Kundalini: Accidental Discovery or Evolutionary Gift?
Interview with Raja Choudhury by Phil Bolsta
Watch Raja Choudhury's interview:
Namaha. Welcome. Thank you for having me.
Oh, my pleasure. Allow me to introduce you. Spiritual teacher Raja Choudhury is a beloved Shift Network faculty and a speaker in the Awaken Your Kundalini Summit, a four-day online event, beginning Tuesday, November 5th. In his summit talk on Wednesday, Raja will explore the tantric origins of Kundalini Shakti. Today, as a bonus, and to whet your appetite for the Awaken Your Kundalini Summit, Raja will briefly speak about remembering who you truly are. Raja, what does Kundalini really mean?
Well, Phil, thank you for having me and it's great to be on this summit with all of you and I look forward to the summit and the new course that's coming up also on karma and I'm really looking forward to the next few weeks.
The answer to the Kundalini question is, what Kundalini is, is an esoteric one, because it's not a natural state for human beings that everybody has as a gift. It is somehow dormant in most people, and the best definition of it is an inner energy that can be awoken through meditation, breathing, mantras, hallucinogenic plants. It can be awakened and if awoken, it can cause transformation in the seeker, and this transformation can be quite dramatic. It can create a whole new set of siddhis in you, powers in you. It can create euphoric states of ecstasy and bliss in you. It can create a connection to divine intelligence. It gives you mental clarity and powers and there is a phenomenon that occurs when Kundalini is awakened, this energy, that seems to transcend the human condition of five senses and five sensory organs and five elements and five of everything. We transcend all of that when we go to a much higher state of consciousness.
Now the problem with it is that it is hidden. It is kept coiled up and the esoteric traditions it's coiled up at the base of the spine, the place called the Muladhara. And only when it is aroused and the keyword here is aroused. Only when it is aroused that this energy begins to climb up the spinal cord, opening all these centers of your life and as it opens each center, you become from earth element at the very lowest level through water, fire, air and Akasha, or ether or space at the throat. You transcend from the very earthlike human biological creature you are to a spiritual being.
Kundalini shoots it up the spinal cord and it lifts you up, and while doing that, it opens all these wonderful lotuses that transform your life, and we call these Lotuses the Shaktis, we call them Chakras, we call them by different names, but once they open, something magical happens to you. You take control of your urges and your fears and your traumas. You heal your Karma, you burn away all your bad traumas. You become spiritual and literally become a better human being. You become more compassionate and kind. And then something wonderful happens as you get up to the higher levels and you connect to this divine grace above. So Kundalini is this coiled-up energy waiting for us to wake it up, but it's not natural for everyone. It has to be awoken.
Well, awakening Kundalini is clearly transformative. But why are we given this gift if it's so difficult to manifest?
That is the question of the ages: Why were we as human beings given a gift of divinity, yet it was hidden from us? Why? Why would it not be a part of our biological consciousness? Religions have always argued that it is something for the purest of the pure to attain, and it is not something that is for everyone. It is the opening up of a divine secret inside you. I think that that misses the whole point. I think that it was an accident of biology. I mean, I know this goes against the mainstream thinking of Kundalini being a hidden divine gift. It is, but our general human condition is such that we only need our five senses and our upper brain and our reptilian brain to manage in life, to basically be born, reproduce, grow up, become mature, reproduce, create security by reproduction, so that our children can continue and our DNA continues.
But from a strictly biological point of view, we're a very limited machine. We're a machine that's limited to the five senses, to pattern recognition, to certain language skills. Now the moment you push that boundary or you alter the human consciousness even by one degree or a little bit, profound realities begin to open up to you and one can describe them as awareness, awakening beyond the senses, beyond the five elements, beyond the body, beyond the mind that we continuously navigate in the world with. We kind of have a shift of consciousness, very similar to the consciousness shift that occurs if you took acid or ayahuasca or psilocybin or anything like that, a shift into a trance-like state that's not of this world. You kind of begin to glimpse a reality behind a veil, and this reality seems to be full of mysterious intelligence and energy and knowledge that is not ordinarily accessible to us as human beings.
So whether we were meant to crack that code and open that door, or whether that was a human hack that occurred over thousands of years of experimentation by shamans and by mystics and sadhus and seers, that answer, we'll never know. But somehow they cracked this code, and when they cracked this code, whether it was Shamans in the Amazonian jungles or Egyptian mystery schools or Indian Kundalini masters in the Himalayas, you get this shift in consciousness occurring, which gives you access to divine levels of vibration and your senses become tuned towards these new realities.
So this reality that we 99.9% of us live through and suffer and cope with and die in and become used to, we transcend that. Now that's not a normal human evolutionary trait, and there is no evidence that it is evolutionary because evolutionary would mean that the people with this awakening would be the highest state of consciousness and would basically be the next species on the planet. We're still not there. It has not happened. So that means that this is not something for the evolution of our species, but it seems to be of a psychic evolution towards some kind of super consciousness. That is the gift that comes with it.
So what is the benefit? None, except for the physical human being, but amazing access to grace and super-consciousness for the seeker. Now, do they change the world? I think they do. I think that whether you see the great saints and mystics of the past who have come and healed from Jesus onwards to Krishna and Yogananda and Ramakrishna and all the great saints that have come, they made us more human. They made us more compassionate, more kind, more loving. So I guess that the evolutionary part is that if somebody gets an awakening, they come back and the blessings are shared by the millions. This is a very important gift, I think, that mankind gets.
That's amazing. Can you speak to the levels of vibration between “little me” and “universal me”?
