Monday, April 25, 2016

Causal Body Control

Listening to a great musician perform (in this case Yefim Bronfman playing Prokofiev's Second Piano Concerto) one feels in the presence of a special act. It's not simply that this man has a stupendous technique (and gets his fingers around so many notes so quickly), amazing memory (he remembers the whole piece), and expressive power (he takes music someone else has written and put himself into it, play it as if it's his own.)

It has something to do with Kundalini, and how Kundalini adjusts the brain and nervous system from out of the subtle body, and takes consciousness beyond the subtle body to the causal body. Performing at such intensity and with such wholeness of being, the slightest inner movement of fear, nervousness, or self-doubt would bring the performance crashing down. To be in a state of consciousness that's beyond fear, hesitation or self-doubt, the brain must be functioning at a higher than normal frequency, a frequency at which the neural structures that register self are suspended.
(The minute self is allowed in it would surely say — God, what note's next? Where am I? I can't do it.)

 So the frequency must be high and clear of stumbling blocks. This is in fact consciousness of the causal body. In a way, it's a state without past or future (Help, the last chord was wrong. I'm scared of the big cadenza coming up) and yet, miraculously, the whole of the twenty-nine-minute-long piece is stored there. This means that the music, and Yefim Bronfman's way into it, is stored somewhere else. Outside the body, outside the everyday brain in a high frequency state, like some sort of ubiquitous cloud storage, that works more instantaneously than doubt, fear, dread etc. Something is clearly going on with the frequency of the electrical energy in the brain, which runs at around 49,000,000 cycles per second (about half that of light). When blockages are cleared by Kundalini, the frequency at which we are conscious soars.

This clearing and heightening can spread through every action in life. Walking through the market, buying holiday clothes for Thai New Year can be like a performance of Prokofiev's Second Piano Concerto. In the market, the problem is desire. Delicious smells from the charcoal burners. Some Thai guy singing like Van Morrison. Pretty girls. The blocked-up brain says: I want to get some of that chicken down my throat. I wish I could sing like a Thai van Morrison. That's fifty women I've just seen, that I want to sleep with but never will. When causal body consciousness is active, I smell something other than delectable chicken, I hear something other than an enviable voice, I see something other than a possessable body. What this something other is cannot be put into words, but it's there and it's real, requiring a higher speed or frequency of consciousness to stay with it. There's a wonderful lightness and freedom. The senses become more, not less, acute.

The other area where staying with the causal body is beneficial is in sexual relationships and during the act of love. JJ Semple writes in depth about this in Seminal Retention And Higher Consciousness. There are various techniques for prolonging the sexual act and suspending ejaculation, but the sine qua non is control from the causal body, and staying with the causal body. It's this meditative, and transcendence-directed action that lifts self-control above a mere struggle with oneself, promotes intimate dialogue and leads to a deeper immersion in the other.

Saturday, April 16, 2016

Kundalini And The True Self

"We spend the first half of our life becoming 'special.' That’s part of the journey, part of our development. But in the second half of life, or when our journey of spiritual growth becomes apparent, being 'nobody special' allows us to become all that we can be. It’s the ingredient and paradox that gets our sense of self, alone and in relationship with others, out of the way so our 'True Self' can emerge. And it is a relief in every present moment to give up roles of who we think we are and instead just be."
~Article from Kundalini RisingBarbara Harris Whitfield

In my reading during the past few weeks from my “kundalini” references, I've discovered many articles and postings relating to the “ego,” the danger of ego inflation during the kundalini process, and the power of the healing that comes through an observing ego practice. Since the kundalini transformation process, from my experience, is a renovation of our subtle body system of which the ego is a part, this is certainly a subject of which we should be familiar.

It seems to me that key to the avoidance of ego inflation is the virtue of humility, a quality that is emphasized in all the major religions of the world. I’ve recently read that humility means: “Not” thinking less of yourself, but thinking of yourself less. This definition speaks so vividly of the purpose for daily meditation.

Meditation practice itself is a discipline of setting aside or passing by the “ego self” with all of its constructs, boundaries, defence mechanisms, and conditioning from past experiences, and entering the deep silence that exists at the centre of our being. Through my years of meditation, I've found this discipline to be foundational to my time of prayer and spiritual life. Barbara Whitfield describes the twelve characteristics of humility as: being open, an attitude of “don’t know," curiosity, innocence, a childlike nature, spontaneity, spirituality, tolerance, patience, integrity, detachment, and letting go, all of which lead to inner peace, a sense of gratitude and being “nobody special.” All of these words speak of the experience of meditation with its ecstatic surrender to the deep inner silence that exists at the centre of our being, a centre which many, including Barbara, refer to as the “True Self."

