Character and Personality
The Foundations of Spiritual Qualities
The tendencies or Gunas are forces within us that are operating at all times, which allows us to constantly adjust, balance and even conquer negative tendencies. In parallel, nature has created discrete steps of spiritual evolution for human beings. The seven pivotal rungs of this ladder were formed over the ages — thousands of years.
The seven steps of spiritual and personal evolution correspond to the seven chakras (energy centers), the essential rungs in the ladder of our ascent to the ultimate spiritual evolution. The three tendencies or gunas are strongly correlated to the three energy channels.
Restating the Gunas from an energy channel standpoint, the Tamasic tendencies dominate when our balance or state of existence in the spiritual plane is tilted disproportionally toward the left energy channel. Likewise, the Rajasic tendencies dominate when our spiritual balance is tilted disproportionally toward the right energy channel. (We’ll discuss how this imbalance in our subtler existence happens in the Realms of Consciousness section.)
The central channel represents the Saatvik tendencies, a state of balance and order. In effect, this means that the path of spiritual ascent proceeds upwards and along the central channel, rather than the left or right energy channels.
The seven chakras occur along all three channels at specific points in our body. The chakras on the central channel are most crucial since they represent the pathway to our spiritual ascent. In fact, the Kundalini energy is the divine force that moves through this central channel by piercing through its chakras. Our spiritual ascent and evolution is actualized by the movement or rising of the Kundalini energy. The clearer the path of the Kundalini, the easier our spiritual ascent.
The Link Between Self-Realization and Personality Development
Once we become Self-Realizing individuals, our lives begin to take on higher meaning and we begin to appreciate the subtler nature of the universe’s creations. This subtler awareness and the improvement of personality and character traits become central aspects in our lives.
In Sahaja meditation, we experience Self-Realization when the Kundalini energy passes through the 7th chakra and unites with the all-pervading power — the source of divine energy. This is the point at which we achieve the most significant breakthrough in our spiritual ascent.
Our subtle energy system of channels and chakras now “goes live.” It is now fully tuned for the Kundalini to flow, connect with the divine energy, and for this divine energy, in turn, to flow reciprocally through us, further nourishing our energy channels and chakras. It’s a positive cycle in which each feeds the other, especially when Sahaja is practiced over the longer term. This process of energizing the chakras results in more strands of the Kundalini energy (a greater portion of the Kundalini, you could say) rising and making a stronger connection to the divine energy of the universe. And in the longer term, we achieve significant, noticeable improvement, thanks to the evolved and strengthened subtle energy system within us.
While this may seem simple and straightforward, other forces influence and facilitate smooth flow of the Kundalini energy upwards through the central energy channel — for example, the diameter of the central energy channel (Sushumna or Brahma nadi) must be large enough to allow the strands of the Kundalini to flow through it easily. This diameter is directly proportional to the degree of certain personality and character qualities within us.
This is the link between personality-character development and spiritual ascent. Thus, our spiritual evolution is ultimately tied to a qualitative or trait-based paradigm. This is perhaps the most challenging aspect for human beings to manage.
The greater the strength of key positive qualities or traits exhibited by us, the easier it is to build the foundational strength in our chakras and channels. And vice versa: the greater the strength and development of our chakras and channels, the greater the manifestation of these qualities in us.
Once again, one feeds the other. Together, they enable us to evolve along the upward evolutionary spiral, improving our personality traits as these positive qualities establish themselves innately within us.
With this reciprocal relationship in mind, let’s take a look at the evolutionary history of the chakras and their associated qualities; in other words, how the 7 steps of the evolutionary ladder evolved over the ages and the principal qualities they represent within us.
Creation of the Chakras and Their Essential Qualities
Nature had a plan for human beings to evolve progressively to higher states of existence and awareness. The seven main chakras were created to represent different levels of awareness within us. During their creation, the chakras also represented the essence of our innate spiritual qualities.
As the chakras evolved, they represented progressively higher states of growth and evolution within us.
The creation and development of the subtle energy system and chakras was simultaneous with the creation of the Universe by the all-pervading, all powerful divine power.
The Fundamental Existence – Bhu: Mooladhara chakra
The first chakra created represents the earth element or the basic state of existence (Bhu in Sanskrit means earth). This was considered the most basic type of awareness. Along with this chakra were also created the basic spiritual qualities of innocence, purity and wisdom, the very basic sense of right and wrong that is present intuitively, naturally and innately within us. When we’re born, we’re completely innocent, devoid of any kind of imbalance or impurity and blessed with the original quality of human awareness or wisdom. The first chakra was also called Mooladhara that can be broken down as “Mool,” or root, and “Adhara,” or basis or support. In other words, these were the first foundational qualities of human beings.
The Power of Creation and Action – Antariksha: Swadisthan chakra
The second level of awareness was created in conjunction with the 2nd chakra (Swadisthan), representing everything or the complete cosmos around us (Bhurvah or Antariksha in Sanskrit). Essentially, Antariksha encompasses all the space that we can see above the earth and all around us. The 2nd chakra represents the basic power of creation and action in us. It may also be thought of as supplying the vital energy necessary for us to perform all our actions and create things. It also represents the power of our attention and all our desires.
