Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Evolution and Kundalini

Evolution is a much scrutinized subject. I once saw an X-Men movie. Walking through walls, telekinesis, telepathy, magnetic powers, etc. were included.

The context was mutants. Of course, there would be no homo sapiens without evolution, or without mutations; it's the operating currency of DNA and genetics. Modern humanity is considered to be about 50,000 years old.

Human evolution reminds me of auto sales. New cars may have features, new devices like an MP3 player or lights on side mirrors, that soon morph into "minimum requirements." And those new "features" become old hat, and newer features are needed. Such is evolution.

Kundalini as evolutionary energy is really a wild idea! Inside us is a mechanism driving evolution? Gopi Krishna reckoned that this "evolutionary energy" was pushing us toward a predetermined future human being. Nietzche wrote about Man and Superman, which Hitler misunderstood to be his "Master Race." "In his posthumously published book, The Phenomenon of Man, Teilhard de Chardin wrote of the unfolding of the material cosmos, from primordial particles to the development of life, human beings and the noosphere, and finally to his vision of the Omega Point in the future, which is 'pulling' all creation towards it." Ouspensky wrote a book called The Psychology of Man's Possible Evolution. Of course, it is a genderless idea.

My own version of this is contained in a poem called "Beneath The Surface of this World."


Beneath the surface of this world,
Invisible to the naked eye,
Exists an energetic framework,
The basis of both you and I.

A Brownian motion generator,
A quantum dynamic mold,
A thermodynamic continuum,
A multi-frequency spectrum of old.

It has a purpose, this sublime world,
A tendency to go from hot to cold,
A subtle yet definite cooling off,
A conductive, convective, radiative road.

A path, if you will, that all energy takes,
But Life defies this blasé manner,
Building structures and storing energy
With all the power of Thor's hammer.

Life's purpose is to grow, my friend,
Individual, species, and ecospheric biomass,
To convert the nonliving to the living,
The soil and water to trees and grass.

The whole direction of living energy,
Both universal and close at hand,
Is to increase its nature and its volume
While striving for the Super land.

Therefore the direction of human evolution
Must be to achieve the higher state
Of conscious living energy
That comes when spirit and matter mate.

A higher state of energy,
More concentrated and powerful,
This is the purview of the gods,
Of shamans, witch doctors, and monks of old.


A higher state of consciousness
Is simply life's purpose to fulfill,
To convert sunlight into gold,
The alchemy of the spiritual.

So freeing up one's energy,
Clearing the path for prana, chi,
Spirit, life's essence that circulates
Throughout the body is the key.

From Chinese medicine to Indian yoga,
From Egyptian meditation to Toltec Naguals,
From Nordic runes to Lakota totems
Life's purpose to fulfill is the ultimate goal.

The universal pursuit of higher states of being,
Religions of the masses and philosophies all
Are part of life's process of self-preservation,
A means to an end, a guide to the far.

So think not that there is an evil in life,
Evil is the absence of life, the self-destructive mode
That occurs when living energy falls short of the need
To bridge nature's gap, and continue the road.

We all do our best to live out our purpose,
To grow and to prosper as organic beings.
Some fail it's true, but no one is perfect,
Death's part of the cycle that gives life its meaning.

Continue to pursue the path of improvement,
Of self progression, of achievement of excellence;
The curve spirals inward toward an infinite center,
Unreachable it's true, but always intended.

As for the condition of society, ecology, and such,
It is all part of our living romance,
To fight the good fight when fighting is called for,
These are just steps in the cosmic dance.

Have faith in this bedrock of spiritual design,
This underlying world of energy,
For suffering is longing, the desire to grow,
There is nothing wrong with wanting, desire is holy.

Sunday, August 10, 2014

Long Distance Love

When I was twenty one, I left Australia to study at Cambridge. I'm an only child. My mother was very upset. She didn't want me to go. She made me promise faithfully that I'd come home as soon as my studies were finished.

I made the promise, and immediately broke it. I stayed away for fifteen years.

Taxed by my father with disloyalty, I pleaded that I loved my mother and thought about her a lot.

"Codswallop!" Dad replied. "That's an avoidance. That's just thinking. Without actions, thinking means nothing. Thought, on its own, is a cop-out."

