Friday, November 22, 2013

The Secret of the Golden Flower - Revisited, Part I

According to the The Secret of the Golden Flower (SGF), the Primal Spirit is the formative energy responsible for our physical embodiment; the Conscious Spirit is the ego and its agents, the senses. The senses feed us an endless flow of information. Society (our parents, teachers, friends, and family) tell us what this information means. What we perceive with our senses becomes reality. What we are taught to believe in and hold as values determines our opinions and beliefs. We think we are free, but we are slaves to the cultural, familial, and educational patterns bequeathed to us. Living under the various illusions we are conditioned to, it is very difficult to extract (de-condition) ourselves without recourse to the primordial super-conscious Primal Spirit.
When I first read the SGF over 40 years ago, I realized the above interpretation was not clearly stated on the page; I had to read between the lines for the meaning of its teachings. And it wasn't that easy to decipher. I had to live the lines to get the hidden, between-the-lines meaning; I had to practice.

Living the lines meant accepting there was substance to them, even though I wasn't sure what that substance was. It meant practicing the meditation — more like feeling my way through it because, once again, I wasn't sure I was following the instructions correctly, much less understanding their exact meaning. Nevertheless, somewhat to my surprise, I succeeded. My Kundalini became aroused and ultimately active.

I realize some readers may get lost in my trying to relate the details of my Kundalini awakening to the different terminology used in the Indian, Tibetan, and Chinese traditions. The problem is: Kundalini has become an all-encompassing term, too big for one language or tradition alone. So let’s forget terminology for a moment and define Kundalini as a two-step biological process that:

  • Awakens "dormant" energy through sexual sublimation,
  • Releases super-conscious energy throughout the body, once the sublimated sexual energy rises to the brain.
However, while Kundalini is a biological process, it is also a rebirth/maturation process, which most seekers tend to ignore until faced with the prospects of living the rest of their lives with this awakened energy. How does the rebirth process work? Firstly, you must accept Kundalini energy and not struggle against it. Unfortunately, many have trouble with acceptance — to their ultimate chagrin. But let’s say an individual accepts this energy, what next? Kundalini doesn’t only re-engineer your body; it remakes your psyche. Talk about seeing things differently, growing up quickly. Overtime, Kundalini removes conditioning, steers you towards selflessness, and has you doing things you never thought possible, not because you suddenly became smarter and thought them up, but because you were driven to do them. You become an instrument, not in a mindless or robotic way. You are an eddy in the pool of super-consciousness, a part of the evolutionary master plan. At the same time, your rational powers become enhanced, you are able to solve problems and make better decisions. You learn not to choose or support things against nature.

Meditation: Stage 3, The Secret of the Golden Flower

What was it that so captured my attention that I spent two years deciphering and practicing the meditation?

At first, it was the text, the poetic ways it was phrased:
"The great One is the term given to that which has nothing above it. The secret of the magic of life consists in using action in order to attain non-action. One must not wish to leap over everything and penetrate directly."
~ The Secret of the Golden Flower
What's so startling about the above? For me, it was cryptic and at the same time cosmological. More than the Bible or any other explanation I had run across. Intuitively, I understood the notion of the great One and the goal of attaining non-action. That great power resides in stillness. And that's only the first page.
"The work on the circulation of the light depends entirely on the backward-flowing movement, so that the thoughts (the place of heavenly consciousness, the heavenly heart) are gathered together. The heavenly heart lies between sun and moon (the two eyes).

"The Book of the Yellow Castle says: 'In the square inch field of the square foot house, life can be regulated.' The square foot house is the face. The square inch field in the face: what could that be other than the heavenly heart? In the middle of the square inch dwells the splendour."
~ The Secret of the Golden Flower
The phrase "circulation of the light" is used right from the beginning. I understood it to mean an energy phenomenon, something that would occur if I practiced correctly. The designations referred to in The Book of the Yellow Castle were probably related to chakras. I wasn't sure, but I allowed myself to skip over them and proceed with the meditation.
"At the time of birth the conscious spirit inhales the energy and thus becomes the dwelling of the newborn. It lives in the heart. From that time on the heart is master, and the primal spirit loses its place while the conscious spirit has the power.

"The primal spirit loves stillness, and the conscious spirit loves movement. In its movement it remains bound to feelings and desires. Day and night it wastes the primal seed till the energy of the primal spirit is entirely used up. Then the conscious spirit leaves the shell and goes away."
~ The Secret of the Golden Flower
Understanding the meaning of the Primal and Conscious Spirits was gradual. I really didn't get it until Kundalini took effect and I witnessed the changes in myself, observed that a new entity had taken control of my being and was leading me in new directions. Along with the physical changes — the rebuilding of my body, which I freely accepted — came changes in attitudes and life goals. None of these originated from my mental processes. All came from the newly reawakened Primal Spirit. I realize this sounds esoteric, but it's very palpable and real once Kundalini rises.

Most important for the meditator are the passages on posture, attention, and breathing:
"One looks with both eyes at the tip of the nose, sits upright and in a comfortable position, and holds the heart to the center in the midst of conditions. In Taoism it is called the yellow middle, in Buddhism the center of the midst of conditions. The two are the same. It does not necessarily mean the middle of the head. It is only a matter of fixing one’s thinking on the point which lies exactly between two eyes. Then all is well. The light is something extremely mobile. When one fixes the thought on the mid-point between the two eyes, the light streams in of its own accord."

"In sitting down, after lowering the lids, one uses the eyes to establish a plumb-line and then shifts the light downward. But if the transposition downward is not successful, then the heart is directed towards listening to the breathing. One should not be able to hear with the ear the outgoing and intaking of the breath."
~ The Secret of the Golden Flower
Getting these techniques took experimentation. I still don't know if I got everything exactly right. I have to work backwards from the results. The fact that they matched the description of the results in the book means my practice must have been nearly, if not completely, satisfactory.
"The light is not in the body alone, nor is it only outside the body. Mountains and rivers and the great earth are lit by sun and moon; all that is this light. Therefore it is not only within the body. Understanding and clarity, perception and enlightenment, and all movements (of the spirit) are likewise this light; therefore it is not just something outside the body. The light-flower of heaven and earth fills all the thousand spaces. But also the light-flower of the individual body passes through heaven and covers the earth. Therefore, as soon as the light is circulating, heaven and earth, mountains and rivers, are all circulating with it at the same time. To concentrate the seed-flower of the human body above the eyes, that is the great key of the human body."
~ The Secret of the Golden Flower

Not only is The Secret of the Golden Flower a manual on the how-tos of meditation, it also offers descriptions of human ontology/cosmological reality — how, once the meditation successfully takes its course, once the light starts to circulate, the practitioner is catapulted out of the limiting duality of the physical world into the metaphysical actuality of the "great One which has nothing above it."

Today's seeker is impatient, keen on quick results. The SGF advises us not to try to "leap over everything and penetrate directly." Are its teaching still valid in the 21st. century?

Read The Secret of the Golden Flower - Revisited, Part II


  1. Don't want at all to be disrespectful here, but your description of the three month awakening sounds like a caricature here, really really simplistic. Are you referring to the initial scan that the shakti gives your body, (as described in the traditions) before commencing its work, which typically takes years. decades, eternities before completion?

    1. Where does this post talk about 'three months'? Are you comparing my experience as presented herein with your own experience or with some system/tradition you've read about or someone told you about? Every kundalini experience is different — both the triggers and the effects:

    2. Helpful for understanding the totality of a kundalini not bounded or limited by one tradition or set of assumptions: