Essays2008 Essays2009 Essays2010




..:: Yoga ::..


Alan Schneider


              We have reached a point in this little tome where it does well to briefly survey the salient points presented thus far before proceeding to fresh territory. And many novel items have been laid forth for consideration, to be sure. The author has bluntly suggested that the Christian Prince of Darkness is inherent as an expression of latent, and not so latent, consciousness within the entire form of the physical world, for starters. This is also somewhat in line with the conception of “Original Sin” which is set forth by the Church, although carried a bit farther in scope and implication, as is the comparison of this principle to the action of Shiva, the Hindu Destroyer God. The frank depiction of Freudian personality theory as the limited mechanism of Maya Perception, and the subsequent assertion that the Supreme Absolute Truth of God is manifest both within our consciousness and in the external world as Freudian undifferentiated infantile libido, the Jungian Primal Self, and Einstein’s Unified Field is bound to be a lot for many theologians, physicists, and therapists to digest, not to mention the generic reader. One would not want to exclude the pointed references to biological blood, predation, and Darwinian evolution as interrelated carrier processes caused by and existing for the spiritual development of the Soul from this list, either. And so on. I flatly reassert the validity of every one of these items, and also make mention of the fact that they all have at least one very important feature in common: they constitute a direct frontal assault on the Ego and all it holds near and dear. Are there any stones left to be thrown at this target? Well, of course, there are always a few left lying about. Let us proceed with the task... 

            We can draw a few additional comparisons which will be helpful in understanding the scope of this chapter. The area of the human consciousness which I have referred to as the ego kernel, and frequently gone to some pains to differentiate from the Freudian ego, is sometimes also simply termed the personal mind or self in spiritual literature and refers to the inherent core of my awareness that I recognize as “me”, apart from the various processes which that awareness is focused on at any given time. In this sense, I can be said to always be more or less aware of myself as the constant factor present in all perceptions, including the perception of the stages of Higher Consciousness described by the Chakras in Chapter Two. The ego kernel is always present in perception in some form, and is the unifying factor in all human experience. And the assertion has been made that this kernel of self awareness is also a focused part of, and created and sustained by, first the Soul, then Brahma, and ultimately the Logos, in contrast to the accepted Freudian view that all self awareness is contained within the psyche, created by instinctual patterning, modified by experience, and physically sustained within the brain. Behavioral science takes the convenient path in Maya of placing the objects of perception, including the brain, developmentally prior to consciousness itself.  Existentialism places all objects of perception both within, and subordinate to, the consciousness as the ultimate condition of real experience, whether in Maya or elsewhere.  

            All spiritual knowledge is inherently existential in character. After the measurements and analytical processes of the totality of science are completed, all that we will ever be able to say about ourselves and our condition with certainty is that we are consciousness. Spiritual exploration and experience attempts to determine and describe the full extent and capability of that consciousness, and of our total existence in the process, from the personal to the most universal level.  

            The progressive composite condition of the Soul, Brahma, and Logos is frequently called the Self, the Higher Self, Universal Mind, Universal Self, or Mind in spiritual literature, in addition to many other terms which are specific to various authors and doctrines. The comparison of the personal self with the Universal Self is something that the author has frequently encountered in the practices and literature of Yoga, and is invariably concerned with the union of these two states of consciousness as the goal of life and spiritual work.  

            As mentioned earlier, the term “yoga” is a Sanskrit word meaning “yoke”, and refers to the harnessing of the personal awareness of the individual to the Universal Consciousness of God. The original Hindu exponents of this tradition, originating many centuries ago in India with Patanjali, identified eight more or less distinct stages in the process of Yoga, beginning with the practice of the well known Hatha postures, and culminating in Samadhi. Although it is tempting to enumerate these steps here and now in some detail, I find myself poised to cast yet another missal at one of the more subtle manifestations of the Freudian ego instead. So it is that the discussion of Yoga in these pages will begin with a look at what is very probably the single most destructive manifestation of the ego and Maya in the modern world – sectarian spiritual and religious  prejudice! 

            How can we know God? Or, put differently, how can human beings determine if any other, more comprehensive form of consciousness exists in their world, and what the will and intention of that consciousness might be? Are we alone? Is the darkness what awaits us in the end? 

            Sooner or later, these questions will confront us. In the incredibly segmented and violent world which predominates at this writing, this confrontation is becoming commonplace, and many people all over the world are experiencing the immediate need for answers that will work in their lives as individuals and nations. Sadly, many of the spiritual institutions which evolved to fulfill that need are doing far worse than fail at the task – they are literally fomenting the very condition of isolation which they should be healing. In many ways, the desire to understand and control “desire” is the most destructive attachment of all. If not recognized for what it is – another pitfall – this condition will inevitably emerge into Maya in the form of sectarian religious and ethnic bigotry of every kind, and there is no war like “holy” war, fanned by ignorance and  fanaticism, and bathed in blood and agony. 

            Are there eight steps involved in Yoga along the way to Enlightenment? Yes, there are. And there are also three steps, twelve steps, and twenty one steps, and one hundred steps, and one thousand, and only one step. These are all numerical stages in the process of spiritual growth which I am familiar with from just a few of the hundreds, perhaps thousands, of valid approaches to this process encountered in just this one personal incarnation. Perhaps there are millions of valid paths and steps to follow in the entire Unified Field. How can anyone possibly claim that one single method, their method, is the only route to Salvation? Yet spiritual people often do, including some of those who pride themselves on their ascended status as “Gurus” and “Seers”, asserting every manner of dogmatic pronouncement and requirement regarding God, and themselves as the Way, and denouncing each other as well. How pathetic. This is why I have drawn on the various elements of many traditions and attempted to outline the correspondences among them to explain and describe the experiences I have had with transcendental altered states of consciousness, and have invited the reader and Seeker to openly disagree with my interpretations, or add to them with work in other areas. In the openness and acceptance of this approach, the admittedly deep, and occasionally perilous,  waters of Higher Consciousness are well navigated by the use of the sailing skills and experience of many traditions. I would have you sail your own ship, on your own course, because I know beyond doubt that this is the best way. The real Guru will always make clear that he or she is only a guide for the Seeker, not a jailer... 

            In this context, I am going to provide information in this Chapter on the evident personal transitions which I have experienced in my search, information on what have emerged as fairly common gradients that most Seekers seem to have reported from various traditions, and commentary regarding methods of determining progress and conscious states along the Way. This is the current best understanding of the deepest meaning of true “Yoga” which I enjoy, and one which extends far beyond Patanjali and Hinduism, although I will begin there. 

            The practice of postures, or Asana, primarily in the Hatha tradition, but also in Kundalini, is currently experiencing a world wide vogue. Now, much of this popularity results from the perception in the minds of the exercise conscious public that Hatha Yoga can, and will, create a physically beautiful, lithe, and  healthy body in a relatively short time when practiced wisely and faithfully. And the mentally healthy, calming effects of this system are also attainable and appreciated. But these are all perceptions which are still routed in Maya, and ego centered. Although I support all of the positive aspects of Hatha just mentioned, they are not the spiritual purpose of Yoga. Both Hatha and Kundalini have the function of rendering the Karmic physical body into the most suitable condition as a spiritual vessel of Divine Consciousness. This is the original and deep purpose of Asana – the postures and actions in both schools have been discovered over eons of use and study to begin the process of Karmic release and conversion into Higher Consciousness at the most basic level of Maya  – the physical perception of the body.

            The routine of postural Yoga progressively and subtly breaks down the oldest and deepest level of kinesthetic (neuromuscular) neural associations which comprise the Freudian mind, gradually replacing many hidden patterns of subconscious negativity associated with the awareness of the body with balanced, positive perceptions of well being. With this sense of increased positive physical consciousness, the empowerment of positive mental consciousness is also enhanced. As positive mental self awareness progresses, many of the blocks to extended spiritual consciousness are weakened and neutralized, opening the way to the Chakra Ascension described in Chapter Two. The adherents of Kundalini Yoga claim that this system is specifically designed to accelerate the ascension process to the maximum possible extent, producing Enlightenment as quickly as possible, and this certainly has been the case in some instances, but either system is effective. A decision upon which route to follow must be made on the basis of personal experimentation, as usual. Nor is it necessary to begin the process with any postures at all. One type of Zen meditation simply involves walking as the method of ego release! Another trains the Seeker to meditate focusing on the “space” of non being between individual personal thoughts. Still another involves the use of a series of water droplets issuing from a faucet or fountain as the focus of meditation and ego release. And it is the general consensus of opinion that Yoga in any form is fundamentally another technique of meditation. 

            One posture which I am aware is universally applicable to the attainment of transcendental experience is the well known Lotus position. This is shown in the illustration at the beginning of Chapter One, which also depicts the forms and Astral “locations” of the Chakras. The full Lotus is the most difficult to attain, generally requiring a fair amount of preliminary flexibility work to achieve and hold in functional comfort for extended periods of time during meditation. This is the version of the Asana in which both legs are interlocked with the feet facing up and out. Do not try to attain this pose if you must force yourself into it! The half Lotus, in which only one leg and foot of choice are directed upward, simply resting on the other limb, is also very functional as a meditation pose. 

            The correct way to hold the hands and arms in the Lotus is a matter of differing opinion. I have seen and tried hands folded together in the traditional prayer style, hands on the knees with the thumb and index finger tips together – called a “lock”, as shown in the illustration (I personally like this one), hands folded with the arms fully extended overhead (only for the real trooper), the standard Zen technique of one hand cradled inside the other with thumbs touching, with hands simply clasped with interlocked fingers – another basic prayer style, and with the arms held at the sides, bent at the elbow, with the forearms extended away from the body with the open palms facing upward (another personal favorite). The agreement across the board is that the spinal column must be held straight and vertically erect in the Lotus position – no curving or slouching – and this can also take some time and conditioning to achieve. The position in which the head is held is also a matter of interpretation. The Zen approach favors a slightly bowed head with eyes closed, while Yoga favors an erect and upright head position with the eyes either closed or very slightly open, if a visual symbol such as a Mandala is being used as the focus of meditation. Now, there’s some variety for you! 

            There is some additional lassitude in the choice of a basic meditation posture for the Seeker. Many people have physical limitations which prevent the attainment of any form of the Lotus posture. It is also possible to attain ego release in meditation while simply sitting in a chair, or lying on the floor. There is again considerable variance of opinion regarding whether the floor or chair in question should be comfortable or austere, and I must again direct the Seeker to personal experimentation to resolve this question. There is a predominance of opinion in the Chinese and other oriental Zen and Daoist philosophies that the personal mind and ego is a contemptible and lazy condition that must be “released” through rigorous and strict discipline, involving intentional discomfort frequently extended to a level of real agony. I must admit that I have met individuals for whom this was certainly the case, and have described several instances of my personal suffering in this work which definitely where instrumental in the raising of my consciousness, but I am also aware that I currently meditate with great efficacy seated in a comfortable floor chair. In general, I discourage the willful practice of discomfort in meditation, particularly where the individual is an otherwise dedicated and sincere practitioner and does not require stern measures for success. After all, the Consciousness which we are reaching out to in meditation is Omnipotent, and will respond powerfully to even a mild but very dedicated effort. When I experienced the Samadhi described in Chapter One (one of several occasions in which I have attained full ego release in varying traditions), I was not even practicing any posture at all, and was not even practicing in the Eastern methods. To be sure, I have had a life long tradition of seeking transcendental awareness, which certainly must have cumulatively contributed to that experience on that occasion, but the event was unique, and Western in tradition. 

