There are fourteen great nerve centers in the physical body, in the astral body and in the body of the soul. These centers are called chakras in Sanskrit, which means "wheel." These spinning vortices of energy are actually regions of mind power, each one governing certain aspects of our inner being, and together they are the subtle components of people. When inwardly perceived, they are vividly colorful and can be heard. In fact, they are quite noisy. When awareness flows through any one or more of these regions, the various functions of consciousness operate, such as memory, reason and willpower. The physical body has a connection to each of the seven higher chakras through plexuses of nerves along the spinal cord and in the cranium. As the kundalini force of awareness travels along the spine, it enters each of these chakras, energizing them and awakening in turn each function. By examining the functions of these great force centers, we can clearly cognize our own position on the spiritual path and better understand our fellow man.
The Seven Chakras of Higher Consciousness
Below we present a condensed overview of each of the seven principal chakras, followed by the seven chakras below the muladhara. For more details, and to see also how chakras correlate to the physical body, refer this month's gatefold, pages 3-5.
The muladhara: The memory center, muladhara, located at the base of the spine, creates a consciousness of time through the powers of memory. Whenever we go back in our memory patterns, we are using the forces of the muladhara. It has four petals or aspects, one of which governs memories of past lives. The other three contain the compiled memory patterns and interrelated karmas of this life. This chakra is associated also with human qualities of individuality, egoism, physicality (including sexuality), materialism and dominance. A person lives predominantly in this chakra during the first seven years of life, acquiring language skills, relationships and cultural ways.
Svadishthana: Once the ability to remember has been established, the natural consequence is reason, and from reason evolves the intellect. Reason is the manipulation of memorized information. We categorize it, edit it, rearrange it and store the results. People in this six-petaled chakra research, explore and wonder, "Why? Why? Why?" They propose theories and formulate rational explanations. They often form a rigid intellectual mind based upon opinionated knowledge and accumulated memory, reinforced by habit patterns of the instinctive mind. It is in this chakra that the majority of people live, think, worry and travel on the astral plane. We open naturally into this chakra between ages 8 and 14. This center controls the muladhara, as does each progressively higher chakra control those that lie below it.
Manipura: The third chakra is represented in the central nervous system by the solar plexus, where all nerves merge to form the "second brain." Of its ten petals, five face up and five down. Correspondingly, depending on how the energy is flowing, the forces of willpower from this chakra add power either to worldly consciousness through the first two centers or to spiritual consciousness through the fourth and fifth centers. When awareness is confined to the realms of memory, reason and aggressive willpower, men and women are instinctive in nature. They are quick to react and retaliate, quick to have their feelings hurt and quick to pursue the conquest of others while fearing their own defeat. In these states of mind, the ego rises to its greatest prominence, and emotional experiences are extremely intense. Young adults from 14 to 21 discover willpower, willfulness and individuality as this chakra unfolds.
Anahata: The center of perception and insight is often referred to as "the lotus of the heart." Its 12 "petals" imply that cognition can be expressed in twelve distinct ways or through as many masks or personae. People abiding here are generally well-balanced, content and self-contained. Even when in day-to-day life they become involved in the seemingly fractured parts, they are able to look through it all and understand. They have a deep understanding of human nature, which brings effortless tolerance and an innate ability to help others, to resolve conflicts and confusions. Between ages 21 and 28, perceptions deepen and understanding matures for those who enter this chakra. Many people regress back into reason and memory. But, if awareness is mature, having incarnated many times, and well-trained all through youth, the soul proceeds smoothly into anahata consciousness.
Vishuddha: Universal or divine love is the faculty expressed by the vishuddha chakra. Whenever people feel filled with inexpressible love for and kinship with all mankind, all creatures large and small, they are vibrating within the sixteen-petaled vishuddha. When deeply immersed in this state, there is no consciousness of being a person with emotions, no consciousness of thoughts. One is just being the light or being fully aware of oneself as radiant force flowing through all form. One may sometimes see light throughout the entirety of the body. The exceptional soul who resides fully in this center, usually between the ages of 28 and 35, is able for the first time to withdraw awareness totally into the spine, into sushumna, the central spiritual current. Ultimately, he realizes that the inner being is the reality of himself.
