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the Dhuni: Fire & Kundalini (Part Three)

Updated: Mar 26

Let’s talk about fire. For millennia, fire has been a central feature in human evolution. Archaeological evidence reveals that for as long as 760,000 years ,  fire has been cultivated. We are only able to theorize what was happening is those fire pits almost a million years ago, but what is certain is that the cultivation of fire has been a fundamental part of the development of consciousness for a very long time.

In Vedic culture, out of which Tantric thought emerges, fire, or Agni, was seen as the intermediary between the unmanifest and the manifest. A line from the Rig Veda illustrates this: Om agnim ilaye purohitam. Fire (Agni) is the priest (purohitam). This line happens to be the first ever piece of literature  in the history of the written word; it is the opening verse in the Rig Veda, a corpus of ancient formula instructing our early ancestors on the law & order of the cosmos.

The wisdom of the Tantras, which emerged later in human evolution, carried forward the Vedic ideas of optimizing human life by learning how to live in alignment with the natural, governing forces & principles of Reality. By the time the first Tantras emerged in ancient India, around 500 AD, there had already been more than 2,000 years of practice and lived experience by the people associated with a constantly evolving spiritual culture. What made Tantra such a revolutionary advent to the religious ways of life of those times was that there was an embrace of the natural world and the divinities present therein as opposed to the Vedic view of renunciation. This made spiritual practice more accessible to the lay person and legitimate attainment of the Divine something that was not exclusive to priest or the otherwise “holy” caste. Due to the “looseness” of these ideas and ways, a new and perhaps superior path emerged which placed merit in the results of spiritual practice and not on the knowledge acquired from books, or following archaic formulae. The mystical playground of medieval India was surely a sight to behold, and again we can only imagine based on the evidence we have, but the gradual evolution of thought and spiritual methodology gives us clues to what was happening in this unique era.

Fire was surely central in this spiritual revolution, as many of the ancient Vedic rituals revolving around fire were absorbed, refined, and developed further in the newly emerging spiritual systems of Tantra. The Dhuni, which traditionally refers to the cleft in the ground where the “offering” is made, is one such example. Even though I’ve spent many hours in my own personal research to uncover the “origins” of this rite, my search has only brought more questions, while at the same time bringing a certain level of peace and understanding on my own path. What has been revealed, both through my own experimentation in sadhana and through the process of historical digging, is that these rites of our ancestors revolving around fire emerged as an instinctual or intuitively based ritual based on one’s own spiritual understanding & development. The process and the rules of the process itself was revealed to the practitioner. While we can follow the process of others who’ve gone before us, our own spiritual insight will shape the path ahead. That is to say this: while there does appear to be a   framework to the technology of Magick and illumination of human consciousness, based on the Vedas and expanded on in the Tantras,  the practices themselves have continued to evolve with the consciousness of the people  carrying them. Which leads us to a sort of circular conclusion — what do we do with these practices? Well, if you’re following my logic, it’s up to us to discover what they can do for us and how they can support us in our efforts to become more aligned with Reality…   as in, we are the ones to keep the flames of illumination alive in the pit of our own Dhuni. And just like our earliest ancestors,  we   approach the fire respectfully and humbly, seeking answers to the mysterious questions of life. While we have much to go off of, including patterns and methods of realization that have been thankfully passed on to us, it is up to us to cultivate this as it is a living tradition.

The practice that I refer to as the “Dhuni”, introduced to me in 2015 by one of my first yoga teachers, came through the Tantric lineage known as the International Nath Order. This lineage emphasized & emphasizes the use of tools and patterns to bring about the gradual awakening of human consciousness. Some of the practices suggested by the INO are rituals such as the Dhuni, which can be either performed either as a group or by an individual . The purpose of working together as a group for illumination is that we get to

engage in a different sort of conversation than the originally ascetic, renunciate practices of the Vedic times. However, this does not excuse the individual from doing his or her own work, apart from the group. The individual’s progress    in their sphere of reality ends up  getting brought to the table, so to speak, (or rather, the Dhuni) for all to share and take part in. We end up being able to share with the group our Shakti, or spiritual attainment, amongst each other in a live transmission of energy and vibration. Of course, the opposite is also true — we end up assisting each other in working through our karmas or the densities stuck on our energetic field. The result is a more purified and sanctified space — a shared space of transpersonal consciousness and glowing awareness, which is the experience of Yoga, or unity. This is what makes the Dhuni such a powerful rite, as it sweeps all who partake in it together on a magical carpet ride of transformation, the fire and the mantra generating enough tapas to burn through the obstructions in our personal awareness preventing us from seeing life clearly.

