Although the meaning of each chakra can never be explained in words, especially the higher chakras, there are general attributes associated with each one. These don’t represent the experience of the chakras, only the expression and feelings of a person at any particular chakra level.
Different texts list differing attributes to the chakras. Don’t be confused by this, for as we have already explained, the meaning of the chakras is beyond words. Therefore, the characteristics belonging to the chakra levels are only subjective descriptions of what an individual considers to be the attributes. These are bound to be greatly coloured by one’s individual nature, language and interpretation. These qualities are only guidelines. The following are very basic attributes that we associate with the main chakras.
- Mooladhara. This is the centre where one is almost totally concerned with obtaining personal security. That is, one’s main motive in life is directed towards obtaining food, a place to live and so forth. It is the centre where the individual fights the world, which is regarded as being totally alien.
- Swadhisthana. This centre is associated with the predominant motive of seeking personal pleasures and sensations through food, drink, sex, etc.
- Manipura. This is the centre of self-assertion. One attempts to dominate situations and other people. One seeks to manipulate the world according to personal wishes. This is expressed in the predominant motive of gaining wealth, respect, etc.
- Anahata. This is the centre where one begins to love and understand people for what they are, regardless of faults, idiosyncrasies, etc. One begins to accept other people.
- Vishuddhi. This is the centre where one begins to understand and experience the world as a place of harmony and perfection. It is the centre where Shiva consumes the poison and the nectar, meaning that all experiences, good or bad are seen as part of an integrated whole, all of which help to remove one’s personal problems and conditioning and thereby raise the level of consciousness. The world becomes a veritable Garden of Eden.
- Ajna. This is the centre where one becomes an actor on the stage of the world, seeing everything as almost a dream. All actions, thoughts and objects, including one’s own body and mind, are observed from the centre of one’s being. This is the witnessing centre.
The chakras can also be divided into three approximate classes as follows:
- Mooladhara and swadhisthana, the two lower chakras, are predominantly negative or tamasic in nature. That is, one’s actions tend to be adharmic, disharmonious and not in accordance with one’s individual nature.
- Manipura and anahata, the two middle chakras, are a mixture of both negative and positive qualities. This is the level where rajas predominates; where actions and thoughts are a combination of dharma and adharma.
- Vishuddhi and ajna, the two higher chakras, are predominantly positive (sattwic). One tends to follow dharma, where one’s actions and thoughts are in accordance with one’s individual nature.
This transformation from a predominance of tamas to rajas, then from rajas to sattwa, indicates progress in spiritual life. It indicates progressively more illumined states of mind.
The attributes that we have assigned to each chakra level are very, very rough. Do not take them too seriously, otherwise you may build up too many preconceptions without personal experience of the actual chakras. Remember also that the actual individual expression at a particular level will depend on personal dharma. For example, the anahata chakra is associated with love and devotion, but the actual expression and direction of these traits will depend on the nature of the individual. Some people will direct their devotion to a deity such as Rama or Christ. Others will direct it towards humanity as a whole, others to their gum, some to all things. The trait is the same, but the individual expression will be different. This applies to all the chakras.
Another point to remember is that all actions can be done at all levels. For example, one can enjoy food or be angry and unhappy on all chakra levels. It is the inner attitude and understanding that is different. Thus, anger at the mooladhara level will be expressed with total personal identification; it will easily bring mental imbalance. Anger at the ajna level will be done by the body and the mind. It will be witnessed; there will be no identification. This applies to all other actions, thoughts and emotions. They can occur at all levels. It is the identification and the inner attitude that characterizes each chakra and it is this that transforms one’s entire life.
The chakra level of an individual can vary throughout the day. The purpose of yoga is to raise one’s level of awareness so that one predominantly functions at higher chakra levels. The meaning and implications of the chakras is far beyond the characteristics that we have given, so don’t accept them too seriously. Leave your mind open to the higher experiences that come from the awakening of the chakras. And you will perhaps have noticed that we have not even considered classifying anything above the ajna chakra. This realm, especially, is in the realm of no words – the realm of answers and no questions.