Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Seven Stages of Spiritual Development (or, the Seven Chakras)

I have been meaning to get to a certain point in my previous blogs, but kept getting side tracked. I discovered that within scripture there is much hidden knowledge, much more than I thought. I recently stumbled across the possibility that the seven days of creation may in fact refer to the seven (or eight) spiritual chakras described in Eastern religions. This has taken me by surprise, and has been the subject of my thoughts for the last few days.

The Bible has a literal sense to its words, upon which most people reflect, but there is a hidden spiritual meaning behind every word. That this was so, was indicated by the parables of Jesus, and by the visions received by Emanuel Swedenborg. Despite the fact that the Bible is actually a collection of books written by different authors, the internal symbolism is consistent.

In the literal sense of scripture, the seven days of creation refer to the creation of the universe. Here is a summary of what was created on the seven days:

1. Light separated from darkness.
2. The waters below (the seas) separated from the waters above (the blue sky).
3. Dry land separated from the seas.
4. Sun, moon and stars.
5. Fish and birds.
6. Animals and man.
7. The day of rest.

Swedenborg examined the symbolism of this passage and showed that it refers to seven stages of spiritual development, a creation of a new spiritual being, as follows:

Stage 1: Out of Darkness into the Light of Truth

In our initial sinful state, from the time we are born to right before regeneration, is represented as being "formless and void". When we start to learn the truth, especially spiritual truth, we learn how to separate truth (light) from falsity (darkness). We walk in darkness as long as we follow the path of the selfish ego. Light dawns when we become aware that this is evil, and that there is a higher love, a potential for spiritual happiness.

Stage 2: Temptation, Trials and Sorrows

Once we learn what is good, and what is evil, when spiritual truth dawns upon us we will inevitably turn our eyes inward and see what is false and evil within our own character. This is a period of temptation, a period where one has to fight against internal habits and desires. A "flood" of water which destroys everything represents a flood of temptation to do evil. The "firmament" (or upper expanse) which divides the waters above from those below is one's internal spirit, which begins to develop in this phase. The external body will fight with the internal things of the spirit, until the two are distinguished.

Stage 3: Doing Good, and Knowing Truth, from one's own effort

On the third day land was created, and seeds grew into trees and bore fruit. The seed is the initial seed of thought planted in the mind, and at this stage it has grown where one starts to do good deeds - and good deeds are called "fruits" in scripture. Thus John the Baptist told people to "bear fruits worthy of repentance", and Jesus said every man is known by the fruit they bear. The stage of repentance was the stage of temptation. Now one commits to changing one's life, and one starts to bear fruit.

Stage 4: Spiritual Enlightenment

With stage four, things start to change, and this is represented by animated objects, instead of inanimate objects in the first three stages. The first three stages are successive changes in one's own internal thoughts. Now successive changes take place in one's own heart. Love is represented by the Sun. Thoughts originating from that Love get reflected into the mind, this is represented by the Moon and the stars. Whereas stage three things were changing from one's own effort, now in stage four, love, truth and internal light springs forth from the heart. Sun, moon and stars also represent the three spiritual heavens - showing there is more internal communion with heaven at this stage.

Stage 5: A Confident Faith confirmed in one's Life 

Day five was when fish and birds were created, to dwell in the waters. The birds represent higher rational and intellectual thoughts which belong to one's internal spirit, and the fish below factual knowledge in one's external memory. All of one's knowledge receives new spiritual life. To be a "fisherman" in the Word, means one who teaches others. One lives by the truth in this stage.

Stage 6: A Life of Good Intentions from the Heart

Whereas "birds" and "fish" represented one's internal thoughts enlightened by spiritual truth, "animals" and "man" here represent things of the will. Except now, anything we do that is good is acknowledged to originate from God, and not ourselves. We become the image of God inasmuch as we do good.

Stage 7: Communion with God

This final stage, represented by a day of rest on the Sabbath, is one of perfect communion with God. Few reach this state, and as such, is harder to describe. Each successive state is more internal than the first, and the majority of people do not even go past stage one or two. To rest from one's labors, means to do nothing from one's self. It is a letting go of the ego, where it almost no longer exists. And yet, it is a state of utter happiness. At the beginning, the selfish ego was everything, in the final stage, it is nothing.

