Illness as a Manifestation of Spiritual Purification versus an Obstacle to Sadhana
Dealing with self-doubt versus living in faith and trusting the process
Question: During the last month's webinar, you spoke about how total purification is necessary after Kundalini awakening, and mentioned that sometimes disease occurs due to the need for greater healing, to allow for greater light and expansion. I have been experiencing a very strange “illness” for the last three years, which followed a profound and extremely blissful, powerful spiritual opening lasting about five months, until this illness manifested. Since then I have experienced continuous illness along with the unfolding of a number of extremely physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually challenging phases (e.g., experiencing continuous terror, fear, inability to sleep, loss of self-confidence, deep grief, confusion, depersonalization, profound loneliness, feelings of aloneness, feeling of being utterly lost and confused). Prior to this awakening and illness I had experienced excellent health all my life. Now it seems that no matter what I do for healing, obstacles arise and there seems to be little progress.
At times there is this inner recognition that this is a profound purification process, a dark night of the soul if you will, necessary for spiritual transformation, while at other times more contracted mind states arise, bringing about painful doubt, that I am deluding myself in believing this illness and process to be part of a deep spiritual purification. I feel utterly willing to undergo whatever is necessary. There is simply a profound willingness and even gratitude, somehow connected to deeply felt love and devotion to the divine. However when I experienced self-doubt, I feel that I have somehow fallen from grace and view this illness as a ghastly mistake, an obstacle in my sadhana, and feelings of hopelessness, grief, loss, and resistance arise.
Question A: How can I know if the manifestation of signs and symptoms of apparent physical illness and overwhelming mental, emotional, spiritual challenges are due to spiritual transformation, versus simply the presence of physical disease, due to karmic causes, or is this concern simply a mind-created dichotomy?
Question B: How can I deal with self-doubt and best align myself to stand firm in faith knowing that all that ever happens is for my highest good, and as you often say, “Trust the process?”
Reply: This is a very important question, before answering this I would like to go back, that you have shared that you have experienced some very strange illness for the past three years. Let us go back to the ABC’s, let us go back to the very, very basics. Kundalini Itself as that which is essentially our own Consciousness, which in a state of homeostasis, in a state of that slumber, empowers every process in the body. It rules and directs absolutely all affairs. We speak about it in terms of traditional language, in terms of specific language present in certain traditions. In this case, if we speak from the Tantric yogic perspective that awakening of Kundalini brings about this purificatory movements and purificatory phases, and this is absolutely necessary. There is no possibility to go through any expansion unless there is a degree of purification, first on a physical level. Why is that? Because the physical body, the subtle body and the causal body which are essentially the domain of the three relative phases, three relative states of consciousness, — waking, dreaming and deep sleep — are the expressions of the transcendent, the expressions of turiya.
There is a certain karmic breeze, let’s say, that brings about the wind of karma, which blows and creates these ripples. And these ripples, these vibrations, they manifest as certain patterns, these patterns that form this physical reality that we call the world, where we find ourselves as this human being, with our history, with our story, with our relationships, with everything. The whole world exists from that, from that breeze, from that something that ripples the surface of what we call the surface of creation.
So there has to be some kind of karma in the first place. Let's not necessarily call it individual karma; this is a universal karma, the cause behind the existence itself. We don't know what that cause is. We have no idea. That universal cause translates into a myriad of forms and phenomena down to the existing beings like yourself and myself. We experience this temporal identification with the body and mind, which gives us the sensation of something happens to me; something happens to this particular unit, to this particular body, to this particular jiva, to this particular soul.
So given that broader perspective, awakening of Kundalini could also be seen as the purification of these three bodies — the physical, the subtle or the astral, and the causal, or the karmic. Purification begins at the physical level, simply because in order for the subtle to be purified, the very pathways of finer frequencies — srotas — and now I'm not even talking about the finer channels where the Kundalini Herself, as the Goddess Kundalini, as Consciousness, flows through. But here I am talking about the pathways on the level of srotas, the subtle channels where our physicality is being sustained. These srotas simply sustain the continuity of the tissues out of which this body is made, the tissues themselves — the seven tissues, the seven dhatus as they are known in Ayurveda — and all of them are interconnected through the complex network of these pathways. Every purification, every detox program we go through, everything that we do, is one way or the other aimed at purifying and unclogging and unloading the stuff that otherwise clogs the function of these channels. Once these channels are being unlocked, then there is this greater ease in terms of our physicality, and the work can begin and it can enter the domain of the subtle.
This is where the subtle body can be worked on to a greater degree. The subtle body can be expanded, literally, the greater prana, because the subtle body is the container for prana. The physical body is made out of tissues, then the subtle body which sustains the physical body through the instrumentality of the prana. The seat of prana is in the astral, in the subtle, and there is this realm in the causal, the realm of the karmic, an invisible realm, completely unknown to us. We know very little about this, because this all belongs to that where the senses and the mind cannot enter; it belongs to that which is beyond the function of the mind itself. Therefore, there is no access to the causal. We don't know what the causal contains we don't know what the karma has in store.
