Chakras by the Bootstraps|
I write this chapter with great concern. Chakras reflect the glamorous side of spirituality. There are enough risks from charlatans involved in spirituality without taking on the ego-traps of glamour; but I “had to” write this, it will become clear why.
I am also writing this chapter in a discursive, narrative way, it does not have the clarity of a manual. But that is the nature of chakras.
In the western world – I live in Thailand but my writing is geared towards the West and its peoples, energy is rarely discussed other than as a by-product of food. But our energetic bodies can hold traumas that deeply affect us – Eckhart Tolle uses a similar idea when he talks of the pain body. Throughout the Treatise I asked that we balance our minds, energy and (physical) body:-
In the Treatise I discussed chi (prana) in ch7 on Energy and Ch 10 on Emotions but only mentioned chakras in passing in Ch7.
I am going to start from where I left off in these two chapters – not unreasonable considering the pathtivism Manual follows on from the Treatise. Let me summarise quickly highlighting one or two relevant points to develop. Western science does not recognise chi, and this weakness transfers itself to “western consciousness” in the sense that western institutions and establishment do not accept chi; for example it is not part of the national curriculum in schools. In the Treatise I advocate an energetic practice routine such as Tai Chi or Chi Gung – or yoga etc., and I still think this is essential although aerobic exercise should be added to it.
In Treatise Ch 10 on Emotions I spoke of Nyanga, and described an emotional cleansing; this is closely related to what I am going to discuss with chakras. In Nyanga I was 44 (now 67). 7/8 years previously I emerged from a relationship emotionally scarred – I refer to this relationship as Peyton Place. Although I functioned well in daily life - to all intents and purposes, following the separation I was deeply emotionally scarred – having a deep and damaging pain body as Eckhart might say. I was staying in a bungalow in a camp site in Nyanga, Zimbabwe, and part of my spiritual studies had been building up to this experience. I explored inside my stomach and digestive area (what I will be calling the area of the 2nd and 3rd chakra) looking for my pain (body). I found Peyton Place, relived the repressed emotion, and in a deeply emotional night managed to release a lot of that pain – I also released some pain associated with my childhood. I have repeated this Nyanga process since but not with the same powerful results – effective nonetheless.
An essential aspect of the Treatise was the emphasis on all of the 3 tenets:-
We must be careful not just to focus on one but incorporate all three on our path. As a process Nyanga was part of harmonising energy, and chi gung is part of my daily practise – more so as I get older to help my heart.
I have just had a revitalising process regarding the chakras so I am going to trace my relationship with them back. In the 90s I started a mid-life review that was the start of this website – I have since moved on from there. Within this review process there was some meditation which included a simple chakra meditation, breathing the colours in and out of the chakras:-
I am calling this chapter “chakras by the bootstraps”, and by this I am trying not to incorporate any delusions or assumptions – the 3rd of the 4 Agreements (App A):-
Don’t make any assumptions.
I am not clairvoyant, I have no psychic powers, and I will discuss my attitude to siddhis later. When I started doing this meditation years ago I saw no chakras in my body. I would visualise breathing the appropriate colours in and out of the chakras (see jpeg), but even in that visualisation I saw no colours – either of the chakras or of the colours I was breathing in-and-out. But here’s the rub, it helped – I felt better for doing it. It wasn’t earth-shattering, all I can remember about that time is that it was worth doing. But it didn’t grab me, and I drifted away.
The next time I got involved with the chakras was in 2002. At that time I was still teaching, and a significant part of teaching was the differing centring processes I got involved in during the holidays. I’m going to ramble a bit now – I’m old and it’s a bit human. Back in May 2002 I had just finished a disastrous teaching contract in Bahrain (long irrelevant story there). I went to Turkey for a few weeks, and then spent a few months at my parents and travelling around the UK – time and travel around the UK had become part of my routine when I became an international teacher; I was awaiting the start of a teaching contract in China in November. Late September I’d had enough of the UK so decided I would have a stopover in Thailand for a few weeks. On the way I arrived in Copenhagen, and I was waiting for a connecting flight when they announced it was full. It took me a while to realise what was on offer but I jumped at it when it got through. They were going to put me up in the airport hotel and give me $400 expenses. I tried to enjoy Copenhagen but it was cold and miserable – and so much bitter wind. After one day they offered me another – refused a third, I had a two-day break in cold windy Copenhagen, and $800 that paid for my holiday in Thailand. Very lucky.
