Kundalini Splendor

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Friday, April 30, 2004

Patricia's Journey to her Source 

Given the grim realities of our times in terms of external events, we all need "safe havens for our souls." We need to refresh our spirits through nature, music, creativity--whatever nourishes and replenishes the core of our being.

My friend Patricia (see her write up of March 27, 2004) is an avid fighter for peace and justice and the rights of the oppressed. She typically travels about on a scooter, which helps her navigate easily despite her physical challenges. But even when she drives to her destination alone, she must then ask others for assistance assembling her scooter.

This week, she tried out a minivan, with power fold-out ramp and hand controls. The following recent entry from her journal (she posts daily on her site at www.windchimewalker.com) describes her ebullience at regaining her lost independence and reconnecting with her spirit.

SUNDAY, APRIL 25, 2004

I sit here at my computer as hundreds of thousands of women march through the streets of Washington, DC demanding their rights to retain control over their individual reproductive choices. George W. Bush and his Christian fundmentalist appointees have already made strides in their assault on women's rights, but if he is reelected we believe our rights will be totally demolished. Today's rally and march, the first such in 12 years, is an important opportunity for women who feel the government has no right to dictate their private reproductive choices, to stand with their sisters and say, "No government interference! We will fight for the rights we worked so hard to gain."

When I first heard a year ago about this march and rally, I assumed I'd be there singing with the Raging Grannies. Well, the Raging Grannies are there--five from our gaggle alone--so why am I not with them? That is hard to put into words.

As the time approached, I kept trying to see myself there, but I couldn't. And I've learned over the years, that if I can't see myself someplace ahead of time, that tells me I'm not meant to be there. And vice versa. Even if I come up with every reason in the world not to go to a gathering, march or event, but I keep seeing myself there in my mind's eye, then I must respect that "seeing" and go. I have never been led astray when I've used this tool of discernment. Of course, it took me at least five decades to discover and hone these "seeing" powers so they could be trusted.

But even if I'm not there in body, I am definitely with my sisters (and brothers) on the streets of Washington, DC in my heart and mind.

So when I received yesterday's unexpected gift, I knew why I had stayed home. A Carolyn McDade song comes to mind. "There Is a Time" has verses that show how each time has its own special needs. One verse says, "There is a time that we must come together," while another says, "There is a time that we must leave." This weekend was obviously my time to be by myself in the woods. And even though my sister Grannies and other activists might not see that as a good enough reason to miss today's march, I do.

Because only I know what happened out there as I sat in my scooter on a hidden path beside a moss-covered fallen tree, amid sounds and sights of countless species of birds, smelling the unique blend of musky decay and spring's newness, under tall unleafed trees, with my feet planted on lush green earth: I found my Self, the self I'd been missing for longer than I knew, the self that is One with nature. I reclaimed my rights by going to the woods by myself. It was where I was meant to be.

So today I sit and savor the gift of yesterday. I go through and put up the photographs I took, knowing that these images--no matter how beautiful--are mere reminders of what actually happened. And I know that whatever amount of time, energy and money it takes for me to get my own handicap-accessible minivan is well worth it, because it was having the use of such a van that gave me back my SELF. And I'd say that is priceless.

Click here to see my "Alone In The Woods" photo album.

copyright Patricia Lay-Dorsey. Please use with attribution.

Wednesday, April 28, 2004

A New Poet Appears 

I have recently come in contact with a poet whose work is little known at this time, but who will, I am sure, ultimately be acclaimed as one of the major poetic voices of our time. Her focus is on the world of spiritual exploration and discovery. Elizabeth Reninger's writing is elegant and exciting, crafted and visionary. It is a great honor to present her poems on these pages.


now one
by one the stars release
their brightness to this dark

mantle of
leaves, to this slow
rising through
abstraction of the quiet

details of
a tree, the textured
torso of

an Oak, the golden
veins of Autumn's
parchment, the feathered
throats invisible

to your eye that signal
the coming of those first
long shadows, a stroked

silence waking
to song, to a flight
of syllables finding
their way into the white

sky of a poem, the deepest
portals of

Your hearing ...


softly as a flock
of angels
crystalline wings alighting

on rock
new snow gathers
whitely on the creek's

beneath which flow this braided
tumble of

small waterfalls
the spiraling
mystery of pools

churning up ancient
patterns at their base
as the sky on every

side grows ever
more dense and brightly

with a descending
bliss ...

Stations Of The Cross

like a cross
the quiet
title of this poem

one by one its syllables
becoming flesh

its steps across
ground smooth
and rocky

(is this Kashmir
or Jerusalem?)

at the top of the hill which is the bottom
of this page it will hang

a work of art
a savior

an idea whose halted
breath three
days later will return

emerge as though

Lao Tzu Counsels His Daughter

quivering through marsh-grass thick
with shadow
the gold ribbon
of Bear Creek snakes

falls over
rocks into
a churning froth

then smoothes to a silken
fire again, a bright
mirror, the honeyed
tongue of god, caught between
Earth and Sky

singing its escape
through a field of jade

copyright, Elizabeth Reninger

Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Kundalini Rising and Collective Consciousness 

More and more it is happening. One day, you are going along, doing your usual things, thinking your usual thoughts, when--bam! seemingly out of nowhere, a shock wave goes through your system. You feel something happening within which is totally different from anything you have ever experienced before. Ecstatic energies seem to flood your system, perhaps opening the lower portions of your body, perhaps surging upward, enlivening and awakening areas in ways completely foreign to you before this moment.

