In the article “Where do chakras begin” we looked into the questions of what chakras are, how they manifested and what main ideas should be understood before a closer examination of them. In this article, we will look into each chakra, find out what our manifestations they are associated with and how it is connected to the process of self-exploration.
The correspondence principle
The creation of the Universe was possible due to Maya, a specific power that makes one thing appear as something different, generating the illusion of duality. It emerged as a result of the primary vibration of the Absolute (the very cause of esse), that had declared His will to manifest. On one hand, Maya conceals the genuine nature of the Absolute and on the other hand, it allows Him to manifest in all forms of life and nature.
When we enter this world, our bodies are formed from the same elements as the Universe. Thanks to these elements we get integrated in it. Both aspects of Prana that appeared under the influence of Maya have the same source, our Higher Self. They are Consciousness (the aspect of constant permanence) and Energy (the aspect of constant changes). Further in the course of interaction, they began to create elements one by one. During this creation, the effect of Maya became stronger and Energy and Consciousness continued to move apart. Whilst Energy’s movement became more limited, the light of Consciousness shone through Maya even less. The way of their separation is called Sushumna, or the Central Channel, the first associative link of our Higher Self with its manifestations. This channel is physically projected along the spine area and goes from the base of our body, the origin of Energy, to the crown, the place of Consciousness concentration. Sushumna connects them and all chakras are arranged along it. They are the same elements of the Universe creation but at the individual level of our Higher Self.
Thus, every living being gets a body that consists of three groups: gross or physical body, subtle body or emotions, thoughts and self conceptions, subtlest or casual body – the deepest level hardly understood that is associated with the states of euphoria or on the contrary grief and depression. Chakras include all these structures from the subtlest to gross body and are projected on some or other areas of our physical body.
Based on the above, each chakra could be described according to the following characteristics:
- the proportion of Energy and Consciousness vibration;
- colour – different schools name various colours of the same chakra, that why we will skip this characteristic;
- sound vibration or bija mantra – seed, one-syllable mantra (bija is translated from Sanskrit as “seed”), each chakra has its own vibration;
- number of petals, chakras are often described as lotuses with different number of petals, each of them is charged for certain manifestations and corresponds to a specific alphabetic letter. The petals of the first six chakras form the Sanskrit alphabet of 50 letters, the seventh chakra – that is a thousand petals lotus – contains 50 letters 20 times;
- basic emotion or feeling;
- a sense organ and an action organ* – sense organs are responsible for receiving outer information, and the function of action organs is outer activity.
Elements of the Universe creation and corresponding chakras
1. The Element of Mind
The first element that was created at the moment of our entrance into this World, was the element of mind. It is revealed through Ajna chakra in our life. This chakra has two petals and its bija mantra is OM. It is projected on the area between eyebrows, it is also called the third-eye chakra. Maya influences the element of mind the least, that is why Energy and Consciousness interaction here is the most intensive. Thus, this chakra consists of the subtle vibrations of Energy, through which Consciousness shines the most.
The element of mind is the possibility for intelligent life to exist in the Universe. In contrast to scientific point of view, which considers that the nature of mind is the biochemical processes in our brain, yoga confirms that the brain and the whole nervous system are just rough instruments, subordinate to the mind, and not the cause of it. The mind is not generated by nerve impulses. On the contrary, an advanced nervous system is the result of the development of mind in the process of evolution of any living being, from the simplest forms of life to highly developed ones. That is why, it would not be correct to state, that less developed creatures do not have the mind element. They have it, but their possibility to use it is limited by their bodies and nervous system organization. The human body with its complex organization of the nervous system is like a high-frequency repeater. It allows us to use the element of mind at a greater extent. In such a way, our mind and intellect operate and evolve on the basis of this element. This process is driven and controlled by Adjna chakra.
Mind is the level of logic, analytical thinking, imagination, intellect and memory. Through our mind we get new knowledge, structure it and share it with others. A developed mind helps us explore the Universe, develop ourselves and amass life experience and wisdom. Our intellect is an inferior structure, which is widely used by animals. Sometimes it is called sensual or instinctive thinking, because it is always directed to the objects with sense and action organs and is strongly associated with emotions, arising in response to the contact with the objects. That is why, yoga states that our intellect is the sixth sense organ that is superior to the other five: hearing, seeing, tasting, touching and smelling. As with any other sense organ, some people can be more receptive to information than others. This directly influences the world view of each individual.
