Kundalini Chakras: 8 Chakra System
In Kundalini Yoga, even though the Chakras are not fully awakened, they are always manifesting themselves. Whether it is the sex drive (muladhara or root chakra) or emotions (anahata or heart chakra), our Chakras are constantly driving our existence. Since these manifestations lie in the domain of the Occult, we can't comprehend them nor articulate them. It is not a religion nor is it science; but there is another perspective to the Occult: that which is felt but cannot be put into words.
Note: While people talk about six main Chakras and seven main Chakras, I don't wish to indulge in useless academic debates. Here, I have presented 8 Chakras.
For some people, these feelings are subtle and mysterious, for others, it may be a practical fact (an Occult factor disguised as mundane fact), and still others it may be a confusing energy flow. (I see red, but I'm feeling blue!) In each human being, Chakra manifestation is unique so we can't have a common language for it. Wittgenstein has stated that we can't have a private language. However, in Tantra, it's quite clear that different parts of the body communicate with each other albeit not in a way that can be put into words.
Let's look at this in another way: the physical body is communicating with itself but only those messages that go through the language-processing part of the brain get interpreted into words and so they enter our awareness. I need to tell myself that I'm hungry to realize that I'm hungry even though I may have been feeling hungry for a while.
Due to the abstract nature of the Chakras, different yogic and tantric traditions use different symbols and diagrams, but the most popular is the use of lotus blossoms. The Lotus Flower symbolizes the enlightened existence. Though it is rooted in the mud (our primordial past or our modern materialism), the stalk is firm and flexible, living through the currents of water (vagaries of life) and finally reaching out to the sun, blossoming in resplendent glory (awakening).
As a symbol, the lotus is quite significant: It represents our progress from the primordial mud to the stagnant water we live in, to the multi-dimensional and multi-faceted greater consciousness of the petals. In this manner, different Chakras are depicted as different colored lotuses having different numbers of petals.
Specific Locations of the Chakras
There are no specific locations of the Chakras! Each Chakra occupies a general region of the physical body and may be linked only symbolically to a body part. However, for purposes of chakra meditation a specific location on the body's surface is designated as the Chakra itself:
Mooladhara: (Root Chakra) This first chakra lies in the area between the anus and scrotum/vagina.
Swadhisthana: (Second Chakra; also called sacral chakra) Area between the genitals and the navel.
Manipura: (Third Chakra; also called navel chakra) The navel.
Anahata: (Fourth Chakra; also called solar plexus chakra) The sternum.
Vishuddhi: (Fifth Chakra; throat chakra) The throat.
Ajna: (Sixth Chakra) Between the eyebrows (Third Eye Chakra).
Bindu: (Seventh Chakra) Back of the head where most people have a ponytail.
Sahasrara: (Highest Chakra or Crown Chakra) Top of the head.
The Obstacles to Awakening
The Sanskrit word Granthi means knot or doubt. It can also be translated as a particularly difficult knot to unravel. Granthis are the knots that bind us... They are psychological barriers to liberation (Moksha) and prevent prana from its path along sushumna nadi. The three Granthis are as follows:
Brahma granthi functions in the region of mooladhara chakra and it signifies attachment to materialism and existential pursuits of vulgar pleasures. It represents laziness and other Tamasic qualities.
Vishnu granthi operates in the region of anahata chakra and represents excessive emotional attachment. It represents Rajasic qualities such as ambition and domination.
Rudra granthi functions in the region of ajna chakra. (Rudra is another name for Shiva) It is associated with egoism and egotism. In other words, it is over-identification with the super-ego.
The reason these granthis are given the names of the Hindu trinity is to demonstrate how powerful they can be to surmount. It also shows how easy it is to be fooled into accepting those qualities as virtues!
Root of Awakening
Mooladhara is the most fundamental, basic Chakra from where we commence our development, and sahasrara is where our development is completed. As we travel on this spiritual journey towards sahasrara, our daily life will be viewed differently and our insights into ourselves will become deeper (especially through in meditation). A simple example is that you will start remembering things from many years ago - things that you will feel were impossible to have remained stored in our memory. This will make you realize how powerful our brain can be.
Mooladhara is considered the first stage of evolution after becoming human and the last stage in the awakening of animals. Similarly, sahasrara is the last stage of awakening for humans and the first stage for super-intelligent creatures (gods and aliens?). Let's not forget that Tantra means expansion of consciousness (Tanoti: to expand; trayate: to liberate). Therefore, Tantra does not stop us from or quest to acquire ever-increasing degrees of intelligence and consciousness.