You ask, "What is going on?" The experience continues, bringing periods of exquisite bliss as well as bizarre behaviors and sometimes pain. Sooner or later, you discover or stumble upon the answer: you have experienced kundalini awakening.

Of course, the pattern varies from person to person. The awakening may be triggered by trauma, illness, events of dramatic intensity of all sorts. It may be brought on gradually, perhaps through traditional meditation or spiritual practices. It could occur simply from being in the presence of a highly developed spiritual leader and her (his ) followers.

Whatever the cause, this event seems to be occurring with greater and greater frequency across the globe. No one is keeping statistics on this. Nobody really knows the overall pattern or ultimate purpose. What we do know is that "something is happening." No one fully understands it or can state its intended goal. But we can speculate as to where this phenomenon is headed.

The current issue of the magazine What Is Enlightenment? is dedicated to what is called collective intelligence. It contains many articles by well known writers, who agree that collective knowledge and group expertise is notably more effective than individual effort in solving problems and achieving desired outcomes, especially in the world of practical affairs, from sports to global challenges. They suggest this reliance on group wisdom may be a manifestation of the evolution of human intelligence posited by many writers of our time.

Perhaps group consciousness extends to realms beyond the pragmatic. Perhaps what the mystic experiences in her state of exaltation, when she thinks and feels beyond her own boundaries, as if knowing the internal thoughts and perceptions of others as well as her own, is a clue to this new state. We are told by various channels and sources claiming knowledge of after-death states that in the spirit realm, each being has instant access to the feelings and mental states of all the others. Some speak of actual cells of consciousness, each unit consisting of a "soul group" of beings who participate a common awareness and collective identity.

What if indeed this is our evolutionary purpose...to achieve a consciousness beyond the individual. To feel with, be with, know with others in a kind of shared empathy, while still retaining our own individual identity.

In the drug exerience, people sometimes attain this kind of consciousness. They say they know intuitively what others are thinking, feel what they are feeling. And the state which makes this possible is one of overwhelming love--seeing with the eyes of love, feeling with the spirit of love. At that moment, everything is beautiful, all beings are oneself.

What if all of us reach this state through evolutionary development to another level of consciousness? What if kundalini awakening is god exploding in our bodies, revealing our true identity as particles of the divine? What if we (our collective cell of kindred souls) had access to the accumulated wisdom and experience of the group, could share in the past spiritual development of all the others? What if we then functioned without the physical containers (bodies) which restrict, without need of the biological supports (food, water, air) which sustain us now? What if this new creation is infused with divine energy, the energy of love, the sustaining element which underlies and manifests as creation itself? What if we become fuller expressions of the divine?

What if the present world crisis provided the impetus for world wide initiation...crisis bringing us to god? And what if we are here at this time to participate in and support this dramatic transition to a new level?

Is this the direction in which human evolution is headed? Does kundalini put us more squarely on this path? Does it draw us closer to the next stage of human development? I think so.

We can never prove it through test or analysis. We cannot force it to come forth. We can merely let it happen, both experiencing and witnessing in silent wonder as the mystery unfolds.

Thursday, April 22, 2004

A Kundalini Awakening at Machu Picchu 

Marian's Journey

(Marian is a woman near fifty, who has lived in many places and held many positions in her life. When I met her via internet, she was spending the winter on an organic farm in the state of Washington, virtually in isolation and sometimes all but snowbound. She took that opportunity to write up her adventures in Peru. What follows is an excerpt from her manuscript, which she has kindly allowed me to print here.)

When I examined the itinerary of the Peru trip I was interested in, I saw that there would be some ayahuasca ceremonies in the jungle. I'd already read up on this hallucinogenic vine, and my inner voice said, "Go for it. You've matured and are ready to handle it now." Ayahuasca and Machu Picchu became my primary motives for embarking on the voyage to discovery.

(Before their actual ascent of Machu Picchu the shaman leading Marian's group led them in some preliminary ayahuasca ceremonies. He warned them beforehand that they might well encounter their shadow side in this initial encounter with the powerful drug. Marian, to her surprise and his, had an extremely positive experience, feeling as though her body were infused with wondrous and delightful energies, and reveling in her state of newfound self-acceptance. Her fuller awakening occurred as she descended from a climb on the mountain itself.)

When we got down to the main part of Machu Picchu, S went her own way to a place recommended to her by (the shaman), and I went to mine, also recommended by him. I had hoped to find the Tree of Life (a eucalyptus, I'm reasonably certain) with no people by it, but several folks were sitting around it or lounging close by. So I decided to park myself a little ways away, I took my hiking boots and socks off, and let my bare feet enjoy the soft green plaza for awhile.

