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THE QUALITIES OF THE FIVE LOWER CHAKRAS
Position of the Five Lower Chakras.
We shall now try to define the qualities which are associated with each of the five lower chakras, dealing with each in turn. This is to say the actual experience which we have when the energy in our system is focused at that particular chakra.
The Base Chakra - Muladhara
The root centre is seated at the base of the spine. At this level the energies manifesting in the human system have reached their slowest rate of vibration. If we think of the energy vibration in terms of sound this would represent the deepest note as produced, for example, by the tuba or double bassoon. In fact music of these coarser vibrations such as military band music or certain kinds of jazz does produce a noticeable effect at the lowest centre and tends to produce the urge to move the feet as in marching, stamping or strutting.
As we explained earlier, the vibration of energy in the human system through a chakra produces an experience which in Hindu terminology is called a tattwa and in Western terms an element. The element of the root chakra is the quality of solidity in other words the earth element.
The earth element gives us the quality of cohesive resistance and weight or solidness. At this level one has the experience of security and satisfaction in one s existing state and of being comfortable as one is, therefore there is no urge to move or change to another state. The earth element vibration gives one the experience of having one's feet firmly on the ground. It is a very real fact that at times when we feel insecure and nervous the vital currents are not earthed through our lowest centre.
This chakra naturally govems all that is solid in the body such as the bones, teeth and nails. The sense of smell is associated with this level. All creatures that are very close to the earth have a strong sense of smell. We also see this in people; those who are very acute in material matters very often have prominent noses.
Svadhisthana: The Sacral Centre.
The sacral centre is at the level of the sacrum on the spine. At this level we have the experience of fluidity in ourselves. This is called the element of water. The idea of energy experienced as the principle of fluidity may seem a little mystifying at first sight to the student. We have to adjust to the idea of energy in ourselves at these different levels being experienced as different kinds of consciousness or elements.
For some, the idea of ripeness or smoothness may be a more understandable way of defining the watery quality of this chakra. For example, a fruit's ripeness will require the watery element to be strongly present in it. The same thing applies to people. For man and woman to be ripe from the sexual point of view, the fluid element must be strongly present in their systems. The sacral centre is thus connected with the fluid functions of the system such as the urine and the semen.
An insufficiency of the fluid element will lead naturally to aridity. This can cause hardening or drying out diseases such as arthritis. In the latter case the cartilaginous tissue which acts as a natural lubricant between the bones at the joints dries up and painful friction takes place. Ripeness and smoothness give the experience of flow, which is the fluidity of the watery tattwa.
The sense of taste is associated with this level. The English idiom speaks of the mouth watering, and it is the watery element which produces the saliva which makes this possible. The sense of taste is therefore only possible because of the element of water.
Manipura: The Solar Centre.
The solar centre is located on the spine at the level of the solar plexus. At this level we experience the quality of expansiveness, warmth, and joviality in ourselves. This chakra therefore is the seat of the element of fire in our nature.
Fire and water seem to have in a sense opposing qualities. The smooth flow of the watery quality is downward in its direction and is therefore contractive in relation to the essentially upward expansiveness of the fiery quality.
The sense of sight is derived from the activity of this chakra. We can recognize how this comes about when we consider that sight is dependent upon light. But light is a quality of the fire element and is derived from it. Therefore the sense of seeing is only possible because of the fire element.
The strength of the fire element in ourselves at any one time will therefore govern the brightness of what we see. We can recognize the validity of this if we consider how when we are in a certain mood everything we see seems bright and strongly coloured and life seems vivid and wann. At other times we observe the world and we seem to see it as drab, colourless and lifeless. The difference between these two ihoods is only the relative strength of the solar chakra energy at that time.
The assimilation of food through combustion is govemed by the activity of this chakra. The person who has strong vibrations at the level of the solar chakra will absorb great benefit from food he eats. The kind of person who never seems to absorb enough energy from food however much he may eat is deficient in the fire element in his system.
Anahata: The Heart Centre.
The heart centre is located on the spine at approximately the level of the breastbone. At the heart level we experience the qualities of airiness, mobility, gentleness and lightness. These qualities comprise the element of air. They are expressed as 'movement towards' and therefore as relationship or sympathy.
The sense of touch is derived from the element of air. Touch is basically the experience of relationship. We speak of bcing `in touch' or `out of touch'. This is really to say that we have more or less of the heart quality manifesting at that time. It is the air element which gives the relationship experience.
