As there are seven bodies, so there are also seven chakras, energy centers, and each chakra is connected in a special way with its corresponding body.
1. The Physical Body and The Muladhar Chakra
The chakra of the physical body is the muladhar. This is the first chakra and it has an integral connection with the physical body. The muladhar chakra has two possibilities. Its first potentiality is a natural one that is given to us with birth; its other possibility is obtainable by meditation. The basic natural possibility of this chakra is the sex urge of the physical body. The very first question that arises in the mind of the seeker is what to do in regard to this central principle. Now there is another possibility of this chakra, and that is brahmacharya, celibacy, which is attainable through meditation. Sex is the natural possibility and brahmacharya is its transformation. The more the mind is focused upon and gripped by sexual desire, the more difficult it will be to reach its ultimate potential of brahmacharya. Now this means that we can utilize the situation given to us by nature in two ways. We can live in the condition that nature has placed us in – but then the process of spiritual growth cannot begin – or we transform this state. The only danger in the path of transformation is that there is the possibility that we may begin to fight with our natural center. What is the real danger in the path of a seeker? The first obstacle is that if the meditator indulges only in nature′s order of things he cannot rise to the ultimate possibility of his physical body and he stagnates at the starting point. On the one hand there is a need; on the other hand there is a suppression which causes the meditator to fight the sex urge. Suppression is an obstacle on the path of meditation. This is the obstacle of the first chakra. Transformation cannot come about with suppression. If suppression is an obstruction, what is the solution? Understanding will then solve the matter. Transformation takes place within as you begin to understand sex. There is a reason for this. All elements of nature lie blind and unconscious within us. If we become conscious of them, transformation begins. Awareness is the alchemy; awareness is the alchemy of changing them, of transforming them. If a person becomes awake toward his sexual desires with his total feelings and his total understanding, then brahmacharya will begin to take birth within him in place of sex. Unless a person reaches brahmacharya in his first body it is difficult to work on the potentiality of other centers.
2. The Etheric Body and The Swadhisthan Chakra
The second body, as I said, is the emotional or the etheric body. The second body is connected to the second chakra – the swadhishthan chakra. This too has two possibilities. Basically, its natural potential is fear, hate, anger, and violence. All these are conditions obtained from the natural potential of the swadhishthan chakra. If a person stagnates at the second body, then the directly opposite conditions of transformation – love, compassion, fearlessness, friendliness – do not take place. The obstacle on the meditator′s path in the second chakra is hate, anger and violence, and the question is of their transformation. Here too the same mistake is made. One person can give vent to his anger; another can suppress his anger. One can just be fearful; another can suppress his fear and make a show of courage. But neither of these will lead to transformation. When there is fear it has to be accepted; there is no use hiding or suppressing it. If there is violence within there is no use in covering it with the mantle of nonviolence. Shouting slogans of nonviolence will bring no change in the state of violence within. It remains violence. It is a condition given to us by nature in the second body. It has its uses just as there is meaning to sex. Through sex alone other physical bodies can be given birth. Before one physical body falls, nature has made provisions for the birth of another. Fear, violence, anger, are all necessary on the second plane; otherwise man could not survive, could not protect himself. Fear protects him, anger involves him in struggle against others and violence helps him to save himself from the violence of others. All these are qualities of the second body and are necessary for survival, but generally we stop here and do not go any further. If a person understands the nature of fear he attains fearlessness, and if he understands the nature of violence he attains nonviolence. Similarly, by understanding anger we develop the quality of forgiveness. In fact, anger is one side of the coin, forgiveness is the other. They each hide behind the other – but the coin has to be turned over. If we come to know one side of the coin perfectly we naturally become curious to know what is on the other side – and so the coin turns. If we hide the coin and pretend we have no fear, no violence within, we will never be able to know fearlessness and nonviolence. He who accepts the presence of fear within himself and who has investigated it fully will soon reach a place where he will want to find out what is behind fear. His curiosity will encourage him to see the other side of the coin. The moment he turns it over he becomes fearless. Similarly, violence will turn into compassion. These are the potentials of the second body. Thus, the meditator has to bring about a transformation in the qualities given to him by nature. And for this it is not necessary to go around asking others; one has to keep seeking and asking within oneself. We all know that anger and fear are impediments – because how can a coward seek truth? He will go begging for truth; he will wish that someone should give it to him without his having to go into unknown lands.
