The Limitations of the Intellect – Secret teaching about Yoga & Kundalini
According to these traditions, our usual state of mind is said to be clouded, deluded, dreamlike, or entranced. In this state we assume that the individual psyche is the source of consciousness rather than a creation or component of it. Here arc the words of Patanjali, who compiled the classic text of yoga:
The mind does not shine by its own light. It too is an object, illumined by the Self: . . . But the Self is boundless. It is the pure Consciousness that illumines the contents of the mind. . Egoism, the limiting sense cf.”I,” results from the individual intellect’s attributing the power if . consciousness to itself.
Western philosophy, psychology and science have failed to grasp the nature of consciousness. For in the words of the Third Zen Patriarch:
To seek Mind with the (discriminating) mind is the greatest jail mistakes… . The more you talk about it The further astray you wonder from the truth.” It is mistake because; to use contemporary language, it is a “category error.” That is, it is an attempt to use what St. Bonaventure called the eye of flesh (sensory perception) or the lye of mind (logic and philosophy), and their combination (science) to see what can only be seen with the eye of contemplation.’
The Asian tradition agree with St. Bonaventure. Consciousness cannot be perceived or adequately conceived; it can only be known through direct intuition. This direct intuition of. Consciousness and the transmental domain is said to develop wisdom (prajna) that allows one to escape from our distorted view of consciousness, seIf and world.
The way out of this distortion is obviously to change our state of mind. Indeed, it is intriguing that although humans might not know what consciousness is, they have .poured enormous effort into altering their experience- of it. A cross-cultural survey found that fully go percent of several hundred societies had institutionalized one or more altered states.? People in traditional -societies almost always view these .states as sacred. Andrew Weil concluded that the “desire to alter consciousness periodically is an innate normadrive analogous to thunger or the sexual drive.” – From a perspective that regards consciousness as unchangeable and unqualifiable, the idea of changing states of consciousness makes no sense.
What is tr-illy being. Changed is states of mind. Most Western psychologists; however, operate from the implicit assumption that consciousness is a function of the individual psyche and consequently speak of “states of consciousness. Because this term is so common in the literature we use it here as necessary.
Gopi Krishna shows that the human race is presently in the midst of a world-wide, yet often misunderstood, process of evolution to a higher state of consciousness. The secret knowledge of Kundalini, the biological force controlling this evolution, is as old as mankind and the author graphically reveals the existence of this secret knowledge in the ancient writings and religious mythologies of many cultures. He also shows how this process of evolution is behind the rise and fall of all civilizations since the beginning of human society and why we must understand it in order to ensure the healthy evolution of the race.
Intellect is the instrument for the study and observation of the phenomena of nature, for drawing inferences from them for the discovery of natural laws and forces and for harnessing the knowledge gained for pragmatic purposes, but it is incapable of dealing with the ultimates. If such were not the case and it were possible for intellect to fathom every mystery, then there would exist no necessity for another transformation of consciousness to know the ineffable. In that case the ,gift of mystical vision would be a redundant possession, a duplicate instrument for the same purpose, against the principle of economy exercised by nature in the award of other faculties.
The unitive experience of the mystics, on the other hand, provides an antidote to the plurality observed by the intellect, showing that two different interpretations are possible of the same phenomenon, in two different states of the same individual —plurality in one and unity in the other. The belief in the plurality of worlds since the Copernican revolution which, in the words of leans, “has changed our conception of the universe almost beyond description” is not the last step in the solution of the mystery of creation. To this is to be added what may now appear to be a fantastic proposition — that the perception of this multiple creation can vary with every change in the perceptive instrument of the observer.
Besides the plurality of worlds, there can be a plurality of the cognitive instruments also of which intellect is but one. According to this premise it is conceivable that earth alone is not the cradle of a species of life, capable of intelligently studying the universe and interpreting its observation in a certain manner.
There may well be other life forms, too, whose instruments of perception reveal an entirely different world which they interpret in their own peculiar way. In other words, like the multiplicity of worlds there can be a multiplicity of observing intelligences also.