Ajna: The sixth force center is called ajna. It is the "third eye," the center of divine sight and direct congition. Of its two "petals" or facets, one is the ability to look into the lower worlds or states of mind and the other is the perception of the higher worlds, or spiritual states, of consciousness. It, therefore, is the connecting link, allowing the awakened soul to relate the highest consciousness to the lowest in a unified vision. We open naturally into this chakra between ages 35 and 42.
Sahasrara: The seventh center at the top of the head is called the crown chakra. According to the ancient mystics, it governs 1,008 aspects or attributes of the soul body. These personae are transparent, a crystal-clear white light, ever present, shining through the circumference of the golden soul body. Here the soul dissolves even blissful visions of light and is immersed in pure space, pure awareness, pure being. Within the sahasrara is the brahmarandhra, or "door of God," an aperture in the sushumna nadi through which the kundalini exits the body, catapulting the mind beyond and into nirvikalpa samadhi, and the truly pure spirit escapes the body at death. We open naturally into the crown chakra between ages 42 and 49.
Often when people get older, if they have not learned to sustain consciousness in the higher chakras, they start to drop in consciousness, returning to reason and trying to understand why all the things that happened to them in their lifetime happened as they did. They get stuck in the muladhara and spend years just remembering the past, reliving old experiences, good and bad alike. But more mature souls rightly fullfill life's two final stages: senior advisor and religious solitaire. They utilize their golden years to manifest higher-chakra faculties of love, light, inner vision and God Realization through service, sadhana, pilgrimage, worship and meditation.
The Seven Sub-Muladhara Regions
Atala: The first lower chakra, located in the hips, governs the state of mind called fear, which is truly a bottomless abyss. Someone in this consciousness fears death, fears life, even fears God and other people. This center is also the home of lust and promiscuity.
Vitala: Here anger predominates, and burning resentment. Anger comes from despair, confusion, frustration or lack of understanding. People in the consciousness of this chakra, centered in the thighs, are always wrathful, mad at the world, even angry at God.
Sutala: This chakra, found in the knees, governs jealousy, wanting what one can't have. Jealousy is a feeling of inadequacy, inferiority and helplessness. People in sutala consciousness covet everything, often deny the existence of God and are contentiously combative.
Talatala: Prolonged confusion dominates here, giving rise to instinctive willfulness: to get rather than give, to push others around and pursue materialistic advancement over all else. Greed and deceit prevail in this dog-eat-dog state of mind, centered in the calves.
Rasatala: This chakra of the ankles is the true home of the animal nature. Unmitigated selfishness prevails, of seeing to the well-being of "number one" first. The suffering of others is of no concern. Jealousy, anger and fear are intense, even high, states of consciousness.
Mahatala: This is the realm of consciencelessness, or inner blindness to the effect of one's actions, of negativity and deep depression. Those living in this chakra of the feet steal freely, taking what they justify as theirs anyway, feeling that the world "owes them a living."
Patala: Here, in the soles of the feet, is the abode of destructiveness, revenge, murder for the sake of murder, torture and hatred expressed through harming the properties, minds, emotions and bodies of others. Hatred and scorn abide here. Malice reigns supreme. Reason seldom reaches this state of mind.
This is the story of our evolution through the mind—from the gross to the refined, from darkness into light, from a consciousness of death to immortality. We follow a natural pattern that is built right in the nerve system itself: memory; reason; will; direct cognition; inner light perceptions of the soul which give a universal love of all mankind; psychic perceptions through divine sight; and the heavenly refinement of being in the thousand-petaled lotus.
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