Kundalini Yoga: returning to the roots
WHAT IS KUNDALINI YOGA AND HOW CAN IT HELP THE WEST? WHY IS YOUR METHOD FOR AWAKENING KUNDALINI CHAOTIC RATHER THAN LIKE THE TRADITIONAL, CONTROLLED METHODS?
Existence is energy, the movement of energy in so many ways and so many forms. As far as human existence is concerned, this energy is kundalini energy. Kundalini is the focused energy of the human body and human psyche.
Energy can exist either manifested or unmanifested. It can remain in the seed, or it can come up in a manifested form. Every energy is either in the seed or in the manifested form. Kundalini means your total potential, your total possibility. But it is a seed; it is the potential. The ways to awaken kundalini are ways to make your potential actual.
So first of all, kundalini is not something unique. It is only human energy as such. But ordinarily only a part of it is functioning, a very minute part. Even that part is not functioning harmoniously; it is in conflict. That is the misery, the anguish. If your energy can function harmoniously then you feel bliss, but if it is in conflict - if it is antagonistic to itself - then you feel miserable. All misery means that your energy is in conflict, and all happiness, all bliss, means that your energy is in harmony.
Why is the whole energy only potential, not actual? It is not needed as far as day-to-day life is concerned - it is not required. Only that part becomes functional that is required, challenged. Day- to-day life is not a challenge to it, so only a very minute part becomes manifest. And even this small, manifested part is not harmonious because your day-to-day life is not integrated.
Your needs are in conflict. Society requires one thing and your instincts require something quite contradictory. Social requirements and personal requirements are in conflict. Society has its requirements; morality and religion have their requirements. These conflicts have prevented man from being a harmonious whole. They have made man fragmentary.
In the morning one thing is required; in the afternoon something else is required. Your wife requires something from you; your mother requires something quite contrary. Then day-to-day life becomes a conflicting demand on you, and the minute part of your total energy that has become manifest is in conflict with itself.
There is also another conflict. The part that has become manifest will always be in conflict with the part that has not yet become manifest; the actual will always be in conflict with the potential. The potential will push itself to be manifested, and the actual will suppress it.
To use psychological terms, the unconscious is always in conflict with the conscious. The conscious will try to dominate it, because it is always in danger of the unconscious manifesting itself. The conscious is under control and the potential, the unconscious, is not. You can manage the conscious, but with an explosion of the unconscious you will be in insecurity. You will not be able to manage it. That is the fear of the conscious. So this is the other conflict, greater and deeper than the first: the conflict between the conscious and the unconscious, between the energy that has become manifest and the energy that wants to be manifested.
These two types of conflict are why you are not in harmony. And if you are not in harmony, your energy will become antagonistic to you. Energy needs movement, and movement is always from the unmanifest toward the manifest, from the seed toward the tree, from the dark toward the light.
This movement is possible only if there is no suppression. Otherwise the movement, the harmony, is destroyed and your energy becomes an enemy to you. You become a house divided against itself; you become a crowd. Then you are not one; you are many.
This is the situation that exists as far as human beings are concerned. But this should not be.
This is why there is ugliness and misery. Bliss and beauty can come only when your life energy is in movement, in easy movement, relaxed movement - unsuppressed, uninhibited; integrated, not fragmentary; not in conflict with itself, but one and organic. When your energy comes to this harmonious unity, that is what is meant by kundalini. Kundalini is just a technical term for your whole energy when it is in unity, in movement, in harmony, without any conflict; when it is cooperative, complementary and organic. Then and there, there is a transformation - unique and unknown.
When energies are in conflict, you want to relieve them. You feel at ease only when your conflicting energies are released, thrown off. But whenever you throw them off, your life energy, your vitality, moves downward, or outward. The downward movement is the outward movement, and the upward movement is the inward movement. The more your energies go up, the more they go in; the more they go down, the more they move out. If you throw your conflicting energies out you will feel relief, but that is just like throwing your life away in bits and fragments, in installments. It is suicidal. Unless our life energy becomes one and harmonious, and the flow becomes inward, we are suicidal.
