Monday, January 26, 2015

No Practical Advice Whatsoever

This exchange occurred on FB. It's not the first time I've heard this, and it probably won't be the last.

Reader: I've purchased your book, I've read, but I didn’t understand the purpose of your book, there is no practical advise whatsoever [sic] ...

JJ: Like Gopi Krishna’s Kundalini: The Evolutionary Energy in Man, Deciphering the Golden Flower One Secret at a Time is a narrative memoir. These types of books rarely offer “practical advice;” they’re not supposed to. Why?

Narrative memoir by JJ Semple

In the case of kundalini, each experience is so different, both as to how the experience is triggered and how it affects the individual in whom it is triggered. How can one offer substantive practical advice without knowing the circumstances of a case? Would you want a lawyer to offer generalities in a divorce case? Or a hitting coach to say, "Get up there and swing away."?

That’s why most books on kundalini triggers and effects, that are not memoirs, offer information laced with “received wisdom.” In fact, offering specific advice can be dangerous and misleading for neophytes that are completely in the dark. It’s much safer to generalize. Yet, generalities don’t satisfy the reader who’s looking for more.

On the other hand, in order to offer “practical advice” in each case, a separate book would have to be custom-written for each individual. And that’s not about to happen. In your case, without knowing anything about you or your situation, even to the point of whether you’ve had a kundalini experience, how it was triggered or how it affected you, I’m not qualified to comment or advise, in a book or in person. It would be presumptuous. 

Getting Inspiration From a Book
So why do authors write memoirs, or narrative stories about heros/heroines? What purpose do they serve? In a word, their purpose is “Identification,” a universally accepted literary device. The reader, or viewer in the case of a book, play, or movie, identifies with the protagonist’s struggle. If it weren’t for the identification factor, many works of art would not exist. Works like, “The Graduate,” “Portrait of a Lady,” “Rocky,” “Hamlet,” “A Moveable Feast,” “Anna Karenina.” The creator is saying, “This is the way it happened to me, or to him or her. Do you see something in this story that resonates for you?” Even the Christian Bible is based on identification: for millions, Jesus is the ultimate object of identification.

One of the Most Identified Events in History

Memoirs stimulate readers to feel good about themselves: either by looking down on the protagonist (there but for the grace of God go I) or looking up to him/her (when I grow up, I’m going to pattern my life on hers). Some people cannot relate to characters in a book, no matter how noble or how degraded; their brains are not wired that way. They objectify situations. Memoirs put you in the moment; how-to books place you at 20,000 feet. If you aren't moved by great stories and great characters — if you don't relate to their struggle — you'd better stick to how-to books.

Many readers of Deciphering the Golden Flower One Secret at a Time, who enjoyed the narrative (see Amazon reviews), tell me they were also able to “read between the lines” and extract useful information that they then applied to their own search for self-knowledge, namely:

  • Meditation is the best way to permanently activate kundalini
  • Kundalini is a biological phenomenon, not a religious one
  • Kundalini repurposes sexual energy, into "psychic fuel"
  • The kundalini activation experience takes place in a moment, learning to live with the effects takes years
  • Kundalini has autonomic self-healing properties
  • Kundalini rejuvenates the body, retards the aging process
  • Kundalini curbs addictive tendencies
  • Kundalini removes self-destructive tendencies
  • Kundalini is not for everyone
As for specific practical advice, judging from its positive reviews, readers tell me that my newest book, The Biology of Consciousness: Case Studies in Kundalini offers an objective, topical survey of the issues surrounding kundalini. Whether this book would be more to your liking remains for you to decide.

Jean-Luc Godard's muse
Anna Karina
In the end, most seekers discover that the road to self-knowledge is quite lonely. No matter how many books read, ashrams visited, retreats attended, questions asked and answered, the bulk of the work — like that of a scientist — is accomplished under laborious conditions by the solitary seeker him or herself.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Archetypal Model

For those seeking the path of liberation, truth seems to possess a natural desire and determination to awaken in those who are sincere in its pursuit. What must be surrendered in the process of liberation are any falsehoods that fall within its path, even those falsehoods that may have been previously defined as cherished beliefs, values and assumptions. Kundalini can be an ally to assist those in their search along the path of liberation, but look out. Once released, once the genie is out of the bottle, there’s no way you can return it to its previous captivity. And everything in its path that is false, even those areas you may wish to retain, will get burnt up in its fire right before your eyes.


I was fortunate in that I always viewed my kundalini encounter as a process of spiritual growth, of expurgation. Therefore, I surrendered to its movements, welcomed and embraced them without resistance even though I had no knowledge of what was happening or where it was leading me. I found it liberating as it released me from the emotional baggage I had been carrying over a lifetime. The Divine of my previous experience was suddenly boundless and expansive, and the sacredness and bliss of the experience allowed me to see the world radically different. But as kundalini burnt away the negative emotional baggage of past experiences, many other things changed as well. Many of the ways I had defined myself, that gave me that sense of who I was in relation to the exterior world were revamped. My intellectual understanding of them did not change, but much of the affective memory in relation to them was gone.

