Unit II.  Polarities


1.  Creation
2.  Power and Life
3.  Embodiment
4.  Holy Ideas

Materials needed: Journal, paper, pen or pencil, ruler, small plate and/or drawing compass

Books needed:

Chakras: Energy centers of transformation
Shadows of the sacred


Absolute vs Relative Reality
Life and Death
The Holy Ideas

“. . authentic mysticism is formless awareness. . “
(Vaughan, 1995, p. 196)

What does this mean?  There is not really any magic to enlightenment.  In fact, it is often said that we are all enlightened and that what really has to happen is simply our recognition or realization of that fact.  But how do we do that?  And, for that matter,  how do we know when it is done?

Vaughan then goes on to say that “The world of enlightenment is not an object perceived by a subject.  It is an experience in which the ego is said to be annihilated, and subject/object dualism is transcended” (p. 197).  What can we make of this?

“You cannot realize the Absolute without participating in the dance of the relative.  You cannot understand the play of relativity without being immersed in the radiant stillness of the Absolute”
Ramakrishna (Hixon, 1992, p. 73)

For me, one of the most helpful ideas is that of a distinction between Ultimate or Absolute and Relative reality.  Both are going on simultaneously, and which one we observe has mostly to do with how we focus our minds.  This is what meditation is all about.  We learn to put our everyday mind in the background or to silence its endless chatter, so we can be quiet.  Then there is a shift of perception into the Ultimate reality.  

In terms of modern  research, we can think of data in physics that tell us that nothing exists except waves and particles of energy,  to perhaps oversimplify the findings.  If you imagine you have an extremely powerful electron microscope, and you look at anything; it will simply disappear, maybe leaving some tracks or echoes that enable you to know something is or was there even though it cannot be seen.  The details of this escape me, but I think the basic idea is sound.  At the most elementary level, there is nothing but vibration.  Fred Alan Wolf (1996, p. 132) calls it the quantum soup or “Dirac Sea” and pictures it as a surging reservoir of energy from which electrons pop in and out forming matter when they are “out.”  Buddhists would call it the Void or sunyata.  This is Ultimate Reality (cf also Figure 1).   Most of us going about our daily business are not even  aware of this level of reality.  In fact, most people probably would deny its existence altogether if their learning was  based entirely upon western education.  So maybe you should be careful about the people with whom you discuss it as some might think you a bit quirky.  We generally do not acknowledge Ultimate Reality in our society.

Relative Reality is that in which we live and move and have our being on a daily basis.  Our senses, perceptions and minds are tuned to its resonances, and we behave as if there is nothing else in existence but what we see, hear, feel, taste or smell.   Well, maybe there is an occasional extrasensory experience, but we tend to put those in the realm of the unexpected, uncontrollable,  mysterious events called magic.  And, by no means, is everyone comfortable with them.

Now, the reason I am telling you all this is that our normal everyday perceptions are dependent upon a basic duality: the on and off firing of neurons in our sensory-motor systems.  In order to experience a reality that is beyond the senses, i.e., non-dualistic, we would have to raise or drastically lower the frequency of vibrations.  Apparently this is possible as the great saints and advanced students of meditation tell us they experience a state of consciousness in which they are conscious but nothing is happening in the mind.  There is no, or almost no mental activity, ergo neural firing.  And, in fact, measurements taken on practiced meditators show that their brain wave activity often falls into the theta range which has a very low frequency of smooth waves like that of deep sleep as opposed to the frenetic, higher frequency waves of active waking consciousness.  Taking this a step further, the ego is also shut down because it is a function of the mind.

This guidebook begins with a deeper look at the polarities, what they signify and what happens when they are balanced.  Keep in the back of your mind that the polarities operate in relative reality and absolute balance would only be possible in Ultimate Reality.  We will see if there is a bridge between the two.

Exercise: Absolute vs Relative Reality

Read the Introduction and chapter 1 in Shadows of the sacred.  How does this description of the spiritual journey fit with others you have encountered?  What is meant by the quote from Zweig & Abrams (1991) “. . we do not become enlightened by imagining figures of light, but by making the darkness conscious” (p. 4)?  What are the “golden chains?”  Do you have any?  Why do we speak of the spiritual journey when there is no place to go?  What is conscious evolution?  What does Vaughan see as the stages of the journey and how do they relate to those of Underhill (1961)?


