Rick Archer (RA): Welcome to Buddha at the Gas Pump. My name is Rick Archer and my guest today is Robert Svoboda. Robert is the first white member of Kenya’s Pokot tribe, and the first non-Indian ever to graduate from a college of Ayurveda and be licensed to practice Ayurveda in India, where he lived for more than a decade. During and after his formal Ayurvedic training, he was tutored in Ayurveda, Yoga, Jyotish Tantra, and other forms of classical India lore by his mentor, the Aghori Vimalananda. For a decade he was involved with thoroughbred horses as Vimalananda’s Authorized Racing Agent. The author of more than a dozen books, since 1985 he divides his time between India and other lands. And, I’ll be listing his books on my website. But welcome, Robert. Thanks.
Robert Svoboda (RS): Good morning.
RA: Good morning. Robert was out, is out in LA, and just experienced an earthquake last night, so his world got rocked a bit. We were just talking about that. We’re going to be talking mostly about kundalini today, but there are a couple of questions, points in your intro here that people might have questions about. Firstly, the point about racehorses. What was that all about?
RS: Well, Vimalananda, my mentor, was a native of Bombay, Mumbai, and his family had been there for fifteen generations. They were quite prominent until the immediate previous generation to him. But, he was a very versatile man. He had studied many things, Eastern and Western alike, and he was very familiar with animals as well as plants and minerals and so on.
And he was very fond of horses. And he was fond of, he enjoyed, you know, betting on his horses but also, even more than that he enjoyed looking at the possibilities in a colt or a filly and seeing how he could, with appropriate training, bring out those possibilities.
He was not a trainer himself, he had to work with other trainers, but he had a, he exerted a strong influence on how they worked with a horse. We would use Ayurvedic or homeopathic medicines to assist, you know, getting the horses and the mares into shape where they could do what they’re supposed to do at the racetrack, which is run and win.
RA: <Laughs> Huh, interesting.
RS: And it was a, I mean, I value that time tremendously. Not because I made a lot of money. I never bet. I have never bet on a horse race. Even if I am in Las Vegas, I will put one dollar into a slot machine, just symbolically. But just learning about horses, I learned a tremendous amount about, and I love horses and have fortunately been around them a lot, and I get a chance to ride still periodically. I was out galloping in Costa Rica just last month.
But even more, learning about the racecourse, for me at least, and for him as well, I think, a microcosm of the entire gamut of human culture. You have the virtuous people and the non-virtuous people, and you have the people who are not only interested in horses for winning but interested in horses as horses and wanting to treat them properly, and the ones who didn’t care about that at all and treated them very cruelly.
The ones who made money and held onto it, who were almost nobody, and the ones who made money and lost, it who were sizable. And the ones who lost it only and that was the largest number, of course. It was a valuable part of my education.
RA: Interesting. My wife’s father was a gambler and she spent a lot of time at the racetrack when she was young and also loves horses. Anyway, that is kind of incidental. But, you mentioned in one of your YouTube videos I listened to that your mentor was a connoisseur of whiskey, he enjoyed drinking whiskey, somewhat.
RS: He did.
RA: As the son of an alcoholic and, you know, someone who’s been on the spiritual path for forty-five years, it’s a little hard for me to wrap my head around that. I don’t reject it, but it’s hard for me to understand why someone who is quote-unquote “enlightened” or in a higher state, or something, would find that whiskey could in any way enhance his experience. I should think it would almost invariably dull the mind. It’s considered tamasic and so on, so maybe you could riff on that just a little bit before we get into kundalini.
RS: Well, and I’m speaking here about his opinion. His opinion was that many of the things that are written in the Vedas are true, but they are not necessarily true in exactly the way that they are written there. Because, of course, writing about something that is not, not directly a part of the physical world and trying to use trying to use ordinary human language is not an easy thing to do.
So, when, for example, the Veda, the Vedas would talk about soma, and the uplifting effect of soma and how it could take you into the astral world and how it could put you into a place where you would be able to commune with reality much more directly, he was very much of the opinion that the soma that the Vedic rishis were taking was something that we will never be able to replicate ourselves, as far as that substance is concerned.
But as far as the effect is concerned, that is something that it is possible to replicate provided you as an individual understand how your organism works, how your physiology works, and you find what is the soma that works for you. The thing that does uplifts you, the thing that does send you into the astral world, the thing that does allow you to communicate not only with gods and goddesses and so on but with the supreme reality more easily.
RA: And whiskey did that for him? <Laughs>
RS: Whiskey did that for him. It doesn’t do that for me. But it, other things work better for me. For him it worked very well. On dozens of occasions, I would be sitting there pouring him whiskey. Not a lot at a time, just a little bit. And he would be sipping on it. As he sipped, his, his awareness would become more open, his communication would become more refined and more sophisticated and the expanse of his, the breadth and, and, and depth of his vision would become perceptibly augmented.
And, of course, one of the reasons why, for him, and for many people, that one might choose to employ a substance for facilitating this is, suppose you were living, as he did, in Bombay. I know that people nowadays call it Mumbai, but I was there when, in Hindi and English, it was always Bombay, and in Marathi and Gujarati, it was always Mumbai. So, my Marathi and Gujarati are no good, but if I tried to speak them, I would always say Mumbai because that’s how it fit in those languages, and in Hindi, I would always say Bombay. My Hindi is much better than Marathi or Gujarati.
So, in Bombay. Bombay is a very difficult place to live. I mean, yes, it’s a city of what’s now about 20 million people. But even before that, he used to call it moha mayi nagari “the city that is completely filled with delusion.” And you can really tell if you spend any time there that there is something about it, first of all, that makes everybody want to make money.
Even the people who have no money are busy making money. So, other places people may die of hunger. But not in Bombay. There’s always money, there’s always food. There’s no place to sleep, for many people. And that’s why hundreds of thousands of people sleep on the street. Which is not a problem except in the worst parts of the monsoon.
So, his, and, and, he had, a big part of his philosophy was the concept, a big Sanskrit word rnanubandhana. Rna means debt. And, in this context, ‘karmic debt.’ Things that you owe to yourself and to other people and to other animals, and to animals and to places and to your family and to your teachers.
Bandha means, like cummerbund, it means a thing that binds you down. So, you’re bound down by these karmic obligations, these karmic accounts that have to be settled. And of course, things can only be settled at certain times, so sometimes you have to bide quite a bit of time waiting for the opportunity to settle a certain debt. And while you’re biding your time, it is very easy if you are stuck in a place, any kind of big modern city where it, that’s full of human beings. Oh, there is another earthquake…
RA: Oh, yes I can see the camera shake a little bit.
RS: Now, that was probably, you know, in the realm of a three, you know, a Richter Scale three or something. Enough to shake the house. But not enough to make you, things fall toward your head. If we do have another five, I am going to stay in the room here but I’m going to go back to the doorway so that the overhead fan doesn’t fall on my head.
RA: Maybe I will be able to get this footage on CNN if we have one.
RS: That would be exciting.
RA: So anyway, Anubhandha you were saying.
RS: His, his, because he had to interact with people in Bombay and he had to interact with them in a way that is meaningful. And because interacting with, you know Bombay is such a complicated place. It was very useful for him to be able to do that and then employ a substance that could send him back into the place where he normally existed and where he preferred to exist.
And, and that allowed him to provide, to attain the perspective that he required in order to be able to continue living in a place where felt like he needed to live in order to deal with those karmic obligations.
RA: Hmm. Interesting. In a piece that you sent me about kundalini, which we’ll be talking about in some detail, you talked about, you know, the tendency to individuate. For ahamkara to become more calcified egoism and you referred to that as maya shakti. And then you said that the flip side of that, the reverse, is chit shakti, where the force turns towards the spiritual.
And, I wonder if somewhat possibly the appeal of alcohol is that it relaxes the rigidity of the ego and in some cases allows people to sort of taste a more ego-free, unrestricted space. Which is obviously, in the long run, for most people counterproductive because it damages the brain and results in greater and greater bondage, but maybe that’s why people find it alluring when. Maybe in more homeopathic doses, it has that effect without deleterious influence.
RS: Yes, I certainly think that’s part of it. And, in his case, it was another reason why he employed alcohol as a substance is because he was a long-time worshiper of Tara, who is one of the ten mahavidyas, one of the ten great embodiments of wisdom Shaktis from which the universe is generated and by which the universe remains and into which the universe will be resolved.
And, like Tara, or Smashan Tara, the Tara of the cremation ground, is very similar to Kali, both iconographically and in the sense that she is fond of blood and of alcohol. And so by drinking, he was also not drinking himself, in addition to drinking himself in the context of his own personality, was making drinking that as an offering directly to that goddess. Because with him as is the case, oh. <camera shakes>
RA: That’s a big one! Jumping like a little popcorn there.
RS: Yeah. That was a, that was a, that was a bigger one. OK. Here we are. Just keep an eye on things. But, it’s only shaking. We are only worried when things start to fall over. Oh, it’s still rumbling.
RA: It’s just going to happen the whole time.
RS: Probably. And so, my friend Dr. Fred Smith, who we spoke about earlier, wrote a 700-page book called The Self-Possessed, and it’s all about the fact that even though in India and nowadays in other countries, people believe that Indian religion.
And I’m deliberately not using the word “Hindu” because, as Vimalananda pointed out, the word Hindu it not an Indian word, it is a Persian word. The ancient Persians didn’t use S they used H. So, it’s a corruption for the word Sindu which is the original name for, or the Sanskrit name for the river Indus. And so anybody who lived in the place where the Indus flowed which they called Hindustan they called Hindus. We could have just as easily been called Sindus if they had been able to, if they used S.
So, I don’t use the word Hindu because as he pointed out, Hindu is not even an Indian word. It’s a word that is employed by the Persians who sent a bunch of conquerors over here. And why employ a word that was imposed upon you by your previous master.
RS: So, the um, the majority, well I won’t say majority. A large part of Indian religion has always involved being possessed, and that means allowing personalities other than your personality to enter you and take you over, temporarily. And there are many different, and as Fred has found during the extensive research he did for his book, you can find mentions of possession everywhere, including in the Vedas.
But when, you know this is not the sort of thing that the Victorian Englishman wanted to hear about. Because, that is something very non-Victorian, about, being taken over and dancing wildly and losing your aware, the awareness of who you are as a Victorian gentleman or the embodiment of the Victorian lady.
So that was deliberately downplayed back at a time when in fact the English had a very strong influence on what they were, what they were thinking of as being worthy and valuable in Indian culture and what was thought of as being secondary and less valuable and sometimes dirty and corrupted and polluted and possession and Tantra, in general, would come under the second rubric.
So, often Vimalananda would permit himself to be taken over by, by a goddess or by a deity or by a dead saint or a force of nature or, and then he would be in a position to directly offer something through his own body to that personality that has taken him over.
And of course, if you go to India you will see. You can, you have to look. But you can see there are, like in the Himalayas and Ghardwal and Himachal there are still oracles, that, suppose you need advice about something. You go to the temple and there is the deity and the deity has an oracle and you request the oracle to give you some advice. And there is a method, a different method, depends on where you are, and the oracle with give you some advice.
And in Kerala, they have, for example, something they call theyyam which is, are specific rituals in which low-caste people get possessed at the behest of high-caste people, but for the time they’re possessed the low-caste people are embodied as gods and goddesses and they are being worshiped by the high-caste people.
RS: And, you, in any state of India you can find this sort of possession ritual and worship and it is something that is very much part of, again I can’t say the majority, but a large plurality of the population, of what they normally do and what they normally believe, but you don’t hear about it because nowadays it regarded as being, well nowadays, I mean, it’s not very ‘Vedantic.’
RA: Yeah, what you’ve just said in the last few minutes raises a number of interesting points. And we are still going to spend the majority of this conversation talking about kundalini but it’s fun to kind of explore a few of these things that are just coming up spontaneously. This probably all relates to kundalini anyway, right.
RS: This all relates to kundalini.
RA: OK, great. Well, a couple of questions arose in my mind as you were speaking. One was, I have heard instances, and you are probably much more familiar with this than I am, of people using this whole consuming various substances and doing various things in the name of Tantra which kind of bastardized the whole thing, cheapen it. It becomes a form of hedonism without any real spiritual significance. And then just to bring up the other point, you can respond to them both, about possession. Obviously, this is something which is in most ancient cultures and even modern.
We have all kinds of channelers these days and there was Edgar Cayce and there are the ayahuasca people. There are all sorts of instances where people are connecting with and perhaps allowing some entity of some sort to come through them and provide wisdom. And of course, there’s the dark side of that, too, where a lot of times you don’t know who you’re inviting. Just because you’re dead doesn’t mean you’re smart <laughs> and there’s been all kinds of devil worship and all kinds of strange stuff that muddies the reputation of this sort of thing.
RS: Well. Absolutely. And, I mean, for example, I have spent quite a bit of time in, in Kashi, or Benares or Varanasi, and you see all kinds of people coming there claiming they are this wonderful sadhu and that wonderful person and so on and they are smoking chillums left and right and so on.
As Vimalananda pointed out, give somebody a chillum or a bottle of whiskey or something and within a few minutes you will find out exactly what is really going on with them. And so I remember visiting Tarapith which is in West Bengal and is which is the chief center of Tara worship in India.
And, I mean this was probably twenty years ago, and it, it’s still is I think out in the middle of nowhere. And there was a very famous saint from about 150 years ago, same time as Ramakrishna, whose name was Bamakhepa. And he lived in that smashan, that cremation ground for a while. He built a hut there, called the khopadi ki jhopadi which means the ‘skull hut.”