The Christian paradigm which had contributed greatly to my previous self-definition had little to offer by way of explanation as to what was happening. In the months following, my research led me to a new paradigm, a new archetypal model that facilitated the integration of my kundalini experience.

Chakras illustrated
The Chakras

In Eastern philosophies, an archetypal model exists for what is referred to as the subtle body. The subtle body is everything that is not represented by our solid physical bodies. In Eastern medicine, the structure and the dynamics of the subtle body are studied in the same manner as the physical anatomy in order to understand its functioning, purpose and methods of treatment. Western medicine does not recognize many aspects of the subtle body because it is not visible; however, it is slowly being recognized in our western approach to medicine through procedures such as acupuncture.

The Eastern tradition teaches that there are three diaphanous veils or sheaths that make up the subtle body: the energy sheath, the mental sheath, and the discernment sheath. A brief description of each is as follows:

The energy sheath is a vital process that animates the human system that allows it to sense and function. It is partially made up of nadis or energy channels that intersect with six major chakras or energy centres. The six principal chakras are associated with the physical body’s nerve plexuses and gland systems that manifest from their energy. Chakras, also called spinning wheels, function properly when there is a balanced flow of energy through the nadis which cause a cyclical sensation in the chakra area. The chakras and locations are as follows:
  • Muladhara or Root Chakra at base of spine and perineum area,
  • Svadhisthana or Sacral Chakra in genital area,
  • Manipura or Solar plexus Chakra in the navel area,
  • Anahata or Heart Chakra in heart area between the breasts,
  • Vishuddha or Throat Chakra in throat area and back of neck,
  • Ajna or Third eye Chakra between the brows.
  • The Sahasrara padma or crown located at the top of the head is another critical point of the energy sheath.
The subtle body illustrated
The Subtle Body

The mental sheath consists of the conscious and unconscious mind and is broken down into three aspects or functions:

The first is called “Chitta,” or the unconscious storehouse of past impressions or imprints. This function of the mind might be described as a vast reservoir of memories, parental injunctions, unresolved issues, cultural conditioning, contradictions, tendencies, repressed habits and drives and impressions from past life experiences.

The second is called “Manas,” or the sensory motor mind. This function is objective, reflexive, the carrier out of orders. It can be trained, but also responds to habits, instinct or impulse. Data from the senses is registered here, and actions coordinated. Acting automatically, doubts arise here as well as perceptions by selective inattention.

The third is called “Ahankara,” or the ego. This function is one of self-definition and self-concepts. The boundaries of the personality, our attachments, aversions, and habits are defined here creating its sense of "I-ness." The ego denies what it cannot identify, and owns what it does identify.

The discernment sheath called “Buddhi” is reflective consciousness. This is the higher mind carrying out discriminative functioning. It is often referred to as the “inner voice” where reason, will, values, ethics come into play. It is the place where we make decisions and choose a course of action based on one’s true nature and purpose. It is the place of contemplation in relation to philosophical concepts, human qualities, culture or art. It is the gatekeeper of the unconscious from which there is both an inflow and outflow.
(Adapted from "Kundalini Vidya: The Science of Spiritual Transformation" by Joan Harrigan)

At the time of my forty day retreat, I was not familiar with this Eastern Philosophy. This was something I explored after returning home. The retreat experience that I engaged in brought forth many unexpected and certainly unintentional results that would take many months for me to resolve and many years to understand. In order to share the experience of this retreat, I will use the above model as a backdrop.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Tao and Kundalini

I was playing Ma Jong in Beijing a few nights ago when a thought struck me. One of the other players told me that the Chinese people believe very strongly in luck. For example, winning at Ma Jong around New Year’s is a good indication of a lucky year to come. The Chinese culture plays a lot with the idea of luck.

Feng Shui, for example — the practice of arranging your home, office, and other parts of your life — is said to bring good fortune. I am reminded of baseball players and their superstitions. When a player refuses to shave during a hitting streak, or carries a rabbit foot in his pocket, he is trying to influence his luck. Some of the more common baseball superstitions include purposely stepping on or avoiding the foul line when taking the field, not talking about a no-hitter or perfect game while it is in progress, eating only chicken before a game, and drawing in the dirt in the batter's box or tapping the bat on the plate before hitting.

It dawned on me that the ultimate way to get the best possible luck according to ancient Chinese philosophy is to “Follow The Tao.” This is best articulated in Lao Tze’ s prescription for living a good life, his seminal treatise, the Tao Te Ching (Treatise on the Value of the Way), written about 600 BC. To a psychic, following the Tao is the ultimate use of psychic power. Following The Tao is a synthesis of helpful energy, the blending of our individual needs with the collective living energy of the world.

