As an image of perfect meditative bliss and serenity, few depictions can match the uncanny representation of this state in some of the statues of The Buddha. What is usually quite prominent in these images, apart from the pendulous ears and the ‘bindi’ on the agnya chakra at the centre of the forehead, is The Buddha’s posture, pagoda-like in it’s majesty. Intriguingly, the hair is shown as a beautiful tessalation of tight curls, even though it’s more likely that, similar to present-day inhabitants in Nepal, The Buddha would have had straight hair.
So is this a piece of artistic license on the part of the sculptors or could they have been trying to represent something much more significant; something, in fact, that held the clue to The Buddha’s blissful meditative state?
Scientific discovery in the field Brain Neuro-physiology may point to the latter explanation. In 1973, two scientists, Solomon H. Snyder and Candace Pert, working at the John Hopkins University School of Medicine, discovered ‘opiate receptors’ in the brain. This was a break-through because up until that point the only treatment for drug addicts was cold-turkey, so little understood was the action of opiates like heroin and morphine, on the brain.
But the research initially threw up an interesting question. If the opiate receptors, which can be compared to a lock, matches perfectly with the active ingredient in heroin or morphine, i.e. the opiate, which is the key to the lock, then did God intend for all of us to become junkies at some point? After all, why have something there if it’s never going to be used?
The answer to this question came when the same scientists discovered naturally occurring opiates in the body, which bind to these receptor sites. These natural opiates include endorphins and serotonin, which are produced in the body and have a range of effects from acting as painkillers to mood-enhancers.
This scientific work laid the foundations for the discovery of a naturally occurring cannabinoid neurotransmitter (chemical communicators), which was named as Anandamide. In Sanskrit ‘Ananda’ means ‘Bliss’ which also has it’s primary effect in the brain.
Apparently, to enjoy this same ‘Ananda’ or ‘Bliss’, all one needs to do is locate a suitable meditation practice. Ideally one where they recognise, associate and achieve a blissful state as a result of bringing the conscious attention to the chakra located at the crown of the head. This is the seventh chakra and is named the Sahasrara chakra or thousand-petalled lotus. It’s as if these 1,000 petals of this “mystical’ lotus correspond to the receptors in the brain in the limbic area, whose function itself is primarily associated with the experience of “Bliss”.
The science provides the possible explanation as to why we feel the meditative bliss and the art, in the form of Buddha’s depiction, re-inforces the sense that the source of the bliss is the thousand-petalled lotus at the crown of the head.
So, perhaps it seems that God designed all of us to be Buddha’s or ‘Enlightened Ones’; we just have to get into our own state of Meditative Bliss! – You can try one form of Yoga Meditation out without having to travel to the Himalayas. A charity runs Free weekly meetings across the UK – very intriguing! http://www.sahajayogalondon.co.uk