Sunday, January 20, 2013

Do I Need a Teacher?

Two of the most common immediate after-effects of a Kundalini awakening — in the form of ideas that pop into your head — are:
  • Intense feelings that "I" need to do something that improves the condition of all mankind,
  • Overwhelming desire to meet someone in the form of a highly-evolved teacher that knows much more about Kundalini than "I" do.
Both of these usually lead nowhere and here's why: Gopi Krishna had these same feelings after his awakening in India in 1938. He searched the entire country without finding an authentic someone who truly knew more than, or even as much as, he did...and that in India, a country reputed to be at the vanguard of spiritual exploration.

Kundalini is like the midst of the storm, a being tossed and turned before finding calm
Before the Storm
What he did discover is: it's up to the awakened one to fend for him/herself because he/she can do a much better job of managing the Kundalini energy, once they submit. It's a long haul. It took me about one hundred days to awaken Kundalini via GFM, a time period that pales beside the 50 years I've lived with it.

I made up my mind early on that I would give into the Kundalini energy and find a way to accommodate its every whim. Why? Very simple. I realized it had my best interests at heart. That it could do no wrong. It was out to help me forge an "I" out of the "me", at the same time it rectified certain physiological abnormalities.

For good measure here's the account (excerpted from Deciphering the Golden Flower One Secret at a Time) of my attempt to gather information about my awakening from Swami Muktananda at the moment of his leaving Paris for the US. This is not an attempt to denigrate his ability to confer Shaktipat; I know many people who he performed it on. Rather it is a parable on finding someone to guide you through. Thankfully the lesson I learned was I would have to become my own best teacher.
I have ventured forth in my newly purchased Quatrelle to witness the departure of Swami Muktananda. I’m not keen on the shotgun approach to finding a teacher, especially a sensation like Muktananda, surrounded, as it were, by layers of handlers who seem little more than glorified bouncers. Anyway, someone told me about him. So I thought—what the hell.
To enter the ashram, I have to stand in line and be screened. Waiting to enter the big room, I overhear his acolytes buzzing about who is going to ride with him in the car to the airport. That is the spiritual concern of the day. More like backroom political maneuvering—jockeying for votes, bargaining for influence.
And the prize? Proximity to the guru during the final trip to Charles de Gaulle Airport. The winners get to ride; the losers get to follow in a motorcade. Dressed in robes of saffron, white and red, they huddle by the door whispering and cajoling, earnestly vying to move up the ladder of distinction.

Attended by still more acolytes who buzz around him, the guru is seated on a platform in the big room. I watch him while the bouncers quiz me. I picture Milarepa alone in his Himalayan cave. Somehow, the two don’t jibe.
I have a vague idea about the questions I want to ask, but when I’m finally admitted to the big room, I see it may be impossible. First, I am one of a large group of people seated on the floor. I may never be recognized to speak because of the on-going ritual. All this makes me impatient, for I am only interested in knowing if the illustrious guru has some answers to my specific condition. The ceremony, trappings and schmoozing make me uncomfortable. I’m sorry that I’ve driven through all that Parisian traffic. And now I have to sit through the chanting, which I guess would have its place if the context didn’t resemble a White House press conference with its hubbub of kibitzers and white noise.
If any present are on a spiritual mission, personal or otherwise, I can’t detect it. It seems more like the worship of a particular personality, whose followers take their status from proximity to the Master.

I am probably missing the true meaning of the chanting, but the shuffling, the ritual mutterings of Muktananda, only underline the general impatience, as if everyone in the room is waiting for the mad scramble to the cars.
I can’t remember if he asks for questions, I just remember my hand being in the air at a particular moment and his pointing at me. The noise level drops to zero as I stammer forth. Can’t remember my exact words, only a paraphrase: “I recently spent one year in isolation, meditating. During this time hidden channels in my body were awakened…and eventually energy streamed into a place…a location in my head…that I can only call the third eye. Now, it continues on its own without my intervention, and my head cracks while it does…”

The Guru interrupts me. His acolytes turn their faces expectantly, as if ready to savor his reaction. My fellow floor sitters turn to stare at me.
“It is not possible. The head does not crack. There are no muscles in the head…” replies Muktananda.

Giggles and titters, as if the crowd were saying, “You don’t know that, stupid? Everyone knows that!”
“Then something is cracking in every room I’ve occupied…”
“It wasn’t your head.”
“It must have been the radiators then,” says someone in the crowd.
More derisive laughter. I’m not so much annoyed by people laughing at me as by the complete refusal to accept the possibility of a head cracking. That’s what growth is all about, from infancy to maturity—the head changing imperceptibly over time.
“That is impossible; the skull cannot crack,” he continues.
“But can it change its shape?”
“That is another matter.”
He whispers to someone behind him in a light green robe. Everybody rises. Question time is over.

In his denial, is he saying that it didn’t happen to him so therefore it couldn’t happen…period? I don’t put any limits on the power inside me. Obviously, once maturity is reached, cracking might be difficult, but not impossible. Being him, I would have wanted to hear more. Being me, I believed he could look at me and see my inner workings, and therefore know I was telling the truth.
So, I am disappointed, but not much. It only reinforces what I’ve learned. I figure I need a few experiences like this to learn to ignore conventional wisdom. In the solitude of St. Jean, as a kind of empirical detective, I learned to keep my mouth shut, perhaps by virtue of having no one to talk to. And now, reintroduced into the world, I am flush with success, like I have accomplished something—even though, in my heart of hearts, I know I haven’t. The road is never ending—for as long as I have the strength to push my body out of bed. It’s the same for the ordinary person as it is for the enlightened.
Good for you, I say to myself while walking into the bistro across the street from the ashram. You got laughed at and you deserved it. Now wake up, continue on your way, and forget conventional wisdom—even from the mouths of the so-called enlightened.


