Wednesday, July 1, 2015

A Paper on Mormon Doctrine and Kundalini Yoga (Part 6): The Third Eye Chakra

The Baptisms and the Chakras: A Comparison of 2 Nephi 31:13 and Kundalini Yoga (Part 6 of 7)

Ajna (The Third Eye Chakra)

If anahata is spirit seen from the perspective of matter and if visuddha leaves the physical behind to see spirit as a kind of matter in itself, [1] ajna shows that spirit and matter are ultimately not different, even that they are two sides of the same coin. It is here that Kundalini/Shakti reunites with Shiva. The divinity in earth has risen high enough to meet her partner above, effectively “[bringing] down Zion from above [and bringing] up Zion from beneath.” [2] This is the state Mahayana Buddhists refer to as a perception of advaya or nonduality—in which differences reveal themselves as ultimately interdependent and correspondent—and which is the goal of Zen meditation. This is perhaps also what a poem by Lisel Muller entitled “Monet Refuses the Operation” alludes to when it says:
"I will not return to a universe of objects that don’t know each other, as if islands were not the lost children of one great continent. The world is flux, and light becomes what it touches, becomes water, lilies on water, above and below water, becomes lilac and mauve and yellow and white and cerulean lamps, small fists passing sunlight so quickly to one another that it would take long, streaming hair inside my brush to catch it. To paint the speed of light! Our weighted shapes, these verticals, burn to mix with air and change our bones, skin, clothes to gasses. Doctor, if only you could see how heaven pulls earth into its arms and how infinitely the heart expands to claim this world, blue vapor without end.” [3]
Perhaps the cataracts that Monet refused to have cured were not a defect but were actually a superior way of seeing. Maybe ajna’s “third eye” is likewise not some mystically penetrative vision, but rather a sight that blurs together the two-eyed differences of heaven and earth, mind and matter, and eternity and time until the single world behind their dualities appears. When Joseph Smith said that “by proving contraries, truth is made manifest,” perhaps he meant something along those lines—that only an “eye single to the glory of God” [4] can look past the duplicity of opposites to their common underlying reality.

In ajna, the living are also dead and the dead are also alive. Such a reading of our ordinances for the dead would conclude that, as “we without them cannot be made perfect; neither can they without us be made perfect,” [5] the work we do for our ancestors effectively blurs the lines between life and death, letting us “fall upon their necks”[6] as the dead manifest themselves in the translucent matter of living flesh. For ajna’s revelation is that heaven and earth are not different—resurrection happens when the dividing line between the two (visuddha’s bridge) collapses, leaving only the unified celestial world. Then the word “apocalypse” shows itself in its original Greek meaning: literally, an “unveiling.” The seas need not boil and the stars need not fall from heaven for the earth to become purified; what stains her is the obfuscation of our idolatry, that which forcefully interposes idols between us and the divine backdrop to all things, so that all which needs to be “destroyed” is our idolatrous attitude toward objects and people. In other words, the veil needs to be ripped asunder; the earth must become glass.

Then we can join figures like Joseph Smith, Emanuel Swedenborg, St. Teresa of Avila, and Hildegard Von Bingen—those who could see heaven in earth, with their opened monocular “third eye”—in enjoying visions of celestial glory while still alive on this seemingly soiled planet. Joseph writes of “the visions that roll like an overflowing surge before my mind,” [7] implying that he had a continual witness of things as they are celestially, and Swedenborg tells of his ability to switch between his spiritual and physical sights at will. Even Jesus says in the apocryphal Gospel of Thomas, when asked “when will the new world come?” that: “What you are looking for has come, but for your part you do not know it.”[8] When ajna manifests itself in our world, when our very eyes become a kind of Urim and Thummim, the celestial world will be unveiled, and we will all realize that heaven never was far away, for it has always lain close around us.

Today, though, however closely we may bring the “not-here” to the “here” through our digital and transportation infrastructure, none of this effort to satisfy our desires for “what lies yonder” will work. In the world of veils and opacity, “there” will always be “there”—there will always be some new gadget, another exciting dating prospect, some even more titillating pornography. This is the way of the world—what Adam S. Miller refers to when he defines sin as “a refusal of givenness.” [9] When we sin, we refuse to see that the grace of the yonder is already given in the “here,” and we also refuse to accept that grace as we blindly chase after the end of some ever-receding rainbow. To accept grace and to be purified from sin is to trust that the not-here for which we search is already incarnate in the here. I thus stop fretting—no longer do I have to seek for the pleasures of illicit sex, the intoxication of alcohol, or the unstable security of pride—everything I could ever ask for is already given to me, for one whose eye is single to God’s glory already “comprehendeth all things.” [10] The divinity I blindly sought after in physical idols then transforms those idols into translucent icons, as matter now becomes less an obstacle to the divine than a window to it. Shakti reunites with Shiva, and all things are “[gathered] together in one.”[11] Love triumphs over disunity as all things reveal themselves as faces of all else.

In this ultimate consummation of Christ’s “at-one-ment,” all sense of inadequacy or futility ceases. It’s all here—thou art that—and I don’t need to seek after it anywhere else. If I undergo action, I now do it not from lack but from excess—I do works to glorify God, as a kind of dance to celebrate His majesty, a performance to further show the world the grace of the yonder as it is given in the here. I then perfectly understand the closing lines of Adam S. Miller’s Letters to a Young Mormon:
"What are eternal lives like? They’re just like this. They’re like disagreeing with your wife. They’re like doing the dishes with your husband. They’re like reading to your kids. They’re like going to work or mowing the lawn. They’re like sitting in a chair. They’re like sleeping through the night or getting up before dawn. They’re like visiting your mother. They’re like eating a cookie. They’re like being born and getting old. They’re like dying. What are eternal lives like? They…are like you." [12]
With ajna’s unitive vision, all things bleed into each other, so that the whole chain of gods collapses into my book, my sister, my Sunday school class. “See a world in a grain of sand and heaven in a wildflower,” says William Blake, and I would also urge the reader to see the far-off majesty of distant worlds as they reveal themselves in this world’s technicolor, to “hie to Kolob” on a Frontrunner train. So doing, my body becomes a world, and the world becomes my body. Nothing is foreign; it’s still there, but it’s here all the same.

[1] D&C 131:7-8
[2] D&C 84:100
[3] Mueller, Lisel. Second Language: Poems. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1986.
[4] D&C 4:5
[5] D&C 128:18
[6] Moses 7:63
[7] Teachings of the Presidents: Joseph Smith, chapter 45
[8] Gospel of Thomas, 51
[9] Miller, Adam S. Rube Goldberg Machines: Essays in Mormon Theology. Salt Lake City: Greg Kofford Books, 2012.
[10] D&C 88:67
[11] D&C 27:13
[12] Miller, Adam S., Letters to a Young Mormon.


  1. I haven't wept like that in years. To the author of this luminous piece of writing, I wish to share my gratitude. It was no mistake that my hungry searching brought me here today, and I thank you for the milk and honey. For years, I have tried to reconcile my LDS upbringing with the truth and light which i've collected along my own wayward path. It's evident I need to reacquaint my knees to the floor, bend in humility, and open up an old line of communication. Thank you.

  2. Thank you for this. I’ve been trying to see how everything fits together.