Which is, after all, the goal of all spiritual effort.  To move closer to true SEEING. As in, seeing life as it is, and not as we are projecting it to be. Our projections are the filters through which we are often perceiving life, and these projections are the result of our karma. Without knowing it, we may end up responding to our karmic situation and perpetuating its endless loop, never realizing that we can free ourselves from its wheel forever. This is what is meant by liberation, and the yogi is one who strives for this. To be free of the worldly bondage that keeps us trapped on a merry-go-round of cause-and-effect and to actually live a spiritual life. This is also one of the goals of Tantra: to live in the world but not be swept away by it. One of ways they describe a person at this level of attainment is “one who roams the heavens”: free to live and be and choose as one wishes. This is not some esoteric woo-woo goal: it is a very legitimate ambition for those on the spiritual path. As we walk, we progress in levels, noticing that less and less are we affected by anything outside of our inner reality.

In Tantric thought , it is known that “the world” out there is actually an illusionary play of the mind. To become a master of our own destiny we have to learn to see through the veil of our own incredibly pernicious self-deception, and the illusory veil of our ego. This is what is meant by the fire being the “in between” or the priest between the unmanifest and the manifest. Everything that is created has sprung forth out of a cycle of destruction, and our perceptions are no different. In order for new perception to occur, for illumination for instance, old perceptions must be released. To make space for the “new”, the old must be transmuted. The fire serves both symbolically and literally as this “in between”, where we place our limited perceptions, thoughts and ideas with the hope that they are purified and returned to us in some higher form. Learning to do this is part of the practice, and a result of our effort.

Unless and until we engage in a submission process to That Which Is, we remain in resistance to That Which Is. The fire does not lie. The mantras lock our breath and concentration into a pattern which centralizes our prana into a single focal point, which becomes all-absorptive. Once the extraneous thoughts are cleared out of our field, all external energy that is usually wasted in thinking and rationalizing is channeled inwardly to the Source. If and when the bindu is penetrated, the practitioner will see through the “veil” and upon the One True Reality. Once this happens, an immediate transformation occurs, as the individual cannot go back to “business as usual” once -knowing- has occurred. Of course, there are gradual steps to this, but the integration is happening in each moment that illumination is occurring . For some this can be too intense. As the levels of concentration increase, energy will accrue in one’s system, and the Kundalini begins to rise in the central channel. The Kundalini is the internal fire , and She begins to put pressure on everywhere and anywhere in the various bodies of the individual where obstruction is present. Many of these obstructions are places where energy has been stored or trapped and yet to be released. Oftentimes this happens due to trauma, and a pattern gets locked in the body . When the Kundalini starts to push on these “zones”  , one may experience a resurfacing of emotion or energy related to that particular “zone”. The practitioner’s job is to practice allowing the liquid fire of Kundalini to move through and purify those areas without excess mental activity or resistance. It is a purificatory rite and the inner practice that takes place during the Dhuni is unique to each individual, but we must learn to surrender our individuality in these moments for it is ultimately our personal stories which we hold on to that prevent the final ascent of the Shakti to meet Her Shiva. In my personal experience, nothing can be held onto in the ascent, which makes it both terrifying and wildly ecstatic. However, the container of the ritual makes it possible for us to go up but also to come down. After all, going up is half the battle — we have to learn how to bring the Kundalini back to Her resting place so that we can return to the world of duality without becoming even more neurotic.

Thus as we engage in the practice of the Dhuni, if we are engaging in a group process, we must be mindful of what we are dealing with. These are powerful rituals designed for serious transformation. They are not a casual walk on the park — especially for those seasoned practitioners who understand the forces at play. We are dealing with an impersonal, cosmic force which cares little for our egoic notions of comfort. The fire of Kundalini has one purpose — to transform. For those not ready or willing to embrace transformation, there are safer places to play. I think that for those crazy folk — yogis, the ones seeking true freedom & Reality — may be onto something when it comes to the Dhuni… For those cultivating their own personal practice, the same rules apply, however it’s just you and the fire. Probably the way it was and has been for a very long time. Just know that your safety is in your surrender.

Guru Om.


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