Trumpets and violins, I can hear in the distance
I think they’re callin’ our name.
Maybe now you can’t hear them,
But you will, if you just
Take hold of my hand.
Oh, but are you experienced?
Have you ever been experienced?
Not necessarily stoned, but beautiful.
— Jimi Hendrix, dead at age 28 of prescription drug overdose
We are considering one of the gifts bestowed upon us by the youngest of the Graces, Aglaia. The Grace of splendor and beauty, She awakens the Serpent Fire within us, the powerful force sometimes known as The Dragon and widely understood in Eastern traditions as kundalini.
One of the most respected gurus of kundalini practice, Gopi Krishna (1903-1984) has called the awakening of the Serpent Fire or the kundalini “the most jealously guarded secret in history” and “the guardian of human evolution.” People from every spiritual path and culture have sought the fulfillment and power of this divine awareness.
In addition to yogic practices and religious rites, in the West, recent consciousness pioneers like Terence McKenna stumbled upon the fact that powerful psychotropic drugs have the ability to unexpectedly catapult the user across the threshold of consensual reality, for good or for ill. These substances in their natural forms have been used for centuries within a context of shamanic and medicinal applications.
However, it is typical of the Western sensibility to want instant gratification, and to enjoy “the buzz” without the awareness or responsibility. So, unfortunately, widespread ignorance and abuse, as well as chemically tampering with materials that are viewed as sacraments in other cultures, has led to them being outlawed in ours. Of course, having the basic premises of our societal institutions and norms come into question as a result of their use also contributes to widespread censorship and prosecution.
In terms of awakening cosmic awareness, some drugs may offer a short cut. But, as with most kinds of initiation and growth, patience is not only a virtue, it is vital, especially if we are to integrate these revelations into a functional life. As it has been noted by Westerners, as well as teachers of the ancient Eastern traditions, as desirable as it may be, the sudden, unprepared access to extraordinary realms of consciousness can have devastating consequences.
For instance, many who have experienced the realization of kundalini awakening report powerful access to clairvoyance. Theoretically, this may sound desirable, but as one who had extensive experience, both personally and as a scientific observer, Geoffrey Hodson wrote, “One reason for the warning which all spiritual neophytes receive against the development of purely psychic faculties as an end in itself -a warning which the author most strongly repeats- is that the value of the results of superphysical vision are rarely comparable in value to the susceptibility to strain and consequent lowering of physical efficiency which added sensitivity inevitably produces.
“Clairvoyance adds enormously to the burden of life and renders physical existence infinitely more difficult of endurance.”
Gopi Krishna, mentioned above, had been practicing rigorously by meditating for three hours every morning for over seventeen years. Still, when he had his explosive awakening, it was nearly ruinous. With kundalini pouring up his spine, he “rocked out of his body and was enveloped in a halo of light. His consciousness expanded in every direction, and a vision of luster unfolded before him; he was like a small cork bobbing on a vast ocean of consciousness. This extraordinary experience occurred once again, and then Krishna was plunged into twelve years of misery, during which he experienced the indescribable ecstasies of the mystics…and the agonies of the mentally afflicted.”
Yet, even with all that, we humans persist in seeking this experience, and likely always will. It seems to be our very nature, and perhaps our destiny. More tomorrow.