But if following The Tao is the best way to help ourselves, then the obvious question is: How? You first have to find it to follow it. So the first goal is to find The Tao. This is the great task of mysticism and morality, the occupation of monks and would-be wizards alike, to develop sufficient personal awareness to recognize The Tao, and then to follow it. In the Tao Te Ching, Lao-Tse homes in on some chief values that serve as a prescription for finding The Tao, and that also help us live a good life in harmony with The Tao.

In Indian thought, the awakened kundalini serves to increase our awareness of energy both within us and in the world around us. The tremendous increase in both the quality and quantity of prana flowing up the spine and into the brain serves as an energetic transmutor, enabling growth of the mind and spirit, heart, and body, such that the awareness of The Tao becomes inevitable and inseparable from daily experience. As such, the Path to awakening kundalini and the path to finding Tao are synonymous.

In the New Testament, Jesus says “…I tell all of you with certainty, unless you change and become like little children, you will never get into the kingdom of heaven” (Matthew 18:3, International Standard Bible). He also said, “The Kingdom of Heaven is within you” (Luke 17:21). These two passages show that Jesus was also talking about the path to kundalini awakening.

Throwing off of pride, acceptance of humility, and becoming like a child precedes the Great Awakening that is possible. Rumi writes about it in his poetry. St. John of the Cross wrote about it in The Dark Night of The Soul. All these paths are really different versions of the same path. If one could assemble all these spirits in one room, there would be very little difference between them.

Gopi Krishna’s Book, The Way To Self-Knowledge, is perhaps the best book written on this subject in modern time. In a book length channeled poem, Gopi Krishna writes about the path to awakening as the way to self-knowledge, describes the ways to open up the spiritual channel through meditation, prayer, and service, and relates these activities to the modern world we live in. Gopi Krishna also describes all the spiritual paths as one and the same, with the same ultimate destination, the increased awareness that comes from the activation of the kundalini.

When one awakens kundalini, one finds The Tao. When one experiences Being One With The Cosmos, one feels unified with The Tao. This is because The Tao is beyond duality. This path never forks.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


As I search for your love, you always come to me,
You are so beautiful, you make my heart run free.

As I look for your love, shining on your face,
You are so beautiful, you fill me full of Grace.

You are my love, You are my hope, You are my liberty.
Send me your love, send me your hope, you make my heart run free.

All the days of my life, I will follow You,
You are so beautiful, You make my dreams come true.

I wrote this song while meditating on a park bench, overlooking a beautiful lake near my home. It was the spring of 2006, only a few months after a forty-day meditation retreat my wife and I attended in a Retreat Center on the edge of the Arizona desert.

It started out very similar to the many others we had attended over the years, but this one turned out differently. On the thirty-eighth day of this retreat, after many days of deep, penetrating meditation, I encountered a phenomenon that forever changed the way I see and experience the world around me.

How does one begin sharing the story of a life-transforming experience, one that words cannot capture?

After many years of writing sermons for the Christian Church to which I belong, I defer to the simple rule that helped me with this work, namely, Begin with a single thought and stick to it. So I begin with a single thought, the notion of Presence.

As a child growing up on a farm in Eastern Canada, Presence was a part of my life. The only time Presence is not there is when I let myself become distracted by the demands of life around me. What is this Presence? I'll use three milestones in my life to describe it.

The first occurred when I was eight or nine years old. I recall it as vividly today as when it happened. Early one spring morning after a good night’s sleep, I got out of bed. No one was around. My parents were doing their chores and my other brothers and sisters were either off doing chores or still sleeping. I stepped out the front door onto the doorstep of our farm house. My mind was still quiet from my sleep. At that instant, I experienced a moment of clarity, of awareness, that remains stamped in my memory today. The spring air was very still and contained a refreshing warmth and fragrance. I could hear the running water in the nearby stream, swelled by spring rains. The swallows were flying around the barns; I could hear the flapping of their wings. The moment lasted several seconds, but seemed much longer. I was suspended in a harmony with everything around me — a peace, an inner contentment and joy. For those few seconds, it was as if time had stopped. A moment of joy and peacefulness, not attached to one particular thing. Beyond the tranquility of all I witnessed, there was something more that cannot be named; something ineffable, deep, inner, and holy. A graced moment that still remains vivid in my mind today.

The second milestone happened in my mid-twenties, during the early years of pursuing career and family life, a time of struggle. For some time, I felt a deep dissatisfaction with my life. Despite that fact that I was succeeding in many of my goals (in my career, my family, in acquiring the things I wanted), something was missing. I felt empty when it came to love and relationships. As a result, I experienced being isolated and alienated from others. Nothing I did dispelled these feelings. In my search for an answer, I decided to get more involved in church. I taught Sunday School, joined a Mens Group, and became part of a prayer group. It was there, at the prayer group, on a cold November evening, during a time of prayer, in a moment of quiet desperation and in tears, I turned to Christ and asked for help. It was as if the walls of my alienation and fear washed away, and I experienced, in a new way, God’s Presence and love for me, so strong that the structures of my well-planned life were shaken.

