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Traditionally such a journey is mapped in nine stages, and each of these stages corresponds with one of the nine closed circuits of which the yantra is composed. In the second line of the square, the adept contemplates his own passions, such as anger, fear, lust, and so on, so as to overcome or conquer them.
First circuit: Trailokyamohana cakra. Generally they are what we experience of the world through sense activity and the crav- ings of our egotism. These represent the ten cakras of the subtle body. Our bodies are the locus of our sense experiences, our likes and dislikes, and our emotions, feel- ings, and responses.
Image courtesy of Madhu —-1 Khanna. It is the task of fire agni in the body to break up solids, transform them, and nour- ish the body at the cellular level. Sixth circuit: Sarvarakshakara cakra.
While the digestive fire is responsible for absorption and the elimination of waste at the physical level, on the symbolic plane, the element of fire represents spiritual transformation from the plane of darkness to the light of awareness, a wiping out of negative emotions and memory traits that separate the devotee from his true identity. These three qualities exist in indi- viduals in varying degrees and are variously manifested: sattva is expressed psychologically as purity, tranquility, and calmness of mind; rajas as passion, egoism, and restlessness; and tamas as resistance to all change.
The devotee can cultivate any of these qualities by his actions and thoughts; ideally, an aspirant will cultivate the sattva element of his nature over rajas or tamas. Ultimately, however, the devotee will strive to overcome even the sattva element, as the ultimate essence is above and beyond all.
Decisiveness guides the psyche to bal- —-1 ance the continuous flux of mental activity.
The noose that the goddess holds in her lower right hand embodies the gross form of desire. Seventh circuit: Sarvarogahara cakra. Eighth circuit: Sarvasiddhiprada cakra. In her upper two arms, the goddess holds a bow and five arrows. The bow symbolizes the higher faculties of cognition that controls the five flowery arrows, symbols of the five gross and five subtle elements that attract our senses but leave us unfulfi lled.
As meditation nears the innermost triangle, a dramatic change takes place with the fading of the goddesses presiding over the previous circuits into the emptiness of the center. The bindu marks the end of the spiritual pilgrimage. Where outer life ends, the inner life begins: there is no shape, no form; all is immersed in the void. The contemplative ritual consists in touching specific spots on the body to infuse it with the energies of the deities who represent all of the symbolic categories de- scribed above.
When the highest stage of exaltation is reached, the yantra is internalized; it becomes a psychic complex. The truth of the cosmos, illuminated in the yantra, is the devotee himself illumined, and his body itself becomes the yantra. After the whole image has been visualized, the adept begins his meditation from the outermost periphery of the figure. He is summoned by and surrenders to ini- tiatory death, through which he is reborn.
When he has attained the sought-after identity, the extended universe of the yantra symbolically collapses into the bindu, which itself vanishes into the void. The adept looks upon himself as an extension of divine consciousness expressing the fundamental unity of creation. His life, like the cosmos, is bound by a purpose; his biologi- cal rhythms are tuned by planetary phenomena. Human existence is ordained and regulated by the governing principles of nature. The cosmos, according to the Tantras, consists of seven ascending planes of existence, starting from earthly, gross existence, and this hierarchy is mirrored in the psychic vortices functioning as invisible yantras in the human body.
Since these cakras embrace the entire psycho-cosmos, each is associated with a sound vi- bration, element, color, deity, or animal symbol.
Its symbol is a square with an inverted triangle. It is ver- milion, and its form is a circle with six petals, containing a white crescent moon. Its symbol is a lotus of ten petals. Within the lotus is a red triangle with three T-shaped swastika marks.
This cakra is the seat of the air element, and is a prime revealer of cosmic sound during meditation. Its seed mantra is the primordial vibration Om. They in- dicate the seven stages of meditation through which the adept works out his identity with the cosmos.
Each of the inner cakras may be meditated upon either independently or with the aid of an external yantra. In pyramidal-shaped yantras, each level of the hierarchy may be identified with each level of the cakras. Moreover, they arise from a reli- gious culture that is not anchored in inflexible dogma. They are a prerequisite of worship and meditation. All Hindu Tantric deities have been assigned their specific yantras. The yantras for medi- tation and ritual worship form a very distinctive group of sacred symbols.
The most impor tant part of the yantra is the center bindu , the point of origin of the linear forces that are gathered around it.
In the first phase, the two principles are harnessed in a unitive embrace. This is a state of pure consciousness, of nondif- ferentiation and unity represented by the inverted triangle in the center of the yantra. The subsequent circuits com- posed through the interlacing of the nine triangles symbolize the manifold world of pure and impure categories.
The diagram so formed is enclosed by two rings of lotus petals and a square. Although this is not immediately apparent, the diagram is divided into nine rings or enclosures.
In the course of meditation, the diagram is understood in the reverse order of involution, mov- ing inward circuit after circuit. Sometimes these deities are depicted through their corresponding mantras and the seed syllables included in the mantras. The Tattva diagram represents the thirty-six categories of creation. Image courtesy of Madhu Khanna.
There are several gradations of practice in which the oneness with the divine is experienced. The highest form of meditation is when the self-luminous light of consciousness is expressed spontaneously. No external worship can begin without re-creating a mental image of the deity. At a generic level, all Hindu forms of rit- ual begin with a contemplative verse to the guru and the deity.
Thereafter follow several acts of invocation and con- secration. Then begins the outer contemplation, before inviting the goddess in the rite of in- vocation. The next phase is entirely devoted to the contemplative worship of the goddess. After its performance, the devotee worships the yantra with external of- ferings and finally takes back the flaming radiance of the goddess into his heart in the rite of dismissal visarjana.
It can be seen that the boundaries between -1— the external and the internal, though well defined, merge and mingle at various 0— junctures of the ritual.
The first part of the commentary describes the meta significance of internal worship. As is the convention, the text opens with a salutation to the preceptors, who are regarded as a fountainhead of the tradition.
According to the text, the universe, the macrocosm, and the microcosm are integrally related. In this form of meditation, the external yantra is transformed into an internal yantra. This is demonstrated in the opening lines of the text in which the nine exits of the body i. Hence it is important to view such yantras not merely as symbols of the cosmos but as symbols of the integrated psycho- cosmos, as reflecting a human-universe continuum. In most, if not all, yantras for meditation, the progressive stages from mate- rial or gross levels are symbolized by square enclosures with four gates opening out to the four directions, while the highest stage of perfection is identified with the bindu in the center.
The number of circuits or enclosures in each yantra is prescribed by tradi- tion and codified in Tantric texts. It can vary considerably. The bindu is a fusion of all directions and of all levels, a point of termination where all is.
From the gates that are his own subconscious forces, the yogi has passed through the circuits to be reunited with the permanent element of the universe. The ultimate state of union is achieved when he experiences the out- petaling of the soul flower, the thousand-petaled lotus, rising out of the crown of the head.
The journey from the periphery to the center of the yantra may be measured physically in a few inches, but psychologically the return to the primordial source represented by the bindu is a vast mental distance, de- manding the discipline of a lifetime. Traditionally such a journey is mapped in nine stages, and each of these stages corresponds with one of the nine closed circuits of which the yantra is composed.
In the second line of the square, the adept contemplates his own passions, such as anger, fear, lust, and so on, so as to overcome or conquer them. First circuit: Trailokyamohana cakra.
Generally they are what we experience of the world through sense activity and the crav- ings of our egotism. These represent the ten cakras of the subtle body. Our bodies are the locus of our sense experiences, our likes and dislikes, and our emotions, feel- ings, and responses.