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..:: The Observer IV / The Kundalini ::..


Alan Schneider


            The primary observations that structure conscious human awareness are almost invariably either wholly or partially located in the unconscious regions of the Psyche, and can be classified as major collective archetypes for that reason.  The Supreme Archetypes of the Logos and the Soul, and the Hindu Brahman and Chinese Tao, are observable representations of the psychic energy that drives our consciousness into manifestation from the unobservable region beyond the boundary of chaos – the limit of what can be perceived through any means.  Jung referred to these, and the many other archetypal images, as archetypal symbols seeded in the collective unconscious, or racial memory, of humanity – the humanly observable consequences of the presence of the unobservable archetypes.  A theoretical mechanism postulated in Chaos Theory known as the strange attractor accounts for this phenomenon – existing beyond the threshold of observation, but statistically inferable based upon the consistency of the observable results it produces in human perception.  The Jungian archetypes are excellent examples of the operation of the strange attractor principal at work on a psychological level.  The many symbols that result from the psychic presence of the archetypes generally emerge into perception filtered through the mechanism of acculturation – there are many different “names” and characterizations of “God” in the cultures of the world, but all are propelled into manifestation by the same root archetype present as a strange attractor existing beyond human observational capability. 

            In most cases, our waking consciousness amounts to the rapid shuffling of archetypal symbols that have become culturally defined and reinforced within us as stereotypes – the familiar, if often inaccurate, characterizations of experience on the Physical Plane.  We probably do not begin to make contact with the archetypal symbols proper until we enter some other phase of perception that is more relatively ego-free than that of waking consciousness.  Traditionally, the Western Mysteries refer to this next phase of perception under the blanket description of the Astral Plane, or Astral Perception.  This is an all-important conception, because it is at this stage of awareness that the spiritual realm and the associated archetypal symbols become manifest to our consciousness.  This experience may take place in dreams, fantasies, visions, meditation, chanting, hallucinations, prayer, or any number of other altered states of conscious perception, but it is always expressed under conditions in which the ego has receded to the background of consciousness, along with physical sense perception.  The archetypes and their effects can be more directly observed through this alternate phase of consciousness, and the observer at this level of expression is frequently called the Astral Form or Astral Body.  

            As has been noted previously, the Physical Plane of Expression may well be all that the individual knows of as life experience.  The ego may tend to regard all other states of observation as lesser ones that have little or no bearing on life, including the more or less inevitable processes of dreaming and fantasizing.  Yet, it is here that we experience the first possibility of the synchronicity – through which the Logos can prompt the ego to wake up from its cultural slumber to the extended conscious of the other Planes of Expression.  If it does so, what the Western Mysteries refer to as The Great Work (i.e. of Soul discovery) is begun.  

            The Eastern Mysteries often refer to the mode of consciousness present on the Physical Plane as Muladhara Chakra awareness – geared toward rote survival and little else.  The Chakra associated with the Astral Plane at the next possible stage of awareness is that of Svadhisthana, Chakra Two, the center of reproductive and pleasure consciousness generally considered to be “located” in the abdomen, and equated with the physical gonads and genitalia.  The serious consideration given by the individual to the credible investigation of experience at the Svadhisthana level of awareness amounts to a mutation in thought from zero to everything, because it is here that initial perception of the Truth of Consciousness begins – prior to this point, we live in a torpor of stereotypes and delusions that we take for reality, and are functionally asleep.  Paradoxically, it is through our synchronistic dreaming in this sleep state that we can awaken. 

            The Kundalini Energy makes its first notable appearance in Svadhisthana, although it is considered to be present in a dormant form in Muladhara.  It must be stressed here that the Kundalini is an Astral archetype, and not observable from the ego perspective present as the observer in Muladhara.  Jung once said in The Psychology of Kundalini Yoga that “We are not yet born in Muladhara” – meaning that we have not become psychically aware, in a process he referred to as individuation.  A key component of individuation as Jung conceived of it is archetypal realization. As each archetype is brought into conscious symbolic awareness, or realized, we become successively more aware, awake beings.  Thus, psychic “birth” begins at the level of Svadhisthana, in many cases with the onset of physical puberty, although Freud’s well known (if not quite universally accepted) theory of infantile sexuality suggests that the pleasure obtained from stimulation of biologically sensitized physical regions of the body and the associated basal emotional responses (e.g. Perls’ grief, rage, joy, and orgasm) present in very young children can also represent the presence of Svadhisthana-level “observations” long before the onset of full genital sexuality.  In any case, when and however it may appear in consciousness, and with or without a physical coefficient, the Kundalini is first and foremost a spiritual phenomenon, marking the onset of the initial steps in the Jungian individuation process toward the yet distant recognition of the fully realized Self at the center of the sphere of the Psyche. 

            It is in Svadhisthana that we are first confronted with what will be a life (or lifetimes) long choice of expression – the Right and Left Hand Paths of Tantra.  These two modes of being represent the single most decisive influence on all subsequent observation throughout life.  If we choose the Left Hand Path of direct genital sexuality (as most of us do initially) this will occupy our libido and social goal formation thence forth for many more years to come.  If, at some point, we begin to experiment with the Right Hand Path of Spiritual Ascension into the higher possibilities of conscious observation, the same libido that drives our sexual interest can then be converted to a solely spiritual force – the Kundalini Shakti, and this force will propel us onward.  The Kundalini is considered to be a Shakti, or female, manifestation in Yogic and Tantric theory, in both men and women.  When the Right Hand Path is undertaken by the individual, typically through the practices of Yoga, the Kundalini is channeled into the next Chakras in the system, reaching Manipura, Chakra Three – the Naval or Solar Chakra – and possibly Anahata, Chakra Four, the Heart Center.  

