The story of our hidden powers is the story of the creation of man and of the cosmos in which he lives. There is a web of living relationships woven among the galaxies, suns, and planets which we recognize as the laws of nature; and while we contribute to this marvelous web, our actions and decisions are mightily influenced by it. I wonder if we grasp the intimate relationship of all things to each other, and how through the long, long ages these families of lives emanated and then evolved their forms as we see them today.
How was the miracle of a thinking, aspiring human being achieved — the developing of a physical form sensitive to the forces of life and substance coursing into and through it from a wondrous and complex inner being? In considering our various powers, we will need to discover what our inner nature is, and how it is inseparable from the earth and its inner worlds as well as from our sun, the cosmos, and beyond. For our powers as human beings are preeminently mental and spiritual rather than merely psychic and physical, and they are closely involved with our evolution as cosmic beings.
Where was the beginning? As we look into the night sky, aware of stars without number, we realize like the ancient astronomers that all is the manifestation of consciousness, and that in some remarkable and mysterious way we are an inseparable part of it. This space, where numberless galaxies and suns live their lives, is not merely a container; it is without end inwardly and outwardly, spiritually and materially.
Who can find the rootless root of it, the causeless cause of this infinite expanse?
There was neither nonexistence nor existence then; there was neither the realm of space nor the sky which is beyond. What stirred? Where? In whose protection? Was there water, bottomlessly deep?
There was neither death nor immortality then. There was no distinguishing sign of night nor of day. That one breathed, windless, by its own impulse. Other than that there was nothing beyond.
Darkness was hidden by darkness in the beginning; with no distinguishing sign, all this was water. The life force that was covered with emptiness, that one arose through the power of heat.
Desire came upon that one in the beginning; that was the first seed of mind. Poets seeking in their heart with wisdom found the bond of existence in nonexistence.
Their cord was extended across. Was there below? Was there above? There were seed-placers; there were powers. There was impulse beneath; there was giving-forth above.
Who really knows? Who will here proclaim it? Whence was it produced? Whence is this creation? The gods came afterwards, with the creation of this universe. Who then knows whence it has arisen?
Whence this creation has arisen — perhaps it formed itself, or perhaps it did not — the one who looks down on it, in the highest heaven, only he knows — or perhaps he does not know. — "Creation Hymn," Rig Veda, 10:129
The creation of our earth, inner and outer, was the labor of all the kingdoms supervised by godlike beings. It unrolled like a great scroll through the cosmic planes, becoming ever more material in form. The building of the earth and its inner worlds occurred step by step with the formation of individual bodies by all the kingdoms of lives on these planes. When the unrolling scroll had reached its most material stage, only a few million years ago, the inrolling process began. Up to this point forms were evolved, thus building worlds ever more physical. Elementals, minerals, plants, animals, human beings, and gods all contributed to this process, following lines laid down from past embodiments — a memory inherent in the astral substance. But with the inrolling of the scroll of manifested lives, the evolution or coming forth of spirit commenced. Matter will become ever more ethereal and refined with each passing cycle of time, as every kingdom of beings unrolls inwardly, consciously rising spiritually according to each one's capacity.
Like all other beings, man in his spiritual and psychological constitution has various consciousness centers — a divinity, a Buddha or Christ nature, a Prometheus or son of mind, a human being, and an animal aspect of his nature — all housed in the vital-astral-physical body. These centers or monads are themselves living, evolving beings, each with its own ego and soul. They derive from the inner being of the earth and solar system, the divine monad emanating forth the next lower or spiritual monad, and these two emanating the third monad, and so forth. The consciousness of the most spiritual is galactic in scope, while the most material one extends little beyond the physical bounds of the body. All these monads are represented in the human physical body. Imagine a thin line of consciousness running through these monadic centers from the highest to the lowest: this is the thread of self along which we must consciously travel to become one with those centers above and within us and so activate our spiritual being (cf. The Dialogues of G. de Purucker, 3:327-31; Fountain-Source of Occultism, pp. 432-8).
Those beings who first awakened and fashioned the waiting ethereal substance into form were the more spiritual centers of the human inner constitution. Among them were those in a kingdom just beyond the human stage whose karmic destiny was to incarnate in and stimulate the human mind shortly before the turning point when spirit actively began to unfold. This was the climax of a long evolutionary preparation. Without this compassionate act, renewing karmic relationships from ages past, human beings would not have had the intellectual and spiritual strength to fulfill the opportunity to achieve self-conscious union with their higher selves. Mind is perhaps the greatest of our powers now manifest, for with it came awareness, intuition, and the self-conscious direction of will; also the understanding necessary to seek and eventually become one with the godlike being within each of us who gave us the light of mind. Among the most potent forces for self-directed evolution is imagination: we become what we imagine ourselves to be. Our challenge is to raise our center of consciousness so that the mind is influenced by the intuitional rather than the emotional forces in us.
But of course there are other powers more directly related to the physical body. Our physical form so arduously created through long cycles of time is the sensitive instrument upon and through which play life forces relating to all parts of our inner nature — galactic, solar, and terrestrial. These forces are seated in the body and form plexuses called in Sanskrit chakras. Various names and locations are given for these chakras in Hindu works, such as the centers in the regions around the pubis, including the generative organs; the umbilical region, and that of the epigastrium, or solar plexus; the heart and its region; some name the region of the throat; then the region of the forehead between the eyebrows; and the two within the skull, the pituitary body and the pineal gland. Although it is increasingly popular to stimulate these centers to bring about certain physical or psychological effects, arousing them without inner preparation and knowledge can result in physical, psychological, and/or mental imbalance or in the premature awakening of forces we are not as yet prepared to control.
