Seven Levels of Consciousness – Secret teaching about Yoga & Kundalini
Seven Levels of Consciousness – Secret teaching about Yoga & Kundalini
The reason why I am particular on this issue is that there already is a huge mass of material in existence, the harvest of experiences of a galaxy stretching back to a period thousands of years before the birth of Christ. The stars of this constellation appeared only at rare intervals and their utterances are of utmost importance for humanity. For reasons which the research, in due course, will bring to light their appearance during the past two or three hundred years, despite the glamorous advance of science, has been even rarer.
What is now being added to this hoary store of knowledge and, sometimes avidly devoured by millions, is superficial compared to what is already on record. It would save the writers and the readers from great loss of time and energy if, instead of running in search of fresh adventure, they were to make a thorough assessment first of what has been achieved by legions who hungered for the same experience throughout the past and made even greater effort and sacrifice to gain the same ends.
In almost every regional language of India there is a precious treasure from the past which needs digging up for a systematic study of the paranormal phenomena of mind. It must be understood that mystical ecstasy is not one thing, extrasensory perception another, psychic faculties a third and miraculous or occult powers a fourth.
But they all spring from a changed pattern of prana or Life-Energy which forms a still undetermined force of creation. The investigation directed to study this amazing stuff will need all the resources of science, all the powers of the intellect and all the will and strength of man to learn even the rudiments. This is the reason for the attitude of utter submission before this power evinced throughout in Panchastavi.
The harvest of this investigation will be beyond anything conceived of by any thinker of standing or dreamed of by science. Even the preliminary data gathered will revolutionize the life and thinking of mankind. It will be found that the human brain stands already stamped by nature for a performance of an extraordinary kind of which there is not the slightest inkling or even a suspicion at present. This is the reason why I feel that the idea spread by the so-called yoga-adepts or the views expressed by the contemporary writers on mysticism and the occult, instead of helping to understand the mighty secret underlying the phenomena are merely adding to the chaos prevailing here.
There is no one alive who knows more about this hitherto jealously guarded province as the author of Panchastavi or of any other standard work on the science of Kundalini.
There is no book by a modern author that tries to answer these fundamental questions about a province in which false pretense, deception and fraud have been a recurrent feature from the earliest times.
Seemingly supernatural phenomena were caused by the priests in ancient Egypt, including the one which overawed Alexander the Great, by pure mechanical contrivances.
The occultists and even the priests of other faiths seldom missed an opportunity to instill the awe of the supernatural or an irrational fear of God by artificial means whenever it suited their purpose to do so and an opportunity presented itself for doing it.
False prophets and fake godmen have been and are more numerous and even more prosperous for a time than the illuminati, the real saint and the true servant of God. Save for a few honorable exceptions, the whole gallery of performers in the field of psychic phenomena is filled by those found guilty of fraud and imposture at one time or the other.
The duplication by the professional magician, James Randi, of the feats performed by Uri Geller in Birbeck College, London, before keen-eyed scientists under the same conditions, has created serious doubts about his other psychokinetic performances also.”
How can we separate truth from falsehood and fact from fiction in a realm in which both are found inextricably mixed up from the hoary past? The mixture lends support to the believer and the skeptic both.
How can unity be brought to a department of knowledge in which the world stands divided at present? Can amateur contributions lead to clarification in a branch of study in which the highest specialists, known to mankind as prophets and seers, failed to shed enough light to put their experiences and the phenomena beyond dispute?
Is it too hard for our intellect to accept the position that there are still unknown momentous secrets of nature relating to mind which await discovery, and still unknown mechanisms in the human body which can radically alter the performance of the brain?
In a recent article under the title ‘Seven Levels of Consciousness,” Joseph Campbell has tried to throw light on the ancient concept of Kundalini. His attempt has been to dovetail the hoary tradition with the modem concepts in psychology and to interpret the symbols used for the first four chalcras with the views expressed by the three well-known psychologists Freud, Adler and Jung. “In this first chakra,” he writes, “the spiritual energy is at its lowest intensity, for it is blocked from rising by the serpent’s sleep.
A person who functions at this level takes a grimly materialistic view of the world, one governed only by ‘hard facts.’
Such a person’s art remains sentimental and materialistic, while his psychology might be characterized as behavioristic-reactive, rather than creative. He takes no joy in life, makes no effort to expand. He hangs on to existence with a dull, lethargic avidity …. It is this lethargy, according to Kundalini Yoga, that must be cracked, so that energy may ascend into higher centers of transformation. Chakra one has parallels with the dragon-slaying myths of many cultures, including our own. The greedy dragon always hoards the greatest treasure.