Vishnu is the preserver of the universe in Hindu mythology.  He is pictured reclining on a multi-headed cobra floating somewhere up in the sky.  It is suggested that when he breathes out the universe comes into being, and when he inhales he draws it all back in.  So existence is constantly being recycled.  We are, then we are not.  It all depends upon the breath.  And this is what we discover when we meditate and are able to cross the line into the Ultimate Reality.  It is possible to go back and forth from the worlds of the infinite and unmanifested to that of Relative Reality or the world we all know and inhabit.  this transit can happen as easily as breathing once we have mastered the technique and learned how to control the mind.  Yoga means “to yoke.”  That means to connect the two worlds and build a bridge between the two.


Alternation is the essence of duality.  And duality is the criteria for creation of form or matter.  We have the duality of electrical current, the on and off of neural transmission, two hemispheres of the brain, intellect and intuition, male and female, differentiation and dissolution, Purusha and Prakrti, Shiva and Shakti, birth and death, for starters.  Nearly every tradition has a trinity in which the coming together of the two polarities creates a third entity: father, mother, child.  This is a model for creation with which the average person can identify.  It is signified by the lingam within the yoni in our chakra diagram.  And it is joined by the Om which is the ultimate sound that includes all the others.  Sound or vibration, you will remember, is the vehicle of creation.  And the subtle body is the one in which most of the critical manifestation occurs, at least for our purposes.

Differentiation and dissolution

We will focus our attention on the particular duality of differentiation and dissolution to help us understand the pinnacle  of development that occurs at the sixth chakra level.  Two processes interact.  Involution is the coming of Spirit into a body or embodiment.  It is achieved through finer and finer differentiations into forms.  Each is more specialized than the one before it.  Evolution is the return to Spirit which is the subject of these guidebooks.  It entails the release of specificity or separation as the various forms are gradually assimilated or dissolved into the whole once more.  Note that this concept is a bit different from that of modern science.  However, in both cases, evolution implies growth and development.

What happens during embodiment is said to be the education of the soul.  Soul can be seen as a piece of the Divine One who wishes to experience life in a body and learn some lessons about life.  Eastern traditions take this a step further and see the alternating process as a wheel of life, a series of reincarnations during which the soul increasingly becomes more divinized and holistic.  

Involution involves differentiation, separation into finer and finer distinctions of form-in-existence.  The Hindu tradition spells this out in terms of the separation between consciousness and matter (represented in their story by Shiva and Shakti respectively) followed by the emergence of 25 tattvas (potentials or archetypes) which are then translated into observable forms.

These 25 tattvas or fundamental principles follow:

1.           Purusha - The Spirit, Divine Person, Pure Consciousness, represented by Shiva  
2.           Buddhi - the intellectual faculty, ability to discriminate.
3.           Ahamkara - self-concept, ego.
4-8.       Tanmatras - rudimentary or subtle elements (sound, touch, sight, taste, smell)
9-13.     Mahabhutas - the five gross elements (ether, air, fire, water, earth)   
14-18.   Buddhindriyas - the five organs of sense or perception (ear, skin, eye, tongue, nose)
19-23.   Karmendriyani - organs of action (voice, hand, foot, anus, genital)
24 .       Manas -  the intellectual mind
25.        Prakrti - the primordial element out of which everything comes, matter in general,                                  represented by Shakti

One of these levels of creation is particularly interesting and relevant to this chakra.  That is the archetype.  An archetype is a deep structure of the subtle realm that serves as a pattern for the form that is modeled upon it (cf pp. 178-190 and the chart on p. 191 in Shadows of the sacred for more details.  We can think of it as a potential within us.  It is the level of essence.  The Divine Essence crystallizes Its inner nature to create an archetype.  It is a higher order differentiation, one of the first forms manifested by the Creator.  It comes before the gunas that are the attributes of form, so we could call it gunatita (beyond gunas).  Another word for it might be tattva.  A tattva is an essence of something, the thatness or essential beingness of something, an emanation directly from the One.

