This is most comprehensive analytical presentation of Kundalini case histories, theories and expert comment that I can recommend.
An old version of this book is online.
This review is based on the revised and expanded version which covers the subject in a much more balanced way. I am impressed with the interpretaion, additional information and conclusions I found in this out of print book, (but it is still available via booksellers on amazon.com), I especially like chapter 10 and appendix 1 which I have chosen to cover in detail. This book is a 'must have' classic book for anyone who is undergoing this experience and very useful for doctors and therapists to inform them of symptoms. It will provide support for people undergoing Kundalini symptoms that they find distressing to help them understand the nature of this phenomena.
The book contents are as follows:
| Page |
| || |
| Preface || 7 |
| Acknowledgements || 15 |
| Chapter 1: The significance of Psychological Transformation Today || 17 |
| Chapter 2: The Kundalini Experience and Scientific Objectivity || 21 |
| Chapter 3: The Kundalini Experience - The Classical Model || 25 |
| Chapter 4: The Physio-Kundalini || 31 |
| Chapter 5: Cross-cultural Aspects of the Kundalini Experience || 37 |
| Chapter 6: Case Histories || 57 |
| Chapter 7: Self-reports || 83 |
| Chapter 8: Summary of Signs and Symptoms || 93 |
| Chapter 9: The Kundalini Cycle: Diagnosis and Therapy i || 109 |
| Chapter 10: The Kundalini and Spiritual Life || 119 |
| Appendix 1: Micromotion of the Body as a Factor in the Development of the |
Nervous System - by Itzhak Bentov
| 127 |
| Appendix 2: The God - Intoxicated Masts of India || 150 |
| Appendix 3: Sensitivity in the Human Organism || 152 |
| Appendix 4: Note for Physicians and Neurologist || 155 |
| Appendix 5: Questions for Research Participants || 157 |
| Bibliographic References || 159 |
| Index || 166 |
In the Preface Lee Sanella says that when he originally printed the book in 1976, he was worried about the reaction from the medical community, due to their intolerance of realities encountered in the kundalini process and spirituality in general. He goes on to say that there had been many developments in the following decade which supported an enlarged view of the human being, which takes into account our psychic capabilities. He sites the works of various other medical professions in this regard, and then he states the climate change allowed him to republish the book with what he really thought.
Chapter 1 starts of by quoting Carl Jung (1932) who was certainly knowledgeable of the kundalini phenomena. Carl Jung contended that kundalini obliges a person to go on an adventure of self-knowledge. For him kundalini was an autonomous process which arises out of the unconscious and seemingly uses the individual as its vehicle.
Chapter 2 briefly continues with Jung and the views of his colleagues. Details of scientific interest in "altered states" of consciousness in the laboratory are mentioned with experiments involving electroencephalographic (EEG) study of yogins and Zen practitioners.
Chapter 3 discusses models of the kundalini experience and sites Tantra Yoga metaphysics which states that 'kundalini resident in the human body is an aspect of the transcendent Power that precedes and yet also pervades the entire Cosmos. It is that Power. But this realization is only made when the kundalini has fully ascended from the bodily base to its optimal position at the crown of the head or beyond.'
There is discussion of the chakras and the pathways in the body that the kundalini energy travels in its ascent. These channels are sited in the book as clearly corresponding on the physiological plane to the two nervous systems - the sympathetic and the parasympathetic respectively. Lee Sanella says that Yoga authorities insist that the pathways cannot simply be identified with the nervous system. Rather that they are subtle, esoteric phenomena to be experienced and understood only in a meditative state.
The chapter closes with the idea that the body should not be considered an obstacle to spiritual aspiration but rather seen as a temple of the divine. There is a quote from Albert Einstein's (1949) remark that "those who would preserve the spirit must also look after the body to which it is attached".
Chapter 4 starts to detail the concept of blockages to this energy and how kundalini seems to "burn out" resistance. Lee Sanella states that is possible to understand a whole range of kundalini phenomena in strictly physiological and physical terms and references the work of Itzhak Bentov who he thinks models what is observed as opposed to the classic model of the kundalini process. He details the various discrepancies and describes the "microcosmic orbit" from Taoist Yoga.
Chapter 5 gives some details and references to kundalini in various cultures around the world. African tribesman, Christian mystics, Tibetan (Vajrayan) Buddhism, Chinese Taoism, Sufi literature, and a Philippine "psychic surgeon". Classic accounts of kundalini arousal by various Hindu authorities who detailed their experiences in books and autobiographies are outlined. American cases are also presented in detail.
Chapter 6 details 17 case histories where Lee Sanella had interviewed 15 of the cases personally. In all these cases his follow-up enquiries revealed normalization of the kundalini process and its inegration with the rest of the physical, emotional and intellectual life of the individuals. Most of these case histories can be found in the link provided above.
