The ancient man observed that human beings were equipped with varying potentialities and capabilities, and thru such observation, he came to understand that the variations in individual capabilities were created by a special energy that resided in each individual. He found that each individual activated this energy differently, and therefore accessed the energy differently. Whereas the energy remains dormant in some people, in others it was evolving. In a very small minority, it was fully activated.
In Hinduism, the energy is called prana shakti. In tantric texts, it is called Kundalini. Kundalini is said to reside in the subtle body that envelops and exists in parallel with our physical bodies. Kundalini reposes in the subtle realm between the body and mind visible and invisible, between physical and divine, and between here and not here.
No evidence for the existence of Kundalini energy has been found by science so far, much in the same way as no causal evidence has been found for consciousness, mind, or life.
Today, when people talk of spirituality, the word Kundalini, Serpent Fire, or the Dragon immediately springs to mind. Kundalini, the mysterious, latent energy powers the universe and its people. Kundalini, the primal, primordial energy (shakti) is said to be located at the base of the spine. Throughout antiquity and beyond, the ancients have used different terms like life force, élan vital, entelechy etc etc to refer to it. The shamans accept its existence, the Kabbalah refers to it as Secret Fire, and the Gnostics use Alchemy to achieve the same effects. The story of Adam and Eve is a symbol of awakening consciousness, an activation of Kundalini. In the Christian tradition, the terms ‘the Path of the Initiates’ and ‘the Stairway to Heaven’ used in the Bible, refer to Kundalini’s ascent*. In Scandinavian, European, Latin American and Middle Eastern countries and many different civilizations of the world, the concept of the serpent power can be seen in their monuments and artifacts. Kundalini, in some shape or form, was known to people from all parts of the world in the past. Buddhism does not directly refer to Kundalini. In his focus on simplicity of life and his emphasis on eradication of suffering, Buddha shied away from any visible display of power that Kundalini can unfold. However, regardless of the lack of acknowledgement, and in spite of that lack, Buddhist meditation invariably unleashes the serpent power to bless the practitioners not only with the legendary Buddhist wisdom that is readily shared with the world, but also with the siddhis or mystical powers that the Buddhist monks and nuns are prohibited from acknowledging, displaying, or sharing. Almost every culture, tradition and religion speaks about a life force, or prana . . .something more than what is uncovered by contemporary science. Each one of us is born with this infinite power within our grasp. Most of us will go thru life without the ability, or need to wake up this dormant storehouse of energy, some of us – the blessed ones – thru luck, perseverance, and divine grace, will enjoy the fruits of the divine gift Kundalini.
Kundalini is usually represented as a snake coiled three and a half times around, in the same way DNA strands are coiled. The three rotations of the serpent represent the first three levels of consciousness – unconscious, subconscious and conscious; and the half turn refers to the awakened super-consciousness. The evolution of consciousness is connected with time, and the snake is also known as Kaal or time, which is also a synonym for death. Thus the winding of the snake also represents the past, present and future.
This serpent power symbolizes the personal unconscious and the collective unconscious in man. There are seven whirling energy centers in the body (chakras) that serve as entry points for life energy (or prana) into human body. These seven chakra centres in human body correspond to various organs and glands of the body based on their positions. The energy that they dissipate fertilizes the growth of not only the positive aspects of the person but the negative aspects as well. Hence before any work to awaken this latent energy is initiated, preparatory work to enhance purity of mind is emphasized.
Because the latent Kundalini energy is said to be located at the base of the spine, if we represent the human body as a tree, then the base of the spine would represent the root of the tree. It is a given that a healthy root is essential for a healthy tree.
The energy centre associated with the base of the spine is labelled as Mooladhara Chakra (Sanskrit: मूलाधार, IAST: Mūlādhāra, English: “root support”), or the Root Chakra. This area controls and energizes the whole physical body. The muscular system, the skeletal system, the spine, the quality of blood, the adrenal glands and the internal organs are all strengthened and controlled by the Mooladhara Chakra. It is believed that if the Mooladhara Chakra of a person is rightfully activated, the person will be robust and healthy.