When you are throwing out energy you feel relieved, but the relief is bound to be momentary because you are a constant source of energy. Energy accumulates again and you will have to get rid of it again. What is ordinarily known as pleasure is just a throwing off of conflicting energies. Pleasure means that you are relieved of a burden. It is always negative, never positive. But bliss is positive. It comes only when your energies are fulfilled.
When your energies are not thrown out but have an inward flowering, when you become one with them and are not in conflict with them, then there is a movement inward. That movement is endless.
It becomes deeper and deeper, and the deeper it goes, the more blissful it becomes, the more ecstatic.
So energy can have two possibilities. The first is just a relief, a throwing off of energies which have become a burden to you, which you could not utilize and with which you could not be creative. This state of mind is anti-kundalini.
The ordinary state of human beings is anti-kundalini. Energy moves from the center toward the periphery because that is the direction you are moving toward. Kundalini means just the opposite.
Forces, energies, move from the periphery toward the center.
The movement inward, the center-oriented movement, is blissful, while the outward movement gives both happiness and misery. There will be momentary happiness and permanent misery. Happiness will come only in gaps. Only when you hope, only when you have expectations, is the gap there.
The actual result is always misery.
Happiness is in expectation, in hoping, in desiring, in dreaming. It is only that you are relieved of your burden; the happiness is totally negative. There is no happiness as such, but only the momentary absence of misery. That absence is taken as happiness.
You are constantly creating new energies. That is what is meant by life: the ability to go on creating the life force. The moment the capacity is gone, you are dead. This is the paradox: you go on creating energy and you don't know what to do with it. When it is created you throw it off and when it is not created you feel miserable, ill.
The moment the life force is not created, you feel ill; but when it is created, you again feel ill. The first illness is that of weakness, and the second illness is that of energy that has become a burden to you. You are not able to harmonize it, to make it creative, to make it blissful. You have created it and now you don't know what to do with it, so you just throw it off. Then you create more energy again. This is absurd, but this absurdity is what we ordinarily mean by human existence: constantly creating energy that constantly becomes burdensome and that you constantly have to relieve.
That is why sex has become so important, so significant because it is one of the greatest means to rid yourself of energy. If the society becomes affluent, you have more sources through which energy can be created. Then you become more sexual, because you have more tensions to relieve.
There is a constant creating of energy and throwing out of energy. If one is intelligent enough, sensitive enough, then one will feel the absurdity of it, the whole meaninglessness of it. Then one will feel the purposelessness of life. Are you just an instrument to create energy and throw it out? What is the meaning of this? What is the need to exist at all? Just to be an instrument in which energy is created and thrown out? So the more sensitive a person is, the more he feels the meaninglessness of life as we know it.
Kundalini means to change this absurd situation into a meaningful one. The science of kundalini is one of the most subtle sciences. The physical sciences are also concerned with energy, but with material energy not psychic energy. Yoga is concerned with psychic energy. It is a science of the metaphysical, of that which is transcendental.
Just like the material energy that science is concerned with, this psychic energy can be creative or destructive. If it is not used, it becomes destructive; if it is used, it becomes creative. But it can also be used noncreatively. The way to make it creative is first to understand that you should not realize only part of your potential. If one part is realized and the remaining, major portion of your potential is unrealized, it is not a situation that can be creative.
The whole must be realized; your whole potential must be actualized. There are methods to realize the potential, to make it actual, to make it awake. It is sleeping, just like a snake. That is why it has been named kundalini: serpent power, a sleeping serpent.
If you have ever seen a serpent sleeping, it is just like that. It is coiled; there is no movement at all.
But a serpent can stand up straight on its tail. It stands by its energy. That is why the serpent has been used symbolically. Your life energy is also coiled and asleep. But it can become straight; it can become awake, with its full potential actualized. Then you will be transformed.
Life and death are only two states of energy. Life means energy functioning, and death means energy nonfunctioning. Life means energy awake; death means energy gone again into sleep. So according to kundalini yoga, you are ordinarily only partially alive. The part of your energy that has become actualized is your life. The remaining part is so asleep that it is as if it were not.
