The Kundalini Process: A Christian Understanding
Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality
- by Philip St. Romain
Paperback and digital editions
Just checking after a couple of months. I was able to spend more time delving into the kundalini-chakra phenomenon, getting to know various perspectives and relate it better to my situation. The collection of essays in Kundalini Rising was especially helpful as well as John Cross’ books relating the chakras to the acupuncture system and Anodea’s Judith’s Eastern Body Western Mind.
With a little more time and insight I have been able to connect the dots and see how the spiritual process is progressing in my life through the cleansing of the chakras. It began months ago with excruciating back pain, unresponsive to any treatments. The muladhara chakra relates to the kidney and bladder meridians, whose imbalance often manifests as back pain, and at the spiritual level relates to the will in TCM. Once I processed the emotional trauma of my childhood that the back pain was evoking, aligned my will to God’s will and allowed Him to be my foundation and strength (earth element, first chakra), it instantaneously resolved by exiting the acu-point called the Gate of Abundance. That week I had been meditating on John 10: 12-14. (I am the gate…so that you might have [life] more abundant.) We were doing Bible roulette at prayer group; that week the passage that was opened up to began “Strive to enter the narrow gate…” The points on my back that were so sore on my back were “Gate of Life” and “Palace of Will”. (Up till then I had thought self-sufficiency was a gift from God and I had to do it all ;-).
Following the back experience, I began to have the full-blown ecstatic experiences that I touched on in a previous post where I felt head-over-heels in love and all I wanted to do was pray and be with God. In fact, I was spending several hours a day doing so! I wasn’t quite sure what to make of the sexual organism in total overdrive—that month I had two periods! In my confusion, God was still leading, directing me to and through others’ experiences and writings of the more spiritually advanced. I get it now. I now taste the sweetness (=Svadhisthana) of God as lover, having made the jump from metaphor to experience. Sometimes just repeating the name of God on my finger rosary sends me into that blissful state. (Before I had always thought falling in love was so—silly.)
After the intensity of the water chakra phase diminished a bit, I began having intense gastric burning. At first, I attributed it as a bad bout of indigestion. I tend to rationalize my spiritual experiences first, which starts with dismissal until I let go and shift to seeing God-behind-everything. After some weeks of the gastric burning, sluggish digestion, and sudden fatigue (whereas in the previous months I had so much extra energy and needed less sleep), I felt I had entered the fire chakra phase. I closed my eyes and asked to be shown what in my life had not been digested properly. I was immediately brought to young adulthood, on my own, struggling through the difficulties of that time of life. I suddenly realized how much I felt abandoned and betrayed by God, and how much of a grudge against God I had repressed. Chronic burning sensations usually represent repressed anger, and I had first my first experience with chronic GERD at that time in my life. I feel this chakra will take a bit longer to purge.
Last night I had an interesting fire dream. I was in a house that I identified as my childhood family house. My oldest and youngest brothers were present. My younger brother was going through the house room by room and torching them. The fire was already burning in the attic and he was proceeding from top to bottom. I ran to my room and pulled out my box of gold jewelry (Indian jewelry I gotten as gifts from my husband, mainly my wedding necklaces—Indian women wear wedding necklaces as opposed to wedding rings). I didn’t want to leave without those as they were too valuable. Then I saw a heap of clothes. I was torn between letting go of everything and letting it burn and going through the pile to see if there was anything worth salvaging. At first I was willing to leave and let go of everything. I asked my older brother if he, too, was going to let everything burn. He said he might. Then I began sifting through and letting go of some of the things but keeping a few others. I remember tossing a pair of pajamas,from eons ago that I hardly wore. (They always needed to be ironed.)
When I woke, I remembered a thought in my readings about the eastern concept of how fire burns up ignorance, but obviously the dream is bursting with significance.
I’m still experiencing a lot of symptoms associated with K awakening. I continue to vibrate and buzz quite a bit. The symptoms tend to be more intense after the CP meeting. The body vibrations and pressure in third eye are odd but not unpleasant while with the sudden intense painful sensations, I seem to know what is behind them so I don’t freak out. The latest uncomfortable symptom is the fluttering heart, but knowing the connection to the fire element through the meridian system helps me make sense out of it. The fluttering is most active during the zenith and nadir hours of the pericardium channel.
Last week the night after my weekly CP meeting, I vibrated the whole night and could feel myself shifting in and out of that altered consciousness state with the billowy swirls in the third eye and the feeling of no body. At one point I could feel myself being pulled even more deeply. A colorful conch shell appeared and I felt a vast ocean nearby. I suddenly felt afraid in this unknown territory (The intense swirls, too, had frightening me when they first started). I said I am too afraid, and I was brought gently back to waking consciousness. I realized I needed to work more on trusting God completely through this all.
