This post is an excerpt from The Seven Wisdoms of Life, written by Shai Tubali.
Close your eyes for a brief moment, and try to imagine what it was like in the ‘time’ of the big bang: condensed, singular energy bubbling and fizzing, and then… in a great explosion, which was probably like a cosmic orgasm, this unitary energy began to rapidly expand and unfold, diverging into many different and even contradictory forces, and at the same time, passionately forming alliances between identical/different particles—short lived alliances that slowly but surely created planets and creatures. This is, so to speak, the second chakra of the universe: the creative fire of the cosmos, which pushes everything first toward erotic merging and then toward breaking apart in order to create even more complex unions; it is the power of creation, passion and eruption.
The second chakra focuses on our participation in this process of creation and procreation and on our involvement in life’s play of energies. It is the fire of life force within us, wishing to burst out and connect with the greater life force of the universe. This life force creates within us the urge to become an active partner in the great celebration of life, and would have us explore every little bit of every variety of experiences offered to us by nature and the senses, be it joys and pleasures, peak experiences and wild experiments, or the expression of creativity (such as biological creativity, giving birth to a child, and also subtler forms, like the various arts).
The first image that comes to mind when describing the second chakra is spring time: imagine the soil fertile, opening itself like a womb toward the open sky and tender sun; imagine the fields of flowers, with all their sensual gorgeous colors bursting out from this soil; imagine the bees buzzing with excitement, while pollinating flowers… All creatures, including sensitive humans, become more sensual at springtime. The whole atmosphere is a celebration of sex and procreation.
Another great visual of the second chakra is the image of a woman giving birth, while her husband escorts her in this journey with eyes wide open in wonderment. No one understands this miracle of life: how is it that from a sperm cell fusing with an ovum a whole human personality comes into being, and we, as mother and father, get to become the vehicles of this great mystery of life? The most basic bliss that is being experienced at the moment of birth is found in the feeling of oneness with the forces of creation; it is a peak of creativity, and our second chakra rejoices.
Life is full of possible experiences. In fact, from the second chakra it is viewed almost as a Dionysian feast. There is a vast spectrum of possible joys and pleasures, which one may regard as ‘the juices of life.’ We are equipped with senses that allow us extreme experiences, and naturally, when the second chakra is healthy, it wants to take them all in.
Indeed, when we were small children, and maybe even in our later youth, it all seemed quite fun. Life seemed like a great playground and life’s possible experiences like magical gateways. Our joy of living was based on this sense of having many open possibilities and the feeling that we were allowed to experiment. This is what we often refer to as innocence—and, correspondingly, as the loss of innocence.
Slowly but surely three different blockages have restrained and narrowed our joy of experimentation. The first one was morality; our parents and other authorities disproved of our different experiences—representing the imbalanced ‘higher,’ ‘social’ chakras, which suppress the natural energies of the lower second chakra. While we played innocently with the different energies of life, they showed up with sour and angry faces, calling us a ‘bad boy’ or a ‘bad girl,’ and telling us, often quite violently, that what we did was actually wrong and forbidden. There wasn’t much logic in it for us, it seemed more like the whim of adults rather than rationalized thinking. Perhaps it was us playing with everybody’s shoes in the house, or touching our genitals while becoming overwhelmed by the simple flow of pleasure; whatever it was, we had to succumb to these whims of strange morality and stop doing what we were doing, or learn how to do forbidden things secretly and in the dark.
Morality follows us like a shadow during puberty and onwards. There are numerous should’s and shouldn’t’s that escort us wherever we go, limiting our possibilities and freedom of experimentation. Basically, to be a ‘good person’ means to fit to social custom, so we do our best to be considered ‘good’—the problem is that, too often, being good equals minimizing our life force, and therefore, limiting our joy of life. We teach ourselves to repress our passions, since too much joy, being overflowing with energy and total experience of the senses, is simply ‘inappropriate.’ Eventually, we become our worst persecutors; we are divided into two persons: the sinner and the oppressor, and we begin to hide facts even from ourselves.
Morality in religions and social structures is all about conforming oneself to a given order. Ever since the biblical story of Genesis, in which the eating the forbidden fruit expelled human beings from the garden of Eden, and in which self-awareness implied that one would become ashamed and guilty of one’s naked body, we have been given an almost endless set of moral rules that makes us afraid of our own body, the life force and the different energies that are swirling inside of us.
One may very well regard the second chakra as the seat of the suppressed libido. Religions and the designers of social structures have never been fond of the idea of sexual freedom. We have been taught that there are many low impulses that we should deny and transcend for the sake of holy marital security and stability. Religions have regarded sexuality as low, ungodly and evil—in short, immoral. To be more accurate, the problem was never procreative sexual intercourse in itself, but rather, sexual pleasure. The thing that most troubles us, consciously or unconsciously, is that our sexual urges are inherently pure and innocent. The sexual drive is extremely blind to ‘good’ and ‘bad’; it simply moves toward the object of attraction in order to merge. As young boys and girls, we were intimidated by adults who warned us to avoid graphic sexual scenes in the cinema, to avoid exposing our bodies, to direct our passion only toward heterosexual attraction, to shy away from ‘strange’ combinations of partners, to fear the ‘beastly’ elements of sexual desire, to avoid too much ecstasy and overflowing orgasmic sensation, to be ashamed of masturbation and to aspire to a ‘Catholic’ holy marriage. Indeed, sexual fears and suppressed de¬sires play a major role in the second chakra’s psychological spectrum.