Now, Kundalini brings about purification, and if the awakening of Kundalini is deep enough it brings about the purification of all the three bodies. This is why the greater the awakening is, often the more jolting that process is, because it is not only what is immediately sitting there that needs to be purified. Let's say in the past two years we lived a life which is not necessarily conducive to this process and clogged our system. Even seasonally our system gets clogged, there is an accumulation of bile in the summer, there is an accumulation of phlegm in the winter, and there is an accumulation of air, an accumulation of that which is in between the seasons.
Ayurvedic science is very, very clear about that. It’s vata that rules the air, or rather the manifestation of the air accumulates when something is changing. So when there is an imbalance, it clogs our system with either too much bile or too much phlegm or too much wind. If then, in those conditions, in those circumstances, awakening takes place, that would have to be addressed as a kind of emergency situation. It would be dealt with very, very quickly. But we are not just dealing with seasonal purification, we are not just dealing with what we have done where the balance was lost in the last two to three to five years. Awakening of Kundalini brings about adjustments of a lifetime and progressively lives — several lives, many lives — so therefore, it is unknown as to how it will unfold.
But we are always advised to take care of this container so that we can do our best at having this container at its optimum functioning, at its optimum balance. It is not necessarily that robust health here is the best one; this is my experience in observing other people. We are not talking about pure robust physical health, which many people are gifted with maybe due to their genetic predisposition or genetic setup, because this is not just the health of the physical tissues of the physical strength or the stamina. This has a lot to do with psychological health, emotional health, mental health, it has to do with the mental balance. All of these are inseparable, all these are of course interconnected. So this is why awakening in a very strong physical body can very quickly destroy that strength, because this brings about a greater degree of purification of something what we know very little of.
Likewise, if we are not mentally very strong, not prepared, the awakening will tend to hit that, because awakened Kundalini as Shakti hits the weakest link; literally it hits the weakest fuse. Whenever there is some weakness, it's that that is going to go out quicker because that's the weakest link, and it goes first. So in that dilemma of balancing between moments of understanding that this is the process, and we have to be committed to that process, embrace that process which in itself is paramount to how we will feel about it, because it's a very fine balance of how easily we can fall into the error of pathologizing this process. As soon as we fall into that, we immediately color the very nature of this process with our understanding, and we feel this process is pathological — and we feel that way.
I want to give you an example. It is known that Friedrich Nietzsche wrote his Thus spoke Zarathustra — which is one of the greatest testimonies to the human spirit, and that piece is sheer poetry — while he was suffering from devastating, severe headaches, as he was approaching his end. He was suffering from a brain tumor by then, and yet you would never detect, you never feel that; none of the passages he has written and left, will betray his physical state, because his consciousness was soaring above that which his body was subjected to. This is just an example, maybe this is a dramatic example, but it’s very telling how our mental state can color the way we feel about ourselves.
This rolls into Question B: “How can I deal with self-doubt and better align myself to stand firm in faith, knowing that all that ever happens is for my highest good and as you often say, ‘trust the process?’”
There is no other choice, there is no other alternative — it's as simple as that. You have to understand that this is the nature of surrender — that there is no other alternative — because the fight here only exhausts the inner potential, because it's at the expense of the energy awakening of Kundalini; one has to understand this when we move into the domain of energetic transformation. In other words, everything from there on is measured and looked upon from the perspective of energy, you see? So we are literally asked and advised to reconsider and understand differently the way we have been functioning physically, emotionally, mentally and so forth. So there is no other alternative. When we understand that the only option is to trust in that process completely, that in itself creates a healthy ground.
That being said, I would also draw the attention to the possibility — I'm not saying that is so in your case, but so we have covered that at least — when Kundalini does not necessarily travel in the desired channels. In other words, not all awakenings and not all ascents of Consciousness are going through the rightful passages. Some of these awakenings are prone to deflected rises, are prone to risings which don't culminate in higher states of Consciousness, but only give us a glimpse of that, because by its very nature it's not traveling or it's not traversing the immediate pathway. So there is a possibility that Kundalini can enter the pathway which does not necessarily lead to the successful unfoldment of that process. And that creates that up-and-down catch-22 situation, when we are caught in that up-and-down, up-and-down situation, which gives us these highly elevated states, and then we are thrown down into the valley and again highly elevated states and we are thrown down to collect ourselves to collect and gather the pieces together. So this also needs to be looked into. I cannot give that assessment just from what has been shared here. This assessment has to be based on something a little bit more specific, but this goes with the response to that question. So it's not that it’s falling out of grace. We see that there are certain trajectories, and again why would Kundalini go into the pathway which is not the desired one, which is not the proper one? Kundalini is intelligence Itself, intelligence personified, supreme Consciousness Herself. Why would it go into something like that?
