Saturday, September 26, 2015

Is Kundalini Worth It?

This blog and hundreds like it, many books, websites, symposiums, and gatherings focus on the topic of Kundalini. To what avail? What sort of impact is the discussion and buzz around this topic having on society at large, if any?

What does "worth it" mean in relation to a topic like Kundalini? What kind of value can be placed on it? A monetary value? Another kind of value? Religious? Spiritual? Educational? Ontological? Philosophical? Biological? Esoteric? Evolutionary? Sociological? Medical?

What if there was no such thing as Kundalini? What if there was no such thing as Major League Baseball or the National Football League? No such thing as banks? Life insurance? Museums? Libraries? Could we do without them?

Hnad to mouth
Food is an Essential
Could we do without gardens? I don't think so. Food to perpetuate life is an essential, not only for the present population, but for the future of humanity.

And what about the others? Are any of them necessities?

Tomorrow is Sunday. Suppose there were no NFL games? Could we survive? No NFL, no banks, no insurance, no TV, no museums or libraries — we'd still be here on Monday.

No Kundalini, however, and come Monday, life on earth would start grinding to a halt? Why you ask would something that I've never heard of have such a profound impact? An impact similar to the disappearance of food, say.

Quite simply, although Kundalini works behind the scene, so to speak, and is not widely known by most of the world's population, it is not only the driving force behind evolution, it is responsible for each and every person's — whether alive today or in the future — unique embodiment. What does the term embodiment mean exactly? In this context, it means the formation of your body from the moment of insemination to the moment of your birth.

This is not a belief system; it's biological fact: do away with Kundalini and you do away with humanity. In one fell swoop we're back to the dawn of evolution. How can this be true? Well, as our bodies take shape in the womb from one day to the next, something has to be responsible for the embodiment — from embryo to fetus to full-grown individual — process. And while scientists don't know what it is, people who have succeeded in raising Kundalini do. They understand that evolution, as well as the formation of living organisms, is powered by Kundalini energy. Kundalini exists for a purpose.

If it didn't serve a purpose, evolution would have eliminated it. That's how evolution works; it gets rid of unnecessary traits or functions.
"The Indian mystic Osho said, when the quantum physicists, with their new methods, went from the world of matter to the subatomic world, they went - without knowing it — from the physical to the etheric plane. According to Osho, if you go deep in the physical body to the microcosmic level, there is a more subtle electrical body called the etheric body. The etheric body is sort of a blueprint of the physical body. In the etheric body, also called the emotional body, feelings, sensations and thoughts exist as waves while they exist as particles in the physical body. At a certain level of attention, the waves and wave packets at the etheric level collapse into particles at the physical level. This is, of course, a quantum mechanical process."
~ Quantum Mechanics and the Etheric Body
Like food, Kundalini in one of the essentials. 
The Seven Chakras
The Seven Fundamental Chakras
So, yes, Kundalini has an underlying, essential evolutionary purpose. But, that said, do people have to know about it? Can't we prosper and lead a merry ol' life, just by having it run in the background like an app on your smart phone that counts the number of steps you take everyday?

That may have been true in the past. Kundalini could just toil away in the background, but today our survival is in doubt. Faced with so many threats (environmental, mass migrations, war, terrorism, racism, hunger, disease, economic collapse, corporate greed) our continued existence is imperiled. We must take an active role in evolution. And that, perhaps, is why so many books and blogs on spiritual topics are being written today...because biological processes like Kundalini, that were formerly unknown or ignored, are now essential to our survival, and the evolutionary impulse is serving them up to us on a conscious, elemental level.
"Unfortunately, most human beings are not plugged in. They are trying to generate their own power. So they eat five times a day, but still they are tired most of the time. It is a struggle to keep life going. Energy is not just in terms of physical energy or activity, energy is in terms of life. Existence is energy, isn’t it? The basis of existence is energy. If you know that basis, it is like knowing the foundations of life. If you understand the ways of the energy, you know the whole mechanics of creation. So if you are plugged in, you know what the power is, what it can do and what you can make out of it. You are plugged into an endless source of power – that is what is Kundalini."
So, while Kundalini has worked behind the scenes during most of human history, because of its importance in the energetics revolution (yoga, meditation, mindfulness, etc.) now taking place on earth, it is coming to the fore. Its intrinsic value has not changed, but what we know about it and the way we approach it has.

Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Mobilizing the Energies of the Subtle Body

I’ve enjoyed reading books by Lama Yeshe on the subject of tantra. He speaks simply, with great wisdom, but with reasonable caution as to the use of tantra to mobilize the energies of the subtle body for healing and regenerative purposes. As he would describe it:

“Any path utilizing the powerful and potentially destructive energies of desire can be dangerous. If followed improperly or with a selfish motivation, tantra can lead the misguided practitioner into realms of greater mental and physical suffering.”
The mental and physical suffering that Lama Yeshe is speaking about here, I assume, are the everyday sufferings we all experience as we get caught up in our own obsessions and illusions.

The purpose, as I understand it, for mobilizing the energies of the subtle body is to erode and dismantle the influences of the ego, to bring us to that state of equanimity where we become less driven by our obsessions and illusions. Can we, through tantra, become more indifferent to the influences of pleasure or pain, loss or gain, praise or blame, fame or shame? Can we become less obsessive in following what we perceive to be attractions or in avoiding at all costs what we perceive to be our aversions? This only happens as we diminish the influences of “ego."

When mobilizing the energies of the subtle body, always in the back of my mind are the questions: “What is my underlining intention for doing so? Is it for the purpose of spiritual growth and of becoming less attached, or is it for the purpose of seeking enhanced pleasure, greater and greater bliss for bliss’s sake? The three tests of the Sutras, for me, provide the means to discern my intentions:
  • Am I better able to renounce the things of the world as the source of my overall happiness and well-being? Do I see these things for what they are?
  • Is my attitude of service and concern for others increasing in its multiplicity of forms?
  • Can I better experience the impermanence of exterior things in order to more fully embrace the “absolute” that lies beyond “self,” but nevertheless remains mysteriously united with “self.”

This “absolute” is a state of being we all have and possess. We are created in the nature of the absolute. The trouble is that it is covered over, obscured by the clouds of illusion of the ego. Just as the clear light of the sky cannot be seen when obscured by clouds, the blissful presence of the “absolute” cannot be experienced when obscured by the deep, penetrating conditioning of the ego.

When I keep my intentions in their proper order, the mobilization of the energies of the subtle body can and do lead to spiritual regeneration and growth. These blissful energies can disable and transcend the ego and its attachments to enable us to experience the fourth dhyana where all sensation ceases and only mindful equanimity remains. This is the realm where both suffering and pleasure are extinguished, where sorrows or worries no longer exist. This is the stage of the beginning of pure mindfulness.

As I mentioned in a previous post, these energies can be mobilized through five types of activities: vibrations generated through:
  • Breath,
  • Physical movement,
  • Visualization,
  • Sound,
  • Touching or stimulation.
In my years of practice in Christian Meditation (pre-kundalini), my focus was primarily on repeating and listening to the sound of a mantra. My focus was on the silence, stillness, and simplicity of meditation. Any attention given to activities other than repeating the mantra were discouraged and minimal. For example, we were told to sit in a comfortable position, back straight, feet flat on the floor, breath normally. In other words, let your attention to everything else go. Just repeat and listen to the mantra. I attribute my kundalini rising to this simple practice over many years.

However, my post-kundalini activities include components of all five of those vibrational activities described above. So I’m not sure what effect these additional activities would have on those who may have not experienced kundalini rising. But they have certainly enhanced my post-kundalini years, and have led to many changes.

For the methods that I use to mobilize the energies of the subtle body, please refer to my post entitled The Four Dhyanas.

I have found that one of the most significant of these activities is sitting in a siddhasana posture. Siddhasana is often described as the perfect posture. It involves crossing the legs, sitting with the perineum firmly on the heel of one foot. This seat provides stimulation of kundalini energy upward through the nervous system, ultimately, creating a constant flow of ecstatic conductivity throughout the meditation practice.

The story of the wood worm illustrates how this takes place. The worm comes into birth through the wood of the tree in which it resides. Yet it is this same wood that it consumes in order to re-generate itself. It destroys that which gave it life in order to generate new life. The subtle body’s blissful vibrational energies, mobilized under the right intentions, although impermanent in themselves, provide the means by which we can de-rail and dissolve the very thing that they are prone to create in order to generate a new level of consciousness where all sensation ceases and only equanimity remains.

