Same story with the elements of human excellence as discussed last post. Fingerwagging that people “should be” more courageous, accepting or spontaneous isn’t nearly as helpful as showing them how to do it — in a way that brings out their own unique take on life rather than some narrow generic definition. Glenn mentioned that “Most of the religious writings with the exception of Patanjali strike me as poppycock. They describe the life, but not the practice that resulted in the life.” (Path Notes, p. 41.) He wasn’t being egoistical, just honest. His own practice for tapping the inner sources of actualised behaviour is truly beautiful, links into tradition (much of it Japanese) and thanks to his thorough work has scientific evidence backing it up. He called it ‘modernised Mikkyo’. I really love this system for linking humans to divine inspiration.
Instead of telling I shall show, using stuff anyone can extend later as desired. This post will trigger intuition and give the feel for how it all works. We’ll be combining the chakra psychology from Crawfish with meditation images from the Hoshinjutsu manual of Rob Williams, Glenn’s lineage successor. (If that bit made no sense ignore it for now, but both books are on the Reading List when you want more.)Here’s how it works. We’re looking at the base chakra, the lowest, for now. This is associated with the element of Earth and is found at the tip-of-coccyx/perineum area. Glenn’s discoveries here concern the roles played by chakras and elements in the personality since personalities are formed with particular energies dominant. Let’s look at what someone is like if they are Earth-dominant.
At Crawfish p. 43, we find: “On a continuum ’Earthy’ people move from extremes of conventionality and concern for status on the negative, to benevolent self confidence combined with a generalist ability to synthesize on the positive.” Negative Earth can be rule-bound, repressed, sexually obsessed, bullying and/or passive-aggressive whilst Positive is about being centred, practical and uninhibited. Obviously the positive side is the actualised side. Stability and responsibility are key-notes. (This is not astrology BTW. These factors were confirmed by research on over 5,000 people and worked into instruments with real predictive power. It’s a scientific personality typology which just happens to be based on cross-cultural esotericism.)
Meanwhile let’s get out the other book and experience Earth from a different vantage point. The Earth visualisation recommended by Rob Williams is simply to imagine yourself on a mountain, standing on and touching the firm, cool rock and realising its vast, powerful solidity (Hoshinjutsu, p. 21.) Try that right now just to see what happens, if you like.
What does the feeling of that deeply solid rock have to do with the human personality of Earth? It’s not hard to connect intuitively this mountain-solidity with the centredness and strength of the Positive Earth descriptions. Getting into the mindset reveals why things like maintenance of social order and the fulfilment of responsibility are natural expressions of this feeling. Add in the vigour of fertile earthly growth and the sexual aspects become clear too.This is not about inventing. It’s tuning into something that’s already within, thereby strengthening both “it” and “your” connection with “it”. I remember the moment I got my first blast of the actual Earth, from opening the base chakra plus doing a bunch of work with sexual energy. It was after I’d stopped meditating for the night and was engaged in something unconnected. Suddenly I felt it. The first words into my mind were ‘old and strong’. That was how I observed-experienced it unfolding. I instantly thought of the massive strength of oaks in late prime, far older than I am. A very European image — we live with the trees we are given. The slow, broad, powerful presence. I remembered a hundred times being out in nature and having this sensation amongst rocks and trees and earth, bristling and deep, full of silence, strong, massively present and aware.
To open intuitively that feeling of Earth within is no longer to need external definitions or triggering visualisations. You have the experience and knowledge of what Earth is, and it is your experience and knowledge, built of your own body, your own energy, your own life. It progresses with you. Even from that one contact (and this was long before I ever worked with trees in ch’i kung) my intuition pulled together many stray remarks from texts and combined them with remembered moments to form a knowing, a being-in-touchness connected to a certain aspect of present-moment experience-flow and meaning.A poetic sensibility will find words and images playing instructive games. Earth is about being and it’s about touch. Earth is exactly about silence which is why it is the beginning of the practice just as learning silence in meditation is the beginning. Toru Takemitsu used to expound on the nature of silence among trees, not at all equivalent to mere noiselessness. Earth is also about standing. It’s about concern for standing in the community, about what you stand for, whom you stand with, the solidity of what you stand on. And so forth. These are just a couple of personal expressions of how I have lived with it. The living connection is what you are after, not a dead definition. (Bear in mind that different people find different elements more or less easy to contact at first, but this changes with practice.)
