The Kundalini Process: A Christian Understanding
Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality
- by Philip St. Romain
Paperback and digital editions
I know you went on to clarify this more, Tara, but it sounds like you're conflating psychic gifts with omniscience. God alone knows everything that can be known (omniscience), so for a human being to be omniscient, they would need to be God, and not merely in union with God. No human is omnipotent, either, nor omnipresent. In short, you can hold that certain Tibetan Buddhists are all of the above, but . . . I don't believe it.
I do not take such statements to be metaphysically true so much as a perspective on reality. When I am in deep sleep, for example, it seems there is no one at home, but there obviously is, for when I wake up, there I am.
You will have to say more about "separate self," however, for I do not hear this as referring to the "I" that is constituitive of the human spirit. Ego structures change, even fall away for awhile, but the "I" is always there, and so is the Ego, for that matter -- at least in reflective states. The only way to have no Ego would be to cease reflectivity altogether, and that would not be a good thing.
The loss of a sense of separate self implies the loss of the reflectivity and distinction-making activity of the brain, nothing more. It does not imply coming at last to the true perception of reality. Reality is just as surely dual as one. If you alter the brain through meditative techniques, the enables a different perceptivity in the brain. If you take LSD, you see things differently because of the way the brain is operating.
The paradigm for me in all this is the resurrected Christ, not some guru's experience or descriptor of enlightenment. The resurrected Christ is still Jesus, scars and all. He remembered the names of his friends and still interacted with them lovingly. Whether he had a "separate self" in the sense you mean, I do not know, but he certainly seems to have a human "I" that subsisted in God, just as he did in his earthly life. In the Communion of Saints, we also speak of the survival of individuals.
I do not know why we talk so much of enlightenment here and so little about what the resurrection tells us about the final things. Perhaps a thread on the resurrection would be a good one to start?
I know the conversation's moved on a little but I'd like to answer a couple of questions from earlier. Eternal life seems infinitely desirable to me because it starts out as a gift we receive when we believe in Jesus, and ends up being a quality of knowing (John 17:3). It's this knowing that links it, in my mind to enlightenment, because knowing is really intimate awareness, and enlightenment seems like a state of awareness where intimacy can be fully experienced. However, we come to this life through death and resurrection, which has all sorts of meanings and manifetstions for each individual. Basically, though, it involves dealing with our prideful ego and selfish desires, or in Biblical parlance, the Flesh. So if we are crucified with Christ, we receive his life, and his life is best expressed in an enlightened mind.
I think I look for enlightenment in order to end my suffering, but always with the deeper intent that I be made a channel of God's peace and love. I think this peace and love flourish more in an enlightened mind, which isn't itself the goal, but rather a vessel for the goal to be realised. For the vessel to be clean enough for the water to become wine, it needs to be emptied first and washed and then filled with God. Then everyone can drink. Healing charisms, for example, must surely flow more readily and effectively if the prideful ego is removed. I see enlightenment as part of this process at its most vibrant and robust. The way of the cross seems to be part of the journey towards it for everyone, at least to a degree, even if they don't realise it.
But a vessel is still a vessel, a distinct container. And God can give this life to varying degrees without enlightenment, I'm sure.
Not a big question, but one that invites a big answer But I'll keep it short and sweet.
First, though, I think you know that I prefer the word "awakening" to the word "enlightenment," since I reserve the word "enlightenment" for something else.
If you want a sales pitch for awakening, I'd say the most noticeable benefit is that it makes life a whole lot easier to live.
But notice that there are people who awaken without any intention for it to happen. Look at Eckhart Tolle, example. It just happened one evening, as he was thinking about stuff in his room. He had no background whatsoever in contemplative practices.
So I see it as a developmental stage in human psychology, one which can happen on its own, yet can be encouraged by certain practices.
In that respect, it's a bit like asking, "What is the point of a caterpillar turning into a butterfly?" It just happens. It's part of life.
Okay, he's talking there about the moment the I-thought arises, not all the complexity that happens on top of it. Anyone can verify this for themselves by careful introspection. Just watch at what point the I-thought arises, and see what was happening immediately before that, especially at the level of feelings.
