Kundalini and the Magic Flute

We each have a tonal center, a certain pitch to which our own bodies are tuned, just like a musical instrument.

Imagine that your sushumna [the central energy channel in the body] is like a bamboo stalk that has been made into a flute.  The finger holes represent the seed sounds of the chakras—seven holes and seven notes in a musical scale.  In deep meditation, when the energy passes through this central channel, heavenly music is playing and can be heard.  It’s not like hearing it in your mind or your imagination.  It’s as real, even more real than if you were to have it performed for you in your own meditation room by an angel.  Hearing this sound is more profound, more beautiful, more joyful, than anything that can be experienced here in our everyday world.  You may have seen pictures of Krishna playing a bamboo flute.  This is one meaning of this scriptural art.  Krishna is an incarnation of Vishnu, the sustainer of life.  It is prana, the incarnation of Vishnu in your body, flowing through the sushumna that creates the music of this magic flute.

Listening to music from external sources can also affect the chakras.   It is not surprising that so many attempts have been made, some with considerable success, to use music therapeutically.   In just what way music affects the chakras depends on the music.

Each component of music has an effect on the body through the chakra system, but it is tone and pitch (the highness or lowness of tone) that are most apparent.  Tone and noise are both the result of vibrations, but the vibrations that create tones are of equal size and distribution, regular and even, whereas the vibrations that create noise are irregular and uneven and haven’t the power to affect the chakras in the same way.

Just as the color white is the crystallization of all the colors of the spectrum, in music, every tone is made up of all pitches organized in specific intervals, becoming subtler as they become higher.  All the pitches that make up a specific tone are not ordinarily distinguishable to the human ear.  They are known as ‘overtones’, or ‘harmonics.’  The formula for the harmonic intervals that make up a tone are the same for each tone.  The only difference between the pitch of one tone and another is the order of the subtle pitches in the harmonic sequence.

The chakra system is based on this system of harmonics.  Comparing the sushumna and the chakras to a flute is suggestive.  Just as vibrations are the cause of sound, vibrations are the effect experienced when energy passes through a chakra.  Just as the movement of air through the flute causes it to sound, the movement of energy through the sushumna causes it to sound.  This sound is heard is deep meditation and is called anahata nada, unstruck sound.  When this Divine Sound is heard in meditation, chakras are being played—opened and refined.  The chakras in the harmonic sequence of the chakra being ‘played,’ also sound.

If you want to see for yourself how this principle works, try an experiment:  If you lift the dampers from the strings of an acoustic piano (push down on the pedal on the right) and play a certain pitch on a violin, or even with your voice, you can hear the strings sounding in the back of the piano that are tuned to that pitch as well as the closest harmonics that make up that pitch.  Another experiment is to silently depress a ‘G’ above middle ‘C’ and hold it down while you strike and release (quickly and loudly) the middle ‘C’.  What you will hear as you continue to hold down the ‘G’, is the ‘G’ and some of its harmonics—even though you never struck the ‘G’.  Similarly, if chakra number one is sounded in meditation, chakra number four will also be vibrated.

From Living the Mysteries, Copyright ©1999,
Durga Ma and Terry Anne Preston, Ph.D.

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Kundalini and the Three Worlds

In your body there are three worlds, the world of the Creator, the world of the Sustainer, and the world of the Transformer. Each chakra calls one of these worlds home. Kundalini passes through them as it ascends.

In the following excerpt from Living the Mysteries, clarifications are in brackets [  ].

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Teachings that discuss a three chakra system are teachings about … three lokas [worlds] and granthis [knots].  This gives us an idea of how a teaching concerning only three chakras can coexist with a teaching of … seven or more chakras.

Each chakra exists in one of these worlds, so think of each chakra in the context of the loka in which it is located and the knot that kundalini tries to unravel there.  I have listed some key words that may help you get a feel for the general characteristics of the three worlds.

The First World, Brahma Loka

The god Brahma is the personification of the creative aspect of the Divine.  Brahma Loka means Brahma’s World, so the granthi, or plexus, of this world is called the Brahma granthi.  Brahma is the creative aspect of the Divine and is associated with the created world.  The first, second and third chakras are in The World of Brahma, so the earth of the first chakra, the water of the second chakra and the fire of the third all exist in the context of the material world.

Each loka is of a different quality, or guna.  The quality of Brahma Loka is rajas, which is passionate, intense or highly active.  This quality is responsible for bondage through attachment to action and the sense of doership.

The difficulties that arise when kundalini is making her way through the world of the first three chakras are material or ‘worldly’ in nature.  They are tangles about the world and your relationship to it that have to come untied.

For the kundalini to pass through this extremely complex and complicated web is extraordinarily difficult.  When this happens, a deep sound is heard, something like a combination of the popping of a cork from a champagne bottle and a deep sounding drum.  It is believed by some that the tabla, a tuned Indian drum, was created to imitate this sound.  This sound seems to come from inside and outside the body at the same time.

The Second World, Vishnu Loka

Once kundalini passes beyond the third chakra, it enters into a different world.  Vishnu Loka means Vishnu’s World.  Vishnu is the aspect of the Divine that sustains and maintains life.  If you recognize this description as the description of the life energy, prana, you have made the connection correctly—the home of prana is in the fourth chakra, the heart, the first chakra in Vishnu Loka.  Vishnu rides the bird Garuda, symbol of the life energy which enters the body primarily through the breath [air].

The fourth and fifth chakras are in this more subtle world of energy associated with the astral body.  The issues and challenges of the Vishnu granthi concern your relationship with others.  Whereas Brahma’s world was the world of matter, Vishnu’s world is the subtler world of the energy.  The quality, or guna, of Vishnu Loka is sattvas, smooth flowing, easy-going, and peaceful.  This quality is responsible for bondage through attachment to happiness and wisdom.

