The chakras have been known in all parts of the world and throughout history by illumined and psychic people. They are not confined to one system, for they constitute the fundamental makeup of man. Sensitive people in the so-called primitive tribes and societies knew the chakras from their own experiences. They tuned in with the chakras when they tuned in with the more subtle aspects of their pranic body. They did not need to formulate a system or symbolize them, for the system existed already within their own being.
As more complex societies began to develop, organized systems simultaneously arose to unfold the potential of the mind and raise levels of consciousness. The chakras were symbolized according to social codes of language, art and convention. The chakras were depicted in different ways, though always referring to the same aspect of man's being. Because of these differing symbols, many people regard the chakras as mere fanciful concepts and figments of the imagination. But this misses the whole point which is that the experience of the chakras cannot be represented in concrete words and diagrams. Words and symbols can only indicate the existence of the chakras. You must experience the chakras for yourself; you must awaken the potential of the mind for yourself. No one can ever experience them for you. They can tell you about them, but any description will be entirely inadequate.
So don't be discouraged by the different symbols of the chakras; they are only pointers. They are not the reality of the chakras. All symbolic systems of the chakras are only a means, a convenient and scientific means of guiding and assisting you towards your own experience.
We will now discuss the chakras according to different religions and mind exploring systems.
Jewish and Christian chakra symbolism The chakras are widely mentioned in the Bible, especially in the Old Testament. However, the descriptions are highly coloured, being hidden in allegorical and acrostical terms. Many of the -tones ofthe Old Testament are really allusions to the different chakra levels. Here we will confine ourselves to a few of the more obvious quotations.
In Genesis (28:12) it says: "And he dreamed, and behold a ladder set up on the earth, and the top of it reached the heaven: and behold the angels of God ascending and descending on it." Here the ladder is the chakras, one above the other. The lower end rests on the earth, that is, mooladhara chakra, the lowest of the human chakras representing the plane of everyday material life. The top of the ladder reaches the heavens. This means that ascent through the chakras leads to liberation in sahasrara. The angels moving up and down the ladder refer to the paths of pravritti and nivritti widely mentioned in the Indian scriptures. The pravritti path is the outward path of creation, greater limitation and individuality, together with lowering of consciousness. The path of nivritti is the path back to the source, associated with the breaking down of individual barriers, limitations and the raising of levels of consciousness. This biblical verse uses few words but conveys a wealth of ideas and implications.
The story of Enoch is not included in the present day form of the Bible, which is a great pity for the story belongs in the Bible and is one of the clearest symbolic descriptions of the ascent through the chakras. One of the best manuscripts on this subject has recently been discovered in Russia. It is called The Book of the Secrets of Enoch. Little is known of its origin except that its present form was written around the beginning of the Christian era.
The story tells of a sage called Enoch (sometimes identified with the Egyptian mystic Hermes Mercurius Trismegistus) who raises his consciousness through the different chakras. He ascends through ten heavens, not seven. This is not really a contradiction to the Indian system for there are a number of other chakras widely mentioned in the tantric scriptures, but which are not commonly utilized in practices. For example, above the ajna chakra there are a number of additional chakras, such as the soma chakra and the manas chakra. They are not used in the practical application of yogic techniques such as kriya yoga. Eventually Enoch ascends to 'the throne of the Lord', the sahasrara chakra, located at the tenth heaven.
It is a beautiful symbolic story, which also throws much light on the meaning of part of the present Bible. For example, it gives a much fuller explanation of Adam and Eve which makes the Genesis account more comprehensible.
In the New Testament (Revelation 1:20) there is a well-known verse: "The mystery of the seven stars which thou sawest in my right hand and the seven golden candlesticks. The seven stars are the angels of the seven churches, and the seven candlesticks which thou sawest are seven churches." The meaning is clear. The seven candlesticks and the seven churches are chakras. The seven stars are the presiding deities (angels) of each chakra, that is, the powers and aspects which are represented by each chakra.
In Judaism the symbol of the seven chakras is the menorah, which is indeed composed of seven candlesticks. In Christianity the chakras are represented by the Christmas tree, which also has great pagan significance for the same reason. It is believed that the tree was traditionally decorated with seven lights, each one higher than the other. It is only in recent times that the significance and symbolism of the Christmas tree has been forgotten.
It is said that the road (via Dolorosa) which Christ struggled along to reach the place of crucifixion (Golgotha) on the cross symbolizes the ascent through the chakras. It is not really a sad affair, for though Christ suffers, it is so that he purifies himself in order to awaken the chakras. The staggering walk of Christ is the successive progress through different stages of initiation. The crucifixion at Golgotha means the loss of his limited ego and his merging with sahasrara. He is then reborn (resurrected) into divine life.
There is a wealth of symbolic stories in the Bible. Both the Old and New Testaments are ingeniously disguised and symbolized expositions of tbe process of self-awakening. For example, the tabernacle is a symbol of enlightenment which requires seven months to make, that is, enlightenment comes after passing through the chakras. Stories of prophets and apparently historical people personify processes concerned with spiritual awakening. They represent the changes that occur in the being of man or woman when he or she seeks release from the bondage of ignorance.
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