Tuesday, March 13, 2007
We know that Teresa of Avila experienced both intense rapture and extreme pain in the course of her life, like many other mystics both past and present. Indeed, this vacillation between the two unlike states is characteristic not only of the mystic per se, but of those undergoing intense kundalini awakening. In fact, several writers suggest that such highly spiritual beings as Teresa and St. John of the Cross were in fact displaying the characteristic symptoms of ongoing kundalini.
In her indispensable work called "Mysticism," Evelyn Underhill (in my view, the greatest authority on the subject) says this of Teresa:
"Rapture," says St. Teresa..."comes in general as a shock, quick and sharp, before you can collect your thoughts, or help yourself in any way; and you see and feel it as a cloud, or a strong eagle rising upwards and carrying you away on its wings. . .When the rapture was over, my body seemed frequently to be buoyant, as if all weight had departed from it. . .By the command of the Bridegroom when He intends ravishing the soul...the doors of the mansions and even those . . .of the whole castle are closed. . ." "Such great graces leave the soul avid of total possession of the Bridegroom who has conferred them."
Indeed, many undergoing the ecstasies of kundalini bliss would like to remain in perpetual union with the "Beloved Within." I met one woman who wept each morning when she had to leave off her transcendent practice and enter the workaday world.
And both states involve pain as well as pleasure. Underhill tells us, "Our bodies are animal things, made for animal activities. When a spirit of unusual ardour insists on using its nerve-cells for other activities, they kick against the pricks, and inflict...the penalty of 'mystical ill-health.' 'I cause thee extreme pain of body,' says the voice of Love to Mechthild of Magdeburg. 'If I gave myself to thee as often as thou wouldst have me, I should deprive myself of the sweet shelter I have of thee in this world, for a thousand bodies could not protect a loving soul from her desire. Therefore the higher the love, the greater the pain.'
These thought should give comfort to those undergoing the extremes of kundalini manifestation. In some ways, kundalini is a synonym for the mystical state. To be a mystic is not easy, in that earlier world or this. Most of us do not have the protection of monastery or ashram. We often must proceed on our own, dealing with our swings of spirit as best we can, with the help of the constant Inner Guide.