Chapter 7 just adds a few self-reports from people who have experienced kundalini.
Chapter 8 helps to understand the physio-kundalini complex by distinguishing between signs( objective indications) and symptoms (subjective descriptions) and arranges these into categories: - Motor Phenomena (Automatic Body Movements and Postures i.e. kriyas, Unsusual Breathing Patterns, Paralysis), Sensory Phenomena (Tickling Sensations, Heat and Cold Sensations, Inner Light and Visions, Inner Sounds, Interpretive Phenomena (Unusual or Extreme Emotion, Distortions of thought Processes, Detachment, Dissociation, Single seeing, and Nonphysiological Phenomena(Out-of-Body Experiences, Psychic Perceptions).
There is discussion at the end of the chapter comparing the symptoms with Bentov's model, and a synopsis, Kundalini: Classical and Clinical. An interesting observation that Sanella makes is 'that quite "ordinary" people complete the physio-kundalini process in a matter of months, whereas yogic scriptures assign a much longer period - generally several years. Sanella concedes that the full kundalini awakening could be a more comprehensive process and that the physio-kundalini is only a separate mechanism.
Chapter 9 starts by making the assertion that the clinical data indicates a clear distinction between physio-kundalini and psychosis. He sites that the clinician has an ability to sense psychosis and tell whether a patient is unbalanced or whether they are instead inundated with more positive psychic forces. He does give us this viewpoint though, 'those in whom the kundalini elements predominate are usually much more objective about themselves and have an interest in sharing their experiences and troubles. Those on the psychotic side tend to be very oblique, secretive, and totally preoccupied with ruminations about some vague but apparently significant subjective experience that they can never quite communicate'.
He does say that misdiagnosis probably occurs and that some inmates of mental institutes with kundalini symptoms need to be identified. Certainly they should not be subject to 'drugs or electric shock therapy - approaches which are poles apart from creative self-development and spiritual maturation.'
Chapter 10. This chapter opens with a profound statement, Kundalini awakenings can and do happen, as I have shown, even without any spiritual preparation or meditation practice. He goes on to say in nice diplomatic language that this upsets certain schools of thought who insist that the latent energy of the body-mind has to be galvanised into action up the body axis to the crown before any spiritual transformation can occur. He sites the cases of genuine mystics who have never experienced kundalini phenomena and speculates that there are people who do not have any blockages or psychophysical resistances that tend to complicate the kundalini process in others.
I have decided to quote extensively from the book which is not required for a book review so you can use the link provided to
Skip Authentic Spirituality discussion.
Lee Sanella discusses the relationship with kundalini and authentic spirituality. He agrees that kundalini is evolutionary, but defines what is meant by "spiritual". 'Here we must note that spirituality is generally understood to consist in attitudes and techniques leading to psychic experiences or powers and extraordinary "enlarged" states of consciousness. This would make spirituality a matter of of the evolving nervous system.'
Sanella quotes the adept Da Love-Ananda (Da Free John) and he summarises this by saying:
[Authentic spirituality is founded in the moment to moment transcendence of the ego, the body-mind, and all possible experiential states. It has nothing to do with the search for God or higher evolutionary possibilities. It requires living on the basis of the intuitive recognition that there is no real separation from Life, or God, or The Transcendental Reality......Such awakening, or self-transcendence, is possible only when we begin to understand the egoic body-mind is by tendency recoiling from everything or a Da Love-Ananda would say, is always "avoiding relationship." In his words:
"You have been contracted upon yourself with emotional force, and no amount of thinking, considering, experiencing, desiring, exploiting, and manipulating yourself in the world can affect that contraction. No awakening of the kundalini touches it. It has nothing to do with the kundalini. You can have kundalini experiences until you are yawning with boredom, yet you will not have touched this emotional recoil at all. (p.20)"
Spiritual practice is primarily a matter of dealing with this automatic gesture of emotional withdrawal from the larger life or, if you will, God. It is this continuous gesture that is the ego, and it is the ego habit that prevents God-realization, or enlightenment, in the moment. Therefore, spiritual practice consists in constantly going beyond the wall of ego, in reaching out and embracing all life fearlessly, with an open heart. There most be complete clarity and integrity in one's feelings. Most people are "collapsed at the heart." They are in doubt of God, others and themselves. Their feeling being is stunted.
In their unhappiness, they search endlessly for ways to feel better. If they cannot console themselves with the usual pleasures of sex, food or power, they look for other means by which to stimulate their nervous system. They become spiritual seekers, exploring the potential of their own bodies and minds. And yet, their escape from the basic feeling of dissociation and contraction is destined to be futile. One cannot transcend what one does not recognize and understand.