An ancient teaching, that has been introduced to the West in the last few decades, involves a breathing technique to open up seven points of energy, called chakras, along the spine. This energy is imagined to be a coiled serpent around a tree - thus some have speculated that the serpent in the garden of Eden may be related to it. It is called kundalini. Could the seven days be a mythical teaching of the seven chakras, that get successively opened in spiritual development?

There are a variety of teachings on the chakras, but all are quite similar in their basic ideas. According to the Wikipedia, the seven chakras (in some systems, eight) are as follows:


Sahasrara or the crown chakra is generally considered to be the chakra of consciousness. Its role may be envisioned somewhat similar to that of the pituitary gland, which secretes hormones to communicate to the rest of the endocrine system and also connects to the central nervous system via the hypothalamus. The thalamus is thought to have a key role in the physical basis of consciousness. Symbolised by a lotus with a thousand petals, it is located above the head outside the body.


Ajna (along with Bindu, either or both are considered to correspond to the third eye) is linked to the pineal gland which may inform a model of its envisioning. Ajna is held as the chakra of time, awareness and of light. The pineal gland is a light sensitive gland that produces the hormone melatonin which regulates sleep and awakening. Symbolised by a lotus with two petals.
(Note: some opine that the pineal and pituitary glands should be exchanged in their relationship to the Crown and Brow chakras, based on the description in Arthur Avalon's book on kundalini called Serpent Power or empirical research.)


Vishuddha (also Vishuddhi) or the throat chakra may be envisioned as relating to communication and growth, growth being a form of expression. This chakra is paralleled to the thyroid, a gland that is also in the throat and which produces thyroid hormone, responsible for growth and maturation. Symbolised by a lotus with sixteen petals.


Anahata or the heart chakra is related to complex emotion, compassion, love, equilibrium and well-being. It is related to the thymus, located in the chest. The thymus is an element of the immune system as well as being part of the endocrine system. It produces T cells responsible for fending off disease and may be adversely affected by stress. Symbolised by a lotus with twelve petals. See also heartmind.


Manipura (also Nabhi) or the solar plexus chakra is related to the transition from simple or base to complex emotion, energy, assimilation and digestion, and is held to correspond to the roles played by the pancreas and the outer adrenal glands, the adrenal cortex. These play a valuable role in digestion, the conversion of food matter into energy for the body. Symbolised by a lotus with ten petals.


Swadhisthana or the sacral chakra is located in the groin and is related to base emotion, sexuality and creativity. This chakra is considered to correspond to the testicles or the ovaries that produce the various sex hormones involved in the reproductive cycle which may cause dramatic mood swings. Symbolised by a lotus with six petals.


Muladhara or the base or root chakra is related to instinct, security, survival and also to basic human potentiality. This centre is located in the region between the genitals and the anus. Although no endocrine organ is placed here, it is said to relate to the inner adrenal glands, the adrenal medulla, responsible for the fight and flight response when survival is under threat. In this region is located a muscle that controls ejaculation in the sexual act in the human male. A parallel is charted between the sperm cell and the ovum where the genetic code lies coiled and the kundalini. Symbolised by a lotus with four petals.
Most eastern teachings teach a method of opening the bottom chakra, and from there the upper ones in succession. Rudolph Steiner taught a method in the exact opposite direction: from the top down, which he called the Christos path. He stated that this way has not been available for much of humanity's history. There is much teaching on this topic. Does it have any bearing in fact? I found the following very interesting:

Chakras and the endocrine system

"The primary importance and level of existence of chakras is posited to be in the psyche. However, there are those who believe that chakras have a physical manifestation as well. Some authors allege that there is a relationship between the positions and functions of the chakras, and of the various organs of the endocrine system (Sivananda 1953). It is noted by many that there is a marked similarity between the positions and roles described for chakras, and the positions and roles of the glands in the endocrine system, and also by the positions of the nerve ganglia (also known as "plexuses") along the spinal cord (branching to plexuses by endocrine glands or organs), opening the possibility that two vastly different systems of conceptualization have been brought to bear to systemize insights about the same phenomenon. By some, chakras are thought of as having their physical manifestation in the body as these glands, and their subjective manifestation as the associated emotional, mental and spiritual experiences."

Thus an ancient way of teaching for the spirit may in fact be reflected in a physical manner, in the human body. Endocrine glands are ones without ducts, and release hormones directly into the blood stream. The life of the soul resides in the blood. Maybe this is why blood is so sacred in many ancient rituals. Moreover, Swedenborg stated that everything physical was a symbolic manifestation of something spiritual, and he stated that the ultimate symbolic manifestation of heaven itself is the Human Form. He went as far as stating that all of heaven has the form of a Divine Human.