Friday, September 11, 2015

Sexual Magic

Love is often spoken of in terms of magic. Is there such a thing as real sexual magic, an act that Kundalini carries out in and through the physical body? In Natalie, A Kundalini Love Story I describe a moment of authentic magic performed, not with rituals, spells, and pentagrams etc., but by a man and woman lying in each others' arms, sleeping but connected by a deeper consciousness. Physically, Jim and Natalie are about to lose one another, perhaps be killed, but Kundalini joins their subtle bodies at the base of the spine and for an instant they are outside time and space. These things happen. At the moment when they let go of their physical obsession with one another, Jim and Natalie connect with a power that can save them because it works with the force of innocence.

Author Paul Lyons
Far from being a matter of control and willpower, true magic is innocent. This is why children are more open to it and can sometimes do magic without realizing it.

When I was about five, I went through a period when I used to hold my breath to make myself dizzy. Being dizzy made me feel strong and happy. It was only later that the reason I did it became clear to me. When I was three, my mother nearly died of tuberculosis. She disappeared into a TB ward, and I wasn't allowed in to see her, because the disease was contagious. I used to wave to her through a window from the hospital garden, but I wasn't allowed in the same room as her, or to breathe the air she breathed. My mother survived, but TB destroyed one of her lungs and left her with only three quarters use of the other lung.

For the rest of her life, every breath she breathed was a battle, and she suffered shocking breathlessness attacks. I see now that when I held my breath to make myself dizzy, I was feeling my way, on the subtle plane, towards the mother whom I wasn't allowed to touch physically. I felt happy and strong because the connection was real. It was a form of magic and it worked. I had stumbled upon a primitive form of pranayama. Through outwardly difficult circumstances, I'd found something that would be precious in my later life.

The life force comes to people in roundabout ways, over the course of a lifetime, as in JJ Semple's Deciphering The Golden Flower One Secret At A Time, where a childhood injury, irrationally (magically) kept undisclosed ended in a Kundalini awakening.

Shiva and Shakti
Connected in Space/Time

Their subtle bodies connected at the base of the spine, asleep, but deeply awake, in each others' arms, the heat of their erotic obsession gone, Jim and Natalie enter a space, a moment of space/time located in the future, a hotel room high above London, where the threat to their lives awaits them. Place is important in magic, as is the moment in time from which all space emerges. Place, space/time, is manifested in the Throat Chakra. As Vivek Govekar stated in an earlier post, the Throat Chakra is the bridge from the earthly realm (the body) to the transcendental plane in the higher chakras in the head; it's a passageway across to the realms without form both the Buddha and particle physics speak of. It's a midway state where authentic and simple magic can take place. Because magic, even erotic magic, isn't about control and will-power; it's a sudden, innocent uncovering of what is.

Sunday, September 6, 2015

The Esoteric Path — The One Less Traveled

One morning, I had the realization that what I have always considered to be a spiritual path as opposed to a religious path has really been an esoteric and not an exoteric path. Hot on the heels of that realization came the insight that what I considered "my" path with "my" spiritual experiences including kundalini was part of an already established, albeit less traveled, path of esotericism. This insight was both deflating and exciting. Deflating for my ego in that what I had considered "my" original unique spiritual path was already established and excitement that I finally had a map for my spiritual direction.

Margaret Dempsey
In my book Female Kundalini, I discriminate between spiritual and religious. All I needed to have said was "I have followed an esoteric (spiritual) as opposed to an 'exoteric' (religious) path since childhood" and perhaps more people might have understood what I meant. But this is the esoteric path.

It's like putting together a jigsaw. The first piece represents an attraction to "something." A Presence and response to it. All the other pieces are about being honest and authentic and developing self-understanding and self-observation as pieces of the esoteric jigsaw.

On the esoteric path there is an intuitive realization of the final picture, i.e. a life of sat, chit, ananda (consciousness, love  bliss) and an excitement and aliveness and willingness to play the game to get there. It helps to have an experience in childhood which acts as a constant reminder of "something." In my case, it was having a prayer answered when I was nine. It was this experience which started me on the esoteric path. I wanted to know THAT — that had answered my prayer. I was in no doubt that it had been answered and the way that it had been answered was no accident. I am hugely grateful for this event happening in childhood because it has always been the spur for me to carry on during those periods when self-doubt, confusion, trials and tests were at their toughest. The esoteric path is full of trials and tests and they are all aimed at increasing self-awareness and self-observation.

