Kundalini: The Awakening of the Life Force

From:
Osho
Date:
Fri, 1 Jan 1970 00:00:00 GMT
Book Title:
Meditation: The Art of Ecstasy
Chapter #:
7
Location:
India
Archive Code:
N.A.
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One reason is that any knowledge about kundalini or about esoteric paths of bioenergy - the inner paths of elan vital - is generalized. It differs from individual to individual; the root is not going to be the same. With A it will be different, with B it will be different, with C it will be different. Your inner life has an individuality, so when you acquire something through theoretical knowledge it is not going to help - it may hinder - because it is not about you. It cannot be about you. You will only know about yourself when you go within.

There are chakras, but the number differs with each individual. One may have seven, one may have nine; one may have more, one may have less. That is the reason why so many different traditions have developed. Buddhists talk of nine chakras, Hindus talk of seven, Tibetans talk of four - and they are all right!

The root of kundalini, the passage through which kundalini passes, is also different with each individual. The more you go in, the more individual you are. For instance, in your body your face is the most individual part, and in the face the eyes are even more individual. The face is more alive than any other part of the body; that is why it takes on an individuality. You may not have noticed that with a particular age - particularly with sexual maturity - your face begins to assume a shape that will continue, more or less, for the whole life. Before sexual maturity the face changes much, but with sexual maturity your individuality is fixed and given a pattern, and now the face will be more or less the same.

The eyes are even more alive than the face, and they are so individual that every moment they change. Unless one attains enlightenment, the eyes are never fixed. Enlightenment is another kind of maturity.

With sexual maturity the face becomes fixed, but there is another maturity where the eyes become fixed. You cannot see any change in Buddha's eyes: his body will grow old, he will die, but his eyes will continue to be the same. That has been one of the indications. When someone attains nirvana, the eyes are the only door by which outsiders can know whether the man has really attained it. Now the eyes never change. Everything changes, but the eyes remain the same. Eyes are expressive of the inner world.

But kundalini is still deeper.

No theoretical knowledge is helpful. When you have some theoretical knowledge, you begin to impose it on yourself. You begin to visualize things to be the way you have been taught, but they may not correspond to your individual situation. Then much confusion is created.

One has to feel the chakras, not know about them. You have to feel; you have to send feelers inside yourself. Only when you feel your chakras, and your kundalini and its passage, is it helpful; otherwise, it is not helpful. In fact, knowledge has been very destructive as far as the inner world is concerned. The more knowledge gained, the less the possibility of feeling the real, the authentic, things.

You begin to impose what you know upon yourself. If someone says, "Here is the chakra, here is the center," then you begin to visualize your chakra at that spot; and it may not be there at all. Then you will create imaginary chakras. You can create; the mind has the capacity. You can create imaginary chakras, and then, because of your imagination, a flow will begin that will not be kundalini but will be simple imagination - a completely illusory, dreamlike phenomenon.

Once you can visualize centers and can create an imaginary kundalini, then you can create everything. Then imaginary experiences will follow, and you will develop a very false world inside you. The world that is without is illusory, but not so illusory as the one you can create inside.

All that is within is not necessarily real or true, because imagination is also within, dreams are also within. The mind has a faculty - a very powerful faculty - to dream, to create illusions, to project.

That is why it is good to proceed in meditation completely unaware of kundalini, of chakras. If you stumble upon them, then it is good. You may come to feel something; only then, ask. You may begin to feel a chakra working, but let the feeling come first. You may feel energy rising up, but let the feeling come first. Do not imagine, do not think about it, do not make any intellectual effort to understand beforehand; no pre-notion is needed. Not only is it not needed, but it is positively harmful.

And another thing: kundalini and the chakras do not belong to your anatomy, to your physiology.

Chakras and kundalini belong to your subtle body, to your sukshma sharira, not to this body, the gross body. Of course, there are corresponding spots. The chakras are part of your sukshma sharira, but your physiology and anatomy have spots that correspond to them. If you feel an inner chakra, only then can you feel the corresponding spot; otherwise you can dissect the whole body, but nothing like chakras will be found.

All the talk and all the so-called evidence and all the scientific claims that your gross body has something like kundalini and chakras is nonsense, absolute nonsense. There are corresponding spots, but those spots can only be felt when you feel the real chakras. With the dissection of your gross body nothing can be found; there is nothing. So the question is not of anatomy.

One thing more: it is not necessary to pass through chakras. It is not necessary; one can just bypass them. It is also not necessary that you will feel kundalini before enlightenment. The phenomenon is very different from what you may think. Kundalini is not felt because it is rising; kundalini is only felt if you do not have a very clear passage. If the passage is completely clear-cut, then the energy flows but you cannot feel it.

