QUESTION: Can you give me an understanding of what “CHAKRAS” are in terms that don’t require understanding Eastern Religions and philosophies?
ANSWER: Here’s what Wikipedia says: In Hindu and tantric/yogic traditions and other belief systems chakras are energy points or knots in the subtle body.
The first step is THROW THAT ALL AWAY. It’s way to LA LA and requires that you accept ON FAITH the existence of these “subtle” energies in a “subtle” body for which you have no REFERENT.
A common definition of the word itself is “vortex” or “whirlpool”.
To make this VALUABLE to you I’m going to define a Chakra as a “Personal world view” or “A sense of oneself and how it fits into your view of the world as a whole”. This could rightly be called a private world or sphere and everything you observe gets defined by this private world.
Rather than taking the concept on FAITH, here’s an example.
When you are in love, everywhere you look you see smiling faces and other people showing affection to each other. The world is full of hope and promise because YOU ARE FULL OF HOPE AND PROMISE.
When you are pissed off, everywhere you look you see rude and angry people treating each other horribly. The world is a horrible place full of selfish, stupid people who behave like animals because YOU ARE FEELING SMALL AND SELF-CENTERED and NOT GETTING WHAT YOU WANT.
We can even make it more mundane by noting that the moment we buy a new red car, suddenly we notice how many red cars there are out there.
So the so-called CHAKRA SYSTEM is in fact merely an observation of the natural stages in the changes of self-awareness as it relates to our place in the world “OUT THERE”.
WHY SEVEN??? There is a continuum of expanding understandings about ourselves and our relationship to “OUT THERE” but seven is historically a good number as it fits within many traditions of beliefs so it’s as good as any.
ANY PARENT who has paid attention to the growth of a child into adulthood is very familiar with the evolving stages of self-awareness.
So let’s make it simple and relatable. I will call these stages by their TRADITIONAL names for anyone who wants to do a little cross referencing.
1. (Muladhara) Our first priorities as an infant are survival. The right to be here. Doing whatever is necessary to make sure that we are kept warm, fed, and feeling safe. This so-called center is at the base of the spine because, as any Parent can tell you, a newborn is a one way alimentary canal… we eat and shit and that’s about it.
2. (Swadhisthana) Once we are secure enough we begin to explore our immediate surroundings, many of those surroundings are this thing called our body. Touch it, poke it, stick it in your mouth. Does it feel good and give pleasure or is it prickly and not comfortable? We also begin to experiment to see how individual actions and objects relate to each other and to us. If I smack that, it makes it turn and it seems to make other things happen in response. This is a very creative time, getting our first glimpse of what feels good and what doesn’t. This “center” is said to be in our genitals because it all relates to moving things “out there” around so it makes us feel good.
3. (Manipura) As we grow and our experiences of the world expand, we enter a stage where we reeeeeally want to hold on to and protect all the stuff that makes us feel good. This is the time when strong emotions arise.. This is MINE!!! It’s not fair. Why do THOSE people want what I have? I will stand and fight to protect the goodies. The Mythical “THEM” is born. You’re with me or you’re against me. I have physical power and I will test it against yours. This “center” is associated with our solar plexus, our GUT. We perceive things on a GUT level and decide our response.. Fight it, flee from it, fight it, fuck it or make food out of it. The Four “Fs” of Manipura. Our Tribe against Their Tribe. The concept of sharing is very difficult to grasp.
4. (Anahata) Hopefully, we grow out of the emotional age of a three-year old and eventually begin to see that we are not, in fact, the center of the known universe and that, in fact, there are OTHER PEOPLE who may have the same desires, hopes, wishes, and dreams that we do. We begin to feel love for others not just in terms of “will it make me feel good” but in terms of “will it make THEM feel good”. This “center” or point of view is associated with the heart, as in our first “in love” example at the beginning of this article. This is a time of a change in focus from I, Me, Mine to We’re all in this together. It is both a personal love/empathy for others and a growing universal love/empathy for mankind as a whole.
5. (Vishuddhi) Hopefully, with age and experience we reach a point of INNER REFLECTION. We are able to look objectively at our own learning process and realize how silly we were at times while growing and maturing. We are not afraid to admit our own silliness and gain empathetic compassion for those still believing their “WHIRPOOL” is the only reality. We loose our fear of speaking our truth for fear of being judged and made one of “them” in somebody’s mind. Our sense of “US” expands to not just people, but the planet as a whole, animals, plants, waters, and the very air we breath….. This “center/point of view” is associated with the throat and we become more willing to speak our truth and not “swallow” the more contracted point of view anymore.
6. (Ajna) For some, there comes a point at which we become “aware of our awareness” as more than just our mind firing a constant stream of random or programmed thoughts and reactions. We are able to be the witness of our own awareness. We also begin to perceive feelings and intuitions that are outside the realms of our five senses. Most of us have had flashes of this throughout our lives, like knowing who’s on the phone before you pick up, or knowing we shouldn’t do something or go somewhere and later having it verified by others who did it anyway. We become more empathetic to the feelings and emotions of others. Some or all of our senses seem to expand and we perceive subtler sights, sounds, sensations, etc. that we never noticed before. We may even get to a point of view where the five senses seem to expand to such a degree that all of the “things” our five senses perceive become more and more just thoughts on an endless blank slate with no real FINITE STUFF actually existing anymore except within the very LIMITED faculty of our minuscule senses. This “center/point of view” is associated with the oft touted “third eye” and we begin to see universal interconnectedness in ways that are difficult to put in to words but we “KNOW WITHOUT THINKING” that our perceptions are true.
7. (Sahasrara) Occasionally in any given “lifetime” as we sit in the quiet awareness of awareness, our expansive sense of self comes up with the question “What is it that powers this awareness of being aware?” The mind is useless in answering that question because it appears to be dependent on experience, memories or sensory input to function. The answer requires being willing to totally abandon any sense of unique and separate self and fall backwards into whatever “THAT POWER TO BE CONSCIOUS THAT I AM CONSCIOUS” is…..To call this a “point of view” is impossible because at that moment of understanding there is neither. It is associated with the top of the head.