From ancient times to the present day, sacred esoteric Indian texts have described and revered the Kundalini, a bio-psychic energy that lies dormant, coiled three and one-half times at the base of the human spine. Until the kundalini is awakened, the individual continues to identify himself as separate from God and will continue to rely on his instincts of survival, pro-creation and willpower to get what he wants in life. These survival energies are represented by the lower three chakras – the root chakra (holding the need for survival and safety); the sacral chakra (holding the needs for sexuality and self-worth); and the solar plexus (holding passion, anger and strength).
The awakening of the Kundalini marks the beginning of an individual’s spiritual journey. In its aroused form, Kundalini is Shakti, the Divine creative energy. The Shakti rises upward through the sushumna, the body’s subtle channel that corresponds to the spinal column, and pierces the chakras as it makes its way to its ultimate destination, the Crown Charka, or Shahasra. As it pierces the lower chakras, the Shakti liberates the individual’s consciousness from the control of these survival centers, allowing the individual to engage the higher powers of the fourth through sixth chakras that bring about the ultimate merger of individual consciousness with the Divine Consciousness, or Pure Awareness.
For centuries, seekers have engaged in austere yogic practices to awaken the Kundalini. Not only does Kundalini yoga demand extreme discipline and total commitment, it is rarely successful. Moreover, once the Shakti is aroused it can cause erratic and bizarre behavior and be terribly difficult for an inexperienced practitioner to manage without the oversight of an accomplished master.
Kashmir Shaivism, an obscure, esoteric philosophy that originated among mystics in the Himalayan valleys of northern India 1,400 years ago, informs us it is the divine function of the guru is to awaken the dormant Kundalini in the disciple. Arousal of the Kundalini by the guru is known as “Shaktipat”, and is considered an act of grace on the part of the guru.
Kashmir Shaivism teaches that the guru is the grace bestowing power of God. Shaktipat can be transmitted by the guru’s physical touch, by a thought from a distance, or through a glance. The very consciousness of the guru enters the inner self, or soul, of the disciple, bringing about an initiation to the path toward the disciple’s liberation, which is the realization that one's true self is identical with the transcendent Divine Consciousness, or Awareness.
There are said to be few gurus on the planet at any given point in time who can bestow Shaktipat. One such guru was Swami Muktananda, who traveled from India throughout the United States during the late 1970s.
A Chicago accountant, who is also an enrolled agent with the IRS, experienced a kundalini awakening at one of Muktananda’s public programs in Chicago in 1974, five years before I did, and wrote about it in a book he published:
Baba had just begun delivering his discourse with his opening statement: "Today’s subject is meditation. The crux of the question is: What do we meditate upon?" Continuing his talk, Baba said: "Kundalini starts dancing when one repeats Om Namah Shivaya." Hearing this, I mentally repeated the mantra, I noticed that my breathing was getting heavier. Suddenly, I felt a great impact of a rising force within me. The intensity of this rising kundalini force was so tremendous that my body lifted up a little and fell flat into the aisle; my eyeglasses flew off. As I lay there with my eyes closed, I could see a continuous fountain of dazzling white lights erupting within me. In brilliance, these lights were brighter than the sun but possessed no heat at all. I was experiencing the thought-free state of “I am,” realizing that “I” have always been, and will continue to be, eternal. I was fully conscious and completely aware while I was experiencing the pure “I am” a state of supreme bliss. Noticing that this dramatic awakening of kundalini in me frightened some people in the audience, Baba said to the audience, "Do not be frightened. Sometimes kundalini gets awakened in this way.”
Following awakening of the Shakti, there arises an inner voice within the devotee that, over time, brings about the identification of his consciousness with Pure Awareness. Through discrimination brought about by the intelligence of the Shakti, the devotee gradually disassociates himself from the defense mechanisms and coping strategies that comprise the ego; frees himself from the ensnarement of the left brain’s compulsive categorization of all experience, which results in duality, or the experience of separation from God; and becomes detached from repetitive, negative thoughts and emotions. The result is the emergence of an open heartedness that embraces the vicissitudes of life and a loving countenance that is both accepting and forgiving of others.