3. The Astral Body and The Manipur Chakra
The third is the astral body. This also has two dimensions. Primarily, the third body revolves around doubt and thinking. If these are transformed doubt becomes trust and thinking becomes vivek, awareness. If doubts are repressed you never attain to shraddha, trust, though we are advised to suppress doubts and to believe what we hear. He who represses his doubts never attains to trust, because doubt remains present within though repressed. It will creep within like a cancer and eat up your vitality. Beliefs are implanted for fear of skepticism. We will have to understand the quality of doubt, we will have to live it and go along with it. Then one day we will reach a point where we will begin to have doubt about doubt itself. The moment we begin to doubt doubt itself, trust begins. We cannot reach to the clarity of discrimination without going through the process of thinking. There are people who do not think and people who encourage them not to think. They say, “Do not think; leave all thoughts.” He who stops thinking lands himself in ignorance and blind faith. This is not clarity. The power of discrimination is gained only after passing through the most subtle processes of thinking. What is the meaning of vivek, discrimination? Doubt is always present in thoughts. It is always indecisive. Therefore, those who think a great deal never come to a decision. It is only when they step out of the wheel of thoughts that they can decide. Decision comes from a state of clarity which is beyond thoughts. Thoughts have no connection with decision. He who is always engrossed in thoughts never reaches a decision. That is why it invariably happens that those whose life is less dominated by thoughts are very resolute, whereas those who think a great deal lack determination. There is danger from both. Those who do not think go ahead and do whatever they are determined to do, for the simple reason that they have no thought process to create doubt within. The dogmatists and the fanatics of the world are very active and energetic people; for them there is no question of doubting – they never think! If they feel that heaven is attained by killing one thousand people, they will rest only after killing one thousand people and not before. They never stop to think what they are doing so there is never any indecision on their part. A man who thinks, on the contrary, will keep on thinking instead of making any decision. If we close our doors for fear of thoughts we will be left with blind faith only. This is very dangerous and is a great obstacle in the path of the meditator. What is needed is an open-eyed discretion and thoughts that are clear, resolute, and which allow us to make decisions. This is the meaning of vivek: clarity, awareness. It means that the power of thinking is complete. It means we have passed through thoughts in such detail that all the doubts are cleared. Now only pure decision is left in its essence. The chakra pertaining to the third body is manipur. Doubt and trust are its two forms. When doubt is transformed trust is the result. But, remember, trust is not opposed or contrary to doubt. Trust is the purest and most ultimate development of it. It is the ultimate extreme of doubt, where even doubt becomes lost because here doubt begins to doubt even itself and in this way commits suicide. Then trust is born.