The gradation of the terrestrial mind, from the faint glimmer of sentience in the cell to the intelligence of man, might be but a miniature replica of the position actually existing in the cosmos. There might well be an infinitely varied spectrum of consciousness and an enormously varied scale, from the faintest to the brightest, for each color of the spectrum, spread over all the galaxies. The whole organic kingdom of earth would thus represent but one out of a vast world of colors with its varied scale of shades from plant life to humanity. This uniqueness of Indian metaphysics lies in making this position clear to the intellect.
The creation in which we find ourselves need not merely constitute the stellar and the planetary universe, on the one side, and mind, as we know it, on the other. It can be an Infinity of whose countless facets but one is presented to us by our senses and the intellect. In other words, our attempt to interpret the universe in terms of our reason might be tantamount to reducing to the position of a mellow table-lamp a mighty sun which lights up, to invest them with varied form and color, the whole multitude of objects in the solar system.
What the Indian systems, Vedanta and Shaiva, aim to teach is that the Reality behind the phenomenal universe and our mind is a stupendous, incredible and unimaginable Something which can manifest Itself in countless types of creation, i.e. universes unrecognizably different from each other and from our own.
The observing entities in them can also be different, with other patterns of consciousness and other channels of perception than those that feature terrestrial life. By the very constitution of our sensory equipment and mind, we cannot frame even the faintest picture of these exotic other worlds and minds however hard we may try. But our experience of dreams and, to some extent, of uncanny psychic phenomena might, perhaps, to a faint degree, suggest the possibility to which I allude.
We see how the hold of reason is relaxed and how impossible situations seem natural and real in the dream state. Also how inexplicable appears to be the role of mind in precognition and psychokinetic demonstrations. A step further and other kinds of creation can swim into the area of our imagination, but the organic limitation of the brain forces us to stop dead before the frontier can be crossed. The term Vedanta means “the end of the Vedas”. The end of the Vedas signifies the knowledge gained in the turiya or ‘fourth’ state of consciousness, which means the state attained in samadhi, or the final condition of Yoga. This, in turn, means the end of knowledge gained through the senses and the intellect.
Therefore what the Vedanta argues about the cosmos is yet beyond the frontier reached by science. The centuries of labor and the prodigious sacrifice made in India in the pursuit of supernal knowledge and the exploration of inner space has not, therefore, been a wasted effort, but has gathered a precious harvest of its Ont. Only science has not yet reached a stage to assess the sterling value of this crop.
A synthesis is necessary and the time for it has almost arrived. As we have noticed, the world of science is slowly coming round to the view that mind has a province of its own and cannot be an epiphenomenon born of random chemical action. It is improbable, as some astronomers suggest, that the universe is an unimaginably vast desert of burning suns and barren planets with the exception, perhaps, of some on which life might be possible. But even that life, they presume, must be of the same variety as terrestrial life, thereby allotting to mankind a unique position as the only intelligent observer of the universe.
This, in turn, makes consciousness a phenomenon confined to earth in contrast to the otherwise, uninhabited and mostly lifeless worlds. Knowledge gained in turiya puts an end to this premature speculation which turns creation into a monstrous ocean of fire, waste and extravagance in which the only fertile niche productive of some fruit is the earth. This radical change is effected by showing that there are other facets of the universe which do not confirm but, on the other hand, negate the overall picture drawn by the senses and the intellect.
The result is that a new concept of creation begins to dawn in the illuminated. All writers on mysticism are agreed that a mystic’s apperception of the underlying Reality is of a Unity in which the diversity of the sensory image is dissolved. But this vision of the Unity is not the end as is generally supposed. It but marks the beginning of a new search, the first step in the building up of a new science, as the dawn of intellect marked the beginning of the knowledge of the objective world which we possess today.
The Reality cannot be so simple as we imagine. It can be neither a plurality nor a numerical Unity, as it cannot then appear both as One and Many, but something infinitely more simple and complex. In describing the transcendent nature of the Absolute, Plotinus observes: “… the One is the engender of the All, It can itself be none of the things in the All, that is, It is not a thing. It does hot possess quality or quantity. It is not an Intellectual Principle, not a soul, It is not in motion and not at rest, not in space, not in time: It is essentially of a unique form or rather of no form, since It is prior to form, as It is prior to movement and rest: all these categories hold only in the realm of existence and constitute the multiplicity characteristic of that lower realm.’ “Verily, in the beginning, this world was Brahman, the infinite One,” says Maitri Upanishad (VI.17), “Infinite in the south, infinite in the west, infinite in the north, and above and below, infinite in every direction. For Him, indeed, east and the other directions exist not; nor across, nor below, nor above. Incomprehensible is the Supreme Self, unlimited, unborn, not to be reasoned about, unthinkable, He whose Self is space. At the dissolution of all, He alone remains awake.
