My Journey into Consciousness
Many years ago, I was living in Kansas as a professor in a state university. I was teaching English and American literature, often introducing emerging women writers such as Alice Walker, Marguerite Yourcenar, Isabel Allende, Adrienne Rich and the like. I had recently discovered the Great Goddess, and reveled in that awareness. In fact, I used to visit various classes and announce (after Merlin Stone): “God is a woman!” The women in these classes were delighted to receive this news. These were heady times. My colleagues and I had set up one of the earlier Women’s Studies programs in the country and eager students flocked to our classes. The women of Kansas were hungry for such knowledge and our program thrived.
At that time (1981) I was in a long-standing relationship that appeared to be falling apart. I was devastated at the prospect. All my hopes and dreams of making a lifetime connection seemed to be, once again, shattered. During this period I happened to be reading a book that mentioned a mysterious phenomenon called Kundalini that I had heard about but knew almost nothing of. I had never meditated, done yoga or any other body/mind practices. In fact, I knew no one who knew about or who engaged in such activities. Indeed, I had never even had a massage.
So there I was, seated in my living room in my house on an elm-lined street in Kansas. The book I was reading mentioned Kundalini, but did not go into any detail about what it was, how it was triggered, or techniques for arousing it. Suddenly, I felt that I could bring these energies up in my own body. I concentrated intensely, engaged in deep breathing and––almost before I knew what was happening––the warm energies that had collected in my lower chakras shot into my head. My crown opened and I felt deep sensuous sensations in my skull.
My awakening felt like “a thousand petals opening,” as pulsation after ecstatic pulsation throbbed in my head. In an instant I had achieved a goal that many labor for years to reach, often with no results. The radiant and blissful energies of the universe seemed to flow in and I realized that the being I had assumed that I was, did not in fact exist. I knew that only these cosmic forces, these dynamic flowing currents of the universe were real, and that I was a tiny atom, an infinitesimal particle in this eternal stream.
What followed was an ongoing process of transcendent bliss for many days and weeks that followed. In a semi-trance state I seemed to undergo an inner initiation into ancient Tibetan Buddhist and yogic traditions. I was constantly flooded with radiant ecstasy arriving from an unknown source. I seemed to have entered paradise on earth. My “initiation” had conveniently occurred at the end of May, just as the semester ended and my duties lightened. Each day I returned to my practice of rapture, a state I had no name for, and did not understand.
The experience was at the same time foreign and familiar. It was who I truly was. This initial episode was the beginning of a very long sometimes blissful, sometimes challenging journey. I had no guide or guru to lead me or offer direction, for essentially there were no such teachers in my part of the world. Thus I made my way forward alone, guided only by my own “inner guru.” Episodes of rapture were often followed by pain as the energies strove to attain balance within. I told almost no one of my experience, not even my closest friends. It was far too intimate, too sacred to share.
Finally, after some nine years, I took an early retirement and moved to San Francisco. Again, I lived primarily in isolation. Then, in the mid-nineties I met Andrew Harvey, who was teaching at a spiritual university there. He listened attentively to my story, and told me that I must write about my experiences, in both poetry and prose. With his encouragement, I published a prose account, based on the journals I had kept throughout (“Unmasking the Rose”). I also wrote and published the poems presented in “Marrow of Flame.”
Although these books were not best sellers, they did reach and touch certain readers. All of the poems presented in this present collection (and others) stem from that initial awakening experience and its subsequent unfolding. They have been read from pulpits, served as themes for many sermons, set to music, reprinted in anthologies, quoted by various authors, and inscribed on wedding rings. They have found a slowly widening audience of fellow spiritual seekers. Many have written to say that they were gratified to discover another voyager on the path, whose experiences tallied with their own. Like me, many had had no one to share their stories with, and I was happy to listen. I set up a blog on Kundalini (www.kundalinisplendor.blogspot.com) and did my best to encourage those who found this site.
When I had my experience so long ago, I knew almost no one who had heard of Kundalini or even spiritual transformation. Today, the opposite is true. There are many books, workshops, webinars, and presentations on the topic of the transcendent vision and the spiritual journey. As people go through their own radical life changes, they often have no one to share their experiences with. As a result of my blog, I hear from many who are isolated and wondering how to cope with these changing elements in their lives.
This is where I come in. I get much pleasure from helping others on the spiritual path. I sometimes hear from correspondents across the globe and have made many friends along the way. Spiritual transformation is in the air, and we are all part of this global event.
My experience of coming into consciousness convinces me that this can happen to anyone, anywhere and any time, and that this phenomenon is part of the evolution of consciousness that is happening in the world today.
Women have a special role in this transition, for they best represent the intuitive and receptive aspects of our nature. Among other things, we are now entering a time of reversal from the patriarchal and hierarchal values to a society based more on the matriarchal structures of equality, love, and communion with nature and those powers above who will guide us to the new stage of the divinely human.