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The Chakra System

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Chakra

The word chakra is Sanskrit (चक्र) for “wheel” and refers to energy centers that exist in the physical, emotional, and spiritual bodies. These force centers are points of connections at which energy flows from one body of a man to another. At each chakra, the concentrated energy spins around a central point, like a wheel spinning around an axle. All these wheels are perpetually rotating and a force from the higher world is always flowing into them – in the undeveloped person usually sluggishly, while in a more evolved person they may be glowing and pulsating.[1]

The seven main chakras are described as being aligned in an ascending column from the base of the spine to the top of the head. Each chakra is associated with a certain color, multiple specific functions, an aspect of consciousness, a classical element, and other distinguishing characteristics. Each of the chakras deals with a different aspect of human experience and produces a particular state of consciousness. The chakras also involve a hierarchy of needs, from physical and emotional to intellectual and spiritual. These energy centers have been correlated to colors, organs, and the Kabbalistic Tree of Life. The chakras are thought to vitalize the physical body and to be associated with interactions of both a physical and mental nature. They are considered loci of life energy, or prana (also called shakti, or chi), which is thought to flow among them along pathways called nadis.[2]

Like the Western Sephiroth, each chakra has a series of correspondences attributed to it. These include colors, sounds, deities, symbols, planets, exercise positions or asanas, and parts of the body, among a host of other associations. All of these correspondences can be called upon for meditation and ritual work with the chakras.

We should add that although the chakras are correlated to certain physical organs, glands, or nerve caters, they are not solely physical centers. To think of them in this way is to fall into the trap of Western rationalization. Anyone who believes that the chakra system is a network of purely physical organs and responses will never be able to experience the “raising of the kundalini.”[6]

History

Various traditions have different views about the number and exact location of the chakras. Some sources describe five or seven chakras, others eight. Some chakras are considered major, some minor, but most traditions refer to seven chakras that lie along the length of the spine, from the first chakra at its base to the seventh chakra about the crown of the head.

The chakras are described in the tantric texts the Sat-Cakra-Nirupana, and the Padaka-Pancaka, in which they are described as emanations of consciousness from Brahman, an energy emanating from the spiritual which gradually turns concrete, creating these distinct levels of chakras, and which eventually finds its rest in the Muladhara chakra.

The Eastern Chakra system

The Theosophist and author Kurt Leland writes about the Eastern system in his book Rainbow Body: A History of the Western Chakra System from Blavatsky to Brennan: [4]

The form of the Eastern system most familiar in the West appeared in The Secret Serpent, a 1919 publication by Sir John Woodroffe (1835-1936), a British judge on the high court of Calcutta. This book was an exposition of Tantra as it related to the chakras. The Eastern systems consisted of three primary nadis.

Mūlādhāra chakra (root support), also called guda (rectal) chakra.

Svādhiṣṭhāna chakra (own place), also called medhra (genital chakra).

Maṇipūra chakra, also called nābhî (navel) chakra.

Anāhata chakra (unstruck sound); also called hrdaya (heart) chakra. Certain types of yoga involve focusing on subtle sounds that become audible when one meditates on the heart center. Such sounds are considered to be modifications of a universal sound current set in motion by the absolute (Brahman) when the manifest universe was created.

Viśuddha chakra (purifying); also called kantha (throat) chakra.

Ājñā chakra (command); also called bhrūmadhya (brow) chakra. It is said that this is the chakra through which the commands of the guru come. Alternatively, it represents manas (mind) and its mastery indicates that the minds is under the practitioner’s command.[29]

Talking about the ājñā chakra, Swami Satyananda Saraswati said:

There is a certain problem with the awakening of the other chakras. Each one contains a store of karmas or samskara, both good and bad, positive and negative, painful and pleasant. The awakening of any chakra will definitely bring to the surface an explosion or expression of these karmas, and of course, not everybody is prepared or ready to face them. Only those who have reason and understanding are able to cope. Therefore it is said that before you start awakening and manifesting the great force, it is best to purify the mind at the point of confluence. Then, with a purified mind, you can awaken the other chakras. [5]

He also said:

Ajna chakra is the point of confluence where the three main nadis or forces – ida, pingala and sushumna merge into one stream of consciousness and flow up to sahasrara, the crown center.[5]