Thus from that space, He awakes this world which consists of thought only. By Him alone is all this meditated on and in Him it is dissolved. He is that luminous form which gives heat in the yonder sun, the wonderful light on the smokeless fire, as also the fire which digests food. For thus has it been said, He who is in the fire, and He who is here in the heart and He who is yonder in the sun — He is One. He who knows this goes to the Oneness of the One.” These citations can be multiplied to show that there is a clear, unmistakable consistency running through the utterances of mystics of all ages and climes about an experience which alters the picture of the individual and the cosmos drawn by the intellect.
They try to interpret in different mental images a new state of being which is beyond what the mind is normally accustomed to. It seems, in the words of Louis Claude de Saint Martin, as if “all mystics speak the same language and come from the same country.” Bertrand Russell, while admitting the weight of this remarkable unanimity in the statements of mystics. proceeds to show that their apprehension of ‘reality’, in contrast to ‘appearance’, and the negation of time is more emotional than logical, that it expresses feeling, not a fact In drawing this conclusion Russell forgets that it is the close identity of the world-picture in normal consciousness that makes the experience factual. It is not the experience alone but the unanimity that lends objectivity to the phenomena observed. An individual experience or discovery, not corroborated by others, even if true, would be considered to be a delusion.
This is the case with the concept of Kundalini now. Basic similarity in the narratives of the mystics lends the same weight to their experience as identity of perception lends to the experiences of normal consciousness. So long as mystical experience continues to be regarded as a purely subjective phenomenon, without any relation to the organic frame of man, it will always be difficult to rescue it from this position. Then it can never receive the same Hallmark of validity as is awarded to the intellect It is yet to be recognized that this consistency is the outcome of a biological factor common to all mystics, present, past or future. Also, that the demonstration of this factor can cause a revolution in the concepts of science as great, if not greater, than was caused by Copernicus.
Two modes of apprehension existing in the same brain, diametrically opposed to each other, one confirming and the other negating the diversity in the material universe is a phenomenon so amazing that there is nothing comparable to it in the annals of science. It is a paradox as great, as unintelligible and as self-contradictory as the languages in which all great mystics try to clothe their experience. Were mystical ecstasy only a rare occurrence, possible but to a select, peculiarly constituted few, then it can be explained on various grounds, like the one adopted by Russell. But if it is found to be a state of cognition towards which humanity is evolving, as a whole, the problem assumes a proportion which is beyond solution at present.
But this is what a thorough study of the phenomenon of Kundalini is certain to bring to light, placing an enigma before the world which might tax all its intelligence and resources to solve. The state of oneness with the objective world in sarnadhi, an experience common to mystics, unifying the multiplicity of the intellect, puts an end to the speculations on the origin of the universe, about which astronomers are prone to philosophize. How does it benefit a rational being to know, save to enhance his theoretical knowledge of the world, that a Big Bang’ occurred fifteen billion years ago to cause the initial movement towards the creation of the stellar universe.
What is of far more importance to him is to be enlightened about his on origin and nature and he wishes to know about it here and now. He has no time to look back aeons of astronomical time or forward to another similar span to find answers to the questions nearest to his heart It would be, perhaps, instructive to ponder the paradox that among crowds of people who all share the benefits provided by science, when it comes to making a choice, by far the greater number renders more homage to spiritual teachers than to its temporal benefactors. Adventures of the intellect began from the very dawn of reason in man and continued since then.
