Self-discovery and transformationNew York University; New York, New York, USA
7 March 1973
There are two worlds: the outer world and the inner world. When the kundalini is fast asleep, man is awake to the outer world. He wants to have everything that the outer world can offer him and he feels that he can get satisfaction only from what the outer world can give him.
When the kundalini is awake, man is fully aware of the inner world. He knows that the outer world cannot satisfy his inner needs. He has brought to the fore the capacity of the inner world, which he has come to realise is far superior to the capacity of the outer world. He has brought to the fore the hidden powers, the occult powers, within himself. Either he uses these powers properly or he misuses them. When he divinely uses the powers of the kundalini, he becomes the real pride of the Mother Supreme. When he misuses them, he becomes the worst enemy of man's embodied consciousness and of his own personal evolution.
As we all like to play, so also our Divine Mother and Divine Father like to play. The Divine Mother, Parvati, and the Divine Father, Shiva, want to play and they want their child to participate. But their child is fast asleep, so they wait for some time. When they feel that it is high time for him to get up and they see that there is no sign that he is about to do so, the Mother most affectionately gives him a push from below, from his muladhara chakra, and the Father affectionately pulls him up from above, from sahasrara. Then the child gets up.
If the child is in a good, divine consciousness when he gets up, he says, "You have been waiting for such a long time. I am so sorry. I beg to be excused. I wish to play with you. Come, let us start playing the game." Then the Mother most affectionately teaches the child with Her dynamic Power how to play the Cosmic Game extremely well. And the Father most affectionately teaches the child with His inner illumining Light and Wisdom how to play the Game extremely well. Eventually they make their child a unique and accomplished player. When he becomes an exceptionally good player, he has to fight against three opposing players at the same time. These three formidable opponents are darkness, ignorance and death. To his surprise, he defeats his enemies easily. His is the everlasting victory over these fallen foes.
If the child is in a bad, undivine consciousness when he receives the push and pull from his parents, he says to them, "For God's sake, do not bother me. I need sleep, only sleep. I want nothing else. I do not want to play." Then the parents sadly say, "Sleep, child, sleep. We shall play without you."
Any individual can practice Kundalini Yoga if he sincerely wants to. Or if he only wants to study it, then I must say that Kundalini Yoga is worthy of study with the deepest reverence.
The main objectives of Kundalini Yoga are to realise the dynamic existence in the static existence, to change the lower state of consciousness into the higher state of consciousness, to transform the bondage of the finite into the freedom of the Infinite. The dynamic existence is Shakti and the static existence is Shiva. If Shakti is not present in Shiva, then Shiva will remain static. Shakti, the Mother, is the Power, but it is the Father who houses this infinite Power.
When a seeker wants to identify himself with the Mother-Power, he has to intensify his aspiration. It is through intensity that he becomes one with the Shakti. If he wants to become totally one with the Divine Father, Shiva, it is with sea-like immensity that he can become one with Shiva.
Here in the West, there are many who feel that the powers of Kundalini Yoga are nothing but rank superstition. I wish to say that those who cherish this idea are totally mistaken. Even the genuine spiritual Masters have examined Kundalini Yoga and found in their own experiences the undeniable authenticity of its hidden occult powers.
Blessed is he who practises Kundalini Yoga as part of his self-discovery and not in order to acquire power in hypnotism, black magic or other low forms of occultism which operate in and from the vital world. A genuine student of Kundalini Yoga is he who tries to unite the vital power and the spiritual knowledge in perfect harmony with the evolving spirit of life. A genuine seeker never considers the hidden powers or occult powers as his goal. He cares only for God. He longs only for God's loving Presence in his life.
The Kundalini Power is the dynamic power in us. When the dynamic power and the spiritual knowledge go hand in hand, the perfect harmony of the Universal Consciousness dawns and the conscious evolution of the human soul reaches the Transcendental Self.