When Kundalini awakens, something happens to "just thinking." Consciousness takes on an increased energy, while the physical brain's power over us abates. Thoughts become packets of energy arising from an energy field. They're no longer a series of compulsive nervous tics in the head. It's possible to see a thought coming, as it were, on its way — like an eruption from the surface of the sun that hasn't yet reached the earth — and to know what the thought is, without having to directly think it. It's this that makes mindfulness possible, and rewarding.

The true energy of thought begins in the heart, and is only registered in the brain as a secondary image. When the mind's center of gravity is changed in this way, passionate contemplation of a loved one becomes a movement towards them in the energy continuum, a movement that is as real as seeing them with our eyes, or holding them in our arms. In this way, Kundalini alters the possibility of what "just thinking" might mean to people who are physically separated.

It's no coincidence that there's been an upsurge in Kundalini awakenings at a moment in history when more and more people are parted from their loved ones: the Thai farmer selling hot dogs at Abu Dhabi airport, who's missed seeing his children grow up; the Filipino seamstress cleaning hotel rooms in London, who can't be with her dying father. People displaced by war and natural disaster. The drifter who can't explain why he doesn't go home to see his mother.

Mindfulness — knowing thought without thinking it — empowers consciousness and takes some of the physical edge off necessity. Painful though it may be, physical separation becomes the pale, outer shadow of an inner closeness. Indeed, when Kundalini opens the throat chakra, the source of space/time, closeness becomes oneness, no matter how far apart you are.

I finally made it home to see my mother, and she forgave me my broken promise and long absence before she died. Close to death, high on morphine, I think she understood the power of "just thinking," though my Dad still reckons it's Codswallop!

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Centering and Breathing

Nothing is More Important Than Proper Breathing — Diaphragmatic Deep Breathing


Still, even if you breathe correctly, bad habits such as smoking, lack of exercise, overeating may negatively affect your overall breathing capacity. When you are a prisoner of habit, all the devotional practice and good intentions are to no avail. And that's where diaphragmatic deep breathing comes in. It can actually help you break bad habits.

So, is there a purpose to deep breathing, beyond its beneficial therapeutic effects? Diaphragmatic Deep Breathing allows you to slow down your metabolism, which in turn allows you to center yourself. What do I mean by centering?

It is hard to define centering because it is both a physical state (locus) and the awareness of being in that state. It's like being in the center of yourself and feeling and visualizing the confines of your being, watching it ebb and flow. Once you are able to center yourself, the very notion of confines drops away, and you exist in a state of undivided entirety.

You can enter and exit this state (center yourself) at will. Moreover, knowing that this state exists and you are able to enter it allows you greater power in fending off the rigors and challenges of daily life. Not that the world around is shrinking; you become one with it and your being looms large in it. You feel yourself expanding, able to fend off any challenge. Breathing is the key to this state and needs to be mastered as a precondition to Golden Flower Meditation. I found a great description of the process, one that parallels and broadens mine. Check it out:


Breath Of Life
"In the image above, the action of the diaphragm is shown. The diaphragm is located towards the bottom of the rib cage, and its job is to bellow down to draw breath into the lungs. This is much like squeezing a turkey baster. When you release the bulb, the action of it expanding draws air into the tube — this is natural breathing. Notice how in this way breath is draw in, not forced in. This type of breathing also ensures that the full area of the lungs are involved in the process, allowing more oxygen and energy to have access to the bloodstream."
Breath Of Life: Calm Power Through Natural Breathing ~Joshua Williams
The Secret of the Golden Flower states:
"One should not be able to hear with the ear the outgoing and the intaking of breath. What one hears is that it has no tone. As soon as it has tone, the breathing is rough and superficial, and does not penetrate into the open. The heart must be made quite light and insignificant. The more it is released, the less it becomes; the less it is, the quieter. All at once it becomes so quiet that it stops. Then the true breathing is manifested and the form of the heart comes to consciousness. If the heart is light, the breathing is light for every movement of the heart affects breath-energy. If breathing is light, the heart is light, for every movement of breath-energy affects the heart. In order to steady the heart, one begins by taking care of the breath energy. The heart cannot be influenced directly. Therefore, the breath energy is used as a handle, and this is what is called maintenance of the concentrated breath-energy."
Breathing is of vital importance; it is first step in the quest for self-actualization. A very important step, the key to new states of being. Begin the journey by exploring the relationship of breathing to heart rate and to centering. It leads to better health, reduced stress, and ultimately to ecstatic states, should choose to pursue them. But it starts with breathing: for a detailed description of proper breathing practice, visit the Visionary Being website. It's as simple as breathing in and breathing out. What's more, it's the doorway to the Backward-Flowing Method.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Awakening is NOT Enlightenment

Google the term Awakening, or surf Facebook long enough and you are bound to come across someone claiming to be Awakened. An experience of Awakening can be triggered by many different things from meditation to nature to psychological turmoil of some type.