So, in the walls of the hut he, you know, there were probably dozens of skulls that are, you know, making up the hut. And that has quite a nice vibe to it. And so does the cemetery, the cremation ground itself. But at least when I was there were three or four or five so-called Tantrics doing nothing but drinking alcohol, and cheap alcohol at that, and wandering around, and doing what people normally do when they drink alcohol which is talking loudly, arguing, thinking about getting into a fight, becoming really effusive and finally lying down and snoring and trying to sleep it all off.
So that was extremely annoying, I mean I got over being disappointed by things like that a long time ago because there are so many charlatans in India, and I have seen, I have met so many of them.
But, just the very fact that here you are not only a fine place where you could sit down and actually spend some time and be aware of the fact that whether you like it there is a good chance or not a good chance, but there is a possibility, that just as happened last night, an earthquake, a tornado, a lightning bolt, an eagle carrying a turtle, might, something might fall on your head and that would be the end of you.
So here is your opportunity to remind yourself of the fact that in the world in which you and I are living mortality is everywhere. Mortality, in fact, can creep up on you and take you away at any moment.
RS: But instead of that, you get into a pattern, as these guys did, and the pattern is you get up and you convince yourself that “Yes I am a big Tantric and I am going to this, I do that. And I’m now going to do this.” And all you have done is created a pattern that is not a very efficient or effective or harmonious pattern. And then you are just reinforcing that pattern.
And especially with the case of alcohol it’s very easy and it happens, I think, the vast majority of the times that people attract to them, you know, there is a good reason why alcohol, not so common nowadays, but it used to be called ‘spirits.’ You are attracting to yourself disembodied things that very much like the alcohol.
And it’s not very long because, before those things are taking you over, and it doesn’t take that long before pretty soon your own personality, doesn’t, has lost, a large amount of what would permit it to exist independently on its own and now it’s dependent on being propped up by all these other influences and then pretty soon there you are.
RA: Yeah, it’s interesting. In the thing I read that you sent me, you said, but we are jumping ahead a little bit, but we were talking about spiritual crisis being mistaken for insanity. And you were saying that sudden kundalini awakening can shut out the nervous system and blow a hole in the person’s aura. And that the aura’s job is to insulate us psychically from one another and from disembodied influences.
And, I think that might be something that would be useful for people to understand more clearly if only to understand, kind of, you know, you hear about auras all the time. People want to see them, and some people say that they do see them. But what is their actual function and this whole notion of disembodied entities might seem esoteric to some people and fanciful or mythological or whatever, but, you know, it’s, in my opinion, these entities very much do exist.
And, I had a few little experiences of them myself, but it natural to have a shield, or like in Star Wars, there needs to be some sort of protective shield. And that can, perhaps many people who are mentally disturbed or even criminally insane have lost that shield and are just tools of some darker forces.
RS: That happens quite often and of course sometimes it’s even more complicated than that. Sometimes they become, they become tools of forces that are not so dark, but at the same time they are tools of forces that are dark and sometimes those things are part of, occasionally they may be actually channeling something positive and beneficial and sometimes they are channeling something that is very not positive but is pretending to be something that is positive.
RA: Like the good angel, bad angel thing, on the shoulder, you know, that we always…
RS: Exactly. Exactly There’s no reason why, simply because you’re open to the one, that you’re not going to be open to the other. You are going to be open to both of them. And, and I think that one thing that is useful to remember is that, you know, usually, when people think about possession, they’re thinking about disembodied human beings or demons or Lucifer sitting somewhere, and laughing maniacally <Laughs dramatically> and sending out all sorts of bizarrely caparisoned items with, you know, Hieronymus Bosch-like appearances.
But, you can also get possessed by anger, you can get possessed by lust, you can get possessed by any emotion. You can get possessed by ancestors. And you don’t have to think of your ancestors as still existing to be able to realize that if you are getting genes from your ancestors, and nowadays that, thank God, people have finally discovered epigenetics.
It’s not just the genes, it’s the pattern of which genes are going to turn off and turn on that can be passed down sometimes three or four generations. So, if you have someone who, let’s say, is an alcoholic., it’s very, we know that there is a type of alcoholism that is often passed down from father to son. So, there is a definite kind, and, people in the past, maybe they were thinking we can find a gene or even a few genes that would do that.
But it’s not so much the genes themselves, probably, as it is the pattern of which genes are turned on and which genes are turned off, and the circumstances under which a gene might be turned on or turned off in the context of this bigger pattern. So you can be influenced by ancestors that way. You can be influenced by, by mind viruses. Communism is something that took over, fascism took over the minds of large numbers of people.
Capitalism. Nazism. Capitalism has taken of the minds of tens of millions of people. Consumerism has taken over the minds of hundreds of millions of people. I, I found something interesting, you know, I like to keep up with everything because I have to deal with all kinds of different people. I have to deal with my relatives, a majority of whom live in rural Texas and like to go deer hunting. So, I personally don’t like to go deer hunting but we somehow or another find some shared location to communicate with, at.
So, my sister likes sports. I like sports. I go with her occasionally to the baseball game or something. And we watch some, we’re watching some of the NCAA tournament here in California. The two boys both play basketball. And, at the round of sixty-four, there was the St. Louis University. And St. Louis University is a Jesuit university. Their mascot is the Billiken (spells it out). The Billiken. So I thought, “What in the world could a Billiken be?”
So I went to my great guru, my maha guru, which is Google. Even starts with a “G.” And I looked up “Billiken.” And you won’t believe it, but the Billiken was an image that came in a dream to a woman in 1908 in the United States, and must not be confirmed, confused with the kewpie doll which appeared not that far off, that appeared the next year. And the Billiken looks kind of like, you can find it on Google, a little troll with kind of unusual ears and unusual little feet.
And in 1908, for reasons best known to the supreme reality, somebody in Japan got very interested in this Billiken and installed and am image of it in a temple in Yokohama. So, it went from being a dream in the mind of a woman in the United States to becoming a deity in Japan within the space of a just few months. And, the mascot, which is almost kind of sort of like a deity, the mascot of a Jesuit university in the United States.
RA: Funny. How do you spell it if someone wants to look it up?
RA: Ok. It’s interesting what you are saying about forces taking over collective mentality, collective consciousness. Consumerism, Nazism, all those different things. And also, you know, there’s something in the bible about the sins of the father visited upon the sons or some such thing.
RS: Up to the seventh generation.
RA: Yeah, yeah. So, and…
RS: And that seventh-generation part is interesting to me because of the racecourse. Because, you know, when you are at the racecourse you spend a lot of time looking at the Stud Book. And, you know, all the racehorses are derived from three foundation sires: the Darley Arabian, the Byerly Turk, and the Godolphin Arabian. And 90% of all racehorses today are descended from Eclipse, a horse who was foaled during an eclipse and never lost a race.
And, the particularly interesting thing about this is suppose you have a thoroughbred and you mate it with a non-thoroughbred. Then you have to ask yourselves how long is it going to be before it becomes a thoroughbred? And it turns out that, that will be the eight generation because by the eighth generation that’s the time that you now have less than 1% of the blood of the non-thoroughbred that you mated with in the first place.
So, when they were talking about the seventh generation it was not just, I mean it was symbolic, but it was also the point is if you really wanted to get rid of the of that genetic influence it’s going to take you seven generations to do it just from the perspective from getting that, that genetic materials diluted sufficiently.
RA: And we think of genetic material, of course, as being physical, but perhaps you and I would agree that the genetics are just a physical representation of an even subtler realm. And…
RA: For instance, in terms of reincarnation, if you reincarnate and you bring in certain qualities from a previous life. Obviously, there’s no way that, physically, your DNA could be carried from one life to the next, but there’s some subtler vehicle which carries along and then manifests a physical structure, physical DNA appropriate to its tendencies and the tendencies you have to live out.
RS: Well, or, as appropriate to its tendencies as can be the case in the context of the genetic material of the father and mother.
RS: I mean that is one of the places where human beings, where complications start for human beings, to begin with. You have these tendencies that are part of you, that you want to continue to express in your next lifetime. So you had this momentum build-up, and this momentum has built up for you expressing certain tendencies, whatever they might be, as a musician or whatever. And you’re looking for a womb that will provide an appropriate milieu in which you can continue to, that pattern can continue to express itself.
RA: They say you can’t choose your parents, but you do choose your parents.
RS: You do choose your parents. The usual case, however, is that you, just because you choose your parents in the context of, of, of one thing that is essential for your current incarnation doesn’t mean that everything, that, it doesn’t mean that the fit will be perfect.
Sometimes you find that the fit is perfect. The parents are there, the children are there, they create a unit that’s completely and utterly harmonious with no effort whatsoever. And they move ahead as if they had been born to do that, which they had been.
And sometimes, as in my case, I never felt that I fit in, in Texas, Oklahoma, and Louisiana. And I got out of there as soon as I could. And my family never understood why I was there, and I never understood why I was there. And we found a way to relate to one another in a healthy way, but it took a lot more effort than it did for me. You know, when I arrived in India I hated it at first. And then after a while it just was so familiar that it became, I started wondering why I hadn’t been born there.
RA: Maybe the climate in the places where you grew up got you prepared for living in India.
RS: Oh, absolutely. Oh yes.
RA: And also speaking of perfection, I mean wouldn’t you say that if we zoom back enough and kind of realize that we’re swimming in an ocean of intelligence. It’s a kind of a cliché to say that everything happens for a reason, everything’s perfect as it is, but I ascribe to that. If you look at it deeply enough, there’s, how could there be accidents in an ocean of infinite intelligence?
RS: Oh, I agree entirely. But, and, and, and, I do not believe that this was an accident at all. It’s just that, you know, when we are thinking about how human beings get to where they are, some of the time the influence will be because there are, I mean the result will be because there were influences that promoted what you normally were in the direction of trying to do. And sometimes it will be because there were influences that tried very hard to dissuade you from what you were trying to do.
RS: And I think of there being three main levels of inheritance that everybody grows up with. One is the inheritance that you bring with you from your previous incarnations. One is the inheritance you bring with you from your previous, from your mother and father and their parents and their parents and their parents. And one is the effect of the culture in which you live.
So, my father’s parents were from Moravia, the Czech Republic, and my mother was not. But suppose his parents had stayed there, and, you know my mother’s parents somehow ended up in Moravia and had I been born there. Even from the same parents, I would have grown up very differently than if I had grown up in Texas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma.
RA: Sure, you would have had a completely different Jyotish thing too.
RS: I would have had a completely different Jyotish thing. But in addition to that, I would have grown up with different languages, and language is extremely important. My father, in fact, until he was six, he was born in Texas in 1920. Until he was six, he only knew two words of English: aunt and uncle. Otherwise, he spoke Czech because his parents and his siblings spoke Czech. And the guys working out in the fields were from Mexico and they spoke Mexican.
RS: Uh, Mexican.
RA: Oh, OK.
RS: Because, you know, they weren’t educated. So they were speaking the Spanish of the Campesinos.
RS: And, his Spanish was always fluent for his entire life and his Czech was always fluent and he was embarrassed of both because he was not taught in either of those languages. But the languages you grow up with, every language, because, I mean language isn’t, is a, it would be difficult, it is difficult for me at least, to envision language happening, I mean culture happening without language.
Human language is to me a fundamental and absolutely required foundational element for culture of all kinds. So, the languages you start out with, each language has its own flavor, each language has its own history, each language has its own attitudes. As Vimalananda used to say, English is very good for commercial things, English is very good for minutely describing very specific things in the external world; it’s not very good for bringing all of those things together.
Sanskrit is much better for bringing all of those things together. Or as Fredrick the Great pointed out, and I may not be quoting him correctly, but this is very close. He was a King of Prussia and he said, “I speak French in the Court, Italian to my lovers, Spanish to God, and German to my horse.”
RS: Because each language is useful. You can imagine Spanish, because some, I mean, so many, you know St. John of the Cross, so many beautiful songs to God have been written in Spanish because it has that kind of flavor to it. French is an excellent court language. Italian is a wonderful language, I love Italian. It’s especially good for wine, women, and song.
RA: Inuit is a good one for talking about snow probably.
RS: Inuit, I’m sure, is excellent for snow.
RA: Yeah. Just want to wrap up one point that we have discussed before we move on to a more focused discussion of kundalini. And that is that we were talking about tendencies in collective consciousness. We can think of political parties or cultural phenomena or the battle over global warming and all. And, I always think in terms of a sort of a vertical strata of creation and how the surface expression of things we see on the news is representative of much deeper layers of reality.
And, you kind of alluded to this when we were talking about blowing a hole in the aura and being overtaken by subtle influences. But it seems to me that there is a sort of an epic battle taking place on subtle levels between various forces, positive and negative. Which, of course, you know that kind of thing is depicted, has been depicted mythologically or in the Vedic literature, in the Puranas, the gods and the demons are always battling it out.
And the battle seems, I don’t know maybe it’s always been intense, but there seems to be a greater contrast these days as if positive and negative forces are both increasing in their strength and distinctness. And those puppeteers are polarizing humanity in a variety of ways. So, I don’t know. Do you have any comments on that line of thinking regarding this whole thing?
RS: Well, if we do nothing but recognize that nothing would exist without duality and if we look at duality. I mean we use the terms “positive” and “negative” and they themselves in our language have certain, you know, potentially like negative has a potentially negative pejorative association to it.
But, but looked at from another perspective, it really is nothing except, I mean, electricity. The nature of something that is, the nature of something that’s dual like a positive charge and an electron over here and a no electron, you know, a hole in a conductor over here. Nature is that these two, number one will be attracted to each other but at the same time there will be conditions under which they will repel one other.
And when they repel one another the more the repelling force is allowed to activate, the greater there will be a polarization of charge over here and a polarization of charge over here. Until it reaches a point where either you have a lightning bolt or a spark crosses the gap, or somehow or another that, that polarization is resolved.
So, I agree with you. I think there is quite a bit of polarization happening. And, and it’s quite possible that polarization will continue until there is some sort of event that causes the polarization to resolve again. And we’ve seen this happen throughout history as well.
