Kundalini Shaktipat. The term “Shakti” is very popular today, but is usually misunderstood. Shakti can be understood by thinking about electricity. The fan will function as long as electricity powers it; the moment electricity is withdrawn, it stops working and become useless. The same is true of humans. We are alive as long as Shakti powers us. The moment Shakti life force withdraws, we die.
When Cosmic Energy or Universal Shakti comes into contact with Its residual Shakti, called Kundalini, hitherto lying dormant in the individual, It awakens, activating the sleeping Kundalini. The awakening of Kundalini is a sure sign of active Shakti (although even in its inactive state it still supplies the energy that keeps us alive). The individual consciously feels the oneness of one’s own Shakti Kundalini with the Universal Shakti, just as a drop of water feels the union when it contacts the ocean. With the rising of the serpent power or Kundalini comes the intuitive knowledge that there is no death. When this happens, the inner state of the aspirant quickly changes; there is calmness, an inner contentment, and a synchronicity with life not present before. Accumulated karma from other lifetimes gradually loses its potency until all karmic debt dissolves. The practitioner then experiences Shakti active within him/her as an all-encompassing, expansive energy. The body of the practitioner becomes the entire cosmos as the cosmos and the practitioner complement each other. Practitioners experience a unified, eternal flow of life force or energy circulating between them and Universal Consciousness. The physical limits of the practitioner now extend to the cosmic level and all distances come within his/her reach; one’s third eye is opened, so that other dimensions can be seen and travel to higher realms becomes a reality. One begins to live fully and become totally awake for the first time. At this level, the Self-Realized person can do anything on earth except the Divine processes of creation, preservation and destruction. A kind of “mechanical switch” develops enabling the person to live either in this world or another world, if and when one likes.
Traditionally, Kundalini energy can be awakened through three main practices:Asanas (yogic postures), mudras (hand positions), and pranayama (breath-control exercises)
Kundalini Shaktipat – Grace of the Guru
The accumulated results of devotional practices through several lifetimes.
For the first set of practices, there are several rules to be adhered to for the energy to rise. One has to learn unnatural yogic postures, mudras, and breath control practices of Hatha Yoga. These may not be easy for everyone, and having embarked on the path of learning these postures and mudras there is no certainty how long the person will have to practice before Kundalini rises and the person “awakes.” For this reason finding a Guru and receiving his/her grace is helpful; then there is no need for rules or regulations.
Awakening Kundalini through the grace of a Guru is traditionally seen as the best and most natural way of stirring this energy. When Kundalini energy awakens through the grace of the Guru, yogic postures, mudras, and breath control exercises do not need to be performed in an unnatural way. Rather, everything unfolds by itself according to the individual’s karmic history. Awakening through the grace of the Guru is sure and quick, although finding a Guru is not so easy. When the consciousness of the inner and the external Guru is integrated, the external or physical Guru is not needed for awakening. Where it is not possible to receive grace from a Guru then the first set of practices can work but may be slower.
Using examples we can compare the three methods of awakening. The first method is comparable to someone who works very hard, tolerates the sun and heat of the day, working relentlessly to earn a living. The second method is similar to receiving great wealth from a rich person through an act of compassion. The third method is comparable to suddenly discovering wealth on the way home or while sitting at home, it is instant and without too much effort. Whatever the method, those who have had successful Kundalini Awakening can be recognized by their healthy body, happy countenance, appearance of anahat-shabd or the “inner sound” known as AUM or WORD, beautiful, peaceful eyes, becoming an urdhvareta or one in whom the reversal of the flow of semen has taken place or the one who has attained the power of retaining the semen, and the purification of body and nerves.
In my own experience, when the Kundalini awakened I felt extra activities in my testicles, a squeezing sensation that seemed to be directing some fluid upward to the brain through unseen capillaries. Sexual arousal passes on to other parts of the body as sublimated energy. There is a cooling down and an upsurge of pure love for every one ( Swami Muktananda and Pundit Gopi Krishna have described similar experiences in their books. Female practitioners have reported similar experiences, for example, a college professor and Siddha-Yoga practitioner, Karen felt energy rocket up from the first chakra (Mooladhara) at times, causing her whole body to vibrate and shake. In the case of Beth, from Arkansas, there was often a sucking sensation around the cervix, as if vaginal fluid was needed by the energy (Greenwell 1990, p. 203). Thus, whether the person is male or female, it seems that vital sexual fluids are used to enrich and strengthen the brain making it strong enough to receive enlightenment.
KUNDALINI SHAKTIPAT OR MAHA-YOGA
Kundalini Maha-Yoga is a self-proven and self-perfecting spiritual practice. The power of Kundalini can cause an initiate to perform kriyas (automatic movements) through the power of Kundalini itself. The force of the Kundalini is such that the body performs these asanas unconsciously. Another name is Siddha-yoga, or the self-proven path of meditation. In all aspects, body, mind and intellect, Shakti uses Kundalini to perform the meditation. The initiate is drawn into flowing with the energy and must surrender to the process. When and how Kundalini-Shakti manifests is the work of the divine power (Shakti) Itself. To practice Siddha Yoga one must allow the divine power the opportunity to perform the meditation and yogic postures without interference.
