|Change the Paradigm|
Kundalini and Enlightenment
There is a lot of interest in the subjects of kundalini awakening and enlightenment, both by those having experiences and those curious about what the experiences mean. It appears that these experiences are becoming more common. They are also becoming more a part of accepted reality and less of a theoretical philosophy.
One of the first issues is confusion. Confusion comes from trying to frame an experience of reality into a belief system in which it does not fit. Confusion is also the result of a complete lack of a belief system or knowledge base that is relevant to the experience. Religions and their dogmas and belief systems are sometimes rigid and judgmental. Some fundamentalist religious systems may look at an experience of enlightenment as "the work of the devil" or something equivalent and create harmful conflicts and feelings of guilt that are very inappropriate. For those lacking a knowledge base that recognizes kundalini and enlightenment phenomenon, the search for understanding or acceptance may lead to the experience and its individual empowerment and benefits being hijacked by gurus, personality cults and religions. Often, this occurs when an individual is anxiously seeking understanding and acceptance and is naive about the consequences of giving their own power to others who may be all too eager to receive it.
So, what exactly is a "kundalini awakening"?
The term "kundalini" comes from East Indian mysticism and yoga. Similar concepts are found in western mysticism and shamanic traditions. Kundalini literally means "coiled" and refers to a primal force or energy that lies coiled and somewhat latent at the base of the spine. A number of English translations refer to it as "serpent power" not because it has anything to do with serpents, but because of the perception of being a "coiled and rising" energy. Because of this visual association, the serpent is sometimes used as a symbol of this energy in numerous mythologies, cultures and systems of mysticism. The caduceus, the logo of medicine and healing, is two serpents coiled around a central staff. This symbol appears to have originated in ancient Egypt or Greece and represented the mystical power to heal through the application of realized kundalini energy or "serpent power". Perhaps the best description of kundalini energy is "the natural energy of the Self where Self is the Universal Consciousness present in every being" (attributed to Sri Ramana Maharshi - introduced into Western awareness by Paul Brunton in his 1931 book, A Search in Secret India).
The rise of this energy through the human nervous system is associated with the activation or amplification of the primal energy associated with the basic energy centers or chakras in the body and the awakening of the consciousness that accompanies this process. The cultivation of this process is the goal of several yoga systems including Kundalini, Laya and Kriya Yoga and Vajrayana Buddhism. The basic process is also evoked through the practice of meditation. These traditions have an extended program of training, preparation and guidance intended to enable the individual to experience the physical, psychological and psychic changes this energy brings as a constructive experience.
For most, however, qualified teachers and trainers are not available. Since there is no standard for certifying "qualified teachers", identifying them can be problematical. The issue of kundalini energy being activated and out of control in the absence of expert guidance was brought to the public attention by Gopi Krishna. He practiced a routine of meditation for about 20 years when he began to experience dramatic and distressing changes to his body and consciousness. Gradually, over a 12 year period, he managed to focus his awakening into a stable, beneficial new and inspired consciousness. He founded the Kundalini Research Institute and is the author of several books. His message is that this power when activated in a body not ready and prepared for it can lead to every variation of mental disorder known. His message is that this power when activated in a body ready and prepared for it results in the awakening of creativity, intelligence, compassion and expanded awareness of the very highest order.
The terms "kundalini syndrome" and "spiritual crisis" have been used by western researchers and clinicians including Itzhak Bentov and Lee Sanella. They recognize the phenomenon and list and describe the associated symptoms. It is important to recognize that this is a Spiritual process rather than a clinical syndrome. A Spiritual awakening involves more than simply an activation or release of energy. A Spiritual awakening encompasses an expansion of consciousness and a refinement or purification of the consciousness and energy of the individual.
The unpleasant mental and physical symptoms that have been attributed to the kundalini experience are the result of the conflict between the individual's unresolved personal issues and the superposition of a consciousness that requires a pure state.
In brief, the activation of energies in the specific chakras can be described as follows:
The first or root chakra is associated with the sexual organs. When this chakra is energized, the energy can result in increased personal power and drive. It will also amplify any residual tendency in the individual toward sexual lust and desire, sexual perversions, and aggressiveness.
The second chakra is associated with the leydig glands. When this chakra is energized, the energy can result in an increased and enhanced Spiritual consciousness and a deeper connection to the soul. It will also amplify any residual tendency in the individual toward excessive fascination with the unusual, esoteric, unconventional and weird.
The third chakra is associated with the adrenal glands. When this chakra is energized, the energy can result in an increased level of enthusiasm, courage and compassion. It will also amplify any residual tendency in the individual toward anger, hatred, an exaggerated sense of self importance and the seeking of power over others.
The fourth chakra is associated with the thymus gland. When this chakra is energized, the energy can result in an increased level of love, consideration, unselfishness, sincerity, honesty and a heightened appreciation of beauty and music. It will also amplify any residual tendency in the individual toward jealousy and an excessive fascination with the opposite sex.
The fifth chakra is associated with the thyroid gland. When this chakra is energized, the energy can result in a strong will, smooth focus and an awakening of psychic abilities in general. It will also amplify any inherentresidual tendency in the individual toward episodes of ecstasy and depression.
The sixth chakra is associated with the pineal gland. When this chakra is energized, the energy can result in a profound connection to the Source, or the Holy Spirit or God (depending on your choice of words). It can also awaken prophetic ability. It will also amplify any residual tendency in the individual toward self exaltation, an over fascination with one's own power and self, or to megalomania.
The seventh chakra is associated with the pituitary gland. When this chakra is energized, the energy can result in the awakening of full consciousness. This energy can also produce powerful personal charisma and the inherent ability to influence large groups of people. It will also amplify any residual tendency in the individual toward self centeredness.
In addition to these Spiritual and energetic factors, there are physical and physiological effects manifesting in the physical body through the nervous and endocrine systems. The manifestation of this energy and its physiological effects facilitates changes in the physiology. The body has to adapt to these changes and may become stressed when it is not in condition for these changes. The physiological conditions associated with addictions to drugs, tobacco, alcohol, etc. can be particularly distressing. Poor nutrition, general toxicity and poor health in general can also be a problem. The importance of resolving addictions and poor lifestyle habits cannot be overemphasized.
The upside of all of this is that the whole process, when constructively engaged, is healing, re-generating and empowering.
What does "enlightenment" or "awakening" mean?
I wish to relate a personal experience on this. This occurred approximately 25 years prior to this article. I was browsing the shelves in a book store contemplating this very question, feeling a bit smug about my knowledge and experiences and it spontaneously hit me. To be awakened, enlightened, etc. requires that one have absolutely no inconsistencies, compromises, deceptions or lies within at all. This was not an insight, but a profoundly humbling experience. I was immediately made aware of all, and I mean all, of the compromises and moral rationalizations in my life. The difference between my life as it existed then and where I needed to be to stay in that space was vast indeed and clearly defined in complete detail. During those moments, I also experienced an expanded awareness, not only of myself but of others, the world and the universe. That too was profoundly humbling. This awareness faded as I was in no condition to sustain it, but it gave me a point of reference, a sense of what I needed to do to achieve it and at least a clue about what I am talking about.
Ideally, awakening consciousness and activating the kundalini energy should be a slow process of healing, self realization, purification and personal growth. It is with this in mind that this course was created. The initiation of the process of awakening through meditation and the introduction of tools to aid in cleaning up personal issues and karma before they become a traumatic issue is the general agenda.
Van Auken, John, Edgar Cayce on the Revelation: A Study Guide for Spiritualizing Body and Mind , ARE Press, Virginia Beach, VA, 2000