira were born in the small province of Bihar. Besides, there were thousands of others at the time who were endowed with genius. Such was the condition of Greece at the time of Socrates and Plato; such also was the condition of China at the time of Lao Tzu and Confucius. What is even more wonderful to note is the fact that all these luminous beings existed within a period of five hundred years. Within those five hundred years the development of the third body in man reached its peak. Generally man halts at the third body. The majority of people do not develop after twenty-one years. There are unusual experiences of the fourth body. Hypnotism, telepathy, clairvoyance, are all the potential of the fourth body. Persons can have contact with one another without hindrances from time or place; they can read the thoughts of another without asking or project thoughts into another. Without any external help one can instill a seed of thought into another. A person can travel outside of his body; he can do astral projection and know himself apart from the physical body. There are great possibilities in the fourth body, but we do not normally develop this body as there are many hazards as well as much deception. As things begin to get more and more subtle, the possibilities of deception increase. Now it is difficult to find out whether a man has actually stepped out of his body or not. He can dream that he stepped out of his body and he can actually do so too, and in both the cases there is no other witness than himself. So there is every possibility of deception. The world that starts from the fourth body is subjective, whereas the world before that is objective. If I have a rupee in my hand, I can see it, you can see it, fifty others can also see it. This is a common reality in which we can all take part, and it can be investigated whether the rupee is or is not. But in the realm of my thoughts you cannot be a partner, nor can I be a partner in the realm of your thoughts. From here the personal world begins with all its hazards; none of our external rules of validity can be used here. So the real world of deception starts from the fourth body. All the deceptions of the preceding three can be seen through. The greatest danger is that it is not necessarily the case that the deceiver is aware of the fact that he is deceiving. He can deceive unknowingly – himself as well as others. Things are so subtle, so rare and personal on this plane, that one has no means to test the validity of his experiences. So he cannot tell whether he is imagining things or whether they are really happening to him. So we have always tried to save humanity from this fourth body, and those who made use of this body were always condemned and slandered. Hundreds of women were branded as witches and burnt in Europe because they used the faculties of the fourth body. Hundreds who practiced tantra were killed in India because of the fourth body. They knew some secrets that seemed dangerous to human beings. They knew what was taking place in your mind; they knew where things were placed in your house without ever having stepped into it. So the realm of the fourth body was looked upon as “black” art all over the world, as one never knew what might happen. We have always tried our best to stop progress from going any further than the third body, because the fourth has always seemed very dangerous….The experiences of the kundalini on the fourth body can be psychic, but that does not make them false. There are authentic psychic states and false psychic states. When I say that kundalini could be only a mental experience, it does not necessarily mean that it is a false experience. Mental experiences can be false as well as authentic. You see a dream at night. Now this dream is a fact because it has happened. But on waking in the morning you might recollect some dream that you did not actually dream; yet you can insist that that is what you dreamed. Then this is false. A man might get up in the morning and say he never dreams. Many people believe they do not dream. They do dream: all night long they dream, and this has been proved scientifically. But in the morning they assert they never dreamed. So what they say is absolutely false, though they are not aware of it. In fact, they do not remember the dreams. Quite the opposite also takes place: you remember dreams you never dreamed. This will also be false. Dreams are not false; they have their own reality. But dreams can be real as well as unreal. Real dreams are those which have been actually dreamed. The trouble also is that you cannot narrate your dream precisely upon waking. For this reason, in the old days any man who could narrate his dream clearly and precisely was held in high esteem. It is very, very difficult to report a dream correctly. The sequence of the dream is one thing when you dream it and just the opposite when you remember it. It is like a film. When we see a film the story unwinds from the beginning of the film. Similarly, the reel of the dream drama winds in one direction in sleep and begins to unwind in the opposite direction in the waking state, so we remember the last part of the dream first and go backwards in recollection. What we dreamed first becomes last in recollection. This would be just like someone who tries to read a book from the wrong end; the reversed words would cause just such a chaos. So to remember a dream and give a true representation of it is a great art. Generally, when we recall a dream we recollect happenings we never dreamed of. We drop a good portion of the actual dream and later most of the rest. Dreams are a happening of the fourth body, and the fourth body has a great potential. Whatever siddhis are mentioned in yoga are attained in this body. Yoga has incessantly warned the meditator not to go into them. The greatest danger is there of going astray. Even if you go into a psychic state it has no spiritual value. So when I said that the kundalini is psychic, what I meant was that it is actually a happening of the fourth body. This is why physiologists cannot discover the kundalini within the human body. So it is only natural that they deny the existence of kundalini and the chakras and call them imaginary. They are the happenings of the fourth body. The fourth body exists, but it is very subtle; it cannot come within our grasp. Only the physical body can be grasped. Yet there are corresponding points between the first body and the fourth body. If we were to place seven sheets of paper one on top of the other, prick a hole through them with a pin so that all the papers are pierced, then even if the hole disappears from the first sheet