The second blockage that hinders the balanced functioning of this chakra is traumatic experiences and irrational conclusions that resulted from our joyful experimentation. Every child is taught to avoid touching flames, and that makes perfect sense, but what about the many burns caused by playing with the metaphorical fire of life? Fire, as the metaphor for passion and desire, is exciting and powerful, but it can also scorch and leave marks of great distrust and disappointment. A young girl can joyfully play with a partner and try out different sexual sensations, but then her uncontrolled partner might become harsh and even rape her; a young boy can try to penetrate a partner but prematurely ejaculate or, embarrassingly, have no erection at all; a teen boy might experience pure pleasure with another boy, resulting in a total failure to fit his sexual pleasure into his family’s set of moral values; someone can have a terrible experience with psychedelic drugs or jump happily from a cliff only to break his head and almost die. Many such experiences may lead us to the sad conclusion that whenever we venture into bold and daring, or even playful territories of life, it might end in a great danger or even death (or in an earth-shaking discovery about our true nature). So, our brain and the imbalanced second chakra will warn us from then on not to take too many risks and to ‘settle down.’
Even the simple experience of falling in love may end up as a traumatizing experience—we give in to a complete ecstasy (to the ‘butterflies’ in our belly), but then we are ‘shocked’ when we are rejected. We then promise ourselves that we will never fall in love again and that we will avoid the pain of risking and losing so much. We reject the fact that, as far as pleasure is concerned, pain is on the other side of the coin and always will be.
There is yet another important sub-category for this blockage: in very unfortunate events, such as sexual abuse, our blockage is not the result of our own hunt for pleasure, but rather the result of a forceful invasion. These events—including rape, pedophilia, incest, sexual humiliation and so on—will leave traumatic imprints on the second chakra, forever connecting our most powerful organs of pleasure to pain or even punishment.
The third kind of blockage is not inflicted on us by others, but is rather a result of our brain’s poor functioning. Since the central function of the brain is to maintain the organism’s safety and survival, both physically and psychologically, it accumu¬lates two major types of memory connections: the first type links certain situations with possible danger—leading to the resistance and avoidance of pain, which is the cause of suffering in the first chakra—and the second type connects certain situa¬tions with possible pleasure—leading to attachment to convenience and pleasure, which is the cause of desire in the second chakra. This is the reason why every moment of joy and pleasure is carefully registered in the brain, and turned into an ob¬ject of desire. Desire simply means: wanting to repeat an enjoyable experience over and over again, or wanting to further enhance the same experience. When the brain gets used to an experience, it is no longer satisfied by repetition itself, so it strives to increase the sensory stimulants. (On the physical level, while the intensity of the stimulus increases, the brain regulates and diminishes the number of receptors, and thus we need more of the stimulus in order to achieve the same level of joy.)
Naturally, this effort to perpetuate every moment of joy and pleasure gives birth to many kinds of addictions and obsessions. For the imbalanced second chakra, there is a great confusion between pleasure and happiness, so it is always on the hunt for every possible way to increase pleasure—but the disaster of self-destruction awaits it on the other end.
Because of these three major blockages—morality, traumatic experiences and the workings of desire—we might become disconnected from our natural life force, which also means that we become disconnected from the celebration of life and nature. Yet, there are other factors that may cause a state of imbalance, such as be¬ing born with a low jing or feeling disconnected from the creative power. This later factor might include various blockages, from infertility to the famous ‘writer’s block.’ Whenever we feel that we cannot be a part of the creative flow and whenever our creative urges feel ‘stuck’ within our belly, we are at risk of becoming depressed.
There are several ways to participate in creation in life. The most common way is, of course, sex and procreation—this is the physical level of creation. The second common form of participation is through the various arts and any kind of creative ideas—this is the emotional and mental level of creation. Ingrained in this creative impulse, there is a much subtler impulse, which one may regard as ‘the merging impulse.’ This is a spiritual urge to merge with life and to lose all barriers in an ecstatic and cosmic ‘orgasm.’ The tantric teachings, for example, are about transmuting the sexual drive into a spiritual merging. We are being urged by this impulse to move from physical, emotional and mental unison with nature and life, to the final, subtlest form of lovemaking. This is, in platonic terminology, the workings of the ‘lower Eros’ and the ‘higher Eros.’ When we cannot ‘give birth’ to anything—be it a baby, an idea or a spiritual longing—our second chakra doesn’t fulfill its most basic drive.