The world is far more mysterious than most of us imagine. And so are we. There is far more than we can ever perceive with our very limited physical senses. Our eyes can only see a tiny slice of the visible spectrum. Eagles have better vision than we do. Dogs can hear better than us. Butterflies have a much stronger sense of smell even though they only live for a day or two.
If we rely solely on those physical senses we remain with a very restricted view of the world.
One of the core Theosophical ideas is that as human beings we have almost unlimited potential for evolution and to develop powers beyond our imaginations. But the big problem is that most of us don’t know who we are. So many people think of themselves as just flesh and bone. Nothing more.
To really unleash our true potential we have to accept that the material world is only a small part of the overall reality – and not even the most important part. We need to understand that there are hidden realms we can access and explore if we choose to.
Humanity’s spectacular progress over the past three centuries – especially its exponential embrace of technology – has far outstripped its inner spiritual evolution. Some people claim that all this accelerated material progress may even have curbed or distorted it in some way by drowning us in materialism so we spend our lives lusting after new cars or washing machines.
Despite this exponential progress, science has yet to identify the inner workings of the universe to any great extent. Or us. And it certainly can’t define consciousness. This is because it still largely only accepts that there is a physical dimension to reality. Nevertheless, this old mechanical view of the universe is gradually beginning to change.
However, the exclusively material world is the only world most people ever see. It’s the only world they perceive and therefore the only world they accept. But this perception will also change before very long because it has to. The universe isn’t the dead, random, clockwork-driven expanse of frozen waste science always told it was. Physically, it’s a living, breathing entity – a vibrant, evolving conglomeration of hidden worlds and invisible energies and entities permeated by pure consciousness. And spirit.
If we examine a magnified image of a human brain cell and that of a cluster of galaxies (using a variety of superimposed visual images as well as X-rays, radio waves, infra red and others) we notice something quite remarkable. One is biological and the other cosmological but they are absolutely identical.
Both images show filaments and connections leading off to other cells and to other clusters of galaxies. Both of these are living entities. They illustrate more clearly than anything I’ve ever seen the occult maxim that the microcosm precisely reflects the macrocosm.
Students of esotericism understand that both human beings and the universe are far more than their mere physical forms. As we know, they also consist of invisible subtle bodies and principles. Materialists don’t accept any of this. It defies their physical senses and so it can’t be true. They accept only what these highly limited physical senses detect. Materialists believe that the brain is the only place where mind and therefore consciousness can exist. Esotericists know otherwise.
Until now science has reinforced this fake news that everything is exclusively physical and nothing else. But things are changing.
Currently mainstream science recognises only four forces: Gravity, electro-magnetic energies, the strong nuclear force and the weak nuclear force.
Science still largely views the universe as being entirely gravity-driven but gravity is a relatively weak force and there is much emerging evidence that the fundamental driving force of the cosmos isn’t gravity but electricity or something similar. A few dissenting scientists have already reached this conclusion.
Scientists have spent decades peering deeper into space and now admit that they can’t see more than 90 per cent of the universe. The unseen parts have been assigned the somewhat amorphous names of dark matter and dark energy. But these names do little or nothing to explain what they are.
Similarly, science has probed ever deeper into sub-atomic matter and that it certainly doesn’t behave the way Isaac Newton or even Albert Einstein would have us believe. Over the past century quantum mechanics has revealed an astonishingly weird world where matter doesn’t exist in the solid form we imagine. It can exist in more than one place at once. It behaves differently when perceived. It’s more about potentiality than particles. But what it does show is that everything is intimately connected to everything else. We are now faced with a blizzard of real or hypothetical particles which scientists postulate and then attempt to locate in multi-billion dollar atom-smashers like Europe’s Large Hadron Collider at CERN. Some say it’s a vital investment. Others believe it’s the biggest waste of money in scientific history.
