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April 1980

High on Waves

This issue contains the following lectures and satsangs from Swami Satyananda Saraswati's 1979 European Tour:

Yoga Today
Given at Satyananda Ashram, Paris, on 17th Sept.

Tantra- Link for Modern Life
Given at Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center in Antwerp, Belgium on 29th Aug.

Bursting the Bud of Creativity
Given at Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Center in Antwerp, Belgium on 30th Aug.

Techniques for Transcendence
Given at the Dublin Convention on 23rd Sept.

Kriya Yoga
Given at the Zinal Conference in Switzerland on 9th Sept.

The Dilemma



Bursting the Bud of Creativity

Swami Satyananda Saraswati
Given at Sivananda Yoga Vedanta Centre in Antwerp, Belgium on 30th Aug.

For centuries, man has been pondering the possibility of a super-physical existence and, at the same time, he has been thinking about how to become the master of nature. Each time a person has an inner experience, he wants to know how it happened and from where it came. Occasionally we hear about a miraculous happening, or we may even experience one ourselves. Man is convinced that there is a power beyond the mind, but as yet he has been unable to clarify the whole situation. He has interpreted these phenomena as the emanations of some ghost, spirit or devil, who comes to tell him things. Man has not arrived at any final and valid conclusions about the cause of miraculous happenings.

In the study of modern parapsychology, we have been confronting these problems. There are certain manifestations which need to be explained and understood in a more scientific light. For instance, we notice that people have different mental capacities- some have fantastic mental powers. You may have heard about Napoleon, when he was imprisoned during the last years of his life. Every day he would order the jailers to unlock the doors of his cell, with such force that they had to obey. Then he would go outside for a walk and on his return they locked the door again. This is just one example; there are many other events in life that need total investigation.

Kundalini and evolution

Today, many people are curious about kundalini yoga, and they feel that it may provide some of the answers they are seeking. In the west, people once knew about the power of kundalini, but during the past two hundred years, prior to the last decade or two, the whole concept has completely diminished.

In India, people have been making discoveries about kundalini yoga for ages. In order to awaken it, they devised many methods which were successful. Kundalini is the latent power in man which will manifest itself in due course according to the laws of evolution. Thousands of years from now people will have awakened kundalinis.

Here you must remember one thing- although we are all born in a human body, on the spiritual plane we are not all at the same point. If you visit a school, you will understand what is meant by evolution. All the pupils go to the same school, but they do not belong to the same class. They are progressing through the different stages of education until they ultimately reach the final class. In the same way, the consciousness of man has been evolving for millions of years.

We know that in the days of the Atlantis civilisation, which existed more than 45,000 years ago, man had spiritual consciousness. The Rig Veda contains verses that were evidently written at least 75,000 years back, because they mention certain planetary positions which were existing at that time. This means that man has been evolving in the field of spiritual consciousness for at least 75,000 years. This is a very conservative view, but scientifically speaking, the process of consciousness is a very slow matter.

The mind, intellect and emotions evolve through this life, along with the atma, or spirit. We cannot see the mind, nor can we see the intellect or emotions. But we know that the intellect and emotions of a child are constantly developing and evolving. Likewise, we cannot see the spirit, but when we compare the people of different times, we can understand that the spirit has been evolving. It is the law of nature. Even if you do not practise tantra or yoga, or any other sadhana, your kundalini will wake up, because man's ultimate destiny is to awaken shakti.

Understanding the process

In order to practise kundalini yoga, it is important that you understand the nadis and chakras. Nadi means flow. Just as electrical wires conduct a flow of electrical energy, in this physical body there is also a flow of energy which is conducted by the nadis. In this energy system there is vital energy, known as prana, and mental energy, known as manas. These energies flow through two important nadis, ida and pingala. These two nadis emanate from mooladhara chakra and flow within the framework of the spinal column to their point of termination in ajna chakra. In the centre of the spinal column there is a third nadi called sushumna which flows from mooladhara up to ajna chakra, then on to sahasrara. But in most people it is a dormant flow: there is no activity; no awakening.

