Absolute Nothingness—July 25, 1991
There is a big difference between Robert Adams’ Advaita Vedanta using the method of Self-Inquiry, and the path of Kundalini-Shakti. It is very easy to get seduced by the latter path because of the pleasurable energies encountered, the bliss, the powers one can develop such as the ability to heal, or to produce objects out of emptiness.
In the end, at the end of both paths, comes a similar understanding: everything is Consciousness, and the super imposition of appearances on that consciousness, like the appearance of our bodies, or the existence of another person, or the world are just manifestations of Consciousness.
There is a difference though. For Robert the appearances did not exist in realty; only Consciousness exists, not body, not mind, not world. But these appearances have a reality for the Kundalini-Shakti teacher.
Also, the end state of Sahaja Samadhi is defined differently by the Shakti Guru and by an Advaita Vedanta Guru. For the Shakti Guru identity has disappeared and all is Shakti—only Shakti exists. There is no personal self and one is absorbed in bliss.
For the Advaita teacher, all appearances are viewed/apprehended as unreal, identity also disappears, an one rests in utter peace with nothing to do, nowhere to go. You are Consciousness, not any of the objects therein. This is more akin to the Buddhist concept of Nirvana, but not identical.
Now, a Kundalini master is always busy, feeling his or her energies and trying to transmute lower energies into higher energies. He or she develops powers to help the world, or practices black magic to make changes in the world. The Advaita Guru, a Robert Adams, simply exist in themselves with nothing perceived to be done, and nothing to be judged or transmuted.
One way of characterizing the difference is to say the Kundalini Guru emphasizes the Manifest Self, exploring one’s divine Self, God, surrender, love, energies, and transformation. The Advaita guru emphasizes going into the depth of oneself, penetrating down into emptiness, and through the Void to pure awareness. In this state, the mind is entirely gone and it makes no sense to speak of anything. No thing exists; only Consciousness; the world, your body, the witness and witnessed all collapse into Consciousness and you are that. Then even the you disappears.
Let us follow Robert’s discussion:
“Anyway, I was walking in the park this morning like I usually do. I
started speaking to a gentleman. He happened to be a Muktananda
devotee. And he asked me to tell him the difference between jnana
marga and kundalini shakti. Of course in reality none of them exist. By
holding on to either one, it keeps you from becoming liberated. The idea
is to let go of concepts and names and forms. But we had a discussion
and I guess we'll talk about that, since I can't think of anything else to talk about.
“What is kundalini shakti? They are Sanskrit words, meaning the
serpent power. It is said that when a person meditates intensely on shakti, or when one practices Tantric Yoga, the kundalini, the serpent power, begins to awaken at the base of the spine. Already you can see the fallacy of this, when something has to awaken in your spine. Your spine in reality does not exist, neither does your body. So how can something awaken in it? But nevertheless in all the kundalini books it tells you the same thing.
“The so called kundalini, which is like a serpent, begins to rise up the channel which is adjacent to the spine. As it touches each chakra, thereare seven chakras, that part becomes enlightened. When it goes up to the crown chakra, on top of the head, the entire body becomes enlightened. That is called kundalini shakti.
“How can a human body become enlightened? Jnana marga is
not any better or worse than kundalini shakti. I'm not trying to downgrade
any teaching. All teachings are important. All teachers are important.
“Everything is unfolding as it should. Everything is in it's right place. But how can a body develop powers, supernatural powers, and then you believe that's enlightenment. What kundalini shakti does, supposedly does, when it reaches the crown chakra, supernatural powers (Siddhis) are developed.
“Yet I can truly tell you, when the jnani has observed people with
supernatural powers, they have not been very happy. They quarrel
amongst themselves. It makes no difference what you can produce out
of the air, it makes no difference if you can raise people from the dead.
This has absolutely nothing to do with enlightenment. The reality of it is
you are consciousness. You are absolute reality. Trying to develop powers
holds you back. Trying to become famous inflates the ego. Trying to
develop anything holds you back from really awakening.
“The whole idea is to transcend your mind, kundalini, gunas,
everything. Do not get involved in yoga practices. It keeps you
earthbound. Get involved in trying to understand who you are. Try to
realize that I have to experience the gunas, the kundalini, enlightenment.
I want to experience these things. Focus on the I. The I who wants
supernatural powers. The I who has problems. The I who can't seem to
get along. The I who believes something is wrong and something is right.
Focus on the I. Who is the I? Where did the I come from? When you're
sleeping at night the I is not there, for you're asleep, but something is still watching you sleep.
“The kundalini people say that when the kundalini shakti travels to
the head you become enlightened, but the jnani sees it differently. The
kundalini rises from the heart, from the right side of the chest and goes
through a channel to the brain. But when it gets to the brain, this is not
enlightenment. This is when you become aware of the world. You
become aware of the body, and the mind phenomena. It is when the
kundalini goes from the brain back to the heart, the spiritual heart center, that enlightenment comes.
