Wednesday, April 9, 2014

The Secret of the Golden Flower - Revisited, Part II

For over 40 years, I’ve practiced Golden Flower Meditation (GFM), the method in The Secret of the Golden Flower (SGF) that many adepts recognize as derived from the Buddha’s own meditation system. When I first started, I had no idea it was a manual for activating kundalini...

Perhaps it was because the Wilhelm translation of the SGF has a poetic quality that obscures unambiguous execution of the meditation teachings embedded in the text. Metaphor rather than easy-to-follow, step-by-step explanation is the norm. A modernized How-To it is not. Terminology often sidesteps the underlying process, hints at it, leaving you to wonder if you are doing it correctly. Some terms overlap in meaning; some techniques are referred to by more than one term. Only by obstinate practice do the techniques become clear.

Nevertheless, I kept at it. I’m not sure why. Part intuition, I suppose. Part distrust of mass movements: I was turned off by Scientology and similar movements that herded initiates toward obedience as dictated by a single leader. Buddha and Milarepa had done it on their own. Why couldn’t I?

Life in 1970 — when I started meditating — was quite different from today. No Internet, not many books on yoga or meditation. It took me over a year to understand the method and practice it in a systematic manner. The one thing that kept me motivated was that, once I caught onto the breathing techniques, I began to detect sensations of energy stirring and flowing throughout my body.

I became a skilled observer, applying techniques in a manner best suited to my particular morphology and soma. I created a step-by-step order for my practice, which turned out to be important because it’s not possible to jump over or skip a step; each one has to be mastered before moving on to the next one.

I stress the point about becoming a skilled observer as much as I stress learning to meditate on your own. Groupthink never gets it done; you can only learn so much from others. The real work is done in the laboratory of your own body. You must become your own best “spiritual” detective.

Individuality vs Groupthink
It Takes Courage to Go It Alone

GFM has entirely reengineered my nervous system, body, and brain. The method is composed of three techniques, each of which must be mastered in turn before beginning the next:

  1. Diaphragmatic Deep Breathing (DDB)
  2. Control of Heart Rate
  3. The Backward-Flowing Method (BFM)
Chi, prana, micro-cosmic orbit
The Backward-Flowing Method

It’s a system that Gopi Krishna, the 20th century’s great elucidator of Kundalini, described as “containing unmistakable hints about the sublimation process.”

He’s referring, of course, to sexual sublimation, a process that uses distilled sexual energy to wake up the nervous system and revitalize the brain and the body, ultimately triggering Kundalini. Although sublimation sounds mystical, it is really a biological process, entailing the diversion of  sexual energy to the brain. Instead of flowing out, as it does during normal sexual intercourse, the seminal fluid, or cervical fluid in a woman, is diverted to the brain in a distilled form known as prana, which is the key to enhanced neuroplastic activity in the brain.

Sexual sublimation is the basis of activating Kundalini in whatever form it takes. I say this because the Kundalini experience takes many forms, probably because the sublimation process takes so many forms. Hidden channels can open in dissimilar ways, triggering a flow of distilled sexual energy to the brain that varies according to individual metabolism and soma:
“For a week I observe my breath circulate in the opposite direction without noticing any effect. The mind goes on autopilot and I go back to my uninspired routine: walking, cooking, meditating. Then, two weeks later, about the length of time it takes the backward-flowing process to become permanent, there’s something new. On the day in question, I feel a sensation at the base of my spine like the cracking of a small egg and the spilling out of its contents. For the next month, I observe the fluid-like contents of the egg trickle out of its reservoir and slowly begin to climb my spine. What is this fluid? I can’t describe it exactly. It seems to emanate from the base of the spine and press upward. Each time I sit to meditate, it has risen a half an inch higher.”
~ Excerpted from, Deciphering the Golden Flower One Secret at a Time
Meditating is easy for some, but not for others. It took me a long time to get comfortable with the process, to learn the posture and to concentrate. I was alternately bored and restless, fidgety and impatient, sleepy and indolent. Sitting in the lotus position, my mind used the time to review the events, impulses, and relationships in my life. I was powerless to stop this inner dialogue, to clear my mind of chatter. I knew it could be done; others had written about it. To succeed in meditation, it had to be done; all the teachings said so.

"Nor must a man be led astray by the ten thousand ensnarements. This happens if, after the quiet state has begun, one after another all sorts of ties suddenly appear. One wants to break through them and cannot; one follows them, and feels as if relieved by this. This means the master has become the servant. If a man tarries in this stage long he enters world of illusory desires."
~ The Secret of the Golden Flower

I dropped everything and concentrated on meditation in the hope it would improve my breathing, allowing me to become a better musician. However, sitting in the lotus position, I couldn’t get the breathing right. One day while walking, I decided to sync my breathing to each step, counting my breath over a series of strides. Exhale four counts, hold four counts, inhale four counts, hold four counts. Start over. I practiced a lot, walking great distances until my breathing became regular. The process of counting obscured the chatter, and it gradually disappeared. Eventually, I stopped counting; my mind had emptied. And I returned to sitting meditation, which then kicked into high gear. It had taken me over a year to get my mind under control, but once I was able to, the meditation advanced quickly.
As a result, my Kundalini activated at the age of 35. Energy I didn’t know existed started flowing through the neural channels of my body. I could feel and observe it. Almost immediately, I realized that this pranic, super-conscious energy was the Primal Spirit, a term I’d come across many times in The Secret of the Golden Flower without really understanding what it meant.

It took about three months for this process to complete. I never felt sexual arousal, rather a benign hydraulic sensation, as if a liquid was slowly being “pumped up” my back. Should you succeed in activating "the circulation of the light," as explained in Part I of this post, the outcome will probably differ from mine, or from the next person's. Don't worry about it. You'll find your way.
"When one begins to carry out one’s decision, care must be taken so that everything can proceed in a comfortable, relaxed manner. Too much must not be demanded of the heart. One must be careful that, quite automatically, heart and energy are coordinated. Only then can a state of quietness be attained. During this quiet state the right conditions and the right space must be provided. One must not sit down [to meditate] in the midst of frivolous affairs. That is to say, the mind must be free of vain preoccupations. All entanglements must be put aside; one must be detached and independent. Nor must the thoughts be concentrated upon the right procedure. This danger arises if too much trouble is taken. I do not mean that no trouble is to be taken, but the correct way lies in keeping equal distance between being and not being. If one can attain purposelessness through purpose, then the thing has been grasped. Now one can let oneself go, detached and without confusion, in an independent way."
~The Secret of the Golden Flower
Don't Lose Sight of the Body's Role in This Work
After awakening Kundalini, I was able to visualize my body as a real time, transparent, 3-D model, much like a life-size version of a child’s human anatomy toy model. I could see the defective parts; they lit up and vibrated at a different frequency. I could see how certain parts my body had torqued as a result of their being denied vital life force growth energy. How do I know this to be true? I know it firsthand; it happened to me. I felt and observed the energy rising along my spine, felt and observed it entering my brain. But don’t take my word alone. Test it in the laboratory of your body.

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