Our monads are focused in various organs of the body as well. For instance, the liver is said to be the seat of the personal self, the spleen of the astral body, and the heart of the god within. In our evolutionary journey we have not unfolded sufficient powers of the heart to be aware of what is still latent there. Its wonders will unfold to us when we can respond to its urge for expression of compassion and sacrifice for others, for love and forgiveness. Conscience, love, hope, peace, and divine wisdom — the great issues of life come from the heart. The brain as a whole is the organ of the physical intellect. The pituitary gland is the organ of will and hence of automatic growth. The pineal gland, receiving the ray direct from cosmic intellect or mahat, is the organ of inspiration, intuition, and vision.
There are also three principal nadis or vessels in the human body. Nadi is a Sanskrit word meaning "channel," "vessel," "tube," etc. The sushumna is the tubular vessel covered by the bones of the spinal column through which the life-forces or pranas flow. It begins at the chakra at the base of the spine and ends at the pineal gland. We enter and leave the body by means of this channel. To its right extending parallel to the spine lies the ida nadi and to the left the pingala, although Hindu writings are not unanimous about which of these is on the left or right of the spine. Ida implies refreshment and stimulation of spirit, and is associated with the higher mind or manas. Sushumna represents solar vitality modified by influences of the moon. Pingala, meaning "reddish-brown," is sometimes associated with kama or the force of desire. Both ida and pingala drive and control the circulations of the pranas. With sushumna they are the principal channels for management of the vital forces of the body with which the chakras are intimately connected by nervous and sympathetic systems as well as the blood vessels, the blood being a condensation of prana (cf. G. de Purucker Man in Evolution, chs. 15 and 16; also Fountain-Source of Occultism, pp. 458-63).
The five senses are also expressions of our human powers. We use them constantly and generally accept that they obey only mechanical physical laws. But as our physical bodies in the womb were built upon the manifesting astral body, it is understandable that the physical senses also have their astral counterparts, which some psychics use. The physical senses
are expressions of five different energies of the intermediate nature of man; and are the avenues — or function as such — by which man may become self-consciously aware of the outer world. In a way these senses are a help; and in another manner they are a detriment to progress. They are a help because they show somewhat of the nature that is around man, and it is through the senses that much of his ordinary consciousness at the present time functions, thus learning much about the world and fellow human beings. This learning ultimately teaches lessons of self-control and helps to awaken the faculties of pity, of love, of compassion, and of the will to do better, which are within man. — G. de Purucker, Golden Precepts of Esotericism, p. 83
The outer senses can be a detriment because they distract attention away from our inner self and spiritual realities.
There are two further senses yet to be acquired. The sixth, just beginning to be in evidence today, will develop as psychospiritual sensitivity, a kind of impressionability. The seventh sense is seated in the pineal gland, which is located about the middle and slightly toward the back of the head. It is known in the West as the third eye and in the East as the eye of Siva. In earlier ages of our racial evolution we had but one eye, an eye of instant spiritual vision and insight which is only partly or feebly active today. Long ago when our two eyes began to develop, the third (or first) eye started to recede into the head. It eventually became covered over by the developing cerebrum and cerebellum within the skull. The pituitary organ, which is close by, is stationed a little towards the forepart of the head. When the forces of the heart stimulate the activity of the pineal gland, and the pituitary is also awakened, the individual is filled with forces flowing from the higher self. The body will give forth light because every center will be stimulated by the spiritual forces at play.
All centers in our physical bodies have their use in place and time, and are all related to each other. For ages people have searched for their secrets with the hope of gaining a state of spiritual achievement. We can deliberately develop some of these psychophysical powers, but spiritual enlightenment will not come from them. On the other hand, psychic powers are a natural by-product of spiritual development. There are qualities of spirituality which the searcher must build into himself and his life before the doors leading to inner heights will open. To seek them for their own sake is to be caught in an evolutionary backwater, and we need to look carefully at our motives. There is no place for selfishness — narrow and constricting — especially spiritual selfishness, in the journey towards spirit. The urge to seek our spiritual selves is the dynamic force throughout all nature, driving all things to expression, each in its own way. If the qualities of the higher centers of the body are sought first, the lower centers will function in harmony. The questions before each of us are eternal ones: Why do we wish to pursue development of these centers? What steps should we take upon realizing our intimate relationship with all that exists?
Human beings are copies in the small of the cosmos. We have within us spiritual and divine elements because the solar and planetary lives are represented in our various bodies, evolved together with our earth and its inner worlds, and even with the sun and its solar kingdom. As the lives of these celestial beings move forward, all lesser lives move with them. We contributed to their formation, and in some aspect of ourselves we will be present at the moment of their spiritual consummation. All lives contribute spiritually and materially to the whole and to each other. This bodily form we make so much of, and abuse, is indeed a wondrous creation, sensitive to the functioning of the web of relationships woven in concert by great and small. Because we are essentially cosmic beings, our powers, ultimately, are as unlimited as the celestial bodies in eternal space. When we consider our evolution, we can think with the author of the Creation Hymn of the Rig-Veda: Where was there ever a beginning? and, we would add, where an ending?
(From Sunrise magazine, April/May 1994. Copyright © 1994 by Theosophical University Press)