Awakening is characterized by an experience of knowing that the personal self-narrative is not the correct story; there is an awakening to the truth of who one really is. Consciousness, which was identified with the body and mind, dis-identifies and becomes free, hence a realization of higher consciousness is experienced. However, in many cases, this Awakening recedes, giving way to the return of ordinary consciousness. Expressed differently, consciousness re-identifies back with the body/mind and is followed by a period of adjustment, often accompanied by a longing and yearning for the return of the Awakened state. There's no doubt that any experience of awakening, where one experiences a shift that alters consciousness, is transformative, but, at the same time, not always transformative to the level of Enlightenment. Too many people use Awakening and Enlightenment to mean the same thing, but for me, they are different.

Many famous people have had Awakening experiences that were the result of intense psychological trauma — two examples being Eckhart Tolle and Byron Katie. Both endured many years of depression. It was a thought that triggered their awakenings. For Tolle, the thought was "I cannot live with myself anymore, who is the I and who is myself." This thought was enough to shock his consciousness out of its normal patterns of identification, allowing him to become aware of who he really was.

I am less familiar with Byron Katie's story, but I believe her awakening was also triggered by a thought. Her method of self-inquiry, The Work, teaches individuals to examine thoughts to see if they are true. As a result of their Awakenings Tolle and Katie are enlightened.

A snapshot of how Katie's The Work operates
The trigger for many awakening experiences is the questioning of thought, or to put it another way, the questioning of the identification of consciousness with thought. The process of questioning or inquiry — frequently a result of great pain and psychological trauma — seems to provide a portal into the NOW, which triggers Awakening. Afterwards, life is never the same. It's as if consciousness recognizes that it had been bound, is now free, and is going to create and create and create; and so you have The Power of Now from Tolle and The Work from Katie. These are two examples; there are more.

My first experience of Awakening was triggered by a painful stressful psychological circumstance. Something happened and it was so shocking to my mind and consciousness that energy rose and I began to shake. At the time, I didn't realize it was an Awakening because I didn't have the words to express it, even though I had practiced Mahayana Buddhism for almost 10 years. It was only in the weeks and months that followed, when life calmed down and I became relaxed, that I realized "something" profound had happened. So while the phenomena of "inquiring into my thought" didn't happen for me, the element of psychological trauma was very much present and is the element I consider to be common in all degrees of Awakening to a greater or lesser extent.

I recently came across some research on this topic for the MSc that I am studying for, which shows that out of a study of 161 people who submitted accounts of their awakening experiences, 23 percent were triggered by or associated with intense turmoil and distress (Taylor, 2012 b). Interestingly, the type of turmoil didn't seem to be as important as the intensity. I didn't take part in this research, but my own experience supports this finding. For many people the experience fades, leaving just the memory and yearning.

Enlightenment is NOT Awakening; it is different in one respect in that enlightenment involves the transmission of spiritual energy and a transformation of identity. The Enlightened Masters in the past could transmit this spiritual impulse to their disciples/devotees. Accounts by devotees about the force of the spiritual transmission felt from their Master abound. It is this aspect of the process that distinguishes Awakening from Enlightenment. It might sound arrogant, and I say so from the place of being Awakened, but not enlightened, that if I don't feel an energy from the person who is claiming to be enlightened, then my view is that this person has had an awakening experience, but is not enlightened. In the burgeoning world of people claiming to be Awakened/Enlightened some tool of discernment is necessary to navigate the precarious, unpredictable spiritual waters without being lulled. Don't get me wrong, being Awake is a huge gift of Grace, but it's not the ultimate.

In the shift from the human to the spiritual that we are going through, many people will be having Awakening experiences and then claim to be Enlightened. This may not be done to intentionally deceive, but only as a result of the ego mind (identity) interpreting the experience and elevating it.

