Monday, May 29, 2017

The Master Game

A few days before writing this post, I had a lengthy telephone conversation with Emerging Sciences Founder Michael Molina on the subject of where and how kundalini fits in with higher consciousness. Is it a cause? An effect? A prerequisite? An arbitrary happenstance?

Why are the triggers and effects so varied? Why are there so many ways of inducing kundalini? So many sundry ways it affects the individuals that either ignite it through energy cultivation or who are inexplicably struck by it?

Is it a kind of loose cannon in the forward surge of evolution? A willy-nilly, will-o-the-wisp facilitator of higher consciousness?

At one point in the conversation, while discussing its triggers, I suggested that there seemed to be personality and physiological components that govern both the ways individuals approach the theory of kundalini as well as the challenges in releasing it. I noted that once task-oriented persons like myself begin the search for self-transcendence, it becomes a quest that includes finding and practicing energy cultivation techniques (yoga and meditation in my case) until one or another induces energy sensations inside the physical body. In my case, once I detected energy activity inside my body, I knew I had found a method worth pursuing. Where it might lead me or any dangers it might present were unimportant; I would pursue it to the end — whatever that might be.

People-oriented individuals, on the other hand, readily participate in more inter-personal activities. They seek reassurance in groups and gurus whereas I steered clear of them, seeking to validate my findings much like the Buddha did, through a solitary meditation practice. This approach taught me that the journey is as important as the destination, and that the more I forged ahead alone in my misery, the easier it was to face up to challenges.

While talking with Michael about the characteristics of task- versus people-oriented persons, I remembered The Master Game, by Robert S. De Ropp, a book that played an interesting role in my life.

In 1970, when I was leaving for Europe, endowed, at that time, with only a cursory interest in yoga, my girl and I stopped in Connecticut to say goodbye to my father, very surprised that, at the moment of my departure, he handed me a copy of De Ropp’s book, subtitled, at that time, Higher Consciousness Beyond The Drug Experience. Now, in its latest release, it’s been re-subtitled, Pathways to Higher Consciousness. Such was my father’s concern (i.e., my use of drugs) that he felt the book might raise my horizons above the drug culture, helping me to aim a bit higher. That was 1970, a time when drugs were flowing freely and parents were given to dramatic warnings. In its most recent edition, the editors have posthumously shifted the book’s focus to higher consciousness as it presents a wider field of interest than drugs, although De Ropp, much like myself, declares in the earlier chapters that drugs can play a role in sensitizing the individual to more lofty pursuits, and the games they represent. Nevertheless, he is not an apologist for psychedelics:
“They [drugs] can never, no matter how often they are taken, enable the investigator to change his level of being. Their continued use represents a form of spiritual burglary which carries its own penalty, an irreparable depletion of the substances [kundalini, for example] needed for real inner work and a total loss of the individual’s capacity to develop. Carefully controlled experiments with the drugs are justified if they lead the experimenter to the conclusion that the fourth and fifth states of consciousness are possible for man. This realization may serve to awaken him to the existence of the Master Game, the only game in life that is truly worth playing.”
~ de Ropp, Robert S. The Master Game: Pathways to Higher Consciousness (Consciousness Classics) (p. 48). Gateways Books & Tapes. Kindle Edition.
Little did I know that within two years I would not only stop using drugs and alcohol, I would awaken kundalini, something my father was never able to conceive of or process…

As it happened, however, my kundalini awakening might well have been kick-started by the book my father gave me, for I devoured it on the plane to Paris and it led to further study and practice.

During the conversation with Michael, I went to the book case for my copy of The Master Game (I still have it), mentioning to him that I hadn’t read the book in over forty years, but I seemed to remember De Ropp’s writing about the factors that determine the likelihood of an individual’s becoming a spiritual seeker and, if so, how the physiological and psychological factors discussed in his book manifest themselves.

It was the chapters on Games and Types that most interested me because they examined the issue of why some awaken, some do not, and some are not even interested:

“Life games reflect life aims. And the games men choose to play indicate not only their type, but also their level of inner development. Following Thomas Szasz (more or less) we can divide life games into object games and meta-games. Object games can be thought of as games played for the attainment of material things, primarily money and the objects which money can buy. Meta-games are played for intangibles such as knowledge or the ‘salvation of the soul.’ In our culture, object games predominate. In earlier cultures, meta-games predominated.”
~ de Ropp, Robert S. The Master Game: Pathways to Higher Consciousness (Consciousness Classics) (p. 12). Gateways Books & Tapes. Kindle Edition.
De Ropp’s hierarchical table of games tells us that the highest is the Master Game, whose goal is Transcendence, Awakening, Enlightenment, or any of the various synonyms we apply to higher consciousness states.

He also tells us that the game we choose indicates our personality and physical type, from which we deduce that if we know our type, then, using the following chart, we are able to predict the game we are most likely to play. I won’t go into the exact equivalencies here; they’re sprinkled liberally throughout his book. Suffice it to say: Know the game, deduce the type; know the type, infer the game. Very neat...