Kundalini rising is very different from the meditation experience. In the Kundalini transformation experience, the "ego self" is not temporarily passed by; it is renovated. The boundaries, constructs, defense mechanisms and cultural conditioning created by past life experiences are dismantled. It’s as if the old world views have collapsed, and we are left initially with a sense of no longer knowing who we are. I've described this experience previously as follows:
"Kundalini rising has left me with an absence of what I call “self-definition.” The ways I defined myself in the past, my self-concept, seemed to be gone. This not only relates to the way I use to see myself in respect to my work, but also in respect to church. My memory continued to be there in respect to all of these things, but I do not have an emotional connection with them in the same way. They seemed to have crumbled away along with the sub-conscious visions of crumbling trucks, buildings, earth, churches and crosses. Even my previous affective memories and concepts of God have collapsed, and there only remains the undefined, mysterious, expansive “Other,” beyond description and name."
I believe that in the restoration phase that is to follow this process of renovation, we must heed the message of the mystics and rebuild the new house, not following the directions of ego consciousness, but the humility of the “True Self.”

Buddhists call it the Bodhisattva Attitudes; Christians call it the Beatitudes. Both mean dedicating your life to others in the way you can enjoy everyday.

Seminal Retention And Kundalini

One way of telling if kundalini is genuine is by how it affects you after ejaculating.

For many men, an after-sex timeout to revitalize the body is commonplace, normal, and natural. For Kundalini adepts, however, sex has a difference-of-kind effect, usually characterized by a complete somatic depletion a de-energizing feeling that grips the whole body and demands more than just a little repose. It is this condition that both Gopi Krishna and I wrote about: he in Kundalini: The Evolutionary Energy in Man; I in Deciphering the Golden Flower One Secret at a Time. Both of us experienced this effect and both of us noted the immediate need for nourishment as a means of reigniting the life force.
In the aftermath of my first post-kundalini sex, I felt as if I was imploding, as if the constant, daily rebuilding work kundalini was performing on me had been so adversely affected by ejaculation that I needed an immediate influx of pranic energy to reverse the threat to my somatic structure. I felt like someone had pulled the plug and the contents of my braincase were trickling down the drain. It was a feeling akin to fear or surprise, the type of sensation that grips the whole body in an instant. A panicky notion that I was dying. Food. I needed food. I went to the refrigerator and quickly gobbled four containers of yogurt, which started to repair the damage and eventually calmed me. Why does sex affect kundalini adepts like that? Simple…kundalini doesn’t like sharing transmuted sexual energy, i.e., the life force; it wants to send it all to the brain. Procreation is one thing; sexual sublimation is another. Ejaculation affects the newly anointed adept as it affected me and Gopi Krishna, and when it does, woe to he who ignores the signals.

Gopi Krishna explains:
"As we have seen in our previous discussions, it is not easy to prescribe behavior and diet for the future evolution of the brain. Although I also spoke about sex before, I now would like to be a little more explicit. Inasmuch as all our modem theories about sex, including the ideas expressed by Freud, do not take evolution of the brain into account, we can therefore say that they are incomplete.

"The moment it is established that the brain is evolving biologically, it will then be seen that a part of the reproductive energy is consumed in this evolution. I have given the proof, genius and the illuminated mind. For the last three thousand years the Indian savants knew it, as did the Greeks and the Egyptians. They knew that genius and illumination come from transmuted sex energy.

"Freud puts it in a different way. He says it is libido and that all creative activity and mental disorders arise out of the libido. But he has not defined libido. For him, libido is psychic energy in its subtle form, in its psychic form.

"But it has a somatic aspect also, as Reich correctly put it. It is anchored in the body, his libido. He has clearly mentioned this. But since science has no awareness of a phenomenon that has been in evidence for the last thousands of years, that it is the transmutation of sexual energy that leads to creativity, then naturally all current theories about sex are incomplete.

"What is recommended by some psychologists or by some clinicians about unrestrained sex is therefore not only fallacious, but highly dangerous for the race.

"In the ages to come, people will determine what part of the energy goes to the brain and what part they can utilize for procreative or for pleasurable purposes. There is no doubt that there is nothing in the world so enchanting, so alluring, so inspiring as sexual love. It has inspired some of the greatest thinkers. It is the women whom they loved who inspired some of the greatest writers, thinkers, politicians, conquerors of the world. There is nothing comparable to love for the happiness, health and evolution of mankind.

