Tabulation of chakra characteristics

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There are a large number of traditional characteristics associated with the chakras. On the accompanying two charts we have listed some of these characteristics, omitting those that are less relevant for the sake of clarity. Some of the characteristics have already been discussed. The following are ones that perhaps need a little explanation.

Lokas: These are 'levels of awareness' or 'spheres of being'. They can be very roughly defined as follows:

• Bhuvah - intermediate

• Swahah - subtle maha - the abode of devas (divine beings)

• Janah - the abode of those who have transcended the ego

• Tapah - abode of enlightened siddhas (perfect beings)

These lokas correspond exactly to the chakras and their meaning is the same. Each level indicates progressively higher heavens.

These different planes or spheres are also symbolized by the sriyantra (sometimes called sri chakra)2. If you look carefully, you will see that the central point is surrounded by a series of rings, one within the other. The largest ring, or the outer framework, is called the bhupura and represents the mooladhara chakra or the bhu loka. The other inner rings correspond to the other chakras and lokas.

Koshas: These are called 'sheaths' in English. They are live in number, and they indicate the five bodies ofman, progressing from the gross physical to the subtle blissful sheath. They roughly correspond with the chakras as we have indicated.

Tattwas: These are unfortunately translated as 'elements' in English which tends to cause confusion, for the tattwas are incorrectly associated with the elements of science or the aspects of nature as fire, water, earth, etc. The tattwas indicate something much deeper and more subtle. For example, the earth tattwa is related to the mooladhara chakra. It does not mean earth of the variety in the garden; it means the specific frequency range of pranic vibration associated with the mooladhara chakra and which corresponds to the mind-body as a whole, including one's thoughts and awareness.

Likewise, water is associated with the swad-histhana chakra. Again this water tattwa does not mean the water that you drink, but that level of vibration or sensitivity that is higher than the earth tattwa and which corresponds to the swadhisthana chakra.

The same applies to the tattwas of the other chakras. They represent progressive refinement in one's being.

Bija mantras: These can be translated as 'seed sounds'. They are the specific mantras or sounds that correspond to the chakras. In a rough sense, they represent the resonant frequency of the chakras, though they imply much more.

We have only very briefly described these various aspects; to give a full exposition would

Chart 1: Chakra Characteristics

Chakra

Ascending

Physical

Lotus

Lingam

Granthi

Guna

order

location

symbol

symbol

(psychic

(quality)

knot)

stooladhara

1

perineum

four petals

swayambhu

brahma

tamas

deep red

Swadhisthana

2

coccyx

six petals

_

tamas

vermilion

^nipura

3

navel

ten petals

rajas

bright yellow

Viahata

4

heart

twelve petals

bana

vishnu

rajas

blue

\ ishuddhi

5

throat

sixteen petals

sattwa

violet

Ajna

6

top of spine

two petals

itara

rudra

sattwa

silver-blue

— — —

end of chakra realm--

----

-----

---

----

Bindu

back of head

_

Sahasrara

7

crown of head

one thousand

para or

petals

jyotir

all colours

Chart 2: Chakra Characteristics

Chakra

Loka

Kosha

Tattwa

Bija mantra

Musical note

(level of

(sheath)

(element)

(seed mantra)

Indian Western

awareness)

Mooladhara

bhu

annamaya

prithvi

lam (ef)

saCH) do

(physical)

(earth)

Swadhisthana

bhuvah

annamaya

apas

vam

re (\) re

(physical)

(water)

Manipura

swahah

annamaya

tejas

ram (T)

ga (T) mi

(physical)

(fire)

■Viahata

maha

pranayama

vayu

yam R)

ma (IT) fa

(etheric)

(air)

V'ishuddhi

janah

pranamaya

akasha

ham (?)

paR) so

(etheric)

(ether)

Ajna

tapah

manomaya

aum (S>)

dha(«t) la

(mental) &

vijnanamaya

(intuitive)

_ _ _

end of chakra realm .

