Sunday, March 10, 2013

The Journey or the Destination

I am wrongly criticized for describing my book, Deciphering the Golden Flower One Secret at a Time as being a comprehensive breakdown of secrets in The Secret of the Golden Flower (SGF). It is not. That book has now been published as The Secret of the Golden Flower: A Kundalini Meditation Method. The two books work together, covering both aspects of the kundalini process: theory and practice.

I could write a hundred books — to no avail if the reader is only trolling the issue. At some point, discussion is moot. Theory leads nowhere without practice. And that's the problem with the internet, a public forum where off-the-wall and cogent interpretation exist side-by-side, but practical accounts are rare. Nonsense meets sense...and it's up to the reader, should he or she be so inclined, to evaluate the various positions, separate the wheat from the chaff. 

Deciphering the Golden Flower One Secret at a Time is a memoir of my journey to self-discovery, during which, after long periods of floundering, I had the good fortune to come across the SGF and its method of meditation and the good sense to practice the meditation, whereby I now understand that:
"Self-realization begins at birth; it is the journey as much as it is the destination."~Araminta Matthews

Deciphering the Golden Flower One Secret at a Time examines many aspects of the journey and the destination. Should the journey be considered part of the experience — in this case a Kundalini awakening? Does the effort to attain something count in the end result? Should the means enjoy the same weight as the ends? Beyond the fact that the journey is usually a humanizing experience, there's the ultimate question of: What is the destination? Miracles, super powers, bragging rights? Gopi Krishna had this to say:
"A question was asked of Ramana Maharshi, 'Do you see spirits?' He said, 'Yes, in my dreams.' I would like to tell you something which is probably not known in the West, I mean especially to the younger generation. There is not a single mention of miracles in the Upanishads, which are the fountainhead of all metaphysical and spiritual thought in India. There is not a word in favor of miracles in the dialogues of Buddha; in fact he condemns them. Not a word about miracles in the Bhagavad Gita. Krishna condemns those who practice meditation to harm others or gain some worldly object for themselves, or in other words miracles. Not a word about miracles in the sayings of Ramakrishna, Raman, Sri Aurobindo, nor Swami Sivananda." 
So if it isn't miracles, we can surmise it isn't bragging rights. So what is it? What is the destination? Gopi Krishna knew what it was, and, thanks to my struggles, so do I. It's greater consciousness, better decisions, better health, longevity, better self-control, knowledge of life and death, a connection with the energy continuum. So does all this come with a Kundalini awakening, the moment it occurs?

No, it takes time. It did for me anyway. For Gopi Krishna, too — if you read his books. And guess what? Some of the fundamentals are acquired along the way, during the journey! Yes, they are. Through focus, through travail, through trial and error. Through getting knocked down and bouncing back up. Through becoming single-minded.
Arcata Bottoms
Birds and their Fanciers
So what if I failed to do a line-by-line interpretation of The Secret of the Golden Flower. Not to start with, that is. Why? Because there happens to be a lot of them out there already. From Carl Gustav Jung to Osho. I preferred dealing with the really important secrets in the context of how I discovered they were important and how I ultimately came to practice and master them. Namely, Diaphragmatic Deep Breathing and the Backward Flowing Method. Why take a narrative approach?

Because people identify with the struggle of the journey. If the struggle isn't real — doesn't lead the seeker through a series of dark night of the soul crises — can the process be authentic? Not if it isn't lived in its entirety. Not if it produces a cloying mess that obfuscates the vital elements of the struggle.

The road less travelled

There was another reason I took this approach: I wanted to document the difficulties the westerner faces in even getting to the starting point of the self-actualization journey, especially in 1956 when I began my quest. I have Indian and Chinese friends who grew up with meditation and Yoga practices all around them. I never heard these words until I was in my twenties. Even when I did, there was very little information extant. As for Kundalini, I didn't hear the word until after I had activated it.

My journey took me from HS graduation to college to the USMC to college again to work to travel to work, 18 to 35, all before I'd found anything substantial, before I even had a clue that something like Kundalini meditation existed.

And that was just the materialistic aspect of my life; there were many other aspects: relationships, family, health, addictions, pursuits and dreams. Like everyone, I was juggling a whole medley of issues, but unlike most of my friends, not doing a very good job of it. I needed to document the choices I made in getting from a point far behind the starting line to where I ultimately ended up: a Kundalini practitioner and writer. Even today, I still look back and wonder how I got to where I am today. The least I could do was to retrace my steps so that other westerners, be they more or less apt or predisposed than I was, could nevertheless use my odyssey as a roadmap, sometimes for finding a way forward, other times for the choices to avoid.

Awakening Kundalini is akin to a crash landing on an unknown planet. There is no way to be fully prepared, no guidebook. The greatest preparation, in fact, is the ability to improvise.

Imagine crashing a plane in unfamiliar territory. Right away, you have to find food, shelter and repair your equipment with only a limited toolset and a manual written in an unknown language. A rush job with life and death stakes, that kind of desperate mission requires a task-oriented personality. Take stock and get on with it. And don’t neglect intuition; it may save your life.

Enough about theory, already. About idealizing the destination! It never works out like you think it will. There are years of coming to terms with an active Kundalini at work in your body, and you better learn the practical aspects of living with it and not yearn for ecstatic states of bliss.

Hopefully, as living empirical science proliferates in the future, raising Kundalini will become an everyday occurrence. Our race will make the next incremental leap in consciousness. But the method must be safe. Perhaps the spiritual pioneering by disparate groups and individuals currently underway will prepare the groundwork for safe, permanent awakenings. It’s possible to avoid the pitfalls, to mitigate their effects. That's why I concentrate on vital techniques, and why I update the method regularly — as new information comes in.

No, your journey won't be the same as mine. Nor will its outcome. But the more journeys that are documented, the more understanding brought to the endeavor. Especially when you realize that the end isn't only other-worldly, that it's not a question of magical powers. In acquiring the tools for the soul's long journey as it shape-shifts its way through the energy continuum, there's definitely work for more than one person.

Once again Gopi Krishna's farsighted assessment:
"A few more confessions such as Alan Watts’, and a probe directed to the avowals of thousands of human beings who have had the unmistakable experiences of the Kundalini force are perhaps necessary to put open-minded and enterprising men and women of science on the trail of what is the greatest mystery of creation still lying unsolved and even unattended before us."
It's not an either - or. The two go together: The Journey and the Destination.

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3 comments:

  1. I really hope the day comes when a Kundalini awakening becomes an everyday occurrence, and there is an infrastructure in place to guide the awakees to their best path, devoid of dogma and rigidity. Acceptance and nurture are the keywords here. You are right about the ability to improvise and adapt. It is a huge part of the initial stages of the process.

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  2. Great post, written with passion and conviction and it is so true what you write about the attainment of miracles or what has been called Siddhas is not the aim of Kundalini rising. It is the vehicle for expanding consciousness which doesn't come with any bells or whistles!

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  3. I think the biographical history and setting of a Kundalini awakening are more helpful than an attempt to describe the event itself without that context. I believe that this is ultimately because Kundalini works--in a way that I don't understand-- out there, in the material world, in the contacts we have with others, as well as in our individual bodies and brains..

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