Mudrashram Institute of Spiritual Studies
Reflections on Kundalini Shakti
By George A. Boyd ©2004
Seekers usually first encounter stories about the mysterious Kundalini Shakti in books they read written by Kundalini Masters and their disciples, or they may begin studying the translations of tantric texts. Seekers become fascinated with the variety of mystical experiences engendered by the awakening kundalini, the promise of supernatural powers, the possibility of becoming a god-like Master when the journey of the kundalini from the base of the spine to the top of the head is completed. Many may even begin to take up tantric practices to begin to awaken their kundalini.
Some seekers have had terrifying experiences as the result of attempting to awaken the kundalini. We have given some general guidelines and supportive links in our article, Kundalini Emergencies, to help you understand and deal with this frightening experience.
Other seekers have gotten strange notions of what kundalini shakti is and how it works. We have attempted to address some of these odd beliefs in our article, Illusions about Kundalini.
Finally, this web site has the text of a talk given at Babaji's World Parliament of Religions, on December 19, 1992 by George A. Boyd. This summarizes the range of kundalini experiences, emergence phenomena, what kundalini may yield when it properly awakened, and describes dangerous practices that often lead to problems.
This article is designed to build on the foundation provided by these other three articles, and to give you additional information about kundalini shakti to help you better understand how it works, how problems are generated, and what kundalini mastery entails in the Mudrashram® tradition. Let us begin.
Kundalini is a powerful, Divine energy. In most people, this energy is dormant or working partially. When this energy is focalized, it rises within the vehicles and produces a variety of experiences.
Kundalini effects the state of awareness within your vehicles. As it is focalized, it may powerfully absorb your attention within, intensify the activity of your higher vehicles, and withdraw energy from your Conscious mind and your personality. In the deepest states of kundalini awakening in your vehicles, you enter samadhic trance.
In samadhic trance, you are unable to move, to speak, or even to thinkyou are completely merged in bliss and the ecstasy of the Soul and its higher octaves.
We characterize ten stages of kundalini awakening in the vehicles. [This is the relative depth of kundalini arousal.] These are shown below in the chart.
The kundalini normally operates in people in stages one to three.
Stage one is a resting state of your inner vehicles. Here only the Conscious mind is active, and you use the senses, your feelings, and your reason to negotiate with the world. You are identified with the ego and the continuity of your unique human history.
Stage two occurs when you are engaged in habitual activities. Here the Subconscious mind guides your Conscious mind. For example, when you are driving a car, using a vacuum cleaner, or washing dishes, your attention may be on other things while you do these activities automatically. You may be listening to music or daydreaming while you carry out these activities.
Stage three occurs when you require sustained activity of one of the faculties of your Metaconscious mind. For example, you may become deeply abstracted by resolving a moral dilemma (conscience), giving a speech or acting in a play (persona), doing life-planning (concrete mind), solving a problem (intellect), checking in with yourself (intuition), or doing skilled movements of your body in sports or a craft (will). Here you are identified with the Self.
Meditators experience stages four through seven when their kundalini is awakened. These stages are engendered by the practice of meditation techniques that actively awaken the kundalini, by spontaneous arousal [we suspect that most cases of spontaneous arousal are activated by the ensouling entity, with the aim of making the personality aware of its presence], or intentionally awakened by an Initiate (Shaktipat).
Stage four is marked by the ascension of the kundalini through the Subconscious chakras, which resemble lotus flowers. The kundalini stirs these lotuses into full activity and they become charged with energy. Many meditators experience this stage of kundalini awakening after doing hatha yoga or martial arts coupled with breathing exercises. It briefly risesthe meditator may feel heat in the spine or a sensation like a serpent moving upwardthen it returns back down.
Stage five is marked by the entry of the kundalini into the unconscious mind. This produces a variety of emergence phenomena. When there is much unconscious material for the kundalini to move through, this can engender moderate to severe emergence phenomena that can significantly compromise the functioning of the personality. Many kundalini emergencies arise when the kundalini begins to open the unconscious at this stage.
Stage six occurs when the kundalini rises into the Metaconscious mind. Here the personality completely shuts down. You become unresponsive and completely absorbed in meditation.
Stage seven marks the opening of the Superconscious mind, culminating in union with the Soul. Your attention is drawn up into the inner vehicles of the Superconscious mind, witnessing a visionary cascade of lights, images, and kaleidoscopic patterns. This culminates in the union of your kundalini with your ensouling entity.