So we have three flows, known as ida, pingala and sushumna. You can also call them prana, manas and atma. Pingala nadi is on the right side and it supplies life and prana to all the organs of the body. Ida nadi is on the left side and it supplies mental energy to all the parts of the body. Therefore, this physical body is a composition of two shaktis. Now, what we have to do is awaken sushumna nadi. If sushumna is active, meditation occurs by itself.

If you want to bring light to your room, you must make electrical connections. In the same way, activation in sushumna must take place before the awakening of kundalini. If kundalini wakes up before the awakening of sushumna, there will be problems. There are many people who have awakened kundalini before sushumna and the result has been that kundalini passes through either ida or pingala.

The sleeping brain

The brain has ten compartments, and of these, nine are dormant and one is active. Whatever you know, whatever you think or do, is coming from one tenth of the brain. The other nine-tenths are known as the inactive, or sleeping brain. Why are these compartments inactive? Because there is no energy. The active portion of the brain functions on the energies of ida and pingala, but the other nine-tenths have only pingala. Pingala is life, and ida is consciousness. If a man is living, but is unable to think, we say that he has prana shakti but not manas shakti. Similarly, the silent parts of the brain have prana, not consciousness. So a very difficult question arises- how to awaken the sleeping compartments of the brain? We know how to develop the emotions, intellect, mind and memory. We know how to awaken fear, anxiety and passion, but we do not know how to awaken these dormant areas of the brain.

In kundalini yoga it was discovered that the different parts of the brain are connected with the chakras. Certain areas are connected with mooladhara chakra, others with swadhisthana, manipura, anahata, vishuddhi and ajna. I will give you a very simple example. You have seen lamps, and their switches are in another place. When you want to put the light on or off, you don't touch the lamps, only the switches.

Modern science divides the dormant area of the brain into ten parts, whereas in kundalini yoga we divide it into six. The qualities or manifestations of the brain are also six fold, e.g., the psychic powers. These manifest in different individuals according to the degree of awakening in the corresponding areas of the brain. Everybody is not clairvoyant or telepathic; some people are talented musicians. Anybody can sing, but there is a centre in the brain where transcendental music expresses itself. A genius is one who has been able to awaken one of the dormant areas of the brain. This is the basis of kundalini yoga.

There are many people in the world who have awakened their kundalini. Not only saints and sadhus, but poets, painters, warriors, writers, anyone can awaken their kundalini. With the awakening of kundalini, not only visions of God take place. There is an opening of creative intelligence, an awakening of supra-mental faculties. By activating kundalini you may become anything in your life.

Everyone wants to overcome the limitations of body, mind and emotions. Day in and day out, man has so many fantasies, but he is unable to do anything. It appears as if he is tied hand and foot. These are the shackles of destiny which man has created himself on account of his invalid brain.

Man's brain is truly fantastic, but only one area is functioning. There is nothing which man does not have- knowledge of past, present and future. Karma cannot bind him; he is the master of his own destiny. But at present, man is limited because he has no power, no shakti. Man is a superior being, but he lacks one thing- the connection between kundalini and the brain.

The method of awakening

To awaken the dormant areas of the brain, you must firstly activate sushumna, which is the connection between the higher centres of the brain and the generator at the bottom. Mooladhara chakra is the seat of kundalini shakti, or primal energy. This primal energy remains dormant in animals, but in human beings we have to activate sushumna, then awaken kundalini shakti and circulate it through sushumna, right from mooladhara up to sahasrara. As the shakti passes through the chakras, the silent zones of the brain start functioning.

Of course, when the shakti awakens suddenly in mooladhara, it cannot rise immediately. Many times it wakes up and sleeps again. You know how your children are in the morning; you have to wake them several times, because they keep going back to sleep again. That is the behaviour of kundalini. Through the kriyas you awaken it in mooladhara chakra, but it goes back to sleep. It may wake up again, or it may not. Sometimes it wants to play with us, and goes up to swadhisthana and again comes back to mooladhara, and there it is locked.

