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by John Davidson

Air and the Protective Heart

This series of articles is derived from the authors book,

The Web of Life (publ. C.W. Daniel, 1988)

John Davidson is the author of a series of six books on

Science and Mysticism which look at the natural world from a mystical perspective.

The author is a Cambridge science graduate with a

life-long interest in mysticism.
8 Copyright 1988, 2015
John Davidson

The Thymus Gland and the Intricate Mechanisms of Immune Defence

In the heart area, we find the thymus endocrine gland. An organ that until recent years (from the
early 1960's) was considered as vestigial and of no importance, without function, but is now
known to be at the centre of the body's protective, immunological network.
Specifically, then, the heart, hridaya or anahat chakra is situated at the level of the heart,
horizontally speaking, though within the spinal chord. Its function is described in the yogic texts
as those of protection, destruction and dissolution of the physical body. Considering that these
texts were written some hundreds and others thousands of years ago, while modern medical
research has only discovered the protective role of the thymus gland in the last few years, these
designated functions, as well as the whole of Indian Ayurvedic and yogic medical
understanding, deserve to be taken far more seriously than hitherto by western medical
The destruction and dissolution aspects relate in some degree to the end of bodily life, when the
pranas are withdrawn and the five tattwas comprising the body each return to their source in the
absence of the life-giving organizational role of the pranas emanating from above the ajna
chakra and modulated under the influence of our prahlabd karmas. 'Ashes to ashes, dust to
Within the living body, however, the protection conferred by the immunological network of
lymphocytes, hormones and other biochemical interactions requires the destruction and
dissolution of bacteria, viruses and parasites as well as other toxic and invading substances
which disturb bodily function. The power to protect requires the selective power to destroy, as
the balancer of polarities. And this is born out by observation of the continuous operation of the
immunological system. The turnover of lymphocytes or white blood cells is itself prodigious -1-

there are something like a trillion of them in a normal healthy body, about two pounds by
weight, sustained, owing to their short life cycle, by the manufacture of about ten million per
The orchestrator of this complex immune system network would seem to be the thymus gland,
where research is still very much in its infancy.
Just as the airy tattwa expresses itself in nimble and complex manual dexterity, or in the
innovative and multi-faceted mind of the airy nature, so too at the biochemical level does it
produce one of the most intricate and delicately balanced of all essential bodily activities. The
complexity and universality of this immune system is only surpassed in inate and structured
'intelligence' by that of the central nervous system whose use of the akashic medium as the
energy out of which the other tattwas are derived, automatically places it at a higher level of
control within bodily mechanisms.

The Airy Tattwa and the Respiratory Process

The tattwa of the heart centre is that of Vayu or air, while the pranic current is itself called
prana, which also means 'breath' or 'life-breath', in the general sense that it is the energy which
breathes life into inert material substance for the creation of a living body. In the particular
meaning, the heart centre is the organization and energy networker for the incorporation of
atmospheric oxygen into physical life processes. Air is breathed into the lungs and distributed
throughout the body as the fuel for the lower fiery tattwa to accomplish its task.
One can, in fact, evolve this idea further. For, within a watery matrix, earthy solids are
consumed by fire through the oxidative admixture of air for the production of energy by which
the body continues in existence. And this interaction between the tattwic states does not stop
there, for the heightened activity and motion at the subatomic level, on the surface of the
vacuum or akashic state, automatically reflects inwards, carrying energy from our metabolic
processes up into our mental and emotional energy fields. And hence food and all substances
can affect our inner sense of well-being, if they become involved in these metabolic pathways.
This indeed is our experience. If we miss a meal, we can become irritable, to give just one
simple example.
Oxygen is also said to be a 'conveyor' of prana which makes the lungs, the heart and the
circulatory system a further method by which subtle energies are distributed throughout the
The blood circulatory system is the body's conveyor belt carrying substances from one part to
the other. The cells of the different bodily organs and tissues under normal healthy
circumstances correctly absorb or respond to the nutrients and messengers (e.g. hormones) that
are carried by the blood, while ignoring those that are meant for other tissues. The fine tuning
of this energy network is incredible and only seems possible to me when one understands the
power of the guiding and formative blueprint at subtle levels, underlying its more outwardly
observable mechanics.
The hridaya chakra has twelve petals of a blue-green colour. In mystic literature, it is
sometimes said that the practitioner should manifest the Anahad Shabda, the Aum or Unstruck
Sound, in his heart. But this does not mean the physical heart centre, but rather refers to the
centre of being, which spiritually lies above the ajna chakra. The true Shabda, the Word, the
Logos, the creative power of God does not descend in direct manifestation below the eye centre
or ajna chakra and it is for this reason that the higher forms of yoga start their practice with
concentration at this eye centre and do not come down into the physical body as centres of
concentration. When you are halfway up a hill already, it is said, why descend to the bottom
before laboriously climbing back up to the top? True simplicity is not to be found within the
psychic field of the six chakras.