You feel it when there is something there that resists the flow. If the energy flows upward and you have blocks in the passage, only then do you feel it. So the person who feels more kundalini is really blocked: there are many blocks in the passage, so the kundalini cannot flow.

When there is resistance, then the kundalini is felt. You cannot feel energy directly unless there is resistance. If I move my hand and there is no resistance, the movement will not be felt. The movement is felt because the air resists, but it is not felt as much as when a stone resists; then I will feel the movement more. And in a vacuum I will not feel the movement at all - so it is relative.

Buddha never talked about kundalini. It is not that there was no kundalini in his body, but the passage was so clear that there was no resistance. Thus, he never felt it. Mahavira never talked about kundalini. Because of this, a very false notion was created, and then Jainas, who followed Mahavira, thought that kundalini was all nonsense, that there was nothing like it. Thus, because Mahavira himself did not feel kundalini, twenty-five centuries of Jaina tradition has continued to deny it, claiming it does not exist. But Mahavira's reason for not talking about it was very different.

Because there were no blocks in his body, he never felt it.

So it is not necessary for you to feel kundalini. You may not feel it at all. And if you do not feel kundalini, then you will bypass chakras, because the working of the chakras is needed only to break the blocks. Otherwise, they are not needed.

When there is a block, and the kundalini is blocked, then the nearby chakra begins to move because of the blocked kundalini. It becomes dynamic. The chakra begins to move because of the blocked kundalini and it moves so fast that, because of the movement, a particular energy is created which breaks the block.

If the passage is clear no chakra is needed, and you will never feel anything. Really, the existence of chakras is just to help you. If kundalini is blocked, then the help is just nearby. Some chakra will take the energy that is being blocked. If the energy cannot move further it will fall back. Before it falls back the chakra will absorb the energy completely, and the kundalini will move in the chakra. Through movement the energy becomes more vital, it becomes more alive, and when it again comes to the block it can break it. So it is just an arrangement, a help.

If kundalini moves and there are no blocks, then you will never feel any chakras. That is why someone may feel nine chakras, someone else may feel ten chakras, and someone else may feel only three or four, or one, or none. It depends. In actual fact, there are infinite chakras and at every movement, every step of the kundalini, a chakra is by the side to help. If the help is needed, it can be given.

That is why I insist that a theoretical acquaintance is not helpful. And meditation as such is not really concerned with kundalini at all. If kundalini comes, that is another thing - but meditation has nothing to do with it. Meditation can be explained without even mentioning kundalini; there is no need. And by mentioning kundalini it creates even more conflicts to explain the thing. Meditation can be explained directly; you need not bother about chakras, you begin with meditation. If the passage is blocked you may come to feel kundalini, and chakras will be there, but that is completely nonvoluntary. You must remember that it is nonvoluntary; your volition is not needed at all.

The deeper the path, the more nonvoluntary. I can move my hand - this is a voluntary path - but I cannot move my blood. I can try. Years and years of training can make a person capable of making blood circulation voluntary - hatha yoga can do that; it has been done, it is not impossible, but it is futile. Thirty years of training just to control the movement of the blood is meaningless and stupid because with the control comes nothing. The blood circulation is nonvoluntary; your will is not needed. You take food and the moment it goes in, your will is not needed: the body machinery, the body mechanism, has taken over, and it goes on doing whatever is needed. Your sleep is not voluntary, your birth is not voluntary, your death is not voluntary. These are nonvoluntary mechanisms.

Kundalini is still deeper, deeper than your death, deeper than your birth, deeper than your blood, because kundalini is a circulation of your second body. Blood is the circulation of your physiological body; kundalini is the circulation of your etheric body. It is absolutely nonvoluntary; even a hatha yogi cannot do anything with it voluntarily.

One has to go into meditation, then the energy begins to move. The part that is to be done by you is meditation. If you are deep in it, then the inner energy begins to move upward, and you will feel the change of flow. It will be felt in so many ways: even physiologically the change can be known.

For example, ordinarily, biologically, it is a sign of good health for your feet to be warm and your head to be cool. Biologically it is a healthy sign. When the reverse occurs - the feet become cool and the head becomes warm - a person is ill. But the same thing happens when the kundalini flows upward: the feet become cool.

Really, the warmth in the feet is nothing but sex energy flowing downward. The moment the vital energy, the kundalini, begins to flow upward, sex energy follows. It begins to flow upward: the feet become cool and the head becomes warm. Biologically it is better for the feet to be warmer than the head, but spiritually it is healthier for the feet to be cooler because this is a sign that the energy is flowing upward.