4. The Mental Body and The Anahat Chakra
The fourth plane is the mental body or the psyche, and the fourth chakra, the anahat, is connected with the fourth body. The natural qualities of this plane are imagination and dreaming. This is what the mind is always doing: imagining and dreaming. It dreams in the night and in the daytime it daydreams. If imagination is fully developed, that is to say if it is developed to its fullest extent, in a complete way, it becomes determination, will. If dreaming develops fully it is transformed into vision – psychic vision. If a man′s ability to dream is fully developed he has only to close his eyes and he can see things. He can then see even through a wall. At first he only dreams of seeing beyond the wall; later he actually sees beyond it. Now he can only guess what you are thinking, but after the transformation he sees what you think. Vision means seeing and hearing things without the use of the usual sense organs. The limitations of time and space are no more for a person who develops vision. In dreams you travel far. If you are in Bombay you reach Calcutta. In vision also you can travel distances, but there will be a difference: in dreams you imagine you have gone, whereas in vision you actually go. The fourth, psychic body can actually be present there. As we have no idea of the ultimate possibility of this fourth body, we have discarded the ancient concept of dreams in today′s world. The ancient experience was that in dream one of the bodies of man comes out of him and goes on a journey. There was a man, Swedenborg, whom people knew as a dreamer. He used to talk of heaven and hell and that they can only exist in dreams. But one afternoon, as he slept, he began to shout, “Help! Help! My house is on fire.” People came running, but there was no fire there. They awoke him to assure him that it was only a dream and there was no danger of fire. He insisted, however, that his house was on fire. His house was three hundred miles away and it had caught fire at that time. On the second or third day news came of this disaster. His house was burnt to ashes, and it was actually burning when he cried out in his sleep. Now this is no longer a dream but a vision. The distance of three hundred miles was no longer there. This man witnessed what was happening three hundred miles away. Now scientists also agree that there are great psychic possibilities of the fourth body. Now that man has set out in space, research in this direction has become all the more important. The fact remains that no matter how reliable the instruments at man′s disposal, these cannot be relied upon completely. If the radio communication in a spaceship ceases to function the astronauts lose contact with the world for all time. They will not be able to tell us where they are or what has happened to them. So today scientists are keen to develop telepathy and vision of the psychic body to overcome this risk. If the astronauts were able to communicate directly with the power of telepathy it would be a part of the development of the fourth body. Then space travel can be safe. A lot of work has been carried out in this direction. Thirty years ago a man set out to explore the North Pole. He was equipped with all that was necessary for wireless communication. One more arrangement was also made which has not made known up until now. A psychic person whose fourth body faculties were functioning was also made to receive the transmission from the explorer. The most surprising thing was that when there was bad weather the wireless failed, but this psychic person received the news without any difficulty. When the diaries were compared later on it was found that eighty to ninety-five percent of the time the signals received by the psychic person were correct, whereas the news relayed by the radio was not available more than seventy-two percent of the time, because there were many breakdowns. Now Russia and America are both very eager, and a great deal of work is going on in the field of telepathy, clairvoyance, thought projection and thought reading. All these are the possibilities of the fourth body. To dream is its natural quality; to see the truth, to see the real, is its ultimate possibility. Anahat is the chakra of this fourth body.
5. The Spiritual Body and The Vishuddhi Chakra
The fifth chakra is the vishuddhi chakra. It is located in the throat. The fifth body is the spiritual body. The vishuddhi chakra is connected to the spiritual body. The first four bodies and their chakras were split into two. The duality ends with the fifth body. As I said before, the difference between male and female lasts until the fourth body; after that it ends. If we observe very closely all duality belongs to the male and the female. Where the distance between male and female is no more, at that very point all duality ceases. The fifth body is nondual. It does not have two possibilities but only one. This is why there is not much effort for the meditator to make: because here there is nothing contrary to develop; here one has only to enter. By the time we reach the fourth body we develop so much capability and strength that it is very easy to enter the fifth body. In that case how can we tell the difference between a person who has entered the fifth body and one who has not? The difference will be that he who has entered the fifth body is completely rid of all unconsciousness. He will not actually sleep at night. That is, he sleeps but his body alone sleeps; someone within is forever awake. If he turns in sleep he knows it; if he does not he knows it. If he has covered himself with a blanket he knows it; if he has not then also he knows it. His awareness does not slacken in sleep; he is awake all the twenty-four hours. For the one who has not entered the fifth body, his state is just the opposite. In sleep he is asleep, and in the waking hours also one layer of him will be asleep.