When the kundalini shakti ascends from mooladhara to swadhisthana it is a horrible experience, because all the physical passions arise. Many people today have awakened their kundalini and it is somewhere between mooladhara and swadhisthana. The five tattwas of tantra are associated with these two chakras. Once the kundalini leaves swadhisthana and ascends to manipura and anahata, you no longer need the five tattwas. The mere fact that today's society is practising the five tattwas in everyday life means that their kundalini is somewhere between mooladhara and swadhisthana.

The five tattwas

The five tattwas, or elements, of tantra are madya (wine), mansa (flesh), maithuna (sexual union), mantra (the chanting of stanzas, scriptures, or psychic sounds) and mudra (practices like shambhavi mudra, yogamudra, etc.). If you have been to church during the communion, you will have seen the flesh, the wine and the chanting of scriptures. It is a tantric practice.

In tantra, the wine is of two varieties. One is the common wine that most people drink. The other is produced in the cranial passage at bindu chakra. This wine is called amrit, or ambrosia. It is extracted through the practice of khechari mudra, and refined in vishuddhi chakra.

There are also two kinds of maithuna. One is the physical union between a man and woman, which is practised differently to the usual way. It is only possible when you are able to do vajroli and sahajoli. In maithuna it is important to avoid conception, because when pregnancy takes place there is a break in the practices.

The second type of maithuna is completely internal. It occurs when there is union between ida and pingala at ajna chakra. Sometimes this experience is so terrific that one cannot bear it - not because it is too painful, but because it is too pleasant. Imagine a continuous orgasm for about seven minutes. What would happen? This prolonged orgasm is an exploding experience, and when it occurs the pranas seem to stop flowing throughout the body. The consciousness completely dissolves; the normal mind cannot function during this period. The body and mind enter a state of rigor mortis, as if the whole creation has come to a point of cessation. Although the body does not move, its functions continue. Gradually this experience recedes and normal consciousness returns.

In kundalini yoga, the union between a man and woman is a yogic kriya, but it is definitely much better if you can experience this union alone. When you have a baby, you keep him with you. When the baby becomes a child, he does not need you all the time, and when he develops into a young man he leaves you in order to live independently. Likewise, in the beginning, in order to awaken kundalini, you should try to exploit all the natural secrets. But once the awakening takes place, you should become independent. Therefore, it is not important whether a man and woman come together or not.

Of course, for those of you who are over fifty, there is little chance to practise tantra. Not that you are disqualified, but you have missed the bus. It is the young people who will benefit most from this science. For them, it will fulfil two promises. First of all, they will be able to transcend the urge through involving themselves in it; and secondly, they will have such a rich experience from the awakening of the brain.

Another point is that it won't be possible to have this experience every day, because it is so explosive that you feel it for fifteen days afterwards. Therefore, the practitioner of kundalini yoga is not compelled to involve himself in sexual life very frequently. Sometimes it is biannual, sometimes it is triennial, not because he wants to control, but because he is fulfilled.

In the shakti cult, all five tattwas are utilised. In ancient Europe they were also used, even during the period of the Romans. But later, when the pseudo-Christian religions emerged they discontinued them. They did not want the tantrics to 'eat' what they called the 'forbidden fruit', and the parable of Adam and Eve served as a great aid in the elimination of this practice.

Whether people are aware of it or not, the tattwas are part of their religion and culture even today. In kundalini yoga it is important that we understand the nature of these five elements because they are necessary for the awakening of kundalini from mooladhara to swadhisthana.

Prana and purification of the nadis

In kundalini yoga, pranayama is practised to purify and activate sushumna nadi so that kundalini can ascend through it and awaken the chakras. When the chakras are activated their relevant and respective centres in the brain are triggered into action.

Pranayama is not practised to increase the intake of oxygen. Whether you breathe in through the left nostril, the right, or both nostrils, the quantity of oxygen in the body does not change. But when you inhale, you are taking in a certain amount of prana. Prana is different from oxygen.