I mean, polarization happened back at the time of World War II. Even if we don’t think about, you know, democracies versus totalitarian societies. We had the polarization of two different types of totalitarian societies. We had the fascists and the communist. And they hated each other possibly even more than the non-totalitarians hated the totalitarians because hate was so much a part of who they defined themselves as.
So, I do think that, that there is increasing polarization, and it looks as if there is something in the environment that is facilitating that. I mean, there was the Bush-Gore election which, you know, started off this whole process of the country being divided into two more or less camp, equal camps. So that it’s now very difficult to get anything done because people are so much invested in their idea of how things should be.
I am reminded, however, of, and I can’t think of the name of it right now, but it was a book that Ouspensky wrote about Gur, his studies with Gurdjieff back in Russia in and around the time of the Revolution and World War I. And Gurdjieff said, at one point, “It’s extremely fortunate that we’re being able to meet at this time because there is so much, such a great crisis happening at the moment in Russia that it is permitting the consensus reality that normally would make it very difficult for this kind of knowledge to appear.
All of these people are now completely, their awareness, the pressure of their thinking is now, is much less because their awareness is so riveted by the war and the Revolution and so on. That allows us not to be influenced by the pressure of the consensus reality and it allows us to see things more clearly, more genuinely, more uniquely.“
RS: And nowadays, of course, we have, not only do we have this polarization happening, but we have an even more dramatic form of consensus reality happening in the form of the internet. And don’t get me wrong, I use the internet every day. But the fact is that it is its own form of externalized consensus reality that is dragging everybody into it and is creating a, what I think the potential to be an extremely, potentially extremely pathological and bizarre result.
You know, you’ve heard of the singularity, I’m sure. And so, we have people who sincerely believe that at some point it will be possible to upload our personalities into servers somewhere. They don’t explain, and I have not, or I haven’t heard anybody explain yet, how, what’s going to happen when the ser, power to the server gets cut or a virus gets into the program. Or when the, and, and I don’t pay much time thinking about that because the fact is, that they are not thinking clearly.
RA: There’s a new movie coming out on that theme, starring Johnny Depp called, ‘Transcendence.’
RS: Oh, yes. ‘Transcendence.’ I’ve seen that. I’ve seen the trailers for that. <pauses> The problem, I mean one of the problems. There are abundant problems. One of the main problems, that the people who are, who have invested themselves in this concept are not thinking about, is the fact that human beings are utterly dependent on getting regular inputs from the external environment.
That’s what keeps us in a condition to being able to func. We’re, we’re, whether we are aware of it or not we are hearing sounds, subliminal sounds, all the time. We’re getting the movement of air for our touch receptors. We’re seeing things. All of this is reassuring us and reminding us that we actually are part of, we’re individuals, but in an environment. That there is a to and fro between this.
I have a young friend. Young meaning mid-thirties, who is a, works for, developing software for complicated imaging applications. And as part of this, works with radar and things like that. As part of this, he was invited one day into a room where they test radars and things like that. And it’s a room in which because of the way it’s, has what is on the walls and how it is painted and so on, there is no reflection of sound and there is no reflection of light. So if you shine a beam of light directly at someone they can see the beam of light.
But as soon as you turn it to where the beam is not directly at them there is no light anymore. If you, if I talk directly at you and your ears can directly hear what the vibrations from my mouth, you will pick it up and you can hear me, but if I turn even this much, you can’t hear me anymore. Because no sound is coming to you from anywhere exact, except from that direct, direction you’re pointed in. And he said after twenty minutes he had to leave. And he said even the guys who work in there every day, one hour is their limit.
RA: Wow. Because they need the normal stimulation.
RS: They need that normal stimulation. So, an hour and a half after Mr. So and, Dr. So and So ends up in the giant server in the sky, uh, then what?
RA: Also, I mean, that the whole notion that our personality can be uploaded to a computer. I mean, a single cell, a single neuron, is far more complex than the most sophisticated computer we’ve ever designed. And, its, and you wouldn’t have much of a personality if you only had a single neuron; you need trillions of them and they need to all be interconnected in ways that are, you know, there are more connections between our neurons than there are stars in the galaxy. So I think it’s going to be a long time before we design a computer that could, you know, store a personality.
RS: And those connections are continuously…
RS: The so-called default mode network which takes up 80%, or something, of the brain’s energy and is running all the time and you’re never aware of it. It’s running in the background and it’s just continuously, its continuously creating the foundation of this thing that we call the personality, so no.
RA: Yeah, it’s a nice sci-fi notion but, yeah
RS: Yeah, and I will, you know, I like watching Johnny Depp so I will see it.
RA: Yeah it will be a fun movie. Well, this might be a good segue into talking more explicitly about kundalini. Why don’t you start by just defining it? Most people understand kundalini as some kind of energy that resides in the base of the spine and it can be awakened, and it rises up the spine and when it rises up you get enlightenment. I mean that’s probably, in a nutshell, what most people understand, but I think there’s probably a lot more to it, so let’s go for that.
RS: So, I’m going to start out by saying that, first of all, language is a very powerful thing. And the very word kundalini. The more people that use the word kundalini, the more they apply their own concept as to what that word means. And that concept will adhere to whatever it is that kundalini really is. It will adhere to the outside so that the more, as time goes on, people look at kundalini and they will see more of the adherence of the different concepts that people have projected in her direction, rather than seeing her.
RA: And you’ll please explain why you’re using the word her as you go along here?
RS: Yes, thank you. And that is an extremely good point. Using the word her because, not because, she should per se be confused with a human female. But the word her because in our universe we employ the concept of her-ness and femininity, and so on, to represent that energy and that protoplasm and that, those hormones and that organization of a living being that can reproduce. That can actually, especially in the context of vertebrates and mammals, that can give rise to a copy of that species.
RA: But not only that. Whenever I have heard anything about kundalini, it’s not presented as merely some sort of abstract energy, but as being intelligent and having a sort of a marvelously intricate way of transforming us in various ways. And so, if it’s intelligent, then we could certainly imagine it being a her or a him, having some kind of, you know, personification in some way, could we not?
RS: We can, definitely. And, of course, if we are going, wherever there’s a him there will always be a her. Where there’s a her there will always be a him. We’re living in a world of duality. So, fundamentally, for, from the perspective, from our perspective, from our perspective in the dual world, there is great benefit in looking at things with two eyes, at least to begin with. And trying to understand who we are and where we’ve come from and where we’re going.
There is a lot of use in looking at it from the perspective of Shakti and Shaktiman or Shiva or whatever you want to call it. A principle of intelligence that is not, that, that maintains stability of intent and position, relative stability of intent and position, and awareness, and one, another principle that is more dynamic.
It’s just like what we see in the atomic world: you have the nucleus, proteins, protons, and neutrons made up of quarks, and you have electrons. And the electrons are always moving and that’s their job. And the protons and neutrons are doing nothing but sitting there and letting the electrons move around them, and that’s their job.
RA: And the protons have a positive charge and electrons have a negative charge and it keeps the whole show going.
RS: And everything goes around. We could just easily have said that the protons have the negative charge and the electrons have a positive change. And in fact, in the antimatter world, a positron is just an electron that has a positive charge.
It just so happens that we have applied the positive and negative words to these things, but the fact is that they are two charges and they are opposite, and they are repelling one another. They are attracted but they are repelling. And one of them is acting as relatively stable, though even though we know that protons are not, per se, you know they are not actually complete stationary in the universe.
So far as we know, nothing is stationary in the universe. The sun is traveling at hundreds of thousands of miles an hour in one direction and the galaxy is being dragged toward the Great Attractor and God only knows what the Great Attractor is being dragged towards.
But everything is moving. But, relatively speaking, the nucleus is not moving, and the electrons are moving around it. Relatively speaking, the Shakti is moving, and the, whatever you want to call it, the Shiva or Shaktiman, let’s call it Shiva, is relatively speaking, not moving. That’s the dynamic that’s been generated, that’s the dynamic that’s been around since the days of the Big Bang, which was a long time ago, and that’s the dynamic in which you and I are existing. And that’s the dynamic that is the kundalini dynamic.
The kundalini shakti, and what you referred to earlier as ahamkara shakti. Ahamkara is a nice Sanskrit word. Aham means I. ‘A’ is the first letter in the Sanskrit alphabet. ‘HA’ is the last one. So, the alpha and the omega, everything that you personally can identify with as being part of you is aham. Ahamkara just means the thing that creates aham.
And if you want to think about, if you wanted to visualize kundalini as coming from the bottom and going up to the top, we should think of ahamkara as coming from the top and going down to the bottom. Ahamkara starts out as shakti that is completely not identified with anything limited other than itself, but that progressively becomes more and more limited as it comes down and gets individuated into, in our case, into the human being.
And the reason, of course, why they talk about kundalini being asleep is that in the average person, the vast majority of the shakti in the body is being employed to keep the organism functioning in the context of which the organism has been evolved. We’ve been evolved over many, many millions of years for the purpose, in my opinion, of being able to act as a, as a, an environment in which consciousness can manifest itself.
RA: Beautiful. Nicely put.
RS: And it has taken a long time for us, billions of years for us to get here, going through various stages and various kinds of things. And, to get to a point where we can, in fact, have awareness, have awareness of things that we can be aware of, like the fact that there is something other than our organisms. And our organisms, of course, I mean I think it’s very useful to remember that the human organism, we like to think of ourselves as human. That the human organism is made up of, more or less, roughly 100 trillion cells, only ninety, I mean only 10% percent of which are actually human.
RA: Just so people understand what you’re saying there. Ninety percent of them are various bacteria and other microscopic organisms that are completely nonhuman, but on whom our lives depend.
RS On whom our lives depend.
RA: On which.
RS: Well, I…
RA: On whom. They are embodiments.
RS: Because they also have awareness.
RA: Yeah, they do.
RS: And their awareness is not the same kind of awareness that we have. But it still is quite, in a way that’s good, because we don’t have to be talking to them all day long, you know, negotiating: “Ok, do you agree that we should go to the movies?” But we do have to negotiate with them in the context of what we eat and if they are working well, we think more clearly, and if they’re not working well, we definitely do not think clearly. So, they’re an important part of who actually we are even though we say they are separate.
RA: Yeah, they are integral.
RS: And this is a very, the whole thing is extremely complicated. Even the mitochondria, which originally, you know, human cells were originally single-cell bacteria also. And then they started taking in other bacteria like the mitochondria which were independent at one point, and then they thought, “Huh, these animal cells are the going thing. And this is where our future lies.” And they decided to move in. And their genetic material, of course, is separate from our genetic material, but it’s still our genetic, anyway.
RA: But we’d die without them.
RS: We would be dead very quickly. So, all of this is part of this negotiation as to who exactly we are. How do we define ourselves?
RA: As individuals.
RS: As individuals. So, I mean, I can think of myself as an individual but I’m more of a “dividual,” because I have all kinds of components that are making me up including, I like what E.J. Gold said and I’m going to have to paraphrase him. A human being, the most noteworthy characteristic of the human being is that he or she is a set of often unrelated personalities, that possesses no particular ability to determine which personality will be operating at any one moment.
RA: But if reincarnation is true, then it again goes beyond the physical level. And there’s something which carries a package of information from one vehicle to the next when the first vehicle no longer functions, and we need a new one. So, perhaps the jiva or something is the core of what we are as an individual. Yes? No?
RS: Yes, except for the fact that we can’t even think of a jiva necessarily as being individual, because sometimes you will end up having one jiva manifesting itself in more than one human being and sometimes you’ll have more than one jiva manifesting, sometimes occasionally, sometimes at the same time in the same human being.
So even there you can’t really say that there is one thing, that, and this, of course, is something that humans don’t want to hear because we like very much to hear we, that I am an individual. This is what ahamkara is doing. The job of ahamkara is just to find things that we believe are mine: this is mine; here’s my shirt; here is my, here are my glasses; here is my knowledge, here is my spouse; here is my house. And the more that you identify with those things…
RA: You remind me of a Talking Heads song right now. There’s a Talking Heads song that has lyrics like that <laughs>.
RS: This is not my beautiful house.
RA: Right, yeah, yeah. That’s the song.
RS: This is not my beautiful wife. Same at is it ever was. Is exactly the situation. It is the same as it ever was because we have since the beginning of, whenever it was that we became self-aware, whenever that might have been. And I personally think that happened after humans harnessed fire because that was, to me, one of the, if not the big.
RA: Doggie coming in.
RS: Oh, ok.
RA: I’ve got one here too. Coming in and out. No problem. Let me interject a question. Oh, I’m sorry. Finish your thought.
RS: No, it’s just that. The nature of ahamkara. The nature of this shakti. The nature of any shakti is that it is attracted to, you know, the nature of the electron is, it’s attracted to the proton, the nucleus but it can’t quite get there. But it continues to move. The nucleus is attracted to the proton but it’s not moving. It is serving as a center around which the electron can move.
So, the shakti, the kundalini shakti, is looking for something, and it’s looking for the supreme reality to connect to. But it can’t find the supreme reality because it happens now to be in the body. And it’s looking for the supreme reality in the body, but while it’s in the womb it’s having to create all of the different limbs it’s having to create all of the different connections among the different cells and the neurons and so on.
And so it gets, its attention becomes monopolized by all of this multiplicity and manifestation. And the more it that it goes into this reality and the more that it becomes familiar with the five elements; earth, water, fire air and space, and the more, the less it becomes able to remember what is was like to be aware of that reality that does not have any limitations applied to it.
And that’s why people suggest that the kundalini is sleeping. Because it’s not that she’s forgotten that reality, it’s just that that reality has, is not, she’s not, she’s only very slightly aware of that reality because she’s aware of so many other realities that are so necessary in order for us to exist.