it will still carry a mark that corresponds to the holes in the rest of the sheets. Then although the first paper does not have the hole, it has the point which will correspond directly with the pinholes on the other sheets when it is placed upon them. So chakras, kundalini, etcetera, do not belong to the first body as such, but there are corresponding points in the first body. So a physiologist is not wrong if he denies them. The chakras and the kundalini are in other bodies, but points corresponding to them can be found on the physical body. So kundalini is the happening of the fourth body and it is psychic. And when I say that this psychic happening is of two kinds – one true and one false – then you will understand what I mean. It will be false when it is a product of your imagination, because imagination is also a characteristic of the fourth body. Animals do not have the power of imagination, so they have very little memory of the past and no idea of future. Animals are free from anxiety as anxiety is always of the future. Animals see many deaths taking place, but they never imagine that they can die also; therefore, they have no fear of death. Among men also there are many who are not bothered by the fear of death. Such a man always associates death with others and not with himself. The reason is that the power of imagination in the fourth body has not developed fully enough to see into the future. This means that imagination can also be true or false. True imagination means that we are capable of seeing further ahead, that we can visualize that which has not yet come to pass. But to imagine that something will happen that cannot be, which does not exist, is false imagination. When imagination is used in its right perspective it becomes science; science is primarily only imagination.
…If I say that science is imagination and madness is also imagination, don’t think they are one and the same thing. A madman imagines things which do not exist and which have no relationship with the physical world. The scientist also imagines: he imagines things which are directly related with the physical world. And if it does not seem so at first there is a complete possibility of their being so in the future. Among the possibilities of the fourth body there is always a chance of going wrong. Then the false world begins. This is why it is best if we do not harbor any expectations before entering this body. This fourth body is the psychic body. Now, for instance, if I want to go down to the ground floor of this house I will have to look for a lift or a staircase in order to do so. But if I want to go down in my thoughts there is no need for a lift or a staircase. I can sit right here and go down. The hazard of imagination and thoughts is that one has to do nothing except imagine or think, and so anyone can do it. Moreover, if anyone enters this realm with preconceived ideas and expectations, then he immediately goes down only into these, because then the mind will be only too willing to cooperate. It will say, “You want to awaken the kundalini? All right! It is rising… it has risen.” Then you will begin to imagine kundalini rising, and the mind will encourage you in this false feeling until ultimately you will feel that it is fully awakened and that the chakras are fully activated. But there is a way of testing the validity of it, and that is that with the opening of each chakra there will be a distinct change in your personality. This change you cannot imagine or preconceive, because this change takes place in the world of matter. So, for instance, when the kundalini awakens you cannot take intoxicants; it is impossible. The mental body gets influenced by alcohol very quickly as it is very delicate. This is why – and you will be surprised to know this – when a woman consumes alcohol she becomes more dangerous than a man who does so. This is because her mental body is even more delicate, and it gets affected so quickly that things get out of her control. This is why women have protected themselves from this hazard by certain rules in society. This is one place where women did not seek equality with men, although unfortunately of late she is trying to. The day she asserts her equality in this area and tries to outdo men in it she will cause such harm to herself as has never been caused by any action by men. In the fourth body the awakening of the kundalini cannot be proved by your telling about the experience, because, as I said before, you can falsely imagine the awakening and experiencing of the kundalini also. It can only be judged by your physical traits: whether any radical transformation has taken place in your personality. No sooner does the energy awaken than there will be immediate signs of change in you. This is why I always say that behavior is the outer criterion and not the inner cause. It is a criterion of what has happened within. With each attempt some things inevitably begin to happen. When the energy awakens it becomes impossible for the meditator to take any intoxicants. If he does indulge in drugs and alcohol, then know that his experiences are all imaginary, because it is absolutely impossible. After the awakening of the kundalini the tendency for violence disappears completely. Not only does the meditator not commit violence, but he has no feeling of violence within himself. The urge to commit violence, the urge to harm others, can only exist when the vital energy is dormant. The moment it awakens the other ceases to be the other and so you cannot wish to harm him. Then you will not have to repress violence within yourself because then you cannot be violent. If you find that you have to repress the feeling of violence, then know that the kundalini has not awakened. If after the eyes open you still feel your way about with a stick, then know that the eyes cannot see yet, no matter how much you claim otherwise – because you have not yet given up your stick. Whether an outsider can find out whether you can see or not is dependent your actions. Your stick, your stumblings and your unstable walk prove that the eyes have not yet opened. So there will be a radical change in your behavior with the awakening, and all the religious vows like those of the mahavrata – nonviolence, not stealing, nonpossession, celibacy and full awareness – will become natural and easy for you. Then know that your experience is authentic. It is psychic, however, but authentic all the same. Now you can proceed further. You can proceed ahead if your path is authentic, but not otherwise. You cannot stay forever in the fourth body because it is not the goal. There are yet other bodies that have to be crossed.
