Sadhus & Yogis of India
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The Awakening of Kundalini.

Krishna, Gopi.

Bombay, (repr.) 1983. [KG]

[KG 26] In the practice of meditation all great masters stress the urgent [KG 27] need for avoiding sleepiness, drowsiness, wandering of thoughts, daydreaming, emptiness, haziness, or semiawake states to enable the effort to have the right impact on the brain. It has always been known in India that the relaxation of grip on the mind during meditation can lead to autohypnosis and even other undesirable psychic conditions. The yogi must learn to concentrate on the divine or on the image of God or other deity or even a center in the body as, for instance, the navel or the heart, or a mantra more intensely than a mathematician or a scientist concentrates on a problem.

[KG 42] The very first experience of the beatific state brings the realization home to one who has it that the nature of consciousness varies with different individuals. The difference between a blockhead and an intellectual is a difference in the depth and volume of the consciousness of each. Each point of awareness, representing a human being, has its own spectrum, its own brightness, depth, and volume and in this way each varies from the other. The consciousness of the enlightened person is virtually illuminated and he or she lives both in the waking and dreaming states in a resplendid world of light.
Consciousness is a sovereign reality of the universe. Its range of manifestations is infinite. Just as there are subhuman states of consciousness so there are also transhuman states. Mystical consciousness or enlightened awareness marks the lowest limit of the transhuman variety. There have been historical personages who had it either occasionally or as a perennial possession from birth.
We see this state of illumination gradually increasing when [KG 43] we rise from the lowest to the highest strata of the human mind, both conscious and subconscious. The tragedy is that every individual is enclosed in a water-tight shell of his own mind and is entirely debarred from having even one fleeting glimpse of that of another. This strict isolation makes each individual invest others with the same kind of consciousness that he has himself, with more or less intelligence, sensitivity, etc. This is a fallacy.
There is a difference in the very structure or spectrum of each individual consciousness caused by the difference in the biological organism through which it is expressed. The very texture of illumined consciousness is thus distinct and different from others. It is not only that one has visual feasts of light and color or an extended awareness, but wholesale transformation of consciousness must occur.
During the course of a genuine mystical experience a higher dimension of consciousness intervenes, eclipsing the normal individuality, partially or wholly, for a certain period. It then seems as if a new world, a new order of existence, or a superhuman being has descended into view. There is an unmistakably enhanced perception of lights, colors, beauty, goodness, virtue, and harmony which lend a superworldly appearance to the whole experience.
Do we not see this greater apperception of light, color, beauty, harmony, ideals, moral values, and creative joy in the great geniuses of mankind, the great painters, sculptors, musicians, writers, philosophers, poets, mystics, and reformers of both the past and present?

[KG 44] By means of a signal, which can take the form of light or sound, biofeedback provides an index for identifying different stages of consciousness, namely, (1) alert wakefulness, (2) stilled, passive, relaxed, or vacant states, (3) the somnolent states preceding sleep, and (4) deep sleep. They are designated as beta, alpha, theta, and delta respectively. Alpha and Theta are slower-paced waves and are associated with inward attention, problem-solving, creativity, etc.

... it is necessary ... to differentiate between the alpha and theta states and the state of concentrated attention that precedes the mystical ecstasy. According to the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali and every other time-honored manual of Yoga the mind has to pass through two stages of concentration, namely dharana and dhyana, i.e., a primary state of concentration and a more stabilized and prolonged form of it. Only then can it attain to Samadhi or the mystical trance. There are detailed directions in all Yoga treatises on how this state of unbroken fixity of attention can be achieved. The target to be attained is that the observing mind and the object contemplated should fuse into one. This can occur in only two ways: Either the object dissolves into consciousness and only the seer remains intensely conscious of himself, or he loses his own identity and becomes one with the object on which the mind is fixed.

... the rigorous forms of Pranayama, Mudras, and [KG 45] Bhandas, peculiar to Hatha Yoga, are all aimed to enhance the effect of concentration on the brain and nervous system even further in order to accelerate the awakening of the Serpent Power. With gradual practice, the mind is trained to fall into deeply absorbed conditions which, in Samadhi, attain a depth that makes the seer oblivious to his surroundings though far more intensely aware within.

The aim of the practices is to keep only one object or one line of thought before the mind to the exclusion of every other object or chain of ideas. In order to achieve one-pointedness of the mind, a great deal of voluntary effort is necessary, and the practitioner has to keep himself always in a state of alertness to prevent his mind from slipping into passive or drowsy states or into other streams of thought and fancy. It is clear, therefore, that there is a world of difference between a passive, inwardly focused mental condition where the ideas are allowed to meander and drift, as is the case in the state preceding sleep and the alert, attentive, centrally focused state of mind necessary for concentration in all its forms.

[KG 46] ... that the practice of meditation, undertaken in all Yoga disciplines, has to be active in nature and that the mind has to be kept fully alert, focused only on one thought or image. The discipline is to be continued until the mind becomes habituated to concentrated application on one image or subject for prolonged periods. It is a well-known fact that this state of one-pointed attention and absorption is better developed in the highly intelligent and talented mind and is a prominent characteristic of every form of genius. On the other hand, the vacant, idiotic, and insane minds lack in the power to focus their attention intelligently on any subject for a sizable duration of time.