To determine whether or not they reach a state of Enlightenment, Awakening experiences need time to be integrated. Speaking immediately afterwards is not advised. This is where the adage "those who know don't speak, and those who speak don't know" comes from because it takes time for the experience to marinate and incubate, and speaking too soon can affect the process. Awakening is a stage on the path to Enlightenment; it is not IT.

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Dreams Of Loss

In my experience, when Kundalini is awakened, one dreams less. A light hovers in the back of the head during sleep, a sense of being fractionally awake whilst slumbering, which cuts down on dreaming. This state is depicted in the beautiful statues of the Sleeping Buddha one sees in Asian countries, Gotama lying on his right side, with his right hand under his head, watching serenely through closed eyelids.

For most people, however, dreams still erupt, stirred up by unfaced things in the unconscious. One of the most powerful of these is the dream of being abandoned by the person we love. The human being our life is centered on is suddenly gone. They are somewhere else, with somebody else. The anguish of losing them makes them vividly real, yet they are unlocatable. They have cut themselves off from us. They don't want us to contact them.

A throw-back to infancy or a throw-forward to transcendence
Dreams of Loss
Psychologists explain this dream as a throw-back to infancy, as a re-enactment of a baby's panic at not knowing where its mother is. There may, or may not, be some truth in this. Who knows? As an interpretation, it might be a help to some people, and a hindrance to others.

It hinders me. In these dreams, the person I love is too real, is present in too great a detail, to be anyone but herself. She is somewhere else, with somebody else, unlocatable, and yet my sense of who she is is stronger than at any other time. She is something infinitely more acute and piercingly particular than mere maternal warmth. The only other time she is as real and vividly present is when we make love. The 'somebody else' I dream she's left me for is, in truth, me, my invisible center.


These dreams of loss aren't a throw-back to infancy, they're a throw-forward to transcendence. They're good dreams, propitious and bracing. They reveal something that goes beyond loss. They look forward to the moment when Kundalini stands naked, as pure consciousness in the Ajna chakra, outside our selves. As Kundalini rises through the body, She pries open our grip on this or that person, this or that life situation, this or that hope or expectation. It's felt as a kind of cutting-off, the person we love distancing themselves from us (even when they're snuggled up next to us in bed), but it is, in fact, their realer presence that we experience. It demands an acceptance of the stark truth that the other is ultimately only knowable as "pure consciousness, outside the universe, She who goes upwards." (Sat-Cakra-Nirupana Tantra.)

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Mindfulness and Kundalini

Mindfulness is to Self-Remembering as The Secret is to The Power of Positive Thinking. Now, what does that mean exactly?

It means that systems of knowledge and practice keep getting updated every so many years, but the denominations (the names they are called by) have to be changed to create enough buzz for the latest version to make the top-40 hit parade.

High desert near San Bernardino, CA
High Desert Sunrise
Take self-remembering, for example. It was mindfulness before the term "mindfulness" passed into the new age lexicon. George Gurdjieff pioneered self-remembering back in the 1930s and 40s. It was a useful system then and it's still useful, even if the mindfulness craze has supplanted it. Both acknowledge a Buddhist influence; both share pretty much the same approach and practice — even if the ends and the means vary. No matter! It's still the same basic concept under a catchy new name:
"And herein lies my great help; this is the first step in the teaching that Gurdjieff brought from his extensive travels and seekings throughout the Middle East and Asia. He taught that to be mindful, or as he would put it, to 'remember myself' one needs to bring these two parts of myself, the mind and the body, together. The mind watches over the body and observes its functionings and the body is rooted in this present moment, in this present life. Then instead of these two parts going their separate unconnected ways, they can combine and have a relationship, working together towards a common good."
   Lunatic Outpost Forum
That's what happens in our "15 minutes of fame" culture. Buzz terms attain hit parade levels for a brief period, then someone comes along with a new idea, and the current buzz fades with the setting sun to be reborn with the rising sun as the latest, buzzed infatuation.

It happened that way with one of the biggest fads of the 1950s, The Power of Positive Thinking, which became the The Secret, as the same idea was repackaged and sold once again to a new generation...and will probably be sold in some new form to a another generation at a later date.