The element of mind controls all other elements and sense organs that are associated with them, as it is superior to the latter. This element could be compared with a blank sheet, that is covered in the process of creation by all the following elements layer by layer, that further makes the whole picture. When we affect this sheet we get the response on the whole picture and all its layers automatically.
When Ajna chakra is harmonious, a person has higher concentration of attention and as a result, their memory becomes better and the thinking more precise and consistent. We gain capabilities to understand spiritual knowledge. This is the level of our inner power and paranormal abilities. However, when our mind is undisciplined, it can be a serious obstacle on our way of self-exploration. That is why, yoga recommends to subdue the unquiet mind and make it sharper. That allows us to uncover the mind’s capabilities and direct them to spiritual development.
2. The element of space (aether)
It is also called Vishuddha chakra which has sixteen petals. Its bija mantra is HAM. It is projected on the throat area. In this chakra, maya’s influence is higher than in Ajna; Energy vibrations become thicker and the light of Consciousness shines through less. Vishuddha is charged for our capability to pronounce and perceive sounds and corresponds to vocal organs – tongue, vocal cords and hearing organs – ears.
The element of space is also inseparably connected with time, there could not be one without the other. We can produce and perceive any sound vibrations only when there is space. Time needed for the sound to cross from its source to the receiver depends on the distance between them. It is important to notice that it is hearing that helps us to orient and identify the position and distance to other objects. Besides, we have such an organ as the vestibular system, which is located in the middle ear and is in charge of our body position and movement.
Vishuddha chakra is also responsible for self-expression through voice and speech. With the help of this centre, we manifest our inner world and perceive the outer one more clearly. When Vishuddha works harmoniously, we are articulate and able to express our thoughts clearly, our speech is enjoyable, inspires others and motivates them to action. True words and their quick implementation are the traits of a person with a developed Vishuddha chakra. Such a person leads people and influences them with a mere word. Others follow him and trust his words!
3. The Air Element
Then comes the Air Element or Anahata Chakra, which has 12 petals. Its bija-mantra is YAM. It is projected on the chest area.
This chakra is also called the heart center. The key of it is not the connection of the chakra with our heart but its location in the middle between Energy and Consciousness poles. The more we use basic chakras the stronger is the Energy factor in us and we immerse ourselves in feelings. The reverse trend is when we involve higher chakras more. So the Consciousness factor reveals and we switch from feelings to reflection and logic analysis. Thus Anahata chakra is the point where Energy and Consciousness are balanced. It is considered in yoga that meditation on this center helps us make deliberate decisions. Feelings are counterweighted by our mind here and visa versa.
The heart chakra is associated with the sense of touch, our ability to perceive the world through tactile sensation. Our skin is the largest sense organ and our hands are organs of action. Through touching we express our love and receive it from others. So, Anahata is also associated with love. It imbues us with mercy and compassion to the whole world. Thus we get the ability to feel the Universe and all living beings.
When we miss the amount of tactile sensations we need, it becomes a hindrance to our harmonious development and spiritual growth. In this case, we evoke such negative emotions connected with this chakra as jealousy and grievance. In this case we can use one of the most mysterious branches of yoga, Nyasa yoga or yoga of touch. By compensation for the lack of tactile sensation, it is able to boost any yoga practice tremendously and to balance Energy and Consciousness in our body.
4. The Fire Element
The Fire Element is Manipura Chakra, which has 10 petals. Its bija-mantra is RAM. According to various versions, it is projected onto the navel area or slightly above it – on the solar plexus. In this chakra the effect of Maya tips the scales toward the Energy, making its vibrations rougher, so the light of Consciousness dims accordingly. Manipura is responsible for visual perception, however, the most distinctive feature of this chakra is activity and movement and that’s why the related organs of action are our legs, as they have a function of movement.
Fire is the most furious element. It ensures our vitality, our physical strength and our immunity, which is directly connected with the digestive system. There are yoga practices directed to activate Manipura chakra, and they are actually called “lighting the fire of life”. The same kind of practices we can use to address our anger — the other side of rage — the emotions of Manipura chakra. We all know the expression “to be blinded by anger”. Indeed, if we are controlled by this emotion, we don’t see things clearly, we don’t distinguish what is right and what is wrong, and we can easily mess things up.
However, anger is not necessarily a negative feeling. The energy of anger can be transformed into creative energy and directed to achieving our goals. If we manage to control our fierce manifestations, we become an extremely focused and dedicated individual.
