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Revelation and Inspiration: Paranormal Phenomena in Light of the Kundalini Paradigm
Revelation and Inspiration:
Paranormal Phenomena in Light of
the Kundalini Paradigm
By G. Philippe Menos and Karen A. Jones Menos
Presented at the 14th Annual Conference
of the Academy of Religion and Psychical Research
KUNDALINI AND THE PARANORMAL
May 21-23, 1989, Rosemont College
Copyright © 1989 by G. Philippe Menos and Karen A. Jones Menos
This paper explores Revelation and Inspiration as paranormal phenomena in light of the Kundalini hypothesis, with examples from history and mythology.
The Kundalini paradigm hypothesizes that the workings of a psycho-somatic evolutionary mechanism in the human frame is responsible for genius, creativity, some forms of insanity, and paranormal phenomena, including the outpouring of revelation and inspiration from the Cosmic Mind.
Examples from history and mythology are described to illustrate the Perennial Philosophy, which points to the Kundalini paradigm as a model of creativity and epistemology within which to understand paranormal phenomena.
The paper examines the following:
1) A definition of Revelation and Inspiration; a description of the Kundalini hypothesis; the difference between Revelation and mediumship/ channeling.
2) What some ancient and esoteric traditions tell us, including an interpretation of symbols surrounding Hermes/Thoth (Ancient Egypt), Vak (India), Quetzalcoatl/The Feathered Serpent, (Mayans of Mesoamerica), and Merlin (British Isles).
3) A review of historical examples of the phenomena, including Mozart, Beethoven, Nostradamus, Mohammad, Newton, Neo-Platonists, Gopi Krishna, Shakespeare, Lu Chi, Goethe, Pascal, Nietzsche, Sri Aurobindo, Guru Nanak, Picasso, Einstein, and Milarepa.
4) A comparison of the Perennial Philosophy with the dominant paradigm's model of creativity and theory of
knowledge, as represented by thinkers in Cognitive Psychology and Artificial Intelligence.
The conclusion drawn is that further study of Revelation and Inspiration is essential if we are to grasp the import of these paranormal phenomena and their relevance for modern times.
Rigorous research in the form of an Experimental Project, on the scale of this century's Manhattan project, to prove or disprove the Kundalini hypothesis as proposed by Gopi Krishna, has the potential to dispel modern humanity's superstitions and credal fanaticisms, to generate a new understanding of the creative process, and to discover the shared purpose of human life on Earth.
This essay is not about genius, though many geniuses have been gifted with great powers of revelation and inspiration. Genius is a rare and precious phenomenon. This essay is about insight, which we can all enjoy, through self-unfoldment and self-knowledge.
Please note: all usage of the masculine term "Man" in this essay refers to the original etymological meaning, denoting the mind, or the thinker. Chauvinism is not intended when using this term, nor when referring to the creative energy in the feminine gender.
The word "revelation" is defined in the dictionary as a revealing or a disclosing, as in God's disclosure or manifestation to his creatures of himself and his will (Webster). The verb "to reveal" means to unveil, or to disclose or discover something before unknown or kept secret. Etymologically, the key root lies in the word veil, from the Latin uela (Partridge). Revelation is from the Latin reuelationem, or reuelare, as in to pull back the curtain, or covering, or to lift the metaphorical "veil of Isis."
In the ancient Egyptian city of Sais, there is a temple celebrating Isis, the Goddess of creative energy. The "Saitic Isis" is known for this inscription on the temple:
I, Isis, am all that has been, that is or shall be; no mortal Man hath ever me unveiled (Hall, 1928: 45).
According to legend, Isis became a goddess by tricking the invincible Sun God of Eternity, Ra, into revealing his sacred name to her. As the myth has it, Isis conjured a serpent by mixing the God's spittle with earth, and placed the toxic creature in the path of the great God. Bitten and poisoned by the serpent, the Sun God is advised by Isis to speak his own name since its divine power bestows life on whoever should speak it. Compelled by the venom, Ra speaks and Isis gains a portion of his power.
The legend of Isis is an instruction to us on the process of Revelation. From the myths, we see that revelation depends on a transformation of Man from mortal to immortal being, that is, from a sense-bound perception of the world to a consciousness of the creative intelligence behind the universe. G.R.S. Mead, the eminent Theosophist, compares the veil with the Robe of Athena, the Greek Goddess of Wisdom: "Mystically, it signified the Veil of the Universe, studded with stars, the many colored Veil of Nature, the famous Veil or Robe of Isis, that no "mortal" or "dead man" has raised, for that Veil was the spiritual nature of man himself, and to raise it he had to transcend the limits of individuality, break the bonds of death, and so become consciously immortal (1978: 62)." With Joseph Campbell, we can say that Isis "represents maya . . . what in Kantian terminology we call the forms of sensibility. She is time and space itself, and the mystery beyond her is beyond all pair of opposites (Campbell, p. 167)." The myth tells us that Isis, as creative energy, functions as the intermediary between the human and the divine. Nor should we miss the key role of the serpent, compelling the invincible God into revealing his secrets. Manly F. Hall says about Isis that "she is the epitome of the Great Unknown, and only those who unveil her will be able to solve the mysteries of life, death, generation and regeneration (Hall, 1928:48).
Revelation has been a feature of human experience for as long as humans have contemplated the nature of existence. It was through revelation that wisdom on human experience, until the scientific age, was thought to originate. Even in this age, the products of Revelation—the scriptures—continue to hold a prominent position that reason and science have not erased.
Millions of people find peace, solace, and practical instruction in meditation in the Bhagavad Gita and in the Dhammapada. The power of Christ's appeal to the golden rule in The Sermon on the Mount provides positive guidance to many. Lately, the Tao Te Ching has become a manual of operation for some business people who see great benefits accruing from a life in alliance with the Tao. The words of Guru Nanak, Muhammad, Shankaracharya, Plato, and the stories of Moses and Abraham, provide to many people an insight into life that they do not find in the works of more mundane writers. Even in the Soviet Union, after more than sixty years of suppression by the state, respect for the Christian scriptures has not abated (Clines).
But the influence of revelation is not always benign.
Consider the case of Jerusalem, a city divided by the differing Revelations and interpretations of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam, though the three religions share a reverence for the books of Genesis and Exodus. There are too many cases of sectarian violence, such as between Catholics and Protestants in the British Isles, and between Hindus and Muslims on the Indian subcontinent, to mention them all. But these are a testimony to the power of revelation to affect the course of history. And, any person who is familiar with the case of Salman Rushdie cannot deny the power of Revelation, or of competing interpretations of it, to influence human affairs.
In considering revelation as a phenomenon, we should explore inspiration also, as the two are closely related in myth, history, and meaning. The revealer, or prophet, is said to be inspired. Although he makes a distinction between wisdom and inspiration, Plato associated prophecy and inspiration with oracles, visionaries and poets. And many sacred works of revelation are also considered to be works of great aesthetic value.
In meaning and etymology also, the term inspiration has spiritual foundations. Webster's dictionary describes inspiration as any stimulus to creative thought or act, including the possibility of a divine influence. In the first meaning, inspiration means to blow or breathe into. The origin of the word centers on the Latin verb spirare, to breathe, or the Latin noun spiritus, meaning breath, the breath of life, or the soul (Partridge) Inspiration is thus from the Latin inspirare, to breathe religious or divine feeling into a thought or act. Inspiration is thus a spiritual experience, in which the breath of life is a key factor. We shall see this again in this essay, as we see the breath of life in her guise as prana, chi, the solar force, and bio-energy.
According to mythology, Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom, was born by springing fully formed from the head of her father, Zeus. The message here is that the mysteries behind Creation are revealed by an act of insight or inspiration—the message is communicated directly and in whole to the prophet or poet. Hence, according to the mythos, each act of revelation depends on an experience of inspiration.
The Perennial Philosophy
The purpose of this essay is to explore revelation and inspiration from the perspective of the Kundalini paradigm, which is an expression of the perennial philosophy.
The phrase philosophia perennis was coined by Leibnitz. This spiritual vision holds that there is an essential unity at the core of all religious expression, the link being the evolutionary impulse in humanity. According to Aldous Huxley's classic anthology, The Perennial Philosophy. this is the "metaphysic that recognizes a divine Reality substantial to the world of things and lives and minds; the psychology that finds in the soul something similar to, or even identical with, divine Reality; the ethic that places man's final end in the knowledge of the immanent and transcendent Ground of all being—the thing that is immemorial and universal (Huxley, p. vii)." This philosophy of life is central to the esoteric traditions of Hinduism, Buddhism, Christianity, Sikhism, Taoism, and other major faiths. As Huxley terms it, this is the "highest common factor," whether in the mythical lore and religions of peoples in every region of the world, or in the symbolical philosophies such as alchemy, Hermeticism, Rosicrucianism, and Quabbalism.
The perennial philosophy proposes that reality, in the ultimate sense, is One, Whole, and Undivided—the omnipresent source of all knowledge and power. We do not perceive this reality because the field of human cognition is restricted by the senses. But the perennial philosophy claims that these limitations can be transcended. This is where the perennial philosophy differs with more exoteric religion. Whereas the traditional religious paradigm frames the human-divine relationship as supplicant to savior and emphasizes a need to be saved (from sin, suffering, pain, or death), the perennial philosophy views the Ultimate reality as a state of union, suggesting to us a different objective for the religious life: not to be saved but to discover the wholeness. As Ken Wilber describes it:
. . . Human beings—because they are conscious—can potentially discover this Wholeness. They can, as it were, awaken to the Ultimate . . . It would be as if a wave became conscious of itself and thus discovered that it is one with the entire ocean—and thus with all the other waves as well, since all are made of water. This is the phenomenon of transcendence—or enlightenment, or liberation, or moksha, or wu, or satori. This is what Plato meant by stepping out of the cave of shadows and finding the Light of Being; or Einstein's 'escaping the delusions of separateness.' This is the aim of Buddhist meditation, of Hindu Yoga, and of Christian mystical contemplation. That is very straight-forward; there is nothing spooky, occult, or strange in any of this—and this is the perennial philosophy (1981: 6).
This objective presumes a potential in human beings for self-transformation as the basis of self-knowledge. This is where the Kundalini hypothesis comes in, to postulate the mechanism of self-transformation.
As It Relates To Revelation and Inspiration
In his exposition of a transpersonal view of evolution, Ken Wilber further reminds us that the perennial philosophy has been embraced in part or in whole by many thinkers, including Spinoza, Einstein, Schopenhauer, Jung, William James, Plato, and Isaac Newton. Huxley tells us that "to . . . first-hand exponents of the Perennial Philosophy those who know them have generally given the name 'saint' or 'prophet,' 'sage' or 'enlightened one' (1944: ix) To Wilber's list, then, many other illustrious names could be added, such as Shankaracharya, Sri Aurobindo, and Teilhard de Chardin, and also Gopi Krishna, from whose experience and research the Kundalini paradigm is derived. Although the ideas championed by Gopi Krishna are by no means unique, he re-synthesized old ideas to propose a model for the scientific exploration of the potential of consciousness to evolve. We have chosen to call this expression of the perennial philosophy the "Kundalini paradigm," in deference to Gopi Krishna's frequent reference to the Sanskrit term.
The Kundalini paradigm hypothesizes that the operation of a psycho-somatic evolutionary mechanism in the human frame, sometimes called Kundalini, is responsible for genius, creative expression, psychical perception, and other paranormal phenomena, when its workings are benign, and insanity when the mechanism goes awry. According to this view, the process of evolution is planned [Note: the concept of a directive force guiding evolution toward purposeful developments not ascribable to chance mutations is consistent with recent critiques and extensions of Neo-Darwinism, see Taylor, Hitching, and Weizsacker's article in Gopi Krishna, 1971]; human evolution is designed to advance in the direction of expanded consciousness, such that human perception becomes cognizant of the world beyond the present sensory limitations. Perennial mystical experience, which experiences the unity behind the universe side by side with the diversity perceived by the senses, is posited as the next stage of human evolution.
In the higher state of consciousness, the mystic or sage witnesses the existence of a super-intelligent energy behind creation, and the universe is understood to be a projection of consciousness. This view of the cosmos resembles the trend in modern science, which is moving away from the mechanistic and materialistic paradigm of the preceding two centuries:
. . . Matter has become but a condensed form of energy which dematerializes into radiation. The material atom is already dissolved into more than thirty non-material, cryptic, arcane, perplexing, enigmatic, and inscrutable elementary particles: the electron and the anti-electron, the proton and the anti-proton, the photon, the mesons, etc., or into the image of waves which turn into the waves of probability, waves of consciousness which our thought projects afar. These waves like those associated with the propagation of light need no substratum to propagate in space-time; they undulate neither in fluid, nor in solid, nor yet in a gas. Around the bend of quantum mechanics and at the foot of the electronic ladder the basic notions of materialistic and mechanistic science such as: matter, objective reality, time, space, causality are no longer applicable, and the testimony of our senses largely loses its significance (Sorokin, 1959: 124).
As Sir James Jeans writes, "the universe begins to look more like a great thought than like a great machine. Mind no longer appears as an accidental intruder into the realm of matter; we are beginning to suspect that we ought to hail it as the creator and governor of the realm of matter (1932)." In the perennial philosophy, the cosmic super-intelligence is seen as the architect behind life and evolution, using organic compounds to develop a creature which is capable of self-knowledge. The same energy that guides the conception and development of a child is responsible also for the continued unfolding of the adult. Terms to denote this cosmic energy include chi, vital life, the Holy Spirit, and prana, which all refer to the breath of life, the active agent behind inspiration. In the individual, the activity of the brain and nervous system depends on this "subtle life element." Prana pervades every cell of every tissue and organism, "much in the same way that electricity pervades each atom of a battery (Gopi Krishna, 1971A6) ."
As used by the Yoga authorities, prana refers to both the cosmic life energy and its subtle biological conductor in the body. Describing prana, Gopi Krishna writes:
All systems of Yoga are based on the supposition that living bodies owe their existence to the agency of an extremely subtle immaterial substance, pervading the universe and designated as Prana, which is the cause of all organic phenomena, controlling the organisms by means of the nervous system and the brain, manifesting as the vital energy . . . Prana is not matter, nor is it mind or intelligence or consciousness, but rather an inseparable part of the cosmic energy or Shakti which resides in all of them and is the driving force behind all cosmic phenomena, as force in matter and vitality in living organisms . . . Shakti, when applied to inorganic matter, is force, and when to the organic plane, life . . . The term Prana or Prana-Shakti is generally applied to that aspect of the cosmic energy which operates in the organic sphere, as nervous impulse and vitality, while the generic name Shakti is applied to every form of energy, animate and inanimate; in brief, to the creative and active aspect of Reality . . . The creatrix of the universe (1967: 105-8).
The eminent physicist, Carl F. von Weizsacker, in his analysis of prana, concludes that the concept is not necessarily incompatible with present-day physics (1971: 42-3). Pointing out that prana is spatially extended and vitalizing, Weizsacker compares this "moving potency," as he terms it, to the "probability amplitude" of quantum theory.
Kundalini, a Sanskrit term meaning "coiled up," is the evolutionary potency of prana. The term Kundalini designates a force which is normally latent or dormant, but which can be activated by spiritual disciplines and made to act like a spring when it is released. In the individual human being, prana is thought to be concentrated in the sex-energy as a biochemical essence composed of the subtlest elements, existing as radiation on a subatomic level (Gopi Krishna, 1975: 111). According to the Kundalini paradigm, the reproductive system also functions as the evolutionary mechanism. By "the arousal of Kundalini" is meant the reversal of the reproductive system, as a fine stream of nerve-energy is sublimated and transmitted up the cerebro-spinal system, irradiating the brain. In one place, Gopi Krishna thus describes the effect of the awakening of Kundalini:
With the additional fuel supplied by the enhanced flow of vital energy, the brain becomes more intensely alive; the surface consciousness rises above body sensations and its perceptive faculty is vastly enlarged, rendering it cognizant of super-physical existences. In this condition the first object of perception is Prana, experienced as a lustrous, immaterial stuff, sentient and in a state of rapid vibration both within and outside the body, extending boundlessly on every side (1967: 109).
A fully awakened Kundalini facilitates over time the bioenergetic transformation necessary to experience the state of union of the Soul with the Oversoul, which is denoted by the term "yoga."