RA: As I understand it, the word ahamkara means I-maker, right? And, could we sort of zoom out and say that there are fundamental forces, simplistically speaking, two fundamental forces in the universe: one is the I-maker force which is responsible for individuation since the time of the Big Bang and individuates with greater and greater and greater sophistication to the point where a second fundamental force can begin to function in a conscious way, which begins to reverse the whole process.
In other words, it takes a sophisticated nervous system to begin to wake up to the notion that, ultimately, I am unbounded, I am universal consciousness, and to begin to, you know, seek the experience of that until it’s established. So, there’s a sort of feedback loop from here to here, from I to I, from source, through course, back to source. How does all that sit with you?
RS: There’s, I lived, I’ve spent a total of eighteen years in India, nowadays, but ten years at a stretch, well six years and four years. And six years studying Ayurveda in Pune. Not far from Bombay. And four years in Bombay. And while not far from, well twenty-one kilometers from Pune, is a small town called Alandi, in which there is the samadhi of a very famous saint, probably the most famous saint in Maharashtra, Jnaneshvar Maharaj. He wrote a beautiful commentary on the Bhagavad Gita.
He wrote a couple of other things including a book called the Amritanubhava, the “The Nectar of Experience.” And in that book, he says the supreme reality wanted to perceive itself, but it could not do so because there was nothing like space or time or anything like that. The supreme reality, therefore, created the universe to act as a mirror in which it can see itself. Because no human being can see itself without a mirror.
So the universe acts as that mirror. And according to this theory, which I buy into very much, the universe decided that as a result of its desire to perceive itself it had to create within its, within itself, a part of itself that believed it was different. And that was the moment of the Big Bang.
And that was the moment of inflation, it happened a trillionth of a trillionth of a second after the Big Bang when suddenly there was an energy that repelled itself so that we went from the size of a quark to the size of several trillion miles within a trillionth of a second. So, an indescribable speed and violence that you can’t even begin to think about conceptualizing.
But as a result of that sudden expansion, there was immediately afterward, of course, because karma is equal and opposite, there was an immediate and opposite return of awareness in the direction of attempting to find that unity again. But now it’s attempting to find the unity in the context of there being this giant field of what appears to be separation created. And that was the beginning of everything. Now everybody..
RA: Do you need to get water or something? Go ahead.
RS: Hold on a second. <Drinks> Ever since then, the entire universe has been trying to return to that state of unity, but unable to do so because of all these, forces that were generated at that moment of separation so that the mirror could be created. So, kundalini is trying very much to, to, the human being is acting as that very mirror.
And within the context of the microcosm that is the human being, one can, at least under certain conditions and for a certain period of time, act as a mirror for that consciousness, and have one’s awareness be completely freed, at least temporarily, from all of those limitations that have been added in the ensuing billions of years. So that there is, the, the supreme in the external and the supreme in the internal can recognize that they are in fact, identical.
RA: It seems to me that what you end up with is something more than the original unity because you have a situation in which unity can be a living reality. You know, it’s not like the universe is striving just to go back to the un-manifest with nothing going on; it’s that the universe seems to be forming a more and more sophisticated instrument through which it can know itself, human beings being one.
And the human instrument, it can be fine-tuned to the extent that the fundamental unity can be known and perceived and lived, while yet living within the boundaries of, of human life. Those boundaries become universal in their nature with the proper sort of fine-tuning.
RS: When I was in college in Oklahoma, I became very fond of the works of Alfred Jarry, a French surrealist, and Dadaist writer. And one of the things he said has stuck with me ever since. He defined God as the tangential point between zero and infinity, and I believe that that is exactly what the universe is doing.
It’s trying to employ us to facilitate an awareness of the fact that there, the creativity that is inherent in the universe can best display itself when the unity and the, and the diversity meet at that boundary where they meet, at that boundary where both are present but in fact neither is present also. That’s where the real creativity is. And that is very much what the kundalini, in my opinion, is trying, attempting to do.
And for some people, the right thing for them to do is to sit down, do their sadhana, awaken kundalini, send it out the top of their head, and return to wherever it is they came from. But for other people, the right thing to do is to have kundalini become, to progressively have it identify less with their individuality and identify more with the unity.
And then let there be a dynamic interplay between those two forms of identification, and, and, and, and, and being creative in the context of the world in which that individual lives, and the people and places and things, and the dogs and trees. All of those things that we can bring more awareness and more love and more reality to.
RA: Yea, you said an interesting thing in that thing that I read that you sent. You were talking about integrating physical and spiritual life, and you said that health and longevity require that ahamkara identifies strongly with the organism so that sufficient prana will enliven the body while spiritual life requires that ahamkara relinquish most of it.
No incarnate being can be either wholly worldly or wholly spiritual; too much spirit burns the world out of you and makes it impossible to retain your body, too much attachment drowns your consciousness in worldliness.
And there’s a term you’re probably familiar with, leshavidya, which is the faint remains of ignorance. You need to have that little greasy surface on the palm after casting off the butterball. You need to have the faint remains of ignorance in order for unity to be a living reality. Without at least that, you are a dead duck.
RS: Yes. And eventually, a cremated or buried duck. Or an eaten duck. Absolutely. And this is, I mean, this is why I think, this is one of the fun things that people do not fun, many people do not fundamentally understand about spirituality in general and kundalini in particular.
That if you want to stay in the world, there is always going to be some grease on the palm. There is always going to be a blind spot. It may be a very tiny blind spot. As my Jyotisha guru, who lived in Toronto, as a very eccentric Punjabi gentleman. As he likes to say, a real guru makes one mistake every ten thousand years. But that’s still one mistake.
Vishvamitra still made mistakes. All of the rishis have made mistakes. All of the various deities have made mistakes. Maybe one every ten thousand years, it’s still a mistake. It’s still a limitation. Jesus Christ on the cross asked why he had been forsaken. He was perfectly aware that he had not been forsaken, but there was that moment. There was that just, and it was just a tiny moment, that he couldn’t see it anymore.
And that was Jesus Christ—that’s not you and me. So, everybody has that. And there is no use pretending that, in my opinion, that, you know, we’ve come to the end of history or the end of the Vedas, or the end or anything. And, you know, “I’ve become enlightened.” As soon as you say you are enlightened. Nobody in India says they are enlightened. There’s not really, I don’t even think in Sanskrit there’s a word for enlightenment.
RA: Oh, don’t you have moksha and words like that?
RS: Right, but does moksha really mean enlightenment? Moksha means you have been freed, literally. Mukti means freedom. Or as my mentor used to like to say, “moham kshayati iti mokshah“: moksha means you have, your delusion has been dissipated. And he liked to say enlightenment, what that really means, is that you have worked hard, and you have gotten the grace of your gurus and benefactors and so on so that the weight of the karmas on you has become less.
And that means that you have, now there is a lightening. And once you become lighter you are able to see more clearly. You able to, to, to, your energy moves more clearly. You can connect more readily and more clearly. And, and things move more smoothly. That doesn’t mean that you’ve become supreme. That does mean you are now able to actually function as you should be functioning.
RA: Alright, you would probably agree that there is no penultimate state beyond which there is no possibility of further refinement or clarification or embodiment or something, but there’s always a next horizon no matter how many horizons you’ve reached.
RS: As far as I’m concerned, if you can, whatever, whatever, experience or concept you might have, there is, that can be transcended in some other way. And I don’t see that there is any end to that, any more than there is an end to the universe. Because, I mean, so for, the way it looks now there are Big Bangs happening, maybe trillions of them as we speak.
RA: Yea, yea. Some physicists say it’s like bubbles in ginger ale; there are just infinite universes all bubbling around. So now a few minutes ago you kind of rattled off a description of what some people might like to do, which is sit down, awaken their kundalini, have it rise up, go out the top of the head, and they’re out of here.
But that of course, anyone who could do it so easily and smoothly and quickly is one in a billion. For the most part, for most people, it’s a delicate, long, drawn-out, perhaps arduous, perhaps extremely intense, process, and full of all sorts of potential pitfalls and sidetracks and difficulties.
So, lets kind of get a, let’s have a discussion about the realistic experience as most people are going to experience it, if they do, of what happens when kundalini begins to awaken and the various stages of progress that one has to undergo in order for its awakening to reach its full blossoming or maturity.
RS: I think the, the best thing that can be said about that, is that this is something that really is individual. It really is absolutely different for each person. Which is why I think it is unfortunate. It’s, on the one hand, understandable and natural, but it’s also unfortunate that people try to talk about what is a, an ordinary or a normal, if there is such a thing, kundalini experience.
Because, for one thing, when you are, when you’re, the very fact of knowing the word ‘kundalini.’ The very fact of having some idea about the chakras means that that offers your, your awareness, that offers your ahamkara, your kundalini, something to identify with.
So maybe, possibly, you should have awakened kundalini without bothering to awaken any of the chakras. Or maybe you should have only awakened one chakra, for you. But you read that there are six chakras and you have to awaken, and all of those six chakras are important. They are all important, but they don’t necessarily have to be awakened with, by your attention.
You don’t necessarily have to do, have to pay any attention to anything other than the supreme reality. And find a way, what is important, is that you have to get your prana to circulate in the central channel, what they call the Sushumna. That’s absolutely important.
RA: OK, so you’re saying that kundalini can awaken without you really knowing anything about kundalini, and it can actually progress through the, all the various chakras can become enlivened and awakened without you really knowing anything about chakras, that you can sort of shoot for the highest first—the supreme reality. And, you know, seek ye first the kingdom of heaven and all else shall be added unto thee, kind of thing. Right? Is that what you’re saying?
RS: Yes. And that may work for some people and may not work for other people. The chakras are very useful because they give you, you know, the chakras are, definitely, the chakras exist. The word chakra, of course, is, has taken on its own constellation of connotations that people now are, that are implicit to it, and of course, that are working on us without us necessarily being aware of how they’re working on us.
So, the chakras are, are, are, they are centers of energy, and we definitely agree there is a center at the throat, and one at the heart, and so on. The chakras as they were talked about in those texts in which they talk about chakras. And many texts do not identify only six. Some texts talk about nine, some only talk about one, some talk about so. But these are things that have to be created.
Those chakras don’t exist in the organism. Just in the ordinary organism. They have to be created by the energy going to those locations and enlivening the potential chakra that exists in the subtle body at that location.
RA: So you’re saying that, let’s say, the average person who hasn’t enlivened any of them. They’re there in the subtle body but they’re in a sort of latent or dormant form, and they don’t really…
RS: In a seed form. Because they have not sprouted yet.
RA: So, they don’t really serve any kind of function whatsoever? There’s no sort of digestive area chakra, heart chakra, intellect chakra—they’re just sort of non-functional potentials that don’t actually do anything until they get enlivened?
RS: Well, let’s just, just suppose for a moment that there is a seed at the heart chakra and this seed is in the subtle part of the subtle body. So that seed is there, and being a seed, it is a very active, I mean it has a strong energy and that energy, even though the seed itself is not displaying what it can do, it is radiating energy in all directions. That is picked up by the rest of the subtle body, which transmits it into the pranic body. So now the pranic body has a strong pranic center here.
RA: Just let me ask, is the pranic body more manifest or less manifest that the subtle body? Define your terms.
RS: It’s more manifest.
RA: More manifest, OK.
RS: Right. So, we have the physical body. We have the subtle body. Which is, the physical body is, in Sanskrit, the annamaya kosha. It’s made out of, anna means food. It’s made out of food. It’s nourished by food, it’s made sick by food, it’s made well by food. The pranic body is made out of prana. It’s made sick by prana and it’s made well by prana.
RA: Is that pranamaya kosha?
RS: The pranamaya kosha. And the manomaya kosha. Mano means mind. Mano literally means, “the thing that measures.” And the mind is made out of thoughts, and emotions, and concepts, and memories, and all kinds of stuff like that. And it’s made sick by those and made well by those.
So, the mind is rep, is the area in which we represent the five elements in non-physical form. The body is where we represent the five elements in physical form. And the prana communicating between the two.
RA: OK. Ties the whole thing together.
RS: Ties the whole thing together. Now the prana, of course, is an expression of the supreme reality. So, the prana is extremely intelligent. It is, of course, intelligent at a limited, for, in a limited way.
RS: From the perspective of the body. Especially the bacteria, but also the human cells, Prana is god. Because, it provides them with their, I mean it provides all of us, with our vitality. But the amount of manifested awareness in a bacterium is not very small. But the amount of pranic awareness…
RA: Is not very big, you mean to say.
RS: Right, is not very big. But the amount of pranic awareness is very large. So, it possesses consciousness. It’s just not consciousness like we, per se, think about consciousness. Its consciousness in the context of the type of protoplasm that it can, that that type of protoplasm can experience in any one moment.
So, you have, the, the, the awareness that has been incarnated in bacteria and in dogs and in trees and in so on for a long time. And it’s gained a lot of experience. It’s gained a lot of awareness about how awareness and matter can cooperate with each other.
It finds a human body, and in the human body, it sees that its opportunities for expression are even greater. And, but it starts off by, of course, by having to build the body. It has to grow the body. And it’s going to spend its first twelve years or so, doing nothing but growing the body. Or almost nothing. Because that’s what it needs to be spending its time doing.
And then at the moment of puberty, it really starts to individuate. Because, of course, there is an agenda. Everything in the universe has an agenda. The agenda of nature is that species should evolve, and evolution is implied, the, what evolution implies is that the species should reproduce.
Because you will have individuals and they will grow, they will get big, they will get older and they will die. So, who is going to maintain that, that progression of the species if not for a new version of that new individual coming out from that same pattern that has been established in the living protoplasm?
RA: Need some water again?
RS: Uh, yes thank you.
So, we have these, we have all of these, we, we have all of this energy that has been working through the human species for so many hundreds of thousands, and previous human species millions of years. And it is all on the one hand, attempting to move us in the direction of the supreme reality but it is also attempting to move us in the direction of continuing to evolve the species.