Many diseases may begin to occur once the energy begins to flow upward, because biologically you have disturbed the whole organism. Buddha died very ill, Mahavira died very ill, Raman Maharshi died with cancer; Ramakrishna died with cancer. And the reason is that the whole biological system is disturbed. Many other reasons are given, but they are nonsense.

Jainas have created many stories because they could not conceive that Mahavira could have been ill. For me, the contrary is the case: I cannot conceive how he could have been completely healthy.

He couldn't be, because this was going to be his last birth, and the whole biological system had to break down. A system that had been continuous for millennia had to break down. He could not be healthy; in the end he had to be very ill. And he was! But it was very difficult for his followers to conceive that Mahavira was ill.

There was only one explanation for illness in those days. If you were suffering from a particular disease, it meant your karmas your past deeds, had been bad. If Mahavira was suffering from a disease, then it would have meant that he was still under his karmic influence. This could not be so, so an ingenious story was invented: that Goshalak, a competitor of Mahavira, was using evil forces against him. But this was not the case at all.

The biological, natural flow is downward; the spiritual flow is upward. And the whole organism is meant for the downward flow.

You may begin to feel many changes in the body, but the first changes will come in the subtle body.

Meditation is just the means to create a bridge from the gross to the subtle. When I say "meditation"

I mean only that: if you can jump out of your gross body - that is what is meant by meditation. But to take this jump you will need the help of your gross body; you will have to use it as a stepping stone.

From any extreme point, you can take the jump. Fasting has been used to take one to an extreme.

With long, continuous fasting, you come to the verge. The human body can ordinarily sustain a ninety-day fast, but then, the moment the body is completely exhausted, the moment the reservoir that has been accumulated for emergencies has been depleted - at that moment, one of two things is possible. If you do nothing, death may occur, but if you use this moment for meditation, the jump may occur.

If you do not do anything, if you just go on fasting, death may occur. Then it will be a suicide.

Mahavira, who experimented more deeply with fasting than anyone else in the whole history of human evolution, is the only man who allowed his followers a spiritual suicide. He called it santhara:

that on-the-verge point when both things are possible. In a single moment, you may either die or you can jump. If you use some technique, you can jump; then, Mahavira says, it is not a suicide, but a very great spiritual explosion. Mahavira was the only man - the only one - who has said that if you have the courage, even suicide can be used for your spiritual progress.

From any verge point the jump is possible. Sufis have used dancing. A moment comes in dancing when you begin to feel unearthly. With a real Sufi dancer, even the audience begins to feel unearthly.

Through body movements, rhythmic movements, the dancer soon begins to feel that he is different from the body, separate from the body. One has to begin the movement but soon a nonvoluntary mechanism of the body takes over.

You begin, but if the end is also yours then the dancing was just ordinary dancing. But if you begin and by the end you feel as if somewhere in between the dancing was taken over by a nonvoluntary mechanism, then it has become a dervish dance. You move so fast that the body shakes and becomes nonvoluntary.

That is the point where you can go crazy or you can jump. You may go mad, because a nonvoluntary mechanism has taken over your body movement. It is beyond your control: you cannot do anything.

You may just go mad and never be able to come back again from this nonvoluntary movement. This is the point where there is either madness or, if you know the technique to jump, meditation.

That is why Sufis have always been known as mad people. They have been known as mad!

Ordinarily, they are mad. There is also a sect in Bengal that is just like the Sufis: Baul fakirs.

They move from village to village dancing and singing. The very word baul means bawla, mad.

They are people who are mad.

Madness happens many times, but if you know the technique, then meditation can happen. It always happens on the verge; that is why mystics have always used the term "the sword's edge."

Either madness may happen or meditation may happen, and every method uses your body as a sword's edge from which either one or the other is possible.

Then what is the technique to jump into meditation? I have talked about two: fasting and dancing.

All techniques of meditation are to push you to the verge where you can take the jump, but the jump itself can be taken only through a very simple, very nonmethodical method.

If you can be aware at the very moment when fasting has led you to the precipice of death, if you can be aware at the moment when death is going to set in, if you can be aware, then there is no death. And not only is there no death this time, then there is no death forever. You have jumped!

When the moment is so intense that you know in one second it will be beyond you, when you know that should a second be lost you will not be able to come back again, be aware - and then jump.

Awareness is the method. And because awareness is the method, zen people say that there is no method. Awareness is not a method at all. That is why Krishnamurti will go on saying that there is no method.