So sleep is the innate condition before the beginning of the spiritual plane. Man is a somnambulist before he enters the fifth body, and there the quality is wakefulness. Therefore, after the growth of the fourth body we can call the individual a buddha, an awakened one. Now such a man is awake. Buddha is not the name of Gautam Siddharth but a name given him after his attainment of the fifth plane. Gautama the Buddha means Gautam who has awakened. His name remained Gautam, but that was the name of the sleeping person so gradually it dropped and only Buddha remained. This difference comes with the attainment of the fifth body. Before we enter into it, whatever we do is an unconscious action which cannot be trusted. One moment a man vows to love and cherish his loved one the whole life and the next moment he is quite capable of strangling her. The alliance which he promised for a lifetime does not last long. This poor man is not to be blamed. What is the value of promises given in sleep? In a dream I may promise, “This is a lifelong relationship.” What value is this promise? In the morning I will deny it because it was only a dream. A sleeping man cannot be trusted. This world of ours is entirely a world of sleeping people; hence, so much confusion, so many conflicts, so many quarrels, so much chaos. It is all the making of sleeping men. There is another important difference between a sleeping man and an awakened man which we should bear in mind. A sleeping man does not know who he is, so he is always striving to show others that he is this or he is that. This is his lifelong endeavor. He tries in a thousand ways to prove himself. Sometimes he climbs the ladder of politics and declares, “I am so and so.” Sometimes he builds a house and displays his wealth, or he climbs a mountain and displays his strength. He tries in all ways to prove himself. And in all these efforts he is in fact unknowingly trying to find out for himself who he is. He knows not who he is. Before crossing the fourth plane we cannot find the answer. The fifth body is called the spiritual body because there you get the answer to the quest for “Who am I?” The call of the ′I′ stops once and for all on this plane; the claim to be someone special vanishes immediately. If you say to such a person, “You are so and so,” he will laugh. All claims from his side will now stop, because now he knows. There is no longer any need to prove himself, because who he is is now a proven fact. The conflicts and problems of the individual end on the fifth plane. But this plane has its own hazards. You have come to know yourself, and this knowing is so blissful and fulfilling that you may want to terminate your journey here. You may not feel like continuing on. The hazards that were up to now were all of pain and agony; now the hazards that begin are of bliss. The fifth plane is so blissful that you will not have the heart to leave it and proceed further. Therefore, the individual who enters this plane has to be very alert about clinging to bliss so that it does not hinder him from going further. Here bliss is supreme and at the peak of its glory; it is in its profoundest depths. A great transformation comes about within one who has known himself. But this is not all; there is further to go also.
6. The Cosmic Body and The Agya Chakra
So the quest up to the fifth body is to be rid of pain, hatred, violence and desires. After the fifth the search is in order to be rid of the self. So there are two things: the first is freedom from something; this is one thing and it is completed at the fifth plane. The second thing is freedom from the self, and so a completely new world starts from here. The sixth is the brahma sharira, the cosmic body, and the sixth chakra is the agya chakra. Here there is no duality. The experience of bliss becomes intense on the fifth plane and the experience of existence, of being, on the sixth. Asmita will now be lost – I am. The I in this is lost at the fifth plane and the am will go as soon as you transcend the fifth. The is-ness will be felt; tathata, suchness will be felt. Nowhere will there be the feeling of I or of am; only that which is remains. So here will be the perception of reality, of being – the perception of consciousness. But here the consciousness is free of me; it is no longer my consciousness. It is only consciousness – no longer my existence, but only existence. Some meditators stop after reaching the Brahma sharira, the cosmic body, because the state of “I am the Brahman” has come – of “Aham Brahmasmi,” when I am not and only the Brahman is. Now what more is there to seek? What is to be sought? Nothing remains to be sought. Now everything is attained. The Brahman means the total. One who stands at this point says, “The Brahman is the ultimate truth, the Brahman is the cosmic reality. There is nothing beyond.” It is possible to stop here, and seekers do stop at this stage for millions of births, because there seems to be nothing ahead. So the Brahma gyani, the one who has attained realization of the Brahman, will get stuck here; he will go no further. This is so difficult to cross because there is nothing to cross to. Everything has been covered. Does not one need a