Which can only happen if there is reproduction? And reproduction can only happen if there is one sperm and one egg that meet. That’s the only way zygotes are formed. So there has to be a method by which nature can bring the sperm and the ovum together. And in trees, you have pollen and bees and all kinds of stuff. And in humans, you have rock concerts.
RA: <Laughs> Bars.
RS: And bars.
RA: And Match.com, Christian Mingle.
RS: Exactly. There are so many, but it’s all about the same thing. So that, puberty is a very important aspect of individuation because, it, the now nature telling the organism, “OK, you are an organism, congratulations to you for that. But there is no free barbecue for you,” as we say in Texas. Of course, we say it different, “There ain’t no free barbeque.”
And there is no free barbeque. “I have given you this organism and now, you are going to have to produce another one.” Or, “You are going to have to help other people who are producing other ones.”
So, I don’t have any kids, but I have spent a lot of time, including with this family I have right here who I have known for, well, I’ve known the one, the lady for forty years now. And, then met her husband and now I often travel with the kids and do things with them and so on.
So, if you are not going to, if you are not going to have kids yourself you are going to have to do something to facilitate, to do something nice for somebody else’s kids because that is what you owe to, that’s the Rna, the debt that you owe, to the jana, to the species in which you were born. And that debt has to be paid.
RA: I don’t know, some people probably don’t do either. But, and, you know.
RS: And maybe they’re helping out in some other way.
RS: We hope that they are helping in some other way.
RA: So as the Beatles said, “We are all doing what we can.”
RS: We are all doing what we can.
RS: So, in any event, this is what nature says, “OK, it’s your obligation now to reproduce. But reproduction is only going to happen as a result of one female human and one male human, except for those unusual experiences where you, you know, the woman gets pregnant with, from two different men on the same day, or something.
RA: Or immaculate conception, or whatever.
RS: Or immaculate conception. But usually its one woman and one man. So now we are talking about real individuality. So, nature is pressing individuality into that context and that’s why adolescence provides us an opportunity to introduce the adolescents to the kundalini shakti. Sometimes, it’s not feasible to do that especially if they are overburdened by being, you know, Facebook, and Twitter, and so on.
This is why in the past, this is why in the, I mean, you know, for women it’s much easier. A soon as you start to bleed, if you are lucky, your mother and her relatives will take you to the wise woman, and then, you know, there will some, some awareness of the spirituality that is connected with being a woman introduced to you then.
And in the past, it used to be the case that this was done for boys also. That they would be taken out by the elders of the tribe and beaten up a little bit and forced to do something really hard so that they would understand that they, that there is something more to life than just indulgence.
And in those societies that were really sensible, they would also introduce them to the fact that now, now that your, this transformation is happening in you, you can take moment for transformation to understand what your goal, your ultimate goal should be, and that is to reconnect to the supreme reality.
RA: Ok, so you’re saying that ideally, in a culture, when the hormones start to kick in and sexual desires begin to become strong in adolescence, one is at the same time introduced to the idea that there is a higher purpose to this energy aside from just procreation, that, you know, you have to counterbalance the procreative drive with the desire for spirituality. Is that what you are saying, in a nutshell?
RA: Ok, Ideally.
RS: Because after all, it’s the, it, it, we humans are microcosms. So even if you did nothing but introduce the concept that you are, you are a small unit of the big universe, but you are reflecting everything that goes on in that universe.
<Dog interrupts> Hi Yoshi. Calm down. Have a seat.
RA: <Laughs> Say hi to your doggie. Hi, doggie! She’s a pure breed.
RS: She’s a Golden Retriever. I’ve known her for many years.
RS: <To dog> Have a seat.
RA: And so, I think what you’re implying here is that the, of course, <dog barks> we’ve got our dog here too. Most people who’ve read about this stuff have come across this idea. That the sexual energy is the very same energy that one uses to awaken the chakras and rise to higher levels of spirituality, and it should be used responsibly and not just squandered, in order to facilitate that awakening. That it has its purpose for sexuality but that has to be put in proper proportion, and, you know, as does everything in life. Food has its purpose, but you can become a glutton. You know.
RS: Yes. Sleep has its purpose, but you can lie around in the hammock doing nothing all day.
RS: So, so, absolutely, the, and it’s because this is such a primal drive, and it’s because it’s something that is so central to the continuation of life on earth, that nature goes out of its way to make this desire so strong. And desire is after all, on the one hand, yes it’s a specific desire, but desire is desire.
You can take a specific desire and, if you alter its direction slightly, then you may end up in a very different place than you would have if you had simply followed the desire to where it was leading you, according to the, nothing other than, your personal karmas, the karmas of your parents, and the karmas of your culture.
And that’s of course where we hope that, the, the inheritance of your guru, or your mentor, or your, or your benefactor, or whatever you want to call him, or her, or it, or them. This, who gives you a different, who gives you some guidance. Who gives you an idea about what you could do with all this energy that you have?
Not just what everybody else is telling you to do, not what you may be imagining, but what other possibilities are there. How, how, and the fact that in, there, there may be limitations. I mean, as much as I would like to, even when I was young and enthusiastic, I was never coordinated enough to become a ballet dancer. I could have tried but I would have failed miserably.
So, its, you have to know your limitations. But, in the context of those limitations, there are so many things that you can be done that will move you in the direction where you really need to go, which is the direction of being as transparent as possible to the supreme reality while at the same time being a functional human being.
RA: Ok. So, there is things we could talk about here. We could talk about priestly celibacy, for instance. That whole issue in the Catholic Church which probably arose from this principle we’re discussing here, of using spiritual energy for, you know, but then again, it’s not for everyone and if it becomes something that’s mandated for everyone, at least for a whole class of people, then there’s problems.
RS: And, and, and we see what the problems are. If it’s something that is natural and spontaneous. If you realize to yourself, “Wait, this is not really what I want to do. This is, I don’t really want to be part of the world as it is. I want to spend my time more in that world even though I’m going to be partly in this world.” That’s a wonderful thing.
But that’s not everybody. And it’s exactly what you, when things start to get organized. You know the old saying, God said “Look, here’s awareness!” and the devil said, “Great, I’ll organize it!”
RA: <Laughs> Right. Yeah.
RS: So, when things get organized, and it happens, it’s not just in the Christian church, it’s every, you know. You have a bunch of sadhus in India’s. 90 or 95 or 99 percent are, who are either useless or malefic. And some of them are really legitimate and are some of the most amazing people you’ll meet. But that’s only some of them.
And the others are kind of wandering around and they’re, “Yes, I’m celibate.” And, of course, they are celibate. As they say in Hindi, “Mile to mari, nahi to sada brahmachari,” which means, and I am translating loosely, and uh, and I’m cleaning up the language ever so slightly, “If I find her, I will, engage in congress with her.” It’s a stronger word that is used there. “Otherwise I’m always a Brahmachari.”
RA: <Laughs> Right.
RS: So, “I’m a Brahmachari when I’m not having sex. Then, I’m finished with having sex I’m a Brahmachari. I’m a supreme celibate again.”
RA: Yeah, so a lot of hypocrites and phonies out there.
RS: Yes. And, and all of us, at some time or another, and me especially, and in addition, have done things that are hypocritical.
RS: But at least be able to identify that and find a way to stop doing that.
RS: Unfortunately, does not happen when you develop for yourself a pattern that becomes so strong that the pattern starts to take you over. As Vimalananda would say very frequently when I was pouring out whiskey for him, “Whenever you drink, remember one thing. One of two things is going to happen. Either the drink is going to drink you, or you are going to drink it.”
Either you are going to take it and it’s going to change your internal chemistry, and that’s going to change your awareness, and you’re going to use that awareness to be open to the supreme reality, or, you are going to drink that and it is going to change your awareness and it’s going to do nothing other than cause you to do everything that you have been doing that is not useful and to do more of it, and to do things that will facilitate you doing even more of it.
Because alcohol, you know, has its own agenda. It wants you to drink it so people will make more so more people will drink it. Michael Pollan, who I love his name, since he writes about botany, wrote a book, that I can’t remember at the moment the title of, but it’s a book about four species, cannabis, potatoes, apples, and, a fourth species. And how these have learned how to cause humans to serve them.
Carpet grass is a good example. I’m not sure that was the fourth example in his book. But, I mean, think about it, otherwise intelligent human men spend hours of their valuable free time on the weekends doing nothing taking care of these patches of green in front of, and behind, their houses. For no purpose other than going out later and chopping those blades of grass down.
But, but, a few species of grass have extended to millions of acres all around this country and other countries. Now we could argue that in fact the grass has taken over those humans and is driving them around telling them what to do.
So, in fact, there are many, many, many things. We could, and it has been argued, and I personally believe that it is true, that almost if not every species out there, very much wants to get humans to do what they want to do. Because they know that humans are number one, the paramount species nowadays, but also number two the species that can change things, that can do things.
So, we have plants. We have dogs. Dogs control things. Cats control things. They have different strategies. The dog uses the eye. The cat uses the, “I’m going to ignore you until you do what I want.” But they have found their strategies. And how effective are those?
So, and the reason these strategies work, is because humans are willing expand, extend some of their awareness, you know, people, dogs become, then cats become members of their family. Sometimes for people who have no children, they are their families.
So, so the and this is, we can do this because we have this ability to identify with things as ours, ahamkara. So, when you start to release ahamkara from your normal self-definition, you start to ask that question of, “Who am I?” Because now I know that I’m not only the body. But if you’re, and sometimes that question of who, it was enough for Ramana Maharshi. Just asking the question, “Who am I?” all the time.
Unfortunately, it’s not enough for everybody, because everybody doesn’t have that supreme ability to see things as clearly as he did. It’s like my mentor used to say, you know, people, people give discourses on the Bhagavad Gita all the time, and they don’t realize that the Bhagavad Gita was delivered by Krishna, an Avatara of a rishi, to Arjuna, who was almost a rishi himself.
So, we have the words, we don’t actual, the actual prana that was being conveyed between them, the emotions that were being conveyed in order for this to be translated. Unless you are at their level you don’t have that. So, you will start to only look at the words. You will only start to interpret only the words.
And pretty soon you will come up with some interpretations, that are, and you will get other people along with those interpretations and they will build a temple and you will sit in the ashram and there will be a big complicated thing going on, that is not really going in the direction that, of, of disconnecting yourself from all of this complication.
RA: Yeah. So you brought up some interesting points, here. The one about the plants, I mean if I were to summarize that, I would say that, you know, there’s an evolutionary force that permeates and ultimately motivates all creation and that you can see it functioning in various plant and animal species in that they, you know, they conduct themselves in such a way as to have other species, namely us, the most influential one, serve them. And, there’s sort of a higher intelligence that can be discerned in these so-called lower, more lowly intelligent species. Anyway, that seemed to be the key point on that one.
RS: Exactly. And the more that we think of ourselves as being the higher species, the easier it is for these other so-called lower species to manipulate us.
RA: Yeah. And then the point about the Bhagavad Gita and the temples and all that. I would say, you’re basically saying that, you know, people can speak or write and do naturally speak or write, from their level of consciousness but that’s not necessarily, is usually not the level of consciousness from which people hear or read what they’ve said or written and so there’s a communication gap.
And knowledge crumbles on the hard rocks of ignorance. You know, things can be completely garbled and misinterpreted and misunderstood and watered down. Because, and you know, people, spiritual people find, people on a spiritual path they can read a book like the Bhagavad Gita every five years for fifty years and that every time they read it, they get a new level of meaning out of it. Because their level of consciousness has inched its—
RS: It’s evolved.
RA: It’s evolved. It’s come closer to the level at which it was expressed.
RS: Exactly. And that’s, you know that was, that, in certain context, in certain Indian contexts, that’s what people, that’s what the guru would do. The guru would find a text, for example, or a practice. Let’s use a text as an example. And he would tell the student, “Go study this text.”
And the idea was that the text provides you a framework into which you can, you can take the experiences that you have, both your internal experiences and the experiences you have externally, and you can try to understand how you as an individual interact with the, the normative, sort of, idealized world of the text.
And so now you have, you have a, you have a, it’s not even something to aspire towards. But it’s, you have something that is out of the, something mythic, something that’s out of normal time. That is, it’s in time but it’s in mythic time, and you’re in normal time. So then the creative, the creative dynamic between those two things, allows or facilitates even more evolution not only in you but in the myth itself.
RA: Hmm. Interesting. Let me bring it back to kundalini again. I’ve, you know, seen all sorts of things over the years. I’ve been on long meditation courses where there was a whole group of people who were actually asked to sit on the stage in this particular case, who were going through kriyas. Just kind of flying, thrashing around. And I’ve seen people almost literally bouncing off the walls.
I have a friend who, his body was cooking so much that he could sit with the windows open in the wintertime with hardly any clothes on and he was still hot. I have another friend who really went through hell with kundalini, and you know, and was unable to sleep and was burning up lying on the bathroom floor at three in the morning with this sort of intense energy frying her. Eventually, she passed through that and it all settled down.
I just told her I was going to be interviewing you and she said, and she read that kundalini thing that you wrote. She said, “It sounds very scholarly. I’d like to know if this is coming from his own direct experience.” So that’s one question for you. How much have you experienced all this yourself, going through the whole kundalini awakening process?
And then she added that “It’s interesting you should send this now because I’ve had the deep insight recently that the whole kundalini experience is illusion, just more maya, just another belief system. And I’m saying that as someone who has been thoroughly convinced of this reality of the energetic journey for thirty-three years.”
I didn’t respond to her, but if I were to respond, I would probably say that, well you can write off anything as illusion. Gravity is an illusion but it’s still a phenomenon in relative creation that you have to deal with and respect.
