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..:: Astral Interaction ::..

By

Alan Schneider

                                                                                                                                                                  

              We concluded the last essay, the first in the Spiritual Ascension series, with a summary of the action of Right and Left Hand Tantra as these pertain to Ascension and conscious processes. Since Tantra is the key to the Ascension experience, it would be well to go into this phenomenon at some length, illuminating the relationship of this process to Kundalini, libido, and the Astral Plane. 

            I mentioned in one paragraph of the previous essay that Right and Left Hand Tantra are not necessarily absolutely incompatible, although their combined practice requires guidance and instruction from a qualified source. There is some variance of opinion regarding exactly what “a qualified source” in these matters really implies – some observers would say that only an Ascended Eastern Master possesses the qualifications and understanding needed. Others, mindful of the relationship between Kundalini and the Freudian libido, might claim that a psychiatrist or clinical psychologist with sufficient years of experience would be suitable. A person of Native American background might feel that a Shaman or Medicine Maker is the right person for this interpretation task. Still another person could claim that a sufficiently wise Rabbi, or perhaps Catholic Priest or Bishop, is the best choice.  In fact, there is some truth in all of these opinions, but the best overall selection is probably an Ascended Master in a given tradition, Eastern or Western, because this individual is presumed to have actually achieved Ascension into the Divine Love and Light, affording the highest possible perspective on the Tantric experience. Inasmuch as I humbly hesitate to refer to myself as an “Ascended Master”, I nonetheless have experienced Ascension several times, and can at least impart some knowledge of worth to the Initiate reading these essays regarding Tantra Balancing between the Right and Left Hand Paths.  

            Some additional discussion of the specific action of the Kundalini energy in Tantric Yoga will be beneficial before proceeding further. The Kundalini in Yogic theory is conceived of as being fundamentally female in character, a reflection of greater Hindu cosmology, which holds that the Spiritual Essence of the cosmos – the Brahman – is also female. This is quite logical, because the Brahman is thought to flow into and through everything in manifestation, and flow is a predominantly female trait.  As the Kundalini energy Ascends through the spinal Chakras, it also flows, as opposed to jumps, up along the route, pausing at each Chakra to consolidate conscious awareness there before continuing on to the next. The final goal, and ultimate driving force, of Ascension in the Yogic paradigm is the reunion of the female Kundalini – or Shakti energy – with the male Logos at the level of the Seventh Chakra, Sahasrara, personified as the most humanly comprehensible element of the Hindu Godhead – Shiva.  Shiva represents the aspect of God that is most attainable to the fleshly human mind, chained as it is to the Maya illusion of time, space, and physical form. The Kundalini is thought to be female in both sexes, but manifests somewhat differently under the respective influences of estrogen and testosterone – passively in the first case, and actively in the second. By linking the Kundalini to a sexually differentiated valence – i.e. female nature – Yoga and Tantra attach a specifically spiritual nature to the otherwise neutral Freudian libido, and to the human consciousness thereby.  For the Yogi, we were created by God to Ascend in the Spirit, and procreation is the byproduct, not the object, of living.

            The spiritual influence of the Kundalini energy as the driver of Ascension continues from adolescence for the term of adulthood until old age, when, at an undetermined point, the gonads finally stop secreting sexual hormones, initiating lasting dormancy of the sex drive which is generally accompanied by at least a marked reduction, if not cessation, of sexual activity.  This does not imply a reduction in the quality of meditation and Ascension experience, however.  Time spent in practice matters, and after (hopefully) a lifetime of right living and morally conscientious awareness, the state of mind of the Initiate will have become significantly elevated to at least the Heart Chakra, or beyond. Ascension remains the implicit or explicit goal of human consciousness and human activity on the Physical Plane from the personal to macro-social scale of involvement – whether this is directly perceived by the individual is not a consideration for the Logos.  The possibility of Ascension is God’s greatest gift to humanity.

