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As we have seen, the Tantras view the human being as a microcosm containing all the energies of the cosmos. The gross body is considered to be like the universe: the spinal column is like Mount Meru, the axial mountain; the four limbs are like the four continents; and the eyes are like the Sun (right eye) and the Moon (left. eye).

At the subtle level, the body contains certain channels, the nddfs (tsa) and energy centers, the cakras (khorlo). A subtle air known as the prdna (lung), circulates in the nadis, acting as the vehicle for various energies. These in their turn are located in the cakras in the form of drops, the bmdu (thikle). All of these are connected with the cosmic symbolism of the elements of the planets.

In Tibetan yoga, there are said to be three mam channels. The first is the central channel or Tsa Uma, which stretches from a point below the nave! to the crown of the head. Connected with the element of space, its function is to ensure that the vital energy descends into the body and to connect the different cakras. This is also known as "Drachen," the planet Rahula. The right channel or Roma Tsa, is red and is associated with the Hre element and masculine energies. It reaches from the base of tie right nostril to the root of the sexual organ, passing up throug t rhe cranium and then down through the vertical axis, llus is a m> known as Nyiina, the Sun. The left channel, Kyangrrw Isa,

- d with the water element and feminine energies. Its lo-^'t^iUr to that of the right channel except that it is on Cat!<left side of the body. It is also known as Dawa, the Moon, theT;c £ve cakras are arranged along the central channel, The "hundred-thousand petaled" Dab Tong cakra at the crown of the head includes the two head cakras of the fndian system, Sahasrara and Ajna, which are located between the eyebrows. These are also known to the Kalacakra system. This cakra is connected with the element of Space, [n the system of the five Buddha families, it is linked with Vairocana and the all-pervad-,ng wisdom of the Buddha family. The throat cakra, connected with the element of Air and the energy of speech, corresponds to the Buddha Amitsbha of the Padma family and discriminating wisdom. The heart cakra is associated with the element of Fire, the Buddha Aksobhya of the Vajra family, and the mirrorlike wisdom. The navel cakra is connected with the Water element, the Buddha Ratnasambhava of the Ratna famtlv, and the wisdom of equality. The cakra of the secret place comprises the two cakras Svadhistana and Muladhara of the Indian tradition. It is connected with the Earth element and the karma family, the Buddha Amoghasiddhi and the alt-accomplishing wisdom,

The arrangement of the energies in the cakras corresponds with the symbolism of stupas or chorten, reliquary mounds representing the mind of the buddhas. The object of yoga is to purify our elements and internal energies, which uoimally operate « a gross level as negative emotions and the aggregates of the ego. Once this transmutation is complete, we arc able to realize our awakened state, the Buddha nature.

In certain Tannic practices of Tsongkhapa and Padnuvajra, the twelve petals of the heart cjkra are identified with the internal zodiac. Prana circulates inside this cakra m xcoid with the ®y and night movements of the signs of the „ oduc in the sky.

I he cosmic turtle, symboli/in^, the umveue, is sometimes un-«stood also as representing ihe energy silucture of the human "dy. Thus the axis running ttvm its head to its. tail is both

Unt and the centra! ch.mn,-l ! h cc \.n,a>> cine^c t.om

The Buddhist universe

its head: one, at the crown and in the body axis, denotes the bius central channel; the second, at the right and red in color, represents the right channel; and the third, white, represents the left .channel or Xyangma, Another vajra emerges from the tad. Snakes entwined around this vajra and those of the lateral head vajras symbolize the subtle energies of the body.

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