Are The Chakras Real or Conceptual?

John: I too am from a scientific background. I agree with lots of things you say in your post (New age Fake speed awakening etc.) However, I was surprised when you Say that chakras are merely a conceptual help for meditation. Did you ever felt something at the locations of the chakras, although being of a subtle energy nature? If so what kind of feeling is this for you?

Jagjot: The subtle and the physical are not two separated by a rigid boundary. The physical is a manifestation of subtle energy. Therefore, thoughts themselves are subtle energy components and hold a lot of power to influence the physical body.

You may have heard of cases where many decades of pain in one particular body part just vanishes by allowing the release of some emotional tension. The implication of the article was not to prove if the chakras are real or not. That debate is entirely meaningless. We cannot know the reality objectively.

It may have come across like that but the chakras are not merely a conceptual help for meditation. Chakras reveal the internal state of the psychophysical organism. Meditation is one of many practices that can reveal our internal state.

For example, in the early days of my spiritual practices, I would feel different sensations on my forehead, throat, heart region, lower back, and more. It is very common for people to feel a throbbing sensation on their forehead, which is the third-eye energy center, or a cool sensation in the throat region. 

But these experiences are only pointers to the background awareness where everything manifests. The chakras and Kundalini are only concepts that appear to an individual “experiencer.” When the kundalini opens up through the crown, the contracted energy or the individual becomes ONE with the universal consciousness. Consciousness is all there is.

I hope this is not too vague?

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John: As a yoga practitioner myself, I totally agree with you that chakras can be felt and are not mere tools for visualizations. Sorry to have misunderstood the post on your website!

One scholar, Mallinson, said in a video that chakras cannot be really felt (and be real, whatever he understands by that) because there have been so many chakras systems in history with different locations and different numbers of chakras, that these systems cannot account for the same phenomenon.

I’m a little bit puzzled with that! What do you think of his reasoning?

Jagjot: Different traditions have different systems. According to traditions, chakras are part of the subtle body and they have a strong influence on the mind and body. However, energy by nature cannot be the final reality as it is a movement. But that does not imply that we abandon our yogic and other spiritual practices.

I practice Yoga postures and pranayama every day. And it keeps my mind and body healthy and fit. But in my understanding, mind and body are appearances in consciousness. Therefore, till there’s an individual claiming ownership of the mind-body complex, the suffering will continue. This understanding does not stop the pain in the moment, but it does not let the pain translate into suffering in horizontal time.

This whole argument about what is real or unreal, which traditions are genuine or fake, etc., is meaningless. It keeps the mind running. Something that cannot be directly perceived or detected by the physical senses does not become insignificant or “unreal”. Chakras are not physical entities, therefore, the manifestation of symptoms may happen in different locations for different people, but that does not invalidate their existence.

When people argue about the existence (or non-existence) of Chakras, it is usually from the point of view of the individual who believes he/she has a strong understanding of what’s real and what’s unreal. In my understanding, we cannot know reality as an object of our experience. Every perceivable reality is relative. 

I practice yoga with complete volition, but deep down, I know that I’m not in control, and the energy is doing its work as per its own Will. Again, it is only my concept. But this concept frees me from the outcome of my efforts.

It frees me from the duality of right/wrong, good/bad, real/unreal, etc. I enjoy my Yoga practices knowing that the energy is doing what’s required and all I have to do is execute the action without a sense of personal doership.