            Let us now continue with the discussion of Tantra Balancing. The Left Hand Path is very physically motivated – the individual practicing this Path, the common from of Tantra on the Physical Plane, is almost certainly seeking some form of transitory sexual gratification geared toward the achievement of orgasm and the release of sexual tension.  In many cases, this is the only motive for the Tantric practice of the Left Hand. Although Ascensionists frequently decry this form of Tantra, I feel that this amounts to a judgmental posture in the matter, and such prejudice is to be avoided as a form of attachment, even if only to an opinion.  The subscription to an opinion is an instance of ego gratification, and more Karma is created in the process.  We cannot sincerely guide those we would assist by passing judgment on their lives and activities, however morally questionable these may be. 

            The Right Hand Path, in comparison, is always oriented toward elevating the personal consciousness above and beyond mere physical gratification. This includes the achievement of genuinely selfless love at the level of the Fourth, or Heart, Chakra, referred to as Anahata in Yoga and Tantra, and also as the Sephira Tipareth in the Cabalist terminology. This form of love is the diametrical opposite of the self-motivated practice of sexuality for orgasm alone, but the two represent the Dao of human intimacy, and it is across this Daoist spectrum that Tantra balancing takes place. Most of the genuinely loving couples on this Earth do not physically deny themselves to each other, and also feel deep emotional, and occasionally even spiritual, bonding to each other related to their physical sexual involvement, an example of the presence of more relatively selfless, emotionally founded love manifesting in combination with the physical desire for orgasm. To this extent, Tantra Balancing is actually a more or less natural consequence of human intimacy – we do this whether we understand it in Tantric terms or not.  

            As the understanding of the principles and practice of Tantric Yoga and Ascension progresses for the Initiate(s), so does their comprehension of the higher function of the sex act in Ascension, and this eventually tends to become a more significant focus of their sexual intimacy than the achievement of physical orgasm. The orgasm actually dissipates the libido, or Kundalini energy, an event viewed as positive in Freudian psychodynamics, but very undesirable in Ascension dynamics, which seeks to build up the organismic force of the Kundalini and use it to catapult consciousness into full or partial Ascension.  There are numerous sexual techniques and positions in Right Hand Tantric practice that permit extended periods of intimate physical contact that do not dispose the participants to experience orgasm as the result. This tends to channel the Kundalini powerfully in the direction of higher consciousness experience, once the techniques have been mastered.  

            This mastery customarily takes an extended period of time (i.e. years or decades) to achieve, even when the goals of Ascension and the experience of higher conscious states are kept clearly in focus on the Physical Plane. Yet the case here is that progress is made even if the pace is two steps forward and one step backward.  Impatience in these matters is absolutely ruinous, promoting every manner of confusion and false perception of attainment, followed inevitably by setbacks and frustration. The wise among us are in no hurry to get anywhere in particular – they know that the end of incarnation is never very far away, and have learned to cherish life’s daily gift of consciousness! Thus, the most important feature of Tantra Balancing is the maintenance of the spiritual focus of consciousness on Ascension, and the avoidance of sexual promiscuity in the mean time. The rest will come with patient practice. 

            Continuing with the Yogic paradigm, the Kundalini energy is conceived of as residing in the First Chakra, Muladhara, the Root Chakra, envisioned as existing at the base of the spine. The Kundalini is thought to be dormant in the early years of life, but becomes active at puberty. Freudian theory takes exception to this, holding that the child in fact passes through stages of “sexual” expression from birth onward, first deriving organismic gratification (presumed to be driven by libido) from oral activities related to feeding (the oral stage), then, some years later, from excreting solid bodily waste (the anal stage). Interestingly, Freudian theory also postulates a dormant phase some years after toilet training has been completed until the onset of puberty and the emergence of genitally oriented sexual inclinations. Freudian theory has no explanation for this dormant period – a telling comment on the validity of this theory. 

