The seven chakras, which are also padmas or lotuses, are the occult centers of psychic energy in the human body. They are not really a part of the human body, but rather correspond to certain parts of it, thus we call them occult. The chakras are secret centers whch generate prana and are are a part of what is termed the subtile or ethereal body. As Lotuses they exist upside down until they awakened Kundalini strinkes upon them and makes them right side up. In this they are slain and transformed, purified and consecrated. It is an essential object of the training of the Magick practitioner to awaken the kundalini, thereby accomplish this inner work with the chakras. Any proper system of initiation must necessarily awaken the conscious experience of these centers at some level, as they represent the true initiation of the spirit/soul.
What is this quote from? It strikes me as quite familiar.
I would venture to include that, as demonstrated in the variations by which they are visualized, the chakras are not necessarily fixed and specific necessity but intensely useful visualization techniques utilized in the understanding of the flow of energy in and around us. They essentially translate these specific flows to us in a manner that lets us very clearly understand the nature of this energy - it is for this reason that they endure within spiritual practice, and have proliferated not just their Hindu origins but a sweeping range of Western and Asian traditions as well. Some may argue that in seeing them astrally, or otherwise achieving results through direct work with them, the Chakras are absolute - not manifest visualization but un-malleable truth.
I would counter that all experiences of the spirit are represented to us in the manner that provides for us the clearest understanding possible, and that perception shall always vary between individuals to some extent. If not exploring chakras, then from what would we call this energy? An aura, perhaps. Or a halo. Visualize lotus flowers, energy vortexes, or anything at all, fluffy bunnies, rainbows, stars, moons, or anything at all that may work for you. Visualize them externally, outside of yourself. Now attribute to them the same qualities and impact as each of the seven chakras, and your meditations and energy techniques will have the same result.
Insofar as the kundalini, there is a great deal of interpretation and literature upon this matter. Many see it as helping one to ground, or otherwise being the the awakening of the self. Thus as kundalini rises, as traditionally described, it ascends through the chakra... bringing the self into awareness of these energies associated with each chakra in turn, as the above text describes as the kundalini interacting with the lotus flowers, and turning them right side up.
This, in my opinion, is merely a metaphor for awareness. As we grow aware, the chakras open and expand on their own. This can be achieved through exploration of individual chakras... or the energies associated with them, or through any number of other methods of magical exploration that bring us into a heightened state of awareness.
Thus, as we become aware of the energies of the universe and can sense them, one might say that our third eye begins to open... though before we may not have been aware at all of the chakras, or even the concept of a "third eye chakra."
This then, renders the chakras far less necessary to magical practice than modern new age practice would have us believe. Rather than becoming fully absorbed in the concept of these energy vortexes, one should merely seek awareness of all that is within and without, and through this the wisdom that is achieved.
Not to say that the chakras are not a fine tool to this end.
There are nerves and nerve clusters throughout the human body. Those who explored and conceived of chakras were aware of this, and it is certainly part of what makes the visualization of the energy points that much more an effective tool.
I wholeheartedly agree with Awake. They are indeed tools, and efficient at that. Possibly a resonant energy from thousands of years of spiritual practice based around them is why the are so efficient? This could be, and i believe is true for many things if not all things.