Friday, December 25, 2015


I’ve always been sensitive to noise. It can make life difficult in a crowded, noisy city, and can be challenging when kundalini has woken the deeper energies of the nervous system.

Edvard Munch (Norwegian,1863-1944) "The Scream”
The guy next door to me hopes to be a DJ. He practices his scratching very loudly and repetitively. At the moment he works on a building site, and can only rehearse of an evening, or on those mornings when he can’t face climbing into his overalls. He’s a nice man, but he doesn’t speak much English and I don’t speak much Romanian. When I talk to him about meditation, there’s a lot of hand-shaking, back-slapping and invitations to drink wine, but the noise issue doesn’t get resolved. I was faced with the problem of simultaneously handling Kundalini and dealing with his wall-rattling dub base without going insane, giving way to rage or moving house. It brought the issue of ‘First you do it; then it does you’ into sharp focus.

The mind that goes insane and gives way to rage is, strangely enough, passive. I go insane or give way to rage because my consciousness is the victim of the outside world, my brain is the outside world’s passive object. That’s why noise is so intrusive. My inner passivity is the reason that noise gets inside me, and can bug me, in a way that visual impressions don’t. I can live happily looking at an un-beautiful bedroom wall. Tired magnolia woodchip doesn’t do my head in, but when the wall starts to vibrate to Romanian drum and bass there’s a deep clenching of my nervous system that shuts me off from the world around me. This is the bodily reflex of the animal ‘fight or flight’ mechanism (‘fight’—break his door down with a sledgehammer; ‘flight’—move house.) This reflex, even the ‘fight’ part of it is, again, the result of an inner passivity. I want to sleep, relax, switch off, and I can’t. I flee from the possibility that there might be some inner state of permanent activity powerful enough to dispel or transcend noise intrusion (let alone other more violent intrusions). Yet there is such a state of permanent inner activity, and it’s name is Kundalini, Kundalini that isn’t resisted or which I don’t attempt to channel via the pingala nadi (which is when Kundalini burns and short circuits the nervous system).

When Kundalini overcomes the fight or flight mechanism and becomes a permanent conscious force (even at moments of intrusion) a strange state is arrived at. There is no otherness. The guy next door and his music are part of me. I willed them in the pre-natal state just as I willed my whole life and body, its strengths and weaknesses. Stated as a bare concept this sounds both bland and bizarre. But in fact, Kundalini can overcome otherness, and is powerful enough to overcome otherness, in a quite literal way. I arrived at a state in which I still felt the walls shaking, and the pounding of the music—nothing was shut out—but Kundalini changed the pounding and the shaking into manifestations of a silence that was welling up out of me. I heard the silence that the noise came out of and anchored myself in it. I felt no resentment of my neighbour, in fact, I could somehow feel him through his seemingly mechanical and, to me, inhuman, music.
There is a paradox in this—‘Kundalini does you’, but the ‘does you’ is in fact the awakening of a permanent inner activity.

The Shuragama Sutra speaks about ‘sense organs returning to their source.’ Each sense function (smell, taste, sight, touch, hearing and thought) has its place of origin in the subtle body. In the Tantras, this place of origin is called the tanmatra of a particular sense function. When Kundalini rises through the chakras, the physical sense functions return to their origins, and the tanmatras awake. Sound, as physical hearing, has its origin in the tanmatra of the throat chakra, where the source of space and time are also revealed (space and time bearing a distinct relationship to sound.) This is why sound can be particularly intrusive, because it disrupts one of our higher manifestations—our being in space and time (trapped in a room at one a.m with the walls shaking.) The Sutra says that ‘when one sense organ returns to its source, all six are liberated.’ Also: ‘If one wants to attain Samadhi, hearing is the best way to enter... How excellent is the contemplation of the world’s sound, a pure sound, like the ocean’s roar.’

One other, minor, issue is the effect of Kundalini outside of the body, on ‘the world’ and other people. I think it’s wise not to dwell on this side of things too much as there’s scope for both fantasy and paranoia. However, as regards my neighbour, I clearly needed to act outwardly as well as inwardly. One night, a little after midnight, I knocked on his door. I had to knock loudly because the music coming from inside was deafening, however I didn’t knock with my sledgehammer. My neighbour was performing his DJing to a roomful of his friends, and didn’t like me interrupting him. I felt both angry and scared (they were drunk). I said my piece, and a weird thing happened. I felt kundalini coming out of my words, and out of my whole body, and filling the room. My words were forceful, but not furious! I felt a wonderful relaxation and strength in the simple justice of what I was saying. And I could tell that they heard it too. In fact, they were aware that Kundalini was in the room. What ought to have been a shouting match turned into a dignified and friendly conversation. And they switched the music down!

