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Sins of the Spirit, Blessings of the Flesh by Matthew Fox

Fox, a Christian theologian, has issued one of the most lucid treatments of the chakra system to date.

By Phil Catalfo

Fox then proceeds through the six remaining chakras, detailing the "sins" that characterize their misdirection and suggesting "sacraments" that can restore our vibrant awareness of them and their proper functions. In the second, or sexual, chakra, misdirected love leads to control, addiction, and the kind of lust that objectifies the other; the sacrament is "reconciliation"—of "matter and spirit, sexuality and mysticism, self and other." The sins of the third chakra, in the solar plexus, stem from anger, or rather, "the fruits of neglecting our anger": violence, victimhood and "pursuit of unhealthy power"; the sacrament is "confirmation"—a rite of passage "meant to prepare one for working in the world as an adult...and for becoming a spiritual warrior." Misdirection of the fourth (or "heart") chakra means self-pity, betrayal, hatred, and fascism, which Fox calls "an institutionalizing of fear and hatred"; as an antidote Fox prescribes the sacrament of the Eucharist, "heart food from the cosmos."

When the fifth (throat) chakra is misdirected, Fox says, "gluttony and consumerism" result; the healing sacrament is "priesthood": "The priest is meant to [be] a prophet who interferes with whatever is blocking compassion in the community." Misdirection in the sixth ("third eye") chakra leads to rationalism, reductionism, "knowledge at the expense of wisdom," and "pessimism born of despair"; to heal it we need the sacrament of marriage, the union of intellect and intuition...a new realization of the in-depth illumination of things." In the seventh ("crown") chakra, misdirected love causes envy and resentment, and the healing comes from "anointing of the sick": "To heal envy would be to put a balm on much that poisons human hearts and relationships."

In the end we learn that by opening our chakras and thereby developing the inner dimensions we have allowed to wither, we can reclaim the "blessings of the flesh" and participate in the joyous choir of life.

Because this book is an exploration of issues that are moral, and not technical or physical in nature, readers interested in deepening their knowledge of the chakra system may want to consult other works linked more directly to ancient texts. But for those interested in the implications of a working knowledge of the chakras, and especially in an understanding relevant to the spiritual issues that go with inhabiting a body in today's world, it's hard to imagine a finer rendering than the one Matthew Fox offers here.

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