“When the disciple is ready,
the Master will appear.”
Shaktipat Diksha = Descent of Guru’s Grace
It is said that the true spiritual journey is only
a distance of 3 & 1/2 feet.
How can that be so short when
Mount Kailas and the Bodhi Tree,
Jerusalem and Rome,
Mecca and Medina,
are located so far from
the countless spiritual aspirants
from all of the world’s major
religions who make pilgrimage?
The answer to this question is at once mysterious and self-evident.
It is said that the day that one’s Kundalini is awakened — also known as Shaktipat Disksha — remains the greatest day of all the lifetimes that one has ever lived.
But how is it that the true spiritual journey is only a distance of three and half feet long?!
That’s because the only authentic spiritual path begins in the Muladhara chakra which is located at the base of the spine of every human being. It is there that the subtle coiled energy (3 & 1/2 coils to be exact), known as the Kundalini, begins its journey up the Sushumna nadi until it reaches the Sahasrara or Crown chakra. That distance — from the sacrum to the crown of the head — is only three and a half feet … on average. When the Kundalini completes its ascent — the most sacred spiritual journey of everyone’s lifetime — the yogi is firmly situated in the perpetual state of perfect Self-realization.
Shiva and Shakti: Their Cosmic Dance and Universal Play of Consciousness
It is the thousand-petaled lotus situated at the crown of the head where Shiva experiences the joyful reunion with His beloved Shakti. That forever blissful union represents the final fulfillment of Kundalini Yoga, although the yoga (which means “union” in Sanskrit) never truly ends, and only gets better. Also known as the Brahmarandra, the Sahasrara then exudes a brilliant aura often depicted as a bright halo around the heads of the saints and siddhas of various religious traditions.
The Sushumna nadi is the primary subtle channel of an intricate system of imperceptible channels which interpenetrate the physical human body. It runs from the root chakra at the base of the spine to the crown chakra at the top of the head passing through all 7 main chakras. It is the explicit purpose of the uncoiled Kundalini after Shaktipat Diksha to unfold a process of profound physical and spiritual, mental and emotional transformation. It performs this by literally cleaning out those subtle channels which collect so many impurities over countless lifetimes.
Because much of this purificatory process occurs outside of the realm of human perception, some seekers may be unaware that they have received such a divine initiation as Shaktipat. It can begin in an infinite number of ways, often starting with an irrepressible desire to know and understand, feel and experience the TRUTH. This ardent pursuit of the TRUTH can take many forms and frequently affects every aspect of one’s life.
For instance, a truth-seeker may wake up one day and decide to become a vegetarian, stop watching TV, or give up alcohol and cigarettes (It has been said that an addicted smoker can only proceed so far on the spiritual path). A divinely initiated individual might also begin to delve deeply into the sacred scriptures of their religion by birth or those associated with Eastern spirituality. Some might even decide to quit an oppressive job and go back to school to pursue their dream, surprising even themselves. Others “follow their bliss” by making a pilgrimage(s) to holy sites and sacred places which have always beckoned them to come.
The one common denominator among every spiritual aspirant who has received Shaktipat Diksha is that they have a yearning to know the TRUTH. They also develop the longing to experience the Highest Reality. Their intuition has been sharpened so that they finally realize that there is much more to life than eating and sleeping, working and playing. Such truth-seekers also find themselves in avid pursuit of the higher spiritual knowledge that will set them free. In is then that they become open to a true Guru (also known as a Sadguru) who possesses the vital wisdom and dispenses the grace necessary to walk such a challenging path.
Shaktipat Diksha: The Descent of Guru’s Grace
At the very moment of Shaktipat Diksha, the dormant Kundalini energy is awakened by Guru’s grace. The awakened Kundalini is then guided by the same Guru over the course of the disciple’s entire sadhana (aka period of intense spiritual practice). It is through the Guru’s compassion that Shaktipat Diksha is granted by way of their touch, their glance, their word or their thought (many sadhakas have reported receiving a long-distance bestowal of grace).
Once the descent of grace takes place it begins to purify the human being, especially eradicating all of the samskaras which serve to keep the soul bound. The samskaras are all of those negative physical habits, mental impressions, emotional patterns, psychological imprints, and spiritual misunderstandings which keeps a seeker in human bondage and prevents them from experiencing the very highest … all the time.
