It is a Sanskrit word used in India to describe the subtle energy within us. Kundalini is the energy underlying personal existence; the yoga teachings say that kundalini is at base pure potential. This potential is not in itself anything known. Only when the potential is expressed in some way can we know it.

Dreams depict this in a variety of ways. It might be shown as electricity, as a vibratory force, as something flowing, like water or a river, or as a house. But some of the frequently used symbols are the snake or the dragon. In fact many ancient cultures used the snake, dragon or serpent in their religious symbols to illustrate how we relate to the process of life.

So, instead of using the word energy, we could use the word potential, in its latent and expressed form. A good example of this is the way electricity exists in a house. First, we have the supply of electricity into the house. The wires carrying the supply to the house are not in themselves the electricity. The current is invisible, but it has great potential for good or harm. So we usually deal with it carefully, and have means of controlling it via insulation, fuses and switches. When the electricity is wired into the house, its potential can be expressed in a huge variety of ways. It can manifest as heat, light, and power to move or do things, such as with a drill or vacuum cleaner. It can produce sound or images as with television, and can, via programs for the computer, manifest in almost magical ways, storing and retrieving huge amounts of information and manipulating it.

But dream images of the river also illustrate its action. The river is something we all experience but usually fail to understand. Each of us are immersed in a ‘river’ of constant change. If you think about it you have been carried, pushed, impelled by this current as you were moved through babyhood, childhood, teenage and adulthood. It is the current if Life. All the time we are faced by decisions, and each decision directs us on a different path, helping to create our future.

This river of Life Energy flows through our whole being; and whole means not just your physical body, but all the functions of your subtle self, and like a river, it can be blocked or dammed. The basic expression is in sex; but sex is stimulated or blocked by subtle or strong urges and emotions which lead to physical action.  If the flow is blocked at this first level of expression its subtle action can lead to great neurotic symptoms. But also compusive expression can lead to stunted development of the other levels, for they may be starved of life energy. In that case the other levels of our being would stand little chance of developing.

Example: Then the landscape changes. There are trees, plants and animals in brilliant colour. I wonder what this means, and the landscape begins to spin until the colours blend and shimmer. Suddenly my body seems to open to them, as if they are spinning inside of me, and with a most glorious feeling, a sensation of vibrating energy pours up my trunk to my head. With this comes realisation. I see how stupid I have been in my brown, anxious existence, how much life I have held back. The animals and plants are the different forces in my being that blend into energy and awareness. I feel I am capable of doing almost anything, like loving, writing a song, painting, telepathy, or speaking with the dead. This sparkling vibrating energy is life itself and can, if I learn to work with it, grow into any ability or direction I choose. I wake with a wonderful sense of my possibilities.

Limitless Potential

The usefulness of this image of the house with its electricity, or the flowing river, is that we can use it as an analogy of energy in your own life. Your potential can express as cellular activity, or physical movement. You can experience it as sexual drive and its pleasure and pain, as emotions, as sight, hearing, sensation, smell and taste. You can express it as thinking, and vocalising in speech or singing; or as the creation of a personal virtual reality, as you do in fantasy and dreams. Some psychic experiences even suggest that part of your potential is to extend your awareness over huge distances, or gain penetrating insight into another person’s state of mind or body. But all these are expressions of it, and are not IT (See Edgar Cayce).

As with electricity, your potential is probably limitless, and depends upon the state of body and mind you use to approach and express it. In ourselves this potential expresses in many ways. But any restriction of this energy as for instance in repressing sexual expressing without expressing it in other ways can lead to neurosis, dreams of the devil or being possessed. It is a creative energy, and unless expressed in actual caring sex or creative activity, can lead to problems.

  1. At the base level it is movement and is called the Root Chakra.
  2. But is has many possibilities, so it can then express as sexual drive and the urge to procreate, which can be about producing children or can branch off into being creative socially or in the arts.
  3. There is also the urge to feed or eat, which at the fundamental level can be about eating food, but our hunger can also be to take in new information, a variety of experience, seeking out to digest and form something new from the experience.
  4. There can be the tremendous motivation to receive and give out, as in breathing. But again it can be the receiving of different emotions and love, and the giving it out from yourself to others.
  5. Then there is the desire to communicate, which can be in speech, or in a basic way of primal sounds, crying, screaming, the roar in battle or in mating cries. But also in song, poetry or story telling.
  6. A huge function which is often little developed is the ability to scan information and arrive at a creative overview. At times this is expressed as intuition which leaps beyond what is known and clasps the very new.
  7. Lastly there transcendence, where our experience goes beyond self and knows itself as part of the cosmic – cosmic consciousness, illumination or enlightenment.
  8. It is named the Root because we evolved from plant like Life forms. Also we still have roots in our body. Such roots extend into the digestive tract and absorb nutrients, as roots of trees do.

