"Mediators of energy-matter interaction."
I don't suppose that I should be surprised at having received this book from the LibraryThing.com “Early Reviewer” program … over the past 40 years I've no doubt read dozens
of books dealing with the Chakras, in a wide range of contexts, cultures, and traditions. However, books from LTER are
always a bit of a “pig in a poke” … being things that one has indicated (usually based on a brief paragraph) that one might be interested in
receiving, but rarely volumes that one has had a chance to look at, consider, or particularly want. Because of this I was very pleased with Shai Tubali's The Seven Wisdoms of Life: a Journey into the Chakras
, as it is a reasonably well-crafted look at the Chakras, if from a rather “newagey” standpoint of personality typing, etc. Up front, the author states that he's focusing on the “psychological and transformative aspects” of the Chakras, and less on the “mystical and esoteric aspects”, although as soon as he gets into defining things, he's smack in the middle of describing the Nadis
(the 72,000 “energy channels” throughout the body), and Prana
(the “vital life force” which flows through these), which is certainly more the latter modality than the former.
Here's a bit from his introduction:
Man is not just flesh and bone. By saying that, I do not mean to support abstract and romantic ideas such as the soul. On the contrary, I mean to stress a whole realm of psychological dynamics, that may be invisible to our outer eyes but nonetheless are active all the time. Invisible is not irrelevant, just like atoms are a necessity in the total understanding of matter.
There is another anatomy for man, a subtler one, which envelops the visible plain of the physical body like invisible sheaths. This anatomy is extraordinarily important both for the complete understanding of our psyche and for the realization of the further evolution of our consciousness.
In many respects, one may refer to this subtle anatomy as the anatomy of our psyche or, in an even broader sense, as the anatomy of our consciousness. The direct implication of this insight is that by understanding the depths of this anatomy, one may acquire a comprehensive map of one's psyche, through which one can navigate in a much more conscious way.
... that's a pretty good summation of where the author's going here.
Now, I suppose that there are
folks out there reading this that don't know Chakras from Chuckles, so here's the short version (from me, not Tubali): Chakra is a Sanskrit word which means “wheel”, which serves to describe particular energetic points on the (etheric) body where a “whirlpool” focuses particular types of energy, and are associated with colors, etc. There are generally held to be seven of these, 1st – in the crotch, 2nd – about at the bladder, 3rd – around the gut, 4th – at the heart, 5th – at the throat, 6th – between the eyes just above the brow, and 7th – at the very top of the head. Depending on the system/tradition these have specific functions and attributes, and The Seven Wisdoms of Life
presents the author's particular take on them.
In the second (main) part of the book, these are put forth as “The Search for – ” the following:
... with each of these having similar sub-sections dealing with the aforementioned “psychological and transformative aspects”... including:
- Characteristic emotions and typical reactions.
- The type of trauma accumulated in the chakra.
- The chakra-oriented personality.
- Masculine aspects and feminine aspects.
- The “type of happiness” associated with the chakra.
- The “worldview” of the chakra.
- The “evolution of the chakra as it is reflected in the process of growth in a human lifetime”.
- “Collective imprints” in the charka.
- The “historical phase in human evolution” associated with the chakra.
- Important interactions with other chakras.
- The chakra in “spiritual transformation”.
- Recommended practices for aspects of the chakra.
... there are also “polar emotions” focused at the level of the chakra, as well as “famous expressions” of the chakra personality type in terms of historical/mythic figures.
Again, this has a pretty significant “new age” lean to it, pulling from traditional systems to fit the “personality type”/psychological model the author has structured. To his credit, this seems to hang together quite well on its own terms. In the “Summary” section he discusses four ways to “extract wisdom” from the chakras … these include “higher wisdom”, “spiritual practices”, and “right actions”, but one, “purification”, sounded an awful lot like Scientology, with vrittis
(a Sanskrit word that is literally “whirlpool”, but means “disturbance of mind”) standing in for Thetans
Purification is a therapeutic process, during which both body and mind are cleansed of psychological impressions and memories. These impressions appear in the chakras as vrittis – personality tendencies that reflect our deepest subconscious.
... but that's probably just me being snarky.
There are two appendices, one on “The Journey of Kundalini
Along the Chakras”, which gets heavily into the Sanskrit dictionary in describing how this is “the most important subtle force for the spiritual evolution of mankind”, and one being “Questionnaires for Self-Evaluation”, which includes two – a “Chakra Personality Type Evaluation”, and a “Chakra Imbalance Evaluation”. I, personally, found these worse than useless, but I'm the wrong guy to judge those sorts of things as they always irritate me.
Despite the latter points, I found The Seven Wisdoms of Life
a decent attempt at making a “newagey” system with “psychological and transformative” over-tones … not exactly a book I'd outright recommend as a Chakra
book, but not bad for what it is. This is relatively new, so it might be bouncing around in the more new-age brick and mortar book mongers (which you should probably patronize if you wanted a copy of this, since the big on-line sources aren't offering much of a discount). Again, this wasn't exactly “my cup of tea”, but it wasn't something I particularly disliked either … as is frequently the case (in the words of Dennis Miller) “your mileage may vary” on how this will appeal to you.