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Dec 03, 1999 06:07 PM
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<META content=3D"The Yogic Chakra System" name=3Dtitle>
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<H2 align=3Dcenter>
The Yogic Chakra System</H2>
<P align=3Dcenter>Serena M. Roney - Dougal, Ph.D.,</P>
<P align=3Dcenter>Psi Research Centre,</P>
<P align=3Dcenter>Glastonbury, Somerset, Britain.</P>

<P>Recent literature research by myself into the pineal gland as the =
locus of ajna chakra, conceived in yogic tradition as being the psychic =
of our being, is extended here to explore the yogic idea of ajna chakra =
as the=20
command chakra, in command over all the other chakra centres. I have =
come across=20
multiple references to the importance of the major pineal neurohormone,=20
melatonin, as the off-switch for the endocrine glands' output of =
hormones. I am=20
therefore proposing that the endocrine system is the physical aspect of =
yogic spiritual tradition of the chakras. (I must stress that what =
follows is=20
still in a speculative and exploratory stage).</P>
<H3>The Yogic Chakra System</H3>
<P>The yogic chakra system, as explained by Swami Satyananda Saraswati =
&amp; b), consists of seven chakras which are normally depicted as a =
sort of=20
"spinal column" with three channels called nadis (ida, pingala and =
which interweave, the crossing-points being the sites of the chakras. In =
terms this can be readily understood as the central nervous system =
(sushumna) in=20
the spinal cord around which, on either side, runs the autonomic nervous =
which has two aspects, the parasympathetic which can be correlated with =
ida, and=20
the sympathetic with pingala. Where these two cross they form plexuses, =
nodes, from which nerves go out to, for example, the heart, lungs, =
digestive system and the endocrine organs.</P>
<P>These chakras are considered to be important points for the =
channelling of=20
consciousness, energy nodes linking the physical with the spiritual. =
They have=20
been adopted quite widely into popular usage in the West, partly through =
Theosophists at the turn of the century, and partly because of the =
interest in Eastern spirituality birthed during the sixties. There are =
present many differing correspondences and attributes linked to them and =

therefore this review is presented with the aim of achieving greater =
<H3>The Pineal Gland: Ajna Chakra</H3>
<P>As a parapsychologist I am interested in the Indian lore surrounding =
chakra which is held to be the psychic centre. This corresponds very =
with our Western lore which considers the pineal gland to be the "third =
eye" or=20
the "seat of the soul." For example, Swami Satyananda (1972a) states =
that: "The=20
name Ajna comes from the root "to know" and "to obey and to follow". =
the word Ajna means "command" . . . . Yogis, who are scientists of the =
mind, have spoken of telepathy as a "siddhi", a psychic power for =
communication and clair-audience etc. The medium of such siddhis is Ajna =
and its physical terminus is the pineal gland." I have found that his =
concept of=20
the pineal gland as the psychic chakra and as the command chakra has a =
psychoneuroendocrinological basis.</P>
<H3>The Psychic Chakra: Pinoline</H3>
<P>There is a large body of neurochemical and anthropological evidence =
suggests that, as well as melatonin, the pineal gland produces a =
(pinoline) that may enhance a psi-conducive state of consciousness. For =
details of this research please see Roney-Dougal (1989, 1991, 1993). In =
the pineal gland has been found to synthesise various beta-carbolines =
peptides, and to contain enzymes that produce psychoactive compounds =
such as=20
5-methoxy dimethyltryptamine (5MeODMT). These have wide-ranging effects=20
throughout our brain and body, affecting the gonads, adrenals, pancreas, =

thyroid, and other emotional and endocrine activities.</P>
<P>Of most interest here are the neuromodulators called beta-carbolines =
are MAO inhibitors that prevent, amongst other effects, the breakdown of =