There are several other chakras below mooladhara, the lowest being patala (lowest level in the animal world). Similarly, above sahasrara there are other Chakras which signify the greater divine consciousness (aliens?). The upward journey passes through tamasic, rajasic, and sattvic phases - and a reverse journey is also possible! It's often stated in interpretations of tantric literature that the reverse journey is not possible. This may have been true at a time when we didn't have so many options for physical pleasures: from fast food to designer hallucinogenic drugs. In today's world, even without any addictions, humans have all the opportunities to devolve and perhaps even enter the animal chakras through sheer lethargy.
Chakra development and awakening is no longer spontaneous because we are no longer exposed to the elements. Our environment has been stabilized through concrete houses, piped water and gas, weather control systems, and the Internet. We are isolated from nature but connected only through chat and email. For lack of any natural bodily stimulation, we have lost our ability to experience a spontaneous awakening. Occasionally it succeeds and goes to swadhisthana or even manipura simply to return to mooladhara. To ensure that Shakti goes past manipura to anahata, one has to put in the effort.
Since the chances of regression from anahata to mooladhara are slim, the effort is worthwhile. Blocking of a Chakra can also happen when the energy flow stagnates at one of them or there is an obstruction in sushumna. This is obvious through chronic problems in the organs associated with that region. For example, a blocked sacral chakra may manifest in chronic digestive problems or a blocked throat chakra may manifest in throat infections. Healing of such ailments can be achieved by focusing on the correlated Chakra.
Kundalini can stay in any one Chakra for a long time due to inertia. However, stimulating it is as easy or difficult as breaking a habit. Tantra offers several techniques to make this easy. By deflecting an action and through mild auto-suggestion, Tantra shows us how to start a practice or break the negative effects of a habit. One of the most encouraging aspects of Tantra practice is that we begin to see amazing benefits and rewards with little practice. This alone can sustain us for a lifetime.
We're all at various degrees about the scale of development, and for that reason, it might not be essential to initiate the process of stirring from mooladhara. We state Kundalini is at mooladhara so as to explain the entire idea, but owing to your advancement, you could even be in anahata. However, it's best to start the practices of mooladhara to stabilize and strengthen the awakening from the root. Every link in the system must be made durable!
Knowledge of the Mystics
Mystics can feel the pain of sensation of any other creature on earth because they have raised and expanded their consciousness to such a great extent that every other creature is merely an extension of their own body. The 36 Shaiva Tattvas explain this beautifully by positing us (body and mind) in a sea of consciousness that connects all creatures and objects. In that sense, we become a part of that continuous reality. It dawns on us that we are not separate from reality, not isolated from any object and that our consciousness is undifferentiated from the infiniteness of space-time. You may want to delude yourself into thinking this way.
You may argue that this is fantastic! But that is exactly the point! Wouldn't you prefer to believe in this than in some "guy in the sky" who delivers justice and your daily bread?!
Kundalini awakening is about building connections between different parts of the brain - parts that weren't connected before. In this sense, you are literally - neurologically - generating neuronal connections. When these connections are generated, all the parts of the brain have now become vocal in the sense that they are able to speak to your wakeful-conscious brain. Most tantric literature translates this into "dormant" parts of the brain. (I may have made the same mistake on other pages of this website.) However, it's not that other parts are "dormant" as they are "dumb." All this while, they have been using other means of communication and you have been "deaf." After awakening, everyone becomes vocal and start speaking the same language.
Yogis highlight ajna (associated sometimes with the pineal gland but mostly with the pituitary gland) and mooladhara as primary Chakras because they are most obvious in their manifestation: from the highest intellectual manifestation to sex as the purest form of expressing our love.
The Mind of Christ
According to the Christian teaching of Father Richard Rohr, the concept of the third eye is a metaphor for non-dualistic thinking: the way the mystics see. In Rohr's concept, "...mystics employ the first eye (sensory input such as sight) and the second eye (the eye of reason, meditation, and reflection)," and, "...they know not to confuse knowledge with depth, or mere correct information with the transformation of consciousness itself. The mystical gaze builds upon the first two eyes - and yet goes further."
Rohr refers to this level of awareness as "having the mind of Christ."
Most human beings lay emphasis on anahata because it controls our emotions, feelings, and values. Regardless, all human beings aspire for something more, something better...
Kundalini Tantra merely provides an ancient and established way of achieving our dreams.