According to various systems of yoga symbology, there are a series of psycho-physical centers along the cerebrospinal system, corresponding to anatomical nerve clusters. In Sanskrit, these centers are known as chakras, or wheels, which are said to turn and radiate with energy as they are anointed by the circulation of Kundalini-prana. Different schools of yoga identify different numbers of chakras. Some of the Buddhist Tantric literature emphasize four main centers (Wayman, p. 172), as do the Native American Hopi people (Waters, pp. 9-11). However, most Buddhist, Hindu, and alchemical systems seem to describe seven chakras. Most esoteric traditions of the West describe seven centers, as for example in the Alchemical Marriage of Christian Rosencreutz, a seventeenth century Rosicrucian tract (Kieffer, 1980d). Waters suggests that accounts of the chakras vary only because of differences in emphasis, not in fundamentally different views of the basic energy of transformation. We share the same biology, regardless of ideology. We will not here discuss each chakra individually, but refer the reader to sources listed in the bibliography (see Gopi Krishna, 1973, Avalon, Eliade, Silburn, Klostermaier).
At each chakra along the cerebrospinal system, or Sushumna as this is known in Sanskrit, there are two undulating, intersecting nerve channels, known as Ida and Pingala, corresponding to the sympathetic and parasympathetic chains of nerves. Ida and Pingala are also termed the lunar and solar channels, to mark their complementarity. When Kundalini is active, she circulates throughout the spinal network of nerves, entering the brain via the Ajna chakra, the sixth center located between the eyebrows. It is here, at the place of final confluence of the three channels of energy, that the experience of union begins, as the solar and lunar forces merge in the brain, irradiating the seventh center, the neural network named the Brahma-randhra. As Gopi Krishna expresses it:
"there now occurs another change in the organ of perception, namely the brain, to be able to witness homogeneity where sense impressions continue to present an infinitely diversified world. Otherwise, the new experience can only be allotted the position of a dream . . . It is the flow of this ambrosial stream into the brain through the spinal duct, essential for its organic transformation in the deepest layers, which causes the ecstasy when the state of union is achieved (1978a: 9)."
It is at this stage of the transformation, according to the paradigm, that revelation becomes a reality. The symbol of the Ajna chakra is AUM (om), the sacred sound. The Mandukya Upanishad identifies AUM with the four stages of consciousness: A for the waking state, U for dreaming, M for dream-less sleep, and AUM as a whole for turiya, the fourth state of perennial mystical consciousness that pervades the previous three states. According to the same scripture, AUM represents that which transcends time and is identified with Atman, the individualized aspect of the Oversoul. Aum is the Supreme Being in the form of sound: "Om is Brahman," says the Taittiriya Upanishad (1.8). The experience and transformation symbolized by Aum is described by Gopi Krishna:
Yoga represents a new form of knowledge gained through the operation of a normally dormant, marvelous chamber in the brain, called Brahma-randhra by the ancient adepts, a new form of vision, known as the opening of the Third Eye or the Tenth Door or the Sixth Sense, and a new form of ideation, known as inspiration, "Shruti," Revelation, Vahi, Afflatus, etc. In short, Yoga represents a paranormal activity of the brain from which all great masterpieces of literature, art, philosophy, science, and spiritual knowledge have originated . . . I have no words to describe the glory and grandeur of the new state of awareness, which belongs to the accomplished Yogi, in whom the dormant center in the brain has been activated leading to the opening of a new super-sensory channel of perception . . . designed to probe the mystery of creation, beyond the probe of the senses and the intellect (1978a: 3, 7)
This center in the brain is the "eye of the soul” described by Plato in the Republic (VII: 519b3 & 533d2), and its partial or complete awakening provides the channel for communication with the Cosmic Mind, and from thence the outpouring of inspiration and revelation. It is significant that in the Native American Hopi tradition also, it is at the highest psycho-physical center, "at the top of the head," that man is thought to "receive his life and communicate with the Creator (Waters, 1963: 9)." Thus does the baptism of the human system by the fire of Kundalini bring the experience of union and revelation that is the cornerstone of the perennial philosophy.
According to the Kundalini paradigm, this transformation is the goal of the evolutionary processes active in humanity. The paradigm postulates that (1) the prophets of the past were early prototypes of the next stage in evolution, and (2) inspired creators, in any field, exhibit features of evolutionary enhancement. As forerunners, these individuals enjoy the advantages of early success as well as the disadvantage of being pioneers in still-uncharted territories. Owing to the intensity of the transformation and the delicate nature of the human system, it would not be surprising to see a wide variation in the degree of success and mental balance achieved by historical examples of prophets, mystics, and other creative people. However, as it is not the purpose of this essay to consider the aspect of mental health, we will not dwell on this topic.
The Kundalini paradigm also states that the evolutionary transformation can be duplicated and verified, in the same manner as any scientific experiment, if the proper procedures and conditions are followed. The procedures and conditions are elaborated in the sacred literature of every culture, and include all forms of yoga and meditation that attempt to harmoniously develop the whole personality—the physical, mental, ethical, and the spiritual. Examples include Patanjali's Yoga Sutras, Sri Aurobindo's Integral Yoga or the sunny path as the Sage has named it, the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius of Loyola, Taoist Yoga, and the practice of Ch'an or Zen (derived from the Sanskrit dhyana). "By each of these disciplines," says Plato in the Republic (VII:527e), "a certain organ of the soul is both purified and reanimated which is blinded and buried by studies of another kind; an organ better worth saving than ten thousand eyes, since Truth is perceived by it alone."
Attention or active concentration of the mind is the basic lever, the psychosomatic exercise to accelerate the process of evolution. The more intensive exercises to focus and concentrate the mind, to the point of effortless contemplation, are the most efficacious instruments to stimulate the process (Gopi Krishna, 1975: 121; also see 1973). Application of the mind is the key to success in any endeavor, including spiritual development, though is safest to meditate in the context of a balanced lifestyle, developing simultaneously all aspects of the personality. The foundation of spiritual evolution, in all authentic systems of individuation, lies in ethical development and altruistic growth, since the energy of evolution is the energy of love par excellence (see Sorokin, 1954a, 1954b).
There is a significant difference between the type of mind culture advocated by the Kundalini paradigm and the passive types of meditation that are in vogue at present. Perhaps this difference can be illuminated by highlighting the distinction made in the Kundalini paradigm between revelation and mediumship, or channeling, as this phenomenon is now called.
According to the Kundalini paradigm, there are two distinct methods for approaching the paranormal and the transcendental.
One methodology centers on the cultivation of attention, striving for the quality of effortless concentration that is an endowment of the exceptionally talented mind. Lord Keynes writes of Isaac Newton that:
. . . The clue to his mind is to be found in his unusual powers of continuous concentrated introspection . . . His peculiar gift was the power of holding continuously in his mind a purely mental problem until he had seen straight through it. I fancy his pre-eminence is due to his muscles of intuition being the strongest and most enduring with which a man has ever been gifted . . . Newton could hold a problem in his mind for hours and days and weeks until it surrendered him its secret (1947: 28).
The objective of the first approach to the divine or occult is to cultivate this ability by voluntary effort, trying to focus the mind for prolonged periods, until attention is sustained without visible strain. As Gopi Krishna elaborates, all healthy methods of spiritual development are designed to this end:
There are detailed directions in all Yoga treatises on how this state of unbroken fixity of attention can be achieved. The target to be attained is that the observing mind and the object contemplated should fuse into one (1975: 44).
For most of us, this target can only be approached with great effort. To achieve one-pointedness of the mind, Gopi Krishna stresses that the practitioner has to maintain a state of alertness to prevent the mind from slipping into passive or drowsy states. This is supported by all the authorities on meditation, such as the Bhagavad Gita:
Then, with reason armed with resolution, let the seeker quietly lead the mind into the Spirit, and let all his thoughts be silence. And whenever the mind unsteady and restless strays away from the Spirit, let him ever and forever lead it again to the Spirit.
The mind is indeed restless, Arjuna: it is indeed hard to train. But by constant practice and by freedom from passions the mind in truth can be trained (6.25, 26, 27).
And also the Upanishads:
Taking hold of the bow, one should fix on it an arrow, sharpened with meditation. Drawing the string with a mind absorbed in the thought of Brahman hit, O good-looking one, that very target which is the Immutable (Mandukya Upanishad. 11.2, 3).
The perennial philosophy is unanimous in stressing the active, will-full training of the mind, as a requirement of self-knowledge and paranormal perception.
The second methodology relies on the voluntary descent of the mind to the subconscious, using autohypnosis or passive forms of meditation: These are the "negative forms of concentration, forbidden by the ancient masters, which allow the mind to think loosely or wander ceaselessly during meditation, leading to passive, somnolent, or quiescent states indicated by the alpha signal in biofeedback (Gopi Krishna, 1975: 46, 56).” By practicing vacuity of thought or by deliberately causing fatigue to the optic and auditory nerves, it is possible to stimulate vivid psychic and visionary experiences, to manifest an alternate personality, or to display some talent in automatic writing—all produced by the subconscious. But the state that results from the second method is not the state of union from which self-knowledge and revelation proceed:
[The self-hypnotizing yogi] can voluntarily dive into the depths of his subconscious, but that only means descending into a dream-state, not as one does in sleep, but with deliberation plunging into a hallucinatory condition, transported to a world of being where thoughts take on a visionary aspect and fancies assume vivid appearances somewhat akin to the illusory states induced by drugs. At best it can only signify volitional excursion into the dream territory, often with some therapeutic results, but nothing more. There is at present a general ignorance about the fact that the practice of Yoga, or for that matter of any form of religious discipline, can lead to two fundamentally different mental states. One is brought about by autohypnosis, creating a hallucinatory inner world of vision, with or without psychic powers. The other is a state of transformed consciousness, leading to glorious supersensory planes of being, attended always by genius and psychic powers in one form or another characteristic of all great seers, prophets, mystics, and Yogis of the past (Gopi Krishna, 1973: 80).
The difference between the first and second methods for approaching the paranormal is the difference between sublime and subliminal consciousness. The word subliminal is a formation of "sub," below, and "limin," threshold of consciousness, meaning the region that is below the surface of the mind. But the word sublime has a very different derivation, originating in "sublimis," which is to come up from below the threshold, rising in the air, or that which climbs a steep slope, hence lofty. Sublime is related to sublimitas and sublimare, to elevate, and sublimatus, whence the adjective and verb sublimate. Thus, the wisdom embedded in our language: The subliminal is not the sublime, and the sublime requires a transformation engendered by sublimation, in the positive sense of transmuting the energy of love.
There are countless teachers in India, Tibet, and China, who have erroneously promulgated the second methodology for approaching the occult. The subliminal approach to the paranormal may also be the predominant mode presently advocated in the New Age movement—witness the rapid spread of channeling.
Channeling is the term currently used to describe mediumistic and spiritualistic phenomena, such as automatic writing, seances, and use of the planchette or Ouija board. The psychical phenomenon that has become known in the New Age movement as "channeling" is no different from mediumship: the bioenergetic and psychic mechanism behind each is the same. Examples of channeling may be found in Jane Roberts (Seth), Jach Pursel (Lazaris), J.Z. Knight (Ramtha), various sources of Space Brothers such as Tuella, A Course in Miracles, Mark and Elizabeth Clare Prophet, Shirley MacLaine, Edgar Cayce, Ken Carey (Raphael), and Sanaya Roman (Orin) and Duane Parker (DaBen). An excellent study of the subject is found in Jon Klimo's Channeling.
Objectively and subjectively, channeling appears to vary somewhat in its manifestations—from a full trance to the lighter trance of "open channeling" (see Klimo). But in all cases, the mechanism behind the phenomenon is the same, namely subliminal access to psychic communications using self-suggestion and autohypnosis, not self-mastery and self-transformation.
Consider the example and testimony of Jach Pursel, who is the medium for the well-known entity called Lazaris. Jach Pursel has never communicated directly and consciously with Lazaris, as he is "asleep" during the channeling episode. This is the opposite of revelation, in which the spiritual genius or mystic experiences an "awakening" and perceives the super-intelligent energy that is the source of knowledge. Pursel's awareness of Lazaris, the alternate personality, is restricted to video and audio recordings.
Pursel began to channel following an attempt at meditation, practicing in a manner that would always lead to drowsiness and sleep. This type of meditation, more properly called simply relaxation or visualization, conforms to the subliminal path. This practice could not be further from the authentic meditation taught by Patanjali, or by the Patriarchs of Zen, who go to the extreme of striking a blow to prevent the subject from falling asleep.
Although Pursel's first manifestation of Lazaris occurred spontaneously as he slipped by accident into an unconscious state, he later developed a "technique" to ensure that he could enter into the required state of mind on demand. He described this technique in an interview with Jon Klimo:
Over time, Pursel has learned how to efficiently enter the particular type of unconscious state that has always led to Lazaris appearing. He closes his eyes, takes a few deep breaths, relaxes, and imagines himself descending a ten-rung ladder, rung by rung, counting backward. Reaching the bottom, he begins a second round by imagining ten slow-motion backward circling somersaults. Usually by around the sixth of these, all becomes dark. It seems like only a moment later, he says, when he opens his eyes and finds himself back in the room, the entire intervening session lost to him (Klimo, p. 48).
This self-disclosure is a classic description of self-hypnosis.
On the spectrum from full to light trance, the case of Jach Pursel falls on the side of the extreme unconscious. But suggestion plays a role in cultivating the lighter trance states as well. This is shown in the book Opening to Channel. by Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer (Klimo), which is a sort of how-to manual for channelers. The descriptions found in this book on "relaxing and focusing, quieting the mind," "attuning with life-force energy," assist the individual in techniques of self-suggestion. To underscore this technique, the "opening to channel" approach makes extensive use of imagination: imagine a golden light, imagine beings of light, imagine a doorway, imagine entering it . . . The unstated assumption is that practice in creating these imaginations will eventually result in creating these perceptions; practice imagining anything long enough, and one will see it, real or not, without any evolutionary transformation at all. Individuals with very powerful imaginations need almost no practice at all. It is not surprising that, in their description of the type of person who has the greatest facility for channeling, Sanaya Roman and Duane Packer mention people who "have vivid imaginations and like to daydream and fantasize (Klimo, p. 143)."
It's interesting to note that Sanaya Roman, before becoming a channel, had a deep interest in the Seth books by Jane Roberts, a prior example of mediumship. It's also revealing that Roman used the Ouija board regularly, and that it was here that an entity named Orin first appeared, spelling out messages in 1977. Only later did the mediumistic experience switch from the board to Sanaya's voice, but the process was essentially the same, as she describes: "I closed my eyes and listened in the same way I had listened to the messages as they came through on the Ouija board." This clearly shows the identity of channeling with other mediumistic phenomena.
Manly P. Hall, the specialist in occultism and comparative mythology, has frequently written on the merits and demerits of mediumism. As he has devoted considerable years to research on the topic, we will quote him at some length in response to questions on the value, shortcomings, and dangers of spiritualistic phenomena:
In answering this question, it is not my desire to discredit the sincerity of spiritualists, but rather to point out certain hazards which believing people, enthused with an idea, are apt to overlook. A spiritualistic séance is a negative vortex of physical forces. Such a vortex draws into itself discarnate entities of various kinds, as well as numerous larvae or elementals of the astral world. The average medium has no power to control the entities that impinge themselves upon the lexus of the sympathetic nervous system. In the séance, both the medium and the sitters are helpless victims of such malefic entities as may care to attack them. Therefore, there is constant danger in seances that the sitters will take away with them the elemental beings that have attached themselves to various parts of the aura (1965: 249-50).
He further elaborates on the effort to communicate with discarnate spirits and forces:
. . . While there can be no reasonable doubt that a certain percentage of psychical phenomena is genuine, those who give themselves to mediumship and other forms of psychism are greatly victimized through their faith and credulity. To turn for advice to the dead, is to be unphilosophical. Those who have passed out of this life are no better fitted to advise the living than those still functioning in this world . . .
There are mysteries in the psychical world that few mortals understand, and he who dabbles with the subtle forces of the unseen universe is apt to repent his audacity. The majority of messages that come from behind the veil are vague, platitudinous and ambiguous; nor is deception unusual. Many lives have been ruined by psychic vagaries. He who listens too often to whisperings of the spirits" may find his angels to be demons in disguise. I know personally many lives that have been hopelessly ruined by dabblings in the mediumistic arts. Humanity understands but imperfectly the mysterious forces dwelling in the borderland between the living and the dead. Until man understands more, he should leave alone these forces which may lead only to madness.
The Ouija-board, or planchette, called in Europe "the devil's flat-iron, " and driven from most of the civilized countries of the world, is a psychic toy that has contributed many tragedies to man's mortal state. Automatic writing, a weird, fascinating pastime, may end in a wide variety of disasters. Addiction to psychic practices sets corrosive forces at work in the mind and soul, and all who seek wisdom in its highest and truest form must avoid the blind alley of psychism. Eliphas Levi, the great French magician, said that the astral sphere is a beautiful garden of illusions filled with many rare and scented flowers; that around the stem of every flower is coiled a poisonous serpent, and he who would pluck the blossom receives the sting of death.
