This is Post 26 in the ‘Meditation Guidance’ series. Summaries of the other articles in this series can be found by clicking here.
It has been the experience of the ancient meditation traditions of India and Tibet that the internal space of the human body is filled with not one but seven different energetic, or somatic, fields – the seven auras, or ‘subtle bodies’. Many readers will already be aware that each deeper layer in the succession of auric layers is slightly larger than the last, so that the layers that are closer to the surface are enclosed within the deeper ones.
An important feature of this spiritual anatomy that readers may not be aware of however, is the way the polarity of the layers alternates between receptive and expansive – yin and yang – and in way that is opposite in the two sexes. I have outlined this phenomenon in previous posts (here and here) and will be returning to it – this understanding is essential, in my view, for the meditator, and provides wonderful insights into the very different emotional life of men and women.
An understanding of the ways in which these fields of our spiritual anatomy interpenetrate each other and interact, is very useful information for the meditator. Of the seven fields, by far the most important are the first four, which I have been calling the surface bodies – these are somatic fields through which our sense of ‘being a person’ finds a sense of energetic embodiment. While these four key subtle bodies, and the relationships between them, are most comprehensively described by the meditation mandalas of Tibetan Buddhism, the implicit description of embodied Consciousness that we find in the four brahmavihāras of early Buddhism (and in the pre-Buddhist teaching of the four brahmavihāras) gives us a much simpler ‘way in’ to this mandala wisdom.
Each of the subtle bodies is felt most keenly at the points in the body that we call the chakras. So, as previously in connection with the Mental Body and the subtle Physical Body (which I described here and here), we will find it useful in understanding our experience of the Emotional Body when we are resting as Consciousness, if we look briefly at the traditional Indian description of the Solar Plexus Chakra, which is outlined below.
The Manipūra Chakra – City of Jewels
The traditional Indian name of the third chakra, the chakra at the Solar Plexus, is maṇipūra, which is a Sanskrit word made up of the word maṇi, which means ‘jewel’, and pūra, which means city or place. Maṇipūra gives us an image of a sort of paradise – a place of extraordinary wealth and beauty – sparkling and radiant. In this context, the image of a landscape glittering with jewels is being used to symbolise not only ultimate beauty and value, but also unlimited ease, grace, contentment and happiness – a world of pleasurable and joyful feelings. Continue reading