Right above the Mooladhara Chakra lies the Swadhishtana Chakra, or the Sacral Chakra. Mooladhara Chakra exerts a very strong influence on the Swadhistana Chakra
Swadhishtana Chakra, (Sacral Chakra) is associated with the Jungian Eros, the energy and passion that is the hallmark of everyday human life. This encompasses passion, desire, aspirations, dreams, hopes, sexual life and our expectations of love and life. A malfunctioning Swadhishtana Chakra will manifest as problems related with Freudian libido in general viz lack of direction, goals, ambition, passion, conviction, energy, motivation and problems with the sexual drive itself.
Swadhistana Chakra is also said to be greatly influenced by Ajna (Third Eye) Chakra which is associated with intelligence, consciousness, sentience and knowledge, and Vishuddhi (Throat) Chakra, which is associated with speech and personal power. The association is readily understood, as our intellect and our personal power plays a significant part in maintaining, and controlling our erotic life – where the term erotic is defined as that ‘pertaining to eros’ – here eros being the Jungian Eros (not the Freudian Sex)
Therefore, Mooladhara Chakra – in and thru its control of Sadhistana Chakra, controls and influences extremely important aspects of human lives.
The Mooladhara Chakra is affiliated with the sense of smell. The activation of the Mooladhara Chakra can lead to a heightening of sensory perceptions, especially the refinement of the senses of smell and hearing. We often become aware of aromas and sounds that are not perceptible to others, or hear sounds that are not heard by others. We may smell aromas or hear sounds from different timelines, from the past, or from the future, which others are not able to.
The color assigned to the Mooladhara Chakra is red, the color of vitality and passion. It points to a strong, dense energy connected to the earth. Our existence has its roots in the earth and therefore the earth element or bhoomi tatva is assigned to the Mooladhara Chakra.
Mooladhara Chakra is further represented by the inverted triangle indicating the beginning of our spiritual development; the broadside upwards and outwards represent the direction of the developing consciousness. The sound of the Mooladhara is Lam. Invocation of Lam perturbs status quo, and agitates the Chakra into activation. The Chakra is blocked by accumulation of eons of unconscious material. Activation involves release of this suppressed unconscious material. All of it must rise to the surface and dissolve, before the latent energy underneath can become available for processing. Therefore, there is a emphasis on “letting go” of known and unknown hurts, slights, trauma and related negative emotions thru meditation and forgiveness. Hence activation of the Mooladhara Chakra may initially bring to surface unpleasant memories, feelings, or episodes which must be laid to rest before the energies can be beneficially utilized. If these issues are not dealt with, and release of energy is forced, the suppressed problems are amplified, and may result in increased depression, anxiety, anger, feelings of vengeance, even psychosis. Therefore, it is to individual’s advantage that the progress be steady, and monitored. A successful activation of Mooladhar Chakra will brings forth freedom from repressed traumatic memories from the past, and the psychic energy used up in maintaining such memories, and their repression, also becomes available to a individual.
Someone asked me a very interesting question the other day – why does Kundalini repose in the Mooladhara Chakra, and not in the Ajna (Third Eye), or Sahasrara (Corwn – Brain/Mind and beyond). Its a fair question to ask – after all, these two Chakras – Ajna and Sahasrara – are of the highest order, and represent the loftiest virtues of humankind where as Mooladhara controls our basest instincts. Why would an intelligent god depend on the lowly Mooladhara rather than the virtuous Ajna, or Sahasrara to guard this divine energy? Indeed, all aspirants and devotees of Kundalini hope for an opening of the Ajna Chakra, which is also referred to as Third Eye Awakening. The Third Eye is the legendary all seeing eye of Shiva, located between the brows. It is said that the awakening of Ajna Chakra unleashes wisdom and knowledge about the universe, and enables siddhis, or mystical powers, including but not limited to the powers to see the past, present and future.
The answer to this question is quite simple – this is the most optimum design of the world that could be. Lets see how that is so.
