Kundalini Splendor

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Thursday, December 01, 2005

What Is Enlightenment? Further Reflections 

Many books tell us that Kundalini begins in the root chakra, and then rises, chakra by chakra, up the spine and into the crown where, at last, enlightenment itself is attained. But for most of us, this is not true. Other books explain that the energies are in fact less predictable, that the chakras may not open in any set fashion at all. The energies may leap up from the base to the crown in a single swoop, they may bounce back and forth from one plexus to another. One day the practitioner may feel openings in the heart, and the next stirrings in the base or abdomen. It is not a set process. It follows its own inclinations.

Likewise, we are told by many that the process of opening will lead at last to the state called "enlightenment." No one seems certain of exactly what that is, nor exactly why it is a desirable condition, but nonetheless it is held up as a goal for disciples and seekers.

Now, I have a confession. I am by no means an enlightened being, but (I feel that) during my experience of "opening" I did in fact "taste" or at least glimpse the enlightened state for a few moments. In that state, I knew (not intellectually or mentally, but at the deepest possible level of being) that I did not exist as an independent entity. The only reality was "It", the immensity which animates the cosmos and all that it contains. I was merely a speck, a wee atom in this giant process, a non-being which existed only as an insignificant part of this immense force.

And then I returned to--more or less--"normal" reality, but always with that memory held deep inside.

But--what is "normal consciousness"? There are many states or levels of awareness, including the ecstatic (somatic bliss), mystic (oneness with one's surroundings or with the divine), visionary, creative, reflective, objective (what scientists claim), critical, and so forth. Sometimes we move through many of these in a single day. In addition, there are psychic states of various sorts, including e.s. p, clairvoyance, clairsentience, trance of various intensities, mediumship, aura reading, telekinesis (movement of objects by mental concentration), mind reading, out of body travel, and others. There are also the experiences of "altered states" induced artificially through drugs,hynosis, and other means. And what about aesthetic exaltation, states of joy, grief, pain, sensory and sexual pleasure? The list goes on and on.

And then there is enlightenment itself, when all the preliminary stages give way to an ultimate realization.

What would happen to us if we attained that exalted state and simply remained there, forever cut off from our awareness of the common world around? Are there enlightened beings among us now? We hear such claims, and then we hear stories of gross misbehaviors, abusive or exploitive actions, suggesting swollen egos and exalted self-images.

I myself do not believe any of us in the contemporary world live in such a state, the condition of pure,unbroken awareness of the All. I think some of us make progress and from time to time attain an "expanded consciousness", an awareness beyond what we have known before. Such advances are essential to our inner growth, even though we never arrive at some final revelation. "The path is the goal," as the Taoists say.

The world needs those who know and are willing to use their knowledge in the service of others. We must, all of us, at whatever stage, devote ourselves to the common task, which at present is the preservation of earth and all who live upon it. We must, at they say, live in the two worlds, maintain our inner connection with the "higher reality" which is our divine source, and yet labor constantly in the fields of love for all humanity. We must "be and not be," "do and not do," "exist and not exist." We must know who we are, which is to say, each a small but all important aspect of Mystery itself. This truth is difficult to grasp. But that is our constant challenge.

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