I found a small hummock that I could lie facedown on without straining my back; reclining there gave me such a lulling feeling, and the grass smelled so fragrant in the sun. A few deep breaths brought profound relaxation and no tears - I guess I didn't have much hucha to unload. Lying there, however, I got an odd perception of being atop something like a large medicine ball; it felt like I had grown tremendously and the Earth had shrunk, and it was very easy to embrace it all.

After ten minutes or so, I got up, feeling very slow, heavy and grounded. There was now a space at the Tree of Life on the western side, I believe, so I sat with my back against the trunk and my hands on two rocks conveniently placed at strategic positions on either side. I followed Oscar's suggestion, with one exception: I chose not to lie with my crown against the trunk because I thought that would look too strange in public. Then I began to use my breath to send energy into the entire Tree from roots to crown and to absorb the Tree's vitality when I inhaled. This Tree had been visited and prayed over by the Dalai Lama and other religious leaders, so I figured it had to have potent energy.

A few times of this, and the weirdest darn thing happened. In broad daylight, with groups of tourists all around me, my root chakra became quickly and strongly activated (kundalini rising!) and I began to moan like Meg Ryan in the restaurant scene of "When Harry Met Sally," only I wasn't faking it. If all those people hadn't been present, I probably would have manually done something about this situation but I managed to control myself. Not long after the disconcerting sensations started, I decided to quit the Tree, put my footwear back on and went up to the Cosmic stone, hoping to move the energy to higher chakras.

I found the site easily (I just looked for the distinctive Three Windows) and I pressed my front against the stone. Because I'd come to it less spiritually elevated this time, it didn't have quite the effect it had had yesterday. But at least it took away some of the sexual urgency. I finished off with a few minutes on the Relaxing stone a few meters away and got a little more grounded.

It was interesting to watch the other tourists, most of them Peruvians this time. They probably hadn't had the metaphysical instruction I'd had, but many of them instinctively knew what to do at the stones. I stood in back of some schoolgirls as they hugged the Cosmic stone, and I felt the same current pass through them and strike me, making me sway backward just like yesterday. Here's another observation: Because I'm sensitive and now know something about these stones' effects, I can surrender to them on a deep level, while most of the regular tourists have no idea of what goes on in the way of energy intakes and shifts. But they are getting their own experiences, though these may be beyond their conscious awareness. Meanwhile we live in our own separate little universes.

I walked around a bit and sat and meditated some, until it was 1:00 and time to rendezvous with the other members down by the cafeteria.

Oscar and S finally got their lunches, and I bought a Sprite and joined them at a table on the periphery. He let me know that I'm one of the first people he's met, during his lengthy career of workshops, therapy and traveling, whom he sees is as weird as he is. I consider this to be a compliment, but I would have to add that this has come about over the years without the aid of mind-altering drugs. I think my own brain manufactures some of those same chemicals, unaided! He also said that I'm very well guided, with clear guidance, and that I follow the advice well. I know these things already, but it's awfully nice to be recognized for them by other people. I told Oscar that I was glad to have come on this trip because I've been able to let my various paranormal abilities be out in the open, and not hidden like I feel they have to be in the mundane "normal" United States. But the older I get, the less willing I am to conceal them. And why should I? The psychically gifted modern human is not a throwback to the witches of medieval days, but a harbinger of the future, and I, Oscar and our group form part of that vanguard.

(My) root chakra was still too active and he lent me a roundish brown stone with an indentation girdling it, to carry in my left hand until the energy moved up to my crown.

I found the temple site, prepared it and myself, and leaned against a large rock by the condor's head. I extended my arms in wing-fashion, and soon felt as if I could indeed soar out and over Machu Picchu. The brown stone did its work after some minutes, and in fact was giving me a headache; I knew enough to put it away in my tote bag. There was still no sign of my group, so I exited through a small opening which looked out over steep terraces, the switchbacks on the road, and the river. I sat down and merged with the panorama for a while.

When the other women, Oscar and Romulo finally showed up, I had composed myself, sensed no more throbbing in the genital region, and I even felt several inches taller, which must mean that my chakras were now balanced and in alignment. We did a short ceremony by the condor's head, some other tourists were invited to join our circle, and once again these "outsiders" were moved by our power. Like I said, we've been affecting lots of people with our chants, presence and concentration.

(After Marian's return home, she continued to have intense and ecstatic energetic experiences--sometimes just by placing the tip of her tongue on the roof of her mouth, the wondrous energies would begin to flow. She is a musician and composer as well as a writer, and her awakening has been the inspiration for many new artistic creations.)

copyright, Marian Abbott
e-mail address: marianabbott.hotmail.com

Wednesday, April 21, 2004

A Dream of a Shaman 

The writer of the following description is a close friend of mine, a woman in her early fifties who is a long time yoga teacher and traveler on the spiritual path. She has been closely attuned to her dreams for many years and often they are amazingly detailed and vivid, with deep spiriual implications. The following one is especially profound.

