RETURN TO SPIRIT
Designed by Hiranya
© Barbara Stone, 2008
In the usual Yogic tradition, you are requested to take full responsibility
for your life. That means the recognition that whatever may emerge from
working with these lessons is part of your life and, therefore, is your responsibility.
We all receive the lessons we need from one source or another, and our only
choice is whether we attend to them or not. So, if you find yourself
with this guidebook in hand with the intention to make your way through it,
it is because you are meant to do this kind of self-investigation.
This material is not intended to be, nor to take the place of, psychotherapy.
It is designed to assist psychologically healthy adults to more fully understand
themselves and their spiritual journeys. These guidebooks do not diagnose
or treat psychological disorders. If you are engaged in psychotherapy
already and have doubts about whether you should work with them, please consult
your psychologist and follow his or her advice.
The author, Hiranya Barbara Stone, EdD, is a transpersonal psychologist
with specialized training in Yoga psychology, Buddhism, Sufism and Spiritual
Guidance. She taught Developmental, Educational, and Social psychology
as well as the Psychology of Women at Drew University for 18 years and
is presently a mentor for the Institute of Transpersonal Psychology.
Hiranya has had training and experience in human relations development
and group dynamics at the National Training Labs Institute and in the development
of high trust community with the late Jack Gibb. She spent a year at
Naropa University, a Buddhist graduate school, teaching and studying in their
Contemplative Psychotherapy program. Hiranya is a Yoga teacher certified
by Yasodhara Ashram in Kootenay Bay, B.C. to teach Raja, Jnana, Bhakti, Karma,
Kundalini, Hatha and Japa Yogas. She recently completed a training program
in The Art of Spiritual Guidance at the Silver Dove Institute in Burlington,
VT under the leadership of Atum O’Kane. She was the founder and director
of House of Spirit Yoga and Retreat Center in Cedaredge, CO and is now residing
“. . it is easier to gain liberation than deathlessness.”
– Sir John Woodroffe
TABLE OF CONTENTS
Unit I. Chakra Symbols
Unit II. The Return
Unit III. Manifestation
Unit IV. Kamakala Triangle
Unit V. Mahanada
Unit VI. Manipitha/Amakala
Unit VII. Supreme Bindu
Unit VIII. Vishnu-Vakta
Unit IX. Candra-Mandala
Unit X. Descent into Life
Unit XI. Death of the Body
Appendix A. Divine Light Invocation
Appendix B. Tong Len
Appendix C. Metta Sutra
Table 1. Creation
Table 2. The Return
Table 3. The Three Wisdoms
Table 4. Tattvas and Bindus
Table 5. Triads
Table 6. Sabdabrahman
Table 7. Three Mandalas
Table 8. Creation
Table 9. Creation Triads
Table 10. Dissolution Triads
Fig. 7-1 Sahasrara Padma
Fig. 7-2 Candra-Mandala
Fig. 7-3 Supreme Bindu
Fig. 7-4 Manipitha/Amakala
Fig. 7-5 Mahanada
Fig. 7-6 Kamakala Triangle
Fig. 7-7 A-Ka-Tha Triangle
Fig. 7-8 Vyapika
Fig. 7-9 Bindu Patterns
Fig. 7-10 Kamakala Patterns
Fig. 7-11 Pyramid
Fig. 7-12 Aim
Fig. 7-13 Visnu Vakta
1. Causal realm
3. Creation and dissolution
4 Sahasrara Padma
5. Plan of the book
This book needs to begin with a caution! Dissolution is the process
of dissolving and the result on the spiritual path may be loss of identity
or more. Everything in print suggests that the end result is no-self.
That means no ego and also no self, or personality, to put it another way.
