Kundalini Splendor

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Saturday, October 30, 2004

Secret Pleasures, Private Griefs 

Secret Pleasures, Private Griefs

For years, I inveighed against those who insisted that bliss was a stage to be transcended, a state to be overcome. I indulged my ecstasy, marveled at its sweet fullness, sought its constant return. It was my secret indulgence, a personal treasure which I neither shared nor rejected.

Now, strange to say, I seem to have a different perspective. I no longer crave ecstasy. I value the quiet moments, the lovely small happenings which ornament the day. I long for stability, well being, good health, abundant energy for the familiar tasks. I have a new mantra: ‘Be steady. Be steady. Be steady.”

Partly, I think, I am longing for inner balance in order to avoid the dramatic swings between pleasure and pain which I typically experience when rapture returns. Partly I am trying to deal more directly with the various aches and pains which accompany the aging process. (I don’t like to admit to these—after all, kundalini is supposed to cure all ills.)

And I am also seeking strength to look more fully at the pain and suffering in the world, some near at hand among friends, some in other parts of the world. The load of grief among sentient beings is immense, and I do not want to refuse awareness of this fact.

Moreover, I have had a full cup of ecstasy in my life. My hunger has been assuaged. It is like a favorite food or distant land, which one experiences or revisits until satiety is reached. One does not reject the repetition of the experience. But one no longer “has to have” it in one’s life.

Yet, having said all of this, I know that the bliss will return, in its own time and on its own terms. Again and again, I have declared the end of bliss, and always I have been proved wrong. Sometimes it is weeks or even months between recurrence. But then a piece of music, a quiet meditation with a circle of friends, a meeting with an advanced soul or loving friend—can awaken the old energies, send the self once more into the transcendent reality which (at the moment) take precedence over all else.

Thursday, October 28, 2004

Sudden Glory, Spiritual Bypass, Finding Wisdom 

Recently, when I was describing my earlier experience of spontaneous awakening to a friend, she suggested that I had undergone "spiritual bypass." As I understand this term, it means that you leap over your chronic psychological or emotional issues to reach a sudden point of illumination or transcendence. Ultimately, one is pulled back to the mundane world where all the unresolved problems are waiting patiently for your return.

The image I have often used for this process is: at first, you are lifted on eagle's wings to the top of the mountain, where you gaze in awe at the landscape unfolding below, and the celestial beings circling above. In this state, you experience intense rapture of sprit and body. You feel, "Ah, yes, this is where I belong, where I have always lived, though I didn't know it. At last, I have come home."

Then one morning you wake up and find yourself at the bottom of the mountain. You struggle to climb up again, only this time you go on hands and knees.

Now, my question is this: have you truly undergone "spiritual bypass" in order to attain what is (seemingly) a false awakening? Is there something wrong with you because you cannot maintain your exalted state on a permanent basis? Did you fail to do your inner work prior to illumination, and hence were not really prepared for the experience?

If any one of us waited until we were perfect--intellectually, spiritually, psychologically--for the transcendent moment, none of us would ever glimpse the luminous realms, even for an instant. We would wait forever, striving, struggling, wondering if the rumors of the ultimate were true or not.

Some point to the presumed masters or gurus who apparently live in perpetual bliss states as the ideal, and dismiss our more transitory experiences as unimportant.

But the fact is--we have been to the top of the mountain. We carry within us the knowledge that bliss is attainable, that the Other is also the Within, that we may never fully comprehend out experience, but nothing can erase it from memory or invalidate its significance.

And so we, like everyone around us, continue to labor on the old issues, the familiar challenges. Nonetheless, we are transformed, and through it all we gradually find our way to the path of wisdom.

And, from time to time, we relive in momentary flashes, in sudden inner opening to rapture, the original experience. Once again, we find ourselves in bliss, and remember who we are.

Tuesday, October 26, 2004

Two Meditation Poems 

Last weekend, I attended a retreat with my newly formed women's spirituality group. We gathered on the northern California coast in a location of indescribable beauty, located right on the cliffs overlooking the Pacific. During our meditations, two poems "came through" unexpectedly:

Meditation One

I am not a Buddhist
nor am I a yogi.

