Unblocking the Sacral Chakra: Reconciling Pragmatism and Passion in the Pursuit of Personal Fulfilment

The Hidden Fires of the Flame Nebula, Cambridge Astronomical Survey Unit

“Tell me, what is it you plan to do

With your one wild and precious life?”

The Summer Day, Mary Oliver


The age-old debate of passion vs pragmatism takes on new meaning when viewed through the lens of the sacral chakra, the energy center associated with creativity, emotion, and desire. When this chakra is blocked, we may find ourselves trapped in a cycle of unfulfilling choices, constantly sacrificing our passions for the sake of practicality. In the pursuit of personal fulfillment, unblocking the sacral chakra becomes a crucial step towards reconciling the seemingly opposing forces of passion and pragmatism. This essay explores the paradoxical tension between following our hearts and navigating the demands of the real world, drawing upon esoteric wisdom, existentialist philosophy, and the challenges of modern life to offer insights on cultivating a life that honours both our deepest desires and our practical needs.

Pragmatism – When Appearance Matters More Than the Actual

Niccolò Machiavelli was an Italian political philosopher and statesman who lived during the Renaissance period. In his most famous work, “The Prince,” Machiavelli offers pragmatic advice to rulers on how to maintain power and stability in their territories. His counsel is often interpreted as a call for leaders to prioritize appearance over actuality, suggesting that seeming virtuous is more advantageous than being virtuous.

To fully understand Machiavelli’s emphasis on pragmatism, it’s important to consider the historical context in which he was writing. During the Renaissance, Italy was divided into several city-states that were frequently at odds with each other. Political instability was rampant, and rulers often faced threats from both internal and external forces. In this volatile environment, Machiavelli believed that a ruler’s primary objective should be to maintain power and stability, even if that meant compromising on moral principles.

Machiavelli’s advice to rulers exemplifies a pragmatic approach to leadership, where the ends justify the means, and where appearance is more important than the actual. He writes, “It is not essential, then, that a Prince should have all the good qualities which I have enumerated above, but it is most essential that he should seem to have them.” Machiavelli’s emphasis on pragmatism over authenticity can be seen as a response to the political realities of his time, where the survival of the state often depended on the ruler’s ability to navigate complex political dynamics and maintain a facade of power and control.

However, have we overextended his advice? In contemporary society, we see Machiavellian principles reflected in various facets of our daily lives. For instance, the modern professional landscape often rewards those who adopt a Machiavellian approach. The business executive who presents a curated image of success and confidence, even when facing internal doubts and challenges, may ascend the corporate ladder more swiftly than the one who wears his heart on his sleeve. Despite its prevalence, in our professional and social spheres, the emphasis on pragmatism can lead to the suppression of our true nature and the concealment of our passions, even to ourselves, resulting in energetic imbalances and a sense of disconnection from our authentic selves. This tension between pragmatism and passion is a complex issue that requires a nuanced approach, one that acknowledges the importance of both practical concerns and personal desires. By exploring the potential consequences of excessive pragmatism and examining alternative perspectives, we can gain a deeper understanding of how to cultivate a life that is both outwardly effective and inwardly authentic.

Esoteric Explanation

The tendency towards pragmatism and the concealment of one’s true nature can be seen as the result of lessons learned over many lifetimes. The soul may have experienced lives where a more forceful, aggressive approach was used to overcome obstacles and achieve goals. However, over time, the soul learns that this approach is not always the most effective or harmonious.

In response, the soul adopts a more pragmatic strategy, learning to control and even hide its passions and desires to navigate the challenges of each lifetime more efficiently. This can lead to energetic blockage, particularly in the second chakra, which is associated with passion, desire, and creativity.

