This is the path that most people in the world are now following – the pravritti marga – the path of external action and enjoyment. It is the path of trying to attain knowledge through understanding of the outside world. Little significance is attached to understanding the inner world. It is the path where one acts in the world mostly for personal gain and one’s own welfare. One tries to manipulate other people and the immediate environment for one’s own satisfaction and motives. This may be done blatantly, subtly, innocently, unconsciously, even insidiously, craftily or whatever, but always there is a personal motive. Total concern with the outside world, the path of pingala alone, is an obstacle on the spiritual path.
Before a person can seriously start to tread the spiritual path, however, it is usually necessary to be completely immersed in the pingala path of external activity. From experiences in the world, from exhaustion of ambitions, from gaining satisfaction through the attainment of personal aims and finding that they give little increase in happiness, will come a stage where one starts to question one’s relationship with life, asking questions such as: What am I? Where am I going? What is this life all about? What right have I to consider myself as being more important than others? Is this life really functioning according to the law of the jungle? and so forth. Of course, there are very few people who don’t ask these questions. But generally they are quickly forgotten in the rush to satisfy one’s needs, in the rush to become more successful than one’s neighbour and in so many other activities that keep people busy twenty-four hours a day, whether in physical action, thought or dreams. Only when one reaches a certain stage do these questions about life start to have some intensity. When these questions are asked seriously then a person will take positive steps to find answers. At this point aspiration really begins. This is the start of spiritual awakening where the pingala path is supplemented by the ida path. One begins to combine outer activities with inner awareness.
Ida and pingala paths are usually depicted as starting from the mooladhara chakra. But with respect to spiritual life, it is probably truer to say that pingala extends into the lower chakras, the chakras associated with instinctive life in man, animals and lower life forms. The ida, however, does start at mooladhara, for it is here that individual awareness starts to unfold. Below mooladhara there is no awareness, but external actions do exist. Therefore, pingala really has a nebulous beginning below mooladhara where life functions in its most primitive, basic and simple forms. This is only a concept but worth noting and remembering.