Of course, awareness is not really a method at all; but I still call it a method because if you cannot be aware, then at the exact moment that the jump is possible, you will be lost. So if someone says, "Only awareness will do," that may be true for one out of ten thousand people, but that one will be one who has come to the point where either madness is possible or death is possible. He has come to that point anyway.

And with the others, the majority of people, just talking about awareness will not do. First, they must be trained. To be aware in ordinary situations will not do. And you cannot be aware in ordinary situations. The mind's stupidity has such a long history - the lethargy of it, the laziness of it, the unconsciousness of it, has been going on for so long, that just by hearing Krishnamurti or me or anyone else you can never hope to be aware. And it will be difficult to be aware of those same things that you have done without awareness so many times.

You have come to your office completely unaware that you have been moving: you have turned, you have walked, you have opened the door. For your whole life you have been doing it. Now it has become a nonvoluntary mechanism; it has been removed from your consciousness completely.

Then Krishnamurti says, "Be aware when you are walking." But you have been walking without ever being aware. The habit has set in so deeply, it has become a part of the bones and blood; now it is very difficult.

You can only be aware in emergencies, in sudden emergencies. Someone puts a gun on your chest:

you can be aware because it is a situation that you have never practiced. But if you are familiar with the situation, you will not be aware at all.

Fasting is to create an emergency, and such an emergency as you have never known. So one who has been practicing fasting may not be helped through it; he will need longer periods to fast. Or, if you have never danced, you can be helped easily through dancing; but if you are an expert dancer, Sufi dervish dancing will not do. It will not do at all because you are so perfect, so efficient, and efficiency means that the thing is now being done by the nonvoluntary part of the mind. Efficiency always means that.

That is why one hundred and twelve methods of meditation have been developed. One may not do for you; another may. And the one which will be most helpful is the one which is completely unknown to you. If you have never been trained in a particular method at all, then an emergency is created very soon. And in that emergency, be aware!

So be concerned with meditation and not with kundalini. And when you are aware, things will begin to happen in you. For the first time you will become aware of an inner world that is greater, vaster, more extensive than the universe; energies unknown, completely unknown, will begin to flow in you.

Phenomena never heard of, never imagined or dreamed of, will begin to happen. But with each person they differ, so it is good not to talk about them.

They differ; that is why the old traditional emphasis on a guru is there. Scriptures will not do; only the guru will do. And gurus have always been against the scriptures, although the scriptures talk about gurus and praise gurus. The very concept of the guru is in opposition to the scriptures. The well known proverb Guru bin gnana nahee - without the guru there will be no knowledge - does not really mean that without the guru there will be no knowledge. It means that with only the scriptures there is no knowledge.

A living guru is needed, not a dead book. A book cannot know what type of individual you are.

A book is always generalized, it cannot be particular; that is impossible, the very possibility is not there. Only a living person can be aware of your needs, of things which are going to happen to you.

This is really very paradoxical: scriptures talk about gurus - Guru bin gnana nahee, no knowledge without the guru - but gurus are symbolically against scriptures. The very concept that the guru will give you knowledge does not mean that he will provide knowledge. Rather, it means that only a living person can be of any help. Why? Because he can know the individual.

No book can know the individual. Books are meant for no one in particular, they are meant for everyone. And when a method is to be given, your individuality has to be taken into account very, very exactly, scientifically. This knowledge that the guru has to transfer has always been transferred secretly, privately, from guru to disciple.

Why the secrecy? Secrecy is the only means for transference of knowledge. The disciple is ordered not to talk about it to anyone. The mind wants to talk. If you know something, it is very difficult to keep it a secret; this is one of the most difficult things, but it has always been the way of the gurus, the way of the teachers. They will give you something with the condition that it is not to be talked about. Why - why this secrecy?

So many people say that truth needs no secrecy, it needs no privacy. This is nonsense. Truth needs more privacy than nontruth because it can prove fatal to just anybody; it can prove dangerous. It has been given to a particular individual; it is meant only for him and for no one else. He should not give it to anyone else until he himself comes to the point where his individuality is lost. This must be understood.

A guru is a person whose individuality is lost. Only then can he look deeply into your individuality. If he himself is an individual, he can interpret you, but he will never be able to know you. For example, if I am here and I say something about you, it is I who am talking about you. It is not about you; rather, it is about me. I cannot help you because I cannot really know you at all. Whenever I know you, it is in a roundabout way, by knowing myself.

This point of my being here must disappear. I must be just an absence. Only then can I go deep inside you without any interpretation; only then can I know you as you are, not according to me. And only then can I help. Hence, the secrecy.