Note that these 25 tattvas are not all on the same level of differentiation.  For instance, tanmatras are potential energy at the sensory level that can use the forms of the five organs of sense & perception.  And the mind, while seen as a sixth sense, also uses the organs of sense and action as its instruments to function in the world.  Figure 3 is an attempt to spell out the levels of generality in this process.  So we have a rough model for creation.

Evolution is the return process which requires that all forms be dissolved into the original Creator.  This is return to Spirit.  And the Ajna chakra is the point at which most of the return has been accomplished.  A choice between death or Bodhisattvahood is the final step.  We will look at the details of that later.  What is important here is that the choice point between final dissolution or mergence of the soul with the divine One vs the commitment to continue reincarnating to help others as a Bodhisattva lies at the top of the Ajna chakra.  So we are looking at either the total annihilation of all physical and mental forms, or the continuation of reincarnation with life in a series of bodies.  Both are without karma, beyond karma.

Dissolution is the process we have been engaging since Book I.  It begins with self-examination and proceeds through a series of renunciations and practices to gain control over the mind, ego and personality.  These activities are symbolized by the chakra system and various scriptures from extant spiritual traditions.  Spiritual evolution involves withdrawing all forms into the One.  So we begin with the body, then work with the energy, then with the mind, in that order.  The Eight Rungs of Yoga indicate the progression.  Yamas and niyamas train the personality and ego, hatha yoga trains the body, pranayama trains the breath, pratyahara trains the senses,  dharana, dhyani and samadhi train the mind.  This is the model for enlightenment or liberation.

Hindu  mythology follows this pattern of evolution.  Shiva represents conscious-ness and Shakti represents matter.  In her energetic activity, Shakti is called Kundalini and she lies asleep at the base of the spine separated from the One as represented by Shiva.  And she is asleep as most of humanity is.  When Kundalini is awakened by spiritual practices, she tries to ascend through the chakras to rejoin her lover, Shiva.  When all the chakras are open and free, this is possible and the ecstasy of ananda or bliss occurs at their reunion.  But opening the chakras is another order of difficulty because they have been closed by our socio-cultural child-rearing and educational practices, so we no longer even know who we really are.

Exercise: Creation

Read chapter 8 in Shadows of the sacred.  Why does Vaughan say enlightenment is a myth?  How does she define it?    What is the perennial philosophy?  Do you agree with it?  How does it fit with other traditions with which you are familiar?  Make some notes about how Vaughan describes the unitive or mystical experience.  How is this distinguished from magic?  What is the specific definition of non-duality in this chapter and how is it related to liberation?  What is prajna and why do you think it is and important concept?  Does her discussion of Absolute  vs Relative reality fit with what we have been studying?

Power and Life

The interactions of Shiva and Shakti are analogous to those of power and life.  Shiva is power and Shakti is life.  Shiva is the One, whole, purely conscious  Being, the goal of evolution and dissolution.  Shakti, on the other hand, is the myriad, differentiated facets of the manifest universe all imbued with the spirit of the Creator, involution at its sacred culmination.


In the diagram of the Ajna Chakra, one of the key symbols is the Itara Lingam that represents Shiva or Purusha.  You will remember from Figure 3 that Purusha and Prakrti represent the first division to emerge out of the Ultimate Reality.  These two entities symbolize consciousness and matter respectively and are analogous to Nada or the first thought of the Creator.  They are not yet formed but hold the potential for formation.  Shiva, as we will call the symbol of consciousness because that is the form it takes in the Ajna diagram, is potential power, the ability to move things.  As the seed of consciousness, he is represented by the male phallus.  

Consciousness      Matter      

Table 6-1.  Power and Life

Two of Shiva’s signatures are lightning and fire.  It is a hot, unpredictable light that is magnetic, dynamic and electromagnetic.  Swami Radha said it is the cosmic fire that burns up tail ends [of ego agendas].  It is a Cosmic Light that is capable of lighting up the whole of one’s life or even life in general.  You could think of it as a spark of life that comes directly from the Creator.  However, it is unmanifested energy.  It needs another entity that is capable of manifestation in order to come into form.  So it attracts Shakti and together they create life as we shall see later on.  Hence we have the symbol of intercourse in our diagram to represent involution or  coming into form.  This is an image that every adult can use as a reference point to understand the creation process.