It was as if Christ was calling me to ministry as a way of life, imploring me to step away from a way of life where everything depended on my efforts and the false illusion of security it provided, asking me to step into the waters of uncertainty. The prayer discipline for this journey into faith became meditation.

The third and most unusual encounter happened in my late fifties during the forty day retreat in Arizona. On the thirty-eighth day of this retreat, a deep change began with a spontaneous change in breathing patterns (pranayama) that seemed to open up areas in my body, previously devoid of air and energy flow. This was followed by a pulsating in the root and sacral Chakras and the flow of an ecstatic energy from that location, up the spine to begin a process of renovating and restructuring my brain that would dismantle a lifetime of constructs, boundaries, and conditioning. What remained with the greatest clarity was Presence, much more universal, much more expansive, observing, but not judging, free from any constructs and boundaries, remaining, at all times, in the present moment.  

What started at that moment was the beginning, the discovery of a new language, a new archetypal model that could help with the understanding and integration of this new way of seeing and of being. The Christian paradigm of which I was most familiar had little to offer by way of explanation or experience.

In my next post, I'll explore my discovery of an archetypal model that helped me with this integration.

Monday, January 12, 2015

"I Love the Prophet Muhammad More Than I Love my Own Children"

The title of this post is a direct quote from an ordinary Muslim man living in the UK. He was being interviewed the day after after the Paris massacre. When I heard this, my first reaction was shock which was replaced with a kind of awe of the power of devotion.

I don't have children so will be the first to admit that while I have nieces, nephews, and grand-nieces whom I love very much; this love is of a different nature and quality to biological love. I can't imagine a greater love than that of one's own child. I have written posts about the power of devotion because of how it is a turning away from the ego.

For many years, I pursued a rational scientific explanation for the spiritual experiences I've had, which I write about in my book. Now, however, I have put aside the search for an explanation and have embraced the path of devotion to a Guru I won't name. There are a few reasons why I won't name Him. Firstly, the object of my devotion is personal. Secondly, experience shows that the moment the name of a Guru is written, there's always someone ready to come out and discredit it. I love my Guru far too much to take that risk. The last reason for my reluctance is because the organization set up to carry on the teaching is fiercely protective and regularly trawls the internet picking up posts with keywords which would indicate this Guru's style of teaching, as it is distinct and unique. 

On the day of the Charlie Hebdo cartoonists were killed, Facebook was awash with copies of past cartoon covers posted by people supporting the principle of free speech. Flipping through the covers, I felt a faint twinge of regret that I hadn't paid more attention to learning French at school. I'm sure that the translations weren't an accurate interpretation of what was meant to be conveyed.

One of the cartoon covers held my attention longer than the others, but, before I write what I am going to, I want to make it absolutely crystal clear that I don't condone barbaric acts of killing. There is no justification ever for one human being to take the life of another, none whatsoever.

However, in my opinion, there's a difference between a cartoon that is witty and thought provoking and one that can only be seen as demeaning, degrading, and derogatory. The cartoon of Muhammad which held my attention was definitely in the latter category. Interestingly, I went back onto Facebook the next day to see if I could find this cover and it seemed to have been removed.

When I first saw this cover, I imagined that it was my Guru being portrayed that way and without any intention on my part I experienced feelings of revulsion and anger. However, my years of practicing Buddhism and cultivating a witness consciousness meant I could simply observe these feelings without the compulsion to act on them. I'm in favor of the right of free speech, but with rights come responsibilities, and it seems the emphasis in this situation is on rights with very little attention paid to responsibility.

Returning to the title of this post, I find myself wondering what makes a man love a non-material entity more than the actual material presence of his own children. The Prophet Muhammad is no longer alive, so it must be some kind of spiritual transmission that adepts promise their devotees. We recognize similar notions, resurrection and reincarnation, for instance, in other religions. Notions that defy scientific scrutiny, yet are powerful and alluring enough to make one lose all sense of critical thinking so that he is willing to give his life for a principle or a promised reward. The fascination of martyrdom, or eternal life for believers in other religions, outweighs a comfortable and happy life in this world. For those that buy into this argument, the prospect of death holds no fear.

Death cartoon

Lack of fear of death presents a challenge for us in the West. Death is not in conflict with life; in fact, it is an inevitable part of existence, an extension of life, if you will. But we don't see it like this. In the West, there's a morbid fear of death, which increases when security services make statements like, "We can't protect everyone from terrorist attacks." Perhaps, if there was more openness and dialogue around the true nature of death, then such statements wouldn't strike fear into so many hearts. Overcoming our fear of death so that we can remain calm and steady in the face of any event is something that needs to be addressed.

