Friday, June 24, 2011

The Movement of the Holy Spirit and Kriyas/Mudras

There is a sense amongst the "uninitiated"  that the movements that happen in the midst of an awakening are somehow the work of the devil.  After all, in the Indian tradition kundalini IS called the Serpent Fire.  That would certainly place this smack dab in the middle of evilness, right? 

Egyptian Snake Goddess (possible Minoan influences)

First, as humans, we have to be able to consider for a moment that we are a product of our upbringing and that everything handed down is not necessarily reflective of some deeper reality in an ultimate way.  India simply never had the same association with the snake that some of the Judaic Peoples did.  By realizing that our spirituality is not contingent upon a belief, but is instead something that has been since the beginning of time, we can get a little more realistic standing in our world spiritually.

When I say this, I mean that spiritual experience is far more universal than any one religion might have you believe.  I have come to the conclusion that awakening is a universal human phenomenon, not something that springs from the "one true religion."  We see evidence of awakening, of kundalini not just in the Hindu tradition, but in nearly ever culture on the earth.  It goes by different names and descriptions, but it really is the same thing.  Unfortunately a religion that seeks exclusivity spiritually blind sides its followers by making them think that anything outside that religion is demonic or somehow not holy or right.  By sowing fear, this also keeps the flock close at hand, effectively controlled. What it doesn't do, however, it to teach its adherents the way to holiness through something that is universal, and very human. If you consider that so much of Christianity has been tied up within concepts having to do with shame and guilt about our being "fallen" then just about anything that is natural can become suspect.  Early Christian mystics certainly experienced all of the symptoms and effects of kundalini, but did not know to call it that because their vocabulary nor experience would have led them to this conclusion.  it was instead folded into their own experience so that it became an aspect of holy union.  St. Teresa of Avilla, though coming against the powers that be in the church had to set people right on how this thing worked, and she had many problems in her spiritual work as a result of this.  She stood as an authority in the matter since she herself had experienced this phenomenon directly and her followers, though resistant, wound up paying heed even though the system was so bound up in control and the artifice of shame and guilt.

The effects are clearly understood and seen.....the "shaking" and movements of the Holy Spirit are used in the same way as in other cultures. In the Hindu tradition, it was called a mudra, an involuntary movement brought on through powerful kundalini energy.  Those caught up in the Holy Spirit would go through similar, often identical kinds of movements.  And so would tribal peoples, too.  These movements have always been involved in ecstatic states and from my own experience is the body's response to an overwhelming flow of divine energy moving through it. When you consider that the deity existed long before any religion did, then its power could be felt before anyone sought to put into place a religion to seek to explain or describe it.  As such, we all connect to the same deity, the same god, even though it has many names and many permutations. While some see only the masculine side through very paternalistic lenses, there have been times when we were able to see both masculine and feminine.  There is evidence in early Christian texts that the Secret Doctrine that Jesus taught was about a triune God that was both masculine and feminine.  In the Apocryhpon of John Jesus says in a vision that he is one with the Father and Mother.  The Ebionites, the early Jewish converts to Christianity had a prayer that included both the feminine and masculine aspects of God.  Philip in his gospel spoke of the Holy Ghost as being known in his day as being the feminine aspect of God. There are countless other early texts recently unearthed in Egypt in Nag Hammadi that all make mention of the Holy Ghost as being the feminine. If you study these texts you will also see that many of the disciples were considered chauvinistic and may well have sought to downplay the role that the female has in spiritual experience. It would not be hard to find gospels that only mentioned the masculine aspect of the deity so that it would serve the paternalistic impulse to shove half the deity under the rug.  What a masculine and feminine deity does is express what becomes the whole of creative being.  If you look at how creation unfolds in our world, you see that it involves both masculine and feminine.  You need both.  In spiritual creation a deity that expressed both is more inclusive, more vital, and much more reflective of what exists in reality.  When we see a broader scope in our gods we also see and know a larger scope in ourselves....the truth being that the whole is alive in everything else.  When you seek to exclude one aspect, you do so throughout your spiritual experience and what you get is a corpse.  You will only get so far with that. No wonder then that awakenings are so hampered within the Christian perspective.  They happen, yes, but they wind up having to be codified, some aspects even hidden.  A man would not be able to express his experience with the feminine aspect in ecstasy without somehow carefully expressing it in the language that would make it acceptable and not falling outside the artificial belief that has been built up as a result of centuries old efforts at control through a paternalistic society and doctrine. A man would not know where to look for the feminine unless he was somehow aware that it was the Holy Ghost. To most, the Holy Ghost is a big mystery.  Most put the question to rest by saying it is an aspect of God, and in accepting God as masculine, surely it must follow that it is another genderized version or manifestation of that same deity.

