The concepts closest to the chakras in the west were first developed by Plato. This Greek philosopher lived in the fifth century B.C.E. and taught that our psyche consists of: epithymia or desire, thymos or righteousness, and nous or logos or the ability to contemplate the divine. He relegated these three levels of the psyche to three types of people:
- Level :Epithymia desire | Thymo righteousness | Tous or logos contemplate the divine
- Type : The masses | Warrior class | Philosopher class
- Location : Stomach | Whest | Head
The later Neoplatonist expanded to some extent on these levels of the psyche. They developed symbols for these levels somewhat similar to those developed for the chakras. For example, nous was referred to as the “flower” and even more specific, sometimes as the “flower of the whole soul”, much like the thousand-pedaled lotus symbolizes the crown chakra. The later Neoplatonist understood that by unifying the mind, we could contact the divine.
It is also interesting to note that the Rig Veda, considered to be the origin of the Chakra System, describes how the four (rather than three) basic types of people “sprang” from the four parts of the body of Purusa, the Cosmic Person. Those four parts of the body were: the mouth, from which sprang the Brahman caste; the arms, from which sprang the Rajanaya (Ksatriya) caste; the thighs, from which sprang the Vaisya caste; and the feet, from which sprang the Sudra caste.
Only one fourth of Purusa’s body remained on earth; three quarters went to heaven and became immortal. The moon was born from Pursua’s mind, the sun was born from the eye; from the mouth both Indra and Agni (fire) came; and from the breath Vayu (wind) was born. Air arose from the navel and heaven from the head. From the feet of Pursua came the earth and the four directions from the ear.