In scientific terms they refer to prana as positive and negative ions. The formation of ions begins when enough energy acts on a gaseous molecule to eject an electron (negatively charged particle). The displaced electron attaches itself to an adjacent molecule which becomes a negative ion. The original molecule then becomes a positive ion.

Inside a closed room there are only about 50 ions per square foot; outside there are about 500, and in the mountains there are about 5000. These positive and negative ions are the components of the air you breathe. When you take them in they increase the level of prana in your body, and are dispensed to the five areas for specific functions. In the practice of pranayama, kumbhaka or breath retention plays an essential part. During kumbhaka, when you hold the breath, carbon dioxide is retained in the brain, and this increases the capacity for assimilating ions.

Prana flows to each and every part of this physical body through a complex network of nadis or nerve channels. The three main nadis, ida, pingala and sushumna, can be correlated with the parasympathetic, sympathetic and autonomic nervous systems respectively. At present, sushumna is dormant, so ida and pingala are supplying energy to the whole physical body. The bodily organs and systems are directly connected with ida and pingala. If these two nadis are purified, energy will flow throughout the whole body. But when kundalini wakes up, passes through sushumna, and joins ida and pingala in ajna chakra, this lower form of energy is withdrawn. The small generators are switched off and the greater energy begins to flow through these nadis, awakening the different zones in the brain and also supplying energy to the whole physical body.

Therefore, you have to prepare the way by practising asanas and pranayama, mudras and bandhas, and the hatha yoga techniques. These are all ways of purifying the different areas of the nervous system, and this is kundalini yoga.

Preparing for the awakening

Without a guru you can practise any form of yoga, but not kundalini. This is an extremely powerful system of yoga. Kundalini yoga does not start suddenly, or with fits. You don't have to make any substantial change in your way of life. You can wear the same clothes, eat the same food and live in the same society, but you have to start your practice somewhere.

Please do not begin with advanced practices. For some time you should train and prepare the physical body- the organs, the pranas, the nervous systems and other systems of the body. Then go to the mind, and gradually explore the deeper levels. Step by step, you should prepare yourself. If you are patient and make all the preparations correctly, then awakening of kundalini will take place.

Kundalini does not necessarily awaken in mooladhara. Sometimes it wakes up there and you don't realise it until it reaches manipura. There are some people who do not even know that their kundalini has ascended through the chakras, as they have not noticed any symptoms. Sometimes we can tell that a man has awakened his kundalini because we see him as a genius, a creator. If you can give mankind a brilliant new idea, beautiful poetry, an original new style of painting, anything that is novel, then you are a genius, a person who has definitely awakened his kundalini.

Some people who have awakened kundalini look quite abnormal; they behave in a peculiar way. They are very disorganised, unsystematic and totally confused, and you can't understand what they are doing.

Therefore, in yoga you are advised to discipline yourself right from the beginning, so that when kundalini wakes up you remain disciplined. Otherwise you might go out to the street and just lie down there.

Sometimes I used to feel like this. When I was living in Rishikesh, I decided to visit the Ganga each day and cross it five times, swimming through the icy cold water. One day Swami Sivananda called me and said: "Are you going to continue your swimming, or am I going to send you out of the ashram?" This brought me back to my senses.

Life has to be disciplined, so that when kundalini awakens you can remain organised and unconfused. You have to go to the office, to the bank, to the shop, and you have to drive a car as well. Everybody cannot become a swami.

Once upon a time I had this fantastic but impossible idea. I used to imagine 7,000 hectares of land where all people could take sannyas and stay. But since then I have realised that most people have to live a dynamic life: they have to face everything and accept it as a part of spiritual evolution. There is no need to suppress karma, friendship, ambitions, not even anger, greed or passion. One has to just live a very open life. I don't think that man is making a mistake, that he has gone astray or that he has become bad. I think that his present situation has been created so that he may evolve.