The irony is that some teachers of Yoga and other meditational techniques in America and Europe, by their own admissions and demonstrations, confirm this entirely erroneous view of the scholars and scientists, particularly in the United States. Those who declare certain kinds of Asanas or a certain amount of control over their respiration, heart action, and other metabolic processes to be Yoga or, in other words, the summum bonum of this time-honored discipline, fall into the very trap by which many of the western scholars are gripped at the moment.

There are others who prescribe negative forms of concentration, forbidden by the ancient masters, which allow the mind to think loosely or wander ceaselessly during meditation, leading to passive, somnolent, or quiescent states indicated by the alpha signal in biofeedback. They say that the visionary experiences or the creative flashes that sometimes occur in this state, as they do sometimes in dreams, also, are the landmarks of genuine mystical experience.
It is not, therefore, to be wondered that western scientists, misled by these annunciations of professional Yoga teachers, equate the transcendental state of mystical ecstasy with selfinduced, quiescent, daydreaming, vacant, or passive states of the mind. In this assessment they fail to take notice of the fact
[KG 47] that in all the descriptions of the mystical ecstasy there are certain very prominent and unmistakable symptoms that are not encountered in the alpha or the theta states. These are (1) vivid sensations of light both within and without, (2) a feeling of extreme rapture which is reflected in the whole appearance of the individual, (3) often streaming tears at the majestic and sublime nature of the spectacle, (4) a sense of intimacy or proximity to an infinite Presence or a celestial being, (5) contact with an infinite fount of knowledge, (6) horripilation, (7) a sense of unbounded wonder and awe at the surpassing vision, and (8) intellectual illumination with Jnana, i.e., perennial wisdom.

During the period the ecstasy lasts, the awareness is highly intensified and enlarged. The individual becomes more fully conscious within than he ever was before, and the impact of the experience is often so powerful that even one single excursion into this ineffable territory remains indelibly imprinted on the memory to serve as a landmark through the rest of life.
It is the memory of a glorious transhuman or otherworldly experience which is lived intensely for a brief duration beyond the least shadow of doubt and not of a dreamlike or visionary human state, however realistic and vivid it might have seemed at the time. The genuine mystical experience deals a shattering blow to the ego and melts down the walls that segregate the individual from the rest of his fellow beings.

The narcissistic and phony forms of Yoga or other disciplines, on the contrary, inflate the ego even more and isolate even more completely the individual from the resplendent One in All. This is the reason why the truly illuminated are humble, unpretentious, and childlike in their behavior, indifferent to worldly greatness and fame. While, on the contrary, unenlightened professional spiritual teachers are often self-centered dominating, and ostentatious, eager for a following and the adulation of crowds.

[KG 48] In raising these issues I do not want to cast any doubt about the therapeutic value of biofeedback training or of hypnosis or of those systems of Yoga and methods of mind-culture which prescribe passive, empty, or fluidic states of mind for the practice of meditation. Nor do I want to raise questions about their capacity to bestow calm and relaxed states of mind or even to induce visionary or extrasensory states with weird features and colors, like the ones described by the scientists engaged in this investigation. But this weird or exotic imagery, color, shape, or feature unattended by other symptoms is not mystical experience at all. We sometimes have the same experiences even in dreams or with drugs, and they do not signify the beatific state nor a contact with Cosmic Consciousness.

[KG 52] Spiritual genius is as much a higher faculty of the mind as any other form of genius and talent. If constant application and ceaseless endeavor are essential prerequisites for the culture of mind and the expression of genius in all other branches of knowledge, can it be conceived even for a moment that religious genius forms the one single exception to this general rule? Can deep spiritual insights and sublime experiences be gained by allowing the mind to wander and sink into semiawake states in which active effort is completely ruled out?

[KG 53] Just as no one can become an athlete by idleness or passive states of the body, so no one can gain access to higher levels of consciousness with idleness or passive states of the mind. What is needed is intense application, alternating with needful periods of rest in the right proportion. This is what the Bhagavad Gita emphasizes when it says that Yoga is only for one who is regulated in sleep and wakefulness.

The passive methods of meditation that lead to stillness or semiawake states and the mental conditions evoked by biofeedback practices are but disguised variations of the famous formula of the well-known French psychiatrist, Emile Coué, "I am getting better and better every day in every way," repeated in the quiescent state preceding sleep.

[KG 54] Passive states of mind provide rest from tension and can, no doubt, have a curative and calming effect in a tense environment caused by today's complex life. But then, like sleep and hypnosis, they should be plainly labeled as such and not acclaimed as substitutes for Yoga or other active spiritual disciplines which are designed to lead to extended states of consciousness. The moment this is done they become stumbling blocks in the path of those who have the environment, the time, and the capacity to strive for mastery in the art of concentration.