Traditionally, it is believed that without initiation it is difficult to realize the fruits of knowledge, meditation, yoga, japa (chanting), tapa (austerities), devotion, karma, and dharma (religious duties). Kundalini Maha-Yoga (Shaktipat) as a path of initiation is different from other paths of meditation and/or initiation, because on other paths one has to learn certain tasks or master specific techniques. Practitioners are responsible for doing meditation or they may have to learn about different stages in meditation. Ceremonies may have to be performed or different yogic postures or asanas assumed, or they may have to struggle to eject undesirable thoughts from their mind.
In Kundalini Shaktipat it is not necessary to do any of these things. All the person has to do is sit with a complete sense of surrender to the present moment and experience. To achieve Shaktipat a person should be warm and welcoming to all thoughts or emotions as they occur, allowing inner life to flow effortlessly through the body without interference or judgement. Then, according to the nature and state of the spiritual consciousness of each initiate, different meditative experiences — emotional, intellectual, or creative in nature — will occur by themselves.
GURU AND INITIATE
In the Shaktipat tradition, a Guru is a person who can awaken Kundalini energy in another. The one receiving the energy from the Guru is the initiate. A person in whose presence or by whose touch one feels inner happiness and bliss is a Guru. In fact, one’s Atman or Soul is the real and ultimate Guru — there is none above Atman. But this concept is too abstract for many on the spiritual path which is why they take a physical Guru. One may adopt a Guru until the realization of Atman (the inner Guru) takes place. Sometimes one is dissatisfied with the Guru. There is always the freedom to choose another, but this should only be done when following the same Guru doesn’t feel right intuitively anymore. A Guru is there to reveal and dissolve the ego, which is never easy. Vigilance as to why there is discomfort working with the Guru is vital, because when the ego feels threatened it will find reasons to leave the Guru to stop any further spiritual advancement. Just as a bee goes from one flower to another in search of honey, a practitioner can also go from Guru to Guru in search of knowledge but one needs to be aware that superficial flitting about will not aid spiritual unfoldment.
In an initiation, if the initiate does not feel inner happiness or bliss — and certainly if one year after initiation (and having rigorously followed instructions and been vigilant with the ego) one does not experience bliss and intuitive knowledge — then it may be time to look for another Guru. Finding a self-declared Guru who is ready to work for money is easy; finding an authentic Guru is difficult.
The aspirant needs to be prepared for the initiation, too. This means the mind and body must be made as strong as possible. If cement is put on mud, its utility is weak like mud; but when applied to brick, it becomes as strong as stone. Similarly, when practitioners prepare themselves through the training of Hatha yoga and achieve renunciation of the world before Shaktipat initiation, they will attain a high state of spiritual development soon after initiation. However, Gurus normally do not insist on prior preparation. In cases where the aspirant is unprepared, after initiation some of the Shakti is used for clarifying and transforming the neo-initiate, strengthening the body and mind. After being initiated, one should build better foundations for spiritual advancement by assuming a spiritual practice of life. Yogic postures provide physical stability, mudras give the body strength, and pranayama or breath-control provides subtlety, cleansing the nerves and prompting focus on the inner world. Determination and meditation provide single-pointed-concentration on consciousness, and samadhi (inner absorption) provides the final absorption of consciousness. The Vedanta points out that knowledge without practical application in the form of spiritual practice is insufficient for Self-Realization.
Building strong spiritual foundations generate in the practitioner two qualities. First, Non-attachment, the state of controlled Chitta (mind-stuff) containing no movement toward anything desired or away from anything not desired. This does not mean that there is a physical disassociation with the world, but more a sense of detachment at the mental level breaking the cycle of desire and attachment. When this happens, the second quality of renunciation follows. Discarding materialistic attachment completely is renunciation. A practitioner develops non-attachment first and then renunciation follows naturally. Non-attachment and renunciation are the result of a meditative and contemplative life and are the pillars for the highest good. They are called Parmarth (for the highest good). These two are very important for the initiate to possess, in order to experience successful and effective Shaktipat.
To understand the above and the suffering that arises when one hasn’t these qualities, one has only to look at the average person and how they suffer because of their attachment to worldly affairs. The physical body is everything for them, and the fear of death is often paramount in their thoughts. Little spiritual progress is made when the mind is consumed with the fear of death. Nevertheless, by controlling the Chitta through making it dispassionate in gradual steps, non-attachment can be achieved. Slowly, one understands that this world is transitory, changing constantly, and ultimately decaying. The pursuit and satisfaction of desires cannot lead to inner happiness, since one desire leads to another in an unending chain of dissatisfaction. Combining this understanding with the study of spiritual literature, contemplation and meditation, increases detachment from the objective world. This results in corresponding gains in spiritual advancement. An initiation at this stage can produce wonderful direct experiences with Shakti.
Also important is the relationship between the path of knowledge and the path of yoga. Those on the path of knowledge experience yoga (joining the Soul with Super-soul or Self-Realization) after many lifetimes. A yogi acquires knowledge through the practice of yoga becoming liberated in a single lifetime. Therefore Yoga is a method by which results can be achieved in a single lifetime. Just as a monkey jumps from one branch to another to finally reach the desired tree laden with fruit, so the yogi moves from one chakra to another. He/she gradually crosses the first six chakras until he/she finally arrives at the seventh/crown center, where consciousness and prana are anchored. At this stage the yogi acquires intuitive knowledge and liberation at the same time. An ideal way for spiritual advancement is to pursue the path of knowledge and the path of yoga simultaneously, as they complement each other. This may also be the fastest way to achieve spiritual advancement. (Continued In Kundalini Shaktipat Part 2…)
Authors Details: Kundalini Shaktipat for Beginners Ravindra Kumar, Ph.D.