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  • Writer's pictureChaitanya Prabhu

Kundalini Across Cultures

For Obvious reasons, Kundalini phenomena can be observed across civilizations and in different societies across the planet. If it's not obvious, then your answer is: "We are human." Spiritual enlightenment and the pursuit of higher consciousness is not restricted to any one society. Nearly every society has discovered ways to improve one's state of awareness. This is through mind-altering substances or through methods such as dancing.

Spiritual energy is said to lie outside space and time. That's not completely true because everything is bound by the space-time continuum. However, this energy is not bound by the linearity of time or the confines of space. We can't understand how powerful the ability of Kundalini awakening really is, but we can easily see its effects on our lives and the effect which awakening has had in relation to changes and the operation of society. For example,

Kundalini arousal is said to be at the cornerstone of the adventures had by many mystics from Buddha to Christ and many a yogi closer to our times.

The phrase Kundalini Shakti (Kundalini Energy) comes from ancient India, but the phenomenon is manifest in most of the world's major religions, spiritual paths, and occult traditions. Similar techniques have been observed in practices that connect the human to the divine. These are similar to the tantric version of attaining god-like stature. It is also described as being "possessed by a god."

Kundalini induces a modified state of consciousness that takes us into domains of inner experience beyond those normally accessible. These states can be insomnia, daydreaming, dreams, and dreamless sleep. It can also be hypnosis, sensory deprivation, psychosis, or states of de-personalization and dissociation. Needless to say, drugs, alcohol, and an acute state of starvation can also induce these states. Unusual events, personal tragedies, and natural disasters can also induce altered states of consciousness. If the environment is not normal, our consciousness is also not normal!

But "normal" itself is quite restricting! It is mundane, superficial, and routine.

This is similar to fish in a fish tank.

Having known nothing outside of the fish tank, the fish automatically accept that as the universe. Such a mind is retarded, but a Yogi will ask: "Is there something beyond this world?" Any form of awakening happens when we open up our imagination! We can awaken Kundalini through yoga practice and similar practices were prevalent in other societies too. Consider the following examples: The native Americans and their rituals, the hallucinogen-induced states of the witch doctor or the shaman, and the ritualistic tantriks of India. We can see how the Sufi swirling dervishes are forcing themselves into a trance.

The modern western world uses alcohol and drugs to induce such mind-altering states. Discos and Rock concerts induce mind-numbing trance-like experiences. However, these practices are ancient - only the drugs and settings have changed! Hallucinogenic or alcoholic brews are inventions in all societies, ritualistic dancing to the point of extreme exertion is not uniques, and finally, music is also universal. The combination of these three factors has been used in all societies as one or the other form of spiritual practice.

Within our daily thoughts, there is another level (or several levels) of consciousness. An existential vacuum exists in all of us but some feel it more intensely. Drug/alcohol rehabilitation centers often talk about this existential vacuum as a spiritual need.

Awakening Kundalini becomes a mantra for recovery!

We may even call this impulse an instinct because it is irrepressible. This quest for higher consciousness is interpreted through the physical body (bigger, better, beautiful) or through the subtle body (smarter, kinder, spiritual). Somehow this is our version of existential bliss. Wouldn't such quests be common to all human societies throughout history?!

Tantra Yoga highlights how our individual practices can be aligned to achieving this existential bliss. And each Kundalini process is like a step towards achieving that bliss. Over time, we realize that electricity and smartphones do not provide us with that happiness, so we move towards meditation, yoga, and more specifically Kundalini Yoga practice!

Research from all over the world has shown that there really is a psycho-physiological factor that exists beyond the confines of religion, culture, and society. It is felt by humans all over the world. It's just that the Indian yogis did an extensive job of documenting it.

Another example: The people of the Kalahari desert dance for many hours to achieve a state of transcendence that resembling that found in many different Kundalini texts. The tribes-people describes how the "energy" travels from the stomach, into the spine, and reaches the head. The dancers begin to shiver and tremble in ecstasy. And they describe the experience as being able to divine all reality.

In the Taoist traditions, it's said that when prana or chi, the critical principle, has accumulated it flows outside and starts to stream into the primary psychic pathways causing sensations like pain, itching, coldness and warmth, weightlessness, heaviness, and the like. Such reports tally exactly with the adventures of yogis who characterize Kundalini as traveling up the spine with light and heat or like a snake preparing to strike.

Most of the aforementioned are classical Kundalini-type experiences, but they have occurred in different locations and different times in history because Kundalini isn't determined by time and space. The experience has been documented by quite a few civilizations and much more by the sages of India. The Indian civilization seems to have been blessed to allow the yogic sciences to be cultivated and preserved

The Yoga Sutras and the Hatha Yoga Pradipika have documented these processes in great detail in terms of sophisticated mantras, pranayama practices (breathing technique) yoga asana, and poses. Kundalini practice can systematically unravel the life force in a controlled maner. Tantra teaches us how to control this life force!

From the Root Chakra (Mooladhara) to the Crown Chakra (Sahasrara), Tantra techniques help our spiritual awakening without the use of drugs, alcohol, or extreme physical rituals.

When our current society realizes this, then a Kundalini Yoga Class may even become part of our school curriculum. Till then, we must at least understand that our awakening through kundalini experience is our divine right!

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