As part of all that I ended up in Koh Lanta. I was on Koh Phi Phi, and I told an agent I wanted to book a place that was secluded. I shouldn’t have expected anything, and ended up in Noddy town – a resort (whose name I’ve forgotten) with an avenue of family bungalows. I baulked at these, and was offered a miserable room that was awaiting repairs – better than Noddyville. Then they offered me room up in the staff area, and that was fine – a good-sized room with TV. When I get away I don’t want to be surrounded by families, so I ate in a cafe next door, spent my time in my room or at the beaches away from the resort, and had a good break. And that was mainly because I got involved with the chakras through Gary Zukav (“Seat of the Soul”). Oversimplifying this is a self-help guidance/course for using the chakras to help internal balance. I did the exercises and meditations, and felt so much better for it. I have never done it since but I have fairly regularly used chakra meditations and the Nyanga process since.
I retired early in June 2006 and have been involved with, or following my path since. Because I do a small amount of volunteer English teaching in rural Thailand, my year is still broken by school holidays. This year, 2019, felt different. Once my minimal commitments ended I felt the need for a centring process. Usually any centring for me involves what I call bhavana. Now bhavana means development, and I now associate development with increased meditation. I began with extra meditation, and that took me to investigating shadow – and shadow I now associate with the Nyanga processes.
I was also reading Soulshaping by Jeff Brown. I was finding it tedious, he’s a spiritual man and he started the book going on and on about different egos. I was giving up. And then he mentioned spiritual bypass (p117 of 418). And then I understood why he was writing this way. I want to discuss how this spiritual bypass applied to me – a bit of an aside though really. In the Treatise Ch21 I have described my path, I will describe the relevant parts here. Basically my path has mostly been an unconscious process in my life. I did all that a good middle-class English white boy does – the academic factory belt, and ended up with a university degree and a job as an analyst/programmer in a good computer consultancy. I screwed up and drank, changed jobs, screwed up and drank more, then cracked up and started on the path at 23. I call this my upheaval. Unconsciously I had transcended from the world of (academic) conditioning, and started on the path. It was mega-bells and banjos time for 8 months, bells and banjoes for a further year, and then compassion decided I would be a teacher. At this point I began what I call my second childhood, a childhood on the path. The path had started me on the path, but as a person I was completely immature. It took me my working life (until early retirement at 54) to go through this second childhood, and after a few years of concentrated meditation and study I now describe myself as being mature and following the path.
To use the term my path had given me a spiritual bypass that I only consolidated maturely some 38 years later. At 23 I did not choose to study spiritual books, I transcended conditioning and became conscious on the path but as a human being I was so immature. Luckily I had the path, and so on the path I was able to develop the discipline that is the cornerstone of the early chapters of Soulshaping. And I developed that discipline with the help of the path without a lot of the pain experienced by Jeff and others – very lucky.
At this point I want to mention the Kalama sutta. This is a sutta in which the Buddha advises about how to approach his teaching. Here is where Venerable Buddhadasa discusses the Kalama sutta. Now I want to stress the importance of this sutta especially with regards to chakras. It is because of the Kalama sutta context I have called this chapter “chakras by the bootstraps”. The Buddha said “don’t believe me”. Basically I interpret the Kalama sutta like this:-
Only accept as true what you yourself can experience.
There is a Buddhist chestnut – reincarnation. I don’t remember recalling a previous life so for me I do not accept it. I’m not saying it’s not true, I’m just saying it’s not true for me because I cannot remember experiencing it.
