This is absolutely the right question! What is Kundalini! Before all the talk of my kundalini has been awakened and this and that, who stops to examine what that even means?
We’ll leave off talk of the God and Goddess Natures; They’re far too metaphysical, metaphorical, even leading to more confusion than clarity. So let’s begin with a bit of science correlated with Vedic spirituality.
In the Upanishads it’s been written that a human being is comprised of five layers of being. These are called Koshas, or sheaths. There is the physical layer which we are all completely familiar with. It is called the food sheath because it grows and develops based on the energy we put into it generally converted from food.
The second container of our being is the prana layer, most often translated as the layer of our life force. This life force, or energy manifests physically as breath. You may be familiar with the exercises called pranayama which use breath to stimulate, invigorate, invoke and stoke the life force. Breath is not the only way to achieve the stimulation, but it is an active one. Physiologically speaking, this sheath is represented by the body’s chemical, neurological and electrical life functions. Read cells and neurons.
There is a sheath of mind resultant from a brain and central nervous system, all contained within the previous two layers of being. Interestingly, one layer of being corresponds to mid-brain function while the next will be directly linked with the cerebral cortex.
There is one more sheath, called a bliss sheath in the ancient writings, and modern science has yet to correlate this with brain location or function in much the same way as it is yet to determine the causality behind gamma waves generated by the brain during the emergence from deep meditation. Gamma waves remain above the frequency of neuronal firing, but researchers have understood them to be produced when one is experiencing feelings of altruism, love, bliss – higher consciousness. It is now speculated that gamma rhythms modulate perception and consciousness.
And now we come to Kundalini, that very special spark – something like a God Particle within each and every living being. If the five mentioned above are at the root of every spiritual science, Kundalini is the sixth binding them all together. She is the Force – the God in you. Awakening the God in you means it is finished. Done. There is no more to do for you. End of the road. Somebody says enlightenment and this and that – there is no good word to describe the experience of the Kundalini risen. Maybe someone can say Nirvikalpa or Sahaja or Nibana – but actually the experience of the awakened Kundal is not only visceral and fully conscious wherein the five sheaths of you are completely individuated and clean, but further there is something akin to a oneness with Nature, wherein I, as original Nature, Am now something like a co-creator. There is another word – Ritambhara Pragya – I am fully synchronized with Nature.
Consciousness is not subject to the sheaths of mind anymore; now you are verily the higher mind, the broader mind. The Greater Mind. Your mind is not your own; it is shared. And there is no suffering like I read in all these tales of woe. Oh my kundalini has risen and now I am in great distress – that is all a severe misunderstanding. The pranic system may be definitely undergoing some distress for sure. That is not the meaning that Kundalini has risen. At least not according to the tradition that gives us this word Kundalini. Maybe you can say She is stirring a little bit or something.
There is an entire science/art evolved around this concept of Kundalini. Most of you know the word chakra, a few may even know what they represent – not the seven, not even the astachakra or the nine, but wrap your mind around the background! The wheels go round and round, and the wheel of Life goes round and round and yet it is ALL background for Bhagwan. Then you must explore all the nadis, too. And then there are the knots, the granthi. Three Big Ones! And they have to be untied before the consciousness of Kundal can unfurl.
For instance I read a lot about people wanting to activate chakras – you should know firstly that your chakras are already activated. If you are alive, and basically in good health, then your sheaths are also basically in good health, if not practically, inextricably roiled up in the complex associations of manifold impressions, accrued not only in this life, but if cellular memory is actually a thing and Vedic wisdom really is unassailable, than many other lives, too, and all this has led to an infuriatingly obtuse psychology and circular conversations that can never be resolved simply for the fact that for every thesis its antithesis also exists. Just see how easy it to get blown off course on a tangent! Back to chakras, and science, and what is Kundalini!