The view expressed is, no doubt, ingenious, but far from the truth when assessed in the light of the ancient tradition about Kundalini. Spiritual energy is not at its lowest intensity at this chain On the other hand the position is exactly the reverse. It is precisely at this place that spiritual energy is at its highest intensity.
There is not even a suspicion in the modem works on psychology of the store of psychic dynamite existing there.
The awakening of the Serpent Power can be likened to the applying of a lighted match to a powderkeg resulting in a virtual explosion in consciousness.
It is thus evident that the real significance of what the Indian treatises on Kundalini Shakti, like Panchastavi, intend to convey is not correctly understood in the West The reason why this first or lowest chain is called Muladhara or the ‘root-support’ center is because it is from this place that the explosive energy that causes the upheaval in the mind ascends to the brain in the form of a radiation and a subtle organic essence which in all books on Kundalini is designated as ‘amnia’ or nectar.
The symbol of Kundalini, as a serpent, lying asleep at this chakra, closing with her mouth the Door to Brahma’, is aimed to convey a hint of the untamable nature of the lightning-like force lying dormant here. Freud’s ‘libido’ approaches close to the concept of Kundalini. But he had no awareness of the tremendous potential present in the force nor that it has a definite psychosomatic character, which was known from very ancient times.
The nature of the organic fuel responsthle for the intelligent activity of the cerebrospinal system is still a distrait frontier of current science. There is no equivalent for prana in its vocabulary. It is the change in prang effected on the arousal of the Serpent Power, that causes the amazing alteration in consciousness and results in the mind-shattering experience of mystical ecstasy with miraculous powers and psychic gifts. Where in the books on psychology is there even a mention of this ‘force’?
The real experience of Yoga belongs to a region that has still to be mapped by science. In the light of these facts it is not clear what Campbell means by the term ‘spiritual energy’ which, he says, is at its lowest intensity in the Fast chars. Has he used the word ‘energy’ in a metaphorical sense or in the sense of the vacuous Freudian libido?
If an actual force is implied, then he comes close to the concept of the Indian adepts.
Then only one step remains between him and the latter. Their position is that this ‘energy’ can be manipulated to cause incredible alterations in consciousness and that the ‘mechanism for doing so is Kundalini. The shift from materialism to mentalism, now gaining ground among scientists, still leaves the question unanswered: Is there a mind or spiritual energy? If so, how does it work?
What is its relationship with the body? How are psychic phenomena caused? What lies behind telepathy, clairvoyance and precognition? What is behind insanity and neurosis?
The libido’ of Freud, the ‘urge to power’ of Adler and the ‘unconscious’ of Jung, in order to be effective in radically changing mental behavior, from normalcy to disorder and from mediocrity to exceptional, cannot be mere figures of speech, or but ghostly, unsubstantial abstractions, to cause serious psychosomatic diseases and those horrible distortions of the mind which d* all the efforts of psychiatrists to cure.
There must be a hidden agent in the mind-brain or mind-body relationship which science has not been able to locate so far.
There must be something that is totally invisible and inexplicable to us to which the still unexplained mystery of organic life is due.
What modem brain experts still fail to trace must be an extremely elusive principle, so subtle and complex that a further advance in the science of life is necessary before it can be discovered and determined. We cannot blame Joseph Campbell or any other psychologist for stopping dead at a crucial point in their study of mind and human behavior. They stand on the brink of an abyss beyond which not a single step is possible by the path provided by the intellect.
They have no awareness of how the mind-neuronic interaction comes about Taking into account the amazing advance in knowledge, achieved during recent times, we cannot suppose that our intelligence has reached the end of its tether and that the riddle of mind-brain interaction will remain unsolved forever.
The solution will be found one day. The tragedy is that, ignoring this serious gap in their knowledge, contemporary psychologists have built up a huge structure without Fast addressing themselves to the task of determining how immaterial mind acts on the body and the latter on the mind Do they believe that there is no such intermediary or, perhaps, that no such intermediary will ever be found?
But if the nature of the link’ is at last determined and it is found to be something which they had never bargained for, then what would be the fate of the tall, lavishly decorated, but hollow edifices built by them? The ideas I am expressing appear implausible to skeptical scientists because they have become too accustomed to ignoring this wide gulf in their own knowledge.