"But it has not to be abused, because this energy is designed by nature both for evolution and procreation. And evolution must have its share. It would be saner to conserve the energy, even to be a celibate than it would be to overspend it. This is the reason why celibacy has been recommended in religions. Otherwise there is no reason. Why should religion in some way insist that you have to be celibate unless the energy is used in some way?

"But we need not go to that extreme. The rational, normal, and natural course is to adjust our life so that we allow that part which is meant for our evolution to be used for that purpose.

"There are some facts that show that nature is always giving us warnings. For instance, many people, after the climax, after the expenditure of the energy, feel a sense of disgust or coldness, antipathy, or great tiredness. That is a warning from nature that they have overdone it. If, after the sexual climax, a man feels as energetic as before, it means he has not used or taken from the amount needed for evolution."
Why is this important? Because many people don’t realize that enlightenment or self-realization (that elusive state so many young people are searching for) actually has a somatic and metabolic component. They believe that enlightenment is attained through activities like prayer, mantras, faith, visitations and not through any contributions of a somatic or metabolic nature. But why wouldn’t an individual’s body be involved in all aspects of the evolutionary process?

People who say they believe that kundalini exists, but that it has no place in ascending to higher spiritual states don’t realize that kundalini is not something you believe in. It’s a physical actuality, like a heart attack or an orgasm. They may also still believe in holdover medieval myths that the body must be scourged in order to attain spiritual grace. Not so, if anything the body must participate in the process through yoga, meditation, and other energy cultivation techniques. Isn’t it ironic that reaching the sublime requires a contribution from our sexual apparatus, that the sacred is nourished by the profane?

Now, I’m not saying that everyone should be trying to activate kundalini — given its many unexpected effects that most people aren’t prepared for, most people shouldn’t — only that kundalini has played, and will continue to play, a crucial role in human evolution…and therefore more study must directed towards its true value.

So can the two purposes — evolution and procreation/pleasure — coexist? Can the trial and error quest for enlightenment coexist with what Gopi Krishna called unrestrained sex?
The answer is yes. And that’s where seminal retention techniques come in. Seminal retention allows you to conserve the seed during intercourse. Why would you want to do this? For all the reasons stated above, plus the fact that times have changed; the quest for self-realization should not attempt to repudiate the sybaritic tendencies and self-indulgent practices regarding sex in contemporary living, rather this quest needs to change its course. And that, dear reader, requires learning and practicing seminal retention techniques, which by the way, actually add to the pleasurable aspects of sex. 

Thankfully, this should be easy because adepts are always searching, never satisfied with pat solutions, always learning, never placated with easy answers. They've had their egoic tendencies stripped away by the fire of kundalini. They know that they know nothing. They know that the mainstream orthodoxies with their conventional wisdom and fear of new discoveries know nothing. These adepts figure things out by themselves; they are their own best detectives: Once having experienced the deleterious effects of ejaculation, it's not something you allow to get out of control. 

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Removal of Blockages: A Key To Exploring The Hidden Treasures Of The Mind

During a kundalini awakening, one of the most bizarre and surreal experiences is the snake moving through the spine. This is happening constantly. Not only does it move through the spine, it moves into the brain and constantly works on changing the physiology of your cranium.

Birds of a feather The interesting part, and one that gives you an idea of how the body/mind/spirit are all one, is how changing your brain changes your thought processes and how clearing blockages in your mind impacts the clarity of your thought processes. A lot of old, rigid ideas have to be discarded before the path of the chi energy is cleared and is allowed to flow through the nadis unimpeded.

What's interesting about the process is that initially it appears demonic to the person who thinks he is living in that body. The personality that takes the name and identifies with the education, cultural indoctrination, and accepted norms of "what should be" in terms of behavior in that society in that day and age. That person has to die. It is the repetitive inculcation of ideas that one parrots mindlessly, like an automaton, that grooves itself in the folds of the cerebrum and becomes you, your identity. It is a limiting mechanism. The limitations are the boundaries that lock you into a feeling of being bound within the confines of certain dos and donts of that individual and his social boundaries. We do it without even knowing we are bound by them.

When breaking these blockages, the energy has to remove your programming. The self, accustomed to the old ways, resists because taboos and restrictions built into the psyche make it seem absurd that the concepts so deeply ingrained are now being questioned and removed. Of course, once removed, it just opens up a vastly more liberating reality, but before removal, the conscious mind is reluctant to accept this because of the fear of the unknown.

