The Chakras – Part 1
The Mystery of the Chakras
This series of features about the chakras was written for the magazine Yoga and Health in the 1960’s. The first paragraph was the editorial introduction to the features.
Many books on Hatha Yoga are written without any reference to the CAKRAS (pronounced chakras). From the western writer’s point of view this is understandable since at least by western medical standards it is almost impossible to identify exactly what the chakras are. Swami Satyananda refers to them simply as ‘psychic centres’ but shows how they are linked to the various plexuses and endocrine systems. Swami Yogasuwaranand states that they are ’situated in the spinal column’. However all teachers agree that they are amenable to control from the mind. Dr. Reich considered that health was achieved when all of the areas of the cakras became relaxed. The traditional yogic teaching has been that the chakras need to be ‘opened’ to permit a free flow of cosmic energy. This is the first of a series of articles on the nature and control of the chakras.
ARE you more wonderful than you have ever dreamed? Are you in fact a being of light?
Just before the First World War, Dr. W. J. Kilner of St. Thomas’s Hospital, London, spent years researching human radiations. Everybody is aware of radiations emanating from other people. If we place our hands close to them, we can feel heat. Sound and smell are two other widely experienced radiations.
But Kilner felt that there are radiations like light, which become less and less perceptible to our senses. He devised a light filter or screen which makes the eyes more sensitive to light rays in the ultra-violet range. The filter was made with an alcohol solution of decyanin, a coal tar derivative.
An aura surrounds us
Staring through this screen at a bright light, Dr. Kilner and his associates then looked at undressed patients standing against a plain background. Every living person was seen to be surrounded by a faint but definite mist, extending up to two feet from their body surface.
Applying various tests, it was seen that this radiation was very vibrant in a healthy person, and less clear during sickness. Dr. Kilner was able to diagnose illness with this method, as the area of radiation over a diseased organ was diminished, often causing a depression in the egg-like shape of this subtle extension.
Sometimes, when directed by will or emotion, the radiations could be seen to reach out and extend to another person, like light from a torch.
In his book THE HUMAN ATMOSPHERE, Dr. Kilner described things that Yoga and occultism had been teaching for hundreds of years. He found that this radiation from a living human being was not only a direct expression of their health and personality, but it also acted as a screen:
Just as looking through red glass changes the appearance of things, so our ‘atmosphere’ or ‘aura’, enhances or decreases the way things outside of us impress us. In seeing a person’s aura, his thoughts, feelings, health and personality begin to be perceptible to us. It has also seen how his or her inner make up conditions what he or she sees or experiences of other people and the world.
the surging of colours
Just as there are a few people who can ‘hear’ a radio broadcast without using a radio, so there are many people who can ’see’ the human aura without using a screen to sensitise their sight. To them, the aura appears as light projecting from us – light of many colours. Describing this, one such person has said, ‘The most varied tones of colour surge in the aura. And this surging is a true picture of the inner life of the man. As this changes, so change the colour tones. But certain permanent qualities such as talents, habits, traits of characters, express themselves also in a foundation of permanent colour tones.
In fact we are all aware of one radiation, heat. Now through modern medical equipment we are aware of many more. In recent years, Dr. Shafica Karagulla tried to extend the research done by Kilner. With the help of a financial grant, she experimented with many people who could ’see’ the aura.
Reporting the results in her book Breakthrough to Creativity, she tells how she was able to develop a clinical method with these subjects. They found that different parts of human nature gave off different levels of radiation, all of which interpenetrated. Thus the body, mind, emotions and passions, all had their own frequency of radiation.
This is so similar to up-to-the-minute research using electronic instruments, that it would be ridiculous to deny its validity. A group of scientists working on a super sensitive radio receiver began to pick up mysterious signals which they could not trace. After much confusion, they discovered that the signals were actually coming from their own bodies.
Further research showed that each organ has’ its own special signal or wavelength, which can be tuned in to. Age and health greatly influence the strength of these signals. Also, each disease has its own frequency, which can be checked out on this radio diagnostician. Perhaps, if the frequency of a disease can be altered by bombarding it with a different one, the illness itself will be cured.
Humans can diagnose more accurately than machines
But so far, the human being seems to be far more sensitive than any artificial apparatus. Dr. Karagulla’s subjects were capable of reporting all that the radio receiver did and more. Accurate medical diagnoses were made by them. Healers specialising in changing the colour (frequency) in a sick person’s aura, have cured their illness.
But one thing the doctor’s subjects saw which has so far not been scientifically verified, were vortices or whirlpools of energy at particular points in the aura. In each person, these vortices were in roughly the same place.
Studying them, the doctor found they were centres of energy exchange. They could be seen to draw energy from other fields, or to give it out. It was noticed that the out-going energy could change the quality of another person’s aura or force field.
Perhaps we can get an understanding of this by comparing it with this:- if a circle of red light is projected on a white screen and a circle of yellow light is brought to overlap, the overlap becomes not red or yellow but orange. In a similar way, the energy radiations from people can alter when they come in contact.
‘Cakra’: wheel or vortice
It is said there is nothing new in the world. Certainly these vortices have been spoken of for some thousands of years. Yoga teachings, have called them Cakras or Lotuses. The word ‘chakra’ means wheel or whirlpool or vortice, and in Yoga tradition there are said to be seven of these chakras in man’s being.
