Preksha Dhyana: Perception Of Body ► [2] Body: Philosophical Version

Posted: 04.02.2010

According to the Indian medical system Āyurveda, our body is made up of seven types of chemical substance, skin, hair, blood, bone, flesh and nerves are obviously the components of the body and this, therefore, is the common image of the body. But there are many ways of looking at the body. A layman's version would be-it is made of flesh, bones and blood. A doctor's version would be much more elaborate. A lover's version would be - body is beautiful. A sādhak's version would be quite different from all these, because his point of view is different. The sādhak would say - the body is the means of spiritual progress and development. There is no other tool besides the body. Telescopes, microscopes and other instruments and apparatuses are useful only when used by the human body. The sādhak must, therefore, study the body in great detail from all angles. One who is not wise with regard to his body can never fathom the profound spiritual experience, and can never ascend the heights of spiritual knowledge and can never reach the summit. One needs the body for ascending to the higher levels of consciousness. It is essential.

Flow of Vital Energy (prāṇadhārā) [1]

Our body is very precious. The innumerable mysteries of the body can be known to a sadhak alone. A doctor or a brilliant surgeon would not be able to unravel those mysteries which are known to spiritual masters. For instance, a doctor would not be able to enlighten us about the effect of breathing through the right nostril or the left nostril or both nostrils. The effect is definite in each case - breathing through the left results in cooling, and breathing through the right results in heating, and breathing through both results in quietening the mind and creating mental equilibrium. It is perhaps beyond the scope of a physician or a surgeon to explain why and how this happens. Only a master of meditation can throw proper light on the subject.[2] Though the modern medical master may not be able to evaluate the significance of the body from the philosophical angle, it must be admitted that his knowledge about the nervous system (and other systems of the body) is very profound. He has a thorough knowledge of the structural and functional organisation of the central and peripheral nervous systems, of the physiology of neuron which makes up the nerve tissue and many other subtle mysteries of the nervous system. He will, however, probably be quite ignorant about prāṇadhārā—stream of vital energy, and how its flow can be diverted to or from a specific part of the body; about bhāvadhārā—the field of urges and emotions, and where they emanate from and how they influence the behavioural pattern of a person. It is because these things are not dealt with by the medical science.

Perception of Body - Philosophical Angle

There are several different streams of prāṇa—the vital energy. One of them flows in the heart, another in the nose, another in the navel region, yet another in the rectum and another one flows through the layer of skin. The master of medicine may question the very existence of such a stream and is certainly ignorant about the diversity of the stream. This is so because until now the medical science is not concerned about this. The subject concerns the aspirant who wants to make an internal trip of the body. The knowledge of anatomy and physiology is not enough to enable one to take an internal trip or to unlock the internal gates. To unlock the gates and to take an internal trip,it is essential to have a thorough knowledge of the various streams of prāṇa and such other mysteries of life.

Bio-chemistry and Bio-electricity

A wise man wants to control his urges and impulses, emotions, passions and thoughts. But control is not effective unless the internal chemistry is transmuted. The controlling factors are bio-chemistry, bio-electricity, and neuro-endocrine system. Unless and until, therefore, these, i.e., bio-chemical and electrical forces are transmuted, no change is possible (in the attitude and behaviour). Deep level consciousness integrate the bodily functions of the chemical forces and the electrical force[3]. In health, all the controlling forces are in harmony and equilibrium. Whenever the equilibrium is disturbed, illness follows.[4] Our body is subjected to continual changes in the conditions of the external environment—light-darkness, heat-cold, humidity-dryness. Our internal conditions must also continually change to cope up with the external changes. In fact, homeostasis i.e. maximum health condition is not a static condition, but a dynamic equilibrium, a matter of continual adjustment for maintenance of equilibrium between the organisation and the environment. Thus nobody can remain unchanged during 24 hours, either physically or mentally.

There are innumerable different chemical [5] compounds in our body. A nail or a hair contains a hundred different chemical compounds and there are differences from one person to another. Our sensations, movements, thoughts, and speech - virtually everything that goes on in our body - is partly chemical and partly electromagnetic. One can never, therefore, hope to acquaint oneself with all different factors in a few exercise of perceptual meditation Regular and continued practice alone can result in knowing and being aware of the internal forces of the body. The practitioner should constantly watch his progress and development in this regard, i.e. how the capacity for perceiving subtle chemical reactions is enhanced by each exercise and how much he is able to evaluate them.

