Worthwhile martial arts have a basis in meditation and chi kung. Usually the secrets cf chi are not passed down until the student has spent long years proving his or her worthiness of the gift. There are many techniques for transmission and generation of chi but all require a master-student relationship unless you are inclined to intense self-study. Self-study is the source of unique gifts and often requires conquering your greatest fears. According to Sun Tzu, self-adventure also results in the greatest powers. Only time will tell, but there are probably more accomplished people doing esoteric studies on their own right now than at any time in human history. Mantak Chia's many books on Taoist esoteric practice provide excellent information on this little-understoodarea in the higher-level martial arts that is the equivalent of the kundalini in yoga.
I was rereading Gopi Krishna's description of his kundalini experience and also listening to Christina Grofs tape on her experiences (by Sounds True). In both cases we have adventurers experiencing an internal journey for which neither has a map. Gopi Krishna takes almost twenty years to "kill his ego" and get on with absorption into the void but was severely handicapped by having to rely on ancient scriptures and coded directions left by long-dead masters who had probably passed on the warnings orally. He was also handicapped by having to work alone, as all of the great spiritual leaders of his generation had not fulfilled their task of achieving enlightenment. Nobody knew what to do. The Jungian analysis that accompanies his text is occasionally helpful, but also completely misses the point considering Gopi Krishna's call to experimentation and replication (scientific term for repeating the experiment with similar results).
The methods for bringing to fruition the kundalini, like many techniques in the martial arts, are easily learned if seen or shown but would never be done if the neophyte didn't happen on the right combination by accident. Gopi Krishna describes the terror of the body's natural energy arising and the effects that it had on him because of his minimal preparation. Most people reading the book are not drawn to experiencing the light when made aware of the fact that you can shine or burn.
The opening to energy and being able to move your center out into the fields often results in experiences that could be considered "psychic," such as sharing another person's perceptions, thoughts, and feelings. As each chakra is opened by the sexual energy moving up the spine, a different perspective (personality) is formed of the world out of the emergent feelings. Continuing the climb through conscious direction has often been analogized to mountain climbing, with the movement into the energy realms as ascent into heaven. If nothing else it provides ample proof to the adventurers that there is an aspect of themselves that has little to do with the body.
Mr. Krishna makes it quite clear the experience nearly killed him on a number of occasions but for the ministrations of his wife. He didn't have a clue as to how to prepare his body for higher energy beyond pushing the energy from the genitals up the spine. Ms. Grof's adventures are received with better humor as she has been at least exposed to a saddhu who is not a benevolent fraud and has a notion that if she doesn't go insane there is a worthwhile goal or light somewhere up ahead. It also helped to have the support of her husband, a rather famous researcher in transpersonal psychol ogy and LSD, who has modernized some of the ancient techniques for transcendence into what he refers to as "holographic breath training." Their Spiritual Emergence Network provides a very real service for those who are battling their inner demons.
I mention these two as well known examples of contemporary people who have experienced the inner awakening without benefit of martial arts training. This can happen to anyone who meditates in an upright position regardless of gender if they're beyond puberty. In the martial arts the training of the breath energy is referred to as chi kung and the awakening of the kundalini as the greater kan and li (Chinese) or entering the void (Japanese). Transmission of the secrets of generation was usually from father to son, mother to daughter in family systems, or to a chosen disciple when bloodlines were not essential as in the Togakure Ryu. The secrets of generation and transmission were closely held, as the benefits of success—greater creativity, endurance, longevity, compassion and psychic advantages-greatly benefited the family or training group. The person who can best absorb the grandmaster's energy and accept the Bujin without going crazy is considered a lineage heir. In Bujinkan Ninpo the role of grandmaster skips a generation so the successor has time to learn his or her role and be trained by the best of the previous generation.
Ps spiritual development and the generation of healing internal energy are usually regarded as the property of the religions and viewed as the heroic and never mythological characteristics of the saints and founders, not ordinary people—a little secrecy was probably in order. In the West we had the human alchemists and Masonic lodges. In modern times, Taliesen as founded by the Wrights and adherence to the Gurdjieff model would parallel the ryus and kwoons of Asia as training halls for the artistic spirit, or warrior heart. I consider the Hoshinroshiryu (my school, the school that masters the weapon heart) a modern equivalent of the ancient path, and the Japanese and Chinese authorities that regulate such matters agree with me.
Assuming "the position" and going within to confront or search for the true self from the viewpoint of a psychologist requires courage as well as skill. Each of us can only testify to our own experience or bear witness to the experiences of others. The psychological discoveries can be described in narrative, and that may encourage those who have not yet undertaken the journey of self-transformation. The following is a description drawn from my own experiences as well as those of others focusing on the psychological aspects of transcendental change. (In the chapter entitled "The Kundalini Experience" I describe it from a feeling or sensory perspective.) This description also points out what I perceive to be ends, although the process is not over, as I'm still alive and in this body most of the time.
