The Kundalini Process: A Christian Understanding
Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality
- by Philip St. Romain
Paperback and digital editions
I'd like to answer your question as best I can. When I sing or speak in tongues or begin to praise or say Jesus's name, I experience a downward flow of energy that comes down through the head into the heart and down through the rest of the body. It flows down the front part of my body. It seems to mostly be felt in the heart area. My heart becomes full and I feel love and devotion to God. This has a definite physical, emotional as well as devotional aspect to it. I can feel the energy spilling out into my surroundings. I equated this to the HS because after I first experienced it I began to speak in tongues soon after, and because it felt different then the upward flow of k. That was just an energy to me that flowed up my spine and didn't have a devotional aspect to it. I didn't worship it as a goddess. It was awakened through stilling the mind through use of a mantra and then repeating what I was told to be a sutra of Patangili (I'm not sure I'm spelling his name correctly).
Later, I came across two web sights, one Hindu and the other was Living Spirit Foundation. I was interested in trying to find people who shared my experience and both these sights spoke about the upward and downward flow of energy. The Hindu guru called both energies (upward and downward) k., whereas the woman from Living Spirit Foundation called the downward flow the HS. I said to myself, this was my experience. They both said that the downward flow was Devine and the upward flow was of a natural origin. This was also my belief about it.
It does puzzle me that it is the Christian belief that one can only receive the Holy Spirit through personally knowing Jesus and yet that wasn't my experience. Maybe the transmission I received was indirectly from him through this American woman Gangaji who had known Christ as a child. I was baptized as a child but did not know him personally, even as a young adult until much later.
The associate pastor at the church I first attended after coming to Christ believes I received the Holy Spirit outside of Christianity. She didn't express this in a very nice way. She chided me for not receiving it through Jesus, that Jesus was hurt by it. The thing is, I came to Christ shortly after receiving it. I became aware of Gangaji's short comings. It did change me. I came out of myself. I was more aware of other people's needs. I felt more freedom. I became acutely aware of my sins and went into a mental turmoil over them. Later, after turning to Jesus I confessed them all to him and felt relief.
It seems I am a mystery individual, although I know Jesus doesn't think that way. I don't fit into people's idea of how things should be. This is mainly the reason why I don't speak about this to people because I am a dilema to them and they don't know how to respond. I don't really fit into organized religion but I was drawn to go to church because I wanted to share my worship with others. I didn't know what true worship was until the Holy Spirit delivered me during my quiet time in the secret place from a deep emotional stress and I fell on my face and started worshipping the Trinity. I know this particular stress came from a past life because the vision I had during the deliverance was not from this life, so how to explain it? The Pentecostals would probably say it was a generational curse. I suppose that in a sense, a past life is sort of like an ancestor, but not really. It's things like this that make me wonder.
Thank you for your thoughtful response.
It's nice to talk with people who are not defensive and interested in dialoguing about these most profound and often confusing experiences. Plus mystical experiences are so beyond words most of the time, much gets lost in translation. I find myself needing to go through several iterations with folks to feel understood or to understand, though not perfectly most of the time.
It's rather funny that you'd be chided and told you didn't receive the HS from Jesus. They're the same Person. Who else could send you the Holy Spirit?
Back to the question of equating shakti with the HS. Yes, I did get that you were distinguishing upward flow/k. from downward flow of energy. My point is why would you call the downward flow 'shakti' since it's meaning is very different than the HS. Solomae did teach about downward flow, but she would never call that Shakti, only the Holy Spirit. So it appears it was Gangaji's teaching upon which you are equating shakti with the Divine Holy Spirit. She called downward flow, Shakti, which she calls Divine, right?
It seems you received the gift on tongues in the context of some Gangaji-related activity, right? So this is the confusion, if I'm understanding you correctly.
About not fitting into organized religions...yes, I'm pretty sure most active member of this forum feel this way! myself included. We're a motley crew!
