What are chakras - and why do we use them?

Chakra is a Sanskrit term from the ancient Indian yoga philosophy, meaning literally 'wheel', used to refer to human energy centres at various locations in the body. These centres, traditionally represented as lotus flowers with varying numbers of petals, are immaterial - they are not found in even the most incisive autopsy, they do not show up on X-rays, MRI or CAT-Scans. According to many, this would mean that they do not exist. Or, put more kindly, that they are imaginary. Indians, who have worked with the chakra system for thousands of years, would retort that our problem is that we accept as 'real' only the material world. And that thereby we are depriving ourselves of much vital energy and wisdom.
       The Bengali poet/philosopher Samuel B. Lall once said to Peter, with his characteristic disdain for materialist thinking: 'Those poor people recognize as relevant only that which they can dissect, pulverize, bombard with rays, test with chemicals or destroy otherwise.' An interesting discussion, but (and it is only to stress this that we brought it up) irrelevant in the context of The Enlightened Leader and its method, also where used outside a corporate setting, because we use the chakras merely as symbols for certain levels of consciousness: containers of meaning that are standing here empty as we speak and will be filled in the next pages.
       In principle these containers could be called anything, as other writers have created symbol sets based on colours, planets, archetypes, metals, precious stones, mountains, numbers, or classical deities to differentiate aspects of personality, attaching values to their chosen nomers. Our preference for chakras may be regarded as a personal quirk, which we hope you will accept, because to us the terminology opens the door to a rich realm of associations, a fair dose of which we hope to share with you. So, materialist or otherwise, this is something we should be able to agree on: within the context of this book chakras exist.

Symbols charged with meaning

Human figure with chakras The advantage of employing a symbol set at all, instead of just naming the different levels of consciousness, is that symbols may be charged with a large, and ever expandable, quantity of related information, so that this whole body of wisdom can be shared simply by reference to the symbol, in this case a particular chakra. In terms of computer programming: we don't pass the value, just the pointer. This tremendously speeds up the processing of information. The use of symbols, which predates language, is one of the most primordial and most powerful human qualities; an ability that chimpanzees and other higher primates can attain with training, but do not appear to use in their own culture. It may be argued that the path of humans and apes separated when we developed our mental capacity for referencing and dereferencing blocks of mental content, which led to the rapid development of language and our ability to map and explore our environment. The use of symbols, we believe, is where the road forks. And where God came into being.
        The reason why we speak of this issue so explicitly, is that we are avoiding two trapdoors at once. We do not wish to impose on readers a belief in the existence of chakras, because no such belief is needed to develop one's leadership. The second is, that, although we admit being deeply indebted to it, we do not wish here to be bound to the classic canon of yoga philosophy, so insights from outside this system can be brought in without possible charges of adulteration of an old and venerable tradition. The chakra system that Peter ten Hoopen developed, therefore, the Chakras of Leadership®, is not ancient, but brand new. It is also entirely self-referencing: it does not rely on any outside values to exist.

How does the chakra approach work in practice?

To illustrate where we are going in practical terms: when we say that someone's existence is dominated by her Root Chakra, it calls to mind someone with a strong presence, who manifests herself with gusto, has extensive material needs and probably the possessions to match. She loves nature, has strong bonds with her tribe or family, and a practical mind. An inexhaustible doer... Should, as is the case with both present authors, the Throat Chakra be dominant, then we see someone who likes to talk about the things he finds important, in the hope that his words will resonate with others, because it is very important for him to live in an environment of shared values.

Taking it to the next step

The next step is to look at the balance between the different chakras: are all roughly equally active, or do one or two appear to preside over the personality? Are there sleepers, holding up true self-realisation, leave alone enlightenment? Then look again at those chakras that are powerfully active, the most strongly manifested aspects of the personality: is their development desirable or undesirable, destructive or constructive, injurious or healing? With increasing familiarity you may discover aspects of yourself that you were not, or only dimly, aware of - and that, most likely, are a delight to discover. Most people, deep down, are greater than they think.