But it can be awakened. There are so many methods through which kundalini yoga tries to make the potential actual. For example, pranayama, breath control, is one of the methods to hammer the sleeping energy. Through breath, the hammering is possible because breathing is the bridge between your vital energy - your prana, your original source of vitality - and your actual existence.
It is the bridge between the potential and the actual.
The moment you change your breathing system, your total energy system changes. When you are asleep your breathing changes. When you are awake your breathing changes. When you are angry your breathing is different; when you are in love your breathing is different; when you are in sexual passion your breathing is different. In every state of mind a particular quality of life force is there, so your breathing changes.
When you are angry you require more energy on the periphery. If you are in danger - if you have to attack or you have to defend yourself - more energy is needed on the periphery. The energy will rush from the center.
Because a great quantity of energy is thrown off from your body during the sex act, you feel exhausted afterward. And after anger, too, you will feel exhausted. But after a loving moment, you will not feel exhausted. You will feel fresh. After prayer, you will feel fresh. Why has the contrary happened? When you are in a loving moment, energy is not needed on the periphery because there is no danger. You are at ease, relaxed, so the energy flow is inward. When energy flows inward, you feel fresh.
After deep breathing you will feel fresh, because energy is flowing inward. When energy flows inward you feel vitalized, fulfilled; you feel a well-being.
Another thing to notice: when energy is going inward, your breath will begin to have a different quality. It will be relaxed, rhythmic, harmonious. There will be moments when you will not feel it at all, when you will feel as if it has stopped. It becomes so subtle! Because energy is not needed, the breath stops. In samadhi, in ecstasy, one feels that the breath has stopped completely. No outward flow of energy is needed, so the breath is unnecessary.
Through pranayama this potential energy within you is systematically awakened. It can also be tapped through asanas, yogic postures, because your body is connected at every point to the source of energy. So every posture has a corresponding effect on the energy source.
The posture that Buddha used is called padmasan, the lotus posture. It is one of the postures in which the least amount of energy is needed. If you sit up straight, sitting is so balanced that you become one with the earth. There is no gravitational pull. And if your hands and feet are in such a position that a closed circuit is created, the life electricity will flow in a circuit. Buddha's posture is a round posture. Energy becomes circular; it is not thrown out.
Energy always moves out through the fingers, hands or feet. But through a round shape, energy cannot flow out. That is why women are more resistant to illness than men, and why they live longer.
The rounder the body is, the less energy flows outward.
Women are not so exhausted after the sex act because the shape of their sexual organ is round and absorbing. Men will be more exhausted. Because of the shape of their sexual organ, more energy is thrown out. Not only biological energy, but psychic energy also.
All the energy outlets are joined together in padmasan, so no energy can move outward. Both feet are crossed, the hands touch the feet and the feet touch the sex center. And the posture is so erect that there is no gravitational pull. In this posture, one can forget the body completely because life energy is not flowing outward. The eyes are also to be closed or half closed and the eyeballs still, because eyes are also a great outlet for energy.
Even in dreams you throw out much energy through eye movements. In fact, one way to know whether a person is dreaming or not is to put your fingers on his eyes. If they are moving, then he is dreaming. Awaken him, and you will find he was dreaming. If the eyeballs are not moving, then he is in deep, dreamless sleep, sushupti. All energy is going inward and nothing is going outward.
Asanas, pranayama - there are so many methods through which energies can be made to flow inward. When they flow inward they become one, because at the center there cannot be more than one. So the more energy goes inward, the more harmony there is. Conflicts drop. In the center there is no conflict. There is an organic unity of the whole. That is why bliss is felt.
Another thing: asanas and pranayama are bodily helps. They are important, but they are only physical helps. If your mind is in conflict then they will not be of much help, because body and mind are not two things really. They are two parts of one thing. You are not body and mind; you are body/mind. You are psycho/somatic or somato/psychic. We talk about the body as one thing and the mind as something different, but body and mind are two poles of one energy. The body is gross and the mind is subtle, but the energy is the same.