Tuesday, January 6, 2015


Traces of Kundalini awakening turn up in the Parzival of Wolfram von Eschenbach, written around 1200, a chivalrous account of the Grail legend. Parzival is wonderfully earthy for a mystic narrative, and often extremely funny. Sexual love lies shoulder-to-shoulder with transcendental union, in a way that suggests an understanding of sublimation and the backward-flowing method. When Parzival and his bride Condwiramurs ("the lady of this land was like a rose still moist, sweet dew revealing in the bud its pristine red and white") consummate their nuptials, groom and bride are so innocently enraptured with one another they lie together for two days without penetration or orgasm:
"For two days they remained thus with one another, happy in their liking, till the third night. He often thought of embracing, as his mother had advised him, and Gurnemanz too had explained to him that man and woman are all one. Then... they entwined their arms and legs, and if you will allow me to say so found what is sweet when near."
Lovers embrasing

The "Grail" that Parzival goes in quest of is not the Christian chalice of the Last Supper. It's described as being a stone. It magically produces food and wine (in an age when starvation was rife) and gives news flashes of the Divine Will. It's the alchemical Philosophers Stone more than it's the Eucharist cup.

There's a poignantly comic moment — again suggestive of states that arise when Kundalini awakens — when Parzival, still unperfected, his quest still unfulfilled, approaches King Arthur's encampment through deep, new-fallen snow. A falcon swoops down on a goose and wounds it. Three drops of blood are splattered on the white snow. Parzival comes to an abrupt halt, and stares down at the blood on the snow:

"It is God's will to give me untold happiness... Condwiramurs, here lies your bright image!"
The three drops on the snow are Condwiramurs. The snow is her skin and the blood is her cheeks and lips. The All is present in the singularity:
"Mighty Love held him enthralled, so sharply did longing for his wife assail him."
Unfortunately, as he sits there on his horse in an out-of-body state, his lance is raised, "ready to joust" (seven hundred years before Freud!) Once again, as on his marriage night, there's a state of sexual arousal without physical release.

In those days, a raised lance was a challenge to fight. Parzival's unconsciously lifted spear demands a warlike response from the knights in the camp (male competitors.) A young hothead charges out, and is just about to knock Parzival down, when Parzival's horse shies, Parzival can no longer see the drops of blood on the snow, comes out of his trance/samadhi and decks the aggressor. This happens a second time. Parzival's horse turns back to the drops of blood once more, Parzival goes back into his out-of-body state, lance raised, and Sir Kaie rushes out to beat up the defenceless man, and is again bested, when Parzival's horse shies.

The third time, it's Sir Gawain, the embodiment of good nature and intelligence, who rides forth to sort the newcomer out. Sir Gawain notices that Parzival is in a trance because he's staring at the blood on the snow, and, instead of attacking Parzival, covers the blood with his cloak. Parzival returns to his body, they greet one another, and Parzival is welcomed into the camp.

It's a world away from the modern forms that Kundalini awakenings take, yet at the heart of it there's a shared awareness. The pingala nadi is represented as being of a red colour, the ida nadi of a white colour, the blood and the snow of the "bright image." Sitting on his horse, dead to the world, in "Might Love's thrall," Parzival has passed, body and mind, into the susumna nadi, the spinal channel, the Middle Way.

Monday, January 5, 2015

JJ Semple Interviews Peggy Payne, author of Cobalt Blue

    I read Cobalt Blue after author Peggy Payne and I reached out to each other in an attempt to define the similarities and differences between Kundalini fiction and non-fiction. Today, non-fiction outweighs and outsells the fiction category, but that may change as more and more authors investigate Kundalini, either by experiencing it or by reading about it. 

   Before Christmas, Peggy and I agreed that I would send her questions about how she was able to work the Kundalini theme into Cobalt Blue. Here is the Q&A:

   JJS: There’s kundalini and kundalini. The strip mall kind and the Gopi Krishna kind. Are you’re at all familiar with the differences? To what degree? 

   PP: I feel strongly about making no judgment on anyone’s spiritual experience.
Cobalt Blue Front Cover

Certainly I’ve read the literature: Gopi Krishna, Lee Sannella, Irina Tweedie, Stanislav and Christina Grof, Muktananda, your own work, JJ Semple, and many others. Also, early Christian mystics who described similar experiences.

As for “strip mall kundalini,” I once attended a workshop where I was informed that we had all had our kundalini raised (I didn’t believe that for a second.) So I know what you mean if you’re talking about glib bandying of the term.

However, much more important to me than making any such distinction is to respect each person as the expert on his or her own experience.

JJS: In which category do you place Andie?

PP: Andie’s experience rocks her to the bottom of her soul. At the time of her first experience, she has never heard the word kundalini. She doesn’t know until near the end of the story what has happened to her. For most of the story, she is in the midst of an enormously disruptive ordeal that unmoors her from everything she thought she knew about herself. And to make things much worse, she is fighting it.

