Did this paradigm affect our train of thought, our self-expression? Probably. I remember formal discussions, often centered on theology — God vs. no God, free will vs. predetermination, life and afterlife, — often quoting Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas, Voltaire, Bertrand Russell, and other sources, many of whom had been dead for hundreds of years. We were closer to classical literature then, closer to formal expression and grammar. We took pains to use "few" correctly, instead of lumping paucity under the all-inclusive "less." Not only did we discuss in bars, impromptu forums were everywhere: around campfires, on trains, in schoolyards and campuses, even in Army barracks.
During one discussion I remember fading into a kind of beer-soaked reverie, a moment of clairvoyance in which I was a separate entity outside myself, watching the words come out of my mouth, people’s arms waving, beer being swigged. It was as if I was a ventriloquist’s dummy someone else was manipulating. Yes, it was me talking, but the words weren’t really mine; I was a mouthpiece for something I’d heard or read. I felt a shudder, as if I was, and had always been, involved in a vain search for recognition, a desire to be taken seriously, in spite of the second hand nature of my words.
I wondered if anyone had answers. Or were we simply verbal shadow boxers, some more clever than others, aimlessly repeating without any empirical basis to our thoughts? Were we merely casting opinions, hoping others would somehow fall under the spell of our words?
There had to be another way of exploring these issues. Endless discussion around beer-laden tables was not it. Quoting the cognoscenti led to nothing. But what way was there? And if there was a way, was it worth pursuing?
Whatever it was, instinctively I knew I would have to find it myself, go it alone. I would have to step outside groupthink and conventional wisdom, stop repeating what someone else thought or how someone else had rationalized the existence or non-existence of God.
My search led me to Yoga and Kundalini, back to the very essence of my Being, like the following Tagore poem suggests, coming back to where I started:
The time that my journey takes is long and the way of it long.Activating Kundalini in 1973 was serendipitous, but unintentional, in that, yes, I was meditating, but at the time, I had never heard of Kundalini. I stumbled into it as a result of my meditation practice. I didn't really understand what might happen should my meditation practice succeed. Back then, it wasn't like it is today; there was very little information on Kundalini and I didn't even start looking for it until my awakening happened because I didn't know what to look for.
I came out on the chariot at the first gleam of light, and pursued my voyage through the wildernesses of worlds leaving my track on many a star and planet.
It is the most distant course that comes nearest to thyself, and that training is the most intricate which leads to the utter simplicity of a tune.
The traveler has to knock at every alien door to come to his own, and one has to wander through all the outer worlds to reach the innermost shrine at the end.
My eyes strayed far and wide before I shut them and said 'Here art thou!"
The question and the cry 'Oh, where?' melt into into tears of a thousand streams and deluge the world with the flood of the assurance 'I am!'
Forty years later I now understand the futility of polemics. The only thing that matters is experience, and what you see, hear, and feel during your experience. Reading won’t get you there. Neither will science, law, education, religion, money, or good works. If they worked, we’d all be illuminated.
Kundalini takes no position on God; it merely connects you to the energy continuum. Trouble is people (very intelligent people) will see you as an advocate of religion, despite the fact that Kundalini is at once agnostic and ecumenical. To activate it you do not have to follow rituals or say prayers. No invocations, no learning of doctrine, no chanting the names of Saints.
There are no cultural, no language, no geographical barriers to activating Kundalini. No religious prerequisites either. An individual can do it if he/she is a Christian, a Jew, a Muslim, a Buddhist, a Hindu. Or none of the above — a person without religious affiliation. Once I realized this, I said to myself, Hey, this isn’t religion; this is science, albeit a kind of self-empiricized science that most people won’t recognize.
Unfortunately, one of the constraining factors around Kundalini is that, once an experience like this (a Kundalini activation) happens, one looks around for verification and support, and the only place one finds it is in Hindu, Taoist, and/or Buddhist texts. So the initiate throws in his/her lot with Eastern religions...for a while, at least. But if he/she starts to examine the issue as I have over the past 40 years since my Kundalini activation, he/she sees that what happened to him/her could happen to anyone. And he/she begins to see the scientific ramifications of his/her experience, begins to realize Kundalini is neurobiology.
The danger is getting so carried away with religious fervor that you miss the science. It leads to getting tainted with the kiss-of-death Spirituality label. There is a term that describes this work but it’s not spirituality, it’s Metaphysical.
What’s the difference? you ask. Spirituality has become a cliché. Ask 50 people to write down a one-sentence definition of spiritual and you get 50 different, contradictory answers. The word has no meaning. Metaphysical, on the other hand, is clear: it means beyond the physical.
|The Mind can be a Prison|
Try to catalog your experience scientifically. Include only the realities you see and hear. Yes, there is an Energy Continuum, but just because you now perceive and are part of it doesn’t mean that you have to embellish it. That only does a disservice to those who are trying to gain mass critical acceptance for Kundalini. Yes, the Energy Continuum is wonderful, like Disneyland to a child, but place yourself in it accurately. Don’t get labeled as a spiritualist. At the very least, step back from your experience to evaluate it. Is it a scientific experience or a religious one? It’s got to be one or the other; it can’t be spiritual, because the word has no meaning. If religious best describes it, realize you get nowhere. People will call it spiritual and lump you in with fundamentalists and fanatics. If metaphysical best describes it, then it’s scientific, because metaphysics is the science of that which lies beyond the physical. Never forget Kundalini is a direct result of physical activity. Consciousness rising out of mechanical pieces and parts, namely our breathing apparatus and our sexuality — neurobiology at its most potent.
So, if you come out spraying a lot of new age mumbo-jumbo, everyone you talk to will be thinking it’s all in his/her mind. Don’t give them the satisfaction of lumping you in with religions based only on faith or spiritual cults based on accepting someone else’s arbitrary opinions. Try relating it to the real world. You’ll find there’s no separation. They flow into one another — the physical into the metaphysical.
Just because you can’t furnish an empirical proof that science accepts today, doesn’t mean your experience isn’t real. In time it will be empirically proven, once we have the tools and/or the means to do so.
Today, we have the nouveau atheists, Stephen Hawking, Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Sam Harris, who carry on about God and no God. More words, cleverly put together. It’s still only opinion. And it’s beside the point. They are talkers, not doers. And metaphysical knowledge cannot be gained by talking.
Do they have a case? Absolutely, their arguments about the limits of religion are correct; everyone should read their books. Accepting anything on faith is wrong minded. But they add no empirical evidence to the matter, just more rationalization.
Ask yourself: Why do neurobiologists ignore Kundalini? If they're really investigating the neurological effects of biology, shouldn't they be investigating the most powerful means of enhancing the brain? Should they really be saying the only way to study the brain is from the outside-in, not the inside-out?
Whether it’s from the side of religion or the side of science, it’s only so much talk. No one knows without doing. The problem with doing is there’s a tendency is to overdo. To get carried away with religious fervor when it’s really a scientific experiment you’ve just lived through, one that took place in the laboratory of your body.