It may mean loss of soul as well, but I cannot say that with any authority
or from experience. In any case, that is the risk you may be taking,
so you might want to stop here. If you have just been reading these
units for entertainment or to exercise your mind, there probably is no substantial
risk in continuing on that level, but keep in mind that you are only feeding
your mind and not your spirit. If you have been sustaining a regular
meditation practice, you may already be aware of my meaning. Let it
be said that others have been through this ordeal and survived while still
in a body, but it is not easy, nor is it particularly blissful. It may
feel like a descent into hell.
The return is a return to the Ground of all Being, the Absolute, the Creator
– whoever It is. And since we are embodied beings, there is no
way we can know for sure except by personal experience. That has its
risks as mentioned above.
The Causal Realm
The causal body is also called the Anandamayakosa which is the outermost
and largest of the five bodies or sheaths. It is called the causal body
because it is the creator of the other four bodies and governs them.
We will see that it is the power of consciousness that is the authority figure
here. There are levels of consciosness in this realm as there are in
the others. Each one corresponds to a chakra in the subtle body and
is connected to it as well as to a specific area of the brain (Harrigan, 2002,
As we study the causal realm, we will be looking at the creative process
and its reverse: dissolution. In the beginning there is just consciousness
and vibration. So the whole of creation is carried out by means of the interaction
between consciousness and vibration. Everything in the universe vibrates
with its own frequency, and physicists are now identifying in detail how it
works. In the Kundalini Yoga that we are using for a structure,
this vibration is called sound or sabda; and there is a huge body of information
on how the creative process takes place through this kind of vibration.
As mentioned above, the whole universe and all of creation as we know it
vibrates. The reverse process is also true: vibration at the correct
frequency has the power to create. This is why seekers chant mantras.
They tune the bodymind to higher frequencies and thus enable contact with
higher levels of consciousness and being.
We are going to begin with creation and the role of consciousness in creation
because dissolution is a return process that proceeds along the same road
upon which it unfolded. We end with the Creator if there is one, consciousness
if that is all there is, or nothing if the Void is all there is. There
may be other options beyond the human mind to imagine or understand, but we
cannot go there in this context because my experience is limited.
It is said that the Sahasrara Padma represents an experience that cannot
be described in words. Furthermore, that the guru’s guidance ends here;
that the individual must continue alone finding his or her own way.
So it is up to you whether you want to explore this territory. And,
if you do, you must take full responsibility for the experience since I can
only tell you what others have written or what I, personally, have experienced
which may be entirely different from what happens to you. It is a journey
into what is most certainly the unconscious mind for at least part of the
way, so it would be well to be prepared for massive ego resistance and deviousness.
There will be no one to tell you if you go astray or misinterpret what occurs.
You will have to become familiar with your own inner guidance and learn how
to communicate with it and how to distinguish it from your ego’s imput, which
can be craftily similar sometimes, in order not to get lost. It may
be good preparation for death, however, which you must negotiate alone as
But, you say, we still don’t know what consciousness is. That’s true.
We don’t. It has something to do with apprehending an other thing, but
that is not all. We are aware of our own existence from the inside apart
from a physical body, and that is not tangible. We can be aware of
ourselves as awake before sensation begins upon first awakening in the morning
or after a deep sleep. Occasionally we may become conscious after sleep
before the ability to move returns which is a bit scary, but it does indicate
that consciousness is not tied to bodily senses because although you can
see you can’t move your eyes. I am told that we can be conscious in
Megha Dharma Samadhi but if I have experienced this, I have to say that darkness
is what I was aware of. You can see how it gets fuzzy around the edges
when we try to verbalize it. So, for now, let us say that higher conscious-ness
obviously exists and is somehow tied to creation. Perhaps it is the
Creator in some form known only to Itself. This is the line I will
If we look at the three planes of existence, we have consciousness, mind
and body, an eternal triad as we have already seen. They are represented
by the Causal realm, the Subtle realm and the Physical realm. However,
let us look more closely at what has already been presented.
It is said in almost all the traditions that it is mind that obstructs enlightenment.