Avoidance of the Power Within Us

In connection with this, something interesting happened the first time I slept in the same bed as my wife Hyone. She fell asleep quickly, and I noticed there was a great struggle with her breathing through her nose. My impression from listening was that as she started breathing in, a tension occurred in her nose, closing it in some way. This led to a gasping sound as air was forced into her closed mouth.

While she still slept I spoke to her quietly, suggesting that the muscles in her nose and face would relax. I repeated this a few times and Hyone’s breathing became easy and normal. Seeing that she responded so well, I decided to try something else. So I quietly suggested that her whole body would drop unnecessary tensions, and emotional and mental stress would melt away. I went on to say that this would open all the doors of her being, allowing cleansing and healing throughout.

There was no apparent response to this, so I lay quietly ready to sleep. But suddenly, about eight minutes later, Hyone woke, almost with a jerk, and said enthusiastically, “I just had the most amazing dream.”

In the dream Hyone had been with her mother and sisters in a garden at the back of a house. Hyone was lying in the sun relaxing. As she relaxed she felt a wave of energy flow up her body to her head. Then, wave after wave moved up her body, giving her tremendous pleasure and feelings of well-being. But the waves got stronger and stronger, and she was frightened they would overwhelm her, and at that point she woke.

This is a very important dream because we know what prompted it, and therefore exactly what the symbols refer to. We can also see that Hyone’s energy potential, her kundalini, which flows up the body and is often released as healing influence, was felt as threatening when it became intense. Also, Hyone doesn’t symbolise her potential as electricity or a snake, but experiences it directly as waves of pleasure.

The Power of Life or Death

There is no suggestion in Hyone’s dream that the enormous energy flow she was experiencing would harm her. It was felt as healing and life enhancing. But we need to remember there is also a negative facet of our potential, and we need to avoid becoming a victim of it. In the following description this is shown clearly.

Norman MacKenzie explains this very well in his book. Dreams and Dreaming. Writing about the clinical use of LSD to help patients deal with various forms of neurosis, he says that the drug enabled a massive observation of how people’s mind worked, and how people related to their unconscious drives – in other words their potential or kundalini. When a patient first took LSD one of the commonest reactions was massive anxiety, as shown in Hyone’s dream. This degree of anxiety usually arises only when we are threatened physically or mentally. The patient fears the drug is robbing them of control and will overwhelm them. In fact what is happening is that the repressive defences the person uses to keep their inner drives and processes under control are being relaxed. See The Two Powers Explained.

People relate to this threat in two major ways. They either fight to keep control, and employ all manner of techniques such as keeping their attention focused outwardly by such things as talking, walking about, sex, drawing, holding their breath, getting drunk or dancing – or they surrender to what is being experienced. To meet the parts of ones nature that has previously been pushed into unconsciousness, one needs to surrender in some degree. If the person fights the loss of control as the new material from within is emerging, it sometimes feels as if they are disintegrating. Their body may feel as if it is changing or dying, and they are losing themselves. See Reaction to the unconscious

 A simple explanation is found by understanding the seven so called Chakras that marked the different expressions of the kundalini. In the Christian tradition these are the seven churches in the Bible. These are best understood in the Western minds approach by thinking of the sections of the body the chakras – wheels, vortices or churches represent and are about subtle energy. Kundalini is described as a sleeping, dormant potential force at the base of the spine. In the Christian tradition it is the Pentecostal experience, except that kundalini is the latent physical energy, and the Holy Ghost is the latent energy of consciousness in the top of the head – Golgotha.

Ramana Maharshi mentioned that Kundalini is nothing but the natural energy of the Self, where Self is the universal consciousness present in every being, and that the individual mind or thoughts cloaks this natural energy preventing its unadulterated expression.

Example: Surely an anxiety, problem or injury lay underneath. Perhaps I was still defending. I would dwell deeply in the ache and see. As I did so the colours got lighter and lighter. It felt as if something was going faster and faster. Yes, kaleidoscopic patterns were moving and changing faster, speeding up and getting lighter. First of all just colour, movement and intensity, then it burst into a direct awareness of energy in my being vibrating faster and faster. I could feel it moving each side of my spine, actually vibrating. It got more and more intense until suddenly it felt like the energy had cleared all its pathways and was vibrating at tremendous speed without barriers.

