The Science of the Breath, which is the science of laya yoga or the science of the centers, is one of profound importance and one of real danger as well. It is, in the last analysis, the Science of Energy and teaches the method whereby energy can be controlled, directed and utilized for the expanding of the consciousness, for the establishing of right relations between the man and his environment and, above all (in the case of those affiliated with the Great White Lodge), for the production of white magic. This pranic energy works through the vital body and courses through the many “nadis” found therein. These “nadis” exist in their millions and are minute channels of force which underlie the entire nervous system of man. Of this they are the counterpart and the animating factor, making sensitivity possible and producing that action and reaction which converts the mechanism of man into an intricate “receiver” of energy and “director” of force. Each of these tiny lines of energy are fivefold in nature and resemble five strands or fibers of force, closely knit together within a covering sheath of a different force. These forces are bound together in a cross-sectional relation.
It is to be noted, also, that these five types of energy form one closely knit unit, and these units form, in their entirety, the etheric sheath itself. Through these five channels flow the five major pranas – energizing, galvanizing and controlling the entire human organism. There is no part of the physical body which this network of energies does not underlie or “substand”. This is the true form or substance.
Where the lines of force cross and recross, as they repeat in the microcosm the involutionary and evolutionary arcs of the macrocosm, there are formed five areas up the spinal column and two in the head where the energies are more potent than elsewhere, because more concentrated. Thus you have the appearance of the major centers. Throughout the entire body, these crossings and recrossings occur and so the equipment of energy centers is brought into being:
- Where the lines of force cross 21 times, a major center is found. Of these there are seven.
- Where they cross 14 times, you have the appearance of the minor centers, to which I earlier referred.
- Where they cross 7 times, you have tiny centers and of these minute centers there are many hundreds.
Some day the entire etheric body will be charted and the general direction of the lines of force will then be seen. The great sweep of the energies will be apparent, the point in evolution more easily established and the psychic situation infallibly indicated. The intricacy of the subject is, however, very great, owing to just this difference in the evolutionary development of the vehicles, the stage of the expanding consciousness and the receptivity to stimulation of the human being. The Science of Meditation will eventually absorb the science of laya-yoga, but only in the highest form of the latter. The goal of meditation is to bring about the free play of all the incoming forces so that there is no impediment offered at any point to the incoming energy of the soul; so that no obstruction and congestion is permitted and no lack of power – physical, psychic, mental and spiritual – is to be found in any part of the body. This will mean not only good health and the full and free use of all the faculties (higher and lower) but direct contact with the soul. It will produce that constant renewing of the body which is characteristic of the life expression of the initiate and the Master, as well as of the disciple, only in a lesser degree. It will produce rhythmic expression of the divine life in form. To the clairvoyant view of the adept as He looks at the aspirant or disciple, it causes:
- The rhythm of manifestation. This is the cause of the appearance and the disappearance of the form. The adept, by looking at the body, can tell just how long it has been in incarnation and how long it will still continue to “appear”. The state of the pranic channels reveals this accurately, particularly those found below the diaphragm. The center at the base of the spine, where is found the seat of the will-to-live (governing the seed of the life principle in the heart) reveals this.
- The rhythm of the psychic life. This is, in reality, the revelation of where the man stands in relation to consciousness and its contacts. The adept, when seeking information upon this point, looks first of all at the solar plexus center and then at the heart and head, for in these three centers and in their relative “light and radiant brightness”, the whole story of the individual stands revealed. The head center, looked at for the average or below average man, is the center, between the eyebrows. In the case of the aspirant, mystic and disciple, it is the highest head center.
As evolution proceeds and the life forces flow ever more freely along the “nadis” and through the centers – major, minor, and minute – the rapidity of the distribution and of the flow, and the consequent radiance of the body steadily increases. The separating walls within the enclosing sheath of the tiny channels of force eventually dissolve (under the impact of soul force) and so disappear and thus the “nadis” of the advanced disciple take a new form indicating that he is now essentially and consequently dual and is therefore an integrated personality. He is soul and personality. Soul force can now flow unimpeded through the central channel of the “nadi” and all the other forces can flow unimpeded around it. It is whilst this process is going on and the forces within the “nadis” are being blended and thus forming one energy that most of the diseases of the mystics make their appearance, particularly those connected with the heart.
Simultaneously with this appearance of duality in the “nadis”, the disciple finds himself able to use the two channels – ida and pingala – which are found up the spinal column, one on each side of the central channel. There can now be the free flow of force up and down these two “pathways of the forces” and thus out into the “nadis”, utilizing the area around any of the major centers as distributing areas and thus galvanizing, at will, any part of the mechanism into activity, or the whole mechanism into coordinated action. The disciple has now reached the point in his development where the etheric web, which separates all the centers up the spine from each other, has been burned away by the fires of life. The “sushumna” or central channel can be slowly utilized. This parallels the period wherein there is the free flow of soul force through the central channel in the “nadis”. Eventually this central channel comes into full activity. All this can be seen by the clairvoyant eye of the Master.