The involuntary movements that happen in the Hindu tradition are the very same as in the Christian tradition, and are also seen in just the same way in other non-christian traditions. This shaking and jerking is a very physical result of this powerful energy coming into the body.  In the Hindu tradition it is called kriyas and are said to be a manifestation of kundalini energy.  On the other side of this is a much more ritualized form of movement that is largely limited to the Hindu traditions which are called mudras.  Mudras themselves appear to facilitate the flow of energy in the body.  There is even some interesting correlations with recent brain studies that the positions of the hands affects the language centers of the brain.  Mudras may help facilitate your ability to process this energy in a new or different way just by how your fingers are positioned. Mudras themselves tend not to be reflexive movements like kriyas are, but some people have been known to move into a given posture without having known that posture before.  So as a kriya is a jerking to effective allow the energy to whip through the body more easily, the mudra is a calmer method for facilitating its flow.

So much of my own experience has been to show me that we often seek to create the illusion that one religions is somehow better than another, and these religions will often seek to sow fear as part of a very old meme in gathering followers.  It is time to begin to recognize that our spirituality is not limited to one view, one religion, or philosophy.  In truth, it is, in my estimation, when we throw off the limiting beliefs - whatever they are and wherever they come from - that we can begin to experience our own divine right in a direct fashion through no filters of intermediaries. This experience is what I talk about as the compass. We each have it, and by depending on another to tell us what to think or how to feel, we do something to hide that compass within.  Its time to begin to be brave and willing to accept this birthright in the way that I think we were most naturally meant to, which is on a one-on-one basis facing this great mystery.  As a result of this, we will, I think, wind up bumping into things that will have a near-universal quality which is simply part of the universality of the experience.  I was talking to a friend the other day about wanting to write this entry and I was likening it to buying gasoline.  No matter where you go, its all gas, right?  And yet, some oil companies will do something to make it seem like what they are offering is somehow special. Maybe its an additive.  Maybe its their service (when I was a kid you often never got out of your car because all gas was full service!), or maybe there is something about their logo that you like such as how BP has made its logo look like its so earth friendly with all that green in it.  Given what has happened in the Gulf of Mexico, you can see how so much of this is about creating perception.  So thinking of it like that, the spirit is to me a very generic (common) experience that despite the labels you put on it, is still spirit.  Some would like to cast doubt that if you follow a Hindu tradition that its a Hindu god and not the same as some other, but again, that's fear mongering because when you feel this divine pulse, it really doesn't matter what label we slap on it.  Its all emergent from the same singular source of all life and awareness. 

We were all created by the same creator, all made with the same wiring and all capable of reaching states that are entirely independent upon any doctrine, teaching, or belief.  I once was aware of the sense of suspicion and fear created by the church about what other traditions had to say about spiritual experience, and the fear serves to limit experience for the very fact that what an awakening does is to dissolve fear.....not so that you wander aimlessly in shadow and spiritual lawlessness, but so that you may come to the deity as blameless, pure, perfect.  If you are unresolved in regards to your own shadow, then you will continue to carry traces of it to the creator.....and these shadows represent untruth and cannot stand before the is an energy that is completely out of tune with what it is.  It isn't that the creator is insistent and unwilling to let you come before it with this shadow, its that in order for you to understand and know the deity in the most intimate way, these shadows must be resolved, forgiven.  We cannot change the past wrongdoing or "sin" but we can overcome the world through forgiveness, and this is the process whereby we are given a path to the deity.  When you go through an awakening you can begin to glimpse how the manifest spirit simply is, and its in you and all around you. We need not bow or sing or do anything, unless perhaps we are moved to do so.  There is nothing to do.....and yet, sometimes when the energy moves through us it can lead to movements.  These movements, I say, are not limited to one religion or belief system.  They are a response to powerful energy flow.  Divinity in the energy.  The dark is what we constrict to keep that flow down.  When we surrender, something can happen that is called Mudras.  In other traditions its called the Spirit moving.  Amongst so-called primitive cultures, dance was a way of reaching ecstatic states.  Along with repetitive drumming and sounds of a given pitch and vibration, it was easy to move into a dissociated state and feel the "Spirits" or the ecstasy of an unhindered flow of divine energy.  The one thing common through so many cultures and traditions is that this type of movement is nearly universal in both how its "performed" as well as its result.

