Sunday, August 21, 2016

The Color Red

Color symbolism is important in Tantra. Color exists on a spectrum that is both "horizontal" (the infra-red spectrum) and "vertical" ( in which color modulates from the visual, via imagination and hallucination, to color that symbolizes transcendent realities.

Red signifies fire. The pingala, or sun, nadi is fiery red because, when Kundalini ascends the pingala nadi. She is the fire that underpins materiality and physical manifestation. This is why, in the pingala nadi, Kundalini can become a consuming force, an unbearable heat. There is a significant moment in Gopi Krishna's Kundalini awakening (described in Kundalini, The Evolutionary Energy In Man) when, exhausted and feverish, almost at the point of death from Kundalini's rising up the red pingala nadi, he makes a last-ditch inner effort and rechannels Kundalini into the ida, or moon, nadi (its color is white) where manifestation is female, interior, sustaining and cooling — and by so doing Gopi Krishna saves his own life.

Front Cover of Paul Lyons' novel Natalie
In alchemy, the initial awakening, after the "separation of the mercury" (the ability to sustain consciousness in the subtle body, or female state) is called the albedo, or white work. After this stage comes the rubedo, or red work, the more challenging task of sustaining consciousness in the fiery forces that underpin physical matter and one's own physical body. The red work is done in the pingala nadi, the white work in the ida.

Red is also associated with the belly chakra and its fire, where prana (the force directed at transcendence) and apana (the force directed at physicality) are mixed to create the "Blessed Inner Heat" that Milarepa speaks, in fact, sings, of. Interestingly, the inner woman, or shakti, whom Milarepa evokes and celebrates he calls the Red Dakini, the shakti of material manifestation.

Tantra in the movies
Last Tango In Paris (1972)
Marlon Brando and Maria Schneider

There is a fascinating correspondence between Milarepa's red dakini and a passage from Dante's Vita Nuova. There is evidence that Dante, the great medieval Italian poet, was a member of the Fideli Amore, or "Love's Followers," an esoteric group that practised an alchemical/sexual awakening comparable to Milarepa's. Dante describes how Love appeared to him in a vision as his "Lord" (the transcendent Siva or Real Self) "the memory of whose being maketh me shudder:"
"In his arms methought I saw one sleeping, naked, save that she seemed to me to be wrapped lightly in a crimson drapery; whom, gazing at intently, I knew to be the lady of the salutation (Beatrice), who the day before had deigned to salute (save) me. And in one of his hands methought Love held a thing that was all aflame; and methought he said to me these words: Vide Cor Tuum (Behold Thy Heart)."
 This is a wonderfully powerful symbol, the after image of a true vision: Love holds in his arms a naked woman (shakti stripped of all conditioning) who is wrapped in a crimson drapery. What he has awoken (or better, what has greeted him) is the inner woman or shakti who is found the red bloodstream of the physical body. This "woman" is the Kundalini, union with whom, goes beyond physical sexual intercourse. She is woken in the heart that is "all aflame." The shakti of the breath, on the other hand, is wrapped in a white "drapery."

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