The wise student will acknowledge the reality of psychical phenomena. He will admit communication between the worlds is possible, but he will also maintain that psychic things are not for him. He desires not communication with ghosts, nor to be ruled by disembodied voices, nor to seek for truth in a crystal ball. The true path of wisdom is the building of truth and strength within, through study and experience. This simple, positive process needs no assistance from the larvae of the elemental world (1965: 95-6).
These words, written on mediumship and spiritism, also apply to channeling. In all cases, channeling represents a subliminal pathway to subjugating one's mind to another agency, and does not lead to self-mastery and unfoldment which is universally described by sages as the preparation for spiritual awakening.
This is not to say that channeling and the information gained thereby have not been beneficial to some people. And it is clear that impressive feats occur in trance states, such as the knowledge of events that may occur miles away in space and time. But there are significant differences between the practices and mental states involved in channeling versus those leading to revelation.
Channeling involves switching channels on the television set we already have; it does not require building a better television set by self-mastery and regeneration. Moreover, the practice of channeling requires almost no effort at all for individuals who are more easily hypnotized or are more susceptible to auto-suggestive practices. As subliminal experiences, mediumism and channeling require no effort to evolve the mind.
In contrast, the Kundalini paradigm affirms that enlightenment and revelation are the target of the evolution of consciousness. The experience of illumination and revelation—the communication of a higher intelligence—depends on first building a better television set, to be "re-born" at every level of one's being, by fully awakening and nurturing the evolutionary energy to completely remold the human system. The illuminated state of consciousness "is a surpassing state of awareness which transcends both the conscious and the subconscious mind of the normal human being, revealing the universe in a new light never experienced before (Gopi Krishna, 1975)."
Revelation depends on the activation of a supersensory organ of perception which is more or less dormant in the normal human being. It is the supersensory organ of perception which empowers the integrated human personality to perceive and commune with a higher intelligence, in a state of complete consciousness. "The ultimate state in Yoga [and all authentic spiritual disciplines] is a state of equipoise and calm, of stillness and beatitude brought about by a tremendously enhanced awareness which soars beyond the regions fed by the senses. It is not a semi-conscious but a superconscious state (Gopi Krishna, 1975: 55)." In this state of union, the sages and prophets channel" the spark of the divine that is within us all; they are not vehicles for the manifestation of external entities or alternate personalities. Sages and prophets are awakened products of the mechanism of evolution; their experience does not proceed from subliminal trance exercises. Nor are geniuses channelers in the sense of the New Age connotation; they have a direct, unmediated communication with the universal mind through the agency of an organ of super-physical perception. This is what Sri Aurobindo meant when he replied to a disciple's query: "What you call thinking, I never do. I see or I don't see. That is all (Riencourt, p.190)."
For a person to function as a medium or a channel, it is necessary to relinquish the will and intellect: this allows the person to become a vehicle for the expression of an alternate personality (whether this personality is an aspect of one's unconscious or an external entity is immaterial). However, the temporary negation of the faculties of will and reason, for the semi-conscious expression of an alternate personality, may have a detrimental impact on the development of the personality. With regular practice over a sustained period, the negation becomes more difficult to control, because the faculty which does the controlling is blunted and atrophied. However, "the object of the evolutionary processes is to the release the self-conscious mind more and more from the thraldom of the subconscious to enable it to touch levels of cognition which, in its present state, it can never reach. This process of release is considerably retarded when the conscious mind fails to assert itself and tamely submits to the dictates of the subconscious (Gopi Krishna, 1975: 59)." Eventually, all control may be lost, and the potential for self-mastery is diminished. From this perspective, mediumism and channeling represent regressive states of mind.
If continued for prolonged periods on a mass scale, the effect of practices such as passive meditation and channeling may be regressive and anti-evolutionary. In Gopi Krishna's view, "the mental stagnancy that kept the once spiritually advanced peoples of India and other places tied to erroneous ideas and beliefs for centuries has been in some measure due to these negative and anti-evolutionary practices (1975: 58)."
In contrast to channeling, the evolutionary process requires a commitment of will. Spiritual evolution depends on an effort at self-mastery and ethical self-reform, as well as an effort to nurture, strengthen, and discipline the will, in the context of a balanced, moderate lifestyle full of adventure and recreation. By the perennial philosophy, our focus should not be on the psychic demonstrations of channeling but on the government within ourselves of the Energy of Evolution, which is the Energy of Love. This includes developing harmony and compassion in our relationships.
The Kundalini paradigm suggests concentration as the lever to accelerate evolution, not the descent to trance-like conditions. Whereas control of one's personality and conscious mind is relinquished during the manifestation of an alternate personality, the trend of evolution is toward the integration and individuation of the personality and an amplification of the perceptual and cognitive capacity of the conscious mind. "Spiritual evolution does not imply greater skill in penetrating to the below-the-surface regions of the human mind but in raising it to levels of perception which it never possessed before. It is to this enhanced perception of gifted minds that all human progress is due (Gopi Krishna, 1975: 60)." It is significant that channeling has never produced a poem to rival Shakespeare or an idea to rival Einstein's "e=mc2." The use of negative practices such as channeling, to reach the subconscious or to manifest "Masters," has never produced a great genius or an illumined seer.
To summarize: The Kundalini paradigm affirms that the birthright of the future humanity is a refined sensory apparatus, capable of cognizing super-sensory levels of creation, with all the powers of will, reason, and intuition intact and magnified. Intuition, inspiration and revelation differ only in degree of insight, but channeling is qualitatively different. Mediumistic channeling depends primarily on subliminal exercises to express powers from the lower unconscious regions of the mind. Revelation results from a state of union with the Cosmic Mind, proceeding from the activity of a supersensory organ of perception, which is active to a greater of lesser degree in all instances of inspiration. The state of super-consciousness is the target of an evolutionary transformation that can be achieved by specific disciplines aimed at self-mastery and regeneration of the whole being—body, mind, and soul.
These claims on the evolutionary nature of inspiration and revelation are asserted so that they may be put to the test in the laboratory setting of a research project, to disprove or confirm the hypothesis. As a preliminary step in such a project, it should be possible to confirm elements of the paradigm through documentary research. If the claims have universal applicability, we propose that support for them should be found in a cross-cultural review of literature relating to prophecy, wisdom, and revelation, as well as relating to historical examples of the phenomena.
Joseph Campbell refers to myths as the literature of the spirit (Campbell, 1988). They are the records of humanity's birth in knowledge of the Heavens, within and without, the chronicle of Man's physiological, psychological, cognitive, and spiritual unfoldment (Massey, Santillana, Alvin Boyd Kuhn, Pryse). "The first knowledge of psychic law and order," says Jung, "was found in the stars, and was later extended by projections into unknown matter (1967: 237)." Mythological and religious theology thus includes our first knowledge of the stars, both external and internal: "As above, so below." In this survey, we will leave aside the astro-theological interpretations, to contemplate primarily the psychophysical and spiritual lessons of the myths.
In the mythology of Ancient Egypt, Thoth (Tehuti) is the God of Universal Wisdom, the divine personification of truth. Although there are numerous irreconcilable accounts of his birth, one ancient passage assigns Thoth's birth to the powers of the Divine Sun Ra, through whom all things are manifested: "I am Thoth, the eldest son of Ra, whom Atum has fashioned, created from Khepri . . . I descend to earth with the secrets of what belongs to the horizon. (Armour, p. 154)". Thus Thoth is born bearing powerful secrets. Mead thus describes Thoth:
As representative of the Reason immanent in the world, Thoth is mediator through whom the world is brought into manifestation. He is the Tongue of Ra, the Herald of the Will of Ra, and the Lord of Sacred Speech.
What emanates from the opening of his mouth, that cometh to pass; he speaks and it is his command; he is the Source of Speech, the Vehicle of Knowledge, and the Revealer of the Hidden (1978: 49).
Thoth is the "Scribe of the Gods" and "Mighty of Speech," because his words take effect: "His was the power of the "Spoken Word," the Word whose language is action and realization (Mead, p. 53)."
Thoth is also the god of science and medicine, playing the key role, in the Book of the Dead. of giving Isis the charms that bring Osiris back to life long enough to father Horus. This shows that he enjoyed the powers of creativity often assigned to female deities. He is also the source of the science of numbers, astronomy, and hieroglyphic writing, which he invented to fulfill his duties as protector and messenger of the Gods. He orders the movement of celestial bodies, measures and governs the times, and regulates the seasons. His function is described in the Book of the Dead: "I have brought the palette and the inkpot as being the objects which are in the hands of Thoth; hidden is that which is in them! Behold me in the character of a scribe (Armour, p. 156)." Note that the God's gift as a writer includes access to hidden knowledge. Thoth was the repository of all learning, both sacred and profane, and the founder of Egyptian literature. Thoth is often considered the author of portions of the Book of the Dead, which cites him as also the author of the Book of Thoth. confirming his role as a major source of Egyptian revelation.
On a monument of Seti I, he is called "Scribe of the nine Gods" who "writes the truth of the nine Gods." He is naturally the patron and protector of all temple-archives, libraries and scribes. At the entrance of the famous "Library of Osymandia" of Thebes, called the "Great House of Life," Thoth is the "Lord of the Hall of Books (Mead, p. 50)."
As Revealer of the Sacred to Man and Messenger of the Gods, Thoth is inventor and author of the hieroglyphic system of writing, the words of the Gods. The legends concerning the nature and origin of the hieroglyphs is found in the Phoenician History of Philo of Byblos. This source recounts the Chaldean tradition that the letters were formed of the "nature of the divine serpent" which produces shapes as it twists and turns, and which is revered by the Egyptians because it sloughs off its skin and is reborn like the initiate. According to Philo, "the disciples of Tauutos (Thoth) built temples, in the innermost shrines of which they placed the 'first letters' created by serpents, and for them they celebrated 'feasts, sacrifices, and rites' (Versluis, p. 85)." Here we see a direct connection between the gifts of Thoth and the serpent power. This is clearly stated by Versluis:
The Serpent Power . . . is that of kundali (sic), the emanation into manifestation of Shakti, Who like Isis 'veiled Herself from Herself' in order that the world might come to be, and who exists in a state of potentiality, coiled, at the base of Creation. We have here, then, in the ancient Egyptian tradition, a direct reflection of that which was transmitted whole in the Vedanta: the serpent as the primal force within' the temporal world and of Divine Reality (Shiva), or gnosis. In other words, in both of these ancient traditions, to speak and to write is to invoke the primal serpent power at the base of Creation . . . In both cases the 'mastery' involved is that of the serpent power, which in reality is not mastered—for that would imply a false dualism—but rather is awakened, allowed to manifest. We can see here something of the significance of the Greek term logos, or Divine Word, which according to the New Testament descended into Creation, in-forming it, and which, when 'awakened' once again, ascends to, or perhaps better manifests, its Divine Origin (1988:86).
The primal letters, the hieroglyphs, are considered manifestations of the serpentine power, and are thus emanations of the Divine and indivisible from it. The letters are symbolic images of reality, reflecting the powers within the images. It is not surprising, as Gene Kieffer reminds us, that the hieroglyphic "Tet" sign, which is the form of a serpent, also means speech, language, to declare (1980b).
The universal symbol of the serpent winds its way throughout the ancient Egyptian legends. Before entering a campaign to refresh the wrath of his father, Osiris, by appeasing and avenging him, Horus is sent by his mother, Isis, to Amon (Amen-Ra) at Thebes, that the god might give him the charms needed to triumph over Typhon. The most powerful charms provided by the crown of the god: the Uraeus that adorns the crown, the flame which destroys enemies (Maspero, p. 247). The Uraeus, the divine serpent, appears with many sun gods—it spits fire to protect the wearer from his enemies. And, in the quest for wisdom, what greater enemy is there than ignorance?
According to Budge, the character and attributes of Thoth are well described by the opening words of St. John's Gospel: "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life; and the life was the light of men." Thoth is the great Measurer, the Logos, the creative spark in the heart of all and the heart of the world, whose life directs and permeates all things. Budge cites the belief of the priests of Hermopolis, that "Thoth was the mind and intelligence and reasoning power of the self-created, self-subsistent god. He was light and life and gave life to man (1934: 155)." Thoth appears thus to embody the dual aspects of prana-Shakti, the creative energy as well as the universal mind; as such, Thoth represents the universal man, the Master of Wisdom and Truth who has balanced the feminine and masculine principles within himself.
At Khemennu, the "City of Eight Gods," Thoth was viewed as the head of a Company of Eight: four pairs or emanations of divine powers, each a synergy of male and female powers, Gods and Consorts representing the active and passive, positive and negative, poles. To aid him in the world, the spouse of Thoth is Maat (Nehe-maut),' the Divinity of reciprocity, harmony, and justice, personification of physical and moral law in the universe. As a moral power, Maat is the greatest of the Goddesses. Maat is the daughter of Ra, the "eye of Ra." Merlin Stone tells us that:
Maat symbolized the order of the universe, all that was righteous and good . . . She came to be known as the Eye of Horus, the Eye of Ra or the Eye of Ptah. Eye in Egyptian is uzait, a word most similar to Ua Zit (Great Serpent1 the Cobra Goddess of Neolithic times, from which derives the Au Set, Eset, of which the Greek form is Isis] . . . But in Indo-European Greek the word for eye is mati. Maat was the embodiment of the ancient Uraeus cobra (1976: 92).
Together with Maat, Thoth takes part in the creation of the world. The "eye of Ra" and the "eye of Horus" are functionally equivalent to the "eye of Shiva"—"the only channel through which we can have a glimpse of this invisible world of consciousness and intelligence, . . . which can penetrate to the hidden levels of existence impervious to normal sight (Gopi Krishna, 1978a: 11)." Versluis insists, "the parallels with the Tibetan and Hindu Gods and their Consorts cannot be ignored (1988: 24)." In The Dawn of a New Science and in Panchastavi, Gopi Krishna shows that the Shakti of the Tantras, the Soma of the Vedas, Ishtar of the Assyrio-Babylonian culture, Isis of Egypt, and other Goddess figures, all refer to the feminine pole of the cosmic life energy, their male partners representing the cosmic principle of mind generated by the energy.
In all cases, the relationship of male and female divinities, and their alliance in the creative process, is a symbol of the transformation leading to wisdom and knowledge:
The alternation between polarities is revealing when compared, once again, with the worship of Shakti and Shiva in Tantrism; the awakening of the kundali (sic) energy has to come before the glimpse of the Reality, the Bliss (knowledge) of Shiva, after which the energy must be reawakened, in an ascent between polarities which are emanations of one another upon the vertical axis. In the same way, by awakening Isis, the worshipper rouses Her power, glimpsing Divine Reality (Osiris resurrected), and later again awakening to Her power in an even greater degree, each being an ascent between two poles which are in reality one. This unity is symbolized, for both Isis and Osiris, by the pouring of water from two urns: the water pours from them both, yet is water: one in two . . .
In the process of ascent, the initiate undergoes a change . . . (Versluis, p. 41)
Microcosmically, the feminine pole represents the pure energy of luminous prana that is aroused and rises up the axis of the body, through the chakras, until She is seen to be united with the male pole that is pure consciousness. Macrocosmically, She is Herself veiled from Herself—maya; and He represents the Cosmic Mind. We do not say that Isis is Shakti, nor that Osiris is Shiva, but that they signify the same dynamic between the two poles of the divine emanations.
Ever since before the time of Aristotle, anatomists have recognized that the human body is potentially androgynous. In the male body the female organs of sex exist in a state of latent development, and the male organs of sex are present in the female body in a rudimentary form. According to the myths and esoteric traditions, this physical reality has its complement on the psychological and spiritual levels also. The human being is composed of feminine and masculine components. The target of spiritual development is the union of the poles, as expressed in the dramatic ritual of the Hopi priests' Snake Dance:
. . . In brief, two religious societies, two kivas, participate in it; the Snake and the Antelope. The bowels of the earth in which the snake makes its home are symbolically equated with the lowest of man's vibratory centers, which controls the generative organs. In Hindu mysticism this is the muladhara chakra, corresponding to the sacral plexus and the plexus pelvis which stand for the realm of reproductive forces, within which the serpent power, Kundalini, lies coiled. The antelope, conversely, is associated with the highest center of man, located at the crown of the head. Tibetan and Hindu mysticism also use the antelope to symbolize the highest psychical center as shown by the horned antelope pictured on Buddhist temples. Hence the snake and the antelope symbolize the opposite polarities of man, the gross or physical and psychic and Spiritual. The fusing of these two is the hermetic theme of the Hopi ceremony (Waters, 1975).
According to the perennial philosophy and the Kundalini paradigm, the adept is one who has balanced and integrated the dual nature of the psyche.