One of the innate powers of the Soul is to awaken its own kundalini shakti. This power becomes activated in most individuals during the Third Planetary Initiation. However, certain Occult Adepts of the Lower Astral, Guides of the Psychic Realm, Magi or Hierophants of the Mystery Schools of the First Esoteric Initiation, and Ascended Masters of the Second Planetary Initiation have also developed methods to awaken the kundalini. Kundalini is controlled by the transpersonal octave of will, which becomes fully active during the Third Planetary Initiation.
When the Soul Spark (ensouling entity of the Subtle Realm) or Soul (ensouling entity of the Planetary Realm) are your spiritual cutting edge, awakening the kundalini beyond this level results in your ensouling entity losing control of the kundalini. In this scenario, the kundalini rises into the higher octaves of stages seven through ten, and may become fixed in union with a nucleus of identity or ensouling entity of a higher octave, with concomitant personality shutdown and without the ability to retract the kundalini to its grounded state. Some of these higher states include:
If an individual in the throes of higher octave kundalini work cannot have their kundalini returned to a level below their cutting edge of spirituality or a level where they can control its rise and fall, the kundalini may remain fixed in a higher center. While this state confers identification with the higher octave nucleus of identity or ensouling entityin an ecstatic state of union and rebirthit may continue to burn upward. This higher octave fixation yields the most severe kind of kundalini emergency, where the individual can neither control nor stop the movement of the kundalini.
While kundalini augments and facilitates the functioning of the personality in stages 1 to 3, it progressively shuts down the personality in stages 4 through 10. There are uses in which it may be beneficial, from the perspective of assisting spiritual development, to temporarily shut down the personality to accomplish "inner work." But keeping the personality shut down for long periods of time leads to its malfunction and deterioration.
Kundalini, under the supervision of a competent Adept, may be used for
While any work with kundalini poses some risk of promoting emergence phenomena and interfering with the functioning of the personality, some may be more detrimental to others.
For example, 4-1 (awakening the kundalini into the Subconscious mind to become aware of the chakras) is a relatively benign use.
But 5-2 (awakening the Kundalini into the unconscious mind with an aim of working out material in the unconscious mind) may have a greater risk of promoting emergence phenomena.
Using 7-5 (awakening the Kundalini to promote illumination and enlightenment of the Soul) may catalyze an individual's spiritual awakening and Gnosis. But if this state is not carefully managed and the kundalini is not brought back down, the individual can be left in a highly vulnerable state subject to illusions, hallucinations, and delusionsa temporary psychotic state.
The deep work used by Kundalini Adepts of Cosmic and Supracosmic lineages, 9-7, (raising the kundalini into higher octaves for the purpose of transforming a nucleus of identity or awakening a higher octave ensouling entity) poses the greatest risk of disruption of personality function. It is not uncommon for individuals doing this work to have psychotic episodes, serious emergence phenomena, and become re-identified with a higher nucleus of identity. In this state, they no longer are identified with their human personalities, but experience themselves as a "devotee of Shiva" or other pseudo-personality. [Gurus may not be particularly helpful in normalizing personality functioning when they give these individuals new spiritual names and ask them to wear special spiritual clothing, which further imprints them with this new state of identity.]
The normal progression of kundalini shakti is to have it rise from its ground state (stage 1) up to the ensouling entity (stage 7), and then return to its fully grounded state. This entire cycle of movement from ground to the state of illumination and back again constitutes on kundalini cycle or round. This is normally accomplished, using a gentle mantra on the breath, in 30 to 45 minutes. Most practitioners who practice in this way (use five) have few problems with emergence phenomena, and usually report that the experience was renewing and revivifying.
Those who use more strenuous or drastic measures, however, typically increase the incidence of emergence phenomena and untoward effects. These include practices such as:
There is also usually a greater prevalence of emergence phenomena and disruption of personality functioning when the purpose of kundalini awakening is to
The phenomenal experience of kundalini shakti changes as the meditator progresses to deeper stages of kundalini awakening. We give descriptions and teach specific meditations in our Kundalini Workshop, an advanced workshop for which we recommend participants first complete the Mudrashram® Master Course in Meditation.
These octaves of phenomenal experience range from Physical to Essential. They are listed below.
It is not surprising then that Tantric schools follow this same progression in recommending increasingly difficult visualizations to their students.