In the literature, Mudras are expressed as specific hand postures for helping to facilitate the flow of divine energy.  However, this is only one aspect of a larger spectrum of phenomena.  These movements can occur during powerful releases, moments of deep surrender, and they do not always conform to a specific form or sequence of movements (although this may be said to happen even with people who are not knowledgeable about what mudras

Its curious, though, that very similar kinds of movements manifest in those traditions within Christianity, most often the Pentecostal, the Shakers, and other Christian traditions that encourage the movement of the Holy Spirit.  We have all seen these movements.  These are more jerky than their Indian counterpart, but are still the result of helping to move energy.  Its how it moves in our bodies, that's all. And when we surrender, the energy can move like a mighty stream. No one has a monopoly on this experience.  Its basis isn't JUST spiritual.  It is also physical, and because you were created with the same kind of body as a Muslim, Native American, Zoroaster, Christian, or any other system of belief, then on balance you will wind up experiencing phenomenon very similar in nature from one tradition to the next. You wont see it in every system because if its something that is repressed or frowned upon, you aren't going to see it emerge (quite naturally)

Recently, though, people bent on trying to sow fear have tried to suggest that the wave of Awakenings that have resulted in these movements are themselves the result of a SERPENT that is infiltrating the church.  This kind of talk is not only irresponsible, divisive, it also forgets that this is a very natural phenomenon and is alive even in Christian circles whenever the Holy Ghost begins to move in its followers. There is no serpent save for those who wish to see them since the concept of the "serpent" int he Indian system isn't really understood.  Sometimes people, absent understanding, seek to take a literal path absent the deeper knowing.  The "serpent" in Indian lore seeks to describe the movement of this energy, and anyone who has felt this energy knows it is sensual and sometimes has a serpentine and circular movement not unlike how one might observe when holding a snake as it slowly moves in your hand.  This is one reason why so many traditions have used the image of the snake in such a universal way.  Its less that the devil is in all of these cultures as it was that the Judaic and then Christian traditions sought to demonize the serpent based religions.

serpent emerging at third eye
on the funerary form of Tut
Think about it folks:  who were the Jews enslaved by for generations?  Egyptians.  The Egyptians traveled far and wide with their snake religions.  There were also snake charmers which were an outgrowth  of this culture of the serpent.  What image was at the core of the Egyptian belief system?  The snake.  You see this on all the Egyptian  goddesses, gods, and the Pharaohs.  Moses's symbolic victory over the Pharaoh was by casting down their staffs only to have them both transmute into snakes while Moses's snake ate or destroyed the smaller less powerful snake of the Egyptian ruler.  This serpent energy was known to rise up through the body and up through the head, causing the pineal gland to be activated, switching on the body's experiencing of Cosmic Consciousness.  While we have a loaded cart full of associations related to snakes as Westerners, being able to understand that our own belief system can itself blind us to the deeper truth is something important to bear in mind going forward.  By being realistic and not engaged in magical thinking, we can see this realm of experience in a very practical and clear-eyed way.  But fear, like sex and violence, sell. By preying upon our lower vibrational awareness these people can serve to confuse and confabulate the masses by teaching them not to trust their deeper instincts related to learning how movement can be a powerful facilitator spiritually.  You can call it anything you want. You can call this energy the Great Daemon.  But calling it that does not change the truth of it.  I can call you an idiot, and I can say all kinds of things that will make people think that maybe you aren't so bright......and yet, what is the real truth in all of this?  The truth is that such a word shouldn't be used at all because whenever its used, its used to hurt, harm, and hurl insult after someone.  No, the truth is that your being is much more nuanced than any one's pronouncement of what they seek to do to you in demonizing you. Just because someone says it does not make it so.