They do not know that the territory of Yoga begins where the boundary of modern psychology ends. The explanation offered by Campbell to correlate the theories of Freud, Adler and Jung with the ancient symbolic representations at the second, third and fourth chakras on the spinal axis are not based on a correct appraisal of the position.
What the ancient adepts had in view, when prescribing the symbols for each chakra, are the changes in the pattern of prang and consciousness as the Kundalini force moves upward from center to center. Praha itself is a concept lacking official recognition. It is, in fact, what neurobiologists are searching for—the link between the neuron and the mind.
The term ‘pranayama, repeatedly used in the manuals on Yoga, refers to the regulation or control of this mysterious element. The amount of study and labor involved in detecting this most elusive entity and in devising methods of regulation and control with the meager and even incorrect knowledge of psychology available in those days can be better imagined than described.
The experiments had not to be made on dead matter or small animals, but on the living, feeling flesh of the experimenter himself. We seldom realize what dedication, self-sacrifice and suffering of centuries have gone into the scriptural, mystical and Yogic literature of the world.
What must have been the toll of life paid in the hazardous experiments till the science of Yoga was established on its present footing we have no means to know. But that the cost in life must have been enormous goes without saying. I have discussed the views expressed by Campbell at some length because they represent the general attitude of western psychologists towards the oriental concepts of Yoga and Kundalini.
For them the criterion for the acceptance of an Eastern system depends on its conformity to the ideas expressed by some leading psychologists. But no such conformity actually exists in the case of Kundalini and even Yoga.
The aim of these disciplines is to reach a transcendental level of consciousness by the manipulation of prana. the hidden agent behind mind-brain relationships, the vital force behind all the phenomena of life. Both transcendental consciousness and prana are differently ideated by different people. By transcendental consciousness I do not mean transpersonal states of mind which are now discussed in psychological books and magazines.
What I mean by transcendental consciousness is a highly expanded state of the mind, described in Panchastavi as Shiva-Consciousness. It is an altered state of perception, brought about by the alteration of prana. which will be discussed at length in another chapter of this work.
The deepest levels of the cerebrospinal system are involved in the process of illumination. The change at these levels occurs through intense meditation. devotional prayer, worship, pranayama with concentration, and other yogic and religious disciplines practiced from immemorial times.
Campbell himself refers to the remarks of Carl lung admitting that the methods and philosophical doctrines of Eastern thinkers working on the problem of spiritual healing “put all Western attempts along these lines into the shade”.
The problem is, how could this be accomplished without empirical study which is an integral part of all scientific work today?
Actually, in the case of spiritual knowledge, the empirical method came into use from the very start Even the shaman and the witchdodor had to resort to certain disciplines and to practise certain methods to gain the uncanny powers of clairvoyance or healing exhibited by them. Oracles, priests and magi did the same. Indian spiritual men went a step farther and built up elaborate systems of psycho-physical exercises which were later labeled as Yoga.
In the Vedas proper even the name ‘Yoga is not mentioned, but the spiritual experimentation was going on. It is an error to suppose that empiricism started with modern science. Actually, all original scriptural knowledge is the outcome of empirical study and investigation.
Only the laboratory and the investigator were a person’s own body and the person themself.
That is why Panchastavi calls Kundalini ‘Pure Knowledge’ (WI), ‘Spiritual Lore’, The Tradition’, The Supreme Secret’, The (whole of) Knowledge and by other such names. The knowledge of the ‘Evolutionary Ascent’ as also of the ‘Transcendental Heights’ to be attained, is not possible with the intellect.
The sooner this position is accepted by science the better it would be for the sanity, happiness and survival of the race.
The extraordinary metaphysical formulations of Indian savants mostly proceed from insights gained in samadhi or the absorbed state of yogic contemplation in which the world ofprana opens to view. This is how some of the highest philosophical systems, known to mankind, and books like the Bhagavad Gita, the Yoga Vasishtha, Panchastavi, Saundarya Lahari, Adi Granth and others, dealing with the state of awareness in higher dimensions of consciousness, the forces involved and the methods to attain them, were written.
It is a mistake to suppose that the doctrine of Kundalini merely represents a metaphorical rendering of the subliminal contents of the human psyche.
In the context of current notions about mind it is hard to accept that a radiant force does actually arise from the base of the spine to create a revolution in the brain.
