Kundalini & Kinda Loony
First of all, for those who are out of the loop, kundalini is the "spiritual energy" that supposedly lies dormant at the base of the spine. Various spiritual practices--in particular, tantric yoga--are designed to "awaken" this dormant energy, sending it upward through various chakras or spiritual centers. The centers are located in the genital area, the belly, the heart, the throat, the area between the eyes, and the top of the head (there are also "sub chakras" in other areas, for example, the hands).
Spiritual energy is real, but it is conceptualized in different ways by different traditions. One might think that the concept would be foreign to Christianity, but perhaps you haven't seen a frenzied Pentecostal all cross-eyed & painless, speaking in in tongues with a twelve inch diameter pool of saliva on the floor below his mouth. Perhaps you haven't seen the Reverend Al Green give himself over to some other-worldly force in his gospel excursions. Can I get a witness?! Perhaps you haven't read descriptions of the saints such as John of the Cross or Teresa, with her ecstatic swooning in the presence of the holy spirit. For that matter, perhaps you haven't seen the Chabad Telethon, with the rabbis ecstatically dancing around on your TV screen.
Having said that, I must confess that I've never treated someone wherein the process went "haywire" and they needed help. In fact, if someone came to me with such symptoms, I would be much more likely to view it as a garden-variety hysterical reaction that falls well within the bounds of psychoanalytic explanation. Over the years, you wouldn't believe range of somatic disorders I've seen.
A somatic disorder occurs when the individual unconsciously converts emotional pain or conflict into somatic pain or dysfunction. I've seen 'em all, and I can well imagine how a spiritual practitioner with a latent psychosis could unleash a somatization process and then call it an awakening of kundalini, featuring all sorts of bizarre symptoms. For example, I remember reading about some of Krishnamurti's experiences after he broke away from the Theosophists, which struck me more as psychotic separation anxiety than enlightenment.
What sort of therapy do you feel would be most helpful in this instance? Do you feel that most licensed mental health professionals are qualified to provide this type of care, or would he need to be referred to someone who specializes in treating such complications of meditative practices as he's experiencing?
As a matter of fact, such individuals are notoriously difficult to treat. They have no insight into the somatization process--technically, it's a psychotic process, except that it takes place in the body rather than the mind per se (actually the infantile bodymind). It cannot be communicated symbolically, because the body is the symbol. Indeed, that's the crux of the problem. The word has been made flesh. Except in a bad way.
Petey is hardly the only one who says that it is always important to work within an established tradition with a real teacher in order to avoid these types of problems. Better yet, avoid it altogether. Let your spiritual growth be the leading edge, and the energies will follow. Don't try to imagine that you can merely unleash some sort of magical energy and that enlightenment will somehow follow. As I mentioned, the descending spiritual approaches are much more organic, allowing the energy to gently come in from above and transform you, rather than you trying to seize the tiller of spirit and storm the gates of heaven.
Michael asked, Can the 10 commandments be put into evolutionary perspective?
You bet! In fact, I did exactly that on pages 231-244 of my book, where I demonstrated that the commandments have both an exterior and an interior meaning, and that each of them can be reconciled with the Upanishads (that's why I call them the Ten "Commanishads" or "Upanishalts"). Importantly, the interior meaning by no means contradicts or cancels out the exterior. It just adds an extra dimension of depth to it.
Much of what you say seems like an exercise in linguistic metaphysics. 'Thou shall not murder' is direct as God can be. Does the understanding change or does God's word stay the same today and always? When Christ says, He and He only is the Way, how can one be reconcilable to your 'one cosmos'? Can you give an example of the evolving Word? Maybe I misunderstood your point?
I specifically take care to avoid what you call "linguistic metaphysics." Metaphysics is a dead letter without the light of spiritual experience or the testimony of the saints. I want to help people have the experience, not simply play around with words and concepts. To the extent concepts are used, they must be analogous to bank notes that are backed by the full faith and credit of spiritual experience, and can be "cashed in" at any time.
You asked how Christ's statement that "He and He only is the Way" can be reconciled with my approach. It depends on how you understand Christ. If you understand Christ the way that he and the enlightened saints down through the ages understood him, then there's no problem. The Christ is eternal, outside space and time. He antedated the historical Jesus--in fact, antedated time and history: "Before Abraham was, I AM." The eternal I AM is perpetually given birth in the ground of being, and we may participate in that birth. It is now standard Catholic doctrine that one may know Christ without literally knowing Christ, so to speak. It's not the ideal, it just means that Christ can be working through someone without that person even being aware of it.
An example of the "evolving word." This is really very simple. Words are containers that accumulate meaning through experience. You could say, for example, that you understand the word "swim," although you have never personally been in the water. Will the meaning of the word not evolve once you take a dip?"