For me the tests on this esoteric (spiritual) path have all been about a loss of face. What I mean is: I have always been a writer and at various points have made firm declarations like "experiencing the kundalini energy is the peak of the spiritual search" and then I have the realization that "hang on, I have had this experience and I'm not enlightened, all I am, in truth, is an ego who's had a powerful spiritual experience" and this realization brings with it a huge loss of face, particularly as I am the author of Female Kundalini. But authenticity is more important to me than saving face. So instead of ignoring the insight about kundalini not being sufficient for constant, abiding enlightenment I began to look at why such a powerful experience as the awakening of the kundalini energy is necessary, but not sufficient for enlightenment.

This inquiry brought me to my second major loss of face. In another moment of insight, I realized that it is always the ego that is having the experiences, spiritual, mystical or simply ordinary. As the ego is an illusion as all the great spiritual traditions constantly and consistently point out, then there can be no permanency with any such experiences. Hot on the heels of this insight was the realization that the ego is not a structure but it is an activity — the activity of separation, which loves to claim the accolade of kundalini/and or other experiences because it reinforces the sense of separation. I realized that, if I, as an ego, was going to achieve enlightenment I was not going to do it by paying attention to my ego. Doing this is like "being a thief and then becoming a detective to catch the thief." It can't be done and only leads to a dance that goes nowhere. The above picture is what it feels like when these realizations hit and their truth resonates with an inward groaning of "Oh no."

For me, the dilemma with insights and realizations is that, when they come, they are always uncomfortable and force an honest reevaluation that results in a shift from whatever path I might have been on e.g., Buddhism, Reiki, Kundalini. Some have accused me of being fickle, changing my spiritual views, and not sticking to one thing. On one level I understand these criticisms; the esoteric path is not linear. Sticking to one path does not necessarily foster growth. It demands courage to see beyond a current infatuation, a transformation usually caused by a shift in consciousness, itself due to a realization or insight you recognize as not being true to your previous attachment, all of which gives you the courage to move on. Insights and realizations are a sign of a shift in consciousness.

Another loss of face I went through was my firm belief that having a guru was the worst thing you could do; that it was giving away your power and was, therefore, a bad idea. Again, I am on record as saying this. But then it dawned that no matter what I did — whether it was developing kundalini, or deepening my transformational self-development training — it would always and only be me doing it as an ego and, as a result, would never be "IT."

It's hard to write about the effect this realization had on me; it really rocked my world and I was horrified at the implications it might have for my life. I had to face the reality that at any moment I was either paying attention to my ego or creating something else. There is no other option and this is tough for the ego mind which doesn't see it or accept it. It is seen and recognized at a much deeper level; I recognized the necessity of  turning my attention away from ego to something else. Now there was a choice... But would I make it? Would I give up the life that is available and the opportunities that are possible for an ego with an awakened kundalini? Would I face up to the next test for me on this esoteric path?

Shortly after the shock of this realization, the Grace of Guru Bhatki yoga or the path of devotion was conferred on me in the form of a friend bringing me the autobiography of the realizer that I am now devoted to. I guess you could say it was the classic example of the old saying, "When the student is ready, the Master will appear."

I understand intuitively that if I am to go all the way on this esoteric path to self-realization and permanent abiding enlightenment that I have to transcend my ego. Transcending the ego is not the same as dissolving or fragmenting the ego — that way lies insanity. Ego transcendence is when the ego is transcended through the path of devotion, providing access to enlightenment, and nothing else.

This was a hard realization and even though I didn't like it and fought against it for over a year, I couldn't deny the Truth of how the search for freedom from suffering, which we all as human egos undergo in one way or another, is what interferes with the realization of what we search for. Taking a vow of devotion to a Guru/realizer, and taking up ego transcending practices, is what the ego fights against and this is a major reason why it puts up so much resistance using everything and anything to do so. And I did exactly this before accepting the path of devotion.

The ego senses that once attention is turned to the path of devotion that it will be transcended through non-use and non-attention. Having been a devotee on this path for over a year, I can now confirm that I am happy, less reactive to the things in my life, more equaniminous. Living a life that flows and is balanced I am hugely grateful to have found this way of ego transcendence through the path of devotion.