Wednesday, October 19, 2016

Kundalini and the Now

If your goal is enlightenment, why bother with kundalini? After all, even its proponents admit there are risks to raising kundalini. Things do go wrong on occasion: the initiate never achieves his goal, the energy never awakens, it awakens in some frightening manner, or some sort of psycho-physical damage occurs.

There’s far too much hustle associated with enlightenment. Is it reachable? Is it achievable? Is it teachable? Do you need a guide? Recently, I got a call from someone willing to pay me if I could guide him to enlightenment. He got angry when I asked him, what effort he’d have to make, why he believed he could do it, and what enlightenment was. Not that I told I could help him, I didn’t. My questions made him angry — that I should just shut up, wave a wand and voila, he’d be enlightened.

Well, what is it? What is enlightenment?

Is it the highest possible state of human evolution? Will all humans eventually become enlightened? Which leaves me to think there’s a physical component to it, just as there’s been at every stage of human evolution — Something in the brain changes. Usually over long periods of time, enough time for an attribute to be passed along to DNA. Or is it a stage only attainable by an individual on one off basis after an arduous preparation, like a Boy Scout earning merit badges.

Which causes me to rework the old saying: "Is it easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than for the unenlightened to become enlightened?" Not just because we’re so completely unenlightened at this moment, but because no one really knows what it is.

I wish people would stop talking about enlightenment as if it was like learning to drive a car or winning an Oscar.

It obviously isn't. In the first place, no one has ever defined enlightenment. It's a condition everyone claims they'd be able to recognize should they run across someone who is enlightened. A highly subjective claim.

Is enlightenment relative or absolute? Is it like switching on a light? Or is it a steady drip-drip-drip of becoming more conscious? For the time being, I like my working definition:
"The ultimate aim of meditation is to become more and more conscious. Enlightenment, therefore, is becoming fully conscious."
~ JJ Semple
It leaves room to include the struggle inherent in the journey. And because I learned so much during my journey, I can't shake the conviction that the journey is as important as the destination.
"Self-realization begins at birth. It is as much the journey as it is the destination."
~ Araminta Matthews
Secondly, designating or labeling a person as enlightened is problematic, and is usually bandied about frivolously. Is the so-called enlightened one actually enlightened or is he/she just a spellbinding talker? Think back. To the various Jonestown-like episodes in recent history. Were those self-anointed prophets false or real?

Eckhart Tolle says, "The enlightened person’s main focus of attention is always the Now, but they are still peripherally aware of time."

Like Gandhi spinning cloth, an almost inconceivable way of life for the westerner.
Gandhi Spinning
Which would seem to point out that the more you stay in the Now, the less likely you'd be talking about it. In fact, wouldn't someone In The Now live a fairly uncomplicated, simple life? All the better to stay in the Now. Simple actions = fewer distractions. Like Gandhi spinning cloth, an almost inconceivable way of life for the westerner.
"So do not be concerned with the fruit of your action — just give attention to the action itself. The fruit will come of its own accord. This is a powerful spiritual practice. In the Bhagavad Gita, one of the oldest and most beautiful spiritual teachings in existence, nonattachment to the fruit of your action is called Karma Yoga. It is described as the path of 'consecrated action.'"~ Tolle, Eckhart. The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (p. 68). New World Library. Kindle Edition.

When Tolle talks about staying in "the Now," he is repackaging "mindfulness," which itself is a rediscovery of Gurdjieff's "self-remembering" — the idea of freeing oneself from psychological time:

"The time-bound mode of consciousness is deeply embedded in the human psyche. But what we are doing here is part of a profound transformation that is taking place in the collective consciousness of the planet and beyond: the awakening of consciousness from the dream of matter, form, and separation. The ending of time. We are breaking mind patterns that have dominated human life for eons. Mind patterns that have created unimaginable suffering on a vast scale. I am not using the word evil. It is more helpful to call it unconsciousness or insanity."
~ Tolle, Eckhart - The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (p. 67). New World Library. Kindle Edition.
How difficult it is to stay in "the Now" can once again be compared to a camel's passing through the eye of a needle. It's very difficult, and very painful.

