Waking Prana Shakti

Swami Satyananda Saraswati

We have been talking about prana shakti and kundalini yoga. I have read many books from time to time written by eminent authors on this most transcendental and yet immediately useful topic. It is not necessary for me to agree with everything that they write. We definitely have our own experience, but the experience of spiritual life, beyond a certain stage, is common. In the beginning of the practices which lead to fulfilment and enlightenment in yoga, there may be differences of experience. But after a while all of us join a common track, and we have the same experience. Therefore my experience is strictly not just personal experience.

I have been an aspirant and a practitioner of yoga throughout my life, even to this day. I do not wish to miss even one moment in indolence, I do not wish to miss even one breath in carelessness. When I am given to the expansion of awareness and have pledged myself to grow out of this animal in man, when I have set myself to express the greatest, the noblest, the purest, the brightest and most illumined aspect of spiritual life, then I must dedicate myself to this awareness throughout my whole life.

There has hardly been a moment in my life when I have not been living in a different world. Please do not misunderstand me and think that I meditate for twenty-four hours a day. I do, and I do not. I have my own commitments, my own responsibilities. I have hundreds of centres all over the world, and hundreds of sannyasins and sannyasinis, most of them not in their sixties, but in their twenties. You can imagine that I must have some difficulty in my conscious and my subconscious mind.

On the administrative side, I have to sign not less than two hundred balance sheets every year. From three o'clock in the morning right up till nine o'clock at night I have to sign letters with my right hand, and with the left hand I am reading various publications. At the same time I have to dictate to my secretaries. In my bathroom I have a telecom and from there I dictate letters. I have three telecoms for the three secretaries so I can dictate letters from my room to theirs, such is the rush of work. There are so many publications to print that I need to have the most modern printing press and an automatic, computerized composing machine. Apart from all this, I have to take care of enormous financial responsibilities which run not to thousands, but to hundreds of thousands of rupees. My institutions run on a total budget of millions of dollars.

Still, yoga can be maintained, higher awareness can be stabilized, and one can live above matter while having every dealing with matter. That is what has been taught by the Gita and other spiritual literature. We have been making a mistake; we want to live either the so-called spiritual life or the so-called sensual life. May I tell you that both of these lives can be lived together, and there is a secret to doing this, and the secret is kundalini.

There is no other way you can transcend the barriers, no matter what practice you have, whether it is the method of Swami Satyananda, Swami Sivananda, Maharishi Mahesh Yogi or of Rajneesh. Oh, I can tell you the names of many great men, but none of their practices can make you transcend the boundary wall. There is an impenetrable wall of consciousness, a barrier of awareness, and beyond that there is no right of entry without kundalini yoga. You go and come back, you go and come back, you see the flame of a candle, you see the flame of fire, you see the blue lotus, you see the cross, you see Jesus, you see your guru, you see Rama, you see Krishna, and you have to come back, you cannot transcend that way. What you have experienced is the deepest state of relaxation, and beyond that the spiritual experience begins. When the symbol, when the form of the object of your meditation, becomes vividly clear in your mind, when you are unaware of time and space, that is the final stage of relaxation and yoga nidra. It is only after this experience that the spiritual journey really begins.

It is in this context that I have always been telling people not to fear kundalini. She is the Mary of Christians, the Durga of Hindus. She is the mother aspect, the aspect of energy and of shakti. Just as a scientist explodes energy from matter, likewise a yogi withdraws energy from matter. This kundalini is at once physiological, mental and also transcendental. People have different opinions about this great primal power, which man has preserved within himself right from the dawn of creation.

For centuries and centuries, for millions of years, man has been traveling in darkness. He has made tools, houses and palaces; he has built up armies and created languages, but he has still been living through the dark ages. Unless the alpha rhythm, the alpha wave becomes universal and common, natural, spontaneous and ever-present in man, he is a human being in form only, but not in reality. Much of us lives in the animal kingdom. We move, think and understand by instinct, and that is how we pass the whole of life- through a tunnel which is totally dark. We are moving, but we don't see ourselves; we don't know which way we are going. We're moving forward, but we don't know we are going forward.

That is the dark tunnel of human evolution through which all of us have been passing until now.

The moment that the energy is exploded and the awareness comes forth, you know that you are, and that is when you begin your spiritual journey; that is when you begin to feel like a human being. I know that I am. The animals procreate and we do too, but they don't know that they are procreating, and we know that we are. They eat, and we too, but they don't know, and we know. This awareness is a special privilege of human existence. This awareness which is called jnanam - not jnana yoga - jnanam, has developed in man and made him aware of time, space, objects and their relationships. Maybe there is a dog who is listening to me, but he does not know that he is listening. Maybe a dog or a monkey thinks, but he does not know that he thinks. You know that I am speaking! You know that you are listening. You are aware, and that is the beginning of spiritual evolution, with that you become man. And this particular awareness by which you know that you are, has to be expanded.