All people cannot become sattwic. Without tamasic and rajasic people the world would be a horrible place to live in. I think that to live in a world of complete sanity would be just as difficult as living in a world of monsters. Let us have a garden where there are many varieties of flowers and trees. We do not want to cultivate roses without thorns.

Satsang on Kundalini

Should awakening of kundalini always begin from mooladhara chakra?

It is not at all necessary to start the awakening from mooladhara; you can have it at any chakra. You can concentrate on anahata chakra and if you are able to handle the awakening there, then the relevant portion in the brain will be illumined. By virtue of evolution every individual has certain chakras which are more sensitive than others. For example, you may be able to awaken your manipura chakra more easily than your ajna chakra. There are some people who have difficulty concentrating on ajna chakra because they feel pain. It does not mean they are unqualified, but the sensitivity is not there.

The system where you first practise awakening of mooladhara and then gradually move up the chakras exists because the experiences related to the higher centres are sometimes very difficult to face. The experiences of the lower centres, like mooladhara, are not so intense. If you awaken the psychic centres from the lower ones to the higher ones you can more easily adapt to the psychic experiences.

Is it possible to activate some of the chakras without kundalini awakening?

Yes, the chakras can awaken through practice of yogic techniques. Sudden awakening and opening of the chakras can also take place on account of unexpected emotional uprisings, during moments of intense fear, anxiety, passion, etc.

The awakening of swadhisthana chakra is very common. In almost every case it has been found that before the awakening of mooladhara, awakening of swadhisthana takes place. Manipura chakra may awaken with the sensations of burning heat. Awakening of anahata and vishuddhi chakras is very rare. It is usually swadhisthana and manipura that are awakened, because manipura is the centre of all fears and anxieties, and swadhisthana is the centre of all the passion. When these chakras are activated without the awakening of kundalini it doesn't really matter. You may have dreams related to them or peculiar experiences which you don't understand the cause of, but this doesn't really affect the mental condition.

Is it possible to have a kundalini awakening and not know it?

There are many people who awaken their kundalini and know nothing about it. Some of them may even behave like madmen, and it is only a guru who can understand what has happened. I once met a boy of twelve or thirteen whose family considered him completely mad. They threw him out of the home and he was just wandering about. One evening when I was touring as a mendicant, I made my camp underneath a mango tree.

While I was there he came and sat down right beside me without knowing that I was there. He was completely unaware, shabbily dressed and behaving like a mad boy. After a while I began to feel very strong vibrations from the boy and realised that he had opened some of his higher centres which he was unable to control. He had no command over his experiences at all.

I took him to the river for a bath, and then gradually put him into a kind of hypnotic trance which brought him down to a normal level. Then I sent him off to find his own guru who could teach him sadhana right from the beginning and help him gain control over his awakening. Now he is a normal boy.

Can kundalini arise after vasectomy?

Vasectomy does not prevent the rising of kundalini. In fact, in the science of hatha yoga, there is an asana known as siddhasana, which aims at controlling the sensations in the perineum and also in the lower viscera, so that the stimuli generated within these two centres do not excite the testicles.

Once you achieve an opening of the chakras, do the associated faculties remain with you?

Once a particular chakra has awakened, it can become dormant again, although sometimes the awakening continues for a very long time. For example, the centre of telepathy may open up. It may be with you for a few weeks only, or it may remain permanently.

Do the chakras emanate any positive or negative attributes?

Awakening of kundalini through the chakras does manifest positive and negative aspects, but these are not inherent in the centres. They are inherent in the personality or the samskaras of the person. In the event of the awakening of kundalini, at the time of explosion, subconscious and unconscious matter is released. The experience that you have, whether of heaven or hell, positive or negative, has nothing to do with kundalini. It is related to the intrinsic human personality with its background, samskaras and karma. If a man's karmas are sattvic and divine, then his experiences will always be positive. If the karmas are full of confusion, psychological cobwebs and inhibitions, then his experience may be negative.

Therefore, before awakening kundalini, one has to develop the sattvic or serene life and try to free oneself from psychological problems through the practice of bhakti yoga, raja yoga, karma yoga and gyana yoga.