Could the dark matter and dark energy of the scientists correspond to astral and etheric matter that esoteric investigators often speak about? Or is this too simplistic an explanation? Is science finally about to discover the subtle realms? Are we about to witness a major convergence in which science finally identifies and recognises the energies and forces spoken of in the Ageless Wisdom tradition? If this is the case then not only will it revolutionise scientific understanding, it will also create a major upheaval in the way that we understand and use consciousness.
Slowly, gradually, science is finally beginning to recognise some of these often bizarre truths about ourselves and the cosmos. It has taken many decades for this dovetailing with some of the Ageless Wisdom truths to happen. Quite soon the old-speak of the astrophysicist – words like vast, icy, dead, lifeless reaches of empty space etc. will soon be part of a redundant language. These terms are simply not true. The universe and everything in it is not only alive but also conscious.
Those who have studied these ancient truths are aware that there are hidden forces and concealed energies in ourselves and in everything else which create and direct the cosmos. So it may be useful to explore our understanding of three of these key forces.
Let’s start with prana. This is a highly specialised energy which is essentially the cosmic life-force, vital principle or psycho-physical essence pervading the universe.
Prana is derived from the Sanskrit words pra (meaning before or in front) and an (to breathe). It therefore means to breathe forth. It possibly hints at the lost truth that there is a link between breath and consciousness; states of consciousness can be modified by altered breathing.
The life-atoms of prana form a psycho-electrical field. When we as human beings die, our pranic energies dissolve back into the pranic reservoirs of the planet as part of an endless re-cycling process. Helena Blavatsky, one of the co-founders of the modern Theosophical movement, described prana as the ‘motor-principle in life’.
All life is infused with prana. It exists everywhere. When transmitted through material bodies it becomes specialised and differentiated. There is solar prana radiating from the sun and transmitted by an order of powerful golden devas or ethereal spiritual beings who are on a separate evolutionary path to that of humans. In the Christian tradition they are better known as angelic beings. Some are more evolved than humans, others less so. The task of these devas is to ‘step down’ this powerful energy and transfer it to the earth and to human beings’ higher chakras.
Alongside solar prana and planetary prana there is also various types of animal prana as well as the prana of the oak tree, the fungus or the daisy.
Our Earth has its own specialised prana originating from the sun which is circulated on the planet before being radiated off into the wider cosmos. These planetary emanations are captured and then concentrated on all life-forms by other specific groups of devas operating on the etheric levels – and therefore also on human etheric bodies. We absorb this planetary prana and magnetism via our breathing and the spleen chakra which distributes it throughout our bodies. The spleen acts as an essential gateway between the etheric and the physical body.
There are five types of human prana, collectively known as the five vāyus, which are referred to in ancient Hindu texts. However, other literature suggests that there may be three, seven or twelve variants of prana.
This list includes prana itself which governs appropriation of the atmosphere. This is an inward moving energy which also covers breathing and the absorption of food and drink.
Apana means literally rejection and involves outward moving energy directing the processes of excretion, urination, perspiration and the release of carbon dioxide from the lungs.
Vyana covers the distribution of energy in the body such as the circulation of the blood and lymphatic system. It also covers the flow of energy along specific channels in the body called nadis (a word meaning tube). We’ll deal with this more fully in a moment.
Udana or utterance is the prana which enables us to express thoughts through sound and words. It regulates the throat area and the vocal chords.
Finally, Samana controls the processes of assimilation such as digestion.
The origins of the term prana go back three thousand years to those ancient Hindu texts The Upanishads and The Vedas.
Similar concepts exist in various other cultures, including the Latin anima (‘breath, ‘vital force’, ‘animating principle’), the Islamic and Sufic ruh, the Greek pnoée (πνοή) or breath although this isn’t precisely the same thing, the Chinese qi, the Polynesian mana, the Amerindian orenda, the German od, and the Hebrew ruah.
Prana is also referred to as ‘bio-plasmic energy’. Indian philosophy describes prana as flowing through nadis or channels in the human body. The Shiva Samhita states that there are 350,000 nadis in the human body, while other texts mention 72,000 nadis, each branching off into another 72,000.
