|The Energetic Revival|
Down in the depths of the mine lies the lead that's to be turned back into gold. This is the real, or pure, self that is to be purged of its dross. What is the dross? The dross is conditioning, our false idea of what, and who, we are. At the moment of conception we are pure gold. The conditioning that drags us away from that primal state is deep and powerful: our sense memories...everything we hear, taste, feel, touch, and see; the impact of our basic instincts...cold, heat, hunger, fight and flight; as well as our social constructs...pride, anger, greed, fear, and loneliness. The conditioning that we undergo from the moment of conception onwards isn't just a mental attitude; it's physical. Conditioning works its way into our bodies, into the way we speak, walk, breathe, and make love. Only a powerful energetic revival can overcome it. This energy is Kundalini.
Kundalini lies coiled asleep at the base of the spine. What wakes Her? What is the trigger? I think it's the awareness that there is a real self somewhere, up there, in the brain — or above and beyond the brain.
At first, we don't really know because this real self is also, paradoxically, everywhere. It's down in the mine, as well. It's under the earth. It's the Siva Lingam at the base of the spine, round which the sleeping Kundalini lies coiled. This is why Kundalini feeds on sexual energy, because the Siva Lingam at the base of the spine is the "self-subsisting state" in an erotic form, the erotic force that creates physical life and puts each one of us into separate bodies. And, the fact that we end up in separate bodies drives us to love, and couple with, other separate bodies. Kundalini feeds on sexual energy, yet takes us into the "self-subsisting state."
The Tantric texts have many interesting things to say about selfhood. That the Tantric reality is complex is merely a true reflection of the complexity of selfhood. It has to do with the chakras. The Muladhara Chakra, at the base of the spine, is the place where selfhood is purely physical, a fact of blood, bone, nerve tissue, and DNA. Sexuality is said to originate in this chakra, where our physical separateness is most strongly felt, and not in the Svaddhisthana Chakra at the genitals, where the first upwards movement towards another person occurs.
When Kundalini opens the Manipura Chakra, in the belly, the experience is often traumatic, because this is where selfhood is felt as opposition to, and struggles against, other people. The Belly Chakra is where we burn with competitive striving, and with the dread of failure. When we find our true self, the same energy that made us afraid, now makes us fearless and strong. The Heart Chakra, or Anahata, is central. It is where the real self, in its cosmic form, resides. That is why this chakra is hard to open, even when Kundalini is coursing up through the body. Again, it has to do with our relationship to others and with the world outside us. In some weird way, the world outside us disappears; other people are taken away from us, and then, by a miraculous act of grace, other people, and the physical world, return to us, as part of us, in a paroxysm of love. The Visshuda Chakra, at the throat, is sometimes called "The Threshold Of Enlightenment."
Vissudha means purity. When Kundalini opens this chakra, the self is no longer felt to be a separate thing. The identity of all things with the self is directly seen. "I" am the bird on the shed roof. In fact, I'm the shed, too. I'm even the lawnmower hanging on its hook inside.
In the Ajna Chakra, in the brain, the self is experienced as wholly other. The self is seen to be something coming from another dimension. The Tantras say that the Ajna Chakra is the place of the third Siva Lingam (the other two are at the base of the spine and in the heart), the Itara Lingam, and of the mantra "AUM," and of the Ahamkara, or "I-maker." Itara means "crossing over from beyond." AUM combines the male sound "A" and the female sound "U" in the central channel "M." And Ahamkara, the I-maker, is where the blueprint of our perfect body comes out of the void.