Watching “The Guru” from Avatar: The Last Airbender inspired me to study different religious principles from Taoism, Hinduism, and Buddhism. Many of their foundational teachings, philosophies, and historical documents are very insightful. Truth can be found anywhere if we are willing to seek it. One of the reasons history is fascinating to study is because people pass on truths from generation to generation.
Now, for this post, I wanted to focus on the concept and application of chakras. In many Eastern religions, chakras are energy points in the spiritual self (soul). Nadi, or energy channels, connect these energy points where a person’s prana or life force flows (also known as vital energy). Though there are many chakras discussed throughout varied Indian scripture, there are seven that most consider being the most important.
It is important to remember that there are hundreds perhaps thousands of variations and denominations of Eastern religions and philosophies. Much like Christianity, basic principles connect these sects yet they differ in detail and interpretation.
The ideas of chakras date as far back as the oldest Indian records called the Upanishads. Over time, Hindu and Buddhist practitioners would build temples and develop religious disciplines to help people overcome physical attachments. Meditational traditions called Tantra, target focal energy points or chakras along the body that literally and figuratively represents condensed areas where energy flows through the body.
Hindu temples are built based on the human body because these focal points are located along the spine. Starting at the feet (the entrance to the temple) and eventually arriving at the crown of the head (the highest temple tower) one journeys through the hierarchy of human pursuits: artha (property and wealth), kama (pleasure and sex), dharma (virtues and ethical life) and moshka (release and self-knowledge).
This idea is not so different in Christianity. Religious leaders and followers dedicate many Catholic chapels like the Chartres Cathedral near Paris as a physical manifestation of Man’s spiritual journey to overcome temptation and sin. The farther in the cathedral someone travels, the closer they come to spiritual cleansing and revelation. There was even a circular maze engraved in the tiles visitors can walk through that represents man’s mortal journey back to God.
Chakras in Avatar: The Last Airbender
In Avatar: The Last Airbender, Aang was the only soul able to wield all the elements. At times, he could also go into the Avatar State, which harnessed colossal power through the collected knowledge of all the Avatars before him. Whenever Aang went into the Avatar state, he lost almost all control over himself because overwhelming, negative emotions were the root source of his transformation.
Aang meets guru Pathik who tells Aang there is a way to master the Avatar state by mastering himself. Negative energy and attachments blocked these chakras, keeping Aang from fully embracing himself. To reach pure cosmic energy, Aang needed to face and release each chakra simultaneously. To do this, Pathik takes Aang on a physical and spiritual journey through the seven major chakras located throughout his body.
Each chakra calls for a balance within ourselves. This balance is outlined by both a positive and negative emotion within each chakra. To maintain it, one must learn to let go and find peace within themselves by facing whatever negative emotions are keeping one from enjoying life. I will outline each chakra to the best of my ability.
First, the earth (root) chakra located at the base of the spine. It represents survival and is blocked by fear. Also known as Kundalini or “the sacred fire”, it awakens and quickens the other chakras. Earth is the foundation for life and the beginning of man’s spiritual journey. All of life depends on it to exist.
Why is it blocked by fear? Fear is an emotion triggered when a person feels they are threatened, in danger, or in pain. It means a person loses control over their survival and questions their ability to choose rationally and confidently. But fears can be controlled and must be let go before one can enjoy life.
Second, the water (sacral) chakra located in the lower abdomen. It represents pleasure and is blocked by guilt. Also referred to in Sanskrit as Svadhisthana or “sweetness”, it is perhaps the hardest to control. Though ambiguous in the show, it is located in the pelvic area, the center of passion and pleasure. (This means all of life’s pleasures, not just sexual.)
Why would it be blocked by guilt? It is not only the hardest to control but also the most difficult to understand. There are two extremes connected to pleasure: rejection and overindulgence. Popular media practically glorifies sexual “freedom” and excessive behavior. However, the horrible consequences of this irrational and undisciplined behavior are extensive for others and ourselves.
But one can also hurt themselves by rejecting this part of their body and nature. The trick is learning to balance it. If one loses control, leading to guilt, regret, remorse, and self-condemnation, it is important to accept all of themselves, even their mistakes.
Third, the fire (solar plexus) chakra located in the stomach. It deals with willpower and is blocked by shame. Also referred to as Manipura or “lustrous gem”, it is the center of self-confidence, personal drive, and personal power. Another way to look at it is as our inner fire, or zeal which gives one the motivation to grow and progress.
Why is it blocked by shame? Shame is antithetical to confidence. It denotes a loss of self-esteem and respect as well as humiliation and dishonor. These personal disappointments keep one locked in place, ashamed and lost. To break from this, a person needs to accept these things that happened and let them go. For, though they cannot be changed, they can be overcome.
Fourth, the air chakra located in the heart. It deals with love and is blocked by grief. Known as Anahata or “unstruck” (unhurt, unbeaten) it is where we develop personal bonds or connections with others as well as compassion, kindness, and respect. As such, it is also the healing center, for love is the ultimate healer.
Why is a blocked by grief? Grief embodies a deep sense of loss or heartbreak. This usually entails the loss of a loved one to death, distance, or hatred. Such mental suffering, especially in regards to death, builds an illusion of permanent separation. It is important to remember that love is a form of energy and still binds individuals to those they have lost. It also means it recreates itself in the form of new love.
Fifth, the sound chakra located in the throat. It represents truth and is blocked by lies, specifically lies one tells themself. Known formally as Vishudda or “especially pure”, it is where one cultivates and understands truth and knowledge. In learning to understand ourselves, we also learn to accept who we are. It is linked directly to personal integrity and standing strong in our beliefs. But it also means learning to recognize the truth in the face of personal bias.
Why is it blocked by lies? Lies are created and cultivated to destroy truth. All people hear thousands of voices who seek to convince them they are not who they are. In Hinduism, the Atman or each individual’s divine self is blocked by lies, specifically lies concerning their identity. This suppresses one’s understanding of themselves. To see through these lies one must accept their divine self.
Sixth, the light (brow) chakra located in the forehead. It deals with insight and is blocked by illusion. Also known as Ajna or the “third eye” it is where we gain an understanding of one’s higher self (Atman) and a greater life force. It strengthens intuition and helps one understand life’s meaning. In so doing, they set themselves on the right path and become truly conscious of reality.
Why is it blocked by illusion? Illusions mask reality by replacing it with something else. Regularly, these false images and understandings look like a twisted and incomplete version of reality. Avatar specifically addressed the illusion of separation. Things believed are separate are the same, such as people, countries, and religions. Everything is connected through subtle strings, whose origin is the ultimate reality/truth.
Seventh, the thought chakra located at the crown of the head. It deals with pure cosmic energy and is blocked by earthly attachments. Formally known as Sahasrara or “thousand petaled” it is the place where one connects with the universe and ultimately God. It is how one transcends themselves and becomes fully aware that all life is fundamentally connected. Ultimately, it is the resting place of the soul that connects the finite with the infinite.
Why is it blocked by earthly attachment? This is difficult to explain. Attachment means fastening or tying ourselves down. Since this chakra is the bridge between a person and God, if a person chooses not to reach that state because of their worldly attachments, they cannot achieve enlightenment. It is akin to the idea of personal revelation. If one refuses to listen or understand divine concepts because of our earthly concerns and desires we limit ourselves. Each of the Chakras required freeing one’s self from negative emotions. Even the purest love can become a vice if not tempered with discipline and wisdom.
Thank you for reading. I hope it has been insightful despite my limited understanding. Below, I listed my sources which you can access if you are interested.