Let me give you an example. Most of us have some form of religious taboo against sex. One does not visualize the enjoyment of the sex act as being congruous with attending mass or listening to a devotional or chanting of a mantra. In my mind, there was a distinct blockage that the energy was trying to clear and for that to happen, I had to break down the boundaries between the sacred and the profane. This involved having sex while listening to chants and mantras, right next to pictures of Gods and Goddesses.

I did it with feelings of shame, guilt and revulsion. Having done it, though, I overcame, once and for all, the feelings of guilt or shame and the triggers installed in me and became free of the invisible, totally manufactured boundaries between those two realms, things that were a result of my upbringing.

As a direct result of the removal of that blockage, it freed up the creative side of my right brain and gave me the ability to explore art and music as never before. How those two things were connected in my brain/mind, I as the conscious observer, have no clue. But once it was done, I no longer approached any of the things the energy was doing to me with fear or dread. I knew that to remove old programming was to remove fears and taboos. It wasn't about anything evil or demonic.

The idea of evil was a limitation put in place, a scare tactic. Its removal was only accomplished by facing the fear and transcending it. Once done, the blockage removed, many deeper levels of psyche, heretofore unexplored,
readily revealed themselves. The religious dogma had served only to keep them hidden.

The Way To Spiritual Freedom Is Counter-Egoic

The title of this post makes a big assertion and begs more questions than it answers. What do I mean by "freedom" and what is the link between it and egoity?

Many years ago when I was reading every kind of spiritual literature I could get my hands on I remember being irritated if I read a sentence like the title of this posta sentence with little or no explanation as to its meaning. I vowed that if I ever wrote spiritual articles, I would write plainly, taking the time to drill down to the core meaning. This is something that I have striven for in all of my writing. I am extremely lucky in that the editor of this website encourages this and to him I am extremely grateful.

Female Kundalini by Margaret Dempsey book cover
So why do I assert that the way to freedom is counter-egoic? By counter-egoic I mean going against the ego and egoic tendencies, rather than doing something I want to, only if I feel like it. What is the evidence for such an assertion? Very simply, it is the truth of my own experience. Experience in itself is not the path to spiritual freedom. All experience really does is provide one with the cachet to write from the point of view of and with the authority of one's own experience. It doesn't make that experience the Truth, but it does provide pointers on how to attain spiritual freedom, especially if one's own experience, though it be anecdotal in nature, is backed up by others with similar experiences.

I am confident enough after all these years to assert that I have won a certain level of spiritual freedom by which I mean a loosening of the consciousness from its identification with my body/mind. I have a tacit certainty that I am not my body/mind. I know this, not as intellectual fact, but as a realization of the heart. What I can say with absolute certainty is that this freedom has been won not by me indulging my ego and egoic tendencies, but by going directly against them.

Doing this in one's early years was a struggle and an ordeal because the frustration and confusion that accompanied those early years obscured any notion of improvement as to the shifting of my consciousness. Those early years left me feeling extremely drained and tired. What I didn't know then was that every time I disciplined my ego or egoic tendencies by acting counter-egoically, some aspect of my Being was actually being purified. This is why self-discipline — and let's face it, there is nothing more counter-egoic than discipline — has been so cultivated and so encouraged by every realized Adept who has Graced this earth. There is a need for clarification as to how "I" has been used in this paragraph. I once read somewhere that if you want to see just how big someone's ego is, observe the use of "I." In this paragraph, there is much use of "I." Indeed, it is difficult to write without using it. So I think it's important to clarify that the "I" that am referring to is the "I" of consciousness, not the "i" of the presumed separate and separative ego.

And yes self-discipline is unavoidable if one is serious about spiritual freedom. But there is another
counter-egoic tendency which is more subtle, but in my opinion, very effective and that is the counter-egoic tendency of integrity and keeping one's Word. Why this is subtle is because it doesn't always relate to the spiritual realm; it relates to one's worldly actions. What I discovered from my own experience is that this kind of counter-egoic activity is just as important as sitting down to meditate/study. This other kind of counter-egoic activity was very important in the weeks and months after Kundalini rose. The strong egoic tendency was to give up everything and become totally absorbed in the amazing thoughts and experiences that the energy was creating. The counter-egoic behavior was to say "no" to all of that and continue to work a boring 9-5 job in the face of an egoic tendency that absolutely did not want to. Over time, I found that as I went more and more against these tendencies, my insights and realizations became stronger.

These egoic tendencies are embedded in the design of every human being, which is why it takes so much concentration and discipline to go against them. The brain also serves them, so the challenge is huge. If spiritual freedom is not something an individual is striving for, then there's no reason not to indulge egoic tendencies except, in the long run, indulging such tendencies doesn't result in lasting happiness.

