We have explained the basic meaning of ida and pingala in terms of the physical body, pranic body and the mind. In all cases, you will notice there is the suggestion of a passive and a dynamic mode – an inward looking and outward looking principle. In the physical sense, the passive, inward directed mode is ida in the form of the parasympathetic nervous system, the internalizing forces of the body; this is counterbalanced by pingala in the form of the dynamic, outward looking aspect of the sympathetic nervous system. In the psychic realms, ida corresponds to the mind and mental forces of man, and pingala corresponds to the pranic or bioplasmic body. In a much wider and all embracing sense the pingala corresponds to universal prana, shakti or the energy of manifestation and the ida with awareness. This is clearly indicated in many scriptures such as the Upanishads and Tantras. The physical, pranic and mental aspects are included and encompassed by this higher definition. This universal prana is prakriti – the power behind all manifestation, force, energy and matter. Awareness is the witnessing principle, the actionless aspect that is associated with consciousness, Shiva or purusha. This wider, more comprehensive definition of ida and pingala has vast implications and significance on the spiritual path as we will shortly explain.
We have already said that the ida and pingala are depicted diagramatically as crossing each other at the ascending chakras. This has a most important meaning for the spiritual aspirant. It means that as one opens up the potential of the mind there should always be a balance between inner awareness and action, inner knowledge and external expression in the world. If one of these aspects predominates then there is imbalance. This is why spiritual awakening should be slow and progressive, to allow one’s actions to match one’s level of inner understanding, one’s expression and relationships in the outside world to match and balance the inner expansion.
As one becomes more and more aware, so one’s actions must be modified accordingly. In this sense, the chakras represent something like a stage of rest where one recuperates and balances action with understanding. Failure to do this leads either to a block to further progress, or a fall. This is to be the main subject of the rest of this discussion.
At the level of the ajna chakra ida and pingala merge and become one. This is very symbolic. It represents the stage where the differences between prana and consciousness are broken down. They are seen to be one and the same thing. The principle of ida merges with the principle of pingala to become one.