serotonin. This results in an accumulation of physiologically active =
within the neuronal synapses which may lead to hallucinations, =
depression or=20
mania depending on the amines being affected (Strassman, 1990). The =
contains the greatest concentration of serotonin in the brain. There is =
suggestion that it is the action of the pineal beta-carbolines, in =
6-Methoxytetrahydro-betacarboline (6MeOTHBC, now being called pinoline), =
serotonin that triggers dreaming (Callaway, 1988). Spontaneous case =
studies (e.g. Rhine, 1969) have found that most (more than 60%) =
spontaneous psi=20
experiences occur during the sleeping and dreaming state of =
consciousness, which=20
suggests that the dream state is a state of consciousness whereby we are =
likely to have psi expereinces, and pinoline is suggested to be the=20
neurochemical that triggers this particular state of consiousness.</P>
<P>Anthropological data suggest that pinoline is psi-conducive because =
chemical structure is very similar to a naturally occurring group of =
called harmala alkaloids which occur in an Amazonian vine, =
Banisteriopsis caapi,=20
used by Amazonian tribes for psychic purposes (Roney - Dougal, 1986 =
&amp; 1989).=20
The Amazon has a huge variety of psychotropic plants, yet all the tribes =

throughout that vast area use this same vine mixed with Psychotria =
viridis (Nai=20
kawa) which contains dimethyltryptamine (DMT) (Ott, 1993 &amp; 1994), =
healing, out-of-body experiences, clairvoyance and precognition. It is=20
traditionally used only when psi experiences are desired, though =
nowadays it is=20
also used for general initiatory purposes. Thus the tribal people make a =
of harmala alkaloids and DMT which mimics the tryptamine-pinoline =
ascribed to the night time pineal gland. My speculation is that when the =
gland produces pinoline we are more likely to enter an altered state of=20
consciousness which is both dreamlike and psi-conducive.</P>
<P>Thus, the anthropological evidence suggests that harmala alkaloids =
mixed with=20
DMT stimulate a psi-conducive state of consciousness; the neurochemical =
suggests that the harmala alkaloids are an analogue of pinoline which is =

produced in the pineal gland, and which is involved in the dream state =
<H3>The Command Chakra: Melatonin</H3>
<P>However, the yogic lore not only equates ajna chakra with the psychic =
of our being, but also as the command chakra. For an understanding of =
the pineal=20
gland as command chakra we have to look to its main action which is the=20
production of the neurohormone melatonin which affects both the brain =
and the=20
body. The pineal works, together with the pituitary, through the =
controlling the endocrine system. The most important function of =
melatonin is=20
maintaining the biological clock, both on a daily basis according to the =
sun, on=20
an annual basis according to length of day, and on a lunar basis as =
well. The=20
circadian regulation is achieved through the actions of serotonin and =
Serotonin is made during the day and melatonin at night. Melatonin =
production is=20
determined primarily by neural activity from the hypothalamic =
nucleus (SCN) and there is a feedback relationship with the endocrine =
Gonadal steroids, pituitary gonadotrophins, thyroxine, prolactin and the =
hormones intervene in the mechanisms governing melatonin synthesis.</P>
<P>The most important neuronal function of melatonin is as a sleep ind =
sucer. It=20
has been found to ease insomnia because it causes drowsiness, and also =
to combat=20
jet lag (Cowley, 1995). Melatonin also modulates release of stress =
thereby controlling heart attacks and stomach ulcers. Recent research =
that melatonin is involved in the aging process (Maestroni et al, 1989). =
et al (1989) found that we make half as much melatonin by age 45 as we =
do when=20
children. It also helps to prevent pregnancy because of its interaction =
with the=20
reproductive system as a hormone inhibitor. This inhibitory action means =
melatonin controls puberty; without it we would be sexually active at 4 =
- 5=20
years old.</P>
<P>Thus melatonin functions to affect the body in ways which are =
connected with yogis: yogis are said to live for many years longer than =
are considered to be relaxed and stress-free people; to be able to =
control many=20
of their physical functions, such as heart rate, circadian rhythm and =
rate; celibacy is linked to the religious life, and within yoga there is =
the tantric path; and they are considered to enjoy excellent health.</P>
<P>Through the light sensitivity of the pineal gland and its primary =
role within=20
the biological clock system, regulating the rise and fall of the =
system and switching off the endocrine glands, the concept of the pineal =
as the=20
command chakra is certainly worthy of consideration.</P>
<H3>The Thyroid Gland: Vishuddhi Chakra</H3>
<P>According to Satyananda (1972b), vishuddhi chakra is located in the =
and is the centre of "the nectar of immortality." It is connected with =
the sense=20
of hearing and thus with the ears, and of course with the vocal cords =
and with=20
<P>The thyroid makes thyroxine which regulates the metabolic rate of the =
i.e., it controls how fast the body runs: an overactive thyroid means =
that the=20
heart beats fast, one becomes thin, sexual desire increases, and the =
mind works=20
overtime; whilst an underactive thyroid has the opposite effect.=20
Neurochemically, the thyroid is under the inhibitory control of the =
gland, removal of the pineal resulting in thyroid enlargement and =
hormonal secretion rate. The pineal is also under feedback control by =
the glands=20
which it influences. Pineal cells respond to thyroxine, the response =
particularly strong at night.</P>
<P>Thyrotropin (TSH) is, together with melatonin and the adrenals, =
involved in=20
coping with long term stress. Circadian changes in cortisol levels =
follow an=20
opposite pattern to those of TSH (Johnson, 1982). Stress is intimately =
with metabolic rate, heart rate, an overactive mind, and also with age =
as an=20
older person cannot cope with stress as well as a younger person. Long =
stress is very different from short term stress (which is dealt with by =
adrenals) and it is interesting that ajna, vishuddhi and manipura are =
concerned with stress - which also affects the heart .</P>
<H3>The Heart Centre: Anahata chakra</H3>
<P>According to Satyananda, anahata chakra is concerned with will and =
feeling, touch, the skin especially the hands, manifesting in such arts =
painting, poetry and music, which are aspects of heart. </P>
<P>As a result of the writings by Theosophists, many people consider =
anahata chakra is connected with the thymus gland, which physiologically =
is most=20
active in children and is concerned with the immune system. Recent =
suggests that there is a connection between the pineal gland and the =
because of its interaction with the immune system. Functional =
between the immune and the neuroendocrine systems are being increasingly =