These nadis play an important role in the application and understanding of certain yoga practices. The three most important nadis are the Ida, the Pingala, and the Sushumna, each facilitating the flow of prana vāyu throughout the body. The Ida nadi relates to the left side of the body, terminating at the left nostril. The Pingala nadi relates to the right side of the body, terminating at the right nostril. The Sushumna nadi connects the chakra at the base of the spine to the crown chakra at the top of the head.
Prana is possibly a differentiated aspect of another powerful energy we’ll now explore: kundalini.
Kundalini is a very mysterious – and potentially dangerous or even deadly – power of the human body.
In The Secret Doctrine Madame Blavastky quotes T. Subba Row’s definition: ‘It is the Universal life-Principle manifesting everywhere in nature. This force includes the two great forces of attraction and repulsion. Electricity and magnetism are but manifestations of it.’
In The Voice of the Silence she writes: ‘…let the fiery power retire into the inmost chamber, the chamber of the Heart and the abode of the World’s Mother.’ In a note about this verse she adds: ‘It is Buddhi considered as an active instead of a passive principle…It is an electro-spiritual force, a creative power which when aroused into action can as easily kill as it can create.’ (Buddhi is the wisdom-intuition principle)
In Volume XII of her Collected Writings she adds: ‘The forty-nine fires [of the mind] are all states of kundalini, to be produced by ourselves by the friction of the Triad [Atma, Buddhi, Manas].’ (Spirit, wisdom-intuition and higher mind which make up the soul, Higher Self or the enduring Individuality of the Theosophists.
Kundalini is a mighty cosmic energy, a primal power and a feminine principle which is at work throughout the universe.
This energy is derived from nature’s elemental forces. It acts continuously whether we’re aware of it or not. In its higher aspects, kundalini conveys thought and force originating in our three-fold higher selves – our enduring individuality – made up of spirit, wisdom-intuition and higher mind or atma, buddhi and manas (ie the part which reincarnates in different physical bodies.)
The word kundalini is derived from the Sanskrit word kundala which denotes a winding, spiral or coiling action. Therefore, it’s often compared to a snake or serpent coiled three and a half times, asleep at the base of the spine until reawakened and progressively released through the chakras. The three coils represent the three states of consciousness or gunas: waking, dreaming and deep sleep. It also represents the three types of experience: objective, subjective or neither as well as the temporal states of past, present and future. The half coil is said to symbolise transcendence.
In human beings kundalini is one of the fundamental energies making up the pranas. The way we experience Kundalini is frequently reported to be a distinct feeling of electric current running up the spine.
Unskilled attempts to interfere with the normal working of kundalini in the human body can have disastrous and dire consequence – disease, insanity or even death. It isn’t something the unprepared should meddle with.
This is because when awakened, kundalini raises the vibratory rate of the chakras and all parts of our subtle and physical bodies. This eliminates all coarser matter and attracts atoms of a far higher frequency and effectively purifies the etheric body. The so-called ‘webs’ which act as protective barriers are burnt out allowing kundalini to pass freely.
Specifically, kundalini is said to rise up from the muladhara chakra at the base of the spine, through the central nadi (the sushumna) up the spine reaching the top of the head. As it progresses through the different chakras is believed to achieve different levels of awakening and a mystical experience. Reaching the crown chakra on top of the head it produces an extremely profound transformation of consciousness.
The sensations generated by the awakening of kundalini vary hugely depending on the physical, mental, psychological and emotional make-up of an individual.
It can have positive effects such as: enlightenment, bliss, feelings of infinite love and universal connectivity, transcendent awareness, seeing truth (by the opening of our now dormant third eye), and euphoria. It can also produce an awakening of the senses, especially smell, hearing and taste, as well as lights and sounds.
On the other hand, it can have negative effects such as: diminished control over sexual desire, emotional upheavals or the surfacing of unwanted and repressed feelings or thoughts with certain buried emotions becoming dominant in the conscious mind for short or long periods of time. Other symptoms include itching skin, headache, migraine, or pressure inside the skull along with aarious pains and discomforts.