space to cross into? If I want to go outside of this room there must be some place else to go. But the room has now become so enormous, so beginningless and endless, so infinite, so boundless, that there is nowhere to go. So where will we go to search? Nothing remains to be found; everything has been covered. So the journey may halt at this stage for infinite births. So the Brahman is the ultimate obstacle – the last barrier in the ultimate quest of the seeker. Now only the being remains, but nonbeing has yet to be realized. The being, the is-ness, is known, but the nonbeing has yet to be realized – that which is not still remains to be known. Therefore, the seventh plane is the nirvana kaya, nirvanic body, and its chakra is the sahasrar. Nothing can be said in connection with this chakra. We can only continue talking at the most up to the sixth – and that too with great difficulty. Most of it will turn out to be wrong. Until the fifth body the search progresses within a very scientific method; everything can be explained. On the sixth plane the horizon begins to fade; everything seems meaningless. Hints can still be given but ultimately the pointing finger breaks and the hints too are no more because one′s own being is eliminated. So the Brahman, the absolute being, is known from the sixth body and the sixth chakra. Therefore, those who seek the Brahman will meditate on the agya chakra which is between the eyes. This chakra is connected to the cosmic body. Those who work completely on this chakra will begin to call the vast infinite expanse that they witness the third eye. This is the third eye from where they can now view the cosmic, the infinite.
7. The Nirvanic Body and The Sahasrar Chakra
One more journey yet remains – the journey to nonbeing, nonexistence. Existence is only half the story: there is also nonexistence. Light is, but on the other side there is darkness. Life is one part, but there is also death. Therefore, it is necessary also to know the remaining nonexistence, the void, because the ultimate truth can only be known when both are known – existence and nonexistence. Being is known in its entirety and nonbeing is known in its entirety: then the knowing is complete. Existence is known in entirety and nonexistence is known in its entirety: then we know the whole; otherwise our experience is incomplete. There is an imperfection in brahma gyan, which is that it has not been able to know the nonbeing. Therefore, the brahma gyani denies that there is such a thing as nonexistence and calls it an illusion. He says that it does not exist. He says that to be is the truth and not to be is a falsity. There simply is no such thing, so the question of knowing it does not arise. Nirvana kaya means the shunya kaya, the void from where we jump from the being into the nonbeing. In the cosmic body something yet remains unknown. That too has to be known – what it is not to be, what it is to be completely erased. Therefore, the seventh plane in a sense is an ultimate death. Nirvana, as I told you previously, means the extinction of the flame. That which was I is extinct; that which was am is extinct. But now we have again come into being by being one with the all. Now we are the Brahman, and this too will have to be left. He who is ready to take the last jump knows the existence and also the nonexistence.
All Barriers are within us
So these are the seven bodies and the seven chakras, and within them lie all the means as well as the barriers. There are no barriers outside. Therefore, there is not much reason to inquire outside. If you have gone to ask someone or to understand from someone, then do not beg. To understand is one thing, to beg is another. Your search should always continue. Whatever you have heard and understood should also be made your search. Do not make it your belief or else it will be begging. You asked me something; I gave you an answer. If you have come for alms you will put this in your bag and store it away as your treasure. Then you are not a meditator but a beggar. No, what I told you should become your quest. It should accelerate your search; it should stimulate and motivate your curiosity. It should put you into greater difficulty, make you more restless and raise new questions in you, new dimensions, so that you will set out on a new path of discovery. Then you have not taken alms from me, then you have understood what I said. And if this helps you to understand yourself, then this is not begging. So go forth to know and understand; go forth to search. You are not the only one seeking; many others are also. Many have searched, many have attained. Try to know, to grasp, what has happened to such people and also what has not happened; try and understand all this. But while understanding this, do not stop trying to understand your own self. Do not think that understanding others has become your realization. Do not put faith in their experiences; do not believe them blindly. Rather, turn everything into questioning. Turn them into questions and not answers; then your journey will continue. Then it will not be begging: it will be your quest. It is your search that will take you to the last. As you penetrate within yourself you will find