The Brave New World of Energy Medicine (Beware the ‘Intermediate zone’)

I have been meaning to write this article for a long time now as I find myself increasingly repeating this personal viewpoint and concern to more and more people in more and more forums.

I work in the field of holistic health and am a yoga teacher. As editor of Holistic Bangalore, I attend many events on holistic medicine or new areas of psychology such as ‘Energy Psychology’.

Somewhere between the time-tested and stringent processes of traditional Eastern medicine systems and the newer Western psychology that is discovering the concept of ‘energy’ as a very real factor in the therapeutic process, there lies a danger zone that needs to be brought to the attention of well-meaning but sometimes unaware practitioners and researchers of these ‘new’ modalities.

The world of Western science and psychology has discovered that between matter and mind, there is another element that links the two. This is energy. Not mechanical energy but more ‘subtle energy’; that is where many of the keys to the prevention and cure of illness lies.

Indeed, the Unconscious and the subconscious is being explored through the body, breath and mind to recover or uncover ‘material’ from the person’s psyche that may be the cause of their illness or problem.

As Western science and psychology discovers a whole new world beyond the physical, filled with a range and spectrum of energies, many powerful beyond measure, we are novices entering worlds of the meta-physical without enough understanding of what we are literally playing with here. There is a saying in Hindi ‘Bandar ke haath mein pataka’. A fire-cracker in the hand of a monkey. I.e., Dangerous Power in the hand of Ignorance.

It is not unlike the early days of the discovery of radio-activity. As Pierre and Marie Curie set about working to search for unknown elements in their endeavour to further the scope of science and benefit mankind, they discovered polonium and the even more radioactive radium.

“The work was heavy and physically demanding – and involved dangers the Curies did not appreciate. During this time they began to feel sick and physically exhausted; today we can attribute their ill-health to the early symptoms of radiation sickness. At the time they persevered in ignorance of the risks, often with raw and inflamed hands because they were continually handling highly radioactive material.” Says the Marie Curie Cancer Care website.

Marie Curie died of pernicious anaemia, a condition she developed after years of exposure to radiation through her work.

As therapists and practitioners exploring non-physical energies, the dangers are almost exactly the same as working with radio-activity. Today, we know how to protect ourselves (with lead masks, gloves, etc.) and minimise our ‘exposure’ to x-rays and other high-frequency emanations. We are careful to only take in as much as ‘we can bear’. Why should it be any different as we work with powerful energies beyond the tangible and physical in the practice of Energy Medicine or Energy Psychology?

Indeed, there are so many ‘Healing energy systems’ being applied, taught and practised by ‘healers’ today. From Reiki and its many versions and levels to MTHS, Sekhem, Magnified Healing, Pranic Healing, etc. All of these involve some kind of ‘initiation’ to receive and activate the healing energy in the practitioner.

The thing to be noted here is that all things that are non-material/human are not necessarily Divine or aligned to the Supreme Will and for the highest good of all.

The ancient and esoteric wisdom traditions all seemed to know well and have experienced in detail the ‘reality’ or existence beyond what is the limited band-width of common human perception. E.g., ordinarily, humans can only see light between the frequency of colours red to violet and not see infra-red or ultra-violet frequencies. Or hear between 40-400 Hz but not below or beyond those sound frequencies. That does not mean that frequencies above and below our perception do not exist. They do and Creation is suffused with them. Not all ‘extra-ordinary’ energies are Divine. Indeed there are many that are intelligent but hostile to our true development.

Humans tend to believe that anything extra-ordinary would be Godly. Coming from the Supreme Creator. Spiritual sciences such as yoga caution us that between the ordinary human material experience and the Supreme Oneness of Being/God/Highest Truth experience, there are many layers and levels of worlds or realms or realities. That are filled with powerful forces or intelligent energies-entities and which live by their own laws. These worlds inter-penetrate the human world and impact our mental, vital and physical energies.

Unlike modern western psychology or psychiatry, which are a recent and as yet ‘developing’ arts and sciences, Eastern and esoteric traditions are well aware of the world of the Occult and these occult planes are what have been described above. Shamans from African and American-Indian traditions regularly ‘journey’ into these worlds. Very carefully one may add, having taken full precaution to protect themselves. Much like a miner or diver would before delving into dangerous depths.

As beautifully summarized by Dr. Brugh Joy in his book Avalanche, “If we seek to journey into the Unconscious and engage its range of forces, we are wise to remember the immense value of a centering image – an image that helps the psyche orient to a focal point of integration and well-being, no matter what forces may be encountered. Without such images, the psyche is blown on the winds of the Unconscious..”

