In traditional yoga philosophy, the chakras are subtle force centers that vitalize and control the physical body. The Sanskrit word chakra means “wheel”, indicating that these force centers are wheels of energy. The following methods of esoteric healing are based upon the chakras.
Pranic healing is one of the oldest and most widespread methods of treatment of physical illness. In this approach the healer uses a type of energy that is sometimes called prana, magnetism, or vitality. This energy can be consciously directed by the healer toward the patient, so that the healer’s vitality replaces or reinforces that of the patient. The healer uses his chakras to assimilate prana, convert it into healing energy, and then distribute this energy. The patient’s chakras receive the energy, which serves to vitalize his physical body and more especially his endocrine gland system, thereby bringing about physical health.
Telepathic healing can be used either to transmit helpful ideas that may affect the patient’s mental attitudes or to guide the patient’s subconscious mind for healing his physical body. Several types of telepathic impulses can be sent: intuitional, mental or emotional. The healer’s chakras are used to send these impulses, and the patient’s chakras are used to register them.
Radiatory healing can be accomplished when the healer is in alignment with his inner spiritual nature. The qualities resulting from this alignment can be radiated to the patient to calm his emotions, stimulate compassion, strengthen his mind, and bring him into alignment with his own spiritual nature. The healer’s chakras radiate these qualities, and the patient’s chakras register them.
This article will discuss radiatory healing, but first it is necessary to understand certain terms and relationships regarding a person’s inner constitution. A fundamental teaching of theosophy is that the solar system is sevenfold in its constitution. Whereas only the physical world can be perceived with the ordinary senses, it is said that there are also six higher worlds, of progressively subtler matter, that interpenetrate the physical. These worlds are called planes. Furthermore, each plane is divided into seven subplanes.
For instance, the physical is the lowest plane, and it consists of the following subplanes: first ether, second ether, third ether, fourth ether, gaseous, liquid and solid. The three lowest subplanes — gaseous, liquid and solid — compose the dense world of matter and are perceptible with the five physical senses. The four highest subplanes represent the etheric region. Although imperceptible with normal faculties, these four ethers are considered as being part of the physical realm.
Corresponding to the division of the physical plane into dense and etheric portions, a person’s body has two portions:
The dense physical body is composed of solids, liquids, and gases, including such parts as the bones, blood system, nervous system, brain and endocrine glands.
The etheric body, sometimes called the vital body, is composed of the four ethers. It is referred to in the Bible as the “golden bowl” (Eccles. 12:6). The etheric body has the following functions: although of a tenuous nature, it is the framework or foundation underlying every part of the dense physical body; it vitalizes or energizes the dense physical cells; it is a clearinghouse for all forces coming to the physical from higher dimensions, transmitting them through the nervous, endocrine and blood systems; and it is the transmitter and receiver of esoteric healing energies. The etheric body is below the threshold of consciousness and is generally recognized only in terms of vitality or lack of vitality.
The chakras are force centers within the etheric body, and there are seven major chakras and 21 minor chakras. A major chakra evolves over time, moving from a sluggish semi-dormant state to an active fully-developed state. When a chakra develops, it gains the ability to work with additional forces and to perform additional functions. Following are some of the functions of each of the seven major chakras.
The crown chakra vitalizes the cerebrum (or upper brain) and anchors the consciousness stream from the causal body (or soul), enabling a person to have self-awareness. When developed, it registers wisdom, insights and spiritual purpose.
The brow chakra vitalizes the cerebellum (or lower brain) and central nervous system (which consists of nerve fibers within the brain stem and spinal cord). When developed, this chakra focuses wisdom, insights, and spiritual purpose (all received via the crown chakra), which then can be used to control the personality.
The throat chakra vitalizes the lungs and vocal apparatus, and it also registers concrete thoughts from the mental body (received via the solar plexus chakra). When developed, the throat chakra responds to strength and clarity from the causal body (received via the brow chakra), enabling creativity to be expressed in thought, speech and writing.
The heart chakra anchors the life stream, which governs the circulation of blood throughout the body. This chakra also controls the vagus nerve, the largest nerve in the parasympathetic nervous system (which activates involuntary muscles that restore the body’s energy). When developed, it registers compassion, which is experienced as a sense of oneness with others.
The solar plexus chakra vitalizes the sympathetic nervous system (which activates involuntary muscles that mobilize the body for action). This chakra is considered to be developed in an average or ordinary human being, in which case it registers emotions that can incorporate both feelings from the emotional body and concrete thoughts from the mental body.
The sacral chakra vitalizes the sexual life and organs of reproduction. It is considered to be developed in a human being following birth.
The basic chakra vitalizes the kidneys. This chakra also feeds the life-giving principle, the will to live, to all parts of the physical body, resulting in the fundamental instinct of self-preservation.
According to Alice A. Bailey, the etheric body extends outside the dense physical body, and the chakras are part of that portion of the etheric body that lies outside. In particular, she states that the crown chakra is “just above the top of the head”, the brow chakra is “just in front of the eyes and forehead”; and the five spinal chakras (throat, heart, solar plexus, sacral and basic) are positioned in the “etheric counterpart of the spinal column”, which is behind the dense physical body.(1) In addition, she says that these spinal centers are at least two inches away from the dense physical spine for an undeveloped person and are even further away for an average person.(2)
It is possible to give a precise definition for chakra development. Bailey states that each major chakra is separated from the one above it and the one below it by an interlaced protective web of etheric substance. She says that there are four circular webs lying between the five major chakras in the etheric spine and that there are two additional webs in the head. When intact, these six webs prevent the free movement of energies in the etheric body.(3) These webs become dissipated slowly, normally, and automatically, as the person purifies his life, disciplines his emotions, and practises meditation. When a particular web is dissipated, the corresponding chakra is defined as being developed, and the person has attained a higher state of consciousness.