One has to work from both polarities. For the body there is hatha yoga: asanas, pranayama, etcetera; and for the mind there is raga yoga and other yogas that are basically concerned with your mental attitudes.
Body and mind are one energy. For example, if you can control your breath when you are angry, the anger will die. If you can go on breathing rhythmically, anger cannot overpower you. In the same way, if you go on breathing rhythmically, sexual passion cannot overpower you. It will be there, but it will not become manifest. No one will know it is there. Not even you will be able to know it. So sex can be suppressed; anger can be suppressed. Through rhythmic breathing you can suppress them so much that you yourself will not even be aware of it. But the anger or sex will still be there. The body has suppressed it, but it remains inside, untouched.
One has to work with both the body and the mind. The body should be trained through yogic methodology, and the mind through awareness. You will require more awareness if you practice yoga because things will become more subtle. If you are angry, you can ordinarily become aware of it because it is so gross. But if you practice pranayama, you will need more awareness, more acute sensitivity to be aware of anger, because now the anger will become more subtle. The body is not cooperating with it so there will be no physical expression of it at all.
If people practice awareness techniques and simultaneously practice yogic methods, they will know deeper realms of awareness. Otherwise they will be aware only of the gross. If you change the gross but do not change the subtle, you will be in a dilemma. Now conflict will assert itself in a new way.
Yoga is helpful, but it is only one part. The other part is what Buddha calls mindfulness.
Practice yoga so that the body becomes rhythmic and cooperative with your inner movements, and simultaneously practice mindfulness.
Be mindful of breathing. In yoga, you have to change the breathing process. In mindfulness, you have to be aware of the breathing as it is. Just be aware of it. If you can become aware of your breathing, then you can become aware of your thought process; otherwise not.
Those who try to become aware of their thought process directly, will not be able to do it. It will be very arduous, tedious. Breathing is the door to the mind. If you stop your breathing for a single moment, your thoughts will also stop. When breathing stops, the thought process stops. If your thinking is chaotic, your breathing will be chaotic. Breathing will simultaneously reflect your thought process.
Buddha talks about anapanasati: the yoga of awareness of the incoming and outgoing breath. He says, "Begin from here." And that is the correct beginning. One should begin from breathing and never from the thought process itself. When you can feel the subtle movements of breath, only then will you be able to feel the subtle movements of thought.
Awareness of the thought process will change the quality of the mind; asanas and pranayama will change the quality of the body. Then the moment comes when your body and mind are one, without any conflict at all. When they are synchronized, you are neither body nor mind. For the first time, you know yourself as the Self. You transcend.
You can transcend only when there is no conflict. In this harmonious moment when body and mind are one, with no conflict, you transcend both. You are neither. Now you are nothing in a sense:
no-thing. You are simple consciousness. Not conscious of something, but just awareness itself.
This awareness without being aware of anything, this consciousness without being conscious of anything, is the moment of explosion. Your potential becomes actual. You explode into a new realm:
the ultimate. This ultimate is the concern of all religions.
There are so many ways to reach this ultimate. One may talk about kundalini or not; it is immaterial.
Kundalini is only a word. You can use another word. But what is signified by the word 'kundalini' is bound to be there in some way or other as an inward flow of energy.
This inward flow is the only revolution, the only freedom. Otherwise you will go on creating more hells, because the more you go outward the further off you are from yourself. And the further off you are from yourself, the more ill and diseased you are.
Kundalini is the original source of all life, but you are cut off from it in so many ways. Then you become an outsider to yourself and you do not know how to come back home. This coming back is the science of yoga. As far as human transformation is concerned, kundalini yoga is the subtlest science.
You have asked why traditional methods are systematic and my method is chaotic. Traditional methods are systematic because the people in earlier times for whom they were developed were different. Modern man is a very new phenomenon. No traditional method can be used exactly as it exists, because modern man never existed before. So in a way, all traditional methods have become irrelevant.
For example, the body has changed so much. It is not as natural now as it was in the days when Patanjali developed his system of yoga. It is absolutely different. It is so drugged that no traditional method can be helpful.