I would say that it is at that phase that Kundalini is always our Consciousness. It's not that Kundalini and myself, it's a language of duality, simply because we are relating to something which goes beyond language itself. The language of duality is the language of all scriptures, only to lead us to nonduality, only to lead us to unity, to oneness. In that language of duality, that Kundalini awakens, and then I am experiencing as it creates this Kundalini as something else, when in fact everything is the manifestation of your own Consciousness and Kundalini is that! It's your own Consciousness. So of course at the phases when Kundalini is awakened in the system, in the structure — the self-created structure — where it's not yet purified, there are possibilities when certain pathways are not clear of waste of those psychological impositions. If the propensity is too strong to expand, then it may hit the pathways which would have to be diverted or redirected.
On the brighter side, and so that there is no fear is instilled here, this is an integral process and all this can be adjusted, all this can be adjusted and readjusted. But of course it goes without saying, that there has to be guidance to first properly assess this, and then apply this new understanding which will repair this. It will essentially heal what needs to be healed.
Going back to that main thing, that illness, I would tell you personally that for two years I myself went from bad to worse. And for two years when Kundalini was active from childhood so to speak, why would that be necessary? It's kind of strange, and even after the two years of very intense purification, the purification then moved into another area. There is always something to purify.
Then with greater understanding with greater unfoldment we embrace that process fully and when we pass a certain threshold — we never look back. When we never look back, there is not even a possibility for questioning, there is no possibility of falling from Grace.
 Tantra is the yogic science of cosmic principles based upon divinely revealed scripture describing spiritual discipline which worships Shakti, the creative power of God in all its forms. The goal of Tantra is to attain Self-realization through esoteric practices, including meditation, devotion to the guru, worship of images, yantras (diagrams), mantra, etc.
 Subtle (or astral) body is composed of seventeen tattvas or limbs which include: jnanindiryas or five senses of knowledge (i.e., sight, hearing, smelling, tasting and touching), the subtle power operating through the physical sense organs, the karmindriyas or five organs of action (i.e., organs of speech, grasping, locomotion, excretion and procreation), the subtle power operating through these mechanisms of action, the pranas the five vital airs (i.e., prana, apana, samana, udana, and vyana), and the two instruments — the mind (including the subconscious mind) and intellect (including the ego). According to the Bhagavad Gita, the subtle body is that which controls the gross physical body. The subtle body contains the chakra system and the vast network of 72,000 energy channels, called nadis. The subtle body is the vehicle of consciousness with which one passes from life to life. It is experienced in the dream state.
 Causal (or karmic) body is where karma — experiences (samskaras) and tendencies/desires (vasanas) from our past lives — is stored, and is that which carries the information and knowledge acquired from previous births. In future births — for those souls that are not liberated or detached from the causal body — this causal or karmic body controls the formation and growth of the other two bodies (i.e., gross or physical body and subtle or astral body), determining all aspects of the next birth.
 Turiya is the fourth state of consciousness, which is beyond the other three (i.e., waking, dreaming, and deep sleep are the first three) and which pervades and transcends all of them. It is the Self, the Absolute, which is beyond the changing modes of existence, and is actually the underlying substratum of the other three states.
 Jiva is the individual soul, the embodied self.
 Srotas are known in the science of Ayurveda as the channels in the physical body through which the dhatus (7 tissues), doshas (3 bodily humors or constitutions), and malas (waste or byproducts) circulate. They consist of both gross channels (e.g., digestive tract, respiratory tract, lymphatic system, arteries, veins, genitourinary tracts) and more subtle, finer channels (e.g., capillaries, microcirculation, and even those which carry thoughts, ideas, emotions, and impressions).
 Dhatus are the 7 bodily tissues in Ayurveda, responsible for the functioning of the systems and organs and the structure of the body. In Ayurveda, the 7 dhatus are rasa (plasma), rakta (blood), mamsa (muscle), medha (fat), asthi (bone), majja (bone marrow, nerves), and shukra/artava (male and female reproductive).
 Ayurveda is a 5,000-year-old system of natural healing that has its origins in the Vedic culture of India. Ayurveda names three doshas, the three elemental body-mind constitutions, called vata, pitta and kapha, and tells us that a balance of the doshas results in health, while imbalance results in disease.
Vata is one of the 3 doshas or mind-body constitutions in Ayurveda, an ancient holistic health system originating in India. Ayurveda groups the five master elements of ether, air, fire, water and earth into 3 doshas: vata, pitta, and kapha. Accordingly, vata is made up of air and space, and governs all movement in the mind and body, pitta is a combination of fire and water and regulates metabolism and transformation, and kapha is made up of earth and water and is responsible for protecting and maintaining the integrity and structure of the mind and body.
Friedrich Nietzsche was a German philosopher, poet, composer and Latin and Greek scholar who wrote critical text on religion, morality, contemporary culture, philosophy and science.