The opiate substance secreted from the pineal gland during Samadhi has been variously called Nectar of the Gods, ambrosia, amrita, and the Living Water. Gurus like Sai Baba claim to materialize amrita and can shaktipat others into generating their own nectar. It is said that to experience amrita is to be bestowed with immortality, that is to be freed from the cycle of birth and death...hence liberated. The term Amrita is Sanskrit for "elixir of immortality," it literally means "deathlessness". This has obvious parallels to "ambrosia" the name of the classical Greek "food of the gods" which means "no death."
During shaktipat, inner-conjunction or through initiation in meditation this nectar is produced and drips down the back of the throat. Perhaps an associated phenomena to the generation of the nectar, is the intense light of a Thousand Suns that occurs sometimes during its "manufacture." This secretion gives one the experience of Timelessness, and being a divine God or Goddess. It is "sweet" in taste and in sensation--it is described as nectar, honey, gold dust, euphoric, ecstatic, intoxicating and gives the feeling of being imbued with holiness.
"My own experience of amrit is that it started to occur to me during times of very concentrated, long periods of sitting meditation, and usually happened while practicing the Khedari Mudra (tongue upward on palate). It would then occur spontaneously without the mudra and at times during the day for no apparent good reason. There is a definite sweet taste involved with a sort of swell of ecstasy experienced as well that can last for hours, perhaps days. It is always extremely pleasant and 'heightening'. The subject/object perspective can stay largely intact while experiencing 'Amrit' and one can remain highly functional (as opposed to a samadhi that transcends all body awareness). I do not recall ever being aware of amrit during a heightened experience of inner light (which tends to drown out and overwhelm any other perception)." ~ Michael Roark
Here is an account of amrita produced as a result of shaktipat from Sai Baba. From this it is apparent that one can receive shaktipat without any devotion or interest in the Guru:
"In about 1971-72 I had reluctant darshan of Sai Baba. I say 'reluctant' because I had pretty powerful prejudices against him. Anyway, to make a long story short, he came up to me, tapped me on the top of the head and said, "Acha, very good" and I went immediately from a state of lethargy, sunstroke and just plain bad mood to (I assume) samadhi. I'd experienced it before in meditation, but not nearly so deeply or suddenly. The physical symptoms included my tongue sticking to the roof of my mouth, my saliva becoming very light and sweet and almost total suspension of breath. Another physical symptom was that I went spontaneously from sitting slumped over to bolt upright. What breath there was seemed to feed straight into my brain and bliss travelled from my brain through my whole being. That's what I remember, but mostly I just remember bliss. When I came to, the sunstroke was gone. Remarkable as that experience was, I never felt drawn to hang around Sai Baba. I find it noteworthy that the one who transmitted 'shaktipat' or 'amrita' (not sure which came first) was the one I felt absolutely no desire to surrender to." ~ Rob Schneider
I interpret Robs experience as simple biophysics...kind of like being plugged into a light socket and getting a jolt of electricity. And this occurs quite apart from the secondary layer of our belief, intention and projection. It shows that although transference/projection often occurs with Gurus, it is not necessary in order for the organic physical response of shatipat to occur. That is the energetic "electrocrution" occurs regardless of the contents of the conscious or subconscious mind. The point I want to stress here, is that the physical chemistry is occurring often quite apart from the contents in our minds, and yet will amplify and affect those contents. Nothing shows us the transpersonal nature of our own existence as well as a kundalini awakening, for we become intimately aware that we "know not who or what we are" and that an enormous Sprit is living within and around us.
The main function of the pineal gland is its role in mediating circadian rhythms of the animal through the production of the hormone melatonin, from its precursor amino acid tryptophan. The pineal gland is most active in early morning hours...hence meditation is often undergone at this time. The pineal gland is the only singular organ in the brain and is located near the upper end of the spinal cord, which ends or terminates in the oldest anatomical region in the brain. Taoists call the center of the brain between the pineal and the pituitary "the Crystal Palace." It's between the old brain at the back and the new brain at the front of the head, between the left and right hemispheres, sitting above the two wings of the mysterious ventricles.It rests between the two large cerebrums at the anterior end of the cerebellum. The cerebellum is one of the oldest features of the brain, involved in coordinating muscular activity in the body. It's said that when the pineal gland is activated it becomes illuminated like a thousands suns.The sense of white light flowing within and without may be when the pineal gland is highly activated producing DMT type chemistry during the height of the peak.
