The Spinal Column
Connecting the two worlds (heaven above and the sphere of darkness below) is the spinal column, a chain of thirty-three segments protecting within them the spinal cord. This ladder of bones plays a very important part in the religious symbolism of the ancients. It is often referred to as a winding road or stairway. Sometimes it is called the serpent; at other times, the wand or scepter.
The Hindus teach that there are three distinct canals or tubes in the spinal system. They call them Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna. These tubes connect the lower generative centers of the body with the brain. The Greeks symbolized them by the caduceus, or winged staff of Hermes. This consisted of a long rod (the central Sushumna), which ended in a knob or ball (the pons of the medulla oblongata). On each side of this knob are wings arched over, used to represent the two lobes of the cerebrum. Up this staff and twisted around it wind two serpents, one black and the other white. These represent the Ida and Pingala.The ancient Hindus have a legend concerning the goddess Kundalini, in which it is said that she descended by means of a ladder or cord from heaven to a little island floating in the great sea. Connecting this with embryology, it is evident that the ladder or cord represents the umbilical cord, while the little island is the solar plexus. When the ladder is cut away from heaven the goddess flees in terror to a cave (sacral plexus). where she hides far from the sight of men. Like Amaterasu, the Japanese Goddess of the Shining Face, she must be lured from her cave, for while she is there and refuses to come forth the world is in darkness. Kundalini is a Sanskrit word meaning “a serpentine or twisting gas or force.” This force, so the Eastern sages claim, can be drawn up through the central spinal canal (the Sushumna). When this essence strikes the brain it (pens the center of spiritual consciousness and inner perception, bringing with it spiritual illumination. The system of culture whereby this is made possible is the most secret teaching of the Eastern saints, for they realize that this spiral, twisting force is not only illuminating but, like the serpent which is its symbol, also a deadly poison.
Smatterings of Eastern occultism are coming all the time into the Western world, but we are sorry to say they are bring- ing with them endless suffering and sorrow, for these great truths in the hands of individuals incapable of rightly understanding or applying them destroy intelligence and reason. Along the spine are a number of nerve ganglia and plexuses. All of these have their place in religious symbolism. For example, we are told that the early Jews called the sacral plexus and the sacrococcygeal ganglion the cities of Sodom and Go-morrah. There is a small plexus in the region of the kidneys called the sagittarial plexus, which the ancients knew as the city of Tarsus where St. Paul fought with the beasts. Higher occultism teaches that the lotus blossoms (nerve centers on the spine) are reflections or negative poles bearing witness of seven great positive centers of consciousness located in the brain. These seven function through the centers on the spine in approximately the same way that the seven spirits before the throne function through the planetary bodies. The disciple is warned not to work with the centers upon the spine, but to labor instead with their true rulers—the centers in the brain.
It is said that the Logos, when the time came to create the material universe, entered a state of deep meditation, centralizing his thought power upon the seven flower-like centers of the seven worlds. Gradually his life force descended from the brain (which was the great superior world) and striking these flowers one after the other wave birth to the lower worlds.When at last his spirit fire struck the lowest center the physical world was created, and his fire was at the base of the spine. When the world returns to him again and he once more becomes supreme in consciousness it will be because he withdraws the life from these seven centers, beginning with the lowest, and returns it again to the brain. Thus the path of evolution for all living things is to raise this fire, whose descent made their manifestation in these lower worlds possible and whose raising brings them into harmony once more with the superior worlds. This myth of the life force that came down and took upon itself worlds, is found among all the civilized nations of the earth. This is the Hiram Abiff who built the Masonic Temple (the bodies) and was then slain by the three vehicles which he formed. This is likewise the Christ, slain for the sins of the world. Because of the fact that this spinal fire is a twisting, serpentine force, the snake has been used in all parts of the world to represent the world saviors. The uracus worn by the Egyptian priests upon their foreheads was symbolic of Kundalini, the sacred cobra who, when she was raised in the wilderness, saved all who gazed upon her (Moses and the brazen serpent). As the brain is the center of the divine world, so the solar plexus is the center of the human world, for, representing semi- consciousness, it links the unconsciousness below with the consciousness above. Man is not only capable of thinking with his brain; he is capable of a certain phase of thought through the nerve centers of the solar plexus.
Medium V.S. Clairvoyant
It will probably be wise at this point to describe the difference between a medium and a clairvoyant. To the average per- son there is no difference, but to the mystic these two phases of spiritual sight are separated by the entire span of human evolution.
