The Kundalini Process: A Christian Understanding
Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality
- by Philip St. Romain
Paperback and digital editions
I was reading an article titled "Late Twentieth Century Revivals."
In 1979, Rodney Howard-Browne had what definitely sounds like a kundalini awakening. After praying intensively and uninhibitedly for twenty minutes, "he felt engulfed in the fire of God, was totally overwhelmed, weeping, laughing, and praying in tongues."
The next year, 1980, it sounds like he accidentally zapped a woman with shaktipat. He says: "It felt like my fingertips came off, and out of my hand flowed a full volume of the anointing and the power of God."
That made me wonder what the connection is between kundalini and shaktipat. I'm pretty sure I've heard those two terms linked before, though I've never heard shaktipat explained in Western terms.
What he's doing today has been compared with a stage hypnotist rather than with shaktipat (Hank Hanegraaff, "The Counterfeit Revival: Modern-Day Mesmerists"). His habit of suddenly shouting "Fire!" at people looks a bit like the hypnotist's "shock induction" technique (YouTube demonstrations here and here).
That made me wonder in turn if shaktipat and hypnosis are related in some way.
Have you ever thought about these questions?
A paper by Ewelina Nyske  draws out the similarities between shaktipat and pentecostalism.
Her main argument compares the symptoms of shaktipat with the symptoms observed at pentecostal meetings. Her list of shaktipat symptoms comes from a book by Ravindra Kumar and Jytte Kumar Larsen. The list of pentecostal symptoms comes from Margaret M. Poloma's study of the Toronto Blessing.
I have to say, there are many points of similarity.
By contrast, she notes that the weird behaviors seen at some pentecostal meetings are nothing like the fruits of the spirit given in Galatians 5:22–23.
She further notes procedural similarities between a shaktipat initiation and a healing service. These are summarized in a graphic on page 157.
I don't know about some of Nyske's minor points. For example, was being slain the spirit really originated by Kathryn Kuhlman?
But overall, I think her argument is sound.
Among her conclusions is that "further research is necessary" to understand how these things really work.
 Ewelina Nyske, "Is the Holy Spirit confused with Kundalini Shakti during many healing ministries? The comparative study of spiritual manifestations among Christian charismatics and the followers of Hinduism," Przegląd Religioznawczy, vol. 276 no. 2, October 2020, pp. 147–163.
J.J. Semple had a kundalini awakening in the early 70s and actually traveled to India to meet Gopi Krishna in 1977. Forty years after his kundalini awakening, he published his book The Biology of Consciousness. 
Like Gopi Krishna, Semple sees kundalini as "evolutionary." I don't agree with that classification, since no one has yet demonstrated that kundalini awakening has any survival value, either for yourself or for your genetic offspring. For me, the value of Semple's book is the nine case studies he includes.
These demonstrate the variety of ways in which kundalini can be awakened. The possible triggers include meditation, hallucinogens, and eye-gazing.
From the point of view of this thread, the first case study is the most important, since it deals with shaktipat. The chapter also illustrates one problem with kundalini awakening. Following his kundalini experience, the individual in the case study spent two years sitting around doing nothing. It was a complete waste of two years of his life. Semple highlights this issue of lack of follow-up for people who experience kundalini awakening. Even the Indian tradition, which supposedly draws on thousands of years of experience, is either unwilling or unable to provide appropriate support.
The amount of variation in the triggers demonstrates that you would need to have a pretty broad understanding of human neuropsychology to come up with a comprehensive explanation for kundalini and shaktipat. I don't think that understanding even exists yet, no matter how much I search!
I think it was from your book, Phil, that I got the understanding of kundalini as "basic bioenergy." This basic bionenergy gets repressed very early in life. Then, by any one of a number of triggers, the homeostasis can be disrupted and repressed bioenergy bursts forth. That's fine for my own purposes as a working theory, but none of it is measurable or confirmable, to my knowledge.
 J.J. Semple, The Biology of Consciousness: Case Studies in Kundalini (Bayside, Calif.: Life Force Books, 2014).
Great topic, Derek, demonstrating how kundalini is a complicated process to understand and account for. I gave it my best shot in my Kundalini Process book, linked at top of page, but it is still a stammering. You have to do quite a bit of either/or - both/and affirming to get a handle on things.