Another lengthy post, I know. Thanks for letting me share.
These are priceless glimpses into the process of transformation you're undergoing, acuveda. Thank you for sharing so generously of your experiences.
Your background and reading enables you to make connections and hold a perspective in the context of Christian faith, which is not always easy, I know. Christianity does have a rich mystical tradition, but never focused much on the details of how the body/mind is transformed by the grace of the Spirit, and that's where chakras, subtle bodies, etc. come in, imo. There is much K material described in the literature, but it's considered "concommitant phenomena." One is encouraged to stay focused on the real prize, which is deepening union with God. Everything will adjust in time.
Re. that last pgh -- you're probably aware that oceanic symbols in dreams generally represent the unconscious, and the shell symbolism is one of spiraling/unfolding. Maybe the dream is communicating a reassurance of some kind, though archetypal symbols like those are usually powerful. Truly, as you note, there is no way forward but to trust in God and try to enjoy the journey. One possible danger is to try to "help it along" based on certain reading or teaching we've come across, but I suspect you already know that usually doesn't go very well.
Please keep us posted. There aren't many Christians who have written of kundalini transformation and we need to hear of such accounts.
Hi again, Phil… Thanks for the shell reminder. A few days after I wrote that last message I was working in the garden and oddly came across a white spiraling shell.
The K symptoms continue to run their course at times more intensely than others. I discovered that if I woke up with the jerking kriyas and melted into them and began praying, I immediately enter the billowy altered state, and instead of jerks, the movements become very fluid, dare I say—serpentine— feels somewhat akin to swimming in a vast ocean. The body vibrations have reached a new level. What used to be mostly fleeting buzzes has turned into pretty much a constant whole body shimmery vibration. One hour of Taizé prayer service is very intensifying. I can also see the shimmer in my visual field when I walk in nature sometimes.
I was in NM for vacation this summer and three times Native American images appeared to me during sleep: the thunderbird (pointing downward) twice and the cat once. Another night after the kriyas started, a spark blazed at the base of my spine a travelled upward a bit and fizzled out. I’ve never been particularly attracted to Native American culture, so the night imagery came as a bit of a surprise. Not sure what provoked the spark.
I had another dream not too long ago after CP meeting. A small altar appeared and above it hung a disproportionally large picture. I remember admiring its very ornate frame but could not see its image. I immediately began praying, “Lord God, Lamb of God…"The second I began praying I shifted into the billowy altered state (I don’t know exactly what to call it; it’s almost indescribable to me.) I told God I loved him and offered my life to Him, at which point, the perspective changed and I could see the picture, only it wasn’t a picture it was a mirror. I found the whole dream overwhelming on some level and avoided it, but a few days later I was brought to 2 Corinthians 3:18 “But we all with unveiled face, beholding as in a mirror the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image, from glory to glory, just as by the spirit of the Lord.” The next morning I opened an email to find a passage on St Clare of Assisi about the mirror of the Cross. And yet another mirror reference came a couple days after that.
Anyway, just a few highlights in the K journey from the last few months. Thanks for the space to share.
Thank you for the update, acuvdea, and apologies for the delayed response. I didn't receive email notification of this post until today.
One thing that strikes me is how your attentional interaction with the phenomena influences how you experience them. I, too, noticed the same years ago, and discovered how a simple, loving acceptance was optimal for integration. Fearful rejection, on the other hand, produces frightening consequences.
I think, too, you've come upon shamanistic phenomena as well, which is not surprising. This process activates deep, archetypal dispositions, which resonate with creation in many ways. Pursuing this direction is obviously not at the heart of the Christian spirituality, but one can see how a certain wisdom and guidance could be developed from the study of these relationships between the inner and outer aspects of reality.
Your continuing witness to how you journey with this process as a faithful Christian is helpful to me and to others, I'm sure. Thanks for your sharing.
I wish I could find a loving acceptance for the headaches and voracious appetite I have been experiencing. I don't seem to be satiated after eating, just more hungry.
I had another billowy dream last night, only the billows were white (usually they are purply) and they lit up the dream scene. At first I couldn't distinguish the images just movement and color, but as I began to focus, I saw a series of ancient cave etchings of various animals. Strangely the animal outlines were in fluorescent colors, pink, turquoise, orange, and they were so many of them layered on top of each other and moving around the little scene. I remember thinking what could this possibly mean, but I treated it instead as a distraction like in CP and returned to the sacred word. The light went dim, the billows stopped and I awoke shortly after. I was on silent CP retreat this last weekend, so I think CP mode has been on autopilot.