My robe has no
special emblem
or design.

My Great Teacher
is Silence.

I sit here now

Meditation Poem Two

It is happening again.
O, my soul opening!
Such love, such beauty
dissolving all boundaries.

How can I bear this
sudden influx
of joy?

(Dorothy Walters, Gualala, October 23-24, 2004)

Monday, October 25, 2004

A Needed Prayer 

The following prayer was created by the members of Stephanie Marohn's women's circle. Each member wrote a line of the prayer.

(Stephanie writes as follows):

My Gaia circle has been saying the prayer every day for 100 days ending with the election. Suggestion:

When you say the prayer, have a feather, stone, candle, and water or shell present to represent the four elements.
Repeat the prayer three times in a row.
Ring a bell three times when you are finished.
Say Blessed Be three times, before or after ringing bell. End with: And so it is.

In this timeless moment, we call in:

Awareness in all, of interconnectedness
The healing of Mother Earth--her water, her air, her land, and all the beings who live upon her
The light and strength to work together for the good of the planet
Nonviolent solutions to all conflicts
Conscious, compassionate leadership
Leaders who work for the highest good of all
Ideal leaders for our time
Loving kindness in all humans toward each other and all of life

We pray for the highest good to happen this November for the United States and the world.

Tuesday, October 19, 2004

Kundalini: Unique and Universal 

Kundaini is at once the most personal and most universal experience one can have. It strikes at the very heart of the self, touches and transforms it in every imaginable way, and leaves it in a state of unending change and adjustment. Each person undergoes the initiation process in a unique way. The beginning circumstances, the unfolding, the mental and psychological responses are decidedly one's own, unlike any other.

Often, the initiate's experience is framed in terms already familiar to her: Taoist alchemy, tantric yoga, native American spirituality, goddess lore--whatever has captured her imagination in the past now becomes the template for this overwhelming life event. And the discoveries which manifest during this critical juncture (whether mental or emotional) come as radically new insights, sacred mysteries revealed for the first time.

These revelations are precious, for they carry the initiate into the heart of the sacred, a world one has longed for but never before clearly discerned. The initiation is a gift to be treasured and revered.

At the same time, deep spiritual transformation is a universal human experience, one with a very long history across time and space. Whether it is the journey of the Christian mystic into divine union or the Sufi seeker yearning for the Beloved, the story of the soul's encounter with the inner reality carries certain features common to virtually all traditions and lineages. The classic account of these stages or attributes is found in Evelyn Underhill's "Mysticism," an indispensable guide for all engaged in the spiritual quest.

In addition to the traditional stages of the mystic path discussed by Underhill, there are also certain recurrent motifs or themes which seem to run through many personal accounts. Here are some which come readily to mind:

(Actually, some of these may overlap with Underhill's broader categories--I am simply reviewing certain features of my own experience which are echoed or mirrored in the descriptions of others past and present.)

The sense of loneliness before the moment of awakening. One knows that something is missing in one's life, but one doesn't know exactly what. One may have lived in essential isolation from the world at large, with a sense that one is "not of this time, not of this place."

The sudden and surprising nature of the opening when it occurs.

The feeling that one is now a "new being," whose transformed state is not perceived by the world, including one's closest associates. One appears to be the "old self," but in fact one is a "new self" in disguise.

The feeling that one has been granted a gift one has not earned. One asks, "How could this happen to me, of all people?"

The deep sense of anguish when the Beloved seems to disappear from one's daily life. Underhill says this is the true dark night of the soul. The saint who has known the presence of God suffers even more when that presence is withdrawn.

The sense that one is somehow unworthy when the process appears to fade, even temporarily. It is as though one has been tried, and found wanting. (But in fact it almost always begins again.)

The difficulty of expressing such ineffable experience in words. How can you adequately articulate the indescribable?

Questioning whether one is indeed undergoing authentic spiritual transformation or whether one is the victim of some abnormal biological or neural imbalance. (Am I awakened or deluded?)

Discovering that one has no personal control over the experience, which may return only after one has ceased to strive for its presence.