            In either case, once the gonads begin to release the male or female sex hormones, the Kundalini becomes awakened, and initially enters the Chakra Svadhisthana as interest in other, external sexual partners emerges into consciousness. As was noted in the previous essay, this is the time that Ascension training can most profitably be begun, in the form of postural Yoga practice for the young. Getting early adolescent children to achieve and maintain a weekly regimen of practice in Yoga (or anything else) is, however, entirely another matter! Perhaps the best that can be done here is to create a positive, Ascension-oriented environment in the home, and lead by constructive adult example in the sense of adherence to the Yoga lifestyle as exemplified by the Yamas and Niyamas. These are the principles of right living, as follows:

            Yama  –   A “restraint” or moral injunction. These include:

                         Satyama                      Truthfulness – Honesty to self and others.

                         Brahmacharya            Moderation – Self control / self denial.

                         Aparigraha                  Detachment – Negation of desire.

                         Asteya                         Observance of Laws – Particularly against theft.

                         Ahimsa                        The Taking of No Life – Nonviolence  

             Niyama  –   An observance or provision of right living, including:

                         Tapa                            Austerity – The avoidance glamour and excess.

                         Saucha                         Cleanliness – Mental and physical health.

                         Santosha                      Repose – Seeking contentment in simplicity.

                         Swadhaya                    Study – Specifically of sacred (Hindu) literature.

                         Ishwara                       Awareness of God – Guidance by Divine Will.

These are further augmented by the following additional elements of the Yoga lifestyle:

             Asana  –  The Yoga postures. The release of Karma through physical Dharma.

             Pranayama  –  Control of the breath. Complements the postures.

             Dharana  –  The intentional focusing of awareness through concentration.

             Dhyana  –  The practice of meditation.

             Pratyahara  –  The negation or calming of the senses to relax the ego.

             Samadhi  –  The complete experience of Divine Union.

            The consistent presence of this mode of living will do as much as can be done to encourage young people to take the goals and practice of Ascension seriously as long term aspirations.

            As was also mentioned in the previous essay, the Chakra Svadhisthana and the Cabalist Astral Triangle are the Tantric and Cabalist analogs of the Astral Plane of the Western Mysteries. As one works across time with the Astral archetypes one tends to develop relationships with these psychic manifestations in much the same way that relationships are experienced with human beings on the Physical Plane. However, several important distinctions must be clarified in this matter. The Physical Plane is characterized by the restrictions imposed by the physical vessel of consciousness – the body – and its sensory observations. All of these take place under the limitations of linear, ego-based logic. This system of manifestation rests on the concept of hierarchical organization – objects and events fall into more or less exclusive categories that are conceptually segregated – e.g. if A is a member of B, and B is a member of C, then A is a member of C as well. The Astral Plane observes no such logical constraints – A can be a member of B, and simultaneously not be a member of B, or C. Literally anything is possible at the level of Astral manifestation. The Astral Plane is the realm of the psychically empowered imagination – anything that appears there is of specific archetypal, psychological significance for the individual observer, and can be symbolically conceptualized in terms that will translate meaningfully into Physical Plane operations and experience!

            There are many, many Astral archetypes of greater and lesser significance, including the Hero, the Warrior, the Great Father, the Great Mother, the Wise One, The Shaman, and on and on – far too many to mention in detail here, or in anything less than hundreds of pages of academic treatise, but one Astral Archetype merits particular attention for enabling the Ascension process – the Jungian Shadow archetype.

            The Shadow in Jungian psychodynamics is a subconscious (and therefore Astral) repository of all that is rejected out of conscious perception by the ego – a dark and forbidden manifestation of what we choose not to acknowledge about life on the Physical Plane. The Shadow is the master of the subconscious realm, and has a personal aspect present in personal unconscious and, most importantly, a collective aspect present in the collective unconscious. Most importantly, the two are linked – what affects one affects the other. To the extent that we have collected personal trauma on the Physical Plane (a more or less inevitable result of Karma), and rejected this trauma into the personal unconscious, we have created a personal Shadow that must be reintegrated into conscious perception (a process that Jung referred to as realization) if any further progress is to be made in the quest for Spiritual Ascension. The Initiate needs the realized personal Shadow as both guide and ally in navigating the Astral region lying immediately beyond the personal unconscious zone, because this is where the collective Shadow is found – an entity with many names in many traditions, and all are powerful negative potencies that are spiritually very dangerous and destructive. This is yet another reason why undertaking a course of psychological therapy is so advisable and important for successful Ascension practice – the waters of the Collective Psyche are deep, dangerous, and populated by fearsome entities put there as guardians to ensure that those who do not pass the many levels of Initiation will not pass through the Planes of Ascension.