This tradition of the snake was one that was wide spread and is now all but gone in practice, save through vestigial forms.  The Indian system is one where this image has survived.  It is a simple identification with a form of attainment and Cosmic Consciousness.  By demonizing an image like this, you seek to do whatever it is that is in your agenda.  If you were a slave perhaps you railed against the religion of the Egyptians.  Perhaps you did this consistently out of anger, retribution, a desire to destroy that which caused your people so much harm.  Such marks on the collective psyche of the People can last for many generations. It can also be forgotten as to why such an argument even existed in the first place.  Some conquered people have accepted easily the religions of their enslavers or colonists, others have not. Certainly the Maya made an easy transition from their old "pagan" system to the Christian one perhaps because of all the blood sacrifice evident in the image of Jesus.  In North America the Native populace sought to hold onto their old traditions, and while it was very hard to do so with the onslaught of whites seeking to stamp out their beliefs, many traditions have managed to survive.

Below:  winged serpent, Egypt
So the Jews were ruled and enslaved by a people who had images of the snake (interesting that the Egyptians AND the Maya/Aztecs both pyramid builders and both had winged serpents).  Even Moses had his staff turn into the snake, which was itself an image of spiritual power amongst the Egyptians, and his staff turned into a larger snake than the Pharaoh's .  Little surprise, then, that we would attach ourselves to stories that seek to see the snake as some evil thing in the Christian tradition. Since the Jews are the forerunners of the Christian tradition (we use the same book-the old testament), its only natural that some things may have trickled down to those in the Christian tradition. Perhaps a story about a Garden and a Tree and a Snake, perhaps.  Certainly I think the story of the serpent in the Garden may well have been a dig against the snake worshippers who were also their enslavers, and so naturally some particle of that would be expressed (not to mention how some people simply seem to have a natural fear of snakes period).  In both China and Japan the image of the dragon or serpent-like creature helps to describe earth and vital energy (currents that move across the earth).  In the Aztec and Mayan traditions the serpent is seen as a powerful and potent symbol of life force.  Quetzalcoatle and his female counterpart Quetzalpetlatl were an embodiment of spiritual ascension.  These beings did not demand blood sacrifice.  Those who gave to the temple of Quetzalcoatle did so with flowers and butterflies.  The serpent image is in many traditions in Ur, present day Iraq, the Minoan Snake Goddess is seen, bare breasted, holding two serpents in her hands, most certainly in control of the two yin and yang expressions of this energetic dynamic.  Snakes also show up amongst the
Minoan Snake Priestess
 Goddess religions of the Celts. Cernunos is also a form found amongst the Celts who is a horned god-man who has a giant serpent wrapped around him.  He holds the head, suggesting some form of attainment or learning how to channel this energy, yet another form of mastery or self improvement. 