            It is also effective to simply stand erect with the hands applied in the traditional prayer method and meditate successfully. And all of the Yoga postures are designed as techniques of meditation which will eventually achieve Higher Consciousness if applied to that end. Why are so many different techniques successful for different individuals? One very important additional factor which has been left intentionally for final mention by the author is deceptively common place – breathing

            The spiritual action of the breath in Yoga is called Prana: vital Life Force and Divine Consciousness present in the air around us, and with which we can interact through aware, specific breathing techniques called Pranayama, or Breath control. Of all the many and varied features of the meditation experience which I have encountered over the years, the importance of breath observance as a technique cannot be exaggerated or surpassed. The air as an element of the natural world – and a Karmic condition for that reason – is almost universally symbolically affiliated with the action of the spirit and spiritual presence – unseen (hopefully – try Los Angeles sometime!) yet (again hopefully!) omnipresent and completely interactive on the physical level. If every unaware action that we perform creates additional Karma – a common Eastern belief and one which I endorse – then each unaware, unconscious breath we take does so at the most intimate personal level. We are literally unthinkingly “using” God for the ongoing maintenance of our separated Maya awareness with this action every time it occurs! Of course, the Logos is aware of this condition, and sustains us anyway, as is the case elsewhere in Maya, for the Sake of Love and in Compassion, knowing that the ego kernel will eventually encounter this concept through Enlightenment, as you are now. 

            This is the most significant spiritual reason to practice Pranayama in the course of any other meditation or technique. By doing so the Karma of breath is released as Dharma through the Yoga of breath. And this is also why an individual who understands and practices aware breathing techniques will experience profound results in even the most unstructured meditation setting. Even for the most advanced Yogi, who may breath once in an hour in meditation trance (!), the act is still noticeable and inevitable amid all other stillness. So we must learn to turn this state of affairs to our advantage through attention. When I begin to perceive my breath as the Divine gift that permits me to experience God continuously through my entire life, a profound increase in Enlightened consciousness and empowerment takes place. This empowerment in the spirit directly enhances the effect of meditation in any system. 

            I will describe the most basic, but still highly effective, breath meditation now, although this has also been done at the end of Chapter Two. After attaining the posture of choice (or necessity, as the case may be) close the eyes and allow the body to become as relaxed and comfortable as possible. Note and release any residual areas of tension or distraction which persist as well as you are able, and begin to focus your awareness on your breathing. Do not attempt to modify your breathing in any sense other than to permit the most natural, complete inhalation and exhalation attainable. Simply continue to note the action of the breath in your awareness. As any additional thoughts or distractions occur within or around you, again note and release these in your awareness. Continue this practice as the meditative state deepens and ego awareness begins to relax and dissipate. This may allow the occurrence of mental visions and experiences. Again simply note these experiences and release them while breathing. Continue this technique until you naturally reenter the conscious ego again. 

            After regaining ego awareness, take a few minutes to refocus in Maya, and then resume your customary activities. That is the sum and substance of the technique!  This seems simple, and does not initially even involve the conscious awareness of the breath as a Prana vehicle, but the impact on consciousness is still there. God knows that the breath is Prana, and this is all that is required. The straight forward aware breathing does all that needs to be done to complete the bond on our end. I invite you again to try this technique at your earliest convenience. Aware breathing is effective not only in any meditative practice, but in the support of any conceptual goal orientation for the outcome of that practice. Breathing and breath control is still a critical feature of the most extremely disciplined “Yoga” of the martial arts! All of the bona fide Masters in any school know how important this is.  

            Which brings us to the discussion of the various goals of the Yoga of meditation, and Yoga as meditation. Once again, there is a considerable variance of opinion regarding what the use and outcome of any specific meditation approach  “should” be. In most cases, we are really looking at the more basic question here of what a human being, and the human condition should be. 

            Virtually every philosophy of alternative consciousness aggress that the Freudian ego (although they may not call it that) is the obstruction in generic human consciousness which blocks our awareness from attaining any form of transcendental state of knowing and being. The differences of approach come into play regarding what to do with the ego, how to do it, and what the eventual result should be. If there is a hot button area in Higher Consciousness, I will assure anyone that this is it. The ego is the Freudian glue that holds every society together, and the subject of altering this mechanism can become very dicey, indeed, if not actually life threatening in extreme cases. The Dali Lama has had a lot to say about this regarding Tibet in recent times, as one example, and the Crucifixion is another from more distant history. Yet, we must proceed, and the Truth must be told. 

            I see the first appropriate and reliable result of Yoga and meditation as simple relaxation. This is both mental ego relaxation, and physical relaxation – in a word, stress release. Now, this would not seem to be a major issue, but read on. There is a well known psychological relationship between internal stress and compulsive behavior. This includes the compulsive behavior of consuming products and services well beyond the extent needed for personal comfort, and the work related compulsive behavior of the workaholic on the job, which nonetheless handsomely benefits the employer and customer. The formation of addictions and other substance abuse conditions, whether to illegal or prescribed chemicals, is also intimately related to inner stress and compulsive activity.  So there are many vested conditions in the Maya of society which very possibly stand to suffer from the advent of relaxed individuals! In the case of a totalitarian society, this is even more acute, because the extreme social control present relies heavily on internal fear and anxiety for successful operation. Maya is not simply an Illusion; it is a social system, subject to enforcement. I will expand upon this observation in the next paragraph.  

            Related to the attainment of simple relaxation is the more significant attainment of a state of inner peace. This is more profound than relaxation, and is associated with meditation for a relatively longer period of time, permitting the onset of the trance condition. In the state of inner peace, the ego is relatively or completely inactive, although the experience of transcendent states of higher consciousness may or may not be present. There may simply be a profoundly egoless state of free floating, unfocused awareness taking place. This is the Zen condition of the Empty Vessel in meditation, and is the Zen “goal” of being in nonbeing. This is also the initial trance state, in which the individual may be very receptive to Higher Consciousness, but not to external conditions, and also not demonstrating more than autonomic behavior – breathing and heartbeat, for example. Relaxation can be attained in, for example, breathing oriented meditation of thirty minutes in length. Inner peace in trance characteristically requires a minimum of one hour in meditation for attainment. The reported and personally experienced result of inner peace is that of notably heightened overall vitality and sense of well being upon returning to integrated ego consciousness, significantly more so than in simple relaxation.  

            This would seem to be a step in the “right” direction from the point of view of efficacy, and it is, but it further advances the release from inner tension in the individual to not only a more complete level, but a longer lasting interval as well. The practitioner has taken another, more significant step away from the aforementioned compulsive behavior associated with Maya. This tends to reduce the impact of external social control on individual awareness, while increasing the level of internal direction radiating from the Atma. This not to say that the practitioner is becoming an asocial criminal – on the contrary, a transition is taking place toward a Super Social Soul expression, but one not motivated by the need to escape in compulsive actions of any kind. In other words, a genuinely free being is evolving, without regard to the possibly manipulative character of society at any level and in any form. 

            And another, more potentially disturbing phenomenon to a control oriented and manipulative social system begins to manifest with the onset of trance and more or less complete ego inactivity – psychic apperception begins to occur! The condition of the meditation trance (as opposed to the externally induced post hypnotic trance, or drug induced trance) manifests in levels of involvement and depth of intensity which are both time and Soul proximity related. Bear in mind here that the ego kernel remains active independent of the ego. Self awareness is present in some form at any level of transcendental experience. The Kundalini energy performs the function of deliberate action and volition for the ego kernel once the Freudian ego is inactive, and carries that awareness along in the ascension process, through the Chakras. Each Chakra is associated with a level of extra personal knowledge and experience known as a Plane of Ascension. With the onset of trance, the process moves out of Maya awareness of the sensory Physical Plane in Muladhara, and into the Astral Plane in Svadhishthana. This is the first plane of archetypal expression, as the collective unconscious is accessed, and is the first plane of the manifestation of psychic experience as well. In this case, the psychic information regarding otherwise “Maya unknowable” information emerges in the individual’s awareness in symbolic form through archetypal images and scenes revealed to the ego kernel, but these can still be very accurate, and are typically remembered upon return to the ego state in Maya. How is this possible? God is the Supreme Absolute Truth, the sum total of all knowledge and experience, and this Truth is radiating through the Planes of Ascension from Sahasrara as the point of origin, at the Logoic Plane, and emerging in archetypal symbolism in the Astral Plane in the form of exotic expressions which are nonetheless recognizable to the Freudian ego!  

            To be sure, a great deal of imagery and symbolic expression of many different types and origins in Consciousness is manifest in the Astral Plane. These include personal subconscious material emerging from repression in the Freudian Id, memory traces of forgotten experiences in both the personal and collective unconscious, Soul specific symbolism pertaining to the individual’s immediate spiritual growth originating in the Atma, Brahma, or the Logos, and projected Astral forms of a wide variety of origins traveling in the collective unconscious and emerging on the Astral Plane. In fact, almost any fantastic or mundane perception may be seen, heard, or felt in the Astral Perception. This region is the formative location for the quantum envelope: in the variety of expression seen here are all the conceptual building blocks of the individual’s Maya Perception of Karma. Even in the face of external social conditioning, the ego is only experiencing what has been made collectively available. 

            With persistence, study of the abundance of available literature on the subject, and experience in meditation carried to this initial stage of trance, the Astral voyager eventually learns to sort out the many types of symbolic material noted above, including that which is psychic in character. The psychic information frequently correlates with related dream and synchronicity experiences that the  Seeker is experiencing, and this is a useful method of analysis and comparison for the initiate. It is possible to not only clearly recognize Astral images with psychic content, but to know how probable the outcome they indicate is, and when and where manifestation will tend to occur. Furthermore, once the personal psychic aptitude is Astrally activated, the facility of apperception can be, and customarily is, gradually transferred to direct manifestation in Maya perception. This process is sometimes referred to as the Opening of the Third, or All Seeing Eye, and pertains to the Chakra Ajna, and the corresponding Monadic Plane. The development of the psychic facility to this point of activity generally requires years of work and spiritual development, well beyond the simple attainment of Astral trance, but individuals who are inherently gifted in this area may progress much more quickly than the norm. 

            The development of reliable extrasensory perception as described above is something that any primarily deceptive or manipulative agency will obviously have much to fear from. Conversely, any legitimate and open entity with little to conceal will have little to fear. One of the lessons which must be learned and accepted early on in the work of meditation and Higher Consciousness is the need to live a clean, honest life which does not rely on deception and concealment for success. The Logos does not look with favor on such activities: they tend to require large amounts of psychic energy for their maintenance, and this energy broadcasts a proportional signal into the collective unconscious which the experienced Astral traveler can detect and decipher, frequently with Logoic assistance! This is yet another example of the wisdom of the guidance to release attachments to desire in Maya If the individual is currently involved in an existence which requires great deception as the means of income, serious thought should be given to a career change. Otherwise, I suggest that the Seeker begin to weed these types of circumstances out immediately, and control secrecy to the minimum level required for secure functioning – one obviously does not want to prematurely delete personal identification numbers, divulge bank account numbers and balances, or share sensitive personal business with the entire Internet. But illegal activity, lying and manipulation used to gain advantage over others, self deception, and interpersonal deception can and must be avoided. Please take these words to Heart and act accordingly. False living holds us in the Illusion. 

            Although the onset of psychic experience in Astral trance meditation is both interesting and relevant for all the reasons just mentioned, the onset of the state of profound inner peace is much more relevant with regard to the Enlightenment process. This condition clears the consciousness and awareness of the practitioner, establishing a perceptual foundation for the continuation of the Ascension through the Chakras to follow. Even to be concerned with the content of an apparently menacing psychic revelation, or the possible negative reaction to Higher Consciousness practices in the social Maya of external society, is still a form of personal attachment. Although these things are not to be completely disregarded, they are to be released during the interval of meditation, and dealt with by the ego upon returning to Maya, and then only to the minimum extent necessary, and with as much detachment as the Seeker can attain. In this way, the purpose of meditation remains directed toward Enlightenment as the attainable state of real, lasting peace through Yoga. 

            As the interval of meditation lengthens, and the practice of Yoga continues, the Kundalini energy progressively carries the awareness upward in sequence through the Chakras and the Planes of Ascension, enabling the personal experience of the qualities and meaning of each Chakra described in Chapter Two. The Chakra Manipura and the Mental Plane will eventually be entered at some point in the practice of two hour meditation. Be advised here that a certain level of commitment will have been reached by this point, particularly in view of the observations made in the preceding paragraphs, and it can be very challenging to locate spiritual communities that support meditation of this length. As a rule, only very sincerely spiritual Seekers working in a few established traditions go to this length of meditation in the observance of Dharma, and most of them are traditional Hindu, Zen, and related Paths. The Seeker may be in for a very determined search to find such people in his or her locality, and may have to travel, relocate, or otherwise be substantially disrupted in the process. Or one may simply have to work alone (that is, in the absence of other human beings) for a Karmic interval if necessary. We are only as spiritually isolated as we make ourselves be through ignorance and resistance to the Truth. 

