Karma. Kundalini. These two words are used quite frequently, I think, in the different spiritual communities across the world. For me, I had a concept of karma before I even really knew what spirituality was. Karma is something that is properly more familiar to most than kundalini. Will it always be the case? Who knows. For now on this planet, even our youth understand the idea "as you sow, so shall you reap", which is interestingly Biblical, and even more interestingly holding Hindu roots as well. See here:
“Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; for whatever a man sows, this he will also reap.”
— the New Testament of the Bible, Galatians 6:7
As a man himself sows, so he himself reaps; no man inherits the good or evil act of another man. The fruit is of the same quality as the action.
— Mahabharata, xii.291.22
Although it is not my intention to rap on the topics of Christianity or Hinduism, it is worth noting that the classical Indian concept of karma has permeated various pockets of humanity as seen by its frequency and commonality across cultures. One only needs to ask a handful of humans what they think about the word karma to see that, indeed, most of us tend to have some relatively clear idea about what it is or does. The common English colloquialism "what goes around comes around" is the living example of what I am talking about. The exact history and origin of this word karma and its usage is evidenced in some of the oldest texts known: the Vedas, which are historically pre-Hindu and pre-Christianity. We can conclude that the concept of karma has been alive in human thought since ... well, a long time.
Kundalini, on the other hand, does not get as much popularity in the mainstream, nor does it receive as much attention historically as karma. My thoughts as to why this may be would require a lot of writing, must suffice to say that it is my belief these words (and any word, for that manner) exist as a sort of technology -- a way to interact with and symbolize things in our reality -- and karma was more "needed" for the evolution of humanity at earlier stages in our development than, say, kundalini. Although, the tides may be shifting. Hence why I am feeling inspired to write about this term!
Kundalini - another uniquely Indian concept - emerged historically sometime in the 9th century as it was related to the emergence of medieval Hatha Yoga, a branch of yoga that dealt directly with the life-force, or prana, of the individual and, through various psycho-spiritual practices, attempted to harness this life-force for the advancement of consciousness. Kundalini became known as the serpent force lying dormant at the base of the spine in the muladhara chakra, where it was sleeping until roused through the use of Hatha Yoga techniques.
I must say that today, our understanding and conceptualization of yoga is often limited to what we see in yoga studios, but for the reader it is important that you understand that the sciences of Yoga are quite extensive and manifest in several different "schools", which can be seen under the umbrella terms of Tantra, Kriya, Bhakti, Karma, Raja, and others. Ultimately, all forms of yoga emerge as streams of thought from the pivotal (and classical) Yogic text, theYoga Sutras of Patañjali, occurring sometime around 2500 years ago, and while kundalini is not mentioned in his concise text, concepts related to it are sufficiently discussed and the flavors of an evolutionary human path are hinted at through the 196 sutras of the scripture. While the topic of this post is not exclusively The Yoga Sutras, it is worth mentioning here and understanding the context. The topic of this post, to steer us back on track, is karma and kundalini, and if I may be so bold as to make the statement now that these concepts are "evolutionary" in nature, in that, upon further examination of their purpose as words (how often do we do that - examine the actual purpose of words??), we can see that they were "invented" to help humans make decisions that would advance their consciousness. Advancement of one's consciousness, whilst being a complex and multi-layered discussion, might be simply defined as such: "to move from a more limited sense of self (selfishness) to a more unlimited sense of self (selflessness), and thereby one that is more ultimately responsible [for life]." Thus, karma and kundalini are concepts to be explored under this category and this idea of "advancing one's consciousness" will hold as the essence and foundation of the post today.
Note: my motivation as a writer on this topic is to better understand what it means to fully actualize my own potential, and then as a coach and teacher what it might mean to support others on their individual paths of actualization. So, I am writing today and all days in congruence with this mission.
All that being said, what are these concepts and how can we work with them?
We'll start by organizing our thoughts around karma - what it is, how it works, why it's important, an how it relates to Yoga.
