Thursday, February 26, 2015

Surrender

Surrender, from the context of which I am writing, does not mean “giving up.” It means “letting go;” more specifically, letting go of something of lessor value in order to attain something of greater value.
acceptance and change, surrender

This notion of surrender has an important significance in Christian Meditation, a prayer discipline I have followed for many years. The rules for this discipline are based on the premises of silence, stillness, and simplicity. Learning to meditate is learning to “let go” of your thoughts, ideas and imagination and to rest in the depths of your own being. The Inner Divine cannot be accessed through one’s own willful striving. Just as we cannot extinguish a fire by using fire, we cannot transcend the ego by using the ego. So we wait in silence and stillness, repeating our mantra until the wall of the ego is relaxed and transcended. This involves a surrender of the exterior false self with all of its self-definitions (I am this, I am that) to discover that which exists beyond “self.” For me, this transcendent experience was a dissolving of the “I” into a shimmering blissful lake of Divine light.

surrender, Christian meditation
     
The fourteenth century Christian mystic, Ruysbrock, describes surrender in this way.

  • Believe and accept through Grace that the God dwells within, and therefore turn within to discover and expect to find God dwelling within you.
  • Be diligent to rid yourself of all distracting thoughts, images and attachments of the heart to any created being or thing, to escape into God. Guard your outward senses from all worldly attractions which cling so easily, to be carried away in union with God.
  • Freely turn your will towards God so that your whole being is absorbed and directed by His presence - body, mind and spirit — in complete dependence and submission.
  • Acknowledge your inability of doing this on your own. Only in faith is this possible. So surrender to God, and allow your souls to be over-powered and absorbed into oneness with Him.
Gerald May in his book “Will and Spirit” describes the qualities of surrender in this way:

It is intentional: It is the result of the free and unencumbered use of one’s will. It is a free choice, never forced or compelled in any way.

It is conscious: One is wide awake and aware of everything that is happening at the time of surrender. There is no dullness or robotic mindlessness.

It involves responsibility for the consequences as well as for the act itself: We are willing to accept the full consequences of whatever may result from the surrender. We let go of ego involvement in the desire to surrender. We accept the consequences of "letting go" even if it may appear to have a negative result.

It is not directed toward any fully known object: Thus it cannot in anyway be a means of furthering one’s self-definition or self-importance. It must be directed toward that which exists beyond all images and concepts.

It represents a willingness to engage the fullness of life with the fullness of oneself: It cannot be an escape or avoidance. It must be a “yes” rather than a “no.” We are intentional in our desire for fullness.

So what has all this to do with Kundalini?

From my experiences with Christian Meditation and Kundalini, both involve a surrender; a letting go. Other than that, they are very different.

How are they different?

First of all, it was my involvement with Christian Meditation that triggered the beginnings of Kundalini. Christian Meditation is a prayer discipline to encourage letting go of our physical, intellectual and sensing activities that connect and identify us with the exterior world in order to transcend ego and bring us in touch with the inner Divine Presence often referred to as the True Self.

Kundalini, on the other hand, is a release of energy from the base of the spine that relentlessly moves through the physical and subtle bodies with its own intelligently motivated agenda. This agenda is to bring all aspects of the human metabolism (both physical and subtle) into a state of wholeness. This energy does this through a process of renovating the physical and subtle bodies to modify or remove anything that may be an obstacle to wholeness. Kundalini discerns its own path and method, separating the wheat to be kept from the chaff to be modified or destroyed. This modification will include all or many of our false beliefs, values and assumptions, even those which were previously important to us.

Once the Kundalini process has begun, we must surrender to the process. All of the qualities of surrender stated above (Gerald May) apply to Kundalini. I understand from my reading that any resistance to Kundalini’s agenda once triggered will only result in suffering and hardship. Since I had no knowledge of Kundalini at the time of its rising, I assumed it was a spiritually renewing event triggered from my intense meditation. So I embraced it fully despite some discomfort and confusion that resulted at the time. I surrendered to it as I had surrendered to my meditation discipline, always with an underlying intuitive knowing that everything was unfolding as it should.

Kundalini often takes us by surprise with radical results. It turns our world up-side down. We suddenly see life differently. I speak for myself when I say that it is very easy to get caught up in the Kundalini phenomena, and become fascinated and attached to the process itself, particularly the freedom and bliss associated with it. I often had to ask myself one very important question: What is the purpose of the Kundalini experience?

The answer that I receive is always the same: So that we may become engaged in the world in a more wholesome and beneficial way.

Kundalini frees us from the dullness and obstacles of past conditioning and traumas. It breaks down the walls of the ego found in the “ahankara” mental sheath, and releases us from those strong attachment to “self” with its rigidity, inflexibility, and tight boundaries. It takes us away from that sense of “being separate” and allows us to see and experience our connection with every living being and thing.

drops and the ocean, part of the whole

A further surrender to which I am now called is to let go of the fascination and attachment to the Kundalini experience itself and how it has affected me to embrace more fully the life to which it has called me to live.

Friday, February 20, 2015

Selection of a Kundalini Activation Method

Some people have the luxury of selecting a method; for others Kundalini arrives involuntarily. The goal of a method is to permanently awaken Kundalini. An involuntary,
or spontaneous, Kundalini activation can be temporary — although some effects may endure. No one forgets a Kundalini awakening.

The following is taken from my book, The Backward-Flowing Method: The Secret of Life and Death...


The Brain Continues to Evolve
"According to Gopi Krishna’s findings, 'There have been very few instances of individuals in whom the serpent fire burned ceaselessly from the day of its awakening until the last.' What does this have to do with 'kundalini meditation'? It establishes one criterion for qualifying a method of 'kundalini meditation': namely, that the method’s results must be permanent, not temporary. What’s more, we must realize that when we speak about method, we automatically exclude involuntary Kundalini experiences. Why? Because, by definition, if we talk about involuntary, we are talking about a Kundalini experience that can happen anytime, anywhere, in any set of circumstances, and cannot, therefore, be the result of any method. A method must be a systematic process with documented controls and predictable results. It must be a system anyone with the proper training can apply in order to produce the same results over and over, time after time. Moreover, to be considered, it must be a method that is safe, repeatable, and standardized. So, what is the ideal 'kundalini meditation'? I would say it’s a system that is:
  • Voluntary. It doesn’t happen on its own account. Its techniques are based on the documented experiences of others. The practitioner chooses to apply these techniques in order to achieve predictable results. 

  • Permanent. The results last a lifetime; the individual experiences daily Kundalini-Life Force activity that “burns ceaselessly from the day of its awakening until the last.” 

  • Safe. It does no harm to the individual. In fact, it serves as 'an upgrade mechanism,' restoring proper health and stability to the body and the entire being. 

  • Repeatable. The method can be used over and over, time after time, in a scientifically controlled manner to produce the same set of predictable results.
"Does this mean that involuntary or impermanent Kundalini experiences have no value or validity? No, it means that in order to advance this work, we must define what the work is. Can we not learn from involuntary or impermanent Kundalini experiences? Yes, of course we can. But just as a material scientist, who accidentally mixes several chemicals together in his lab, must repeat the process under scientifically acceptable conditions for it to be considered valid, the person who experiences an involuntary Kundalini awakening must be concerned with the repeatability of his process. If it isn’t repeatable, what lasting benefit can be attributed to the process? And if the effects do not last, isn’t that sort of like taking off in a flying contraption only to have it crash to the ground after 150 yards?"

If we believe that the biology behind Kundalini is linked to evolutionary advancement and it will ultimately — one way or another — be available to all persons, then we need to refine available methods and vet them. Let the experiments with Kundalini in the laboratory of individual bodies become an experiment on a mass scale across a vast number of willing and able bodies.

Friday, February 6, 2015

Triggers and Effects

I use the notions of triggers and effects to denote causes and results in describing Kundalini arousals, triggers being the cause and effects being the results or the symptoms displayed.

