CHAKRAS AND THE TREE OF LIFE
Part 3 -
As mentioned previously, individuals interface with the energy of creation via vortices in the energetic body called chakras. There are many chakras in the body, in fact every cell can be thought of as a mini-chakra. There is a minor chakra in the center of each hand and foot. There is said to be twelve major chakras, seven running within the body along the spinal column (or more accurately, along the spine of the ethereal body) and five beyond the body. The lower the chakra's position along the spine, the lower the range of frequencies it can access. The five 'external' chakras access frequencies that are the very highest, representing the greater systems of which we are a part, the totality of information. The eighth chakra is said to be about twelve inches above the head. The ninth is said to be several feet above the head and connects us to the morphogenetic grid of Earth. The tenth connects us to the solar system, the eleventh to the galaxy and the twelfth to the entire universe. Although there are twelve major chakras, we are mainly concerned here with the seven that correspond with the physical aspects of our being.
The lowest of the seven 'internal' chakras is at the very base of the spine, the next is at the sacrum, then the solar plexus, the heart, the throat, the brow and the highest one is at the crown of the head. The seven chakras represent a 'spectrum' of frequencies, much the same as those of the color spectrum or the notes of a musical scale. A clairvoyant would describe them as spinning, funnel-shaped wheels containing mental, astral and etheric 'substance'. Thus, the body interacts with cosmic vibrations through these chakras, taking in vital energy from the infinite universal source. This vital energy has been given many names by various cultures, for example; prana, orgone, mana, sexual magis, Chi, Kia, Vril and Od.
An invisible, non-material channel, pathway or conduit within the body that distributes this vital energy is called a nadi. The subtle energy from the chakras animates the nerve ganglia as well as this matrix of nadis. Other cultures have also referred to these pathways. In ancient Egypt they were called 'metu' and are the same pathways or meridians used in the Chinese practice of acupuncture. The nadis are connected with the fibres of the etheric body. The chakras take cosmic prana into the etheric body, which is then distributed via the nadis. There are some 72,000 nadis, with fourteen being identified as major. Within this fourteen, the three most important are the lunar/female/right nadi, called 'Ida', the solar/male/left nadi, called 'Pingala', and the central channel called the 'Sushumna'. These energy conduits criss-cross or intersect along the spinal column, meeting at the chakras. This arrangement is also called the Tree of Life, and is represented in the ancient symbol of the caduceus, which has been adopted more recently as the symbol of modern medicine. The caduceus was the winged staff of Mercury/Hermes/Thoth.
According to the Tantra there is a power source, an energy called kundalini that lies dormant at the base of the spine. The process of enlightenment involves awakening this energy and causing it to rise up through the chakras along the Sushumna to the crown. When this connection is maintained, an individual experiences bliss, an awareness of unity with all things, leading to enlightenment. This kundalini energy is represented by a serpent, which while dormant, lies coiled at the base, but when awakened, rises in a criss-cross fashion up the Sushumna. The symbol of the caduceus depicts this process.
Yoga is a methodology that facilitates this process. The kundalini can be awakened in many ways, i.e., meditating, having sex, taking drugs, etc. One can choose to do this reverently and carefully, or with reckless abandon, according to one's level of wisdom. There are slower methods which clear 'blockages' from the chakra centers before awakening the kundalini, as well as faster methods which awaken the kundalini which then 'burns' its way through any blockages. This latter method, if done incorrectly, can lead to damage in the nervous system. This uniting of the lower energies with the higher is a key to achieving enlightenment, which is another way of saying that it brings immortality. This process is also a part of the concept of the Tree of Life (Etz Chaim) in the Qabalic traditions of the ancient Hebrews, and is referred to in the Biblical story of Adam and Eve (Genesis 3, 22-24). If one eats from the Tree of Life, one lives forever.
Next month we'll look at the 'liberating current' and the 'manifesting current.