Often the outward signs of this process of becoming aware are mistaken for symptoms of schizophrenia by our medical professors, teachers and scientists. No! If it is schizophrenia, then every man will become schizophrenic before he evolves onto another plane of higher existence. Matter has to be split; only then can the energy explode, otherwise not. Matter cannot remain the same if the energy is to come out. The mind has to be blown, broken and disintegrated; the samskaras should be broken, the emotions and the various aspects of the mind have to be separated. You have to see all these things in your antar mouna, and even if you don't want to see, the natural course of evolution will make you see them.

That is why I have always and everywhere been telling everyone that in meditation, in yogic practices, in mantra japa, in concentration of the mind- the more the vacillation, the better for you. The more the karmas come up and thoughts come to the surface, the better it is for your spiritual illumination. Let them come. And if they don't, if initial concentration begins at once, there is something wrong. The soul has to pass out all the karmas. Those who are Christians, do you know what purgatory is? The mind has to purge out its previous knowledge, its previous experience. Even if you don't believe in the previous birth, at least do believe in this birth. During twenty, twenty-five or thirty years of experience, how many experiences have you had; how many things have you perceived? Where are they now, and where do they come from? Those karmas, those samskaras, those seeds, those latent impressions if this life, or the previous life or past lives, have to be experienced, have to be thrown out, have to be purged. And those who follow the path of yoga should remember that kundalini yoga is one of the most powerful methods of purging these impressions. It works like dynamite, like powerful dynamite; you put it underneath, and POW!

It is not easy to achieve enlightenment, and it is not good for me to claim that I can just give it to you. Enlightenment is the last job a man has to perform, not the first job. After that you are fulfilled, nothing to gain and nothing to lose - one state of being.

In kundalini yoga the very practices which are taught start exploding the personality right from the beginning. When the kundalini awakens in mooladhara chakra, the bottom plexus, heat is generated; thoughts are generated; the emotions and the passions are generated, and everything seems to be exploding, going wrong and going round in circles. But the truth is that there are disturbances when consciousness wakes in any field of life. To give an example, when a beloved husband has just left his wife, how does she feel? Just one incident in life has triggered a whole emotional explosion. In the same manner, with the awakening of mooladhara chakra all the lower karmas are triggered, pow, pow, pow, pow, everything comes out. Then you must have patience and remember these words which I am expressing now. Just be patient and quietly watch what is happening: the lights, the explosions, the emotions and the passions, everything coming up.

This shakti is the awakening of spiritual man, and our generation- the one we are entering now- has a duty to fulfil. I know that not just hundreds, but thousands of boys and girls, men and women all over the world are engrossed in their efforts, right or wrong, to awaken the kundalini. Some use drugs; some use mantra; other's use the raja yoga methods, yet others use penance and austerities, and a few use the help of the guru. There are millions of travellers on this path with you, millions. Hundreds of thousands of people all over the world have been thinking of just one thing - how to awaken that power by which man will live in a different realm yet still keep operating on this earthly plane. You can live upon this earth with lower consciousness, and you can also live upon this earthly plane with the highest consciousness. Which would you prefer? Do you want to live on this earthly plane with the lower consciousness, or live on this earth with the highest consciousness? Tell me!

When you live on this earthly plane with the lower consciousness, you eat chocolates and all sorts of things. And when you live on a higher plane, are you going to eat chocolates? You will! But when you live on a lower plane, anything you experience carries a reaction, and leaves a certain impression in your mind. That is the continuity of karma. When you live on the higher plane of consciousness, you live life and you get the maximum from it because life does not react. It does not leave a chain of vicious actions and reactions. 'My wife died, oh, my wife died!' What's wrong? She died three years ago! That's all finished! But you are still stuck in that horrible state of existence by virtue of karma, because you live on a lower plane of consciousness. You should live on a higher plane of consciousness, then the enjoyment is greater, the sensation is greater and the gratification is infinite. What little you get from life, is too much for you. But when you live on a lower plane of consciousness, however much you get from life is too little for you, because you think, 'God, maybe tomorrow I will not have it at all!' There is insecurity, fear of being looted, fear of losing that grant of nature.

Therefore, when man will live on the higher plane of existence, he is not going to shun this creation. People say, When everyone becomes a swami, what is going to happen to the world? Perhaps the world will collapse!' Rather, it would be a world with freedom! After all, what do you mean by a swami? A man who has mastery over his mind is a swami, and he who has no mastery over his mind is not a swami. When you live on the higher plane of existence, you will thereby operate in this beautiful world (I am using the word 'beautiful' because I believe it is beautiful) with the beautiful ideals of purity, compassion and so on which you now talk about. Before you talk about these things, you must first go up to the higher plane and then you will see that these idealistic phrases become the reality of experience.