The teachings say it is mind that creates the world because when the mind
is silent, the world disappears - a fact that you can verify for yourself
in meditation. Woodroffe (1973) says that Shakti is the power of consciousness
and that Shakti creates the world, i.e., the power of consciousness creates
the world. Thus it appears that mind is the power of consciousness since
they both create the world. Not that mind is consciousness, but that
it is a power or tool of consciousness.
Now. If the Sahasrara Padma shows us how the power of consciousness
creates the universe, then the Sahasrara Padma has to do with how the mind
creates the universe. The process is one of differentiation as we shall
So, if the causal plane represents the steps in creation, then a return
means a dissolution of the steps in creation and thus a dissolution of mind.
Dissolution or quieting of the mind leads to an experience of sunyata/emptiness/void.
This can happen in meditation. It also happens in deep sleep, so it
is not to be feared. Quieting the mind also leads to an experience of
unconsciousness because the mind is a power of consciousness.
Now this is not necessarily bad. The limits of the unconscious mind
are unknown, they are so vast. In fact, it looks very much like it is
synonymous with the underlying ground of all being. We call it the “unconscious”
because we are unaware of its contents, but that does not mean there are
not any. We just do not or can not apprehend them. That can change
and does change as we learn how to raise our levels of consciousness.
And that is done by tuning the instrument, i.e., the mind. . . and perhaps
the body as well.
You will notice as we go along that the process of creation is very similar
to the development of mind in childhood and, as you might expect, a parallel.
Interestingly enough, there is research (McTaggart, 2002, p. 138) that shows
the EEGs of young children up to the age of five are continously in an alpha
state. That is an altered state similar to meditation or daydreaming
which means young children have easier access to the unconscious field.
I am reminded of the nightmares I used to have around age four, a time just
prior to the internalization of thought at age five.
Creation and Dissolution
The ancient Yogis said that creation and dissolution occur in cycles.
The metaphor for that was Vishnu breathing in and out. On the outbreath,
the universe came into being and on the inbreath it was withdrawn into the
deity. That process would be beyond our powers of comprehension unless
we were in an altered state perhaps. However, the same process probably
operates in each of us as we tread the spiritual path. We are born,
we die and are reborn either actually in our physical bodies or in terms of
our spiritual journey. Let us look at these two processes beginning
with creation in order to untangle some of the methodology.
One of the curious things about this topic is how people inevitably drift
toward a procreation model, perhaps because that is something with which most
everyone can identify. So see if you can track it especially later on
in the First Unit.
There seem to be two main processes involved in creation: differentiation
Differentiation is a separation process that, in life, operates through
cell division. On the causal level, the One becomes two, and the two
becomes three which then becomes many. This pattern is part of the 1
-> 3 -> 7 that we met in Gurdjieff’s (Speeth, 1976) work. A geometric
model would say we begin with a point (bindu) which extends itself in a line
(now have two points or entities). Addition of another dimension gives
us a triad which can develop into infinite numbers of manifestations.
Some of this is pictured in the Padma mandala, and we will return to it later
for more details
Objectification means that the focus of attention turns away
from inner processes toward the external world. Obviously, if one is
going to create something tangible, it would manifest outside of oneself or
at least be projected far enough away from the center that it can be observed
by the Creator. This is because on the Ultimate level it is all contained
within the One. So we will be following a similar movement of attention
on the part of the creator from complete submersion in the potential consciousness
to a total separation from it with attention to the outside world that is
being created. After which, the creator rests. We see this in
Kundalini Yoga as well as in the Bible.
Parallels in Life. Margaret Mahler (1975) outlined the stages
of object relations development in babies. This terminology refers to
the separation from mother that results in self-identification. The
stages are: infantile autism in which there is no discrimination between self
and other; symbiosis where the mother and child are cocooned and the child
is aware of the mother but does not feel separated from her; separation-individuation
in which the child through exploration and experimentation slowly realizes
it is not identical with mother but a separate person; and object constancy
in which the child recognizes that s/he has a continuing separate existence
apart from all others. At this point, we have a self-image which is
feelings of self-ness based on inner sensations and outer experience with
the body’s boundaries. And we have a body-image based on sensations
and perceptions of the actual physical body plus how it is experienced internally.
