Monday, March 5, 2012

First Things First

In 2006 I had an awakening that set my life on a very different course.  It was different because of how far I had strayed from what was most essential to me, the result of compromises made from a place where I had unresolved issues within me.  The energy of awakening is a catalytic event, it is like a giant mixer that begins to churn your insides and in this churning, loosens the layers of gunk that we have long since shoved down and away from the conscious self.  This is what kundalini does, but our understanding of it has been the result of traditions that come from other cultures, other times, and people with very different values.  All of this will be seen through the lenses that you bring to it, and the clearer you can be about what is at work, the better able you will be to deal with the power of such an experience.

An awakening, or kundalini, is not an ism.  It isn’t a religion of philosophy, although there is a lot of ideas based on experience that have been attributed to it, most of which are the result of those cultural lenses I mentioned earlier.  Kundalini is something that has a biological basis in our being just as much as it has a basis in our spiritual being.  It is a unifying force and there is evidence of its happening to Christian mystics as well as Hindu sages.  This is not the worship of a god or goddess, it is not something that you need the keys to.  You already have them, and it is your birthright.

The difference between the person who is experiencing kundalini and the one who is not is the result of something not well understood.  My experience has told me that its most likely about being ready for it.  The waking self has all kinds of ideas about what it thinks is true, but that is just one dimension of experience.  There is more to it because there is more to you than you may currently realize.  The desire for this experience is an evolutionary impulse designed to push us towards the something more that we all seem to crave and look for.  What we need is less truth and more meaning.  Its in having a meaningful life that we are most fulfilled.  Kundalini seems to many to hold this promise.  But it will not take hold in you until the stars have aligned in just the right way.  You need to be ready.
Some say that we reach this place as a result of lifetimes of seeking and work on ourselves.  I tend to see this differently.  As a result of peering down into the rabbit hole that is kundalini, I now see things differently.  In every life this experience is possible.  Life is not linear even though our experience of time appears to be this.  Here in our world we DO experience events in linear fashion, but tied up within time is a secret about time, a larger dimension to its truth which is that time expands outward.  If you can catch the wave of time in the right way, you can see what I mean. Sometimes you have even had experiences where time flowed very differently.  Its in these places within ourselves that we can begin to experience the larger or expanded nature of time.  And its within this place that you will likely realize, just as I did, that there is much more to all of this than first met the eye.  This is what makes the present so powerful, and its the subject of much discussion now in regards to tapping our own experience of the infinite.  The answer is in being present.

Being present is deceptively simple for the fact that we have a lot of mind chatter that can lead us out of the present.  Before this experience, I was a big worrier.  I worried about what the future might hold.  I also worried about the past.  This took me out of the present moment and any hope of tapping the infinite within for the very reason that this infinite is part of time, in its nature to EXPAND.  People who have gone through near death experiences describe how there was a sense of no-time, or a wide expanse of time that felt like an infinite space where everything that ever was was happening right now. Sages and gurus speak of this same experience, and people who have had brushes with kundalini often speak of this same sense about time.  In one way or another, they have all had an experience that has put them squarely within the present moment.  When this happens, you can begin to experience a larger aspect of time and also of your own creaturehood.  Its a game changer.  Whether it winds up stirring kundalini so that it gets a toe-hold in your body and soul is a question that is best answered by your own self.

There are ways to arouse kundalini.  There is a kundalini yoga, but I will say that there are a growing number of people who have had these experiences over the last ten years or so who never meditated or followed any method or technique.  This flies in the face of what practitioners of kundalini yoga have to say about how one arouses this energy from the depths.  No special diets, no postures, no methods.  Long before I experienced kundalini I heard a song by Van Morrison called In The Garden.  It had a line where Van said in response to an experience he had that was of a transcendent nature:  “No guru, no method, no teacher, just you and I and nature.”  This stuck with me for a long time because I have long felt that our own spirituality was not subject to teaching.  Our spirituality is natural, native to our being.  Everything that has been learned about this has been learned through experience and has bore the biases of the people experiencing it. By keeping away from these traditions and teachings, I was free to see it in a more direct way. I had my own lenses to contend with, my own presuppositions to deal with for sure, but I didn’t have the weight of thousands of years of tradition breathing down my neck either.