The second important body-force is electro-magnetic force. Every organ, every cell, needs electricity to function. No living cell can function without bio-electricity. The flow of bioelectricity is one type of stream of vital energy called prāṇadhārā by the ancient yoga preceptors.

Our limbs are quite useful, but they cannot be called vital organs. They are workers or soldiers, not regulators or generals. The regulators in our body are: brain, spinal cord endocrines, bio-electricity, and vital energy. These are the controlling factors—the regulators. From the meditational point of view, it is essential to know them, because through them we can be aware of the entire organism.

The Nervous System

A man is a living organism, but where is the life? Is life in the skin or bones? Is life in blood and flesh: No, the life is in the nervous system. The life is in the endocrine system. The spinal cord, the brain and the endocrines, are the regulators of all physical, mental and emotional functions.

Spinal cord and the brain compose the Central Nervous System (CNS). Peripheral nerves emanate from the cranium as well as spinal column and branch out in the entire body in the form of an intricate network. The autonomic nervous system controls the functioning of the internal organs. Sensory nerves carry messages to CNS and motor nerves carry orders from the CNS. All the sense organs and mind are connected to the CNS. Intelligence, perception, conceptual planning are the functions of the Central Nervous System. It can be seen from this, that the nervous system is a very important system of the body. If the nervous system fails, the body would be paralysed There will be neither physical activity, nor mental activity. The endocrine system is the other controlling system of our body.

Both systems are intimately associated with each other and together integrate the organism. The functional interlocking between both qualifies them to be regarded as constituting a single integrated system called " neuroendocrine system."

The endocrine glands control the bodily functions through chemical regulators called hormones. They exert profound influence on the mental states, emotions and bahaviour of an individual Irrational instincts and impulses emanate from the endocrines and not from the brain. They generate feelings and demand appropriate action to satisfy the need. Psychological distortions (irrational fear, retaliation, cruelty etc.) vitiate our behaviour.

Let us not forget that our existence is a union of two primal forces -consciousness and vital energy, and their physical correlate is our gross body. Every part of the subtle body has its correlate in the physical body. Physical correlates are the medium of manifestations of the primal forces. Nervous system is such a medium. The sensory nerves are the media of consciousness, while the motor nerves the media for vital energy. Endocrines are the intercommunicating transformers between the subtle spiritual self and the gross physical self. They translate the code of intangible spiritual forces into a form of crude power which can work on gross physical organs of our body through the nervous system.

The seat of vital energy is also situated at the base of the spinal column. Normally the vital energy manifests itself as sex-energy (or libido). The flow can be reversed and made to travel upwards. The upward flow produces increased psychic perception. While the downward flow increases physical activity and sensuous pleasure, the upward flow will bring mental peace and equilibrium and state of bliss. All that is required is the regulation of the direction of flow.

It has been established that meditation has the power to alter the electrical activity of the nervous system as well as transmute the synthesization of the chemical messengers. Perception of body and psychic centres (endocrines) will weaken the forces of irrational impulses and ultimately eradicate the psychological distortions and evil behaviour.

Development of Parapsychological Capabilities

Man represents the culmination of the process of evolution. Human mind is unique and constitutes the highest product yet available. This is because man alone, by means of science, has the power of setting higher standards and values for his progress.

It is said that even gods (inhabitants of heaven) desire to become human beings for spiritual progress. Man alone has reasoning mind. He has capacity for conceptual thinking and achieving higher level of consciousness and thereby transcend the perceptual knowledge.

Normal range of human knowledge is very limited. In this age of technology and sub-atomic physics, it may appear that human race has made vast progress in the field of science and knowledge. However, the fact is that our achievement to date is only a small fraction of what we are capable of. Instruments of our perception are limited to our sense-organs and the mind. Beyond the boundaries of perceptual knowledge, there lies the immense field of parapsychological experience. Man has the capacity to develop parapsychological abilities. He can then have direct knowledge of his own self, of the structure of matter, interaction of matter with conscious self and innumerable other Truths about which, with his limited apparatus, he can only speculate and surmise.

Footnotes:
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Published:
Jain Vishva Bharati
Ladnun-3 41 306 (Rajasthan)

Edited by: Muni Mahendra Kumar

© Jain Vishva Bharati

Fourth Edition: September, 1995

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