The third chakra (Manipura) is the major energy center in the human consciousness system that governs our thinking process. It is the next developmental step above feeling (emotions linked to relational attachment), and produces an inner dialogue in addition to our drive-dependent feelings. If we use the New Age rainbow color coding of chakras by way of illustration, the fire of the animal body (Muladhara chakra) leads to the flickering of feelings (Swadhisthana chakra), which puts out a stable glow (Manipura chakra). In other words, in the natural development of human consciousness the physical world leads to emotional experience which is further refined into a tonally “cooler” state: thought.
Meditators experience the thinking process as analogous to watching clouds drifting across the inner landscape. All spiritual paths point us towards necessity of the breaking of the illusion of the thinking process as being an objective reality. It is the watcher of our thoughts – the observer self – that truly deserves our focus. This is because while thoughts emerge to try and make sense of the outer and inner worlds, thoughts default to a black-white splitting of reality into polar opposites (duality). Manipura chakra is designed to do this for the young mind: to simplistically break down the world into meaningful experiences, and to then orientate itself around those experiences. Manipura “digests” meaning.
After our emotional connections to things in the outer world (see second chakra) comes the meaning we layer into the outer world using the third chakra, We come to believe in conclusions our minds have formed as though these snapshots of truth are reality. But the truth revealed by spiritual awareness is that our thinking mind is always flavored by emotional attachment (second chakra) and by our physical drives (first chakra). In a nutshell, our so-called rational minds are not objective and logical about anything. The mind is programmable, and easily fooled by conclusions or perceptions that are false. Just ask the hypnotist, the psychotherapist, or the politician, about how easily the mind is fooled.
The third chakra also anchors into our past: the beliefs and family karma passed down to us from our heritage. Many of the personal struggles we have are downloaded into our energy consciousness system. We may be trying to solve the challenges of an ancestor, or a parent, rather than walking our own path and soul development. Healing work with Manipura chakra is essential if we are to make family patterns conscious, and then move forward in our evolution.
Where the second chakra forms relational cords to people that anchor in feeling states or provide relational attachment, the third chakra cords link us to our constructed concepts and opinions about others. An opinion is when you ally yourself to one side of any idea in opposition to the other side. We all build the “house” of the self using these building blocks of opinion. The mind of the personal egoic self is an accumulation of opinions … with some truth scattered around. This means that the mind itself can become a hindrance to personal development because, as Mark Twain famously said, “It ain’t what you don’t know that gets you into trouble. It’s what you know for sure that just ain’t so”. Hundreds of years before Twain the third Chinese patriarch of Zen would immortalize this vital wisdom in the Hsin Hsin Ming:
“If you wish to know the truth
then hold to no opinions for or against anything.
To set up what you like against what you dislike
is the disease of the mind ….
Indeed, it is due to our grasping and rejecting
that we do not know the true nature of things….”
Unless we come to appreciate the reality of how the mind works we may simply move through life from opinion to opinion, from one false choice to another false choice. Until the observing self is recognized and honored we may end up lost in fantasies spun by the mind. Any form of personal development or spiritual growth has to arrive at this point: the willingness to confront what we think is the problem, and then to move from opinion into reality. Only by a personal growth shift from mind-dominated choices into a true choice, where we shift from our illusions into creative options, can we evolve efficiently.
When I work with the cords of the third chakra my task is to make the opinions and inherent choices built into Manipura’s opinions become more clear to my client. This is done not by psychotherapy but by cleaning the cords, clearing them of lower astral material, and by strengthening self-cord development. Internal shifts may then follow when the client allows more material to become conscious to him, or her. As long as we think we know what the problem is we will tend to reinforce the mental groove worn into the consciousness system by that opinion. The opinion of the mind has power by virtue of both habit and by our lack of perception of other options. Growth comes when we break free from those habits.
If we live with a closed mind we only see what we are allowed to see. We are the prisoners of our own thoughts. But if we clean the third chakra cords, and begin to open the mind towards new possibilities, then tremendous shifts in consciousness can manifest in our lives. This is the same process as in good psychotherapy, or in authentic spiritual seeking. It is what happens when a seeker begins to dissolves the chains of their emotional and mental slavery, and starts down the road towards freedom. This freedom is from both emotional addiction or slavery (second chakra dysfunction) and conditioned opinion (third chakra dysfunction), and is the door leading to higher chakra functioning. We all have to do the personal development work with our body, emotions, and mental conditioning before we can become truly free.
The Sanskrit name for the Third chakra is Manipura, which means “City of Gems”. Our ideas about reality and ourselves become gems to us, precious enough to protect. We defend our mental conditioning at all costs, often equating our very identity with whatever we hold to be true. The traditional spiritual paths always stress the importance of dissolving this conditioning: to replace habitual thinking with personal presence, an awareness that is able to track the natural reflex of the mental process. We learn to “keep an open mind”, as opposed to seek the false comfort offered to us by the opinion of others, or our own thinking process. The training of an inner witness forms a major part of many spiritual traditions.
Physiologically, the central location of the ten-petaled third chakra (different writers place it either in the navel region or the solar plexus area) connects it with the pancreas, the stomach, and other digestive organs. The third chakra is symbolically reflected in what we “take in”, “digest”, and how we further refine that nourishment. The pancreas balances sugar, the liver purifies the blood, all of which reflect Manipura’s function of creating building blocks out of available material. The red-gold color assigned to Manipura by Sanskrit sources best symbolically describe this alchemical chakra: it refines the gold of potential presence out of the rock of raw thoughts. Getting to the point of having an opinion about something is only a half-way step. The next step is to question your opinion, and to then drop back into the presence of your observer self. Manipura’s higher function is to refine our thinking process towards the creation of inner presence. It is also preparing us for the next stage of our spiritual evolution: the opening of the compassionate heart.
In the Six Session Series, third chakra work consists of looking at the mental maps of reality that the client has constructed, either from family or social training, and shift from any closed or non-functional mental process toward one that is far more open to change and becoming spiritually free of unnecessary hindrances.
© 2016 by Dean Ramsden. All rights reserved.