Also embedded into the design of the human being is resistance. It is a tool the ego uses very effectively. For instance, in the early years, I would say to myself, "I'm going to get up early tomorrow morning and meditate." The morning would come and the alarm clock would sound, and, as the thought of getting up surfaced, a stronger, more compelling resistance of not to get up appeared, and more often than not, I wouldn't struggle against the resistance. Then when I woke up again, I'd feel bad for not being strong-willed enough. This took away my power because it made me see myself as weak-willed, thus playing into the ego's game.

In fact, the resistance I felt is not personal; it is inherent in the design of all human beings. This insight gave me such freedom that the next time I experienced resistance I was able to transcend it. Resistance is going to arise; there's no avoiding it. What you have to do is recognize that it's there, that it's not personal, and then the reward for going against it will be experienced maybe not in the very next moment, but definitely...over time.

Sunday, March 27, 2016

Kundalini And Evolution

The authors of the Tantras speak of history as a decline, a falling away from an original perfection. As the ones who revealed the techniques for awakening Kundalini, these authors ought to be listened to. What we call evolution, they call a darkening. What we call progress, they call a lapse and a forgetting. They depict human history as a stage-by-stage descent into chaos. These descending stages are the four "ages" of Hesiod's "Works And Days," the Ages of Gold, Silver, Bronze and Iron.

Natalie book cover
In the remarkably parallel Hindu picture, our present era (Hesiod's Age Of Iron, and the Age Of The Wolf of Norse legends) is called the Kali Yuga, the "time when Kali is wide awake," Kali being the female deity symbolizing the elemental, primordial forces, which become destructive when not balanced by a transcendent stillness. The Kali Yuga is a time of alienation from that which transcends the world, a severing of the links with the Primal Spirit, leading to the predominance of all that is merely material and physical. As The Visnu Purana puts it: " alone will confer rank; wealth will be the only source of devotion; need will be the sole bond of union between the sexes; falsehood will be the only means of success in litigation..." Surely this describes much, if not all, of the outer social and economic world in our era. Far from evolving, we are descending. It's for this reason that there's been such a widespread current awakening of Kundalini, because it's on the physical body that Kundalini works, opening a sort of Last-Chance-Saloon path to transcendence, when the more ancient and more spiritual paths have been largely lost, and we're stuck in our own heads and nervous systems, floundering in the surrounding materialism.

That Kundalini heals and re-balances the body and brain is beyond doubt. I am undergoing this physical reshaping myself. However, as it goes on, I can feel it being resisted by forces from outside me, by energy fields in my environment. As my center grows more still, the powers trying to throw it off balance become more and more external, and more powerfully external. When Kundalini awakens, sensitivity to the surrounding energy field becomes so heightened as to be sometimes frightening. The Kali Yuga is right there in your face. An opaque being is standing an inch in front of your eyes. Personal weaknesses and problems become charged with a force they never had before, as if they too come from outside you, and are no longer merely the quirks, loveable or less so, of the guy or lady you used to be.

Friday, March 4, 2016

Spiritual Pursuits...Then and Now

In olden days, spiritual pursuit was more of an endurance trial-by-fire that required proving yourself before being admitted to the ultimate truths, as per the following example:
Knowing that his revenge was wrong, Milarepa (Then known by his boyhood name 'Fortuitous') set out to find a lama and was led to Marpa the Translator. Marpa proved a hard taskmaster. Before Marpa would teach Milarepa (c. 1052 – c. 1135 CE) he had him build and then demolish three towers in turn. Milarepa was asked to build one final multi-story tower by Marpa at Lhodrag: this 11th century tower still stands. When Marpa still refused to teach Milarepa, he went to Marpa's wife, who took pity on him. She forged a letter of introduction to another teacher, Lama Ngogdun Chudor, under whose tutelage he practiced meditation. However, as he was making no progress, he confessed the forgery and Ngogdun Chudor said that it was vain to hope for spiritual growth without the guru Marpa's approval. 
Milarepa returned to Marpa, and was finally shown the spiritual teachings. Milarepa then left on his own, and after protracted diligence for 12 years he attained the state of Vajradhara (complete enlightenment). He then became known as Milarepa. 'Mila' is Tibetan for; 'great man', and 'repa' means; 'cotton clad one.' At the age of 45, he started to practice at Drakar Taso (White Rock Horse Tooth) cave — "Milarepa's Cave," as well as becoming a wandering teacher. Here, he subsisted on nettle tea, leading his skin to turn green with a waxy covering, hence the greenish color he is often depicted as having, in paintings and sculpture.
~ The Magic Life of Milarepa
Contemporary seekers of enlightenment, truth, self-realization (or whatever term the current the spiritual authorities bestow on such seekers) would giggle at the prospect of building and tearing down towers and would quickly move on to the nearest strip mall offering kundalini yoga, a tee shirt, a yoga mat, and a 10% discount. Not so in yesteryear:
Marpa said to Milarepa, "I was very hard on you, but do not be distressed. Be patient. Teaching is very slow work. You have the energy to work, so build a tower of Sutra. When you have done that, I will instruct you and I will supply your food and clothing."
Western civilization is not cut out for "slow work." We want answers, shortcuts, formulae, handholding and all manner of emotional sustenance. After all, compared to the life of an eleventh century Tibetan, we're all fairly high maintenance.