            The type of spiritual experience customarily known on the Mental Plane is qualitatively different from the complex of tangible, if fantastic, images of the Astral Plane. The Astral Forms represent families of diversification of the more concentrated and universal Mental Manifestations. The Mental Plane is the region of Sacred Geometry – primary psychic forms of Consciousness radiating from the Heart Chakra, Anahata, and the corresponding Intuitive Plane, and assuming perceptible symbolic shape and vibration in the Mental Perception. These forms include the letters of various sacred alphabets, including Sanskrit, Hebrew, Hieroglyphics, and Runic Sigels, among others.  Astrological symbols, Alchemical signs, Tatwas, Mandalas (including the Chakras), various religious symbols from many traditions, the Yoga postures, and vibratory sounds, such as the Primary Mantra OM, and the perception of YHVH, are also included in the concentrated spiritual expression of the Mental Plane. The reference to “mental” in this case refers to the Mind of God interfacing with and structuring the mind of the individual through the transmission of Divine Ideas represented by the aforementioned symbols and manifestations. This type of expression is significantly more powerful in terms of Consciousness than the Astral images, hence the affiliation with the personal Power Center of Manipura. The increased difficulty in attaining the Mental Plane tends to greatly reduce the wide variety of different material which is seen in Astral Perception. 

            Psychic apperception is still manifest on the Mental Plane, but assumes an altered level of expression consistent with more concentrated form. The symbols encountered in this stage of trance are customarily sent specifically to the Seeker as dedicated communication originating from the Atma in Anahata, and pertain to significant personal Enlightenment themes. These themes may or may not be specifically pertinent to a given issue or area of life in Maya, but are always related to the work of Yoga and Ascension. Psychic revelation at this level which does reflect in Maya is extremely important, and concerns some aspect of the Physical Plane which is critical to the progress of Enlightenment and Yoga, and may require immediate attention or transition. Any occasion in which a Mental image is subsequently encountered in Maya is of great import and should be assigned the utmost significance. This type of revelation should also be closely scrutinized and with great respect: the continuation of Ascension from the Mental Plane to the Intuitive Plane involves entry into the Atma in the Heart Chakra, and a Trial or Rite of Passage may be involved, based on the Karma of the Seeker. This can involve significant personal sacrifice and Karmic release. A choice or choices to proceed may well be in order, if the Seeker is not comfortable with the import of what has been shown. Additional preparatory actions may also be needed, outside the realm of meditation, in another tradition, which will usually be subsequently revealed through synchronicity. 

            Or the Mental interaction may take place right on the spot, while in trance! The Atma creates personal awareness by manifestation through the Lower Planes (Mental, then Astral, finally Physical) in sequence. If the optimal balance of spiritual factors is present, the Mental image may be sufficient to initiate Ascension into Anahata when first encountered, or after a few repetitions occur to establish the required bond of Consciousness. My encounter with the Doe beside the Tree of Life described in Chapter One is an example of this occurrence. The Tree of Life is generally considered to be an Astral image. The Doe is an Animal Totem image and is generally also considered to be an Astral Form in that sense, but here the Doe appeared as a personal symbol of the Lamb of God in my awareness, driven by the incredible power of the Tetragrammaton. The Lamb of God is the Christ Consciousness, and is centered in Anahata. This gave the Doe the presence and significance of a Mental Plane image, appearing as a Rite of Ascension in the Astral Perception. I was not afraid or in any other fragmented form of personal consciousness, such as shame or judgment, and this was reflected in my love and appreciation of the Radiance of the beautiful and innocent Doe. This vibration of Love then enabled the transition of my awareness into the Golden Light of the Heart.  

            This type of Ascension experience is unusual in that the Hindu tradition was manifested through Judeo/Christian forms. The religious symbolism and vibration of the Jewish and Christian Paths is extremely powerful and concentrated, developed over thousands of years of suffering, struggle, and enormous personal sacrifice of the Prophets, up to, including, and beyond Jesus the Christ. The nature of this Power in the Manifestation of the Tetragrammaton was sufficient to produce full Samadhi from Maya on one occasion without Asana, willful entry into meditation or trance, or the external ritual preparation of any tradition, including Judaism. My lifetime of varied work in the Spirit, and the personal study and preparation described in Chapter One, were sufficient to initiate the experience. Treat the tools of Cabala and Christianity with the utmost respect, should you feel yourself called forth before them! I have encountered information along the Way regarding other people who have fallen before this Power in death and insanity. Be patient, as I was then. 

            It is also significant that I perceived the Lamb of God in the Manifestation of a Doe on the occasion of that experience, and not as the Personal Image of Jesus or Krishna. I have always been very resonant to Shamanism in the work preceding this Ascension, and have been called a Good Man (not always as a complement, either), although working in a “primitive” tradition. This fundamental positivity was reflected in the Doe. On that occasion, this was sufficient in combination with the Tetrgrammaton to complete the experience. But when I knew in my Heart that I needed to see and know the Personal Image of Christ in the Human Form to continue my spiritual work, the result was a violent disruption of my Maya, one that was precipitated on an involuntary basis that I did not willfully choose to initiate. I do not regret this experience to this day, because I was evidently carefully protected from any actual discomfort or lasting harm for the duration, and because I was given the Gift that my Heart guided me to ask for. But this still serves as a warning that there is a great Bridge of Faith and Trust to be crossed from Manipura into Anahata, and it must be crossed according to the terms set down on the other side. As a Shaman, I wanted to Ascend to the Consciousness of Christ, and I had to make a Shaman’s Sacrifice of personal blood before human witnesses in Maya to do so. It was well, and I trust God always, but do be careful and know that there are prices to be paid for Knowledge... 

            Another relevant factor to be considered in Mental Plane work is the presence of the Guru, or spiritual guide. Although I was not working with a human Guru on either of the occasions just reiterated, I have worked with many guides along the Way, as appropriate. And the Lamb of God as expressed in the Tetragrammaton is the ultimate Guru, always spiritually present for the Seeker. In most cases, there will be or have been a human Guru present in Maya working with the practitioner by the time the stage of two hour trance meditation and access to the Mental Plane is attained. God is the ultimate Judge of what is required for Enlightenment, and if no material guide is available, then so be it, but the Seeker is well advised to contact a material Guru at this stage if one can be found, assuming none has been available. Again, this can be extremely frustrating if that is one’s Karma, but I stand by this suggestion. The Guru is an invaluable friend in all this work, and particularly as the Yoga trance carries awareness into and beyond the Heart. 

            There are also numerous works available on the phenomena of the Mental Plane. In addition to geometric form, these manifestations frequently also involve color in many significant displays, called Thought Forms, another reference to the Divine Idea. The Thought Form is another psychic manifestation, and is particularly interesting in that these colored regions are also seen in the human – and many other –  auras of light which surround the Karmic physical bodies. This aura is normally invisible in Maya perception, but, like other psychic apperception, becomes manifest to awareness through the transfer of the Mental Plane manifestation with the process of Yoga and meditation. A skilled aura reader can deliver a very accurate psychic reading of almost any Karmic expression in Maya, whether human, animal, or object, including where said expression has been, what it has experienced, and what is present in the quantum envelope surrounding it. This latter includes the most auspicious spiritual path of development to subsequently follow. I myself have practiced White Light Shamanic divination with the so-called “Viking” Runic alphabet for many years with phenomenal predictive validity and specificity. I say “so-called” Viking Runes because this Mental Plane oracle originated in prehistoric times in the region of what is now Tibet, long before the Norsemen. 

            An individual session, or sitting, of meditation can be very long. Most people working in the legitimate Eastern traditions consider the two hour interval to be the minimum length required to produce significant results, with four hours at one time considered preferable, and all day at least once a month to be necessary for optimal spiritual contact. Legend has it that Gautama Buddha (the founder of Buddhism) sat in continuous meditation under the Bodhi tree ( “Bodhi” means “Wisdom”) for anywhere from sixty to ninety days (the accounts which I have encountered vary), sustaining himself on one grain of rice each day! By the time he was able to achieve total Enlightenment, and understand the solution to the problem of Suffering (which had been the cause of his entire spiritual journey) his Karmic physical body has been reduced to a skeleton. He had vowed upon taking up his vigil under the tree that he would either remain there until the answer he was Seeking was revealed, or would die there. Although I have certainly gone to what might be considered some extremes for the sake of Enlightenment, I have definitely not yet been called forth to that level of challenge. However, it is noteworthy to mention here that the Guru literally lives out his or her days in trance of one level or another as an expression of Yoga and Dharma. 

            As I have mentioned, the next transition in Ascension to the Heart Chakra is very significant. We are called upon to confront many of life’s most basic issues at this level, and many profound changes in both life and lifestyle can result from this. Before taking this step, the practitioner should take some time (days, not hours) to survey his or her life and circumstances, and be very clear internally regarding how important additional personal commitment and potential sacrifice is along the Path. If you are living a life which you find to be adequate to your personal requirements, and are fundamentally at peace with yourself and the world, this might be a good place to level off. God would not compel you to take any direction which will destabilize your well being, and I additionally will caution you regarding any of the risks involved along the Way of which I am aware. The evolution of the Soul customarily takes many, many lifetimes, and there is no need to press the process at any time, anywhere. The mixture of secular and spiritual living is frequently the best condition for most people. You must decide what this mixture will be in your case. 

            If the decision is made to press on, the interval of trance meditation may be increased first to three hours at a session, and then to four. This gradual upgrade facilitates the observation of the impact of advancing time spent in trance on the practitioner’s total life. Needless to say, if any type of negative impact or correlation begins to become evident, the length of time should be reduced to a neutral interval until the negative condition can be understood and resolved. Most people living in the world today are not so comfortably situated financially or developmentally that they can make a comprehensive break with the world of Maya for the sake of the quest for Enlightenment, and it is reasonable to suppose that a compromise may be made at some point.  

            The four hour interval, at least once a week, is the enabling influence for trance state long and deep enough to approach and enter the Heart Chakra, Anahata, and the Intuitive Plane. Anahata is the Seat of the Soul, the Atma, the Christ Consciousness – the personal Doorway to Divine Consciousness. The perceptual experience of the Seeker in Anahata tends to be literally intuitive at this stage, as opposed to visual, auditory, conceptual, or symbolic. There is a sensation and perception of approach by, and direct contact with, the Divine Presence itself, through the Soul. 

            This is not to say that the images and experiences of the first three Planes will absolutely not be present in Anahata at all, but that they become personal presence, instead of objective experience. In this Plane, the Lesson becomes the Teacher. Rather than being shown the Way, we are personally approached and touched by the Way. In the spiritual sense, the Guru appears in our awareness here in unmistakable presence, whether seen or heard in sign, symbol, or image or not. This is a living relationship with Christ in Consciousness which grows and develops with time at this stage. 

            The most important quality to be comprehended on the Intuitive Plane is compassion. This is achieved through the process of forgiveness. These two states of being, more than any others, were the messages of Jesus and all Seers to humanity. If we can achieve this, we open the magical gateway to Grace as Karma is released. The great lesson of the Heart is that the only thing that holds us in the prison of Maya is our own expectations of ourselves and others. In the act of forgiveness, we replace our disappointed conscious and unconscious beliefs that happiness can be attained by manipulating in Maya with the acceptance of the Truth – unenlightened material action is doomed to eventual failure, and we are almost all more or less unenlightened. How many people do you know who literally live in Yoga, and never leave this condition? In my life to date, I may have encountered as many as three such individuals on the Physical Plane  for brief periods of time. I dare say, this rate of contact is still much higher than the world average of no contact with Yoga at all

            In the Heart Chakra, we are asked directly by the Soul to look at the condition of Karma – in  other words, this life – for what it really is, not what we want it to be, or think it could be, or should be. And it is a Veil of Tears, held in place by attachment. The single purpose for all the spiritual signs and symbols and therapists and Gurus and Paths is to enable us to realize and accept this. We are here to find God, and all the material goals and distractions along the way are only there as Karma, and have no other real meaning at all. We do the work of Anahata as we learn this lesson. Then, at least, we can cry Tears of Joy... 

