AJNA 3 - Philosophical Background



Philosophical Background

Ajna chakra is part of the psychic physiology described in
kundalini tantra, amongst the teachings of tantra, an
integral division of Indian philosophy. Indian philosophies
in general and tantra in particular have not been authored
by thinkers, but by those who have transcended the con-
straints of the ordinary mind and experienced higher levels
of consciousness and energy.

The books on those experiences tell us that beyond the
ordinary intellect there is another source of knowledge. They
call it a higher state of consciousness. This consciousness
transcends the ordinary conscious mind and is termed cosmic
or superconsciousness.

Original texts emphasize that the ordinary state of mind
or waking consciousness is pale in comparison. Since ancient
times highly evolved souls have experienced the awakening
of kundalini. Seekers have followed the paths laid down and
have seen and experienced subtle aspects of the body, mind,
chakras and universe, and then subsequently reported them
to us. These reported experiences give us a clear vision of
our psychic physiology and internal symbols associated with
each level of consciousness.

The reports are in the form of manuscripts called tantras
and in total make up the tantra shastras. Descriptions are
lucid and there is a concordance amongst the vast array of
tantras on any one subject by different authors. For example,

there are numerous descriptions of ajna chakra and the
symbols seen within it. Most of the kundalini tantras agree
that in ajna or bhru chakra resides a goddess named Hakini
who has four arms and drinks ambrosia. Experiences of
higher consciousness and kundalini descriptions have been
written down in a variety of texts spanning thousands of
years, yet they are basically the same with varying terminology.

Therefore, we can rely on the instructions, methods and
mantras written down by those who have walked the path
before us. No doubt the experiences they report are spiritual
and beyond the realm of the senses. The validity of spiritual
experiences cannot be measured by the logic of worldly,
material or sensorial experiences because they are of different
realms. Material experiences are dependent on an object
perceived by the senses whereas spiritual experiences are
beyond the senses. It is pointless to argue the validity of
spiritual experiences from a materialistic point of view.

In space things are not what they appear to be: straight
lines become curved, space is curved, and mass and time are
a function of the speed in relation to the speed of light. In
the same way, we have to accept the validity of spiritual
experiences. Because everyone does not encounter spiritual
reality does not mean that it is not there; it just means the
few who have broken the bonds with worldly existence have
experienced the spiritual reality, in the same way that the
few who have broken away from the pull of earth’s gravity
know what it is like to be in space.

Mandukya Upanishad tells us that objective reality, the
reality that we know in our ordinary waking state, has
manifested from a higher energy state, an unmanifest reality.
Just as the apple tree is the manifestation of the essence of
the apple seed, this creation is a manifestation of higher
reality. All these things have been seen and experienced in
lucid encounters with higher reality. Higher reality is often
described in poetic and often dramatized passages. These
passages are ultimately written and subsequently categorized
in volumes that make up the Indian philosophical systems.

Mandukya Upanishad describes the experience from the
microcosm of individual consciousness, yet it describes the
whole creation manifesting from the macrocosmic super-
conscious state. It is here that we come to understand that the
universal macrocosm is the same as the individual microcosm,
and that individual consciousness is not an ultimate reality.

The ultimate consciousness, called turiya, is not that which
is conscious of the inner (subjective) world, nor that which is
conscious of the outer (objective) world, nor that which is
conscious of both, nor that which is a mass of consciousness.
It is unperceived, unrelated, incomprehensible, uninferable,
unthinkable and indescribable. The essence of the con-
sciousness manifesting as the self (in the three states), it is the
cessation of all phenomena; it is all peace, all bliss and non-
dual. This is what is known as the fourth; this is atman (self),
and this has to be realized.

We must note at this point that the word philosophy is
English for the Sanskrit word darshan. Darshan means that
which is revealed or seen; a vision of the divine or sacred or
truth. Often darshan is the vision of a manifest divine. The
vision of Christ three days after his crucifixion is called
darshan, and the sacred texts are considered as darshan
because their content has been seen.

Adepts sitting steady for long periods using mantras and
concentration techniques, transcend body and mind to access
the turiya state and then darshan or revelations of that state
are experienced. The revelations outlined the path and gave
aspirants purpose and inspiration. In turn others have
experienced these revealed truths.

Kundalini tantra is the truth about the complex psychic
human physiology, about its dormant potential as well as the
means to awaken kundalini shakti, the store of energy, and
the levels of awakening according to the chakras. Descriptions
of the chakras detail multi-petalled flowers with yantras,
mantras, colours and deities, and these descriptions have
made an indelible mark in the psyche of all those who have
come across such information.