5. The Spiritual Body
The atma sharir – the fifth body, which is called the spiritual body – is of great value. If growth in life continues in the proper manner, then by the age of thirty-five this body should be fully developed. But this is a faraway idea because even the fourth body is only developed in a very few people. This is why the soul and such things are only a topic of discussion for us; there is no content behind the word. When we say atman, it is merely a word; there is nothing behind it. When we say wall, there is not only the word but also the substance behind the word; we know what “wall” means. But there is no meaning behind the word atman, because we have no knowledge, no experience of the atman. This is our fifth body, and only if the kundalini awakens in the fourth body is entrance possible in the fifth; otherwise we cannot enter. We are not aware of the fourth body so the fifth also remains unknown. Very few people have discovered the fifth body; they are those whom we call spiritualists. These people take this to be the journey’s end and declare, “To attain the atman is to attain all.” But the journey is not yet over. However, these people who stop at the fifth body deny God. They say, “There is no brahman; there is no Paraatman,” just as he who stagnates on the first body would deny the existence of the atman. Just as the materialist says, “The body is everything; when the body dies, everything dies,” so the spiritualist declares, “There is nothing beyond the atman: the atman is everything; it is the highest state of being.” But this is only the fifth body.
6. The Cosmic Body
The sixth body is the brahma sharir – the cosmic body. When a person evolves beyond his atman, when he is willing to lose it, he enters the sixth body. If mankind develops scientifically the natural development of the sixth body would take place at the age of forty-two, and that of the nirvana sharir – the seventh body – at the age of forty-nine. The seventh body is the nirvanic body which is no-body – which is a state of bodilessness, an incorporeal state. This is the ultimate state where only the void remains – not even the brahman, the cosmic reality, but only the emptiness. Nothing has remained; everything has disappeared. So when anyone asked Buddha, “What happens there?” he replied, “The flame dies out.” “Then what happens?” he would be asked again. “When the flame is lost, you do not ask, ‘Where has it gone? Where is the flame now?’ It is lost, and that is all.” The word nirvana implies the extinction of the flame. Therefore, Buddha said, nirvana takes place. The state of moksha is experienced in the fifth body. The limitations of the first four bodies are transcended and the soul becomes totally free. So liberation is the experience of the fifth body. Heaven and hell pertain to the fourth body, and he who stops here will experience them. For those who stop at the first, second or third body, life between birth and death becomes everything; there is no life beyond death for them. If a person goes beyond into the fourth body, after this life he experiences heaven and hell where there are infinite possibilities of happiness and misery.
7. The Nirvanic Body
If he reaches up to the fifth body there is the door of liberation, and if he reaches up to the sixth there is the possibility of the state of God-realization. Then there is no question of liberation or no liberation; he becomes one with that which is. The declaration of “Aham Brahmasmi” – I am God – is of this plane. But there is yet one step more, which is the last jump – where there is no aham and no Brahman, where I and thou are totally nonexistent, where there is simply nothing – where there is total and absolute void. That is nirvana.
