Yogic Neuroscience: The Brain and the Thousand-Petal Lotus of the Head

 

By Dr David Frawley a.k.a. Pandit Vamadeva Shastri

The thousand-petal lotus of the head or the crown chakra is the highest of the seven chakras. It contains the powers of all the chakras below it, which can be viewed as different aspects or facets of its energy. From the standpoint of modern science we can call this chakra of the head as the “inner brain” or “spiritual brain,” the essence of intelligence, which is reflected in a limited manner in the outer workings of the physical brain.

When the outer brain becomes quiet, the inner brain spontaneously comes into function. This is the spiritual secret of our higher evolution in consciousness that the ancient yogis and rishis of the Himalayas knew and understood.

The inner brain has tremendous creativity, deep calm and powerful insights far beyond the capacities of the outer brain that is largely mechanical, instinctual and emotional in its reactions. Only when we learn to access this inner brain can we go beyond our human conditioning and its conflict-promoting patterns rooted in personal memory and collective history.

Evolutionary, cultural and spiritual advances generally occur when we become able to access the inner brain and its higher powers of vision and insight. While this is usually temporary, if not vicarious, we can learn to promote the functioning of the inner brain as our natural state of awareness.

In the ordinary human being, the inner brain is largely dormant, only coming into function in special moments of inspiration, genius, discovery, insight, or love. Few of us know how to keep it awaken within us. The inner brain can be developed by yogic and Vedic practices, in which its higher awareness centers are approached in a systematic manner, not simply as an experiment but as a way of life.

The outer brain carries conditioned responses that promote division and violence through emphasizing separative identities, power and control in the external world. Its focus is the ego, which is an attempt to assert ourselves over other people and over nature as a whole. The ego-mind is a legacy of the past and gets us caught in destructive programmed reactions, rather than facilitating creative responses that promote unity and harmony. The inner brain reflects the eternal present and is not bound by time. It can hold all time in a single space, and envision the past and future in a single continuum.

This means that the outer brain is the conditioned “old brain” caught in memory. The inner brain is the “new brain” that can develop direct perception in the present. The inner brain is more active in children, but our educational systems shut it down by encouraging mechanical learning rather than creative exploration.

For human evolution and for social peace we must learn to activate the inner brain. This is more than a matter of the right technology, which can be helpful, particularly in measuring how the inner brain comes into manifestation, but it also requires the tools of higher awareness through Vedic and dharmic teachings.

We can identify the inner or spiritual brain of the thousand-petal lotus with Soma, the amrit or nectar of immortality of yogic thought. The thousand-petal lotus is called the Soma center in Vedic thought. (Note my book “Soma in Yoga and Ayurveda: the Power of Rejuvenation and Immortality.”) Activating this inner brain will also aid in rejuvenation and revitalization of the physical body.

We can also correlate the Soma and inner brain with the Tarpak Kapha of Ayurveda, the form of Kapha that lubricates the brain and nervous system and is responsible for contentment, happiness, harmony, equilibrium and countering pain. Through controlling Tarpak Kapha we can control our brain chemistry and go beyond the need for medicinal or recreational drugs to do this for us.

Meditation

Meditation is the main tool to access the inner brain, as it silences the outer brain to allow the inner brain to work. But meditation of this higher nature is hard to achieve directly when the outer brain is active and has not been disciplined. This is particularly true today when our brains have been bombarded by and conditioned to extensive electrical impulses through technology, the mass media and the internet.

Mantra

First we need to calm and silence the outer brain, which requires removing its deep seated conditioning that is largely beyond the control of our conscious minds. This conditioning of the outer brain is linked to the vibratory pattern of memory that is rooted in the habitual movements of our breath and senses. Such conditioning reflects both collective and individual influences and is embedded not only the brain but also in the organs and cells of the body. We need to change how we think, breathe, and look at the world and ourselves in order to alter these tenacious patterns. For this we need a specific methodology for changing the vibration of the brain.

Mantra is the main tool for changing the vibratory pattern of the brain and the mind. There are specific mantras for each individual that can be used in order to counter the outer sound disturbances of the brain and open up the inner vibratory resonances of higher awareness, compassion and creativity. Once the outer brain is attuned to the mantra it can be connected to the inner brain, which in turn has the potential of linking us with cosmic intelligence, and to non-embodied pure consciousness that pervades all space and time.

The thousand-petal lotus is the chakra of a thousand syllables or all mantric combinations. To approach it requires that we develop an intuitive sense of the essence of sound vibration, which is the vibration of pure consciousness within and around us. This is a sense of harmony and unity with all, not simply as a conception, but as the underlying vibration of our being that is one with all existence.

Sounds convey meaning, which has an affinity with sound. At the highest level, sound is meaning, not as verbal sound but as the vibration of awareness. That non-localized, undifferentiated or unmanifest meaning is the oneness of all things in the universe, which is the message of Divine love, bliss and unity that is the origin and end of all. All things convey that essence of pure existence as their inner meaning, above and beyond any outer meanings, indications or associations that they may have.

Conclusion

Such yogic methods, mantra and meditation enable us change brain chemistry and activate higher brain centers in a transformative manner. This allows us to reach our full human potential and go beyond it to a greater evolution of consciousness. There is much more that could be said about this topic and many other helpful practices. What we have presented here is an introduction to a vast subject that needs profound exploration and research.