A number of folks here have had visions/experiences that suggest reincarnation. I'm a Catholic and know the Church frowns on this type of thinking, but at one time I believed I had had past lives. I came to question my experiences later when I realized that I had been heavily influenced by folks who who strongly believed this and wondered how much of my experiences were just contaminations from their 'energetic field' or something like that. You bring up an intersting issue of deliverance from generational curses as possibly coming from the imprint of one's own past life. We have a thread on reincarnation and one on deliverance if you want to pursue further.
peace to you!
Great exchanges, Shasha and Jasalerno. Thank you.
Jasalerno wrote: It does puzzle me that it is the Christian belief that one can only receive the Holy Spirit through personally knowing Jesus. . .
That would be a very narrow understanding of the Spirit, Whose fruits are on open display in other world religions and even in the secular realm. What we can say is that the Spirit has an orientation to Jesus and longs to bring forth theotic transformation (sanctification) in all of us. When one comes to faith in Christ, then one's mind, will and identity become more deeply and consciously embedded in Him, thus enabling a quickening of the activity of the Spirit within. Whether this intensity activates a kundalini arousal/awakening is a whole other question; it is not necessary that this happen for ongoing growth in grace. In general, there doesn't seem to be a particular direction (up or down) from which the Spirit comes; what seems more significant is the quality of life brought by the Spirit, and you seem very much attuned to that. I think Shasha has made some good points, too, about a distinction between Shakti and Spirit, the latter being a more personal, relational love. (btw, Shasha, they're the same God, but different Persons -- probably what you meant to say).
Shasha has shared somewhere her experience with Solomae Sananda and Living Spirit Foundation, and I've written a bit on it as well:
- see http://shalomplace.org/eve/for...?r=32310006#32310006
Seems things started out well, with some good discernments and distinctions being made, then came the formation of disciples/ministers, property issues, etc.
Also some dabbling with prophecies about the future:
All just fyi, and not intending to disparage the good that has been done by Solomae and LSF (which exists no more, apparently), at one time. Once one drifts too far from orthodox Christian perspectives, it seems the next step is a gnosticism of some kind (e.g., "Gospel of the Holy Twelve," special people in the "know," levels of spiritual attainment, dark spirits (Ahriman) standing in the way, etc.)
Yes, thank you for predicting my thoughts.
Speaking of needing multiple iterations for understanding...i gotta proof-read my stuff, that would help.
I thought for sure I submitted a post in reply to Shasha last night, but maybe I forgot to hit the post button. If my post was deleted intentionally you can let me know that. I won't be upset. I just would like to know if I should re-submit it or whether you didn't think my answer was appropriate. Thank you.
Oops! There is my response. I thought I hadn't submitted it.
I do think the Holy Spirit is different from kundalini, but what I'm not sure of is whether shakti is different than the Holy Spirit when it has opened the higher centers and one experiences unity a love for God. Hindus don't use the term Holy Spirit. They call both the Holy Spirit and kundalini, shakti. I was reading something about this subject from a Hindu guru named Ruchira Avatar Adi Da Sajraj:
“The first (and most commonly known) tradition associated with the Kundalini Shakti is founded upon the bodily point of view, and it is associated with the ascent of the natural energies of the physical, etheric and lower mental (or lesser psychic) dimensions of the human body mind self.”