In Tantric and Yogic traditions, the chakras are seen as energy centres located along the spine, each associated with specific physical, emotional, and spiritual qualities. The second chakra, Svadhishthana, is particularly relevant to the discussion of pragmatism and the suppression of passion. As the centre of creativity, sexuality, and emotional fluidity, this chakra is essential for the free expression of one’s desires and the ability to flow with the changes of life. When it functions fully, it feels like what Rainer Maria Rilke wrote,

 Will transformation. Oh be inspired for the flame 

in which a Thing disappears and bursts 

Into something else

Sonnet to Orpheus, Part Two, XII, translation by Stephen Mitchell

Using the analogy of a car, the Muladhara, or Root Chakra, is like the fuel tank, providing basic energy and resources. The Svadhishthana, or Sacral Chakra, is like the engine, transforming the basic energy into creative, sexual, and emotional energy. The upper chakras, particularly the Vishuddha, or Throat Chakra, can be likened to the steering wheel and controls, directing and expressing the energy generated by the Sacral Chakra.

Imagine a high-ranking executive in a multinational corporation who has climbed the corporate ladder through hard work, strategic thinking, and a strong drive for success. He is known for his analytical skills, leadership abilities, and capacity to make tough decisions in high-pressure situations. These qualities are primarily associated with the upper chakras, such as the third eye (Ajna) and the crown (Sahasrara).

However, despite his professional achievements and financial success, this executive feels a deep sense of dissatisfaction and emptiness in his personal life. He struggles to form meaningful relationships, both romantic and platonic, and often feels emotionally disconnected from others. This emotional disconnection can be traced back to an imbalance or blockage in his second chakra (Svadhishthana), which is associated with emotional fluidity, intimacy, and creativity.

The blockage in his second chakra may manifest as a fear of vulnerability, difficulty expressing emotions, or an inability to find joy and fulfillment outside of his work. He may have learned to prioritize his professional identity and status over his emotional needs, possibly due to societal expectations or a corporate culture that values achievement and competition over personal well-being.

As a result, he may experience physical symptoms, or a general sense of stagnation and lack of vitality. These symptoms can be seen as indicators of an energetic imbalance in the second chakra, which can hinder his overall happiness and ability to form deep, meaningful connections with others.

The Katha Upanishad states, “When the five senses and the mind are still, and the reasoning intellect rests in silence, then begins the highest path.” This suggests that true spiritual growth requires a balancing and transcendence of the lower chakras, including the second chakra. By allowing the energy of the second chakra to flow freely, in harmony with the other chakras, one can begin to access higher states of consciousness and spiritual realization.

Cultural and Philosophical Explanation

Even if we do not look in the direction of esoteric studies, the consequences of the tendency towards pragmatism and the suppression of passion can be seen and explained from a cultural and philosophical perspective, as the result of accumulated societal influences and conditioning. Over generations, cultures develop strategies for success and survival that emphasize practicality, efficiency, and the avoidance of unnecessary conflict. These values are passed down through socialization, shaping the way individuals perceive and interact with the world.

From an existentialist perspective, the excessive focus on pragmatism and the suppression of passion can be seen as a form of inauthenticity or “bad faith.” Jean-Paul Sartre, in his book “Being and Nothingness,” argues that individuals have a fundamental freedom to choose their own values and actions, and that to deny this freedom is to live in bad faith.

Sartre provides an example of a waiter who is “playing at being a waiter,” suggesting that the waiter is acting in bad faith by conforming to the expected behavior and suppressing his own individuality and desires. He writes:

“Let us consider this waiter in the café. His movement is quick and forward, a little too precise, a little too rapid. He comes toward the patrons with a step a little too quick. He bends forward a little too eagerly; his voice, his eyes express an interest a little too solicitous for the order of the customer. Finally there he returns, trying to imitate in his walk the inflexible stiffness of some kind of automaton while carrying his tray with the recklessness of a tight-rope-walker by putting it in a perpetually unstable, perpetually broken equilibrium which he perpetually re-establishes by a light movement of the arm and hand. All his behavior seems to us a game. He applies himself to chaining his movements as if they were mechanisms, the one regulating the other; his gestures and even his voice seem to be mechanisms; he gives himself the quickness and pitiless rapidity of things. He is playing, he is amusing himself. But what is he playing? We need not watch long before we can explain it: he is playing at being a waiter in a café.”