Kundalini Shakti comes from the Tantric schools, which grew in the sixth and to eighth century, and 10th centuries in India. You see it in North India and Kashmir, and in South India, you see it in Tibet and Bhutan and Nepal, this Tantric idea of direct access to the Source Vibration. They called the vibration Spanda, the vibrating universe, the dance of Shiva and Shakti, this vibrating, pulsing universal consciousness and energy-matter dancing all the time. And the thesis is that I, little me, the dwarf Anu, at the earth level, let's say earth is the grossest element of the human condition. Earth, water, fire, air, Akasha, space or ether. I, at the earth level, have forgotten who I really am. I have forgotten that I am that wonderful dance going all of the cosmos called Spanda, vibrating, or Shiva-Shakti, and the non-dual source behind all of that, that singularity that emanates the entire cut of the universe.
So the tantrics looked at it and said well, there seem to be 36 levels of vibration between earth, me at the Muladhara base of my spine level, and that dance, that infinite cosmic dance going on, which you can compare to the speed of light, let's say. So between the lowest vibration of the human condition at the earth level, which is sometimes called the Schumann Frequency, 7.84 Hertz or so, right up to the speed of light, they found 36 different levels of consciousness. This was an amazing idea because it's very close to the harmonic scale. If you measure the number of octaves between the earth's vibratory, human level, and light, you have about 41 to 44 octaves. Now that's very close, so that means that they were able to sense through intuition and meditation, vibratory leaps of levels that one could take in consciousness.
Now, what happened was that the meditation on Kundalini first takes you through the first five levels, and the first five levels are the elemental levels, called the Tattvas, and they are to do with earth at your Muladhara, water at your Svadhisthana, your sexual area. Fire at your Manipura, where you light your fire and you burn your karma and you get energy. Air at the heart, where you become human and compassionate as I'm dissolving your ego, and akasha, our space at the throat where you become eater, you dissolve into the universe.
And then you as you withdraw further into more... The process of increasing your frequency is withdrawing further inward, more and more inwards. So I withdraw now and I withdraw from my five senses, so my eyes, my ears, my taste, my tongue, my listening, my touch, all that withdrawing. Then I withdraw from the organs of my senses, so I even shut those down. Then I shut down my levels of my mind and my physical thinking and my processes and my biology. Then I shut down my intuitive mind and all the subtle thinking I do, the illusions I create in my mind and the state of awakening, chakra, dreaming, sleeping. And I go toward this kind of dissolution of the Turiya state.
And then I go through the last 10 states where I access a higher consciousness level by level by level. And as I get to... Forget getting to level 35. If you're at level 35, you are an ascended master. If you are at even level 10, your life comes under control. You are enjoying the spinal cord, health, radiance, wellness, all start to happen. You develop Siddhis and intuitions, you access higher levels of intelligence, so you actually begin to interact with collective consciousness and intelligence of the saints and the teachers before you. And you begin to vibrate at subtler and subtler and subtler frequencies and you're guided by a kind of pole star that's pulling you upwards. And as you get towards that pole star and you go through and you pierce the veil, you are now entering the vast void of dance of the Nataraja, of Shiva and Shakti, and in that dance, even though it comes as glorious light at first, beyond it lies the vast nothingness, the pure Shunya of consciousness.
So we are going from the deep dark recess of Shunya in our Muladhara through 35 levels and the 36th gate opens and then boom, we're in the void. And from that void, we become who we really are, which is Paramatma, Param, the ultimate being. So I am that, but I've just forgotten. And so I can keep remembering and remembering and remembering and remembering and remembering.
Wow, that's beautiful. Thank you for sharing your wisdom with us today, Raja. I know that the Awaken Your Kundalini Summit is going to be transformative for anyone who chooses to attend.
I look forward to seeing you all online and to meeting you in one of my courses on The Shift Network. Namaha, everyone, and blessings to all.
Raja Choudhury is an award-winning documentary filmmaker, TED speaker and spiritual teacher who aims to disrupt human consciousness and awaken each of us to our true evolutionary potential using his deep knowledge of Kundalini Shakti, Tantra, and Indian Wisdom. In the past year, he has emerged as one of The Shift Network's most popular new teachers, initiating and guiding over 1,900 students into the mysteries of Kundalini Shakti, Shiva-Shakti Tantra, and the Third Eye. Raja’s own shift occurred in 2006 when, while a creative director in New York, he underwent a life-changing Kundalini awakening that rewired his system and opened up a new universe for him.
Raja initially started life as an architect from London’s Architectural Association and then went on to become a Webby-winning digital creative director in New York, where this awakening occurred. Since then, Raja has created numerous documentary films on wisdom and consciousness, including Spirituality in the Modern World with Ken Wilber and Traleg Rinpoche; Yoga Harmony with Nature (the official international film for the first International Day of Yoga), The Quantum Indians (winner of the 2014 National Film Award of India), The Modern Mystic, and Guruji Amritananda. He’s currently making a film for PBS on Swami Vivekananda called First Guru.
Raja gave a TED talk at Bangalore on Indian Wisdom for Today’s World in 2012 and a TEDx talk in 2015 on Yoga. His videos on Kundalini, Shiva, the third eye, and meditation are very popular on YouTube. In his own spiritual quest, he was initiated first into Kriya Yoga in 1998, and went on to take deep initiations into Raja Yoga, advanced Kriya Yoga, and then finally, and most importantly, Sri Vidya Tantra. Raja is also a student of Qigong, sacred geometry, neuroscience, history, esoteric traditions, and the mind. His teachings are a syncretic blend of Eastern and Western philosophies and techniques. Raja lives in New Delhi with his wife, daughter, and a cocker spaniel called Max.
Catalyst is produced by The Shift Network to feature inspiring stories and provide information to help shift consciousness and take practical action. To receive Catalyst twice a month, sign up here.
This article appears in: 2019 Catalyst, Issue 21: Awaken Your Kundalini Summit