Sahasrāra chakra (thousand-fold); sometimes referred to by its location: mūrdhān (head/cranial vault). The usual English translation is “thousand-petaled lotus”. [4]

Corresponding attributes

Mūlādhāra

Muladhara, the base or root chakra. The first chakra is located at the sacrum at the base of the spine, near the anus. Associated glands/ organs are the ovaries, the testes, and the pelvic plexus.The traditional color of this chakra is yellow.6 An alternate color given for this center is red.7 Sometimes called the earth chakra, its symbol is prithivi, the yellow square of elemental earth. Basic survival needs are the focus of this center. Muladhara means “basic,” “fundamental,” or simply “root base.” This center is associated with the physical self, elimination of waste, and basic needs of the movement, sustenance, support, grounding, survival, and protection from danger. It also controls the function of sex, a role it shares with the second chakra. Bowel and sexual dysfunctions result from psychic ‘blocks” at the base center.

Location: Base of the body

Element: Earth

Color: Red

Issues: Survival fear

Areas of Body: Eliminatory system, legs and feet

Balanced: Groundedness and safety

Excessively open: Extreme materialism, running to greed and hoarding

Blocked: Feeling insecure and disassociated from our body

Archetype: Earth Mother

Negative Archetype: Victim

Demon: Fear

Svādhiṣṭhāna

Svadisthana, the navel chakra, controls sexuality. It is located about three inches below the navel. Associated organs are the kidneys and the adrenal glands. The generative organs and the hypogastric (lower abdominal) plexus are also attributed here. Traditionally this chakra is colored light blue. An alternative color is vermillion (brilliant orange-red).8 The symbol of this center is apas, the silver-white crescent of elemental water. The word Svadisthana means “one’s own self” or “dwelling place of the self.” Sometimes called the “moon chakra,” the Svadisthana controls the balance and flow of bodily fluids. It functions to preserve the human species through procreation. The issues of family, home, health, and security also correspond here, as well as the raw vitality of “gut-level” emotion, unfettered desire, and the unconscious. Fluid imbalances such as anemia are controlled through this center.

Location: Four fingers below navel

Element: Water

Color: Orange

Issues: Intimacy, emotions

Areas of Body: Reproductive organs and pelvic area

Balanced: Healthy sexuality and emotions; enthusiasm

Excessively open: Weak boundaries

Blocked: Tendency to be very rigid

Archetype: (Physical) love

Negative Archetype: Martyr, denying his/her own pleasure

Demon: Guilt

Maṇipūra

Manipura, the solar plexus chakra, is located just below the sternum. Manipura means “diamond,” or “city of precious stone.” The pancreas, liver, and spleen are also associated here. The traditional color of this chakra is red. An alternative color is a gold? Its symbol is tejas, the red fire triangle. Ths chakra is the center of metabolic energy, enthusiasm, ego, identity, and the personal will for power and control. Its foundation is the individual’s personal being or essence. (Anyone who has ever experienced the sensation of having a “knot in the stomach when anxious or tense will appreciate the importance of the solar plexus center. Continuous stress at this center may cause a number of gastro-intestinal disorders.)

Location: Solar plexus

Element: Fire

Color: Yellow

Issues: Self-esteem, ego, feelings of autonomy

Areas of Body: Stomach, liver, small intestine

Balanced: Healthy social roles

Excessively open: Aggression in a bullying way

Blocked: Selfless behavior motivated by personal worthlessness

Archetype: Hero

Negative Archetype: Servant or slave

Demon: Shame

 

Anāhata

Anahata, the heart chakra in the middle of the chest, is the center of love, feelings, connection, relationships, associations, cooperation, and compassion. It is also the center of meditation, devotion and prayer. The word Anahata means “unstruck sound,” implying that its sound is completely inner-a silent sound. The thymus gland and the cardio-pulmonary plexus are associated here. The traditional color of the fourth chakra is green. An alternate color is deep red.10Its symbols are vayu, the blue circle of elemental air, and the blue hexagram or six-pointed star. This center is the bridge between the more physical energies of the first three chakras, and the transcendent energies of the final three centers. Disorders of the heart and lungs fall under the realm of the fourth chakra.