So, but in any case, the key question here is the intensity of kundalini experience, your own experience with it. On what foundation you speak and write about it. And, perhaps, advice and even cautionary notes you might give for those who want to get more involved in it and think it would be cool to awaken their kundalini. What they might actually be getting themselves into unknowingly.
RS: Well, let me start off with my advice to people who think they would like to, think it would be neat to awaken kundalini. My advice is, don’t. Because you absolutely do not have any clue as to what you might unlock.
RS: In yourself, unleash. And you have no clue as to whether you’ll be able to put a leash on it.
RA: You say once awakened, kundalini cannot be put back to sleep.
RS: Exactly. In my personal case, I had no idea at all about kundalini, when, just a few weeks after I turned 16, I took LSD for the first time. And all of a sudden, without knowing anything, I mean I had read the Bhagavad Gita maybe, without understanding anything or thinking it was particularly interesting. Of course, that was the Edgerton translation which was a bit-
RA: Pretty dry—
RS: Dry. But all of a sudden, I couldn’t, I mean I had no words for it, but all of a sudden, I knew what prana was. And I understood how prana was moving, and I understood that if I was to allow myself, I could simply depart from my body.
And I also understood that if I did that, at this stage, and this was all happen, and I had, I mean, I had never had any thoughts of this sort of thing before. I understood that if I did that right now there’s a good chance that I wouldn’t be able to find my way back.
So, I spent quite a number of hours at that point in between leaving and not leaving. And that in itself created some tensions in my pranic body that took many, many years to work out. So, but, you know, that was the first time I took LSD. I took LSD, I don’t know, one hundred, one hundred and fifty times. I don’t know how many times.
But that, it didn’t, per se, put me in a, use, it didn’t benefit me by necessarily making things go any further. But it just, that was the only thing I knew of at that time in the ’60s in Oklahoma, that I could use to expose me to an environment that I had never knew existed before.
RS: All I knew was, oh ah, I had to get more of that.
RS: And I wasn’t going to do that where I was. So, I, I can be methodical when I am in the mood. So I figured out a way to graduate from college after two years. Then I went to Africa, and I crossed Africa overland from the west coast to the east coast.
And then I got this opportunity to go on an ethnographic expedition and then, for a variety of reasons, I, they, was invited to join the tribe. And I joined the tribe. And even though I have never been back to the tribe, and even though the, you know, the main reason they were doing this, initiation was so it could be filmed by the ethnographers, there was something that happened in that initiation. I mean, I can still, I can still feel Africa in my organism.
I mean, you know because Africa is a real, a place of great reality of a certain level. And then I realized, the, whoa, there is something. And I met a bunch of witch doctors. And I got cured of some severe disease, well before that in Ivory Coast, from a witch doctor. And I thought, I don’t know what this stuff is, but I have got to go further.
And while I was recuperating in Ivory Coast, I read Autobiography of a Yogi. And I thought, whoa, I don’t know what this Yoga stuff is, but I should go check it out. Flew to England, crossed to India, got robbed in India, hated the place, went to Nepal, loved the place.
Then I heard the Dalai Lama was going to give, a, some teachings in Bodhgaya in India. And I had heard of the Dalai Lama and I had heard of Buddhism, but they didn’t mean anything to me, per se, but everybody else was going so I thought OK, I’ll go too. 1974, January. So, I and 500,000 Tibetans and a bunch of other people landed in Bodhgaya and that really blew my mind.
His holiness is for sure, but Dilgo Khyentse Rinpoche. I don’t know, there was something about, I mean he was a very large man, but there was just something about him I just saw him and I thought, “I don’t know what he’s got and I don’t know how he got it but I gotta have some of that myself.”
Because I could feel, because it was not a matter of thinking at all, because I had not really studied any of that. But it was a matter of the prana, the kundalini in my organism, aligning with that, and then, and then being able to perceive, not intellectually, but being able to perceive at an intuitive, at a, you know, at a gut level that this was the direction to go it.
I ended up in Bombay. I met some people outside a restaurant who introduced me to various people who got me into the Ayurvedic College and a year and a half later I met Vimalananda. So it was, I didn’t know how I was going to do it, but I knew that there was this energy that was in me that I had to do something good with and try to hold it together while I was doing it.
And, of course, in between I got in a couple of car accidents and got, spent four hours in jail once, and overnight in jail another time and, and various things happened. And, but all in the context of, I knew what it was. I, I, I, I, this energy had started to direct what I was going to do.
So, back at that time, no. It didn’t manifest in me as a bunch of kriyas or heat or whatever. It manifested in a different way. It was completely transformative but not transformative in a positive way until I got an idea how to make it positive. And that took a few years.
So, was that an illusion? Well yeah, in a sense it was an illusion because, I mean, it was, it was something that I was experiencing that I would not have been able to, first, I couldn’t explain to anybody but, I mean, and, I certainly wouldn’t have, wouldn’t have, per se, believed that any of what I was doing was spiritual. But it was, it was, I, this energy had taken over and was moving me clearly in the direction I needed to end up without knowing how I was going to get there.
RA: So, you’re saying that perhaps your LSD use actually awakened kundalini and that once awakened it, the, that energy began to direct the course of your life in ways that probably your peers back in Oklahoma couldn’t have imagined.
You could never have imagined would happen and one thing just kept leading to the next. But you’re kind of crediting awakened kundalini with this orchestration of your destiny. This intelligence woke up within you which began to direct the course of events in mysterious and ultimately beneficial ways.
RS: And, and I think it’s important at this point to draw a distinction. And that distinction would be between the, if you like, the kunda, the physical kundalini, the pranic kundalini, and the mental kundalini. Because they’re all, you know, you’re, you’re, there is self-definition happening at all these different levels.
RA: So not only those three, but, you know, since there are even more levels. There are seven sheaths and there is the unmanifest. Would you say that kundalini, as we have our existence at all those levels, kundalini does and has it’s kind of manifestation and functioning at every different level?
RS: Absolutely. Because, if you are existing at any level, the only reason you’re existing at that level is because you were identifying as, there’s a part of you identifying as being at that level. That which we call ahamkara.
If there’s, ahamkara and kundalini are the same thing; the only difference is one is directed towards greater manifestation in the externalized multiplicity of the duality of the physical world. And the other is directed in the opposite direction.
There’s the pravritti marga, extending outwards in all directions, and the nivritti marga bringing back in. Visarga, adana, whatever you want to call it. There’s that continuous expansion and contraction. Externalization, internalization, and that happens at every level.
RA: So, kundalini then is responsible both for accreting and preserving our individual identity and at the same time for dissolving it in a way. But as we discussed earlier, its dissolution is not its destruction. It dissolves the sort of binding influence of it so that we, we grow to realize that we are not only that, but we are both, kind of the universal and the individual and can live the two in an integrated way. Is that what you’re saying?
RS: Exactly. So, I would, I would, I would propose that anytime that you are, any time that your awareness becomes, any time that your awareness becomes disconnected from your individuality and becomes connected to the cosmic or the ultimate or whatever you want to call it, that that ability, to the extent that your awareness is able to connect to that reality. To that extent it is kundalini that is awakened, that is connected to that reality.
So, so, there will, even without, and here is why it’s not necessarily a good idea to call it kundalini, per se, because now it’s, the word has accumulated some other associations. But, I mean, I was extraordinarily fortunate, even though I was born in the West, in the United States, I was fortunate to be born to parents who were, who were Christians in the real sense of that term.
And I have personally have had a, a personal connection to Jesus Christ since I was very young. And not an intellectual one. One that is, and not an emotional one, per se. But one that is some other more gut-level kind of thing. So that, and, and, that, and, and, and as that, that, that to, as that developed and to the extent, and to the extent it had developed when I took LSD, I had already established a connection to the nonphysical world in a positive way.
I mean, some people get connected in a negative way. They’re very young, they’re taken over by, by, you know, a, a disembodied human and that becomes part of their reality from a very young age. Thank God that didn’t happen to me. Thank God, instead, I was able to experience, to a very small degree no doubt, but the reality of Jesus Christ. And to me that, that, that was the environment in which the awakening of the prana kundalini.
And, and that’s what, so, so now we’re, just, just for the purpose of coming up with some classification. You know, we have the mental kundalini, where now you are seeing gods and goddesses and the universe is being created and destroyed and so on. Because those were, that is what the mind is all about. It’s about emotions, it’s about aware, visualizations, it’s about memories. You are getting the memories of your, you know, previous lifetimes. You are getting the memories of your previous ancestors and so on.
But the prana kundalini is the kundalini, that is in fact, wants to get into the central channel and move properly. So, what’s happening with the people who, you know, as my mentor used to say, there are two basic ways to become, to develop spiritually. There is the right nostril and the left nostril.
The right nostril is the sun, the left nostril is the moon. The right nostril is jnana, the left nostril is bhakti. Eventually they both, you have to have both of them. Because that is the only way you are going to get into the central channel.
But it may be in the beginning that if your right nostril gets activated you are going to burn. And that may not be a lot of fun, but if you have awakened enough energy that is moving in your body and your body doesn’t know what, your body is thinking “Oh my,” OMG. You know, WTF. What do I do now?
It’s going to stick it wherever it can. It’s just like what happens if you eat a lot of crap and you have toxins in your body. Your body can’t have the toxins circulating around, it’s got to go somewhere. So, your body can’t have all of your cells suddenly waking up and becoming aware of the supreme reality, because it would explode.
So, it has to, it has to hold onto some of that prana, somehow. So now you grabbed hold of the tiger. Now you are on the roller coaster. What are you going to do? The body does whatever it can do. So, for some people, it will go into the right nostril and you will start to burn up. For some people will go into the left nostril, you will get cold, you will get constricted, you will get frightened, you will get terrorized, you will grab hold of what some concept that you can use to act as a base for yourself. Maybe you’ll never.
I have seen many people who’ve had, you know, partial kundalini awakenings who get stuck here, and they never let go. They are always there. They can still, you know, they still make some progress but there is this thing they are holding onto because that was the only thing that kept them from completely flying to pieces when they were going through that initial awakening.
So, that initial awakening is, when it, when it, is happening in the pranic body, if you have, I mean, if I, if I had it all to do over with, I would start doing yoga at age one month and I would have been doing it so I had very good control over my prana so that when this started I would be able to circulate the prana. Make sure I had enough apana moving downwards to keep myself stable and then use the rest of it to connect to whatever it is I needed to connect to.
RA: You probably would have skipped the LSD altogether.
RS: Yeah, there would have been, there would have been-
RA: no need—
RS: no particular use for that.
RA: Right. Well, what you’ve just been saying points to several things in the notes I took. One is that you mentioned that kundalini must awaken in a slow and controlled way. Practice and preparation, you have to build a foundation. Like you say, you would’ve started yoga at one month and you would’ve built a strong physiological foundation for its awakening.
And, maybe we can also refer to something else you wrote, which is that kundalini without, perhaps, that necessary preparation, kundalini can awaken in such a way that it inflates and empowers limitations, so one may end up with an insatiable hunger for sex or food, or a huge ego inflation or deflation. And, you wrote of half-baked aspirants, inflated with the power and charisma of kundalini, becoming gurus.
RS: Well, and this is, and this is, you know. Part of, let’s suppose that the kundalini is awakening, the prana is moving now, and the prana is trying to get into that very, those very, very, very subtle spaces where it can activate the real, the seeds of those chakras.
RA: Are you referring to the Sushumna here?
RS: The Sushumna.
RS: You know, you know they claim that Sushumna has three different levels to it, vajrini, chitrini and Sushumna. So, but, the point is, that, Sushumna, you know, getting your prana to move in Sushumna is something that if you work without too much effort you can, you can do. I mean, you know, it’s a yogic thing.
But just because it’s moving in Sushumna, does not mean anything other than its moving in Sushumna. It has to then become much more subtle before it can really get to the level of where the chakras are. Because the level of the chakras are, its, that’s at the level, I mean, this is a, it’s the level of where the five elements are. And the five elements are what make up the fabric of our external reality.
So, when you start, you know, being able to connect to those five elements directly, you, it’s very important that you be nice and stable and calm, so that you don’t really do real some damage to yourself. That’s why they are so subtle and that’s why it takes so much attention and subtlety of your awareness to get down to them.
So what may happen is the kundalini is now moving and she wants to move up and she definitely wants to find her way to the supreme reality, but maybe you have a tendency to be very fond of food. And, so that, it’s not a chakra, in the sense of what the chakras really are supposed to do but it is in energy center in your pranic body at your, gut, you know, the solar plexus.
And so energy is flowing into there and then that energy, if you allow it, externalizes itself further into the physical body and then all of a sudden, now, that, that aspect of your physical body is getting tremendous amounts of prana in it and that will make it do whatever it normally does, though whatever it normally does, but ever so much more so.
And then, you are still a person who is limited from the perspective of being able to see things from a nice wide perspective and so you think, “Well, I’m hungry I have got to eat,” and you eat some more and of course the more you eat the more you are hungry for and you eat some more and then there you are.
RS: And it can happen anywhere. That can happen from the talking point of view. How many, how many, you know, so-called gurus have we seen, in this country and in India, etc., who, who absolutely are able to perceive a certain quality, a certain quality and a certain degree of reality but then do not remember that you have to continuously be refining and dissolving your limitations, the blind spots, that you have so they are not being reinforced by your organism for maintaining a sense of stability to permit it to continue to exist while kundalini is trying to dissolve it.
RA: Interesting. That was a real interesting point you just made. It’s insidious. There’s this sort of subtle tricky tendency which usually flies totally beneath our radar to reinforce, as you just said, to buttress structures of the individuality of the ego and to prevent its dissolution, to prevent the kind of the takeover of unbounded awareness. And, it’s so tricky. That’s what they say maya is. That a, there are so many interesting stories in the Vedic literature about maya tripping people up.