This is why the raising of kundalini should not be attempted prematurely because of the dangers to the unpurified individual. Preparations for the release of kundalini involve safely dissolving the protecting webs through prolonged spiritual practices, leading a clean life, maintaining pure motives for what we do, keeping emotions under control and displaying unselfish behaviour.
Esotericists down the ages have been all too aware of the force of kundalini. It has been shrouded in secrecy because of its highly dangerous effects on the unprepared. Until Madame Blavatsky’s time it was virtually unknown in the West.
And then there is the mighty universal force of fohat. There are as many types of fohat as there are worlds. It is something of a paradox. It’s a force of both creation and destruction. And it’s possibly even more mysterious than either prana or kundalini – and even less understood. But it’s linked to these two other energies because it appears to be the driving force.
Fohat is the vital force of the universe and is also sometimes described as cosmic electrical consciousness or cosmic will. Although it behaves like a dynamic pulsating energy, it is essentially a gigantic cosmic consciousness operating at every level and in every corner of the universe. It links one plane of reality to another. It links spirit to mind and mind to matter. It has been described as the ‘law-giver’ of the universe.
Fohat is basically the primordial force of cosmic vitality. In the manifested universe fohat forces the differentiation of matter from the one to the many. In stark contrast it’s also the binding force which unites and combines the atoms of the cosmos.
Fohat is the incessantly active force of nature throughout the evolution of a universe, a solar system, a planet, a human being or any other entity. It both creates and destroys, thereby ensuring endless change. It operates at sub-atomic levels.
Fohat is the active power through which the plan for a new universe present in the mind of the Logos is manifested objectively, thus providing a bridge between the subjective spirit and the objective matter:
At the beginning of a new cycle (manvantara) the Wisdom-aspect of the Absolute radiates the pre-cosmic ideation, which manifests as the Cosmic Ideation and eventually gives rise to fohat. It corresponds to the pranic activity on all seven different planes of the human constitution.
It’s also similar to the Greek term eros – the electric Power of affinity and sympathy – but much broader.
- P. Blavatsky described fohat as the most important character in esoteric cosmogony. She said it originated from the original interaction of cosmic ideation with cosmic substance. She wrote ‘It is through Fohat that Ideas of the Universal Mind are impressed upon matter.’ She said: ‘Fohat is the steed and thought is the rider.’
Fohat, she said, is ‘the animating principle electrifying every atom into life.’
Our understanding of these three forces are, of course, extremely limited. These are still not widely known in the West although concepts of an etheric body and the existence of chakras and auras is gradually slipping into mainstream thought because of the popularity of yoga techniques in the West. There will be no doubt many other forces and energies that we don’t even know about because they are way beyond our current level of knowledge. But one thing is clear. We can no longer rely on science to provide us with the answers because science simply doesn’t have them yet.
Over many millennia different forms of astrology in different cultures and historical epochs have clearly demonstrated how this ancient science can analyse our character and destiny. Even those who dismiss astrology as suspicious nonsense admit that they’re affected by such things as day and night, the phases of the moon, the seasons of the year, the 11-year cycle of sunspot activity as well as numerous other forces such as assorted Earth energies and telluric currents.
Understanding these universal forces of nature which impact directly on us also helps us understand not only who we are and how we work, but also the vast if not unlimited scope of our true human potential and evolutionary possibilities. It’s become a modern spiritual cliché to say that we are gods in the making. But this is precisely what we are: sparks of the divine. Admittedly, it’s often difficult to appreciate this in the modern world because most of us don’t look or act in an especially divine way.
However, one day those who survive the necessary trials will reach that status – but only when we can understand ourselves and exert greater control over our delinquent lower principles.
Through the many intricate processes of conditioning that we all undergo – societal, educational, religious, family or other reasons such as peer group pressure, we often subject ourselves to severe self-limitation. We programme and hardwire these perceived limitations and the barriers they create into the core of our being. We reject new activities and ideas. If and when we remove these self-imposed restrictions, the results can be absolutely astounding.