So it is good not to talk about kundalini and chakras. Only meditation is to be taught and to be listened to and to be understood. Then, everything else will just follow.

Kundalini is not itself a life force. Rather, it is a particular passage for the life force, a way. But the life force can take other ways also, so it is not necessary to pass through kundalini. It is possible that one may reach enlightenment without passing through kundalini - but kundalini is the easiest passage, the shortest one.

If the life force passes through kundalini, then the brahma randhra will be the terminal point. But if the life force takes another route - and infinite routes are possible - then the brahma randhra will not be the terminus. So the flowering of the brahma randhra is only a possibility, a potentiality, if the life force passes through kundalini.

There are yogas that will not even mention kundalini; then there is nothing like the brahma randhra.

But this is the easiest route, so ordinarily ninety percent of the persons who realize pass through kundalini.

Kundalini and the chakras are not located in the physical body. They belong to the etheric body, but they have corresponding points within the physical body. It is like when you feel love and you put your hand on your heart. Nothing like "love" is there, but your heart, your physical heart, is a corresponding point. When you put your hand on your heart, you are putting your hand at the chakra that belongs to the etheric body, and this point is approximately parallel to your physical heart.

Kundalini is part of the etheric body, so whatever you achieve as progress on the path of kundalini does not die with your physical body; it goes with you. Whatever is achieved will remain with you because it is not a part of your physical body. If it were a part of your physical body, then with each death it would be lost and you would have to begin from the very beginning. But if someone reaches the third chakra, this progress will remain with him in his next life. It will go with him; it is stored in the etheric body.

When I say that the life energy goes through kundalini, I mean kundalini as a passage - the whole passage connecting the seven chakras. These chakras are not in the physical body, so everything that can be said about kundalini is being said about the etheric body.

When the life force passes through kundalini, the chakras will begin to vibrate and flower. The moment energy comes to them, they become alive. It is just like when hydro-electricity is created; the force and pressure of the water rotate the dynamo. If there were no pressure and no water, the dynamo would stop; it would not work. The dynamo rotates because of the pressure. In the same way, the chakras are there, but they are dead until the moment the life force penetrates them; only then do they begin to rotate.

That is why they are called chakras. "Chakra" is not exactly translated by the word center, because center means something static and chakra means something moving. So the right translation would be wheel, not center; or, a dynamic center, or a rotating center, a moving center.

Chakras are centers until the life force comes to them. The moment the life force comes to them, they begin to be chakras. Now they are not centers, they are wheels, rotating. And each wheel, by rotating, creates a new sort of energy. This energy is used again to rotate further chakras. So as the life force passes through each chakra, it becomes more vital, more alive.

Kundalini is the passage through which the life force moves. The life force is located in the sex center, stored in the sex center, the muladhar. It can be used as sex energy; then it generates a particular life, a biological life. Then too it creates movements, then too it creates more energy; but this is biological. If this same energy moves upward, the passage of kundalini is opened.

The sex center, the muladhar, is the first to open. It can open either toward biological generation or it can open toward spiritual generation. The muladhar has two openings, a lower one and an upper one. In the passage of kundalini, the highest center is the sahasrar, of which the brahma randhra is the middle point. The opening of the brahma randhra is one way toward self realization.

Other ways are also possible in which the passage of kundalini is not used, but they are more arduous. In these other methods there is no question of kundalini, then there is no movement through this passage. There are Hindu methods: raja yoga, mantra yoga, and all the many techniques of tantra. There are Christian methods, Buddhist methods, zen methods, taoist methods.

They are not concerned with kundalini awakening; that passage is not used. They use other passages, passages that do not even belong to the etheric body. Astral passages can be used.

The astral body, the third body, has its own passage. The mental body, the fourth body, has its own passage. All of the seven bodies have their own passages.

There are many yogas that have nothing to do with kundalini. Only hatha yoga uses kundalini as a passage. But it is the most scientific and the least difficult. It is an easier step-by-step method for gradual awakening than the other yogas.

Even if the kundalini passage is not used, there are sometimes sudden awakenings of the kundalini.

Sometimes things happen that are beyond your capacity, sometimes things happen that you cannot conceive; then you are completely shattered. Other passages have their own preparations. Tantric or occult methods are not kundalini yoga. Kundalini yoga is only one of so many methods, but it is better to be concerned with just one.

The Dynamic Meditation method that I am using is concerned with kundalini. It is easier to work with kundalini because it is the second body that you are concerned with. The more deeply you go - with the third or the fourth body - the more difficult it becomes. The second body is the nearest one to your physical body, and there are corresponding points in your physical body, so it is easier.

