Kundalini awakenings take many forms.
When I visited Gopi Krishna in 1977, we discussed the reasons behind this phenomenon. “Why," he asked me, "do some people experience Kundalini so fleetingly while others — a very select few — live it 24 hours a day from the time of awakening till the day they die?”
I told him what I'd gleaned from my experience, that the difference must reside in the method, “In my case, once I penetrated the symbolic, poetic language of The Secret of the Golden Flower, it read like an instructional manual. It’s hard to imagine that this method was the work of one person, that one person discovered the method and then wrote the book. I have trouble believing it worked only once, for the person who wrote the book, and then twelve centuries later, it worked once again for me.”
Permanent Kundalini is like an electrical current that never stops. The individuals who experience it know it never stops. Permanent Kundalini does not include cases where individuals felt a jolt of electricity over a given interval, followed by a complete cessation of same, even though, as a result of experiencing Kundalini, they had their lives irrevocably changed. Lingering effects are understandable, but any feelings — no matter how intensely felt — do not constitute permanent Kundalini. Permanent Kundalini is a condition under which Kundalini energy circulates 24 hours a day. That is the difference between Permanent and Temporary.
Some of the areas of confusion need to be considered — what it is and what it isn't: It is not a longing to recapture some effervescent moment of clarity. Nor is it a Close-Encounters-of-a-Third-Kind feeling that something will, or has, happened. Permanent Kundalini is happening now and will be happening twenty minutes from now, and for the rest of your life.
It is not a foreshadowing or a frisson, an exhilaration or a rush, a fleeting sensation or a lasting memory. It is not an unbearable lightness of being. It is more like a medical condition, a very rare condition. A constant companion. Like high-blood pressure, you cannot shake it. Start with the earliest childhood memories of yourself, what you might call Condition Normal. Set aside the commotion in your head and concentrate on your physical being as you first apprehended it as a child. Add to that an element of energy constantly welling up from below, a newfound sensitivity to energy sources (food, beverages, natural, mechanical and electronic forces) and a heightened awareness and you have permanent Kundalini.
Welcome or not, it’s here, and you can’t shake it; you can only learn to live with it. Which brings us back to the question of why some experiences are temporary and others are permanent. Is it a question of method? Does the way the experience is triggered determine its permanency?
I have met and talked with many people about their Kundalini experiences. Not as many as Gopi Krishna, but quite a few. Generally, they fall into three categories:
- Those who are not sure they have really experienced Kundalini. Difficult to gauge.
- Those who experience Kundalini temporarily and retain vivid memories of the experience. Quite common.
- Those whose Kundalini, once activated, continues 24-hours a day. Very rare.
Those who are not sure they have really experienced Kundalini
In a perfect world this group should not exist— Kundalini is either active or it isn’t. Nevertheless, the group does exist and its members exhibit various and sundry states of affect. In a perfect world there would be people trying to awaken Kundalini, people in whom it was awakened or who awakened it at one time and in whom it has since returned to a dormant state, and people in whom it was awakened or who awakened it permanently. No one would be unsure. In our less than perfect world there is less surety.
People often think they are infirm, yet they are perfectly well. It called hypochondria, and it's startlingly prevalent. Mental states and predispositions often cloud what’s really happening in the body. That’s why Gopi Krishna came to the realization that Kundalini was often mistaken for mental illness. Most have heard about mental illness, but until recently most knew nothing about Kundalini, so it’s easy to understand how a Kundalini experience that stirs up energy centers might be mistaken for mental illness, especially in a culture featuring offhand remarks like, “I must be going crazy” and “Are you nuts?” There’s a lot of confusion out there, people confusing what’s happening in the body with what’s happening in the mind, and vice-versa. Nevertheless, as Kundalini becomes more familiar and the term is used more frequently, people may begin to understand the differences.
For those striving to awaken Kundalini, yet never seeming to get there, the problem isn’t mental illness; it’s one part method and one part Karma. After working with Kundalini for a long time, I have realized that some people are not destined to awaken it, no matter how hard they try.
Those who experience Kundalini temporarily
A large part of this group awakens Kundalini accidentally. This is neither good nor bad; it is what it is. When it happens and the person knows nothing about Kundalini, there’s a temptation to fight it, to resist giving in to it, which is foolish because, once activated, Kundalini takes control.
Kundalini can be triggered by Yoga, by meditation, by ingesting drugs, or just plain not-doing. It can occur while walking down the street, driving a tractor, chewing your food, or making love. Just about any banal activity or non-activity can set it off. When it does occur, don’t fight it. Why? Because you can’t. So submit and learn. Perhaps, it will go away; perhaps it won’t. If it does go away, it’s probably because you did something to release sublimated sexual energy or the energy shook loose on its own. If the energy does cease for some reason, the conduits — between the base of the spine and the brain — have not been permanently opened.
At this point it’s up to you whether you want to pursue the matter. Read Deciphering the Golden Flower One Secret at a Time. Read the many other first hand accounts of Kundalini awakenings. Do you want to move forward? Do you want to recapture the Kundalini condition permanently? If so, use a reliable meditation method, one that you've vetted scrupulously. Don’t attempt it if you’re not absolutely sure and/or you don’t have the time and the support system to follow through.
If you have experienced Kundalini in any way, shape, or form, vivid memories of the experience will stay with you, even though the condition itself may have become dormant, even though the current may have ceased to flow. You will be able to use this experience in your overall understanding of life.
Those whose Kundalini is permanently active
In Kundalini: The Evolutionary Energy in Man Gopi Krishna describes his search for individuals whose Kundalini functions 24-hours a day without respite. He did not find many. This in India, a country renowned for spiritual exploration and practice.
So if Gopi Krishna couldn’t find them, and modern investigators can’t find them, there can’t be many. Why is this? There are as many reasons as there is diversity among individual experiences. Perhaps there should be a directory of case studies with gradations and classifications, especially given the interest in the subject and the various gurus and methods extant. But there is no directory.
The only testimony I can bring to bear is my own. That I’ve lived with Kundalini for over forty years, that it’s a physical transformation triggered by intense neuroplastic activity which, in turn, leads to an extension of consciousness and in some cases, although it varies from case to case, the appearance of metanormal powers.
I’d like to say that in each successful case permanent Kundalini is due to the successful application of a method. But I can’t, even though I myself used Golden Flower Meditation (GFM), the time-tested method in The Secret of the Golden Flower. Even though I've been saying, "It worked for me. It ought to work for others." So while the method should a testimony to the ancient adepts that discovered it, I can’t say with any certainty that others have used my method successfully, even in cases where the individual insists he or she has. Is that a cop out? No, merely the realization that each case is difficult to verify and document.
As with all historical information, this method — the one I used — must be continually tested and hopefully improved. Why? Because if a serious line of study is ever to emerge around Kundalini, the method must be tested and peer reviewed. For wouldn't you rather start with a method than have Kundalini strike you while riding the subway or watching a baseball game. I would.
For the moment, however, even with the extraordinary buzz surrounding Kundalini and Kundalini Yoga today, there’s just no telling how, when, or where it will strike, and once it does strike, whether it will be permanent or temporary...