How does this fit with chakras? When I look at my body I don’t see energy, chakras and meridians, I don’t see energy vortices of different colours throughout my body. Clairvoyants looking at me might see them, I am interested in what they might say, but the reality of the chakras for me is how I experience them. I will later discuss some of those experiences but they are how I experienced them. To get how I want you to see the chakras, you just have to experience them – and that might have nothing to do with what I say; what my approach is will be discussed in detail later in the chapter. That is OK.the bootstraps are what you experience. Just you not me - or anyone else.
When people discuss the 6th chakra they often talk of opening the third eye, I don’t. I discuss mindfulness, commitment and dedication to the path - atammayata. Who’s right? All of us. For you, you. For these people, themselves. For me, me. …. if we are all being authentic.
It is important understand how conditioning, addiction, ego and self arise, and this has been explained in detail in Ch22 of the Treatise. From birth through instinct egos are formed through conditioning, this is a natural process. It is also natural to transcend this process of conditioning and follow the path, a spiritual path where egos are not formed. This transcendence would maybe start in adulthood but in western society it does not because of our addictive behaviours. I consider that we are stuck in an adolescence of ego-forming and clinging to ego. Within this process of forming egos we begin to recognise patterns of egos, and because of these recurring patterns we tend to think of these specific egos as self. Effectively we identify ourselves as these patterns of egos, and call it self or I. We need to transcend all conditioning, all ego, so we also need to transcend the ego process that creates I. If there is no I, no self and no ego, we can transcend conditioning; in Buddhism this is called anatta. In the Hindu religion and elsewhere, within this collection of patterns of egos there is recognised a Higher Self that is devoid of all ego. But if it is devoid of ego then all that is left is sunnata – voidness, or what some call source-consciousness. If we follow the path there is no self, no ego, that is the Buddhism I accept.
However there are varying levels of manifestation in connection with spirituality – what might be termed “higher”. For me the highest state we can aspire to are the path of compassion insight and creativity, and the 4 higher vehicles – the 4 brahma-viharas – metta, karuna, mudita and upekkha described in wiki as:-
1. Loving-kindness (Pali: metta, Sanskrit: maitri) is active good will towards all;
2. Compassion (Pali and Sanskrit: karuna) results from metta, it is identifying the suffering of others as one's own;
3. Empathetic joy (Pali and Sanskrit: mudita): is the feeling of joy because others are happy, even if one did not contribute to it, it is a form of sympathetic joy;
4. Equanimity (Pali: upekkha, Sanskrit: upeksa): is even-mindedness and serenity, treating everyone impartially.
In this clip, when asked about romantic love Thay spoke of the 4 highest forms of love (the 4 brahma-viharas), and basically asked if romantic love enabled them. The highest state (I referred to) is not learning about siddhis.
So now I have prepared the ground we can begin looking at the chakras from the bootstraps. Maybe we shouldn’t even assume there are 7 chakras, some systems choose less and others more. However the resources are based on 7.
How do we build our understanding of a chakra from the bootstraps? By results. Over time we determine what works and heals our chakras, and what works and heals is our methodology for dealing with chakras. According to my approach it is totally personal. Suppose we start with the sacral chakra – as far as I know the sacral chakra is a chakra in many systems. People talk of chakras being out of alignment, and correcting this lack of alignment is what leads to healing.
Where is this chakra? In the soulprana.com jpeg above, the sacral chakra is somewhere around the navel. To start with I suggest breathing in compassion through the sacral chakra. For me compassion is the highest value – ending suffering for all. Start by establishing a pattern of breathing, slowly in through the nose, pause, out through the mouth and pause. Once we have established the rhythm of breathing change it to breathing compassion into the area of the sacral chakra. Breathe compassion into the sacral area, pause, out through the same area, pause. Repeat this as often as you like. Now try to focus on a particular position within the sacral area, is there any position that you feel better with? It’s your experience, your feeling that matters, and if there is no preference move on – don’t force it.
In this way you establish the locations of your own chakra system, I suspect they will be similar to the soulprana.com jpeg but if not it doesn’t matter.