Sanatana dharma

In ancient times, before the idea of categorizing people into
different religious groups, communities around the Indus
River were organized in such a way as to guide people towards
inner spiritual experience. Wealth and greatness were
measured in terms of spiritual attainment and materialistic
goals were understood to support materialistic needs. Spiritual
life was balanced with worldly life, and life was divided into
four stages. The first stage was childhood and youth dedicated
to education and learning, known as brahmacharya.

Education was broad; it included language, mathematics
and social sciences, as well as spiritual lore. Very little was
written; however, the Rig Veda, one of the oldest records of
those times, sings praises of the mighty river Indus that
watered fertile flood plains, providing food for so many.
Records of Indus script found on thousands of tablets
remain a mystery. However, archaeological excavations have
unearthed a clear picture of organized communities
systematically housed according to precise planning, com-
plete with streets and roads, drainage, bathing and common
facilities. With the passing of time the Indus dried up and
the communities migrated to the Ganges and other plains;
however, their traditions were etched into society.

Memory was the basis of learning: thousands of books
were remembered so well that when writing came into vogue
some thousands of years later, the same recitations from
different parts of India varied in just one or two lines over
some hundreds of thousands of verses. Writing vedas and
upanishads and other great texts were scribed when it was
foreseen that subsequent civilizations would forget the
teachings and memory would become dim.

The second stage in life was for marriage and family.
This division, termed grihastha or householder, was society’s
provider. From the age of twenty-five to fifty years people
pursued this window of opportunity to explore their
ambitions and desires, knowing it would soon end and that
all would be passed on to the next generation. However, the

education gave adherents the stability to know that the
highest goal, pursuit of inner experience, remained a part
of their existence, and emphasis on this goal was to grow in
subsequent stages.

The third stage of twenty-five years, vanaprastha, was
training for renunciation of all worldly desires and external
pursuits. Husband and wife would move to a hut in the forest
and perform devotions and meditations away from emotional
and material support of friends and family.

The fourth and final stage of life, termed sannyasa, was
taken from the age of seventy-five years. This stage was a life
of simplicity, austerity and contemplation combined with
total renunciation of all family and friends so that all bonds
could be broken.

Society was structured to turn its members away from the
comforts of wealth and worldly achievement and toward
spiritual perfection. This lifestyle, which encouraged
evolution, was named sanatana dharma, meaning eternal cul-
ture. Sanatana dharma was the basic philosophy of life and
now it is incorrectly described as the Hindu religion.

According to Encyclopaedia Britannica the British intro-
duced the term ‘Hinduism’ during the 1800s in order to
separate Buddhists and Sikhs from Hindus as all three faiths
are based on sanatana dharma. The term Hindu originated
from the Indus river and Hindus were those people whose
lifestyle had originated around the Indus valley, even though
the river had disappeared many thousands of years before
and all that remained were the archaeological digs in the
deserts of India and Pakistan, somewhat north of what is now
known as Mumbai.

This sanatana culture produced a plethora of ascetic
seers, as well as rishis who had families and renunciate
saints. These great souls (mahatmas) were given the highest
status; often they were advisers to kings and their influence
on society was enormous. The work of saints was funded
with the patronage of kings and thus the messages of these
great souls are still available today.

Just as a flower has attractiveness and scent, in the same
way saints have that quality of the divine, which is beautiful
and attractive. It is to these advanced souls that the highest
respect was given. Their advice was sought in all matters of
state as well as in personal problems. They bequeathed
mankind a large wealth of records for our guidance. Literally
thousands of texts on every facet of sacred lore are available.

These records were in the form of poetic verse, illustrating
the experience of the absolute through drama and question
and answer. The richness of language and beauty of de-
scription composed in rhyming verse is evidence of the
supreme level of mental evolution that these masters of the
past had reached. This is why we hear the ring of truth in their
writings; this is why we reach sublime depths of peaceful
contemplation after we chant their mantras and this is why we
aspire for their experience, knowing their truth to be the
truth just by a whisper of acknowledgement from within us,
a vibration nodding in agreement with what they have
presented to us.

Thus the sanatana dharma tradition was born: teachings
in the form of vedas, upanishads, epics such as the Maha-
bharata and the Ramayana, philosophies such as Tantra,
Vedanta and Samkhya, and practical instructions in the
form of kundalini yoga, hatha yoga, bhakti yoga, raja yoga,
mantra yoga and laya yoga.

This system for society was based on one principle: human
spirit is who we are in reality. This was the experience of
sages throughout history and in identifying with the body,
senses, possessions and materialistic gains, we forget who we
are — the spirit.

Search for truth

Loss of memory of who we really are is illustrated beautifully
in chapter four of the Srimad Bhagavatam. Narada relates
this story to the sorrowful King Prachinabarhis, who is in
search of the way to truth. “I will tell you a story,” began
Narada, “which illustrates in allegory what I wish to teach.