The alpha and theta states are the very antithesis of the attentive or concentrated states of mind essential for the evolution of the brain. They have their own value for rest, release, and relaxation, but there can be no greater blunder than to pass them off as illuminative or creative states, which depend on a certain peculiar constitution of the brain and nervous system.

The highly attentive state of mind of a greater writer or thinker, an astronomer, or a psychologist, deeply absorbed in his work, is not the passive, quiescent, vacant, or semiawake condition represented by the Alpha or Theta waves. It is a state of effortless concentration, matured with practice, in which the mind remains actively engaged all the time. From this state one can pass quietly into Samadhi, with the consciousness now contemplating itself, in place of the object contemplated, in all its glory and unbounded expanse.
There is a difference only of degree between the brain of a great intellectual and an enlightened mystic. Hence an illuminated consciousness can never be attained with a meditational trick or magical device or the miraculous gift of a saint. It needs the same hard labor and hereditary predisposition as any other extraordinary faculty of the mind.

It is by far easier for a talented mind to become illuminated than for that of a man of low intelligence. This possibility has been fully recognized by the Indian masters. Spontaneous flashes of illumination occur mainly in individuals of the former class, and they can win to the unitive state with [KG 55] comparatively less effort with jnana (discriminative knowledge), karma (selfless action), and bhakti (devotion), if they model their lives and keep their minds in constant calm reflection on the Divine.
The methods enjoined by all great founders of religions devotional prayer, worship, constant thought on the Deity, devout daily meditation, and the like with a harmonized life and noble traits of character, are far more efficacious in leading to the beatific state than most of the modern methods widely in use today. There is no way to cross the border that separates the transcendental from the mundane, save with the methods prescribed by revelation, and by acting on the basic principles common to all revealed religions of mankind.

[KG 66] Genuine Samadhi or transcendental experience is like stepping into a wonderland where consciousness itself, and not the sens-al world, becomes the fascinating object of contemplation. The mind and the intellect are immovably held in the observation of a breathtaking display that is beyond anything experienced on earth, even in dreams.

The only key to the understanding of mystical consciousness lies in treating the phenomenon as a metamorphosis in the cognitive capacity of the observer. The soul grows mighty and the mental eye is immensely enlarged. When the mind of an enlightened being is turned inward, the panorama that meets his inner eye is of a colossal world of life that dwarfs the image of the external world present in his imagination into insignificance. What is experienced is a living Presence, an inexpressible ocean of consciousness spread everywhere. The world image seems to float like a reflection in a mirror, occupying but a small portion of its unbounded periphery.
This is also true of the mystical state with visionary experiences. The image of God or Deity, perceived in the vision, is not just an earthly image, ensconced in space and time, but something superearthly and divine, immanent and majestic, which gathers shape and form because of the visionary's own highly expanded consciousness. In other words, the vision is a projection of the mystic's consciousness itself.

What I wish to emphasize is the fact that mystical consciousness whether of a sporadic nature or a permanent feature of one's personality is not the average or common state of human awareness. Even if the motion of thought is stilled by the practice of any discipline, the dimension of the observing consciousness is not materially affected. This is also admitted by Patanjali, author of the Yoga Sutras.

[KG 80] Similarly, mere concentration or even concentration with Asana and Pranayama is not Yoga. There are ascetics in India who can perform all the eighty-four Asanas to perfection and continue performing them all their lives, but they never attain to enlightenment. There are also ascetics who can suspend their breathing for days so that they can be buried underground or placed in hermetically sealed chambers for days and weeks without being suffocated. But despite such drastic measures, they often awake as one awakes from a deep sleep or a swoon without experiencing the least enlargement of consciousness or gaining any insight of a transcendental nature. This is called Jada-Samadhi, which means unconscious Samadhi. It is a kind of suspended animation similar to that of bears and frogs when they hibernate during winter.

There are also ascetics in India who sit in meditative postures twenty-four hours a day. They sleep while sitting upright, and on awakening after a few hours continue their meditational practices. They live austere lives, occupying all their time with meditation or the recitation of mantras prescribed by their gurus, and continue the practice for scores of years without ever rising above the human level of consciousness or experiencing the divine.
[]
There are also ascetics in India who smoke or eat preparations from the hemp plant (hashish and marijuana) in enormous doses, often remaining under the influence of the drug day and night. These practices have been in vogue in India [KG 81] for many centuries without producing a single enlightened spirit. Drug-taking hermits number hundreds of thousands and are a source of unhappiness to themselves and to others. Narcotics, hallucinogens, and intoxicants are not a help but an insuperable barrier in the path of God-realization.
[]
In India, the number of enlightened during the last one hundred years can be counted on the fingers of one hand.

[KG 123] In the higher state of consciousness you can see the real world even more real. You can see the same things magnified, without any visions or strange creatures or projections. You see the same thing expanded, and you see yourself by means of this expansion, one with the creation around you without the least loss of precision of intellect, or sight, or smell.
But your eyes are closed?
Not at all . . . open.


For comments: Dolf Hartsuiker