Deep hesitation over sharing such intimate and and unfamiliar experience with others. How could anyone else possibly understand? Further, such revelation might seem to diminish the sacred nature of the encounter, or, worse, appear as some form of "bragging" or ego inflation.

A sense that kundalini is itself a form of consciousness, one which seems to control the experience, now manifesting, now withdrawing, as if to give the initiate time to rest before the next move forward.

The sense that one's own experience is part of a larger process of universal change, planetary initiation, whose ends and purpose no one knows.

Wednesday, October 13, 2004

Being Who We Are 

Recently, I wrote two spontaneous poems, neither pertaining to mystical or spiritual experience, except in the broadest sense. I debated whether or not to post them on this site, which focuses on the spiritual path as such. However, they represent a part of the self--the more rational, mental being--which also deserves expression as meaningful aspects of the total psyche. When we undergo profound transformation, some remnants of the old identity remain, though these may be quiescent for a time. Ultimately, they re-emerge, and should not, I think, be repressed, but allowed to enter consciousness as significant aspects of the whole.

For most of my adult life, I was a professor of English (and women's studies). Obviously, I still have some things to say about some of the celebrities of the literary world, including those who shock in order to reveal. The first poem "came through" as I was sitting in the midst of a redwood grove, with honey light streaming through the branches. I think the poem may have arisen from the contrast between the sense of total peace and beauty in this quiet natural setting and the insistent cynicism of the artist in question.

The second poem "appeared" as I unpacked the volumes I had carried with me (but not opened) on my journey to the redwoods.

In This Light Which Will Not Come Again:

Joyce, the Sneerer

Brighter than
everyone else
he had a right
to be rude.

He sneered at
even as a child
confronting the schoolmaster-
priest over
his broken

As he grew,
he learned to
scoff at all the others
in his world--

even those who befriended him,
became his sponsors,
gave him money
and spread his fame.

He sneered his
way up
the ladder of acclaim,
shocking by
his audacity,
his fearless
of the hidden
and taboo.

Through words
through his manipulations
of all history
and its omnipresent
his vision expanded,
even as his eyesight

At last, a
blind Teiresius,
he died,
like a great, perplexing
which toppled
with a thud
that shook
the entire universe
of saying.

October 9, 2004

Sharon Olds, the Sex Queen

She told us more
than we wanted to know
about our secret lives.

Her words spewed forth
in exploding bundles of light,
burst our psyches open
in spiraling flame.

Nothing was off limits,
no topic taboo.

We followed her wide-eyed
and speechless
into the most forbidden ground,
everything grist
for her churning mill.

After it was over,
we sat there stunned and silent,
pondering what we had seen.

Is this the way it can be?
we wondered.

Are we missing out
on something big,
something rare and common,
blinded by her light?

October 12, 2004

Copyright, Dorothy Walters

Wednesday, October 06, 2004

What is the Shekhinah? 

I am reading an article about a renowned scholar who is currently translating the several volumes of the Kabbalah from Aramaic into English. The scholar explains that the word "Kabbalah" means receiving, being open to new insights about God or the nature of reality. And the primary book of the Kabbalah is the Zohar, which means radiance or splendor.

He then goes on to explain that God in this mystical system is equally male and female. The name of God as female is "Shekhinah" or the presence of God. We humans are charged to make God whole in our lives by bringing the two halves together. "We do that by ethical living."

He adds, "God is infinite energy." The Kabbalah has "insights that are important for any spiritual seeker."

His explanations left me with questions. Somehow, I had associated the Shekhinah with bliss itself, descent of supreme rapture, ecstasy even. In other words, I had assumed it was a manifestation of the energies of kundalini herself, the one some call the goddess above all goddesses. If my assumption is true, this would explain why the study of this esoteric approach to the divine was always confined to a carefully chosen few, why the student was not allowed to begin his studies until he had reached the mature age of forty, why Kabbalists were viewed with suspicion as members of a group with questionable motives.

Where had I gotten such notions? I decided to look up the word "shekhinah" in some of the books by earlier feminist writers exploring the whole area of feminine spirituality.

