Sunday, November 23, 2014

Is Kundalini a Challenge?

Awakening Kundalini is sometimes linked to the word "initiation." Is this as it should be? Initiation involves a test, facing an ordeal and overcoming it. Some initiations involve a ritualized death. The hero descends into the underworld and returns with the Golden Bough.

Parzival, in the Medieval mystery romance by Wolfram von Eschenbach, beholds the Grail, and the wounded King who guards it. It's a test which Parzival at first fails. There is a question he must ask, which he fails to do. The story doesn't actually state what the question is, whether Parzival needs to ask the true nature of the Grail? And what it is for? Or whether it's the compassionate question: "What ails you?" that he must ask the suffering king. It may well be similar to Krishnamurti's "impossible question." Perhaps, the point is that the transcendent question cannot be put into words.

The awakening of Kundalini was certainly an ordeal for Gopi Krishna. He suffered years of acute pain, and was at the edge of insanity and physical death. There is a crucial moment in his account of the awakening, when he realizes that he must guide the energy from the fiery, male, outwards-directed pingala nadi into the cool, female, inwardly-directed ida nadi. He manages this and survives. It's like the passing of a test.

On a humbler level, in meditation, there are moments when the Kundalini energy clarifies into wordless realizations. Some of these realizations one "survives," in the sense of letting them arise, and accepting them with one's body and physical brain. Some of them one "fails," in the sense of blocking them out with a physical recoil. At the moment of Shaktic clarification, and "survival," the breathing is deep, unforced, spontaneously protracted. At the moment of "failure," there's a catch in the chest, a sort of shadow from the brain, a reflex of fear somewhere in the nervous system, and one is back with one's limited mind.

Perhaps a similar thing happens during love-making. Orgasm is pleasurable, but it can feel like a defeat. Lovers approach an awakening to the transcendent that becomes too powerful to handle, and throws them back into physical orgasm. What it is, inside us, that might pass such a test, is difficult to say. I don't think it's the willful struggle with oneself, which involve the various anti-ejaculatory methods. Perhaps, there are moments when love rapture is so intense, the heart simply stands up to the influx of energy.

If Kundalini is a test, it raises the question: who, or what, is being tested? It certainly can't be, or shouldn't be, the day-to-day self for whom earning a living and being polite to people is sometimes a struggle. On the other hand, if it's some central core of being, the "self-subsisting" state in the heart chakra, that's going through this process, is it right to even speak of a test? I think it is. Being tested, failing or succeeding, are part of evolution. The evolutionary challenge, which was once purely external, has now been internalized. It's a process that needs time to happen. And something else, too, seems to come about: the evolutionary test is no longer a matter of "survival of the fittest" — kill or be killed. Parzival failed his question test, but was given another go, asked the mysterious question at the second opportunity, he won the Grail. Failure is never absolute, nor is success. There's a sort of cosmic compassion in this. Time is a gift. Blake called time "the mercy of Eternity."

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Transforming the Egoic Obsession with Being Right

It never fails to amaze me how we as human beings are more concerned with being right rather than being happy. In fact, I am slightly in awe of the depth and strength of this innate part of the design of human being. What lies behind this need to be right? For me, it's about control.

The only way to be able to control life is to be right. This allows you to harbor the illusion that you are in control, which, in turn, provides temporary relief. But if you examine this closely, how much control over your life do you really have? And is the amount of control that you do have enough to induce you to relinquish the possibility of spiritual self-understanding that results when you renounce your obsessive need for control.
Graph of the control impulse

This month my book Female Kundalini was published. Had I not been prepared to give up being right — the belief that I had to stick with Buddhism to become spiritually awakened — writing about the journey I share in my book would not have been possible. The cost of forfeiting "being right" is nothing less than, at best, spiritual awakening and, at worst, enlightenment.

Female Kundalini cover
Having been a spiritual seeker for most of my life, I now see the futility of the search. So, instead of being right about the value of the spiritual search and increasing my "searching," I am turning to the path of  devotion: giving up being right about the search by trusting and surrendering that I am already what I seek to be and that all will be revealed to me in time. It is this willingness to give up being right about the search that has made the path of devotion, which I have taken on, so powerful in terms of the realizations and experiences I frequently have. 