There are two ways for one to enter into Kundalini Yoga: through the Tantric process and through the Vedantic process. The Tantric approach is systematic and elaborate but, at the same time, quite dangerous. The Vedantic process is simple and mystical, but it is safe and in no way less convincing or less fulfilling.
The Tantric method is dangerous because it deals first with the lower vital and emotional life. The approach is dynamic and courageous. Either one will purify himself by entering bravely into the vital world and coming out triumphant, or one will be totally lost in the ignorance of the vital world if he is not strong enough inwardly to conquer the vital forces there.
The Vedantic way is safe because the seeker concentrates and meditates to raise, purify and illumine his consciousness before he tries to deal with the obscure, impure lower vital forces that want to bind him. When the seeker enters into the lower vital world with the light of illumination, to his wide surprise he sees that the lower vital is illumined, purified and divinised.
The Tantric process demands from the seeker constant and conscious awareness of the inner and upward movement from the muladhara chakra to the sahasrara chakra. The Vedantic process demands from the seeker conscious and constant awareness of the evolving and liberating consciousness.
If anybody here would like to practise Kundalini Yoga, I advise that seeker to follow the Vedantic method which is safe and, at the same time, sure. If you follow the Vedantic method, you are destined to reach the Goal certainly and safely.
Swami Vivekananda showed the sincerity of his inner cry for Truth, for God, for Light. It happened once that Swami Vivekananda, who was then called Naren, was offered a significant gift by his spiritual Master, Sri Ramakrishna. Sri Ramakrishna said to him, "Naren, you know I have gone through the most austere spiritual disciplines. I constantly pray to Mother Kali and worship God. I have done everything necessary and now I am blessed with occult power. But you know that I do not care for any outer achievements. I pay no attention even to wearing clothes. I am in my own world most of the time. So I wish to tell Mother Kali that I would like to offer you all my occult power. You will be able to use it when you have to work for the world at large."
Naren immediately replied, "Master, please tell me whether this power will be of any help to me in my God-realisation."
Sri Ramakrishna said, "No, no! You know that occult power has nothing to do with God-realisation. But when you realise God, if you want to work for a while, if you want to manifest God on earth, then this power can be of great help to you."
Naren's immediate response was, "First things first. First I want to realise God. Then if you and God want to give me occult power to use for mankind, I will take it. But right now I want only God. God comes first in my life."
Sri Ramakrishna was extremely pleased with his dearest disciple. He said to the other disciples, "Look at my Naren! Look at the example he has set for you. You have to pay all attention to God first, only to God. That is the only way you can realise God. Occult power is of very secondary importance."
Most genuine spiritual Masters have advised their disciples not to care for the hidden powers of the kundalini. If a disciple cares only for Truth, only for Light, then he will make real progress in his inner life.
We practise Kundalini Yoga in order to get power of one kind or another. But if we meditate on God and please God, the Creator, He will give us His entire Creation if He wants to. If we want the Creator first and foremost, and not His Creation, then we will get the Creator. And once we have the Creator, His entire Creation will also be at our disposal. If we cry for one tiny part of the Creation, we may get it with comparative ease; but the infinite Wealth of the Creator will be withheld from us and we will have to be satisfied with the tiny portion which we asked for.
There is a famous story in India about two brothers. The elder brother left home and prayed in the forest most intensely. At the end of twelve years he returned home.
The younger brother was delighted to see him and he requested, "Please, please show me some occult power. You have practised Yoga for twelve long years while I have been leading an ordinary life. Please show me what you have accomplished."
The elder brother said, "Come with me." The two brothers entered the village and walked to the river. At the river bank the elder brother sat down and entered into deep meditation. After a while he stood up and walked across the river on the surface of the water.
Immediately the younger brother hailed the ferryman, gave him an anna and was quickly rowed across the river to join his brother. When the two brothers were united again, the younger brother said, "You had to slave for twelve years to be able to do something that I can do in five minutes? Is this the result of your years of spiritual discipline and austere life? Shame, shame!"