When kundalini finally passes through the Vishnu granthi, the sound of the cork popping out of the champagne bottle may be heard, only this time without the bass drum.  It is followed instead by the sound of the celestial music.  It is believed by some that the vina, an Indian musical instrument, was originally created to imitate this sound.

The Third World, Rudra Loka

Rudra is another name for Shiva, the god of destruction and transformation.  What is destroyed is ignorance of Absolute Truth, the Divine, and death.  What is transformed is your own being.  Shiva in his Rudra aspect, is ‘the scary other.’  The quality of Rudra’s World is tamasTamas is usually considered to be not a very good thing.  It is responsible for bondage through attachment to ignorance, delusion, indulgence and denial.  It’s quality is very slow moving, if it moves at all.  In fact, ‘fixed’ is a good definition of tamas.

The quality of tamas causes one to feel disinclined to be very active.  Before kundalini begins the journey up the sushumna, tamas indicates slowness, ignorance, sloth, impurity, and other horrible things; but when the process of spiritual evolution reaches the realm of Rudra, it’s an asset to stay put.  You become an anchorite.  You become disinterested in anything ‘worldly.’  What remains to be done?  Where is there left to go?  Where is there left for the energy to go?  Here, in Rudra Loka, when desire is no longer an issue, tamas is a blessing, not a curse.

From Living the Mysteries, Copyright ©1999,
Durga Ma and Terry Anne Preston, Ph.D.

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Kundalini and the Chakras

Chakras have obstacles as well as powers associated with them and are neither good nor bad any more than a physical body is inherently good or bad.

Chakras are energy centers in the body … and are often depicted as flowers. These flowers may be in bud form, opening, or in full blossom, implying that a chakra may be in different states of development, or may ache or be exalted. Saint Theresa of Avilla refers to these centers as interior mansions. I was shown them as walls with interiors.

There are many varying opinions and teachings on the subject of chakras. It may seem as though one must determine the right one to study or follow, but they are all really quite wonderful. Each one seems to address a different level or a different life situation or perspective.

Mystical writings sometimes differ in the number of chakras as well as in the number of times the evolutionary force, kundalini, is coiled at the base of this stack of energy centers—three and a half times, five times, eight times.  Some systems teach three or four chakras, some seven, nine, and even twelve. Technically, all acupuncture points are also chakras. I believe that differences in teaching systems exist because of these different perspectives and the way growth and the evolutionary process play out from individual to individual. It doesn’t happen all at once—it’s a process of climbing from cliff to plateau, cliff to plateau, until we reach the top of the mountain.

When looked at closely, I find that no one is really saying anything different. Some systems compile things into fewer categories and use sub-systems, and consequently different names, to express the same thing. Some teach that the chakras are power centers, and some that they are obstacles.  Some say they are activated by prana. Others say that only kundalini really affects the chakras in such a way as to evolve the being. Some teach that the chakras are pertinent to everyday life and are associated with the way we deal with it, while others insist that the subject of chakras is unapproachable as long as you live an ordinary everyday life in the world. I am convinced that all these teachings are true at different times and in different situations.

Characteristics of the Chakras

The interior of each chakra is a different color of light. Each has a different sound, a different geometric form, or pattern, a different teaching, a different ambiance, a different ‘feel’ to it. The core of each chakra is beautiful and blissful, and though it may seem strange and even impossible to believe, inside each one, there is a wise and loving Being.

Colors

There are different theories about the colors of chakras. Again, I think they are all true in their own way. The colors of chakras may change or be perceived ‘through a glass darkly,’ the glass (or veil) shaded according to the nature of one or more distortions present at the time, though I do think that ultimately there is some consistency in color when the chakras are ‘clear.’ To confuse things even further, each chakra is also associated with an element (earth, water, fire, air, ether), and each element is associated with a color.

Sound

At the core of each chakra is a single sound in a potential state in the same way a hole in a flute holds the potential for a certain tone. These core potential sounds are referred to as ‘seed sounds’. Each chakra is a focal point for subtle energy channels in the body, called nadis. Each chakra also has a certain number of pulsations, waves of energy, frequencies, or vibrations. The number of ‘petals’ to a chakra indicates the number of the main nadis that converge at that chakra as well as the number and type of sounds. That the number of nadis and the number of sounds are the same suggests a relationship between the two. The sounds are represented by letters of the Sanskrit alphabet—each letter is a sound, and each sound is a syllable.

Patterns

The geometric patterns associated with chakras imply certain types of patternings and conditionings. By patternings and conditionings, I mean inherited and acquired impulses and dispositions, emotions, urges, thoughts, and beliefs. These responses function due to the stimulation of individual chakrasChakras are stimulated by the senses coming into contact with something—hearing, seeing, touching, tasting, smelling. The difficulties held in place by chakras begin to weaken once the divine energy reaches the sixth chakra.

Elements

Imagine that there are five primary chakras, the first five, a sixth in the center of your head that functions as your center of consciousness, and a seventh that is in the Absolute Realm (God, Truth) which is usually pictured at the top of the head implying that it is not ‘located’ anywhere. Each of the first five chakras represents a primary element: earth, water, fire, air, and space. Like their respective chakras, although they are distinct, they are interdependent on one another other just as they are in life, like pearls strung on a thread.

The Central Channel

The thread on which the chakras are strung is called the sushumna.  It is the central nadi, the central energy channel, in the body.

From Living the Mysteries, Copyright ©1999,
Durga Ma and Terry Anne Preston, Ph.D.

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