Bindu

ni (ft) ti

Sahasrara

satyam

anandamaya

-

sa do

(blissful)

require an entire book. We have introduced them to open your eyes to close correlations between these characteristics and the chakras. We want to show that these different concepts are not isolated; they are all part of a whole, and are really talking about the same thing in different terms.

The necessity of gradual awakening In the yogic paths such as karma yoga, bhakti yoga orj nana yoga the chakras are only opened up when the time is right. That is, the cbakras awaken only when the individual has reached a certain degree of mental equanimity. This is generally such a smooth process that the chakras are not felt when they manifest. In the methods of kundalini yoga the awakening can be much faster. Because of this, great care has to be taken.

If there is too much force, or excessive willpower, then the chakras can open prematurely. They can open before the mind of the individual is sufficiently harmonized. This can cause severe mental disturbances, for the individual can be suddenly confronted with the most negative aspects of his subconscious mind. Possibly illness, physical and/or mental can result. One may become very angry and then very happy within a short space of time. One moment there may be optimism, the next moment pessimism. This occurs in the lower chakras.

But don't worry: premature awakening is very rare because it requires very strong willpower and unceasing practice (though the chakras can also be prematurely opened by other methods, such as drugs). For most people the chakras are gradually opened over a period of time.

This confrontation with one's deeper mental problems is absolutely necessary for those on the spiritual path wbo want to awaken the chakras and the potential of the mind. Sometimes it can be a little unpleasant, but it is the process whereby the mind is purged of all accumulated suppressions and neuroses. All the mental blocks, problems and conditioning are recognized and removed so that the mind becomes a progressively more refined instrument. But the process should be slow so that there is gradual adjustment between one's inner realization and the relationships with the outer world.

In summary premature awakening of the chakras, that is, premature ascent of the kundalini, can cause great unhappiness because one is suddenly confronted with the negative samskaras (mental impressions) that have not been worked out and neutralized. Imbalance of the body and mind can easily result. Though this is a rare occurrence we strongly advise you not to use excessive force or to be in too much of a hurry. The way is to aspire, to practise, but not to be impatient and expect instant results. Let things take their natural course through your diligent efforts.

The remodelling of the mind-body The awakening of the kundalini, the awakening of the chakras, must be slow since the whole mind-body complex has to be gradually remodelled to take and withstand the new surge of power and pranic activity associated with expanded states of awareness. A common analogy given to illustrate this point is a light bulb and its electricity supply. Most people have a body that is comparable to a low or zero watt light bulb. Through yoga practices the flow of prana in the body increases. This brings states of illumination, but simultaneously the wattage of the light bulb - the strength and purity of the mind-body - has to be increased to withstand this extra flow of prana. If the electric power is too high for a bulb, then the bulb will blow. In the same way, if the prana flow is too great in the body-mind, then injury can easily arise. Therefore, we again emphasize that progress in tantra-yoga must be slow. Don't expect instant results. Let the body be gradually reformed in accordance with the ascent of the kundalini. Give the body time to open up and create new pranic pathways to channel the greater How of prana. And this is an amazing process; as awareness expands and the kundalini rises, so the incredible intelligence of the pranic body constructs new pathways (nadis) in the same way that the River Ganges creates new channels and gullies during the flood season. This process must occur, but it takes time. Don't be in a hurry. Progress slowly but surely. This is important.

General summary

We have just about exhausted the subject of the chakras and the kundalini. The most important thing is to awaken them. This is the purpose of kriya yoga. Until we begin to introduce the actual kriya yoga techniques in Book III, we suggest that you practise the techniques that we are giving regularly and sincerely to locate the chakra points. This will ensure that you are fully prepared to gain the most out of the system of kriya yoga.

Notes

1 The Chakras: Part 1 - Book II, Lesson 19, Topic 1: Part 2 - Book II, Lesson 20, Topic 2 2 Book II, Lesson 13, Topic 6

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