The Power of Sustenance – Swaha: Nabhi chakra
The third stage of evolution or awareness (Swaha in Sanskrit) and corresponds to the 3rd chakra or Nabhi whose essential quality is the power of sustenance. This indicates, at a lower level, our ability to sustain ourselves through basic material needs. It also indicates the basic sense of Dharma (cosmic order, virtue, righteousness) that sustains and nourishes us. Another essential quality of this chakra is the ability to seek and evolve to higher states of existence. The quality of contentment within us is therefore, an indirect measure of the strength of this chakra. True contentment implies that we’re almost satisfied when it comes to basic needs and wants, yet we are constantly trying to evolve to higher states of existence on the spiritual and subtler plane.
Human Beings Acquire Emotional Intelligence and Maturity – Manah: Anahat chakra
The fourth stage of awareness is known as Manah in Sanskrit and it technically does not have a direct equivalent in English. (Many have mistaken Manah for the power of the mind.) It can be thought of as the power that grants us emotional intelligence. Manah is the essence of the Heart (4th) chakra. The qualities that represent the essence of this chakra are a feeling of security, confidence, lack of fear, dignified behavior, love and compassion and, in spiritual parlance, qualities of the Spirit within, rather than representations of external, mundane tendencies and behaviors.
Human Beings Become Collective – Janah: Vishuddhi chakra
The fifth stage of spiritual evolution, known as Janah in Sanskrit, is the urge or consciousness within us to communicate and form communities or collectives with others. This is the essence of the 5th or Vishuddhi chakra. In effect, Vishuddhi grants us the powers of communication and coexistence with humanity, important factors in managing the relationships in our lives.
The Pre-Final Stage – Tapah: Agnya chakra
The sixth breakthrough in our awareness, which happened approximately 2000 years ago, is a stage of spiritual evolution called Tapah, in Sanskrit. This is the essence of the Agnya or 6th chakra. The breakthrough was that the balloons of ego and superego (storehouses of our conditionings) in the collective consciousness were collapsed to create a pathway for the Kundalini energy to pass through upward to the final stage. Mastering this level of awareness in us means that when our ego and superego drive us to extremes, we are able to objectively monitor and overcome them. We are also able to exercise forgiveness quite easily, a key factor in avoiding retaliation, retribution, the desire to dominate others and other negative tendencies.
The first five stages of consciousness evolved gradually over the ages, forming the first five chakras and establishing the essence or powers within them. But this sixth stage, however, as you’ll learn in the discussion of the great spiritual masters below, was an even higher evolution, not at all easy to establish. By this time, although human beings had evolved significantly from their basic states of existence, they had also become very complicated. They were often driven by ego and tended to possess many rigid conditionings. Wars, fighting and aggressive-dominance behavior of all kinds had begun to infiltrate civilizations.
The Final Breakthrough Satya: Sahasrara chakra
The final breakthrough in our awareness or consciousness was the creation of the seventh state of awareness called Satya in Sanskrit, which corresponds to the 7th and final chakra, Sahasrara. The essence of Sahasrara is integration — integration of energy from all the other chakras and integration with the collective unconscious, the all-pervading divine energy of the universe. The divine aspect of the Sahasrara chakra is the connection to the absolute. Once we can break through the 7th chakra during meditation, our consciousness extends beyond the relative to the absolute. We rise above the past, present and future into a timeless state and experience the inner joy and bliss of the divine.
Sahasrara represents our ultimate destination, the absolute realization of heaven on earth. As human awareness is united with the divine, we move into the subtlest level of communication, into collective consciousness. In becoming vessels for that universal power, we become one with all other vessels. We come to appreciate the true depth and beauty of others and of the world around us.
How the Great Spiritual Masters Helped Evolve the Subtle Energy System
How did nature evolve these states of awareness and chakras in the subtle energy system? Through the guidance of various incarnations, highly evolved spiritual individuals, saints and prophets— all of whom helped guide the maturation of human civilization. Many of them had tremendous spiritual powers, which allowed them to impact the collective subtle energy system of humans. These incarnations, of course, were direct representatives of the divine and so could contribute to this evolution easily.
The list of important spiritual masters is quite long and longitudinal across time, various beliefs, cultures and countries… Moses, Abraham, Lao Tze, Prophet Muhammad, Confucius, Zarathustra, Guru Nanak, Shirdi Sai, Rama, Krishna, Jesus Christ, Buddha, Mahavira and many, many more. Every one of them played a significant role in achieving breakthroughs in the collective human subtle energy system. Complete details of their specific contributions are available in the Sahaja knowledgeable in advanced stages of the Sahaja practice. This information is available to all; however, it is not recommended that one pursue this knowledge without first experiencing Self-Realization and the state of thoughtless awareness and understanding what the Sahaja meditative experience really is. Why? For one thing, it’s a vast amount of information that’s hard to mentally absorb and simply accept and believe at face value. For another, focusing on acquiring such historical knowledge in the initial stages can actually deter progress by confusing practitioners and triggering unnecessary, elaborate mental processes. It’s more important to focus on the meditative experience, verify your results and determine what’s working for you.