Even the admission of this one unmistakable sign of the arousal of Kundalini can prove not only a strong incentive for empiricists for a study of the phenomenon, but also serve as an index to assess the claims of those who believe that they are illuminated.
A clear, unambiguous admission of this fact is made in several verses in Pmchastavi:—”Located between the four-petalled and the six-petalled lotuses (Muladhara and Svadishthana), at the end of the cavity of pudenda (i.e. between the rectum and the genital organs), it says (V.9), “coiled three times, beaming with unbounded splendor, like that of sun, fire or lightning, Thou dolt first pierce the six-petalled lotus (Svadishthana), then the ten-petalled (Manipura), then the twelve-petalled (Anahata), then the sixteen-petalled (Vishuddha), and then the two-petalled (Ajna chakra on Thy way to Brahma-ran:111ra). 0 Parvati, (Daughter of Himalaya), our obeisance to Thee.”
The verse preceding this one expresses the same idea in a different way and there are several others besides. It is obvious that we are dealing with a still obscure phenomenon to which there are thousands of unimpeachable firsthand witnesses in the historical period, but which is entirely unknown to science and only vaguely familiar to a few scholars of our day.
The way to understand it does not lie in making the phenomena subject of academic debate, some for and some against, and all with no experience of the extraordinary condition, but in organizing a concerted effort to reach to the bottom by experiment and documentary research. The state of mind attained with the arousal of the Serpent Power is not at all to be confused with the visionary states promised by professional occultists or Yoga teachers or with the abnormal and paranormal states known to psychologists.
Consciousness, when fed by an awakened Kundalini, is a condition apart and must be experienced to be understood. In marks the entry into a new life, so intense, so happy and so fulfilling that the mystics of all lands went into rhapsodies describing it.
Comparing this state of illumination with the experiences of professional godmen, Rumi, the famous Persian mystic writes “The mystic ascends to the Throne in a moment, the ascetic needs a month for one day’s journey. Although for the ascetic one day is of great value, yet how should his one day be equal to fifty thousand years? In the life of the adept, every day is fifty thousand of the years of this world …. May Divine Favor free thee from this wayfaring.
None but the royal falcon bath found the way to the King.” For the mystic himself absolute conviction of his own transformation comes not only from the vision of the Glory perceived within, but also from the knowledge that spontaneously wells up from the depths of his transmogrified consciousness. “0 Mother, how can they attain Seership,” says Panchastavi (1.7), “who do not learn to meditate on Thee, bolding a rosary in Thy right and the book (of wisdom) in Thy left hand, with one soft hand raised to grant boom and (the other) to dispel fear, shining like white camphor and Kumuda flowers, looking with bewitching glances from Thy lovely eyes (shaped) like the petal of a full-blown lotus.”
This fact is mentioned repeatedly in the books on Shri Vidya, namely, the infusion of transcendental knowledge, bloom of the intellect and psychic gifts. Can this transmutation of mental faculties. this elevation of the soul and this rich fertility of the intellect denote only a ‘psychological state without a far-reaching change down to the roots of the living organism or down to those subtle levels where Life-Energy functions to fashion us as we are?
The same transformation is mentioned by Rumi:—”The spiritual man’s knowledge bears him aloft, the sensual man’s knowledge is a burden. God bath said ‘Like an ass laden with books; heavy is the knowledge that is not inspired by Him’ …. Would you rise beyond name and letter, make yourself entirely pure, and behold in your own heart all the knowledge of the prophets, without book, without learning, without preceptor?
When reading the impassioned language of the mystics or books like Masnavi of Rumi, the erudite cynic glancing at it condescendingly not =often thinks that he knows all about it, labeling the whole story in his overcrowded and often biased mind as ‘fantasy’, ‘idee-fixe’, ‘delusion, ‘superstition, ‘archetypal imagery’, ‘subconscious fantasies’, ‘automatism, ‘suppressed sex’, or whatever comes to his memory. He is never prepared to accept that the writer has tasted the intoxicating wine of a new, sublime life, gained a new channel of perception, found another avenue of knowledge and has risen far ahead of him on the scale of evolution.
He can never believe that in about a quarter of a century the subject at which be looks now so superciliously would have smashed all the records of the great discoveries made in recent times, created unprecedented enthusiasm and fervor, caused the collapse of many theories and proud notions of science and found its way to the top of all knowledge possessed by mankind at present. I envision this as only a thin strip remaining now between the last boundary of science and the wonder-stuff behind the phenomena of religion and the occult, as also of life and consciousness in man.