It is the ego that wants to be right because being right guarantees its survival. The minute you give up being right, you transcend the ego, resulting in an experience of peace and bliss. It’s not possible to be right and be happy at the same time; only one of the two can be present and active at any one time. 

Hnads clasped in prayerThe path of devotion is a path of turning away from the ego. Bhakti yoga is the yoga of devotion. For many years during my search, I pursued a rational scientific explanation to account for the experiences I was having. Many thought that this was disrespectful of me, not to honor those experiences as the precious events they were. I listened to these opinions, but I still pursued a rational explanation, which I go into detail about in my book. Looking back now, I see that by pursuing a rational explanation I was turning away from the ego. This turning away from ego to science was a form of devotion in that it served to take away attention from the ego so that the effects of Kundalini could integrate with minimal ego involvement. What is important is the turning, not so much what you turn to.

This then begs the question about those who turn to the path of devotion. If devotion was all that was necessary, you'd think there'd be more success stories of  spiritual awakening/enlightenment. Thousands practice Bhakti yoga, yet thousands are not awakened spiritually. If what I am saying is true, then why are there not more awakened and/or enlightened people in the world? This is a valid question, one I have pondered for the last couple of years. It has to do with the other aspects involved in awakening: self-observation, self-understanding, and taking responsibility for what is discovered.  

Cat thinks he's a lion.
If spiritual awakening is to happen, human beings must find the courage to engage in intense self-observation in order to derive self-understanding.  Such introspection results in taking responsibility, which is not the same as blame. Taking responsibility means I, the creator and source of my life, am dedicated to uncovering the deep patterns that drive every aspect of our inner life, i.e., thoughts, feelings, negative emotions, actions. Without intensive inner work, the path of devotion is not complete. This is why I continue to do transformational self-development seminars from time to time so that I can uncover deep seated patterns, take responsibility for them, and then hand them over to my Guru so that He can make them obsolete through non-use. I have learned a lesson from people who have written posts naming Gurus and so I’m not going to fall into the trap of naming Him here.  

The path of devotion together with the conscious process of self-observation and self-understanding is effective, yet such a path is viewed with deep suspicion in our western culture, particularly the aspect of devotion to a Guru. Yet, the word Guru means from dark to light — so the Guru takes the consciousness from the dark to the light. It is ironic that I now advocate the path of devotion and responsibility because, many years ago, I saw how a self-proclaimed Guru turned out to have feet of clay, which caused emotional distress among his followers. At that time, I declared that having a Guru was something I was never again going to do. What I learned by taking this stance is that to say "never" to anything is to awaken the play instinct of the Divine. Now, never is a declaration which I am vigilant about not making.

There is something about the path of devotion which threatens the ego. If it is a turning away of the consciousness from ego to something else, then in time, it will result in the ego being transcended. When I spoke about the path of devotion to a friend and told her the name of my Guru, she immediately came back to me with a Wikipedia article discrediting my Guru. What my friend didn't know was that I have already read everything that has been written about Him and it has made absolutely no difference because my heart has recognized and responded, and that is that.

It is only when you put your ass on the line for something that you become someone and I am putting my ass on the line for whatever length of time I have left on this mortal earth in service and devotion to this Guru, fully trusting that He is who he says He is and that He can do what I cannot by virtue of me being an ego. I have often written that doing this path by yourself is like the thief turning detective to catch itself; it's not possible. After so many years of searching I can validate this through my own experience. It is only now that I feel sufficiently safe on this path of devotion to let go of the need to validate my experiences by rational scientific explanations.

Solitary devotionI propose that each reader ask him/her self the question "How far has my searching got me?" See if being honest and authentic about this doesn't bring another realization — that "searching" just keeps the search going. It keeps the game of hide and seek between the Self and the not-Self — the Ego and the Soul — going. Recognizing that there is no search (because YOU already are THAT) and turning the attention from the search to the path of devotion, self-observation, and self-understanding is altogether more enlightening and way more enjoyable than the endless round of elation followed by disillusion and disappointment which often characterizes the search.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Energy and the Collective Unconsciousness

The undivided non-dual universe

When I was ordinary, before my Dark Night and my subsequent Ascension, I had some measure of intuition, but was still a separate human being in my own mind. I knew nothing of kundalini. My awareness seemed to exist only inside my mind.