So what does Mindfulness have to do with Kundalini? How are they related? Once Kundalini awakens, there's a gradual expansion of consciousness. I'm not referring to ecstatic, visionary experiences, which, although they certainly do occur, act only as mile markers on the long road to a more developed higher consciousness. In most cases, they are not the "real thing," merely indicators of a greater awareness to come. As Kundalini slowly expands consciousness, it also overhauls the rational capabilities of the mind — two separate operations, two different types of consciousness:
"Knowledge proceeds through what Buddha called the five skandhas or Aggregates, which includes sensual perceptions and conditioned experience by way of the psyche or personal consciousness. To know is to comprehend noologically, through intellect-based thought.
"Gnowledge is to understand through metasensory awareness and unconditioned experience through the thymos or impersonal consciousness. To gnow is to understand by way of gnosis or Right Discernment, the gnowledge that Siddhartha Gautama, the 'Sage of the Shakyas,' implied when he said, 'Be a Lamp unto Thyself.'"
   ~ Science and Spirituality, FB Group Post – Ve Marco
As gnowledge (the gnostic approach to human cosmology) expands, mindfulness becomes an autonomic by-product. Our attention turns inward; we are able to recognize our programming and we begin to resist it. It doesn't happen overnight. Some of our programs — the most tenacious and unshakable — are those passed down to us by our parents. Tics, habits, idiosyncrasies — the hardest to recognize because they're part of our visera. We may recognize them, but we have trouble overwriting them until our awakened Kundalini effects an anatomical, somatic, and metabolic overhaul. Gradually, we become aware of the programs that "run us" and, with a mindful attention, we overwrite them. When Kundalini awakens properly, mindfulness is an autonomic offshoot.

Unfortunately, terminology prevents the various strains of mindfulness or self-remembering from joining forces and cooperating. Each group is so possessive of their own little piece of the pie. Too bad. Mindfulness has been around in various avatars or incarnations for a very long while, appreciated by many traditional as well as gnostic faiths. Witness these thoughts, borrowed from an Orthodox Christian website:
"Watchfulness is the action to guard us from our automatic reactions to thoughts stimulated by our senses. It is being attentive to your inner self. The Greek word that is translated as watchfulness is 'Nepsis'. It comes from 'nepho,' which means to guard, inspect, examine, watch over and keep under surveillance. Watchfulness has been described by Elder Ephriam of Philotheou as 'the axe which shatters the large trees, hitting their roots. When the root is struck, it doesn’t spring up again.'
"Saint Hesychios sees watchfulness as follows: Watchfulness is a continual fixing and halting of thought at the entrance to the heart... If we are conscientious in this, we can gain much experience and knowledge of spiritual warfare.
"He shows us that this involves an effort to intercede on our thoughts, forcing them to be examined, to shine the commandments of our Lord on them. He emphasizes the importance of this by calling it warfare. We know in warfare we need to have effective weapons that are stronger than those of the enemy."
   Ten Point Program For Orthodox Life: Being Watchful
In order to be practiced, does Mindfulness need Kundalini? Must an individual have activated Kundalini? No, but in most cases, Kundalini effects a shortcut to a meaningful practice of mindfulness. Whether the term applied is mindfulness, watchfulness, self-remembering, or some past or future avatar, Mindfulness and Kundalini work together.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

In Search Of Lost Timelessness

Marcel Proust ate a cake, called a "madeleine," and experienced a powerful influx of energy that brought up memories of his childhood. And so began his "search for lost time" À la recherche du temps perdu (known in English as In Search of Lost Time and Remembrance of Things Past). Proust's taste bud moment was clearly a form of Kundalini awakening. The fact that the trigger was a taste indicates that Kundalini was aroused erotically, in his genital chakra. (The novel is about love, as much as time.) The chakras are real, and perceptible to honest introspection. They are areas of metaphysical resonance within the body. Each chakra vibrates along with a specific sensory function. The chakra at the base of the spine, with smell. The genital chakra, with taste. The belly chakra, with sight. The heart chakra, with touch. The throat chakra, with space/time. The forehead chakra, with mind.
À la recherche du temps perdu
Marcel Proust as a Young Man
Perhaps different people experience the past in different ways, through different senses. Maybe memory operates in different chakras, in different parts of the body, from one person to another. I seem to remember in my throat, through my sense of space. Even when I'm thinking about someone I loved, or someone who made a deep impact on me, I remember a place, not them. I'm by a campfire, or on a clifftop, or in a room, or the back seat of a car. The person whom I'm remembering isn't there. They are a tangible absence, a ghost hovering above a scene. I used to feel bad about this — why aren't I picturing faces, words, personalities? — till I realized how close this spatial awareness is to erotic rapture, the moment, during physical love, when bodily separateness is overcome by sheer presence. Something happens to space and time at this moment, and it's something that stays.

