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The Soul and its Mechanism - The Seven Centers of Force
As the foregoing quotation refers to the Tantrik system, it should be noted that reference is made to an Indian system of energy control safe only for those of the highest moral character and purity of life and thought. Certain degraded practices and schools, occurring both in the East and the West, teaching so-called Tantrik practices cannot be too severely condemned.

These force centers are not merely situated up the spinal column and in the head as we have just shown, but they are related to one another through the medium of the spinal column - a relationship too intricate to be detailed here.

Of the seven centers, two are in the head and five in the spinal column. The two centers in the head have a direct relation to the faculties of mind and motion. The sahasrara center (head center) called usually the thousand-petalled lotus, is the embodiment of spiritual energy, demonstrating as Will, as the abstract or spiritual mind, and as the intuition. The ajna center, or the center between the eyebrows, concerns the lower mind and psychic nature of that integrated organism we call man, the personality.

The five centers in the spinal column concern the varying activities of the organism as the man demonstrates his animal instinct, his emotional reactions and his life intention. They are largely directed by the force pouring into and issuing from the head centers.

In The Serpent Power it is stated that: [116]

"The centers influence not only the muscular combinations concerned in volitional movements, but also the functions of vascular innervation, secretion, and the like, which have their proximate centers in the spinal cord. The cerebral centers are said, however, to control these functions only in relation with the manifestations of volition, feeling, and emotion; whereas the spinal centers with the subordinate sympathetic system are said to constitute the mechanism of unconscious adaptation, in accordance with the varying conditions of stimuli which are essential to the continued existence of the organism. The Medulla, again, is also both a path of communication between the higher centers and the periphery and an independent center regulating functions of the greatest importance in the system. It is to be noted that the nerve fibers which carry motor impulses descending from the brain to the spinal cord cross over rather suddenly from one side to the other on their way through the spinal bulb (medulla), a fact which has been noted in the Tantras in the description of the Mukta Triveni. The latter is connected by numerous afferent and efferent tracts with the cerebellum and cerebral ganglia. Above the cerebellum is the cerebrum, the activity of which is ordinarily associated with conscious volition and ideation and the origination of voluntary movements. The notion of Consciousness, which is the introspective subject matter of psychology, must not, however, be confused with that of physiological function. There is therefore no organ of consciousness, simply because 'Consciousness' is not an organic conception, and has nothing to do with the physiological conception of energy, whose inner introspective side it presents. Consciousness in itself is the Atma. Both mind and body, of which latter the brain is a part, are imperfect or veiled expressions of Consciousness, which in the case of body is so veiled [117] that it has the appearance of unconsciousness. The living brain is constituted of gross sensible matter (Mahabhuta) infused by Prana. Its material has been worked up so as to constitute a suitable vehicle for the expression of consciousness in the form of mind (Antahkarana). As consciousness is not a property of the body, neither is it a mere function of the brain. The fact that mental consciousness is affected or disappears with disorder of the brain proves the necessity of the latter for the expression of such consciousness, and not that consciousness is inherent alone in brain or that it is the property of the same. On each side of the vertebral column there is a chain of ganglia connected with nerve fiber, called the sympathetic cord (Ida and Pingala), extending all the way from the base of the skull to the coccyx. This is in communication with the spinal cord. It is noteworthy that there is in the thoracic and lumbar regions a ganglion of each chain corresponding with great regularity to each spinal nerve, though in the cervical region many of them appear to be missing; and that extra large clusters of nervous structure are to be found in the region of the heart, stomach, and lungs, the regions governed by the Anahata, Manipura, and Vishuddha, respectively, the three upper of the five Chakras hereinafter described. From the sympathetic chain on each side nerve fibers pass to the viscera of the abdomen and thorax. From these, nerves are also given off which pass back into the spinal nerves, and others which pass into some of the cranial nerves; these are thus distributed to the blood vessels of the limbs, trunk, and other parts to which the spinal or cranial nerves go. The sympathetic nerves chiefly carry impulses which govern the muscular tissue of the viscera and the muscular coat of the small arteries of the various tissues. It is through the sympathetic that the tone of the [118] bloodvessels is kept up by the action of the vaso-motor center in the spinal bulb. The sympathetic, however, derives the impulses which it distributes from the central nervous system; these do not arise in the sympathetic self. The impulses issue from the spinal cord by the anterior roots of the spinal nerves, and pass through short branches into the sympathetic chains. The work of the sympathetic systems controls and influences the circulation, digestion, and respiration.

The anatomical arrangement of the central nervous system is excessively intricate, and the events which take place in that tangle of fiber, cell and fibril, are, on the other hand, even now almost unknown. And so it has been admitted that in the description of the physiology of the central nervous system we can as yet do little more than trace the paths by which impulses may pass between one portion of the system and another, and from the anatomical connections deduce, with more or less probability, the nature of the physiological nexus which its parts form with each other and the rest of the body. In a general way, however, there may (it is said) be reasons to suppose that there are nervous centers in the central system related in a special way to special mechanisms, sensory, secretary, or motor, and that centers, such as the alleged genito-spinal center, for a given physiological action exist in a definite portion of the spinal cord. It is the subtle aspect of such centers as expressions of consciousness (Chaitanya) embodied in various forms of Maya Shakti which is here called Chakra. These are related through intermediate conductors with the gross organs of generation, micturition, digestion, cardiac action, and respiration in ultimate relation with the Muladhara, Svadhisthana, Manipura, Anahata, and Vishuddha Chakras respectively, just as tracts have been assigned in special, even if not exclusive, relation with [119] various perceptive, volitional, and ideative processes."
- Avalon, Arthur, The Serpent Power, pp. 126-129.

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