Brugh Joy is a cardiologist who now travels the world teaching seekers of Truth how to go beyond the ‘veil’ of these intermediate levels and into the Divine Soul-self.

Sri Aurobindo, India’s great sage-mystic-yogi, through his enlightened range of consciousness, has explored and mapped the full spectrum of Creation and the many ‘planes and parts of the Being’. As evolving animals, we humans experience ‘being’ in the lower hemisphere of Creation; the triple world of mind-life-body. As seen, between the physical plane and the mental plane lies the vital plane, with the animating life-force. This vital plane is the cause of the ‘Intermediate zone’,

These things, when they pour down or come in, present themselves with a great force, a vivid sense of inspiration or illumination, much sensation of light and joy, an impression of widening and power. The sadhak feels himself freed from the normal limits, projected into a wonderful new world of experience, filled and enlarged and exalted; what comes associates itself, besides, with his aspirations, ambitions, notions of spiritual fulfilment and yogic siddhi; it is represented even as itself that realisation and fulfilment. Very easily he is carried away by the splendour and the rush, and thinks that he has realised more than he has truly done, something final or at least something sovereignly true.

– Sri Aurobindo, The Riddle of the World, 35

Overwhelmed by the first rush and sense of power of a supernormal condition, they get dazzled with a little light which seems to them a tremendous illumination or a touch of force which they mistake for the full Divine Force or at least a very great yoga Shakti; or they accept some intermediate Power (not always a Power of the Divine) as the Supreme and an intermediate consciousness as the supreme realisation. Very readily they come to think that they are in the full cosmic consciousness when it is only some front or small part of it or some larger Mind, Life-Power or subtle physical ranges with which they have entered into dynamic connection. Or they feel themselves to be in an entirely illumined consciousness, while in reality they are receiving imperfectly things from above through a partial illumination of some mental or vital plane; for what comes is diminished and often deformed in the course of transmission through these planes; the receiving mind and vital of the sadhak also often understands or transcribes ill what has been received or throws up to mix with it its own ideas, feelings, desires, which it yet takes to be not its own but part of the Truth it is receiving because they are mixed with it, imitate its form, are lit up by its illumination and get from this association and borrowed light an exaggerated value. There are worse dangers in this intermediate zone of experience. For the planes to which the sadhak has now opened his consciousness, – not as before getting glimpses of them and some influences, but directly, receiving their full impact, – send a host of ideas, impulses, suggestions, formations of all kinds, often the most opposite to each other, inconsistent or incompatible, but presented in such a way as to slur over their insufficiencies and differences, with great force, plausibility and wealth of argument or a convincing sense of certitude. Overpowered by this sense of certitude, vividness, appearance of profusion and richness, the mind of the sadhak enters into a great confusion which it takes for some larger organisation and order; or else it whirls about in incessant shiftings and changes which it takes for a rapid progress but which lead nowhere. Or there is the opposite danger that he may become the instrument of some apparently brilliant but ignorant formation; for these intermediate planes are full of little Gods or strong Daityas or smaller beings who want to create, to materialise something or to enforce a mental and vital formation in the earth life and are eager to use or influence or even possess the thought and will of the sadhak and make him their instrument for the purpose. This is quite apart from the well-known danger of actually hostile beings whose sole purpose is to create confusion, falsehood, corruption of the sadhana and disastrous unspiritual error. Anyone allowing himself to be taken hold of by one of these beings, who often take a divine Name, will lose his way in the yoga. On the other hand, it is quite possible that the sadhak may be met at his entrance into this zone by a Power of the Divine which helps and leads him till he is ready for greater things; but still that itself is no surety against the errors and stumblings of this zone; for nothing is easier than for the powers of these zones or hostile powers to imitate the guiding Voice or Image and deceive and mislead the sadhak or for himself to attribute the creations and formations of his own mind, vital or ego to the Divine.

– Sri Aurobindo, The Riddle of the World, 36-7

This is in fact an intermediary state, a zone of transition between the ordinary consciousness in mind and the true yoga knowledge. One may cross without hurt through it, perceiving at once or at an early stage its real nature and refusing to be detained by its half-lights and tempting but imperfect and often mixed and misleading experiences; one may go astray in it, follow false voices and mendacious guidance, and that ends in a spiritual disaster; or one may take up one’s abode in this intermediate zone, care to go no farther and build there some half-truth which one takes for the whole truth or become the instrument of the powers of these transitional planes, – that is what happens to many sadhaks and yogis.

