Friday, February 9, 2007

Ground floor symbolism

The above photograph is a portion of a carpet in a private collection, reproduced here with permission of the owners. (click on the image to see a handsomely enlarged version.)

The design of this carpet is quite simple: a large framed medallion in a repeat. If you inspect it more closely, you’ll see the medallion is composed of a number of flowers, arranged vertically and contained within several larger structures.

It’s not just a pretty design—although we can be entirely comfortable reading it that way! The carpet contains a detailed diagram of the inner energy structures of man—referred to as Chakras by the Hindus, and Centers by Gurdjieff.

Inner centers, like the universe, operate according to the law of octaves, and we can read information about our structure and the work to create a bridge between levels in this carpet.

In the accompanying diagram, I have marked what I believe are the major features of the diagram. “Primary” structures—the centers themselves- are circled. Secondary and auxiliary structures are marked by rectangles.

I have taken the liberty of indicating some structures you may be unfamiliar with based on my own work. It is not possible to outline the exact meaning and nature of some of these auxiliary structures, although they play definite physical roles in man if they are active. However I will offer some commentary on a few interesting features that are more accessible to brief discussion.

The top of the diagram is the 7th Chakra which is Do, or higher intellectual center, in the Gurdjieff system. This center lies outside the rest of the system because it represents energy from a higher level (see my essay “Chakras and the Enneagram” for more detail about this. Available upon request.) It is surrounded by three contact points representing the law of three, which is the higher law whose action is mediated by the higher note Do.

The largest single feature in the diagram is the throat Chakra, a complex structure that includes several auxiliary structures related to the Zen energy practices of piercing the nostrils and tending the ox. (Horns and nostrils.)

The size and significance of this center is interesting. Paramahansa Yogananda identifies the medulla oblongata as the chief apparatus for receiving astral energy. This diagram appears to assign it a similar significance. You’ll furthermore note that the center has a red center, like the solar plexus, which creates a visual relationship between these two important sources of stored spiritual energy.

The other most significant feature of this diagram is the manner in which it depicts the upper and lower stories in man, with the heart serving as the bridge. The upper story is much larger than the lower, symbolically representing man’s effort to allow his higher nature to instruct the lower, rather than the other way around.

Some of the structures in the diagram represent “secret” chakras and other significant points of energy storage, flow and/or blockage. Take for example the very interesting complexity of the solar plexus, often understood as occupying a single specific location. The diagram shows the subsidiary chakras that play important roles in the storage and release of higher energies in this center's work. To be honest, I took a few liberties in creating this diagram and there are some innaccuracies there that probably ought to be addressed.

It may, however, be more interesting for you to find out about that through personal work. A careful study of this carpet, with a further effort to relate it to inner processes, may yield the persistent student with significant insights into the process of opening the inner flowers within the body.

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