The Chakras and the history

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A system of five chakras is common among the Mother class of Tantras and these five chakras along with their correspondences are:

          1. Basal chakra (Element: Earth, Buddha: Amoghasiddhi, Bija mantra: LAM)
          2. Abdominal chakra (Element: Water, Buddha: Ratnasambhava, Bija mantra: VAM)
          3. Heart chakra (Element: Fire, Buddha: Akshobhya, Bija mantra: RAM)
          4. Throat chakra (Element: Wind, Buddha: Amitabha, Bija mantra: YAM)
          5. Crown chakra (Element: Space, Buddha: Vairochana, Bija mantra: KHAM)

 

Chakras clearly play a key role in Tibetan Buddhism, and are considered to be the pivotal providence of Tantric thinking. And, the precise use of the chakras across the gamut of tantric sadhanas gives little space to doubt the primary efficacy of Tibetan Buddhism as distinct religious agency, that being that precise revelation that, without Tantra there would be no Chakras, but more importantly, without Chakras, there is no Tibetan Buddhism. The highest practices in Tibetan Buddhism point to the ability to bring the subtle pranas of an entity into alignment with the central channel, and to thus penetrate the realisation of the ultimate unity, namely, the “organic harmony” of one’s individual consciousness of Wisdom with the co-attainment of All-embracing Love, thus synthesizing a direct cognition of absolute Buddhahood.

According to Geoffrey Samuel, the buddhist esoteric systems developed cakra and nadi as “central to their soteriological process”. The theories were sometimes, but not always, coupled with a unique system of physical exercises, called yantra yoga or ‘phrul ‘khor.

Chakras, according to the Bon tradition, enable the gestalt of experience, with each of the five major chakras, being psychologically linked with the five experiential qualities of unenlightened consciousness, the six realms of woe.

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Chakra positions in supposed relation to nervous plexuses, from Charles W. Leadbeater's 1927 book The Chakras

The concept of a set of seven chakras came to the West in the 1880s; at that time each chakra was associated with a nerve plexus. In 1918, Sir John Woodroffe, alias Arthur Avalon, translated two Indian texts, the Ṣaṭ-Cakra-Nirūpaṇa and the Pādukā-Pañcaka, and in his book The Serpent Power drew Western attention to the seven chakra theory.

In the 1920s, each of the seven chakras was associated with an endocrine gland, a tradition that has persisted. More recently, the lower six chakras have been linked to both nerve plexuses and glands. The seven rainbow colours were added by Leadbeater in 1927; a variant system in the 1930s proposed six colours plus white. Leadbeater’s theory was influenced by Johann Georg Gichtel’s 1696 book Theosophia Practica, which mentioned inner “force centres”.

Psychological and other attributes such as layers of the aura, developmental stages, associated diseases, Aristotelian elements, emotions, and states of consciousness were added still later. A wide range of supposed correspondences such as with alchemical metals, astrological signs and planets, foods, herbs, gemstones, homeopathic remedies, Kabbalistic spheres, musical notes, totem animals, and Tarot cards have also been proposed.

The more common and most studied chakra system incorporates six major chakras along with a seventh center generally not regarded as a chakra. These points are arranged vertically along the axial channel (Sushumna Nadi in Hindu texts, Avadhuti in some Buddhist texts).

According to Gavin Flood, this system of six chakras plus the Sahasrara “center” at the crown first appears in the Kubjikāmata-tantra, an 11th-century Kaula work.

It was this chakra system that was translated in the early 20th century by Sir John Woodroffe (also called Arthur Avalon) in the text The Serpent Power. Avalon translated the Hindu text Ṣaṭ-Cakra-Nirūpaṇa meaning the examination (nirūpaṇa) of the seven (ṣaṭ) chakras (cakra).

The Chakras are traditionally considered meditation aids. The yogi progresses from lower chakras to the highest chakra blossoming in the crown of the head, internalizing the journey of spiritual ascent. In both the Hindu and Buddhist kundalini or candali traditions, the chakras are pierced by dormant energy residing near or in the lowest chakra. In Hindu texts, she is known as Kundalini, while in Buddhist texts she is called Candali or Tummo (Tibetan: gtum mo, “fierce one”).

Below are the common new-age description of these six chakras and the seventh point known as Sahasrara. This new age version incorporates the Newtonian colors of the rainbow not found in any ancient Indian system.