recognized. Thus stressful effects, distress, from psychological or=20
neuro-endocrinological causes may adversely affect the immune system and =
<P>Circadian synthesis and release of melatonin exerts an important=20
immunomodulatory role, in that it appears to be a physiological =
up-regulator of=20
the immune system and to operate via the endogenous opioid system (EOS) =
antigen activated cells. Thus, it is possible to see melatonin as an =
hormone since melatonin reverses the depression of antibody production =
by corticosterone in drinking water. Failure to cope with distress may =
dependent on an exhausted EOS and melatonin may restore the EOS.</P>
<P>So there is some connection between the pineal and the thymus, and =
yet whilst=20
there is a link between keeping healthy and the normal concept of the =
aspect of heart in our culture, there is another hormone connected with =
region in humans which expresses heart emotion much more strongly: the =
prolactin which is connected with lactation in the breasts, and with =
mood swings=20
in both men and women.</P>
<P>Melatonin is the off-switch for prolactin production. Prolactin is =
made by=20
the pituitary, is involved with pregnancy and stimulates lactation, and =
implicated in manic-depression. Most of the research with prolactin has =
with animals, but there has been some research with humans showing once =
the link with the pineal gland.</P>
<P>Prolactin secretion in women is controlled by the ovarian steroids, =
its level=20
being modified by the fluctuating oestradiol levels of the menstrual =
Oestrogens stimulate prolactin secretion, so women have higher basal =
particularly during reproductive years and pregnancy. There is a close =
between plasma oestradiol and prolactin. Webley (1988) =C4 found that, =
melatonin, prolactin shows a night time peak around 3 - 4.00 am and its=20
concentration increases with sleep. There is a diurnal rhythm in =
sensitivity to=20
melatonin: melatonin given in the morning stimulates a constant increase =
prolactin concentration across the sampling period, whereas in the =
evening a=20
peak in prolactin was evident after 90 -120 mins. Women have higher=20
sleep-related prolactin elevations.</P>
<P>This leads to the conclusion that it is possible that melatonin may =
directly the nocturnal increase in prolactin . Further hypersecretion of =