The elder brother realised that he had foolishly wasted his twelve years. He left home once more, this time to aspire only for Truth, only for Light, only for God.
When we cry for Truth and Light we get them, but our cry must be extremely sincere, devoted and soulful. If we are not sincere, if we are not pure, if we are not spiritual, then the Kundalini Power is of no use. Here is another authentic story.
When I was only nine and a half years old, on my way back from school one day I saw a big crowd. Naturally, I went to see what was happening. One of the spectators told me that a young man who had been buried for three days was about to emerge from the grave. To my astonishment, a few minutes later the young man did emerge, quite safe. But then what did he do? As soon as he came out from the ground, he put his arm around his girlfriend and walked away. His vital life went on unabated.
From Kundalini Yoga he had received the power to remain underground for many days. But what good did it do him? He did not care to purify his vital life. He led a most ordinary life, an animal life. This power did not inspire him or anyone else to lead a better life. He used it only for miracle-mongering. But if the kundalini is used properly, it can do something most significant. It can elevate the consciousness of humanity. Kundalini Power has the capacity to awaken and illumine the consciousness of mankind if it is properly used.
There are high occultists and low occultists. The inferior ones fight for occult power in the vital world. As in the outer world unillumined people fight for power, so in the inner world, in the vital world, unillumined occultists also fight for power. If one occultist is fast asleep, another may come and attack him occultly and try to take away his occult power. This once happened to a maternal uncle of mine. Fortunately, my maternal uncle was stronger than the occultist who attacked him and he defeated the other occultist.
But the superior occultists, the spiritual ones, will never do that. And if the spiritual Masters, the real Yogis, have occult powers, they do not try to attack or defeat other spiritual Masters to win more occult power.
However, spiritual Masters sometimes do take away occult power from unwise seekers. Sometimes they see that a seeker is basically sincere, but he has attained a little occult power and is misusing it. Then out of his infinite compassion, the Master may take away the occult power of this unfortunate seeker so that he will return to the spiritual life and realise the highest Truth. When the time comes and the seeker is ready to use his occult power wisely, the Master gives it all back.
On at least one occasion, Sri Ramakrishna took away occult power from one or two individuals at the express command of Mother Kali. Sri Ramakrishna himself had occult power in boundless measure and he did not need their occult power. He took away their power for the seekers' own spiritual good. These seekers were basically sincere. They had the capacity to cry for the highest Truth, but they were being distracted by their occult power and were not paying attention to their real spiritual life.
In the case of another spiritual Master, he and his younger brother started Yoga almost at the same time. But when the elder brother accepted a shakti to help him in his spiritual work, the younger brother left him and started an ashram of his own. He also had a little occult power, but he started misusing it, so the elder brother took it away. The younger brother then wrote pathetic letters to his elder brother, saying, "I know you have infinitely more occult power than I had. Why did you take away the little occult power I had?" But the elder brother replied, "It is for your own good. You have left me, but I have boundless concern for your spiritual life. I want you to realise the Highest. I do not want you to waste your time showing off your occult power and in that way to lose all your spirituality and divine possibilities."
Let me tell you a story about misuse of occult powers. About one hundred and fifty years ago there was a spiritual Master named Matsyendranath. His dearest disciple's name was Gorakshanath. When Matsyendranath realised that Gorakshanath would also become spiritually great, he told him, "Look, two lions cannot live in the same den. We should not stay together now. You should go somewhere else to roam. You have the capacity. You should now guide the world, as I am guiding it."
Gorakshanath felt miserable, but he had to listen to his Master's command. So he left Matsyendranath and stayed away for six years. At the end of six years he returned to the place where he had parted from his Master. When he got there, he asked his brother disciples and the people who were in the neighbourhood if they knew where his Master was. They all said, "We cannot tell you where the Master is."