A House Needs A Strong Foundation
These are the seven bodies which are developed within a period of forty-nine years. This is why the midpoint of fifty years was known as the point of revolution. For the first twenty-five years there was one system of life. Within this period efforts were made to develop the first four bodies; then one’s education was supposed to be complete. Then one was supposed to search for his fifth, sixth and seventh bodies throughout the remainder of his life, and in the remaining twenty-five years he was expected to attain to the seventh body. Therefore, the age of fifty was looked upon as a crucial year. At this time a man became a wanaprasth, which only means that now he should turn his gaze towards the forest – that now he should turn his eyes away from people, society and the marketplace. The age of seventy-five was yet another point of revolution – when a man was to become initiated into sannyas. To turn toward the forest means to remove oneself from crowds and people; sannyas means, now the time has come to look beyond the ego, to transcend the ego. In the forest the ‘I’ will necessarily be with him though he has renounced all else, but at the age of seventy-five this ‘I’ too has to be renounced. However, the condition was that in one’s life as a householder one had to pass through and develop all the seven bodies so that the rest of the journey would become spontaneous and joyful. If this is not done it is very difficult, because with every seven-year cycle a particular state of development is connected. If the physical body of a child does not grow fully in the first seven years of his life, he will always be sickly. At the most we can see to it that he does not remain ill – but healthy he will never be because his basic foundation for health that should have been formed in the first seven years has been shaken. That which should have become strong and firm was disturbed, and that was the time for its development. It is just like laying the foundations for a house: if the foundations are weak it will be difficult – no, impossible – to repair it once the roof is reached. At the foundation stage only could it have been well laid. So in the first seven years, if proper conditions are available for the first body, the body develops properly. Now if the second body and the emotions do not develop fully over the next seven years, a number of sex perversions result. Then it is very difficult to remedy these later. So the period of development for a particular body is most crucial. On each step of life, each body has its predetermined period of development. There may be a slight difference here and there, but that is beside the point. If a child does not develop sexually within fourteen years his whole life becomes a long ordeal. If the intellect does not develop by the time he is twenty-one there is very little chance of its developing at a later period. But so far we are in agreement: we take care of the first body, then we take care to send the child to school to develop his intellect also. But we forget that the rest of the bodies also have their apportioned time which if lost puts us in great difficulties. A man takes fifty years to develop the body he should have developed in twenty-one years. It is obvious that he does not have as much strength at fifty as he had at twenty-one, so he has to put in a lot of effort. Then what would have been easier to accomplish at the age of twenty-one becomes long and arduous. There is yet another difficulty which he encounters: at the age of twenty-one he was right at the door but he missed it. Now, over the following thirty years, he has been to so many places that he has lost sight of the right opening. His wandering now makes it impossible for him to locate the place where he stood at twenty-one and which then needed only a slight push to open. Therefore, a well organized situation is required for children until they reach the age of twenty-five. It should be so well planned that it takes them to the fourth body level. After the fourth body the rest is easy. The foundation will then be well laid; now only the fruits remain to grow. The tree is formed up to the fourth body; then fruits begin to appear from the fifth which culminate in the seventh. We may have to make a little allowance here and there, but we should be very mindful of the foundations.
