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Tantra Chakra System

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The Tantra Chakra System

Many Types of Chakras

There is considerable confusion about “Chakras”, not the least of which is the fact that almost no two “systems” you read about seem to be the same! Some have seven chakras, some have more, some call each chakra one thing, some call them another.

Without entering into an exposition of all the systems, which almost inevitably turns into a defense of one or the debunking of another, suffice it to say that there are many different chakra systems, brought about by many cultures and epochs, for different reasons and with different objectives. Here we will limit ourselves to the introduction of only one system, the “classic” Tantric system of “inner” chakras associated with Yoga and Hindu thought. We will call this one the “Primary” chakra system, as it is known.

For the sake of clarity and dispelling some confusion, we will make a simple “comparison” of this system with the one most commonly known in the West,  which we can generically describe as the “New Age” chakra system, since there are an infinite number of names and variations of this one as well. We will call this one the “Secondary” chakra system, as this appears to be the accepted term.

We shall very clearly state that we neither endorse nor reject either of them, as we feel that all of these “systems” have their distinct origins, objectives, and reasons for being, and it is up to each individual to decide what is best for him or her, or what serves your purposes. (Editor's note: Personally, I find it quite satisfying and useful to do a grounding meditation on the "secondary" chakras, and I do it quite often.)

Primary Chakras

A distinction has to be made between primary and secondary chakras, as these are very often confused. The primary chakras are the inner chakras, i.e. the chakras as described by the original Tantra (essentially Yoga and/or Hindu traditions), which can only be accessed through yogic practice. These chakras are archetypal and do not have a form; the form they are represented as in Tantric literature is stylized and symbolic. Nor do they have a precise location. They are associated with specific correspondences including mantric (from mantra) vibrations, elements, gods, etc.

The primary chakras are represented in an up-down vertical axis (the microcosmic "Mount Meru" – world mountain), and are polarized according to Shiva (Pure Unmanifest Consciousness, The Godhead) and Shakti (the Female power of manifestation). Shakti is represented by the Kundalini energy at the base of the spine, or more strictly speaking, in the Muladhara chakra (which as with all the Primary Chakras does not have a strict physical location). Shiva is located in the crown chakra (Saharsrara) at the crown above the head. This vertical polarization represents the major planes of existence: Earthly, and Spiritual or Cosmic.

As microcosmic archetypes the primary chakras can be equated with the ten Sefirot of Kabbalah, which are arranged, significantly, in seven rows. Various attempts have been made to equate the two, but none appear to be completely satisfactory.

The Seven Primary Chakras

Name

Number

Associated with

Muladhara

Chakra one

Survival.

Svadhisthana

Chakra two

Emotions and sexuality.

Manipura (Nabhi)

Chakra three

Power and will.

Anahata

Chakra four

Love and balance.

Vishudda

Chakra five

Communication and creativity.

Agnya (Ajna)

Chakra six

Intuition and imagination.

Sahasrara

Chakra seven

Knowledge and understanding.

 Secondary Chakras

The secondary chakras are the chakras described by Theosophy, the New Age movement,  and in general are the ones widely seen in Western literature and schools. Unlike the archetypal Primary chakras they have a specific form (usually described as vortexes of energy), color and a specific precise location in the Auric body (the realm of the physical body and its aura). These Primary chakras are Etheric (body whose realm & density lies between that of the astral and physical bodies) and pertain to the Outer Being, which includes not only the ordinary everyday consciousness but even psychic, occult and many transpersonal and mystic states.
 

Crown

Forehead (3rd Eye)

Throat

Heart

Solar Plexus

Sacral

Base

For the sake of clarity, since these two systems APPEAR to be similar in “location” and “number of chakras”, the following table illustrates the rough equivalence of the two.