“There lived a well-known king, named Puranjana. He
had an intimate friend, but none knew his name or his
occupation. Puranjana roamed all over the earth, hoping to
find a suitable place to live in. But he met only with
disappointment. He thought to himself, I have seen many
cities, but none appears good to me. I want to live in a city
where all my desires may be satisfied, but none of these
would be sufficient for the purpose.

“At last he came to a city in Bharatavarsha, south of the
Himalayas. This magnificent city, with its nine gates, its
stately palaces, its beautiful gardens and crystal lakes,
appeared to have all the advantages he had been seeking.
He felt that his wanderings were over, for here all his desires
could be gratified.

“Then, one day soon after, Puranjana saw a beautiful
young girl with her attendants, walking in a garden. Their
paths met, they fell in love and within a short time they were
married. They continued to live in the city of nine gates, and
it was by passing through these gates that Puranjana found
he could indulge his many desires, although, strange to say,
he never found any real satisfaction in so doing. He loved his
wife deeply and was happy only in her presence. He made
her wishes his, and when she wept he wept, when she smiled
he smiled. Thus slavishly responsive to her every whim and
mood, he was on the way to losing the last vestige of his

“For many years he stayed on in that beautiful city,
gratifying his every desire but never obtaining any lasting
pleasure or comfort from his way of life.

“Now it happened that while King Puranjana, immersed
in pleasures, was forgetful of everything else, a mighty general
attacked the city where he dwelt. This general possessed a
certain magical charm by means of which he had the power
to work great havoc. So it was that he demolished the beautiful
city of nine gates. Puranjana himself could not escape. He
found himself bereft of everything, even of that last stronghold
of consciousness, his memory. He forgot well nigh all his

past, his kingship and his magnificent city. One memory
alone was left: the thought of his beautiful wife. This thought
possessed his mind with such intensity that he did not
notice his loss of memory for the rest of the world. His
whole nature became obsessed by her image, and like a
madman, who losing his own identity becomes the being
whose image possesses him, Puranjana found himself
transformed into a lovely young girl like his wife.

“The young girl he had now become forgot her previous
identity to such an extent that when she met with King
Malayadhvaja, she fell in love with him and married him.
When in the course of time the king passed away and she was
left alone, lamenting his death and her bereavement, an
unknown brahmin came to her and said:

“O my beloved friend, why are you grieving? Do you not
know me, your dear friend? Try to remember who and what
you are. I have been your friend always, but you neglected
me and forgetting me entirely went away in search of pleasure
and enjoyment. You and I are friends, united in eternal
bonds. Though you forgot me, I have been with you all the
time. You entered into a city of nine gates and became so
deeply attached to a woman that you forgot your real self.
Then later you became forgetful of your past and believed
yourself to be the wife of this man. You are neither the
husband nor the wife. There is no sex in you. You and I are
not separate. Know yourself as me. Just as one sees oneself as
two when reflected in a mirror, so do you appear as you and
me, but in reality we are one.”

Prachinabarhis requested Narada to explain the allegory,
and Narada, assenting, thus spoke on: “O King, Puranjana
in the story stands for the purusha, the divine self. He is
called Puranjana because the divine self is the manifestor of
pura, or the body. The unknown friend that I have mentioned
is Brahman, or God. None knows Him, for no deeds or
attributes can express or reveal Him.

“The puras, or bodies, are of various kinds. Of these the
human body is a suitable instrument for the enjoyment of all

desires. This human body is the city with nine gates, such as
eyes, ears, nose etc., through which the divine self or
Puranjana goes out, as it were, to enjoy the objects of the
senses. The wife is the intellect, united with whom man
enjoys the world and worldly goods. In thus identifying itself
with the intellect or ego, the divine self forgets its true nature
and becomes immersed in ignorance and vanity. The great
general is all-destructive time whose charms are disease and
death; disease and death ultimately destroy this body.

“Man is divine and free and blissful. Being deluded, he
superimposes the attributes of the non-self upon the self.
Hunger and thirst belong to the prana, lust or desire belongs
to the senses and the mind; but all these are attributed to the
self in man, who is by nature free.

“Forgetful of his true divine nature, identifying himself
with the false ego, man becomes attached to the world and
the pleasures of the world. He then is bound by his deeds. As
are his deeds, so is his birth.”

This is the story of King Prachinabarhis and it is everyone’s
story. Spiritual aspirants are by definition dissatisfied with
pleasures and worldly objectives. Thus they search for truth,
a meaningful, satisfying, non-decaying truth, a truth we feel
is there, yet we have lost our memory of it. Even if God
comes to us in the form of experience, we will not recognize
Him because our memory is dim.