“So when you're asleep, what you call the kundalini is in the heart,
where it's supposed to be. The kundalini is really the mind. It's just another name for the mind. When you're in deep sleep it rests in the heart where it's supposed to be. But as you wake up in the morning, you become cognizant of I. That's because instantaneously the mind, or the kundalini, or whatever you want to call it, rushes up to the brain, and that's how youbecome conscious of the world. So the object is to cause the mind, what some people call the kundalini, to go back into the heart center, which is on the right side of the chest, and stay there. When that happens you are awake and liberated.
“Therefore the best time to catch yourself is when you awaken in
the morning. You should remember these things I tell you in the morning.
As soon as you open your eyes, in that split second before you become
cognizant of the world, the kundalini, the mind and the I, (and by the
way they're all synonymous, they're all the same thing), is resting in the
heart. Therefore the second that you open your eyes, you are
enlightened, you are liberated, you have no problems, there is nothing
wrong, all is well, just for a split second.
“Then you spoil it, for you become aware of the world, and yourself, and your body. You say, "I am awake." What has happened is in that split second, the I-thought, what some people call kundalini, some people call the mind, has risen to the brain. As soon as it merges with the brain, you become aware that you are a body and a mind. And then you become aware that there's a world, and a universe, and a God and
everything else. In other words your existence only remains because you
have allowed the I to go to the brain.
“Therefore atma-vichara, or self-inquiry, is simply to cause the Ithought to go back to the heart. And when it returns to the heart you
become the Self once again, the Self that you always were. You become
consciousness. You become pure awareness. You become your Self. And
in that Self there is total emptiness, nirvana. There's no mind, there's no
body, there's only the pure, unadulterated Self. If only you were able to
stay in that Self. The only time you're in the Self is when you were asleep.
“When you're dreaming, the I is dreaming. When you're awake, the I is awake. But when you're sleeping, the I becomes the Self.
“Why do you want to get into a state where you are the Self?
Because in that state all is well. It is a state of total happiness, of total bliss, of total love. It is your true nature. It is what you really are.
“Therefore again I remind you, the best time to become aware and
practice is as soon as you open your eyes. You should immediately ask
yourself, "Who am I?" As soon as you wake up. What you are saying is,
"What is the source of the I? Where did the I come from, the I that tells me I am awake, I am the body, I am the mind, I see the world, I'm hungry, I'm getting dressed, I'm going to work? Where did that I come from?" Ask yourself. And follow the I. Imagine it going back to the source which is your spiritual heart. And simply inquire, "Who am I?" If you have to get up a half hour earlier, do so.
“This is not meditation. Self-inquiry is not meditation. You are actively inquiring, "Who am I?" You are not meditating or concentrating on
anything. Even when you follow the I-thought back to it's source, you are
not concentrating. You're simply observing. You become aware of what
you are doing. You say "Who am I?" and you wait. Then you say "Who am
I?" again. You remain silent. "Who am I?" again. And now perhaps
thoughts are trying to dominate you. Thoughts become stronger. Do not
feel slighted. Simply ask yourself "To whom do these thoughts come?" and
“Remember the reason you're doing this is because in reality there is no one getting dressed, there is no body, there is no I, there's no
procedure. You're therefore inquiring so you can come to this conclusion.
“When I tell you there is no body, there is no mind, there's no world, there's no universe, this is the jnanis experience.
“You have to do it. I can lead you to the gold mine, but you have to
do the digging. I can share these things with you, but unless you do it
yourself, you will never know that your real state of mind is consciousness.
"Your mind is really consciousness. You are pure awareness, absolute
reality. You are sat-chit-ananda. You were never born, you can never die.
I hope you are aware that once again Robert has provided a method and the urging to drop one’s awareness into one’s heart, and to stay there. When you drop your awareness into your heart and stay there you live in a different level of beingness, one where the mind is not prominent. It just chatters in the background, but mstly is silent, and you live in the Self, which Robert also calls Consciousness.
However, I have discovered from my own journey, as well as from the experience of many others, that self-inquiry as directed by Robert or Ramana, or Nisargadatta, can produce zombies instead of enlightenment, and these people, recognizing that they no longer feel anything, flee self-inquiry and take a Bhakti path such as Sufism, or a Kundalini path because of the bliss and energies make them feel alive again.
It is also m yexperience that after a while, all the energies, Shakti, the lights and visions, the perceived entities, the powers or Siddhis begin to be perceived as unreal, as unreal as the world appeared before. They become perceived as a kind of entertainment that the Kundalini student perceives as real and important, but eventually are experienced as distractions.
At this point, the Kundalini student relaxes, submerging into the Self that Robert speaks of which is utter peace, the utter disappearance of mind, of identification, or movement, of appearances, of the witness/witnessed split. All ideas, concepts have been transcended. No knowledge exists, and one is completely at peace with nowhere to go and nothing to do.