Gorakshanath pleaded with them, saying that he had not seen his Master for six years and that he was Matsyendranath's dearest disciple, but they all said, "No! You are not his dearest disciple. You are just making yourself important. And if you are his dearest disciple, then you should listen to his command. He told us that nobody should be allowed to know where he is." And they refused to tell Gorakshanath where his Master was.
Finally Gorakshanath became furious. He said, "Now I shall curse you. For twelve years you will have no rain at all. That means no crops, no food, no drinking water. All of you will die of starvation if you stay here. Only on the condition that my Master comes back here will this curse be lifted before the end of twelve years."
The drought began immediately. When conditions became serious, the King of that particular area went to Gorakshanath and pleaded with him to lift his curse, but Gorakshanath refused. The drought continued for two and a half years. When word of Gorakshanath's curse finally reached Matsyendranath, he went back to the area immediately. Then it began to rain. Matsyendranath stood in front of Gorakshanath and said, "I am so happy to see you again."
Gorakshanath immediately recognised his stupidity. "Forgive me, Master," he said. "I am ashamed of what I have done to these people."
But Matsyendranath said to his favourite disciple, "You have not done anything wrong. These people were all corrupt. They deserved this kind of punishment. It will help them lead a better life."
Gorakshanath said, "But I did not know that. I merely wanted to punish them. I was angry. My action was bad because my motive was bad."
"I am not offering any false justification," said Matsyendranath. "Your soul knew that they deserved punishment. What you have done is right."
When the Master uses his compassion-power, he uses it to protect his disciples as well as to correct their misdeeds. The Master ultimately wants perfection from his disciples. Compassion is the means. Perfection is the end.
The same Master and the same disciple had another significant experience. Gorakshanath had tremendous pride because he had realised the Truth and attained occult power, so Matsyendranath wanted to show him that using occult power can be extremely dangerous. Here is the story of that incident.
A Yogi once came to Gorakshanath and started insulting him and his Master, Matsyendranath. Gorakshanath said, "Do not dare speak about my Master that way! I have tremendous occult power."
The Yogi challenged him, "Show me your occult power!"
"Here is a knife. If you strike me anywhere on my body you will not be able to injure me at all. This is my power."
The Yogi started stabbing Gorakshanath but not even a hair of his body was destroyed. Then the Yogi said to him, "All right. Whenever I struck you there was always a sound. Although you were not injured, my blows created a sound. But if you strike me with the same knife, not only will you not be able to injure me, but also you will not be able to produce any sound."
Gorakshanath started striking the Yogi with the knife and the Yogi's claim proved true. There was not even any sound. The Yogi then said to Gorakshanath, "If one identifies with the Infinite, then no sound will be produced by a blow. This proves that I am superior to you in occult power." Pleased with his victory, the Yogi walked away.
Matsyendranath was somewhere else when all this occurred, but Gorakshanath concentrated deeply on him in order to speak to him about this experience. His vision told him that Matsyendranath was in an ashram in Mayapuri, Illusion City. To his wide surprise he saw his Master surrounded by many beautiful girls. They were dancing around him and he was enjoying vital life, emotional life. Gorakshanath said to himself, "How can it be? My Master is of the highest order. Perhaps my vision is wrong." Again Gorakshanath concentrated and he saw the same scene. This time he was positive that his Master was there. "My Master has fallen!" he thought. "He is surrounded by so many beautiful girls, all singing and dancing. He is enjoying all kinds of vital life. I must save him."
So Gorakshanath opened his heart centre and transported himself to the ashram in Mayapuri occultly. At the gate he asked about his Guru. The gatekeeper said, "Matsyendranath? Your Guru? He has fallen. What he was and what he has become now! He has fallen to such an extent that I cannot believe it."
Gorakshanath immediately wanted to go and rescue his Guru, but the women would not allow him to approach Matsyendranath. Gorakshanath had to use his occult power to become a beautiful woman and join in the dancing and singing. When he came near Matsyendranath in the guise of a dancing girl, Matsyendranath could not recognise his disciple. Then Gorakshanath had to use his occult power to speak to his Master.