“The commonly known (or lesser) tradition of the Kundalini Shakti is associated with self applied Yogic techniques (of bodily exercises, breath exercises, exercises of mental concentration, and so on) that are intended to raise up the natural energies associated with the lower physical personality Thus, those Yogic techniques are generally associated, first, with efforts to arouse the natural energy that is otherwise locked into the base of the body (at the lower end of the spinal column, at and above the perineum, and at the sexual center, and in the entire general region of the abdomen, including the navel area, and the solar plexus), and, second, with efforts to raise (and to progressively refine and expand) that energy (or those energies), upwards, via the ascending hierarchy of the various key centers of the spinal line (toward and to the primary centers in the head), until (eventually) the ascending energy flow is released (above the brain and the mind and the total crown of the head) to the most ascended Source Condition (in fifth stage conditional Nirvakalpa Samadhi). And, in the course of that ascending (advanced fourth stage, and fifth stage) process, many symptoms of the partially ascended Kundalini Shakti may progressively appear (in the form of Yogic developments of a physical and, then, progressively more purely psychic, or fully psycho physical, kind). And such signs may include not only various Yogic powers (or siddhis), and many visions, auditions, and so forth (progressively Revealing the hierarchical levels of the psycho physical structure of Man and the Cosmos), but they may also include various (either brief or long-term) Yogic diseases (or symptoms indicating either processes of psycho-physical purification or a misdirection of the natural energies associated with the Yogic process).”
“The second (and senior, although less commonly known) tradition associated with the Kundalini Shakti is the tradition of Kundalini Shaktipat, which is the process of the descent and circulation of the cosmically manifested Divine Power. And this tradition is of Divine origin. That is to say, this tradition is not the product of human psycho physical efforts to achieve the Divine Condition (or any higher knowledge and psycho physical powers), but it has appeared spontaneously (descended from above), Given by the Divine (directly), and Transmitted via various lineage's of Yogic Siddha Masters: In the domain of popular religion, this Kundalini Shaktipat tradition is represented, for example, in the legend of the Spiritual Baptism of Jesus of Nazareth by John the Baptist (in which case, the “Holy Spirit” is said to have descended upon the head of Jesus “like a dove”, or in other words, from above, and from and As God.)”
“Also, the senior tradition of the Kundalini Shakti is associated with a process in the total Circle of the body mind (including both the frontal line and the spinal line). This is because the descending and circulating Spirit Power moves in the total natural circuit of the body mind. Thus, the descending and circulating Spirit Power first enters the frontal line, where the foundation work of opening and purifying the physical, the etheric, the emotional, and the mental (or general psychic) personality must he accomplished. Then, potentially, once the frontal line is sufficiently purified (or, at least, sufficiently surrendered and opened) to allow the descending Kundalini Shakti to turn about at the bodily base, the Kundalini Shakti spontaneously begins the upward Yogic course. Thus, because the true process Generated by Kundalini Shaktipat Works first in the frontal line and then (potentially) in the spinal line, the Kundalini Shaktipat tradition actually begins in the Event of the truly Spiritual Initiation of the "basic" fourth stage of life (and, potentially, to some possible degree, even in the rudimentary Spiritual context of the "original" stage, or foundation stage, of the fourth stage of life), and, thereafter (in due course), it continues (potentially) in the "advanced" fourth stage of life and the fifth stage of life. But the lesser tradition of the Kundalini Shakti is based on a system of Yogic philosophy that idealizes Yogic ascent (not descent), and, therefore, the lesser tradition of the Kundalini Shakti (and the derivative traditions of "ascending Yoga" in general) is associated with systems and techniques of practice that are intended to strategically develop the ascending Yogic process in the context of the 'advanced" fourth stage of life and the fifth stage of life, thus (in general) bypassing (or, at least, minimizing) the foundation Yogic Ordeal associated with the 'original" and the 'basic" fourth stage of life. (And, as a result of this bypass, the lesser tradition of the Kundalini Shakti, and the various, and variant, traditions of 'ascending Yoga", such as "Kriya Yoga" and 'Shabd Yoga", that are derived from the generalized tradition of Kundalini Shakti Yoga, are often associated with a point of view that would achieve extreme detachment, or strategic dissociation from the body mind and the conditional world, and, otherwise, in general, with programs of practice that do not pay sufficient practice, time to preparing the right and effective foundation that must precede Yogic activities in the context of the "advanced" fourth stage of life and the fifth stage of life, if the potential ascending Yogic process is itself to develop truly, rightly, and fully.)”