Let us first suppose that what we consider our self seems to be more a collection of masks or theatrical roles that we present to others. When we explore beneath these sweaty masks we find more masks. Images of-what we're supposed to be but no feeling of who we are. These comprise self-image or can be thought of as social roles. We might discover that our impulses toward achievement and compassion spring from a fear of failure and feelings of helplessness. As we plunge deeper we may be forced to discover that these social strivings are but acceptable covers for anger, resentment and envy, leading to undermining of others in the guise of helping them in "'friendly competition." Suppose we recognize and take ownership of this sly rage and allow ourselves to open even further to find shame, yearning, terror, sadness, and other dark emotions we normally do not hold to our credit. Often the recognition and controlling of these powerful emotions is considered enough for the adventurer, as he or she quickly sees the advantage of having them under control, particularly where many others do not even seem to realize that they are driven by a darker desire.
Finally suppose when we accept our shadow self and work through to the roots of these turbulent emotions, we find another layer of calm connectedness that allows loving interaction with others without the marked manipulation and ambivalence discovered in our earlier self-reflection.This open acceptance of self and others is utterly different in feeling and context than where we started. Little change may be visible, but you will feel the difference.
It is on the basis of such a narrative that people seek therapy because those of us who have lived it or guided others through it know the value of inner peace and being in touch with the true animal nature, which is fundamentally benevolent and caring. This can be accomplished through years of analysis or more quickly with the guidance of a skilled therapist. You can do it yourself through Zen meditation in three to eight years of sesshins (ritualized meditations sitting under the supervision of a Zen roshi or meditation master).
Let us suppose that by going into this primal self we find skills and connections not required by life in the polis. Let us suppose that when we are truly relaxed and have removed the masks and barriers to our being what we are rather than what we supposed we were, we find connections beyond the ground of self that force us to reevaluate reality as we once perceived it. With a little study we may find that others have penetrated these inner and outer terrains and based on their honest and diligent exploration have left maps but in a strange language — discussions of endless bliss, energy beings, chakras, lights as a thousand stars, merging with gods, etcetera ad infinitum
One who has experienced love will not find much sympathy when explaining his or her viewpoint to those whose only joy comes from revenge and who find strength in their ability to hate. Thus it is often hard to translate the directions and warnings given by the ancients, as the meanings of the descriptions may have more distance than mere age. You have to go yourself. Sometimes the self-adventurer discovers the truly rare and extraordinary. One who claims to know the way but has not made the journey is neither a good guide nor a complete human being.
Sometimes, as in the case of Aleister Crowley or others who have taken this route in order to achieve dominance or power over others, they find themselves immersed in an overwhelming sadness which is their true self's recognition of their longing for the universal and simultaneous'awareness of being alone. The alone-
ness is a recognition of one's separateness from others and one's place in the cosmos. That too must be questioned and explored. Suppose that as a creature of energy and wavelength and constant change one discovers a new relationship that also contains the material relationship with the world which is universal. Life is a simple presence we all share with each other. When we can appreciate our aloneness we can be ourselves and give most fully, as we no longer need others to save us or make us or reflect us or make us feel good about ourselves. Instead, we want them to become themselves more fully. In this way conscious love is created from the exploration and opening of one's own heart through diligent meditation and introspection. It is only through knowing yourself that true love and compassion evolve. Remember Socrates' dictum, "Know Thyself!" For the martial artist this process is physical as well as psychological/spiritual.The ninja's heart is under the sword, which tends to speed the process if you can relax and trust the sword wielder.
As you study the literature left by the great martial artists of the East, there is always reference to a number cf concepts that may seem strange to Western eyes, particularly when after what seem to be stupendous physical exploits, someone says something like "and then I learned about chi kung and really began to learn and understand what I was doing." Chi kung is the training of internal energy through breathing techniques that enhance and change the character of the physical body. It requires total relaxation and calm and results in extraordinary speed, strength, and control. It is the internal key to the external power and the best explanation of why in the internal arts the most dangerous practitioners are usually in their fifties and sixties, whereas those who rely on physical skill alone seldom survive into the thirties regardless of their skills. The practice of chi kung (or Taoist esoteric yoga) when combined with Zen meditation results in the kundalini if done religiously for thirty to ninety days. The end mental product or psychological result seems remarkably similar to what we in the West identify with creative genius and preternatural physical skills f you have properly prepared your body for the onslaught cf living energy and hormones. If you don't know what you are doing, it is more like what is described by Gopi Krishna or Christina Grof--eight to twenty years of hell until you give up your fear and grow up.
