July 26, 2011

The Element Earth: Becoming Grounded.

When we think of the environment, we usually think of the planet we live on and the ground it provides us. In the Kundalini system, each chakra is associated with one of the elements, and “earth” is the element of the first chakra, the Muladhara, which controls the creative power and is the seat of the latent Kundalini.

Think about the creative power of the earth. What is growing? What is grounded? What is rooted? What strength do you draw from? Look at the manifestation of your own creation. See how your concepts create your own little world— your mental world, your emotional world, your spiritual world. What have you created for yourself?

The earth provides the ground for growing. Each of us is growing in an ongoing process, which we can call “the Path.” The Path is nothing other than the process of our development toward greater awareness. The particular method that appeals to you—Christianity, Buddhism, etc.—is just a vehicle by which you travel this Path.

What is your process of growth? The physical body obviously develops from childhood, but if you reflect on your life you will also see that you have grown in understanding, in intelligence, in accepting the world around you. You have grown in the use of your senses. Your body of knowledge to this point includes all that you have grown into, whether or not you have consciously entered a particular spiritual path.

We can expand the idea of the earth to include not only the physical earth that we walk upon, but also the ground of the body, the ground of the mind and the ground of the heart. You can observe what has grown in each area and ask what you want to grow.

On the yogic path, you can become grounded in the sacred word—the mantra or name of God. Your heart is the most precious soil. When the mantra is rooted in the heart, it will spread like a network of nerves throughout all the cells of your body, and the power will become grounded in your body. The mantra influences the consciousness of the cells, spiritualizing your body and also making the mind more flexible.

Having a flexible mind means remaining open to new and challenging ideas—expanding your awareness, increasing your intelligence and exercising all of your mental capacities. Just as plants are rooted in the earth, you have to discover which concepts have taken root in your mind. Many ideas are rooted in tradition, culture and family conditioning. Some of these concepts—fears, ambitions, desires—may be like rocks, preventing new growth from sprouting. Just as a gardener looks after the garden, you need to tend the garden of your mind—removing what obstructs growth, digging out the weeds and pruning back excess growth. As you dig into the ground of your own mind, you can examine which of your ideas are your own and which need rooting out.

Your intelligence is not your ability to believe, but to test belief and manifest your knowledge in your own personal life. When you manifest your intelligence to a certain degree, you will break out of the shell of your self-created little world. At one point you will realize you are the creator of worlds, and that you can also destroy worlds–not the galaxy out there, or planetary systems, but the world that has been created by your mind. In other words, you can change what hasn’t worked in your life or what has hindered the evolution of consciousness. You don’t have to resent your past or criticize yourself, because you will start to understand that we all learn by trial and error.

Eventually when you fully explore the little world you have created around yourself, you can expand your horizons. People with truly superior intelligence have enough clarity, insight and awareness to learn from the mistakes of others without making the same mistakes themselves. Even today, with all of our study of history, we have not yet learned to avoid war. We, as human beings, cannot seem to break out of this self-created limitation. The yogi must break out of his or her self-created limitations. That is the motivation in yoga.

Widen the horizon of your understanding. Know when to sow a seed, and watch to see it grow. It needs your concern, and love and attention. The seed will only sprout in the right conditions—good soil, light, water. We can sow the seeds; the Divine makes them grow. You can pray for that growth. Have patience. The Path is an ongoing process.

In the first chakra, the earth is symbolized by a square. This square is within a full white circle, which symbolizes completion. What would it mean to complete all the work you have come to do on the Earth?


Swami Sivananda Radha (1911-1995) was a pioneering force in bringing the ancient wisdom of yoga to the West. Initiated in 1956 by her guru, Swami Sivananda of Rishikesh, India, she went on to establish Yasodhara Ashram in British Columbia, Canada, and author classic books on yoga including Kundalini Yoga for the West and Hatha Yoga: The Hidden Language.

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