Charles Tart: Waking Up (excerpt) – A Thinking Allowed DVD with Dr. Jeffrey Mishlove

Our normal waking state of consciousness can be likened to being “asleep” in comparison to other states of awareness we might attain. In this intriguing discussion, psychologist Charles Tart, Ph.D., author of Altered States of Consciousness and Waking Up, suggests that we can begin to “wake up” by allowing our awareness to become conscious of itself. This can become a simple, yet powerful, discipline.

The 7 Chakras and Their Significance to Your Life ~ Sadhguru

Chakras are energy centers. Although most people have heard of seven chakras, there are actually 114 in the body. The human body is a complex energy form; in addition to the 114 chakras, it also has 72,000 “nadis,” or energy channels, along which vital energy, or “prana,” moves. When the nadis meet at different points in the body, they form a triangle. We call this triangle a chakra, which means “wheel.” We call it a wheel because it symbolizes growth, dynamism and movement, so even though it is actually a triangle, we call it a chakra. Some of these centers are very powerful, while others are not as powerful. At different levels, these energy centers produce different qualities in a human being.

Fundamentally, any spiritual path can be described as a journey from the base chakra, called the “Mooladhara,” which is located at the base of the spine, to the “Sahasrar,” which located at the top of the head. This journey of movement from the Mooladhara to Sahasrar is from one dimension to another. It may happen in many different ways, and various yogic practices can effect this movement.

Mooladhara is really made up of two terms: “Moola” means the root or source, and “adhar” means the foundation. It is the very basic foundation of life. In the physical body, your energies need to be in the Mooladhara chakra to some extent. Otherwise, you cannot exist. If the Mooladhara chakra alone is dominant, food and sleep will be the predominant factors in your life.

We can speak in terms of lower and higher chakras, but such language is often and too easily misunderstood. It is like comparing the foundation of a building to the roof; the roof is not superior to the foundation. The foundation of the building is more basic to the building than the roof, and the quality, life span, stability and security of the building depends, to a large extent, on the foundation rather than the roof. But in terms of language, the roof is higher, and the foundation is lower.

The second chakra is “Swadhisthana.” If your energies move into Swadhisthana, you are a pleasure seeker. The Swadhisthana chakra is located just above the genital organs. When this chakra is active, you enjoy the physical world in so many ways. If you look at a pleasure seeker, you will see that his life and his experience of life are just a little more intense compared with a person who is only about food and sleep.

If your energy moves into the “Manipuraka” chakra, located just below the navel, you are a doer in the world. You are all about action. You can do many, many things. If your energies move into the “Anahata” chakra, you are a creative person. A person who is creative in nature, like an artist or an actor, is someone who lives very intensely — more intensely, perhaps, than a businessman, who is all action.

The Anahata literally means the “un-struck.” If you want to make any sound, you have to strike two objects together. The un-struck sound is called “Anahata.” Anahata is located in the heart area and is like a transition between your lower chakras and your higher chakras, between survival instincts and the instinct to liberate yourself. The lower three chakras are mainly concerned with your physical existence. Anahata is a combination; it is a meeting place for both the survival and the enlightenment chakras.

The next chakra is the “Vishuddhi,” which literally means “filter.” Vishuddhi is located in the area of your throat. If your energies move into Vishuddhi, you become a very powerful human being, but this power is not just political or administrative. A person can be powerful in many ways. A person can become so powerful that if he just sits in one place, things will happen for him. He can manifest life beyond the limitations of time and space.

If your energies move into the “Agna” chakra, located between your eyebrows, you are intellectually enlightened. You have attained to a new balance and peace within you. The outside no longer disturbs you, but you are still experientially not liberated.

If your energies move into “Sahasrar,” at the crown of your head, you become ecstatic beyond all reason. You will simply burst with ecstasy for no reason whatsoever.

Chakras have more than one dimension to them. One dimension is their physical existence, but they also have a spiritual dimension. This means that they can be completely transformed into a new dimension. If you bring the right kind of awareness, the same Mooladhara that craves food and sleep can become absolutely free from the process of food and sleep. If one wants to go beyond food and sleep, one needs to transform the Mooladhara to an evolved state.

To move from Mooladhara to Agna, from the lowest of these seven chakras to the second highest, there are many procedures, methods and processes through which one can raise his energies. But from Agna to Sahasrar, the sixth chakra to the highest chakra, there is no path. You can only jump there. In a way, you have to fall upward. So, the question of going step by step to that dimension does not really arise. There is no way.