In reality, all of the great saints and incarnations were focused only on spirituality — laying the foundation for the spiritual evolution of humans by actually impacting the subtle energy system at a collective level.
However, in the times that they lived, most of human civilization was spiritually immature and it was difficult for them to make people understand their truths, or, in essence, the plan that nature had for collective spiritual evolution. People who lived in those times could somehow see that these were enlightened humans with special powers and that there was something divine about them, yet, the time was not yet ripe for them to really understand the messages they delivered at the subtler level. They often misunderstood and misinterpreted the teachings of these great spiritual masters, which gave rise to a variety of “spin-off” external beliefs, rituals and practices, yet they didn’t have the necessary knowledge, experience and realization of the need to evolve spiritually from within. They ultimately created the rigid structures and organizations of worship that we recognize as the rigidity, dogma and rituals in the today’s religions.
Yet, the real “behind the scenes” spiritual contributions of these enlightened individuals and the actualization of the subtle energy system remained a secret. This in essence, differentiates spirituality from religion today. Spirituality is the direct access to the subtle energy system within each of us, and thereby to the collective consciousness of the divine power. It makes a direct impact on one’s individual spiritual journey and evolution. It can be felt and experienced on our central nervous systems, tangibly verified, and used to improve our character and personality traits.
Religious beliefs, faiths, structures, rituals and practices without a “live,” underlying spiritual connection are more outward and external representations of spirituality; many, in fact, are mostly man-made. This is not to undermine their importance, for in their absence, mankind might have strayed even further away from the core of spirituality. Something is better than nothing, as they say.
By the time of the evolution of the sixth level of awareness (Tapah, corresponding to the Agnya or 6th chakra) a couple thousand years ago, it had become clear that a tremendous effort of renunciation of “worldly living” and penance was necessary. Thus, the final breakthrough in our awareness or consciousness was the creation of the seventh state of awareness called Satya in Sanskrit, which corresponds to the 7th and final chakra, Sahasrara.
The Final Breakthrough: Access to the Collective Unconscious Through Sahasrara
The final step in evolution of the subtle energy system and human awareness — a giant leap, in fact — was access to the collective unconscious. The world is fortunate (and Sahaja practitioners are quite proud) that Shri Mataji, the founder of the Sahaja technique, was instrumental in achieving this most critical breakthrough for mankind. She was born with a special gift, the ability to understand the subtle energy system and have total control over it. She was an expert in spirituality.
On May 5th, 1970, she discovered a way to make true spiritual meditation accessible to everyone, to allow anyone to connect his/her subtle energy system to the collective unconscious, what she referred to as the “super conscious” region of spirituality.
As a result, Sahaja Yoga was born, and with that birth came a method for providing Self-Realization to human beings relatively easily by awakening the Kundalini, enabling it to flow along the central energy channel beyond the 6th energy center into the 7th energy center and upward into the super conscious realm of consciousness. She tested this method of Self-Realization on small numbers of people at first, to verify the results.
She was looking for a heightened sense of improvement in their personalities, character and spiritual evolution, a new level of awareness that would ultimately transform them.
Starting in the late 70s, she began sharing Self-Realization en masse through this technique to produce deeper, wider-reaching results.
Now anyone could access the collective unconscious, something that had been, thus far, reserved for only a few highly evolved spiritual saints and practitioners, and only after a lifetime of sacrifices, meditation and penance. What had been restricted to a handful of expert gurus was now “mainstream,” with thousands of people now able to access the collective unconscious. This broader access also achieved a form of universal integration. As large numbers of people accessed the higher state of awareness within themselves, they were connected to each other, collectively, at this higher state of existence. Even if the connection was only momentary or sporadic in nature, they could feel and experience each others’ subtle energy systems. They had achieved a sort of a universal integration at the subtle level known as collective consciousness of the divine. And today, this is one of the reasons that collective Sahaja meditation sessions are especially effective: all meditators experience a collective, united force for they are connected to each other through the subtler realm of the super conscious.
The integration of the subtle energy system of individuals with the all-pervading divine power caused the Kundalini energy to flow back into the chakras and channels of each individual who practiced the Sahaja technique.
Once this reciprocal energy flow occurred, all the basic forms of consciousness and their associated qualities automatically began manifesting within practitioners almost effortlessly, although effort was required, through regular meditation, to keep the connection strong. But there’s something else: The opening or piercing of the Sahasrara chakra and the subsequent access to the collective unconscious caused an integration of the individual’s personality as a whole. The individual’s qualities and tendencies manifested and blended together to produce an integrated personality.
The collective unconscious has been spoken about by some pop psychologists over the years, but it doesn’t seem that they’re describing a level of consciousness that was really experienced in a practical manner or elaborated upon. In order to understand the significance of this breakthrough, one must understand the various realms of consciousness.