Kundalini yoga
The Srimad Bhagavatam tells us in chapter two of the yogi
who aspires to return to the memory of purusha by kundalini
yoga. “A true yogi, realizing the approach of death, sits
calmly in a yoga posture, and with his heart purified and
mind under perfect control, becomes absorbed in the
consciousness of Brahman. Thus he lives in a state of perfect

“Time, the great destroyer, which lords it over everything
in the universe, is annihilated. The universe itself melts into
nothingness. The yogi is no longer aware of his physical self.

The worshipful Lord Vishnu alone is in his heart. All to him
is God. Such is his blissful state.

“Desiring to give up the body, he allows the vital energy
to pass through the different centres of consciousness. First,
the energy is concentrated in the solar plexus, called manipura.
From there the energy rises to anahata, the heart. It then
passes to the centre near the throat, called vishuddhi. From
there it ascends to ajna, the centre between the eyebrows.

“At this point one of two things may come to pass. If the
yogi has reached the state of desirelessness, he realizes the
absolute Brahman and the vital energy ascends to sahasrara,
the thousand-petalled lotus centre in the brain, called the
doorway to Brahman. Then the yogi, realizing his unity with
Brahman, completes the separation of himself from the
senses, the sense organs, the mind and the body and passes
away. He attains what is known as absolute freedom. This is
called immediate liberation.

“Tf, on the other hand, having raised his vital energy to
the centre between the eyebrows, the yogi still has some
desires left in him, he does not realize the absolute unity,
but passes away still associating himself with the mind and
the senses. He then ascends to higher and higher lokas and
ultimately reaches the brahma loka. There he becomes freed
from all desires and realizes his unity with Brahman; and
thus, having attained absolute freedom, there is for him no
more return. This is called the gradual liberation.

“Be ye therefore, O King, a yogi, for by worshipping the
lord of love one has all desires fulfilled and in the end attains
freedom. Even hearing of God stimulates the higher con-
sciousness and brings about detachment from the fleeting
world. So should a man follow the path of freedom, the path
of love.”

Ajna chakra .

Ajna is the fulcrum about which our spiritual and material
lives are balanced. By identification with external values,
our vision is blind to the greater truths within and this

process continues until we have seen through the host of
beliefs we have adopted in our hope for enjoyment and
satisfaction in our materialistic lifestyle.

According to the vedantic theory of yoga and the
experience of people who have perfected it, ajna chakra is
the place where the greater mind manifests in the form of a
desire. That desire, which is the first manifestation of the
greater mind, is known as ichcha shakti. The greater mind
next manifests in the form of willpower known as sankalpa
shakti. Then it manifests as a creative process known as kriya
shakti. That creative process of the supreme intelligence is
later on perceived at the level of the different chakras.

Ajna chakra is a point where the higher intelligence, the
unmanifest and the manifest intelligence, are both experi-
enced. Therefore, the yogic traditions have called ajna chakra
the seat of intuition, the seat of the guru or the seat of the
sixth sense. The five senses belong to the manifest dimension,
the manifest experience. The sixth sense, or the intuitive
experience, is the transcendental manifestation of the
supreme intelligence. It is here that we have to focus our
creativity, willpower and desire to either be a receiver of, ora
receptacle for, the manifest or unmanifest experiences.

Ajna works like a radar; what is received depends on the
direction of focus. If you focus downwards, you will receive
the experiences contained in vishuddhi, anahata, manipura,
swadhisthana and mooladhara. The purpose of awakening
ajna is to become aware of these different levels in ajna when
it is focused downwards.

When you reverse the focus of ajna, then it becomes the
practice of ajna dharana, which is a re-focusing of the antenna
which receives information and vibrations from above. There
has to be a focus for that antenna in order to channel the
supreme consciousness in the form of a beam and direct it
to ajna, so that the information can be received as a tran-
scendental input into the human frame.

We have the choice either to direct our focus toward
inner or transcendental knowledge, or to increase our

knowledge of the aspects attributed to the qualities of the
lower chakras. Once ajna is awake, we can clearly see, but
without this clear sight there is no choice and we are driven
by the force of our minds and our karmas. Our vision is so
limited and our memory of the truth is so remote that we
resort to books and other indirect sources to search for
higher knowledge that we somehow know is there, but cannot
see that it is there.

Today’s mind is basically rational and demands proof.
Knowledge based on experience is not demonstrable nor is
it repeatable, and therefore science has searched the universe
for the knowledge of creation. Surprisingly enough scientists
have come up with correlations between what has been written
in ancient texts and what is understood to be the forefront of
metaphysics. The ancient knowledge was perceived through
the intuitive eye of ajna, whilst the current run of science is
perceived in huge laboratories.


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