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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. Clairvoyants can see them in the etheric double. 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 vitalise 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]

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

 

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

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

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



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

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

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

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.

 

 

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