STAGES AND NATURE OF KUNDALINI AWAKENING
Excerpted from the approximately 30-page article (7 web pages):
(Related graphics are at this link)
KUNDALINI IS INNATE FOR ALL PEOPLE: At the base of the spine, subtler
than the physical body, lies the Kundalini energy, or spiritual
energy, in a latent form. Regardless of what religious, spiritual, or
meditation tradition one follows, the awakening of this energy, by
whatever name you call it, is a most innate and essential part of
spiritual advancement, unfoldment, or realization. Awakening
kundalini and leading it to union with the Absolute is the goal of
the Himalayan sages and the path of Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra.
SEE ALSO the articles:
Bindu: The Final Convergence of Yoga, Vedanta and Tantra:
Yoga, Vedanta and Tantra:
STAGES IN KUNDALINI AWAKENING: The graphics above display the seven
major chakras (section #5), the left and right energies of Ida and
Pingala (section #1), and the Sushumna nadi, the central channel that
courses through the chakras (Sushumna is sometimes called "silver
cord"). The six graphics visually represent the process of Kundalini
Awakening. Clicking on each of the six graphics will move you through
explanations of the stages. Also, there is an index for the contents
of these pages. The six stages are:
1) Prana usually flow in Ida or Pingala
2) Prana is made to flow in Ida and Pingala
3) Prana is made to flow in Sushumna
4) Kundalini energy is awakened
5) Kundalini is lead upwards
6) Kundalini rises to Sahasrara
NUMBER OF STAGES IN KUNDALINI AWAKENING: There is nothing especially
significant about describing this Kundalini Awakening in six stages
(the six graphics), as opposed to some other number; it is simply a
convenient way to explain the process. The simplest way of describing
the entire process is in three stages:
1) Awakening, opening, or applying Sushumna
2) Awakening Kundalini
3) Kundalini arising to the crown Chakra, Sahasrara
ONE ENERGY WITH MANY NAMES AND FORMS: There is one energy (Shakti)
that keeps taking on new shapes and forms. Each time the energy takes
on a new form, we give it a new name. See the article Kundalini,
Shakti, and a River for an explanation of these names and forms.
SHIVA AND SHAKTI: Tantra considers the universe to be a manifestation
of pure consciousness. Through this process of manifesting,
consciousness divides itself into two parts, which, though seeming to
be separate, cannot exist without one another.
SHIVA: Shiva remains as a static, formless quality.
SHAKTI: Shakti is a dynamic, creative aspect.
SCIENCE AND PHYSICS: Modern science also considers these two forms of
energy, though viewing them in different ways. Science includes, for
example, potential energy and kinetic energy (the energy of motion),
recognizing that they are both manifestations of the same underlying
energy. Tantra describes the unification of all as the pouring out of
the energy of consciousness through the manifestation of the static
(Shiva) through a veiling and projecting process (Shakti), creating
the levels of the universe. At the physical level, modern physics
also seeks to find a unifying source, and is in the process of
explaining this unification through quark and string theories.
LIKE INK AND THE WORD: Shiva and Shakti are inseparable and coexist,
like ink and the written word, which, though one and the same, are
different. With one pen of ink, many different words or images can be
manifested, although there remains only one container (pen) of ink.
It is that creative process of manifestation that makes the ink
appear to have different forms and meaning from one word to the next.
When you write different words, or draw both a circle and a square,
you have not created a single ink molecule, but have only rearranged
the existing molecules, creating the appearance of different words or
forms. It remains exactly what it was in the first place, which is
ink. This is not negative or merely intellectually reductionistic,
but is a most awesome, beautiful process. Similarly, the unmanifest
Shiva can manifest into countless forms through the creative
appearance of Shakti. Simple metaphors such as ink and written word
can be extremely useful to contemplate on, so as to understand the
principle of the one appearing to be two, and how these two dance
together to form the elegant complexity of manifest reality.
EXPERIENCING THEIR UNION: The journey of Tantra and Kundalini Yoga
leads to Kundalini Awakening and to the realization of the Absolute,
where these two apparently different aspects of manifestation are
experienced in their original union. Yoga means union, or joining,
and this union of the static and the dynamic is the meaning of Yoga
(see also Yoga Sutras, particularly sutras 1.1-1.4, which define
Yoga). Through the process of going ever deeper or higher in
practices relating to your own constitution, one repeatedly comes to
see the way in which seemingly different realities and self-
identities are only apparent, and that manifestation is the mere play
of the creative aspect of Shakti with the static aspect of Shiva.
CONCEPTS OF SHIVA AND SHAKTI: As with many principles of reality,
some religious people and traditions conceptualize Shiva and Shakti
as anthropomorphic deities, while others view the two as principles
and processes of the universe. In either case, the journey of
Kundalini Awakening is an inner experience, going from gross to
subtle, to subtler, and subtle most, to one's own center of
consciousness, by whatever name you choose to call that. In this
article, Shiva and Shakti are seen to be the two principles and
processes of static and dynamic, as noted several paragraphs above.
MEANING OF KUNDA AND KUNDALA: Kunda means bowl, or cave, and refers
to the bowl of fire of consciousness resting in the first chakra at
the base of the spine. Lini refers to that which resides in that
bowl. Kundala means coiled, as the Shakti forms in a coil there.
MEANING OF SHAK: The word shak is the root word of Shakti, and means
to be able, or to have power. Hence, Kundalini Shakti is the power of
consciousness that is coiled in a latent form, in the base of the
EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL PRACTICE: For those who are lesser prepared,
the path of external practices (bahiyayag) is preferred, which may
include external forms of rituals or symbolic gestures. For those who
are prepared, the path of internal practices (antaryag) is available,
which involves making the mind one-pointed and doing introspection.
KAULA, MISHRA, AND SAMAYA TANTRA: The three schools of tantra are
kaula, mishra, and samaya. The kaula school starts with the lower
chakras, and involves external practices. The mishra school also
works with external practices, and emphasizes the central chakras.
The samaya school is the highest, emphasizing the upper chakras. It
involves no external practices, focusing only on the inner (antaryag)
practices. (The Tantra practice of Yoga Nidra is extremely effective
in opening, balancing and purifying the chakras. See also the page
describing the Yoga Nidra CD.)
REGULATING THE PRIMITIVE INCLINATIONS: Before treading the later
stages of Kundalini Awakening, it is very important to manage the
basic urges. Otherwise, the surge of energy may not be handled very
well. This means regulating the four primitive fountains of food,
sleep, sex, and self-preservation.
SPONTANEOUS KUNDALINI AWAKENING: The approach of these writings is to
describe the systematic process of intentional Kundalini Awakening.
However, it may also come spontaneously to people who have done no
intentional practices. One may argue that spontaneous awakening may
be coming as a result of previous practices that are not remembered,
but in either case the perception of the individual may be that
nothing was done to bring forward the experience.
INTEGRATING THE EFFECTS: Regardless of whether Kundalini Awakening
comes spontaneously or through practices, there may be some amount of
time and effort needed to integrate the effects of such experiences
into the body and personality. It is a time when stabilizing actions
are important, including daily exercise, high quality food, regular
sleep patterns, and healthy relationships with other people. During
this time is very useful to be around someone who has knowledge of
this process, and has experienced it personally.
PREPARATION IS MOST IMPORTANT: Preparation is much more important
than the practices of Kundalini Awakening themselves. If one skips
the basics and the preparation of body, breath, and mind, then the
surge of energy can be more disruptive than beneficial. In the
Himalayan tradition Yoga, Vedanta, and Tantra go together, with a
solid foundation being built first. The practices of yoga nidra and
bhuta shuddhi can be quite useful.