So creation depends upon the electric tension between the parts of a duality – twoness.  Opposites attract, so we have a male and a female, yin and yang, a dance of magnetism and attraction.   The feminine side of this pair is Shakti or Prakrti. [The images are to help our minds to represent the process, so we can understand it.]

Levels of Power.  There are three levels of power: self-mastery, concentration-contemplation, and pure consciousness.  Keep in mind that these powers are all without form because we are talking about energy.

       Self-mastery means control over the mind, ego and personality.  We have to subdue the passions, quiet the mind and quell the ego.  Ultimately, that means going back to the Source or what we call evolution.  In a very real sense, we recapitulate the creative process in our return to Spirit, but in reverse.  So if I want to become enlightened, I must explore the whole process of how I came to be who I am, not only my body but also my mind, personality and ego.  This is called self-examination or self-inquiry, and it is the groundwork of every spiritual and mystical tradition.

       Concentration-contemplation.  The next level requires learning how to focus the mind and to open it to higher levels of consciousness.  Here we are talking about control over the mind.  The practice most often used to accomplish this is meditation.  However, chanting and other spiritual practices work well and may be used selectively by the seeker.  One important result of spiritual practices is single pointedness of mind.  That means the mind is still operating, but it is directed toward a single object much like laser light.  The mind needs an object or it tends to spiral off on its own erratic journeys.  So the first step in training the mind is to teach it to focus on something and not to wander.

When the mind can do this, the next step is to get it to quiet down and stop all activity.  When this is accomplished, it can open out, like a flower receiving the sun, in order to connect with the Ultimate Reality.  We call this contemplation.  It is the situation we find ourselves in when mindlessness and egolessness is achieved.  

       Pure consciousness is the natural condition  of Being.  This is who we are.  In this state, we are awake and aware, but nothing is happening.  There is no self, no mind, no ego, no action, no motivation, no urges, no passions.  It is Satchidananda: Being, Consciousness, Bliss.  This is our Shiva.

In our return to the Source, we are able to reclaim our power, the unmanifest power of Being.  However, it will not be made available to us until such time as we have done enough work on ourselves that we will not misuse it.  If the ego is not sufficiently subdued, it is likely to use the power for its own agendas and thus get into serious trouble.  So the powers, or siddhis, are usually withheld until a high level of spiritual advancement is achieved.


There are several deities who represent the primal force of life and creation.  Prakrti is the most elemental, Shakti is the image of Divine Mother who is the mate of Shiva.   She is life itself or prana.  All life is Divine Mother.   

Kundalini is a personification of the manifest creative energy that strives to achieve unity with the unmanifest energy.  This could represent the yearning for the Divine One that inspires us to make the spiritual journey and to persist until it is completed.  It is seen as feminine because of its ability to manifest or take form, i.e., become embodied.  Kundalini is often represented by a serpent because serpents symbolize the duality inherent in neutral energy as well as wisdom or temptation.  Because snakes shed their skins as they grow larger, they are also symbols of transformation and transcendence.  

Creation is a two-way street.  We have seen that involution and evolution are the two mirroring events.  Involution is the process of embodiment, the descent of Spirit into a body.  This involves differentiation and division into multiple forms and varieties.  It begins with the first thought of the Creator and proceeds through many levels of manifestation until it reaches the forms we recognize in our daily lives.  Evolution is the return journey and is a process of transcendence in which each form is dissolved into the one above it in increasingly abstract forms until all is finally united into one, formless Being.

In thinking about this in the sixth chakra, we are dealing with creativity on a purely spiritual level.  All forms are being dissolved into the One – evolution.