We become a person who clearly sees his/her potential, without emotions clouding our judgement. We, on the contrary, begin to get our power from our anger and move toward our goals with confidence. The ancient texts state that a yogin who controls Manipura Chakra has no obstacles on his way, no matter what he is doing. So, Manipura gives us determination, charisma, self-confidence and power. It helps us to thrive in social life.
5. The Water Element
The next chakra is Svadhistana. It corresponds to the element of water. It has six petals and its bija mantra is VAM. Svadhistana is projected onto the area below the navel, the pelvic organs and it is associated with the function of the genital organs. It is responsible for all kinds of sensual pleasure, including sexual attraction. It controls the perception of taste, that is the most expressive source of sensation.
The distinction of Svadhistana is that it is responsible for creativity, and the principal expression of creativity is sexuality, as it leads to the birth of a new life. There is nothing higher than that, as it is the same as creation of the new Universe. Water nourishes life, it is refreshing and giving enjoyment. So, all the feelings associated with Svadhistana, such as lust, desire to possess and passion for pleasure serve as the main impulse of the initial creativity potential. It is hard to contain it, because it is like water, which, if it doesn’t find direct exit, looks for bypass routes and always finds them. The only question is when and how.
Therefore, apart from its direct assignment, this potential can be realised in any other kind of creativity: in art, in science, etc, which is in fact also sexuality, only directed in a different way. So, our sexual energy can be fulfilled in any activity we do for the purpose of getting pleasure.
6. The Earth Element
The Earth element completes the process of creation. Earth is the most dense and inert principle of the Universe, because Maya affects it the most. Here, in Muladhara chakra, the energy “falls asleep” and closes on itself, producing and absorbing its own vibration, and the rays of consciousness shine to a minimum. Muladhara has four petals and its bija mantra is LAM. It is projected onto the base of our body, on the perineum and anus, and is associated with the discharge function.
This chakra is often called “root chakra”, as the Earth element is the basic element of our physical existence, it is our foundation l. That is why Muladhara is associated with the roughest and densest structures of our body, such as our bones — our frame and support. Also, this chakra is the root of our instincts, self-preservation and it is responsible for the emotion of fear. Any kind of fear in one way or another can be summarised as a fear of death. This is a vital emotion on the matter of security and survival. It makes any living being to be careful and increases our chances to survive in dangerous situations.
Muladhara is also associated with the sense of smell. A nose is an organ which “smells” the danger first, and reports any life threatening condition before our eyes or ears can discover it. The sense of smell also helps to find a most suitable partner for the purpose of conceiving healthy and viable offspring. It has the same level of importance as the sense of fear for the animals in the wild, where every step can become dangerous. Thanks to these factors human beings survived as a species. Our modern life is not associated with daily fighting for survival. Nevertheless, a sense of smell remains a major source of perception. Truth to be told, we use it more often for pleasure rather than for prevention of danger.
We have plenty of fears and in many cases these fears are unfounded. Fear without any objective reason is often an effect of self-preservation instinct. When our fear is transformed into a phobia, it drains our energy and hinders even our material development, not to mention the spiritual one. Working with Muladhara we can learn to overcome inappropriate fears.
When Muladhara is balanced, we feel connection with the earth and with nature. We are full of vitality, given by the earth element. It is manifested in the feeling of stability and security. We are confident and easily satisfy our basic needs.
We just described the six chakras in the order of creation of the fundamental principles of the Universe — from subtle to gross, from the top to the bottom. However, the process of self-exploration and understanding of our initial essense is the movement in the opposite direction — from the bottom to the top, when each lower element is dissolved in the higher one. It corresponds with the way of spiritual growth of a person, which is completed by the merging of the Energy with the Consciousness in the seventh chakra.
Sahasrara — the Pinnacle of Spiritual Transformation!
Above the six chakras there is Sahasrara — a thousand-petal lotus, the seventh chakra and a home for Pure Consciousness. Its bija mantra is HRIM. It is projected onto the crown of the head, and according to some theories even above it. When the awakened Energy travels from the base of the body along the Central channel, passing through all chakras in reverse order and dissolving them, one after another, its journey ends here, in the center of consciousness. When the Energy and the Consciousness become one in this place, a person returns to the source of creation and realizes his Higher Self. This is the place of total spiritual enlightenment, a superconscious state of extreme bliss. This is a final purpose of Yoga — connection with the Supreme!