The lowest etheric web is between the basic and sacral chakras. When this web is dissipated, the sacral chakra is defined as being developed. Because this dissipation occurs around the time of birth, the sacral chakra is always developed for all persons following birth. For an average or ordinary human being, the etheric web between the sacral and solar plexus chakras has generally been dissipated, in which case the solar plexus chakra is developed and the person can express emotional sensitivity. When the web between the solar plexus chakra and the heart chakra is dissipated, the heart chakra is developed, and the person has attained the first spiritual initiation called Birth at Bethlehem. When the web between the heart chakra and the throat chakra is dissipated, the throat chakra is developed, and the person has attained the second initiation called Baptism in Jordan. When the web between the throat chakra and brow chakra is dissipated, the brow chakra is developed, and the person has attained the third initiation called Transfiguration. And when the web between the brow chakra and the crown chakra is dissipated, the crown chakra is developed, and the person has attained the fourth initiation called Crucifixion. It is possible to give Buddhist and Hindu names for these expansions of consciousness.
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Meditation can be defined as an effort to evoke a quality associated with a state of consciousness higher than one’s normal state, with the result of increasing the activity of a chakra that has not yet been developed. Having a regular daily period of meditation is a fruitful approach for developing the chakras and raising one’s state of consciousness. Without meditation a person will still experience glimpses of qualities associated with higher states, but the purpose of meditation is to prolong and deepen those glimpses. A person’s meditation practice usually will evolve as his chakras develop, so that there will be a different approach for each state of consciousness that he attains. For instance, he may progress from bhakti yoga, to raja yoga, and then to agni yoga.
A chakra can be thought of as being an oscillator with a particular natural frequency. An oscillator can be described as any object that moves in a regular periodic manner, such as a violin string or a pendulum. Two oscillators having the same natural frequency can develop sympathetic resonance, which means that the vibrations of one oscillator can reinforce those of the other. For example, if a string in one violin is played while a second violin lies on a table, then the corresponding string in that second violin will begin to vibrate. In this case, vibratory waves are passed through the air from one violin to the other. In the same way, if several pendulum clocks are hung on the same wall, so that the pendulums are of the same length but are out of phase, after a while all clocks will be in phase. Here, vibratory waves are passed through the wall from one clock to another.
Radiatory healing can be understood as a process of establishing sympathetic resonance between corresponding chakras in healer and patient. In this case, vibratory waves are transferred over the etheric subplanes, enabling ‘synchronization’ to occur between the healer’s and patient’s chakras.(4) Vibratory waves from the healer’s crown chakra, via the brow chakra, can aid the patient in becoming aligned with his own spiritual purpose. Waves from the healer’s heart chakra can convey a sense of compassion or oneness with others. Waves from the healer’s throat chakra can aid the patient in strengthening and clarifying his mind. And waves from the healer’s solar plexus chakra can convey inner peace and calm the patient’s emotions.
Both healer and patient should fulfill certain conditions in order for radiatory healing to be successful. The healer must be able to experience the various qualities within himself and then be able to radiate the corresponding vibrations. This process requires that certain of his chakras be developed. In particular, the healer needs to have his brow chakra developed to radiate the quality of spiritual purpose from that chakra.(5) His heart chakra should be developed to radiate the quality of compassion.(6) His throat chakra should be active to radiate the quality of mental clarity. And his heart chakra should be active and solar plexus chakra developed to radiate the quality of inner peace from the solar plexus chakra.
For proper registration, the patient should have some of his chakras active plus a willingness to register the radiated energies — the word willingness is used because his experience is subject to his own free choice. In particular, if the patient is “highly developed”, then his crown chakra would be sufficiently active to register the vibrations of spiritual purpose, and his heart chakra would be sufficiently active to register compassion. If he is “an ordinary and average advanced person”, then his throat chakra would be sufficiently active to register mental clarity. But even if the patient is “quite undeveloped and relatively a low grade human being”, then his solar plexus chakra would still be sufficiently active to register inner peace.(7)
Although this article has focused on radiatory work in terms of the chakras, technical knowledge about the chakras is not necessary. A person’s intention automatically controls the activity of his chakras, which generally operate below the threshold of consciousness. A practitioner can transmit various qualities to a patient without understanding which centers send or receive the corresponding vibrations. After first experiencing those qualities within himself, a healer can radiate them merely by intending to do so, which causes the requisite activity of his chakras to occur automatically.
Nevertheless, technical knowledge about the chakras can be useful for several reasons. First, this knowledge provides a coherent theory of the healing process and a basis for a student to learn the art of healing, such as by using visualization. Second, this knowledge can predict the limitations of the healer to heal and of the patient to respond to healing. Third, knowledge of the chakras can improve the effectiveness of the healing work, such as by properly utilizing the hands. And fourth, this knowledge can explain some of the experiences that both the healer and the patient undergo.