The Sanksrit root of the word karma is kri, which literally means "action". This is the same root for another common yogic term kriya, which will be discussed in further dialogue and is used commonly in my coaching, teaching, and practices. The idea here is that karma springs (literally) from action. One of my teachers would explain it in relation to Newton's Third Law - that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction. The profundity of the actual physics behind this statement is quite deep. That for every force, there are equal and opposite anti-forces. This explains how the whole Universe is bound together through some invisible cosmic network of interrelated and interconnecting forces or actions, all stemming from (theoretically) the Big Bang, which at one point was the "Singularity" (according to our modern scientists). Think of this moment in time as a great kaboom of manifestation where the initial spark of creation set into motion a series of events that have continued to this day and will continue until the end of the Universe. This is in accordance what some physicists say, in that we could theoretically track the movement of molecules by calculating certain attributes such as velocity and direction, and therefore could predict where they would end up along with where they came from. With enough computation, one could theoretically predict the entire unfoldment of the cosmos. This is what some of the most brilliant scientists are saying! What I find more fascinating to note is that the yogis had a term for this, which you may have heard in passing. They called the space that contains the entirety of all possible manifestations the akasha. This is where the concept of "the Akashic Records" arise, and is conceptually related to "the Field" which is a term arising from Quantum physics. We won't get into this in detail, but it is enough to know that there is various cross-over between the yogis of old and the modern quantum physicists.
Circling back to karma, the "Big Bang", the Singularity, Newton's Third Law, cause-and-effect... etc... I propose to the reader to consider these terms in the now moment, as we know from Yoga that Now is where everything begins, and in Indian thought time is actually circular and not linear. Therefore, the Big Bang didn't happen way back then (what, some 14.5 billion years ago, according to researchers?) but rather, it is happening now, and will continue to happen in each new moment.
please read the underlined section once more, and allow this to digest in your system.
You, my friend, are the birthplace of an entirely new and never-before-seen reality, should you choose to orient your perspective in such a way that this is true. It really is a choice, and you either bring this to life and make it real for you, or continue living as if time is linear and there is unavoidable sequence of events coming your way (called karma).
I say this here in an attempt to empower you, and myself, to make real changes in a seemingly inert Universe (yet a Universe that we somehow intuitively know is alive, conscious, and responsive to us). I believe that understanding karma and our orientation to the Now moment is what allows us to actually step into our role as creators, and use our magical abilities as human beings. We all possess the ability to create something out of nothing. However, to keep the new timeline that is emerging real, we have to continue to ACT (kriya) in alignment with our inner vision, until the Big Bang of our thought manifests as a tangible Universe in front of us. The thing is - we are already doing this, to precisely the extent that we know we are doing it. We are all using our magical abilities as creators and manifestors, we are all tapping into the Now moment and the superpower of presence, we are all using the Law of Karma (cause-and-effect) to take actions that (we hope) will lead us to an evolutionary future. No one in their right mind wants to repeat the past. When we repeat the past, we are either bored, or we suffer, or both.
The future is a creative pursuit that requires our precise attention in this Now moment, and our alignment to what is ultimately our vision. A vision that is within us, which requires us to overcome the karma of our past and choose a new cause-and-effect chain, thereby breaking the chain of events since... when? Since the beginning, since the very first karmic event sparked the timeline we are escaping from.
This is how life evolves. This is the evolutionary path. To use the past as fuel to create a better future. This is how we move beyond our selfishness and into selflessness. From the finite towards the infinite. From our limited sense of self to an unlimited identity. To break the bonds of karma that keep us behaving according to a predictable sequence of events. Kriyas as actions that liberate energy. For what? And to what end? An action done with intention produces an intended result. Enough actions aligned with the right intention will manifest an entire reality. Do this enough times through your life and you will see a completely different world. You've already done this, and we are all learning the scale in which we can actually influence our reality. As magicians, this is our gift and our cause. It is time we accept our true power as sovereign co-creators of a Universe that is literally giving us the opportunity to learn how to wield such a powerful force, and take responsibility over it, and do what is right. Evolution. For All. To move all beings towards the Source of Creation.
Once we learn the true purpose of karma, how it has an influence over us, and how we are meant to break free from it... we enter the path of the yogi.
Kundalini is that force which is opposite to the force of the ego. The ego is known as ahamkara in Sanskrit. (to be continued...)