Here's a bit from my book on shaktipat and pentecostalism.
One thing I have noticed is that praying in tongues stimulates the kundalini process in people who have experienced activation. It most likely leads to activation as well, and I believe it played such a role in my own experience. The synchrony between sound syllables and breath creates an inner vibration that seems to both intensify and harmonize the energies of the soul. I’ve wondered about the depth from which tongues emerge, as it is far deeper than thought, and in light of the framework articulated in this book, I am inclined to say that it emerges from the Ground of Being under the influence of the Spirit. When it happens like that, any energies that are stirred up will also be balanced and harmonized. If, however, one pushes too hard and persists in speaking in tongues beyond the movement of grace, it could intensify energy in an unhealthy way — and, yes, this kind of willfulness is possible, though not common, I suspect.
There is a shaktipat dynamic at work in pentecostalism, as noted in other parts of this book. The laying on of hands to request Spirit baptism is somewhat like yogic shaktipat, but is also different in that those praying are asking God, or Christ, or the Spirit to move through them to bless another person. These pray-ers offer themselves as a channel through which God can work rather than as the source of the spark of energy transmitted.
Once the kundalini process is activated, it continues to do its work, and evidence of this can be seen in charismatics. All of the symptoms and movements described in Chapters 1 and 6 can be noted, at times, though the severity generally seems to be reduced. That is because the gift of tongues emerges when things get too stuck to help them flow along and balance out. Still, there can be difficult times for pentecostals, as anyone who continues to grow spiritually will be led to the Dark Nights of the Soul that St. John of the Cross discussed in his classical work. In very extreme cases, where worship might go on an on, kundalini activation can become very discomfiting for awhile. There have been numerous accounts of this on my discussion forum, and I have experienced this as well.
The relationship between pentecostalism and kundalini requires more investigation than I can provide in this work. My hunch is that most pentecostals would probably be resistant to understanding kundalini activation as part of what’s going on in their experiences, but I also hope that they do not believe that they are somehow exempt from the dynamic of “grace acting upon nature,” as St. Thomas Aquinas put it. Pentecostalism is likely the safest and most effective approach to awakening and integrating kundalini process in the Christian religion, especially if it is accompanied by theological/biblical studies and attention to psychological issues. I don’t know where I’d be without the gift of tongues and dare not even speculate. Indeed, I can’t imagine life without either of these gifts, and thank God for them. My hope is that others who struggle with kundalini integration will look into the Charismatic Movement to see how they might be blessed by it as well.
Re "demonstrating how kundalini is a complicated process to understand and account for" -- Yes. Jana Dixon has done the most detailed theorizing on the biology of kundalini to my knowledge, but she admits that despite the sophistication of her explanations, they remain just speculation.
Re "praying in tongues stimulates the kundalini process" -- I don't know about sound vibrations, but the second part of your explanation makes sense. Stirring up repressed energies that are deeper than the rational mind facilitates the disruption of homeostasis
Re "The relationship between pentecostalism and kundalini requires more investigation" -- Yes! I am experiencing a sudden burst of renewed interest in this subject.
Re "Pentecostalism is likely the safest and most effective approach to awakening and integrating kundalini process in the Christian religion" -- My concern about pentecostalism is that people don't really understand what they're doing. They misattribute purely psychological processes to divine intervention. As you say, they don't want to hear the bad news that this is all just kundalini.
I don't know if our favorite author ever uses the word "kundalini," but she does discuss kundalini-like and siddhi-like experiences. This is from the chapter on Phase VI in book two:
"Suddenly, in this phase, there was a movement in the center, deep inexplicable rumblings which gave me the idea of an impending explosion. When the thermostat was turned up, there came with it an energy never encountered before, a problematic energy in that it gave rise to a rash of extraordinary experiences, such as mind over matter, levitation, out-of-the-body experiences, foreknowledge, knowledge of others, and even the possibility of healing. Whatever the nature of these energies, it was obvious they wanted to reach to the outside and find expression. I felt I was about to be used as a medium for these powers, and what this meant, I had no idea."
She eventually came to the conclusion that these energies were not of God, but were the self acting as a mask or filter for God. "Although God is the ultimate source of all energy, the self has a tendency to misuse it for its own ignorant purposes."