If you work with the third body, the corresponding points are in the second body. If you work with the fourth, the corresponding points are in the third. Then your physical body is not concerned; you cannot feel anything at all in your physical body. But with kundalini you can feel each step accurately, and you know where you are. Then you are more confident. With the other methods you will have to learn techniques that will help you to feel the corresponding points in the second body or in the third body, and that takes its own time.

The other methods will deny kundalini, but their denial is not correct; they deny it because they are not concerned with it. Kundalini has its own methodology; if you are working with a zen method, you should not be concerned with kundalini.

But sometimes, even in working with another method, kundalini comes, because the seven bodies penetrate one another; they are interlinked. So if you are working with the astral body, the third body, the second body may begin to work. It may get a spark from the third.

The opposite is not possible. If you are working with the second body, the third body will not get ignited because the second is lower than the third. But if you are working with the third, you are creating energy that can come to the second without any effort on your part. Energy flows to lower fields. Your second body is lower than the third, so energy generated in the third may sometimes flow to it.

Kundalini may be felt through other methods, but those who teach methods that are not concerned with kundalini will not allow you to pay attention to it. If you pay attention to it, more and more energy will come; the whole method that was not concerned with kundalini will be shattered. They do not know anything about kundalini, so they do not know how to work with it.

Teachers of other methods will deny kundalini completely. They will say it is nonsense; they will say it is imagination; they will say you are just projecting: "Do not be concerned with it, do not be attentive to it." And if you are not attentive to it and you go on working on the third body, by and by the kundalini will stop. Energy will no longer come to the second body. Then it is better.

So if you are concerned with any method, be concerned with it totally. Don't be involved in any other method, don't even think about any other method, because then it will become confusing. And the passage of kundalini is so subtle and so unknown that confusion will be harmful.

My method of Dynamic Meditation is concerned with kundalini. Even if you just go on watching your breath, it will be helpful to kundalini because breath, accompanied by prana, the life energy, is concerned with the etheric body, the second body. It, too, is not concerned with your physical body.

It is being taken from your physical body, it is being drawn from your physical body, but your physical body is just the door.

Prana is concerned with the etheric body. The lungs are doing the breathing, but doing it for the etheric body. Your physical body, the first body, is working for the etheric, the second body. In the same way, the etheric works for the astral, the third body, and the astral works for the mental, the fourth body.

Your physical body is the door for the second body. The second body is so subtle that it cannot be concerned with the material world directly, so first your physical body transmutes every material into vital forms; then these can become food for the second body.

Everything taken from the senses gets transformed into vital forms; this then becomes food for the second body. Then the second body transforms this into even more subtle forms, and this becomes food for the third body.

It is like this: you cannot eat mud, but in vegetables the elements of the mud are transformed; then it can be eaten. The vegetable world transforms the mud into a living, subtle form; now you can take it in. You cannot eat grass; a cow does it for you. It goes into the cow, and the cow transforms it into milk; then you can take it, you can drink the milk.

Just like this your first body takes matter into it, transforming it into vital forms; then the second body takes it. Breath is being taken by your lungs: the lungs are machines, working for the second body.

If the second body dies, the lungs remain all right, but there is no breathing; breath has gone. The second body is the master of the first body, and the third body is the master of the second body.

Every lower body is a servant to the upper one.

So awareness of breathing is helpful in kundalini practice. It generates energy; it conserves energy and helps the life force to go upward.

My whole method is concerned with kundalini. Once the method has been grasped, everything can be done by it. Now, nothing more is needed.

The last chakra, the sahasrar, can be reached through any method. Sahasrar and brahma randhra are the names given to the seventh chakra in kundalini yoga. If you do not work on kundalini, if you work on the third body, then too you will reach this point, but it will not be known as brahma randhra, and the first six chakras will not be there. You have gone through another passage, so the milestones will be different, but the end will be the same. All the seven bodies are connected with the seventh chakra, so from anywhere one can reach it.

One must not be concerned with two passages, with two methods; otherwise, confusion will be created and the inner energy will be diverted into two channels. Any method should channel the whole energy into one dimension. That is what my method of Dynamic Meditation does, and that is why it begins with ten minutes of deep, fast breathing.

Question 1:

IS THE FEELING OF KUNDALINI SIMILAR TO THE MOVEMENT OF A SERPENT?

No, it is different. There may be a person who has never seen a snake. If his kundalini awakens, he cannot conceive of it as "serpent power"; it is impossible because the symbol is not there. Then he will feel it in different ways. This has to be understood.