I had my first me-as-shaman dream last night: I was sitting in a small circle of tourists in a hut in Mexico (I think that's where), waiting for the guide to give us a "feel" for what a shaman would do in a group like that, but when the person failed to really do ANYTHING significant, I began to speak and never stopped.

I flew over the head of the guide and spoke in various languages, asked for a problem to solve and when nobody spoke, pulled one out of a person, gently -it was a definite physical thing that emerged. Some local natives begin to pay attention, and in the next days (I was in the same hut), they brought me a very heavy case: a 4 month old baby girl with very evolved genitals that were not in one piece, ie needed suturing or even something beyond surgery. Her head was also in a breathing bag with raw flesh around her neck where the bag was chafing. I performed the genital healing, but made a sweeping gesture re the head - take off the bag - which might have rendered her dead if she could not survive outside in the real air. I had shaman doubts! But banked on the faith of her family.

Woke up with the bed shaking.

Friday, April 16, 2004

Minor Miracles 

Sometimes, when we are so caught up in the high drama of the events surrounding the kundalini experience, we overlook the unexpected acts of grace which occur in everyday life. These cannot be separated out from the overall experience--everything is part of everything else, and together they make the tapestry of our total life experience.

Here are some recent "minor miracles" which occurred to me quite recently. Not only did they awaken a deep sense of gratitude to the powers that be, but each taught me a needed lesson.

We were just pulling out from the curb, on our way to L. A., when my friend said, "Did you lock the door?" "No," I replied, "didn't you?" So we stopped and I ran back and sure enough the front door had been left totally unlocked. Then, as I started back to the car, I noticed that one of my bags was sitting on the front step. If I hadn't turned back I would never have realized this, and I would have been hard up for pajamas and underwear in L. A.

Now, if this had happened to someone else, I am sure I would have been a bit disdainful, looking on her as someone hopelessly scattered. It was a needed reminder that I was likewise a vastly imperfect creature.

The visit to L. A. was lovely. I got to see the new Getty museum and the Huntington as well. But on the second evening, something unexpected happened. I tripped on a curb and fell flat on my face. Now, besides being a bit "shook up," and springing my glasses frames, I suffered no broken bones or sprains or even major bruises. I felt incredibly lucky, since so many of my friends have met with broken bones and teeth and other serious injuries from similar falls. Two young men passing by stopped and with their help I got to my feet. I realized with a bit of shame that I am in fact rather wary of young males on the street at night in a strange town. In other words, I was thinking in stereotypes, when along came my good angels to show me my mistake.

The next morning, I was alone in the hotel room and decided to try a few chi gong practices after my shower. I had hardly started, when exquisite energies began to flow throughout my body. It was the last thing I expected, since my energies tend to be very quiescent these days. So, imagine, if you will, a half naked woman in her seventies experiencing ecstatic bliss for some ten or fifteen minutes in a hotel in downtown L. A. Somehow, I think that this unexpected visitation was connected to the fall--kundalini seems to appear frequently during certain times of excitement.

And, once again, I was reminded that kundalini keeps its own time table and chooses for itself when it will or will not appear. And, in addition, it made clear that it doesn't seem to matter how old you are or what shape you are in (literally), it can happen anywhere and anytime. This should give encouragement to everyone afraid the feelings will somehow disappear with age.

Then, there was the miracle of Nora. We have a new dog at our house, a border collie named "Nora Barnacle" ( after James Joyce's wife). Shortly after the L. A. trip, Nora escaped out a door which was accidentally left open. The housecleaner and I frantically searched the neighborhood, but in vain. (Neither of us runs very well, and Nora was out of sight in a minute.)

But, the story has a happy ending. A neighbor we had never met happened along in his pickup, opened the door, and she jumped in. Now I have always been a critical of this fellow. When he moved in he hauled in a total junk car and has left it parked outside his back door ever since. Further, he parks his pickup on the slender plot of grass out back, and as the rains continued this spring, the truck made deeper and deeper ruts in the ground. All of this seemed quite uncalled for to me. Who is this fellow, I wondered.

And thus this stranger, with his "questionable" ways, became the hero of the day, and once again, taught me something about making overly harsh judgments about others.

For me, this seems to be a lesson I have to learn again and again. How often, in the workshop, it is the person I least am drawn to, someone who may seem a little "weird" or off center, who does me a gracious favor or says something extremely kind. How embarassed and chagrined I then feel. When will I ever learn?

Thursday, April 15, 2004

How to Tell a True Teacher from a False One 

1. Trust your gut.

2. Use your head.

3. Anyone who tells you that they are enlightened, isn't.

4. Anyone who claims to have all the answers, doesn't.

5. Look at the "followers." Do they look healthy and happy, or are they depressed, emaciated, listless?

6. Are you invited to explore and compare these teachings with others?

7. Is this a closed system, or one of open inquiry?

8. Does the leader enjoy an extremely affluent lifestyle?

9. Does the leader indulge in abuse of the followers--sexual, mental, even financial?

l0. Does the leader engage in egregious commercialism, with the obvious goal of financial gain?