Please remember that the two systems refer to entirely different philosophies, objectives and methods, so they are not really “equivalent”.

rear chakras
(ascending channel)

SECONDARY

central chakras
(inner being)

PRIMARY

front chakras
(descending channel)

SECONDARY

 Crown

Sahasrara

Crown

Back of Head

Ajna

Upper Forehead / 3rd eye

Base of Neck

Vishuddha

Throat / Thymic

Shoulder Blades

Anahata

Heart

Diaphragmatic

 Manipura

Solar Plexus

Door of Life

 

Navel

Sacral

Svadhisthana

Pubic / Genitals

Coccygeal

Muladhara

 Base

As you can see, it is easy to “equate” the two systems, believing that just the names of the Chakras change, but they are quite different in philosophy, objectives and methods of accessing or "opening" them.

Having taken care of that bit of business, let us proceed…

Chakra Theory

The chakra system can been viewed as a "seven-leveled philosophical model of the universe." The seven chakras (Sanskrit for wheels or disks) are wheels of bio-energetic activity radiating from nerve ganglia (clusters) that start at the base of the spine and continue on to the crown of the head.

Although the energy of the chakras can be monitored, they have no mass or substance of their own. Each individual chakra does, however, have a general location. These locations are as follows:
 

Name

Number

Element

Location

Associated with

Muladhara

Chakra one

(earth)

Base of spine

Survival.

Svadhisthana

Chakra two

(water)

Lower abdomen

Emotions and sexuality.

Manipura (Nabhi)

Chakra three

(fire)

Solar plexus

Power and will.

Anahata

Chakra four

(air)

Just over the sternum (Heart)

Love and balance.

Vishudda

Chakra five

(sound)

Throat

Communication and creativity.

Agnya (Ajna)

Chakra six

(light)

Center of forehead (brow)

Intuition and imagination.

Sahasrara

Chakra seven

(thought)

Top of head

Knowledge and understanding.


Liberation & Manifestation

"Liberation is the path of transcendence. Manifestation is the path of immanence.
Both lead to the same place: the divine"
-Anodea Judith, "Eastern Body, Western Mind"

As you can see, the lower chakras are more dense and material, while the higher chakras are more "free" and conceptual. It is an eastern belief that this is because they are closer to their source. Beyond the crown is Shiva, the male principle, believed to symbolize pure consciousness and bliss. Beyond the root is Shakti, the female principle, the mother of the universe and creation itself (herself?). By coming together in union, Shiva can descend upon Shakti and bring Divine Consciousness into the universe while Shakti brings form to pure consciousness.

This can be seen in mundane life as well. Ideas (chakra 7) become visualized (chakra 6) and then shared with others verbally or written down (chakra 5). The love of the idea (chakra 4) brings one to invest their will and energy into its creation (chakra 3). The passion/need (chakra 2) to finish this act of creation urges one to provide it form (chakra 1) and thus finish the process. We will call this transfer of ideas into form the manifesting current. Consequently, the transfer of form into ideas can be thought of as the liberating current. These two forces are constantly running through the body and connecting the chakras.

The Seven Rights

Each of the seven chakras has a basic right that, if infringed upon or not claimed or expressed, can provide problems in that chakra and thus, in that area of our life.

1. The right to be here: simply to exist, take care of ourselves, and have possessions.
2. The right to feel: to express and understand one’s emotions, needs, and wants.
3. The right to act: to be innovative and free.
4. The right to love and be loved: freedom from projected or received prejudice, low self-esteem, and violent conflict. Being the central chakra, if any of the other rights is harmed, the right to love may be harmed as well.
5. The right to speak and hear truth: Transgressions include: not be listened to, family secrets, and not being spoken to honestly.
6. The right to see: Transgressions include: being told our perception is inaccurate, having things deliberately hidden from us, and having the scope of ones vision denied.
7. The right to know: the right to truth, accurate information, knowledge, and to simply know what’s going on. This includes spiritual knowledge and the right to connect with and interpret the divine as one chooses.

The Demons/Tricksters of the Chakras

These are not fire spawned, brimstone bearing, biblical demons. They are symbolic and conceptual, as is most of what you have already read. We prefer to call them tricksters because although they do hinder the operations of the chakras, they generally do so to teach us something. The challenge of moving past a trickster helps the chakra in question learn how to better accomplish its "job."