The human body possesses 72,000,000 nadis through which the life-giving prana flows. These include the aforementioned Sushumna nadi, or main central channel, which sits as a literal column of white light the whole length of the spine. The Pingala and Ida, which are located to the right and left of the Subhuman, respectively, are the next most important nadis of this complex network of subtle channels. The diagram below maps out all the major chakras and nadis for future reference.
Each one of the millions of nadis is systematically purified in the alchemical spiritual process known as Kundalini Yoga. Also known as Mahayoga, this “great yoga” ultimately removes all the dross that has accumulated over countless lifetimes within the body and mind. As a matter of fact, the entire antahkarana is completely purified, which includes the 4 psychic instruments—the mind, intellect, memory and ego Eventually the sadhaka (spiritual aspirant) is transformed into a pure and empty vessel freed from so much physical debris and psychic detritus. The body then becomes immaculate and resilient, strong and supple. In this way the truthseeker is transformed into a perfect receptacle for the Guru’s ever-flowing grace.
Only a pure and empty vessel can hold Guru’s grace; hence, much of sadhana is spent purifying heart and mind, body and soul.
(Source: A longtime practitioner of Kundalini Yoga)
As stated, the antahkarana is a collective term representing the 4 primary psychic instruments known in Sanskrit as the (i) ahamkara or ego (ii) buddhi or intellect, (iii) manas or mind and (iv) chitta or memory which all become continually purified by the active Kundalini Shakti. The yogi-in-the-making is quite methodically liberated from every false concept and limiting emotion, mental pattern and debilitating memory which holds them back from perceiving the TRUTH. This unrelenting process of purification occurs by way of an infinite number of kriyas which spontaneously occur through the grace of the Shakti (universal spiritual energy). It occurs throughout the entire physical human body as well as within every aura of the human being.
Ultimately, this thorough and deep catharsis of both mind and body effectively creates a whole new human being. Only then is the truth-seeker fit enough to embark on the true spiritual quest that takes the seeker inward, not outward. For it is said that all of the outer journeys are only a mere reflection of the greatest journey that a spiritual aspirant will ever take — the one that takes place within to the true Kingdom of God that is situated in the “Cave of the Heart”. It is the Higher Self that resides in every human heart who beckons every sadhaka to come back to their true home.
Spiritual Sadhana: The Highest Dharma of Every Human Being
The most significant result of the awesome workings of Kundalini Yoga is that the mind becomes still and quiet. Only when the mind is completely silent and serene can it serve as the perfect instrument by which to experience the fullness and perfection of the Self. Herein lies the great mystery, the great conundrum of the spiritual path since time immemorial. For it is the extremely fickle and restless mind that takes the bound soul everywhere and anywhere over eons looking for the gratification of its endless desires. It is also this same pursuit of earthly happiness which eventually takes the spiritual aspirant back to their original home in order that they may experience perfect satisfaction and divine contentment. This sublime state of God realization can only be experienced through the everlasting communion with the Supreme Self.
This beautiful representation of the thousand-petaled lotus quite nicely displays the type of visions that a seeker may experience on a true spiritual path. Rapturous sounds and exquisite smells, ecstatic visions and euphoric states of consciousness await any aspirant who dares to take the first courageous step back to the Godhead. However, this classic spiritual expedition can only happen under the guidance of an extremely proficient and experienced guide, particularly one who has successfully arrived at the final destination. Only when sadhana is performed in this fashion will there be no obstacles which cannot be overcome by the yogi.
The Sadguru guides the many mysterious movements and mystical processes of the unfolding Kundalini Yoga until the disciple attains eternal Self-realization. Only by following the teachings and commands of the Guru will any individual soul be worthy of that most sublime and supreme spiritual attainment. In other words, one can reach the ultimate goal of human life only by practicing the teachings and imbibing the wisdom of the Guru. Only those who have permanently attained Self-realization can confer the same state upon their disciples.
Eternal God-realization? Perfect Self-realization? What do these mean?