            There is some confusion and difference of opinion among authorities in the area of Ascension Theory regarding how and when the Kundalini leaves Svadhisthana and subsequently activates Manipura.  In the Sikh Yoga tradition, Manipura is the most potent center of all the Chakras, and the site at which all of the siddhis, or supernatural powers latent within human beings, can be developed and realized.  In the Hatha Yoga and Buddhist traditions, it is simply one more stage in the Ascension process, and not particularly the most important one at all – this distinction is reserved for Sahasrara, Chakra Seven, in Yoga practice, and the Non-dual or Blue Dome consciousness in Buddhism.   

            The observer at the level of Manipura is the Thought Form, an archetype associated with both protection and aggression – while the Plane of Expression associated with Manipura is the Mental Plane.  Typically, the archetypal symbols present at this level are more organized and purposive, communicating specifically and directly with the observer at this, and occasionally the Astral, level as well.  Manipura is the center of the social self referred to in social psychology – in many ways the Sikh tradition is accurate in its assignment of the greatest significance to this Chakra, because it is here that we attain money, power, and prestige among our peers on the Physical Plane.  The question must be asked, however, whether, and to what extent, it is the Kundalini that carries us here, or the ego – in other words, whether Right Hand or Left Hand Tantra is the mechanism involved.  If we chose to observe this process through the Left Hand lens, then Ascension stops here while we are still involved in observation of the Physical Plane – the supreme statement of conscious power in Manipura is the Shaman archetype working through the medium of Totem spirits, with both referred to again as additional Thought Forms in the Western Mysteries.  The Left Hand Path can carry us no farther than social power and personal prosperity – we cannot attain the compassion of the Soul present in Anahata, Chakra Four, from here unless we forsake the Left Hand Path entirely and accept the mandate of the Right Hand Path.  This is why the first three Chakras are assigned to the Physical Plane of Expression – they all are implicitly involved in functioning within the prevue of the ego and its worldly standards of achievement, regardless of whatever other observational forms may be present.  Only when we have embraced the Right Hand Path does the nature of observation shift away from the material and toward the spiritual, whenever that may occur.  And the longer one maintains a Left Hand perspective on observation, the harder it becomes to shift over to the Right Hand one.            

            The fundamental nature of the Kundalini as a spiritual phenomenon is not well understood by either Eastern or Western authorities.  As a female archetype, it seems to be driven to seek Ascension and “reunion” with Shiva, a Principal Male archetype, and characterized as “residing” in Sahasrara Chakra, nominally outside of the physical body, and hence, beyond any kind of physical sense perception, but still observable in Ascended spiritual consciousness.  As an expression of dual form (i.e. female energy seeking male energy) it would certainly appear to be Taoist in character, but, once awakened, it seems to have a spiritual life of its own, subject only to Karma and Karmic restrictions as determined by the Logos.  

            A possible illumination of the Kundalini archetype is seen in the Hindu Brahman, the all-pervasive Essence of God that permeates Creation at every level, yet still is not exclusively present in any one object or process manifest therein.  Because it is an interpenetrating flow in its fundamental condition, Hinduism considers the Brahman to be a female phenomenon, just as it does the Kundalini Energy.  So, we have the ultimate essence of God represented as female in at least two extremes of manifestation – the highest as God, and the most minute as bodily potential energy, lying dormant and unrecognized in Muladhara Chakra on the Physical Plane.  Once awakened, the Kundalini also demonstrates female fluidity as it flows through the Chakras in the Ascension process.  The very images of the Chakras themselves are female – they are all represented as Lotus blossoms in visual depictions.  And most Astral and post-Astral archetypal symbols, including the Soul,  have at least one important female characteristic – they are subtle forms of manifestation, as opposed to the gross impressions of the physical senses and the ego, which are focused, immediate, and masculine in nature for those reasons. 

            In the Hindu conception of existence, the male Gods generate Divine Ideas, or instructions, which the female Goddesses then carry forth into manifestation.  In every instance, the female principal is the active one, just as in the case of the Kundalini Energy.  In another example of female activity, the Brahman is considered to give birth to, or manifest, or produce, the male Creator God, Brahma, and, in secession, the male Preserver God Vishnu, and the male Destroyer God Shiva, the destination of the female Kundalini Shakti in the spiritual Ascension process.  I personally suspect that any Ascension or other ecstatic spiritual experience is driven by the Kundalini energy, whether it is recognized as such or not within the parameters of a given tradition, and that the Kundalini is the Soul, is the Logos, and is the Brahman expressed at different vibratory levels.  As such, it is the single most powerful force in the universe, a force beyond force, and should be approached and observed with respect and caution.  

            In the next essay in The Observer Series, we will identify and discuss the nature of the observer in the case where the Kundalini Energy has successfully negotiated the Manipura Chakra, and reached the Heart Chakra, Anahata,  Chakra Four, and the point at which spiritual observation and knowledge comes into it own – the observer present in and as the Soul. 


                                                                                 - With Love, Alan -

                                                              (Copyright 2009, by Alan Schneider)


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