It is for this reason that spiritual traditions have emphasized the significance of a guru’s role in one’s realization; guru literally means “dispeller of darkness.” You can only jump into an abyss — the depth of which you do not know — if you have an absolutely insane heart, or if your trust in someone is so deep that you are willing to do anything in their presence. Most people, due to a lack of either of these two aspects, just get stuck in the Agna chakra. When this happens, peacefulness is the highest state they will know. It is only from this limitation that there has been so much talk about peace being the highest possibility. But for someone seeking their ultimate nature, peace is only the beginning; it is not the ultimate goal.

Walking the Pathless Path: Do We Need to Travel to Have a Spiritual Journey? by Deepak Chopra

In the memoir Eat, Pray, Love, writer Elizabeth Gilbert gives up her entire way of life to spend a year traveling the world, finding spiritual enlightenment along the way. Is it possible to live a life of deep, transformational faith without dropping everything and hitting the road? In your tradition, what is the aim of the spiritual journey?

Elizabeth Gilbert’s story in Eat, Pray, Love, of dropping everything and hitting the road to find herself, is the archetypal tale of the hero being called to a journey of self-discovery. Gilbert’s genius is in making this ancient lesson feel real, accessible, and relevant.

Sometimes a lesson has to be repeated for thousands of years, not because it wasn’t learned the first time but because new people arrive on the scene. The lesson I’m thinking of was that of Siddhartha, a prince on the Nepalese border of northern India. He dropped everything and hit the road, becoming the original, or at least the most famous, dharma bum. He traveled from master to master with his begging bowl, seeking enlightenment. As Gautama the monk he became impressively austere. Instead of a loving wife, a warm bed, and feasts, he tried the opposite: solitude, sleeping by the wayside, and whatever scraps of food he could beg for.

It’s still an appealing choice, because we equate austerity with virtue. If the stress of a chaotic world is too much, perhaps harmony lies along a different, quieter, more solitary road. But the moral of Siddhartha’s tale led a different way. Leaving home didn’t bring enlightenment, nor did austerity, poverty, starving his body, or trying to force his mind to be still. Instead, Siddhartha became someone entirely transformed — the Buddha — when he hit upon a new road, the one called “the pathless path.”

The pathless path isn’t a straight line; it doesn’t even lead from point A to point B. The journey takes place entirely in consciousness. A mind overshadowed by fears, hopes, memories, past traumas, and old conditioning finds a way to become free. This sounds impossible at first. How can the mind that is trapped by pain also be the tool for freeing itself? How can a noisy mind find silence? How can peace emerge from discord?

The Buddha offered his answer, which is a variant on an even more ancient answer from the seers or rishis of Vedic India: transcend the personal mind and find universal mind. The personal mind is tied to the ego, and the ego is forever swinging from pleasure to pain and back again. But if you look at awareness when there is no pleasure or pain, when the mind is calm while simply existing, a fascinating journey begins. You have made the first step on the pathless path.

Which is not to dismiss the other path, the one that takes you away from home into a retreat, ashram, meditation center, or holy place. They have their own atmosphere; Seekers have stopped there for a long time; therefore, the mind can breathe a different kind of air, so to speak, an air of tranquility and peace. When you arrive at such a place, two things usually happen. You soak up the peace, enjoying the contrast with your busy life at home. But at the same time you notice how loud your mind is, how much chaos it has absorbed. So these holy place cannot do the work for you. They can only suggest what the pathless path is about.

The inspired Indian poet Kabir points a finger at all spiritual travelers:

There is nothing but water in the holy pools. I know, I have been swimming in them. All the gods sculpted of wood or ivory can’t say a word. I know, I have been crying out to them. The Sacred Books of the East are nothing but words. I looked through their covers one day sideways. What Kabir talks of is only what he has lived through. If you have not lived through something, it is not true.

These lines don’t deny the worth of spiritual journeying, but they tell us that there is no substitute for first-hand experience. Where you go to find it is irrelevant. In reading about Buddha’s life or Gilbert’s story, we may still be tempted to believe that leaving one’s present geography and associations is the key to self-realization, when in fact the path is entirely within consciousness, and the environment is the extraneous scenery. The journey is always unfolding in our current life and surroundings right now. The true seeker of truth discovers, sooner or later, that truth has been seeking us all along.

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