Most religious traditions have lost the power to the frauds, and most martial arts have been oversold by the ignorant and the sports buffs, but the Way is the same as it always has been for the intelligent who wish to transcend their socially learned self. It is a simple step-by-step process of continuing practice that accumulates like step functions in mathematics. The results of the process can be seen, felt, and tasted. The following are not drawn from the historical record but are empirical descriptions drawn from my own experience, the observations of my students, and verifications by others who have had similar experience of living energy.
Physical characteristics of a true kundalini survivor, tatsujin, or complete human being which cannot be faked include:
1. An inch or more of glowing corona around the body that is particularly evident and bright radiating around the head. The completed product is white. No other color need apply. This can be seen against plain backgrounds and most easily in subdued light. For the wearer of a halo, it feels like wearing a cap. Before the energy reaches the head and while it primarily rests in other locations, the corona will be the color usually associated with the organs in Chinese medicine or chakras in the Indian nomenclature for the endocrine system. Each color has distinct personality characteristics or survival mechanisms which can be considered biological. Color also identifies where the energy is held, which could be considered a sign of progress or an indicator of where the energy is blocked. Each chakra is associated with two or more inner deities in the Taoist, Mikkyo Buddhist, and Tibetan systems.
2. The breath is slow, usually four breaths a minute unless one smokes which may up it to six. A nonsmoker from a smog-free area might have a cycle of one or two breaths per minute. The highly skilled can fake death. Both chi kung and the kundalini lead to extremely efficient metabolisms. I've seen this discussed as "the meditator uses less air." It is more accurate to say the medi tator uses air with exceptional efficiency and is seldom breathless unless exercising heavily.
3. The saliva is sweet to the taste like honey, thus the reference to nectar cf the gods across cultures, and it flows freely resulting in better digestion and disease control. This is a result of the energizing of the brain stem and pituitary.
4. The heart rate is quite slow and the body temperature remains below normal. Gopi Krishna's heart rate remained high as a stress reaction; he was scared and with good reason. Blood pressure may be lower depending on personal habits.
5. The musculature is soft and very supple, more like an athletic girl than a man, which is probably a by-product of the rejuvenation of the endocrine system and accounts for the association with androgyny. This is what Okinawan practitioners of karate refer to when they describe the body of a master as "steel wrapped in cotton." The bones appear harder and whiter under X-ray. The mental linking of intention with action backed by the endocrine system often results in what is perceived by the more hesitant as superhuman strength and speed.
6. Close association with one of these complete human beings will kick your body's electrical system into overdrive. Their very presence raises most peoples' excitement levels, so they're fun to party with. You feel strange when they're around until you get used to them, unless they've learned to hide their wa (harmonious spirit), as taught in some Japanese martial arts associated with the gathering of intelligence. Often this feeling of higher energy results in sexual arousal and can be mildly embarrassing if your teacher is of the same gender and not inclined or vice versa. (Higher energy is also sexual energy.) My son informs me that just being in the same house with me kicks in his adrenals. You. easily feel people with chi, and people without active chi are very difficult to sense by comparison. Feelings may also be exchanged, which may be perceived as radical mood shifts when you enter into the survivor's range. The kundalini survivor learns to stay in neutral so as not to wreak havoc on his or her friends. The power of this energy does not seem to fade but continually increases with use. The more I do, the stronger I get, the better I feel. This also seems true cf every practitioner cf chi kung that I know. This higher energy accelerates healing of self and others. Cuts and scratches heal in days. Most diseases that are not virus-linked no longer affect one, and flu symptoms, are minimized.
7. Body movement is very controlled, as the integration of mind, body and spirit results in an ability to move with great speed out of complete stillness. There is no thinking involved, just action in response to action. This is not a result of programming but is creative response. To the observer it is very fluid and graceful, not robotic or mechanical. The whole body is involved, not just an arm or a leg. It is hard to describe, but once seen is never forgotten. A policeman I train with occasionally described me as going from completely relaxed, to completely on, to completely relaxed in the same second, which he felt was very "spooky." Personally, I find uptight, perfectionist, hard-bodied people much more spooky.
8. There is surprising strength regardless of size, which usually takes a while to master. One has a tendency to break things until one learns to lighten up. I went through a period of breaking keys off in locks, ripped the handle off a car door one icy morning, and sent many of my students screaming to the floor until I learned to slow down and back off. Some of the ninjas I play with call me Dr. Death. Even affectionate squeezes and hugs are not appreciated, and love-making can be filled with minor perils if the object of your affection does not share your rare affliction or athleticism. One of my shodan, Bret Talbot, ran up a considerable lab bill in broken beakers while working on chemistry projects. Hfe claims he was only holding them gently in his hands when they imploded. He still thinks he is gentle when he is dangerous as a bear. You have to be careful with this strange strength. The feeling is invincibility, but the reality still won't stop bullets.