I have dealt with this in detail as the practice of breathing exercises definitely moves the forces flowing through the “nadis” and reorganizes them – usually prematurely. It hastens the process of breaking down the walls separating four forces from the fifth energy, and hastens the burning of the protecting etheric webs up the spinal column. If this is done whilst the emphasis of the life is below the diaphragm and the man is not even an aspirant or intelligent, then it will cause the over-stimulation of the sex life, and also the opening up of the astral plane and hence much physical difficulty and disease. It occultly “releases the lower fires and the man will be destroyed by fire”; he will not be then (as is intended) the “burning bush which burns forever and cannot be destroyed”. If this burning takes place by a forced process and is not under right direction, there must inevitably be difficulty. When the man is on the Path of Purification or Probation or is in the early stages of discipleship, with the emphasis of his intention above the diaphragm, then there is much danger of over-development of the sense of egotism, over-stimulation of the heart center (with the consequent appearance of various forms of heart disease and of emotionalism, evoked over group conditions) and of troubles related to the thyroid gland and the brain, as well as difficulties connected principally with the pituitary body.
I could give you here certain forms of breathing exercises which might prove helpful to some people in the work of reorganizing the vital body and consequently the etheric body, but the dangers involved in the case of the majority of my readers negate any such action. The old rule that aspirants must find their way into an esoteric or mystery school still holds good. All I can do – as I have done – is to give certain directions and teach certain safe and generally well-known rules which will lay the foundation for the more advanced work which must be carried forward under careful personal supervision. For this reason, once this present world crisis is duly ended, there must be laid a foundation of true esoteric schools. Such do Not as yet exist. Today, aspirants and disciples are working in the modern esoteric schools (such as the Arcane School and the Esoteric Section of the Theosophical Society – to mention two of the most important) and there they learn some of the foundational truths of esotericism; they begin to gain control of the emotional nature and the mind; they learn to purify the body and to apprehend the basic postulates of the Ageless Wisdom. They are then under the direction subjectively of some senior disciple who knows the needed next truth and has unfolded in himself the “sense of contact” and the power of intuitive perception. A few persons, here and there, are definitely working under the direction of one of the Masters. Only where there is direction, a knowledge of a man’s governing rays and a grasp of the astrological indications as to a man’s “path of life” can the true, but dangerous, rules be given, which will lead to:
- A right distribution of energy.
- The focusing of the forces in the centers.
- The burning of the separating walls and of the dividing etheric webs.
- The lifting of the energies ever higher in the body by the power of the directed will.
Many of the difficulties of mystics and occultists today are due to the fact that they are literally “playing with fire” and are not aware of it; that they are not preserving the right or ordered sequence of development, as outlined above; that they are following practices for which they are not ready, which have not been modified to suit the occidental type of body, and which they blindly follow without any understanding of the process or results. Unless the basic rule is grasped that “energy follows thought”, it is inevitable that dire results must eventuate. The mystic, for instance whose thought is focused on the Christ, regarding Him as somewhere in Heaven, but as outside himself, and whose aspiration makes Him the objective of all his desire, is frequently debilitated and physically ill. Why is this the case? Because the energy which is seeking to enter him and permeate his whole organism only reaches as far as the heart center and is from there constantly turned back and driven out of the physical body by the directing power of the mystic’s thought. Christ, for him, is elsewhere. Outside himself lies his thought and the energy consequently streams out of his body. It is a much discussed problem among initiates today as to whether the generally debilitated condition of the human race is not due in part to the fact that the aspiration and thought of mankind, having been constantly directed to some outside goal and not (as should have been the case) to the center of life and love within each human being, has drained man of much needed energy. In spite of the fact that he has been taught for centuries that the kingdom of God is within, the peoples in the occident have not accepted the statement or worked on the premise presented, but have sought for reality without and have turned their attention to the Personality of the One who taught them a major truth. At no time did He desire or seek their devotion. The price of this distortion of the truth has been paid again and again by a devitalized body and by the inability of the average mystic to live a concrete, and yet divine, life upon earth.
There is little more that I can say here in connection with the problems and the difficulties of the psychic powers as they unfold in humanity and on a higher turn of the spiral than in the past. As evolution proceeds, the human and animal psychic faculties become available to the disciple. Humanity has chosen to proceed by means of the “trial and error” method and it is in many ways a sound choice, but it is slow and leads to points of crisis and moments of almost intolerable difficulty in the history of the race. In the case of the mystic and the disciple who is endeavoring to gain control of these inherent instincts, the problem is today enhanced by the fact that the physical vitality of the race is so lowered and also so little understood and the proper care of the body is consequently so poorly rendered that the unhealthy condition of that body releases the lower powers more easily than would otherwise be the case. They therefore unfold prematurely and before their nature and function is understood or the laws of their control grasped. The acceptance of this statement would be found enlightening and much progress would be made if the various premises I have made were accepted as valid hypotheses and acted upon. The result would open the door to a new understanding of the psychic faculties. Psychology and medicine would be thereby enriched.