So, now lets take things a step further. Is there in fact, a relationship between the seven days of creation and the seven (or eight) chakras? If we understand the symbolic significance of the seven days of creation, they are in fact a way of explaining the seven stages of spiritual development. As for chakras, there are different teachings, and I am not familiar with all of them, but again, they describe seven (or eight) stages of meditation. Instead of relying on religious texts, which can contain errors, why not compare the seven phases of creation with the seven glands of the endocrine system? Is there a correspondence between the two? I started to delve into researching the endocrine system in our human anatomy, and this is what I uncovered:

1. The Pineal Gland

The pineal gland resides at the center of our brain, and some have surmised it is the seat of our soul. The book, The Spirit Molecule, says that the drug DMT is produced from this gland, but this is unproven. Its function? It produces melatonin. Melatonin production is triggered by darkness, and inhibited by light. The pineal gland receives signals from our eyes, and helps govern our circadian rhythm - when we should sleep, and when we should wake up. Hmmm, well thats interesting, because:

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light.
And God saw the light, that it was good:
and God divided the light from the darkness.
And God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night.
And the evening and the morning were the first day. Gen. 1:3-5

2. The Pituitary Gland

Proceeding from top to bottom, the next gland we encounter is the pituitary gland. Its function? Well several, they include growth, blood pressure, breast milk production, uterine contractions, sex organ functions, thyroid gland function, metabolism, and water and osmolarity regulation in the body. This last one caught my attention. What is osmolarity? Look at this:

"Osmotic pressure is the hydrostatic pressure produced by a solution in a space divided by a semipermeable membrane due to a differential in the concentrations of solute."

A semipermeable membrane? You mean a firmament or expanse between two systems of water?

And God said, Let there be a firmament in the midst of the waters, and let it divide the waters from the waters. And God made the firmament, and divided the waters which were under the firmament from the waters which were above the firmament: and it was so. Gen. 1:6-7

3. The Thyroid Gland

What is the primary function of this gland? It produces thyroxine, which is "involved in controlling the rate of metabolic processes in the body and influencing physical development." It also produces Triiodothyronine, which "affects almost every process in the body, including body temperature, growth, and heart rate." It also produces calcitonin, which influences bone development.

If we understand Biblical symbolism, the external body is represented by the "earth". And on the third day, God created dry land. Bones are as dry as you can get.

4. The Thymus Gland

This has been associated with the heart chakra, as the thymus gland dwells near the region of the heart. And the fourth stage of spiritual development, was an opening of the heart, that is, love. On the fourth day, bodies of light were created to separate the day from the night. The primary function of the thymus? White blood cell production. They are central to our immune system, for protecting good cells from foreign invaders. And that is what love is, choosing what is good and keeping the evil out. It is represented by our immune system.

5. The Adrenal Gland

We all know this one: adrenaline is produced for our fight or flight mechanism, when we our under stress our threatened. It is highly linked to our blood pressure. The adrenal gland sits on top of each kidney, the area that has the most water. It can pump adrenaline into our blood at a moment's notice. The fifth stage of development was that of spiritual enlightenment, and teaching, and truth will often be at war fighting against what is false. The adrenal gland represents this state of spiritual development.

6. The Pancreas

This gland releases digestive fluids into our intestines, so that the food can be processed. And what happened on the sixth day?

And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat. And to every beast of the earth, and to every fowl of the air, and to every thing that creepeth upon the earth, wherein there is life, I have given every green herb for meat: and it was so. Gen. 1:29-30

7. The Testis (male) or Ovary (female)

The seventh day is a day of rest. What to do next? Reproduce and start over! Thus the seventh state is represented by the sexual organs. Thus after the seventh day we have a description of Adam and Eve, tempted by the serpent, coiled around a tree. They join and reproduce. The union of a male and female represents one angel in heaven.

The seven glands of the endocrine system seem to be physical manifestations of the seven stages of spiritual development, which is hidden in the myth of the seven days of creation. The implication is that the chakras need to be opened up to down, as Rudolph Steiner proposed, not down to up, as stated in Eastern mysticism. Moreover, we can judge the truth behind any system of kundalini awakening, by comparing the chakra description to the function of the endocrine gland, recently discovered by modern science.

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