Chakra (derived from the Sanskrit cakraṃ चक्रं ([ˈtʃəkrə̃]), pronounced [ˈtʃəkrə] in Hindi; Pali: chakka ॰हक्क, Tamil: Sakkeram, Chinese: 轮, Tibetan: འཁོར་ལོ་; khorlo) is a Sanskrit word that translates as "wheel" or "turning".
Chakra is a concept referring to wheel-like vortices which, according to traditional Indian medicine, are believed to exist in the surface of the etheric double of man. The Chakras are said to be "force centers" or whorls of energy permeating, from a point on the physical body, the layers of the subtle bodies in an ever-increasing fan-shaped formation. Rotating vortices of subtle matter, they are considered the focal points for the reception and transmission of energies. Different systems posit a varying number of chakras, the most well known system in the West is that of 7 chakras.
It is typical for chakras to be depicted as either flower-like or wheel-like. In the former, a specific number of "petals" are shown around the perimeter of a circle. In the latter, a certain number of spokes divide the circle into segments that make the chakra resemble a wheel (or "chakra"). Each chakra possesses a specific number of segments or petals.
Sahasrara, which means 1000 petalled lotus, is generally considered to be the chakra of pure consciousness, within which there is neither object nor subject. When the female kundalini Shakti energy rises to this point, it unites with the male Shiva energy, and a state of liberating samadhi is attained. Symbolized by a lotus with one thousand multi-coloured petals, it is located either at the crown of the head, or above the crown of the head. Sahasrara is represented by the colour white and it involves such issues as inner wisdom and the death of the body.
Its role may be envisioned somewhat similarly to that of the pituitary gland, which secretes hormones to communicate to the rest of the endocrine system and also connects to the central nervous system via the hypothalamus. According to author Gary Osborn, the thalamus is thought to have a key role in the physical basis of consciousness and is the 'Bridal Chamber' mentioned in the Gnostic scriptures. Sahasrara's inner aspect deals with the release of karma, physical action with meditation, mental action with universal consciousness and unity, and emotional action with "beingness".
In Tibetan buddhism, the point at the crown of the head is represented by a white circle, with 32 downward pointing petals. It is of primary importance in the performance of phowa, or consciousness projection after death, in order to obtain rebirth in a Pure Land. Within this chakra is contained the White drop, or Bodhicitta, which is the essence of masculine energy.
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