Baal Shem Tov, or Besht — the founder of Chasidism —
The Chakras and the Sefirot
This brief entry may give you a quick grasp of Kabbalah if you already know the chakras. It may also answer a few questions about the right way to relate the two systems.
Both the Sefirot and the Chakras (chakra in Sanskrit = "wheel"; sefirah in Hebrew [by one derivation] = "sphere") are mapped onto the human body, but there are ten Sefirot and only seven Chakras. There are also seven lower Sefirot that are often treated separately. Sometimes people try to map these seven to the Chakras. But the correct map shuttles between the "vertical" levels of the Sefirot and the Chakras. What we really find is that three of the Chakras, in the system of the Kabbalah, are split into right and left, making a total of ten.
1) Keter, Crown, is the Crown chakra.
3) Chesed and Gevurah, Love and Might, right arm and left arm, are the throat chakra.
To see how this can work simply stretch your arms out horizontally – throat and arms really are one level, the higher expression of will through speaking and grasping.4) Tiferet, Beauty, the heart, is of course the heart chakra.
5) Netzach and Hod, Eternity and Majesty, right and left leg, are the will, Hara, connected with the solar plexus.
The former (i.e. where your legs take you) are the most externalized expression of will. (Fans of The Teachings of Don Juan will recognize something familar here in the relationship between the body's center and lomotion.)6) Yesod, Foundation, genitals, is the sacral chakra (that is, the sacrum), the source of sexual energy.
7) Malkhut, Kingdom, Shekhinah, the feminine that completes the whole, is the Root chakra.
Here is where we find the greatest divergence in form, at least on a superficial level, since the Root chakra, which is the beginning of consciousness, is internal to the body whereas Malkhut is more like the ground or the earth. The Root chakra is also connected with earth however, and furthermore (as I just learned from Wikipedia's entry on Chakra) it's connected with "grounding, sexuality (for men)", which in a hetero context is pretty much the same as Shekhinah on the level of the body. At any rate, it works and it makes sense. Incidentally, Wikipedia also charts the sacrum as "sexual energy (for women)", closely corresponding to Yesod in the standard hetero map of the Sefirot.
David, thank you for this. Clear, useful, and it makes sense. I'm enjoying everything I'm finding on your site.
Posted by: Malka Mittelman at February 5, 2009 4:58 AM
Design in progress © Rabbi David Mevorach Seidenberg 2006