11. Does the teacher honor and respect each person, no matter what their level of spiritual or personal development?

12. Are students punished or threatened with dire consequences for not adhering to a strict regimen?

13. Does the teacher promise more than anyone could deliver? Is it a "quick road to enlightenment?"

14. Does the teacher listen? Is the teacher willing to be taught?

15. Is the teacher addicted to drugs or alchohol or sex or money?

16. Does the teacher have something of value to offer, something beyond what you (and most others) already know?

17. Is the instruction interesting or a waste of your time?

18. Does the teacher expect to be treated more like a god than a fellow journeyer who wishes to share some of his/her gifts with the world?

And--what makes a good teacher? Just the opposite of the above. An authentic teacher with valuable insights and direction to offer is quite rare. There are many charlatans abroad, some of whom prey on their students to serve their own ego needs. Others sincerely believe what they put forth, and are simply misguided. Some seem to know little other than what their teacher or tradition handed down to them.

Find someone who makes you think, "I would like to be like that person in some way." Find someone who excites you, who is full of passion, who is sincere and articulate. Find someone who has thought deeply about things, and gives wisdom as a gift. It has been said that the best teacher is one who is slightly more advanced than the student, but not so far ahead that the student cannot follow.

Find someone from whom you can learn. Find someone who is kind. Find someone who is not afraid to love.

Wednesday, April 14, 2004

Kundalini and Evolution of Consciousness 

Tasting the Light

It arrived suddenly,
when you were unaware.

It issued no advance notice,
no acknowledgment required.

It came over you swiftly,
lightning flash across a large surface of stone.

After everything melted,
there was the taste
of honeyed fruit,
burnt cinnamon,
something blue and electric in the air.

copyright, Dorothy Walters

This transition to a new state is not easy--those refined energies appear to visit the "forerunners," in effect, the "volunteers"-- those who have (it would seem) in some mysterious and undefined way "agreed" to undergo this process as part of the saving transformation of the race. Each one becomes a way station, a base of energetic force helping to sustain the ongoing process, which no one comprehends in its fullness but each feels honored to serve. Each participant gives in the manner best suited to personal talent or capacity--perhaps the assignment is, as one friend put it, simply to "carry this vibration" until it can be established throughout the globe. The path is without familiar precedent or guidance. Together, this collective (whose members are most often not known to one another) prepare a field of consciousness, which makes each subsequent transfiguration less difficult for those who follow. (Rupert Sheldrake uses the term "morphogenetic field" to describe such phenomena.) In the Kundalini process the divine becomes dramatically aware of itself embodied in the human. Humanity is the device whereby the sacred reality establishes itself more firmly on earth in fullest manifestation.

Kundalini as such is not a stranger to earth. But our own age is the first in which Kundalini consciousness is coupled with the heightened "self-awareness" available to contemporary mind. The intuitive and the rational (right- left brain functions) now may be paired in a new way. The body is known in a fresh perspective. The self becomes a ground for experiment; the mind experiences novelty and then reflects on its own internal operations.

The rapture awakened in many Kundalini experiences is not to be confused with sexual arousal (though they are kin), nor are the reports of bliss to be dismissed as merely accounts of interesting internal somatic events. For the serious student, each such experience carries the sense of the infusion of the holy energies, a uniting with a force so beyond conceptualization that feeling itself is the only avenue of communication. Although we cannot know the divine reality in full, we can--in part--experience it in our bodies. Hence the conundrum--we remain convinced of the reality of that which we can neither see nor hear, which lacks substance and material presence, but which nonetheless is our daily companion.

Because we in modern society typically do not experience Kundalini under ideal conditions, we often must spend many years in the long balancing process. Some become so sensitive that they may no longer be able to function in the familiar world, and must go into a period of retreat. Others may become highly creative and discover talents they did not know they possessed. Virtually all, however, agree that this is an experience to be prized above all others, for it endows the recipient with an irrefutable sense of deep connection to that which is most meaningful in human experience. One feels that there is indeed a divine presence, and knows that one is in fact very much a part of that reality, however minute or humble one's role. This is unconditional love in its most compelling expression. It is the final proof, the assurance which goes beyond all doubts and questionings, the ultimate self-validating experience. It is the path to "planetary initiation," entry into a new mode of being.

(from Unmasking the Rose)

Tuesday, April 13, 2004

What Is Kundalini? 

A Thousand Ways

The Beloved knows a thousand ways
to enter your body.

When you were young,
she sent you a lover of flesh
who stood near
to awaken your nature.

Now god is your unseen paramour
arriving without notice
on unexpected occasions.
To discover her,
turn gently, and follow your breath
to the center of your being.

from Marrow of Flame

Of all human phenomena, Kundalini is one of the most mysterious and least understood. According to ancient yogic texts, Kundalini is a serpent resting at the base of the spine. When aroused, it ascends in spiral fashion through the various chakras (wheels) of the body until it reaches the crown, where its energies unite with those of the immensity which sustains all. At that moment, the small self loses itself in forgetfulness, and regains its primal condition as part of the ever-flowing consciousness which is the final reality. This--a state of unimaginable bliss--is known as enlightenment.