Exercise:  Life and Death

Read chapter 3 in Shadows of the sacred.  Would you equate death with Shiva?  If so, why; if not, why not?  Why does Vaughan say we cannot know our shadows without confronting sex and death?  Do you have a shadow around either of these ideas?  Why is death anxiety seen as a fundamental fear?  Do you agree?  Are you afraid of death?  What about annihilation of the ego?  What does the sacred marriage represent and is that the same thing as the union of Shiva and Shakti?  What is “beyond death” and why do you think so?  How would you like to end your life?  Make some notes in your journal about this and let someone close to you know what you want to happen at the end of your life.


If you can bear with me, I’d like to summarize and update our information on embodiment and how it operates.  You may remember an initial diagram (Figure 2-1) early in this series of a set of concentric circles or sheaths that represent the human being.  The physical body was in the center surrounded by the astral or etheric body, lower mind, higher mind and higher self in that order from the inside out.  Figure 3 in Book I shows roughly how those levels play out in manifestation.

Now, usually, we think of God as being within us or in our hearts, so it may seem strange at first to think about it the other way around.  However, if you consider it, God is rather large to be contained within us as are consciousness and mind.  It is more likely that our hearts contain a connection to the Higher Power rather like a cord connects a fetus to its mother.  So that is why I have reversed the usual order of containers.  In this explanation, I am going to refer to the physical, subtle and causal bodies only because the two levels of mind and the etheric body are all part of the subtle body.

Physical body

The physical body is pretty obvious and our educational, medical and pharmacological institutions have pretty well informed us about how the body is put together and how it functions, so I do not need to go into that here.

Subtle body

You can think of the subtle body as all of the person that is driven by energy.  This includes the etheric or energy body and two mental bodies.   People who are clairvoyant are able to see these distinct bodies.  The etheric body is about four inches larger all around than the physical body and contains it.  It wavers rather like heat coming from a hot roadway, and it contains colors that reflect the condition and health of the individual’s energy system.

The mental bodies are larger and may extend out to about fingertip length from the physical body.  As a whole, they are called the  antahkarana.  This includes the memory, sensory-motor mind, higher mind, intuition and ego.  All of these fall into the domain of psychology for research purposes, at least in this culture.  It is only in the last two or three decades that the etheric body has come  under investigation.  And the study of intuition is still on the cutting edge although it is a legitimate aspect of mind.

Causal body

The causal body is even less well known.  It seems fair to say that it is the intention to create a body.  Soul is a part of the causal body.  Again, we are used to thinking of the soul within us, but it makes more sense to view it as larger than the physical and subtle bodies and as containing them since it is always viewed as transcendent to them.  If so, it would fall into the domain of the causal body.  This is sometimes referred to as the celestial realm.

In Hindu psychology, the causal body is the body of bliss, joy and ecstasy; i.e., beyond all the woes of embodiment.  It may also be termed Prakrti which would be the first level of creation or matter in general.  This does not feel correct to me since Purusha (consciousness) and Prakrti (matter) in the Samkhya tradition are portrayed as being on the same level of development, or manifestation to be more exact.  Rather I would call them noumenal and postulate a next higher level for them which could be called consciousness.  

In other words, there would actually be five levels of beingness:

1.  The Void out of which everything comes or Ultimate Reality
2.  The Noumenal or Pure Consciousness or awakeness, the first level of creation, Satchidananda           (Being, Consciousness, Bliss), first thought, Word of God,  Purusha and Prakrti, the initial               separation of the Creator from the Void
3.  The Causal body which would include intention to create, the Universal Mind, tattvas, soul and           the gunas or attributes; the outermost sheath or Bliss or the Celestial body
4.  The Subtle  body or antahkarana + etheric (energy) body; the two mental and etheric sheaths
5.  The Physical body

Some theorists would combine # 2 and 3.  Noumenal means an object of purely intellectual intuition according to the dictionary.  So you could think of the first thought or image of creation in the Creator’s Mind as Noumenal and the following intention to create as the Causal, and I think that would be close.  The diagram in Figure 3 distinguishes the mental from the higher subtle bodies in order to explain the levels of antahkarana  more coherently.  

Hopefully, this gives us a context in which to understand the dynamics of the Ajna chakra. But let us look at some components of embodiment in more detail.