In western occultism these vortices were also spoken of, and called psychic centres.
Buddhism lists six such activities in man. The American Indians, similarly teach that man has five centres in his being where he contacts cosmic forces. They said that man was a reflection of the forces that created heaven and earth. Like the world, man too has an axis, which in his case is the spine. Along this axis were vibratory centres which “echoed the primordial sound of life throughout the universe” or sounded a warning if anything went wrong.
seven levels of consciousness
In our own century, some great figures arose who from direct experience spoke of these chakras. Through working with the sick mind, Dr. Wilhelm Reich defined seven segments in the human being. Eileen Garret, working with scientists and doctors, found seven levels of human consciousness, or seven aspects of human function.
Edgar Cayce, who could see the aura and diagnose from it, said there were seven centres, and gave details of their function.
But despite the agreement as to the seven chakras spoken of in Yoga teachings, defining their functions and descriptions of techniques to develop awareness of them differed.
As science also disagrees about the precise meaning and function of many discovered laws (as all human thought is only relative, never encompassing infinity), such disagreements are only to be expected.
But all do agree on one thing – the chakras are direct expressions of a single factor – energy. Without an understanding of this energy, in fact, we cannot properly understand the chakras, what part they play in our life, how we can deal with them, or how we relate to life in general.
Just as a doctor would explain the body differently from a dancer, yet each would be right, so the explanation of what we are can be approached from innumerable viewpoints, each of them valuable.
In explaining the chakras, several approaches will be given to produce a balanced view. Starting with one of the Yoga views (for there are many – Tantric -Vedanta Sankhya – Patanjali) the very basis of our being is beyond opposites of action or inaction – good or bad – male or female – life or death -consciousness or unconsciousness.
The Hopi Indians describe this by saying that the basis of all life was Tokpela – Endless Space. There was only Taiowa the Creator who was this Endless Space. There was no beginning, no end, no time, no shape, no life. Just an immeasurable void that had its beginning and end, time, shape and life in the mind of Taiowa.
Jewish mysticism, the Kabbalah, say the basis of our being is Ain Soph, the Unknown God. Ain Soph is unknowable by intellect. Yoga teachings state the same. Both also say that out of the unknowable issues a creative force – a cosmic word or sound. Hindu and Christian holy books say, ‘In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the word was God.’ This sound has been represented in the East by the word AUM, and in the West by Omne or Amen.
Sound is a power, a force. So the ancient teachings are saying that a huge creative vibratory power issued out of the void. This word – Aum – was negative and positive, and manifested eventually in the cosmos as two powers – matter and energy – consciousness and unconsciousness.
In our solar system, the sun is a manifestation of the positive aspect of the Word, and the earth or planets of the negative. Human existence is a result of these two basic forces.
From this point of view, our body is held together by an energy or force. This is why, when this energy leaves it at death, the body begins to disintegrate. The body is like a vehicle or surface in which mind realises itself as an individual instead of an undifferentiated cosmic awareness.
To use analogies, around us at this moment are unknown forces, words, pictures and energies. These are unknown to us unless we provide the correct vehicle for their realisation. In this case the vehicles needed would be a wireless or TV. These forces would then be realised in time and space. Similarly, light is invisible until some object reflects it and makes it visible as colour. Each object brings out a different colour from light.
our body acts as a radio receiver
The analogy is simply to make understandable the statement that mind or consciousness is like an energy throughout the universe. Our body acts as a radio, picking up and manifesting a little of the mind’s vast possibilities. Rider Haggard, in his book ‘SHE’ made Aisha say, ‘No Holly, the soul is not in the body, the body is in the soul.’ A radio wave is not in the radio, the radio is immersed in the waves. Eileen Garret says -
‘Mind, in the universal sense, I know to be without and not within the body. I am able to see the impressions emanating from the outer universe register in the magnetic field (aura) of all living organisms. As such ideas, sensations and emotions reach man from without, they are, I recognise, received by certain centres located within his own magnetic field; these impressions are then passed on to register within the physical body.
‘In each phase of evolution all changes in states of consciousness become enveloped in an external form appropriate to its degree of being. Higher states would inevitably evolve corresponding forms of being. And this I know to be true from my own personal experience of seeing and living in supernormal areas. Although I penetrate these levels through the direction of mind and the control of breath, I do so with the accompaniment of a swiftly vibrating magnetic field. The form of this field although invisible to normal sight. is the body which accompanies the functioning of the superconscious in man. From MY LIFE – published by Psychic Press.
Perhaps we can therefore think of ourselves and the chakras in this sense: Like a radio, our body exists deep in a vast sea of energy or mind. Because of our body’s form, we ‘pick up’ only a tiny part of this cosmic mind. Our body and the cosmic mind are two interrelating aspects of the Word. They relate through harmonics. A radio needs an aerial to vibrate in harmony with the signal. The signal is then changed and amplified.
The chakras are like aerials or valves which change the vibration from one octave to another. They are the points at which we can vibrate in harmony with the various levels of the energy without and within us. Emotion, thought, desire, are expressions of energy at different levels. Different chakras respond to these levels and can be translated into definite impressions. But what does it feel like to be aware of the chakras?