Actually there are four divisions: self, body, inner, and outer boundaries.
This is an example of how differentiation results in complex manifestations.
Mental development also follows the differentiation script.
The mind develops gradually as a decentration process along with the ability
to group things into collections of similar attributes and to conserve identities.
Eventually one becomes able to think about one’s own mind. Reversibility
of thinking is also a characteristic of mature mental development. See
previous guidebooks or Piaget (1952) and Vygotsky (1962) for more details.
Time and Space do not really exist in the world of quantum physics.
This suggests that they are created by the mind in order to help it manage
to sort out all the details with which it is confronted. Incidently,
ancient Yogis (Vivekananda, 1976) also knew there was no such thing as time,
space or causality, probably because they had studied the mind exhaustively.
Dissolution means to dissolve. What this means for our purposes is
that the spiritual return journey consists of lower levels of development
being dissolved in each next higher one until we reach the ultimate level.
Creation and dissolution are, therefore, reverse processes. The dissolution
process is called Laya-Krama in Yoga. Laya means absorption
or dissolution and krama means order of. There is a whole Yogic
discipline called Laya Yoga. We have been following this process from
the beginning through all the chakras. It will be no different in this
realm except that instead of dealing with physical, energetic and mental issues
we will be working with consciousness in the causal realm which is beyond
any of the former ones. Since the processes really are beyond words,
it will be necessary for you to intuit the meanings from what is actually
said. Hopefully the symbology will help. In Unit II, there will
be a more comprehensive outline of the return journey.
This domain is not called a chakra probably because it contains more than
one chakra. On the return journey, it is the endpoint of human experience,
an exit if you like. At its highest level, it represents perfect balance
such that there is only One entity about which we know next to nothing.
Creation seems to be a process of differentiation in which the One becomes
two, then three, then multiplies until we have the manifested world that surrounds
us. We could imagine this as a point emerging out of the void, then
extending itself into a line, then adding dimensions until there is the richness
in the universe that physicists are only now beginning to discover.
We could even see life as a burst of differentiation from the void.
To achieve the extravagant diversity we perceive necessarily disrupts the
solitary balance of the One. At least the projection aspects seem to
be out of balance. In the last guidebook, we saw how spiritual processes
begin to come back into balance in the sixth chakra. Now that will
begin to happen on higher levels of consciousness.
You see, the whole journey is one of consciousness. When we meditate
long enough, we discover that the whole world is a creation of our minds because
when we silence the mind, the world disappears. Yet, we do not.
You can validate this for yourself if you sit in meditation long enough.
Petals on the Padma
Padma means lotus flower. It is a powerful symbol in Yoga because
the lotus is a plant that has its roots in the mud, yet produces a flower
that sheds all dust and debris remaining pristine and pure under all conditions.
Our lives have this potential even though we are rooted in the mundane world
of physical reality.
Sahasrara Padma is often depicted as a head crowned by a thousand lotus
petals. Each of the thousand petals represents one of 50 Sanskrit letters
of the alphabet (times 20). The other three are found within the padma
as we shall see later. On one level, the petals represent the vibrations
of creation as do the mantras they refer to. Because mantras are words
of power and can create realities, they stand for consciousness as a creator.
At the levels of consciousness we are approaching, sound can, indeed, manifest
on the physical as well as the mental levels. We saw this in the last
guidebook during the discussion of siddhis. This is the meaning of “The
Word” or Logos in the New Testament of the Bible. “Word” in this context
means a vibration of consciousness. We will come to this in detail
This is a recurring motif, so it needs an introduction. Bindu is basically
space or the void (sunya). However, it is space constrained by a circumference
which is typically conceived of as Shakti while the space itself is Shiva.
