SOME THOUGHTS ON
SYNTHESIZING CORE CONCEPTS IN THE CHAKRA SYSTEM, JEWISH MYSTICAL TRADITION, AND
In the chakra system
the fourth chakra is the heart chakra at the center of the chest. The
emanating color associated with the heart chakra is green. The element
associated with it is air. The shape associated with it is the six pointed
star, the Magen David, the shield of David. One way to understand what
the image of the Magen David communicates is that it says something similar to
that which the yin yang symbol does. Both symbols communicate a dynamic
tension and relatedness between two opposites. The yin and yang symbol demonstrates
that darkness and light exist in relation to each other, share a space, and
carry something of the other within itself. The white form and the dark
form nestle into each other, and a circle of white exists within the dark as a
circle of dark exists within the white. Night and day nestle into one
another, as do earth and sky, as do masculine and feminine elements. The
Magen David is composed of two triangles overlapping at the center, pulling in
opposite directions, the top point of the higher triangle points toward the
sky, and the bottom point of the lower triangle points toward toward the
earth. The center of the image is composed of a piece of each
triangle. The heart of the six-pointed star is six-sided shape deriving
from both triangles, essentially yin and yang, earth and sky, feminine
principle and masculine principle. The chakra beneath the heart chakra,
the solar plexus chakra, is represented as an upward pointing yellow triangle,
or sometimes a pyramid. The element associated with it is fire. The
chakra above the heart chakra is the throat chakra, represented by a circle,
emanating color is blue, and the element is ether. So the heart chakra
unites yellow and blue because it is green. The upward reaching triangle
of the solar plexus seeks the blue circle of the throat, through the heart, as
if the heart could unite both energies.
The Hebrew word for heart is leiv. The word leiv begins with the letter lamed. Lamed means to learn and to teach. Lamed reaches above the line, the aspiring heart, seeking knowledge. Lamed is a tower soaring in the air. Lamed is the last letter in the word Israel and the central letter in shalom, meaning peace, and the central letter of malekh, meaning king, and of dalet, meaning door. The tower reaching toward the sky represents the desire of the soul to grasp inner spiritual truth, transcending our earthbound nature and constantly aspiring to uplift ourselves. We want to unite with God, to make manifest in the material world God’s will. Acts of kindness are identifications with God’s compassionate nature. Rachmones.
Visually, the shape of lamed is composed of kaf and vov, Kaf means palm, or hand. And vov means and. Thus the desire for knowledge is represented by a hand grasping for the “and,” for the meaning of the spirit in the material world, the manifestation of spirit in physical reality.
In qi gong important resonant receptors of qi are lao gong, the palm of the hand; bai hui, the crown; yong quan, the ball of the foot; and tian mu, the third eye. The crown is keter in Hebrew, which begins with kaf. Kaf is described as resembling a crown. Kavod means honor, glory, respect. Kavannah means intention. Kipah means both skullcap and the palm of the hand. The crown in Kabbalah is the supreme nobility of God, the highest of the ten sefirot. The skullcap is understood as the palm of God blessing the head so it can fulfill its highest purpose. Kaf reminds us to purify our hearts and minds to receive the presence of God. We receive qi through the crown and the palms.
The shape of lamed also is a shepherd’s crook. The root of lamed means to urge, to goad, to prod. Knowledge should lead to action. The shepherd-teacher goads toward action.
Rabbi Akiva pointed out that the spelling l-a-m-e-d is an acronym for l’ev meivin da’at. “A heart that understands action.” In the Ethics of the Fathers, the Pirkei Avot 1:7, it says, “Study is not the ultimate goal, rather the deeds.” Learning is not the goal, it is the means to the goal of living meaningfully. What does the hand find when it find “and”? What can it grasp and hold? The reciprocal acts of teaching and learning are about a reaching toward the other, and holding something of value, something to be discovered.
The heart is the vessel into which consciousness is drawn, to grow. We desire to grasp inner spiritual truth.
The Chinese concept of “Xin” is heart/mind, a oneness of cognitive and affective states. What is perceived is understood and felt without any differentiation as to reasoning, belief systems, ideas, desires, feelings, or motivation. Xin, or heart/mind, enables us to put Tao, the guiding path, into action. Tao, like Torah, means the Way. Heart/mind is the goad to right action, the lamed, the goad, the teacher. Tao, the Way, the Path, is the guiding discourse in Chinese thought. Xin guides us in our actions toward each other, toward correct action. Virtue is internalized Tao. The core function of language is to guide behavior.
