Glossary of Spiritual Wisdom
Excerpts about Chakras
Basic Raw Energies of Emotional States
The energies of the chakras are the basic raw energies of emotional states. When a chakra is active, or “open,” we directly experience the basic subtle energies that go into the makeup of the various emotions, instead of the emotions themselves. That is why we experience emotional freedom when the heart opens: the energy frees us, for the moment, from the conflicting emotions that usually fill our hearts. The basic energy of the heart chakra is experienced as love, joy, and bliss. When it is seen, it is seen as colored lights in the heart, usually golden or green. The activation of the other chakras will have a similar sense of expansion, freedom, light, and so on but not necessarily love. In such openings there is generally a flooding of deep, intense emotions and feeling, usually experienced as a high-energy, dramatic happening. The person has the sense that it's a “big deal,” that he is having a spiritual experience or a mystical union. This is true, but it is also true that this is only a transitory stage. All the drama subsides after a while, and other processes, subtler and deeper, begin to take place. However, because the level of the chakras is dramatic, intensely emotional, and full of visions of all kinds of beautiful phosphorescent lights, it has a fascinating and captivating influence on the mind. The person keeps seeking these dramatic experiences and is not interested in the subtler processes that are necessary for moving to the essential dimension.
Body Armor Inhibits the Chakras
The Chakras do not function properly because of the body armor and its patterns of psychophysical tensions. The work on the superego, especially if coupled with somatic-energetic techniques, such as those that employ breathing, is a powerful and efficient method for clearing this level. It also guards against the fascination and the excitement characteristic of direct work on the chakras.
Clearing of the Chakra System
The work on the superego, on expanding the awareness and deepening the sensitivity of the body, involves the activation and freeing the chakra level of energetic functioning. This does not necessarily mean direct work on the physical location of the chakras. It is basically clearing the mind and opening the body, which inevitably involves the clearing of the chakra system. The chakra system is basically the level of emotions, thinking processes, and physiological functioning. Freeing these functions from the unconscious, defending against the superego, and clearing the conflicts in the mind, is itself the work on clearing the chakras. Of course, there are other methods of dealing with this level of work. Some systems work directly on the chakra system and its centers. Others activate the kundalini energy and use it to activate and clear the chakras. Others use yogic physical techniques. Psychotherapy and the body therapies also are attempts in this direction. The chakras do not function properly because of the body armor and its patterns of psychophysical tensions. The work on the superego, especially if coupled with somatic-energetic techniques, such as those that employ breathing, is a powerful and efficient method for clearing this level. It also guards against the fascination and the excitement characteristic of direct work on the chakras. Clearing this level of the personality leads at some point to the regaining of the pure emotional energy, and culminates in the experience of the void.
Different Centers of Certain Energies
Chakra is an Indian word meaning "center" or "wheel." The chakras are different centers of certain energies; the heart chakra is one of many. They are usually located at the main plexi of the nervous system and are very much linked with the nervous system and its processes. Their function is mainly the coordination of some basic physiological and autonomic discharge processes.
From the Open Heart Chakra to the Experience of Essential Presence
So the chakra level, the realm of the kundalini, is a stage of inner development, not the destination. It can be used to go further. The open heart chakra can be used to go to the experience of essential presence if the individual allows himself to look further, beyond the glitter and excitement, into the deeper, more tranquil, and subtler presence in the heart. In fact, it can happen that the experience of the heart opening results from a contact with essence in the heart. The presence of essence might, by itself, open the heart chakra. The ecstatic experience is not only emotional but also essential—in some cases, the essence is flowing out but is experienced emotionally. In other cases, the flow of essence is mixed with the emotional, chakra-level energy. When a person is captivated by the emotional aspect of the experience, he tends to miss the presence of essence and so misses the opportunity to go on to the deeper and richer realm of essence. However, if he stays present in the experience and objectively looks at its constituents, he might stumble on the essential presence. He then has the opportunity to experience the essential realm in its purity, without the diluting presence of emotions. The quality of experience in the heart will be now very different from that of the chakra level. The first deeper level beyond the heart chakra might be the first essential experience. This is one of the centers that the Sufis call lataif. These centers are sometimes called “organs of perception.”
Psychological Issues of the Chakras
Each chakra has, associated with its mode of functioning, psychological issues that must be worked through. The energy can become strong enough to penetrate to the head centers, appearing as the bejeweled, hooded cobra around the head.