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Death Is Not Physical

In 1999, I was on a Buddhist Vippassana Meditation retreat when I experienced the rising of energy which I now know to be Kundalini. At that time I had neither experience nor knowledge that this energy existed in the body. The form that the energy took was a rising and falling that seemed to start from the base of my spine and rise up through my body to the top of my head and down again. As it rose I found myself being raised high and rocked from side to side. My feet were wrapped around my meditation stool so I knew I wasn’t being physically raised and rocked; the experience was purely energetic.

Turning my attention inwards and merging with the energy I allowed myself to go with what it wanted to do. I cooperated fully with it. There were no thoughts, no fears, just complete absorption in what was happening. I experienced this rising and falling of energy during a number of sitting sessions. It must have been around the sixth session that the energy changed its intensity and I began being lifted higher and rocked more violently. This made me think that maybe there was something that I was expected to "do." All was intuitive on my part because, after trying to speak with one of the teachers about what was going on in the meditation sessions and seeing her confused reaction, I knew that I was on my own. I was determined to see the process through to the end, whatever it might be.

I remember one vibration that made me feel as if I was being lifted very high, making me think, "If that’s what happens, okay." But I didn’t fall. When the next vibration came I suddenly remembered the Buddhist concept of surrender. Did surrender have something to do with this experience? I didn’t know, but I decided to give it a go. At the height of the next vibration I said "I surrender" and immediately the vibration died down. I was relieved and thought that was the end of it all. To my amazement, the energy rose again, now I felt this acute fear. I didn’t know what else to do. I had exhausted every technique I was familiar with and it wasn’t enough; the rising and falling of the energy wasn’t ended by "surrendering."

Since 1999, I have reflected on the fear I experienced during those moments when I realised that surrendering wasn’t enough to end the movement of energy up and down my body. The fear wasn’t all encompassing in that I could have opened my eyes and brought the experience to an end. It was something that I had to feel and experience and, having come as far as I could, I was determined to see it through. Looking back, it seemed vital to feel the fear and stay with the experience. I was fortunate because I didn’t have to "be" with the fear for very long. But for those moments of fear were paralyzing.

It was in that same sitting during the next vibration that I knew exactly what it was I had to do. I don't know where the realization came from. (Did submitting to the fear create the space for eventual clarity?) I don't know. All I knew was that I had to take my feet away from the stool when I surrendered so that I was totally vulnerable. This is why the rising and falling did not end: I was still holding on and what was surrendering was my ego. Again without any fear or thought about what I was doing or the possible consequences, on the next vibration when I was raised to the highest peak with the energy, I took my feet from the stool and said, "I surrender, but only to the Light." Why I said this I have no idea. I don’t remember seeing any light, or having any perceptions. I only wanted to be clear about what I was surrendering into. I didn’t want there to be any ambiguity about the surrender. Immediately, all of the movement of energy ended and for the remainder of the sitting sessions of that retreat, my meditations were once again what I was used to.

I have also pondered on the surrender and what it meant. There is no doubt that there was a sense of "going over" in that surrender, but over where and to what? Something died in me for sure and now many years later I think I understand what happened. I have never had a teacher or guru to ask about this, but in the last couple of years have been Graced to have been introduced to my Guru, who I intuitively recognize to be a great Realizer and Adept.

From reading His spiritual experiences and teachings I now recognise and accept that what happened that day wasn’t a physical death but the psychological death of the ego. This process happens gradually, and now so many years later, I see how the process unfolded and continues to unfold.

It began by my saying yes, by my staying with the process. This is why courage is so important if one is serious about Enlightenment. The process is an ordeal, it always was and it always will be, and it demands absolutely everything. Ultimately, it demands the sacrifice of the ego "I" or the egoic self. This is why when authentic realizers undertake the process with groups of devotees, you can count the number of devotees who are able to realize the process for themselves on the fingers of one hand.

Undergoing the psychological death of the ego is not easy, but once surrender is offered voluntarily, it then becomes inevitable. In my case, after the initial surrender, it was a case of painstakingly unconcealing how the ego had been put together to see that it is something that is constructed in language. Once realized, the ego can be voluntarily transcended. It is important (for mental stability) that it is transcended by seeing it for the made-up construct it is.

When certain things happened to me in life, I constructed Margaret as an ego "I" and I decided who I was and what my life would be in relation to that I. I don't doubt that without having first surrendered in that meditation session that this insight with its overwhelming resonance would not have happened. The ego would never have allowed it to penetrate, but being mortally wounded by surrendering many years ago, the experience was an "ah-yes-I-see-that" moment without any associated drama.