The qi travels through the meridians, the channels, the pathways, following the Tao.
As qi travels through the meridians, so does the emanating Deity. The descending and re-ascending separating Deity travels through the Tree of Life, the Otz Chiim, along points and pathways, the Sephirot and the Nativoth. God separates and re-unites, and as we experience Divinity in the core of our souls, we are called to reunite with God. As God integrates, we integrate.
When we open our hands, our crown, we move qi, prana, energy, through the chakras, through the meridians. We teach ourselves. We learn and teach, we become a tower open to heaven.
A look at the significance of the story of Jacob climbing a ladder to heaven may lead us to an intuition of the chakra system.
Jacob created a resting place for himself, using stones for pillows. He slept, and dreamed of a ladder to heaven. He saw angels ascending and descending the ladder. Jacob called the place where he had slept and where he had dreamed “Bethel,” or house of God. The angels ascending and descending are manifestations of light. They illuminate the receptive places of the body, the chakras. Perhaps we can conceptualize the energy of the ascending and descending angels as similar to the kundalini energy ascending and descending through the chakras, and the qi circulating through the meridians. In this sense the body becomes a house of self, and the chakras are tuned to receive messages from God, are tuned to receive the light each angel emanates, as are the points on the meridians receptive to qi in Chinese understanding.
In Genesis, Jacob encounters many challenges. He seeks his father’s blessing, and obtains it at his brother’s expense. Jacob and his brother Esau become enemies. Jacob flees his brother’s wrath. Jacob seeks a wife and struggles with his future father-in-law. He struggles to obtain his beloved Rachel for his wife, yet first must accept as wife her sister Leah, in order to win the woman he loves. In his family life and social life Jacob struggles without any depth of understanding. Yet his struggle prepared him for his spiritual struggle. Jacob wrestles with an angel of God. In wrestling with an angel of God, Jacob fulfills his destiny. The angel changes Jacob’s name to Israel. His new name describes his life’s path, for Jacob, now Israel, strives and prevails. The angel tells him, “You have striven with beings divine and human, and have prevailed.” The blessing that Jacob obtained in Bethel is now made manifest in his name, which is given to his descendents, the people of Israel. “Your descendants shall be as the dust of the earth; you shall spread out to the west and to the east, to the north and to the south. All the families of the earth shall bless themselves by you and your descendants. Remember, I am with you: I will protect you wherever you go and will bring you back to this land. I will not leave you until I have done what I have promised you.”
Jacob struggled to obtain God’s blessing, to know God, to see God face to face. Encountering the angel was an opportunity to wrestle with himself, his desire, his ambition, his nature. The introspection that is part of a search for God led him to wrestle with the angel, with himself, with his destiny, and led him to dream the ladder, the chakra system, to know himself from within. Jacob’s ladder is a mystical representation of the chakras, of the internal organs, of human experience, of encounters with divine light and knowledge. As the Eternal Flame summons the sparks of divinity within each human soul, as the sparks are ingathered, we each climb Jacob’s ladder.
BACKGROUND SOURCE MATERIAL:
For Chinese concept of mind :
“Philosophy of Mind in China”, published on the website of the Department of Philosophy, The University of Hong Kong (no attributed author)
The Art of Reflexology, Inge Douganes with Suzanne Ellis, Element, Shaftsbury Dorset; Rockport, Massachusetts; Brisbane, Queensland (1912)
For Qi Gong:
Chinese Soaring Crane Qigong, Zhao Jin Xiang, translated by Chen, Hui Xian et al.
Qigong Association of America, Corvallis, Oregon (1997)
For Chakra system:
Liner notes from Waking the Cobra (vocal meditations on the chakras, Baird Hersey, Hersey Music, Bearsville, New York (1998)
For Jewish Mysticism:
Hebrew Illuminations, Adam Rhine with Louise Temple, Sounds True, Boulder, Co (2006)
Kabbalah: an illustrated introduction to the esoteric heart of Jewish mysticism, Tim Dedopulos, Gramercy Books, New York (2005)
The Torah, Genesis 25 -35, particularly Genesis 28, Genesis 32, The Jewish Publication Society of America, Philadelphia (1962)