The lower muladhara chakra is correlated with your Inferior Hypogastric Plexus and all that implies. If you’re excreting, you’re okay. Follow your understanding of chakras now all the way up to the brain stem. Acha! Now! Now, as Patanjali says when he opens his Sutras in Book 1: Samadhi Pada; Now. Now we can talk about Yoga. Atha yoga-anuśāsanam. Now we get to talk about how many percent of that brain we’re actually using! And what is that unused portion doing? How are those gamma waves produced? What is that which science is not yet able to document because scientists also are using the same amount of brain power? And what is that which is holding the whole story together? And what would you call that Book if the whole story were known? Some people call that God. Others Kundalini. And so begin the metaphors.
Here the myths and legends and metaphors allow a creative glance into the possible and impossible. Ask yourself if like Nilakantha, Lord Shiva, you can drink the entire ocean of poison and hold it in your throat? Can you do that? I read once in an article here that someone who called themselves Kundalini awakened was having trouble grocery shopping because they felt assaulted by all the negativity around them in the supermarket. It was a classic hand slap to forehead moment. When Rudra Granthi, the final knot, has been untied, you will be able to deal with the poison of the whole world. And again, what does that even mean? Suffice it to say, the negativity of the people around you won’t really be a thing anymore.
Kundalini is the purified vehicle. Kundalini is the purifier. Kundalini is the result of the purification that does not happen in this one life often. Just consider about the sublimation of the lower chakras for a moment. What does that look like to you? Go beyond emotions – that is only one sheath. Kundalini is not a feeling of this or that. Not an emotion. Emotions are tied to the lower mind. Only. How does sublimation manifest physically? Remember, all the sheaths are but containers of the one Self. How it manifests in one layer is going to be necessarily how it manifests in another. Perhaps it takes you a long time to sublimate the energy of the chakras. Here is where meditation and yoga and kriyas and this and that comes in for teaching you to be on a focused path of awakening and evolution.
When the energy is sublimated you will realize it is sublimated beyond your imagination and emotion because you will be connected with the Nature in such a way that your awareness will be expanded to new possibilities and new potentiality will be suddenly awakened. I know this completely from experience. This is what the sages mean when they refer to the siddhis, the mystical powers. They only look like mystical powers from the outside, like a child looks at his parents accomplishing some feat as yet beyond his ability or comprehension.
And the sages go further and say not to go chasing after the siddhis because that is the long way around to the goal and you might practice for years to achieve some heightened awareness but you have kept yourself from focusing on the goal, which is to evolve, to unlock the whole stuff. And at the same time, with your eye on the goal, the siddhis will manifest anyway. It will be proved to you without a doubt that evolution is occurring and that you are on your way and you will not care about any of that even a little, and so the correlation with Sahaja Samadhi which is but a state of being anyway. They’re all states of being. We’re all in states of being. Kundalini is our Nature itself, our evolution. The entire human nature, from beginning to end. As Gopi Krishna quite rightly said in his madness – She is definitely our evolution. For sure. And anyway She can’t be bought in a shop and bundled up in a fifty-dollar shaktipaht. That’s not how it works.
But science hasn’t told us that yet and we might have to wait a few more centuries before data of that particular caliber is able to be produced. But awesome things are happening in the world of physics now, and more studies are being made of the mystical yogin every day. Soon, very soon I’m sure, the right correlations will be observed, the right questions asked, the right experiments produced and replicated. Sooner, I hope, will come a more standardized level of language and education. A sturdy bridge of knowledge that links us together in undeniable fraternity and kinship. Kundalini is, after all, our collective Mother. And we are, collectively, all that. Tat tvam asi. Aham Bramasmi.
Om Namah Shivaya
…is a Saiva Tantrika, Gyana Yogi and founder of Uma Maheshwara Yoga & Ayurveda. David has an MA in Semiotics, lives in Japan with his family and works as a coach in L & D, devoting his time to developing science-based tools and programs that help people reach the fullest potential of the human condition.