What it did do was to increase what I already had. It gave more. This incredible energy I saw, experienced, that it didn’t do anything in particular, but on the other hand it would do anything. If I turned my energy into fear or self-destructive patterns, then I could be a lot more frightened and self-destructive with that amount of energy. Like a man who drinks and one who paints. With more money or energy they could respectively drink or paint a lot more. If I felt sex or eating was what life was about, then my life would be spend in sexual or gormandizing activities. If I used my energy toward creativity and life enhancement, then that’s what the energy would do. It could heal or cause illness, give peace or restlessness, wisdom or folly. It would fill whatever one put before it. In my case it was being used to look at life and myself and cleanse body and consciousness of sickness and limiting painful or anxious attitudes, and that was what it was doing. In fact it cleared so much pain, darkness and anxiety out of my soul, I felt a peaceful joy shining from me and obstructed by the anxieties I have felt of late. It brought clearness, calm confidence and open warmth.

It brought more, in the same sense light brings more in a dark room. Consider this. The room we are in is in darkness. With a little light vague shapes are apparent but no colour. With more light shapes begin to take on meaning as to what they are, and dim shades of colour appear. More still and hidden details in the shapes become obvious and colours begin to blaze out. More still and things hidden in the colours show.

The room has not changed. No other doors have opened on fresh dimensions. No other intelligences met. The room changes only in the appreciation and awareness we have of it. The colour was always there, but we see it more and more, and what has always existed and been experienced opens up to us more fully.

It is in its sleeping or dormant state at the base of the spine or trunk and it pictured as a sleeping snake with seven heads. This part of or segment of the body is where the legs connect, and so can be thought of as the seat of energy or movement. Its Sanskrit name is Muladhara or root chakra. It is shown as a flower with four petals.

The second segment is the pelvis which houses the sexual, reproductive and excretive organs. The chakras are often described as sense organs for the subtle world. This becomes understandable when we realise that if we had been castrated or had a hysterectomy prior to adolescence, we would never develop sexually. Without that development we would not understand two people kissing; or what a mother was feeling when she held her baby. Out of sex drive develops a whole world of feelings and tenderness which enables us to understand many things we see in the world. The same is true of the other areas of our body. So this area deals with our feelings rather than our emotions, and the drives or urges that lead us to socialise. It is our basic power of creativity which can be expressed as physical sex, or lifted up into other forms of creation. Its name is Svadisthana and it has six petals.

The third segment is the solar plexus which is the digestive realm. It deals with what we take into us physically emotionally and mentally. But it also deals with how we deal with what we have taken in to us. For example we may not digest much of our personal experience and so become lost in our inner world. See digestion and Life’s Little Secrets

 Its name is Manipura and it has ten petals.

The fourth segment is the chest area. Its function is to take in and give out, as in breathing.  In work that I have done, this is very much the emotional centre. Any blocks here when you lack emotional responsiveness or deny them can cause chest pain, feelings of loneliness or not being able to connect with others. Its name is Anahata – the heart centre – and it has twelve petals.

All that potential, when in the chest, if it is lifted up we give it form. In the chest it takes in the world, just as we take in the air through our lungs. It draws from our relationship with the world and with other people. It takes what one is receiving and begins to form it into a new moving expression. In the chest questions arise as to what shape and we wish to give it? What we want to do with it? Where do we want to take that life? What do we want to do with life? We may express it as feelings to somebody else through love or care. We may give it as support to another being. We may give it as admiration that is perhaps a stimulus to another being.

 The fifth segment is the throat. It deals with speech and communication. Also the expression of passionate feelings as in singing. We can express ourselves easily if this segment is unblocked – that does not apply to people who constantly talk. Often our expression may come from below rather from the head. At such time we may feel we are being inspired to express deep things spontaneously. See Using the Voice

 It is called Vishuddha and has sixteen petals.

The sixth segment is the brow, and it is, when awoken, the site of great intuition and insight into life and people. See Using Your Intuition

 It is called Ajna and has two petals. 

The seventh segment is the top of the skull. This Golgotha, the place of the skull and in Christian beliefs was the place where Jesus was crucified. But the Bible stories can also be seen as mythology with a symbolic interpretation. In that view when our energy has worked its way up through the body to the top of the head, we go through a transformation in which we are no longer lost in ones personality with its fear of death and its self centred interests. We face death and see through it into a vision of beauty. We experience enlightenment, often known as Cosmic Consciousness.