Etheric Body

The chakras are situated in the subtle body, and specifically in the etheric body, though there is interpenetration of all the bodies, of course.  This body consists of 72,000 nadiis or channels through which pranic energy can travel.  Many of these are familiar to acupuncturists who call them meridians.  There are eight primary nadiis with which we will be concerned.  Four of these are nested in concentric order in a central channel called the Meru Danda, and four others are outside of the central channel.  [You can see a diagram of six of these in your Johari book, p. 25.]

The outermost central channel is called Susumna.  It travels from the base of the spine in the first chakra to the Makara point in the Ajna chakra.  It is the channel most likely to be used for a kundalini rising.  The next one in is the Vajra nadi.  This goes from the first chakra to the hamsa pita and is an unstable cul-de-sac.  The next is chitrini nadi which goes directly from the first chakra to the Brahma-randhra which is a more direct route, but a rising through it is very rare.  The innermost channel is the Brahma nadi which goes from the first chakra directly to the pinnacle at Bindu in the seventh chakra.  This kind of rising is the most direct and unimpeded,  but it is extremely rare.

Two other channels through which Kundalini can arise are the Saraswati and Lakshmi nadiis.  Both of these are dead ends, and a rising through either of these must be rerouted or the process fails.

The other two nadiis of note are the Ida and Pingala.  Ida is the left nadi and represents receptivity, coolness.  It has a yin quality and is associated with the left nostril dominance of the nose.  Pingala is the right nadi and represents activity, heat, yang  and the vagus nerve.  It has a yang quality and is associated with the right nostril dominance.  There is cross dominance here with the cerebral hemispheres.  Right nostril dominance means the left brain hemisphere is more active and the reverse.  These dominances can be changed and/or balanced by alternate nostril breathing.

Vayus are the major vital energies that support life functions.  Prana vayu, or the flow of life force whose vehicle is breath, is a vibrating field of subtle energy and vitality.  It is also the vehicle of Consciousness (Harrigan, 2002).  It moves through Ida and Pingala and also through Susumna. which serves as a balance point between the opposing energies.

                                                                                                 Chakra Form
The chakras are energy centers or vortices in the subtle body that arise at the intersections of nadiis wherever they cross or touch each other.  Chakra means “spinning wheel.”  It is a radiation of vayu function in a certain area.  When the vayu is activated, the associated chakra opens and vibrates.  Barbara Brennan (1988), who is clairvoyant, has seen these chakras and pictures them as a hornlike projection that encloses several other hornlike tubes (p. 65).  Hindus call them lotuses because when they are open they look like lotus flowers opened.  And, interestingly, the seed pods of a lotus look very much like the picture Brennan offers us.  Chakras are responsible for bringing energy into the subtle body and distributing it.  There are many chakras in the body, but our discussion is limited to the seven or eight primary ones on the vertical dimension of the body.

For Kundalini to rise, all the chakras must be open and functioning.  To open them requires removing the obstacles created by our social conditioning.  Hence, the need for self-examination and spiritual practices.


The tattvas are dominant in each of the lower five chakras, and we know them as a combination of the bhutas: five gross elements of earth, water, fire, air and space;  and the tanmatras: subtle elements of smell, taste, sight, touch and sound.  Both sets of elements are found in the chakras respectively, as listed,  moving from the first  to the fifth.  We have met these before.  Each tattva has a seed sound or bija associated with it (Lam, Vam, Ram, Yam, Ham).  Chanting these sounds tunes the chakra and helps it to open.  Corresponding chakra diagrams can be found in each guidebook.

Chakra Bija Bhuta Tanmatra
1 Lam Earth Smell
2 Vam Water Taste
3 Ram Fire Sight
4 Yam Air Touch
5 Ham Space Sound

Table 6-2.  Tattva Relationships

We have reviewed all of this material by way of introduction to the Ajna chakra because it is here that the transition is made between the subtle body and the causal body.  So we need to understand how all of the nadiis and chakras work and come  together at this point in evolution.  The Makara point in the Ajna chakra is the launching pad, so to speak, into higher consciousness and the celestial realm.

