Introduction to Issue 18
The theme of this issue could be "stages of the journey of awakening." These stages do not directly correlate to the length of our process; some of us spend more time in some phases than do others. The spiritual teacher Anandi Ma believes that once Kundalini has awakened, it remains active for three lifetimes, within which time "it will take the person to the goal for sure, by hook or crook, as we say." (From Daughers of the Goddess by Linda Johnsen)
In his book Imagick, Ted Andrews correlates the Kundalini process with what he calls the "13th Path" of the Qabalistic tradition. In the Tarot, he relates it to the archetype of the High Priestess. "It is a bittersweet path," he warns, and one that presents us with "a tremendous test of faith." On this path (which is also called "Gateway to Knowledge"), after being stripped of all nonessentials and overcoming our karmic obstacles, we are able to discover our deepest truths. "This is the path of the final dark night of the soul journey," says Andrews. "It is here that we have the opportunity to awaken our strongest intuition and ... to impregnate ourselves with the light and love of the divine!"
Serpent of Fire by Darrel Irving, published by Samuel Weiser, Inc., 1995, ISBN 0-87728-830-5
Over thirty years ago, the author had an experience of several hours duration which profoundly colored the rest of his life. His first and only LSD trip thrust him into "a series of painful inner storms" which made him fear for his sanity and survival, culminating in a cyclonic Kundalini-release up through his spine and out the top of his head "in an explosion of consciousness." In that split second he was irrevocably changed from an avowed agnostic to a man with an unshakable faith in his eternal, divine essence.
Although Irving never had a resurgence of Kundalini, this single experience started him on a path of religious study and lifelong interest in the Kundalini phenomenon. In Serpent of Fire, Irving collages together excerpts from the Kundalini accounts of Gopi Krishna, Krishnamurti and Motoyama; he puzzles over the mystery of chakras (which he did not experience in his own brief awakening); and he exposes traditional psychiatry's blindness in the face of spiritual emergence. For example, Irving cites the following psychiatric criteria for a diagnosis of schizophrenia (noting that one need not display all these affects to qualify for the diagnosis):
(1) Alterations of the senses;
(2) Inability to sort and interpret incoming sensations, and an inability therefore to respond appropriately;
(3) Delusions and hallucinations;
(4) Altered sense of self;
(5) Changes in emotions;
(6) Changes in movements;
(7) Changes in behavior.
Clearly, by this standard, anyone experiencing Kundalini awakening would be categorized schizophrenic!
Irving goes overboard, I think, in his conclusion that all schizophrenics are actually experiencing Kundalini.
(By contrast, psychiatrist Gabriel Cousens -- who has personally undergone Kundalini awakening and has spent much
time working with the mentally ill -- believes that even Itzhak Bentov's estimate that 25% of schizophrenics are
really cases of undetected Kundalini is far too high.) Regardless of who is right about this, Irving is a much
needed David standing up to the Goliath of inappropriate and often harmful psychiatric intervention. This by itself
makes Serpent of Fire a valuable contribution to the growing repository of Kundalini literature.
© El Collie 1995