Since we have two entities here, the Supreme Bindu represents the first duality
and is referred to as a “seed” meaning the seed of creation. Shiva is
inactive, potential power and, as such, is the grounding, static aspect of
the twosome. Shakti is the dynamic power or actively creating aspect.
Each of the preceding chakras has had an element associated with it.
If this padma has an element, it would have to be emptiness as in the emptiness
of the void. We could think of this as the quantum soup or Dirac Sea
(Wolf (1996) or Zero Point Field (McTaggart, 2002) described by the physicists
out of which all of the physical world manifests. Or we could subscribe
to the Buddhist concept of The Heart Sutra in which emptiness is form and
form is emptiness. We will come back to this later as well.
Plan of the Book
Levels of consciousness in the Causal realm recapitulate the chakra orders
and both are connected to brain centers (Harrigan, 2002). So we will
be following a similar order in this guidebook beginning with manifest reality
and working our way back up to the One Reality that stands at the beginning
of everything we know.
The first unit deals with the chakra symbols and the creative lineage.
The second unit explains the return journey and dissolution. From there,
we will go into more detail about the return journey and examine: two levels
of manifestation, an archetypal pattern, the role of vibration, blissful union
and radiation, the supreme union, the threshold of choice, and the eternal
existence. From there, a descent is made into the world in order to
give service. And finally, death of the body comes as one of the transitions.
In these sequences, you will see how life, love and light may come to be.
Hopefully, this introduction has given you some idea of where we will be
going in this guidebook. The dissolution process is a reversal of the
creative one. Hence we have a continuing Return to the Source which
is what the spiritual journey is all about.
References to Introduction
Harrigan, Joan S. (2002). Kundalini Vidya: The science of spiritual
transformation, (5th Ed.). Knoxville, TN: Patanjali Kundalini Yoga
Johari, H. (1987). Chakras: Energy centers of transformation.
Rochester, VT: Destiny Books.
Mahler, Margaret S. et al. (1975) The psychological birth of the
human infant. New York: Basic Books.
McTaggart, Lynne. (2002). The Field: The quest for the secret
force of the universe. New York: Harper Perennial.
Piaget, J. (1952). The origins of intelligence in children
(2nd Ed.) New York: International Universities
Speeth, Kathleen R. (1976). The Gurdjieff work.
New York: Pocket Books.
Vygotsky, L. S. (1962). Thought and language. (Edited
and translated by Eugenia Hanfmann & Gertrude Vokar).
New York: Wiley.
Vivekananda, Sw, (1976). Jnana-Yoga. Calcutta: Advaita
Wolf, F. A. (1996). The spiritual universe: How quantum physics
proves the existence of the soul. New York:
Simon & Schuster.
Woodroffe, Sir J. (1973). The serpent power: Being
the Sat-Cakra-Nirupana and
Paduka-Pancaka. Madras: Ganesh & Co.
BOOK VII. DISSOLUTION
The following list of books is arranged by Unit and is cumulative (book
is listed only in the first unit in which you will use it), so you can see
which ones to secure first. They are listed in the order you
will need them rather than alphabetically. You may want to leaf through
the exercises or outline if you are in doubt about how much each book will
be used. At this writing, most were under $10-15 at amazon.com. If
you prefer not to buy all of them, it is fine to borrow them through library
loan at your local library. However, if you do this, be sure to give
the librarian some lead time to find and get them there. Several of
them you will already have if you have been working right through these guidebooks.
They are marked with an asterisk (*). Some of my books are old, so you
may find newer editions of them. This is fine.
Unit II. The Return
Harrigan, Joan S. (2002). Kundalini Vidya: The science of
Knoxville, TN: Patanjali Kundalini Yoga Care.
Kripananda, Sw. (1995). The sacred power: A seeker’s guide
to Kundalini. South Fallsburg, NY: SYDA Foundation.