1. Fear: Comes when one’s survival is threatened. May force energy into the upper chakras.
2. Guilt: Keeps us from reaching out, hindering emotional and sexual ties with others.
3. Shame: Hinders spontaneity, self-esteem, and personal power, turning one’s will and power in upon themselves.
4. Grief: Hinders the love and lightness of the heart, leaving a heavy burden on one’s persona.
5. Lies: Misinformation hinders our relationship to the world.
6. Illusion: Looking at things incorrectly, not seeing the big picture, and seeing only what one wants to see, can hinder our perception.
7. Attachment: Holding on to the pointless and focusing all of one’s attention in one area can obscure the big picture and hinder our relationship with the divine.
 

This thematic portrayal of a yogi represents the 'kundalini yoga', the most important of the 'Tantric' and 'yogic' practices. In 'tantra' the human form is the supreme instrument of tantra-sadhana. The blue complexion denotes the stage of energy when it has attained its optimum. The portrayal depicts various stages of the Kundalini yoga and the attainment of pure consciousness. Kundalini Yoga in tantra is the meditational and yogic process by which the 'kundalini' is awakened and the consciousness traversing across different 'chakras' attains pure consciousness, which has been defined in 'tantra' as the Sahasrara.

Sahasrara has been conceived in tantra and represented as the lotus with a thousand petals. The tantra believes that the human body has thirty 'chakras' which constitute its energy points. Of these, seven 'chakras', namely, Muladhara, Svadhishthana, Manipura, Anahata, Vishuddha, Ajna and Sahasrara are the primary chakras. The first six have their location within human body and the last one, Sahasrara, is the form of pure consciousness which is absolute, objective and beyond any kind of physical entity.

As the science of anatomy has established, the energy centers, which are the points of contact between the psychic and physical body, exist on and around the spine, almost exactly where the tantra placed them in ancient days. The energy in coiled serpent form is usually low-lying, that is, around the base of the spine where the Muladhara chakra is located. The energy is kindled now and then, and traverses across the other two chakras which lie in between the Muladhara and navel. These chakras are Svadhishthana and Manipura. It is only by 'mantra-sadhana' (yogic practice)  that the mind attains the fourth plane which is 'Anahata'. Its attainment paves the way for the 'jeevatma', the path for attaining the Vishuddha chakra…now all is in flames and the attainment of Ajna is complete. The Ajna is the ultimate point from which the mind passes to Sahasrara where consciousness becomes one with the universe and the energy sprouts like a lotus with a thousand petals.

Each of the Chakras is associated with an Energy Center in the body and a Plane of Consciousness in the Astral Realm. Meditating on the Chakras helps Transcend the Bondage of Uncontrolled Thoughts and the Cycle of Desires, leading to the Transformation of Consciousness from Isolation to Universal Consciousness.

Chakras, what they are, where they are

"Chakra", which means "wheel" in Sanskrit, may be described as centers of energy that pervade the entire body along the length of the spine. Ancient Hindu science describes chakra within the paradigm of seven energy points as wheels, each a different color and spinning in a clockwise direction. Interestingly enough, the spacing of chakras actually match major nerve or endocrine centers in the body. The chakras can become easily blocked, making us feel sick or out of balance. You can clear the chakras by visualizing cleansing light pouring into them. Meditation on the chakras is another method of understanding yourself and your personal world and your place and activity within the greater world.

The image below illustrates their names and locations:


Now let's take a closer look at each one of them and its characteristics:

1st Chakra: Muladhara
2nd Chakra: Svadhisthana
3rd Chakra: Manipura (Nabhi)

4th Chakra: Anahata

5th Chakra: Vishudda
6th Chakra: Agnya (Ajna)
7th Chakra: Sahasrara

Chakra Art I
Chakra Art II

 

 

 

 

Books about Chakras at Amazon.com:
Chakras: Energy Centers of Transformation - Harish Johari
Eastern Body, Western Mind -Anodea Judith

         


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