Kundalini means "coiled," for in the Hindu symbology the snake is coiled two and a half times in its resting place. Each chakra is an energy center, a "wheel" which presumably begins to spin as the energy passes through. On each side of the spinal column is a major channel for ascent, one known as Ida and the other Pingala. These form a helix around the central channel, the Sushumna, a tiny thread rising from the base to the very top of the spinal column.

Many devout students of yoga devote their lives to perfecting the technique of awakening and then lifting the Kundalini energies. To this end, they adhere to a strict yogic discipline, including the practice of asanas (positions), a restricted diet, and performance of austere purification measures. Only the very pure in body and spirit are deemed fit to follow this path with impunity. Those less prepared expose themselves to dangers of every sort, from physical illness to emotional unbalance. Because of the difficulties inherent in the practice, the student is cautioned to proceed only under the guidance of an experienced teacher. Once the technique is mastered, the student is said to be gifted with many "supernatural" powers--such as the ability to see or hear at a distance, to travel out of body, and to charm without effort.

Kundalini has also played a prominent role in many other cultures, where it has been a key element in spiritual practice. Kundalini (under various names) has been identified as central to such spiritual traditions as the esoteric practices of early Egypt, Taoism in Asia, and shamanism throughout the world. Some feel that even the ecstatic states reported in mystic Christianity reflect the workings of Kundalini. Kundalini, by whatever name, is universally treasured as a sacred experience, and venerated as a means of passage to other worldly realms.

In contemporary thought, Kundalini is widely viewed as the essential electromagnetic system which undergirds and sustains all of the operations of the self--from physical to mental to emotional. This guiding force generally operates below the level of consciousness, keeping the body in balance and performing in a "normal" fashion. However, spontaneous Kundalini experiences--even full awakening--can occur and unexpected arousal is being reported more and more frequently across the globe. In the majority of cases, this "awakening" is imbued with a deeply spiritual cast. It generally begets in the subject a response of humility and awe. She is now able to experiences states far transcending anything known before. It is as if she now thinks and feels at the "cellular" level, with a capacity for knowing deeper and swifter than any perception achieved through the familiar "rational" mind. She may now be vulnerable to states of both ecstasy and pain beyond any previously imagined. Some may develop rare healing powers or acute mental abilities. In its perfect manifestation, Kundalini purges the self of all its latent illness and psychological perturbation, leaving a being empowered to express her fullest potential.

Gopi Krishna maintained that Kundalini would be the engine for the evolutionary transformation of humanity. Those who experience its high bliss and overwhelming sense of connectedness to divine purpose and direction can only concur. Whatever else it does, Kundalini permanently changes the nervous system, making it capable of states of awareness well beyond the familiar spectrum. These changes lead to a shift not merely in what we see but how we see. The threshold is lowered for both pleasure and pain, the defenses are stripped away. One experiences the interconnectedness of all beings and levels in the most personal and intimate sense--one resonates at the deepest centers with this new found knowledge.

Kundalini opens the system to infusions of the divine; one is held by unmitigated, unimaginable, pure love. And this love is the sustaining force of the cosmos itself.

(from Unmasking the Rose

Monday, April 12, 2004

On the Longing for a Perfect Body 

All of us yearn for a perfect body--a vessel total and complete on all the levels, physical, mental, emotional, and energetic/spiritual. But in truth no one (at least no one that I know of) ever attains this ideal. Even after we are visited by the divine energies, even when we have been opened to extreme ecstasy as a gift of grace, there remain flaws, impediments of various kinds. Beginning meditators sometimes suppose they will be instantly plunged into states of total serenity and calm, only to discover that all their hidden issues surface during these periods of quiet. Kundalini can bring extreme bliss, but it can also turn a spotlight on any unresolved psychological or physical problems.

So our lives remain forever a series of challenges, a constantly shifting flow of pleasures interwoven with pain. Shadow invariably accompanies sun. Descent follows arrival at the apex. Full enlightenment (if that implies absolute perfection of being) is not available on this earth. Nonetheless, we constantly continue our search for bliss, and inevitably encounter the inevitable downward swing.

It is the glimpses, the brief tastes of nirvana (sometimes very rich), which lure us forward, giving us reassurance that our journey is not in vain, that the reward we seek is waiting somewhere up ahead and ultimately attainable. In such times as our own, when the world is wracked by chaos, when human suffering of all kinds is so prevalent, we need this comfort, this sudden visitation of the unseen even in the midst of turmoil. Some turn to human love, some continue to seek the divine embrace. But always, whatever the path, there will be an element of suffering as well as the moments of exaltation.

Blake said, "Without contraries is no progression." By moving through the contraries, we together approach planetary initiation, Teilhard de Chardin's "omega point," the place where divine and human meet in final union.

Pablo Neruda on his Beloved

He longs for her
the way some of us
yearn for god.

He wants her to
cleave to his flesh,
to wrap him
in her opalescent wings,
to send her tongue
to explore all the secret places
of his soul.

I do not know
whether or not
she is still alive,
whether he is still dreaming
of her wherever he has gone.