If kundalini awakens suddenly, won't the person become confused if he does not understand what is happening?

Nowadays, if you travel by motor car at a very high speed you do not really feel anything, but if you were to travel by high speed motor car about a hundred years ago when there was no adaptation to speed, you would have felt giddy. You don't feel giddy now, because your system has adjusted to the speed principles. In the same manner, when sudden kundalini awakening takes place, you are not used to the experience, so you get confused. But if you have been practising hatha yoga, etc. and you experience slight awakenings now and then, you will be better able to cope with it.

Even though people should be careful about awakening kundalini, I believe that the awakening of kundalini is a very important, pleasant and historical experience in the life of man. If you can see and experience something more than what you can generally see and experience through your senses, you are a fortunate man. But at the same time, I also know that if you begin to have some such experiences, you will be startled and frightened and will wonder what is happening. Therefore, before the actual awakening of kundalini, it is better to experience a little awakening of the chakra centres.

Do LSD and other psychedelic drugs have any effect on the awakening of the chakras?

The use of these drugs results in certain experiences because it brings about a state of disconnection or detachment between the motor and sensory cortex. The karmendriyas and gyanendriyas which normally work in co-ordination are separated, resulting in the state of pratyahara or hypnosis rather than an awakening.

Awakening and hypnosis are two different states. In hypnosis there is a process of elimination of consciousness, whereas in awakening there is expansion of consciousness. If you take any drug - LSD, ganja or hashish, it actually induces a form of hypnosis. All faculties are withdrawn to a point of elimination.

Knowledge, shakti and freedom should be the outcome of awakening. If not, then we can definitely decide that these drugs are of no use. Personal experience of hangovers, dizziness, visions and all kinds of beautiful and horrible experiences are not proof. The proof of awakening must be in the resulting power whether it is telepathy, clairvoyance or clairaudience. Your mind should become more powerful, more concrete- if this is the case, then we can accept LSD, ganja or any other drug. But there has been no evidence of anyone who has used these drugs and become as powerful as a siddha. On the other hand, I know sadhus in India who have been continually using ganja for many years, and they have lost their brain. You cannot gain spiritual enlightenment from the use of drugs; you can only get a little rest.

Do you gain anything from trying to awaken kundalini if the body has not reached a proper state of purification?

If awakening takes place without proper purification of the body, every now and then you may feel dizzy, indolent, angry, high or low tempered, and so on. Digestive problems may occur. Some people also experience eruptions on the body.

One has to first purify the diet, then take to hatha yoga, sincere practice of japa with the help of mantra, experience a little bit of awakening through music, and then go on to the more intense practices for kundalini awakening.

How long does it take to purify the body starting with a vegetarian diet?

With vegetarianism, hatha yoga and pranayama it will take about six months to purify the bodily systems such as digestive, respiratory, circulatory, muscular and lower nervous systems.

Purification of the brain, however, depends on thinking. When you think, the glands secrete certain hormones which can be very poisonous. Agonies, afflictions, attachments, anger, infatuation, worries, hatred and jealousy, all produce harmful secretions in the brain, keeping it continually in a toxic state. These disturbances of the mind take a long time to calm.

What things does one experience in the actual awakening of kundalini?

Although different" people have different experiences, the most unique and common experience is the release of energy, like an electrical shock in the spinal cord, as though your spinal cord has been illuminated. You feel electrical currents in the bottom of your spine as if it were connected with an electrical point somewhere.

Prior to that you begin to hear a sound which goes on continuously without a break. You don't produce the sound, but it is there. When this sound is experienced, then one should understand that the auspicious moment is drawing near.

There are also related after - experiences. You may hear the sound of a flute or a peacock. You may have very momentary experiences, such as the feeling that you are sitting outside in the middle of a monsoon shower. There is also the experience of dark clouds in continual movement. You can see the movement of the clouds and hear the sound of thunder. These are some of the common experiences.

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