Through an Eastern Lens: Marrying the Chakra System to its Western Concepts

Words by Michael Hanna

The first chakra (padma) is the muladhara or “root” as it is often referred to. This is the most fundamental and foundational. It is nearly completely inert. However, it houses the potentiality for evolution. It’s evident psychological state is reactionary. That is reacting to external stimuli. It falls cleanly in the psychology of behaviorism.


Inside the chakra at the base of the spine resides the kundalini serpent (shakti), coiled three and one half times around a lingam (phallic symbol of Shiva). Her serpent head covering the opening at the head of the lingam (known as the brahma door.) the very beginning of the procreative third force symbolized by the united symbology of Shiva/Shakti. The sexual imagery is intended as this is the beginning of life, as well as the journey of the conscious evolution awaiting in nearly complete potentiality. It awaits its culmination into actualization over the course of many lifetimes.


Michael Hanna, Ashland resident


The second chakra is the svadhisthana. It is the sexual center, it s nature is active, the symbol is the procreative force. The school of psychology that coincides with its nature is Freudian. This is being in the world, excitement or joie de vivre, erotica celebration of embodiment, as well continuation of the human species, via the body.


It begins to set the frame for “eros” or physical love, the path to God is bhakti, as seen through the lens of tantra. THis is the foundation for the orders of love and relation to God as: 1. Rules to be followed, 2. Friendship, 3. Parent child, 4. Marriage and 5. Passion.


The third chakra is the manipura, its characteristic is digestive fire, consumerism. The movement is towards Self(ish) power. In Western psychology, it is previewed as Adlerian will to power.


To anyone familiar with Friedrich Nietzsche’s philosophy, and his idea of the ubermensch, it can readily be understand what the level of consciousness this chakra represents and contributes.


The religious, or spiritual potentiality begins to manifest its impulses of conscious self volition towards God in the form of surrender to the sacrifice of death. The relationship to God at this level is self-orientated, or self-centric towards an immortality project as a reaction to the fear of the thanatos urge. The level of consciousness manifests itself in popular (exoteric) religion as it seeks health, wealth and progeny above all else! It is the home of my will not thy will be done.


The fourth chakra is the anahata, this is the beginning point of the transformation of the “divine vehicle.” When consciousness resides in the padma (lotus) of the heart center. It is the beginning of a true spiritual existence. It is related to identity, aspiration, unconditional love and compassion. The qualities of the 4th, 5th, 6th and 7th chakras can only be approached in Western psychology from a transpersonal psychological perspective.


The fifth chakra is known as the visudda, this is of seminal importance to the overarching context of this article. The fifth chakra is also known as the throat center, but one of its main functions is perdition vs salvation. This center is responsible for sublimating and incorporating the lower animal existence. This is the juncture where the energies of the shakti are turned inward against the Self. The Sufi’s have a wonderful expression that encapsulates the process that begins at the vishuddha, it is called “fana” or extinction. “Everything that is real is God, everything else is illusion, the fall of man.”


The sixth chakra, or ajna, often referred to as the third eve. This chakra is where all supposed duality falls away. The union or yoga of the jiva (embodied living being) and ishvara (the personal god) occurs. This level of consciousness is typified by the sublime love of God.


The seventh center, or sahasrara, cannot be truly seen as a chakra (padma), it is often described as the 1,000 petaled lotus nonetheless. This is where the shakti joins the lotus, the ultimate or supreme.


The seventh chakra is different for several reason. One is no sound is associated with it as the lower six chakras, it is beyond sound. Further the combined petals of chakras one through sex correlate to the letters of the sanskrit “alphabet”.


At this level, the Self sees God, but as the Self can see God; some separateness still exists. The final “extinction” has not yet occurred.


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