Each morning when I wake
I wonder if my Unseen
is still waiting,
calm or pacing restlessly
among the flowers just outside my door.

copyright, Dorothy Walters


We bury our pain in a secret crypt,
stealing out at night to worship or pray.

We insist our pain is nameless,
and therefore does not exist.

We hide our pain behind the crockery
on a high shelf,
convinced that when we lift it down
it will be less vibrant,
muted by dust and silken webs.

We put it in with the silver
which we use only on Rare Occasions,
removing it with the flatware now and again,
to polish and make inventory.

We wear our pain inside
a small locket around our neck.
We carry it as a stone hidden in our shoe,
or else as a thorn riding our flank.

We fasten a red ribbon around our throat,
so that we do not speak or whisper.

from Marrow of Flame

The Men Who Denied the Goddess

How she arrived
in her shimmer of bright silk.
Her rawness, her nakedness,
her beauty.
How her breath swept over them,
seeping into their pores
like incense,
like smoke.
How they muttered and groaned,
how they sobbed into their hands,
as they turned
against the shining air.

from Marrow of Flame


We have all had our hearts torn
from us,
one way or another.

The poets offer a brief consolation
every now and again.
We follow them into that other world,
their soft nuances of feeling,
their subtle manipulations of tone.

We fall into a forgetfulness,
a swoon of word longing,
how dear the imaged moment,
how precious the projected scene,

but then we remember
the block on fire,
the city blazing around us,
the corpse waiting in the plaza
beneath the unyielding sun.

from Marrow of Flame

Friday, April 09, 2004

The Terror of Revelation 

The Lives of the Saints

I am thinking how it must have been
to be a saint,
those opened ones
who talked with god each hour
and did not turn away
to have felt something--
a small stirring much like love--
flow perpetually within
delicate salutation
constant confirmation of the felt unseen
and then more:
to actually behold what they call the Invisible Real
the unfathomable made manifest
to hear those syllables voiced aloud
whispers of consolation and concern
and even the wounds that came
the mystery coming down like a careless lover
leaving bright tokens of its flame
and always the ceaseless longing
the part we others are allowed to know
even as we approach and then draw back
come close and retreat once more
in terror of revelation
frozen in our sea of fear.

copyright, Dorothy Walters

Thursday, April 08, 2004

On the Question of Mystery 

I have long been fascinated with the mystery of the Shroud of Turin. By now, many have heard of this burial shroud which bears the imprint of the face and body of a dead man who has been brutally beaten and whose wounds strongly suggest he died from crucifixion. For centuries, it has been carefully preserved by the church authorities, for the faithful are convinced that the image imprinted on this piece of cloth is indeed that of the one known as Christ, the world's savior.

No one knows the actual origins of the shroud, nor its history in the first centuries after the crucifixion. Its authenticity has been a question of serious debate for many years. It has been subjected to many, many tests, and various theories have been put forth to dispute the claims of the believers.

The question of its actual date of origin seemed to be resolved definitively two years ago, when a piece of the material was subjected to carbon dating, and the results indicated it was cloth from the middle ages.

Now, according to a PBS documentary I watched last night, new evidence has emerged which calls all into question once more. And some of this new evidence presents mysteries themselves as intriguing as the original question of identity.

When the results of the carbon dating were announced, one of the researchers, a renowned scientist from a major British university, revealed the "irrefutable" conclusions with evident gratification, as if once again science had triumphed over faith and superstition. He pointed out that not every one would be convinced, and noted that some still insisted that the earth was flat.

It was a woman, however, one who relied not on technology but a traditional woman's craft, who called these results into question. She was a seamstress brought in to mend some of the damaged spots on the cloth. In making her repairs, she discovered something no one had noticed previously. The shroud was sewn together with a particular type of stitching which was also found at Massada, but which is unknown outside a time frame of a few decades around the time of Jesus' death. Most important, it is never found in stitching from the middle ages.

In fact, the sample subjected to the carbon dating may have led to false results, since it was a corner which was sometimes attached to a backing cloth for public display of the actual shroud.

Now, even more puzzling is this discovery: the image is quite dim to the naked eye, but under enhanced light it shows up almost as if it were an x-ray of the body. That is, it reveals not merely the surface features but certain elements beneath the surface--such as the thumb which lies beneath the folded hands. No camera could of itself discern such hidden aspects. No transfer of body fluids such as blood or sweat could capture them. One commentator (obviously convinced of the authenticity of the relic), even asserted that the shroud actually bears the imprint of these subsurface features because they were transferred during the ascension itself--the shroud, in effect, passed through the body of the rising spirit.

Probably the total mystery will never be fully solved. Even if it is proved that the death cloth bears the likeness of a crucified being from this early time period, there seems to be no way to be sure who that one is, since many thousands were crucified by the Romans at the beginning of the first millenium.

I myself am trying to keep an open mind on all of this. I am, admittedly, a bit skeptical of all religious claims, but part of me longs to be stunned by evidence of the miraculous. And in truth, like many who undergo kundalini experience, I encounter the unexplainable daily. Where does kundalini come from, what does it imply for a larger view of reality? Why are its appearances so unpredictable, and for what reason does it disappear for so long? Life changes irreversibly between the inbreath and the outbreath. Who can explain this mystery to us?