            The realization of the Shadow is a difficult and daunting task, particularly for those who have been assigned much trauma as a portion of their Karma. For such individuals, the Shadow is a vicious, hostile form that will invariably lunge out from the darkness of the subconscious in a screaming attack when initially encountered.  In my case, the realization process took a full year of effort in and out of therapy to complete, and was my comprehensive involvement in my free time during this interval, but the job was eventually done, creating a life-long friend and ally out of what was once a baleful and implacable enemy.  The details of this process are recounted in my essay entitled The Shadow on my website under the Essays2007 link, and I will not recount them here for that reason. Suffice it to say that this task requires at least the same level of the external intervention noted earlier in this essay, probably from a psychiatrist or psychologist as opposed to an Ascended Master, unless, of course, the Ascended Master in question is a practicing mental health professional, and this is certainly not unheard of. Do not attempt to realize a heavily trauma-induced personal Shadow without such guidance!

            Once this realization task has been successfully completed, the newly reintegrated personal Shadow can secure passage for the Initiate from the collective Shadow entities that will most certainly be encountered at key points along the Path of Astral Ascension. To be sure, there are as many collective Archetypes as personal ones in the Astral continuum, and most of them beyond the Lower Astral region are at least neutral or positive in character, but the hostile ones also exist and precautions as indicated in the preceding paragraphs are advised.

            As the Initiate passes deeper into the trance continuum of alternative conscious states, the nature of the Archetypal expressions shifts to another level of integration, and the Mental Plane is encountered, as represented by its primary expression – the Thought Form.

            Thought Forms, like most of the other elements of psychic manifestation, have many names in many traditions. The Chakra analog to the Mental Plane is the Chakra Manipura, the Third, or Solar, Chakra.  Although there is not specifically a Cabalist analog here, the Doaist interaction of the Sephira Netzach (Beauty) in conjunction with Hod (Splendor) implies essentially the same level of expression – the creation of a volitional entity that can and does assist the Initiate from the Mental, through the Astral, and on Physical Plane of manifestation. In fact, Cabala does make reference to such a class of beings – the Golem, a creature composed of sticks (symbolic bones) and mud (symbolic flesh) that is then invested with sufficient consciousness (symbolic spiritual sentience) by a Rabbi to go forth in the world on the Astral and Physical Planes to perform a specific series of spiritual tasks. After the tasks are complete, the Rabbi then destroys the golem by dissolving it back into its original components of sticks, mud, and Astral consciousness in an appropriate Cabalist banishment rite. It is noteworthy that the Golem manifestation is not referenced to the Tree of Life model of spiritual consciousness, but is an independent classification of Cabalist theory not generally subscribed to in Cabala.

            The Thought Form is a relatively complex psychic construct that may be composed of symbolic and/or archetypal referents from several levels of expression in the Psyche, including the Atmic Plane, the Fourth Plane of Ascension. Although the primary task of creation of the Thought Form takes place in trance of some kind, the mental work of determining appropriate features for it may very well be extended to the Physical Plane and attendant ego state, and include extensive research into the spiritual symbolism of many traditions as the Initiate looks for applicable “building material” for the psychic “construction project” under way. The more symbolically potent the image of the Thought Form is, the more affective will its psychic action be on the preceding Planes. This is why the progressive achievement of Ascension is so important and of such profound consequence in human awareness – the higher our level of awareness and psychic presence, the more potency we can bring to bear on all of the prior levels, right down to and including the Physical one!

            In the next SYNERGY essay, we will continue developing the concept of the Thought Form, providing examples of this most significant psychic manifestation, and some precautionary advice regarding its spiritual activity in the total Psyche. Please return here and continue to participate in the Spiritual Ascension Series! Namaste, All...

                                          - With Love, Alan -

                                  (CR2008, Alan Schneider)

 

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