            When sufficient personal work has been done on the Intuitive Plane, access to the remaining three Planes of Ascension progressively occurs. Many comprehensive shifts in the individual’s awareness will have taken place by this time, among them the shift in Yoga from an external starting point to an integral element of living. The search for God has become the ongoing and increasing awareness of God. As the process continues on the additional Planes, this awareness becomes a relationship with God, culminating in Samadhi. The role of meditation and trance changes with the nature of this relationship, and our role in it. I have already given fairly thorough descriptions of the character of the Chakras of Vishuddha, Ajna, and Sahasrara in Chapter Two, and will give brief suggestions of some of the Yoga expressions typical to each now. 

            Vishuddha is the Throat Chakra, and pertains to the Spiritual Plane. This refers to the element of auditory communication – chanting, singing, intonation, and spoken and written words – as the focus of Yoga at this stage, more or less in that order of effectiveness. One could make the distinction here between chanting or singing to God, and talking or writing about God. All of these are Dharma, and serve Yoga, but on different levels of immediate personal involvement. This stage is called the Spiritual Plane in acknowledgment that we are really acting in our relationship with the Logos above the Heart Chakra, and that this is taking place at the level of Spiritual Vibration, not intellectual conception. Yet, these words that I write are also a Vibration of Love, sent to the world as Dharma. My chanting tends to be substantially more mundane, while my talking vibrates Dharma very powerfully for anyone who has ever listened. True communication is Communion. 

            Beyond the Spiritual Plane we enter Ajna and the Monadic Plane. The term Monad refers to an ancient conception in Western mysticism that the first Manifestation of Creation from God is a collection, or family, of twelve Souls, called the Divine Monad. These Souls then descend in Expression through the Planes, eventually manifesting in conjunction with appropriate expressions of Karma in the Physical Plane. These Karma expressions need not be human, or even “living”, and can be located anywhere in the Physical Plane, but maintain their vibrational Spiritual affinity for each other regardless. Sometimes, the Karma of one member of the Monad will allow contact during incarnation with the Karma of another. We feel these events as Soul interactions – much more satisfying on any level than others, even though we may not know why. Many times we believe that we are searching for a special person, or a special object, or a special place, and do not realize that we are really longing to be reunited with our Soul Mates. Those observed “special” characteristics in Maya which we, once again, tend to become attached to at that level, are actually vibrations which resemble our own Soul vibration, and that of our Brothers and Sisters in the Monad. We are always searching for the experience of Yoga.  

            I have referred to Ajna as the Light Monad, and this is related not only the Manifestation of the All Seeing Eye, but to the Soul and Atma, and all consciousness, as Expressions of Light. Conversely, in calling Lucifer the Monad in Chapter Two, there is an implication that he could be called the Material Monad, and that the twelve expressions of Karma corresponding to the Souls of the Light Monad originate in a similar, but dense, relationship there. Life can be seen as a region of turbulence – Karma and Maya – lying between, and caused by the interaction of, matter and energy. 

            On the Monadic Plane, we experience our relationship with the Logos visually – the Divine Presence is literally seen here, not merely in such symbolic form as the Mandala, or the images of the Chakras, but as the Brahman – the Divine Radiance, and as Krishna, the Supreme Personality of the Godhead from which that Radiance issues, achieving Creation. This visual vibration can also be seen in all Maya Perception, although it is particularly powerful in the case of sacred objects and conditions. By “sacred” I mean that which has literally been infused with Brahma by Krishna, as opposed to that which has been arbitrarily labeled as “sacred” by human beings. The sacred phenomenon actually radiates, or pours forth, a rippling field of energy which looks like a wave of radiation, or light! This field of electromagnetic influence can frequently also be heard and felt. As I reported in Chapter One, Brahma and Krishna, in the form of Sahasrara, can be perceived, or seen, from Ajna, when we ourselves have returned to our original form as Light of Consciousness. 

            Sahasrara is the Chakra of the Direct Expression, or Personality, of the Logos, on the Logoic Plane of Ascension. This stage of our relationship with God is attained in Samadhi – full Yoga – Knowledge of God without separation. We have found our way Home at last. 

            All of the three highest Planes of Ascension can be experienced while in meditative trance at successively deeper and more complete stages. The level of commitment and involvement by the Seeker definitely has a lot to do with any of the Manifestations which I have just described. At these stages of experience, Yoga has become a lifestyle, and life for the Seeker, well beyond the dedicated time spent in trance meditation, and in or out of any and all specific traditions. This is not to say that “normal” functioning cannot exist at this level of Yoga: I continued to work and fulfill my “role” in social Maya long after the Samadhi described herein. But my awareness and consciousness were changed forever, as was my world. In the Divine Presence, we are called then and thereafter to the Great Work of Dharma, as the relationship with the Logos continues in Expression. I continue to practice trance meditation alone and with others to this day, but this is only one phase of my Spiritual Experience of Yoga, among many others, including Dharma of all kinds. I do not literally live in a trance state, but my perception of Maya is still drastically removed from ego perception. And the work goes on... 

            Please take some time to note the following chart, which illustrates some correspondences among the Chakras, the Planes of Ascension, and Scientific Terms for the altered states of perception described thus far:


                                   Chakra                   Ascension                      Freudian                  Jungian

                                 Muladhara              Physical Plane                        Ego                         Ego               

                              Svadhishthana            Astral Plane                       Fantasy                Imagination

                                  Manipura                Mental Plane                          Id                             Id

                                   Anahata                Intuitive Plane                    Delusion           Collective Archetypes          

                                 Vishuddha              Spiritual Plane                     Illusion                 Collective Atma      

                                     Ajna                    Monadic Plane                Hallucination          Collective Brahma

                                Sahasrara                Logoic Plane                   Psychosis             Primal Self/Krishna


             I do not necessarily consider this chart to be the last word on its contents, but there is certainly much food for reflection contained within it! 

            Again, having come thus far, now is an appropriate time to briefly enumerate the Eight Stages of Yoga traditionally practiced:


            Yama –   A “restraint” or moral injunction. These include:

                         Satyama                      Truthfulness – Honesty to self and others.

                         Brahmacharya            Moderation – Self control / self denial.

                         Aparigraha                  Detachment – Negation of desire.

                         Asteya                          Observance of Laws – Particularly against theft.

                         Ahimsa                        The Taking of No Life – Nonviolence  


            Niyama  –   An observance or provision of living, including:

                         Tapa                            Austerity – The avoidance glamour and excess.

                         Saucha                         Cleanliness – Mental and physical health.

                         Santosha                      Repose – Seeking contentment in simplicity.

                         Swadhaya                    Study – Specifically of sacred (Hindu) literature.

                         Ishwara                       Awareness of God – Guidance by Divine Will.


             Asana  –  The Yoga postures. Directly release Karma through physical Dharma.

             Pranayama  –  Control and awareness of the breath. Complements the postures.

             Dharana  –  The intentional focusing of awareness through concentration.

             Dhyana  –  The practice of meditation.

             Pratyahara  –  The negation or calming of the senses to relax the ego.

             Samadhi  –  The complete experience of Divine Union.


             It will be seen that most of these conditions are fairly self explanatory, and have also been addressed by this point in previous passages, with the exception of Dharana. This is related to, and similar in character to, the Zen meditation practice of focusing the total awareness on one discreet condition as a means to discipline the awareness and, hence, develop the facility to voluntarily shut down the ego. In Yoga practice, the Mandala is frequently used as the point of focus, but any other appropriate phenomenon will also suffice. One will recall that I referred to a drop of water earlier in the Chapter, and a pebble, or the tip of the nose, or a button are also used. This can be particularly useful as an initiation into a session of meditation, instead of focused breathing. 

            It should be mentioned here that Pranayama includes much more extensive practice with breathing control and techniques than the simple first stage observation of normal breathing mentioned here. A full explanation of all of these methods is considerably beyond the scope of this work, and would also encourage the reader to work in areas without guidance that require instruction and supervision for appropriate use  in Yoga practice. The good thing here is that this level of instruction does not require the achievement of Guru status, and many sincere Yoga teachers at the more secular facilities can provide it. 

            There are also many different schools and stages of Yoga, distinguished by the level of involvement that the practitioner has achieved. These include the generally recognized practices of Hatha and Kundalini already mentioned, as well as Raja, or “Royal” Yoga – an advanced form which focuses heavily on breath control technique and Dharana – and Bhakti, the Yoga of Love and Devotional service. It is common for Ascended Masters to found their own unique approach to Yoga philosophy, expanding and building upon the traditional concepts. The work of Kriya Yoga initiated by Paramahansa Yoganada is a good specific example. This school is literally a comprehensive devotional lifestyle incorporating all of the original precepts and adding many more observances oriented toward the elevation of personal consciousness on the conceptual level. And there are many other Gurus and teachings as well.   

            I also want to reemphasize now that there are many paths of Yoga beyond Hinduism, in the sense of reunion with Divine Consciousness. Martial arts practice has been and is also a route which has produced God Realization for the Seeker attracted to those systems. I once asked a Master martial artist what the term “Kung Fu”, so very over worked in modern media, really meant, and he said, “Kung Fu is an ancient expression meaning ‘To Persevere on the Path with the Utmost Determination’”. This expression clearly pertains to Yoga in any discipline. As always, I invite you to find yours. 

            Let us turn our attention to the Western traditions. I have described the Samadhi experience which I was able to sustain by virtue of the study of Cabala in Chapter One. Cabala, although a form of mysticism specific to the Jewish tradition, comes under the heading of the Hermetic Doctrine in Western Mysticism. The Hermetic tradition is a reference to the Greek God Hermes, who symbolizes the intellect, wisdom, and the acquisition of knowledge. Hermetic doctrine includes the Western traditions of the Book of the Tarot, Astrology (and there is also Hindu Vedic astrology, as an aside), and Alchemy. In the West, these studies have frequently come under the description of Occultism, with the term “Occult” literally meaning “hidden” or “concealed”. It is unfortunate that this expression has seen just enough association in the Occident with the activities of a few unbalanced and power motivated individuals to have acquired a negative connotation in the Western mentality. Occultism is no more or less than Western mysticism and transcendentalism. 

            Astrology is very possibly the oldest organized body of knowledge to be found in any record of any culture anywhere. This is undoubtedly due to the relevance of the progress of the heavenly bodies and the seasons to the agricultural crop cycle, and the need for navigation, not only at sea, but for long journeys into unfamiliar territory on land as well. In the earliest days of human existence, virtually everything was wilderness, and potentially disorienting and dangerous as such. As civilization advanced over the millennia, more and more information and observed associations with the activity of the stars and planets was collected and compared by astrologers of many ancient lands, culminating in the generally accepted Astrological principals in use today. These are so well known, and there are so many books available on the subject, that I will spare the reader an additional treatise here. 

            I have found the Natal, or Birth, Chart to be of particular significance in my personal work on spiritual growth and Enlightenment. This is a chart of the positions of the Solar planets, and the Moon and certain comets, in the sky, looking South from the birth place of the individual, at the time of birth to the minute. The Natal Chart shows the locations of these bodies both above and below the land horizon, in the form of a complete circle. The twelve astrological Houses, the well known Sun Signs, are also shown on the chart, and much information is given regarding the angular relationships of all this material, and the significance in the individual’s life of same. 

            The Natal Chart, when correctly understood, is a very accurate picture of the individual’s personal Karma which he or she will be working with during the term of incarnation. I have made a regular practice of obtaining this chart for anyone that I have worked with to any significant extent, and have found the implications of the correspondences shown to be invaluable, particularly when coupled with the process of divination. I have found that most of the modern Natal interpretations from competent astrologers are fairly much in agreement on the primary points to be interpreted, and will customarily begin with this information as a means of building a background of traditional understanding of the meaning and interaction of the planets, etc. Following this, I review the results of a recent divination conducted with the individual, comparing the significant areas of development that are invariably present in both approaches. The process is concluded with a look at one or more of several “optional” meanings of the astrological indicators taken from other systems. 