But life itself becomes richer, deeper, more profound, more bound with meaning because of what has happened. We can never uncover the full nature or purpose of the total process--we can only let it carry us ever deeper into its own irresistible realms.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

The Gift of El Collie 

When I experienced awakening in 1981, I did not know a single person who had heard of, much less experienced, kundalini. For the most part, I kept silent about my own experience--it was mysterious, exotic, esoteric in the extreme. A few books were available, but for the most part it was a very solitary journey. Some years later, I asked a friend (who knew about such things as the internet, which was itself still a novelty) to type in the word kundalini to see what came up. I was thrilled when four references appeared. For me, it was as though the most hidden and indeed the ultra secret realms were coming to light. Today, if you type in that word on Google or Netscape, you will get literally thousands of references--kundalini awareness seems to have swept across the planet like a great wave of enlightenment.

But in the early l990's, such awareness was still quite rare. Thus, when I heard that someone in Oakland (California) had started a newsletter dedicated entirely to kundalini awakening, I was overjoyed. It was called Shared Transformation and was written and edited by El Collie, along with her husband Charles Kress. I immediately subscribed and ordered all back issues. Eventually, I submitted some of my own writings, and was delighted that they were accepted for publication. For me, this was a kind of milestone in my journey, finally sharing publicly what had been, to then, almost exclusively a private experience. Later El Collie even published some of my poems, and again I was deeply grateful.

Though I never met El Collie, I learned quite a bit about her from the newsletter. She was obviously quite intelligent, a very articulate and knowledgeable writer on this little known topic. She was able to speak authoritatively on all aspects of the kundalini journey, from its sources in various traditions to modern applications. She warned us against relying on false teachers, and suggested alternatives to sometimes misleading diagnoses by traditional medical practitioners. She was in fact an encyclopedia of pertinent information, and much of what she said had been tested in her own experience.

In addition to offering her personal reflections, she included the voices of many others undergoing spiritual emergence of various kinds. It was reassuring to discover that kundalini awakening was indeed part of a "shared transformation," and she served as the shaman/wise woman assisting others on this difficult journey.

One of the great disappointments of my life was that I never got to meet her in person. I was shocked to discover that she had left the planet some months previous, now two years ago this month. Her health had continued to deteriorate through the years, bringing ever increasing pain into her body. I happened recently on one of the last e-mails I received from her, in which she stated that she had carpal tunnel syndrome not only in her hands but in her feet as well. This development must have been devastating for her, for her writing clearly was her life blood, the necessity which gave her life fulfillment and purpose.

Her husband and soul mate, Charles, played a major role in the publication of Shared Transformation, from its origins as a print publication to its later reemergence as an internet site. After El Collie's death, Charles did something impressive as a tribute to El Collie and a gift to her friends and audience. He edited and posted the book she had been working on for years. From reading this amazing manuscript, I learned even more about the life of this fascinating woman. (She never wanted her book to be published by a conventional publisher. She wanted it to be on the internet, available free to all readers.)

El Collie had always been a pioneer. Disdaining elitism, she identified with those who struggle to survive in our society. She deliberately chose not to go to college (this despite her obvious innate intelligence.) She lived a life of adventure. Her early chapters describe how she and her children lay on the floor of their apartment to avoid the gunfire which erupted in the riots in Detroit during the stormy early days of the civil rights movement. She lived in Haight-Ashbury during its heyday as a counterculture center, and participated in many of the social experiments taking place there at that time. She was a feminist poet early on in the Bay Area, and did many public readings at coffee houses and the like. She firmly believed that poetry was part of the oral tradition, and should be heard rather than read.

Thus it was not surprising that this woman of strong conviction and pure intent should be one of the first to offer support for the awakening kundalini community. She did not simply dream about the need for new means of connection, she threw herself into the effort to create something utterly novel, totally unfamiliar. For, though such experiences as near-death and out-of-body were now fairly familiar, kundalini was still part of the mysterious unknown, totally out of the mainstream consciousness.

And, as always, she did not seek to make significant financial gain from her endeavors. She charged only a minimum amount for the publication, and received little or nothing for her services.

For me, she is that rarity of rarities, a true human being. She was not afraid to take risk. She threw herself fully into her chosen commitments. She lit a path for the rest of us to follow at a time when such mentors were few and near impossible to locate.

Though I never met her, I did see her photograph (online). She looks to be a fairly tall, imposing woman, with strength and courage inscribed on her face. She would be an indomitable leader and a daunting opponent for those whose principles were suspect. She was, in fact, a goddess, with all the beauty and majesty which that implies. She was the wise Athena, the woman who gave us an incalculable gift of knowledge and encouragement when we needed it most.

Go to www.elcollie.com to read Branded by the Spirit, El Collie's remarkable autobiography, as well as her astute discussions of the kundalini process. This site also includes back issues of Shared Transformation

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