Shekhinah was given various interpretations as the feminine principle. Many were the attributes commonly associated with the idea of female: kind, loving, compassionate, nurturant, gentle, motherly--the familiar list.

But nobody mentioned bliss. No one alluded to ecstacy. Energy, yes. Ecstasy, no.

Somehow, these writers appeared to have missed a key element. If indeed "god" in female form is receptive, if the divine is energy, if woman is body-centered, if feeling is the realm of the female--how could bliss not be present?

In yogic philosophy, Shiva is likewise a dual god--shakti being his female half. And "shakti" is the term commonly used to refer to the divine energy which literally enters the body of the devotee and bestows ineffable bliss as a sign of union.

In the course of my research, I came across an account of an early "spiritual initiation" of Marion Woodman, the renowned Jungian psychologist known especially for her work in dream interpretation.

When the (Episcopalian) bishop placed his hands on her head in her confirmation ceremony, a shock of energy raced through her body. "The light in my head was so brilliant that for an instant I couldn't see anything." Shaktipat? Kundalini? the Shekhinah?

However, Marion ultimately decided that she didn't want a priest standing between her and the experience of the sacred. In the privacy of her own living room, "she enters the unknown through her own body." She explains: "I stand with my arms outstretched or dance or lie flat on the floor and listen with my whole body. This is my connection to Sophia, to the Shekhinah."

I wonder how many of us do the same. We may give it another name, but it is the divine encounter, the holy embrace, piercing our very cells and molecules in ultimate love.

(Note: I do not mean to minimize in the least the role of compassion, of thoughtful action, or of ethical conduct in human affairs, but merely want to say there is also something more. God is more than an insight. God is also a feeling, and to ignore that feeling is to cut god in half once more.)

Monday, October 04, 2004

Naked Travelers 

A Thousand Years

Dancer among dancers,

I danced my way

to the moment

which cannot be told.

O, such astonishment

and joy. . .

fullfillment at last...

Mind possessed,

soul set wild to sing

its own sacred hymns

of holy desire

in that instant which lasted

a thousand years.

These Moments

These moments

are not for sale,

not displays to be hung

in galleries

for the public eye

Some of us fell

from a distant world

which still speaks to us,

even here,

in the busy streets

and frantic malls

we hide our recollection

our secret knowing

like a precious relic,

or a small child

hidden beneath

its mother's skirts.

Only This

Out of it, you say,

see her, she is mad,

her sighs and curious movements,

her smile and absent gaze,

she is a lunatic lost

in an imagination gone astray.

This world and its occupations,

its priorities and needs,

these alone are real.

In it, you say,

this, yes this,

always without ceasing,

this is the only thing

I want.

Your Feathered Pen

Even after

words have been published

and noted

and listeners have nodded assent,

what has been shown?

Rivulets or torrents,

cascades or falling drops,

these word-streams

pour in vain.

Use all the ink

in your bottle,

wear down all

your feathered pens,

that moment

of the luminous

cannot be said,

that vocabulary

of the unreasoned

is not yet found.

Nothing but Nakedness

Fling off your raiment

and strip away

your bangles and braided scarves,

your silk undergarments

and jeweled shoes. . .

Nothing but nakedness

suffices on this route.

Know that the one your seek

will peer straight through you

bones and all

see you

exactly as you are,

a being made from emptiness,

a radiant pinpoint,

an image

sculpted of light.

All poems copyright, Dorothy Walters

Friday, October 01, 2004

Brown Bird 

I was sitting there
among the redwoods,
all solemn, majestic,
as if a band
of elder brothers
had gathered round
to ensure that you
were safe
and cared for
like a special child
when suddenly I saw
a small circle of light
undulant there on the forest floor
as if a stone had been dropped
into a pool of brightness
and the waves rippled outward
in concentric rings
(in that familiar way
that we all know)
and then a small brown bird
stepped daintily forth
and over the edge
and across
the dappled leaf cover of bronze,
confident, serene,
concerned about nothing,
nothing at all
but his forward trek,
his personal business
of going ahead,
drawing the light behind him
as he went.

copyright,Dorothy Walters

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