location: Heart

Element: Air

Color: Green

Issues: Compassion, optimism/pessimism

Areas of Body: Heart, lungs, shoulders, arm

Balanced: Unconditional love

Excessively open: Co-dependent love

Blocked: Withdrawal from love, fear of being wounded

Archetype: Healer

Negative Archetype: Actor

Demon: Grief

 

Viśuddha

Visuddha, the throat chakra, is located in the hollow of the throat. The thyroid and parathyroid glands are associated here, along with the vocal chords and the pharyngeal plexus. The name Visuddha means “purity.” The traditional color for this center is purple. An alternate color is gold.11 Its symbol is the akasha or black egg of spirit. The fifth chakra controls respiration, auditory functions, cleansing, sensations, intuition, perception, psychic ability, communication, creativity, and self-expression. It is a center of focus and direction. (Whenpsychc blockage occurs at this center,it is usually described as a feeling of being “all choked up” or having “a lump in the throat.”) Malfunctions of the thyroid, as well as speech and hearing disorders, are under the dominion of the fifth chakra. The essence of this center is associated with sound, particularly vibration. In yoga the Visuddha is a very important center of alchemical transmutation. It is also said to produce a secretion of immortality

Location: Throat

Element: Space

Color: blue

Issues: Communication, intuition

Areas of Body: Throat, mouth

Balanced: Inner directed Self

Excessively open: Using speech as mechanism of control

Blocked: Unable to communicate about important issues

Archetype: Communicator, artist

Negative Archetype: Silent child

Demon: Lies

 

Ājñā

Ajna, the brow or third eye chakra, is located in the forehead. It is associated with the pituitary gland and the frontal lobes of the brain. The word Ajna means “order” or “command,” which indicates that activation of t h s chakra is indicative of true order and mastery. The traditional color here is translucent blue. An alternative color is white.12 Its symbol is a circle with two wings or petals, which correspond to two pituitary lobes and the two major nadis of pingala (right petal) and ida (left petal). This center controls all higher intellectual functions, imagination, intuition, insight, consciousness, spiritual wisdom, knowledge, and true sight. Activation of the sixth chakra is thought to be responsible for all experiences of astral vision and astral traveling, as well as all encounters with the higher self. It is attributed to the “element” of light.

Location: Third eye

Element: All

Color: Violet

Issues: Dedication to spiritual path; clarity and insight

Areas of Body: The senses

Balanced: Calm and focused

Excessively open: Delusion

Blocked: Denial what is seen

Archetype: Seer, visionary

Negative Archetype: Intellectual

Demon: Illusion

 

Sahasrāra

Sahasrara, the crown chakra located at or above the top of the head, is associated with the pineal gland and the cerebral cortex. Traditionally this center is given the various colors of the rainbow. An alternate color is clear.13 The word Sahasrara means “thousand- petalled lotus,” which is the symbol of this chakra, alluding to the thousands of brain cells with n the cerebrum. The seventh chakra controls all aspects of mind and body, and it regulates the activities of all the other chakras. Its energy is often described as pure thought, spiritual understanding, bliss, peace, eternal life, super- consciousness, and the divine white light. The seventh chakra is activated at peak instances of oneness with the divine. It is said to be the abode of Shiva (illuminated consciousness), which demolishes ignorance and illusion.

Location: Crown of head

Element: Beyond

Color: Crystal light

Issues: Spiritual separation

Areas of Body: Brain and nervous system

Balanced: Unity consciousness

Excessively open: Spiritual addiction

Blocked: Limited in our ability to believe or have faith

Archetype: Guru (within), sage

Negative Archetype: Egotist (belief of being separate from others)

Demon: Attachment


References

 

[1]. Charles Webster Leadbeater, Annotations by Kurt Leland, The Chakras, (Wheaton, Ill: The Theosophical Publishing House, 2013), p. 1- 5

[2]. The Kabbalah, Thelemapedia: The Encyclopedia of Thelema, accessed April 2020.

[3]. The Chakra, Theosophy Wiki. accessed April 2020.

[4]. Kurt Leland, Rainbow Body: A History of the Western Chakra System from Blavatksy to Brennan, (Lake Worth, Fl: Ibis Press, 2016), 47-51.

[5]. Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Kundalini Tantra (Munger, Bihar, India: Yoga Publications Trust, 2001), Chapter 3.

[6]. Regardie, Israel. The Middle pillar: The balance between mind & magick.

 

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