Perhaps this capacity for selfish misuse is why so many pentecostal preachers and Eastern gurus alike have gone off the rails. They believe there is something godly about that which is ungodly. Unlike BR, they do not see through the deception.
Yes, I remember trying to talk to BR about that, inquiring if it could be understood as kundalini phenomena. She dismissed it, saying she'd never experienced a snake going up her spine. When I tried to offer a broader perspective on kundalini, she dismissed that, too. Gosh, I miss her!
Jim Arraj has a few good articles on charismatic phenomena and the psyche. Here's one.
I think it's the same either/or - both/and discernments that need to be held together, here. An experience of God via pentecostalism, centering prayer, etc. reverberates through our human organism/psyche/spirit interconnectivity. One extreme would be to say that any such experiences are "merely psychological" or "liberated chi moving freely;" another would be to identify the phenomena as evidence or proof of the Spirit. The Catholic mystical tradition has been careful in this regard, recognizing the Spirit's activity more in terms of gifts and fruits than energies and psychic phenomena, many of which are considered concomitant. To the experiencer, however, they seem to go together, with the energies and charismata charged in some manner with divine presence, which may well be the case.
Considerations like these come up at times in spiritual direction, less with charismatics these days (the movement has been on the downswing for years), but more with people doing contemplative practices, east and west. It's why we make the big bucks.
Your "both/and" explanation makes sense now that I've contemplated BR's model. The divine is, as it were, being masked or filtered through the self. Both are involved.
I've done less reading on hypnosis, so to try to get at the essence of it, I turned to Wikipedia. The key characteristics of hypnosis are "focused attention, reduced peripheral awareness, and an enhanced capacity to respond to suggestion." 
In wondering what hypnosis might have in common with shaktipat, what I see they share is that they both leave you vulnerable. In hypnosis, you're vulnerable to suggestions coming from outside. After a sudden and unexpected kundalini awakening, your cognitive structures have been shattered by new experiences, and so again you're vulnerable to outside influences.
In both cases, this vulnerability includes being particularly vulnerable to covert psychological manipulation. You don't have your wits about you.
So if an authority figure tells you that these unexplained pleasurable experiences are due to the activity of God, you're likely to believe them. And this makes you easier to exploit, for the selfish benefit of the preacher/guru/hypnotist.
BR appears to be talking about this same co-opting of divine energies by the self in her November/December 1986 interview with Yoga Journal. 
Her take on it here is that we assume an archetype of the collective unconscious -- "savior, prophet, healer, martyr," etc. We think this archetype is our God-given role, whereas in fact it is just another disguise of the self.
Here is what she said to Yoga Journal:
"The major temptation to be overcome in this period is the temptation to fall for one of the subtle but powerful archetypes of the collective consciousness. As I see it, in the transforming process we only come to terms with the archetypes of the personal unconscious; the archetypes of the collective consciousness are reserved for individuals in the state of oneness, because those archetypes are powers or energies of that state. Jung felt that these archetypes were unlimited; but in fact, there is only one true archetype, and that archetype is self. What is unlimited are the various masks or roles self is tempted to play in the state of oneness -- savior, prophet, healer, martyr, Mother Earth, you name it. They are all temptations to seize power for ourselves, to think ourselves to be whatever the mask or role may be. In the state of oneness, both Christ and Buddha were tempted in this manner, but they held to the 'ground' that they knew to be devoid of all such energies. This ground is a 'stillpoint,' not a moving energy-point. Unmasking these energies, seeing them as ruses of the self, is the particular task to be accomplished or hurdle to be overcome in the state of oneness. We cannot come to the ending of self until we have finally seen through these archetypes and can no longer be moved by any of them."
Back to the subject of the thread -- this is a plausible explanation for why shaktipat-dispensing gurus so often become demonic. They think these energies are divine, whereas in fact they are fatally tinged with selfishness.
Derek, I've written at length about kundalini activation dynamics in chapter 6 of my kundalini perspectives book. A couple of quotes that might shed light on the hypnosis possibility:
. . . I have noted that it shares one characteristic with many other accounts of kundalini activation, namely: apophatic experience. By this, I am referring to a manner of prayer and meditation that goes beyond words and symbols of any kind — an opening to deep, non-conceptual silence. Apophatic spirituality is contrasted with kataphatic spirituality, which makes use of words, concepts, symbols, images, etc. in one’s approach to God. I have always made use of this pathway, too, and consider it essential to the proper formation of thought and, hence, consciousness. It is also a means of contact with God, who is willing to communicate to us through the medium of created forms. Of course, not everyone who practices apophatic spirituality evidences kundalini activation, but almost everyone who has active kundalini has been involved with apophatic practice. The correlation is very strong!
