The Yogic Process as an Art and Science of Complete Self-Transformation -- an Initiatory Rite into Wholeness
The entire yogic process is one which defines what happens when we harness the force of our individual personality and move it up and away from egoic thinking and mundane mentality. Kundalini is the phenomenon that describes this transcendent energy — it is the evolutionary energy which is harnessed through these [yogic] practices. This leads to transformation of the egoic identity by the Self or Soul of a person, and ultimately leads the individual towards the goal of life.
"Yoga is the process of mastering the mind so the Soul can do its job." - Grant
Kundalini is a type of shakti (energy) that is moving towards the Absolute, towards transcendence, towards the "Ultimate." If our life-force becomes trapped or"stuck" by our egoic mind, part of the universal shakti is bound up in perpetuating self-identity (i.e. self-limitation) in the mind of the individual. If we become overly identified with our egoic identity — the so-called small self — the shakti, instead of moving towards the Absolute starts swirling in a temporary whirlpool of separation and limitation. Yoga Sutra 1.2 defines this clearly, stating that Union (yoga) is what happens when the whirlpools of the mind cease [yogas citta vrtti nirodhah : YS 1.2]. In the Sutras it goes on to state that when this fluctuating mind stops whirlpooling, the “Seer” rests in its own nature [tada drastuh svarupe avasthanam: YS 1.3]... as in, the Absolute becomes aware of the Absolute. In other words, you see yourself as the One. This is not a cognitive process; it is an experience. And, as it so eloquently concludes with Sutra 1.4, “otherwise, the Seer identifies with the fluctuations of the mind” [vrtti sarupyam itaratra : YS 1.4] .
In Sanskrit, the process of becoming an “I” has a name : ahamkara, which means the "I-am action". What is implied here is important for the practitioner to note — that the creation of the ego is an ACTION. The entire yogic process is about learning how to let go of this "I-am action" so that we can return to the more harmonious, restful, natural state of Unity.
Creating a sense of "I, me, mine" enables our ego to create a temporary membrane between the ego and life where a person can then be a separate individual as opposed to an interconnected part of a Greater Whole. When this happens, doubt, fear, carelessness, sluggishness, resistance all creep in to become the internal experience of the practitioner and therefore the "result" of their life experiment. Remember that life is an experiment and you are getting results for everything you do. Collect the data. What leads to greater harmony and greater sense of “Oneness”? These are yogic processes — untangling the knots of mind that keep us separate. The separate individual is like a hand cut off from the body trying to make its way back but ill-equipped to make the return. As much as it may "try", it remains separate and ultimately confused as to cause of its suffering.
The teachings [of yoga] state that we can only apply the ego so far. Discipline (tapas) and self-inquiry (svadhyaya) are tools applied by the ego to turn towards the One; to facilitate the movement of kundalini out of its dormant state and cause it to move towards unification. Beyond this, the final step is a stage known as ishvara pranidhana, or trustful surrender to the divine. Note the adverb “trustful”. It’s not enough to simply surrender passively. This is a courageous act which requires great will and determination; it is a step that demands the final sacrifice of the self to the Great Other. Without proper tools and preparation, the ego — when confronted with the reality of its imminent demise — will turn away. The mechanism of self-preservation is too strong. Clinging to the stories of who and what “I” am, I step back from the abyss and never fully let go into the unknown, thereby preventing myself from the ultimate transformation and healing that I am seeking in the first place. This is not an easy task and it does require tremendous effort to persevere beyond the point of no return. The seeker must become completely involved and in absolute surrender; if any doubt or fear remains lingering, there are two outcomes. Either the remaining fears will be ripped away by Grace ... OR the seeker clings to the life raft of what is familiar to them (even if it is painful!), and this becomes an obstruction to the entire process. If the seeker is ultimately successful, the finished product is a new “I”. As in, the “you” that went into the yogic process is no longer the same “you” that came out.
This is THE initiatory process spoken of across religion, culture, and tradition. The final surrender of one’s limited identity for the Greater Whole — whether this “Greater Whole” be the tribe, the community, the family, or the cosmos. Unless and until the individual has gone through this process sufficiently in their own life, part of their individuality will cling to the infantile notion that their actions are separate from affecting the Universe which ultimately leads to behaviors that are out of alignment with the Self & Nature. This can look like any number of things but basically we are referring to the choices we often make that we know are not “right” and yet we do them anyways.
As one’s mind-body becomes sufficiently purified in these yogic processes, their behavior has no choice but to change, as the yogi slowly realizes her inseparable connection to all of life. A profound awakening dawns on this person: what I do, say and think really, truly matters and how I live my life, down to the smallest of choices, has a ripple effect that touches everything. Intellectually knowing this is one thing. Experiencing it is another.
Best of luck to those of you fearless enough to walk this path.
Om Namah Shivaya