At the apex of my Ascension, I floated in a cluster of stars, and I was those stars. Duality had disappeared, and I was bathing in an ecstatic unity, the unity of my merger with the Cosmic One.

I came back down into my body and the physical world, but my mind was permanently altered. The boundaries of my consciousness no longer existed. My awareness extended beyond my skin to include everything around me.

That was several decades ago. Since that time, I have learned many things from this new state of being into which I entered. One is that we all exist on an energetic plane that underlies the physical world we all perceive. On this plain, we are all energetically connected.

The illusion of separation is due to the limits of the human mind. Pure and total integration of the disparate parts of the mind can come about through the activation of the kundalini. While this new state is at first seemingly at odds with the rationalized world, it isn’t.

This integration of faculties is what Integrity means in the highest sense. The energetic world is sometimes called The Way, or Tao; Buddha Nature or Brahmin, the One Without A Second, wrote Shankara. In this unity we are all in continuous contact. It can, therefore, be called the Collective Unconscious, though it is Collective Consciousness to those who have entered this world with their conscious minds.

The energy of conscious perception in the kundalini-activated mind feels the energetic world and how the energy of this world exists throughout all beings and the Universe itself. Thus “mind-reading” is simply sensing the radiation of this energy from another mind. ESP and other real psychic phenomena exist by virtue of this energy. This is the future birthright of Humanity and what Gopi Krishna wrote about and called the next step in human evolution.

On this energetic level of reality, beings emanate energy. Powerful beings emanate more energy. Thus, in human society, the energy of powerful minds dominates this layer of human consciousness. Religions are founded by those who have active kundalinis, are aware of this level, and are the most powerful sources of this emanated energy.

It is important at this time that those with active an kundalini come together and create the potential to act in concert with each other. Such collective action is needed to protect the future of this world and humanity. The potential to change human awareness for the better is possible, and necessary in this dark time.

Reprinted from Life Is Medicine.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

New Kundalini Related Titles From Life Force Books

The Biology of Consciousness: Case Studies in Kundalini examines the notion that consciousness exists outside the body and actually drives evolution by what Gopi Krishna called “the evolutionary impulse.”

Here's what the prestigious Kirkus Reviews has to say about Case Studies in Kundalini:

"The author fleshes out the book with a dramatic section devoted to case studies of different types of Kundalini encounters, showing the different ways that practitioners 'awaken' energies inside themselves, as well as how Kundalini helps people tackle personal challenges. These studies give the work an instantly relatable, human dimension that's often missing from books of this kind and underscores Semple's approachable, ordinary-guy tone throughout. New readers approaching this complicated subject will feel immediately at ease, and longtime Kundalini practitioners will no doubt find details that remind them of their own experiences." Read the full review.

Amazon reviewer, Toro, had this to say: "JJ Semple's third book. The Biology of Consciousness offers in depth accounts of people who have experienced Kundalini Awakening as we'll as JJ's insights into the process of adjusting to life after a Kundalini awakening. I've read all three of his books and there certainly is a progression of information that JJ is revealing, that said, this book definitely provides some of JJ's deepest thoughts on consciousness, Kundalini and the world we live in. With all the misinformation about Kundalini on the web and in yoga classes, JJ is becoming one of the most genuine voices on the matter. Definitely worth a read."

Margaret Dempsey on Female Kundalini:

"Female Kundalini is my story — a memoir, an adventure, my journey from Alpha to Omega. I wrote it because I have a spiritual story to tell that I didn’t have to begin with. In fact, spirituality was something that I fell into, rather than a goal I set for myself. As a young girl, turning towards “something” spiritual was a source of comfort in a confusing and bewildering world, but beyond that, I didn’t give it a second thought."

JJ Semple on Female Kundalini"When I first read Margaret Dempsey’s book, I fell in love, not only with her relentless dedication to self-truth, but also with her spirit of adventure. In her single-minded focus and her honesty in pursuit of self-actualization, she reminded me of a distaff Siddhartha. A steadfast explorer, she has accomplished much in a short time, investigating and practicing many techniques and methods, not as a sycophant, but as an actualizer, a person who tests everything in the laboratory of her body, while remaining true to her ultimate goals, so aptly described in her book."