JJS: Unless I’ve misunderstood your background, it seems that you don’t have direct experience with energy cultivation techniques like kundalini meditation. How did you become interested in kundalini as a subject for Cobalt Blue?

PP: I’ve studied reiki, done some kundalini yoga as well as other kinds in India and the U.S., attended various workshops on energy, and been a meditator for many years.

But when I finished my early drafts of Cobalt Blue, I, like Andie, didn’t even know the word kundalini. I had overheard it used once at a party in a two sentence exchange behind me. Noted it, but didn’t know what it meant and didn’t look it up.

Then years later, I thought I’d finished my novel and was sitting out on my porch by myself one night listening to the rain. A thought popped into my head: “It’s kundalini.” The next day I did a little research, and I found that this force fit the story that I’d already written, that it was roughly comparable to experience others have had. This gave me a new understanding of what this woman — and, vicariously, I — had been dealing with. (It was a ferocious hard novel for me to write.)

I don’t claim anything as dramatic as a kundalini awakening for myself. Only twinges. I found this in a journal I kept years earlier in India doing research for my previous novel, Sister India:

“Throughout the morning I keep noticing a sensation I have felt here before, a small physical thrill that I cannot explain. It comes from simply looking around me. It's like an electric pulse, made of molten color, the brilliance of all the silk saris at once; and it pushes past my fatigue and travels along the wire that hooks together body and soul. Jet-lagged and short of sleep though I am, that jolt keeps pushing through. I welcome it. It’s somehow part of what I’ve come here for."
JJS: I found Cobalt Blue an easy and fun read. You write very well. I especially liked the way you developed Andie’s place in her artist community and her relations with others. Talk about your approach.

PP: Thanks, JJ. Her place in her artist community came naturally to me. I’ve been in the same weekly writers group for 32 years. And I share office space with a dear friend; other writers and artists also rent in the building from time to time. I’m part of a close-knit group of supportive fellow artists. It’s a great thing. I’d hate to try to do this work without it. 

JJS: Kundalini entails a repurposing of sexual energy by preventing it from flowing out through masturbation or intercourse, and instead, diverting it up the spine to the brain. If this is an accurate analysis of how sexual sublimation works — and documented experiences from ancient Indian and Chinese to modern practitioners says it is — what made you think that Andie might go on a sexual rampage when conservation of sexual energy is the only way to avoid deleterious effects associated with the loss of sexual energy (prana)? Or, to put it another way: after awakening, heretofore unused functions in the brain become active and warn male and female kundalini adepts (by sending biological signals) about the harmful effects ejaculation has on the body. Do you think someone could go against the biological changes in brain function that kundalini induces and actually waste large quantities of prana?

PP: Andie is no adept. Her awakening happens in jolts and ragged pieces at a time when she is depressed and her life is already in disarray. Its genesis is the meditative practice of painting, even doing work she considers routine. She thinks she’s ill and her biological signals are utterly swamped by confusion, emotional uproar, and the powerful sexual sensations that so many people experience in kundalini awakening. But without a teacher or any kind of guidance or knowledge, she finds herself compulsively acting on the mad sexual impulses. That’s very upsetting and frightening to her.

Yes, the sexual energy should be transmuted. But for a long time, Andie is in the throes  of a “wrong rising” and an effort to suppress what is happening.

Finally, however, a valuable spiritual development comes about through the sex as she begins to regain some control.  It gives her a body-and-soul recognition of the passion to merge with others, to know herself as one with other people, to give up, if briefly, her separateness.

JJS: Nevertheless, even if my take on the triggers and effects of kundalini don’t jibe with Andie’s actions, I found your hypothesis very interesting to the degree that I cannot positively say that the effects she manifests (her sexual behavior) could never happen as a result of a kundalini awakening. Have you thought about that? About the subconscious urgings that caused you to take her in that direction?

PP: I didn’t feel I had any more control of her than she did of herself. As so often happens with novels, the story and the character had their own life to live.

I do feel strongly that sex and spirituality are vitally intertwined. Sex and spirituality are central to my other novels as well and I write a blog on the subject.

And subconscious urgings? Well, having been a teenager in the years of the frustrating sexual Double Standard, I was perhaps due to erupt in some way. (I’m 65 now, BTW)

JJS: What’s more, if a person did go on a sexual rampage like Andie’s, she would probably act in much the same way. Who’s to say?

PP: Exactly. I think our imaginations know things that our minds and bodies are still catching onto.