He even overlays his physical types with the ancient Greek humors (Choleric, Sanguinic, Melancholic, and Phlegmatic), as well as the Hindu Gunas (Sattva, Rajas, and Tamas), warning us appropriately:
“He who tries to play a game for which his type does not fit him violates his own essence with consequences that are often disastrous.”
~ de Ropp, Robert S. The Master Game: Pathways to Higher Consciousness (Consciousness Classics) (p. 14). Gateways Books & Tapes. Kindle Edition.
Applying these notions to my own case, I consider myself to be a cross between mesomorph and ectomorph. Why? Because of a childhood accident — documented in my book, Deciphering the Golden Flower One Secret at a Time — my physique and temperament took a detour from meso- to ecto- at the age of seven. Because of that turn of events, I became ideally suited to pursue self-actualization, so much so that I started a practice which led to a permanent kundalini awakening in my early thirties. A mesomorph in an ectomorph’s body, the morphological transformation I underwent allowed me to retain the qualities most apt for facing up to the rigors and challenges of releasing kundalini — Sanguinic, Cerebrotonic, Introverted, Sattvatic.

The surest kundalini activations are deliberate, not accidental or spontaneous; permanent, not temporary — the result of a proven meditation method. Essence meets Matter in a kind of Quantum event. Sexual energy flows, or is drawn, up the spine to the brain as a result of the sublimation process. Essence and matter must be aligned, sort of like when planets, suns, or moons align to produce an eclipse. That's the Quantum, or Karmic, aspect that determines why some individuals, despite proper guidance and all-out effort, are unable activate kundalini.

When I left for Europe, I was stuck in No Game -> no aim, one of the deadliest of all games. This book opened me to the Meta-Games. 

De Ropp uses WH Shelton’s work to support his theory of classification:
“Sheldon’s basic theory (supported by an abundance of evidence) is that temperament is related to physique. This is intuitively understood by every experienced novelist and playwright. Shakespeare’s three prototypes, Falstaff, Hotspur and Hamlet, correspond both physically and temperamentally to Sheldon’s three physical morphs and three temperamental tonias. Falstaff is the extreme endomorph. He is shaped like a barrel (‘this tun of a man’), typically oval in outline. Hotspur, the fiery fighter, is the extreme mesomorph, muscular, broad-shouldered, narrow-hipped, triangular in outline. Hamlet, the irresolute thinker, is lean and angular, linear in outline, the typical ectomorph. Their temperaments correspond to their physiques. Falstaff, with his passion for eating, is viscerotonic; Hotspur, with his passion for action and risk, is somatotonic; Hamlet, entangled in endless cerebration, is cerebrotonic.”
~ de Ropp, Robert S. The Master Game: Pathways to Higher Consciousness (Consciousness Classics) (p. 114). Gateways Books & Tapes. Kindle Edition.
This connects with Gopi Krishna’s understanding of physiology:
“Can we deny the fact that whether a fortuitous gift, divine grace, or the fruit of Karma, in every case there is close link between the talent and beauty exhibited and the the organic structure of the individual?”
~ Gopi Krishna - The Awakening of Kundalini
The Master Game is largely informed by Gurdjieff’s and Ouspensky’s Self-Remembering, a system De Ropp dubbed Creative Psychology — known today as Mindfulness. There is not one mention of kundalini in his book; there is, however, the recognition (quoted previously) that sexual energy plays an important role in the Master Game: an irreparable depletion of the substances needed for real inner work and a total loss of the individual’s capacity to develop. Which, once again, echoes Gopi Krishna:
“The whole of our body is filled with a very fine biochemical essence which I call the biological prana. Prana has two aspects, the universal and the individual. In the individual aspect it is composed of the subtlest elements. I should say some radiation from the various elements on a subatomic level. This prana is concentrated in the sex-energy. Normally the sex energy is used for procreative purposes, but nature has designed it for evolutionary purposes also.

“We are all familiar with the word sublimation, or refinement and purification. Most people believe that artistic talent, and genius to a large extent, depend on the sublimation of the sex-energy. Even psychologists like Freud and Jung ascribe it to libido. Now libido is sex-energy, life-energy in other words. So, according to the view of those who believe in Kundalini-according to the views of ancient masters-the human reproductive system functions in two ways, both as the evolutionary and the reproductive mechanism. As the evolutionary mechanism, it sends a fine stream of a very potent nerve-energy into the brain and another stream into the sexual region, the cause of reproduction.

“By the arousal of Kundalini we mean the reversal of the reproductive system and its functioning more as an evolutionary than as a reproductive mechanism.”
~ Gopi Krishna - The Awakening of Kundalini

The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948) – Hog-In-Trough Game

I have concluded, therefore, that the rules which apply to Gurdjieff’s and Ouspensky’s Self-Remembering system also apply to energy cultivation techniques, such as kundalini meditation, in that the aptitude for success in the practice of these systems depends largely on the physical and temperamental characteristics of the individual. Whether kundalini is a prerequisite for attaining higher consciousness, or playing The Master Game, is purely an individual matter and cannot be determined in advance. On the other hand, a method such as Golden Flower Meditation (GFM), whose purpose is raising kundalini, holds the brightest chances of success because it induces permanent, deliberate, and safe awakenings — commensurate with an individual’s Karmic gifts, as well as his/her physical and temperamental endowments.
“Here it is sufficient to say that the Master Game can never be made easy to play. It demands all that a man has, all his feelings, all his thoughts, his entire resources, physical and spiritual. If he tries to play it in a halfhearted way or tries to get results by unlawful means, he runs the risk of destroying his own potential. For this reason it is better not to embark on the game at all than to play it halfheartedly.”
~ de Ropp, Robert S. The Master Game: Pathways to Higher Consciousness (Consciousness Classics) (p. 24). Gateways Books & Tapes. Kindle Edition.
If you’re wondering, “Am I a fit for the Master Game — with or without the release of kundalini?” You might very well find some answers in this prescient book first published in 1968.