Proust embarked on a long journey of recollection — from being sent to bed by his parents as a child, to wandering the mist-filled streets of Paris during the First World War (and stumbling on a brothel.) He reclaimed his lost moments, and brought them back into the present instant, distilled by his mind's urge to be all-encompassing. He carried (or forced) the past from the genital chakra to the forehead chakra. There's something inhuman about the process. When Proust's lengthy contemplation of his lover, Albertine, is done and dusted, she conveniently falls off a horse, bangs her head, and dies. The process defies logic. Wandering through the foggy streets in search of a sit-down and a cup of cocoa, Proust mistakes a brothel for a cafe, and, instead of resting, wanders up and down its many corridors till, through the open door of a chance bedroom, he happens to see Monsieur Charlus, the embodiment of his own refined homosexuality, chained to a bedpost.

Kundalini defies logic, and can seem inhuman. This is because Kundalini turns the power that brings the world into being back on itself. The only thing that exists is the present instant, yet the present instant is what I experience least. It's like a pressure lamp, lighting the past and the future, which have no reality, throwing them outwards at so great a pressure, it's impossible to see the lamp itself. The present instant is a powerful absence, no longer even a place, where I, like the people I try to remember, hover like a ghost. When Kundalini awakens, this changes. Sheer absence switches to sheer presence. The closer I come to the reality of the present instant, rising from chakra to chakra, the less there is to hang onto. Even my body, and the bit of space closest to it, becomes an avoidance of entering the present instant. Asleep, Kundalini is an absence flowing outwards into space/time; awakened She flows backwards towards the present instant, returning everything to sheer presence.

Friday, July 18, 2014

Transpersonal: Beyond the Personal Contains the Personal

Lately, I haven't written much for this site because I've been busy studying for an MSc by distance learning. The MSc is called Consciousness, Spirituality and Transpersonal Psychology.

I first learned about the course five years ago when it was an in-house university academic course in Liverpool. Having just relocated, I didn't want to do it again, so I forgot about it.

In 2013, I organized and facilitated the first UK conference on Kundalini called Kundalini Matters: Science, Psychosis or Serpent. When the conference was over and I was wondering what my next step could be, I remembered this course. I looked for it again online and to my amazement found that it was now a distance-learning program accredited by Middlesex University and another organization called the Professional Development Foundation. I emailed the course director to find out more and to cut a long story short completed everything that I needed to register and began the course in September 2013. It has been one of the best investments I ever made.

I have been on a spiritual path on and off since I was 11. I have read a lot in almost every spiritual field from mysticism, religion, channeling, the occult, theosophy, yogic philosophy. I studied Buddhism for almost 10 years and then trained to teach Kundalini yoga, having experienced this powerful energy once in 1998 and again in 1999. So, I've done and read such a lot, but what was missing was some academic research that would tie it all together and ground everything. The lack of grounding in some spiritual communities and spiritual writings has often frustrated me. Over the years, I have become more of a spiritual scientist in that I am very discerning about what I consider to be Truth. With everything I have read and listened to, I have gone within and asked myself one question, "Is this something that I have experienced?" And if I haven't experienced it, I don't throw it out, I wait patiently to see if I can discover it within my own experience. This is the way that I have navigated the unpredictable spiritual waters, and to-date it has served me well.

In the first year of the course, I learned about Quantum Mechanics, an area I've always found fascinating at an intuitive level, but couldn't really grasp. The module on this course grounded my understanding and from it, I could understand the point of view of the mystics who say, "everything is ONE." From a quantum point of view, everything also exists until we observe it and then the waves of possibility change into observable particles or things. Doing this module, I felt like a child in a sweet shop; I enjoyed every minute of it and there's so much more that I could write about. The other two modules I did were creativity and transformation and meditation and mindfulness. The range of material covered and the academic documents available were so interesting I felt like I was putting together the pieces of the spiritual jigsaw. Altogether, a thrilling and absorbing experience.