No amount of mystical fireworks in the synapses of the brain can help over come the crunch at the heart. Once the vision or experience is over, the person simply returns to his or her state of emotional distress. Then he or she will have to make renewed efforts to stimulate the nervous system or force the kundalini into higher centers in order to feel blissful again. In this respect, psychic or mystical experiences are little different from orgasms. Whether a person stimulates the sexual organs or the brain, the result is always only a psychophysical experience, not God-realization. In an unpublished talk dated July 8, 1978, Da Love-Ananda remarked:
"The lust for Kundalini in the brain core is exactly the same as the lust for kundalini in the sex center. It is using the mechanism in a different direction. But neither direction is towards God....Attachment to the brain though the inversion of attention in the kundalini, or the Life-Current, is traditionally promoted as the way to God. This is an error that has crept into the spiritual traditions...... "
Authentic spirituality is thus down to earth. It begins and continues by taking responsibility for one's emotional recoil - one's lovelessness, distrust, mood of betrayal, sense of conflict, and fear. This is what Da Love-Ananda (1980) means by the Way of the Heart.
"The Heart is the key to the practice of real or spiritual life. People tend to focus on the dimensions of the mind or the body, and to lose the focus of the heart, and the fire of the spiritual process is awakened there. That fire is not situated at the perineum, nor is it at the crown. It is at the heart, at the place of Infinity, the root of being, the feeling core of the body-mind. (p-27)"
When speaking of the fire of the spiritual process, Da Love-Ananda is of course, not pointing to any heat sensations, which belong to the realm of the physio-kundalini. He uses the word metaphorically. The spiritual fire is the subjective sense of catharsis of being gradually purified of all presumptions, opinions, illusions, and delusions as well as attachments and preferences - that is to say every single movement within our own consciousness by which we deny or hide from Reality.] [End of excerpts]
Lee Sanella points out that Da Love-Ananda's viewpoint was not mere philosophy but came from personal realization. It seems that he had the whole range of psychic and mystical experiences described as "unqualified ecstasy". After intensifying his practice of self-observation and surrender, in 1970 he came to a place of profound and direct awareness that he was Consciousness. However, he then had a 'blossoming of spontaneous psychic activity'. Sanella then pointed out that this demonstrates that enlightenment is not the goal but the foundation of spiritual transformation.
Appendix 1 is very interesting from my point of view as an EMF Practitioner so I will cover this in detail. This section will follow shortly.
You may be concerned about the strange symptoms and experiences of people undergoing Kundalini, especially in the Sanella cases and the Gopi Krishna account. However, it is my firm belief that these problems were exacerbated due to the 'energy' environment that these people were living in, remember that the case histories are in a book version which is nearly thirty years old. I believe that now, with the energy grids on this planet changing it will be a lot easier for people to experience kundalini and come out of it enlightened. I am also convinced that severe Kundalini symptoms are caused by inbalance, I now understand that energy work can make a big difference and hasten the ascent of energy up the spine. I really believe that kundalini will occur naturally if you live your truth and that the difficulties occur when you are not in integrity in every area of your life.
Since my own dramatic Kundalini awakening in October 2001 I have experienced only some of the classic symptoms described by other people who have been through this experience, but there is no 'norm' when it comes to how these energies operate in the body.
I have not experienced anything I would describe as disturbing, but I would say at times it has been frustrating, especially at the beginning, to be undergoing a transformation that very few people could relate to and that I could share details with.
I have experienced 'bliss' at times and heat and energies have travelled up as far as the back of my head, nasal area and neck. The energies seem to move up and down my spine and I do not have control of what is happening. I think that my back heart chakra has opened up even more recently and that is providing truly quite interesting sensations when I am quiet and when I am channelling universal energies. I would like to disagree with anyone who thinks these symptoms can only be experienced in a meditative state. I think that statement does not not take into account personal sensitivity to the process. In my experience I have felt kundalini energies movements in my body whilst experiencing ordinary life, i.e. sitting on a bus and watching TV. It is like opening up to different channels of the self. The concept that you can only experience these states whilst meditating implies that you can only experience one channel at a time which you have to specifically tune into. I think an evolved human can sense many channels of information at the same time, which is what highly 'intuitive and sensitive' people do all the time.
However, I do not chase these experiences, and I believe that the Da Love-Ananda viewpoint is correct. People who think that nirvana is the pinnacle of spiritual attainment, are deluded. From my research on spiritual development, advanced souls will tell you the real measure of change in consciousness is related to the heart chakra. Emotions and feelings are the real route to authentic spirituality, maintaining balance in our everyday lives.