When the Crystal Palace lights up a secretion from the area might be released into the back of the throat. "The White Drop" would be some intense opiate that acts to open the heart.
"In Tibetan Buddhism, this is the source of the "White Drop" that descends to the heart center, where it mixes with the ascending "Red Drop" attain an enlightened body and mind. All this activity is seen as a cosmic sex act in the head. The phallic-shaped pineal gland releases a pure white liquid light that impregnates the nearby bi-lobed pituitary gland, which then releases hormones in the blood that inaugurate a Second (Spiritual) Puberty in the body." ~ www.alchemylab.com
The pituitary gland is located inside a round bony cavity that is separated from the sphenoid sinus by a thin bone that forms the roof of the sphenoid sinus. The sphenoid sinus is the most posterior sinus. The drainage from the sphenoid is almost directly down the throat from an ostium (hole) that opens into the posterosuperior part of the nasal cavity. The sphenoid sinus is adjacent to the main nerve that is responsible for vision, the optic nerve. The main artery that goes to the brain, the carotid artery, travels along the wall of this sinus.
Also nerve impulses from the eyes and ears pass through the colliculi with the pineal directly overhead separated by CSF. Thus secretions from the pineal would have a direct impact on the colliculi. The colliculus is part of the brain that sits below the thalamus and surrounds the pineal gland. It is involved in the generation of eye movements and hand-eye coordination. The colliculus receives visual, as well as auditory inputs, and its deeper layers are connected to many sensorimotor areas of the brain. The colliculus as a whole is thought to help orient the head and eyes toward something seen or heard.
During initiation of the Crystal Palace hormones including oxytocin and vasopressin are released from the pituitary into the blood stream to facilitate the metamorphic birth. The fact that the nerves and blood vessels that feed the eyes and middle ear pass through the cavernous sinus either side of the sphenoid sinus leads us to speculate on the mechanisms behind both Celestial Music that is heard when the Crystal Place is lit up, and changes in the eyes such as light emerging from them, changes of consciousness seen in the eyes and faculty of transcendental vision itself.
When the Crystal Chamber is lit transcendental vision occurs. Transcendental vision probably occurs due to increased kundalini flow raising dopamine and phenylethylamine etc...All kind of changes happen in the retinas and occipital lobes, including increased ATP production acting as a neurotransmitter and histamine increasing blood flow in the brain, and increase in nitric oxide metabolism. The end result being that one has an increase in visual acuity, inner visions, inner lights, seeing auras and vivid dreams. If you try the drug Ecstasy you are likely to see auras, and have transcendental vision so there must be some similarity in the chemical mechanism between Ecstasy and kundalini. (See also Superfluidity)
Here is a description of the release of amrita during sex while undergoing a kundalini awakening initiated by LSD: "During continued sexual activity, at the minutes just prior to orgasm, I became aware that there was a fluid being secreted from the upper, forward part of my throat/nasal cavity, roughly at the height of the nose (amrita). It seemed closely related to the extended sublimation of semen, which I had been practicing for some time." ~ Mahan Atma
I suspect that amrita is a mixture of endogenous cannaboids, enkephalins, glutamate, oxytocin and vasopressin and Ca2+ ions and polarized water that have been generated by glial and neurons, accumulated in the cerebrospinal fluid and collect in the ventricle underneath the pineal gland (possibly finding its way to the sphenoid sinus under the pituitary). At a point of maximum excitation, very much like an orgasm, this fluid is excreted out from the sinuses and into the back of the throat. In a similar fashion amrita is excreted out of the G-Spot area of women during sex. It would be interesting to compare the chemical constituents of these two forms of amrita.
In order to be extruded from the brain during what amounts to a brain orgasm, the likely properties of Amrita are: Small molecular size, lipid soluble, hydrogen bonding increasing the H+ positive charge, affinity for carrier mechanisms, produced in high concentration during maximum excitation.
The amrita is forced out of the brain at the peak of ecstatic charge, not for any purpose in itself perhaps, but because there is simply too high a hydraulic and ionic pressure within the Cerebrospinal Fluid (CFS) that it is forced out of the ventricles, and into the sphenoid sinus. In the joint Samadhi of tantric union however this secretion would act to bond the individuals in an indescribable union of mind, body and soul. (We need an anatomist to tell us whether in extremely altered conditions whether a transfer of CFS from the ventricles to the sphenoid sinus is possible.)
Factors of kundalini and tantric initiation that might influence the efflux of a potent secretion of CFS that has been altered through hyperactivation of the pineal and pituitary and other circumventricular organs include:
- Increase in temperature, release of histamine which increases the pore space between cells in the vessel membranes and possibly increasing the permeability between ventricles and sinuses.