It is fitting then, that, like most Egyptian divinities, Thoth is depicted holding the scepter and ankh common to all the gods. The ankh is the Egyptian hieroglyphic for "life," often identified with the Greek Tau cross and the Christian crux ansata, sometimes seen with the brazen serpent of Moses suspended on it. According to some nineteenth century researchers, the ankh is a symbol of the male and female generative powers. Gopi Krishna supports this view, in the context of the Kundalini paradigm:
The male and female principles in every human organism have to combine ultimately to give rise to soul-captivating rapture that forms the perennial feature of Divine Consciousness. The Lingam-Yoni symbol thus forms a most effective device for conveying the momentous significance of the creative act . . . This is also the reason why the gods and goddesses of ancient Egypt hold the symbol "Ankh" and the divinities in India hold the "lotus" in their hands½both emblematic of the divine nature of the creative act. The Egyptian symbol "Ankh" itself resembles a half open lotus in which the long stem represents the stalk, the opened petals the arms of the cross and the ring or the loop-like handle the unopened part, symbolizing the Lingam welded to the Yoni as is the case with the images in India. (1978b: 63)
The ankh thus symbolizes the union of the solar and lunar forces that occurs in the brain as a prerequisite for the experience of union with the Cosmic Mind. Viewed in this light, the ankh symbol held by Thoth supports the Kundalini paradigm in the assertion that the reproductive and evolutionary mechanism in the human system are so closely related as to be identical: "The same life-energy produced by the nerves is at the base of erotic excitement at one end and of passion for the Divine at the other (Krishna, 1987:62)."
Budge tells us that, as a chronographer, Thoth wears the full lunar disk in a crescent (1934: 152,. A crescent of the moon also adorns the head of Lord Shiva. Gopi Krishna reminds us that Soma, the Vedic "juice" that is internally imbibed, is also one of the names of the lunar orb, and he asserts that the moon on the head of the Goddess Isis also carries the same significance (1978a: 9). Gopi Krishna reinforces this view with the following excerpt from Panchastavi:
O Bhawani, Those devotees who see Thee clearly like the crescent of the moon, shining in the forehead, lighting from its depths the sky of the mind, those wise men soon become inspired poets and Thou grantest all desires to these discerning souls full of faith (2.21).
Microcosmically, the lunar disk symbolizes the transmutation of sexual energy, perceived internally as a luminous radiation, that is the quintessence of the Kundalini paradigm.
The wisdom of the serpent power is also symbolized in the popular stories of Ancient Egypt. From a manuscript dating to a period prior to the XVIIIth dynasty, Maspero recounts the tale of the shipwrecked sailor, who is lost at sea after his ship is caught in a gale that raises the waves to eight cubits. All the others on the ship perish, except for the one sailor who spends three nights alone until he lands on an island that is a veritable paradise: "I found there figs and grapes, magnificent leeks, berries and seeds, melons at will, fish, and birds; there is nothing that was not there (1915: 101)." The sailor proceeds to light a fire to make an offering to the gods, whereupon he hears a voice like thunder, the trees creaked and the earth trembled. Uncovering his face, the sailor sees a Serpent thirty cubits long, his body inlaid with gold, his eyes made of lapis, and more perfect on the side than in front . . . "He then took me in his mouth, he carried me to his lair and laid me down there without my receiving any injury; I was safe and sound . . ."
The sea in this tale is echoed in many later legends and symbolical treatises. As Jung explains, the spiritual water is the life-principle and the "marriage maker" between "man" and "woman":
The "marvels" of this sea are that it mitigates and unites the opposites. An essential feature of the royal marriage is therefore the sea-journey, as described by Christian Rosencreutz. This alchemical motif was taken up by Goethe in Faust II, where it underlies the meaning of the Aegean Festival (1963: 461).
By reaching the paradisal island, the sailor has attained the union of psychic opposites, whereupon the divine serpent is revealed to him in an earth-shaking experience. But this is only the beginning of the tale.
The Serpent advises the sailor not to fear, for God has permitted him to survive and led him to "the Isle of the Double, where there is nothing that is not found here, and which is full of all good things (Maspero, p. 103)." The "double" is the Egyptian soul. It is noteworthy that one translator, Golenischeff, regards the ka as meaning spirit and genius. Golenischeff renders the reference to the island of the ka as "this enchanted island, this island of the genius (Maspero, p. 103)." Following this pronouncement, the Serpent begins to prophesy, describing his own nature and giving specific details on the sailor's fate, which come to pass as foretold. The sailor pays obeisance to the Serpent in acts of worship. As predicted beforehand, a vessel eventually comes to collect the sailor. The Serpent expresses his good wishes to the sailor and gives him many gifts, "all excellent riches." In response to the sailor's worship, the Serpent again begins to prophesy. Upon the sailor's departure, the island "transform[s] itself into waves," confirming the spiritual nature of the entire visitation.
The story concludes with the sailor's glorious return to his home, "according to all that the serpent had said." Before his journey, the sailor was a lowly vassal. But he returns having assumed a greater status: "I entered before the Sovereign, and I presented to him the gifts I had brought from that island, and he made much of me in the presence of the nobility of the Entire Land (Maspero, pp. 106-7)." One version of the tale concludes thus:
Hear my prayer, for it is good to listen to people. It was said unto me, "Become a wise man, and thou shalt come to honor," and behold I have become as such (Mercatante, p. 157).
The experience has transformed and elevated the shipwrecked sailor, transporting him to visionary heights of prophecy, all through the agency of the serpentine fire.
The creative intelligence that flows from the serpent power is also indicated in the myths relating to the Mother Goddess. The Female Deities of Babylon, Egypt, Crete, Greece, and India, were all identified with or as serpents and were closely associated with wisdom and prophecy. In ancient times, the Goddess was revered nearly everywhere as wise counselor and prophetess:
The Celtic Cerridwen was the Goddess of Intelligence and Knowledge in the pre-Christian legends of Ireland, the priestesses of the Goddesses Gaia provided the wisdom of divine revelation at pre-Greek sanctuaries, while the Greek Demeter and the Egyptian Isis were both invoked as law-givers and sage dispensers of righteous wisdom, counsel and justice. The Egyptian Goddess Maat represented the very order, rhythm and truth of the Universe. Ishtar of Mesopotamia was referred to as the Directress of the People, the Prophetess, the Lady of Vision (Stone, p. 4).
Isis, like the Mother Goddess of Minoan Crete and other ancient cultures of the Mediterranean, was pictured with coiled serpents or asps. At Delphi, the Goddess was held sacred as the source of divine revelations spoken by a priestess who served Her. The oracle of divine wisdom was called the Pythia, and coiled about the seat upon which she sat was a serpent known as Python. And, as Gene Kieffer writes, "the Greek word for Wisdom . . . is Sophia, and it has the same root and kabbalistically the same number (780) as the Greek word Ophis or serpent (1980a)."
Many years ago, Godfrey Higgins exclaimed: "When I find learned men believing Genesis literally, which the ancients with all their failings had too much sense to receive except allegorically, I am tempted to doubt the reality of the improvement of the human mind (Villars, p. 10)." Gnosticism also views the first book of the Holy Bible as a spiritual allegory, "not so much history with a moral as myth with meaning," as Elaine Pagels expresses so well (1988: 64; see also 1979). Although Gnosticism includes many sects and varying perspectives, Pagels underscores that Gnostic interpreters share a central conviction with the Hindu: "That the divine being is hidden deep within human nature, as well as outside it, and although often unperceived, is a spiritual potential latent in the human psyche (1988: 65)." This conviction is a central tenet of the perennial philosophy.
From a Gnostic interpretation, the biblical allegory of Eve and the Serpent revolves around the wisdom of the serpent. It's a lesson on the dynamics of the evolutionary energy. The "tree of knowledge" can be none other than the human cerebrospinal system, which, when stimulated by a more potent form of prana, becomes the Tree of Life (Kieffer, 1980a) . Discussing this aspect of the creation myth, the commentator of The Comte de Gabalis says:
"Directed downward through the lower physical centers for generation, unhallowed by a consciousness of responsibility to God and the incoming soul, the Serpent Force or Fire brought knowledge of evil; directed upward toward the brain for regeneration, the formation of the deathless Solar body, it brought knowledge of good (Villars, p. 126)."
The allegory of Eve and the Serpent thus relates, not to a primordial sin, but to the process of rebirth, in which the human being awakens a supersensory organ of perception, also known as the Third Eye or Sixth Sense: "For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil (Genesis 3.5)." As the commentator of The Comte puts it, here the tree of life symbolizes the upward play of the Solar Force: "Hence the meaning is lest man should learn the Law governing Solar Force and directing it upward, become immortal (Villars, p. 128)." Even in the Holy Bible. then, we see echoes of the universal belief in the regenerative powers and wisdom of the feminine logos.
The tree of knowledge of good and evil also appears in legends of classical Greece about the golden apple tree of the Goddess Hera, about which the serpent Ladon was coiled. The tree was given to Hera by the Earth-Mother Goddess Gaia, the primeval prophetess of the shrine at Delphi (Stone, p. 214).
Wherever the Goddess was known and revered, She was extolled as "the prophetess of great wisdom, closely identified with the serpent, but the original Creatress, and the patroness of sexual pleasures and reproduction as well (Stone, p. 217)." This clearly parallels the Kundalini paradigm, which asserts the dual action of the reproductive-cum-evolutionary energy. In Celtic Ireland, the Goddess Brigit was esteemed as the patron deity of language; in Sumer, the Goddess Nibada invented clay tablets and the art of writing. And in India, the Goddess Sarasvati, divine consort of Brahma was honored as the inventor of the original alphabet. Sarasvati is venerated by Hindus as "Vagdevi"—goddess of language, eloquence and wisdom. Sarasvati becomes Vak, the goddess of river-like streaming speech. Together with Vak, Sarasvati is viewed as the Mother of the Vedas.
As Thoth is the Lord of Sacred Speech in Egypt, Vak (Vac or Vach) is the Logos of the Vedic shruti—revealed scriptures. The divine Vak is the "uttered word," the "melodious cow who brings forth milk and water." In the Rig Veda, Vak is the world principle which underlies all action by the gods. Vak represents both speech and natural forces. She is in a sense maya (Cotterrell, p. 66), in the manner of Isis and her veil. The Goddess Vak is the wife of Prajapati, the divine creator of the world. She is the deified personification of speech, which is believed to be invested with powers of creation, as the following Hymn to Vak attests:
. . . When men, Brihaspati, giving names to objects, sent out Vak's first and earliest utterances,
All that was excellent and spotless, treasured within them, was disclosed through their affection.
Where, like men cleansing corn-flour in a cribble, the wise in spirit have created language,
Friends see and recognize the marks of friendship: their speech retains the blessed sign imprinted . . .
With sacrifice the trace of Vak they followed, and found her harboring within the Rishis.
They brought her, dealt her forth in many places: seven singers make her tones resound in concert . . .
(Rig Veda, 10.71)
We should note that Vak is found within the Rishis, the inspired sages, and that seven singers resound in Her concert. Could the seven singers be an allusion to the seven chakras or psychophysical centers that are energized by prana? Perhaps the following excerpts from the one hundred and twenty-fifth hymn of the tenth book of the Rig Veda, known as the Vak-Sukha, will provide some hints:
. . . I hold aloft both Varuna and Mitra, Indra and Agni, and the Pair of Ashvins.
I cherish and sustain high-swelling Soma, and Tvashtar I support, Pushan, and Bhaga.
I load with wealth the zealous sacrificer who pours the juice and offers his oblation.
As Soma is a symbol of Kundalini (Gopi Krishna, 1975; Kieffer, 1988), the equivalence of Soma and Vak is suggested. The further allusion to pouring "the juice" is a reference to the sublimation of sexual-cum-evolutionary energy. The continuing lines of this verse from the Rig Veda establish the identity of Vak as a "Queen," a Mother Goddess who feeds us with truth and wisdom:
I am the Queen, the gatherer-up of treasures, most thoughtful, first of those who merit worship . . .
Through me alone all eat the food that feeds them,—each man who sees, breathes, hears the word outspoken.
They know it not, but yet they dwell beside me. Hear, one and all, the truth as I declare it.
I, verily, myself announce and utter the word that Gods and men alike shall welcome.
I make the man I love exceeding mighty, make him a sage, Rishi, and a Brahman.
By what other agency than the working of Kundalini does one become a sage or Rishi? The final lines we will quote describe Vak as the supreme creative energy behind creation.
I rouse and order battle for the people, and I have penetrated Earth and Heaven.
On the world's summit I bring forth the Father: my home is in the waters, in the ocean.
Thence I extend o'er all existing creatures, and touch even yonder heaven with my forehead.
I breathe the strong breathe (sic) like the wind and tempest, the while I hold together all existence.
Beyond this wide earth and beyond the heavens I have become so mighty in my grandeur.
Rig Veda (10.125)
The "Father" produced by Vak is the Heaven or Sky, the Paramatma, the supreme or universal soul. As Creatrix, Vak "penetrates Earth and Heaven" and extends over "all existing creatures." There can be no doubt that an aspect of Vak is prana, as She is the "breath" that holds "together all existence."
Like prana, Vak has a universal and an individual aspect. On the universal level, Vak is a highly diffused intelligent energy spread everywhere. And in the individual, Vak takes the form of Kundalini-Shakti, the extremely subtle organic essence drawn from the elements and compounds of the body. This essence is transformed into psychic energy—the juice that is poured—to become the fuel for thought and revelation.
The author of the Vedic hymn might concur with the statement made many years later in the Hatha Yoga Pradipika (113): "As long as the Prana does not enter and flow in the middle channel and the mind does not become firm by the control of the movements of Prana; as long as the mind does not assume the form of Brahma without any effort in contemplation, so long all talk of knowledge and wisdom is merely the nonsensical babbling of a mad man." In India, this transformation was termed Urdhava-Retas, the upward streaming of bioenergy into the brain. This is also the central theme of The Secret of the Golden Flower: "The Chinese Book of Life," also known as The Art of Securing Conscious Immortality. According to this book of esoteric Taoism:
. . . The way of the Golden Flower depends wholly on the backward-flowing method.
Man's heart stands under the fire sign. The flames of fire press upward . . . The energy of the kidneys is under the water sign. When the desires are stirred, it runs downward, is directed outward, and creates children. If, in the moment of release, it is not allowed to flow outward, but is led back by the energy of thought so that it penetrates the crucible of the Creative, and refreshes the heart and body and nourishes them, that also is the backward-flowing method. Therefore it is said, The Way of the Elixir of Life depends entirely on the backward-flowing method (Wilhelm, pp. 31-2).
It is unfortunate that Jung, in his introduction to this book, completely missed the point and made futile attempts to incorporate the framework in his own idealized unconscious (Gopi Krishna, 1974: 151)." The logos of the heart-consciousness and the eros of the kidneys-sexuality are the dual psychic poles. According to Wilhelm's commentary, "the adept turns them inward and brings them together, whereby they fertilize one another and produce a . . . vital, strong, life of the spirit (1931: 31)." The Chinese tradition therefore corresponds to the descriptions of the Tantras and other Hatha-Yoga texts about the "dripping ambrosia on the union of Shakti with Shiva." This is also the subject of the Prajnaparamita, or Perfection of Insight, the body of Tantric literature of Mahayana Buddhism (Wayman). This supports the central claim of the Kundalini paradigm that the ultimate aim of all forms of Yoga and religious disciplines is a transformation based on the inward and upward flow of creative bioenergy to the brain, as a precursor to paranormal perception, including inspiration and revelation.
A symbol of this transformation that is associated with Hermes, the Greek version of Thoth, is the Caduceus, or Rod of Hermes. The Caduceus is the symbol of healing energy used by the medical professions. According to legend, this staff was a gift to Hermes from Apollo, an emblem of God's message to humanity. We should note that Apollo is "the pure or bright one" and the "shining." Microcosmically, this is an allusion to the Solar Force and to the effulgence of mystical insight. Only a few days after his birth, Apollo slew the Python dragon (Lurker), i.e., he conquered and transmuted his lower nature. This is a further link between Kundalini and the staff of Hermes. One legend relates that Apollo replaced the earth serpent Python as the main source of inspiration at Delphi, sending up revelations and prophecies to the priestess known as the Delphic Oracle (Cotterrell). Once again, Kundalini is portrayed as the source of inspiration and revelation.
According to Hermetic philosophy, the "staff [of Hermes] represents the spine containing the cerebro-spinal nervous system which is the wand of the magician, while the two intertwining serpents which ascend symbolize the positive and negative currents of the Solar Force directed upward for the stimulation and evolution of the Solar Principle in man (Villars, p. 68)." Similarly, Manly Hall identifies the two serpents coiled around the staff as Ida and Pingala: "The central staff is Sushumna, the bulb at the upper end of the rod is Sahasrara (the highest chakra, i.e., neural network], and the wings are Ajna—the two-petalled lotus above the bridge of the nose (1972: 191)." The intertwining serpents are united at the bottom of the staff because spirit and matter are joined in man's physical life. The serpents intersect each other at six points, or six chakras, before facing each other as they unite at the seventh chakra. At the top of the staff, we find the solar orb, emblematic of the radiant Solar Force, with a wing of feathers on either side. The equilibrium between opposing forces leads to the flight of mystical vision, as denoted by the two wings which keep the staff aloft.