I am now going to work with 7 chakras, you work with 4, 5 whichever. You can still use the resources I offer by matching those aspects of your own chakra system with the one I provide resources for. For example your system might correspond to chakras 2, 3, 4 and 6.
Chakras are energetic and respond to different forms of energy it is going to be up to you to determine what energies your own chakras respond to. I mentioned above that I first started with a colour meditation. I also mentioned that I do not visualise well. I cannot decide red, visualise a vivid red stream, and move that red stream up through the root chakra. I breathe in a vague feeling of redness. How do the colours work for you? Some better than others, some tones better. Sometimes I breathe in the chakra at the front of your body, and then out the back. Does this work for you? No matter, what matters is what you feel, what you recognise.
What about sounds? Do they help? Look at this table. I have suggestions for colour and sounds that you can play.
Don’t like them? Find your own, it’s your choice – they are your chakras.
Now you have a basic chakra system – location colour and vibration. But what is it that you are trying to do with this system? Hey I’ve got chakras, what are yours like? This is about healing the human system of mind, energy and body. Now it is all about your feelings, your chakra system is realigning if you feel better. And if you don’t feel better, let it go. Try again another time – don’t force it.
Let me look at the Nyanga process as chakra healing. I found Peyton Place buried deep within my sacral and solar plexus chakras. I am going to describe the Nyanga process as if it was done using chakra healing – it has worked like this since for me. I started breathing deeply, then breathing amber into the sacral chakra. Then yellow into the solar plexus chakra. Then I felt a block, a darkness, and I went looking for it. What is this darkness, I asked? And the thought, Peyton Place, came up. I investigated the darkness knowing it was Peyton Place. What did it feel like? Pain. What pain? And by asking I began to give life to the internalised repressed pain. I felt that pain, I relived that pain. Soon that pain brought tears, and through the experiencing of the pain and tears I cleared away the darkness. Then I could breathe amber into the sacral, yellow into the solar plexus, and not feel blocks.
This is an example of my chakra healing. Experiences for different people will differ but they can be very powerful – almost as powerful as the pain that was experienced in life. But getting rid of that pain is healing. Be careful with this pain, maybe you should tell a friend to look in – or be available on the phone. Whatever works for you, but beware this healing can be powerful, hurtful and painful …. But in my view beneficial.
If I have a health issue in a certain area I will try chakra healing, sometimes it works and sometimes …. well?? Realignment always helps even if the health problem is not cleared up.
So here is the next step in what I did. Online I found chakra videos from Teal Swan and I liked them - they are listed in this table. For each chakra in turn starting with the root chakra, I listened to Teal's videos and then tried to develop my own idea of what that chakra meant to me.
Each chakra took me 2 days, two weeks in total, and I kept a 6000-word journal – I recommend journalling. I have always found the more I write the deeper I go. As you work on each chakra what changes, feelings do you have?
When it came to the 6th chakra Teal's video was concerned with the Third Eye, I was not so I went through the same two-day process using this information I got from the theosophical society:-
• Location: Third eye
• Element: All
• Color: Violet
• Issues: Dedication to spiritual path; clarity and insight
• Areas of Body: The senses
• Balanced: Calm and focused
• Excessively open: Delusion
• Blocked: Denial what is seen
• Archetype: Seer, visionary
• Negative Archetype: Intellectual
• Demon: Illusion
The investigation of the chakra occurred around this:-
• Color: Violet
• Issues: Dedication to spiritual path; clarity and insight
As a result of mainly concentrating on the dedication to the spiritual path I came up with the understanding that for me this is the mindfulness chakra.
After the realignment and healing I came up with my own chakra meditation that I am going to try and incorporate to my daily routine as an evening meditation – at the moment I meditate only once a day (most days).
1) Regular breathing
2) Chakra by chakra, breathing compassion, colour and attribute:-
3) Finish with a metta meditation – loving kindness to all.
