The Chakras in Tibetan Buddhism

Like Hinduism and many forms of Western esotericism and mysticism, Tibetan Buddhists acknowledge more than one body. There is the coarse, physical body, but also a subtle body, that is invoked in tantric healing methods. Understanding the subtle body becomes especially important for higher spiritual practices of Tibetan Buddhism. The number of chakras in Tibetan Buddhism varies.

Some say there are 4, 5, 7 or 10, but most focus on 5 central chakras of the subtle body that become the central focus of Tibetan Buddhist meditation practice. Higher yogic practices such as Tummo and Completion Stage practices often have a large number of chakras. Likewise, other Indian tantric meditation practices usually include 7 chakras (Kundalini practice, for example).

Emphasis is especially on the crown chakra, throat chakra, heart chakra, navel chakra and secret chakra, but especially the three universal chakras of the crown, throat and heart. These function as the three main channels (central, left and right) for the 72,000 nadis, or energy channels, whose function is to carry Prana, or life force, to the entire body. Thus, we see a close parallel in Hindu and Tibetan Buddhist anthropology. The reason for the importance of these chakras in Tibetan Buddhism has to do with Enlightenment being fundamentally present in the body (certainly distinct from Theravada doctrine!).

Placing awareness in the body results in encountering unconditioned energy. Higher practices led to emphasis on subtler components of the chakras of the subtle body, such as spokes (a “chakra” is an energy wheel) or petals in each chakra. Tummo practice, in an intriguing parallel to Chinese internal alchemy, involves generating an inner furnace.

Experienced psychology writer and practitioner of psi abilities. Looking forward to contributing to a worldwide awakening to the reality of psi phenomena.