Urban Sadhu Exploration July 2023
Lam, Vam, Ram, Yam, Ham, Aum, Aum
Meaning: Bija (seed) mantras for the seven chakras.
In Sanskrit, chakra means “disk” or “wheel.” A wheel rolls, spins, and turns in a movement that can take one on a journey. The journey on the chakra wheels is a very different journey from the ones we experience when riding on the wheels of a car, bus, bicycle, or skateboard. The seven major wheels of the chakra system take us on a journey of the evolution of consciousness through the portals of individual perceptions toward Cosmic consciousness, union with all.
The concept of the chakra arose in the early tradition of Sanatana Dharma (Hinduism). The first mention of chakras is in the ancient text of the Vedas, referring not to a psychic energy disk but rather to a chakravartin, which means an ideal universal ruler who "turns the wheel of Dharma in all directions from a center point,” establishing a kingdom governed by higher wisdom. In later Upanishads that focus on yoga practices, chakras are mentioned as "psychospiritual vortices,” in the same way we speak of them today. The Yoga Kundalini Upanishad states that there are six chakras along the spine plus Sahasrara at the crown of the head. However, other Upanishads speak of as many as 114 chakras throughout the body. Keep in mind that even though physical locations are suggested in the texts, chakras exist in the astral body.
Chakras can be activated effectively through sound current and vibration. Bija mantras (or seed mantras) that focus on the chakras help open blockages, promoting the ascent of consciousness. Yoga asana stimulates specific zones in the body (its organs and endocrine gland system) and is another effective method for unblocking chakras and allowing consciousness to move upward. Like all methodology, this must be done with precision and knowledge to activate Kundalini shakti (energy) and start its journey. Hand mudras, colors, yantras (geometrical diagrams), pranayama, and even specific deities are associated with each chakra to assist with Kundalini’s trip.
Kundalini is a Sanskrit term (literally meaning “coiled” or “circular”) referring to the consciousness in a dormant state at the base of the spine (located at the Muladhara chakra) imagined as a serpent. Kundalini is not super-consciousness, but the limited consciousness of the unrealized soul in a lower state of existence. For most people, Kundalini moves freely through the lower three chakras associated with material security, sex, food, and power. In an unenlightened state of existence, consumption, money, sex, and power dominate and control every action. For Kundalini to gain super-consciousness, it must move upward through the blocked chakras, piercing each chakra and opening the practitioner up to consciousness of compassion, unconditional love, true wisdom, and finally God realization. This super-consciousness overcomes the “me, myself, and I” small ego that the unenlightened being operates from.
The journey that Kundalini makes is a mirror of the world we manifest for ourselves through our own perceptions of the world around us. Muladhara, meaning “root center,” is our starting point on this journey. Muladhara is associated with home, family, and the basic necessities that a stable environment can provide: food, shelter, clothing, and finances. If Muladhara is blocked, one can have abandonment issues or issues of not having enough material security in life. How can anyone expect to obtain inner peace if they are always troubled by instability and financial insecurity?
Once the blockage of the Muladhara chakra is cleared, Kundalini is free to travel to the Swadhisthana, “her favorite standing place.” Located three fingers below the navel, the Swadhisthana chakra is the seat of sexuality and creativity. Our unresolved feelings about sexual relationships with lovers from our past, present, and future are what block this chakra. When Swadhisthana is blocked, sex becomes an unhealthy obsession; ex-lovers haunt the mind and emotions, and future intimate partners are treated with suspicion. When this block is cleared, we are able to have healthy, mutually beneficial sexual relationships.
Continuing to travel upward, Kundalini rises to the Manipura, also known as “the jewel in the city.” Here Kundalini confronts the part of the ego that is attached to name, fame, popularity, and personal power. The ego clings to power and the control over others that power offers. Megalomania is a trait of a blocked Manipura chakra. The Manipura chakra, located at the solar plexus, is also associated with diet. Many see eating meat as a way to gain strength and power when in fact a diet rooted in violence and death is a sign of weakness. A vegan diet, which is centered on ahimsa (non-violation, non-violence), is one of the quickest ways to unblock the indigestible dead animal flesh that stops up the Manipura chakra. Violence is never a sign of strength.
After we earnestly give up the love of power for the power of love, Kundalini gracefully travels into Anahata, meaning “unstruck” or “unbeaten,” located at the heart center. Here, unconditional love and compassion begin to infuse themselves into the consciousness. Anahata is where a spiritual awakening starts to happen. The Anahata is the locked gateway into the secret garden where yoga resides. The key to the gate is unconditional love and compassion for all beings.
Kundalini then rises up to Vishuddha, “the poison-free place,” located at the throat. Here eternal knowledge and universal wisdom are gained. Compassion and wisdom bond together like lovers – one needs the other. Wisdom is knowing the principles of our existence; compassion is putting wisdom into action. When compassion and wisdom unite, we become benevolent beings.
Applying this eternal wisdom, Kundalini travels onward to the Ajna chakra, known as the “command place,” located between the eyebrows where the third eye is. This center is associated with manas, the mind. It is mind that keeps us from Self-realization, but once the Ajna is open we know who we truly are. Self-awareness goes beyond the body and mind. We identify with the universal soul, not just a physical body of flesh, bones, thoughts, and feelings.
Ascension into Sahasrara is the final destination of this long journey; it is “the thousand-petaled lotus,” located at the top of the head, the chakra of God-consciousness and understanding of the oneness of being. When this chakra is cleared there is no more duality, all is one with the Divine; separation ends and the jiva-Atman (individual soul) is united with the Parama-Atman (universal soul). This is enlightenment.
The reunification of the chakra system can take time; this is not a quick or easy process. Like any practice of cleaning or unblocking a system, the clearing and opening of the chakras can trigger traumatic experiences from our past, so it is best to do Kundalini shakti work with a qualified guru or teacher. Kundalini awakening and ascension is an act of grace and is divinely inspired.
Austin Sanderson – Urban Sadhu