Are the practices you advocate for raising kundalini dangerous?
Every time I speak about kundalini, people think that there is some danger in its awakening. Every path of progress is beset with difficulties. Awakening of kundalini pertains to the evolution of human consciousness. When this evolution is undergoing a phase of transition, there is crisis everywhere. When you are passing through those critical stages in the physical body during puberty and menopause, is there not danger? It is also related to the process of evolution.
Evolution relates to matter and mind. In the course of evolution, the body evolved from lower stages to higher stages. It is the law of natural evolution. In the human body the law of natural evolution changes and becomes the law of spiritual evolution - mind is overtaken by supermind, individual ego is overtaken by cosmic ego and empirical intelligence is overtaken by cosmic intelligence. Awakening of kundalini relates to the law of spiritual evolution.
If you feel that awakening is dangerous and that you should not venture to awaken kundalini, you must remember that in the course of evolution, humanity as a whole is gradually going to experience evolution and the explosion of kundalini - if not now, then after a few hundred thousand years - and all must pass through the danger. The word danger should be replaced by the word crisis. Crisis is inevitable when you are passing through a stage of transition from one state or body to another, from animal to human, from one state of mind to another, from an ordinary mind to a yogic mind.
When awakening of kundalini takes place in mooladhara chakra, it has to be guided through the path of sushumna to sahasrara chakra in the crown of the head. Therefore, awakening of kundalini is not the only process. There is something more beyond the awakening of kundalini. It is the primary event, but the energy has to be raised to the highest centre, thereby utilizing it to awaken one's full potentiality.
In the course of human history, thousands of people have been born with awakened kundalini. They used the creative energy to develop various forms of knowledge. Not only yogis, clairvoyants, prophets, saints and sages, but even some of the great army leaders were born with an awakened kundalini. Some of the cruellest people in history were also born with an awakened kundalini, but not with a fully established kundalini.
When awakening of kundalini takes place, the energy can be channeled in any direction. One can be an intuitive artist, a writer or poet; or a great statesman like Mahatma Gandhi; or a great musician or composer of vocal or instrumental music, perceiving the great melody that one realizes in deepest and highest consciousness, which the ordinary mind cannot conceive and produce. A carpenter too can utilize the creative energy which one has at the time of awakening kundalini.
When kundalini is being awakened, one does not become religious, pious, virtuous or a puritan. No! One may think about drinking or sex all the time. It is an important point which one must understand. When the awakening of kundalini takes place and the powerful, capable, expert and efficient consciousness comes to the forefront, it replaces the mind with its limited capacities and takes over the functions of life as a whole. Therefore, a yogi, a statesman, a painter or even a dacoit or robber can function wonderfully with an awakened kundalini.
The question is how can one awaken kundalini? Classically speaking, life has to be properly organized. In ancient India, the whole life span was divided into four ashramas or stages. The first was brahmacharya ashrama, the second was grihastha ashrama, the third was vanaprastha ashrama and the fourth was sannyasa ashrama. These four stages of life were intended to produce a condition in which the awakening of kundalini could gradually take place without disturbing one's emotions, desires, passions and the events of life.
In texts on yoga and tantra, there are practical methods given for the awakening of kundalini. The awakening of kundalini is not nearly as difficult as handling the awakened kundalini and guiding it to sahasrara chakra. Before awakening kundalini, one must think about how to handle it and guide it to the highest centre.
I can bring a tiger or a leopard to you right now, but can you handle it? You must know how to tame kundalini. So, there are two important points which have to be considered - one, how to awaken kundalini and two, how to tame the kundalini.
The taming of kundalini is very difficult. Usually people with an awakened kundalini become very proud. They do not know how to use their higher energies so they practice clairaudience, clairvoyance, telepathy, hypnosis, mesmerism and other techniques. This is how they utilize the superior power which is intended for spiritual growth.
The tantras talk about raja yoga, hatha yoga, laya yoga, mantra yoga and kriya yoga. These are the most important and powerful practices for awakening kundalini. These practices must be properly related to the stage of one's life.
If you are a householder, the method of kriya yoga, which you can find in the tantric tradition and which is being taught by many gurus today, is a very simple but powerful method for awakening and taming kundalini. Kriya yoga is a combination of seventeen practices in which the awakening of kundalini takes place by a systematic method.
You should remember that controlling and suppressing the mind are not necessary in the awakening of kundalini. There are techniques which should be practiced without trying to control and suppress the mind. One of these practices is known as khechari mudra. There are two ways of performing this. One form is practiced by hatha yogis who cut the root of the tongue and then elongate it. This practice is not suitable for everybody!
The other form of khechari mudra is used in kriya yoga, together with a practice called ujjayi pranayama. Here, you must fold your tongue back and stick it against the surface of the upper palate for as long as possible. In the course of time, about a year or two, the tongue slips into the upper epiglottis. If you are a vegetarian, it will be easier and quicker. If not, it will take a little more time.
In the inner nasal passage, there is a particular nerve ending connected with the cranial passage at the top of the brain, where Hindus in ancient times used to keep a tuft of hair. The place is called the point of bindu which means drop or centre. From that particular centre a tiny amount of serum or secretion is emitted and the fluid is known as amrit in tantra.
Amrit means nectar or ambrosia. What is this nectar? When khechari mudra is practiced, the tongue touches a particular nerve ending. The stimulus is transferred to the higher centre in the brain and the fluid begins to flow. When it flows and is absorbed by the body, the state of consciousness changes, just as when one takes cannabis, ganja, LSD, peyote, or alcohol, and undergoes a change of or an altered state of consciousness.
When amrit is absorbed by the body during the practice of khechari mudra, the restless mind becomes quiet and one-pointed. Passions, desires, imaginations, dissipations just drop away and disappear. It is not known why they are happening and why they are not happening any longer. This is how the problems of the mind are solved through the practices of kriya yoga.
There is another important aspect of kriya yoga, which is the awakening of the chakras. First you must awaken the chakras before you venture to awaken kundalini. After awakening the chakras you must awaken sushumna nadi, the central nervous canal. Only then must you venture to awaken and finally tame the kundalini. These are the four stages.
The awakening of the chakras is very important. When they begin to awaken, you have mild spiritual, psychic or divine experiences. When they come during the practice, they do not frighten you. They do not alter the state of your mind totally and there is an experience of peacefulness.
When you awaken the chakras like mooladhara, swadhisthana, manipura, anahata, which are located in the body, you have different experiences related to the instinct, intellect, ego and emotions, and to different chapters of your mental personality. They are like beautiful and colourful dreams which you are experiencing consciously. When the experiences are taking place, you are not only witnessing the experience, but you are also experiencing the experiencer. With these experiences, you get used to inner experience. That is called awakening of the chakras.
—Brisbane, Australia, 1984, published in Teachings of Swami Satyananda Saraswati, Vol. V