The 2nd year has been more experiential; it's a module called "Learning through Integrative Practice," one I really like. I have often thought and sometimes written about how the spiritual is much more than a spiritual practice. It requires practices in other dimensions of being human such as, the physical, emotional, mental, social and interpersonal. So, this year, I will put together an integral program of these practices to be submitted for approval. Once approved, I will keep a learning journal as well as a log of the times I work on each element. At the end, I will submit a 3000 word reflective essay. I am really looking forward to it, as I am sure it's going to be transformative in ways I can't yet imagine.

Flyer for the course. Next session: September 2014
If doing the full MSc doesn't work for you, there is also the opportunity to become an associate student. As an associate, you can choose from all of the modules offered — the ones you'd like to delve more deeply into.

This experience has been much more than a course. I see it as building up a transpersonal community, committed to that which is beyond, and yet within, the personal. A community where we share and help each other grow and evolve and, because we are all connected, share and help each other make the ideas and experiences we share more powerful. This isn't just spiritual; it's related to the discoveries in Quantum Mechanics.

I thoroughly recommend this course. The people who run it are committed to human potential in its most advanced forms, which is why I feel it's important.

Monday, July 14, 2014

Confidence on the Outside is the Result of Integrity on the Inside


What does it mean to ‘live with integrity on the inside'? The closest I can get to explaining is to recount a story about Gandhi. One day a mother brings her son to Gandhi and asks for help. Her son is extremely overweight and she doesn’t know what to do. Gandhi looks at the boy and says to his mother – 'bring the boy back next week.' The boy comes back the next week, Gandhi looks him intently in the eye and says ‘stop eating sugar.’

You must be the change you wish...
Why didn’t Gandhi say this to the boy the first time his mother brought him? He didn’t say it because he was eating sugar himself at that time and for Gandhi there was no integrity in telling the boy to do something which he was not doing himself. The next time there was no discrepancy between what he said and what he was doing.

Very often integrity gets confused with morality. Integrity has nothing to do with morality, right or wrong Integrity is about workability. Integrity for us as human beings means being true to who we are at the level of SELF. Not selling out on ourselves. When there is integrity within, there is no separation between who we are, what we say, and what we do — so the result is increased confidence on the outside.

Many years ago, when I was doing transformative, self-development work, I was asked to consider a law which operates like the law of gravity — and that is the law of integrity. Like gravity, it’s a law that operates regardless of the type of person you are. If I go up to the top of a building and jump, I’m going to go splat on the ground no matter if I am good or bad. The law of integrity operates irrespective of me; it's that kind of law.

The minute a person agrees to do something for somebody else or for himself, or makes an agreement of any kind, then, when it comes time to keep that agreement, and the individual doesn’t keep the agreement, for whatever reason, there is a karmic kickback from the law of integrity being violated, which has nothing to do with being right or wrong.

However, this kickback is not immediate which is why the connection between being lack of integrity and the quality of life is not made. In my own experience, when I can't keep my promises, I let the person I promised know as soon as possible if I’m not able to do what I said I would. This way life has a flow and a harmony that it doesn’t when I don’t keep my promises or act with integrity.  

Integrity
However, this is just an idea and for many it will be rejected outright mostly because respecting that law requires a level of responsibility and accountability which we, as human beings, resist, almost as if by design. This is why it is a notion to be considered, not a truth to be fought to the death for, although I would fight to the death for it because intuitively I recognize its power. It is the very foundation of life for me. Without integrity, nothing works has been my mantra for many years and it has kept me safe when being true to my word was the last thing my mind wanted to do. In the weeks and months that followed Kundalini rising my mind was destabilized by all kinds of compelling and absorbing thoughts — to the extent that making a phone call I had promised to make or going to a training I had promised to attend was the last thing I wanted to do.

There were times when I was physically present, but was so tired from the inner battle that I could barely hear what was going on. Nevertheless, I was there. I had defied the mind —  it was a victory over the mind. This process is not easy, but it is necessary if one doesn't want to get stuck at various points on the spiritual path.