How about a more complex word? A child knows what marriage is. But what is it really? For that matter, plenty of adults are married. But are they really? In what sense?
Yes, God's word stays the same today and always. Except that it's a holographic word hyperdense with meaning, not a linear word with the type of one-to-one correspondence that is adequate to describe lower orders of being, such as brute matter.
Certainly there are multiple layers to Bible verses and education matters. One can be misled with false teachers.
Ah, but you shall know them by their fruit of the looms. They're always washing their dirty laundry in public. If you squint a little with your third eye, you can see it.
We should all be careful to pinhole 'fundamentalist'. Many of them know this already to be true and love the duality of word and verse meanings and many fundamentalist teachers readily use this device of teaching to peel away layers of understanding. But its not some type of gnosis or esoteric understanding that is required.
Beg to differ. What does the Bible mean where it says that Jesus did and said many things to his inner circle that "opened their eyes?" What is the holy spirit, why did he send it, and what does it do? Is spiritual vision really as mundane as scientific knowledge, involving no gnosis at all? Is there a difference between knowing and understanding?
There are very simple laws for a reason such that - 'a child can understand them'.
Of course. But when I was a child, I understood as a child. Scripture also allows for personal growth, so that an adult may understand as an adult. Again, it doesn't contradict the earlier understanding--it transcends and embraces it. It's a more expansive understanding.
I agree in response to secular humanist uprisings, a new Christian fundamentalism is arising as well. But this also is due to new avenues in media savvy by the old guard of Christian fundamentalist. They're learning how to fight fire with fire and are not afraid to do it. This battle is as old the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Yes, but I'm afraid that fundamentalists are fighting fire with fire--scientific materialism with spiritual materialism. It's just a fight as to whose literalism and materialism will prevail. Fire needs to be fought with water.
Personally, I've never been one to accept all religions/one cosmos theory movement.
I don't either. I'm polymonotheistic. I don't believe in blending but correlating or cross-fertilizing. Mainly, I want to help people get more out of their own tradition. This is a genuine stumbling block for many modern intellectuals who don't see how they can reconcile modernity and traditional religion.
I definitely think that some traditions ar better than others, but I would rather not get into that, because I don't want to alienate people. Also, It's not always cut and dry. For example, a deeper version of one religion might be superior to a shallow version of another, and vice versa.
But let me again re-emphasize that if your approach is working for you, I have no desire to question or change it. The key for me is whether or not someone's approch is working--that is, whether or not it is resulting in real change, real understanding, and real growth.
I cannot talk for others, but in Christian doctrine and Judaism there is only one God and those who worship idols(i.e. wooden, gold and ornamental renderings made by the hand of man) are a clear abomination to God the Father of Torah and His Son, Christ Yeshua of the Gospels. There is no sharing amongst the religions. God is a 'jealous' God. And while some see this as 'fundamentalist' thinking, really its just the pure acceptance of belief in the teachings of Christ. Christ never said go and seek other ways to God.
Christ never said a lot of things, like "go and cure polio," or "the scientific method is the best way to understand the material world," or "always remember that inflation is tied to monetary policy," or "harsh parenting is just going to create a neurotic adult." I find that the greatest error committed by fundamentalists is that Christ is often reduced to an informational teacher as opposed to the transformational teaching.
How do you reconcile such language Or, do you ignore it? Do you teach that such language does not matter? Do you address such concerns at all?
Yes, like the constitution, there are aspects of scripture, such as "You shall not murder" that are analogous to clear statements in the constitution requiring a two-thirds majority. But what does "cruel and unusual punishment" mean?
Again, even seemingly unambiguous scriptural statements contain an exterior and interior meaning. Do you not understand more of the inner meaning of scripture as you develop and grow spiritually? Is there such a thing as spiritual growth? If spirit is alive--indeed, if it is life itself--how can it not grow?
Why did Jesus speak in parables? Is there only one way to understand a parable? If so, why didn't he just skip the parable and say what he meant?
What does it mean, "In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth?" Could it mean that in the perpetual beginning that is happening right now, God creates the vertical and the horizontal?
John says "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God." How can the Word simultaneously be God and with God? "In him was the life and the life was the light of men?" What's that all about? Mere biological life? I don't think so. The light waves described by quantum physics? Hmm, I think not. The darkness didn't comprehend it? How can darkness comprehend anything?
That's the point, isn't it? Scripture must be trancelighted in order to be understood. Call it gnosis if you want. I call it seeing the light with the eyes Darwin didn't give you.
***And don't forget to see what Joyce says about the matter, over on the sidebar.
+++Oh, and be thinking of questions for the next round, maybe this Saturday.