The motif of the winged, or feathered, serpent appears also in the mythology and scriptures of Native American traditions. Consider Quetzalcoatl, the plumed serpent god of many Mesoamerican traditions, who may have originated among the Mayans as Kulkulkan. According to Manly P. Hall, the Quetzacoatl of the Nahuatlan people, the Gucumatz of the Quichs, and the Kulkulkan of the Mayas were one figure: "In each language, the word signifies feathered, plumed, or winged serpent (1951: 11)."
Like Vak among the Hindus, Quetzalcoatl was the giver of breath and the god of the winds. He was identified with the sun and known as "he who was born of the virgin," "the Divine Incarnation," and "lord of knowledge." Among the Aztecs, Quetzalcoatl is the son of the universal creator god and the virgin Sochiquetzal. According to seemingly contradictory myths of the Mayans, Quetzalcoatl is the Sun born of Coatilcue as well as her husband, making Coatilcue both the wife and mother of the sun (Waters, 1975). Gopi Krishna describes the occult significance of being the wife and mother of the sun: "Kundalini is at once the procreative energy and the mother pregnant with the hope of a second birth for the initiate (1978: 96) ." In some legends, Quetzalcoatl is a moon-god who burns himself in the sun's fires in order to reappear in renewed youth. This account, signifying the human potential for rebirth, parallels the association of both Thoth and Shiva with the lunar orb.
In addition to being a deity at the center of a rich mythology, Quetzalcoatl was a quasi-historical cultural hero who reigned for many years as a great prophet-king. As a human, he was exceptional in moral virtues, holding a place among his people which is analogous to King Arthur. He is credited with inventions in the agriculture of maize. Like Thoth-Hermes, Quetzalcoatl is an initiate-philosopher; he taught the measurement of time, the study of celestial motion, and he invented the calendar as well as the hieroglyphic method of writing. Quetzalcoatl is the reputed author of the Tonalamatl, or Book of Fate of the Aztecs, a calendar used to calculate human destiny and to divine prophecies concerning social and political futures.
Upon his departure, legend has it, the secrets of Quetzalcoatl were entrusted to an Order of priests, who practiced the arts and sciences, healed the sick, and were diviners and prophets. Hall claims that one of these priests was the author of the Popul Vuh, a prophetic scripture known as The Book of the Azure Veil (Aretas). The Popul Vuh consists of a mythology that seems intermingled with historical accounts of heroic deeds performed by superhuman beings. The scripture includes sections on cosmogony, theogony, anthropology, and regeneration through initiation (Hall, 1951). The document begins with a description of Creation, of the beginning:
. . . All was immobility and silence in the Darkness, in the Night; only the Creator, the Former, the Dominator, the Plumed Serpent, they who engender, they who give being, were on the waters as an ever-increasing Light.
They are enveloped in a Halo of green-fringed blue: that is why their name is "The Serpent with the plumes of the Paradise Bird." Of the greatest Sages is their Being: that is why the Heavens exist, and the Heart of the Heavens; such is the name of the Deity; it is thus that he is invoked. (Aretas, p. 48)
This scene is followed by the coming of the Word, which is spoken by the Plumed Serpent, establishing the identity of this figure with the Logos and creative energy of other traditions.
Writing under the pseudonym of Aretas, the great Theosophical writer James Morgan Pryse translates Quetzalcoatl thus from the Nahuatl language: "quetzal, the bird of paradise; coatl, serpent—'the Serpent veiled in plumes of the paradise-bird' (Aretas, p. 44). Pryse insists that the Popul Vuh remains a sealed book unless the nature of the Bird-Serpent is understood, and he points out the parallel with many Biblical references, such as the saying from Matthew: "Be ye therefore wise as serpents and guileless as doves (10.16)." According to Pryse, "even as the Serpent is the symbol of divine electric Fire, so the Dove stands for the solar and lunar magnetic radiance of the pure-souled man, or Mystic (Aretas, p. 46)." There are remarkable excerpts from the Judeo-Christian scriptures that appear to express this symbol:
Will ye lie among the sheepfolds [circles of neophytes],
As the wings of a dove covered with silver [lunar],
And her pinions with yellow gold [solar]?
By his spirit the Heavens are beautified;
His hands hath formed the undulating Serpent [lightning].
I have beheld the Breath descending out of the Heavens as a Dove, and it abode upon him. And I myself knew him not: but he that sent me to baptize in water, he himself said unto me, "Upon whomsoever thou shalt see the Breath descending, and abiding upon him, this is he that baptizeth in the Holy Breath."
The quetzal has the same esoteric meaning as the dove; the creature combines the power and wisdom of the serpent with the inspiration of the bird, and symbolizes the mystical flight of the adept and prophet. The image of flying is a metaphor conveying the sublimation of energy for the elevation of consciousness. Pryse puts it thus: "The quetzal . . . is a symbol identical with that of the Christian Dove; and between the Quetzal-plumed Serpent, who is the 1'Heart of the Heavens," and the Christ who saw the serpent falling as lightning from the Heavens, and upon whom the Holy Breath descended from the Heavens as a Dove, abiding upon him, there is no difference: alike they express the sacred truth of the soul and spirit of Nature, the soul and spirit of Man (Aretas, p. 46)." it is worth noting that Pryse has also authored an impressive translation and interpretation of The Revelation of St. John, which is shown—in part—to be a manual of spiritual development based on knowledge of Kundalini (Pryse, 1910).
The dragon is another form of the feathered or winged serpent. This mythical creature is a key symbol in the legends of the British Isles which concern the King Arthur and his Mystic-Counsel Merlin.
In his great book The History of the British Kings, Geoffrey of Monmouth (Twelfth Century) includes The Prophecies of Merlin, a collection of visionary and poetic material drawn from the oral wisdom traditions. Stewart states that "one of the more obvious reasons for the relative obscurity of The Prophecies is the simple and sad fact that Westerners are still rather unaware of their own inner and transcendent traditions (1986: 3)."
A critical key to the Prophecies of Merlin lies in the allegory of King Vortigern and his Tower. According to this story, the corrupt King is advised by his magicians that his safety and power can be assured if he will build a fortified tower. The King's builders, however, are unable to establish a stable foundation, as each attempt is "swallowed up by the earth." Thus the magicians further advise the King that the foundation may be made firm by the sacrifice of a male born of a virgin, namely the young Merlin. Brought before the King with his Mother, Merlin is informed of his fate, whereupon he responds to the King: "Order your magicians to come before me, and I will convict them of a lie (Stewart, p. 46)." The King is so stunned by the boy Merlin that he obeys, and Merlin speaks:
Because you are ignorant what it is that hinders the foundation of the tower, you have recommended the shedding of my blood for cement to it, as if that would presently make it stand. But tell me no, what is there under the foundation? For something there is that will not suffer it to stand. (Stewart, p. 46)
Just as the young Christ impresses the Rabbis, the young Merlin makes a deep impression on the King's Magicians, and they are unable to respond. Merlin then tells the King that there is a pond under the ground that causes the foundation to sink, which is found to be true. When the King's magicians are unable to divine what is beneath the pond, Merlin tells the King that the pond be drained, and at the bottom will be found two hollow stones, and in them two dragons asleep. The tale continues:
. . . The king made no scruple of believing him . . . and ordered it to be drained: which done, he found as Merlin had said; now was possessed with the greatest admiration of him. Nor were the rest that were present less amazed at his wisdom, thinking it to be no less than divine inspiration . . .
Accordingly, while Vortigen, King of the Britons was yet seated upon the bank of the pool that had been drained, forth issued two dragons, whereof the one was white and the other red. (Stewart, p. 46-7)
The dragons are released, and as they grapple together in "baleful combat," breathing "forth fire as they panted," Merlin's eyes fill with tears and he begins to prophesy. The allegory thus establishes the connection between the dragon fire, an ecstatic vision, and revelation.
The allegory is not simply a moralistic tale, as some have interpreted. We concur with Stewart's view that "the connection to the act of prophecy, and the levels of symbolism leading to the rise of the Red and White Dragons, imply much more (1986: 48)." In Stewart's view, the transformative symbolism relating to Merlin's inner awakening is directly in keeping with the themes found in mystical and magical initiations in both eastern and western systems of raising consciousness (1986: 50).
In Stewart's interpretation, the king's magicians are like false prophets spreading delusions and false systems of knowledge:
. . . They are the misleading beings who occupy the "astral plane" and pretend to advise those foolish enough to listen to them in pursuit of power. They are, in fact, magical knowledge divorced from wisdom and the enlivening spirit; though their methods may work to a limited extent, the end product is weakness and imbalance (1986: 55).
In contrast to the false or black magicians, the allegory favors the method of the young Adept Merlin, who awakens the inner fire. That Merlin is one who has been spiritually reborn is established at the outset of the legend by his origin as the son of a virgin. As Joseph Campbell has said, the virgin birth refers to a spiritual rebirth, the second birth resulting from transcendence of the lower natures: "The begetter is the spirit (Campbell, p. 174)." In the case of Merlin, the manner in which the rebirth occurs is analogous to the technology of Kundalini described elsewhere:
The student of westernized texts on Yoga will recognize that the progression is almost identical to that of the methods of Tantra of the scientific art of Kundalini yoga. This "secret" power system, known in the west as the Arousal of the Inner Fire, lies at the core of all mystical, meditative and magical practices.
. . . The two stones are vessels that encyst the Dragons. As in Alchemy, they must be shattered or dissolved, to liberate the power enclosed within.
. . . Once freed, they are found to be a Red and White Dragon, the most primal embodiments of positive and negative polarity. In magical techniques, these energies lie quiescent at the base of the spine (i.e., below the Tower) until aroused by meditation, or more unusually, by magical ritual. A great deal of training is given in learning how to prepare for this uprush, the Inner Fire, and to direct it to the seat of apparent consciousness in the Head. (Stewart, p. 63)
The draining of the pond is an allusion to the sublimation of sexual energy—to the "backward flowing water" of the Taoists. This is followed by a transition from a lower to a higher state, from a dense to a more refined condition, as in all cases of sublimation. The dragons begin to interact, the inner fire is intensified, and Merlin is overwhelmed with awe and wonder at the prophetic vision. The absolute identity of the magic of Merlin with the Yoga symbology is assured by the following description of Tantric physiology: "Ida encircles Sushumna on the left and ends in the left nostril; Pingala forms its right counterpart. Ida is of bright hue and contains "the liquid of immortality"; Pingala is red and contains the "liquid of death (Klostermaier, p. 271)." The white dragon is Ida, and the red dragon is Pingala.
The story of Merlin's awakening closely resembles alchemical symbolism: "The entire passage of the confrontation and revelation leading to the arousal of the Dragon may be read as a typical alchemical text (Stewart, p. 54)."
A review of alchemical literature shows that the adepts of this art were concerned with the union of substances, by means of which they hoped to produce spiritual gold, a symbol for the higher state of consciousness. By consciously combining the male and female elements, the alchemist's objective was to synthesize the Philosopher's Stone, a symbol of transformation, self-knowledge, and wisdom. As Jung writes in one of his studies of Alchemy:
In contradistinction to the modern prejudice that self-knowledge is nothing but a knowledge of the ego, the alchemists regarded the self as a substance incommensurable with the ego, hidden in the body, and identical with the image of God. This view fully accords with the Indian idea of purusha-atman. The psychic preparation . . . is therefore an attempt . . . to bring about a union of opposites in accordance with the great Eastern philosophies, and to establish for this purpose a principle freed from the opposites and similar to the atman or tao (1963: 499).
According to alchemical texts, Mercurius is the medium of conjunction, the "mediator between body and spirit." Like prana, Mercurius is a "life-giving power like a glue, holding together and standing in the middle between body and spirit (Jung, 1967: 214)." Please note that Mercury is the Latin form of the familiar Thoth, by way of the Greek Hermes. Mercurius is the process by which the lower or material is transformed into the higher or spiritual.
On Jung's authority, "Mercurious . . . is not just the medium of conjunction but also that which is united, since he is the essence or 'seminal matter' in both man and woman (1963: 462)." Mercurius is often called the spirit us vegetalis or spiritus seminalis (Jung, 1967: 213). A clear bond with the doctrine of Kundalini. A form of Mercurius is the quicksilver, or philosophical mercury, a substance which Albertus Magnus says "flees from the fire, but the sages by their art have caused it to withstand the fire, by nourishing it to withstand the fire, by nourishing it with its own earth until it endured the fire, and then it performs works and permutations (Jung, 1963: 500)." Mercurius is also known as the soul of the gold (red) and the silver (white), the conjunction of which must be accomplished to become an adept. Albertus Magnus writes:
Our final secret consists in this, that one obtains the medicine which flows, before Mercurius evaporates . . . There is no worthier or purer substance than the sun and its shadow the moon, without which no tincturing quicksilver can be produced . . . He who understands, therefore, how to unite this with the sun and moon will obtain the arcanum, which is named the sulphur of the art (Jung, 1963: 501).
The allusion to sulphur is thus explained by Jung: "There is . . . a red and a white sulphur, so it too is duplex and identical with Mercurius. Red sulphur stands for the masculine, active principle of the sun, the white for the masculine, active principle of the moon (1963: 506)." The quicksilver is a transcendental substance described only by antinomies. The connection with Pingala and Ida of the Yogic system, and with the sublimation of sexual energy in the awakening of Kundalini, is emphasized with Jung's comment:
The "serpent rejoicing in itself" (luxurians in se ipso) is the Democritean physis (natura) "which embraces itself" and is symbolized by the ouroboros of Greek alchemy, a well-known emblem of Mercurius. It is the symbol of the union of opposites par excellence and an alchemical version of the proverb: les extremes se touchent (1963: 504).
Can there be any doubt about the common objective of the alchemist and the yogic adept? "By sublimating matter he concretized spirit (Jung, 1963: 536)."
In many alchemical treatises, Mercurius is defined simply as fire, ignis eleinentaris. He is the "invisible fire, working in secret." According to one text, he is the "universal and scintillating fire of the light of nature, which carries the heavenly spirit within it (Jung, 1967: 209)." This is a clear description of Kundalini-prana. The mercurial fire is found in the "center of the earth" or in the dragon's belly, in liquid form. Mercurius is of a fiery nature—fire does not harm him, though he is the source of mystical knowledge. "Once more," as Jung writes, "we catch a glimpse of the ancient role of Hermes as the god of revelation (1967: 209)."
The association of fire and revelation will be familiar to students of the Judeo-Christian scriptures. Does not the revelation to Moses emerge from a burning bush: "And the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: And he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed (Exodus, 3.2)." In his work on the Symbols of Transformation, Jung discusses at length the relationship between fire, breath, speech, and revelation, and he cites 13 references from the Holy Bible, including the best-known example from Acts: "And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and is sat upon each of them. And they were filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues (2.3-4)." In the language of the ancients, the light ascribed to divinity was thought of as a fiery breath of air, and the pneuma was believed to be fiery. As Jung puts it, "the sword denotes solar power, therefore a sword goes out from the mouth of Christ in the Apocalypse, namely the procreative fire, speech, or the spermatic Word (1956: 359)."
Some specialists in occult literature claim that Hermes is derived from "herm, a root meaning the active, radiant, and vital principle of life, known to ancient masonry as the Cosmic Fire, Chiram (Mead, 1978). Hall writes that "herm" is a form of Chiram, a word comprised of the three Hebrew consonants—Cheth, Resh, and Mein (1928: 78). Cheth signifies Chamah, the Sun's Light. Resh signifies Ruach, meaning spirit and air, the medium for burning fire. And Mem signifies Majim—water of humidity—the mother of water, a kind of condensed air that would result from the process of sublimation. The three consonants thus constitute the Universal Agency of fire in Nature, and Chiram is the Universal Life Principle, generally represented by fire. The "column of fire" of Egyptian and Masonic symbolism refers to "the metamorphosis brought about by the kindling of the 'fire' of Kundalini (Gopi Krishna, 1978a: 119)." It is significant that the thirty-three degrees recognized in the rituals of Freemasonry correspond to the thirty-three degrees, or vertebrae, of the spinal system (Hall, 1972: 175)." There is a symbolic link also to David, who reigned for thirty-three years in Jerusalem, and to Christ, whose lifetime was thirty-three years. On the basis of his study of occult anatomy and symbolism, Hall states that "sufficient similarity exists between the Masonic Chiram and the Kundalini of Hindu mysticism to warrant the assumption that Chiram may be considered a symbol also of the Spirit Fire moving through . . . the spinal column. The exact science of regeneration is the Lost Key of Masonry (1928:79)."