            The “other systems” used can include both Freudian and Jungian psychology, physics, quantum theory, and the panorama of Eastern and Western knowledge, including Cabala, Tarot, Hinduism, Buddhism, Daoism, many cultural mythologies, Christianity, Islam, and a host of ancient and modern tribal belief systems. The power of the Planets, Houses, and Signs as specific indications of the influence of Divine Consciousness is immeasurable when extended into this range of additional meaning and knowledge, and this is yet another reason why I am eclectic in my work and study, and encourage this across the board as the best way to embrace spiritual growth. The Natal chart viewed as a “map” of personal Karma is obviously a most powerful tool of understanding and action. 

            Many people are skeptical of the validity of the astrological perspective as a result of mixed observations of the predictive reliability of the far more common Transiting Chart. This is the popular daily, weekly, monthly, or longer interval predictive chart which most people are familiar with. And the fact is that there is a substantial amount of variance in the reliability of this tool. Why? The term “transit” gives some insight here. In the Transiting Chart, the current, or pending, positions of the planetary and other indicators are shown and compared to the positions of same on the Natal Chart, or another general method which utilizes accepted correspondences. Predictions are customarily made based upon the planets and other bodies which are closely aligned, or in transit with, the original Natal positions. The theory here is that the Natal Influence is recurrent, and will surface in Transits as well, and in the general influences present. 

            The issue with this logic concerns the personal development of the individual. To the extent that someone has not done much significant spiritual work in their lives, and has not released much of their Natal Karma for this reason, the Transit positions are reliable, because the overall implication of that Natal Karma is still there. To the extent that someone has done an appreciable amount of spiritual transition work, and released the corresponding Natal Karma, the Transit positions are not as reliable because the planetary indicators now only have the significance of the general forms, and are only meaningful on that much less personal basis. The objective of this life is (hopefully) to  release our Natal Karma as we attain Enlightenment. The Natal Chart and Transits should have very little significance at the end of life for someone who largely attains that objective, having released much of the separated consciousness which they were created as an expression of. I have often supposed that it would be useful to cast a Pre or Postmortem Chart for  people and compare this to their Natal Chart, either shortly before leaving incarnation (if appropriate, and if the time is known to be imminent) with the  individual, or thereafter, with the next of kin. I have never done this, but am sure the results would be most interesting and significant. 

            The Book of the Tarot is another mainstay of the Western Mysteries. Most people have heard of the Tarot by now, and as a deck colorful cards used in divination. But the tarot system is in fact a book of detailed and involved secret explanations of the same Mysteries of Consciousness which are the focus of Yoga, here richly codified in the form of visual pictorial Jungian archetypal symbols. The pages of this book have been intentionally separated to permit not only synchronicity  in divination, but spontaneous access to learning the lessons therein in virtually any order or sequence which the Seeker finds useful. And in this way, the same information shown in the Natal Chart could also conceivably be shown in a Major Arcanum Tarot reading! The Major Arcanum are the well known twenty two numbered cards, beginning with the Fool as “zero”, and ending with the World at twenty one. In the case of the Natal Chart example, the reading could be first done as a divination, and the results compared to the chart, or the Major Arcanum cards having the same planetary correspondences as those on the chart could be similarly arranged and studied for added insight into the astrological information. I have used both techniques to great advantage with the Runic Oracle, which also supports astrological correspondence, and I will also conduct Tarot readings in a session to obtain yet another useful eclectic insight. The supportive and synchronous character of virtually all systems of secret wisdom is eventually revealed with extensive study to the open minded student of alternate and transcendental consciousness! 

            This brings us to the subject of Alchemy, the grand ancestor of modern chemistry. But the manipulation of material stuff to obtain new substances was only one of the implications of this area of endeavor. Alchemy is another system of spiritual development, which postulates a total of twenty two stages of Enlightened Consciousness which the practitioner must pass through in the process of obtaining Oneness with the Divine Intelligence. It will be noted that this is the identical number to the Major Arcanum cards of the aforementioned Tarot system, and that is most significant. Although the Tarot today is an unbound book divided into both Major and Minor Arcanum, it is the major cards which were first developed, and that as a specifically spiritual system of esoteric knowledge. The minor cards were added progressively as popular demand for mundane worldly information in divination increased in medieval Western culture. The numerical order of the Major Arcanum from Fool to World is well known in Occult practice for describing the same course of spiritual development to the same outcome in Divine Consciousness as the stages of Alchemy! 

            The fact that the developmental meaning of the progression of the Major Arcanum is well known, and available in many forms, from both the traditional Occult and modern Jungian archetypal perspectives, once again absolves the writer from repeating that sequence here. For the same reason, I am not going to enumerate the much less well known system of Alchemical stages. Suffice it to say that the most basic and important meaning of Alchemy is personal spiritual transformation. And that this transformation constitutes a progressive Enlightenment of conscious awareness from the material sense (Maya) to the Universal Mind (Godhead). I will say that the symbolic imagery used, coupled with the descriptions of the subjective states experienced, very closely resembles the evolution of the Yoga Chakra system, and the progression of meaning of the Spheres on the Tree of Life of Qabala. This extends to written terminology, sacred geometrical forms, and color correspondences as well. What we see before us is, once again, the same phenomenon expressed in different cultural form, in seven, ten, and twenty two stage systems. 

            The Hermetic system of Occult knowledge can be traced in large part to origins in ancient Egypt, prior to the time of the construction of the pyramids. Egypt is the birthplace of Western culture in antiquity, particularly in the region of the headwaters of the Nile Delta. And to my knowledge, the oldest fossil remains of our prehuman ancestors are still those found in the region of East Central Africa which includes the minor tributaries that eventually converge to form the Nile River. In all probability, Egypt and the region of the Near East known as the Fertile Triangle are the combined birthplace of humanity, and civilization as well, and are certain to have supported some form of organized social structure dating well back into prehistoric times. References in the Book of Exodus state that the great Patriarch of the Jewish faith, Moses, was “schooled in all the wisdom of Egypt”, a significant statement in view of the fact that this was all of the wisdom of the world at that time! I have encountered information and diagrams of older versions of the Tree of Life which also are known to have been developed from a pre-Hebrew system in Egypt. The fact that Moses undoubtedly knew this information, and in much more complete form than the erosion of history (particularly with reference to the burning of the Library at Alexandria) has permitted modern science to know, it is of enormous import. In the Body of Law which he obtained under trance in the profound religious vision of the Burning Bush was contained the Name of the One God which Moses  gave to the Jewish tribes, Yahweh – I Am – and the Secret of the Tetragrammaton. 

            I shall conclude this portion of the Illumination of the Western Mystery tradition, although very brief and basic it has been, with the discussion of Cabala, since this is the source of the experiences of Chapter One. And here I will go into substantially more detail for that reason. 

            It is not made specifically clear in any version of the Torah (the first five Books of the Old Testament) of which I am aware whether Moses specifically received any information or revelations regarding the Tree of Life, or the system of Cabala, while in Samadhi on Ararat, and that is most certainly the state of Unified Consciousness with God which he was experiencing. There are at least Ten Holy Names of God in Cabala, including the Tetragrammaton, and I have heard suggestions that there are possibly twelve known to some very esoteric Secret Order of unspecified character in Europe. Each of the Ten Names corresponds to one Sphere of Consciousness (Sephirah) on the Tree of Life. If Moses did not reveal these Names to the Tribes (and I suspect that he did), then they must have been determined very shortly after Ararat. I have noticed a pattern of manifestation of Revealed Divine Consciousness in the accounts of various traditions, which resembles my own: a final description which is a combination of immediate Divine Revelation and prior personal knowledge. The expectation in modern times is that the Seer will clarify the distinction between these two levels of expression, as I have at least attempted to do here. This is usually not the case in the legacy of antiquity. The Seer of those times frequently did not distinguish between what he knew before or after his Vision took place, in fact, the understanding of human awareness and life in general was so new and so minimal that the perception of the difference between the ego and the Logos was indistinct. 

            And the perceived difference between the concrete world created by today’s thoroughly reinforced Freudian ego and the fantastic world of supernatural expression was even more indistinct. People in the mass simply did not know what, If anything, was fixed in form, and what was mutable. So it is that Moses did not specifically make the level of origin of the Portions of the Law clear either: he simply made the Whole of the Law clear as the edict of the new Unitary God, replacing the pagan polytheistic traditions which predated it, back to unknown prehistoric origins. And he was absolutely correct and accurate in doing so. In the state of Samadhi, all knowing is merged into Divine Knowledge, and the condition of personal knowledge and experience really is lost. The wisdom of Egypt is the Wisdom of God, as is all wisdom and experience. 

            And it is known that the modern form of the Tree of Life was completed during the Middle Ages, and was presumably also affiliated with the Book of the Tarot Major Arcanum during that time. The assignment of the Ten Holy Names of God was also determined, and affiliated with the Tree. This much has remained clearly visible through the Mists of Illusory Time. Let us return to the discussion of antiquity for the moment. 

            Ancient Egypt was linked in trade with the World of that day, including the Fertile Triangle civilizations then in existence, and they in turn had already developed amazingly far flung trade and exploratory activities in areas much farther Eastward, all the way to what was a very Pagan polytheistic region that was destined to become pre Persian India. And religious Seeking and pilgrimage as an expression of Dharma also was in existence as an established practice of many of the proto religious belief systems of the time. 

            Pilgrims tended to follow the trade routes and caravans for the sake of safety in those days. Travel then (as it is lamentably becoming again today) was a dangerous activity, and the large guarded caravans were a source of safety and security. And many different pilgrims from different traditions would meet each other and exchange ideas and information in a large caravan traveling between major ancient cities along the routes. The grappling with the human condition of that time, and the knowledge of the supernatural world and it’s impact on man, was a grim, serious business, and any new revelation or insight by any Seer was welcomed and evaluated with enthusiasm as a possible new working tool for living amid chaos, even though there were already certain sectarian biases in place which imposed an interesting limitation on this process, particularly if the revelation came from the minions of a commercial rival! In this case, the new concept which was found to be useful was subjected to just enough alteration to pass muster as a local invention. This generally amounted to a simple concept or entity name change, accompanied by a fabricated polytheistic lineage on the locally accepted family Tree of Gods, to blend the new expression into the system in popular use. 

            The practice of religious interchange of this character continued as history advanced, and entire civilizations began to vanquish each other, rising and falling in more or less continuous warfare. Egypt seemed to persist intact during these centuries, and continued to acquire sacred and mundane knowledge from every culture.  It is believed by some Occult sources that the proto structure of the Tree of Life expression was also either imported into Egypt during an unspecified period of early antiquity, or was synthesized there from other concepts at the time. What is known through surviving medieval documentation is that the earliest depiction of the Tree was not an interlinked branching structure as is the case today, but was a vertical succession of Spheres very reminiscent of the Chakras! (As an aside, the progression of the Chakras is frequently referred to as the Lotus Tree in modern nomenclature). As mentioned above, certain local changes to things tended to take place – nobody worried about copyrights in those times! 

            It may be that the fundamental concept of an interleaved developmental system of consciousness was evolving in parallel with external culture everywhere at the time, albeit very tentatively, and that concerned people were assembling the pieces as time and resources permitted.  In any case, it is very possible that things were well along in Egypt  by the time of Moses, although reserved for the consideration of the priesthood and royalty, in all probability. Such being the case, he would have had access to the most progressive religious thought of his culture. 

            The description of God in the Vision of Moses as a Burning Bush which was still not consumed by being engulfed in flame is another evident reference to an organized, tree-like Manifestation of the Divine Consciousness. And this also could certainly be a description of the Radiant Lotus of Sahasrara given by a man who had never known, or otherwise been given any information about, such a Divine Manifestation. The overwhelming brilliance of the Brahman Light radiating from the Godhead would certainly resemble Holy Fire, which yet did not consume the Flower of God within and  producing it, would it not? And the Thousand Petals of the Lotus of Divine Consciousness would seem to be the Leaves of a Miraculous Bush or Tree, if this was  the only familiar form which one had known for comparison. And the Vision which Moses had must also have been affected at least minimally by his personal image form propensities as well. 