Once attained you can put it to work. Glenn’s initial angle came of course from the martial arts. The elemental energies bring physical moves to life instinctually, making them intuitive and powerful because you don’t have to think. As you see from Rob’s book, Earth moves make use of solidity, not backing away, working with weight, etc. Being the mountain.
But it obviously doesn’t stop there. There are times in your life when you need to stand firm and be the immovable object. There are times when silence will serve better than speech. And so on. You get the idea. You have a resource here. Have a look at those Maslow capacities from last week. How much easier is it to be “unruffled by that which ruffles others” with this energy at your disposal?
A great key, often mentioned by Tao Semko, is that all the chakras can be experienced in parallel. Once open they can be drawn upon as and when. And they are all very different, each a world to itself. The joyful, precise, vivid and direct motive power of the third chakra, for example, associated with Fire, is a beast with very different proclivities from those of Earth, but just as useful to build actualisation. The three upper chakras, associated with Void, are perhaps even more extraordinary than the base four.
Obviously there are ways of energising and contacting all the chakras in meditation and qigong, but this life-use of their energies seems less talked about. Bringing these energies to situations in living really ramps the awakeness levels of the ordinary mind. You have to get quite aware to do this. You can also use the subconscious — allow it to change your life by re-weaving the energies. What happens if you use Ericksonian techniques to tap the energies and resolve old issues or forge new personality resources? Let’s just say your subconscious has known the energies for a long time and can come up with some neat stuff very spontaneously. I’ll leave you to discover…
Additional Information for the InterestedThis does link to psychology since Glenn makes clear it can work as a Maslow-style hierarchy, and also as a series of Jungian-style archetypes (Crawfish, p. 49.)
It’s not uncommon to meet the chakras as beings. Deities associated with them in traditional Tantric lore are perfect examples. Glenn briefly mentions this idea at Path Notes, p. 178. The Taoists have a similar tradition which associates the slightly different Chinese 5-element system with organs rather than chakras, but also recognises spiritual beings living within each one.
That’s a very useful approach. That Earth element experience is just one feature of the human inner universe. Our physical systems are amazing in themselves, but just the beginning because all aspects of our physicality are associated with energies and consciousnesses. There is a magical garden full of colourful and potent stuff in any human body/soul, layers and layers of energetic systems and flows, radiances, symbols and archetypes. People have no idea how interesting they are. Work with those things via ch’i and Kundalini energies has been scientifically proven alter the composition of your physical body (see Lu 1997.)
The chakras are confluences, hubs for energy-paths and physical nerve plexuses and organs. There’s intelligent meaning underneath which permeates/generates the rest. No-one need think all the wizzy modern science precludes investigating the traditional approach, and the old translations of Indian Tantric chakra lore in Arthur Avalon, for example, remain interesting. The ‘purpose’ of each chakra casts light on the ‘purpose’ of the organs that coincide with it. The essential archetype of the chakra is non-physical and is experienced by contacting it as a space-presence.
The Japanese have two element systems, one with five elements (go gyo) for back-engineering Chinese medicine stuff, and one with 4 elements + void (go dai) related to chakras, which was what Glenn used. Its source is esoteric Buddhism and martial arts. Chakras cross cultures and the descriptions are interesting to compare. Elements likewise. Bardon’s Western system of Hermetics has things in common with this. Jan Fries is enjoyable on the elements and Empedocles seems to have been the first to write about them.
Void in Glenn’s system is the eternal centre and dynamic reconciler of opposites which is the role played by ‘Tao’ last post.
As Tao Semko points out the purpose of Tantric Kundalini meditation traditionally is to have access to all those chakra spaces in a chain and have Kundalini energy link them together at their absolute centre. That vertical, spiritual use of the chakras can accompany the more horizontal stuff we’ve looked at here and is a ladder to the transcendent.
Given how different, and how much richer, the subtle inner, transpersonal and superconscious worlds and interpretations are from anything you could extrapolate out of physicalism, there’s often a load of chaos surrounding this info and reality in human psychology and culture. A couple of posts on that coming up. :)