How do you activate it? (Triggers)
In my 40 years of listening to Kundalini awakening stories, I have heard so many trigger variations it is nearly impossible to categorize them. Everything from meditation to drugs, physical exertion to sexual ecstasy to Shaktipat to minding one's own business. For me, my trigger was meditation.

But my activation method only applies to me and to those who have practiced the Golden Flower Meditation method. Once you practice a given method, and get to a point where the sublimation process becomes active, it is difficult to change course and begin all over again with a new method.


Dal Lake, houseboats, kashmir 1977
I stayed on a houseboat while meeting with Gopi Krishna - Dal Lake, Kashmir, 1977
This is especially true for those whose Kundalini is permanent. I could no more undo my permanently active Kundalini, go back to a time before it was active, and start over with a new method than I could reinsert myself into my mother’s womb and be born again.

So what does this tell us? Simply that there is no one size-fits-all trigger for arousing Kundalini and no guarantee that a given trigger will actually work in a specific case...so if you're looking for one, you may not find it in books, conversations, or retreats. It just may up and hit you when you least expect it...or not. However, once your experience is triggered, accept it as the ultimate experiment in the laboratory of your own body.

And while we're at it, the triggers I referred to are really only different kinds of detonators. The actual cause (the explosive charge waiting to be detonated) is a quantity of stored-up, distilled sexual energy (explosive charge) preternaturally available at the moment the detonator engages.

No matter the detonator — be it drugs, meditation, or even sexual rapture — each detonation causes a release of sexual energy. The initiate may not feel sexual activity during the release — Kundalini works at a deep neurological level, — but the sensations/effects/symptoms the individual does feel when Kundalini activates are related to the release and upward climb of sexual energy to the brain. For example, you may feel tired, enthralled, frightened, or depressed without any erotic undercurrents. Nevertheless, sexual energy is present. The reason you may not feel sexually aroused is because the energy Kundalini releases to the brain initiates a rewiring of neural and cerebral circuits, which once fired, can cause behavioral irregularities, up to and including bliss, psychosis, and depression. If the initiate realizes what he/she is undergoing is benign, any aberrant mental and psychic states can be stabilized by accepting Kundalini, not fighting it. So be patient. Let the rewiring and the restorative work begin. As Osho said:

“Kundalini is not felt because it is rising; kundalini is only felt if you do not have a very clear passage. If the passage is completely clear-cut, then the energy flows, but you cannot feel it. You feel it when there is something there that resists the flow. If the energy flows upward and you have blocks in the passage, only then do you feel it. So the person who feels more kundalini is really blocked: there are many blocks in the passage, so the kundalini cannot flow.”
There’s another element that must be accounted for, a deterministic element I call the Field. Not every person seeking to activate Kundalini is able to do so. At the same time, not every person in whom Kundalini becomes active wants it to happen. This is especially important at the present time when so many people are striving to activate it by so many different methods. Most of them have no idea what awaits them if they succeed. And if and when they do succeed, they are often ill-prepared to deal with the aftermath.

So how is the determination made on who’s going to succeed? This is important because forcing a Kundalini activation is almost beside the point in evolutionary terms: we’re going to get there anyway over time — to even higher states of consciousness. Evolution will see to it; that’s how evolution works.

For the trigger and the explosive charge to collide, the Field must move them into alignment; that’s its deterministic nature. This Field could be called The Energy Continuum or Consciousness or even a Quantum event, one whose moment is come to pass: the collision in time and space of Detonator (trigger), Explosive charge (sexual energy), brought together by the Field (quantum event) whose purpose is to escort an individual destiny through an evolutionary leap.

Today, there's so much buzz and crosstalk about Kundalini, but so little sharing of Kundalini knowledge and experience. Everyone’s off in his or her corner, trying to protect his or her itzy bit of Kundalini turf, scared someone else will steal it or, at the least, somehow diminish its gainfulness. Trying to convince the world that one trigger is better than another is counterproductive. I could tell you that my method is the one true and only method, but I’ve found that promoting exclusivity leads to a compartmentalization of knowledge. Kundalini doesn’t need insider bickering among adepts; there’s enough hostility, doubt, and prejudice directed at it from outside sources. Better to spend time sharing information on triggers and testing them under laboratory conditions.


