Lesson 2, Topic 3
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What Is a Chakra?

Nabha Cosley October 10, 2021
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Chakra is a Sanskrit word literally meaning wheel or circle. In a deeper sense the word describes the whirlpools or vortices of energy located along the central axis of our bodies, in the “deep” or astral spine. The chakras are a part of what might be called our spiritual anatomy. Just as there is an anatomy to the physical body and maps to the physical world, so also there is a definite anatomy of our spiritual beings, as well as maps and guideposts to follow along the path of inner awakening. If we understand this spiritual anatomy, then we will find it much easier to advance in our search for God.

For example, the point between the eyebrows (the sixth chakra) is that part of the body where the mind becomes focused automatically in ecstasy or just in concentration. Perhaps you’ve noticed the unconscious tendency people have to knit their brows, or frown, when engrossed in a project or making an important point in conversation. Understanding this truth, and consciously putting our attention at that point, we discover that the mind actually does become focused there. This is one of the central teachings of yoga.

Yoga is a continuous tradition of teachings and techniques that help the ascending soul to understand that there are higher levels of consciousness that transcend lower levels of awareness. Generally speaking, information about the chakras comes from India and from the ancient science of yoga. Yoga is a true and universal teaching, yet yoga does not have a corner on truth. Anyone who finds spiritual freedom or oneness with God, no matter whether they are from an Eastern or Western background, discovers the same truths. Yoga’s unique value lies in its scientific approach to finding God, based on an ancient tradition of experimentation. It offers nonsectarian guidance and wisdom for those seeking higher awareness, based on centuries of experience.

Yoga doesn’t teach this concept as a dogma. It says: “Try it! Experience it!”

Spiritual awakening is not a vague, mystical experience. All true teachings, although some less specifically than yoga, point to very particular realities. As an example of this, we find statements in every scripture that say that heaven is “above” and hell is “below.” But no telescope has ever shown us angels flying around in outer space. Nor has any deep well-drilling equipment brought up screaming and protesting demons. Heaven and hell are not “up” and “down” objectively speaking – what is up for us is down for people in Australia. This concept has no cosmic relevance, but it does have infinite relevance for the individual.

We can easily see this relevance in our instinctive responses to life. When we feel uplifted or high, or downcast or low, we use expressions which reflect these feelings. Spiritual awakening implies raising of energy and consciousness in the body. And hellish consciousness, materialistic consciousness – that which takes us away from joy and down into suffering and pain – is always a descent. Isnt it true that every time we feel wonderful, we experience a rising energy inside ourselves, and we look up?

You never see people smiling and looking upward, saying, “I feel so depressed.” Likewise, you don’t see people slumping, looking down and droopy, saying “I feel so happy.” Quite the contrary, for these physical reactions are manifestations of universal truths, based on the way we are made. What yoga does is particularize these truths by showing that outer experiences of joy or sadness are caused by energy moving in the deep spine. But yoga doesn’t teach this concept as a dogma. It says: “Try it! Experience it!” For everyone who has tried it, has experienced it.

When our energy is uplifted in the spine we begin to approach divine consciousness. But in the beginning of our spiritual quest, we encounter what might be called “gates” or “doors” (words often used to describe the seven chakras) that need to be unlocked.


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