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by John Davidson

Part 4b
Spinal Correspondences

This series of articles is derived from the authors book,

The Web of Life (publ. C.W. Daniel, 1988)

John Davidson is the author of a series of six books on

Science and Mysticism which look at the natural world from a mystical perspective.

The author is a Cambridge science graduate with a

life-long interest in mysticism.
8 Copyright 1988, 2014
John Davidson

It is an interesting exercise at this point to look at the spine as a whole, according to classical
western physiology and anatomy, comparing its divisions with those of yogic philosophy.
At the base we have the coccyx, a section of fused vertebrae. It is our tail, situated at the most
earthy part of our body, upon which we sit. Here we find the earthy tattwa and the muladhara
chakra governing the organization of solids within the body.
Next, we have the sacral area from which flow the nerves to control the rectum, bladder and
genitalia. These lower areas correspond to the earthy and watery centres from which sexual
polarity, procreative function and bodily fluids are administered. So far, we would seem to be
in correspondence with the classical view of the nervous system and spinal divisions, though
clearly there is an admixture of function as the subtle centres exercise their intermingling
control over the gross physical, through the mechanisms of causative formation.
Third is the fiery or navel, manipuraka centre governing the food factories of the body - the
intestines, the liver, pancreas and so on. Here our classical distinction begins to break down
because the nerves to these systems are associated not only with the third, lumbar section of the
spine, but also with the lower thoracic area below the diaphragm. These western spinal
divisions are, however, somewhat arbitrary and the diaphragm - which separates the operations


of the three lower chakras from the three higher - is in many respects a better division, since it
relates to a specific functional aspect of human anatomy.
Above the diaphragm, we have the upper thoracic and the cervical sections of the spine with
their nerve supply to the heart and lungs. Here we have the heart or hridaya chakra with its
tattwa of air, which correlates well, whilst above that is the throat chakra with its faculty through the mouth - of making intelligent speech, related very closely to the element of akash
and the expression of the content of the antashkarans or the human mind. The throat and mouth
receive their nerve supply from the lower cranial nerves.
The ajna chakra, being above the spine and holding a controlling function over the lower
centres has an exact parallel in the pituitary gland and the hypothalamus, a topic we will be
discussing in a future article.
Finally, it is worth pointing out that the major sense organs are located with a direct neuronal
integration and linkage into the brain and higher mental faculties, including the indriyas or
'mental sense organs'. The senses, being our normal means of experiencing physical reality and
in many people, the only channel for experiencing life, are hence very close, experientially and
anatomically, to our centre of mental attention. In fact, we feel our thinking centre to be right
behind our eyes, the sense organs which we take as our primary means of perception of the
world and through which the major part of our attention flows out into physical 'reality'.
We put our hand to our forehead, for example, when we wish to remember something or when
thinking deeply. We do not strike our knees or any other part of our anatomy!
That the brain and spine are the staff of physical existence is not in dispute. Even
embryologically, the development of the child starts with the growth of the notochord, the
primary pattern for the spine, embryonic development taking place from the central axis
outward. Firstly, the morphogenic patterning of the pranas weaves the subtle tattvic blueprint
into embryonic existence. Once the subtle chakric centres of subtle energy administration are
established in simple form, then the ramifications and complexities can commence with
material substance drawn in from the mother and fitted into the the pattern through the
formative power of the subtle and vacuum matrix.
The cohering and organizational power of the life force from within is a law of nature that is
not recognized by conventional medical science. However, it is a very real force, with a
multitude of ramifications and expressions at the physiological and biochemical level. It is the
presence of this force which keeps living forms alive. The intensely complex tapestry of
biological activity ceases, almost immediately, as soon as it is withdrawn, matter reverting to
the relatively still and simple structure inherent in dead objects and which are maintained in
manifested existence by only a highly diffuse form of the Shabda or primal Creative Word.
How it is that scientific paradigms fail to take account of the significance of the difference
between dead matter and living organisms is a subject for some consideration. For the
assumption that life is caused by biochemical complexity rather than biochemical complexity
being due to the energy of life, is surely both naive and superficial.