Beginning of Spiritual Life

Rishi Nityabodhananda, Australia

Swami Sivananda has written, “If one’s mind becomes purified, the mind rises to the manipura chakra, or the centre located at the navel, and he experiences some power and some joy.” He says, ‘some power and some joy’. His description of manipura chakra is not expansive, it is limited. Swami Sivananda was a master; he knew that there is more power in store with the awakening of higher chakras, so he qualifies manipura with ‘some power and some joy’.

The joy we can have in awakening manipura is the joy of being able to decide and do; not decide and think about it, but decide and do. One decides, ‘Today I will start an anushthana and every day I will continue, two hours morning and two hours evening.’ The aspirant sits down and unfalteringly, just proceeds to do it. At the end of three months, the aspirant says, “Ah, I have completed my decision, my anushthana” and he can give himself a tick. This is a joy; it is the joy of personal power. It is a kind of pleasure, being able to achieve what you set out to do.

It is only in manipura that the first glimpse of personal power and personal will comes, along with the freedom from bondage to desire. In ordinary life there are two pursuits: one is the pursuit of happiness through enjoying just where we are, enjoying our own presence, our own breath, our own thoughts and our own being. The other pursuit is for achievement.

These two pursuits are in varying proportions amongst individuals. The happiness of having fun is always tinged with the urge to achieve. In our early years it manifests in our attitude toward school work and studies, but even after graduation, after establishing a career and a marriage, there is still an urge to achieve. There is an infinite variety of quests all fired up by the urge to achieve. The ability to bring the urge to fruition is an expression of willpower, and achievement in this brings an automatic balance of our emotions and a state of ‘some joy’.

Working with manipura is the beginning of developing spiritual values. The powers of manipura are separate from the earthly realm. We can start to behave like human beings, like mental beings. We’re not just tied to habit, we’re not just tied to the ordinary stuff consisting of what we have to do, and we’re not slaves to our own creations; we have risen above this and we are free to be able to decide and do other things at a higher level, through willpower. The ability to imagine and manifest at will is a joy and the power comes from within. Manipura is the crossroads from where personal power and spiritual potential begin to unfold.

When manipura becomes the base for kundalini, it represents the beginning of our spiritual journey beyond mental turmoil. Buddhists traditionally call manipura ‘the home of kundalini’; they don’t consider the lower chakras for this purpose. Buddhist texts say that until kundalini sits in manipura, there is no spiritual insight. Therefore, manipura is the beginning of the spiritual expansion.

In swadhisthana we dealt with mental turmoil and problems. They are the confusions that we live in; the emotional problems and the trauma and the innumerable loads of karmas and samskaras that life seems to challenge us with. Due to our choices we have created these karmas and samskaras ourselves, and while kundalini rests in the lower chakras, it seems as though many of our sufferings are caused by life itself and not by us! It is only with kundalini being seated in manipura that clarity dawns.

Power of will

The world contains many people who are highly educated, and some very highly educated. Through their academic achievements, these people manage high positions in educational realms and within institutions, yet when they go out into the field of life they simply can’t manage. Companies are in the hands of very clever business administrators. First, they qualify for and graduate from prestigious schools such as Harvard Business School, and then they begin managing the big companies while trying to follow everything by formula. Everything is done according to the formulas that they have learnt in school. Where is the will in this approach, where is the creativity?

At a grassroots level, yoga teachers simply strive to make yoga programs happen; they don’t need to be a business school graduate to do that. They just have to make it happen. To launch a yogic event is not easy. They cannot just advertise with flyers, make some announcements on a social networking site like Facebook and wait for things to happen as though some machine will do the work for them. It doesn't work like that. To make a project a success, you have to make it happen. You really have to put your will behind it, and when it happens in this manner, you get a very pleasing result. When a new project is started, some fire is ignited inside and energy pours into every aspect of the new project, and the more energy you put into a project, the more successful it will become.

Once I was putting together one of these yogic events, which is really not easy as usually the capital is limited and one can’t employ people who are lacking in willpower, something I have known for a very long time. So when the ‘Create an Event’ feature came into existence on Facebook, I thought, ‘Wonderful, I can create this event simply by sending a message to the whole world that my kirtan or satsang program is on.’ Even though I knew that necessary personal willpower had not been injected, I still pursued the lazy path of event creation, because in my head, tamas, the quality of inertia or laziness, always has a say. The result was predictable; I brought about the opposite of achievement.

It was a flop and there is not much joy in that. You really have to put your will behind event creation and then it happens, and you get a very pleasing result. When the fire of will burns, the mind wakes up and becomes sharp, the details needing attention become obvious: talking to people, inviting people, spreading enthusiasm and interest, and the result is the creation of a wave of success. If you have the inclination you can write brilliant things, you can come up with wonderful passages; poetry pours out of you with the power of will. It wakes everything else up in the whole brain. It’s a wonderful thing.

Published in Manipura Chakra