An awakening is a radical experience in a sense.  Its purpose is to remove the layers of material that you have built up in your life that you have adopted as true but that do not align with your higher self.  This higher self is like a cosmic parent.  It has the capacity to teach you how to be, to feel, to become.  To be able to hear it clearly without the lenses of the old stuff requires that you be willing to hear, to trust, to feel.  Its feeling alone that is the language of your higher self.  Its not the mind, nor is it the ego.  This is one reason why you will hear a lot of talk about dispensing with the ego, about how troublesome it is in these deeper waters.  Ego is not a bug to be squashed though, for it has a place within your life and plays a vital role in certain aspects of your experience.  The problem lies in how front and center we have all tended to place the ego in our lives.  It has somehow muscled its way to the front of the house and stands there filtering every little thing that comes to us.  The ego need to be moved more towards the back of the house where it can view the world from a window where it can help us to differentiate between the things within the self and seemingly outside of itself.  The real truth, though, is that this is a bit of an illusion because the higher self in infinite and does not have such strictures placed upon it.  Ego serves the dual plane, this world, by differentiating between me and thee.  it is that task that has a limited purpose, and by learning not to worship ego or allow it front and center status in our lives that the way becomes much easier.  I will say as an aside that you can have kundalini moving in you while keeping your old psychological framework well in place.  It isn’t until you being to allow kundalini a broader scope that you invite it to press against the ego.
The very act of the ego moving from its comfort zone can itself feel like a tragic experience.  It can be extremely difficult, even fear-filled.  But once it begins to move, things do change, and the experience becomes a little easier.  Some say this is what is called ego death, but this is silly talk.  The ego does not die.  It remains.  It simply is put into a slightly different context within the self so that the power of the infinite has more room to shine through you.  As a result of this, the ego will always have a constricting effect on kundalini.  By bringing ego into consciousness in the old way, one can experience a great deal of stress and strain that is often translated as physical pain.  Many people have gone to the doctor to try and cure this phantom pain.  Sometimes it leads to taking drugs to cure anxiety, or if the doctor is smart, s/he will simply have the patient see a psychologist to work out whatever it is that is hurting them.

Some have said that kundalini is dangerous.  I can understand why they would say this, but its based on not understanding what kundalini does.  Kundalini can feel scary when you are unable to surrender your old frameworks or ways of being that do not align with your divine self.  I can recount a period of time when kundalini got revved up in me and I went through countless “Dark Nights of the Soul” as they are called.   Remember, this is your higher self, or parent, and they are much stronger than you.  What they say goes, and the higher self will never lead you astray as long as you can open up to it and hear it resonating deeply within you.  All of the problems with kundalini are the result of patterns and ways of being that are not beneficial to the flow of the infinite self, and they do not reside in kundalini, but in YOU.  This is very much energetic in nature.

Imagine for a moment that your essence energy is made up of sound.  Imagine for a moment that your personality has been hitting a pitch that it feels is most natural. This is the you that you have become and you feel perfectly comfortable with it.  Realize that what feels natural may be the result of a bundle of unresolved issues or other sounds floating in the self to which you have grown accustomed to over time so that they  no longer feel or seem strange or hard or difficult.  Then comes the infinite/kundalini self and it begins to strike a very different pitch.  You can immediately hear the difference and it feel dissonant.  You can feel this dissonance within you as a deep abiding sense of discomfort that can express itself as pain or extreme tension in the body.  This is also part of your emotional armoring that you have held around you for so long whether you have been aware of it or not, and now something is waking you up to its presence and nature!  As the energy of kundalini continues to hold its perfect pitch, you are left with either living in agony or simply letting go, a kind of deep unconditional surrender.  When this happens, things get much easier.  Often, as was the case with me, I would forget how to surrender and go back to the old me and the same series of events would unfold. My behavior was habituated to the old ways, and often we need a way to gently and continually teach us how to be different (in much the same way we learn the wrong way to hold a baseball bat or shovel, for example,  and this posture then becomes habit and the habit is very hard to break because now it feels natural to us!)  There would be shame, guilt, hurt, tied up in this.  this experience was also tied up in my going back to old ways of relating or thinking and feeling that were familiar to me.  Over and over, the higher self through kundalini, would right my wrongs.
Slowly I was taught how to be in FEELING.  This is the action of kundalini.  It can only go as deep as you are willing to go, and results can stall for years if you feel you cant move on for fear of losing your very self.  The irony is that you do not lose anything that you didn’t need.  It just seems that way.  In letting go you also let go of those behaviors and karmic attachments that never served you in the first place.  It is in this way that you can become a partner with the process.  But when it feels hard and scary, it merely means you have issues that are as yet unresolved.