Isolation and the Awakening Mind - Reprinted by permission of Julian Wash

I came across this article and it spoke to me on a number of levels and so I obtained permission from the writer Julian to re-print it here. I love his ladder analogy as it is something that I have often thought of myself. Awakened Kundalini is like the genie out of the bottle — once out — there's no back in! Like there's no going back down that ladder. I love this article and I hope you do too.
~Margaret Dempsey

Isolation and the Awakening Mind

by Julian Wash |
Rattleberry Pie  |
Tuesday, September 24, 2013 |
For: |
Story Link |

Isolation can Feel Very Real
The Downward Thrill is Brief

Dear Humans,

Today I wish to address to you a certain brand of loneliness. It is perhaps the most debilitating form of the condition.  The state is sometimes referred to as “isolation” or the sense of being disconnected, apart, abandoned or simply “different” from everyone else you know. This situation is compounded when friends, coworkers and even family members begin seeing you differently. They’re not so much intrigued by your positive changes but rather disappointed by your shift in attitude and may even be concerned for your mental stability. These otherwise well-meaning souls are occasionally characterized as the “sleeping” and you may very well be part of the “awakening.”  

The Awakening Mind
I say “awakening” because the experience appears to be very dynamic and fluid by nature. I’m not sure I would recognize or even fully appreciate an “awakened” mind for they are far and few between us. But for those who are experiencing various stages of wakening, you are as visible to me as I am to you.  

Generally speaking, the awakening mind radiates at a much different and “higher” vibration than most other people.  Since this “vibration” wants to resonate harmonically with similar or complimentary energies, it can (and often does) resonate with like-minded people. It can, however, just as easily create discord with those who resonate at a much lower vibration. Just imagine striking a non-complimentary note on separate pianos, especially with one out of tune.  That’s the discord I’m referring to, except in this case, the resonance resides within the psychic and spiritual realms.

I speak in terms of “higher” and “lower” vibrations without truly qualifying what is meant by that. First off, there is no state superior to another. Like changing stations on a radio dial YOU choose the station you need (or want) to be on.  Most people are tuned to what I consider to be a limited awareness. This does not make them any less sublime or capable as Humans. This is merely the channel they are “tuned” to and as such they are acclimated with that world.

This vibrational density is impressive in its own right for it has the power to generate fantastic illusions so convincing that even the conscious mind can fully buy into it. This ability to manifest a false paradigm and to believe it to be true requires considerable power. But you, my dear reader, may have peeked behind the proverbial projector screen and have seen an assembly of gears and levers and perhaps even a portly, unassuming little man attending them with due diligence. 

Stepping Out of the Matrix
The awakening mind — now that’s a different story. The higher vibration of this mind-body state allows a more commanding view. Like stepping up a ladder, you can look down and see (though not really live) the dynamics of the lower vibrations. Each step up the ladder requires tremendous courage, an open and curious mind and a high degree of “functional” intelligence. Those steps command effort — much more effort than what most are willing to exert. Sleepers may go so far as to observe or even stumble over this hypothetical “ladder” and still not recognize what it is or how they may benefit from it.

People on the lower rungs of the ladder rarely look up.  They choose to frequently look “down” which may give them a false sense of superiority or dominion over their world. They are especially prone to the hypnotic suggestion television creates and may even go so far as to “act out” various fictional characters or their favorite professional athlete. The lower state is easily entertained — and anything or anyone who challenges their status quo will be dismissed as an outsider, a misfit, or a threat.

The Slide and Adrenalin 
I have alluded to a ladder — but now I would like for you to imagine a slide. Going “up” the slide takes some effort. You must go up the steps, higher and higher until you reach the top. One may then position themselves in such a manner so as to enjoy the ride downward. This downward “thrill” is brief but exhilarating. The slide provides a good physical example of going from a higher state to a lower state and the ensuing thrill from moving in this downward fashion.

There are also many examples of the slide analogy within the spiritual realm. Turn on any news station and you will soon be bombarded with “energy dropping” stories that create a sort of “rush” — a rush that, curiously enough, is habit forming. These news sources often report stories of tragedy and high drama. So severe are these stories they actually can cause the body to produce an adrenalin related “rush” or high. Once again we find ourselves “sliding” down that imaginary slide and into a lower vibrational state. The “mainstream” news networks have created legions of adrenalin junkies. The “sleepers” are their primary target.

During the course of their day, sleepers gradually build their energy level back up. But soon they find themselves back on that hypothetical slide and are sent swooshing down once again into a lower energy state. It’s a vicious, repeating cycle that keeps the sleepers fast asleep and drunk happy on adrenalin.

Lonely at the Top
Many readers of Rattleberry Pie have stayed on top of the ladder long enough to take in the view. They've recognized that the view is more exhilarating than the fall. They saw many things up there — things that would be hard to describe to those below. The awakening mind continues to build “steps” higher and higher, and soon they are peeking above the clouds. Now they look down from this lofty position and see the tiny dot that was their slide. They are amazed by how that relatively insignificant slide inspired them to move higher. Sliding down from this cloud level height is really no longer an option, at least not in the traditional sense. Here is yet another dilemma of the awakening mind.

Once you have experienced the process of awakening there really is no going back. The one (down) side is the higher you get, the more rarefied the air becomes. Loneliness can settle in. The awakening mind is an exceptionally vibrant mind that requires considerable stimulation and camaraderie. But it’s lonely up there. Indeed.