- A higher concentration of ions in the CSF increases the electrochemical gradient with the membrane of the opposite charge increasing diffusion.
- Ionized water molecules with changes in the bonding angles.
- Increased cerebral blood-flow, blood pressure and oxygen content of the blood, from HPA axis activation and increased breathing.
- Increased production of CSF itself creating greater hydraulic pressure.
- Facilitated diffusion through a change in transporter molecule in the membrane by specific amino acid, peptide or opiate.
- The negatively charged membrane surface may be triggered into absorptive-mediated transport by electrostatic interaction with positively charged substance (Ca 2+ or H+).
As far as the primary active ingredient of amrita goes besides the opiates which give a profound analgesic effect, the "wakefulness" chemical is probably a tryptamine or a phenethylamine. Research will probably find that many secretions from about five different organs including the pineal and pituitary may contribute to the mixture. That is the production of amrita may be a joint effort of the circumventricular organs secreting into the CFS. High levels of opiates, oxytocin, vasopressin, phenyethelamine and tryptamine would render the individual into an extreme heart expanding unitive experience, ie: Samadhi or Cosmic Consciousness. One becomes lucid within the dream of life and life is revealed to be a dream.
"I hypothesize that performing various breathing techniques, while concentrating on the third eye (pineal pseudo-location), will inevitably and imperceptibly stimulate the pineal to produce less melatonin and serotonin, which in turn brings about a change in consciousness, creating naturally the dynamic somatics of a truly religio-spiritual experience." ~ Russ McClay, The Pineal Gland, LSD and Serotonin
The pineal produces melatonin and serotonin. The amino acid percursor of serotonin (5-hydroxytryptamine, 5-HT) is tryptophan. Adequate levels of vitamin B6 are necessary for the synthesis of serotonin. Within the pineal gland, serotonin is acetylated and then methylated to yield melatonin. The highest density of melatonin receptors are found in the suprachiasmatic nucleus of the hypothalamus, the anterior pituitary and the retina. Melatonin is a hormone that communicates information about light and entrains biological rhythms including sleep-wake cycles and reproduction. The light-transducing ability of the pineal gland is why some call it the "third eye." Melatonin inhibits the secretion of the gonadotropic hormones luteinizing hormone and follicle stimulating hormone from the anterior pituitary. Much of this inhibitory effect seems due to inhibition of gonadotropin-releasing hormone from the hypothalamus.
As well as melatonin the pineal secretes other neuroactive peptides. Melatonin has the same indole structure as LSD but neither melatonin nor LSD is the psychoactive substance in amrita. More likely it is some form of tryptamine that the body produces, perhaps similar to 5-MeO/DMT. Or it could be a phenethylamine similar to Mescaline (3,4,5-trimethoxyphenethylamine). Mescaline made from the peyote cactus is one of the oldest psychedelics known to man and is used in spiritual ceremonies. Curiously it can produce a bright internal light.
Tryptamine is a naturally occurring compound found in both the animal and plant kingdoms. It is an endogenous component of the human brain. The amino acid phenylalanine is the precursor for phenethylamine and the essential amino-acid tryptophan is the precursor for tryptamine, which is slightly psychedelic. Tryptophan when administered with methionine (another amino-acid known to methylate things) it produces methylated tryptamines, the two best studied being N-methyltryptamine (NMT) and N,N-dimethyltryptamine (DMT). Tryptamine and LSD have a common mode of action. Our bodies can convert the amino acid phenylalanine to tyrosine and phenylethylamine (PEA). Tyrosine is also a precursor to the excitatory neurotransmitters norepinephrine and dopamine.
Endogenous Dimethyltryptamine (DMT), the naturally occurring chemical cousin of serotonin, is a widespread and essential brain neurotransmitter. Rick Strassman proposed that the pineal gland is responsible for manufacture of DMT. The pineal gland has the highest levels of serotonin, as serotonin is the precusor to melatonin. Melatonin is the primary pineal hormone, but Strassman thinks that the gland also creates DMT. "Because it possesses the highest levels of the necessary enzymes and precursors, the pineal gland is the most reasonable place for DMT formation to occur." P. 67 He says DMT may be released during dreams, near-death, death, birth, and during meditation and mystical experiences.