  1. I love this passage from your book. If i remember correctly, it was your reference to the cracking in the skull that made me write you an email and say 'yes, i have had that happen too'.

    On a side note, and without being disrespectful to Muktananda or his abilities (I do believe he had the power to give shaktipat) I must point out something Osho once said about Swami Muktandada. It must be understood that, like Gurdjieff, Osho was a prankster, comedian, and loved poking fun at some of the other enlightened masters of that era (my kinda guru). He once said, Muktananda being enlightened should give hope to everyone... in his words "If Muktananda of Ganeshpuri can be enlightened, anybody can be enlightened" :)

  2. I was involved with Siddha Yoga for 7 years. I left amid scandals and revelations that made it impossible to have continued faith in the organization and its leadership. Despite many impressive experiences with kundalini, including the instant removal of my addictions, I later doubted the value of it, my reasoning being that so advanced an adept as Muktananda and his successors had apparently not mastered basic moral behavior. I never felt any connection to Muktananda, although I attributed my awakening to him. I found his talks boring and didn't like the people who surrounded him. But I felt I owed him some allegiance and gratitude for all I had received. I wonder: can a deeply flawed man be the vehicle for kundalini awakening for others? It seems to be the case. And is kundalini then morally neutral and available to scoundrels? I have recommenced kundalini meditation after a long hiatus. It never really went away. I was always sliding into automatic pranayama and seeing lights, which I would try to suppress. Now, I let it rip. But I am perplexed about its relationship to my conscious mind and my moral decisions. Does it care? What is its primary aim? It must be more than rebuilding the body. I am 70 and will soon leave this body. Any thoughts? Thanks for listening. Ed

    JJ Semple
    11:34 AM (5 hours ago)
    to me


    Q: "But I am perplexed about its relationship to my conscious mind and my moral decisions. Does it care? What is its primary aim?”

    A: Living with kundalini for over 50 years (I’m 82) taught me: We live in an energetic universe, not a moral one. Because of cultural brainwashing and conventional thinking, this is not readily apparent. Kundalini gives one the necessary objectivity to realize that morality is a social construct, necessary, perhaps, but often misguided because it masks the truth. If you accept the notion that consciousness is the evolutionary driver — a sort of energy continuum — you understand it moves forward without taking sides on any moral issues.

    Commentary: We may live in an energetic universe with kundalini as the "evolutionary driver", but it must be driving us somewhere. Although definitions of energy are elusive and arguable, we can safely say that energy is motion, a change agent. But all motion has direction. So it is not unreasonable to think that kundalini is moving from point A to point B. What is point B? Will we only know when we arrive? And if morality is due to societal brainwashing and cultural conditioning, then how do we account for the universality of certain moral norms that transcend cultural differences and changing epochs? I am still wrestling with these questions. My perplexity about Muktananda had to do with his obvious power to awaken kundalini (not just a one-off shaktipat experience, although that may have been the case with some, but the ongoing process that spans a lifetime from its inception) and his no less obvious moral turpitude, as later revealed by the devotees he abused. If kundalini cleansing doesn't make one a better person in the sense of loving and respecting others, how does it advance evolution? Or is it, as you suggest, morally neutral and mainly biological? If morality can "mask the truth" that kundalini reveals, what is that truth and how does morality mask it? Your own experience with Muktananda (I've read "Deciphering ..." as well as your other books) portrays him as lacking in compassion and sensitivity, surrounded by "glorified bouncers". What good did kundalini awakening do this man? And how did he become a conduit for its transmission?

    1. The two issues you raise are good ones:

      One, Wither Evolution
      If you consider that we evolved from one-celled animals to what we are today, it is logical to assume that, given a similar amout of time, we will, once again, change forms many times over. Short-sighted animals that we are, many among us, believe that we have reached a state of perfection, that we will evolve no more. Quelle arrogance!

      That said, it is impossible to project exactly what that form might be. Nevertheless, if I were to guess what that form might be, I'd ask myself which mutations cause the most problems as far as human evolution is concerned?

      I'd have to answer: the body, the source of all our problems: war, materialism, overwrought emotions (jealousy, hate, pride, ten commandment stuff) If we were to ultimately evolve into "bodiless beings," these issues become moot. This may sound crazy, but it is consistent with evolutionary purpose.

      Two, Kundalini and Morality
      Because we exist in an energetic universe, there is nothing to prevent an immoral person (by society's standards) from activating kundalini. We can only hope that, once active, the impact and the immensity of the various kundalini effects will, at a minimum, steer the person towards a respect for the Golden Rule.

    2. It may be the case that we did not evolve from one-celled organisms (check out Dr. David Berlinski's critique of Darwin and Dr. Micheal Behe's, along with Ben Stein's documentary). Also, if you think that immoral behavior is an obstacle to human evolution and that the obstacle may be obviated by a progression of the species into a bodiless entity, that presumes that selfish actions are all sins of the flesh. Every religious tradition maintains the contrary, with the sins of the spirit being considered the worst. A conscious entity, with or without a body, may still be capable of malice. Your parenthetical phrase (by society's standards) offers a possible rationalization for bad behavior by shaktipat gurus, one that their defenders (not that you are one) are quick to offer. Muktananda's sexual abuse of young women is still justified by some true believers as a form of shakti transmission and a good thing, if only we were not so blinded by conventions that don't apply to a master capable of awakening kundalini. I'm not trying to be controversial and I appreciate your sincere efforts to help others, but these are, to my mind, issues that it would be good to addresss.