The esoteric traditions hold that man is fourfold in nature, that we have four bodies corresponding to the four elements. The earth body is said to be interpenetrated by a body of finer matter vibrating at a higher rate—the water body—in which the emotions and passions register. Interpenetrating these is a more subtle shade of matter in which the thoughts register, called the air body. At the most refined level of matter, and informing the three lower bodies is:
. . . The Spark Divine, the potential Solar Body or God in man, existing as it were in embryo, awaiting the evolution of the Earth, Water, and Air bodies, to sustain the flow of Solar Force which shall stimulate and perfect its divine unfoldment. To seal the goblet of compressed Air, Water, or Earth, means to master the body, emotions and mind, and to differentiate appetites from emotions, and emotions from thoughts, for the purpose of gaining absolute control over the personal self (Villars, p. 54).
As the Kundalini paradigm holds, the esoteric traditions teach that constant aspiration liberates in man the Force which is a Living Flame: "This fire, once liberated, begins immediately to displace the sluggish nervous force and to open and perfect those nerve centers or minor brains, atrophied from disuse, which when regenerated reveal to man super-physical states of consciousness and knowledge (Villars, p. 50)."
The symbol of fire represents the creative energy as well as the luminous radiation perceived in mystical experience. "Fire," says Gopi Krishna, "is the radiance of illuminated consciousness kindled with the control of Prana (1978a: 9)." It is the "living flame of love," described by St. John of the Cross, from which blooms the "flower of the fire," as the Chaldean Platonists of the later Roman Empire termed the "eye of the soul (Lewy, p. 168)." Thus, one Chaldean oracle, discussing the "subtle flame of the subtle intellect," says: "The mortal that has approached the fire, will obtain light from God (Lewy, p. 173)."
Alvin Boyd Kuhn reminds us that all life processes are a burning. Just as oxidization is a slower burning, disintegration of a composite by operation of superior potency is a burning. The energic activity of life is the work of fire, as is beautifully expressed by Kuhn:
Man's whole life, then, is cast in the midst of a veritable welter of fiery forces, and so Egypt described the world as the lake of fire, or again "the crucible of the great house of flame." . . . "Higher" fires and "lower" fires, or the rays of cosmic thought and the purely chemical energies embosomed in matter, called by the Egyptians the "seven Uraeus divinities," unite on earth in a combat and interfusion which constitutes indeed the fiery furnace of theological myth. The god came here to transmute both himself and his animal protégé into higher natures. He was to burn out the dross and refine the material of the coarser sheaths, those of "earth" and "water," to make possible the unfoldment . . . of the principle of mind. This type of spiritual combustion is all that was meant by the purging by fire and the winnowing by air (1940: 354).
To purify means to make clean by fire. So the awakening of Kundalini denotes the burning out of the chaff of the animal compound in man by the divine fire of the soul, or the divine afflatus of spirit. This is the universal symbol of the human civilization. As the line from Psalms puts it: "Our God is a living fire." And as John the Baptist affirms in the New Testament: "I indeed baptize you with water, but he that cometh after me shall baptize you with the Holy Spirit [Latin: spiritus or air] and with fire." In more ways than one, the discovery of fire is a key insight in the evolution of humankind.
The sun is in symbol and in fact the fire of life. The energy of light and heat derived from the sun is transformed to provide every kind of energy manifest for Earthly life: the energy of the growth of plants and the vital energy of animals are the same energy changed in its expression. The ancient mythologies and esoteric traditions are unified in proclaiming that:
A supreme manifestation of the vital or solar energy upon the physical plane is found in the sympathetic and cerebro-spinal nervous systems of man, and its voltage can be raised into that Super-Sensible Energy . . .
The unfoldment of the supersensible or spiritual nature of man is but the progressive manifestation in him of that vital energy derived from the Sun and its Divine Source, known throughout the ages as the Solar Force or Serpent, and proceeding from the Creator of the Sun and Worlds, the Great Architect of the Universe (Villars, p. 42).
This is why all the adepts and prophets of mythical and religious theology are solar heroes—they are born of a union with the creative energy, they are embodiments of this "solar force," and they represent its fruition in the mystical vision. This is the universal theme repeated in all the myths and revelations, from The Egyptian Book of the Dead and the Vedas. to the Native American traditions and the esoteric traditions of Masonry and Alchemy.
The final apocalyptic vision of The Prophecies of Merlin begins with the declaration that the "root and branch shall change places, and the newness of the thing shall pass as a miracle (Stewart, p. 122)." This line is followed by a cataclysmic dissolution that can be interpreted along historical, astronomical, and psychological levels. From a psychological point of view, Merlin describes the stage of enlightenment in which consciousness loses its modes of polarity and merges with the Unknown. The key event that triggers the experience is an exchange of directions and positions, as root and branch shall change places. Because this event is at the core of the Kundalini paradigm, we will quote Stewart's explanation at some length:
The reversal of accepted direction or proportion is central to all inner development . . . [including] shamanism, Tibetan Buddhism, Tantric yoga, and the genuine magical traditions of the west. We find them also in the primitive initiations of the Indian tribes, and in the primal symbolism of Norse mythology.
. . . To the initiate the changing of root and branch for one another has a specific magical meaning relating to polarity of consciousness and sexual energy . . . The image of root and branch refers not only to a genuine and irrevocable reversal of direction of attention (i.e. inward instead of outward . . . growth) but also refers to the change of flow of the sensual energies. In magic and in meditation, the catalytic changes are partly energized by drawing the sexual or bioelectrical energies up through the body. This arousal of the Inner Fire stimulates a number of centers of biological and psychic importance, and eventually 'reaches the brain', where it acts as a super-catalyst for consciousness . . .
At the very beginning of The Prophecies. we saw this arousal in the form of the Red and White Dragon; at the close we encounter it in the exchange of root and branch (1986: 123-4).
This explanation of the symbolism in Merlin's Prophecy is a fine summary of the Kundalini paradigm as it relates to inspiration and revelation. Over and over again, the myths, legends, and esoteric philosophies make a parallel claim: Inspiration and revelation derive from an organ of paranormal perception that is activated, to a greater or lesser degree, by the flow of Kundalini-prana in the human system. The awakening of Kundalini, the breath of fire, guides a process of inner transformation that can in some cases lead to a permanent state of union of the soul with the Oversoul or Cosmic Mind.
While space does not permit a full account of historical figures manifesting inspiration and revelation, a few brief examples will highlight the paranormal nature of the phenomena, and can serve to specify signs and symptoms that should be analyzed in later studies.
In the case of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, we see the realization of the myth of Pallas Athena, the Greek goddess of wisdom and insight, who is born by springing full-grown from the head of Zeus. In his study of the alchemy of creative genius entitled Fire in the Crucible, Briggs reminds us that Mozart spilled the overture to Don Giovanni straight from his brain onto the page in the few hours before the premiere. A child prodigy, Mozart was composing symphonies by the age of eight. By his passing at the age of thirty-six, the composer had produced a prodigious opus of musical works.
According to Mozart's wife, "he wrote music like letters and never tried a movement until it was finished (Nisbet, p. 285)." He could write a composition at once in parts without having scored it. Mozart seemed to picture the whole work in his mind as he conceived it. In response to a baron who made him a present of wine and inquired about his methods of composing, Mozart wrote:
It is when I am, as it were, entirely myself, alone and in good spirits, that my ideas flow best and most abundantly. Whence or how they come I know not, nor can I force them. Those that please me I retain in my memory, and I am accustomed, as I have been told, to hum them to myself. If I continue in this way, it soon occurs to me how I may turn this or that morceau to account, agreeably to the rules of counterpoint and to the peculiarities of the various instruments. All this fires my soul, and, provided I am not disturbed, my subject enlarges itself, becomes methodized and defined, and the whole, though it be long, stands almost complete and finished in my mind, so that I can survey it, like a fine picture or a statue, at a glance. In my imagination I hear the various parts, not successively but all at once. What a delight this is I cannot tell. All this inventing and producing takes place in a pleasing, lively dream. Still the actual hearing of the tout enseinole is after all the best . . . For this reason the committing to paper is done quickly enough, for everything is, as I have said before, already finished; and it rarely differs on paper from what it was in my imagination (quoted in Nisbet, p. 285; Rothenberg, p. 184; Briggs, p. 207).
Analysts have argued endlessly in interpreting this famous letter. There can be little doubt that Mozart's inspiration is not a normal type of ideation, but transcends the usual bounds of sense and rationality. No wonder that the greatest masters of music who heard his improvisation would become lost in amazement and delight:
"The impressions produced, says one of them, were like the gift of 'new senses of sight and hearing' (Nisbet, p. 285)." We should also note that, in Mozart's words, his paranormal perception is attended by a firing of the soul. Mozart may use this poetic imagery as a literal description of his internal condition.
It is likely that Mozart was aware of the theoretical aspects of the Kundalini paradigm from his association with Freemasonry. In December of 1784, Mozart joined the lodge Zur wohltatigkeit (Benevolence), to which Karl Ludwig Giesecke, the other poet of Die Zauberflote (Hildesceimer, p. 314). Much has been written on the Freemasonry in this work. The essential theme of Die Zauberflote, or The Magic Flute, is based on the Masonic symbolism of initiation (rebirth) and morality of brotherhood. One musicologist points out that the overture is in the Masonic key of E flat, with three flats. Some suggest that the characters stand for key figures in the recent history of Freemasonry. But Sadie's commentary is particularly informative:
The characters are . . . generalized and symbolic: for example Papageno and Papagena as children of nature, Tamina and Pamina as ideal beings seeking full realization and, especially, ideal union. In this Die Zauberflote may be thought to pursue the theme of self-knowledge predicated in Cosi fan tutte . . . More broadly . . . the opera is susceptible to interpretation in the light of the philosophical, cosmological and epistemological background of 18th-century freemasonry as an allegory about 'the quest of the human soul for both inner harmony and enlightenment,' with the main characters 'joint participants in one being, one psyche, or one soul (1983: 161).'
The opera is thus a ritualized enactment of some aspects of the Kundalini paradigm. This should be considered more fully in later research.
A later study could also inquire further into the manner of Mozart's demise. Soon after the age of thirty, the composer broke down mentally and physically. According to Dr. Bucke's study of Cosmic Consciousness, this is the usual time for the maturation of the awakened individual and the intensification of the evolutionary energy. Could the Mozart delusions and illnesses1 experienced during the composition of the Requiem, have been morbid symptoms that typically occur when biological, environmental, dietary, or other factors are not prime for the awakening of Kundalini (see Gopi Krishna, 1967, 1971)? Mozart died in his thirty-sixth year from inflammation of the brain. An examination of Mozart's life and death, from the viewpoint of the Kundalini paradigm, might shed much light on the phenomenon of inspiration and provide valuable information to guide future geniuses, that they not repeat the story of Mozart's untimely passing in the prime of his powers.
Beethoven is placed in contrast to Mozart's paranormal flow of inspiration because he worked on some of his compositions for years. He is cited as an example of inspiration as rational exercise. However, even in Beethoven's case, a paranormal faculty is at work, as the composer attests:
You will ask me where I get my ideas. I am not able to answer that question positively. They come directly, indirectly; I can grasp them with my hands. Out amidst the freedom of nature, in the woods, on walks . . . called forth . . . by moods . . . and these go through my head ringing and singing and storming until at last I have them before me as notes. I carry my thoughts with me long before I write them down . . . then begins the mental working out of this stuff . . . [Finally] it is put on paper . . .
What we conquer for ourselves through art is from God, divine inspiration . . . Every genuine creation of art is independent, mightier than the artist himself, and through its manifestation, returns to the Divine. With man it has only this in common: that it bears testimony to the meditation of the Divine in him (quoted in Sorokin, 1954a: 106-7; Briggs, p. 309)
We should not forget that from the age of thirty, Beethoven gradually lost his hearing; in his later years he was completely deaf. [Note: Could this deafness be a side effect of a slightly morbid awakening? Gopi Krishna's hardness of hearing might be similarly attributed.] Beethoven never heard the music he wrote in the latter half of his life with the ordinary auditory sense. The music was conceived and perfected only in his mind, surely a paranormal feat not possible by ordinary means of knowledge.
The sublimation of eros figures strongly in the case of Beethoven, who had strong and contrary emotions about women and marriage. Throughout his life, the great composer most often fell in love with women who were already in love, who did not want him, or who were from the wrong social class. As Briggs tells us, '1his love affairs were repeatedly torn
by his desire to be possessed and the opposing fear that he would lose . . . his 'vital powers' in the relationship (1988: 97)." The only woman who fully reciprocated Beethoven's emotions has become known as the "immortal beloved, the form of address he used in the only surviving letter from the romance. When this woman indicated a willingness to leave her husband to live with him, Beethoven panicked and closed the relationship. Writing in his diary after the end of this affair, he concluded that his failure to find a female companion was fated by his destiny to sublimate and transmute his creative energy for his art: “Thou mayest no longer be a man, not for thyself, only for others," he wrote (Briggs, p. 98). Thus the storms of his love affairs were associated with periods of high creativity, as occurs in the cases of countless artists.
To some interpreters, Michel de Nostredame, the Frenchman born in 1503, was the greatest of all prophets of the Renaissance era. For over four hundred years, no set of predictions has aroused the interest and controversy as those credited to Nostradamus, with the exception of Biblical prophecy. Although difficult to interpret because of their cryptic style, content, and ordering, the prophecies are thought to prefigure historical events that have occurred since Nostradamus' time as well as to presage events that have yet to occur. It is not our purpose here to interpret the prophecies from a historical point of view. There are many excellent works showing that Nostradamus' insights are significant (e.g., Fontbrune). Our inquiry concerns the method and faculty behind Nostradamus' gift.
According to his own testimony, given in a preface to The Prophecies, Nostradamus considered himself to be divinely inspired. "The perfect knowledge of causes, he says, "cannot be acquired without divine inspiration (Nostradamus, p. 11)." But he did not believe himself to be a special or divine person; he was a normal person who cultivated the transformative vision as a result of specific studies and practices:
I am the greatest sinner in this world, and heir to every human affliction. But being surprised sometimes in the ecstatic work, amid prolonged calculation, and engaged in nocturnal studies of sweet odor, I have composed books of prophecies, containing each one hundred quatrains of forecasts . . . to the year 3797 (p. 13).
Nostradamus thus explains that the mystical vision paves the way for inspired revelation: " . . . To the prophet, by means of the perfect light of prophecy, there lie opened up very manifestly divine things as well as human (p. 10). " Thus the revelations begin.
The prophet is very clear that his paranormal perception would not b possible without the transformation he describes: "The human understanding, being intellectually created, cannot penetrate occult causes, otherwise than by the voice of a genius by means of the thin flame (p. 10-11)." The thin flame is an important allusion to Kundalini. Nostradamus further says that God reveals his secrets to a person:
. . . When a certain power and volitional faculty comes upon them, as a flame of fire appears. They grow inspired and they are able to judge all inspirations, human and divine alike (p. 9).
This confirms that the paranormal perceptions, "the hidden vaticinations which come to one by the subtle spirit of fire (p. 10)," derive from a supersensory faculty of perception, born of Kundalini, the breath of fire. Nostradamus' description of the illumination is a classic account of the Serpent Fire:
As the fire kindled them, the flame licking the air, shot forth an unaccustomed brightness, clearer than the light is of natural flame, resembling more the explosion of powder, casting a subtle illumination . . . (p. 12).
A further indication that the case of Nostradamus conforms fully to the Kundalini paradigm may be found in The Prophecies themselves. Discussing his preparations to receive the visions, Nostradamus writes in his first lines:
Sitting solitary at night in secret study
It is at rest on a tripod of brass
A scanty flame comes out of the solitude
and prospers that which should not be believed emptily
The wand in hand is placed between the branches
He sprinkles fringe and foot with water [a wave]
A voice, be afraid, he trembles, robed!
Splendor divine—God is near! (1:1-2)
The excerpt is most cryptic and lacks the clarity of the self-disclosure from the preface. However, we may ask whether the tripod of brass refers to the three nerve channels termed Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna in Yogic terminology. By this reckoning, the thing at rest on the tripod—"It"—might be the potential for visionary experience, which remains at rest on the edifice of the human nervous system, until awakened as the "flame" coming out of solitude. The release of the evolutionary potential occurs through "study," that is through concentration and contemplation on the divine. These meditation exercises are completed by a wave of water, suggesting some connection with the emotions or "water body." The "wave" suggests that "bodily distractions have to be swept aside while the 'waves' of inspiration do their work (Francis, p. 20)", the lines culminate in the divine vision, to be followed by the prophetic utterances. "Such light and the thin flame is altogether efficacious (p. 13)" for the generation of paranormal perception, says the prophet. In this manner, the case of Nostradamus lends support to the Kundalini paradigm.
