St. Paul asked in 1 Corinthians: “Don't you know that you are a temple of God, and that the Spirit of God dwells in you?” and “Don't you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit which is in you, which you have from God?” In 2 Corinthians he comes right out and says it plainly: “We are a temple of the living God; even as God said, ‘I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.'”
The disciple John hints at this when he recounts in his gospel an event when Jesus was in the great temple in Jerusalem and was asked to show the people a sign. “Jesus answered them, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.' The people at the temple said, ‘Forty-six years was this temple in building, and will you raise it up in three days?' But he spoke of the temple of his body.”
From Edgar Cayce's attunement to the Universal Consciousness, he too saw and taught that our bodies are more than physical vehicles for living in this world. Here are five brief excerpts:
“Know that your body is the temple of the living God; there you may seek communion. There you may seek counsel as to the choices to be made, the directions to be taken.”
“He has promised. ‘If you will but open the door of your consciousness, of your heart, I will enter and abide with you.' This is not a fancy; this is not hearsay. You may experience such. For it is the law, it is the way, it is LIFE itself!”
“Seek and you shall find. Not without but from within. For in thine own temple He has promised to meet you.”
“All that you may learn of the Father God is already within self. For your body is indeed the temple of the living God, and as you meet Him there you may gain in your own consciousness the satisfaction of walking and talking with Him. When these consciousnesses are yours and you are one with Him, then indeed may you see that the kingdom of heaven dwells within.”
“This is a promise to you, to each soul; yet each soul must of itself find that answer within self. For indeed the body is the temple of the living God. There He has promised to meet you; there He does. And as your body, your mind, your soul is attuned to that divine that answers within, so may you indeed be quickened to know His purpose; and you may fill that purpose for which you entered this experience.”
Years ago, when I first read these teachings, I would sit quietly and go within my temple. With my physical eyes closed, I would scan inside my head with my mind's eye, looking for God. I would begin conversations, and then sit silently, listening for a response. In those early days it was like sitting in a dark, empty room by myself. There was nothing in here but me. If I began to perceive a response, I would not know if it were some aspect of me or truly God speaking. Now, thirty-some years later, I cannot close my eyes without feeling the nearness of a vast inner universe of life, information, creativity, and God. In preparing to write this article I spent some time recalling how I went from sitting by myself to awakening to the heavens within. It is true that if one seeks, one will find; it's a matter of seeking long enough. And it was a long journey, with some side trips that led nowhere. But, through it all, there was a thread that I can now see in hindsight. There were spontaneous moments of enlightenment, of direct contact with God, and of knowing the truth. Sustaining those proved more difficult than expected because outer life was more integral to inner growth than expected. If I stopped living the fruits of the spirit in the outer life, the inner life dried up. But the inner life is the ultimate, eternal life, and it is only lived by going within the temple of the body and awakening to it.
There are two excellent ways to enter the temple within: deep sleep and deep meditation. A good biblical example of deep sleep producing a vision of the life within would be Jacob's dream of the ladder to and from heaven. You'll recall that upon waking from deep sleep, he said, “This is none other than the house of God, and this is the gate to heaven.” The place of deep sleep and illuminating dreams is indeed the house of God and the gate to heaven. A good biblical example of deep meditation producing a vision of the life within would be John's description of how The Revelation began. John tells us that he “was in the spirit [in deep meditation, caught up in the spirit] on the Lord's day and I heard and saw and was told to write.” In this issue, let's explore how the body, the temple, is arranged for spiritual activity.
I am often asked to describe what it feels like to open centers and raise energy, and to be in the presence of God. The Ineffable is just that, ineffable. Even God ordered Old Testament seekers to make no images or utter any name for Him. Additionally, I've found that people are quite unique in their wiring and perception. Some are more visual. Others are auditory. And some are tactile or kinesthetic, feeling more than perceiving. Some are conceptual; they know. Frankly, I could find no difference in the profoundness of their spiritual experiences. For me, it began with feeling the Presence and the energy, then developed into knowing, and eventually became visual. But I have a friend who began seeing before he could feel. I recommend that you seek and practice and allow yourself to discover it as it comes to you. You must have some faith that it is there and in the beginning you'll need to be inspired (that helps lift you into the Spirit).
Many of the body's major systems may be used for both physical and spiritual activity. For example, the seven major endocrine glands that secrete hormones directly into the bloodstream to keep the body running optimally are also a physical portion of the seven spiritual centers or chakras that can affect major changes in our vibrations and consciousness. The central nervous system, so vital to living in the three-dimensional world, is also a portion of the kundalini pathway that can raise our vibrations and help us perceive beyond three dimensions.
