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Are Chakra real?

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Dalando's Point of view

Are Chakra real? Yes. Just as real as 'Tarot,' the 'I Ching,' and other more modern psychological descriptors used to help us understand ourselves better, such as 'the id,' 'the ego,' or 'the sub-conscious.'

Study of Chakra may help us understand ourselves, while providing a tool for helping others. The goal is feeling better, better health, and more efficient living. Experience shows, Chakra are one way of attaining a fresh perspective on our feelings and general outlook. After working with Chakra we may feel a general improvement physically. This is decidedly 'mind over matter,' and near impossible to prove, so you will need to decide for yourself.

In the West, philosophers love to quote Socrates "The un-examined life is not worth living." Of course, this is a presumptuous assertion. But, since we have already bitten the apple from the Tree of Wisdom, and been cast down from a place of perfect health, we may now want to follow the advice of the early Greeks.

"Gnothi seauton... Know thyself!" This poignant inscription, above the entrance to the Temple of Apollo at Delphi, suggests there is something to be learnt by reflection. We are advised to look carefully, with an open yet questioning mind at different perspectives. Including one of the earliest tools of physiological and psychological analysis known, the "Life Science" Ayurveda.

The System of Ayurveda

Developed in Indian Aryan antiquity, Ayurveda apparently predates most systems of medicine. The text of this early science are expansive and beyond the scope of this page, but I would like to share a few points.

The Cosmology of this world view begins with Prakriti, formless and undifferentiated, limitless and ubiquitous, indestructible and un-decaying, ungrounded and uncontrolled, without beginning and without end. Western Monotheists (Muslims, Christians, and Jews) may recognize this as a description of God. While Buddhists may see this in Zen parlance as 'Mu' or nothingness. The unity of Prakriti is a mere abstraction, an indeterminate infinite continuum of infinitesimal 'Reals' (to borrow the words of Shiv Sharma).

'These 'Reals', or Gunas, are of three kind:

  1. Sattva, Essence, the tendency for manifestation, the medium for the reflection of intelligence.
  2. Rajas, Energy, that which is efficient in a phenomenon, and is characterized by a tendency to do work or overcome resistance.
  3. Tamas, Mass or Inertia, which counter-acts the tendency of Rajas to do work and Sattva conscious manifestation.

These 'Reals' are not self-subsistent or independent entities, but are inter-dependent moments, in every 'real' or substantive Existence. In other words, everything has three factors, essence, energy, and mass (or inertia). All three are needed to exist, and every thing is a subtle blending of all three. For example, in a moving body the energy, Rajas, is predominate and so kinetic, while the mass, or rather the resistance it offers, is overcome. All initiated by volitional consciousness, making a choice.

Vyadhi "Dis-ease"

"Anything that proves a source of pain to man is disease," - Sushruta, Sutra I, 22. Diseases are grouped under four headings, Adventitious (Agantuka), Physical (Shariraka), Mental (Manasika) and Natural (Svabhavika).

Agantuka, externally caused like with a dog bite or car accident, are the kind of problem we need to handle immediately. Shariraka, are physical diseases, includes everything from fevers, to insanity, as well as the effects of smoking and drinking or the environment. Manasika, mental disease are divided between 'partly mental and partly physical' and 'purely mental.'

Charaka (the author and source of much of what we know of ancient Indian medicine) says "The mental disorders should be cured by the help of imparting knowledge and developing the understanding of the patient, by soothing him, or by 'waking up forgotten and sub-conscious ideas' and prescribing the practice of meditation, etc." Svabhavika, the 'natural' diseases are hunger, thirst, sleep, birth, and death.

The treatments prescribed were a means to attain salvation, freedom from disease. To the Indian this would involve philosophical dissertations on Nyaya, Sankhya, Vedanta, Yoga, and other systems of Hindu philosophy. Their perspective saw health as a holistic life style. Awareness of the subtler aspects of ourselves is a step toward this holistic view of self-help health care. Chakra awareness can be one part of our healthy balancing regime.

Chakra are as real as we want them to be. If our knowledge and awareness of Chakra, our Sattva power, helps us isolate sources of discomfort,
releasing Tamas, all those nasty toxins that keep us down...
And rebalance our system with a flow of pure Energy, glorious Rajas,
or the Chi of Chinese and Japanese traditional medicine... then I would say
'Go for it!'

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The photograph used as a backdrop for this page is of Arleen Schloss, the beautiful New York City performance artist. Photo by Claudia Zoelsch.