Happy Spring! What a great day to write about the third chakra – the energy center of transformation.

The third chakra is called “Manipura” which means “The city of jewels.” It is created by the luminous element, which is often simply called “fire.” Out of the darkness of the liquid factor, light has emerged.* Manipura is located at the navel and controls digestion and assimilation. It is the place where we take in food and transform it to create energy. The manipura is the seat of physical strength and energy as well as the source for our desire to accomplish and succeeed. The color of this chakra is a fiery red, the shape is an upward pointing triangle – like a fire – and the mantra is “Ram.”

This chakra controls 10 mental-emotional tendencies which are arranged as 10 petals around the cakra. They are: shyness lajja, sadism pishunata, jealousy iirsa, lethargy susupti, melancholy visada, irritability kasaya, craving trsna, infatuation moha, disdain ghrna, and fear bhaya.

We come up from the second chakra, the subconscious mind, the place of cold liquid darkness and begin to gain awareness of ourselves – to move into the light. And with the light switched on, we can begin to see what a mess the house is. Digestive problems, addictions including drugs, alcohol, food, sex, etc., and all sorts of neurotic behaviors speak of imbalances in this chakra. Issues of craving power and money come from here. Anger, shame, envy, fear and certain types of depression all emanate from imbalances in this chakra. It is interesting that digestive problems are one of the major issues of people living in the industrialized world. From an energetic perspective, it is the struggle to gain balance in the third chakra  that manifests in these issues. As a society, the western world is steeping in a strong brew of third chakra imbalances. (Check back next week – in the fourth chakra discussion we’ll see why corruption, war and celebrity mishaps appear to dominate the collective psyche).

The third chakra is our mammalian evolutionary past. Whereas animals fight or flee in the face of danger, the modern person sits and stews, poisoning the body with stress-induced cortisol and adrenaline. Because the emotional baggage is so heavy here, the third chakra is considered one of the major granthi or “knots” that the Kundalini must pierce as it ascends  As the yogi battles these inner tendencies s/he emerges as the spiritual warrior, and is purified in the fire of the struggle. The energy that is needed to deal with our karmas comes from the manipura. It is the place of trial by fire. We “burn” our karma in order to purify ourselves and catalyze our spiritual expansion.

The diety represented in this chakra is Rudra – fierce, wizened and hard, his name literally means, “the one who makes you cry.” Rudra is not interested in hearing your complaints, he just wants your sacrifice – and he wants you to throw it into the fire – just do it. This is the energy we have to call upon within ourselves at times in order to get through certain deeply engrained negative behavioral and thought patterns. It should be noted that this is only one of the energies that gets us through rough spots and it’s an energy that is specifically associated with the third chakra. The upper chakras control the lower chakras – as we get into the higher chakras you will see that there are higher ways of dealing with imbalances as well. Nevertheless Rudra has his place.

If we choose to fuel the tendencies of the third chakra, we will eventually self-combust. You can push the coals around and simmer in your own neuroses, or you can channel the warmth to where it is meant to go. The heat of the manipura must ascend to warm and expand the heart chakra. This is the true function of the third chakra in spiritual development – to serve as fuel for a heart-centered existence.

* Just as an aside here, Christian cosmology has many parallels to Tantric cosmology. From Genesis:
And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep.
And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light and there was light.


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