Much of this was known in the sacred and often secret temple schools of ancient cultures around the world. For example, the staff carried by the god Mercury (also known as Hermes by the Greeks, Thoth by the Egyptians, and Enoch by the Hebrews, and who Cayce said was an incarnation of “the Word”) remains today as the emblem of modern medicine (the caduceus). But few really know its intended meaning. It is an excellent emblem for physical healing, but it also contains the metaphysical structure of the body for spiritual flight, flight with the messenger of the gods, Mercury, into the heavens and the presence of the Most High God (see diagram on the front page).
An important but often forgotten teaching in several ancient temple schools dealt with the movement of the life force in the body. It was taught that when the life force flows downward and outward through the body's structures, one becomes fully incarnate and conscious in this world; when the life force flows inward and upward through these same structures, then one moves beyond this reality and becomes conscious of the heavens. If both flows are made to circulate the life force, then integration occurs, and the person becomes whole, both human and divine. Cayce and other sources teach that this is accomplished by using the breath. The Taoist teacher Liu Hua-yang wrote: “There is a turn upward toward Heaven when the breath is drawn in. When the breath flows out, energy is directed towards the Earth. In two intervals one gathers Sacred Energy.”
Edgar Cayce's readings affirm these energy flows and encourage us to work at entering the temple within and raising the life force in order to draw closer to God and receive His/Her counsel and comfort, and ultimately to become one with God. In the process, we are to channel that light and love into this world, into our lives and the lives of those we interact with each day. This, according to many spiritual teachers and schools, is the primary lesson to be learned in this incarnation: know and love God completely and channel that light and love into this life's daily opportunities with others. Entering the temple, raising the energy, enlivening the spiritual centers, and uniting with God are not necessary to living a spiritual, loving life. But, if one wants to experience the whole of God consciousness and eternal life, then one needs to raise the body's vibrations and experience higher states of consciousness. Moses could not ascend the mountain and meet God face to face until he first gave water to the seven maidens and raised the serpent off the desert floor — symbolic of enlivening the seven spiritual centers and raising the kundalini energy.
Let's explore the body's secret structure and some of the techniques for finding God within us and channeling the light and love into our lives.
SPIRITUAL CENTERS & THE LIFE FORCE
The concept of spiritual centers can be found in the art of antiquity, from glowing globes on people's heads in Egyptian art to third eyes on the bodies (even on the palms of hands) in classical Asian art.
The first formal mention of spiritual structures, including energy centers and pathways, appears in Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, c. 300 B.C. He reveals six centers and an ultimate luminescence that occurs around the top of the head. These centers are depicted in two ways: as chakras (literally, “spinning wheels”) and as padmes (literally, “lotuses”). Therefore, one may understand that the spiritual centers are both energy vortexes that generate movement as they are stimulated (as a spinning wheel) and enlightenment complexes that unfold as they grow (as an opening lotus). Cayce correlated these centers with the endocrine glandular system in the body. He also said that there are twelve (1861-11), but seven are of importance here. Whenever we find seven people, places, or things in a classical story, we may correlate them with the seven spiritual centers. Cayce's most famous example of this is in his interpretation of the Book of the Revelation. He correlates the seven churches, seals, vials, and plagues to the cleansing and opening of the seven spiritual centers within a seeker's physical body (for more on this, see my book Edgar Cayce on the Revelation). Hugh Lynn Cayce had a fascinating presentation on Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs as a tale of spiritual awakening.
Patanjali also identifies three pathways in the body. Two are an interwoven double helix called ida and pingala, often represented by double serpents (as in the caduceus). The third is a single path, the sushumna, beginning in the lower pelvic area and traveling directly up the body to the top of the head. These pathways correspond to the body's two nervous systems: the sushumna to the central nervous system, with its spinal column and the brain, and ida and pingala to the deeper autonomic nervous system, with its woven nerves that begin in the lower torso and ascend to the brain. These three pathways act as one. The energy flows through them simultaneously.
The endocrine glands along this pathway are, in order from lowest to highest: gonads (testes in males and ovaries in females), cells of Leydig (named after the doctor who discovered them, located in and above the gonads), adrenals (located on top of the kidneys), thymus (located in the upper chest), thyroid (in the throat), pineal (near the center of the brain at the top of the spinal fluid canal), and pituitary (just above the back of the roof of the mouth, behind the bridge of the nose, tucked under the frontal lobe). In order as chakras they are: the root, navel, solar plexus, heart, throat, crown, and brow, or third eye. Many modern books and teachers list the crown as the highest and the third eye as sixth, but Cayce instructs us otherwise, as do many of the more classical texts and images. For example, in ancient Hinduism the kundalini pathway is symbolized by a cobra in the striking position, not straight up. In mystical Egyptian and Mayan art it is a winged serpent in the striking position. In Hebrew and Christian mysticism it is the shape of the shepherd's staff. The energy flows along a path that is like a question mark (?), not like an exclamation mark (!). Cayce says it flows up the body to the base of the brain, then over to the center of the brain and the crown of the head, and then on to the forehead and the great frontal lobe of the brain and the third eye.