From Paul Lyons preface: "The inner event that awakens Kundalini remains a mystery. In Margaret Dempsey’s case, years of Buddhist meditation, galvanized by a traumatic contact with an attractive man, triggered the 'uprising of Shakti.' Her honesty in not attempting to glamorize the awakening attests to its authenticity. The author’s real Self, to which Kundalini eventually brought her, is in evidence from page one, as she describes her upbringing in Catholic Ireland, her days in a boarding school run by nuns, her training as a nurse, and her escape to London, New York and India.

"Kundalini is nourished by sexual energy. The fundamental polarity of male and female is at the heart of the cosmos. The polarity of male, Siva, and female, Shakti, is also manifested in the human body, in the sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous systems, and the left and right sides of the brain, a subject on which Margaret Dempsey speaks with great insight. The polarity is also revealed in her life story. Her father’s favoring her over her mother, a young priest recovering from a nervous breakdown who speaks to the hearts of the teenage girls in his congregation, her meeting with Mooji, and the 'gorgeous' man who rejected her, are a potent male presence, round which the author’s spiritualized womanhood dances. There is a marvelous moment when she speaks of surrender: 'I had no idea what I was letting go of... I couldn’t have surrendered to nothingness. Somehow I knew there was something to surrender to.'

"In Tantra, the male god, Siva is both the 'Destroyer' (of illusion and ego) and the 'Immovable Stillness' of transcendence. The goddess, Shakti, is the energy of creation and manifestation. Kundalini is Shakti’s presence in the human body. The book’s title, Female Kundalini, is therefore apt, not just because it is the document of one woman’s Kundalini experience, but because Kundalini Herself, is fundamentally female, even in men."
~ Paul Lyons, London

One written by a man, the other by a woman, both books illustrate Gopi Krishna's notion of the Evolutionary Impulse — the urge to transcend the world of illusion and material success, in favor of a greater understanding of consciousness and a willingness to explore it first hand.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Kundalini And The Ten Thousand Things

It's true: "The Great Tao remains still, in the midst of circumstances." There is a state of non-action that is the deepest action of all; a state of stillness that initiates the dynamic world around us. The human body, however, is a thing of unstillness. My body may have originally emerged from the Primal Stillness, but as it stands, here, now, today, it's a bundle of activities, from its twitches and tics, to its endless stream of consciousness, to the hyperactive neurons busy reflecting that stream of consciousness. This restlessness, this state of constant movement and imbalance, is the same restlessness and motion that creates the "ten thousand things," the circumstances that surround all living consciousness. The ten thousand things are a part of me. Circumstances create me. Some of the ten thousand things are enjoyable — love, family, music, the novels of Elmore Leonard; many are painful — financial insecurity, personal failure, anxiety about the environment, mixing concrete on a bad price on a winter's morning in trendy London.

When we awaken Kundalini, the paradox of stillness/unstillness reaches a critical point. I believe that Kundalini is triggered by the presence of utter stillness, the possibility of becoming completely still. It's the presence, or possibility, of stillness — somewhere in, or behind, the brain — that makes Kundalini rise towards the brain chakra, in search of union with that primordial Stillness. This is why, when we begin to practice meditation, it's important to put the "ten thousand things" out of our minds. This is why it's essential to make consciousness become as still as is humanly possible in a physical body, and to set "circumstances" — enjoyable, or painful — to one side.

However, Kundalini Herself is the Life Force. Kundalini is the force behind the "ten thousand things," as much as She is the force behind the meditating body. Kundalini creates "circumstances." That's why, in the Tantras, Kundalini is given such colorful names: "World-Bewilderer," "Washer Woman" (alluding to Her elemental sexuality), "Widow" (alluding to Her sleeping state of separation from her husband, Siva, the Primal Stillness) and "Serpent" (alluding to her coiling and spiraling movement along the spine.) This means that, at some stage in the process, the "ten thousand things" must become part of the awakening. It means that "circumstances" — personal happiness or personal failure — can no longer be shut out, or excluded from meditation.