Sure sign of spring.
Cherry Blossoms
Back then, the student stayed with the teacher/guide/guru 24-7, living in his house or boarding with a group of like-minded students. However long it took. Today, it's fitting in an hour of Tai Chi here and there, then back to the rat race.

California Street Garden Plant
So what kind of effect does the difference between the two paradigms have on the teaching?

1) Whether it's a weekend workshop or a Thursday night yoga class, there's an immediate dissipation once the practitioner is back on the street, in the subway or on a bus. A dissolution of energy. The student begins to question the process: as in "After all, what's the point?" "I won't be able to go next week because my daughter has a recital."

2) Motivation is eroded. It's normal. There's a lot of demands in modern life, and so little information on how to manage it. We might look around, pick a role model and follow it, but this is often hit or miss. So we end up wondering: I sit; I meditate, but nothing happens. How did I ever get involved with this stuff? Where does it all lead? How can it solve my problems?

"Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away.
Now it looks as though they're here to stay."
 Yesterday -The Beatles

All manner of colors
No one to turn to for advice; no towers to build and tear down. And yet the towers are all there, in other forms, of course: bills to pay, dishes to wash, jobs to go to, meals to cook, beds to make, dogs to walk, intimate conversations to have. These are our towers. All we have to do is recognize them, changing the way we think about the various intrusions in our personal space and daily lives.

Mixed bouquet
Girl With Flowers
Once we're able to change perspective, the task is no longer drudgery, but an exercise in mindfulness. And once mindful, our deep breathing kicks in to lower stress, make us even more mindful, and we whisk through menial tasks joyfully.

Wooden fence, sidewalk, curb, and flowers
Four textures
Mindful, we no longer waste time questioning things that must be done and we see our daily life as an extension of the weekend workshop or the Thursday yoga class. The paradigm is turned around; the restlessness vanishes. It begins to make sense: That it's not so much about teaching as it is about learning to remember ourselves.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

Kundalini And Anger

What happens when we are angry while Kundalini is active in the body and consciousness? Anger is natural and inevitable. The Tantric texts associate anger with the belly chakra, and the deeper form of anger — violence, the ‘fight’ element of the ‘fight or flight’ reflex — with the muladhara chakra at the base of the spine.

This is understandable: anger is a fiery state, a facet of the fire element of the belly chakra, whilst violence is in our very bones, a facet of the life force at its most elemental. It’s perfectly right and normal that Kundalini may awaken whilst these deeper forms of anger and violence are still inside us, not just mentally, but as part of our DNA. There are plenty of things in the outside world that are a just cause for anger: idiot politicians enshrining gun laws, fanatics prepared to kill for their meager beliefs. Such anger, however, is merely ideological, and nowhere near as raw or intense as the anger we save for our nearest and dearest when they upset us. When Kundalini is activated, this raw, personal anger can become magnified out of all proportion.

An example
The other morning I woke in the dark with a couple of hours still before the time I needed to get up, but with Kundalini very intense, an upward movement in my spine of a light that I was conscious had been there all through the night. By keeping still and lying flat on my back I could let it become both more intense and more supra-conscious. However, at a certain point, I needed to meditate. The simple repositioning of my body from prostrate to upright, and a more conscious control of my breathing, enabling me to stay with the energy as it grew more powerful. I got up, washed, and was just about to begin meditating when my mother-in-law came running in, wanting me to look at something. It was a long, deep, expensive-looking dent in the side of my father-in-law’s car. He’d been shopping in Chiang Rai, and someone had backed into his car while it was parked and he was in the shop. I’d given him some money to insure the car. Where were the insurance papers? I asked, eager to start meditating. Well, the money had gone to a big party celebrating Loi Kratong, the Thai River Goddess Festival.