This is why a Kundalini experience in and of itself is not enough. In fact, it’s just the start. The energy must be brought to a certain point if it’s to play a role in the psychological death of the ego "I" — without which Enlightenment is not possible. Ego and Love cannot occupy the same space. Kundalini is a purificatory energy. What it purifies is everything that would might interfere with the death of the ego. In effect, what Kundalini is doing is preparing consciousness for the sacrifice of ego "I" so that a state of Love can emerge.

This is my last post for 2015. I would like to take this opportunity to thank everyone who read my posts during the year and wish you all a pleasant festive holiday season.

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Being Overly identified With Our Beliefs

The commonly held definition of “belief” as found in the dictionary is: A firm opinion or conviction; an acceptance of a thing, fact or statement; a person’s religion or religious conviction. Some would argue that their belief is the “absolute truth.”  The question that comes to my mind when a statement like this is professed: If your belief is an absolute truth, then why does it sometimes change? Why does a transformation process like kundalini rising break down, modify, and even eradicate beliefs previously held? 

Over the years, my own beliefs have radically changed and continue to do so. I grew up in a family where religion was neither emphasized nor a concern, however, the culture of the Eastern Canadian farm community did leave an impression on me that continues to this day. My early identity was shaped by the families and neighbors who worked independently but at the same time depended on each other for many tasks that couldn’t be handled alone.
During my early working years in the city, through the positive influence of people who were important to me, I began a journey into the Catholic Christian faith tradition, which impacted and changed my life in a substantial way. By my mid-thirties, I was engaged in part-time ministry, as well as full time employment and family life. My identity was being shaped by many formation programs and retreats, as well as a ministry that moved me in a radically different direction from my days on the farm.  Christian meditation and meditation retreats became my means of maintaining a focus on what I thought was important. They were a way to affirm my beliefs in the Catholic faith. It’s not that I never questioned certain beliefs of the Church that made no sense; I often did. These apparent differences were dismissed on the basis that wiser teachers knew far more than I did; some things just had to be accepted by faith
In my mid to late fifties, Kundalini rising was the next dramatic turn that blew a hole into my many deeply ingrained thought patterns and beliefs. Kundalini leaves few stones unturned. Its energies modified and dismantled many of the images and constructs that had served to define my identity and that gave me a sense of who I was in relation to the world and those around me.  My identity had been substantially modified. Many of the beliefs that motivated me to act in a certain way disappeared. I was left confused and bewildered, but also with a great sense of spaciousness, wonder and freedom. The world as I previous saw it had changed, and I knew there was no way I could ever go back to the way it was before. And I didn't want it to.

In her book “Returning To Essence,” Gina Lake describes beliefs as deeply held patterns of thought that structure our experience. She says that because we believe something, we behave accordingly. Most activities we engage in are based on our beliefs. Those who have different beliefs and values spend their time doing different things. Beliefs form the basis of our identity. They give witness to who we are. But when our beliefs change, our identity changes with them. She writes:

"Our beliefs actually create the situation they describe. That's why it is said that we create our own realty: Our beliefs determine our reactions to life and our choices and therefore our experience, and our experience reinforces our beliefs. Once you realize that, you can choose whether to listen to this version of you and of your life, or not."

All of this, if you think about it carefully, is tied to ego. Our ego is defined by the identities and roles that we assume, how we see ourselves in the exterior world. So our beliefs, when acted out in the stage of life, maintain this ego definition.

When I examine the patterns of change in beliefs in my own life, I must conclude that beliefs in themselves, like thoughts, are not the problem. The problem comes when we become too attached to them. When we become too attached to our beliefs, they may crystallize to form something that is rigid and inflexible. When we become too attached, there is a danger that they become our “absolute truth.”  This “absolute truth” then begins to prepare its defense to justify itself. There is a danger of becoming like the Scribe or the Pharisee we read about in the Gospels, a person who allows ego beliefs to become God; and then look, with judgement, at anyone who does not share that same belief. Are we not seeing this play out in the world today?

Our beliefs need to be examined often and treated more lightly. Those that no longer serve a useful purpose, that no longer lead to a further evolution of consciousness, must be let go, and replaced with something else. Where possible, kundalini would be glad to do this for us.

In meditation, we practice observing our thoughts, seeing them come, seeing them change, seeing them go. They are a phenomenon of the mind, empty of any permanence. We discover that we are not our thoughts. Our inner witness or observer gives testimony to this.

In the same manner, we must practice observing our beliefs. They come, they change, they go. They also are a phenomenon of the mind, empty of permanence. In this manner, our inner witness can become an instrument of compassion, not of judgement, with those who do not share our particular beliefs.