In the past, medicine was not allowed to hatha yogis, absolutely not allowed, because chemical changes will not only make the methods difficult, but harmful. But the whole atmosphere is artificial now: the air, the water, society, living conditions. Nothing is natural. You are born in artificiality; you develop in it. So traditional methods will prove harmful today. They will have to be changed according to the modern situation.
Another thing: the quality of the mind has basically changed. In Patanjali's days, the center of the human personality was not the brain; it was the heart. And before that, it was not even the heart.
It was still lower, near the navel. Hatha yoga developed methods which were useful, meaningful, to the person whose center of personality was the navel. Then the center became the heart. Only then could bhakti yoga be used. Bhakti yoga developed in the middle ages because that is when the center of personality changed from the navel to the heart.
A method has to change according to the person to whom it is applied. Now, not even bhakti yoga is relevant. The center has gone even further from the navel. Now, the center is the brain. That is why teachings like those of Krishnamurti have appeal. No method is needed, no technique is needed - only understanding. But if it is just a verbal understanding, just intellectual, nothing changes, nothing is transformed. It again becomes an accumulation of knowledge.
I use chaotic methods rather than systematic ones because a chaotic method is very helpful in pushing the center down from the brain. The center cannot be pushed down through any systematic method because systemization is brain work. Through a systematic method, the brain will be strengthened; more energy will be added to it.
Through chaotic methods, the brain is nullified. It has nothing to do. The method is so chaotic that the center is automatically pushed from the brain to the heart. If you do my method of Dynamic Meditation vigorously, unsystematically, chaotically, your center moves to the heart. Then there is a catharsis. A catharsis is needed because your heart is so suppressed, due to your brain. Your brain has taken over so much of your being that it dominates you. There is no place for the heart, so the longings of the heart are suppressed. You have never laughed heartily, never lived heartily, never done anything heartily. The brain always comes in to systematize, to make things mathematical, and the heart is suppressed.
So firstly, a chaotic method is needed to push the center of consciousness from the brain toward the heart. Then catharsis is needed to unburden the heart, to throw off suppressions, to make the heart open. If the heart becomes light and unburdened, then the center of consciousness is pushed still lower; it comes to the navel. The navel is the source of vitality, the seed source from which everything else comes: the body and the mind and everything.
I use this chaotic method very considerately. Systematic methodology will not help now, because the brain will use it as its own instrument. Nor can just the chanting of bhajans help now, because the heart is so burdened that it cannot flower into real chanting. Chanting can only be an escape for it; prayer can only be an escape. The heart cannot flower into prayer because it is so overburdened with suppressions. I have not seen a single person who can go deep into authentic prayer. Prayer is impossible because love itself has become impossible.
Consciousness must be pushed down to the source, to the roots. Only then is there the possibility of transformation. So I use chaotic methods to push the consciousness downward from the brain.
Whenever you are in chaos, the brain stops working. For example, if you are driving a car and suddenly someone runs in front of you, you react so suddenly that it cannot be the work of the brain. The brain takes time. It thinks about what to do and what not to do. So whenever there is a possibility of an accident and you push the brake, you feel a sensation near your navel, as if it were your stomach that is reacting. Your consciousness is pushed down to the navel because of the accident. If the accident could be calculated beforehand, the brain would be able to deal with it; but when you are in an accident, something unknown happens. Then you notice that your consciousness has moved to the navel.
If you ask a Zen monk, "From where do you think?" he puts his hands on his stomach. When Westerners came into contact with Japanese monks for the first time, they could not understand.
"What nonsense! How can you think from your stomach?" But the Zen reply is meaningful.
Consciousness can use any center of the body, and the center that is nearest to the original source is the navel. The brain is furthest away from the original source, so if life energy is moving outward, the center of consciousness will become the brain. And if life energy is moving inward, ultimately the navel will become the center.
Chaotic methods are needed to push the consciousness to its roots, because only from the roots is transformation possible. Otherwise you will go on verbalizing and there will be no transformation.
It is not enough just to know what is right. You have to transform the roots; otherwise you will not change.