As you can see he uses the term Kundalini Shakti for the natural energy that uncoils from the bottom of the spine as well as the descending energy from the Divine that Christians call the Holy Spirit. I don't know if they are the same or not. I tend to think they are. I don't know if the transmission I received from Gangaji was shaktipat. She just called it a transmission. I do believe I received the Holy Spirit due to this transmission because I began to speak in tongues a few weeks or maybe a month after that.
Regarding this deliverance I had where I felt it was releasing something from a past life, I don't know for sure, that was just the impression I got. It had a profound effect on me because it resulted in my first experience of real worship.
This reminds me about where it says in the bible that John the Baptist was Elijah. If you take it literally then it points to reincarnation. I know that it is generally not taken literally. Some people think passages in the bible concerning reincarnation were removed by the Roman priests, but I don't know if this is true.
When I get a chance I will read the posts you suggest.
Thank you for your belief concerning my comment about not being able to receive the HS accept thru Jesus. You are much more open minded than most Christians. I did feel a deepening of Spirit thru knowing Jesus because of his unconditional love and because of who he is. However, cannot a Hindu also feel this thru knowing, say Krishna? I know someone who had a similar experience with Krishna as I had with Jesus. (The bride and the groom). He pursued her until she surrendered to him.
I like those distinctions between the two movements, and calling one natural and the other "senior" process. And I agree that it doesn't help to use the term "Kundalini Shakti" for both (of course that just means "Kundalini Energy," so why not, I guess?). But, at least there's some kind of discrimination going on, based on the direction of flow and the kinds of effects produced. Where I would raise more questions, however, is with Ruchira Avatar Adi Da Sajraj's point that this tradition is of Divine origin. That is to say, this tradition is not the product of human psycho physical efforts to achieve the Divine Condition (or any higher knowledge and psycho physical powers), but it has appeared spontaneously (descended from above), Given by the Divine (directly), and Transmitted via various lineage's of Yogic Siddha Masters. So he's clearly saying that shaktipat transmission communicates awakening to the divine or "senior" flow, and I think that needs to be discerned much more carefully. I say this because people who've received shaktipat from various masters have gone on to have it turn out badly, or even open them up to dark forces. As Swami Muktananda put it, "shaktipat is the energy of the guru," and that is what is transmitted. Unless this guru is a very pure vessel (like Christ) one will receive via the transmission something of the guru's own brokenness and darkness as well; his/her energy will interact with and configure one's own accordingly (this is even possible with reiki, btw). That might be part of what went on in your experience with Gangaji.
I think we discussed some of these points on the reincarnation thread. Biblical scholars generally understand this statement of Jesus to mean that John has come in the same "prophetic spirit" as Elijah. The Judaism of Jesus' time would have found it inconceivable that a soul come to occupy different bodies at different times; most of them didn't even consider body and soul separate as we do today. The point about reincarnation passages being removed from the Bible by the Church has no validity; that just wasn't the metaphysical framework of the Jewish-Christian leaders of the early Church. A later theologian, Origen, speculated about reincarnation (of a sorts - metempsychosis) but the teaching was not accepted. For Christians, the resurrection itself came to be seen as an affirmation of the essential unity between body and person/soul.
You're welcome. The point I expressed is held by Catholic and most mainline Protestant scholars. Too bad evangelicals and fundamentalist Christians make more noise about all this.
Re. Krishna -- the woman's experience speaks for itself. Personally, I don't believe Krishna (if he lived at all -- doubtful) is any where near on the same level as Christ, but God does make use of our cultural conditioning and its symbols to draw us closer. Perhaps in time she will cast off the "type" for the reality.
Wonderful to have you dialoging about this stuff. I was about to respond in depth to your last post, but Phil said everything almost exactly as I was thinking. Thanks, Phil, for predicting my thoughts again.
I've got a huge project up ahead so won't be able to respond quickly to our discussion, but please continue on...
much peace to you,
Thank you for sharing your thoughts. I'm interested to know what you feel about laying on of hands. Pentecostals believe that the Spirit is working through them and not them passing on their own energy.