Gopi Krishna, who has written a classic book on his own kundalini experience,  was convinced that he had only awakened the masculine channel of kundalini, since he was having a nightmarish experience.  This is a perfect example of the lenses I describe as being the things with which we view this experience.  In the Hindu tradition, kudalini is seen as a double serpent coiled around the base of the spine and will rise upwards along the spine bringing both the current of masculine and the feminine with it.  There is this notion, as a result of how they view the phenomenon of kundalini that you can arouse only one of these “serpents” or channels of energy.  As a result, it leads to the idea that there is a wrong and right way to do this. In truth, kundalini is a refined intelligence which is a part of you, and is already balanced in its own way within masculine and feminine.  Far from being androgynous, it is merely a more advanced being of universal energy.  As such, masculine and feminine flow together all at the same time.  Its ignorance about the deeper nature of the experience that leads to such misunderstanding of what kundalini is, or what it is that we are experiencing.   So in this way, there is no wrong way to awaken it except to understand that the masculine and feminine energies in you will work their creative magic for you.  In Gopi’s experience, he had to go it alone and imagined the feminine energy flowing upwards, which awakened his awareness to what the feminine force was in his body.  This probably saved his life from the agony he was feeling. The truth is, brothers and sisters, we need both the masculine and feminine within us, and the better we understand this, the better off we are in an awakening or simply living our lives as we have always done, which reveres both poles of our creaturehood (and which also has a real effect on our world!).

Everyone comes to this experience with varying degrees of junk clogging their inner pipes (these are called “nadis” by the Hindus and are etheric energy channels that make up the lines of force that are used in acupuncture and other forms of energy medicine). It is the degree to which you are able to either hold he energy back in you or learn how to surrender that makes the difference.  Some eastern adherents will likely say this is one good reason for preparing for kundalini, and yet I would say that it is the force of kundalini that does the clearing that makes the experience enjoyable, ecstatic even.  Everyone will be in a different place, and even the most advanced teachers have had a number of issues still banging around within them later in life (Krishnamurti is one example).  Its up to the individual ultimately as to how the power of an awakening will go forward.  You can ask it to increase in intensity and it will do so; but then it will press against all these dissonant cords in you and will reveal what remains to be done.  We think there is something that needs doing, but the doing is just simply surrendering. Being willing to not know what is next is an important aspect of coping with this experience.  Any pain or discomfort you feel as a result of the experience will point directly to the things that still remain to be dealt with.

There are practices for arousing kundalini.  I am not terribly familiar with them, but mostly it uses imagination to feel the energy being drawn upwards.  It also relies on breathing exercises and certain postures.  My feeling is that we can do this in other ways if we are ready for it.  In future posts I will relate to you the events that led up to my own awakening, which was 180° from what the books have to say is a “real” awakening.  The truth is, there is no one way to do it, and it just may be that the textbook awakening has more about it that makes the experience difficult than easy. I do feel though, that all methods are intended to slow you down and bring you to your center and into the present moment.  You can achieve this by sitting in the grocery line and allowing yourself to stop worrying about when you will get to be in your car and on  the ride home.  By returning to the present, you are more at peace and do not suffer the results of what your own impatience brings. Also by being present you invite the universe into your experience and then it doesn’t matter where you are.  You have a piece of your own inner purpose with you, which is a golden moment that cannot be recreated by getting out of the store or any number of things.

Lastly, I will say that I have been in the process of writing a book whose title is Waking The Infinite.  It recounts my own experience and the things that I found to be useful tools in coping and growing with my own awakening.  Much of what I have to say flies in the face of conventional wisdom and thought, and this is because so much of what we think and feel has attached to it all manner of karmic issues that serve to distort the view.  Part of what kundalni does is shift how we see things, but this only happens when we are ready.  Sometimes this new awareness only comes when someone else brings their perspective into the mix.  This is where sharing our experience in building a new understanding of what we are can become valuable.

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