From time to time, people call me about their Kundalini experience. They tell me they want to give up work and just ‘process what is happening.’ When I hear this, alarm bells go off in my mind and I stress the importance of doing just the opposite, of continuing with daily life to find something to make a commitment to — whether it be charity work where you promise to do a certain number of hours, or something else.

In moving through the early stages of Kundalini rising, this is important, at least it was in my own case, and that is all I can speak or write about. By choosing to have what I said I would do be more important than what my mind, thoughts, feelings told me to do, I gradually experienced a level of freedom and integration of energy. While it often wasn’t easy, it taught me how to ignore the constant chatter of the mind. At the end of the day, when I've done everything I said I would, I feel happy and confident and life flows. Confidence is nothing more than being true to yourself in every way.

Tuesday, July 8, 2014

Breath And The Subtle Body

When she was 17, my mother contracted tuberculosis. Her father had died of the lung disease three years earlier. This was in the late nineteen forties. My mother often compared TB at that time to AIDs in the 1970s. Those friends who didn't abandon her in her contagious condition counseled her to never have a child, as the child was bound to be born with the disease.

My mother didn't take kindly to this advice. Shortly after I was born, she had the most serious of her "flare ups." She was in hospital for nine months, dreading she'd be moved to the sanatorium where her father had died. I remember waving to her from the hospital garden, through the ward window, not allowed to go in and visit her. When she came out of hospital, my mother had lost her beautiful red hair, and only three quarters of one lung still functioned. The doctors gave her a year to live. Wheezing, and fighting breathlessness 24 hours a day, she survived for another 46 years.
 
Stilling of the Breath
Girl Meditating

Why is stilling of the breath so important for the awakening of kundalini? Kundalini is transcendental consciousness in a physical form. Kundalini arouses, and reveals, the subtle forces that produce bone, nerve, skin, blood and breath; the nexus of forces that configure the body's individuality. Kundalini also reveals, like a candle shining upwards at a face in the dark, the individual body's relationship with the cosmos. This relationship is breath. This to-and-fro is breathing.

My mother had a terrible time breathing. A constant gurgling in her chest; wheezing 24-7, even in her sleep; fits of coughing at concerts; and the dreaded breathlessness attacks when there simply was no air. What kept her going? The will to live. The desire to be with her husband and watch her child grow up. Prana, the subtle force in air that is the source of being alive.

When I first practiced meditation and mindfulness of the breath, it was as if I'd contracted — not tuberculosis; dragged along to the X-ray unit every six months of my childhood, I showed no sign of the disease — but my mother's struggle with breathing. Panics. Black-outs. Oxygen-starved euphorias. Slowly, I came to realize that a lengthening of inhalation and exhalation, and a protracting of the time the lungs are empty, is natural. Suspension of breath was the natural, and optimum, condition for a new body that became discernible behind my gasping, gurgling, anxious physical body.

This deeper, subtler body is the source of my breath, blood, skin, nerve and bone. The moments when I live in it completely, I find that my physical body gets along quite okay on its own. It relaxes. Grows stronger. Thinks clearer.

What is this new, subtle body? I don't really know. To me it doesn't feel individual. It doesn't feel as if it's mine. I have a hunch that other people are somehow part of it, which is odd, because the precious thing about other people, particularly the ones I love, is their otherness. This subtle body, which kundalini lights up, insists on certain gestures. Twining of the wrists above the head, touching of the fingertips at a point above the fontanelle, spreading of the arms, straightening of the spine, and, coming from within, neither willed nor chosen, nor remembered from anywhere, the raising of the left hand, palm outwards, in front of the heart, and the opening of the right hand, palm flat, in the lap, the ancient gesture of blocking fear and offering gifts.

This subtle body is made of consciousness in a way my physical body isn't, and which my physical body often resists. This subtle body is where the fact that consciousness is more powerful than matter gets a foothold. It's the source of thoughts that are aware of their own deeper power; thoughts that come out of transcendence to be, sometimes, captured by the brain. They are Wordsworth's "thoughts too deep for tears," JJ Semple's "ideograms harvested in another dimension." The power of these moments of consciousness is proven by the way the physical body — anxious, panicky, strung out — resists them. This resistance happens, to me, in the lungs, a sudden clenching in the chest, like my mother's breathlessness attacks, that blocks my brain from registering what it already knows.