9. The tatsujin or complete human being is calm and balanced under most conditions. Physical balance is one-pointed in that the center flows to the grounded point. The center is mobile, which makes for a strange three-dimensionality of movement, something like a dancer or gymnast but not as athletic or aesthetic in appearance. Folk as opposed to ballet. A master boxer can fight balanced on one leg. Shiva stands one-footed on the dwarf of ignorance. To be completely honest you may want to observe apes and monkeys and then draw your own conclusions in terms of natural body movement. All the masters and myself included move like monkeys, which can be very amusing. The study of yoga provides a graceful, uplifting balance. Androgyny can also be seen as balanced.
10. There is a tenth characteristic that is seen more in the religious than the martial practitioner. Georg Feurstein alludes to it in his book Holy Madness, which is an excellent exposition of Crazy Wisdom that shares some of the same characteristics of divine madness exhibited by Zen-oriented martial practitioners.The characteristic of knowing from many subtle inputs does have the effect of distancing one from what is observed. The religious practitioner has to deal with converts who see transformation as a mental process instantaneously accomplished. They know better but are trapped by socially learned expectations. It is difficult to continually forgive and suffer fools. Losing one's objectivity, however, usually creates even greater difficulties. Karma.
The above are the primary physical symptoms of the complete and safe transforming by the kundalini, which is greatly aided by the safer technology of chi kung. This is actually a biological process available to anyone who meditates and masters the techniques for moving sexual energy through the microcosmic orbits. Knowing the technology of awakening the inner self removes most of the physiological dangers. A guru or Oshihan should manifest all these characteristics both mental and physical, as they are the same for both sexes and a result of connecting the meridians and rejuvenating the endocrine system.
When I took Suzanne Carlson, my first female shodan in twenty years of teaching, through the kundalini in London, the only after-effect was permanently dilated eyes, which is not exactly a disadvantage when you're an actress. She ran bliss for a couple of hours and reported "seeing" with the third eye a scorpion, then a fox's skull, and then a smile or half moon tilted to the side as is usually shown on the forehead of Diana the huntress or the goddess Athena or Egypt's Nepthys. One should not expect ovarian energy to have exactly the same symbolism for the brain as testicular. Her father asked her if she were on drugs when he saw her eyes a couple of days later. She went through a brief period of feeling very superior as her psychic abilities manifested, and like Gurdjieff noticed practically everyone she knew seemed half asleep or were simply rats in a maze having no control over their lives or desires. She went through a brief period of testing her fearlessness by trying out dangerous practices. Then like most of us who have done this, she reacquired humility and got on with creating her life and career.
We followed Mantak Chia's instructions concerning not allowing hot energy to enter the skull until the way is prepared including the practice of keeping the tongue up. The female experience is similar to the male's but with the usual differences rooted in our biological nature. Some of the ancient Taoists wrote that women were incapable of chi generation. The Roman Catholic Church forbids the ordination of priestesses. A fox skull has the same outline as the two ovaries and vessels leading to the uterus and vagina, as does the arc of the browed moon or the raised tail cf the scorpion—all symbolic of bringing female sexual energy to the forehead up the spine. Suzanne is the only woman I've been privileged to observe go through the kundalini. We were able to discuss what was happening when she came down, and it was great fun. We had to run out to the West End and buy a copy of Cooper's Illustrated Encyclopedia of Traditional Symbols to keep abreast.
Kammy, a female friend of Mike Cornelius reported a blind-ingly bright yellow banana shape appearing as her solar plexus opened. She is running very hot energy now when she used to run cold. I know two other young women who developed all the energy characteristics of the lesser kan and li but have not had the experience of ovary-to-brain connection via the spinal column. Blake Poindexter has specialized in training women. We are both of the opinion that women are easier to teach and develop more power than men. It is probably the reason some of the ancients forbade the teaching of women. It's terribly embarrassing to be thrown about physically and mentally by a woman, even when you love her. It's easier to maintain a master/slave relationship. Very few of the ancients seemed to follow the example of the Yellow Emperor, who kept and learned from his female companions.
The martial artist who becomes involved in physical transformation that results in transpersonal growth tends not to lose his or her sense of humor. We also realize that once the typical seeker sees our path, they look for something less risky. We know that most not only won't but can't get IT. We tend to let our student/victim/client/friends struggle through the belt system at their own speed or drive them away if they can't develop higher expectations. It is a tragedy from my viewpoint that our institutions burdened with the role of leading us to enlightenment are failing us due to fear and ignorance. It is sad indeed when martial artists can demonstrate greater effect than ministers and priests. Study on this.
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