            I believe that every facet of the Laws and social mores that Moses brought down from the mountain top was manifested to him initially as individual Leaves, or Petals, on the Burning Bush, as pure Divine Ideas, centered around the Ten Commandments, although Exodus makes it clear that he provided the Tribes with much more than those ten basic concepts in the Body of the First Covenant. The ten Sephiroth of the Tree of Life must have been particularly powerful, radiant Leaves –  Elements of Divine Life -- in Moses’ Vision of God, and these manifested not only the Commandments, but the perceptual foundation for Qabala and the Tree of Life as well. The Name of I Am given to Moses by God suggests that He is Everything in Creation, All of Life, like a single living self sustaining being – a Tree of Divine Life. One must stand in awe of the accomplishment Moses achieved in receiving this Holy Perception of the Supreme Absolute Truth, and then translating that detailed and complex Vision into the terms of an entirely new society, working only with the ancient concepts he knew! 

            Whatever the intercultural relationships might have been in antiquity, there are clear correspondences today in the structure and meaning of the elements of the Lotus Tree of Yoga and the Life Tree of Cabala. However, the most interesting way which I have found to appreciate those common links is to begin the comparison by highlighting the distinctive features of each system. 

            The Lotus Tree developed as a working model of the evolution of seven distinct states of Higher Consciousness in the individual experiencing Ascension through Yoga.  The first state of Muladhara denotes the beginning of the Path in the Physical Plane and Maya. The process culminates in Samadhi on the Logoic Plane, with Sahasrara, the seventh and final Chakra. Although there are any number of more or less minor phases of this process along the Way, there are no specifically hidden steps or any other intentional concealment present: the Lotus Tree is complete as is. 

            The Life Tree also deals with the process of Enlightenment and Yoga, but from the reverse perspective: the perspective of Divine Consciousness descending through the Planes of Manifestation in the Act of Creation, culminating in the Physical Plane. The Logoic Plane of the Life Tree is represented by the Qabalistic Trinity, in the  Sephiroth of  Kether, or the Crown –  the Pure Logos –, Chokma – the Divine Father (Yang) – , and Binah – the Divine Mother (Yin). Kether is considered to be the first step in the process of Creation, and the movement of the Life Tree begins there, at the crest of the vertical expanse of the system, as opposed to the base of the Lotus Tree. The Sephirah of Chokma is the second expression in Creation, and Binah is the third. This is another distinction in the Life Tree: the path to be followed is established by this transverse movement, and zigzags along the structure in what is known as the Path of the Flaming Sword – a specific reference to the Angel placed by God to guard the entrance to Eden. In this way, the Seeker working with the Life Tree dances with the Dao of Creation during the Ascension process by repeatedly experiencing the alternate consciousness of Yin and Yang energies in moving back and forth across the structure. The Female Axis of this movement is called the Pillar of Severity, and is Black, while the Male Axis is the Pillar of Mercy, and is White. The central column of Sephiroth is referred to as the Pillar of Mildness, and is customarily not shown as a distinct colored form in Sacred Geometrical Space. These five Sephiroth, including the invisible Sephirah of Daath, represent the direct Linear Path of Divine Consciousness from the Logos to the Physical Plane of experience. 

            A Seeker wishing to experience Samadhi in the Qabalistic system cannot normally disregard the Path of the Flaming Sword, which requires contact in sequence with all of the Sephiroth. However, a sincere Yoga practitioner who has faithfully advanced in practice through the first three Chakras can simultaneously experience the Male and Female Expressions of the three levels of Severity and Mercy as integrated Consciousness implicitly present on the Pillar of Mildness, shown by the horizontal intersecting colored bars which connect the Sephiroth of Severity with the corresponding Sephiroth of Mercy. This is essentially what I experienced in Chapter One. If this is done, one then passes through the Seven Planes of Ascension as would be the case with the Lotus Tree. The implicit differentiation of Manipura, Vishuddha, and Ajna into Daoist expressions is a very sophisticated and advanced method of representing the sequence Creation in Divine Consciousness in humanly knowable terms. 

            This illustrates another important distinction between the two systems: The Life Tree is relatively intellectual and conceptual in character – contemplative understanding is the underlying theme present. The symbolic detail of meaning seen in the individual Chakras is not shown in the separate radial spheres of the Sephiroth, but is seen in the entire Tree as one unified symbolic expression of the Consciousness of Creation. The Lotus Tree is perceptual and existential in character – direct experience of the levels of altered Transcendental Consciousness symbolically represented by the individual Chakras is the literal meaning present. The Lotus Tree represents the Path of Ascension in Consciousness, while the Life Tree represents the Perception of Creation attained by the Seeker who has successfully completed that Path with the experience of Samadhi.  

            The Creation Chart of Chapter Two is also such a Perception of Creation, but shown along a single linear axis which expresses the polarity of Divine Male and Female energy  in the division of Creation into the Daoist physical Karmic form, and the Hindu spiritual  forms of the Chakras of Consciousness. The two modes of Divine Expression in the Creation Chart are separated by the Triad – the interactive human condition – in contrast to the Life Tree, where the Pillar of Mildness represents the interactive region. In essence, the Life Tree implies that the Planes of Ascension represented by the Pillar of Mildness (and the reciprocal Ascension and Creation processes) are defined by the Polar Action of the Dao, expressed by the Pillars of Severity and Mercy on either side. The Creation Chart implies that both the Action of the Dao and the Planes of Ascension are themselves Higher Polar Expressions of the total Divine Creation which achieves our human consciousness. Both representations are correct: without the Action of the Dao, the Planes of Consciousness could not exist, and without the Supreme Consciousness of God, nothing could exist. 

            Since we are concerned with the subject of Yoga in this Chapter, as opposed to Creation, I will begin the Illumination of the Life Tree of Cabala as an Ascension system with the tenth (and last) Sephirah, Malkuth, the Sphere of the Earth and the Physical Plane, and follow the Path of the Flaming Sword up the Tree from there. 

            Malkuth is always depicted in division into four equal quadrants of different symbolic colors. The accepted meaning of these sections is the reference to the four Elements of Earth, Air, Fire, and Water, and the corresponding colors are brown, light blue or white, red, and green or medium blue. There may be any number of additional symbols included on the quadrants, such as the alchemical signs for the Elements, reference material to the Four Cardinal Directions, and Hebrew letters representing the Elements, or the Holy Name of God corresponding to this Sephirah, Adonai ha-Aretz. There are also Tarot attributes assigned to the Sephiroth and the connecting paths, which are referred to as the Twenty Two Paths of Wisdom. Each Path has an associated Hebrew Letter, and an associated Card of the Tarot Major Arcanum as well. Malkuth is linked to both the tens and the Princess Cards. I wish to mention here again as an aside that the focus of this work on the Life Tree is going to remain directed toward the Yoga of Ascension. The general subject of Qabala contains many intrinsic correspondences to virtually every other prominent philosophy of Mysticism in the world, and any attempt to expand our investigation here into the Qabala itself would result in quadrupling the size of this Chapter, if not the entire book! Let us continue. 

            Malkuth is the physical universe of Karma, including the physical body of Karma, and the resultant Freudian sensory ego and Maya perception. The Occult meaning of Malkuth is Kingdom, referring to the Kingdom of God in physical form: planet Earth.  The implication of Ascension work here is very much the same as it is in Muladhara – learning to live a spiritual life in Maya. The two symbols have functionally the same meaning to the Seeker. Malkuth is Manifested through the action of Yesod, the Ninth Sephirah, in which the archetypal elements present therein generate Maya by passing through an auric boundary region surrounding the physical Karma Body known as the Etheric Body. The Etheric Body is one of the Yogic Subtle (Auric) Bodies associated with, and more or less surrounding, the Karma Body. The Etheric Body is seen as a halo of light immediately contiguous with the Karma Body by aura readers. From the Etheric Body, the Aura expands outward into the Astral Body, specifically associated with Yesod and the Astral Plane, and the Mental Body, associated with the Eighth Sephirah of Hod, and the Seventh Sephirah of Netzach. Hod and Netzach are the Daoist Elements expressing the Mental Plane on the Life Tree.  

            Bearing in mind that the Life Tree, as stated earlier, incorporates the Daoist expression of Creation as intrinsic principals within its structure, represented by the Pillars of Severity and Mercy, both physical Karma and perceptual Maya are generated in Malkuth by the Astral Divine Consciousness acting through Yesod. This Consciousness contains the manifest physical action of the Dao transferred into it from Hod (Yin) and Netzach (Yang), and the Atma Manifestation from the Sephirah directly above it – Tiphareth – the Christ Center. Tiphareth represents the Intuitive Plane on the Tree diagram. In this way, Yesod contains all three of the elements of the human Triad: physical, mental, and spiritual. For reference, the Holy Name of Yesod is Shaddai El Chai. 

            The Tetragrammaton vibration is active in both Tiphareth, as the Blood of the Lamb, and in Netzach as the element of sensation on the Mental Plane. Yod represents the Mental Plane element of cognition, or thought. When the Daoist combination of cognition and sensation (driven by the power of YHVH), is achieved, the result is physical perception: Karma and Maya. This perception interacts Astrally in Yesod with the Atma Manifestation from Tiphareth, also driven directly by YHVH. The Astral Consciousness of YHVH, radiating from the Soul in Tiphareth, generates sufficient additional Creative force in Yesod to condense the dense physical Karma body from the electromagnetic Light of Consciousness of the Etheric Body, with the mechanism of  Maya sensory perception inherently present and ready to begin development with the physical fetus.   

            This is the process of Creation on the Physical Plane as described by Cabala. And, lest we think that Lucifer was not also included in this action in Cabala, be assured that he is there, on the Twenty Sixth Path of Wisdom, represented by the Devil Card of the Tarot! This Path connects Tiphareth to Yod, and expresses essentially the same meaning as that given by the Creation Chart, that the Tetragrammaton achieves manifest physical Creation, or Karma, through vibration in the Monad. The specific implication here is that cognition, or Yod, is the expression of Lucifer in the Triad, and this is very true. Cognition is the quintessence of the Freudian ego: the sole purpose of thought in Maya is to manipulate desire action. 

            As the practice of Yoga, and Asana, begins to activate the Kundalini, Consciousness begins Ascension from the Physical Plane to the Astral Plane, in Yesod, the first step along the Path of the Flaming Sword. Much has already been said herein about the Astral Plane, and Cabala is in agreement with all of it. The Astral Sense is the Astral Sense in every system. But Cabala does highlight more pertinent information about the Kundalini, and this is a good place to look at these additional characteristics as we move into Yesod. 

            The Chakras have been described as Astral Forms. They exist in the Astral Body, and coincide with the Physical Body at the spinal column and brain. It is very important to understand that the Kundalini, although propelling Consciousness through the Astral Chakras, is itself a literal neuro-physical impulse, an electrochemical force, not an Astral one! This force is present at the full neurological potential in the sacral plexus at the base of the spine at birth. The Kundalini is a direct physical expression of the Tetragrammaton, resting in place like a powerhouse, for the purpose of enabling Yoga and Ascension. This expression of can be thought of as the Signature, or Seal, of God, set in place in the human flesh to guarantee the Covenant, as the final act of our Creation. If the perhaps overly enthusiastic Seeker succeeds through some device of impatience in the explosive release of this power, the results can be catastrophic in the extreme. I cannot emphasize this point enough. There are more than a few documented cases of misguided individuals who have triggered this explosion through the use of drugs, very questionable rituals (such as certain Pagan blood rites), and physical sexual excesses, to name a few specifics. The result has been permanent insanity, brain damage, or seizure resulting in death. Be patient, and follow the Path! This is particularly true of Cabala! 

            The Flaming Sword is the weapon of Shiva, the Destroyer. Always maintain an awareness of this when working with this Path, and remember the comments made herein about the Portal this action will eventually lead to. I was spared negative consequences in Samadhi obtained through Cabala primarily due to my completely sincere desire to know the Truth for the sake of the Truth, contaminated by and no manipulative personal motive. In a word, I approached Innocence in innocence, and this is the only acceptable way to proceed. 