Humans are born with latent Kundalini reposed at the base of the spine instead of an dynamically active Kundalini spinning its power in the Ajna or Sahasrara Chakra. This is designed to enable the world and its cycles to be what they are. This moment is a seed for the next moment. A mother and child relationships is a metaphor for time. The next moment that will be born of this moment – the child – will inherit the psychic dna of this moment, it will inherit the fundamental characteristics of this moment. That is all there is to life – our moment to moment existence, each moment building on itself, to create the complexity and the cycle called life, death and rebirth; much in the same way the 0’s and 1’s build on each other to create complex mathematics; much like the seven notes creates a complex compilation of music and sound that we call songs. And so on. When we perform calculus operations, or when we hear Bach or Beethoven, we don’t see or pay attention to the basic 0’s and 1’s, or the underlying notes of music. When we look at a chair, a desk, a building, or a mountain, we don’t see atoms, electrons or protons. In the same way, our lived life moves too fast for us to track individual moments. But these moments are the building stones of our lives, the building blocks for propagation of life. We just are too distracted, unmindful – ignorant – to see how the moments all add up.
It is the very flaw in how this moment is lived by us, which defines the salient characteristics of the next moment, which in turn defines the next one and next one and so on. The unfinished business of this moment is transmitted to the next moment, and we are given an opportunity to complete it in the next moment, and next, and next and so on.
At the time of death, the imperfection of our life lived in that last moment represents our unfinished business in this world. These imperfections create a residual moment – a child moment that arises of those imperfections. The residual moment carries in its womb, our Karma from the past moment, acting like a bridge that spawns across the divide between the life ending moment, and the following moment in which rebirth occurs. Thus the imperfections in our moment of death necessitate a rebirth (so we may complete our unfinished business in the next life). These imperfections, unfinished business, or past Karma, are carried into a new body on rebirth.
If the moment of death was perfectly lived, there would be no baggage attached to us and hence no need for that baggage to be parked anywhere – into a rebirth. A person would attain Moksha or Nirvana. But it is we ourselves, unknowingly, cause ourselves to perpetuate an endless cycle, by living imperfectly in these current moments. We set off a chain of events that only we can break.
Hence, it is our Karma, unfinished business in this world, the imperfections in our life – that propagate the cycle of birth and death. Thus our sloth, and our innocence – which can also be called our ignorance – creates the basis for propagation of life as we know it, keeping us trapped in the unending eternal cycle of life and death. The sooner we complete the unfinished business, the sooner we can exit out of this cycle.
The story of Adam and Eve is a metaphor for human existence, the fruit from the tree of knowledge being the metaphor for Kundalini. This world represents the Garden of Eden, and Maya, or our inability to know ourselves and our inability to see how things really are, represents the ignorance and the innocence of Adam and Eve.
So long as Adam and Eve had not tasted the fruit from the tree of knowledge, they were blissfully unaware of the real world, and were insanely happy in Paradise. They were unconscious and ignorant about the universe itself, the nature of life, or their part in the universe. They carried no responsibility or accountability for their actions, being controlled by the Will of God. In their ignorance, they enjoyed their life in an unaware manner, roaming naked in the Garden of Eden, Paradise being the only place they knew of. Their knowledge and intellect was severely curtailed by their bondage to the Will of God. It is metaphorically significant that it was a serpent that led them to their awareness.
Likewise, we humans, their descendants, are as innocent, and unaware of the significance of the fruits from the tree of knowledge – guarded by our very own serpent power. The Kundalini lies dormant, at the base of our spine, as accessible to us as the apple was to Adam and Eve, but we go thru lives being zombies, attached to our current, earthly, materialistic existence, without really being conscious of, or having any knowledge or understanding of the universe, our role in it, and the nature of life represented by the cycle of life and death, afraid to be courageous enough to take a bite of the proverbial Apple.
Kundalini thus represents our highest unrealized potential. Only we ourselves can unlock this potential.
Once they took a bite of the Apple, Adam and Eve acquired consciousness. They could never go back to their earlier state and thus were forced to leave the symbolic paradise. They matured into responsible and accountable humans, with intellect, knowledge, wisdom and consciousness by experiencing the fullness of life in their ability to realize themselves. It was the taste of the forbidden fruit which unveiled their ignorance forever. There was no going back.
