“The Tree of Life is an important symbol in nearly every culture. With its branches reaching into the sky, and roots deep in the earth, it dwells in three worlds – a link between heaven, the earth, and the underworld, uniting above and below. It is both a feminine symbol, bearing sustenance, and a masculine, visibly phallic symbol – another union.”
Leaves and branches of the Tree Of Life
Inside the human body are millions and millions of tiny whirling vital life forces concentrated into centres called Chakras. Chakra means wheel in Sanskrit because these energies spin at these points rotating clockwise at a certain frequency.
The Chakra activity resembles a galaxy of planets, each spinning on its axis at points along the spinal cord. Each Chakra is designed to supervise and maintain the perfect operation of the bodily systems under its control. This purification is done by spinning in pure or positive vibrations and spinning out impure or negative ones.
An understanding of what each Chakra attracts and what can disturb it is important for our well being. Each thought and action influence the sensitiveness and performance of these centres. Immediately after Self-Realization these Chakras are activated and initially begin the slow process of clearing the gross negativity accumulated by years of neglect or self-destructive activities. The benefits are almost immediate; small anxieties decrease and some joy and objectivity begins to manifest, and the blocked Chakras begin to rotate properly again.
The human being has seven major Chakras and these correspond to the autonomic nerve plexuses:
The Muladhara Chakra corresponds to the pelvic plexus.
The Swadhisthana Chakra corresponds to the aortic plexus.
The Manipura Chakra corresponds to the coeliac plexus.
The Anahata Chakra corresponds to the cardiac plexus.
The Vishuddha Chakra corresponds to the cervical plexus.
The Ajna Chakra corresponds to the optic chiasma.
The Sahasrara Chakra expresses at the limbic area.
The Chakras influence and reflect our mental and emotional life. For example, the Swadhisthan Chakra controls a person’s creativity and those who work hard — artists and other creative people — it may become weak. The right Anahata Chakra (there are three parts of the Anahata Chakra: right, center and left) reflects the relationship of fatherhood, either with the person’s own father or his own children. Sufferers from anorexia nervosa, for example, invariably have a problem with this centre. There are more complex scenarios for serious problems where two or more Chakras are inter-related and affected, but we need not worry for eventually the Kundalini is able to set the entire subtle system working at optimum levels.
Thus the state of the Chakras at a subtle level reflects and influences a person’s physical, mental and emotional welfare. This is a dynamic relationship and so action at a subtle level on the Chakra can improve and integrate all these aspects. This is why people who achieve and consolidate their Yoga invariably find that their physical, emotional and other problems improve. The chakras system is of profound importance to those seriously exploring the nature of consciousness — their own spiritual quest, a friend’s uncommon perceptions or the expanding mind of an entire human race.
The modern Hindu renaissance figure Swami Vivekananda was a great yogi. One day he shared some of India’s deepest mysticism with a small group of Western ladies: “The sun and moon currents [the pingala and ida] bring energy to all parts of the body. While meditating at the Baranagore Math, I saw the nerves, ida and pingala. The surplus energy is stored at certain points, plexuses, along the spinal column commonly known as nerve centers. A third, the sushumna, is a very fine, very brilliant thread, a living passage through the spinal cord, through which we have to make the kundalini rise. The yogi is able not only to feel them but actually see them.”
Chakras, or “plexuses of consciousness,” form the major nerve ganglia of an extraordinary circuitry of nadis, energy channels that link together our animal body with our subtler bodies and their higher functions such as intelligence and love. It is because of these chakras and nadis that our five koshas, “sheaths” — function so smoothly and integrally as a one organism and awareness can move through all bodies, transiting from physical to emotional, to intuition to spiritual, instantaneously. In computer language, these chakras could be considered cosmic network hubs and the nadis as multi-gigabyte-per-second optical fiber wiring. Except, this wiring extends inside and outside the computer.
Our five koshas – physical, vital/pranic, emotional/mental, intuitive/ cognitive and superconscious- are not disjointed, but beautifully and inextricably interlocked like layers of an onion. Each one is encased by the next subtler as they function together in daily consciousness. For example, when we feel the embarrassing hot flush of anger or riveting cool current of the intellect, we are aware in the astral body, not the physical body. When a wave of boundless love surges from within, we are accessing the intuitive and soul sheaths.
Hindu, Chinese Taoist and Tibetan Buddhist scriptures refer to an electrical human infrastructure of 72,000 sukshma prana nadis or “subtle channels of vital force.” The Shiva Samhita lists fourteen major currents. Of these, three are the super information highways-ida, pingala and sushumna — running interwoven around and within, respectively, the spinal cord. Where the nadis most intensely converge, yogis have pinpointed the chakras — 88,000 according to the most extensive yogic explorations.
As giant electrical transformers govern and regulate the flow and dispersion of power through a community, so do these whirlpools of light receive, filter, focus and funnel the vital life force, prana, that flows through us from the Source of Life.
Though of gross form, the body maintains a connection to each of the chakras through nerve ganglia along the spinal cord and in the cranium. But unlike these physical nerves, which are measured in millimeters, the subtle nerve and the chakras are measured by vibration, similar to am/fm short-wave radio frequencies. Although regionalized to various parts of each sheath, or body, the chakras are more accurately regions of mind power-vast fields of collective, related and interrelated thought realms, like vast cities, or energy fields, or like portals of consciousness. . . .
Knowledge of the chakras so exhaustively recorded by India’s yogis, permeates Hindu culture, its dance tradition and its sacred architecture. The Hindu temple is segmented to mirror the human body’s seven chakra design. Beyond India, this knowledge was inspirational to the flowering of tantric Tibetan Buddhism. In Tibet, manipadma “jeweled lotus,” is the name of the manipura chakra enshrined in the mantra Om Mani Padme Hum.
Chakra/nadi knowledge has surfaced in every society that nurtured a mystical tradition. The Mayan God Quetzalcoatl is often portrayed with a plumage around his head to represent the emanating rays of the sahasrara. In Polynesia, the Hawaiians constructed seven temples on the island of Kauai representing each of the chakras along a trail called Ku-a-moo, “spine of the dragon,” (sushumna nadi) from the ocean to a central volcanic peak. Mystical Sikh, Sufi and Christian sects each possess chakra-nadi teachings. The Chinese acupuncture system is completely based on this knowledge. By releasing obstructions in the flow of chi, or vital prana, that runs through the nadis, illness conditions are treated and averted.
More and more mainstream allopathic medical practitioners are finding themselves referring to “that other nervous system.” As cognizance of the chakras grows, not only will people better comprehend their own mental/emotional orientation and be inspired by higher portals of perception, but also finally fathom how someone could kill another, or how a soul could forgive and still love a murderer.