These terms represent the very same state of supra-consciousness which occurs when a disciple has reached the final end of their spiritual journey back to the Godhead — Supreme Consciousness. When they have truly arrived through Guru’s grace, they are forever in communion with the Highest Power of the Universe. They literally exist in constant communion with the Supreme Self, and experience the unbroken awareness of their own Divinity. Deep peace, ever-new bliss and eternal joy are the hallmarks of this state that is also known as sahaja samadhi.
The Inner Self is the very same spark of Divinity that permeates the entire cosmos, especially each and every life form. Therefore, when a jiva, or bound soul, becomes immersed in the awareness of the Oneness of all life, which sprang from the very same universal Consciousness, they become liberated. The jivatman becomes Paramatman. Man becomes God. Disciple becomes the Guru. Devotee becomes the Lord. Human consciousness becomes Supreme Consciousness.
Sure this sounds way too far out to wrap one’s mind around. That’s because the mind has been conditioned to believe things which are quite contrary to genuine spirituality. True spiritual pursuit always takes the jivatman (or bound soul) from human bondage to divine freedom. This can only be accomplished by an individual who has earned the grace of the Sadguru.
How does one earn the grace of the Sadguru?
It is said that when the karmas are balanced, the descent of grace comes like a lightning bolt … or a thunderclap … or even a pinprick. The crucial point is that the good and bad actions over all previous lifetimes must be in such a balance that the soul is ripe to receive Shatipat Diksha. According to THE YOGA OF KASHMIR SHIVAISM by Swami Shankarananda, the status of one’s collective karmas reigns supreme in determining one’s fitness for Kundalini awakening. Swamiji writes as follows:
Then there is the essential longing of the heart for its true Beloved. When a seeker arrives at a place on his or her spiritual journey whereby his yearning to know God, to experience the Divine, to live in a truly transcendental state beyond the normal mundane existence is so great, divine grace descends upon them. For it is said that it is the disciple’s grace which is far more important in determining when a truth-seeker receives Shaktipat Diksha. The Guru’s grace is always present and available to all, just as he Sun shines equally on everyone. Hence, it is the grace of the seeker — their intense yearning to know God — that draws the grace of the Guru.
Caveat To Anyone Wishing To Awaken Kundalini Without Guru’s Grace
Yes, it’s been done many times over millennia; however, attempting to awaken one’s own Kundalini without the direction of a Sadguru is a recipe for certain disaster. Why? Because the human ego is simply incapable of making the spiritual journey on its own. It does not possess the divine knowledge, the baked wisdom that only properly bakes in the oven of life experience, or right understanding about many subtle happenings, all of which are critical when walking the true spiritual path. Most importantly, the impure ego lacks genuine humility and true surrender. Without both of these, it is impossible to enter the Kingdom of God.
Let’s face it, the true spiritual journey is no walk in the park. In fact, it is the most arduous and challenging quest an incarnated soul will ever undertake. The pilgrimage back to the “Cave of the Heart” — where the mind merges into the Highest Self and experiences perfect repose — is both long and difficult. Only by following those who have themselves achieved the final attainment, can one even hope to accomplish this highest goal of human life.
Many egotistical aspirants speak of performing their own self-directed sadhana and doing everything on their own, or with the help of false gurus and inferior teachers. All of their efforts will end in failure … after they experience much unnecessary pain and suffering. For there is nothing more discouraging and agonizing than walking down one wrong path after another. Therefore, why not take the help of an expert way-shower — a Sadguru — from the very beginning of one’s journey?
Moral of the Story: Self-realization is only granted by the Sadguru, after the disciple has passed many tests, overcomes many obstacles and proven him or herself worthy in every way. No one has ever made it to the top of the mountain — Mount Kailas — without being a bona-fide Kundalini yogi. Lord Shiva, the primordial Guru and Lord of Yoga, simply would not allow it, as it is His mountain. His son, Lord Ganesh, might also throw in an obstacle or two to test any unqualified ‘mountain climbers’. Ganesha is, after all, the giver and remover of all obstacles.
Test of one’s knowledge of the Self and current level of yogic understanding
The four great Vedic statements (also known as the Mahāvākyas) provide the perfect test that will indicate just where a truth-seeker is on their spiritual path. Each of The Great Sayings from each of the four Vedas is pregnant with profound and timeless spiritual wisdom. Such divine knowledge is a critical and indispensable aid when walking the spiritual journey. This is why each of the four Vedas have been succinctly distilled down to a single pithy sutra, so that they can be invoked and contemplated, consulted and assimilated when needed the most.
