Thursday, September 11, 2014

Some about Kundalini and the Tantra

"The general idea prevailing about Kundalini, both in the East and in the West, is of a fabulous power... lying dormant, waiting to be roused..." --The Secret of Yoga by Gopi Krishna

When the subject turns from more commonly known Western ideas present in Judeo-Christian mysticism such as Incarnation,  to ideas prevalent in the East then brought West, such as Kundalini Yoga or other Hatha practices, quickly it becomes apparent that there is little credible information about this aspect of Hatha Yoga translated into English or available for use in the West. Why so? To Westerners accustomed to an intellectual system of Scholasticism, books and works of the mind alone are an immediate draw. Yet like many elements of Eastern philosophy, person to person transmission of many types of knowledge is critical, and cannot be obtained from any text. It is like the "Golden Rosary." These texts are said to be "secret" yet for aspirants and postulants they are available with direction and guidance through oral transmission.

So the secret is that they are secret, not secret-- like a good Buddhist Koan. Within the question is the answer. One of a handful of texts written on the subject for English audiences is written by Gopi Krishna. Writing in The Secret of Yoga, Krishna delves into some of the facts and fictions of Kundalini practice. He states that one of the popular conceptions of this practice is that a person who attains the highest Chakra, "attains unlimited dominance over the forces of nature..." There is no end to the natural powers attained by "those who succeed in awakening Kundalini (Adya-Kali)... many modern seekers expect from Yoga in the wildest flights of their fancy."

But what does Krishna say Kundalini is then, beyond Adya-Kali? Well, first of all he notes that the ancient texts are undoubtedly containing great wisdom, yet knowledge of the human body through much of the time periods that the ancient texts were written was woefully inadequate. For example, until the 1920s it was not well understood how a woman became pregnant; what the hormonal processes that developed into a monthly cycle were comprised of. Most of the most basic hormones relating to reproduction were not known until further into the 20th century.

Krishna argues then for a modern Kundalini, one that is informed by this age for this modern world. Kundalini he argues is a potent energy force, one that "has not been elucidated in any rational way in any text, ancient or modern." Kundalini, the Divine energy is often described by many writers both ancient and modern as "cosmic, astral, or psychic force without any biologic connection to the human body." And yet Hatha Yoga in all its forms is intimately concerned with the body as much as the spiritual nature of such body.

Krishna also calls into consideration the notion of a Chakra. Chakras are thought to be pathways for energy flow, increasing consciousness and leading to the emergence of the Kundalini in an aspirant. Yet Krishna notes that in Buddhist Tantric practice there are only four such pathways, rather than the much discussed seven-- as though seven were the usual number. In fact he argues that the notion of "seven lotuses (chakras) on the cerebro-spinal axis is of comparatively recent origin... under the cloak of weird formulations, fantastic formulations and mythical beings... of ignorance from the past, it is not surprising that... a whole host of divinities, and strange formulations in the body account for the bewildering effect of Kundalini. But now a rational explanation is called for."

And yet Gopi Krishna does not for a minute deny that a mysterious power of energy flowing throughout a body is Kundalini. And so he writes, " it is no secret that we live in two worlds [simultaneously], one spiritual and one physical... this is the reason why real success in yoga is so very rare.' overhauling of the human body is necessary to effect the transformation most often sought.... And super-normal gifts such as prophesy and clairvoyance... become available to the successful initiates within limits." This, he says, in a nutshell, is the message of all the Tantras and all the ancient treatises dealing with Kundalini-Yoga. "For the aim of every religious practice is to bring the mind into Cosmic Consciousness or the Infinite Universe of Life, hidden from the ordinary mind.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Myth and Society

"Myth is not the same as history."
--Joseph Campbell

Writing in his book Pathways to Bliss, renowned Mythologist Joseph Campbell, makes note of several salient points applicable to modern thinkers. He states "myths are not inspiring stories of people who lived notable lives....Myth is transcendent; it goes beyond the visible, known world. Seen as true guides, myths are highly instructive to today's thinker. They not only act as a guide to the moon and the stars, but to the heart, to artists, and thinkers of all stripes. "In our society of fixed texts and printed words, it is the function of the poet to see the life value of the facts round about, and to deify them, as it were, to provide images that relate the everyday to the eternal."

While some manage their everyday existence without the benefit of images, others see this a necessity. To them, without myth, the world is a painful, flat, plane of sameness without the spark of image. Fire seeking ground, "we are all manifestations of mystic power," writes psychiatrist, Karlfried Durckheim. Shaped in our mother's womb, then, myth is a function of this mystic, powerful, life wisdom. Borne to us, alive within us, the symbols of eternal mankind pour into the fields of time and space. An energy that originates beyond the realm of powers of knowledge, of intellect, the energy of myth flows, bound within each of us--in this body, in this person.

In the modern, critical, scientific world, the mind, the power, the transcendent can become bound up in concept, temporal tasks, even to the extent that illness is the result. We are out of center, if we even knew it at first, and illness is sometimes the result. Blocked from this source, life-force, you are left with a final, factual world view. A view that doubts, that does not believe what it cannot now see, what it cannot now hear. Myths point to something beyond themselves; myth is not allegorical, rather it transcends the known to the unknown. It is the place of dreaming, the world of muse. "Make your god transparent to the transcendent, and it doesn't matter what his or her name is." When you have done so, you realize the inspiration of a god or goddess.

Myth means to live for all time, not in the name of material goods, achievement or status in the known world. In a fast moving, modern world, myth which thrives on a slower paced lifestyle is exchanged for everything moving fast, very fast. Technology propels forward, an ever increasing consumerism. It knows no bounds; swallowed up whole, we find ourselves without myth, the valuable guide of the collective wisdom throughout the ages. Writes Campbell interestingly, "Roman Catholic monks and Buddhist monks had[ve] no trouble understanding each other." They recognize the transcendent; that the best, most important thing can't be told. It must be experienced. Jesus, the Christ said that to find the Way, it is necessary to give up [material things] what you own and follow, because things, he knew, don't last.

Anthony Gittens, a monk of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit, writes in his book, Come Follow Me, about this new, transcendent way which Jesus and others before him proposed:

The Jesus Society

Leave everything behind, take nothing for the journey; risk, trust onto other people, respect them, find acceptance, seek out community, say yes to the kingdom--

Jesus, the Christ, says in his society, there is a new way to live.

You show wisdom, by trusting people;
you handle leadership, by serving;
you handle offenders, by forgiving;
you handle money, by sharing;
you handle enemies, by loving;
and you handle violence, by suffering;

In fact, you have a new attitude toward everything,
toward everybody.

Because this is a Jesus society, and you repent,
not by feeling bad, but by thinking differently.
--written by Rudy Wiebe