prolactin and the related pituitary hormones, luteinising hormone (LH) =
and human=20
growth hormone (HGH) may be associated with affective (mood) disorders =
such as=20
manic depression and recurrent depression - here we see clearly the link =
our emotional, physical and psychological states of being.</P>
<P>I am suggesting that the hormones are the physical aspect of the =
Every hormone has a physical component which affects the workings of the =
They also have an emotional component, and I am suggesting that =
prolactin is the=20
hormone of the emotion we associate with the heart chakra. Prolactin is =
made in=20
men as well as women and children, for all of our lives, and has =
functions other=20
than the primary one of lactation. It is intimately connected with =
melatonin and=20
hence ajna chakra, with TRH and hence with vishuddhi chakra, with=20
glucocorticoids and our stress levels and with oestrogen and hence =
<H3>The Solar Plexus: Manipura Chakra</H3>
<P>Satyananda says that manipura chakra is located behind the navel and =
old age, decay and emaciation by burning up the nectar of immortality. =
It is=20
also connected with the sense of sight and the eyes and it is the organ =
action and hence is also connected with walking, the legs and the feet. =
solar plexus is the locus for our "gut feelings" about people and =
and is connected with digestion and assimilation. It has also been =
linked with=20
ambition, will, self-assertion, vital energy, power struggles, anger and =

jealousy. Manipura is the uppermost of the "earthly" or base chakras. =
<P>There are two possible endocrine organs in the gut which could be =
linked with=20
manipura: the pancreas and the adrenals:</P>
<P>The adrenals are the endocrine glands I consider are most strongly =
related to=20
manipura. Most people know these as the "fight or flight" glands in that =

adrenaline is produced when we are in a str Wessful situation and we =
burn up our=20
body energy in order to cope with a crisis; adrenaline is the hormone of =
We feel the fire in our belly.</P>
<P>The pineal is connected with the adrenals, and in particular with =
and the corticosteroids in many ways. The adrenals comprise two parts: =
cortex and the medulla. The cortex secretes glucocorticoids such as=20
corticosterone, on a rhythmic light-dark cycle linked with hormones from =
pituitary and the hypothalamus. The glucocorticoids are involved with =
metabolism and as stress protectors; it also secretes mineralocorticoids =
are involved in mineral balance, and also anxiety; and also the =
steroids which include testosterone, are involved in body building and =
and there is a steroid surge in the morning that helps us wake up. The =
medulla secretes adren =E1aline. The pineal inhibits release of all of =
hormones, thus controlling our physical level of immediate short-term=20
<P>Some people consider that the pancreas, which is involved in =
digestion and=20
the input of energy and energy maintenance (the Islets of Langerhans =
within the=20
pancreas make insulin, a glucose using hormone, and glucagon, a glucose =
hormone), is the endocrine organ of manipura chakra. This would make =
very good=20
sense in terms of our Western concept of the solar plexus, and is =
certainly to=20
be considered. Davidson (1989) mentions insulin and glucagon in this =
as the food factory of the body, that which gives us our physical =
<P>However, there is still a connection with the adrenals because the =
is turned off by adrenaline and noradrenaline, and adrenaline regulates =
uptake of glucose. Therefore the pancreas is connected with the pineal =
via the=20
<H3>The Root of the Spinal Cord: Swadhistana Chakra</H3>
<P>Swami Satyananda states that swadhistana is connected with all "the =
phases of=20
the unconscious", the subliminal mind (Satyananda, 1972b). Traditionally =
it has=20
also been linked with sexuality, sensory pleasure, liquid, taste, =
and self-indulgence.</P>
<P>I think that swadhistana is connected with the secondary sexual=20
characteristics aspect of sexuality, with follicle stimulating hormone =
luteinising hormone (LH), oestrogen and androsterones as the hormones of =
chakra. These hormones are central to the development of the secondary =
characteristics - they define our gender, our selves as sexual people, =
the pitch=20
of our voice, the shape and strength of our body, whether or not we have =
beard, and the differing emotional characteristics of men and women.</P>
<P>There is a strong link between the pineal gland and the generative =
aspect of=20
sexuality. Melatonin levels in the mother are exceptionally high during=20
pregnancy reaching a peak at birth. The diurnal rise in plasma melatonin =
enhanced as pregnancy progresses, supporting the idea of a role for the =
pineal in entraining foetal body rhythms (Reppert, 1988).</P>
<P>Thus the connection between the pineal gland and the gonadal system =
apparent in connection with pregnancy and birth. The glandular =
connection of=20
swadhistana is with the gonads and related systems so that to some =
extent it=20
overlaps with muladhara chakra, and so I look to other aspects of our =
- puberty and the menstrual cycle - in the discussion of muladhara.</P>
<H3>The Coccygeal Plexus: Muladhara Chakra</H3>
<P>According to Satyananda, muladhara chakra is the root chakra, =
connected in the male with the testes, and in the female with the =
cervix, and=20
with the perineum and anus for both sexes. This chakra is connected with =
sense of smell, the nose and the earth element, with passion, the animal =