– Sri Aurobindo, The Riddle of the World, 36-7

Another error that has to be guarded against is…to take some higher intermediate consciousness or even any kind of supernormal consciousness for the supermind. To reach supermind it is not enough to go above the ordinary movements of the human mind; it is not enough to receive a greater light, a greater power, a greater joy or to develop capacities of knowledge, sight, effective will that surpass the normal range of the human being. All light is not the light of the spirit, still less is all light the light of the supermind; the mind, the vital, the physical itself have lights of their own, as yet hidden, which can be very inspiring, exalting, informative, powerfully executive…

– Sri Aurobindo, The Synthesis of Yoga, 283

The pathway of the mystical goal is strewn with human wreckage. Why? Several reasons would be needed to give a complete answer but one of the most important is this: Between the state of ordinary man and the state of the matured mystic there lies a perilous and deceptive psychological region which has been given various names in mystical literature. It has been called the astral plane, the intermediate zone, the hall of illusion, and so on. The early efforts of all aspirants in concentration, meditation, self-conquest, and study, bring them into this region. But once here their egoism becomes stimulated by the subtle forces they have evoked, their emotional nature becomes more sensitive and more fluid, their imaginative power becomes more active and is less restrained. The consequence of failure to negotiate these changes properly is swollen vanity, superstitious credulity, emotions run riot, and imagination gone wild…

– Paul Brunton, Notebooks

Sri Aurobindo and the Mother caution against traditional Kundalini Yoga as a practice in modern times for the same reasons as outlined above. To activate the Creative energy (Kundalini Shakti) dormant in the base of the spine or mooladhar chakra (its subtle energy centre) and seek to raise it up towards the crown chakra and merge with Supreme consciousness present there, can be a perilous passage for the Shakti. Without a true and sufficiently masterful Guru, the energy can be captured or corrupted by beings of the intermediate zone/chakras that it will travel through, for their own purposes. Or by our own unshed ego or incomplete surrender to the Divine’s will over us.

Their Integral Yoga recommends a safer way. That of calling and bringing down the Divine or Truth-consciousness force (‘supermind’ or ‘supramental’) from the highest Truth plane. This Supramental energy, that of the Divine Mother-Source in its One-ness that holds the truth of each of its multiplicities, seeks to descend from above, downwards into the lower self or planes and parts of our being. Leading to a natural unfolding of the lotuses/chakras and then, within Its presence and guidance, the safe awakening of the Kundalini Shakti and its subsequent application towards the transformation of matter and the human consciousness.

Following the safety procedure: Remember and Offer

To conclude, as Energy Medicine and Energy Psychology develops, the aim of this article was to highlight some possibly unknown ‘risks’ involved.

What are the ways to minimize risk and protect ourselves and people we heal as we practice these powerful techniques? Here’s one:

  1. Never enter into a healing session unprotected. Start ALWAYS by using the full power of your MIND (the highest faculty we normally are working with when in an ordinary state of consciousness) to REMEMBER to ASK/CALL/PRAY to the Supreme Being / the Divine to ENTER into the space and create a safe zone of protection for your client and you.
  2. OPEN yourself to receive the Divine Protection and Guidance by setting the INTENTION to be receptive ONLY to what comes from the Highest, for the Highest good of all.
  3. SURRENDER the whole process that follows. Offer yourself as a ‘pure and perfect channel’ of the Highest Good and let your sense of ‘mini-me’ or ego GO. Surrender the ego to the Divine so your body-breath-mind can be an instrument for the Divine Will or your Highest Self to work through. ALLOW the higher wisdom to guide and conduct the process, letting intuition flow.
  4. To surrender the ego, sincerely open your HEART and will yourself to feel higher feelings such as compassion, harmony, forgiveness, gratitude, peace, faith and unconditional love. Invoking such feelings in oneself leads to self-transcendence, aligns the MIND & HEART into a state of EQUANIMITY and opens the channel to receive the Supreme.

In a nut-shell: REMEMBER (The Divine) AND OFFER (The Divine). In the beginning, as you proceed, and when you end. In that lies our best protection as well as highest possible healing outcome.

Nilima Bhat

Founder, ‘I AM’ Yoga; Personal Growth and Holistic Health Coach

Bangalore, 21st February 2008

Email