Advanced Yoga Practices
Lesson 85 - Enlightenment Milestones Revisited
Date: Thu Jan 15, 2004 2:26pm
New Visitors: It is recommended you read from the beginning of the archive, as previous lessons are prerequisite to this one. The first lesson is, “Why This Discussion?”
Q: I firstly would like to thank you for the lessons which I feel are very beneficial and the program you are putting out seems to be a good one as it covers everything. I am following another yogi’s teachings which I’m happy with, but forgot his kundalini meditation which I meant to do weekly, so your priceless teachings are truly filling the gap that had been left in my spiritual program. (I was working on my heart and crown in a way which raises kundalini, but not focusing on my kundalini directly). I’m taking your exercises very slowly, only been doing the first couple things and only once a day, as I had a kundalini incident a few years ago which nearly killed me, worsening very erratic heart beat, breathing problems, nearly knocked me out which each surge and also partly paralyzed me during surges which lasted almost an hour with the energy building up more and more each time. It was like a raging river surrounding me … weirdly, it was running also outside my body … and right through my body raging upwards from spine level. A master helped, saved my life in that incident by some how pulling the energy out of my body during and between the surges (he may of been somehow converting the kundalini energy into a different energy), and then tried to do some kind of complete energy drain thing as a last resort, luckily that instantly stopped the surges. I believe I would be dead if it wasn’t for him and his hasty help. I was in big trouble. So needless to say I’m more wary then I used to be. My question is over a dream I had last night, which I’m now wondering if it was a warning for me to slow down with my practices. Should I just ignore this? I wonder if it was maybe triggered by kundalini? I dreamt I had kundalini surges going right up my spine but the kundalini was running into the inner top part of my crown (like the inside of the top of my head). It hit against it each time it surged up. In my dream it got rather tender in that part of my head because of that. Do you think I need to be concerned and cut back a bit?
A: Thank you for your generous sharing. Yes, given what you have been through, I agree you should be very conservative and measured in your practices. Any sense of foreboding should be taken seriously. Not that you should be “running scared” about your enlightenment process, which you clearly are not. For each of us it is a matter of knowing ourself, our limits, our opportunities for stable progress, and gauging our approach to that. “Experience-based” is the watch-phrase around here. We will have tools galore, and how we apply them will make all the difference. Each must travel along their own time line, within their own capacity. It is a big responsibility.
The goal of these lessons is to give each person the opportunity to sit in their own driver’s seat on their spiritual journey. Who else can sit there? It is an unorthodox approach to the transmission of spiritual knowledge. It is in the spirit of the rapid expansion of the practical applications of scientific knowledge over the past few centuries. So much good has come from practical applications of science, as we can see all around us. Is it absolutely safe for everyone? No, it isn’t. There will always be some who will be at risk with the availability of powerful knowledge. Does this mean we should not have cars, airplanes, electricity, or the internet? Do the occasional risks involved in knowing advanced yoga practices mean they should not be available to everyone? I hope not. How can the whole of humanity learn to travel the inner roads to pure bliss consciousness and divine ecstasy other than by doing it? This is the challenge. Astronauts will eventually go to Mars and beyond. All of us will eventually join with the infinite within us, and bring that experience out into every day living. It is the journey of the human spirit to more — always to more. We know intuitively that we are infinite. There is no limit to what we can experience.
Now, what about these kundalini experiences we have been focusing on lately? Some have been pretty extreme. Are these necessary to reach enlightenment? Can we get through without having to endure such extremes? Let’s step back for a few minutes and try and develop some perspective on kundalini experiences, why they come about, and how they fit into the overall journey to enlightenment. To do this, let’s go back and revisit the lesson called, “Enlightenment Milestones” in the meditation Q&As.
In that lesson, we talked about three stages of enlightenment, sometimes overlapping in our experience, each with its own particular characteristics.
The first stage is the rise of silence in the nervous system. Deep silence is the essential nature of pure bliss consciousness. It is absolute stability. Nothing moves it. It is like a solid rock foundation that comes in under everything we are and do. It is the essence of who we are. It comes primarily from meditation, and is the source of the inner peace and unshakable security we experience as we advance along the spiritual path. It is our immortal being, and its rise in our nervous system serves as the foundation for all other spiritual development.
The second stage is the rise of ecstasy. This is prana going into a greatly expanded mode of functioning in our nervous system. It is sexual energy going up. It is kundalini. It is also pure bliss consciousness, deep silence, in motion inside us. It is the expansion of sensory experience into the ecstatic realms. This change is promoted by pranayama and other techniques designed to stimulate prana into a kundalini awakening mode. It is usually enjoyable. But sometimes the experiences can be extreme, i.e., kundalini problems. Why? More on that in a minute.