In considering historical prophets, the case of Mohammad deserves study in any later research project. From his beginnings as an orphan, Mohammad became a successful and trusted man of commerce, an administrator, a great warrior leader, a statesman, and most of all—a Prophet and Founder of a great religion. A devout, earnest, and deeply religious man, Mohammad saw that the religion of his countrymen was not satisfactory, that it was time for reform. He brooded and meditated on this, seeking solitude in the barren and rocky hills of his area. He would often go to a specific cave for several nights at a time to pray and meditate (Watt, p. 14). During one of these vigils, he began to have visions of a glorious Being—identified as the Archangel Gabriel, who communicated to him the revelations which formed The Quran. Although the first two revelations were dictated by the divine Being, Watt suggests that, in many cases, Mohammad "found the words in his heart (that is, his mind) in some mysterious way, without his imagining or hearing anything (1961: 18)." A passage from the Quran supports the view that inspiration and revelation proceeds from a supersensory faculty of perception:
And every soul shall come—with it a driver and a witness! Thou wert heedless of this, and we withdrew thy veil from thee, and to-day is thine eyesight keen! (153: 243)
A similar Qur'anic passage refers to revelation as God speaking to man 'from behind a veil':
It is not vouchsafed to any mortal that Allah should speak to him except by revelation, or from behind a veil, or through a messenger sent and authorized by Him to make known His will. He is exalted and wise (42.50).
The Quran—which means the recitation—is considered to be the word of God as communicated to Mohammad. Symbolically, this is the same message as embodied in the Kundalini paradigm.
The most credible account of Mohammad's first moment of enlightenment, following his meditation and prayer, belongs to his beloved A'isha. Mohammad confided to her that "the beginning of the revelation for the Messenger of God, was the True Vision which came like the break of day [falaq as-subh] (Rodinson, p. 70). The Arabic word used, according to Rodinson, "implies a sudden break—the abrupt rending asunder of the darkness of those lands, where there is no twilight of dawn or dusk, by the rising of the sun (1971: 70)." This imagery is reminiscent of another spiritual awakening: "Suddenly, with a roar like that of a waterfall, I felt a stream of liquid light enter my brain through the spinal cord (Gopi Krishna, 1967: 12)." For Mohammad, the sudden illumination was followed immediately by paranormal perceptions: sensations of a supernatural presence, visions of a divine being, and an awareness of spoken phrases followed by long sequences of words in intelligible order. Thus the Quran begins: "Recite: In the name of the Lord who created thee . . ."
On some occasions, Mohammad's visions were accompanied by feelings of pain, a noise in his ears like a reverberation of bells, pearls of sweat descending on his face, violent shuddering, or an unconscious trance resembling an intoxicated condition (Watt, pp. 18-19; Rodinson, p. 74). A more complete study might compare these symptoms with other Kundalini awakenings.
Although space does not permit further exploration of Mohammad and the Quran, we should note that one writer on occult themes has suggested that the story of The Cave, also known as the Story of the Seven Sleepers, is an allegory referring to the awakening of the seven chakras by the divine or Solar Force. The commentator concludes that "this story bears witness that the Koran is a book of great mystery concealing that truth which only the pure in heart shall fathom and make their own; for Islam and Christianity received their illumination from the same source—Allah, Nature, God (Villars, p. 264)."
Sir Isaac Newton is known for some of the most famous insights in history. As author of a universal theory of gravitation, which aims to explain all celestial motion by a single law, and for his work on the classical physics of light and matter, Newton is usually considered the first exponent of reason. However, there is much support for Lord Keynes' assertion that Newton was "not the first of the age of reason," but rather the "last of the magicians, the last of the Babylonians and Sumerians (Keynes, p. 27)." Keynes conducted a major study of Newton's manuscripts, published and unpublished, as well his personal notes, and described him thus:
. . . There is no doubt that the peculiar geometrical form in which the exposition of the Principia is dressed up bears no resemblance at all to the mental processes by which Newton actually arrived at his conclusions.
His experiments were always, I suspect, a means, not of discovery, but always of verifying what he knew already.
Why do I call him a magician? Because he looked upon the whole universe and all that is in it as a riddle, as a secret which could be read by applying pure thought to certain evidence, certain mystic clues which God had laid about the world to allow a sort of philosopher's treasure hunt to the esoteric brotherhood.
And he believed that by the same powers of introspective imagination he would read the riddle of the Godhead, the riddle of past and future events divinely fore-ordained, the riddle of the elements and their constitution from an original undifferentiated first matter, the riddle of health and of immortality (1947: 29).
The "introspective imagination" can be none other than an organ of suprasensory and suprarational insight. There is evidence that the preparation of the Principia was delayed at the last moment because Newton lacked an experimental and logical proof that a solid sphere could be treated as if all its mass were concentrated at the center. Newton divined a proof only a year before publication, though the principle was "a truth which he had known for certain and had always assumed for many years (Keynes, p. 29)."
As an explanation for the faculties of perception and knowledge, Newton accepted the ideas of the Cambridge Platonists, such as Henry More (1987; see also Zafiropulo). According to this point of view, the external world impinges on the consciousness via a biomechanical agitation of the sense organs which is transferred to the brain by the motion of the nerves. The brain as a whole was thought to translate these motions into the sensations such as sight and touch. But the interpretations of these bioenergetic processes was the function of a small organ situated in the brain: "This organ, the sensorium as it was named, was the seat of the self-conscious self, and in it were concentrated all those properties which together constitute the intellectual and spiritual personality (More, p. 646)." Human cognition was limited and distorted only by the imperfections and finitude of human nature. The mind of God, or the Cosmic mind, on the other hand, was viewed by these Neo-Platonists as an infinite and omniscient sensorium that apprehends fully the universal flux and translates it absolutely without the limitations of time and space. The key to enhancing cognition was in the relationship of the human mind with the Cosmic mind: "Since the sensoria of God and man differ only in degree and not in kind, we can by exercise of accurate observation and thought understand more clearly the divine nature, and obey more readily the divine will (More, p. 647)." By the sensorium, an organ of suprasensory and suprarational cognition, Newton believed "he could reach all the secrets of God and Nature by the pure power of the mind (Keynes, p. 34)." The Neo-Platonist philosophy, held by Newton, thus speculated that a potential for evolution toward greater knowledge of the self and the universe was integral to human nature. This line of thought is compatible with the tenets of the Kundalini paradigm.
From his study of esoteric traditions, also, Newton must have understood theoretical aspects of the Kundalini paradigm. It is well known, but mostly neglected, that he conducted intensive research in alchemy and hermeticism (see Dobbs, Westmen, More, Cowling, Gjertson, and Christianson). Newton worked feverishly on a tome he hoped would do for alchemy what the Principia had done for physics, but he never published his findings. Still, Newton's work on the Kundalini paradigm must have been marked with the same genius and insight he focused on the other sciences. Keynes tells us that "all his unpublished works on esoteric and theological matters are marked by careful learning, accurate method and extreme sobriety of statement. They are just as sane as the Principia (1947, p. 30)." A later research project should attempt to unearth and interpret Newton's work in the symbolical philosophies.
The story of Gopi Krishna is a classical exposition of the Kundalini paradigm. While in his thirties, after following a daily regimen of meditation and discipline dating from the time he was seventeen, Gopi Krishna experienced the awakening of Kundalini and an expansion of consciousness. For twelve years following the first entry to a higher dimension of consciousness, Gopi Krishna witnessed the re-molding of his psyche and nervous system toward the constant and stable expression of illumination. On the way to perennial enlightenment, Gopi Krishna's state of mind alternated between the blissful expansion of mystical consciousness and states of mind associated with psychism and insanity (Gopi Krishna, 1967).
Following this twelve-year endurance trial, during which his system was refined for the flow of more potent bioenergy, he regained his physical and mental health. His return to balance was accompanied not only by an enhancement in the illuminated state, but also by an urge to write, which manifested itself in prose and in mystical and prophetic verse. Gopi Krishna wrote verses in English, French, Italian, German, Hindi, Kashmiri, Urdu, Persian, and Punjabi, though he had been only slightly familiar with some of these languages before his awakening (1952). Based on his experience, Gopi Krishna believed this writing to be in the nature of inspiration and revelation. He distinguished his creative vision from mediumism and automatic writing as it was the expression of a superconscious state, produced in full wakefulness, and not the product of a descent into the subconscious.
Gopi Krishna theorized that a more potent flow of bio-energy, denoted by Kundalini, had activated an otherwise dormant supersensory organ of perception. Thus, Gopi Krishna claimed that he could perceive, simultaneous to the normal human perception of space-time, a super-intelligent energy that is behind Creation and Evolution, the source of mind and matter both. It is this new type of perception and the super-intelligent energy which is the source of inspiration and revelation. He once described the experience of writing The Present Crisis:
Through all the writing of this work, I was myself overwhelmed with wonder at the way in which I was guided to take down this Message. I even now feel, after reading it over and over again, that I could never be the author. It is an intelligence beyond our comprehension from which it has come. I could actually feel a Superior Intelligence intervening when ideas, crystallized into words strung in order like a necklace, floated before my inner vision to be put down on paper. The manner in which the most profound problems of human life are discussed with brevity and precision is so amazing, as least for me, that I am lost in wonder when I recall that many of the paragraphs were written down as if I was copying from an invisible open book in front of me (1981, p. i)
And he described, in The Riddle of Consciousness the ecstasy of the vision:
For reasons of which I am not yet sure,
But maybe when the nerves are rendered pure,
And Prana flows freely into the brain,
Breaking the spatial and temporal chain,
I find myself in heaven, more than a king,
So filled with ecstasy I dance and sing,
In all abandon-, like a spouting fount
Whose waters spread out widely as they mount,
Linked to the body by a slender thread,
I fill the whole sky overhead . . .
Imagine that you press in close embrace
A sweetheart, your ideal of form and face,
Tasting most exquisite thrill after thrill
Of swooning rapture, as long as you will,
Conscious the whole time of her ravishing charm,
Voluptuous throbbing body, soft and warm,
Pressing hard, panting, as if dying to unite
With you in one prolonged throb of delight,
Oblivious to the world and all it holds,
As every moment a new joy unfolds,
While time stands still in an unending now
And thought dissolves in one blaze of love,
Leaving alone before the ravished mind
Unbounded rapture with no thorn behind.
Now picture, with this transport in your mind,
A vast awareness which no limits bind,
Akin to an ocean of bliss stretching far,
With no restriction anywhere to bar
Your own expansion in this deep until,
Enfolding all you see, the plain and hill,
And all the immense stretch of the world in you,
Not as an outer but an inner view,
You swim in such a flood of joy, as if
The whole of nature, no more hard and stiff,
Become a melting lass hugs you to kiss,
Drenching herself and you with streams of bliss,
So that the Seer and the Seen unite
In one long-drawn thrill of supreme delight.
(1976, pp. 81-2)
It's significant that The Present Crisis, 198 pages of blank verse in iambic pentameter, was completed in three weeks. The Riddle of Consciousness, 156 pages of rhyming verse in iambic pentameter, was completed in six weeks. The Shape of Events to Come and The Way to Self-Knowledge, two other works of poetry, were each penned in less than six weeks. Gopi Krishna considered these literary masterpieces to be products of inspiration, and a demonstration of the potential for creative and spiritual evolution in us all. Considering that he never completed high school, the quality of his writing—whether in verse or in prose, and his insight are remarkable, and a testimony to the evolutionary transformation of which he is a prototype.
History is replete with examples of inspiration and revelation which support, implicitly or explicitly, the Kundalini paradigm's assertions that these are paranormal perceptions deriving from the cosmic sense engendered by the illuminated condition. For example, here is one of Shakespeare's odes to the Cosmic Sense:
So oft have I invok'd thee for my Muse,
And found such fair assistance for my verse,
As every alien pen hath got my use,
And under thee their poesy disperse.
Thine eyes, that taught the dumb on high to sing,
And heavy ignorance aloft to fly,
Have added feather's to the learned's wing,
And given grace a double majesty.
Yet be most proud of that which I compile,
Whose influence is thine, and born of thee:
In others' works thou dost but mend the style,
And arts with thy sweet graces graced be;
But thou art all my art, and dost advance
As high as learning my rude ignorance.
This is how Lu Chi, the Chinese poet (261-303 A.D.) describes the creative impulse:
All external vision and sound are suspended,
Perpetual thought itself gropes in time and space;
Then, the spirit at full gallop reaches the eight limits of the cosmos,
And the mind, self-buoyant, will ever soar to new unsurmountable heights
When the search succeeds,
Feeling, at first but a glimmer, will gradually gather into full luminosity,
Whence all objects thus lit up glow as if each other's light reflects.
(quoted in Shih, p. xxvii)
And Lu Chi on inspiration:
Such moments when mind and matter hold perfect communion,
And wide vistas open to regions hitherto entirely barred,
Will come with irresistible force,
And go, their departure none can hinder.
Hiding, they vanish like a flash of light;
Manifest, they are like sounds in mid-air.
So acute is the mind in such instants of divine comprehension,
What chaos is there that cannot marshal in miraculous order?
While winged thoughts, like quick breezes, soar from depths of the heart,
Eloquent words, like a gushing spring, flow between lips and teeth.
No flower, or plant, or animal is too prodigal of splendor
To recreate under the writer's pen,
Hence the most wondrous spectacle that ever whelmed the eye,
And notes of the loftiest music that rejoiced the ear.
. . .
For it is Being, created by tasking the Great Void.
And 'tis sound rung out of Profound Silence.
(quoted in Shih, p. xxviii)
This from Liu Hsieh (465-522 A.D.), author of The Literary Mind and the Carving of Dragons:
Under the operation of the spirit the phenomenal world becomes articulate . . .
(Shih, p. 158)
And this from Goethe on the transporting fire:
Now shall I read the starry pole,
In Nature's wisdom shall I seek
And know, with rising power of the soul,
How spirit doth to spirit speak.
(Faust I, p. 45)
Similarly, from Blaise Pascal on his "Night of Fire":
In the Year of the Lord 1654, Monday, November 23, from 10:30 p.m. until half past twelve, Fire . . . Certainty. Certainty. Certainty. Feeling. Joy. Peace.
(quoted in de Riencourt, p. 157)
Here is Nietzsche on the state of creative inspiration:
. . . One becomes nothing but a medium for super-mighty influences. That which happens can only be termed revelation; that is to say, that suddenly, with unutterable certainty and delicacy, something becomes visible and audible and shakes and rends one to the depth of one's being. One hears, one does not seek . . . like lightning a thought flashes out, of necessity complete in form . . . It is a rapture . . . a state of being entirely outside oneself . . . Everything happens in the highest degree involuntarily, as in a storm of feeling, freedom, of power, of divinity.
(Werke, Vol. VII, p. xxiv)
Now for Sri Aurobindo, his sage verses on evolution:
I passed into a lucent still abode
And saw as in a mirror crystalline
An ancient Force ascending serpentine
The unhasting spirals of the aeonic road.
Earth was a cradle for the arriving god
And man but a half-dark half-luminous sign
Of transition of the veiled Divine
From Matter's sleep and the tormented load
Of ignorant life and death to the Spirit's light.
Mind liberated swam Light's ocean vast,
And life escaped from its grey tortured line;
I saw Matter illumining its parent Night.
The soul could feel into infinity cast
Timeless God-bliss the heart incarnadine.
(from Collected Poems, in Sobel and Sobel, p. 29)
Again from Sri Aurobindo, on the illumined mind:
The perceptual power of the inner sight is greater and more direct that the perceptual power of thought: it is a spiritual sense that seizes something of the substance of Truth . . . It can effect a more powerful and dynamic integration; it illumines the thought-mind with a direct inner vision and inspiration, brings a spiritual sight into the heart and a spiritual light and energy into its feeling and emotion, imparts to the life-force a spiritual urge, a truth inspiration that dynamizes the action and exalts the life-movements . . . It throws on the physical mind a transforming light that breaks its limitations, its conservative inertia, replaces its narrow thought-power and its doubts by sight and pours luminosity and consciousness into the very cells of the body.
(from The Life Divine, quoted in Sobel and Sobel, p. 127)
Here is Guru Nanak, founder of Sikhism, on sublimation:
Super vital drop is the jewel . . .
The jewel is got by controlling the fluid.
The mind is controlled by controlling the fluid.
Light appears by controlling the fluid.
The Lord is realized by controlling the fluid.
The body becomes pure by controlling the fluid.
Man becomes immortal by controlling the fluid.
One knows himself by controlling the fluid.
He approaches God by controlling the fluid.
One realizes the Lord by controlling the fluid.
O Nanak! One is freed from rebirth by controlling the fluid.
One knows all secrets by controlling the fluid . . .