Perhaps they end up resulting in the same thing. One of the characteristics of love is that it "seeketh not her own" (1 Corinthians 13:5).
Yes, we have kind of gone round the houses on that one. Perhaps we should add "enlightenment" to our list of banned words. Along with "nonduality" and "BR"
It was written from the perspective of many people I've encountered who seem to think that "getting enlightened" is predominantly about sorting out their own problems, feeling good all the time etc - obviously they think this in error, but it is common nonetheless.
I have met people in other traditions who do have that love - from Hindus to Buddhists to Christians; and others in any of those traditions who don't. So I wasn't implying anything specifically about Tibetan Buddhism; just pointing out something in my own day to day experience.
Those are synonyms, right?
That would be ideal -- for the Ego to loosen its grip on self-image and discover its subjectivity to be naturally rooted in a much more vast, underlying consciousness. One could then move in and out of reflective and non-reflective states as needed, recognizing both duality and oneness to be the way things are. Problem is, I hear very few teachers of enlightenment saying anything like this. The overwhelming consensus is that duality is an illusion and the Ego is a false self. Both statements are seriously, dangerously wrong -- almost on the level of the diabolical, imo.
[QUOTE]Originally posted by Phil:
"Derek, for me the mind is not something separate from awareness. How could that possibly be, as everything the mind acts upon it must in some manner be aware of? Awareness, intellect/reason and will are inseparable aspects of the human spirit, though we can "lean" more into one than the other at times."...
Not saying this is what has occurred here. Only that for some, this separate someone watching can be a splintered part of one's personality.
Duality is an illusion and the Ego is a false self
I believe the true problem is that the vast majority of people are unaware of it, that is to say, they do not know there is something more then what the eye sees. They don't know there is Unity, nor that the Ego can be transcended.
Teachers who claim duality is an illusion are referring to the material world. And the Ego is a collection of desires without much coherence, aside the fact that they seem to arise from something that believes its body are its limits.
Furthermore, I think that for most of us it is difficult to live outside of duality. It is a state we can attain in meditation - and only after loads and loads of training... Only those who have attained Buddhahood can claim to live in unity, also in their daily acting. Being mindful 24/7 already is a hell of a task and an enormous achievement! But it is possible, and that is what the teachers refer to.
Who said that?
Believing there is an underlying unity/connectivity does not negate duality. Unity implies a union of two or more things -- hence dualism. Unless you are meaning to say there is only really one thing that exists, which would be nonsense for you have disagreed with me and now I disagree with you, which also implies two perspectives. Are are you saying our disagreement is an illusion?
See how silly this can all get?
I hope all the Buddhahooded follow the traffic laws when they drive or else they will discover that the automobile they run into is not an illusion.
Tibetan Buddhism solves this conundrum with the doctrine of the two truths:
- Absolute truths is oneness
- Relative truth are the rules that apply for our everyday reality, e.g. the self exist, there is distinction
The two truths co-exist side by side even though they are contradictory. that means on one level we exist in our divine non-duality (sorry, Phil for using this word) and yet on another level we exist as separate selves.
Buddhahood means to transcend this contradiction and experience the two truths simultaneously.
Tara - find more help for kundalini problems on my website taraspringett.com/kundalini/kundalini-syndrome
The unity/duality descriptions, Phil, make no sense to me. Unless one is describing the types of experiences one can have, where sometimes one feels a profound sense of union or oneness for a short time (in meditation, or during a period of mystical experience), and then it passes and one isn't having that experience and it feels inaccessible or lost, even if it continues to be intellectually known. But that's a phase of practice, not Reality. I don't understand why having a conversation or driving a car is "dualistic." Divine union is not an ecstatic state where one is laid out on the floor having stigmata. It's recognizing ALL phenomena as utterly included. There is no distinction because there is no distinction, not because one is performing certain activities. Prayer, driving, eating, shitting, meditating, walking, seeing, hearing - whatever is going on, "just this."
Exactly. There's absolutely no need to turn phenomenological experiences into metaphysical philosophies. Certain practices produce unitive experiences; others produce impermanence/emptiness experiences. Neither allows us to conclude anything about "ultimate reality."
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