The Difference Between Men and Women
In this respect a few more things should be kept in mind. There is a difference between man and woman throughout the first four bodies. For instance, if the individual is a man his physical body is a male body. But his second body – the etheric body, which is behind the physical body – is female, because no negative or positive pole can exist by itself. A male body and a female body, in the terms of electricity, are positive and negative bodies. The woman’s physical body is negative; therefore, she is never aggressive in the matter of sex. She can bear the violence of man in this respect, but cannot be violent herself. She can do nothing to a man without his consent. Man’s first body is positive – aggressive. He can, therefore, do something aggressive to a woman without her consent; he has an aggressive first body. But by negative is not meant zero or absent. In terms of electricity, negative means receptivity, reservoir. In the woman’s body, energy lies in reserve; much energy lies in reserve. But it is not active: it is inactive. This is why a woman does not create anything. She does not compose poetry, nor does she create a great painting, nor does she carry out any scientific research. This is because it is necessary to be aggressive for research or for some work of creation. She can only wait; that is why she can only produce children. Man has a positive body, but wherever there is a positive body there must be a negative body behind it or else it cannot last. Both are present together; then the circle is complete. So the second body of a man is female, whereas the second body of a female is male. This is why – and this is an interesting fact – man looks and is, as far as his physical body goes, very strong. But behind this outward strength stands a weak female body. This is why he manages to show his strength only for a few moments at a time. In the long run he loses at the hands of the female, because the body behind her weak female body is a strong positive body. This is why a woman’s power of resistance, her capacity to endure, is greater than a man’s. If a man and a woman suffer from the same illness the woman can endure it longer than the man. Women produce children. If men had to produce children they would realize the ordeal that has to be passed through. Then perhaps there would be no need for family planning – because man cannot bear so much pain for so long a time. For a moment or two he can freak out in anger, beat a pillow perhaps, but he cannot carry a child in his abdomen for nine months, nor bring him up patiently for years afterwards. If it cries all night long he might strangle it. He will not be able to tolerate the disturbance. He has extraordinary strength, but behind him is a frail, delicate etheric body. Because of this he cannot bear pain or discomfort. This is why women fall sick less than men, their lifespan is longer than that of men. For this reason we should keep a difference of five years between a boy and a girl at the time of marriage, or else the world would be filled with widows. If the boy is twenty we should choose a girl of twenty-four or twenty-five for him. Man’s lifespan is four or five years less, so this difference would equalize things and both synchronize each other. A hundred and sixteen males are born to every hundred females. The difference in number at time of birth is sixteen, but later on the number becomes equal. Sixteen males die by the time they reach the age of fourteen and so the number becomes almost equal. More boys die early than girls. This is because the latter have a great power of resistance that comes to them through the second male body. Now the third body of the male – that is the astral body – will again be male, and the fourth or the psychic body will again be female. Just the reverse will be the case in the female. This division of male and female exists only up to the fourth body; the fifth body is beyond sex. Therefore, as soon as the atman is attained there is no male and no female – but not until then. There is another thing that comes to mind in this connection. Since every male has a female body within him and every female has a male body within her, if by coincidence a woman gets a husband who is identical with the male body within her, or if a man marries a woman who is identical with the female body within him, then only is a marriage successful; otherwise not. This is why ninety-nine percent of marriages are failures: because the intrinsic rule of success is not known yet. As long as we are unable to ascertain the right alliance between the respective energy bodies of two persons, marriages are bound to remain a failure no matter what steps we take in other directions. Successful marriages can only be possible if absolutely clear scientific details concerning these various inner bodies are achieved. A boy or a girl who has reached up to the point of the awakening of the kundalini finds it very easy to choose the right partner in life. With the full knowledge of all his bodies within, one can make the right choice outwardly. Prior to this it is very difficult. Therefore, those who knew insisted that the child should be made to develop his first four bodies in the first twenty-five years by maintaining brahmacharya, and then only could he marry – because whom should he marry? With whom does he want to spend the rest of his life? Whom is he seeking? What man does a woman seek? She seeks the man within her. If by coincidence the right connections are made, then both the man and woman are satisfied; otherwise, dissatisfaction remains and a thousand perversions result from this. The man then goes to a prostitute or seeks the woman next door. His distress grows day by day, and this misery is bound to increase with the growth of man’s intellect. If a person’s growth stops at fourteen he will not suffer this agony, because all suffering starts from the growth of the third body. If only the first two bodies are developed the man would be satisfied by sex. So there are two ways: either in the first twenty-five years, during the period of brahmacharya, we should develop the child up to the fourth body, or else encourage child marriages. Child marriage means marriage before the development of intellect so that the person stagnates at sex; then there is no trouble as the relationship is entirely on the animal plane. The relationship of a child marriage is purely a sexual relationship; there is no possibility of love in it. Now in places like America, where education has made great strides and where the third body has developed completely, marriages break. They are bound to, because the third body rebels at a wrong partnership. So divorce results, because it is not possible to drag such marriages along. The correct form of education is that which develops the first four bodies. Right education is that which takes you up to the fourth body. There the work of education is complete. No education can help you enter the fifth; you have to go there by yourself. Right education can easily take you up to the fourth body. After this the growth of the fifth body, which is very valuable and personal, begins. Kundalini is the potential of the fourth body; this is why kundalini is a psychic phenomenon. I hope this is now clear to you.