RS: And tripping people, you know, the, the, Narada who is, you know, a celestial musician who wanders from universe to universe as the devotee of Lord Vishnu—
RA: Oh, is this the story about the water?
RS: Uh, yeah I think so.
RA: Great story. Go ahead.
RS: Well, I mean it, its, you know, Narada went to Vishnu and said, “Please show me your Maya,” and Vishnu said, “OK. Go meditate over there.” He started meditating over there, and he went to the river, and then there was a beautiful woman, and suddenly he was overtaken by her, they married and had children, and then there was a flood, and everything was gone, and he was miserable. And suddenly he saw Vishnu again and Vishnu said, “Now have you seen Maya?” And he said, “Seen it.”
And that was Narada. And if that can happen to him, why not, what can happen to you and me? What about poor old Moses? Moses! This was not an ordinary person. Moses who could, you know, proceed, saw, the God, from the back. At the last moment, he had gotten the Israelites out of Egypt. They had survived Pharaoh and the plagues, etc.
And just at the moment they were about to enter the Promised Land, God said to him, “Speak to the rock over there and it will give you water.” Maybe because of Saturn, or of his karmas, or because God wanted it that way, or who knows what, he didn’t speak to the rock. Instead, he hit it with his staff.
And the water came out, and God said, “Oh my goodness, Moses, what have you done? Now, as a result of this, you can’t go to the Promised Land which you’ve been trying to reach for the past umpteen years. Everybody else will go, and you are going to have to stay here.” Oops!
RS: If it can happen to these people, it’s happening to you and me all the time. I’ve seen it in my own life. I can’t tell you how many times because it’s depressing to think about it. But the only answer is, you have to keep refining.
You have to keep getting up every day. You have to keep realizing that, that ignorance is part of the price, is the major price that you pay to be able to exist as a human being. And you just have to keep refining.
RA: And you’re not going to keep refining if you think that there’s no more, nothing more to refine, if you think—
RS: You’re not going to keep refining if you think you’re already refined.
RA: Yeah, if you think you’re done. And that’s actually a key element in these interviews. Usually, toward the end, I always ask the person, “Well, you know, what’s the next horizon for you now? Where do you see it going from here?” Most people have some sense that there’s going to continue to be refinement, but some people think, you know, like it’s a dumb question. “How could there be anything more? All there is, is this.”
And the whole notion of further, in fact, there are some fairly predominant spiritual circles these days who regard the whole notion of progress and levels of development and all that as utter BS. They feel that it’s just a concession to duality and that it doesn’t, you know, it’s just going to hang you up forever following the carrot, you know, and not, not sort of realizing that you are that now.
RS: Just as you were saying that, there was another earthquake.
RA: Oh, OK.
RS: So what I have to say-
RA: There’s no real earthquake; of course.
RS: There’s no real earthquake.
RA: There’s no earth.
RS There’s no earth and it’s all ultimately an illusion. If that’s the case, I will gladly watch while you sit in the middle of, you know, the Swarovski store and pieces of crystal fall on top of your head and you maintain your awareness.
And please, yes, I agree, gutter water is absolutely the same as clean water, and if you can live on dog shit, go right ahead and do that. But I need to see you doing that in order to be convinced because otherwise I’m not convinced.
This I think is one of the, it’s sad, but it’s also, you know, it’s also something that probably was, at least to some degree, accelerated by the Victorians when they were in India. The concept of Vedanta. Now, Vedanta is a very noble concept, but nobody, nobody seems to pay attention to the fact that it is Veda + anta. Anta means end. The end of the Vedic process.
Nobody thinks very much. Some people do. But, I mean, the people who are talking this way are not perhaps aware of the fact that if you wanted to study the Veda. The Veda was not written down for thousands of years. The Veda was oral.
That means you had to sit for three hours a day for twelve years reciting the Veda. At the end of that time, pranayama would have become perfected in you. Because you can’t sit reciting, I’ve done it before, you can’t site reciting for three hours without having the prana in your body be nice and aligned.
Only at the point that the prana is well aligned. Only after you’ve recited all these mantras and had all kinds of experiences, we expect, as a result of reciting all these mantras with various ethereal beings. Only then are you going to be in a position to be able to say, “Now I can see that beyond even this there is something that can’t even be imagined, much less spoken.”
I was reading the Isha Upanishad just the other day. And it said that those who follow tamas go into a very dark place, but even that place is not as dark as the place that is, that is attained by those who follow the path of knowledge.
RA: I remember that verse.
RS: And Vimalananda used to say that the worst ahamkara, the worst egoism of all, is the egoism knowledge. And that’s knowledge because you have this much knowledge and you have this much knowledge.
RA: A little knowledge is a dangerous thing.
RS: A little knowledge is a terrifically dangerous thing.
RA: Yeah. So, what you’re saying is, there’s nothing inherently wrong with knowledge but, there’s a Tibetan proverb which I often quote, “Don’t mistake understanding for realization. Don’t mistake realization for liberation.” And, I get the sense, I harp on this too much probably, that there are a lot of people who become aware of this whole, you know, Advaita thing and nonduality and so on, and it resonates with them deeply and intuitively.
And they mistake that knowledge that begins to dawn for the actual experience to which these sages and scriptures refer, but it could, you know, as you said in the thing that I wrote, the thing that you wrote, what many consider the culmination of their practices may be just be the beginning. So, there are a lot of people who seem to think they’re finished who are probably just starting out, in the big picture of things.
RS: And I, in no way do I suggest that, that, that the experience that they have is not real. But it’s one thing to have that experience and be in that space, and it’s another thing to be able to integrate that into your daily life. Otherwise its, OK it’s not alcohol, now it’s the experience. If the experience, if you’re drinking in the experience, that’s one thing. It’s useful because the experience is, is, is an interface between you, as a manifested thing, and the unmanifest.
It’s a snapshot of your, of where you are at that moment. But it’s only a snapshot. It’s only, it’s of a process that is ongoing. So, if you don’t digest that and understand that it is nothing more than an indication of how that relationship, because it’s a relationship. Everything in life is a relationship.
In fact, I read something recently that suggests that, from a mathematical point of view, the entire universe is nothing but mathematics, and its nothing, mathematics is nothing but relationship. Forget the particles, and forget the waves, and everything else it’s just relationships among, as far as we’re concerned, you know, consciousness.
RA: Consciousness interacting with itself.
RS: In different ways. So, but the fact is that as an individual human being, you have certain constraints, that means that you are not going to be able to experience the reality of the supreme 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, without dissolving.
So, you’re going to have to have some greasiness on your palm, or on your nose, or somewhere. You are going to have to have some interface that is going to permit you even if you are driving your organism from way up here in the sky, there still has to be a connection between you and the organism, and that is your Achilles’ heel.
RA: Yeah, and I think to a great extent it’s a matter of integration and stabilization. I think there are people who, I think I know some, who, for whom the experience of whatever phrase you just used, the ultimate, the supreme, is largely predominant 24/7 but it’s like a zoom lens which, if they’re in traffic, and they have to, it’s gonna reside in the background a little bit because they have to deal with the situation at hand.
But it doesn’t take long for it to zoom forth again once it’s practical for it to do so. And you mentioned Christ earlier, getting crucified and kinda losing it on the cross for a bit. You know, I always wonder about people who say they’re awakened or enlightened. How well would this hold up under crucifixion? <Laughs> I mean it sounds a little morbid, it sounds a little gruesome, but you know to what degree is it actually stabilized under the most severe possible conditions?
RS: I have been to Italy many times and I’ve been to Assisi many times. And several times to La Verna, which is where St. Francis received the stigmata. And, I mean, as far as misery goes, he went out of his way to make his life miserable and difficult, and so on. But, especially in La Verna, in Assisi for sure, but especially in La Verna, there is just a quality, you know, that you, you can’t help but feel that despite all this tremendous difficult he was going through how, how open he was to that reality.
And, and so many, I mean, Guru Arjan Dev, the fifth guru of the Sikhs, who the Emperor Jahangir was misled by Guru Arjan Dev’s own brother, sadly, who said he was a traitor. And Jahangir, had a tendency to act before thinking, since he was an overuser of wine and opium, sentenced him to be boiled alive, or burned in sand, or something like that.
And, one of his disciples, the disciples had to watch. The disciples, of course, were very miserable because their guru was quite miserable. And one said, “Guruji, just say the word and I will use all of my shakti and I will burn down the city of Lahore, where we are now.” And no matter the fact that he was miserable, the Guru Arjan Dev, had to smile because of how cute the disciple was.
And he said, “My dear, you are my disciple. Do you think that if you can do that, I could not do that myself? Do you think that I couldn’t have escaped somehow? No, I did this because this was the desire of reality. And because reality is so extraordinarily sweet. I, I just couldn’t turn away from it. I had to do it no matter what the cost was to me.”
RS: So, yes. I think that, you know, I’m not at that stage. I can absolutely, you know, I thank God daily that I don’t have to do something, I may have my own difficulties, as does everyone else, but at least they’re difficulties that I can personally go through. I don’t mind having difficulties. My prayer is, “Please, let me be able to survive them.”
RA: Well they say God never gives you more than you can handle.
RS: And I think that’s probably true as long as you’re willing to handle it. And as long as you’re aware that you have to handle it. Which is I fear that this is what goes on with some of these people who.
And, you know, as you mention that people who get to a certain stage, there is a natural desire on the part of the organism, body, mind, and spirit, to be stable. So if you find a place in which you really feel stable and you are able to connect to the supreme reality on a regular basis, it’s very easy to come to the conclusion that this-
RA:—that you’re done—
RS:—that you’re done.
RA: Yeah. I’m, in a couple weeks I’m going to interview a woman who had sort of come to that conclusion, her name is Prajna Ginty. She’d been on this spiritual path and she was very easily absorbed in samadhi and in a real nice place all the time and then she gave birth to premature twins, and, you know, one of, both of whom were blind and severely brain-damaged and handicapped.
And her life tuned into this incredible challenge which brought her to the brink of suicide. And a, but then she has somehow, I haven’t finished learning all about here, she somehow managed to digest all this and incorporate it and learn the spiritual lessons from it and kind of integrate it into, and wouldn’t actually trade it for anything because it was something that God gave her which she could barely handle but managed to handle, and turned out to be an evolutionary opportunity.
RS: Wow. I salute her.
RA: Yeah. What would be the? I mean, we talked about yogis falling. We didn’t use that terminology, but people getting egos, getting inflated, and people feeling they’re done and becoming, you know, half-baked gurus and all that. What would be the safeguard against that? I mean, having a guru oneself who can tell you you’re not done, that would be one I suppose or.
RS: That is the best way.
RA: Yeah. Having a good measure of humility even if you don’t have a guru so as to sort of keep yourself in check, or is that perhaps like trying to pull yourself up by your own bootstraps? And you really do need an external guide who can kind of keep you going?
RS: My personal opinion and the opinion of my mentor was that it is very desirable to have an external guide. Because, the same way with the mirror. The same way with, you know the old saying, The doctor who has himself, who treats himself has a fool for a patient. Because you don’t have that perspective. For the same reason, a good doctor will rarely want to, in a crisis, to treat his—
RA: —his daughter or something.
RS: Yeah. So, and if you can find a human guru, this is a great thing, but maybe that doesn’t happen. Lord Siva is a handy guru, you know. Jesus is a good guru. There are gurus out there.
RA: But that can just be your imagination. There are people who would say—they wouldn’t use the word guru—but they would say that Jesus is their guru and they’re handling rattlesnakes to prove it. You know, so, you can delude yourself.
RS: You can delude yourself even if you have a good guru.
RA: Yeah, true.
RS: It’s happened on many occasions. And if you don’t have a guru, there’s the famous example of Dattatreya. Who, OK it’s not called Dattatreya in the Srimad Bhagavatam, but it’s called “the avadhuta,” and Dattatreya is identified with an avadhuta.
And he talks about the fact that he had 24 gurus, and none of them were ever aware that they were acting as gurus to him. He saw what was going on in their lives, he took that, and he learned from it and transformed himself. Of course, he was Dattatreya. He was one out of, he was one. So far there has been one Dattatreya.
RA: There was that story in the Mahabharata where Arjuna’s rival for supremacy in archery was rejected by their guru because the guru had promised Arjuna that he would, you know, make him the best archer. So, the guy went off in the forest and built a little model of, statue of the guru, and worshiped that, and became the best archer, until the guru caught on to it. He made him cut his thumb off but—
RS: Exactly. Yes, Ekalavya. His name was Ekalavya.
RA: Right, right.
RS: So, but, but that worked for him. I get two lessons from that story. Number one is, if you are focused, as Ekalavya was. If you are really focused and if you are not cheating your awareness, and you are projecting onto something that quality of guru-ness and you are not trying to say, “Oh yes guruji, I can have a lasagna today? Oh, OK. I have been, the guru has transmitted to me, that yes, that you will become my consort.” You know.
RA: Yeah, yeah.
RS: If you don’t do that, then, then even that projection can act as, can be a guru. And of course the other useful thing to do is to remember that, like in Dronacharya’s case, Dronacharya’s was the weapons guru. If someone comes to you and has gone through that process and has actually become a better archer than your student, and you were his guru even though you were never his guru, you were his guru.
And having you chop off, you know, making him chop off his thumb is a karma that you are personally going to have to pay for. And he did. And he had to pay for that when he believed that his son Ashwattama was dead, after which he allowed, during the war, after which he allowed himself to be killed.
RA: Interesting. I forgot that that was the resolution of that story. It always bothered me that he made Eka-
RA: Ekalavya cut his thumb off, I thought, wow, what a creep. <laughs>
RS: Yeah, Yeah. But, oh, but it, everything, you know. The Mahabharata was, as has been said very clearly, you know, that the Ramayana. India has two epics. The Ramayana is all about, you know, Rama believing that he really had a good idea of what his dharma was and trying to follow it.