JJ Semple, Kashmir 1977, Dal Lake
With Farad, my guide, in front of Dal Lake - Kashmir, 1977
 
As far as I know, there are no statistics on the success rate of any given trigger, so although there's a lot of information out there, it's muddled. How do you choose a method or a trigger? In my case, my method chose me. Someone gave me a copy of The Secret of the Golden Flower and I practiced the method in the book. One factor that helped me succeed was sticking with a single method once IT found me. Doers complete the journey; dabblers tend to end up back where they started. Recognize the difference.

What does It do for/to you? (Effects)
The foregoing applies to the activation method (the trigger); however, when we speak of the effects and aftermath of Kundalini common among practitioners, we find many effects are shared. However, each case is different. It would be great if that wasn’t the case, but it is. Until there is a trigger that produces the same effects time after time over a given population, and a critical mass of practitioners who share a comparable set of effects, we won’t achieve unanimous acceptance from researchers. So even though I’d like to consider my method as capable of producing uniform results, the sample group of practitioners is as yet too small.

The general question “What does kundalini do for you?” must be rephrased as “What did it do for me?” This I can answer. For me, the effects included, but were not limited to:
    • Triggering autonomic self-healing mechanisms capable of correcting defects due to neural degeneration;
    • Rejuvenating the brain and the body as a result of intense neuroplastic activity;
    • Retarding the aging process;
    • Reversing self-destructive and addictive behavior;
    • Heightening and enhancing consciousness through the awakening of various metanormal effects and powers;
    • Cleansing the ego by removing the effects of conditioning and programming: self-actualization;
    • Clearly demonstrating that the spirit persists after death;
    • Helping to end dependency on ineffective health-care models; and
    • Facilitating the transition into the next state of being.
      And it didn't necessarily stop there. Not all of the effects come “online” as soon as activation takes place. Kundalini is still DOING me — forty years after I activated it! And it doesn’t operate wantonly! Kundalini is intelligent.

      What’s more, these are not the only effects I will ever experience; new effects are happening all the time, without warning. Kundalini doesn’t stand still. And that’s part of the challenge: Don’t try to contend with the power of Kundalini; don’t try to control it because you won’t be able to. Once permanently activated, it’s best to submit to whatever Kundalini has in store for you.

      So how can you tell if your Kundalini is really awakened? For Gopi Krishna and myself, two persons who practiced Kundalini meditation, we were able to observe somatic and metabolic changes in the body as the sexual sublimation process engaged and as it ultimately reached a dramatic crescendo, ushering waves of pranic energy into the brain, igniting all chakras. In these cases, the proof is incremental: The trigger induces the effects and you can follow the process as you would follow a laboratory experiment.


      Case Studies in Kundalini
      What about those whose Kundalini has been ignited surreptitiously? In these cases, you have to work inductively, from the effects back to the cause. If you can identify a number of acknowledged Kundalini effects/symptoms, you can conclude that Kundalini has somehow been aroused. Nevertheless, this is tricky. There is a tendency to attribute Kundalini symptoms to various mental states, persuading yourself that Kundalini has actually awakened when it hasn't. In such cases, you must verify everything you see, hear, or feel.

      For me, the effects have been benign. Whether this holds true in your case, I can't say. And whether you're able to withstand the effects depends on your ability to accept Kundalini and adapt yourself to its dictates. I've talked with many people who have shared some, if not all, of the effects included in my list above, and, in doing so, have thrived. Nevertheless, since effects vary from subject to subject, but are also shared in many instances, I believe it would be useful to classify effects by triggers and then rate each effect by impact from negative to positive. That way we might learn which triggers to avoid, if possible, and which ones produce positive effects.

      What about ecstatic states of bliss? Yes, they are common, especially in the beginning. But don’t get caught up in them; they take you away from the real world. And as long as we inhabit bodies, the real world makes demands on us, and we must balance these demands with the thrall an awakening experience casts over us as we learn to put the layers of past conditioning into proper perspective.