Cayce states that the navel and the crown centers have a powerful magnetism between them. He says that the crown is always ready to illuminate and elevate, but that individuals must open the navel center before they can begin to transcend and transform. He calls the navel center the “closed door” and the crown the “open door.” Some Eastern texts call them the “lower gate” and the “jade gate.” Reconnecting these two centers is key to restoring our connection to the divine within. Here are three Cayce excerpts on this:
“This was from the flow of emotion from the kundaline center or the Lyden (Leydig) gland, to the ones in the center [pineal] and frontal portion of the head [pituitary]. This is nothing to be fearful of, but keep the emotions better balanced.”
“Second sight, or the super-activity of the third eye may come whenever there is the opening of the lyden (Leydig) center and the kundaline forces from same to the pineal.”
“We find that there has been the opening of the Lyden (Leydig) gland, so that the kundaline forces move along the spine to the various centers that open with this attitude and these activities of the mental and spiritual forces of the body.”
Here are two important readings on preparation and raising of the kundalini. They are questions and answers:
“Q: Through my meditation, has the kundalini fire risen to the head or top of spine at base of skull? A: It has risen at times, but has not remained; else there would not be those periods of confusion. For, when this has arisen and is disseminated properly through the seven centers of the body, it has purified the body….”
“Q: How may I bring into activity my pineal and pituitary glands, as well as the kundalini and other chakras, that I may attain to higher mental and spiritual powers? A: First so fill the mind with the ideal that it may vibrate throughout the whole of the mental being! Then, close the desires of the fleshly self to conditions about you. Meditate upon ‘Thy will WITH me.' Feel this. FILL all the centers of the body, from the lowest to the highest, with this ideal; opening the centers by surrounding self first with that consciousness, ‘Not my will but Thine, O Lord, be done in and through me.' And then, have that desire, that purpose, of not attaining without HIS direction — who is the Maker, the Giver of life and light; as it is indeed in Him that we live and move and have our being.”
You get Cayce's major idea in these readings. He teaches us to prepare to raise the spiritual forces in the body by setting and feeling a powerful, fully-penetrating ideal of God's will, rather than our will, and to feel God's direction throughout the whole of our being as we open the centers and raise the energy. As he said in an earlier reading, “There is nothing to be fearful of, but keep the emotions better balanced.” So many people that I've talked with over the years of teaching meditation have expressed their fear of raising the kundalini and opening their spiritual centers. The teaching is: don't raise and open by yourself! That is rightly fearful. But do get in there and attune self to God's presence and then, in His/Her presence, open and allow the spiritual forces to flow. Here's a wonderful reading on this:
“Indeed it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. Yet, they that love His coming, they that walk in the cool of the evening, in the shadow of His precepts, shall be awakened to the great truth….”
Are there dangers? Yes. But most of them are before us always. As Cayce points out: “Yourself is your greatest weakness, as yourself is your greatest strength.” If we seek to become fully conscious of God and one with God, then we have to get to work on cleansing, raising, and living the love and light that is God and on with controlling our willful, self-seeking desires. “With the opening of yourself to the vibrations, the emanations, you may be tempted by the desires of the flesh; yes, of the spirit of untruth. But hold fast to that light which is your assurance of His presence with you!”
After imbuing ourselves with the ideal of “God's will be done,” Cayce instructs us to get our bodies in order: properly assimilating nutrients needed to maintain high levels of life and eliminating wastes and toxins that build up in the system. He also directs us to exercise, even if it is just walking a mile after dinner, and to get massages and adjustments to keep the fluids and electrical energies flowing smoothly through the whole of our system. He specifically identifies three points along our spines through which there is the activity of “the kundalini forces that act as suggestions to the spiritual forces for distribution through the seven centers of the body.” They are among the vertebrae and ganglia of the spine: 3rd cervical, 9th thoracic, and 4th lumbar. These need to be kept limber, open, and flowing. Get them massaged and adjusted, and do daily exercises to keep them fluid.
So important is the body's condition that in some cases he actually recommended not practicing deep meditation until the body's health improved.
There are many other activities one can do in preparation for entering into the temple and meeting God. Each of us should study and research them on our own and select what works for us. See the meditation section of this web site. I go into more detail on these in chapters two through five of my book Spiritual Breakthrough: Handbook to God-Consciousness. There are other excellent books available through A.R.E. Press. You may also attend a workshop at a regional program in your area or at a Virginia Beach headquarters' program.
Seek within! You will find.