Practice: Meditation

Find a quiet time and space and sit for meditation.  Plan to stay for at least an hour.  During this time, see if you can quiet your mind but still remain conscious.  If, after about 20 minutes you are not able to quiet your mind, try concentrating on an object such as a flower or a candle keeping your mind focused and steady.

If you lose consciousness, when you come out of it do some self-reflection right away in your journal trying to remember just exactly what you experienced, when you lost consciousness and what brought you back to it.  Consider whether there is a relationship between deep sleep, samadhi and unconsciousness.  Are they the same thing?  Are you conscious in your deep sleep?  in your dreams?  In your life?  That is not a silly question.  Most people are not really conscious but are moving around in a waking dream.  If you experience samadhi, what is it like for you?  How do you identify it?

Holy Ideas

“The fruit of the path is the capacity to live in objective reality.”
A. H. Almaas (2002, p. 61)

Objective reality in the quote above means being able to see life as it really is rather than shrouded by numerous veils of maya and ego defenses.  

In 2002, A. H. Almaas published a book called Facets of Unity.  His is another way of looking at Beingness.  In it, he outlines seven holy ideas based upon Gurdjieff’s enneagram.  Holy ideas are forms in which the unity of the universe manifests.  There are presumably nine rays projected by the Divine One, and together they make up the pleroma.  The pleroma is the spiritual universe as the abode of God and is made up of the totality of the divine powers and emanations.  You can see the relevance.  Almaas says that our essential nature is ontological Presence that is pure Being, and Being is the essence of soul and the cosmos.  Enlightenment shifts one’s identity from personal to universal.  Evolution.

Soul loss is loss of clear knowingness and the ability to see clearly.  This loss is due to disconnection from the Source.  It makes the soul unconscious which gives rise to the development of ego.  Ego then throws up defenses and creates fixations that block our perceptions of objective reality.  We can easily see how soul and ego might find themselves at opposite and warring poles (cf Chapter 2 in Vaughan, 1995).  

Holy ideas, on the other hand, are objective views of reality that are seen from different perspectives.  They depend upon basic trust.  I want to quickly sketch out the Holy Ideas, so you can think about them.  We will return to them in more detail in a subsequent unit.  All of these little summaries are dependent upon the establishment of basic trust for their fullest expression.

The numbers are out of order because they are each part of a triad, and there are three triads.  Each Idea represents a position on the enneagram, which has nine points, and corresponds to one of the personality types of the enneagram.  Each of the triads samples one of each of the following three perspectives:  1)How Reality is,  2)  Functioning from a non-egoic perspective, and 3) Relationship of the human to Total Reality.  The unnumbered ones are subsumptions and expansions of the ones above them.  Incidently, on the enneagram diagram the numbers go clockwise from about one o’clock around the circle.

A.  First Triad

        8.  Holy Truth is the unity of existence.  Presence which is self-existent and boundless.                           Non-duality.  Being is the universe, the Absolute is All.  Various dimensions are facets                    of the Absolute and interpenetrate each other.  Sound familiar?

        2.  Holy Will  is unified functioning.  Reality moves with direction and according to fixed laws                  or patterns.  Unified functioning is an organic unfoldment of living, conscious Presence.

                 Holy Freedom occurs when we see ourselves as co-creators of the universe.  Our will                       is harmonious with the Will of the universe.  To end the struggle, one must surrender                       to inner truth.

        5.  Holy Omniscience is the multiplicity of existence within the unity, differentiations within                      unity.  The focus is on discrimination.  Everything, however, is interconnected in a kind                    of horizontal Oneness.

                 Holy Transparency is the human perception that we are an inseparable part of the                            whole.  We are supported by the totality and are an extension of it.  Personal                                  Essence as Being manifesting in a life.  Individuation.

B.  Second triad

        1.  Holy Perfection means reality is perfect as it is.  So is your Essence and fundamental                         nature.  All is pure, neat, immaculate, beautiful and luminous.

        4.  Holy Origin means everything is unfolding Being.  Essence is the nature of the soul.  Being                   is the ground from which all manifests.  Creation and dissolution is all Being                                    differentiating itself into phenomena of experience.  Vertical Oneness.  We are the                          origin.  The Source is us.

