Articles and Publications

On Mystical Experience, Drugs,
And the Evolutionary Process

An Interview with Gopi Krishna
Excerpted from The Awakening of Kundalini

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You say there is a biological process at work in man that is responsible for his evolution, and that this same process which you call Kundalini is also responsible for genius as well as many forms of insanity. Just what is Kundalini?

It is a very ancient doctrine. You can trace the cult of Kundalini back to a period three thousand years before the birth of Christ. We find the first signs of it in what is called the Indus Valley civilization. From some seals and figurines discovered there, we can see that people worshiped this "mother goddess." Yoga was also practiced at that time, for we see a figure of Shiva sitting in a Yoga posture in a state of ecstasy.

When you speak of the cult of Kundalini, it sounds as though Kundalini were some form of goddess or religious leader.

You see, it is very difficult for us at this time to imagine the structure of the primitive or even the medieval mind. If we study medicine we find that very strange and fantastic cures were proposed for sicknesses. Spells and charms and exorcisms --and many of the diseases-- were considered to be due to the evil influence of demons. In such an atmosphere any abnormal or supernormal state of the body could only be attributed to some divine power.

Naturally, Kundalini eventualy came to be regarded as a goddess, as a divine energy, which started from the base of the spine and then remolded the brain to a higher state of consciousness. The methods to activate it and the results that were achieved were fairly well known. We can see them described in the ancient works, but its physiological implications were not understood.

You seem to take for granted that there is an energy which remolds the brain.

There should be nothing startling in this. We see that the human mind has been in a state of evolution for many thousand years. There is a great gulf between the intellectual of today and, say, the intellectual of Egypt in ancient times. We can see from works of art, from writings, and from other signs, that the human mind has taken a tremendous leap in a forward direction. Human thinking has become more flexible and much more comprehensive.

We have to find some sort of reason for this evolution. Modern savants are unable to find any changes in the brain or in the size of the skull, so they are not able to locate the cause of this advancement in knowledge. But if we just reflect on this point, we see that no change in the mind or consciousness is possible without a change in the brain, or even in the whole body. Every thought, every passion, every emotion has some mark on our body though it may be too slight to notice immediately. This clearly means that the advancement of man from a primitive to the present intellectual state must be attended by certain physiological changes which we are not able to locate.

So there is nothing wonderful in saying that there is a power which can transform the body and the brain of man. Already this transformation is occurring, though in an imperceptible way. lt occurs even in a child when he grows from infanthood to maturity. There is aways a change in his brain, so that later on his rational faculty --which is dormant when he is a child-- becomes manifest. In the same way the rational faculty in man has been in a very primitive or low state in the savages, but now is in a heightened condition. The reason for this is change and transformation in the brain.

Modern researchers are not able to locate this change because the alteration occurs mainly in the nerve energy, which to the ancients was known as prana. Prana is the energy we use in thinking. Certain electrical discharges occur with any activity of the brain. These electrical disturbances vary in different states of consciousness; for instance, there is one state in sleeping and another in the waking condition. Prana is the agent which causes these changes, though it is absolutely imperceptible. Scientists only measure the electrical discharges, not the mysterious agent which causes them.

If prana is imperceptible, what makes you say that it exists?

Verification is contained in the ancient books where there is a great deal of information given about it --books as old as three thousand years. And then above all, I have experienced it myself.

In your autobiogrphy, Kundalini, you talk about the awakening of a cosmic energy. Was it prana that was set into motion in your body?

Exactly. It is the psychic energy that is set in motion. How can you change the body and the brain, including the nervous system, unless there is an inner transformation? You can't transform it by any other means. It has to come from within.

What is this transformation like?

You see, the transformative processes set in motion by Kundalini correspond to the heightened metabolic processes which we see in a child. It has been rightly called a rebirth by almost all the religions of the world, including Christianity. Even Christ refers to it.

But when we read of "rebirth" in the scriptures --especiaIly the Christian scriptures-- we've always thought it was just a change in personality or a change in attitude, a sort of an awakening of our spiritual instincts.

Even the awakening of spiritual instinct needs some sort of a stimulus or a change in the brain.

Every kind of mental development needs persistent and hard work. I mean that if a man desires to become a painter, he has to be an apprentice or a student of some painter. He must learn the art and practice it every day with care, and so it is the case with every profession and every system of education. Do you think that while ordinary and trivial advancement in knowledge needs careful attention and study for years, a new consciousness can develop just by some magic or by some mantra or by some spell? Isn't it ridiculous to suppose there can be such a paradox in nature that while for smaller things we should have to study and struggle and labor for years, but for this purpose of transforming our consciousness, we should just take a leap and reach it all at once?

Well, there have been some Christian mystics, even St. Paul, who seem to have had such a transformation almost overnight. How can these be explained?

If we study their lives we will find that they were lives of dedication, of devotion, of faith, of missionary service, and of other altruistic and noble actions.

What about St. Paul?

Even in the case of St. Paul there would be such factors operating, if we study his life carefully. From his epistles and his organizing capacity we see that he was a man of exceptional talent. As I have said, this evolutionary energy is taking man step by step toward higher states of consciousness. In the course of this journey he becomes intellectual, esthetic, talented, a genius, and finally an enlightened man.

We can presume that for one who has already reached the state of genius, or of exceptional talent or of extraordinary intellectual development, there is only a step between him and the next higher state of consciousness. In such cases, universal consciousness or the vision of Divinity can occur without much labor. We see this happening even in the case of Einstein. From what he writes, it is evident that he had some sort of mystical experience.

Apart from Einstein, let us examine Dr. Maurice Bucke, Tennyson, Wordsworth, and so many other thinkers, philosophers, astronomers, poets, including Plato, although they did not undergo any particular discipline, they had the experience, and that experience left an indelible mark on their minds. Their writings and their admissions clearly reveal this. We have to admit that mystical experience, or Cosmic Consciousness, cannot only be developed by effort, but it can also occur spontaneously. This entirely agrees with my view: that there is a ''mechanism'' which is called Kundalini, that is carrying all mankind toward a higher state of consciousness, and that all the prophets and mystics known to history had their "mechanism" already active from birth; and also that this mechanism is active in the case of men of genius and extraordinary intellectual talent.

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