Examples of apophatic disciplines include centering prayer, zen meditation, TM, vipassana, breathing prayer, the Jesus Prayer, Christian Meditation, and speaking in tongues.
Hypnosis shares many of the characteristics of apophatic experience in its relaxed, receptive attentional state.
What happens to our energies when we spend more and more time in deep silence? Without the formative influence of thought, where does energy go, and what does it do?
In many cases, it seems that energy continues to flow within along the patterns established by our usual habits of mind and will. These, in turn, are the fruit of regular spiritual practice. So, in most cases, all is well, and when/if the energy seems to begin to become disruptive, then it’s easy enough to back off on time spent in apophatic meditation and resume normal activities. In such cases, we can speak of an intensified and integrated kundalini dynamic, or even an integrated activation.
Of course, it's not always so nice and smooth, and the book then goes into those possibilities, too.
As for shaktipat: A new “normal” of internal energy dynamics becomes established. It’s as though the voltage of the human energy system is being raised from 110 to 220, with consequences similar to what we observe when we do this with electrical wiring: eventually, things will “heat up,” with pneumatic vibration resounding through the levels of psyche and organism as well.
We can communicate this more intense energy to others via touch or thought, and perhaps give their system a spark or push in the process. In responsible religious traditions, "When the time is right, the teacher leads the seeker in a special ritual, and imparts shaktipat to quicken the energy in the student. This might consist of laying on of hands, a touch to the forehead, a short slap on the side of the face, or even a non-physical touch using the mind. But the point is, that shaktipat is usually administered with discretion, and only to those who are ready for the changes in energy dynamics it ignites."
As for BR, I don't know that she has much to contribute to this discussion. It seems that, for her, "self" is always something to be transcended, and any kind of spiritual experience is really, mostly, an experience of self. So if you feel God's love, it is self that is feeling it and not really God's love. The whole point of her witness if to say that she no longer has any such experiences, and has moved beyond self to "know" what is beyond it -- namely, the divine's own experience of itself. That's quite a claim! Then, from such a vantage point, she presumes to revise Christian doctrines, especially in "The Real Christ."
- oh, and Jesus did accept the title of "Messiah," didn't he? Caught up in an archetype?
I think you're on to something when you highlight the "relaxed, receptive attentional state." Hypnosis and contemplation both seem to gather around this area.
Your analogy of raising the voltage from 110 to 220 reminds me of BR's analogy of the thermostat being raised prior to the emergence of kundalini and the siddhis.
I don't know what to make of BR's more advanced stages. Perhaps this is because I haven't experienced her viewpoint for myself. But I think her idea that every experience so far turns out to be a self-experience need not distract us here. If the three phenomena I mentioned (kundalini, shaktipat, and hypnosis) are all within the realm of a self that will ultimately be transcended, then so be it.
Her idiosyncratic Christology is another issue.
This message has been edited. Last edited by: Agape Love,
Thanks for the update, Agape Love. Lots going on with you, but it sounds like you've come upon some helpful therapies. Those that can gently and safely help to release trauma sound most promising, and might address some of the issues you continue to struggle with.
It sounds like you have a deep sensitivity to sound, and how this influences energy movement. I find that to be one of the most helpful ways to not only help stimulate the energy and integrate it, but to pray as well. In my own life, I stay away from sound meditations that seem to be more about stimulating energy, preferring instead those that are prayerful. Gregorian Chant, in particular, can be soothing and helpful.
Don't know what to say about the whole astological age ideas, nor about DNA bioweapons. I wish we had more participation here to interact with you about these topics, but it seems many have moved on to social media of different types. Feel free to keep posting and I'll reply when I have something to contribute.
If anyone is reading this and is interested in learning more about hypnosis, I found this video informative.
A former professional hypnotist points out the techniques used by Benny Hinn and The Last Reformation.
"Exposing the Hypnotic Techniques Used In The Church Today. Benny Hinn, TLR and others."
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