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The Magic Number 40

By Michael Ketterhagen



 “But if one prepares himself by practicing discipline

and at the same time

 has the comprehensive knowledge of the … goal …,

he can reach his destination ….”

-Swami Rama,

Perennial Psychological of the Bhagavad Gita


When I was studying theology in the seminary, I learned that scriptural theologians believed that the number 40 was an important theological symbol in the Hebrew and Christian scriptures. It referred to a period of time that figuratively meant that a major transformation had occurred for anyone or any nation that had done or experienced something for 40 days, or 40 days and nights, or forty years.  With my study of yoga science and philosophy, I have since learned that the number 40 is literal. It is not symbolic, but indicates when something actually happens or is done for that precise period of time, the person or nation or situation is transformed. The number 40 was the scientific basis for the change that was considered transformational in the Christian and Jewish sacred books.


The medical world has discovered that as well, recognizing that it takes 6 weeks (42 days) for complete healing to happen when one had a surgery or was healing from an accident or broken bone. I found that out as well when all the red scars from my knee replacement surgeries became white after that 6-week period.  My knees, said the doctors, were totally healed.   I went from the pain and agony of a knee replacement to total healing in that specific period of time.


Why is 40 or 42 so significant? Yoga science and philosophy gave me the answer.


But first, in case you are not aware of this, let me introduce you to the chakras, the wheels of energy, that yoga says are centers of consciousness in the human body.


Humans, and all sentient life for that matter, live within an “egg of energy.” The New Age world called that space our aura. Yoga calls that space our spiritual Self, Atman, because yoga says that we are spiritual beings with minds and bodies. Our true Self is the life force of the Divine Spirit that the Christian world calls the “soul.” For yoga, this True Self is the vibrant source of life for all of us.


So, in our physical life our energetic egg has eight energy points that maintain our physical, emotional, and mental life functioning. These are called our “chakras” which in Sanskrit means “wheels.” They are wheels of energy. Each chakra governs a certain part of the human body and maintains the proper functioning of that part. Because the body is one with the mind and our emotions, each physical energy center heals that part of the body or adjusts that part of the body to be in accord with the goal of the body, which is complete healing and balance.


Each of these eight energy centers, according to yoga, takes 5 days to change its consciousness. These 5 days puts its part of the body in tune with the Spirit’s purpose or new direction. One’s personal goal makes that direction known to each chakra.


In the healing process, the ultimate goal is whole body healing or unity within the whole body, starting with the root chakra (the energy wheel at the floor of the spinal column). This happens during the first 5 days of the same practice or activity. This chakra is in charge of the physical security of the body. During the next five days of practice the second chakra aligns the emotions. The mental chakra, the third energy wheel, falls in line after the next 5 days and so on until all eight chakras are “spinning” in tune with the goal. The change or transformation is completed.


The person or nation will begin to act in tune with one’s personal goal.


After 40 days of changing the consciousness at each chakra, the whole being is changed to the new consciousness. The whole person is feeling and doing something new. This is the new goal.  It just takes discipline and the knowledge/conviction that this is what one truly wants in order for the transformation to occur. 


I know this works.  I changed my whole life’s direction toward smoking by using this practice. For 30 days I said to myself as I put myself to sleep, “On October 31, 1975, I will quit smoking and not miss it.”   I reprogrammed my lower five chakras. I had already committed myself to the spiritual cessation of smoking because I saw myself as the temple of the Holy Spirit and I no longer wanted to destroy God’s temple.  On November 1, I woke up and didn’t even think of smoking and have never smoked since.   Many Christians have used the 40-days method to change their lives during the forty days of Lent, and of course, Lord Jesus became aware of his mission on earth after 40 days and nights of fasting in the wilderness of Judaea.


So, the number forty is not a symbolic expression, not a spiritual “hocus-pocus,” but an actual physical, scientific protocol that transforms us into whatever we choose as a goal for ourselves. All it takes is discipline to do whatever practice one is doing for forty days and the transformation will occur.


In the next two weeks, I will look more scientifically at each of these energy centers and explore their power and ability to help us make real changes in our lives.


I bow to the divinity within you!


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