When the jewel is got, its light spreads.
When the jewel is got, attention is fixed in melody.
When the jewel is got, one merges in the spiritual regions . . .
When the jewel is got, peace is obtained.
When the jewel is got, all the wisdom is acquired.
Picasso thus describes the creative process:
Basically, a picture does not change . . . The first "vision"
remains almost intact, in spite of appearances . . .
While I work I leave my body outside the door, the way
Moslems take off their shoes before entering the mosque.
(quoted in Briggs, p. 301)
And Einstein, on the faculty of inventive thought:
The words of the language, as they are written or spoken, do not seem to play any role in the mechanism of thought. The psychical entities which seem to serve as elements in thoughts are certain signs and more or less clear images which can be voluntarily reproduced or combined.
. . . From a psychological viewpoint, this combinatory play seems to be the essential feature in productive thought—before there is any connection with logical construction in words or other kinds of signs which can be communicated to others.
(from a letter quoted in Hadamard, p. 142).
Finally, consider the biography of Milarepa, Tibet's great Yogi:
The perseverance with which I had meditated had prepared my nerves for an internal change in the whole nervous system . . . I saw the minute nerves of my system were being straightened out [literally, their knots were loosening]; even the knot of the Sushumna-Nadi (median nerve) was loosening below the navel; and I experienced a state of supersensual calmness and clearness resembling the former states which I had experienced, but exceeding them in its depth and ecstatic intensity, and therein differing from them. Thus was hitherto unknown and transcendent knowledge born in me. (Evans-Wentz, p. 208)
These historical examples, which could be multiplied a hundredfold, are both a testimony to the Kundalini paradigm and an invitation for further research, to disprove or verify the claims made, and to place paranormal phenomena such as revelation and inspiration onto sound scientific footing.
According to the Perennial Philosophy, we have at least three different channels of cognition: the sensory, the rational, and the supersensory/super-rational.
Although the senses provide a real window to the world, their range is too limited to provide input for understanding beyond that range. As Aristotle puts it, "sense impressions (aesthesis), too, we should avoid confusing with wisdom; for although it is true that they are our chief source of knowledge (gnosis) about particulars, still they do not tell us the 'why' of anything—e.g., they do not tell us why fire is hot, but only that it is hot (The Metaphysics, p. 69)."
The rational aspect of reality is cognized through logical and mathematical thought. In 1930, the mathematician Kurt Godel proved that mathematics is open ended, that every axiom system of mathematics must always include certain problems that it cannot prove. Thus, Godel's famed "Incompleteness Theorem," coded in the precise language of symbolic logic, proved the insufficiency of rational thought as a means for apprehending the world (see Godel, and Rucker).
In the act of creative insight, the first two channels of knowledge are complemented by another sense that brings into range the supersensory and super-rational forms of reality. This is the Cosmic Sense—which generates ideas and metaphors, perceives unity in the midst of diversity, and ultimately, communes with the Cosmic Mind. This sense is active to a greater or lesser degree in all people, whether in a small child learning to walk and talk, or in the intuition, the divine inspiration, or flash of enlightenment of the genius or prophet. As Sorokin concluded after an exhaustive search of the relevant literature:
. . . Geniuses unanimously testify the fact that their discoveries and creations have been started and then guided by grace of intuition quite different from sensory perception or logico-mathematical reasoning. All the great discoveries and masterpieces in all fields of culture have always been inspired by this intuition and then developed and tested in cooperation with the other two—sensory and rational—ways of cognition and creativity (1959: 126).
This seems true in all fields of human endeavor—the natural sciences, technological inventions, the fine arts, philosophy, the social sciences, and in religion and ethics (see also Sorokin, 1954a; Bucke, Hadamard, Wild, and Losky). Thomas Kuhn also emphasizes the key role of inspiration and illumination in resolving anomalies and crises of "normal science," thus guiding the revolutionary shift to a new scientific paradigm (1962: 122-3).
The dominant paradigm in thinking about the mind, at present, is represented by the school of Cognitive Psychology, as influenced by the trends in the study of Artificial Intelligence.
According to Cognitive Psychology, as influenced by the field of artificial intelligence, thinking is just a matter of processing information, which in turn consists in the physical manipulation of symbols (Searle, p. 29; also see Lachman, Mandler, Baron, Morris). Since consciousness is viewed as a series of formal processes, the study of the mind lies in attempts to simulate these processes. Success in understanding the mind is reached, according to this view, when a simulated mind—a computer program—will be indistinguishable from a human mind, on the basis of interrogation of each by an independent, remote observer. This is the so-called "Turing Test," named for its originator, Alan Turing.
One weakness of this view, pointed out by John Searle, is that "the mind has more than syntax, it has semantics (1984: 31)." Searle argues persuasively that mental states have meaning and content beyond the formal structure. Therefore simulations of symbol manipulation are not sufficient or relevant to the duplication of intelligence.
A second weakness of the information-processing paradigm is the assumption, disproved by Kurt Godel, that learning occurs by purely logical and mathematical manipulations. Cognitive psychologists describe the creative process and problem solving as reasoning by metaphor or planning by analogy (Hayes). The attempt of these thinkers is to mechanize the creative process, though every significant creative act seems to be the result of a leap beyond rule-based thinking. Confronted by empirical data that points to a separate channel of knowledge, distinct from formalized processes, the cognitivists contend that it is just a matter of time before such formalization takes place. For example, in response to Thomas Kuhn's thesis that a breakthrough in scientific paradigms cannot be made on the basis of reason alone, Lachman says "human reason no doubt includes components that have not yet been formalized (p. 22)." The intuitive insights that underlie scientific judgments thus "involve a kind of reasoning that philosophers have not yet formalized (Lachman, p. 22)." Another example may be found in Hofstadter's popular writings. Hofstadter reviews the case of Ramanujan, the mathematical prodigy famous for his "intuition theorems," and is compelled to dispel the idea that Ramanujan's gift (or the feats of lightning calculators) have anything to do with "some mysterious, unanalyzable method (1980: 567)." Hofstatder claims that:
. . . Nothing occult takes place during the performances of lightning calculators, but simply that their minds race through intermediate steps with a kind of self-confidence that a natural athlete has in executing a complicated motion quickly and gracefully. They do not reach their answers by some sort of instantaneous flash of enlightenment (though subjectively it may feel that way to some of them), but—like the rest of us—by sequential calculation (1980: 567).
We might ask how these sequential steps have been determined when they tend to occur beyond the level of conscious mental activity. It is significant that chess research is showing that human chess masters do not use purely rational thought to formulate strategy (Fachman). Computer chess programs, no matter how powerful, do not simulate the human type of chess intelligence.
Though the cognitivists describe creativity and learning as "reasoning by analogy or metaphor," they do not specify how these images and representations are discovered or invented. If the creative act requires the invention of new metaphor, then no amount of logico-mathematical manipulation is going to bring the act to fruition as the required image is not inherent in the pre-existent images. This was well expressed by Goethe many years ago:
Analogy has this advantage, that it comes to no conclusion, and does not, in truth, aim at any finality at all. Induction, on the contrary, is fatal, for it sets up an object and keeps it in view, and working on towards it, drags false and true with it in its train (1893: 70).
The importance of Godel's "Incompleteness Theorem," not disputed by any logician, which formally proves the insufficiency of rational thought, cannot be underemphasized. However, the Cognitivists do not seem to acknowledge this epistemological finding, as they proceed in the effort to design the intelligent, learning, creative computer program.
The third weakness of the Cognitive school is the assumption that the mind consists in merely a program, divorced from the hardware and firmware of the brain. Since thinking is information processing, or symbol manipulation, the belief is that "the best way to study thinking (or as they prefer to call it, 'cognition') is to study computational programs, whether they are in computers or in brains (Searle, p. 43)." When the Cognitivists consider the brain, it is not at the level of nerve cells or conscious mental states, but in the functions that might occur in the processing of information. The mind is then divorced from the human being, as intelligence "has no connection with any kind of specific kind of biological or physical wetware or hardware (Searle, p. 29)." Searle objects to this assumption, asserting that human mental activity and intelligence arise from the "causal powers" of the brain. In response, AI and cognitivists say they:
[We] try to circumvent our ignorance about the brain by assuming that it doesn't matter how the wetware in our heads actually operates. In between the low level, where neurons interact with neurons, and the high level, where behavior emerges they interpose a middle level—the information processing level—on which the brain can be described as a computer running a batch of programs called the mind. If we use hardware and software to simulate this middle level, the result will be a computer that thinks using silicon instead of brain cells. Both will be species of this thing called information processor, a formal system that thinks (Johnson, p. 253)."
This middle level, however, is a convenient device used by Cognitivists to sidestep insufficient knowledge of the brain and the mind. Moreover, as has been suggested above, the human mind does not simply process information, as it is endowed with suprasensory and suprarational faculties of perception and interpretation.
In reality, "hardware" makes a critical difference to the processing of information" in both systems, whether artificial or animal. One need only to compare the mental states, and accompanying biological systems, of humans and some other animal, such as a dog or cat, to see how hardware makes an obvious difference to the level of intelligence manifested. Since matter and energy are interconvertible, we need to consider both aspects of any intelligent machine. Thus, the "electrical" energy that drives both systems is an unheralded hero among the Cognitivists, though it acts as an important medium for the transmission of information, whether amid silicon and copper or neurons. Even in the case of a "dumb" terminal or printer attached to a computer by the standard "RS-232" protocol of flow control, the charge and rate of flow of electrical energy on several lines is the critical factor, without which nothing happens. Similarly in the human being, it is the quantity and quality of organic bioenergy, transformed into psychic energy, that keeps the thinking machine "online." "Scientists," claims Johnson, "are uncomfortable with such assertions, feeling they smack of the philosopher's old elan vital, the ineffable spirit that supposedly inhabits our bodies and gives us life (1986: 253)." We suggest that these particular scientists may want to compare the condition of a living person with that of a deceased individual; they would certainly find a measurable difference in the electro-chemical, magnetic life-energy exhibited by each.
The failure of the Cognitivists to consider the hardware aspect underscores the futility of their attempt to simulate intelligence. It is in the nature of the creative vision that new connections are made so that the same object may be viewed in a new light, never seen before. In the case of human intelligence, these connections may occur in the software and hardware, in both the energy and the material base, since these may be but different aspects of the same substance. But can a computer software program based only on logico-mathematical manipulation, and working independently of a human operator, transform itself, change its interconnections, as occurs in a creative vision? For the human intelligence, it is possible that the development of new connections, and resulting insights, are facilitated by the nature of the bio-energetic components that make up the system. From this perspective, it is unlikely that Cognitivists will make real progress in understanding and simulating human intelligence until there is an increase in knowledge of the electro-bio-energetic instrument that manifests this consciousness.
In summary, a comparison of the perennial philosophy with the model of creativity and theory of knowledge espoused by cognitive psychologists and researchers in artificial intelligence suggest several weaknesses in the Cognitivist point of view. These are anomalies which cannot be resolved without a fundamental shift in the paradigm. Such a revolution in understanding intelligence may be facilitated by the insights of the Kundalini paradigm, which form the background of this critique.
Our review of revelation and inspiration suggests that these are universal phenomena, described in mythology, in esoteric traditions, and by historical figures who were gifted with these paranormal perceptions in varying measure. As the fount of creative insight, the inspired condition is of unparalleled import to progress in all fields of thought and culture.
The Kundalini paradigm has been presented, and appears to tally with much documentary literature. The paradigm provides a framework in which to pursue further study of the phenomena. Our essay is a plea to encourage further documentary and experimental research using the guideposts of the Kundalini paradigm.
In brief, according to the Kundalini paradigm, Man is endowed with a suprasensory and suprarational faculty of perception that is more or less active in all people depending on the level of activity of bioenergy in the human cerebrospinal nervous system. The paradigm asserts that it is only through this faculty or organ of supersensory perception, normally dormant, that revelation and inspiration can be experienced. Awakening this faculty is governed by the awakening of Kundalini, which the paradigm upholds as the evolutionary energy in Man. The hypothesis further suggests that the creative life energy at the base of these experiences is the architect behind Creation and the guardian of human evolution, which occurs by design. The prophets, geniuses, and other inspired individuals represent evolutionary prototypes of varying degrees of success. This evolutionary transformation can be voluntarily cultivated through the regeneration of the body, the transmutation of sexual energy, and the unfoldment of the mind through concentration and contemplation. The ultimate aim of this transformation is self-knowledge, the union of the soul with the Oversoul, or Cosmic Mind, the source of inspiration and revelation.
The mechanism of Kundalini is hypothesized to be the "evolutionary potency," which is closely connected with sublimated sexual potency, present in all human beings to a greater or lesser extent (Riencourt, p. 195). It is generally recognized that the average person uses only a fraction of the capacity of the brain. "Could it be," as Riencourt asks, "that this sexual sublimation, triggering the rise of this potent force, actually puts to use part or whole of this unused brain capacity (p. 195)?" The mystic experiences the awakening of this force as a great flood, releasing an explosion in consciousness. But even for the person of unusual creative powers who has not made the quantum leap in consciousness, Kundalini "might well 'drip' slowly upwards, stopping short of true mystical experience (Riencourt, p. 195)." This hypothesis has relevance for our understanding of creative expression in all fields, including religion and the paranormal.
Most sects at present uphold their Prophet as one exclusively favored by God over all other prophets. This non-rational belief, sustained by numerous superstitions (literal interpretations of symbolic truths) concerning the divine origin of each Prophet, engenders credal fanaticism and violent conflict that cannot be justified in any way. This restricts the divinity of each Prophet by restricting their universal appeal.
But if we view each Prophet as a pioneer in evolution, then the Message of each is a valuable insight into our future as a species, and the path we must follow to reach it. In this light, "the extremely diversified accounts of religious experience are due to the variation in the mental level, ideas, and cultural development of those who have it (Gopi Krishna, 1971: 97)." By recognizing their human status, we would not expect the Prophets to be perfect, but more advanced specimens pointing the way to self-knowledge and regeneration. Thus, the Kundalini paradigm restores the Founders of the great religions to a position of universal value, worthy of universal respect.
Based on his own experience and on his prophetic visions, Gopi Krishna came to the conclusion that the present crisis—in politics, society, psyche, and culture—is a symptom of humanity's violation of the Law of Evolution, the law governing the awakening of Kundalini. This Law is expressed in the ethical injunctions and spiritual disciplines put forth by the enlightened prophets, religious geniuses, and other evolutionary forerunners of humankind. It was Gopi Krishna's innovation to suggest that this spiritual law, governing human development, is manifest biologically in the evolution of the brain and nervous system.
To demonstrate this law, Gopi Krishna proposed an Experimental Project, with centers on each continent. The project would bring together scientists, religionists, and artists from every field, as well as volunteer subjects, in a collaborative inquiry. This research project would aim to determine the path and the goal of human evolution designed by Nature. Gopi Krishna proposed that the evolutionary processes could be understood by experimentation on the methods, environment, and lifestyle leading to accelerated brain evolution and higher states of consciousness, and also by observation of the psychic and biological forces responsible for genius, creativity, mediumistic faculties, and insanity. In other words, the Project would seek to verify or disprove the Kundalini paradigm.
The idea that human evolution is planned, has a target, and requires adherence in every sphere of human life, has radical implications, as radical today as Copernicus' ideas were in his day.
The Experimental Project could bring about an understanding of the relationship between consciousness, the brain, ethical development, social and political organization, and lifestyle—empirically demonstrating the Law of Evolution, bridging the gap between science and religion, reason and revelation. We might come to a turning point in our present concepts about social change, ecological management, mind and consciousness –about matter and the universe as a whole. Surely such a project could grow to rival in scale this century's Manhattan Project.
Given time and divine grace, we might see some remarkable transformations among the volunteers of this project. A poet might bloom into a Shakespeare; a logician might become a painter to rival Dali; an environmental scientist might divine a clever solution to the problems associated with ozone and greenhouse effects, and she might gain the political savvy to convince others of the merits of her ideas and to implement them; a physicist might improve upon Heisenberg's rendering of the Uncertainty Principle or shed some light on how the speed of light is not the limiting, invariant speed in the universe, since the energy of consciousness is "faster;" a political economist might find a way to solve the global debt crisis and integrate Western economies with the Soviet bloc economies, increasing our incentive for mutual communication and survival; an astro-physicist might "travel" through a black hole and compose a beautiful symphony to convey the experience, even though this person might never have been schooled in musical composition; finally, we might see one or two people make a permanent transition to the transhuman state of consciousness, bringing new knowledge to the mainstream about enlightenment, prophecy, and evolution.
Thus would an Experimental Project to prove or disprove the Kundalini hypothesis have the potential to dispel modern humanity's superstitions, generate a new understanding of the creative process, and discover the shared purpose of life on Earth.
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