Are There Actually Seven Chakras?

The seven chakras are not separate entities, Sadhguru explains, but classifications for the sake of understanding. He discusses the difference between the discernment required by the intellect, and enlightenment, which transcends all distinction.  

Sadhguru: We need to look at the seven chakras, and how yoga evolved out of that, in a certain context. We have always referred to yoga as a science and a technology because we are working with the existential. In today’s world, a whole lot of people wrongly refer to yoga as philosophy. A philosophy can be made up – it need not have anything to do with reality. Most of the time, philosophies are fantastic explanations about things that you know nothing about. Everyone can come up with their own philosophy, because anyway, there is no one around who knows anything about it. Philosophies have endured in many societies for a long time.

Codified, not Captured

What is unique about yogic culture is that there is no philosophy of any kind – philosophies are scorned. Some people are trying to raise a debate, saying, “Do you have scriptural validation? Which scripture validates what you know?” What most human beings do not understand is that scriptures are a product of the realization that happened in yogis and sages. Yogis and sages are never a product of a scripture. What an individual human being knew and what he spoke, expressed, or transmitted in some way, the people around him who did not know, tried to record and codify into a book. It may have a few gems here and there; the rest is ignorance – sanctified ignorance.

Gautama and Anandatirtha are a classic example – what we know about Gautama is only because of what Anandatirtha noted down. Everything that you know about me through YouTube is only because of the videographers’ recordings. I trust them because they cannot put their mind into the camera and record it the way they want it. But if they wrote it down, they would put their mind into it. As they grew more confident, they would put more and more of themselves into it, because a lot of things that an enlightened being says do not make sense to a whole lot of people. So someone codified what they said the way people like it.

Whatever the nature of someone’s experience, even something as simple as seeing the full moon, no one else can ever capture it. When even a basic experience cannot be captured, how will you capture an experience that is phenomenal? You cannot capture that – so people only codify it. So people will say that the moon means you see a round object and you feel good. And reading this, different people will see different things, depending upon their own consciousness. Footballers will see a big ball out there. Those who are hungry will see a ball of butter – as Indian children were always told.

Discernment and Intellect

These seven dimensions are not a philosophy, but a little bit of classification. Fundamentally, any classification of life is wrong, but this classification is done for the sake of understanding. The seven chakras are not to be understood as seven segments. Life is happening as one big whole. But the intellect needs classification. Without classification, your intellect cannot perceive. The nature of the intellect is to discern. Without the ability to discern, your intellect is a useless piece of machinery.

Discernment is a very important instrument to survive in the world, but it is not at all a good thing if you want to swallow the cosmos, which means you want the cosmos to become a part of you or to disappear into you. If you are discerning, which planet would you like to leave out? Discernment is about what you want and what you do not want, what you like and what you do not like; what is good and what is bad; what is high and what is low; what is god and what is devil.

Enlightenment is when you light up everything in such a way that everything looks the same to you. You do not want to discern anything. Light and darkness are the same experience to you. There is no distinction for you. Enlightenment means that you are lit from inside, so you cannot see darkness anywhere.

Beyond Color

We are talking about a dimensionless dimension, but for the sake of the intellect, we are categorizing. You should not start taking positions, in the sense of, “I’m the Anahata kind,” or, “I’m the Vishuddhi kind,” like people say, “I’m a coffee person,” or, “I’m a tea person.” Or when they wake up in the morning, they say, “I’m a morning person.” This is not about getting identified. If you want to do specific things, you can discern different qualities. But if you want to know the very nature of existence, there is a dimension called vairagya or vairaga. “Vai” means beyond, and “raga” means color. Something that is beyond color is colorless. The word “colorless” in English has negative connotations, such as being lifeless or lacking vibrance, but vairagya is not colorless in that sense.

We are talking about colorless as being beyond color. That which has no color is transparent. Transparency enables you to see. It is colorless air that sustains you. Suppose the air turned blue, you would not be able to see anymore. You may like the blue color in the air for some time, but then you would want to clear the blue and see again. Becoming colorless, or being beyond color, means to have a clear vision. Your vision is not clouded by colors. There are many things which are referred to by their color – rivers for example, such as the Blue Nile, the Yellow River, or the Red River. This does not mean the water as such is blue, yellow, or red – it is the soil that it carries that makes it appear as being of a certain color.

If you are beyond color, you fit into any place perfectly well, because you yourself are colorless, without attributes. Now, if there is a blue background, you turn blue; if there is a red background, you turn red. You will not be felt anywhere as a resistance. You are absolutely merging with whatever is there at any given moment. So we are talking about seven dimensions that are like seven colors. There is nothing wrong with refracting the light, but if you are in refracted light all the time, you will have a distorted vision of life.

Editor’s Note: A version of this article was originally published in Forest Flower, September 2017.

This content was originally published here.