Anyway, I can't say that I have any interest in pursuing shamanic experiences, but yes, they are fascinatingly revealing from the accounts I have read, especially in the realm of healing. For now, I have plenty of other areas that hold my attention.
Acuveda, it does sound like CP practice has become deeply internalized. Some of the symbolism you describe sounds archetypal -- as in ancient mythologies. The K process does activates the deep unconscious, which is the source of this symbolism.
Regarding you headaches and appetite -- do you think it would help to cut back on CP practice a bit? Let things settle down, some?
I actually only go to CP once a week precisely because I don't want K overkill. I want to be able to sleep! The retreat was definitely an exception, and by Sunday morning I was feeling very light headed.
But I do go to mass every Sunday, so Sunday night is usually an active night. And then there is Eucharistic adoration once a week and all the spiritual readings for the program I am in. Of course I will want to go to the program for Our Lady of Fatima tomorrow...
I'm wondering if these activities speed up the process or just intensify it. I'm one of those types that when it comes to inevitable unpleasant things, I like to get them done and over with ASAP. I have a feeling it might not work that way here.
I had such a bad headache into Sunday night that had been active for over a week. I could barely sleep. At one point I remember tossing and turning and began praying, and specifically to be released from the pain. The "billows" had come as soon as I had started praying. Then I could feel them work through my head in waves, and after each wave the pain became less and I was able to sleep. When I woke up the headache was gone.
On the bright side though, I think I am becoming overall more non-reactive, more introspective and prayerful.
Sorry for the delay in responding.
Hard to say about intensifying and speeding up: sometimes I think it can help, but not if the intensification is a consequence of over-doing things spiritually. You are describing good fruit from the process, and that's what counts.
It seems that what you're calling "billows" is a mostly positive, healing experience of the process. I've never heard it described that way and am not sure I relate. It's usually waves of flowing bluish light that seem most healing for me, and I wonder if that's similar to what you're experiencing, too?
During CP, I see the dark amoeba-shaped small blob with radiant purple rays behind it. Then it starts to expand outward. When it's too big, a new blob appears and the pattern repeats like that in a very fluid, billowy way. Sometimes the white cloud is there behind the purple rays, sometimes the white cloud overtakes, but it still has that billowy fluidity to it--moving with different densities. I've also seen/felt the "white cloud" during prayer gatherings.
At night, the color isn't really prominent, but the billowy fluidity feel is. When it comes on, my consciousness changes to "awake", but I am asleep, which I know makes no sense. These episodes started during lent, when things were really intense, and I remember I had one that lasted the entire night. Some were starting the second my head hit the pillow. Even now, when I lay down for sleep, I immediately sense a peaceful presence, like after communion at Mass. So, I'm not sure what is really going on, but they haven't been negative in any way except my trying to "know" it. On the contrary, sometimes they initiate intense feeling for the love of God.
Thanks for the forum to share.
I can relate to much of what you share, here.
My sense is that this is all tied up with how brain waves are influencing the optical center of the brain -- these lights and flows are a visual representation of brain waves. Of course, that isn't saying much, as the brain wave combinations are the "interesting" part, especially how awareness is clarified and intensified in such states. So although the lights and flows are "concomitant," they seem to nontheless provide a medium, of sorts, to anchor one's awareness in contemplative silence. It all seems to work together unto healing and awakening.
Actually, in the light of Evelyn Underhill's phases of a Christian Mystic, this is the first signpost, "Phase 1 - Awakening". Being consciously aware while your mind and body are asleep means you have "Awakened to Self". Oddly, it first happened to me while I was driving down the freeway. An interesting experience <lol> This is also referred to as "Samadhi". Many have come to this signpost and thought they were "Enlightened or Illuminated", but not so.
The second phase is Recollection and Purgation (Purgatory) which actually occurs while you're in your physical body. It's the resolution of all those things that were done to you, for which you have not resolved those underlying issues. Think of it as psychotherapy or cognitive retraining. For me, this phase lasted 18 years before experiencing "Enlightenment" (Realization of God and God-Self). For others it goes much quicker. From the time of becoming Awakened forward, you'll be going through bio-energetic changes managed by Kundalini unless you decide to stop. Many do. Even after reaching the final phase of Unification, the energy re-make will continue until your earthly self is fully in alignment with your true Realized-Self (God-Self). I'm working through this phase now...
Holler if you have any questions. It took me years to get the answers, though experiences do tend to manifest somewhat differently for each.