When Kundalini awakens in my body, and begins to shape it, She also awakens in the world around me — in my relationship to other people, in my social and financial situation, in my work. Understood at a fundamental level, this is a daunting prospect. It means that I must experience Kundalini in the knocks and failures of my life, as much as in the moments of pleasure and fulfillment. Because Kundalini magnifies and intensifies everything She touches, it includes magnifying and intensifying some painful things.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

For Those In Whom Kundalini Rests Dormant

To my friends — those, in whom kundalini rests dormant, those who are undergoing the first signs of awakening in the form of deep tension and even despair, those undergoing the physical and psychological changes that kundalini induces, and, finally, those whose kundalini arousal is now a reality that they have been living with for decades. As I am in the latter category, I write with some reflection on the totality of my experience, from my initial curiosity to living with it since 1973.

There is, of course, much misinformation about kundalini, many who don't understand it. The life of Jesus, for example, is a kundalini story. Same for Gautama and Mohammed. Many of the old myths and legends are recognizable as kundalini stories.

Thinking about the before and after, I'm reminded of the Old Zen saying, "Before enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water. After enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water." What does it mean? What then is the difference between the before and the after, before activation of kundalini and after?

First, the myths. Some religions dictate that heaven and hell exist in the afterlife. Yet, Jesus said, "The kingdom of heaven is within you." He was talking metaphorically: that the experience of heaven — the ecstasy we seem to want — is an internal experience we can reach out and grab in this lifetime. That experience is kundalini awakened.

However, as the life of Jesus illustrates, there is heaven and there is hell. When Jesus asks why his father has forsaken him, he is telling the world that his suffering is great suffering. This is true of so many great geniuses down through history. For example, in Breugel's Fall Of Icarus, we see how little the world notices his fall into the ocean.

About suffering they were never wrong,
The Old Masters; how well, they understood
Its human position; how it takes place
While someone else is eating or opening a window or just walking dully along;
How, when the aged are reverently, passionately waiting
For the miraculous birth, there always must be
Children who did not specially want it to happen, skating
On a pond at the edge of the wood:
They never forgot
That even the dreadful martyrdom must run its course
Anyhow in a corner, some untidy spot
Where the dogs go on with their doggy life and the torturer's horse
Scratches its innocent behind on a tree.
In Breughel's Icarus, for instance: how everything turns away
Quite leisurely from the disaster; the ploughman may
Have heard the splash, the forsaken cry,
But for him it was not an important failure; the sun shone
As it had to on the white legs disappearing into the green
Water; and the expensive delicate ship that must have seen
Something amazing, a boy falling out of the sky,
had somewhere to get to and sailed calmly on.

In The Musee De Beaux Artes, W.H. Auden

In Kafka's Metamorphosis, Gregor awakens one day to find he is a giant cockroach. Such is the life of many artists rejected by the culture of their time. Socrates was made to commit suicide. Van Gogh sold a single painting in his life — the one he sold to his brother. The French Impressionists, now held in such high esteem, had to exhibit their works in an alternative venue because the snobish Salon wouldn't allow them in. The voices Joan of Arc heard were deemed witchcraft and she was considered mad.

Great men and women of genius, driven by an active kundalini, are often isolated and, in some cases, driven to  madness by the culture of their time. Tesla is another great example. The man who gave us the modern electric system never married, had few friends, and died penniless. This is the lot of the genius today.

Why am I saying this? There is nothing passive about kundalini. One can't help but wince at the promises made to suicide bombers, who are told that when they get to heaven they will be rewarded with so many virgins, etc... These statements can only be made because of the ignorance of the reality of heaven and hell. Yet, this ignorance is widespread in religions around the world; kundalini is not yet widely understood.

So, if great pleasure exists alongside of great suffering, why do we seek pleasure? Of course, those who misunderstand and think there only unending pleasure in heaven seek it for the wrong reasons. Whether we know it or not, instinctively, each of us is pulled toward higher consciousness. Gopi Krishna said this "evolutionary impulse" exists in all human beings, and is the motivating engine behind human evolution.

Yet, let us not be disappointed when it does not turn out the way we hoped. Yes, kundalini brings with it great pleasure —massive releases of endorphins. But we're not about to float away to the sky. After my ascent to the 7th chakra, I came back down into my body. I felt all of life's pressures become real again. I changed, but the world did not change, and whatever good I have brought to the world has been a slow process over a lifetime.

So, before enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water.  After enlightenment, chopping wood and carrying water.