There is also a tip that Teal showed - vortex-creating. Over the chakra I draw a circle that spirals out to form a vortex. While I mentioned this Teal-tip, I want to make you aware that there is controversy concerning Teal Swan. Spiritually I try to avoid controversy wherever possible. I found Teal's videos on the chakras very helpful, but because of the controversy I don't wish to recommend anything else she has done. I am offering a definite endorsement for these chakra videos, they helped me greatly; anything else is up to you.
Since reaching this stage, I have found the chakra workbook. I did not use the workbook so this is not a recommendation. But for each chakra there are a series of practices that could open your chakras, check them out for yourselves if you want to. Here also is a lecture on chakras from the theosophical society. I never used it but consider theosophical society relatively safe - it is u to you if you use these resources.
As part of the above healing realignment I have tried to make chakra meditation part of my daily routine. I am still into the chakra journey so I have found my meditation dominated by chakras, and am neglecting my previous meditation that was vaguely vipassana. I must be aware of this lack - it caused a problem (see beginning of Ch 11)[added later].
I want to mention that my chakra meditation has evolved – in the same way as my vaguely vipassana meditation is always evolving because the path is also a guide. I want to describe the process of change – of evolving, and it is a process I hope you will participate in for yourselves. While we are alive there is never an end to learning for mere mortals. I have begun studying Buddhadasa writing about atammayata, and this “unconcoctability”, state of ending sankhara, state of non-proliferation is similar to what Buddhadasa described here that I have summarised in this meme:-
Atammayata is the state of mind in which there is no self, body or psyche – detached from the khandhas. At the moment I consider this the highest mental state enabling sunnata. Being “dedicated to the path” is the highest state of mind – atammayata – chakra 6, enabling sunnata through the crown chakra.
The realignment I need most work on is the sacral chakra. I have allowed too much emotion to attach there. Through the Nyanga processes I have detached (through reliving) some of the worst emotional attachments – pain, but there are other angers such as the compassionate anger as well as romantic frustrations and others. These emotional attachments are an ongoing process, I wake up, I meditate, I participate in daily life reading about the latest crime against Gaia our system perpetrates. There is anger that I need to let go.
But it seemed to me that these emotions that become attachments could be used as an ongoing transformation. They occur within the sacral chakra which is concerned with trusting the path. I began questioning the word trust, was it strong enough? Faith, I wanted to develop more faith in the path. Ate the same time I remembered energy, energy moves. If energy is static it blocks. There is the macrocosmic orbit. I breathed in white light and sunnata down into the sacral chakra, turned it to faith, moved faith back to and up the spine to reach the brow chakra, forward and down the front to the sacral chakra again, moving it up the body centre line to merge with the white light and sunnata again. I don’t know how long I did this for but it was very powerful leaving me shattered.
I also prefer compassion to love wanting to live a life of the path of compassion – changing the 4th chakra. Changed it back to love because love is something I lost with the decision – compassion and education over spirit and writing, a decision without a choice.
This gave me a new chakra meditation setup:-
These will change again, that is the process of learning. It is up to you to keep learning then you will see the changes.
Have you tried to find your chakras? Reading the above is a waste of time if you have not experienced alignment in some way. Personally I am not interested in whirling vortices – glamour – or siddhis – glamour, I am interested in following the path. Through realignment you are investigating different aspects of the path, and how you have been dealing with those aspects. What is in your journal is an emotional clearing away of whatever is preventing you from following your path. We live in a world where every day there are distractions that try to replace the path. Our world leaders are not path followers. We live in a 1%-satrapy where consumerism is destroying the planet. Ecological leaders are dismissed, Great Thunberg appears publicly to be the “wisest person alive”, and our true leaders, the spiritual elders, are ignored. How foolish! Activists contribute to this situation by their various egoic attachments, many ignore or belittle their paths. Through detaching and going inwards and perhaps finding your chakras by the bootstraps, as a pathtivist you are beginning to follow your path. In the end all that matters is the following of the path and how well you do it. Once you do it you accept your spiritual responsibility, your Gaia-consciousness, and following the path however you decide to be active you can know it is true – it is what Gaia wanted. That is the path.