In the West they cannot conceive of kundalini as serpent power because the serpent is not a reality in their ordinary lives. It was in ancient India: the serpent was your neighbor, your day-to-day neighbor; and it was one of the most powerful things perceived, with the most beautiful movements. So the serpent symbol was chosen to represent the phenomenon of kundalini. But elsewhere the serpent cannot be the symbol; it becomes unnatural. Snakes are not known; then you cannot conceive of it, you cannot even imagine it.

Symbols are there and they are meaningful as far as your personality is concerned, but a particular symbol is meaningful only if it is real to you, only if it fits into your mental makeup.

Question 2:

IS KUNDALINI A PSYCHIC PHENOMENON?

When you ask, "Is it psychic?" the fear is there that if it is psychic it is unreal. The psychic has its own reality. Psychic means another realm of reality: the nonmaterial. In the mind, reality and materiality have become synonymous, but they are not; reality is much greater than materiality. Materiality is only one dimension of reality. Even a dream has its own reality. It is nonmaterial, but it is not unreal; it is psychic, but do not take it as unreal. It is just another dimension of reality.

Even a thought has its own reality, though it is not material. Everything has its own reality, and there are realms of reality and grades of reality and different dimensions of reality. But in our minds materiality has become the only reality, so when we say "psychic," when we say "mental," the thing is condemned as unreal.

I am saying that kundalini is symbolic, it is psychic; the reality is psychic. But the symbol is something that you have given to it; it is not inherent in it.

The phenomenon is psychic. Something rises in you; there is a very forceful rising. Something goes from below toward your mind. It is a forceful penetration; you feel it, but whenever you are to express it, a symbol comes. Even if you begin to understand it, you use a symbol. And you do not only use a symbol when you express the phenomenon to others: you yourself cannot understand it without any symbol.

When we say "rising," this too is a symbol. When we say "four," this too is a symbol. When we say "up" and "down," these are symbols; in reality nothing is up and nothing is down. In reality there are existential feelings, but no symbols by which to understand and express these feelings. So when you understand, a metaphor comes in. You say, "It is just like a serpent." Then it becomes just like a serpent. It assumes the form of your symbol; it begins to look like your conception. You mold it into a particular pattern, otherwise you cannot understand it.

When it comes to your mind that something has begun to open and flower, you will have to conceive of what is happening in some way. The moment thought comes in, thought brings its own category.

So you will say "flowering," you will say "opening," you will say "penetration." The thing itself can be understood through so many metaphors. The metaphor depends on you, it depends on your mind.

And what it depends on, depends on so many things - for example, your life experiences.

Two hundred, three hundred years from now, it is possible that there will be no snakes on earth, because man kills everything that proves antagonistic to him. Then "snake" will just be a historical word, a word in books; it will not be a reality. It is not even a reality to most of the world today. Then the force will be lost; the beauty will not be there. The symbol will be dead, and you will have to conceive of kundalini in a new way.

It may become an upsurge of electricity. "Electricity" will be more congenial, more appropriate to the mind than "snake." It may become just like a jet going upward, a rocket going to the moon. The speed will be more appropriate; it will be like a jet. If you can feel it, and your whole mind can conceive of it just like a jet, it will become just like a jet. The reality is something else, but the metaphor is given by you; you have chosen it because of your experiences, because it is meaningful to you.

Because yoga developed in an agricultural society, it has agricultural symbols: a flower, a snake, etcetera - but they are just symbols. Buddha did not even talk about kundalini, but if he had, he would not have talked about serpent power; nor would Mahavira have talked about it. They came from royal families: the symbols that were congenial to other people were not congenial to them.

They used other symbols.

Buddha and Mahavira came from royal palaces. The snake was not a reality there. But to the peasants it was a great reality, one could not remain unacquainted with it. And it was dangerous too; one had to be aware of it. But to Buddha and Mahavira it was not a reality at all.

Buddha could not talk of snakes; he talked of flowers. Flowers were known to him, more known to him than to anybody else. He had seen many flowers, but only living ones. The palace gardeners were instructed by his father to see that no dying flower would be seen by him, Gautama. He was to see only young flowers, so the whole night the gardens were prepared for him. In the morning when he came, not a dead leaf, not a dead flower, could be seen, only flowers coming to life.

So flowering was a reality to him in a way in which it is not to us. Then when he came to his realization, he spoke about it as a process of flowers and flowers, opening and opening. The reality is something else, but the metaphor comes from Buddha.