Being and Nothingness, Jean-Paul Sartre

In this example, the waiter is suppressing his individuality and passions to conform to the expected role of a waiter. By doing so, he is acting in bad faith and living inauthentically, just as the highly capable individual in the previous example will be “playing” at being his professional identity unless he reconnects with his passion..

Integration of a Paradox

Between the Machiavellian emphasis on outward appearances and the existentialist call for authenticity lies a paradox. Machiavelli’s treatise advocates for a form of political expediency that prioritizes the perception of virtue over genuine virtuous action. This pragmatic approach to power and social dynamics, while seemingly at odds with personal authenticity, reflects the complex nature of societal roles and expectations. Where Machiavelli might argue for the necessity of such a facade to maintain power, existentialism posits that the cost of such inauthenticity is the alienation from one’s own essence and potential for genuine freedom.

In addition, if we delve deeper, beyond the political sphere and into the realm of personal well-being, we encounter the ancient wisdom of chakra theory that speaks to the balance of our inner energies. When we stifle our true passions and desires to maintain a pragmatic facade—akin to the Machiavellian principle of appearance over essence—we risk creating an imbalance in the vital energy centre in charge of creativity. Such an imbalance can lead to a sense of disconnection from our true selves and the joy that comes from living a life infused with our authentic passions.

The path to reconciling these seemingly disparate philosophies lies in recognizing that both practical concerns and personal passions have their place in the human experience. 

The journey to living a balanced life begins with conscious awareness. For many, the discovery of one’s true passions is obscured by layers of societal expectations, habitual conformity, and self-imposed limitations. Becoming consciously aware requires us to peel back these layers, question the status quo, and engage in deep self-reflection. It involves turning inwards to listen for our deepest desires that often get drowned out by the cacophony of daily life. It is a deeply individual journey of discovery.

Once we become aware of our true passions, we are then faced with the responsibility to respond to this new understanding, the necessity of deliberate choice. This is the point at which awareness transforms into action. Deliberate choice means consciously deciding how to integrate our newfound passions into our daily lives, rather than allowing them to remain as fleeting thoughts or unrealized potentials. It requires the courage to prioritize these aspects of our lives, to make space for them alongside our responsibilities, and sometimes even to redefine our identities and paths in light of our authentic selves. As Rumi wrote, “Let yourself be silently drawn by the strange pull of what you really love. It will not lead you astray.” 

The act of choosing is often fraught with challenges and uncertainties. Fear of judgment, failure, or disruption to our current way of life may hold us back. Deliberate choice is about confronting these fears and opting to live in a way that aligns with our passions, even if it means stepping out of our comfort zones or re-evaluating our relationships and careers.

Conscious awareness and deliberate choice are ongoing processes. As we evolve and our circumstances change, so too might our passions and the choices we need to make. This dynamic interplay is the essence of living a life that honours both the external demands of our roles and the internal call of our existential freedom.

When our actions and choices are in harmony with who we are at our core, this harmony allows us to tap into a reservoir of energy, creativity, and vitality that is the hallmark of a life lived with passion and purpose. The result is not only personal fulfilment but also the ability to contribute to the world in a meaningful and impactful way. Consider an executive truly passionate about the potential of her company to transform the world, yet fully aware that in high-stake negotiations, revealing the extent of her passions could be a disadvantage, potentially making her position exploitable. She can choose to adopt a Machiavellian approach to emphasise mutual benefits and business aspects, and thus her existential authenticity is not compromised by her negotiation tactics, but rather, she chooses which aspect of her authentic self to present in a given situation, acknowledging her freedom and obligation of making a choice.

By striving for this balance, we acknowledge the importance of societal pragmatism but also honour the profound human need for authenticity and passion. This balance is not static but rather a dynamic equilibrium that we must continually negotiate as we traverse the various stages and challenges of life. Thus, the integration of these perspectives guides us to a more nuanced understanding of how to live with strategic awareness of the external world while remaining faithful to our internal world, cultivating a life that resonates with our deepest truths and vibrant passions.