            Yesod is called Foundation, referring to the Astrally preformative foundation of the Physical Plane in Malkuth. Yesod is astrologically affiliated with the Moon. I have mentioned that the Astral Body resides in the Astral Sense in Yesod. When the ego is in a sufficiently dormant condition, such as Astral Trance or deep (REM) sleep, the Astral Body can move away from the Etheric Body in Astral Projection, traveling to astronomical distances through the Astral Plane. In the case of the sufficiently advanced or gifted practitioner, the so released Astral Body can even perform many specific Astral Tasks which will carry through into manifestation on the Physical Plane in a variety of results. Some of these Astral Effects can be of a very negative character in the case of the individual who has that type of Karma to deal with. Because Yesod is the Foundation of Malkuth, the effect of physical Karma is still very strong there. The detached Astral Body is seen in the Astral Sense to be retained to the Etheric and Physical Bodies by the Astral Chord, the Astral expression of the Physical umbilical chord. This chord remains intact until the physical death of the Karma body. The Astral Chord maintains the bond of Karma with the physical body on the Astral Plane. The reader may recall my reference to the umbilical chord as an expression of the Arthropodic Mind, and a latent symbol of the Scorpion, inherent in our Creation. The umbilical chord maintains the bond of Karma on the Physical Plane.  

            Even if the Astral Body does not Project in meditation, it nonetheless expands. This is why the results of group meditation, and prayer, are always enhanced. The Astral Bodies of the participants expand and interact in Astral Trance, multiplying in the collective Astral Sense. And this is also one of the best reasons to be sure that one is absolutely comfortable with the other participants present. Even subtle negativity or hostility is unacceptable in this environment, particularly from the leader. The Seeker will eventually acquire a very strong, shielded Aura through the various Yoga techniques, well integrated as a combined expression of the Physical, Etheric, Astral, and Mental Bodies, and impervious to any negative influences, but this takes some time, and one may be vulnerable initially. The best advice here is to avoid any and all questionable associations and activities  –  in the Mystery studies, and in life.

            Another point to consider in the Astral Sense is the Elemental Entity. This is one of the multitude of archetypal forms seen in the Astral Plane, with the important distinction that this type of expression does not originate in the Jungian collective unconscious, but in the Freudian Id as a manifestation of psychological repression. This is referred to as a Lower Astral expression in recognition of the close proximity to, and origin in, the Physical Body and Freudian Mind. The Lower Astral Elemental is almost always hostile in manifestation as a reflection of its unhealthy psychological origins, much like the Jungian Shadow, although not usually as directive and focused. The majority of these forms originate directly from the personal Id of the Seeker, and are only perceived as detached and foreign because the Seeker has psychologically disowned them through repression. As I have said, therapy is definitely a positive adjunct to meditation. It must be noted that this type of negative expression can also become detached from the Id at the death of the Physical Body and assume a twilight existence on the Astral Plane, always gravitating toward the Astral Body of the vulnerable Seeker who has something similar held in repression as well, thus weakening the Aura. 

            The Path of the Flaming Sword leads from Yesod to Hod as the first stage of Mental Plane experience during Qabala directed Ascension. Hod is linked to the planet Mercury, the Messenger of the Gods in Roman mythology. Mercury is known as Hermes in the Greek Pantheon, and this is a reference to the Hermetic Tradition of Western mysticism. This could be seen as a subtle message about the entire post-astrological development of the Mystery tradition in the Occident. As demonstrated on the Life Tree, the Western movement in this area has always tended to be relatively more intellectual, and less perceptual, than was the case in the East. And the Tree itself notes the secret relationship between the Devil and Hod – the intellect – , as the architect of separated consciousness.  

            And we must confront and assimilate this most separated aspect of perception on the Tree’s Daoist Mental Plane before moving across the Path of Peh to Natzach, and emotional experience. The reader may recall that Manipura was the Chakra on the Mental Plane, and the key to Enlightenment in that case was personal humility. This is still true regarding the Sephirah of Hod. Unfortunately, conceptual thought is never the sterling attribute that the ego almost always believes it to be. As the great problem solver, thought never reveals to us that it has an even greater problem creator built right in: the inherent support of Maya perception! 

            I wish to reemphasize at this time that the same qualities which carry forward the Enlightened Consciousness in Ascension through Hinduism also apply to Cabala, or any other form of Yoga. The Planes of Ascension are Universal Expressions. We may be taking an apparently longer route through more expressions in Cabala, but the existential process is unaltered. I have chosen to include the explanation of Cabala as Yoga here because I have experienced such profound insight and revelation in this system, and because of the majestic power of the Tree of Life as a tool for transformation on all levels of experience. The Daoist interaction between Hod and Netzach is a very good example of the depth of understanding present in Cabala. Only after the Karmic release of intellectual egotism in Hod, linked to the Monad, can the deeper level of emotional perception be contacted in Netzach, and on this side the influence at work is YHVH. In subtle insight, the Occult meaning of Hod is Glory – the most outwardly positive facet of the intellect, yet a reference to the Buddhist concept of Glamour as the seductive vehicle of desire. The Occult meaning of Netzach is Victory, and the planetary affiliation of Netzach is, interestingly enough, Venus. But Venus is also the planet of mystery, and of the Occult Principal itself. Here, the case is made for the real positive aspect of that relationship, in true Daoist balance with Hod, for it is the Tetragrammaton which lies at the foundation of Netzach. 

            The Victory in Netzach radiates from Tiphareth, born along by YHVH. We are being shown that our   feelings and emotions, in particular Love and Compassion, are closely linked to the vibration of the Tetragrammaton, and express that vibration here on the Mental Plane. “Let your feelings be your guide” and “Follow your Heart” are two well known sayings that reiterate this relationship. Very often, the individual uses the intellect of Hod to avoid the personally uncomfortable perception of emotion in Netzach. As we learn to trust, constructively express, and accept our feelings we release much of the Karma associated with, and the need for, manipulation. This is the Spiritual Victory of Netzach. The Holy Names of Hod and Netzach are Elohim Tzabaoth and YHVH Tzabaoth respectively. Again, I must apologize for not translating the Holy Names of the Sephiroth, but this is simply beyond the scope of this work. I will, however, continue to note the astrological correspondences to each Sephirah, along with a brief explanation of the implications present. As the “first science”, astrology provided the ancients all over the world with much of their conceptual hardware in terms of the early attempts at understanding and explaining existence and human life. As we became conscious, we saw the Heavens as a Plane of Consciousness directly above the Earth, dotted with Light Beings, which resembled our own inner conscious illumination. It was believed that these Beings governed events on the Earth as another (apparently flat) Plane of Existence. This system was incorporated into Cabala and the Tree of Life: the Sephiroth universalized the influence of the astrological Light Beings of the Astral Plane. 

            The next Sephirah encountered along the Path is Tiphareth, astrologically affiliated with the Sun, and having the Occult meaning of Beauty, through the experience of Harmony. The Holy Name of Tiphareth is YHVH Eloha ve-Daath. This is the Christ Center, and the Heart Center, of the Life Tree, hence the inclusion of the Tetragrammaton in the Holy Name given above. 

            Tiphareth is generally shown containing the Star of David, and may also depict the Christian Cross. The Star of David is composed in Occult work by overlapping the Alchemical symbols for Fire (Yang) – an Isometric triangle – and Water (Yin) – the same inverted Isometric triangle seen in many of the Chakras. This is the Daoist statement of Creation seen between Hod and Netzach occurring at a higher, more universal spiritual level on the Intuitive Plane. Here the separated expressions of intellect and emotion are united in Harmonic balance and Divine Beauty. Tiphareth is very much a Cabalistic form of the Hindu Heart Chakra, Anahata, and carries the same meaning of personal sacrifice and compassion for the Seeker. And this Sephirah is also the most significant transitional step in spiritual development and perception, apart from the levels below. The three Sephiroth of Netzach, Hod, and Yesod are grouped together as the Astral Triangle of the Life Tree, denoting that level of Consciousness as predominant. Beyond Tiphareth, however, we begin to see an even more dramatic shift in meaning than was the case with the Lotus Tree, with the encounter first of Geburah and then Chesed, the two additional Sephiroth which are combined with Tiphareth to form the Ethical Triangle, the level of Creation of moral consciousness. 

            Geburah is tactfully referred to as Occult Strength. The planetary energy of Geburah is Mars, however, and this is an indication of the modality of that strength generally seen – martial force. The Holy Name of Giburah is Elohim Gibor. In order to understand the action of Geburah, it is useful to look at the other half of this separated Daoist pair first: Chesed, meaning Mercy. The Holy Name of Chesed is simply El. 

            Chesed is affiliated with Jupiter – the planet of abundance and plenty. This is the first Expression of Creation to appear in Manifestation below the Abyss of Ignorance containing the Hidden (or most Occult) Sephirah of Daath – the Portal of Shiva of Chapter Two. Chesed is the outpouring and abundance of Divine Consciousness in Love without limitation or differentiation – a relatively pure form of the same condition seen in the Jungian Primal Self of the human collective unconscious. But the lack of differentiation present in Chesed prevents the movement of YHVH in Creation into the more specific functional forms of the Sephiroth to follow. The next phase in the process is the transfer of this raw energy into Geburah, where everything which is not vibrationally attuned to the Harmonic Consciousness of Tiphareth is removed as dross not suited to the eventual manifestation of the Kingdom in Malkuth. This is the essence of the predator in the prey/predator relationship mentioned earlier in these pages: the creation and preservation of the natural spiritual balance required to sustain Karma. The Physical Plane is Karma, and cannot exist in any other form of expression. And, of course, Geburah is also a Yang expression of Shiva in this function, as is every Sephirah of the Pillar of Severity. And Chesed is the complementary Yin expression of Vishnu, as are all the Sephiroth of the Pillar of Mercy. So goes the Dao of Creation in Cabala... 

            Geburah and Chesed comprise the Spiritual Plane Expression of the Tree of Life, and are comparable to the single Chakra of Vishuddha on the Lotus Tree. As such one would expect the related concept of vibrational manifestation to be significant here, and so it is. In the Ethical Triangle, the primary vibrational expression of The Blood of the Lamb in YHVH is established in the final form of Tiphareth as the Christ Center. This action is very closely related in both function and form with the Vibration of OM, the Primary Mantra. OM is the vibrational level of YHVH emerging from Daath in the Abyss of Ignorance to manifest in Chesed. and initiate the formation of the Ethical Triangle. 

            Before looking at Daath, the Invisible Sephirah on the Monadic Plane, it is necessary, literally and figuratively, to Illuminate the Abyss of Ignorance. The three Sephiroth above the Abyss are Kether, Chokmah, and Binah, which form the Supernal Triangle on the Logoic Plane of Ascension. This is the highest and most Universal Expression of Divine Creation on the Tree. At least one body of thought on Cabala maintains that no human mind can ever cross over the Abyss and into Samadhi with the Supernal Consciousness while still linked to physical existence. And perhaps this is true. I attempted in Chapter One to describe the perceptual state of being both dead and alive at the same “time” in Sahasrara, and that was my condition. I was residing within the Mind of God, where all things are achieved simultaneously without the requirement of restrictive Freudian logic. This is the key to understanding the Abyss: the Ignorance referred to is the remnant of the Freudian Mind and ego, present even at the level of the Ethical Triangle, in the implication of the moral Knowledge of Good and Evil – of separation from Divine Consciousness. This is the emergence into form of the root condition of the Fall from Grace, far above the Astral Sephirah of Yesod, and the prearchetypal expressions of the Primal Male and Female energies in Hod and Netzach, which in turn manifested as Adam, Eve, and Lilith. Once again, the Seeker must be prepared to relinquish all attachment to the ego and Maya perception in Samadhi. 