Root Chakra (Muladhara)

The Muladhara, or root chakra, represents our foundation. On the human body, it sits at the base of the spine and gives us the feeling of being grounded. When the root chakra is open, we feel confident in our ability to withstand challenges and stand on our own two feet. When it’s blocked, we feel threatened, as if we’re standing on unstable ground.

Location: Base of spine, in tailbone area
What it controls: Survival issues such as financial independence, money, and food
Mantra: “I can’t grow from an unsteady foundation.”
Color: Red
Element: Earth
Stone: Hematite
Yoga pose: Warrior I
When it develops: 1-7 years old

Sacral Chakra (Swadhisthana)

The Swadhisthana, or sacral chakra, helps inform how we relate to our emotions and the emotions of others. It also governs creativity and sexual energy. Those with a blocked sacral chakra could feel a lack of control in their lives.

Location: Lower abdomen, about 2 inches below the navel
What it controls: Your sense of abundance, well-being, pleasure, and sexuality
Mantra: “I always honor others but not before myself.”
Color: Orange
Element: Water
Stone: Tiger’s Eye
Yoga pose: Bound Angle Pose
When it develops: 8-14 years old

Solar Plexus Chakra (Manipura)

The third chakra, the solar plexus chakra, speaks to your ability to be confident and in control of your life. Think back to the last time you had butterflies or felt a pit in the stomach: That’s the Manipura chakra at work. If your solar plexus chakra is blocked, you might feel overwhelming amounts of shame and self-doubt. Those with open sacral chakras are free to express their true selves.

Location: Upper abdomen in the stomach area
What it controls: Self-worth, self-confidence, and self-esteem
Mantra: “Self-love starts when I accept all parts of myself.”
Color: Yellow
Element: Fire
Stone: Amber
Yoga pose: Boat Pose
When it develops: 15-21 years old

Heart Chakra (Anahata)

The Anahata, or heart chakra, is the bridge between the lower chakras (associated with materiality) and the upper chakras (associated with spirituality). As the name suggests, this chakra can influence our ability to give and receive love—from others and ourselves. Someone with a blocked heart chakra will have difficulty fully opening up to the people in their life. If someone’s heart is open, they can experience deep compassion and empathy.

Location: Center of chest, just above the heart
What it controls: Love, joy, and inner peace
Mantra: “When I love myself, loving others comes easily.”
Color: Green
Element: Air
Stone: Rose Quartz
Yoga pose: Camel Pose
When it develops: 21-28 years old

Throat Chakra (Vishuddha)

The Vishuddha, or throat chakra, gives voice to the heart chakra and controls our ability to communicate our personal power. When it’s functioning at full capacity, it allows us to express ourselves truly and clearly. Someone with a blocked throat chakra will feel like they have trouble finding the words to say how they truly feel.

Location: Throat
What it controls: Communication, self-expression, and truth
Mantra: “I speak my truth, always.”
Color: Light Blue/Turquoise
Element: Sound/Music
Stone: Aquamarine
Yoga pose: Fish Pose
When it develops: 29-35 years old

Third-Eye Chakra (Ajna)

As we move up the body, we’re getting closer to communion with the divine. The Anja, or third-eye chakra, controls our ability to see the big picture and connect to intuition. Think of it as the eye of the soul: It registers information beyond the surface level. Visions and intuitive hits are not uncommon for someone with an open third-eye chakra.

Location: Forehead between the eyes (also called the Brow Chakra)
What it controls: Intuition, imagination, and wisdom
Mantra: “I am open to exploring what cannot be seen.”
Color: Dark Blue/Purple
Element: Light
Stone: Amethyst
Yoga pose: Child’s Pose
When it develops: 36-42 years old

Crown Chakra (Sahasrara)

The Sahasrara, or crown chakra, the highest chakra, sits at the crown of the head and represents our ability to be fully connected spiritually. When you fully open your crown chakra—something very few people ever do!—you’re able to access a higher consciousness.

Location: The very top of the head
What it controls: Inner and outer beauty, spiritual connection
Lesson: “I am a vessel for love and light.”
Color: Violet/White
Element: Divine Consciousness
Stone: Clear quartz
Yoga pose: Headstand
When it develops: 43-49 years old

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