A clairvoyant is one who has raised the spinal serpent into I he brain and by his growth earned the right of perceiving the invisible worlds with the aid of the third eye, or pineal gland. This organ of consciousness, which millions of years ago connected man with the invisible worlds, closed during the Lemurian period when the objective senses began to develop.
The occultist, however, by the process of development hinted al before, may reopen this eye and by means of il explore theinvisible worlds. Clairvoyants are not born; they are made. Mediums are not made; they are born. The clairvoyant can become such only after years, sometimes lives, of self-preparation; on the other hand, the medium, by sitting in a darkened room, or by other similar practices, may secure results in a few days.
The medium uses the solar plexus as a mirror, and upon its sensitive nerves are reflected pictures recorded in the invisible ethers. Through the spleen (which is the gateway to the etheric body) the medium permits decarnate intelligences to come into his spiritual constitution, the result being voices and other spirit manifestations. Automatic writing is gained by permitting the etheric arm of an outside intelligence to control temporarily the physical arm of the medium. This is not possible until the medium removes his own etheric double from the arm, for two things cannot occupy the same place at the same time. The process of periodically separating the life forces from the physical arm is very dangerous, often resulting in paralysis. Mediumship is unnatural to man, while clairvoyance is the natural result of growth and the unfolding of the spiritual nature. There are a hundred mediums to one clairvoyant, for the clairvoyant can become such only through self-mastery and the exertion of tremendous power; while the weaker, the more sickly, and the more nervous an individual is, the better medium he makes. The clairvoyant is unfolding his mind by filling it with useful knowledge, while the first instruction given the would-be medium is, “Make your mind a blank.”
The reason mediumship through the solar plexus is a retrogression may be summed up as follows: The group spirits who control the destinies of the animal kingdoms govern then- charges through pictures thrown against the solar plexus, for the animal has no self-conscious mind. As a result, instead of thinking with its own brain it thinks with the brain of the group spirit to whom it is attached by invisible magnetic cords. These cords convey their impressions and photograph them upon the sympathetic nervous system. Having no will of its own, the animal is incapable of combating these urges and consequently obeys them implicitly. Man governs himself through the cerebrospinal nervous system because he has developed individuality and the sympathetic system no longer rules him. Opening himself to impulses through the solar plexus area, the medium is thwarting his own growth by preventing the cerebrospinal nervous system from controlling his destiny.
Man has always liked to lean on external things. He hates to face each problem and solve it with the brain God gave him. He consequently leans on the invisible worlds, asking them to help him to accomplish the labors which he should do by his own efforts. Thousands of people must carry the karmic responsibilities of the medium, for many follow this calling because hundreds of people want to talk to deceased relatives or get inside tips on the stock exchange. Those who by their patronage encourage things of which they do not themselves approve are personally responsible for the injury which their selfishness has thus permitted other persons to inflict upon themselves.
The difference, therefore, between mediumship and clairvoyance is about half the length of the spinal column. It is the difference between negative and positive; it is the difference between the midnight of the seance room and the noonday of the temple.
All of the organs within the body of man have their religious significance. The heart with its chambers is itself a temple standing upon the mountain of the diaphragm. The spleen with its little umbrella-shaped body collects the sun’s rays and has charge of the etheric body. It is this etheric body coiled within the spleen that injects the white blood corpuscles into the circulatory system.
We know that the human body has been the inspiration for nearly all mechanical contrivances. Hinges are copied from (lie human body; likewise die ball and socket joint. We are told that the first plumbing was reproduced from the arterial and venous circulatory systems. Hundreds of machines and implements have been inspired by the subtle workings of our own vehicles, for the human body is the most marvelously constructed machine that the human mind can study.The close relationship between the generative system below .mil the brain above (for the brain is a positive generating system) is of course due to the spine connecting them. At a certain time a number of little doors which now separate the brain from the generative system are opened, and the Sushumna becomes an open tunnel so that every impulse is carried immediately to both ends of the body. It is for this reason that the candidate assumes the vows of celibacy, for the close connection existing in the advanced disciple between the brain and the reproductive system necessitates an absolute conservation of all life energies. The tonsils are directly connected with the generative system; in fact they are part of its positive pole in the brain.