            The fact that Daath has no Holy Name in Cabala, and yet resides invisibly at the level of the Monadic Plane, is probably the most absolute difference in Ascension between the Life Tree and the Lotus Tree. Daath is clearly the Monad of the Creation Chart of Chapter Two – a condition of Primal Substance in the Primal Void – manifest nonexistence: formed by God and yet not of God. In modern Cabalistic theory, Daath has the planetary affiliation of Saturn – the astrological form of Shiva – the bringer of all constraint, particularly that “constraint” known as death. That is why I referred to this Sephirah as the Portal of Shiva. It is quite possible that the ancient theory of Cabala held that, since Creation was a descent in expression of Divine Consciousness, Chesed and the abundance of form found there was the utmost level of Divine Experience which human beings could hope to attain, and that no passage beyond the Angel guarding the Gate of Eden was ever possible following the Fall. At Daath, the reciprocity of Creation and Ascension ceased. And to the extent that Qabala in general and the Tree of Life in particular are intellectual and conceptual in character, this is true: the intellect can go no farther, and the Light Monad of Ajna becomes the Void. Yet I tell you I passed beyond this place in spirit, and this happened because I went there in my Heart, not my head. This work in perception, not conception, is the great strength of Yoga. But Qabala still knows of the Supernal Triangle, and the Logos, and the Old Testament is full of the stories of the Divine Revelations of the Prophets, and of the Presence of God in the Arc of the Covenant. Some of them must have done what I did and seen what I saw... 

            Perhaps this phase of Initiation was so Occult, so Secret, that the expression of Daath was formed as it is to enable reference to the Gate, but protect any further information regarding it from falling into the hands of the Profane, those embedded in ego ignorance, and the idol worshipers. The Hermetic Order of the Golden Dawn claimed, and claims, to have access to these rites, and they are alluded to in their extracts, but there is no description of anything like what I experienced. And we must acknowledge the many warnings I have given in these pages regarding the dangers which confront the Seeker in the process of Yoga and Ascension, and of the Kundalini Rising, which was one way my experience was interpreted by a Yogi when I told her of it. The Logos which I contacted in the I Am Presence of Sahasrara has supported and guided me in  writing down  these things here, and I believe, as that Source has indicated to me, that the time has come to bring them to light. 

            Daath is shown as a Torus or Ring on the illustration of the Tree of Life provided at the beginning of this Chapter, hence the reference to a portal, or opening, through which the Tetragrammaton emerges in the Act of Creation, and through which the Seeker must pass in Ascension. This version of the Tree is the most spiritually advanced one that I personally have seen, and the clear depiction of Daath is one of the reasons for this claim. In the Life Tree, YHVH is achieving Creation in the functions of both the Light Monad and the Void Monad – generating the vibration of Karma and Atma, which differentiate along the Pillars of Severity and Mercy, eventually entering composite Astral Expression in Yesod, and final Physical manifestation in Malkuth. The fact that the Path of the Flaming Sword does pass through the Abyss of Ignorance, and Daath,  and into Binah, is certainly a suggestion that the reciprocal Ascension journey has been, and can be, made. 

            The reader may wish to note here that there are Paths of Wisdom which run from Binah to Geburah, from Chokmah to Chesed, from both Binah and Chokmah to Tiphareth, and from Kether to Tiphareth, all bypassing the Path of the Flaming Sword. This results from the depiction of the Tree of Life as the total Creation process, embracing all possible modalities of expression. All of these additional Paths of Wisdom are more modes of the Expression of Creation. The Path of the Flaming Sword is the only expression of Ascension. There is not any specific reference to the Tetragrammaton as the primary vehicle of Creation on the Tree, or what Path YHVH may have manifested through, but the Sepiroth which contain YHVH in their Holy Names suggest the Path of the Flaming Sword as the primary vibrational mode of both Creation and Ascension.  

            The Supernal Triangle is first contacted in Ascension in the Sephriah Binah. The Occult meaning of Binah is Understanding, and the Holy Name of this sphere is YHVH Elohim. The planetary affiliation of Binah is Neptune, the planet of mystery, considered to be the Daoist Yin expression of the Yang of Uranus, the planet associated with Chokmah. Let us examine this relationship in some detail. 

            This is the last point along the Path of the Flaming Sword where YHVH is seen in the Holy Name of a Sephirah, and is presumably the origin of the Tetragrammaton vibration in the Act of Creation. The position of Binah, although Yin in the Cabala, would be occupied by Shiva in the Hindu Trinity of the Godhead. Sahasrara is sometimes referred to as the Abode of Shiva in Yoga practice, although Vishnu, Brahma, Rama, and Krishna also reside there, as does YHVH. Although all of these Entities are appropriate Expressions of the Logos on the Logoic Plane, there is much differentiation. 

            The function of Shiva can be misunderstood quite easily from the rational human perspective. This is due to the fact that, as the Destroyer God, Shiva must inevitably transmute any Karmic form when the Karma it expresses has been sufficiently released. This must include the death of the Karma physical body as well – something customarily greatly feared by the ego in its condition of Maya attachment. And any reasonably balanced human being certainly should respect the power and implication of this reality. The fact is that we cannot continue to develop as the Soul Expression that we really are without the action of Shiva in the Godhead – merciful empowerment of reincarnation. The entire manifestation of Creation would stagnate and collapse without this intervention. The dynamic oscillation which has been described in this work as the Vibration of YHVH is never static on any of the Planes of Ascension, and this ceaseless movement is why Shiva is presumed to be the Hindu symbol of the Generator of the Tetragrammaton, the role also performed by Binah in the Cabala.  

            And Shiva has also been compared to Lucifer and the Monad in Chapter Two. It is quite interesting that Binah, the Divine Mother of the Supernal Triangle, also comes under this association. Why? Most people believe that the Mother is the vessel of Creation in any form seen. And so she is: but the Occult Teachings know that the Act of Creation is also the Act of Destruction, the two are implicit in each other, and really express the single act of Transmutation, Shiva’s function. For any new form of any kind to emerge into existence, at least one prior form must be removed. Physics calls this the Law of Conservation of matter and Energy, but it also applies to Consciousness. The many sacrifices which are made for the sake of Enlightenment represent the transmutation of our previous state of awareness as the price required to receive the next Higher level, and this is the healthiest, most positive process knowable. 

             This is why Binah occupies the Highest point on the Pillar of Severity, and transmits the power of YHVH not only through Daath, but also through Geburah, another destroyer expression, and Hod. This is also why the Card of the Devil emerges from Tiphareth to enter Hod as well. The task of YHVH is to build the Daoist universe and populate it with Consciousness, and the Darkness must be there in the balance of forces. After all, it is we who see the negativity in our transmutation from the deluded view of Maya: the Logos simply knows the eternal Truth of the Soul. This is the meaning of Understanding as the attribute of Binah – the deep and dispassionate understanding that birth and death are the twin children of Manifestation: the growing ground of the Atma. Even the maternal attitude of protection can only be achieved at the cost of ceaseless ongoing transmutation of many kinds and on many levels. Binah expresses knowledge and acceptance of this relationship in Divine Grace. 

            And Binah is not Daath. Binah is the manifest first source of Daath, and the source of YHVH, within the total expression of the Godhead on the Logoic Plane. This is where Daath and YHVH appear in the Manifestation of Creation. Each Sephirah is the source of the subsequent Sephiroth in Creation, particularly along the Path of the Flaming Sword, but elsewhere as well. This is the meaning of the Twenty Two Paths of Wisdom among the Sephiroth. Binah is the Aspect of God which formed the Monad and expressed the Tetragrammaton. But these actions still required the prior movement of the next station of the Flaming Sword as the Initiator of Creation: Chokmah, the Divine Father. In referring to Shiva as a “nearly omnipotent” changer of forms in Chapter Two, I was observing that the detached and mechanistic nature of his action requires the control of a superior omnipotent agent.

            This Yin quality of receptivity to prior direction is the source of the Female attribution to Shiva in the form of Binah in the Cabala, and is another consequence of the incorporation of the Dao within the Whole Symbolic Form of the Tree of Life as the Pillars of Severity and Mercy, rather than the direct Linear Expression shown on the Creation Diagram in Chapter Two. And the Hindu Godhead ascribes the Dao individually to each of the Trinitary forms: Shiva is Yang, but also expresses in the Yin of Shakti in the Act of Creation. Brahma the Prime Initiator is also Yang, and expresses as Yin in Saraswatti, the Goddess of Creativity and the Arts. Vishnu is the Preserver of Forms in the Godhead, and is affiliated with Lakshimi, the Goddess of Wealth and Beauty – abundance.  

            The Occult meaning ascribed to Chokmah is Wisdom, and the Holy Name of this Sephirah is simply Yah. As mentioned earlier, the planetary influence here is Uranus – the planet of Illumination. To clearly understand Chokmah, it is necessary to look ahead  to the final destination of Ascension in Cabala: Kether – the Crown. Kether is the equivalent of Brahma in the Hindu Godhead, and is affiliated with Pluto – the Hidden planet – the Gate of the Unknown. The Holy Name of Kether is Eheieh, the Highest Name of God. Kether is the First Expression of Divine Manifestation in the Logos – the Prime Initiator. But the Initiator is not the Prime Mover – this is the function of Chokmah. In Kether one experiences the emergence into Form of the Logos from the Formless Unknown, a region of unmanifest potential expression called the Ain Soph Ur, or Negative Limitless Light. This is not a Void, however. It rather refers to a fertile quality which simply cannot be grasped from the incarnate human perspective under any circumstances, including Samadhi. The reader may remember that I mentioned in Chapter One that I could not perceive any other Manifestation beyond the Light of Consciousness at the Center of Sahasrara. That was the event horizon of my journey on that momentous morning.   

            Chokmah manifests the First Expression of Kether as an accumulating presence which becomes self directed through Self recognition. This is the essence of the Name Yahweh: I Am. More than anything else, the Logos is expressed in the Godhead as the I Am Presence. With the emergence of this Divine Self Recognition – Wisdom –  the entire Will of God assumes Form and Motive Force. This Force of Divine Consciousness then manifests in the First Action of Creation in Binah, the formation of Daath, and the release of the Presence of Yahweh in the form of YHVH. Chokmah occupies the position of Vishnu the Preserver in the Hindu Godhead. The influence of the Self Recognition of the I Am Presence in Chokma does not oscillate into Manifestation as does the Tetragrammaton – Self Recognition of Divine Presence is eternal and irreducible. 

             This is the ultimate expression of unconditional preservation which progresses down the Pillar of Mercy from Chokmah into Chesed and Netzach. Without this omnipotent prior controlling condition, Shiva would instantaneously destroy all of Creation, completing the Act with his own destruction. Vishnu is the I Am Presence of the Godhead, and also directly expresses that Presence in the Manifestation of Krishna – or Christ – through the Fifteenth Path of Wisdom, to Tiphareth. This is the Path of Heh, represented by the Card of the Emperor.  Chokmah is the Father, and Tiphareth is the Son, the Lamb of God. The Tetragrammaton enters Chesed in Creation from the Divine Mother of Binah, along the Path of the Flaming Sword, as the Blood of the Lamb. YHVH is released from Chesed along the Twentieth Path of Wisdom, Yod – the Hand, the Initiator – represented by the Hermit Card. The Hermit is the Guru of Qabala, and carries YHVH into Tiphareth through the action of Yod.  

            When the direct manifestation of the Lamb of God, the Son, emitted by the Father in Chokmah combines with the Blood of the Lamb – YHVH – sent along the Path of the Flaming Sword from Chesed and the Mother in Binah, the Living Consciousness of Christ is Born in the Heart. It is obviously of the greatest significance that the Guru transmits this Consciousness to Tiphareth along the Path of the Flaming Sword. Christ is the Collective I Am Presence embodied in the Atma. Every human being who has not found the Atma is lost to this Consciousness, and it is the Sacred Task of the Guru to radiate the Light of Consciousness to humanity and bring his brothers and sisters out of this Darkness. This is Yoga. 


                                                                                     Appendix I

            Please refer to the following chart of relationships among the Sephiroth, the  Chakras, the Planets, and the Planes of Ascension.


                              Ascension                     Sephirah                        Chakra                         Planet

                            Physical Plane                   Malkuth                        Muladhara                       Earth           

                              Astral Plane                      Yesod                         Svadhisthana                    Moon

                             Mental Plane               Hod/Netzach                      Manipura                  Mercury/Venus

                            Intuitive Plane                 Tiphareth                         Anahata                            Sun

                           Spiritual Plane             Geburah/Chesed                Vishuddha                    Mars/Jupiter

                           Monadic Plane                    Daath                              Ajna                              Saturn

                             Logoic Plane          Binah/Chokmah/Kether          Sahasrara                    Urn/Npt/Plu                     

    (Copyright 2009, by Alan Schneider)

Return to Top