      Thursday, February 5, 2015

      Thinking About Death

      As well as being the awakener of the Life Force, Kundalini is also called, in the Tantric texts, the "Fire Of Death." There are times when the Kundalini energy is so intense one feels gripped by it, snatched bodily out of oneself, stopped dead. If not death itself, this is a near approach to dying. The body becomes shell-like. Sharply focused light floods the chest. A prickling sensation covers the face, like needles being pushed up from under the skin. The prickling becomes so acute it's only a deep absorption that can stop one scratching uncontrollably. It's strange that at moments like these, the body is experienced, and even visually seen, with a greater clarity and reality than it has in ordinary day-to-day life.

      The blueprint of the perfected body comes more into focus, and one cherishes it more deeply than ever. The texts say that there are seventy two thousand nadis in the human body. I'm sure that the facial prickling, which can be maddeningly acute, is the pushing outwards of some of these nadis, awakening and shaping the surface of the face, which is where each of us is most visibly human, as well as being the most weather beaten and marked by experience. As the "Fire Of Death" rises up the body, the physical blueprint becomes less and less one's own, and more and more the physical form of the Non-Self, the "face one had before one was born."
       
      The Portals of Death and Decay
      Decay

      Of course, there's a danger that one is merely thinking about death, playing with the idea of death, or even worse, escaping into a callous fantasy when faced with the death of others — friends, loved-ones, and strangers. Never-the-less, even on a merely intellectual level, death is a constant, all-surrounding reality, which must be faced. In traditional times, people turned to ars moriendi, the art of dying, to prepare themselves for death and to give depth to their final days and hours.

      The khyrystaia, or warrior caste in Vedic times, chose to die standing up, either in battle, or by keeping on their feet as they passed away. John Donne, the metaphysical poet, used to wrap himself in a burial shround to meditate. Shelley, who was a bit of a poser, drank wine from a skull. WB Yeats, in a fine line, celebrates "those who come glad-eyed and laughing to the tomb." The whole idea of the "quantum," in quantum mechanics, is that energy manifests itself in "parcels" or "packages," which, even at the speed of light, have a beginning and an end. The apparent solidity of the body is made up of an untold number of instantaneous beginnings and endings.

      Kundalini doesn't think about it, Kundalini is it.

      Tuesday, February 3, 2015

      My Early Visual and Affective Journey

      “Wow! This description of the renovation and restoration process of kundalini is sure in line with my own experience.”
       
      This was my reaction while reading sections of Kundalini Vidya: The Science of Spiritual Transformation several months after my forty day retreat.
       

      At the time of my retreat, I had never heard of kundalini, nor did I know about the layers or sheaths making up the subtle body. Written by Joan Harrigan, this book uses an Eastern archetypal model that resonated with my own profound kundalini experience. This model was described in detail in my previous posting.

      Beyond our physical bodies, but emanating from our physical systems, lies the energy sheath made up of energy channels intersecting with six major chakras. Next to it is the mental sheath of our conscious and unconscious minds that can be broken down into “chitta,” the unconscious storehouse of past impressions and imprints, “manas,” our sensory motor system that carries out automatically the many biological and psychological functions of our metabolism, and the “ahankara” or ego, defining and giving us that sense of I-ness or separate identity with all of its attachments and boundaries. Next to that lies the discernment sheath, reflective consciousness often referred to as our inner voice. With this blueprint in mind, I will try to describe how this model is connected with what I experienced.

      In Christian Meditation (which I had been practicing for nearly three decades before encountering kundalini) we are told to breathe normally. So breathing becomes principally an unconscious response. You just let it be what it is. I would describe this as “manas” or an automatic response. If you wish to change it by holding your breath or breathing faster, you can, but normal would be to inhale, exhale with no special attention.