Final Thought 
The awakening experience is truly a gift. It’s is not for the weak or the meek. It takes much strength and courage to achieve these higher levels of enlightenment. Those who are awakening come in all sizes and shapes — many are the so-called Indigo's, the Crystal's, or essentially any Human that realizes their personal power and potential and that there is much more to this world than they’ve been told.

One may ponder if those in the process of awakening have a moral obligation to try and wake the sleepers. From my own observation and experience I would advise against this.  Simply let them sleep. The best way to reach them is over time. Be gentle and incremental in your approach. This is the same technique the “powers that be” have used on you — that was until you saw a little “string” that connected to other strings that held the tapestry of the matrix in place.

So be an example. Radiate with love and truth. Project health, exuberance and happiness. Be aware without being angry (easier said than done). The sleepers must see the higher steps of the ladder as being worth the effort. They may someday abandon the rush of the fall for the beauty of the view.

Just by virtue of being aware you are already contributing in a vast and energetic way to those around you. They “sense” your vibration and may try to resonate with you some day. You have been given “eyes to see” and “ears to hear” so you have been blessed. Yes, until others begin to see as you do the loneliness — the isolation can feel very real at times.

Let me remind you that you are not alone. We feel you out there — we are grateful for your presence and we love you so very, very much.
~ Until next time

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Thursday, January 1, 2015

No, Really—Consciousness Is Worth Thinking About

About a year ago as I was engaging in my morning ritual of new-site checking, I happened upon a post entitled Consciousness Is Worth Thinking About that had made it to the front page on the popular tech news site, Hacker News [HN]. Interesting! I thought, and after reading the article, which I thought contained some good food for thought, I clicked through to the comments, which I took a snapshot of.

They are highly dismaying, to say the least. It’s clear what the average HN commenter thinks of the subject:
"Sophomoric philosophy"
"Not a useful concept"
"[An] evolutionary advantage"
and last but not least:
"I wish we could send out a memo to the world that says ‘Please do not draw metaphysical conclusions from math or science unless you are an expert on the field you are drawing conclusions on.’" 
My response: who said anything about metaphysical?

What discourages me is that the overall tone of the HN commenters is: Get with the program. Instead of acknowledging that it is an open question and saying something like, “Interesting hypothesis, my own thoughts are that X, Y, Z, but have you read A, B, or C, which indicate Q…”, the response is: (chuckle) Consciousness? We solved that, didn’t you get the memo? You might as well talk about The Ether. An antiquated concept; a dead end. In general, the implication is that if you think there is anything left to be discovered here, it serves only to showcase your own inability to think rationally.

I let myself get riled up about this because I expect more from HN commenters. These are not the people you find on YouTube. Typically they are rationally-minded, intellectually curious individuals, but what we see here in black and white is that, when presented with a decent article about a legitimate, yet unexplained problem, they recite the party line.

I respectfully submit that this attitude should be considered harmful, for several reasons, not the least of which is that it stifles investigation into a subject that is still open, regardless of what Dawkins, Dennett, Kurzweil, and xkcd (all of whom I respect for other reasons) think.

Part of the reason behind the mud-flinging lays within a misinterpretation which is visible in the last quoted comment — the idea that by using the word “consciousness,” we are implying something trans-rational, spiritual, magical, etc. But consciousness is not magic, it’s a phenomenon like light or gravity. So, henceforth, let’s substitute the word “observer” for consciousness, since that’s what is being discussed — the observer and the observed.

As Gopi Krishna wrote:
“Now a material scientist may argue that, well, we have gained this consciousness by experience. Why has not the ox or the cow or the fish gained it?
“Then he will argue that, well, man’s consciousness took a leap, but when we ask him how did it take a leap, he is dumb. He knows nothing. Even Darwin had to admit that we could give no definite explanation for it except that it is part of natural selection. So you see the whole structure of materialistic philosophy has been built on suppositions and premises, not on realities. The first reality we come across is consciousness. The world comes later. We know first ourselves and then the world.
“So the wiser course is first to understand the knower. What modern thinkers have done is to ignore or bypass the knower, forgetting that it is the knower that is doing it.”
The other issue is one I consider to be more dire, and I don’t know what to call it except a fear of the unknown which manifests itself as hostility, ridicule, or scorn. I call this dire because this is exactly the kind of attitude that a scientist should reject — in a situation where a root cause is murky and escapes testability, we must keep an open mind. To do otherwise is to be dishonest to oneself. If the answer is “we don’t really know,” then saying the problem is solved or can be explained away is false.

I don’t mean to say that all the comments are negative or hostile — there is some good food for thought, however, it’s interesting to me that so far, none of them addresses the points made by the author; they simply recite the prevailing idea that the problem has been explained away. If it weren’t obvious, my own opinion is that this is not so, and I’m more than happy to engage in a discussion about why I think that.

However, that’s the subject of another article entirely.