These metaphors are not unreal, they are not just poetry. They correspond to your nature; you belong to them, they belong to you. The denial of symbols has proved drastic and dangerous. You have denied and denied everything that is not materially real, and rituals and symbols have taken their revenge; they come back again, they get through. They are there in your clothes, in your temples, in your poetries, your deeds. The symbols will have their revenge, they will come back.

They cannot be denied because they belong to your nature.

The human mind cannot think in relative, purely abstract, terms. It cannot. Reality cannot be conceived of in terms of pure mathematics: we can only conceive of it in symbols. The connection with symbols is basic to the human character. In fact, it is only the human mind that creates symbols; animals cannot create them.

A symbol is a living picture. Whenever something inward happens you have to use outward symbols.

Whenever you begin to feel something, the symbol comes automatically, and the moment the symbol comes the force is molded into that particular symbol. In this way, kundalini becomes just like a snake: it becomes a serpent. You will feel it and see it, and it will be even more alive than a living snake. You will feel the kundalini as a snake because you cannot feel an abstraction. You cannot!

We have created idols of God because we cannot perceive an abstraction. God becomes meaningless as an abstraction; he becomes just mathematical. We know that the word god is not God, but we have to use the word. The word is a symbol. We know that the word god is a symbol, a term, and not actually God, but we will have to use it. And this is the paradox: when you know that something is not a fact, but also know that it is not a fiction, that it is a necessity, and a real one, then you must transcend the symbol. Then you must be beyond it, and you must know the beyond also.

But the mind cannot conceive of the beyond, and the mind is the only instrument you have. Through it, every conception must come to you. So you will feel the symbol: it will become real. And to another person another symbol may become as real as your symbol has become to you; then there is controversy. To every person his symbol is authentic, real. But we are obsessed with concrete reality. It must be real to us, otherwise it cannot be real.

We can say, "This tape recorder is real," because it is real to us all; it has an objective reality. But yoga is concerned with subjective reality. Subjective reality is not as real as objective reality, but it is real in its own way.

The obsession with the objective must go. Subjective reality is as real as objective reality, but the moment you conceive of it, you give it a fragrance of your own. You give it a name of your own, you give it a metaphor of your own. And this way of perceiving it is bound to be individual: even if someone experiences the same thing, the records will differ. Even two snakes will differ, because the metaphor has come from two different individuals.

So these metaphors - that the feeling of kundalini is like the movement of a serpent - are just symbolic, but they correspond with reality. The same movement is there; the subtle movement, just like a snake, is there. The force is there, the golden appearance is there - and all of this corresponds to the symbol of the snake. So if that symbol is congenial to you, it is all right.

But it may not be congenial; so never say to anybody that what has happened to you is bound to happen to him. Never say that to anyone. It may be, or it may not be. The symbol is appropriate for you, it may not be for him. If this much can be understood, there is no reason for dissension.

Differences have come about because of symbols. A Mohammed cannot conceive of a Buddha's symbol. It is impossible! The environments of the two were so different. Even the word god can be a burden if it is not conceived of as a symbol that corresponds to your individuality.

For example, Mohammed could not conceive of God as compassion. Compassion did not exist anywhere in his environment. Everything was so terrifying, so dangerous, that God had to be conceived of differently. Crossing from one country to the next, slaughtering, the people in Mohammed's environment could not conceive of a God that was not cruel. An uncruel God, a compassionate God, would have been unreal to them because the concept wouldn't have corresponded to their reality.

To a Hindu, God is seen through the environment. The nature is beautiful, the soil is fertile; the race is deeply rooted in the earth. Everything is flowing and flowing in a particular direction, and the movement is very slow, just like the Ganges. It is not terrifying and dangerous. So the Hindu god is bound to be a Krishna, dancing and playing on his flute. This image comes from the environment and from the racial mind and its experiences.

Everything subjective is bound to be translated, but whatever name and symbol we give to it is not unreal. It is real to us. So one must defend one's own symbol, but one must not impose one's own symbol on others. One must say, "Even if all the others are against this symbol, it is congenial to me; it comes to me naturally and spontaneously. God comes to me in this way; I do not know how he comes to others."

So there have been many ways to indicate these things, thousands and thousands of ways. But when I say it is subjective, psychic, I do not mean it is just a name. It is not just a name: to you it is a reality. It comes to you in this way and it cannot come to you otherwise. If we do not confuse materiality with reality, and do not confuse objectivity with reality, then everything will become clear.

But if you confuse them, then things become difficult to understand.

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(Letter from a Spokane, Washington Jew to Christian Pastor
Sheldon Emry).