We have reached God Consciousness, experiencing life outside of time and space, and oneness with everything. For as a writer only small things emerge one after the other in order to tell the wonder I feel. But maybe the following give some idea of the whole thing. For we take flight into the sky of possibilities. With joyous abandon we dived, as spirits might, into the boundless heavens. Naked we leapt into the Sea of Wonder. Shape upon shape we took, playing as gods might, beyond the limitations of small hopes, shining and sparkling with glories. And yet at the same time with our hand on our crotch for comfort.

Its name is Sahaswara and it has a thousand petals.

The way to it has been written about but is almost certainly misunderstood.

Here is a quotation. “The attainment of transcendent insight is the real object of the training advocated in the traditional Oral Teachings, which do not consist, as so many imagine, in teaching certain things to the pupil, in revealing to him certain secrets, but rather in showing him the means to learn them and discover them for himself.

The Masters of the secret teachings say that the truth learned from another is of no value, and that the only truth which is living and effective, which is of value, is the truth which we ourselves discover.

If this were not the case, it would be enough for us to read the innumerable works in which philo­sopher’s, savants and doctors of the different religions have explained their views and to choose from among them one which agrees with our own ideas and to which we can cleave. This is what is done by most of these individuals whom the Tibetans classify in the intermediate category of the average-minded.

This stage should be surmounted. It is not enough to see with eyes which, according to the words used in Buddhist Texts, “are only covered with a thin film of dust”, however thin this film may be; it is a question of removing the last trace of dust which interferes with sight.

Literally, lhag thong, means to see “more”, to see “beyond”, to see “extremely”, “supremely”. Thus, not only to see more than that which is seen by the mass of mankind who are crassly ignorant, but to see beyond the bounds limiting the vision of cultivated minds, to bring into being the third eye of Knowledge which the adepts of tantric sects place in the centre of the forehead of their symbolic Gods.

An illustration of this last statement is that the very first suggestion they give to the student is to DOUBT! It is only through doubt that one will come to analyse truly and understand those things their attention is directed to. Following this they are given this advice, spoken by the Buddha. “Do not believe on the strength of traditions even if they have been held in honour for many generations and in many places; do not believe anything because many people speak of it; do not believe on the strength of sages of old times; do not believe that which you have yourself imagined, thinking that a god has inspired you. Believe nothing that depends only on the authority of your masters or of priests. After investigation, believe that which you have yourselves tested and found reasonable, and which is for your good, and that of others.”

It is done, they say, through non-activity. This is not to be confused, however, with the quietism of certain Christian or oriental mystics. Nor does it deny one a normal everyday life, or demand rigorous disciplines of emotion or body.  To exist is a kind of activity, and it is but normal to eat, sleep, walk, read, speak, laugh, love, breathe, etc.

The non-activity they mean is ‘that of the disordered activity of the mind which unceasingly devotes itself to the work of the builder erecting ideas, creating an imaginary world in which it shuts itself like a chrysalis in a cocoon’. This is very reminiscent of Jung’s sug­gestion to patients that they allow fantasies to arise in the mind, and then to watch these fantasies, attempting to see their cause, and the underlying forces at work. It is an attempt to step back from our convictions, ideals and morals; to set them loose, and watch them as a silent watcher, who does not interfere, condemn, or condone.

Masters of the secret oral teachings point out that this Short Path is one that many prefer not to take. The guiding forces of morality and social rights have been removed, and the student may fall into one of the pits of extremity that he was previously fenced from. “It may indeed be foolish to preach to an individual of ordinary mind that there is neither Good nor Evil; that his acts have no importance, and that, moreover, he is not the author of them, because he is moved by causes whose miscellaneous origins are lost in the inscrutable night of eternity.”


True, it may be foolish for the multitude. But for some, these ideas come as a delightful shock of confirmation to intuitions half formed and half sensed within themselves. To some of these latter, if they persist, may come Lhang Tong-Transcendent Insight. As the Masters say, the student may persist for years with no result, and then suddenly, one day, while looking at a stone, or feeling the wind upon his face, he is possessed by Lhang Tong, and from all the ties and chains he has found RELEASE.

For Life made all the delicate, inner parts of my body and knit my body together in my mother’s womb.

See Opening to Life

Copyright © 1999-2010 Tony Crisp | All rights reserved