A surplus of any quality becomes a defect. This principle applies to all the chakras. At the heart level too much relationship will become oversympathy and therefore anxiety. An illustration of this point is the state that was described in Victorian days as 'having the vapours'. A surplus of the air or vaporous element in the system produced giddiness or dizziness. The remedy used was smelling salts, because smell is the sense connected with the root chakra or earth element. The energies were therefore brought down to earth and the balance in the system restored.
Visuddha: The Throat Centre.
The throat centre is seated on the spine at the level of the throat. At this level we experience the quality of space alone. This is the characteristic of the element of ether.
We have seen that the four lower elements all have qualities which are basically activities within space: ether is the space itself within which these activities rake place.
The ether or quintessence, as it was termed by alchemists, is the mixing bowl, so to speak, within which the four lower elements are formed. It is the latency behind them. It is the basis from which each element arises and to which each returns when its period of activity is ended and another element manifests in its place. The four elements are therefore really modifications of the basic ether which can turn itself into any of them. In modern radio terms the ether is the carrier wave for the four elements.
The sense of sound is derived from the element of ether. If one goes to a place where complete and absolute silence reigns and then listens intently, one will eventually become aware of a certain something which is still there behind the silence: a subtle pervasiveness which has been described as the 'noiseless sound'. When one has experienced this one has learned to recognize the etheric element in oneself; but it is more difficult than recognizing the four lower elements.
Through the ether the four elements are controlled. The throat chakra is a vital bridge between the principle of thought at the brow chakra and these four elements. This confirms the biblical dictum 'In the beginning was the Word'. Sound is the most potent of the five lower vibrations and affects them all. The voice can take on the quality of any of the four lower elements.
The voice may be heavy and unresponsive - the sort of voice one associates with solid officialdom at the earth level. It may be ripe and sexual at the watery level, or warm and passionate at the solar level. The heart voice is gentle and sympathetic. Naturally there are combinations of these qualifies and the student can learn much from studying the voice in both himself and in others.
Transmutation of the Elements.
In life there is no end - only change. The sum total of energy in the universe does not diminish or increase but continuously transforms itself from one state or level of vibration to another as the flow of life manifests.
As one element comes into manifestation another one withdraws. We can observe this process going on both within and outside ourselves. If, for example, water is frozen, both the fluid and the fire element return to the ether and the solid element arises in their place. If the ice is then brought into contact with heat the solid element returns to the ether from which the fire and water have again manifested. This is really to say that these four elements are the ether which is continually changing its vibrations to manifest itself as them.
We observe these changes outside ourselves as variations in the dimatic conditions. There arc similar changes going on within ourselves all the time. Heat, for example, will act upon our fluidity and transform it to vapour; so as we become hot we perspire and the activity of the sacral centre is reduced. We may verify this by our own observation that after perspiring fully our sexual activity is always greatly diminished.
The elements are continually flowing in our systems as one succeeds another. However, there is in every human system always a predisposition towards one of them. That is to say that one will tend to be more influential than the others. This is due to the time of one's birth, because at that time one of the elements was predominating in the universal system or zodiac. (We deal with this in more detail in a later chapter.) So when that element is manifesting in your own system you are, so to speak, more at home: hence the saying 'to be in one's element'.
Ether, therefore, always intervenes or rather supervenes between any two of the lower elements as they change over, and it is through the throat that the lower chakras are controlled.
Words are an inadequate medium to describe the subtle qualities of the elements. This is why most systems of teaching use symbols as an aid to recognition. For example, the Hindu tradition makes use of the qualities of certain animals for this purpose: the elephant is used as a symbol for the earth element, embodying as it does the qualities of heaviness and solidity. In many systems diagrammatic sym- bols are also used which are pictorial representations of the forces which have to be recognized.
Students may find it easier at first to think of the elements simply as moods in themselves. With sustained self-observation one eventually learns to recognize these levels of experience within oneself. Hipprocrates, sometimes called the Father of Medicine, based his teaching on the four moods, humours or temperaments. His terminology for the temperaments of phlegmatic, choleric, sanguine and melancholic seem to be naturally related to the earth, water, Tire and air tattwas of the four lower chakras.
All disease is due to the forces on the spine becoming out of balance.
When the system is out of balance it is no longer whole. The word 'whole' is the same basically as the words 'heal' and 'holy'. As the life force descends gradually into its lowest vibration at each step it involves itself more deeply into gross matter and each element is formed from the interaction of the positive and negative phases of the previous one. As each new element is formed a new sense manifests. At the etheric level only one sense exists. but at the earth level there are five senses. At the etheric level we can only hear; air, however, can be heard and felt; fire can be heard, felt and seen; water can be heard, felt, seen and tasted; and finally earth can be cognized by all five senses.
To conclude this chapter let us summarize the main points:
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