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Integral World: Exploring Theories of Everything
An independent forum for a critical discussion of the integral philosophy of Ken Wilber
Joe Corbett has been living in Shanghai and Beijing since 2001. He has taught at American and Chinese universities using the AQAL model as an analytical tool in Western Literature, Sociology and Anthropology, Environmental Science, and Communications. He has a BA in Philosophy and Religion as well as an MA in Interdisciplinary Social Science, and did his PhD work on modern and postmodern discourses of self-development, all at public universities in San Francisco and Los Angeles, California. He can be reached at [email protected].
An Integral Theory of Chakra Evolution
This dynamic oscillation of Eros-Agape that evolves the self, is also the dynamic oscillation that evolves the whole of civilization and humanity.
Some would claim that the very existence of the chakras is highly dubious. But if the integral model of the AQAL is correct, and I think it is, then it might show us why the chakras do in fact exist, and the chakras in turn may show us how to navigate our own progress through the AQAL in order to effect evolutionary change in ourselves, in the world, and in the entire universe.
The chakras are said to be energy processing centers that run up along the spine, and represent the various levels of human development and evolution. They also roughly correspond to the sheaths of energy or subtle bodies that surround the physical body known as the aura. The energy that flows through chakras is known as the kundalini, and it is coiled at the base of the spine until it is released and begins its ascent up the spine and through the chakras, activating them. You can think of kundalini as an embodied and centrally channelled form of prana or chi, which are the more universal energies of life and nature more generally.
The first chakra at the base of the spine where the kundalini is coiled and remains dormant is called the root chakra, and it roughly corresponds to the etheric energy-body of the aura (closest to the body), which governs basic bodily processes and forms of functioning for survival. It is the beige level of development in spiral dynamics, and it is also the UR quadrant of the AQAL, which in my various interpretations also corresponds to the signifier (the Word), Mary and Prakriti, gravity and the tetrahedral q-bit of space-time, individual traits selected by the environment, or simply primordial Nature, among others.
The second and third chakras are called the sacral and the solar plexus centers, located just above the genital organs and at the navel, respectively. They correspond to the purple and red levels of development in SD, as they are the centers of raw creativity and will power, respectively, which is the domain of the magical and egoic self in the UL quadrant. In my various interpretations this also corresponds to the signified (the Logos), Vishnu and Christ, the weak nuclear force and quantum potentials, the mutations and adjacent possibles of evolutionary variety, or simply Mind, among others.
The fourth and fifth centers are the heart and throat chakras located in the middle of the chest and throat. They correspond to the blue, orange, and green levels of development in SD, as they are the centers of love, knowledge, and communication, which is the domain of culture and intersubjective bonding in the LL quadrant. In my various interpretations this corresponds to semantics or interpretive meaning, Brahma and the Father, the strong nuclear force and the dark matter akashic-karmic storehouse, the genetic and epigenetic memories of species and their morphic fields, or simply Soul, among others.
Finally, the sixth and seventh energy centers are located at the brow ridge between the eyes and just above the head, respectively, and are called the third eye and crown chakras. They correspond to the teal and turquoise levels of development, as they are the centers of holistic wisdom and spiritual connection, which is the LR domain of Spirit in history (the evolution of human civilization), as Hegel would say, in which the parts of the whole are continuously reconciled in a higher unity. In my various interpretations this corresponds to syntax or the generative structure of meaning, the cosmo-erotic bliss of Shiva and the Holy Spirit, the electromagnetic force and the holomovement of the quantum vacuum, the environment into which species fit, or simply Justice, among others.
We can see in this mapping of the chakras to the AQAL and their correspondence to the levels of development in SD that the progress of evolution is no less than the Great Chain from body to mind to soul to spirit, both within the individual and external to the individual within human society as it progresses through history. Just as the embryo physically recapitulates in its stages of development the evolution of the species since the time when we were fish in the ocean, so individuals recapitulate in their stages of psychological development the evolution of the species since the time when we were roaming the savannahs high on magic mushrooms, perhaps imbibers of the sacred soma from the very beginning of our species.
In any case, the kundalini energy does not just ascend from the lower to the higher level chakras, for once it reaches the crown it begins to descend back to the root, pulling in each level as it descends and integrating each with the benefit of the higher perspectives. It may continue in an oscillation between ascending eros and descending agape, evolutionary striving (pushing) and involutionary embracing (pulling), for some time before it settles down again into the root. From the AQAL perspective it will circulate back and forth between the UR, counter-clockwise to the LR, and back again from the LR clockwise to the UR. From the SD perspective it will mean transcending and including levels, but then going back to embrace and help reconfigure previous levels before transcending and including them once again, in a perpetual oscillation of pushing and pulling.
In other words, this dynamic oscillation of Eros-Agape within the flow of kundalini that evolves the self, is also the dynamic oscillation that evolves the whole of civilization and humanity. In fact, it is the same oscillation as the Kosmic Dynamic of the whole universe, from which these individual and societal dynamics have emerged as fractal subsystems. That is to say, each moment of the universe unfolds and then enfolds again, evolves and then involves, reaches out and then embraces, in the fluctuations between the implicate and explicate orders. The holomovement of this dynamic goes from the quantum vacuum of virtual particles to the physical universe of matter and back again, recording each moment into the fabric of space-time and launching the next moment from the future possible forms of matter into the present.
The emergence of the universe from the structural dynamics of its different domains, the cosmic-tetrameshing of gross matter (UR), subtle quantum potentials (UL), the causal-karmic space-time memory field (LL), and the non-dual eyes of spirit that science calls the vacuum fluctuations (LR), is the same oscillation between body, mind, soul, and spirit that happens on the individual and societal levels as they evolve from one level of complexity to the next. The chakra system shows us how to oscillate from one level to the next in order to evolve our self, the society of which we are a part, and ultimately the entire universe out of which we come.