Yes, that would be the case if their prayer were truly motivated by charisms (spiritual gifts) of healing, intercession, mercy, etc. I'd draw a distinction between these interventions and something like shaktipat, which, in the Christian tradition, has its closest corollary with the Sacrament of Confirmation.
I was reading your posts, but unable to respond, because I've had much work recently (and still do...:/).
I understand and resonate with what you wrote about in your first post - that there isn't many people you can talk to about it. I experience quite often a kind of aloneness or loneliness due to some experiences that can't be expressed, conveyed, even shared with others. I sympathize with what you've been through in terms of your encounter with that pastor who told you that Jesus was hurt by the fact that you received HS not through Him... yeah, sure, through WHO then...?! - as Shasha and Phil pointed out.
I don't understand fully relationships between all those flow of energies and have no knowledge to discern - even Phil isn't always sure...;-) But it seems to me that you clearly distinguish between the natural flow of k and the transforming event that led you to Jesus.
I don't think that all downward flows are necessarily the activity of the HS, but the HS uses all kinds of energies - also natural in a supernatural fashion - so it seems to me, at least - so e.g. in my case natural k activity accompanies often supernatural activity of the HS: not always.
But devotion to/with Jesus is a clear sign of the presence of the HS who cries in us: Abba, Father.
My history is a bit different than yours, but I think that I received a gift of contemplation even before I was a conscious Christian, devoted to Jesus. It was rather, in my case, that the gift of contemplation which was given to me via mantra meditation, turned me towards Jesus, and then my devotion to Jesus helped me receive more and more grace. But I know cases where Jesus/God comes to people even if they are atheists as a loving presence - it's their choice to follow or not, but Jesus seemed to be more interested in the sinners and sick, than in the saints and healthy, during His life on this earth. So I think He loves to come to us, when we are outside of the Church or looking our own way, and to call us, invite us, or just be with us in love - it's our choice what to do with this invitation for the divine "party". You followed His voice and you share with us the beautiful fruits of it. Thank you for your decision!
What struck me the most is your devotion to the Trinity you mention. I had a time in my spiritual life when I had an intense love relationship with Jesus, with the Beloved. I think that the devotees to Krishna might have even supernatural experiences of that kind. But a great breakthrough in my spiritual life, which happened in December, was that through my love to Jesus God revealed me finally His Nature as the Three Persons. I think this is the sign of the deep baptism in Spirit - that we believe and see, and love the mystery that our God is the Three. After all, this is the baptismal formula: in the name of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit. You received the grace of recognizing the Trinity which for me is a special sign of the authenticity of your experience of the Spirit. I resonate with it deeply, because now I cannot think about a "monotheistic" God anymore - there's always the Trinity or distinct Persons in my life now.
I pray Jesus lead you more and more into His mysteries. He led me to the Church and taught me most of the things I know about God. I pray that He reveals Himself, His FAther and His Spirit to you, Jasalerno, in still new and mysterious ways.
You'll be in my prayers.
There's a big difference between dealing with this issue philosophically/theologically and experientially, and our discussions here sometimes slide from one to the other, which is to be expected (inasmuch as philosophical/theological evaluations take their cues from experience). Experientially, it often does seem that the various energies at work within us are so intermingled that it's difficult to tell where one kind ends and the other begins. Small wonder St. Ignatius kept the focus of discernment simple, recognizing "good spirits" that move us toward deeper faith, hope, love, integration, etc., and "evil spirits" that lead in the opposite direction. Such an approach need not concern itself much with whether it is primarily kundalini or the Holy Spirit at work, but is more pragmatic in its focus.
