A Collection of Articles on Kundalini
Postgenital Stirrings: A Spiritual Prepubescence
Excerpt from Words From the Soul: Time, East/West Spirituality, and Psychotherapeutic Narrative (pgs.153-155)
by Stuart Sovatsky
The long-developing, prepubescence ramping toward the kundalini spinal puberty is known as pranotthana ("intensified, uplifted life energy," perhaps emergent within cellular mitochondria). This is clearly the same force of quivering uprightness active in Quakerism, Shakerism, Judaic davening (torso-rocking prayer), charismatic Holy Ghost phenomena, the swaying zikr and whirling dervish of Islam, the quiverings of the Orthodox hesychast, the Goddess-worshipping circle dance, the Dionysian revel of the Greek mystery schools, the flowing movements of tai chi, the ecstatic shamanic dance, the yogically derived Andalusian flamenco, the Middle-Eastern belly dance, and the orgonic quivering-streamings of bioenergetics (which Reich deemed as beyond sexuality). Poetically, Rumi personified this way of vibrational spiritual development that calls beyond one's current level of maturation toward the more distant puberties.
Drumsound rises on the air,
its throb, my heart.
A voice inside the beat says,
"I know you're tired,
but come. This is the way."
(Rumi 1996, p.122)
The essential Rumi. Trans. C. Barks with J. Moyne.
The Mahayana and Hinayana Buddhist and raja yoga focus on the straightened spine (uju-kaya) is merely an intentionally taming approach to the same spinal puberties (an uprightness that, too, emerges endogenously as the serene tumescence of the awakened spine), as are other erect-back Western sects. Here the "straight and narrow paths" attempt to obviate the complexities of the bodily awakenings in pursuit of the transcendental, with more or less severity.
Pranotthana is also vividly apparent in the developmental movements and perpetual stretchings of infants and in the maturational glow of children and energetic zest of adolescence. As the thirteenth-century attainer of the final maturations, Shri Jnaneshvar stated:
51. That is called [yogic developmental] action of the body in which reason takes no part and which does not originate as an idea springing in the mind.
52. To speak simply, yogis perform actions with their bodies, like the movements of children. (Jnaneshvar 1987, p. 102)
The various willfully practiced asanas of hatha yoga are, more accurately, apollonian formulations of their dionysian originary emergence as sahaja yoga, or the yearning, quaking, shaking, davening, throbbing, swaying, and bodily tumescences of various other traditions. Hatha as meaning "forceful" grows ambiguous. Is it that a force, a divine shakti, compels the yogini to worshipfully stretch and develop her own body, beyond her own will's choices and dictates into further maturation? Or does hatha refer only to her own willful storming of the heavenly gates? Or is there a point of humbling recognition where even that leeway of freedom called "the will" is seen as yet another expression of the Goddess, more or less attuned to the rhythms of the postgenital pubescent stirrings?
All such movements, vocalizations, and emotionalities are yogic to the degree they foment the neuroendocrine transformations which comprise urdhva-retas ("refining maturation of bodily essence") grasped rudimentarily as "sublimation" by Freud, thinly as psychological "alchemy" by Jung, and externalized with uncertain results in medicinal alchemies. Urdhva-retas ripples through all religions, sexual liberations, and love relationships that sense there is "more to sex (or, rather, eros) than sex itself." Thus, the conflictual history of sex and spirituality is merely the confusion attendant to the transitions of any puberty.
The emotional crucibles of commitment, monogamy, open marriage, or the pursuit of honest communication in any marital or caring relationship can be considered as part of this maturational alchemy. For all the soteriological sentiments belong to its phenomenology, as does the processing of upsets via the fires of apology and forgiveness. The many erotic permutations of tantric practice, with more or less success, are also the bubblings toward urdhva-retas. Certainly the ecstatic celibacies and unconditional loves of saviors, saints, and yogis must be included here.
The Postgenital Pubescent "Alchemies"
Known in Vedic times as shamanica medhra (releasement beyond genital puberty, and from which the term shamanism is likely derived), the essential alchemy of urdhva-retas is the distillation of the soteriological secretion-radiance of ojas (subtle glycogen or health-energy radiance) such that desire-based love (the alchemical lead or mercury) begins to mature into ever more unconditional love (the alchemical gold, or the nectar of endless love).
Via the dionysian actions of body, breath, sentiment, and the utterly allured concentrations known in the apollonian formulae as meditative stages, various hormonal secretions (felt as evermore poignant longings and gratitudes) undergo the alchemical maturation. These once-distilled secretions, (elixirs, soma, philosopher's gems) are then reabsorbed into the body as a kind of nourishing fuel. So uroborically nourished, the body grows in the "yogic direction" to next time issue slightly "higher octane" radiance secretions, whose hypervitalities are distilled into still higher octaned secretions, and so on. In the first line of Hymn VILS of the Atharva-veda, this quintessential distillation process is described:
"By sacrifice the gods sacrificed to the sacrifice." The "gods" are, of course, the finest points of origination of the scintillations of these inwardly seen radiances, and the series of inner alchemical distillations, their "sacrifices to sacrifices."
At some point, the glowing radiances and soteriological longings resulting from a longstanding urdhva-retas foments an opening of hymenlike granthis (knots) along the spinal sushumna. Kundalini awakens and enters. Thus, the long, spinal prepubescence of pranotthana enters its puberty and one hears of yogic disidentifications with the body and the ego and reidentifications with the soul within its temple-body. Later there will be identifications with the Womb-Void and Eternal Body, or even the disidentification with all word forms, denoting that other puberties have begun. For "kundalini" merely names that motherly force that carries the body-soul from zygote through teenaged puberty and beyond, in what Ken Wilber has called the full-bodied opening to development and ecstasies "beyond the genitals."