Much in the same way, Kundalini pierces the veil of Maya, and allows us to see the world as it is. There is no going back to ignorance.
The longing to return to the Garden of Eden is symbolically the longing for return to the womb. It represents our wish for a simpler, uncomplicated life. Our wish to avoid our responsibilities as an adult. It arises when we find ourselves unable to meet the challenges that life throws in our way. It is a psychic response to the existential isolation. There is no womb there that can take us back – we have to reconcile to the fact, and carry the loads of existence on our shoulders, enduring cycle after cycle after cycle of this existential suffering – until we can find a way to break the cycle. The tool and technique to break this cycle is given to us, in the form of Kundalini. It lets us experience the Absolute Truth, and the Truth sets us free.
We experience time in moments, days, months, years, eons. We read about such time in books, but such knowledge is not ours, it is merely someone else’s truth. We read about the universe, but we have no experience of the universe. Our lives remain limited to that of paradise earth, and we shirk responsibility for our own growth. We are conditioned to live in ignorance by the Will of God. We live in a grip of Maya. That is how the world is. That is how Life propagates. The world as we know it, exists because of our aspirations, dreams, wishes, wants, wishes, desires, love, and sex. These are fuels that propagate life. These are the possessions of Mooladhara, and Swadhishtana Chakra. These are divine gifts to ordinary humans. They sustain and maintain our existence in this realm if that is what we would like. The world is meant to go on, in exactly the same way because we will it to be so.
For those who want a different kind of world, Kundalini is meant to provide an option to exit.
Buddha’s Middle Path is said to enable the attainment of Nirvana – freedom from the cycle of life and death. When Buddha attained enlightenment, he entered into a dialogue with god and is said to have exclaimed : I have cut the cords that you had used to bind me in the cycle of life and death. Living life mindfully enables a practitioner of Buddhism to create perfection in the existing moment. The moment of death too becomes such a perfect moment, and therefore that moment cannot create a child as there is nothing to propagate, or transmit. This cuts open the cycle of birth and death.
The crowning glory of Kundalini – the awakening of the Sahasrara Chakra or Crown Chakra too professes to enable Moksha, freedom from the cycle of birth and death. One achieves Moksha by activating the Sahasrara Chakra, which is the last chakra. It can be successfully activated only after all other chakras have been activated, ie only after a person has rid himself or herself of the unconscious materials and no Karma accumulates to create more material. Thereafter, there is no rebirth, and there is no unfinished business left, nothing to carry over into next life.
But consider for a moment what would happen if every human being was born with a dynamic, awakened Kundalini residing at the Ajna, or Sahasrara Chakra. The imperfection inherent in human life creates the need for the seed of time at the moment of death. It is the infirmity and the flaw of that moment of death, which creates the need for the next moment. If the moment of death is flawless, the life force will have no baggage, or Karma to carry forward. Past karma is the building block for rebirth. If the building block is missing, a new life cannot spawn. The cord that propagates the cycle, is cut. Every individual will achieve Nirvana. No life can spawn, no children would be born, no world would exist.
Or – if activating Sahasrara Chakra was relatively easy, every human being would be enlightened, every human being would be able to pierce the veil of Maya, every human being would be able to look into past present and future, and take appropriate actions for his or her benefit, and last by not the least – every human being would be able to break away from the eternal cycle of life and death. Again, the life flow would cease. There could be no life created from life. The world would not, could not go on. Each human created would attain Nirvana. No children would be born. The world, as we know it, would not exist.
Therefore, to quote Albert Einstein “God doesn’t play dice.” The world, and humans, are creations of an intelligent design. We exist, because a latent passive Kundalini in the Mooladhara Chakra is the most optimum manner in which this world could exist. Any other design would be flawed. A design where every human is born with an active Kundalini reposed in the Ajna or Sahasrara Chakra would be a nihilistic design. It would not be self sustaining.
We continue to exist, and our world continues to exist only because we lead imperfect lives. We therefore choose to be in this perpetual cycle. And so get what we want. We get to live in this Paradise, this Garden of Eden, much like Adam and Eve did. Choosing to activate the Kundalini would be akin to taking a bite of the proverbial Apple, we would initiate the process of exiting the cycle.