The concept of the serpent is present throughout many cultures in a spiritual context.  And yet those who have sown fear in others have had a powerful ally in doing things in a less than honorable fashion, and by also losing sight that a lot of labels are often just that.  Beyond all of this is Spirit, and it is not divided out or limited.  By learning to understand what is at the root of all of this "movement" we can begin to understand our larger and broader based similarities.  By seeking to demonize, however, we only serve to divide.  Division is not our way of going forward if we are to get along on this planet.  By refusing fear and being fearless, we realize that we all are not powerless.  There is nothing that can "invade" you that is evil that you yourself do not first let in through your thinking and feeling.  By serving fear, we do ourselves a great disservice because the divine light cannot shine in the midst of such fear. Fear shuts us down.  Its just how it is, just like how this energy has a slow and sensual movement much like how the coils of a snake might feel...
European pagan image of Cernnonos the horned god
The spirit moves in you as part of your birthright.  It is not dependent upon what another says or tries to make you believe because life is not something to believed, or a problem to be solved but a mystery to be experienced and lived (in the words of Osho who I linked to in a previous post about Sublimation and Kundalini). Long before any religions sought to put  its brand or validation on what we first felt, which was being easy in our divine natures, we were able to approach our spirituality without confusing distortions.  We are all made the same, the same wiring, so some things will serve your innate creator-given path to an awareness of the divine.  Creator's love is completely like the sun: it shines on all of us regardless of how WE might feel that it shouldn't (that's karma talking).  We are all deserving of love and when it comes to the spirit, no matter the label you put on it, whatever philosophy you seek to wrap it in, its still this direct pulse of the universe.  By going through your own process of awakening, you will most likely find that what this was was always there, a sense that it was more the result of those things that served to change your focus from it to other issues (and this is why I have such a hefty section in the book I am working on devoted to karma and how to relate and understand it in a very straight forward non-dogmatic way).  This direct experiencing of this energy is the very embodiment of it.  No limits, no exceptions, nor contradictions.  When we do as the Hindus have suggested is the natural path of this energy, we join the two pulses of the divine into one pulse, which is the pulse of union of our masculine and feminine (yin and yang) energies into something that is unified, whole.  Out of this union there is a product, a child, which is the triadic nature of consciousness (and which also is mirrored in our physiology--our brain--which has three layers of reptile, mammal, and primate evolutionary unfoldings all in one body).

Serpent Goddess, middle east
The serpent is seen in Chinese culture, Japanese culture.  Wherever is emerges, it is almost always regarded in similar, if not identical ways as relating to wisdom, spiritual knowledge and involved with spiritual mastery.  In the case of the Garden of Eden, the association was made in a more demonizing way.  The use of the snake has been nothing more than an ancient form that was once widespread that expressed a symbolic quality to this powerful energy which we all could cultivate.  But just as in the image of the Cernnonos,  one had to learn to master it in an active process of self transformation, since this was just how powerful this force was.  If we allowed it to move through our shadow selves, it would rule us through that shadow, but if we chose a higher path, it would help us climb the stairway to those higher places.  In contemporary awakenings happening all over the world, this is in evidence.  As one learns to cast off the old shell, a new perspective emerges.  All of this predates any religion.

The serpent is used as an image in the eastern traditions to describe how it feels in the body, which is serpentine.  It does the same in any person all over the earth.  When someone awakens kundalini it feels as though some energy is moving upwards.  It does not always feel serpentine, but sometimes it does.  My sense is that it has to do with the body and nervous system dealing with the sudden rush of energy moving through it.  Sometimes when something is too much to us, we can sometimes jerk.  You might remember moments like this.  Its a very natural and very human response to an energy, or thought. But the way of describing it is just an image, and one that is not fraught with the negative associations attached to some old story.  And even the story itself of the Garden is itself allegorical, a way of trying to express some spiritual truth.  As a result of this, it would naturally reflect the values and associations of the culture that produced it. if you were a slave, it would be easy to identify something in the culture enslaving you to use as the enemy spiritually. The thing to realize is that the deity has existed long before any religion came along to explain it.  Long before humans existed, it existed. Everything we do is to seek to understand a world of spiritual experience through religion.  The deity did not create a chosen people.  Every human on the earth is bestowed equally with the love of its creator.  Life force is freely given to all, or else those who are not of God would have dropped dead by now, right?  The love of the deity is perfect, without condition, and is freely given.  This is how awesome the power of the divine is.  It cannot withhold from you, for you are it and it is you. it has been long before any religion was created to seek to explain it.  And so, you have a perfect path to its presence within you.  In the meantime, you may experience involuntary movements, but it is not some spirit.  the divine is within you. You are just waking up to it just now.