The third stage is the rise of the experience of unity, where we see all as an expression of the One that we have become. This is the joining of the individual ego, pure bliss consciousness, divine ecstasy, and all that exists in temporal existence. It is brought about as our center in pure bliss consciousness is systematically encouraged to move beyond the body. It is enlightenment, realization, the fruit of yoga. We live the reality of “loving our neighbor as ourself.” It becomes experientially obvious that our neighbor is ourself. This has a big effect on our behavior, of course – a positive effect with far reaching benefits.
There are advanced yoga practices associated with each of these three stages. And there is a logical sequence in the evolution of these three stages. At least in these lessons there is. Stage one, stage two, stage three. Like that.
It is all about purification. If our nervous system was entirely pure, somehow cleared of all the “seeds of karma” accumulated in our innumerable past lives, we would be born enlightened. Then we’d be like Krishnamurti, sitting around saying, “There’s nothing to it. Just be aware.” No meditation, no hair-raising kundalini, no journey at all. Just bliss, bliss, bliss!
Well, most of us still have a lot of house cleaning to do. And it is not an overnight job. It is not like hiring a cleaning service to come in for a few hours and the job is done. Even with the best spiritual practices, it takes years and years. Maybe lifetimes. No cleaning effort is ever wasted, as has been discussed before. It’s the one thing we can take with us when we leave this earth.
So, it is the process of house cleaning that determines our spiritual journey, our experience. How we go about it makes all the difference. There are some approaches that seem to start in the middle of the enlightenment process. They start with methods for directly raising kundalini. What happens? Kundalini sometimes moves. Sometimes she doesn’t. If she does, it can be up into a nervous system that is not ready, not purified enough. This is premature awakening, and is the cause of most extreme kundalini experiences. It is a tricky business, because someone may not have done any kundalini stimulation in this life and still be susceptible to premature kundalini awakening. Their nervous system seems to be wired for it. Maybe they did these practices in a past life and now have to stabilize it. Who knows? But there is no doubt that some are susceptible to premature awakening of kundalini. You will know soon enough if you are. If you are, you will have to be careful. Some others will zoom right through without a hitch. We should all be so blessed. For most people it is a gradual unfoldment, and advanced yoga practices are designed for that, not to create an overnight wonder. Just steady progress.
The approach here is to do gentle “global” house cleaning first. That means meditation, bringing up the silence, the pure bliss consciousness. Bathing the whole nervous system in it. It is very effective cleaning of the whole nervous system, and usually very gentle. Working on the first stage of enlightenment, you know. Even so, if someone is susceptible to kundalini problems, even gentle meditation can stir things up. Then the practice should be moderated to shorter meditation times, more physical activity, more grounding methods. For some people, just meditation is plenty. Experience is the best guide.
If meditation is good and bringing in silence and peace, then spinal breathing can be added. This focuses the purification more in the spinal nerve, the sushumna, and a gentle course toward bringing up ecstatic conductivity can be taken. This is a very gentle way to stimulate kundalini, keeping her in the right channel, keeping her in touch with her polar opposite, the masculine energy coming down from above on every exhalation.
Then if meditation and spinal breathing are smooth, more can be added. This process of adding can take many months, years, or decades, depending on the person. The experience will be the determining factor, not some arbitrary schedule. And it should certainly not be directed by a reckless ambition to find a super fast short cut to enlightenment. That is like going out on the road with a car for the very first time and going 100 miles an hour. The outcome of that kind of approach is well known to all of us.
Whatever the past has been in practices, that is the past. For better or worse we have to live with the results of that. Today we can start anew, making sure we have taken care of the beginning before we try and rush to the end. If we cultivate the silence of pure bliss consciousness inside until it is stable within us, we will have the best chance of a smooth awakening of kundalini. That is, an ecstatic awakening instead of a horrific one. Awaking kundalini is a step along the path, somewhere in the middle. Raising kundalini is not the whole path. It is just the middle part. Bringing up the silence of pure bliss consciousness is the whole path, the beginning, the middle, and the end. Everything else depends on that. This is why it was said early in the lessons that meditation will be enough if that is all one is inclined to do, and it should always remain at the center of our practices. For those who are ambitious, aiming to get the job done in this lifetime, the other means are offered. But it is not recommended that meditation be skipped, ever. It can make for a very difficult journey trying to do the other things without a firm foundation in deep silence, in pure bliss consciousness.
How long should one clean house with meditation before stimulating kundalini directly? It depends on the person. If the inner silence and stability are good, maybe soon. For others, meditating easily each day for years or decades will be a good route. It is a combination of your capacity and your desire (bhakti) that will determine your course. Some will be conservative. Others will be very aggressive. Just remember that Rome was not built in a day. Find your time line, know your capacity, and take it one day at a time. It is a long journey. There is no need to knock the wheels off the car on the first lap around the track, or on the one hundredth lap either.
The guru is in you.