Attaining enlightenment — whatever it be — is so complex, yet so simple. The catch being that for most people the Simple is, and always will be, out of reach.

How does kundalini fit in with enlightenment, the Now, and nonattachment?

Very simply, it brings to bear the organic, somatic, metabolic, and hormonal resources of the body, allowing the mind and ego to rest while it does the heavy listing of staying in the Now. Kundalini creates a new Being dedicated to returning You to your true self.

And it isn’t a collection of merit badges, a reward for prayerful behavior, kindness to animals, or inspirational fellowship.

As pointed out by Mariana Caplan in Halfway up the Mountain: The Error of Premature Claims to Enlightenment, a book that examines Enlightenment from many angles.
“Author Lee Sanella explicates Carl Jung’s perspective on the kundalini: ‘Jung described the kundalini as an impersonal force,’ writes Sanella. ‘He argued that to claim the kundalini as one’s own creation is perilous. It leads to ego inflation, false superiority, obnoxiousness, or even madness. For him, the kundalini is an autonomous process arising out of the unconscious and seemingly using the individual as its vehicle.’ 
“This definition suggests that enlightenment neither belongs to an individual nor is personal to them. A person does not experience the energy of enlightenment because of their good deeds or their extraordinary nature. The movement of enlightenment is an unemotional force, indifferent to personalities and personal preferences, that uses the most suitable human vehicle to fulfill its needs.”
Caplan, Mariana - Halfway up the Mountain: The Error of Premature Claims to Enlightenment

This underlines the evolutionary aspect of kundalini, that it doesn’t just awaken on command or through a practice of some sort.

There are two schools of thought:
1) You are selected to play a role in evolution because of certain karmic qualities you possess. You are not selected because of something you did or didn’t do. Nevertheless, if it does happen to you, think of yourself as a conscript in the evolutionary upward march. You are neither a prophet nor a victim; you serve some greater purpose.

2) You can awaken kundalini by some sort of effort — yoga, meditation, prayer, good works, intervention of a guru. You are not selected at random to play a role in evolution; you are the prime mover in the process.

Once active, however, don’t expect that you can just relax and let kundalini take over. It’s not automatic. As a conscript, you have to make sacrifices — one of which is subduing your ego.

Leaving aside the risks of awakening kundalini, taming the ego work is never finished. Nevertheless, kundalini does jump start the process.

Here’s an excerpt from my latest book, Kundalini Musings, looking back on how kundalini affected and instructed me. Notice I don’t say “enlightened” me: 
"How do we change our consciousness? That’s the purpose of Kundalini — a powerful, yet dormant mechanism in our beings that allows us to realize our full potential. Kundalini is the motivating catalyst behind the transformational experience. It's the key to our changing our consciousness. How? Kundalini stimulates neuroplastic activity in the brain which, as a consequence, changes our metabolism, our organic and hormonal structure. Overtime, our behavioral aberrations vanish. We are no longer cogs in the machine.
"So how do we change human nature? We don’t. We run an 'end run' around it; we change our state of being, our consciousness. How do we do this? By raising Kundalini in a safe, permanent fashion. How does this work? My books detail the process, but the upshot is Kundalini produces an entirely new being, remolding your DNA.
"It’s an active process. You can’t pray for it to happen; you can’t do it by reading philosophy, by undergoing psychoanalysis, or becoming a scientist, lawyer, or doctor. You can't even grasp it intellectually. Why? Because you can't see the mountaintop until you're on top of the mountain.
"You have to involve the whole being. Master three powerful meditation techniques: diaphragmatic deep breathing, control of heart rate, the backward-flowing method and you’re there, standing at the threshold of a new being."~ JJ Semple - Changing Human Nature

Does Kundalini lead to enlightenment? Is there a cause and effect relationship? There’s so much to ponder. Nevertheless, think of staying in the Now (aka, Mindfulness or self-remembering) and Kundalini as complimentary partners in the great work of returning you to the simple, non-attached life. What’s at the end of the journey for you, only time will tell.

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