DMT increases all pituitary homones and beta-endorphins, vasopressin, prolactin, Growth Hormone, and corticotrophrin (cortisol). It is proposed that DMT induced surge of beta-endorphins creates euphoria. Serotonin receptors are activated by DMT and Serotonin receptors regulate heart rate, blood pressure, body temperature, pupil diameter. Apparently DMT is a small molecule not much larger than glucose and Strassman says that it is like brainfood that is rapidly transported across the BBB.
The term circumventricular organs refers to the highly-vascularized, specialized tissues distributed principally along the midline of the ventricular system from the forebrain to the hindbrain, bordering the 3rd and 4th ventricles. The CVO's include the pineal gland, median eminence, neurohypophysis (posterior pituitary), subfornical organ, area postrema, subcommissural organ, organum vasculosum of the lamina terminalis, and the choroid plexus. The intermediate and neural lobes of the pituitary are sometimes included and note the posterior pituitary releases neurohormones like oxytocin and vasopressin into the blood.
The subcommissural organ contacts the third ventricle covering the posterior commissure. It comprises a complex of neurosecretory ependymal cells known to secrete various glycoproteins into the CSF. The functional significance of these glycoproteins has not yet been determined. Except for the SCO all the circumventricular organs lack a blood-brain barrier and are recognized as important sites for communicating with the CSF, and between the brain and peripheral organs via blood-borne products. They have a high capillary density and it is through the CVO's that the brain is able to monitor the makeup of the blood. They all contact the cerebrospinal fluid of the ventricles or subarachnoid space. These organs have common morphological and endocrine-like characteristics that distinguish them from the rest of the nervous system and neural connections with strategic nuclei establishing circuitry for communications throughout the neuraxis.
Ventricles are hollow cavities within the brain that produce CSF from their lining (choroid plexus). The choroid plexus consists of many capillaries, separated from the subarachnoid space by pia mater and choroid ependymal cells. Liquid filters through these cells from blood to become CSF. There is also much active transport of substances into, and out of, of the CSF as it's made. CSF normally contains no red or white blood cells and little protein; all constituents of CSF are resorbed, including small molecules, proteins and microorganisms. There is a higher concentration of most molecules in the brain than in the CSF, this creates a chemical gradient between the two compartments. CSF allows for distribution of neuroactive substances, and is the "sink" that collects wastes produced by the brain: the main ones being C02, lactate and excess hydrogen ions (H+). It also serves as a heat sink.
CSF itself is clear and colorless, and contains small amounts of protein, glucose, potassium and relatively large amounts of sodium chloride. CFS passes through ventricles and into the fourth ventricle from which it escapes into the subarachonoid space through the median and lateral apertures. From there it circulates via hydrostatic pressure through the subarachonoid cisterns at the base of the brain, and then is directed up over the hemispheres and down around the spinal cord, flowing down to about the second sacral vertebrae. After it is reabsorbed into venus sinus blood via arachnoid villi; note that arachnoid villi become hypertrophied and calcified with age (arachnoid granulations). Arachnoid villi are small protrusions of the arachnoid (the thin second layer covering the brain) through the dura (the thick outer layer). They protrude into the venous sinuses of the brain, and allow cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) to exit the brain, and enter the blood stream. The arachnoid villi act as one-way valves. Normally the pressure of the CSF is higher than that of the venous system, so CSF flows through the villi and granulations into the blood. It has been suggested that the endothelial cells of the venous sinus create vacuoles of CSF, which move through the cell and out into the blood.
The CSF is moved under the influence of hydrostatic pressure generated by its continuous production and its circulation allows for homeostasis of the environment that surrounds the brain. CSF movement allows arterial expansion and contraction by acting like a spring, which prevents wide changes in intracranial blood flow. It is expected that the brain tissue and the CSF would have the same hydrostatic pressure in any part of the brain. The cerebrospinal fluid fills the cavity of the ventricles and the subarachnoid spaces. The subarachnoid space extends caudally around the spinal cord and ends in lumbar-sacral dural sac where it surrounds the cauda equina. The lining of the tube is composed of ependymal cells and cili, the beating of which is required for normal CSF flow. Cilliated cells are common throughout the respiratory and genital tracts and also in the tympani-the cartilaginous and bony margins of auditory tube, Eustachian tube connecting the back of the nose to the middle ear and ventricals of the brain.
The fluid is made at the rate of 21ml/hr is completely changed every 6-7 hours. It is believed that CSF takes one to two hours to reach the basal cisterns, 3 to 4 hours to reach the sylvian fissure and 10 to 12 hours to spread over the cerebral subarachnoid space. By 24 hours it started to be cleared into the superior sagittal sinus.