For this reason, the importance of Mooldhara Chakra cannot be emphasized enough. It is one of the most under appreciated Chakra of the system, and yet the most important in creating and sustaining our existence, and our world. All of us aspire to Ajna, and Sahasrara awakening, but it is Mooladhara Chakra that must be credited and thanked for maintaining our health, safety, relationships, passions, motivations, hopes, aspirations, dreams, and effort which make life what it is – liveable. As the name says – it is the root chakra, the most important of the lot, on which the human existence in this labyrinth of the Mayajaal depends.
Therefore, it is Mooladhar Chakra (and not Ajna or Sahasrara Chakras) that houses and protects Kundalini, which lies passive at the base of our spine, like a genie in a bottle – waiting to be awakened and released, promising to do your bidding. It is an option we have always had. Activating Kundalini is a conscious choice we will make when we have had enough of this Paradise.
Those of us who are fortunate enough, will hear its call, and respond in ways that will realize this power within us. It will then hopefully enable us to rise to our fullest potential, also referred to as self realization, which is synonymous with god realization. Jesus, Buddha, Gandhi are examples that fully realized Kundalini can bring forth.
Others less fortunate will continue to frolic around on this paradise called earth, enjoying its material benefits, shying away from the fruit from the proverbial tree of knowledge and wisdom. They will spend their life shirking responsibility for self realization, and will remain engaged in the grip of the vicious cycle of life and death until they choose responsibility.
The energy release is symbolically called the awakening, since it also brings forth an expansion of consciousness, and an honest and true experience of the self. This awakening is not often easy on some as it burns away the unconscious material from the past that is stored in the psyche. Much like psychotherapy, it is often a very painful and long drawn process. Many authors write about the perils and hardships faced during such a Spiritual Emergency. This leads one to wonder if it would be better to allow the unconscious to remain latent. Yes, that is a choice. One has a choice not to enter into psychotherapy much like one has a choice not to opt for an operation to remove a tumor. Free Will allows us to choose what we want to do with our lives. Kundalini experience is not for the faint hearted, but a seeker of lofty fruits such as eternal freedom from the bondage of life and death is required to have courage and resilience. One has to work for it.
Kundalini is simply an energy of a certain kind, much like nuclear power is an energy of a certain kind. Kundalini energy itself is not a positive, negative, good or bad any more than nuclear power is positive, negative, good or bad. How we harness this energy, and what we use it for, is personal and individual. Once activated, Kundalini simply enhances us in every way. If we are weak, that weakness is amplified in us. If we have inherent negative traits, those negative traits are magnified in us. If our minds are fraught with confusion and chaos, that confusion and chaos will be magnified in us. If we seek to do good, it will enable us the same way it will enable us if we seek to be evil.
In order to ensure that one’s Kundalini experience is positive, it is imperative that the body and mind be well prepared for such an experience. A calm and quiet mind will receive this energy quickly, peacefully and will be able to integrate it with the psyche. If a mind is cluttered with thoughts – being depression, anger, envy, panic anxiety, greed, desire, sex etc – the energy would only magnify those unwholesome thoughts.
Sometimes people complain of suffering neurological illness, or even psychosis, as a consequence of Kundalini activation. Such crisis occurs only when the unprepared body is forced to become the receptor of Kundalini energy. If there is excessive chatter in the mind, there is no figurative space for Kundalini energy, and sickness may result. Spiritual development occurs only when every thought, every image that we have amassed, has been processed, and all obstacles that could get in the way of an energy transfer, are removed. Clarity and quietude is the precondition of Kundalini. Much like one would not allow a child to play with a nuclear button, in the same way, one may not allow an immature mind, an un-meditative mind, an unquiet mind to receive this energy.
To all those who are actively involved in this journey, I wish you all the best.
Metta to all.
* The ascent of Kundalini and ultimately, the descent of spiritual grace, are symbolized by the cross. This is why Christians make the sign of the cross at Ajna, Anahata and Vishuddhi chakras, for Ajna is the center where the ascending consciousness is transcended and Anahata is where the descending grace is made manifest to the world.
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