The Balance of Life Part

In this topic we will bring in many seemingly unrelated subjects. Yet, as you will see by the end, they are all intimately connected. Everything which we will discuss has the greatest relevance to the unfolding of your potential, whether physical, mental, psychic or beyond. We want to integrate and harmonize the opposing principles contained in the following concepts:

1. Ida and pingala

2. Flow of the left and right nostril

3. Introversion and extroversion

4. Knowledge and action (jnana and karma)

5. Meditational practices and external work

6. Prana and consciousness

7. Shiva and Shakti

.All these subjects may appear to be totally unrelated, but as we will show, they all constitute parts of a whole. If you understand them correctly, they will clearly show you the path which you must tread to spiritual awakening. If you misunderstand them, then it is possible that you will take the wrong path and either stay at lower levels of awareness or descend from a higher to a lower one. Many people have done this and are still doing it.

The central theme of this discussion is ida and pingala. These two principles were conceived and symbolized by the sages of the past. These wise men understood ida and pingala, the two currents of human aspiration, through personal experience. They clearly saw that the concepts of ida and pingala applied to all levels of being, from the grossest to the most subtle. The concept spans the apparent chasm between the physical and the spiritual.

Let us discuss the implications of ida and pingala at the different levels of meaning.

Symbolism of the ida and pingala

The ida and pingala are called nadis (the Sanskrit word nadi means 'flow'). In this context, the flow can be physical, nervous,

Ida And Pingala And The Nervous System

standing of ida and pingala is usually confined to the physical, nervous and pranic (bioplasmic) aspects within the human framework.

Though there is nothing wrong with this limited viewpoint, it is nevertheless a gross oversimplification which misses much of what the ancient yogis were trying to tell us. The ida and pingala mean much more than is widely known. In this chapter we want to give a brief description of all the different levels of meaning behind the symbolism of the ida and pingala.

The two nadis are depicted entwined about the spine or central axis, criss-crossing each psychic, mental and that of awareness. Undeo-ther at the chakras1. Ida and pingala begin at the same point: the mooladhara chakra of the perineum (see diagram).

The mooladhara chakra corresponds to the stage of human development where awareness begins to unfold2. From this chakra the pingala makes a semicircular curve upwards on the right side of the spine. It crosses the spine again at the swadhisthana chakra and proceeds on a similar curved path on the left side of the spine, until it crosses the spine again at the manipura chakra. In the same manner, pingala continues upwards, crossing the spine in turn at the anahata and vishuddhi chakras until it reaches and ends at the ajna chakra at the top of the spine in the middle of the head. This is clearly illustrated on the accompanying diagram.

The ida path follows a similar path as the pingala but in the opposite sense. They are reflections ofeach other. That is, as the pingala crosses to the right of the spine, ida crosses to the left and vice versa. The important thing to remember is that they cross each other in turn at each of the chakras, as illustrated.

The central axis of ida and pingala is the sushumna nadi3. This nadi portrays the path of the mystics, the path of yoga that treads the narrow razor's edge between the path of ida and the path of pingala. It is depicted as rising straight upwards through the centre of the spine, meeting ida and pingala at the points where they cross at the chakras. The sushumna starts at the mooladhara chakra and passes through all the chakras in turn. Eventually it terminates in sahasrara - the absolute oneness. This is the realm, or non-realm, of nirvana or kaivalya (onlyness). It is within the sushumna that the kundalini rises, the progressive ascent of knowledge associated with higher states of awareness as the chakras are opened up. All these terms have already been discussed.

Ida

Pingala

breath flow through

breath flow through

left nostril

right nostril

parasympathetic

sympathetic

nervous system

nervous system

introversion

extroversion

awareness

energy and action

mind

prana

moon

sun

subjectivity

objectivity

white

red

tha

ha

negative

positive

coolness

heat

inactive

active

yin

yang

female

male

There are many more possible characteristics that could be listed. On the spiritual path, it is the integration and harmony of opposites at all levels that is important. The aim is to combine the opposites associated with duality so that they perfectly merge. This is the meaning of the sushumna. It indicates balance and fusion of the opposite principles of ida and pingala. To illustrate this, we will take a few examples from the list we have already given:

Ida tha coolness subjectivity yin inaction

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