      On the thirty-eight day of my retreat, the first noticeable and unexpected change was in my pattern of breathing. This changed in two ways. While I was meditating, it seemed that “manas,” or the automatic response system, temporarily shifted my breathing pattern to a deep inhaling and holding of breath for as long as possible. This inhaling and holding of breath created pressure which was then systematically directed towards certain areas of my body. First to the diaphragm, then to the left and right sides, to the upper chest, back, neck and head. I described this in my journal as an opening up of areas in my body previous devoid of air and energy flow.

      The second thing I began to notice was the development of a new pattern for overall breathing. My old normal breathing pattern was comprised of a shallow inhale, exhale; an in and out routine. It began to change into diaphragmatic deep breathing, but of a circular nature, clockwise to be more specific.

      In the past, I've seldom had, or paid much attention to, visions. In fact, I was quite suspicious of them, but during the kundalini process these mind pictures become a fairly common event. And these psychological pictures and affective impressions were of a great assistance in helping me understand what was happening during this unusual time.


      During this change in my overall breathing pattern, the picture that frequently popped into my mind in respect to circular breathing was my breath following the curvature of a large wheel (positioned perpendicular to my body) that was circling slowly in a clockwise fashion. Upon exhaling, the breath followed the downward descent of the part of the wheel that was closest to my body. As the full exhale changed into the beginning of the inhale, the breath would follow the curve of the wheel through the bottom of its cycle to begin its upward climb until it reached the full inhale as it curved around the top to begin again its descent with the beginning of the exhale. Amazingly enough, it was the breath that was pulling the wheel around in its circular motion.
       
      You may ask: What’s the significance of this? The significance is that "manas," the autonomic motor system, seemed to be changing my breathing pattern in a manner that was necessary to arouse the flow of kundalini energy up from the lower chakras to the brain as part of its transformation agenda. It seemed that circular breathing was continuously being called upon to facilitate this process.
       
      In the following days, particularly during meditation time and at night, kundalini relentlessly took control of this agenda leaving me as an observer. The journey up the spine and into the brain became an ebb and flow over a period of weeks. This ebb and flow revealed some repeating patterns of mind pictures and affective experiences that I had no explanation for at the time, but were ultimately tied in with the archetypal model I discovered some months later in Kundalini Vidya.

      Repeatedly, as kundalini made its journey, it was as if it was entering the mental sheath at the level of “chitta,” the unconscious storehouse of past impressions and imprints. The first repetition of images began with a scene where I was looking, as if through a window, at the bottom of the sea that was filled with murky, dirty, filthy and polluted water. The water had gross sea monsters and creatures swimming about like predators. Dark seaweed swung about, sometimes covering me. There was no fear associated with this mind picture as I was only an observer. Could this have been a psychological image of unresolved issues, cultural conditioning, repressed habits and drives, defense mechanisms, etc., accumulated over a lifetime, content that was never dealt with?

      As kundalini continued its journey, it was as if it passed into the “ahankara” or the ego area of the mental sheath. Consistently here, I became aware of a side of myself I did not like. I became consciously aware of my deceitful and manipulative side, of boundaries that prevented me from living in accordance with a deeper truth. It was an awareness that many things I thought were true were not true at all. It was an awareness of attachments and constructs of my own making. These affective experiences caused, at times, a deep emotional grief that brought up sobs of remorse.

      This experience would invariably move to mind pictures of things falling away; more specifically a truck going down a hill in reverse out of control, buildings, crosses, churches crumbling to the earth, pieces of the earth falling away into space.

      As kundalini continue its journey, finally it was as if it entered the discernment sheath, “buddhi,” with its silence, its expansiveness, the clear sky without any clouds, a place with the absence of “self” — home.

      With each ebb and flow, each cycle of kundalini through the sheaths of the subtle body, a renovation and restoration was taking place, noticeable changes in the way I saw the exterior world around me. There was a freshness, a newness. There was a connection with others, those close to me and strangers, that I never experienced before. Episodes that would have previously triggered an emotional response were now neutral. And many of my own constructs and boundaries, some of which were the values, beliefs and assumptions that I held as an important part of my life, were mysteriously absent. It was confusing, but at the same time liberating, and the ecstatic bliss associated with the whole transformation process provided the assurance I needed to move with its flow.