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Chakras, sometimes translated as 'cakras' or 'channel-wheels', are energy centers associated with particular parts of the body, and considered an interface between the physical and non-physical levels of human and subtle anatomy. The chakra mappings that are most commonly taught in the West are usually of Hindu origin, deriving from a branch of yoga called 'kundalini' yoga. In terms of location, another key difference between Hindu yogic and Tibetan Buddhist chakra mappings is that in those systems with 7 chakras, the 3rd chakra in the former is usually presented as in the solar plexus, while in the Tibetan systems it is very often located lower, just below the navel.
In all chakra systems, the chakras are said to be connected through 'nadis' or energy channels, and these two also differ between systems. Another key difference between Hindu kundalini yoga traditions and Tibetan Buddhist meditative traditions is that in the former, the emphasis is on moving the kundalini or life force energy up from the root chakra into the crown. Within Tibetan Buddhism, all of these meditation techniques are passed directly between teacher and student, and rarely taught outside of a formal teaching setting.
Note that this article is also included in my e-book Introduction to Buddhism and Buddhist Meditation. This cabinet comes with a brush-signed Certificate of Authenticity, the iconography and meditational aid, map of the area with short history, and pictures of the area, people, their homes and essays about their lifestyle and economy. The red and 24kt gold zigzag kyungbur adorning the frame is the transition of passion into compassion and the resultant Buddha like purity of actions and thoughts. The two drawers below the tigers have an Ashoka blossom set in the Mahamudra mists with rainbows and rainbowed mountains on the flanks.
Many different cultures and spiritual or energy-healing traditions have developed some type of chakra mapping, including Native American, South American, Islamic Sufi, Hindu yogic and Buddhist meditative traditions. However, many lineages of Tibetan Buddhism also utilize chakra mappings, often referred to as 'channel-wheels' in translations of Tibetan texts. The dominant Hindu-based kundalini yoga chakra mapping contains 7 main chakras, located at (1) the base of the spine (root), (2) lower pelvis, (3) solar plexus, (4) center of chest (heart), (5) throat, (6) forehead (third eye), and (7) crown of the head. While this is also emphasized in certain Tibetan Buddhist traditions, there are also many other techniques that emphasize moving the energy down from the crown to the heart, or centered on moving the awareness through one particular chakra into the associated loka. Therefore, there are few books written about them that someone with no prior background could easily understand.

While these mappings share many traits with kundalini yoga chakra systems, and probably have common historical roots, there are also several key differences between the two types of systems. These colors, symbols, and mantras are the main ways to work with the chakras meditatively in the Tibetan Buddhist traditions.
It is one of the earliest of this style of cabinets to survive the wholesale destruction of Tibetan Buddhist art. The two drawers below the doors have an old brass coin & leather strap as the pull. The diagram to the left shows one 10-chakra system, corresponding to a system described by Geshe Kelsang Gyatso, of the Gelug school of Tibetan Buddhism , in his book Clear Light of Bliss: The Practice of Mahamudra in Vajrayana Buddhism. Through different visualization techniques utilizing these tools, the 'winds' or subtle energies that move between these chakras are triggered and directed. The panels with the lotus and the Double Dorje in gold next to the two doors & the lotus blossom next to the drawers are fixed. Compassion refers to action that is exactly consonant with whatever is occurring and that is not self-referential.
Of particular note on this cabinet is the leopard skin under the Cintamani at the bottom of the doors. The slow process of making yogurt is an appropriate metaphor for spiritual transformation because it is by consistently applying the principles of Buddhism that negative behavior (karma) is gradually overcome & the clear nature of the mind is revealed.
The generally acknowledged meaning of the lotus flower is purity of mind or divine creation. The major 7 chakras are each shown in 'lotus' form, with varying colors and number of petals on each one, while the minor chakras in this system are simply shown as black dots. Through these shifts different meditative doorways are opened to states or planes, or 'lokas', connected to enlightenment.
Access to the space behind the tall panel is through the front doors, & access to the space behind the red lotus on the yellow background s is accomplished by removing the drawer, so this space would make a good secret hiding place.
This leopard completes the deity arrangement: the tiger symbolizes the wrathful male deities and leopard skins by their female consorts.

Here the symbolism represents freedom from anger, the tiger skin symbolizing the transmutation of 'vajra-anger' of the wrathful deity. The blue, red and green cliffs represent the unmoving nature of the mind when enlightenment has been attained. The combinations of colors used represent the elements & thoughts that come into play. Compassion refers to action that is exactly consonant with whatever is occurring and that is not self-referential.
Tibetan Buddhist systems that posit 9 or less chakras are all subsets of this 10-chakra system in some way, with varying emphasis on the importance of different ones. This cabinet is very well done, the kyungbur is thinner than most and the hand was quite steady that applied it.
This male-female arrangement is complimented by the yin-yan on the tiger's head in black and white. The 3 stages of the lotus, bud, utpala (mid-blossom) and the full blossoming throne represent the past present and future respectively. The yin-yang, shaped like spiraled tear drops, constitute a circle that is divided in two by an S. The dot, not represented on this tiger, in the middle of each half symbolizes that each element at its highest point carries within itself the seed of its polar opposite, that it can change and cross over into the other. The self is now permeating space with luminescence transparency, with nothing solid or any sharp lines of separation.
The joining of the two created from the One is the source of creative energy in the Universe.

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