instincts, anger, greed, excretory functions, secretory and sexual =
attachment, material security, survival and materialism. It is the seat =
kundalini, and has obvious and direct connections with sexual energy in =
its most=20
earthy aspect. Satyananda considers that there is a special connection =
ajna chakra and muladhara, and there are certainly extensive connections =
the pineal gland and the gonads. Therefore I link this chakra with =
in men which is primarily made by the testes (Wilson &amp; Foster, =
1992), and=20
with the menstrual cycle in women.</P>
<P>The pineal synthesises antigonadotropic peptides. Melatonin inhibits =
development in children and regulates the onset of sexuality at puberty =
humans. There is a fall in plasma melatonin associated with puberty and =
pineal normally becomes calcified then (Ng &amp; Wong, 1986; Vaughan =
Reiter, 1986). In their turn the gonadal hormones, inhibit the =
biosynthesis of=20
the pineal hormone melatonin, and prolactin secretion is inhibited by =
steroids, suggesting that there is a physical as well as spiritual, =
mental and=20
emotional links between mind, heart and sex.</P>
<P>The pineal nighttime melatonin concentration decreases progressively =
the menstural cycle. Melatonin secretion is significantly higher during =
the late=20
luteal phase than during the preovulatory phase and melatonin levels =
fall before=20
ovulation. The onset of the LH surge is in the early morning when =
levels are falling (Brzezinski &amp; Wurtman, 1988). Those using the=20
contraceptive pill have less melatonin since there is a positive =
between melatonin and progesterone. Continuous light, which causes a =
decrease in=20
melatonin production, also causes a decrease in ovarian melatonin =
whilst injections of melatonin result in smaller testes.</P>
<P>I consider that these studies linking the pineal gland with the =
endocrines aids understanding of the lore surrounding sexuality and =
functioning. Children and celibates were almost universally those chosen =
temple seers and prophets, the oracle at Delphi being an excellent =
example of=20
this. Some research suggests that children are more psychic when they =
younger, and much of the research into poltergeists suggests that =
are often the focus for this wild uncontrolled psychokinetic storm.</P>
<P>Our knowledge of the endocrine system, the chemistry of our body-mind =
emotional system, is still meagre. However, partial as our knowledge may =
be, it=20
does fit together with what the yogis, "scientists of the subtle mind," =
tell us=20
about the yogic chakra system. Our disciplines, apparently so different =
language and method, appear to corroborate each other. I am suggesting =
that the=20
pineal gland is the physical aspect of ajna chakra; the thyroid of =
the breasts of anahata; the adrenals of manipura; and the gonads of =
and muladhara. These endocrine glands are all positioned at the =
points of the chakras and their functions are remarkably equivalent to =
traditional descriptions of the chakra functions.</P>
<P>There are a bewildering number of versions of the yogic chakra =
Perhaps by linking this spiritual system with Western =
we can create a deeper understanding of the links between mind, body and =
for the benefit of all of us. </P>
<P>Brzezinski, A. &amp; Wurtman, R.J. (1988). The Pineal Gland: Its =