As much as the brain tissue is protected by a blood brain barrier from changes outside the central nervous system, the CSF has the same protection and does not change biochemically as a result of changes in the systemic circulation. These barriers are at the level of the endothelium of brain capillaries, at the level of the epithelium of the choroid plexuses and the outer layers of arachnoid matter. These barriers protect the brain and the subarachnoid spaces from damaging influences outside the brain. Along with the other circumventicular organs the pineal lies outside of the Blood Brain Barrier (BBB).
The pineal gland is located above a crucial byway for CSF. The pineal gland can influence the rest of the brain via circulation of CSF. It is close proximity to the limbic and sensory centers of the brain. In the fetus the pineal gland develops from specialized tissue in the roof of the mouth and migrates to the center of the brain. This is perhaps so because both the pineal gland and the intestinal tract produce serotonin. Blood vessels surrounding the pineal gland transfer melatonin to the rest of the body, but it is circulated directly in the brain via CSF. CSF serves as a route for the conduction of neuroactive peptides and hormones and may serve as a reservoir of neuroactive substances that can be transported outward by glial tanycytes. These are specialized ependymal cells with long basal processes, rich in mitochondria which serve a transporter role in the brain.
Glial cells form a layer around brain blood vessels, however they do not contribute to the BBB, rather they maybe important for the transport of ions from the brain to the blood. The Blood Brain Barrier has many fascinating physiological components and one of the most interesting is that there is an estimated 5-6 times more mitochondria in BBB endothelial cells compared to muscle tissue. This increase in mitochondria and consequent increase in energy potential, is thought to be required for active transport of nutrients from the blood to the brain.
(See Superfluidity for more on the CSF connection to kundalini)
If you watch John Boorman's Excalabur, 1981 you will see the wording around the grail legend to be a perfect description of the inner alchemy. The King and the Land are One--if one finds the Grail one recovers their soul by which the land and society are made healthy--"I didn't know how empty I was until I became full." And whom does the Grail serve? It serves the Universal King of Soul, but not the Wounded King of ego. One could call amrita the Elixir of Soul and the crystal palace in which it is formed is the sacred chalice itself.
The contents of the Grail is "amrita," the Essence of Soul...it is the key to our enlightenment or our "already full state." It raises us to the spiritual level which is generous...generative...radiant gratitude. It doesn't actually need anything because it's already full. Serving the world comes through the simple act of Being, at that level. Basically we fill up and supplant our deprivation state with Essence. They say about the Christ-Fire, or the energy up the Sushumna, that all sin (deprivation) is burned clean and absolved in the Christ-Fire. This is directly pointing to the tendency of kundalini to burn through the pain-body and change the amygdala and other parts of the limbic and emotional response system helping us to transcend our wiring that was built in response to "this cruel world."
The Crystal Palace is the "upper alchemical vessel" in which the coniuncto, or union of the opposites takes place. In Taoism these areas or cauldrons in which the elixir is cultivated are called Tan Tiens or Medicine Fields. The solar plexus is the Middle Tan Tien and below the belly button is the Lower Tan Tien. In the fetus the neural chrest splits in two and one half develops into the central nervous system, while the other becomes the Enteric nervous system or "stomach brain." In the Eastern world internal alchemy was developed to educate this stomach brain to produce the Pearl or the Elixir.
Western Alchemists through the hierosgamos or sacred marriage the alchemists hoped to produce lapis philosophorum by which the aspirant achieved "Know Thyself" status. The philosophers stone was said to have utopian qualities, to cure all ills, ensure immortality, bestow wisdom, resolve all conflict and to establish peace, harmony and equanimity. In psychological terms this represents the union of the conscious self with the unconscious (sub/trans) in forging the Self or the Whole Human. The initiate learnt from within to know all that is heaven and earth. That is they discovered "what" rather than "who" they are. The sacred marriage or mysterium coniunctionis, is none other than the play of yin and yang represented in the Tao.
The grand goal of the alchemical opus in both East and West was the integration of the Whole Human with the unus mundus or "the world in which all is one"...the Eternal Ground of Being. Such merger of the personal will with the transpersonal or Universal Will meant the embodiment of the impulses of Spirit in one's daily life...that is Divine Illumination. To this end the caelum, lapis, ambrosia or amrita, which connotes the sublimated quintessence extracted from the body, the unconscious and the world, was achieved through various alchemical operations (eg: mortification, coagulatio, sublimatio, coniuncto).
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