Hi Les. Glad you were able to log on and post. Welcome to the forum.
We've had countless discussions about Self, enlightenment and stages of spiritual growth on this board through the years. There are many ways of imaging spiritual development, depending on whether one focuses on what's happening at the level of the will, awareness, moral life, and even psychological development.
I've come to understand the experience of waking up as a tuning in to the non-reflecting aspect of our human spiritual consciousness.
- see http://shalomplace.org/eve/for...72410135/m/241106781
- also http://shalomplace.com/view/godandi.html (free preview of 1st 3 chapters, which includes a lengthy discussion of Self).
Once one notices this, then one can shift out of reflecting, intentional consciousness at almost any time, except when there's emotional disturbance of some kind. I don't consider this experience a stage of union so much as a state of consciousness -- one that anyone can be taught to experience. A number of people have shared coming to this type of awakening on the forum.
I like the way you describe the goal of the kundalini process -- supporting and "engineering" a holistic union with God. That is an ongoing work in progress.
Thanks for the welcome Phil
As you know, finding labels to describe mystic experiences is challenging. I've spent countless hours over the last 40 years doing the same, though with the advent of the internet there is a great deal more material to draw from these days.
I like your terms 'Reflecting Consciousness' and 'Non-Reflecting Consciousness' as it eliminates the semantics of other labels used throughout the world that are not always cohesive. It's one of the reasons I liked Evelyn Underwood's research as she clearly defined 'Non-Reflecting Consciousness' as 'Awakened'. Ram (James Swartz) also likened it (Samadhi, non-reflecting consciousness) to a 'state of mind', although clearly separates it from Enlightenment...
"No samadhi is equivalent to Enlightenment because samadhis are only states of mind or no mind, no mind being a state of mind. [...] Samadhi is non-dual but unfortunately it is a state that can easily be destroyed. And there is no one there in that state, so when it ends one’s ignorance about the nature of one’s self is not removed and one experiences limitation once more." - Ram (James Swartz)
To be sure, in my own experience, Enlightenement/Illumination could never be confused with Awakened/Samadhi/Non-Reflective Consiousness. It was an absolute immersion in God, and the realization of my God-Self (my True Self). I haven't read through the material on the pages you reference yet, but it'll be interesting to compare my own experiences with other material on the site.
Les, we make a distinction between non-reflecting consciousness as something of a "natural" state, accessible to anyone, and contemplation, or mystical contemplation, which we cannot attain on our own, but which is a graced resting/immersion in God.
Underhill was well aware of the Christian mystical tradition and its various stages of prayer, especially as articulated by Sts. Teresa of Avila and John of the Cross. I read Mysticism years ago and thought it quite good, though I rarely hear her works referenced these days.
There's a lot about all this on this board and on our "sister site," http://innerexplorations.com My own book, God and I: Exploring the Connections Between God, Self and Ego (linked to in my post above) is my own effort to account for and describe a variety of spiritual states, including contemplative ones.
Looking forward to hearing more from you.
Evelyn's exhaustive posit is the only work I've read that fully accounted for my own experiences to date. I'm in the process of writing a short treatise but in brief...
1972 - Began Meditating
1975 - Awakened to Self
1975 - Recollection-Purgation (18yrs)
1994 - Enlightenment-Illumination (3yrs before Mortification phase)
1997 - Mortifications - Judgement (18yrs)
2008 - Unification phase began
...so 33yrs from Samadhi (non-reflecting consciousness state) to the beginning of the Unification phase (there was an overlap from 2008 to 2015 when Unification began as Judgement was winding down, so I suppose one could say 40yrs).
As concise as possible, during the Illumination/Enlightenment experience (December 1994)...
I was 'taken' (soul journey). It was more real than sitting here now (absolute and profound).
I saw God as I was being drawn in (vast formless form amidst a great void).
I merged with God, completely forgetting my 'Self'.
I then 'remembered' my real/complete 'Self' both as an individual aspect of God and AS God (no contradiction).
I understood that there is no "Other". All is God, of God, and God is in All.
I was then returned to the world of contrasts, this body, albeit with a whole new perspective (grossly understated).
You're right in that it is quite rare. I've come across a very few, and they usually recede into obscurity. I've also come across some who have fully realized Kundalini, but who have not become Illumined, and others who appear to have experienced Illumination, but don't mention Kundalini as part of their process. If true, then while the two appear to have close correlation, there may not be causation.
It brings to bear the conversation of Pantheism vs. Monotheism, though to my perspective there is no contradiction.
I'll download your book.
--LThis message has been edited. Last edited by: Les,
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