What had my father-in-law been doing in Chiang Rai? Buying a uniform. He’s never had a job in his life — has lived for decades off his beautiful, marriageable daughter — but he owns six uniforms — western-style municipal and military-type uniforms that Thai men particularly fancy themselves in. He goes to fairs and temple parties dressed like a brigadier general and directs traffic and car-parking, an honorary occupation remunerated only in whiskey. His car needed fixing. What was I going to do about it? I was angrier than I’ve ever been at a politician or fanatic.
Edvard Munch
The Scream

The tipping point of my fury wasn’t so much the money as the fact that now I wouldn’t be able to meditate. Stillness, breath relaxation and mind control were now out of the question.

I sat down anyway, which made me even angrier — and a strange thing happened: All the energy of my rage was still there, racking my body, up and down, but the reasons for my anger, all the things and people I was angry at, suddenly faded away without my even trying to stop thinking about them. My father-in-law and his car were still there, but only as harmless husks, vague memories faintly troubling the surface of this deep energy. In some ways, I was meditating more powerfully than usual, because I understood that the slightest inner turning towards any of my usual thought processes would cast me down into a maelstrom. I knew that trying to struggle against my anger, or reason myself out of it, would be disastrous. Kundalini would lurch over into the right channel, the pingala nadi, alone, in a sort of physical explosion. After an hour, the energy was calm and luminous.

Blake has interesting things to say about anger. He speaks of anger, jealousy, sorrow etc as "states," as "states of being," comparable to the "elements" of Tantric cosmology: earth, water, fire, air, akasha (ether) and manas (mind). These states, like the Tantric elements, are simply configurations of energy, and, as such, are neither good nor bad. They can be passed through without ill effect, as long as we center ourselves on the energy itself, the Kundalini shakti. It’s in this sense that Blake speaks of anger and violence being transmuted into spiritual war, the struggle for liberation: "I will not cease from Mental Fight..." It’s the truth behind his saying: "The tigers of wrath are wiser than the horses of instruction."

Saturday, February 13, 2016

My Thoughts And The Lies They Tell Me

A Jihadi extremist walks into a crowded restaurant with explosives strapped under his coat. His thoughts tell him that the people around him are his enemy; his God will reward him for destroying them and furthering his cause. He pushes the remote that sets off the explosives that tears apart his own flesh as well as those who are close by.

Although this is a very extreme example, are we not all victims of our thoughts. When I was twelve, I thought my parents didn’t love me. This made me feel very sad and was responsible for some silly, bad behavior. It wasn’t until sometime later that I began to see how much my parents loved me, and the sacrifices they made, not only for me, but also for my brothers and sisters. This changed everything about our relationship and my behavior.

Our thoughts are often full of judgements, fears, doubts, worries. Our minds are filled with negative voices and pictures of what could go wrong. Experiencing life through our busy thoughts is often unpleasant. Even if our thoughts are positive, if they do not reflect reality, they can and will lead to disappointment because they
only portray fantasy.

There’s a funny quote that I found when I turned sixty:

"When you're 20, you care what everyone thinks; when you're 40, you stop caring what everyone thinks; when you're 60, you realize that no one was thinking about you in the first place." ~ Unknown
Built into our thoughts is this very strong sense that they are true. We don’t question our thoughts because we assume they are who we are. But are they true? Are they really who we are? And when we believe them to be true — a part of who we are — how do they affect us? Do they lead to inappropriate and destructive behavior?

Richard Rohr, in his on-line course on the Twelve Step program called Breathing Under Water, says: "We all take our own patterns of thinking as normative, logical, and surely true, even when they do not fully compute. That is the self-destructive nature of all addiction and of the mind, in particular. We think we are our thinking, and we even take that thinking as utterly 'true,' which removes us at least two steps from reality itself."

As a young person growing up on a farm in Eastern Canada during the fifties, I saw and experienced a lot of poverty. I recall a time when I asked my parents for a bike. I was told that they couldn’t afford it. Words I heard often and they were true at the time. Now that I’m sixty plus, not rich but financially secure, I still hear that voice when buying something I don’t necessarily need: I can’t afford it.

But it’s a lie; I can afford it. When the stock market goes down, (as it has a lot over the last decade) my thoughts are: My God, I’m going broke. But it’s a lie. The money I have invested in the market is money I don’t really need. But still, when the market go down, I feel depressed as if some impending disaster is just around the corner.

Meditation and Kundalini are teaching me to stop listening to my thoughts, and the lies they tell me. Kundalini has revamped things inside so that I am learning to listen to the more subtle voice that exists at a much deeply level than the chattering mind. This inner witness and its connection with the mystery that lies beyond it are able to observe the ramblings of the mind, to pick and choose what to accept and what to reject. They enable me to see how truly good life is, how supportive and trustworthy it is when I don’t allow meaningless thoughts, and the lies they tell, to lead me in directions I never wanted to go in the first place.

