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Rishi
22 December 2007, 11:47 PM
'As above, so below' is a fundamental axiom in the field of metaphysics. It has been incorporated into a variety of religions and philosophies from around the world, particularly in India. One of the most unique concepts found within general Hinduism is the belief that the entire universe, in fact EVERYTHING that exists outside our bodies also exists inside our bodies too (in both a figurative AND a literal sense). The reason why this is believed is because the Vedic conception of the universe is comparable to that of a fractal. A fractal is known for its self-repeating nature and the universe as described in the Vedas is mentioned as having the same patterns reproduced in all levels of the cosmos. Thus, the Upanishads boldly declare 'whatever is in the macrocosm is also in the microcosm'. The microcosm is oneself and the macrocosm is the universe. The macrocosm is as the microcosm and vice versa; within each lies the other and through understanding one (usually the microcosm), you can understand the other. The jiva (individual soul) is nothing but a kind of mirror of the universal soul (Brahman) - each individual soul contains the cosmos as a whole. Ayurveda says: "Purushoyam loka sannidah"---"Man is an epitome of the universe". When you know man, you know the universe. Yajur Veda reveals the same truth: "Yatha pinde tatha brahmande, yatha brahmande tatha pinde"---"As is the individual, so is the universe, as is the universe, so is the individual". In Vedic cosmology, there are 14 lokas (planetary systems) within this universal egg or sphere. 7 of them are usually classed as 'lower' planetary systems and their names, in descending order, are as follows: Atala,
Vitala, Sutala, Talatala, Mahatala, Rasatala and Patala.
In much the same vein, there are another 7 lokas which are classed as 'higher' planetary systems and their names, in ascending order, are as follows: Bhuloka, Bhuvarloka, Svargaloka, Maharloka, Janaloka, Tapoloka and Satyaloka.
Bhuloka is often known as the 'earthly planetary system' because it's the planetary system that contains the Earth (but is not limited to the Earth by any means). Bhuvarloka exists in-between Bhuloka and Svargaloka ('svarga' means 'heaven'). According to Vedic cosmology (if I have understood it correctly), only one planetary system is visible to the naked human eye: Bhuloka.
Everything in the cosmos that has been mapped by our telescopes fits neatly into this planetary system. Bhuloka is the grossest system in terms of the physical nature of beings and objects. Bhuvarloka and Svargaloka are subtle higher-dimensional localities. These subtle dimensions cannot be perceived by our regular senses. Also, the higher one progressively travels along the planetary systems, the subtler the planetary systems or lokas become. In any case, I digress. As the title of this thread suggests, one need not travel outwardly to go from one loka to another. It can be an inward journey. There are 7 major chakras that belong to our astral bodies and each of these 7 chakras corresponds to certain plexuses along the spinal cords of our physical bodies. Furthermore, each of these 7 chakras corresponds to one of the 7 higher lokas. See the image of the 7 chakras below this sentence:
http://energytable.com/foto/aura_chakras.gif
As you can see, there is a specific character from the Sanskrit alphabet associated with each of the chakras. The chakra at the lowest point of the body is called the muladhara chakra and it corresponds with Bhuloka. The chakra above that is called the swadhisthana chakra and corresponds with Bhuvarloka. Above that is the manipura chakra and corresponds with Svargaloka. Above that is the anahata chakra and corresponds with Maharloka. Above that is the vishuddha chakra and corresponds with Janaloka. Above that is the ajna chakra and corresponds with Tapoloka. And finally, above that is the sahasra chakra and corresponds with Satyaloka. There is a particular grade of consciousness and a certain distinct degree of bliss that is associated with each of these 7 chakras and is experienced when those chakras are completely opened. There are a lot of claims of people who believe to have fully opened all of the 7 major chakras, but factually very few people have ever achieved more than completely opening even the muladhara chakra (what to speak of the 6 higher chakras!). It is not an easy feat. It is typically the attainment of an accumulation of many, many lifetimes worth of yogic sadhanas done specifically with the intention of completely opening all of the chakras. The chakras are poetically compared to lotuses and they normally exist in a dormant or 'sleeping' state when the astral body is joined together with the physical body. The buds of the chakra lotuses are closed and, as a result, the petals are hidden inwards when the chakra is inactive and hasn't opened up to fully blossom. As one progressively opens and makes active each of the 7 dormant chakras that run along the spine of the subtle body, the quality of one's consciousness becomes more and more refined. Veil after veil of illusion is pierced and the aspirant becomes fit to understand the essential nature of things. Also, the aspirant feels peculiar degrees of bliss that are noticeable through various symptoms (shivering, hair standing on end, the body seems to be emitting rays of light etc.). As each of the 7 chakras are progressively 'switched on' (so to speak), the quality of the bliss increases and the aspirant becomes less conscious of his or her physical body. When the sahasra chakra is finally opened to its fullest extent, the aspirant experiences the same level of bliss experienced by the inhabitants of Satyaloka (the highest, largest and subtlest planetary system in this entire universe). So, to recap everything I've just said, it is believed by some people (myself included, to a certain extent) that the astral body of an individual's soul contains the cosmos within it. This is reflected in our physical bodies. As I've already mentioned, Bhuloka is situated in the feet, Bhuvarloka in the genitals, Svargaloka in the navel, Maharloka in the heart, Janaloka in the throat, Tapoloka in the brow centre and Satyaloka above the head. These are called the upper lokas and they are all situated in the body of man. The lower lokas are situated in the body of man too. Atala is situated in the soles of the feet, Vitala on the nails, Sutala in the heels, Talatala in the hip, Rasatala in the knees, Mahatala in the thighs and Patala in the anus. The body is thus like a miniature reproduction of the universe. As long as the physical body is alive, the 33 primary devas exist within the body in a subtle form and perform their respective functions to keep the body running smoothly. For example, Agni (fire deva) resides in the mouth as the voice, Vayu (air god) resides in the nostrils as inhalation and exhalation and Surya (heat and light deva) resides in the eyes as sight. This should not be taken literally as though there are deities with gross bodies existing within our own bodies. The devas in this context are merely forces (living forces) that empower our bodies. They are personified forces. There is a lot more that can be said, but it actually gets much more complex. In any case, I'll close this post by quoting what a wise man known as Ralph Waldo Emerson had to say:

"The universe is an externalisation of the soul."