This evening someone asked me whether I love him. I asked him, 'Do you understand what love is?' If you come to me and ask me, 'Swamiji, do you like me or dislike me?' I will say yes or no. But if you ask me whether I love you, I first want to know if you know what love is. When we live on the lower plane, our understanding of love is limited- we understand love in relation to our existence and our experience. But the moment we grow more and live on the higher plane, love has a different meaning. And I can certainly say of you, and please do not mind if I do, that you don't know what love is. You like people; you like your wife and children, you like your husband and friends, or you dislike them. You live in the world of love and hatred- raga: attachment, liking; dwesha: hatred, jealousy. There may be one person here and there, one out of millions and millions who may have experienced love, who may have been able to give the divine experience!

The practices of kundalini yoga come to us at a time when they are very much needed for humanity. This great potential energy in man can be aroused by the method of yoga, and then the prana shakti can be expressed. Thought can be converted into idea; idea can be converted into will, and will can be converted into creativity. Dissipated energy is thought; concentrated energy is idea; dynamised energy is will, and the creative energy is our objective. These objects around us are the creative energy, materialized energy. The dissipated energy which we have can be dynamised, can be materialized by prana shakti. If you don't have that prana shakti, it can not be done. So, kundalini yoga!

Last night we had a most fantastic, very rich feast when we were shown slides on Kirlian photography. It was fantastic how the plants have prana, the fingers have prana, the nose has prana, this microphone has prana, you have prana. The whole of life seems to be an interplay of prana shakti! When traveling by car, train or plane, I always think about the prana moving this way and that! And I spent the whole of last night thinking about the prana vidya class yesterday and the activity of everybody's prana. You see, this is fact. We have been materialistic till now. We have seen matter; we have accepted matter. But beyond this we only postulate; we don't really believe. 'Let us suppose there is prana...'! Why say 'suppose'? Let us say that there definitely is prana!

The fun of it is, people say the body contains prana, but I say it the other way, that prana contains the body. They say that God is in us. I say no! We are in him! Are we his container, or is he our container? Oh yes, the fun of it! I remember a story about a picnic.

Once, there were four friends. They went to, say for instance, Mangrove Mountain for a picnic one weekend. One was a philosopher, another was a botanist, another was an astrologer, and the other was a musician. Now, they wanted to cook a little food, so they asked the musician to take charge of the cooking, and the rest went away to obtain various things. Well, the astrologer went and climbed a tree to pick some coconuts. While he was picking them a donkey started braying. He took out his book and read that when a donkey brays it is inauspicious, so he threw the coconuts away.

The botanist went to a greengrocer, saw the cucumbers and decided that they were too flatulent. He went to the potatoes and they had too much starch and carbohydrate. He went to the spinach, and no, that had oxalic acid. Then he went over to the cabbages, but they were reserved for this convention. Then the shopkeeper suggested onions, but he said 'No. If it is union it is all right, but if it is onion it is all wrong and we don't want it'.

The philosopher went to fetch some oil for frying, and he purchased it in a little bottle. Suddenly the question came to his mind of whether God is the basis for creation, or creation is the basis for God. Whether Brahma, the supreme being, is the basis for the universe or whether the universe is the basis for Brahma. Who contains whom? Suddenly the question came to him of whether the bottle contained the oil or the oil contained the bottle. And he remembered that in logic they say that if there is any difference of opinion on a subject, that it should be settled by practical experience. So to solve his dilemma he broke the bottle, and lost all the oil.

Meanwhile our musical brother was cooking the rice. When it started boiling the sound of it made a nice little rhythm, so he started playing his tablas to it. But the rice-pot couldn't keep to his timing you see, so he took a hammer to it, as musicians do when they are adjusting their drums. Of course, he knocked the pot over and lost the rice. When the others came back, between them they hadn't much to show for their picnic. And so it is that most people don't have much prana to show for their life's work.

Prana shakti is the basis of creation, and the basis of kundalini. Prana shakti is at the base of all human activity, all animate and inanimate existence. Just because the scientists of our time are late in discovering prana shakti, why should you be also? This prana shakti is going to give you extra energy in your daily life, so you can overcome depression and sorrow. When you lack prana shakti you can't remember, you feel depressed, tired, shy, and neurotic.

We should now start to practice yoga continually and systematically: hatha yoga and raja yoga, asanas, pranayama, mudras, bandhas and kriyas. Gradually, not in one year, but in a few years' time, we will increase the scope of manifesting this wonderful, incredible power of prana shakti, which is not a philosophical Utopia but a scientific fact. The people who are involved in yoga and meditation, in Zen Buddhism, or in anyone's system, no matter where they are, must now take up this particular topic and gradually go ahead with their own experiment, with expanding their life force until their consciousness soars to the highest dimension of spiritual awakening.