Unit III. Manifestation
Progoff, I. (Transl.) (1981). The cloud of unknowing.
New York: Dell Publishing.
Unit IV. Kamakala Triangle
Braden, G. (2000). The Isaiah effect: Decoding the lost science
of prayer and prophecy. New York: Three Rivers Press
Unit V. Mahanada
Norbu, C. N. (1996). Dzogchen: The self-perfected state.
Ithaca, NY: Snow Lion
Radha, Sw. Sivananda. (1980). Mantras: Words of power.
Porthill, ID: Timeless Books.
Trungpa, C. (1985). Journey without goal: The Tantric wisdom
of the Buddha. Boston: Shambhala.
Unit VII. Supreme Bindu
Pearce, J. C. (2004). The biology of transcendence: A blueprint
of the human spirit.
Rochester, VT: Park Street Press.
Paul, R. (2000). Shakti Yoga (CD). Roslyn, NY:
The Relaxation Company.
Unit VIII. Visnu Vakta
Roberts, Bernadette. (1985). The experience of no-self: A contemplative
journey. Boston: Shambhala.*
Nelson, M. C. (Recorder) (1997). Beyond fear: A Toltec guide to
freedom and joy: The teachings of Don Miguel
Ruiz. San Francisco: Council Oaks Books.
Gyatso, T. (2005). Essence of the Heart Sutra: The Dalai Lama’s
heart of wisdom
teachings. Boston: Wisdom Publications.
Tolle, E. (1999). The power of now: A guide to spiritual
enlightenment. Novato, CA: New World Library.*
Khan, Pir V. I. (1998). Light and ecstasy: The teachings of Pir
Vilayat Inayat Khan. New Lebanon, NY: Sufi
Unit IX. Candra Mandala
Taimni, I. K. ( 1975). The science of Yoga: The Yoga-Sutras of
Patanjali in Sanskrit with transliteration in
Roman, translation in English and commentary. Wheaton, IL: The
Theosophical Publishing House.
Unit X. Return
Teasdale, W. (2002). A monk in the world: Cultivating a spiritual life. Novato, CA: New World Library.
Pearsall, P. (1998). The heart’s code: Tapping the wisdom
and power of our heart energy. New York: Broadway
Lewis, T., Amini, F. & Lannon, R. (2000). A general theory
of love. New York: Vintage Books.
McArthur, D. & McArthur, B. (2005). The intelligent heart:
Transform your life with the laws of love.
Virginia Beach: A.R.E. Press.
Govinda, L. A. (1982). Foundations of Tibetan mysticism:
According to the esoteric
teachings of the Great Mantra Om Mani Padme Hum. York Beach, ME:
Guarneri, M. (2006). The heart speaks: A cardiologist reveals
the secret language of healing.
New York: A Touchstone Book. (optional)
Unit XI. Death
Valle, R. & Mohs, M. Opening to dying and grieving: A sacred
journey. St. Paul, MN: Yes International Publishers.
Fremantle, F. & Trungpa, C. (transl.) (1975). The Tibetan Book
of the Dead: The great liberation
through hearing in the Bardo. Boulder: Shambhala.
Gaffney, P. & Harvey, A. (Eds.) (1992). The Tibetan book of
living and dying [by] Sogyal Rinpoche.
San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco.
Levine, S. (2005). Unattended sorrow: Recovering from loss and
reviving the heart. Rodale.
Tatelbaum, J. (1980). The courage to grieve. New York:
Harper & Row. or
Levine, S. (1982). Who dies? An investigation of conscious living
and conscious dying. Garden City, NY:
Anchor Books. (optional)
Levine, S. (1997). A year to live: How to live this year as if
it were your last. New
York: Bell Tower. (optional)
In Unit I. Padma Symbols, we will
examine the various symbols that depict the causal aspects of the journey.
This is designed to give us a handle on the processes involved, so we can
chart our own personal progress along the way.
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