roles in human reproduction. Obstetrical &amp; Gynaecological Survey, 43 =
197 - 207.</P>
<P>Callaway, J.C. (1988). "A proposed mechanism for the visions of dream =
Medical Hypotheses, 26, 119 - 124.</P>
<P>Cowley, G. (1995). Melatonin, Newsweek, Aug.7, 46 - 49</P>
<P>Davidson, J. (1989). Subtle Biology: The Web of Life, J. Davidson,=20
<P>Johnson, L.Y (1982). The Pineal as a modulator of the Adrenal and =
Axes. In Reiter, R.J., The Pineal Gland, Vol. III: Extra-reproductive =
C.R.C. Press Inc., Boca Raton, Florida, USA.</P>
<P>Maestroni, G.J.M. et al (1989). Pineal Melatonin, its fundamental=20
immunoregulatory role in aging and cancer. Annals New York Academy of =
140 - 148.</P>
<P>Ng, T.B. &amp; Wong, C.M. (1986). Pineal lipid metabolism, J. Pineal =
Res., 3,=20
<P>Ott, J. (1993). Pharmacotheon: Entheogenic drugs, their plant sources =
history, Natural Products Co., WA, USA.</P>
<P>Ott, J. (1994). Ayahuasca Analogues: Pang=E6an Antheogens, Natural =
Co., WA, USA.</P>
<P>Reppert, S.M. et al. (1988). Maternal Communication of Circadian =
Phase to the=20
Developing Mammal, Psychoneuroendocrinol., 13, 613-78. </P>
<P>Rhine, L.E. (1969). Case Study Review. J. Parapsychology, 33, 228 - =
<P>Roney - Dougal, S.M. (1986). Some speculations on a possible psychic =
of harmaline. In Weiner, D.H. &amp; Radin, D.I. (eds.), Research in=20
Parapsychology 1985, Scarecrow Press, Metuchen, NJ, p.120 - 123.</P>
<P>Roney - Dougal, S.M. (1989). Recent Findings relating to the possible =
role of=20
the Pineal Gland in affecting Psychic Abilities. J. Soc. Psych. Res., =
<P>Roney - Dougal, S.M. (1991). Where Science and Magic Meet, Element =
<P>Roney - Dougal, S.M. (1993). Some Speculations on the Effect of =
on the Pineal Gland, J. Soc. Psych. Res., 59, 1 - 15. </P>
<P>Satyananda, Swami Saraswati. (1972a). The Pineal Gland (Ajna Chakra). =
School of Yoga, Bihar, India.</P>
<P>Satyananda, Swami Saraswati. (1972b). Kundalini Yoga. Bihar School of =
Bihar, India.</P>
<P>Strassman, R.J. (1990). The Pineal Gland: Current Evidence for its =
Role in=20
Consciousness. In Lyttle, T. (ed.), Psychedelic Monographs and Essays. =
Vol. 5.=20
PM&amp;E Pub., Boynton Beach, Florida.</P>
<P>Touitou, Y. et al. (1984). Patterns of plasma melatonin with aging =
and mental=20
condition: stability of nyctohemeral rhythms and differences in seasonal =

variation. Acta Endocrinol, 106, 145-151. </P>
<P>Vaughan, G.M. &amp; Reiter, R.J. (1986). Pineal dependence of the =
hamster's nocturnal serum melatonin surge, J. Pineal Res., 3, 9-14.</P>
<P>Webley, G.E. et al. (1988). Positive Relationship between the =
concentration of melatonin and Prolactin, and a stimulation of Prolactin =
Melatonin administration in Wilson, J.D. &amp; Foster, D.W. (eds.) =
Williams Text book of Endocrinology, 8th ed., W.B. Saunders, USA.</P>
<P>Thanks are due to all those people who have helped me collect this =
body of=20
knowledge, most particularly to Anne Silk for searching Medline; to Ian =
for correcting my errors in the first draft of this paper, for =
assistance in the=20
details of the second draft, and for the gift of a valuable book; to =
Whitehouse for her eternal supply of interesting information and ideas; =
to Ellis=20
Snitcher for sharing his expertise in neuroendocrinology with me. </P>


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