Anyone who can apprehend the true meaning of the following four great Vedic statements is surely on the path toward enlightenment. Nevertheless, it is the imbibing of this scriptural yogic knowledge which reflects the true state of the yogi. Living every moment of life as an embodiment of the sublime wisdom expressed by each statement is what separates great yogis from perfect Siddhas.
Mahāvākyas (Sanskrit: “Grand Pronouncement; Great Sayings”) — more specifically it refers to four Upanishadic quotations which affirm the reality of atman (the Self):
(1) Tat Tvam Asi, “That thou art”,
(2) Aham Brahmasmi, “I am Brahman”,
(3) Ayam Atma Brahma, “This Self is Brahman”,
(4) Prajnanam Brahma, “Consciousness is Brahman”.
The four statements indicate the ultimate unity of the atman (individual) with Brahman (Supreme Being).
(Source: Mahāvākya – वेद Veda)
The following screenshot from the essay titled What Ancient Wisdom and Modern Science say about Meditation provides the specific Upanishad from which each Vedic statement comes. All four Vedas — the Rig, Atharva, Yajur and Sama — are each represented below and have been summarized by their respective Mahavakya.
Beware of False Gurus, Fake Yogis and Fraudulent Teachers
For every Sadguru (true Guru) there are hundreds of false ones. Because we are living in what is perhaps the darkest and densest phase of the Kali Yuga, the power of falsehood is exceedingly strong. There’s nothing wrong with that as it serves as a constant testing ground for every truth-seeker to sharpen their faculty of discrimination. Truly, there is no greater spiritual quality on the spiritual path than the ability to discern between the real and unreal. Just as there is no greater threat to one’s spiritual advancement on the path than bad company. Hence, it is more than imperative to keep good company every step of the way. For it is said that bad company will bring about the downfall of a yogi … … … guaranteed.
Only a perfect practitioner of the Siddha Science can sufficiently guide and direct the sadhana (spiritual practices) of a sadhaka (one who practices sadhana). Therefore, the process of choosing one’s spiritual teacher is of paramount importance. There are many who pose as masters of yoga and mentors of yogis who have not a clue. The capacity for deceit and deception during this twilight period of the Kali Yuga is quite intense. The forces of self-deception are even greater, which is where the real problem lies. Once a New Age teacher has sufficiently convinced him or herself that they have actually arrived (who in reality has not), who can possibly tell them otherwise.
One thing is for sure in this quest to find a true Guru; the false ones tell you what you want to hear; the real ones tell you what you need to hear. The litmus test is really that simple; nonetheless, the vast majority of people would rather hear what they want to hear to their great disadvantage.
There is an upside to the difficult aspect of pursuing a true spiritual path and waiting for a Sadguru to appear. That with every burn and betrayal, the aspiring yogi gets stronger and smarter. They will especially sharpen their powers of discrimination so that when the real McCoy shows up — a living Sadguru — they will perceive their authenticity and will never let go. That is the very silver lining in what can appear to be a rather dark cloud at times as one seeks out their spiritual master.
This post was written on Guru Purnima — July 31, 2015 — the day that the Sadguru is honored and worshipped for the extraordinarily benevolent role that they selflessly perform in the service of humanity.
Guru Purnima, the biggest full moon of the entire year, has been celebrated this year in a robust fashion and with great devotion in order to spread Guru’s grace around the globe. This annual Hindu celebration honors all the great Gurus going back to antiquity. Today, yogis on every continent prayed and meditated, chanted and fasted in order to send blessings to the whole world.
Yes, praying for God’s mercy and Guru’s grace is the ONLY way. The challenges that many of us are facing are sometimes too numerous and formidable to successfully meet except with the aid of Divine intervention. Hence, we are encouraged to pray to God, Guru and the Supreme Self for grace and blessings as we walk our respective spiritual journeys back to the Godhead. Honoring the Sadguru on Gurupurnima is a great way to do that.
July 31, 2015
 THE YOGA OF KASHMIR SHIVAISM by Swami Shankarananda
 The Mahāvākyas — via BLISS OF HINDUISM