"Master, what are you doing here?" he cried. "What kind of life are you leading? You are a God-realised soul. What are you doing here enjoying vital life?"
Matsyendranath immediately said, "Oh, I am fallen. I am fallen to such an extent! Now save me." So Gorakshanath used his occult power and took Matsyendranath away from Mayapuri. When they had gone six or seven miles away, Matsyendranath came out of maya, illusion, and he was free.
The disciple and the Master travelled two thousand miles until they came to Matsyendranath's ashram in North India. There Gorakshanath saw that Matsyendranath had two spiritual bodies. One body had flown with him through occult power, and the other was just before him at the destination. In a few minutes the Master who had flown with him entered into the other Master who was facing him. And suddenly Gorakshanath saw that many of his Master's disciples were around him. He asked one disciple, "Has Master been away for a few years?"
"No," replied the disciple. "For the last few years Master has been here and we have all been with him."
Then Gorakshanath said, "How can this be? Master, please explain this experience I have just gone through. I cannot fathom the mystery of what has actually happened."
Matsyendranath replied, "I had to do all that just for you. You had all kinds of occult power, but your pride was too great. You were very austere and rigid in your spiritual life. You looked down on women. I told you repeatedly that by looking down on women you would not be able to perfect and transform your life. You did not care for women's liberation from ignorance. You felt that women are an open door to hell and that it is they who create all problems, especially vital problems, in men's lives. But this is not true. It is men's own imperfections that create problems. Men have weaknesses; and when they project these weaknesses onto women, they feel that women are the cause of all their problems. Both men and women are God's Creations and they both have to conquer the lower vital movements. Right from the beginning I have been telling you that women must not be shunned. They have to be helped, freed from the mire of ignorance.
"You are my best disciple. I gave you all kinds of occult power, but you were defeated by that Yogi, only because of your pride. Now that you have been humiliated, now that your pride has been smashed, I wish to tell you something. Although you are my student and although you lost to that Yogi, before long you will surpass both him and me. You are my student today, but tomorrow perhaps I shall be your student. Because today you have conquered your pride, because today you are seeing the Truth in a divine way, your tremendous potentiality will now be able to come to the fore. You are bound to surpass us. Also, when you became a woman in order to approach me, in order to help me, you learned not to shun women. You came to realise that men and women must go together towards the Transcendental Goal. Now that you have learned this truth from me, there is nothing else that I can teach you. All that I have, I have given to you and, by the Grace of the Lord Supreme, you have surpassed me."
Then Matsyendranath folded his hands and bowed to his disciple.
Kundalini Yoga is the Yoga of Shakti, the power of the divine Goddess. We have to value the Mother aspect and see the spiritual Mother in each woman. There was a time when people used to say that women were not meant for spiritual life. Those days are now gone. Now it is clear that men and women aspire equally well. Woman can never be a hindrance to man's progress provided man gives due value to woman's aspiration. Woman's aspiration and dedication can go perfectly well with man's aspiration and dedication. In Kundalini Yoga it is the Mother, the Divine Mother, who fulfils and liberates. When the Divine Mother liberates man and woman from the meshes of ignorance, she feels that her role is over. Kundalini is the power of Shakti and each woman represents the transcendental Shakti, the Mother-Power.
It is through our soulful surrender to the Supreme Mother in us, the Kundalini, that we can liberate our earthly existence and be freed from ignorance. It is through our constant surrender to the Will of the Supreme Mother in us that we can fulfil ourselves.
To each of you I offer my deepest gratitude. You have come here with utmost sincerity to learn about the Mother-Power. Nothing gives me greater joy than to be of service to all your aspiring souls. Some of you are following the path of Kundalini Yoga; some of you are following other paths. There are various roads to follow but they all lead us to the same ultimate Goal. What we need is sincerity. What we need is purity. What we need is a conscious and constant inner cry. Then the Goal, the Transcendental Goal, will be within our easy reach.