The distinctions I've made between K and HS are based primarily on two sources: one, how the literature speaks of these, and secondly, from my own experience. What I've noticed (especially in quiet prayer) is that there are various energies/forces drawing me to deeper silence/resting, and that I can give myself over to one or the other, with different consequences ensuing. Obviously, I'm not referring to thoughts, imaginings, visions, emotions, memories, etc., which don't lead to deeper resting, and so the "pull" to apophatic rest is another kind of inner dynamic. Contemplative graces, as we know, communicate a loving, relational presence, even when it is deeply hidden or obscure. We know that we are not alone; there is a sense of "being-with" that is unmistakeable. I've been accustomed that that kind of contemplative rest since around 1975, so when the kundalini process shifted gears in about 1986 or so, I was able to detect another kind of energy or force at work as well. Although not in conflict with contemplative graces, it seemed that this other energy was of a different quality -- more dense, even somewhat somatic -- and that its pull was to a different kind of rest, in which I was simply awake at a very deep level, with a whole new world of light and sound before me. When I shifted my attention to this energy, it seemed to become stronger, but when I turned toward God in some kind of explicit act of faith, or praying the first few lines of the Lord's prayer, the energy became "contextualized" and lost something of its force. Nevertheless, I've had a very clear sense, at times, that I was to give myself over to it, allowing it to do its own mysterious work of purification, though I was not to confuse it with contemplative graces. And so it has been for over 20 years now, with some quiet times being predominantly contemplative rest (with intermittent glossalalia), and others being kundalini rest. Sometimes in prayer I'll go from one back to the other; I never know in advance which way it will go. I always do consecrate my time to the leadings of the Spirit and figure whatever comes of it will be for the good. If there is no inner guidance or draw to any kind of rest, I simply wait, doing lectio divina or some other active prayer form until such movement comes.
Thank you for your post.
"My history is a bit different than yours, but I think that I received a gift of contemplation even before I was a conscious Christian, devoted to Jesus. It was rather, in my case, that the gift of contemplation which was given to me via mantra meditation, turned me towards Jesus, and then my devotion to Jesus helped me receive more and more grace. But I know cases where Jesus/God comes to people even if they are atheists as a loving presence - it's their choice to follow or not, but Jesus seemed to be more interested in the sinners and sick, than in the saints and healthy, during His life on this earth. So I think He loves to come to us, when we are outside of the Church or looking our own way, and to call us, invite us, or just be with us in love - it's our choice what to do with this invitation for the divine "party". You followed His voice and you share with us the beautiful fruits of it. Thank you for your decision!"
Mantra meditation didn't turn me toward Jesus, but it did make me want to broaden my horizons. I was drawn to want to read the bible all the way through. I had never done this previously. I didn't have the desire. I was brought up a Christian in the Congregational Church, but it didn't seem to inspire me, so when I left home I stopped going to church. It wasn't until after many years in the TM movement and a short time with this teacher Gangaji that I began to investigate Christianity again. I felt mislead by these two teachers and finally called on Jesus and he answered me. Before that, as a child and teenager, I didn't know you could know Jesus personally. I didn't know what the HS was. It was knowing Jesus that really turned me around. My church didn't help me go below the surface, teach about contemplation, how to contact Jesus. It seems like a basic thing that every church should offer, but most don't. I think it was partly that I just wasn't ready.
"You received the grace of recognizing the Trinity which for me is a special sign of the authenticity of your experience of the Spirit. I resonate with it deeply, because now I cannot think about a "monotheistic" God anymore - there's always the Trinity or distinct Persons in my life now."
Yes, this knowing the Trinity through direct experience was a very important step for me. But, I have also experienced the Trinity as one, where I was lost in that, where everything was all inclusive. I don't know if you have read Bernadette Robert's books. She helped validate some of my experiences in contemplation. Although with her, she lives it daily, and so it seems that is the case with Phil, no ego, no affective thoughts, for example, where I don't live this. I have some health problems I am dealing with and also issues of fear. It seems like I haven't fully surrendered to my situation, the ego still has dominance accept in contemplation. This is the area where I need prayer, to receive that peace. I have experienced this a few times in daily life, so I know what it is. Its different then having total faith in Jesus, although faith may be a prerequiste. With faith you must be always vigulant in not straying away, whereas this spontaneous kind of peace is just there. Anybody have any comments on this?
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