Each petal of each lotus or chakra in the body is, however, appreciable through the inner indriya
of hearing, as a sound - just as the chakras are also visible through inner concentration and the
indriya of sight. These individual sounds are said to be those from which the Sanskrit alphabet
is derived and the Sanskrit tantras contain the exact definition of which letters are derived from
which chakra.

Airy Characteristics
Air carries with it the sensitivity required for the sensation of touch and physical feeling,
manifesting most particularly in the hands as its organ of action as well as that of exquisite and
fine sensation. Imagine the skill of the artist or musician whose deft and nimble fingers spin out
the image or sound of their own or another's creative imagination. One would expect many of
the great artists and musicians to possess a high degree of air in their make up. The sculptor
will be combined perhaps with earth or the painter with fire, while an addition of water can
provide the passionate intensity to be woven into their creation, binding the hearts of the rest of
us with a spell that is difficult to comprehend, but can uplift and inspire in a most remarkable
Hands are amazing structures. How much more meaning there is in the touch of hands than of
any other part of the body? All cultures use their hands in greeting and in conscious expression
as a powerful means of communication, in gesture. No person's hand-shake is quite the same as
another's. The feeling and energetic quality reflects the individual as uniquely as the individual
markings on the fingers themselves. Palmistry is more than the simple study of just the lines on
the hand. Like astrology, it is a reflection of patterns from which, in skilled readers, much
information can be drawn - but from the whole hand and fingers, not just the lines on the palm.
Like an image stored in a hologram where the whole can be reproduced from just a part, so too
do certain parts of the body contain a reflective map of the condition of the whole energy
complex of the body, mind, emotions and karmic patterning. The hands and feet are one of
these, while the iris of the eye and the lobes of the ears and the tongue are others. These are
focal points for external manifestation of the five tattwas, where the energy of these subtle
fields finds a focus of expression, uniquely patterning what is within into external
In the mind and emotions, air is the light, conceptual and intellectual principle. Airy natures are
usually fast thinkers and may be particularly clever with their hands, also, while concepts can
be almost as real to them as things are to the survival needs of earth, or as emotions and instinct
are to water. By its very swiftness and clarity, air brings things into actualization by sheer
concentration upon the concept, while earth works hard physically to create the same effect and
fire drives forward, willing things into actualization.
Astrologically, the airy signs are libra - the impartial balancer and harmonizer; aquarius - the
detached, individualistic co-ordinator of events, people and concepts, sometimes given to
extremes; and the mutable gemini whose outgoing friendliness, curiosity and talkativeness,
backed by a rapid perception and synthetic verbalization, make them fascinating companions,
always full of new ideas and with a ready charm and turn of phrase.
Whilst fire moves faster than air and may be frustrated by even air's desire to conceptualize
before action, water and earth can threaten air's need for freedom of expression. For while earth
insists on examining the practicality of ideas, refusing to be rushed into anything, water is
suspicious of air's lack of emotional depth and threatens to swamp air's fleetness with what (to
air) is unnecessary emotion.
Many of the combinations of air with the other tattwas have already been covered, but in
general, air is a good synthesizer of the individual's characteristics and is able to integrate the
various aspects of his personality. Air can temper fire's on-rush, adding direction and ability to
communicate; while water will provide an emotional base to an otherwise light and dry nature,

with earth able to supply the grounding in 'good old common sense' so much needed by the air
Airy natures generally exhibit ease and sociability, mixing well with all kinds of people, for they
feel little need to truly empathize or get involved with the problems and feelings of others. Their
weakness lies in over-airy-ness and a lack of appreciation of physical limitations, easily
over-extending themselves with commitments. An airy nature in a relationship with an earthy
one may drive the latter to distraction as he tries to keep pace with his (or her) mercurial
partner. Or he may find that the demands made of his practical skills are over-worked by the
impatient demands of air as it fails to perceive the gap between the mental concept and the
physical reality, expecting earth to be the instant manifester of its physical desires and dreams.
Thought and concept are of such importance to airy natures that mentally and emotionally they
are closely identified with them, feeling challenged and insecure if their opinions are ignored or
if the quality of their work is criticized. Without the stability of water or earth, airy natures can
float from one thing to another without any deep involvement or real knowledge of any one
thing. Airy natures tend towards sensitive and active nervous systems, and without the
balancing yin of earth or water, they are easily exhausted, needing to give themselves times for
rest and recuperation, perhaps entailing a change of scenery to free their minds from the
habitual ruts of worries, thoughts, endless plans and mental gyrations. With their agile minds,
airy natures are, of course, the innovators. Stephen Arroyo comments that more Nobel prize
winners have had a dominant air sign than any other element.
Underactivity of the air tattwa can result in a poor ability to stand back from life's problems, to
see them in lighter vein. Detachment from material preoccupations becomes difficult and
'lightness of touch' is missing in both physical as well as social life. Air is the bringer of
lightness and sparkle, and without it, humour and finesse are frequently lacking. Those deficient
in air, distrust the airy qualities of conceptualization and the love of ideas. Without the gift of
verbalization, they can burst out emotionally and irrationally, even violently, when faced with
beliefs contrary to their own.