Though Sahasrara is referred to as the seventh chakra, it is more than a chakra by the essence. All chakras are created by the principles of the Universe, but Sahasrara is above all the principles, beyond any material limitations, beyond time and space, connecting manifested with non-manifested. It defies any logical description, as this is a center of superlogic. It is a guide of spiritual revelations from our Higher Self, that manifest themselves as higher intuition. Sahasrara is located above Adjna chakra, the center of the mind, and that is why intuition is always higher than the mind. While logic is based on thinking, analysing, experience and memory, intuition is the ability to grasp any knowledge directly, bypassing mental processes.
Intuition in our lives is spontaneous and unpredictable. Sometimes it comes as flash-like answers where the mind hasn’t even formulated the questions. It also manifests itself as a warning of implicit dangers, which the mind cannot justify, or, on the contrary, as an unprecedented confidence of the right choice.
Intuition is when you know without thinking.
However, it is not as simple as that. Very often we do not recognise the signs from our Higher Self. We ignore them and lose them when instead of the first intuitive decision we choose the second one, which was thought through, but not necessarily the best. Or, on the contrary, we take our own misconceptions as glimmers of higher revelations, mixing things up. Therefore it is highly important to develop the mind, and weed out all illogical and misleading. On the other hand, it is necessary to control the mind and not to let it block the superlogical glimmers of intuition by analysing everything.
Logic is just a partial manifestation of superlogic. This factor shows limitations of the mind, which is not able to see the full picture with the help of logic only. It sees the world in fragments, so it can be wrong. Clear as crystal, the mind can accept and reflect the light of the Supreme, in a limited form, but it cannot explain superlogic with the help of logic, no matter how hard it tries. Superlogic is unspeakable, it unites the concepts of kindness and confession, which are the foundations of the entire universe, and without which no spiritual practice can succeed.
We should remember that our mind is our instrument and not our master. The real master is our Higher Self, which at the level of superlogic gives us extra-karmic impulses to spiritual development. So, over and over again, getting experience with intuitive insights, our mind, having tasted the Supreme, over time will develop an instinct for intuition and stop obstructing it. When the mind is clear and calm, it is able to receive messages from above unhindered; when Ajna is in harmony with Sahasrara, intuition will reveal itself. And it never lies!
“Intuition is our first teacher. Intuition brings to man those brilliant messages from the Unknown which are the beginning of his higher knowledge.” Sri Aurobindo Ghosh, Indian philosopher, poet.
If we compare the principle of mind with a canvas, on which the picture of life is painted, and by controlling it we are able to control all the colours of life, then Sahasrara is the level of the one who looks at this picture. When we become an observer and go beyond the canvas, we are no longer limited by its size or shape. Now, we don’t identify ourselves with the picture and we know it completely and have a total power over it. As such, by reaching Sahasrara, we reveal the knowledge inside ourselves and gain freedom.
The system of chakras is a fundamental knowledge of all the structures of our body, of how the body was created and what makes it function. We are able to obtain this knowledge thanks to the yogis and yoginis of antiquity, who left us some treaties with the description of chakras and different practices, as well as the Teachers and yoga schools who saved and passed it to us. This valuable reference helps us to form a sense of where we are going.
Our chakras is a treasure trove of infinite power within us and a source of the ultimate truth, which we are still to re-open. None of the chakras is more or less important than the others, none of them is the primary or the secondary. They are all equally important, and none of them should be neglected in yoga practice. For the harmonious work of all chakras is the key to success on the path of self-knowledge and freedom!
Discover your true self
with the spiritual journey through chakras
*It is worth noting that unlike the senses, which are always «secured» behind their principles and their chakras, the action organs are a little more complicated — there are some differences in the way they are listed, from the gross to the more subtle, depending on the teaching that describes them. Thus, the tying of action organs to chakras, used in this article, is the most common, but not the only option. What other options exist for the relationship of action organs to chakras and why there was such a discrepancy in various teachings is explained by Sir John George Woodroffe, well-known as Artur Avalon, in his book “The Serpent Power”, by drawing on Tantra-Shastra, Sankhya and Vedanta. (Chapter 5)
Authors: Nataly Nag, Olga Belous, Evgenia Agni
Pictures of chakras from the book by Arthur Avalon “The Serpent Power”
Editors: Anna Vita, Alla Ravi, Maria Gayatri, Evgenia Agni
Chief editor: Mirra
Project curator: Kerigona
Translators: Tatiana Sugrue, Tatyana Plakhotnyuk, Nat Satcitananda
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