Understanding, releasing and enhancing human potential has to begin with this appreciation of who we really are – spiritual beings who happen to be temporarily inhabiting particular physical bodies. It’s vital to transcend the notion that we are merely our transient bodies, emotions or even our thoughts. We are permanently evolving spiritual entities with higher selves or souls. We have divinely-inspired capacities and abilities unlimited by any known horizon.
On the physical plane there has been an explosion in human potential over the past two and a half centuries – in science, culture, the arts, societal reforms, science, sport and technology. In less than a quarter of a millennium intellectual capacity has also mushroomed. However, our moral and spiritual outlooks have developed far more sluggishly.
We remain largely emotionally unintelligent for most of the time. We’re frequently raw in our responses to conflicts and difficulties. And how many people are even moderately in control of their thoughts? Mastering our minds and feelings are the next two initiations or uplifts in consciousness which humanity will inevitably undergo.
Let’s look at one specific example of how we can develop our potential although this only involves the lower or concrete mind – but at least it’s a start
In the 1960s Dr Georgi Lozanov (1926-2012)set up The Institute of Suggestology in the Bulgarian capital Sofia. Its aim was to massively accelerate the time taken to learn new things. His main concern the was the mental, physical and spiritual health of the learner. Dr Lozanov adopted a radical way of achieving this, bypassing existing teaching methods. His approach involved borrowing some of the techniques of nidra yoga demonstrating that they could speed up the learning process by up to fifty times. He called this process Suggestopedia. He showed how relaxation can improve both memory and intelligence.
He carried out thousands of controlled trials and found that his Suggestopedia method dramatically increased memory retention – and more interestingly it required no effort at all on the part of the student. Unlike mainstream education most students actually found it fun. And it worked for everyone from all social classes – the young and the old, the bright and the dull. They didn’t even need to believe in the method.
Although the technique was used in various branches of learning, Dr Lozanov first applied his method to the teaching of languages and the results were astounding. People could learn new languages in 20 days rather than years. He said the technique involved mind to mind contact between teacher and student.
Yoga techniques of relaxation allowed students to open up their sub-conscious minds switching the focus of attention away from external action and sounds. In this ‘free state of consciousness’ the brain is relieved from the usual stresses and strains and acts like a sponge. The secret of Dr Lozanov’s technique was that information didn’t reach the memory in the usual way because the student didn’t participate consciously in the process. Instead they had a calm, intuitive perception.
Tests showed that alpha waves in the brain predominated during this process. Interestingly the students often felt that they learned nothing at all because they were more focused on the background music that was usually being played rather than the lesson itself. However, the following day it was found that students could read, speak and write between 150 and 200 words which had been absorbed during a two-hour session.
The Suggestopedia technique means that the difficult aspects of language learning such as grammar are implanted during this receptive mood. Further tests showed that students remembered the words a year later.
Taking his Suggestopedia technique to the limit, Dr Lozanov held a fifteen minute class in which fifteen lessons from a French grammar book were taught and around 500 words given out. A written test three days later showed that all the words had been retained.
All this clearly demonstrates the power of the mind to improve human potential. And it would seem there are no limits. Why then was Dr Lozanov’s technique not more widely adopted by educationalists? Was it because it was so effective it jeopardised too many vested interests?
Purucker, Gottfried de, Occult Glossary (Point Loma Publications)
Theosophical Encyclopaedia (Theosophical Publishing House, Manila)
Blavatsky, H. P.: The Voice of the Silence (Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar)
Blavatsky, H. P.: The Secret Doctrine (Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar)
Blavatsky, H. P.: Collected Writings Vol XII (Theosophical Publishing House, Adyar)
Lozanov, Dr Georgi: (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Georgi_Lozanov)
- Ostrander & L. Schroeder: Supernormal Powers of the Mind Revolutionize Education, Psychic Discoveries Behind the Iron Curtain, (Bantam Books, 1971)