        7.  Holy Wisdom sees that the transformation is happening according to a specific design.  It                   is seeing reality in relation to the passing of time.  Real life is intelligent presence                               unfolding according to its inner laws and harmony.

                 Holy Plan is a specific universal design, the perception that unfoldment is not chaotic,                         but has a meaningful, lawful pattern.  The universe is intelligent and spontaneously                           self-revealing expressing pure Spirit.

                 Holy Work is evolution itself [in the scientific sense], transformation with direction;                             unfolding existence in successive moments, being in the flow.

C.  Third triad

        9.  Holy Love means reality has heart, is loving.  There is a quality of existence that makes it                     lovable; intrinsic goodness; non-localized preciousness of Being.  Bliss.

        3.  Holy Harmony means all movements, changes and actions form unified, harmonious,                        patterned flow with inherent intelligence and optimizing thrust toward truth.  Inner                            guidance.

                Holy Law is self-aware, dynamic Oneness and functioning Logos.  Unity of all change                        and flow of Being, continuous creation.

               Holy Hope is perception of the truth; harmony draws to itself; Reality guides us to                               Enlightenment.  Everything is all right and open to unfoldment.

        6.  Holy Strength is the perception that the inner nature of humans is Essence.  Direct                             experience of the strength of Essence; its truth, lovingness, perfection, support.

                 Holy Faith is a sense of trust, confidence and care that comes from the realization that                        Origin is our inner nature.  Satchidananda.  The conviction is integrated and                                    transforms consciousness.

This section will give you a feel for how the various spiritual disciplines support and relate to each other in their views of how things are.

Exercise: The Holy Ideas

Draw a large circle on a sheet of paper and divide it into nine equal points.  Number these from one to nine beginning at about the one o’clock position.  (Hint: circles have 360 degrees, so each inner angle, if you connect each point to the center of the circle, will be 40 degrees.)  Have number nine at the top of the circle.  Insert the name of each Holy Idea at its  proper number. Next connect the triad numbers (1:4:7 and 2:5:8 and 3:6:9) with straight lines to form three triangles.  Then shade the portion of the circle designated by the numbers 1:8:9.  This is “How reality is.”  Then shade the portion designated by 2:3:4.  This is “Functioning from a non-egoic perspective.”  Then shade the portion designated by 5:6:7.  This is “Relationship of human to total reality.”  Label each of these areas on your diagram.  Now you have a diagram of the Holy Ideas.  You should have one point of each triangle in each of the three shaded areas.

Study this diagram and see if it has any personal meaning for you.  Then see what connections you can make with the other major themes of this unit.  Make notes in your journal, so you can refer to it later on.

We have looked at the processes of creation and embodiment to see how they are based upon the polarities.  And we have examined how the figures of Shiva and Shakti represent these polarities as well as the trek taken by our Kundalini energy toward the Makara point of choice.


Almaas, A. H. (2002).  Facets of unity: The Enneagram of holy ideas.  Boston: Shambhala.

Brennan, B. A. (1988).  Hands of light: A guide to healing through the human energy field.  New York: Bantam Books.

Johari, H. (1987).  Chakras: Energy centers of transformation.  Rochester, VT: Destiny Books.

Harrigan, J. S. (2002).  Kundalini vidya: The science of spiritual transformation.  Knoxville, TN: Patanjali Kundalini Yoga Care.

Hixon, L. (1992).  Great swan: Meetings with Ramakrishna. Boston: Shambhala.

Vaughan, F.  (1995).  Shadows of the sacred: Seeing through spiritual illusions.  Wheaton, IL: Quest Books.

Wolf, F. A.  (1996).  The spiritual universe: How quantum physics proves the existence of the soul.  New York: Simon & Schuster.

Zweig, C. & Wolf, S. (1997).  Romancing the shadow: Illuminating the dark side of the soul.  New York: Ballantine Books.

This completes Unit 2. Polarities.  The next Unit 3. Balance takes a look at the unity achieved when the polarities come into alignment.

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