They amuse for a time, but are never able to assuage the gnawing hunger in the soul to know itself. Whether a sudden explosive movement ever occurred in the beginning which, in the words of Carl Sagan, “rumbled down the corridors of space” we have no certain means to know. Only this we can safely presume — that other and, perhaps, more ingenious theories will be invented to explain the origin of the universe. But a real revolution will start when it is conclusively proved, after experiment, that a ‘Big Bang’ can occur in the brain itself. It first occurred at the birth of reason and can occur again on the arousal of Kundalini. In the latter case, it results in a state of consciousness in which the plurality created by the former is nullified. It is this explosion that will rumble down the corridors of science for ages to come.
According to the Indian tradition this dissolution of the world, created by the senses and the intellect in samadhi denotes a state of consciousness free from sensory illusion. Attainment of this state signifies moksha or liberation, for the conscious principle in man. It is thus easy to see on what extraordinary, inwardly-gathered empirical evidence the devotees of Vedanta and Shaiva are based.
The most popular scripture in India, namely the Bhagavad Gita, adumbrates in no ambiguous language the methods by which this state can be attained. Panchastavi and other books on Shri Vidya and also the Tantras enunciate the biological linkages by which the condition is made possible. If in a higher state of consciousness there can occur a loss of the objectivity of the world, presented by the senses, the inference then becomes clear that this objectivity, too, is a formulation of consciousness which interpreted their impressions. Since consciousness is expressed through the brain and organic changes in the cranial matter were responsible for the emergence of the intellect, and must also be behind turiya or mystical consciousness, we are faced with a stupendous mystery which may take ages to explore.
Kundalini is the super-intelligent Energy behind consciousness.
It is also the evolutionary mechanism which determines the capacity of the brain.
The rational mind and the turiya-consciousness, though opposite in effect, are both its creations at the base.
The profundity of the concept has been thus expressed in Panchastavi (V.31): – “That which has gone before, that which is to come after, that which is within and that without, the unbounded and the limited, the most gross and the most subtle, the manifested and the unmanifested, the open and the secret, the near and the distant, being and non-being, in these and other forms Thou, (0 Goddess), art perennially seen as the Universe. It is the movement (creative activity) born of Thee at Thy command which brings the (infinitely varied) Cosmos into being.”
It is an incredibly mysterious Force, a stupendous Almighty Power, an utterly bewildering Magical Stuff which forms the ground of creation. To classify it merely as ‘matter’ and ‘mind’ is to oversimplify a colossal problem to suit it to the understanding of a child.
The recognition of this fact is of incalculable value for the modern world. The Mystery behind creation is not so simple that our puny intellect can fathom it. Carried away by his achievements, man believes that he is the cream of the universe. This has led to an upsurge of pride, especially among the skeptical ranks of science, which is not at all warranted by the actual position. The real goal in front of man is to know himself.
Excessive preoccupation with the outer phenomena rules out the study of That from which they arise. Real achievement does not lie in making a complicated world more complex and in adding to the problems that already exist. It lies in striking a balance between the inner and the outer worlds by which harmony and peace are achieved.
We are still a long way off in understanding the colossal nature of the Riddle that faces the intellect. An ape can never understand the problems that arise in the mind of man.
A primitive can never place himself in the rich, exuberant mental world of a modern intellectual. The most intelligent thinker can never picture the aspect of Reality revealed to a mystic.
The Mystery grows more intriguing, profound, and sublime as we ascend the ladder. The only thing that is made manifest, when the intellect is transcended, is the deathless, all-pervasive and absolute nature of Consciousness.
Treating man as “a mere speck of matter or as “a random creation born of chemical or organic action” can never solve the mystery of existence for both the inner and the outer worlds are one. The Indian tradition declares this to be the aim of human life. Consciousness ascending through an enormous scale of gradations must, at last, solve its mystery.
This, in other words, signifies that man, in order to attain real happiness and release himself from doubt, must know himself. It is only then that he can reach the divine stature ordained for him. How this can be realized is the objective for which we have to strive.
This is what Panchastavi tries to make manifest when it says (V.32): – “Just as the rays of light rising from the sun, as the gleaming sparks rising from a fire, as the drops of spray formed by obstructed waves rising from the mighty ocean, (are reabsorbed in their source), in the same way, the multitude of elements rising and rising again with their own essential (constituent) groups are helplessly forced to fall back into stillness in Thee.” Paradoxical, as it may sound, it is consciousness which is the mirror and ground of the universe — a mighty Riddle beyond the intelligence of man.