Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Kundalini and Fear

Many years ago I came across an old Sufi story that resonated with me. I don't know why. The story goes that there is a big black dog who is extremely thirsty. Everytime it goes to the well to take a drink, it looks in and sees another big dog looking out so it becomes afraid and moves away. Eventually the thirst gets too much and the dog just jumps in the well and, of course the other dog disappears.
An allegory of fear
Dog Sees his Reflection in the Well — an Allegory of Fear

I understand that the big dog looking out from the well is the mind. The mind throws up all kinds of fearful thoughts when it feels its authority being threatened. In the writings of realized mystics and sages, fear at one point or another has to be dealt with. Not a crippling or paralyzing fear, but a fear that must be experienced and overcome in order for one to awaken spiritually.

In my own case, when Kundalini rose the second time, I was on a meditation retreat and I experienced the rising and falling of this energy. I had heard about the concept of surrender during the ten years I spent studying and practicing Mahayana Buddhism and had considered it to be the end of the spiritual journey. During one of the occasions of the rising energy I murmured "I surrender" and thought that would be the end of it. But it wasn't, and in that moment when I realized I had come to the end of everything I had known, I felt a tinge of fear. It didn't last very long, but it was there. Being brought to this place of fear and then having the courage to go beyond it is a characteristic of spiritual awakening.

I know my mind created this fear by the thought "I don't know what else to do." Then, following the experience, the mind quickly let loose a stream of other thoughts like "what has happened," "you're going mad." Following a spiritual awakening, the mind tends to do this because it feels threatened by the sudden expansion of consciousness. But there's only a limited period during which it manufactures these thoughts. That's why staying steady and not acting on the streaming chatter coming from the mind is so important. Just observe how the mind behaves without getting absorbed or drawn in.

I can remember in the months following the Kundalini rising having the words of the hymn I learned when I was in a Catholic boarding school in my head constantly: "do not be afraid." I would say them constantly to myself to manage the fear, which at times became quite acute, as the mind tried its hardest to throw me off course.

Gradually, if the mind is not listened to, the expansion of consciousness that an awakening experience produces becomes integrated, resulting in peace, joy, harmony, clarity — a life that flows and has balance. But this is not possible without confronting fear and when that fear is faced, it turns out not to be fear at all, but only a projection of a threatened mind.

No comments:

Post a Comment