The Mahabharata is nobody knows what their dharma is. Everybody has some, everybody in that book has some, some unsolvable question of which dharma to follow. And that’s, and it was distilled down into the Bhagavad Gita. Arjuna says, “My dharma to my family and to my allies and to you says I should go out there and murder my guru and my grandfather.”
And, the dharma that is spoken of elsewhere says murdering your guru is the absolute, there is no-
RA: It’s the worst sin.
RS: -there is no karma worse than that. “What do I, how can I even come to grips with this?” And Krishna has to show him his universal form before Arjuna could, could, could actually realize that he could keep both of those things in his awareness at the same time even though it’s very difficult.
RA: Yeah, And he also says-
RS: Which is what kundalini, which is eventually what you’ve got to do with kundalini. It has to keep both of those realities. The reality of the infant, of the infinite, and the reality of zero. It has to be able to keep both of them aligned with one another all the time without cognitive dissonance taking over.
RA: And that is probably the key. I mean, chapter two, verse forty-eight: “Yoga-sthah kuru karmani.” If you get established in yoga, in being in the absolute and universal consciousness, then perform action, then you will automatically reconcile all these polarities and paradoxes and irreconcilable dharmic conflicts that the intellect, human intellect simply can’t figure out, because karma is unfathomable.
RS: Exactly. That’s what yoga really is. It’s joining together two things that are fundamentally identical but currently, in our current, in the environment in which we live, are comp, are polar opposites. So, instead of allowing them to polarize out here and be apart from one another, bringing them to a place where at the very least, they are joined by, by a point.
So at least, it’s like a placenta. The placenta, half of it is created from the mother, half of it is created from the child. And nutrients go into the child, the waste comes out of the, from the child into the mother. And there is, there is not, the two halves of the placenta, they are two different organisms. But there is the ability that blood can shift, and nutrients can shift between those two.
RA: Yeah. We started out this conversation talking about polarities. And, you know, there are political polarities and then there’s the pro-gun and the anti-gun, the pro-abortion and the anti-abortion. There are so many polarities—they’re kind of tearing our society apart, and, which seem irreconcilable on their own level.
There’s very little common ground or communication going on. But, the way I see it, and I think you kind of alluded to this a couple hours ago in our conversation, that with an upwelling or an infusion of divine consciousness from the most subtle level into society I think perhaps we’ll see that, mysteriously, solutions are found which manage to reconcile and harmonize these polarities. And we’ll be able to progress as a society and survive as one.
RS: I agree and that is certainly my hope. Because, I mean, that’s the way we’ve survived so far. Somehow or another, there has always been some sort of compromise that has been reached. During the Civil War, it required an extreme level of conflict before that compromise could be reached, and it was quite imperfect, because then there was Reconstruction, and then there was Jim Crow and re-segregation.
And ironically the government, the Federal government was re-segregated by Woodrow Wilson, the very man who was going out of his way to talk about, you know, getting rid of war and the League of Nations. So very easily you can have in the same person, Teddy Roosevelt who busted all of the, you know, Gilded Age trusts, but at the same time was a big game hunter and came, you know, slaughtered animals freely.
RA: But established the National Parks system.
RS: And established the National Parks system.
RA: Friend of John Muir.
RS: You, have, you can very easily have two very different sides to someone as we, in, as reflected in having two very different sides to what is the situation in the country. And it’s good to have, I don’t want to see abortion available on every street corner.
RA: No, of course not.
RS: But I also don’t want to have women going into back alleys and dying miserable deaths as a result as a result of, you know, botched procedures.
RS: And, I certainly am fine with my, relatives going out and, and, and shooting deer, which are too many nowadays and feral pigs which don’t belong there, but I don’t think we need to have people taking guns into churches and colleges and airports and-
RS: I don’t think that’ necessary.
RS: We have plenty of adequate and fire, you know-
RA: And that’s actually, you know, if we infuse a more enlightened consciousness into the equation, into the situation, then I think that tendency to polarize diminishes, the tendency to rigidly adhere to one end of the spectrum without appreciation for the other. As you are expressing. You’re an example of someone can see both sides and they don’t have to be mutually exclusive. They can both be incorporated into a larger perspective.
So, this whole enlightenment business, actually has practical applications for the mundane issues that preoccupy our society and offers solutions to a lot of these destructive conflicts that, for instance, take the environment: is global warming real, is it not real? There are people, both camps are divided.
Of course, the scientists are on the side of it being real. But a solution which is holistic is, let’s not worry about whether it’s real or not. Let’s progress and come up with technologies which would be beneficial regardless of whether global warming is manmade and sell them to China. There can be an economic advantage and it won’t cost us jobs; it will create jobs. You know, that kind of thing.
RS: We know that there is more CO2 than has been in the atmosphere for what? Hundreds of thousands of years?
RA: Millions. Thirty-five million. Over-
RS: And we know, it should, I mean, whether or not this is going to cause global warming or global cooling, it’s not normal, and it is not going to have a good effect. We don’t, we may not know what the effect is, but we can be very sure when you, at any, and this is basic science, that any time any time you take a system that was at equilibrium and suddenly add something else to it, it’s not going to be at equilibrium anymore.
And especially because there are way too many humans than, more than the effective carrying capacity of our planet within the context of there being health for all the other ecosystems everywhere. We have, it’s our responsibility to be all the more attentive to minimizing as best we can our footprint, our impact, on all levels of our existence.
RA: Yeah. And a, and the point I keep coming back to in my own thinking is that the best way for us to do that is for higher consciousness, for enlightenment, whatever terms we want to use, to become more prevalent in the world. Which is part of my motivation for doing this show. You know, as Einstein said, you don’t solve a problem at the same level of consciousness at which it was created.
You know, you have to sort of go to a new level of consciousness. There is the principle of the second element. You don’t get rid of the darkness in the room by investigating it or analyzing it or arguing over it. You get rid of it by bringing in a second element, light. Then darkness is found to just disappear. So that second element, I think, and this ties back to the whole kundalini discussion, the sustenance, the essence, the energy which animates everything, is that divine energy.
And perhaps all the difficulties we see in the world are due to insufficient flow of it, an insufficient supply of it, and if it can be enlivened in the world, it will enrich the world and, and, help all these problems to dissipate, just as a dullness and deadness of individual life is dissipated by an enlivenment of it within the individual.
RS: I agree entirely and, sadly, I think a big reason why there is an impediment to progress in this direction is the fact that so many scientists are so, such dedicated materialists.
RS: And, I mean, this is the basic difference between Indian science and modern science. Modern science believes that everything is based in matter and by some process of deus ex machina, consciousness arose. Whereas Indian science believes in the fact consciousness is the base and matter has emerged from consciousness progressively becoming more opaque to itself.
And, and, I don’t in any ways deny the reality of matter, but I’m amazed often when I read or hear sci, you know, well-trained scientists becoming so ridiculously vehement about the impossibility of, you know, consciousness existing outside of protoplasm. How can they possibly know?
RS: That’s so unscientific.
RA: I know. Me too. And that’s a topic for a whole other, whole other discussion and some of the people, I interview, you know, we have gone into that to some extent. In fact, you might, I mentioned to you off, before we started this interview, the Science and Non-Duality Conference out in California. You might enjoy that. It’s a whole bunch of spiritual people and a whole bunch of scientists getting together and discussing issues such as that.
And, anyway. We probably better wrap it up. It seems like you and I could go on all day just taking little seed thoughts and expanding upon them. But, this has been great. I really enjoyed this conversation. Is there anything that is in your mind or that you’d like to throw out before we finish? Anything we haven’t covered?
RS: I think the only thing I would like to say, to people like your like your friend went through a kundalini experience and is now asking herself where it was complete, you know-
RS: Illusion. I would say, and to, to anybody who is going through any kind of kundalini experience. The most, and this what I tell to pretty much anybody all day long nowadays. And I spent a long time talking about it to a couple of people in the house here last night.
The most important thing in life, in my opinion, especially nowadays, is stay calm. You can freak out if you want to when no crisis is occurring. But when there is a crisis, like a potential earthquake where maybe the house is going to fall in on top of you, God forbid. But if that happens you have to be calm, because that is the only way you are going to survive.
You have to know where to position yourself or at least have a reasonable expectation. You have to know when to run and when to hide and when not to do that. And you are only going to be able to that if you maintain a certain amount of awareness of what’s going on outside, and an understanding of how you might be able to interact with what’s going on outside. And that especially important when your organism is redefining itself.
So don’t come to, don’t jump to conclusions, don’t start assuming anything, of any, assuming is a, a, because especially when this energy is, is activated, what you assume has a much greater potential to actually manifest in some way. To become concrete.
So don’t just, keep coming back to whatever you have faith in. And as a friend of mine in India is fond of saying, “Your real guru is the last face that you would see as you were drowning.” The last thing before, you know, now you’re, you’re going down for the third time. So, the thing that is the most dear to you is what’s going to come to you at the moment.
Whatever that is, grab a hold of that, because that’s the thing that is going be able to keep all of your prana and all of your organism and your energy and all the rest of you focused as you proceed through this transformational experience.
RA: Well, they say that the last thought at the time of death determines the next birth, and I remember some-
RS: That’s the same thing here. The thoughts that you are having, because this is a kind of a death and rebirth experience. That thought that you have as you’re dying to your previous self is going to determine substantially how you’re reborn to your new self, even though it happens to be in the same physical body.
RA: Yeah, although the last thought at the time of death isn’t necessarily edifying. I remember this funny movie with Alan Arkin and Peter Falk. I forget the name of it. But they were before a firing squad and one of the guys was saying, “I didn’t have enough sex!”
And, so, wouldn’t you say that the real anchor that we need to take refuge in is the Self, the absolute. That’s why Krishna was able to smile on the battlefield because he was that ultimate reality and therefore the drama unfolding before him couldn’t overthrow him, couldn’t overshadow him.
RS: It’s true, but of course he was Krishna and his ability, he was in that ultimate reality a lot of the time. Which is why my mentor used to say that, until you get to a state of, you know, similar elevation, having a form and a name that you can apply to, whether its Krishna or Jesus or a, the giant cosmic mulberry.
Something that you, that you’re, because kundalini has been educated to identify with the five elements that make up your body. And those five elements in the physical organism are earth, water, fire, air, and space. Those five elements in the subtle body are the sense, smell, taste, touch, sight, form, and sound.
So, she’s going to be looking for those five things, those five sense things, as long as she is habituated, as long as she has been conditioned to be within those five things. So while you’re still in that, in that limitation of perception it is often most useful to have something that is connected to at least one of them. A name or a form.
RA: Like a mantra or something.
RS: A mantra or something that you are visualizing. The face of God. Something that you can grab hold onto until your awareness is sufficiently stabilized in that expansive way that you can just focus on that expansiveness.
RA: Right. Yeah, and even, and then it won’t be a matter of willful focusing. You are that and nothing can shake it.
RA: Are you aware of this kundalini care institute in Tennessee? Joan Harrigan? A number of my friends have gone there and say that they’ve had great results in terms of kundalini which was blocked or misdirected being unblocked or redirected.
RS: I have. I, in fact, a friend of mine went there. I mean, it must be 15, 20 years ago, and also reported very good results. I haven’t been there myself but, and, and, so it’s only hearsay but I’ve, I heard good things back then, and you can report good things I certainly think.
RA: Yeah. I haven’t been there myself, but half a dozen friends have gone and really said good things about it. So I’m just throwing that out in case there’s anybody listening to this who is having, kind of, kundalini problems. They might want to look that up.
RS: The Kundalini Research Institute.
RA: I think it’s called something like that. It’s in Tennessee someplace.
RS: In Tennessee.
RS: That’s where it was 20 years ago.
RA: OK. So, you’ve written about a dozen books, and I’ll, I guess, you’ve listed several on, that you’ve sent me, so I guess those are the ones I will list on my website. Aghora Books I, II, and III, The Greatness of Saturn, A Therapeutic Myth. Be sure to send me, whatever, if those are not them, be sure to send me whatever books would be the most interesting and relevant to listeners of this show and so they can check them out if they want to read more.
RS: Probably those, but of course, they can just go to the book section on my website.
RA: OK, sure.
RS: And find out the other ones too. But these probably, you know, those probably deal most specifically with what we have been talking about.
RA: OK, good. Yeah, and of course you have expertise in Jyotish, and Yoga and Tantra and Ayurveda and all this other stuff. You are quite a renaissance man. You’ve covered it all.
RS: Well, the more that I learn, the more that I realize just how ignorant I really am, which is a great blessing.
RA: That is a good thing, yeah.
RS: Good to know your limitations.
RA: Yeah. Alright, well thanks, let me make some concluding remarks. I’ve been speaking with Robert Svoboda and this interview is part of an ongoing series. There are about 225 of them in the can so far. I do a new one each week.
Next week will be Sharon Landrith who I interviewed a couple of years ago. I am going on a retreat with her and will be interviewing her in person. They can all be found at batgap.com, where you will find an alphabetical index, a chronological index.
We’re also working on a geographical index. If somebody’s in a particular area and they want to find a teacher nearby. And there will also be a categorical index that someone has volunteered to develop. So, all that. There is a discussion group there that crops up around each interview. You will see a link to it on Robert’s page.
And there is a link to an audio podcast that you can subscribe to on iTunes and just listen to the audio. And there is a donate button. Batgap is a 501(c3) and we appreciate your support. And there is a place to sign up to be notified of new interviews each time one is posted. You will see a tab for that, “Join our mailing list” or something. So feel free to sing up to be notified.
So that’s about it. Thank you for listening or watching. Thank you again, Robert.
RS: Thank you.
RA: Yeah, it’s been a lot of fun. We will see you all again next week.