The secret of the movement is in breaking up the log jams within to allow the energy to move more freely. There is a reason for this.  It has to do with how your own deeper issues lodge in your energy body. You have one, you see.  The Hindus talk about it, and St.Teresa of Avilla, an early Christian mystic even wrote a book about it, describing each energy center or chakra in the Hindu tradition as likened to a crystaline form that the energy of the divine flows through.  This is identical to what the Hindus have to say.  This is not phenomenon BASED on WHO you cleave to religiously, but a very human phenomenon put in place long before any religions arrived. Its what you are.  And this energy can sometime pool around these knots and blockages until you do something to ease its flow.  Its a bit like a water hose that has a kink in it.  What do you do when you have a kink in the water hose?  You shake it of course!  Often this serves to open the hose up so the water may flow.  This is very similar to what these movements do also. It facilitates the movement of energy. This does not mean everyone will get them.  I have experienced them, but only a few times.  I feel how these movements can help move energy and I have done a lot in the way of movement work to resolve these knots.  One such method is Chi Gung (also spelled Gong) which has been very effective in my awakening process.  This is the oldest form of energy medicine.  If you are able to reflect and be critical and curious instead of stuck in judgement, you will find a way that will help you in your own awakening.  There is a great deal of information and knowledge out there if you can be willing to realize just how universal all of this is.  Its not tied to any one religion.  It predates all religion.

After writing these kinds of posts I often go and look for what others have to say about this subject, and I often find some very interesting stuff.  I would like to bring your attention to this site which deals with the subject of shaking and also makes references to the Shakers, but also is much more inclusive in how this issue of shaking crops up in many different cultures all across the world:

Shaking Medicine

This link is for a group in Britain devoted to ecstatic movement:

Movement Group UK

The linked blog entry below speaks to how movement and physical exercise can help us to drop the mind to allow something more essential into our awareness, something that I have found is very much on the mark in my own experience in helping to peel back the layers....I recommend the site in total as a way of knowing powerful ways of tapping the divine within...Its author has lived with kundalini since a child and had no teacher, no books, no means of working through the process except her own intuitive abilities.  it is no surprise to find her work emphasizes things like compassion over any specific practice, for so much of this is tied up in how we let ourselves feel, the positions we take.  In the end, we are all meant to be love.  Call it Christian, Hindu, does not matter.  We are all human underneath the wrappings.  Its time to get beyond the smaller arguments and get down to what matters most.

Grace of Soul Love



Mahndisa S. Rigmaiden said...

Ah man, I was hoping you'd do a little more integration...but feel what you are saying in a big way. As a Christian, there are many similarities between the manifestations of the Holy Spirit and the kundalini awakening, which you aptly noted. However I'll give you some meat: St. Theresa of Avila… look up her 9 levels of prayer. The posture locks that occur when kundalini energy arises occur as well during levels 5-6 of the prayer levels. These are seen as impartations of Gods grace. Indeed I got stuck in a receiving prayer posture just stuck at church the other week, I tried to move my hands out of the position but they wouldn't move! Then my body went into two additional postures and I just got stuck until it passed. Then my Pastor channelled the Holy Spirit and I was slain but you guys call it Shaktipat auric field impartation. Here is a book that you will love: KUNDALINI ENERGY AND CHRISTIAN SPIRITUALITY: A PATHWAY TO GROWTH, BY Philip St. Romain;) And yes what we call prayer postures, you guys call yogic postures and mudras. I think its hilarious that everyone is so darn centered on the supremacy of their religions that they lost the forest for the trees! They don’t see that God is everywhere and not everyone is yoked to Christ but many come to similar ethical praxis and states of consciousness…Good blog you have!

Him said...

Mahndisa, what is interesting is that I spent some time today working on the very post that you mention about the mudras.....It began as a bit of a rant about the demonizing of kundalini as a spirit of evil. Apparently with all of the awakenings, those with an alarmist edge to them in the church have taken an alarmist position. I guess I just see that if you take away all practice, all religion, what you have is a universal phenomenon working independent of any dogma or informing belief.....which is what I think it all should be. Let spirituality be a little more like science.....question....wonder.....revise and question still more.

I appreciate your sharing your experience as well as the book since it could be a very useful way to bridge the gap for those willing to consider how universal all of this is. And of course Theresa would come up and its her own experience which I think in a very intuitive way expresses many things which are so similar to the Hindu. This energy wants to move a certain way....and how we allow it to flow could well also express a very physiological and universal component, no? Well, I think its all so very fascinating and rife with promise and gold waiting to be ploughed up......

Nemasté to you...