Civility and the Three Poisons
The working definition of Civility in my book, The Path of Civility is..
Civility is rooted in an altruistic spirit, founded on an understanding that we are basically good and that we best grow and succeed through cooperation.
CIVILITY, as a concept IS social. What would be the point of being civil unless it was in relation to another? Spiritual literature will speak of being kind, caring, or loving to oneself. But, I have never heard a teacher say to be civil to yourself.
So, civility implies relationship with others and the pinnacle of our relationship with others is if we hold to an altruistic spirit that views each and every other as being “on-the-level” with us. Furthermore, when we have such a relationship with others, cooperation is innate and the results of our actions in that state of harmony more beneficial for all.
And yet, it is the consensus of thinking people that we are in a time of Incivility as evidenced by social and economic disparities and political divides. If, according to the teachings of the Buddha, we are basically good, how did we get here?
The long and short answer is that we are mesmerized by an illusion of separation, fueled by Three Poisons of Ignorance, Attachment, Aggression. Under the influence of these, civil discourse is more challenging, as are sensible solutions.
The transformation of these Poisons needs to be both at a socio-political level, but more importantly, on a personal level. With this more in hand individually, the greater the possibility of reaching out to assist in the changes we seek for peace, justice, and harmony.
for developing awareness of and cleansing the subtle channels…
The subtle channels called the 2 NADIS and central channel (Shushumna) begin about 4 finger widths below the navel. The right or RED channel, representative of the female energy (i.e. menstrual blood) starts here, moves at a distance of one “tsun” from the right side of the spine (neither to the front or back, but deep within). It passes through the neck, over the brain, but underneath the skull bones, drops down from the right side of the crown point, ending at the outside tip of the right nostril. The WHITE channel, representative of male energy (i.e. semen) mirrors the RED channel pathway on the left side. Although these two channels wrap and bind the central channel at various points to form what we call the chakras, in this exercise we visualize them as straight, tinted, but transparent hollow tubes, the thickness of our little finger. The Central (also called spiritual, neither male, nor female) channel is visualized as a straight tube that is two little finger widths in diameter. It is often visualized as of a yellow tint, but in this exercise we see it as a transparent blue tube that starts 4 finger widths below the navel and goes up through the body anteriorly to the spine. It goes through the neck and head to the crown point where it makes a tight turn downwards to the area of the “third eye” and hooks inwards (or posteriorly) towards the pineal gland.
In Buddhist Tantric and yoga traditions, the RED and WHITE channels are wrapped around the Central Channel forming constrictive knot, known as chakras. But here we are simply visualizing these channels as being straight, as described above.
1. Visualize that the beginning of the WHITE channel inserts into the beginning of the RED channel below the navel. (The RED tube opening is seen as larger and capable of accepting the smaller WHITE tube end.)
2. Block your right nostril with your right index finger and inhale through your left nostril. Imagine that the air you are breathing in to your left nostril is pure and fresh and that this pure and fresh air is being carried through the WHITE channel to where the WHITE channel is inserted into the RED channel below the navel.
3. At the point where you are visualizing that the pure, fresh air is at the beginning of the RED, let go of the right nostril and with your left index finger, block the left nostril. As you exhale, visualize that the pure, fresh air is pushing out what is unclean, contaminated, polluted, like wind that blows away dust. Especially see that as you breathe out you are releasing the defilement or poison of ATTACHMENT or clinging. These negativities are seen as smoke leaving the right nostril.
4. Repeat this two more times. After this, allow yourself to breathe through both nostrils and visualize the right, RED, channel as being luminous and purified of all negativities.
5. Now repeat 1 through 4 for the cleansing of the WHITE channel. See the RED channel end fitting inside the end of the WHITE tube end. Start with blocking the left nostril. As the fresh, pure air goes from the RED channel into the WHITE channel, you breathe out the impurities and the defilement of AGGRESSION. Do this three times and then breath in and out normally a few times, seeing the WHITE channel now as luminous and pure.
6. Now visualize Shushumna, the Central, spiritual, Channel. It is blue and the thickness of 2 small finger widths. Visualize that both the end of the WHITE and RED channels are inserted into the end of the Central Channel. Once you see this in your mind’s eye, place your hands in your lap. Allow the back of the right hand to rest in the palm of the upturned left hand. The thumbs then touch to form a triangle. With your hands in this configuration, raise them enough to make it so that your navel is in the center of this triangle.
7. Breath in through both nostrils so that the pure, fresh air goes up through the nostrils, down through the RED and WHITE channels to the bottom entrance to the Central Channel.
8. As you exhale, feel this pure air cleansing the Central Channel and with it the defilement of IGNORANCE. You visualize that IGNORANCE and all of the impurities are pouring out of the region of your third eye.
9. Repeat this two more times. Then lower the hands into the lap and breath normally, experiencing the Central Channel as luminously blue, supple, and purified.