the two sides of each chakra. As I told you, one is given to you by nature and one you have to discover. Anger is given to you; forgiveness you have to find. Sex is given to you; brahmacharya you have to develop. Dreams you have; vision has to evolve. Your search for the opposite will continue up to the fourth chakra. From the fifth will start your search for the indivisible, for the non-dual. Try to continue your search for that which is different from what has come to you in the fifth body. When you attain bliss try to find out what there is beyond bliss. On the sixth plane you attain the Brahman, but keep inquiring, “What is there beyond the Brahman?” Then one day you will step into the seventh body, where being and nonbeing, light and darkness, life and death, occur together. That is the attainment of the ultimate… and there are no means of communicating this state. This is why our scriptures end with the fifth body, or at the most they go up to the sixth body. Those with a completely scientific turn of mind do not talk about what is after the fifth body. The cosmic reality, which is boundless and unlimited, begins from there, but mystics like the Sufis talk of the planes beyond the fifth. It is very difficult to talk of these planes because one has to contradict oneself again and again. If you go through the text of all that one Sufi has said you will say this person is mad. Sometimes he says one thing and sometimes something else. He says, “God is” and he also says, “God is not.” He says, “I have seen him” and in the same breath he says, “How can you see him? He is not an object that the eyes can see!” These mystics raise such questions that you will wonder if they are asking others or asking themselves. Mysticism starts with the sixth plane. Therefore, where there is no mysticism in a religion, know that it has finished on the fifth body. But mysticism also is not the final stage. The ultimate is the void – nothingness. The religion that ends with mysticism ends with the sixth body. The void is the ultimate, nihilism is the ultimate, because after it there is nothing more to be said. So the search for adwaita, the nondual, starts with the fifth body. All search for the opposites ends with the fourth body. All barriers are within us and they are useful, because these very obstacles when transformed become your means to go ahead.
Do Not Fight, Try Your Utmost To Understand
Every rock on the path can be a barrier as well as a medium. It depends entirely on what you do with it. One thing is certain: Do not fight with the rock, because then you will only break your head and the rock will not be helpful. If you fight with the rock, the rock will bar your way, because wherever we fight we stop. We have to stop near the person or thing we fight with; we cannot possibly fight from a distance. That is why if someone fights sex he has to be involved with sex just as much as another who indulges in it. In fact, many times he is closer to sex, because the one who indulges in it can get out of it someday, can transcend it. But the one who fights cannot get out of it; he keeps going around and around. If you fight anger you will become angry yourself. Your whole personality will be filled with anger and each fiber of your body will vibrate with it. You will emanate anger all around you. The stories we read of sages and ascetics like Durwasa being very angry happen because they fought with anger; thus, they could think of nothing but cursing. The personality of such a person turns into fire. These are people who have fought with rocks and are now in difficulty. They have become what they struggled against. You will read of other rishis that celestial maidens descended from heaven and corrupted them in a moment. Strange! This is only possible if a man has fought with sex; not otherwise. He has fought and fought and thus weakened himself. Then sex is secure in its own place; it is just waiting for him to break down. This sex can now burst forth from anywhere. There is little possibility of an apsara actually coming down from heaven – are such maidens on contract to harass rishis and munis? When sex is suppressed with a heavy hand, an ordinary woman becomes a celestial being. The mind projects dreams at night and thoughts in the day and it becomes completely filled with these thoughts. Then a thing which is not at all fascinating becomes bewitching. So the seeker has to beware of the tendency to fight. He should try his utmost to understand, and by trying to understand is meant understanding that which is given to him by nature. Through that which has been given to you, you will attain that which is yet to be attained. This is the starting point. If you run away from that which is the very beginning it is impossible to reach the goal. If you run away from sex in fright how will you ever reach brahmacharya? Sex was the opening given by nature and brahmacharya is the quest that has to be undertaken through this very opening. If you see in this perspective there is no need to beg from anywhere; understanding is what is required. All of existence is there for the purpose of understanding. Learn from anybody, hear everyone, and, finally, understand your own self within.