When we first encounter the kundalini in the Subconscious mind, we see its energy rises through the central channel of the spinal tube (sushumna), and concomitantly activates the left hand (ida) and right hand (pingala) channels. Blockages in the left-hand channel are linked with Pralabdha Karma. Obstructions in the right-hand channel are associated with Kriyaman Karma. Plugs in the central channel mirror the unawakened spiritual evolutionary potentials of the Subtle Realm [the 3 1/2 spiral turns at the base of the spine] and the Planetary Realm [the seven chakras], comprising Adi Karma.
Attempting to purify or force open these three channels through heroic measures has no effect on spiritual evolution in the Subtle or Planetary Realms. Instead, it creates moderate to severe imbalances in the vehicles of the Subconscious mind.
These imbalances may be marked by:
The natural unfolding of the Soul, by distinction, opens these channels in correspondence with its spiritual cutting edge. We therefore strongly recommend that seekers do not perform any practices at the level of the Subconscious mind that interfere with this alignment.
Do not try to remove blockages in the right, left or central channels through any means.
Do not repeat transformational (bija) mantras to open the chakras, as these may inappropriately open these channels, and create imbalances.
Hatha Yoga stimulates the chakras of the Subconscious mind and circulates energy through them. Avoid sustained hyperventilative breathing that forces open these areas of blockage. [When breathing into these blockages, you should feel relaxation and discharge of tension. If you feel pain, numbness, tingling, or burning: stop the breathing practice immediately]. Using bandhas with this sustained hyperventilative breathing may intensify these symptoms.
Radiative healing (Rei Ki and similar practices) that removes these blockages prematurely may also pose risks of imbalance.
These blockages may provide insulation for the nervous system against the higher energy voltage that operates in advanced states of spiritual evolutionary development. Removing them before your ensouling entity and its vehicles have been gradually re-tuned to these higher Initiations may overstimulate your physical nervous system. Symptoms of overstimulation include hyperalertness, difficulty sleeping, extreme agitation or irritability, emotional outbursts, lability or mood dysregulation, and interference with physiological functioning (psychosomatic illness).
Emotional distortion (glamour), with hankering after spiritual fame and supernatural powers may motivate some aspirants to attempt to take a "kundalini shortcut" to spiritual advancement. We encourage the seeker to be patient and not give into these impulses. When driven by these powerful passions, the seeker may be drawn to excesses, including adopting inappropriate and frankly dangerous practices that belong to other octaves of the Great Continuum of Consciousness [e.g., when a seeker, polarized at the Planetary Octave, begins using practices suitable for Supracosmic development].
Leaving the kundalini raised into even Subconscious alignment withdraws energy from five centers of the Conscious mindego, mental seed atom, emotional seed atom, physical seed atom, and waking awareness. If kundalini does rise up in stage four (high) activity into the chakras of the Subconscious mind, be sure to guide it back down into its fully grounded state. When grounding has successfully been achieved, the energy of the kundalini should fully animate these five centers of the Conscious mind.
In our article, A Talk Given at Babaji's Parliament of Yoga and World Religions, we describe the higher manifestations of Kundalini Shakti. While many aspirants who meditate only experience this awakening of this energy into their Subconscious mind, we point out that this is the first of twelve stages. It is less common to have kundalini awakening up to the level of union with the Soul (enlightenment). It is rarer still to have kundalini rise into union with nuclei of identity and ensouling entities of Cosmic, Supracosmic and Transcendental octaves. Rarest of all is when the kundalini passes through all of these higher octaves and comes to rest in its origin.
The ability to raise the kundalini from its ground state to its origin and guide it back to full groundedness is a marker of Kundalini Mastery. Through comprehensive study of the system of chakras or centers in each of the higher vehicles combined with the ability to gain finer and finer control of the energy of the Kundalini Shakti leads to Kundalini Mastery.
Careful control of the energy of the Kundalini Shakti grants the ability to
1. Optimally energize any vehicle of consciousness for use
2. Awaken awareness through the whole range of its potential, from
Kundalini Mastery in the Mudrashram® tradition has been referred to as the Sat Guru Swami form. Its centers and subcenters are described below.
The faculty to awaken and ground the kundalini and to grant Initiation is conferred through the cerebral, thalamic, and cervical centers of this form. The ability to perceive the relative activation of the kundalini and the spiritual evolutionary purification of others is mediated through the thoracic, lumbar, sacral and coccyceal centers of this form.
Understood and mastered, the Kundalini Shakti awakens the multi-faceted potentials of the entire mind. Misunderstood, misused and awakened inappropriately, kundalini leads to disruption of personality functioning, kundalini emergency syndrome, and psychosis.
If you don't know what you are doing, leave the sacred fires of life alone. Your mind is a terrible thing to destroy.