Thoughts, images, voices, constructs, conditioning, beliefs are transit visitors that protrude into our lives. They arise and they fall. They are not permanent. They are not you. When we learn to observe them, and not become attached to them, we can follow them or let them go. We can build the life that we want for ourselves.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Hello, My name is ______. I'm an alcoholic...

This post is inspired by a moving documentary I watched recently. Eight men and women spoke about their journey towards alcohol dependence/addiction. What struck me was how each spoke about feeling a sense of anxiety/unease that alcohol "was able to take the edge off."

I began thinking about the nature of "the unease" which the alcohol numbed in relation to my own life. And when I looked back at my childhood/adolescence, I recognized this feeling of anxiety and unease. It was a feeling of not belonging. What I used to dull the pain was food and in my book Female Kundalini I speak about this. I now recognize that the emptiness I felt then and continued to feel until I found my spiritual teacher was a spiritual emptiness which all of us, by virtue of being human feel, but frequently block out either by denial or by employing a crutch. The particular crutch we select to make us "feel better" tends to stick to us for the rest of our lives.

I recently heard a famous writer being interviewed and he
spoke about how in his early childhood he developed a stutter and turned to writing as a relief from talking, he channelled the anxiety he felt into writing which has made him the extremely successful writer that he is today. Many other writers speak about "being driven to write" that the writing "relieves something." 

This is all good and productive when the crutch one uses is socially acceptable and lucrative, but my compassion goes out to those whose crutch is alcohol and/or drugs, both of which quickly become a slippery slope. It is said of alcohol that first it becomes a guest, then a host, and then a master. In the stories which the eight people in this documentary told, that was the inevitable pattern.

What makes one person use alcohol and another the pen to relieve anxiety? I don't know, is it karma? We all do it — more or less. If, however, each of us was to make an honest self-appraisal, we could probably identify the crutch we use to make us "feel better." As our dependency advances, shame and denial kick in. This is the despairing cycle that I went through for years with food. And that's why I'm concerned with the nature of this unease we all feel and are constantly trying to get relief from.

It was only when I read the teachings of my guru and His explanation — that unease is the result of "self-contraction," a separating of ourselves from Reality — that I was finally able to understand the nature of this discomfort.

For the first time, I felt beyond the tension of the self-contraction to the indivisible Reality that lies beyond. Now I feel so incredibly lucky and blessed to have finally found my Guru. I know that the word Guru holds negative connotations for many people, and for me to be a devotee involved a major loss of face because I am on record as previously saying that no one needs a Guru.

But because each of us creates the self-contraction it is not possible to free ourselves from it alone. Was it Einstein who said that a problem cannot be solved at the same level as the mind that created it, that solving it requires something else? Guru means going from dark to light and it is the hardest thing to accept that as human egos we are in the dark and in order to be free we have to surrender to the light of a guru or realized adept; there is no other way. The Guru removes the obstacles to realizing our true nature, not by working on ourselves, but by turning our attention to the Guru and surrendering to the process.

The ego "I" rejects this and I am sure that the previous paragraph is controversial, but I have only ever spoken or written about my own experience and that hasn't changed because I am now committed to the path of devotion. This activity of self-contraction that we all do at a deep subconscious level leaves an anxiety and unease that we don't want to feel so we look for ways not to feel it. Any search, whether material or spiritual, is aimed at relieving the underlying anxiety caused by the decision to break away from Reality and identify itself with the body/mind. This is how the search works and it is the ego "I" that searches. The irony, however, is that separate-ness is an illusion.

Freedom or Self-Realization comes not from searching for ways to relieve this anxiety but by having the courage to feel into and examine the sense of anxiety and unease and trace it back to its source. I am aware that this is much easier to write about than to practice. At the height of my self-destructive food binges, if you had asked me what it was I was trying not to experience or feel, I wouldn't have been able to tell you. All I would have been able to say was that there was a tension in me that binge eating eased temporarily, which is why addictions are so strong.

At the end of the documentary, all of those interviewed said that the way they cope without alcohol today is due to learning how to handle and manage feelings of unease and anxiety; they don't go away (of course they won't because they are inherent in the design of the human being). So instead of seeing these feelings and unease as a sign of weakness, we need to see them as human feelings that we all have. The only way to be free of them is not to search for ways to be free, but to recognize that we are and always have been free, but we just don't realize it. To understand this is to end the search forever.