The customs of vaccinating healthy children and cutting out normal tonsils on general principles, should be reconsidered. Most tonsils are infected as the result of the child eating too many sweets during the first years of life. The moral is, don’t cut out the tonsils; cut out the sweets. Many parents are responsible for the illness of their children. Through either ignorance or indulgence they allow the infantile consciousness, as yet uncontrolled by its higher vehicles, to destroy itself before life fairly begins. When children are sick during the early years of life the physician will often find the cause of the ailment in the parent, and the father or mother—not the child—should be dosed with pills. If the stomach is kept in proper condition the tonsils will give very little trouble. The absolute economy exhibited by nature in the building of all its structures should be sufficient proof that the Lord was not wasting his time when he made tonsils and appendixes. He apparently had reason for making them, but these poor, un-offending organs have become a gold mine to medical scientists who remove them at the slightest provocation. We arc told that the vertical position assumed by the human body, which forces the contents of the intestinal tract to travel part of the time uphill, is the reason for the appendix, which is missing in creatures of horizontal carriage. Every organ not only has its visible purpose, but also an invisible spiritual purpose. and the individual is to be admired who manages to go through life preserving intact as many as possible of his original anatomical parts and members.While on the subject of the debt of science to the human body we might add that the decimal system is the result of primitive man’s counting on his fingers, whereby ten became the unit of enumeration. The ancient cubit also was the distance between the elbow and the end of the second finger, or approximately eighteen inches. So it goes back through the study of things until we find that nearly everything with which man has surrounded himself is an adaptation from the body with which God surrounded his spirit.
Man is gradually gaining control not only over the organs of his body but also over their functions. Science states that certain organs function automatically or mechanically, but occultism realizes that there is nothing mechanical about the functions of the human body. Let us take as an example a workman throwing a piece of iron among the wheels and levers of a smoothly working machine. There is a grinding crash and the machine stops. If on the other hand you figuratively throw a monkey-wrench into the human body, it will immediately begin the process of throwing it back at you. It will surround the foreign element with a coating and try to absorb it. If this is impossible, it will try to eject it through, some channel appointed for that purpose. If this means fails it will in many cases accustom itself to the presence of the obstacle and keep right on working anyway. This shows un- mistakably that the organic parts of man possess some inherent form of intelligence; therefore they are not machines, for no mechanical device is capable of intelligence.
Paracelsus, the great Swiss physician, who after many years in the Far East returned to Switzerland to teach medicine, first gave to the European world its concept of the nature spirits. He taught that the functions of nature were under the control of little creatures who were invisible to the normal senses, but who, working through the kingdoms of life—minerals, plants, animals, and parts of the human body—kept all of these evolving in an intelligent way. Under the control of the great celestial hierarchy of Scorpio which has charge of all body-building in nature, these elements are the invisible intelligences govern- ing the human body and its functions.As the result of man’s ever evolving consciousness, he is acquiring more complete control over the functions of his various organs. There are two kinds of muscles—voluntary and involuntary—the difference being that the voluntary muscles, which are controlled by the conscious mind of the individual, have fibers running two ways and crossing each other, while those which are involuntary are without cross-fibers. The heart used to be considered an involuntary muscle, but it is now beginning to show cross-fibers, thus foreshadowing the day when man will consciously and intelligently regulate the beating of his own heart. The same will be true with respect to all other organs that survive the periodic changes taking place in the constitution of man. The Eastern holy man can success- fully live without his heart beating; he can stop it or start it at will. By lifting the tongue so that it closes the air passages into the lungs he can remain in suspended animation for months. Many Eastern chelas do this while being given spiritual initiations out of the physical body. There are cases on record where these holy men have been buried in the ground. Weeks later when the body was dug up it was found to be dried like leather. Water was poured onto it, and after a certain lapse of time the man who had not taken a breath in weeks got up and walked off. This is the result of extraordinary control which the mind is capable of gaining over the functions of the body.
Occultism teaches that there is an entire universe within the human body; that it has its worlds, its planes, and its gods and goddesses. Millions of minute cells are its inhabitants. These tiny creatures are grouped together into kingdoms, nations, and races, and become one thing composed of many parts. The Supreme Ruler and God of this great world is the conscious- ness in man which says “I am.” This consciousness picks up its universe and moves to another town. Every time it walks up and down the street it takes a hundred million solar systems with it, but because they are so infinitesimal, man cannot realize that they are actually worlds.In like manner, we are individual cells in the body of an infinite creation which is hurling itself through infinity at unknown speed. Suns, moons, and stars are merely bones in a great skeleton composed of all the substances of the universe. Our own little lives are merely part of that infinite life throb- bing and coursing through the arteries and veins of space. But all this is so vast as to be beyond the comprehension of this’ little “I am” in us. Therefore we may say that both extremes are equally incomprehensible. We live in a middle world between infinite greatness on the one hand and infinite smallness on the other. As we grow, our world grows also, resulting in a corresponding increase in the scope of our understanding of all these wonders.