When a person knows the right thing and cannot do anything about it, he becomes doubly tense.
He understands, but he cannot do anything. Understanding is meaningful only when it comes from the navel, from the roots. If you understand from the brain, it is not transforming.
The ultimate cannot be known through the brain, because when you are functioning through the brain you are in conflict with the roots from which you have come. Your whole problem is that you have moved away from the navel. You have come from the navel and you will die through it. One has to come back to the roots. But coming back is difficult, arduous.
Kundalini yoga is concerned with life energy and its inward flow. It is concerned with techniques to bring the body and mind to a point where transcendence is possible. Then, everything is changed.
The body is different; the mind is different; the living is different. It is just life.
A bullock cart is useful, but it is no longer needed. Now you are driving a car, so you cannot use the technique that was used with the bullock cart. It was useful with the bullock cart, but it is irrelevant with the car.
Traditional methods have an appeal because they are so ancient and so many persons have achieved through them in the past. They may have become irrelevant to us, but they were not irrelevant to Buddha, Mahavira, Patanjali or Krishna. They were meaningful, helpful. The old methods may be meaningless now, but because Buddha achieved through them they have an appeal. The traditionalist feels: "If Buddha achieved through these methods, why can't I?" But we are in an altogether different situation now. The whole atmosphere, the whole thought-sphere, has changed. Every method is organic to a particular situation, to a particular mind, to a particular man.
The opposite extreme is that of Krishnamurti. He denies all methods. But to do that, he has to deny Buddha. It is the other aspect of the same coin. If you deny the methods then you have to deny Buddha, and if you do not deny Buddha then you cannot deny his methods.
These are extremes. Extremes are always wrong. You cannot deny a falsehood through taking an extreme position to it, because the opposite extreme will still be a falsehood. The truth always lies exactly in the middle. So to me, the fact that the old methods don't work doesn't mean that no method is useful. It only means that the methods themselves must change.
Even no-method is a method. It is possible that to someone only no-method will be a method.
A method is always true in relation to a particular person; it is never general. When truths are generalized, they become false. So whenever anything is to be used or anything is to be said, it is always addressed to a particular human being: to his attention, to his mind, to him and no one else.
This too has become a difficulty now. In the old days there was always a one-to-one relationship between a teacher and a disciple. It was a personal relationship and a personal communication.
Today it is always impersonal. One has to talk to a crowd, so one has to generalize. But generalized truths become false. Something is meaningful only to a particular person.
I face this difficulty daily. If you come to me and ask me something, I answer you and no one else.
Another time someone else asks me something, and I answer him and no one else. These two answers may even be contradictory, because the two persons who have asked may be contradictory.
So if I am to help you, I must speak particularly to you. And if I speak particularly to each individual, I will have to say many conflicting things.
Any person who has been talking in general can be consistent, but then the truth becomes false, because every statement that is true is bound to be addressed to a particular person. Of course, the truth is eternal - it is never new, never old - but truth is the realization, the end. The means are always relevant or irrelevant to a particular person, to a particular mind, to a particular attitude.
As I see the situation, modern man has changed so much that he needs new methods, new techniques. Chaotic methods will help the modern mind because the modern mind is, itself, chaotic.
This chaos, this rebelliousness in modern man is, in fact, a rebellion of other things: of the body against the mind and against its suppressions. If we talk about it in yogic terms we can say that it is the rebellion of the heart center and the navel center against the brain.
These centers are against the brain because the brain has monopolized the whole territory of the human soul. This cannot be tolerated any further. That is why universities have become centers of rebellion. It is not accidental. If the whole society is thought of as an organic body, then the university is the head, the brain.
Because of the rebelliousness of the modern mind, it is bound to be lenient toward loose and chaotic methods. Dynamic Meditation will help to move the center of consciousness away from the brain.
Then the person using it will never be rebellious, because the cause of rebellion becomes fulfilled.
He will be at ease.
So to me, meditation is not only a salvation for the individual, a transformation for the individual; it can also provide the groundwork for the transformation of the whole society, of the human being as such. Man will either have to commit suicide, or he will have to transform his energy.