Sri Matre Namaha
Tadillata-samaruchi – The One Hundred & Seventh name in Lalitha Sahasranamam.
tadit (=saudamini) eva lata taya sama rucih (=kantih) yasyah sa
She who shines like the streak of lightning
Whose brilliance is equivalent to the brilliance of the creeper – like lightning.
She shines like a line of lightning. In the advanced stage of kundalini meditation, you can realize your entire spinal cord glowing like a flash of lightning. Till this nama this kind of epithet was not used, but used here for the first time as She is now with her spouse. She shines like a lightning when She is with Shiva. There are instances of comparing the Brahman to lightning. Kena Upanishad IV.4 explains the Brahman beautifully. It says “It is like a flash of lightning…Just as lightning comes in a flash and removes darkness; self realization dawns in a fraction of a second and removes the darkness of ignorance”. Narayana suktam, verse 10 says ‘vidhyullaekeva’ meaning flash of light. Therefore it is apparent that Lalitha is referred to as the Brahman in this nama. But let us look at this nama from the angle of our previous posting ‘maya, the illusion’. In the said article we have seen that Shakthi and Shiva combine is called Brahman. Our argument is strengthened by this nama as She is compared to lightning only after Her union with Shiva.
The streak of lightning we are talking about is the arousal of the kundalini sakthi which brings about the radiance to the body and she is the reason for such a glow.
Sometimes you may see lights. There are several different types of lights:
Prana sparkles: Usually seen on a bright day, around living things such as trees, but also when there is prana-laden wind, or on or around a mountain top… but they can appear anywhere. They are tiny, swirling comets resembling sperm, that wink in and out of existence as you watch them.
Faerie lights: Usually smallish balls of light (smaller than a tennis ball) that travel through the air, sometimes coming to rest on objects such as magical tools, plants or telephones. (Metaphor for a desire to communicate.) These balls of light are one form that faeries can take, but other benign spirits may also take this form. They may be sometimes heard laughing or singing.
Golden glow of the third eye: When your 3rd eye opens, you may see a golden glow when your eyes are closed and rolled upwards to gaze at the inside of your forehead. This glow can be doughnut shaped, sometimes with a blue spark in the center. It may also sometimes be seen with eyes opened, superimposed on whatever else you are looking at. Sometimes your whole vision may take on a golden effect like the light of a Hawaiian sunset.
Kaleidescope or op-art designs: In the art of the Dreamtime of the Australian Aborigines, and in some of the art of other native races, there are patterns of circles, dots and geometric shapes. If this art were a movie instead of a painting, the patterns would appear to be moving like the exploding and fading patterns of fireworks or a kaleidescope. The LSD influenced op-art art of the 1960’s is also full of these types of patterns, most notably the animation of the Beatles film “Yellow Submarine. “These are sometimes called hypnagogic images, and they are considered the mark of the portal to the Dreamtime, the “Twilight Zone” state between sleep and wakefulness. You see them when the ego consciousness descends into the realm of the unconscious. They are part of the process of ego dissolution and merging with the Divine. If you see them while falling asleep, you can expect to have extraordinary, meaningful and symbolic dreams.
Great White Light: Out of body experiences, some near death experiences, and some Kundalites may experience being transported into a realm of intense, dazzling white light. It is a profound, peak experience and often the presence of angels and other lofty spiritual beings can be felt and heard, though generally the light is so bright as to be blinding. Not permanently, but dazzling the eyes so little else can be seen while you are there. This realm could be called a level of Heaven, and if you experience going there, you can ask about your most profound spiritual questions and get answers… though understanding the answers you get, may take years! This is a profound, and positive experience, but so extreme as to sometimes be traumatic to the ego mind and limited sense of self. Sometimes there is an aftereffect of suicidal homesickness, the ordinary world seems so colourless, cold and mundane that there is a temptation to end life here and retreat there, permanently.
Do not give into temptation: Suicide is a permanent, ineffective solution to a temporary state, and you will only end up reincarnating back to do it all over again, and it will be harder next time around. As the Kundalini unfolds, eventually that love you felt will be part of you all the time, and you get to experience it in unity with being embodied on this plane! That is the greatest gift.
Dark Lights: At the phase where one has visited the void, and integrated with it, true darkness disappears. Even the blackest shadow on a black object, will appear to be filled with millions of microscopic tiny white and rainbow sparks. Even before the Void, one may experience seeing a blank wall shift to appear to be made of zillions of tiny coloured dots, as if you are seeing the molecules. If you relax and watch them, your unconcious may will start to form them into patterns and images. A type of scrying, what you see is yourself reflected.
We can understand the evolutionary process from the transcendental plane to the earth realm through an analogous model furnished by modern cosmology. At the “time” of the Big Bang, the world existed in a state of unimaginably condensed ball of energy, sometimes called “quantum vacuum.” Suddenly (and for no known reason), some fifteen billion years ago, a chain reaction occurred in this original high-energy soup which led to the creation of hydrogen atoms. This event coincided with the emergence of space and time and the gradual formation of our spatio-temporal universe, with its billions of galaxies, supernovas, black holes, and quasars, and the cold dark matter interspersed between them. Within this unimaginable vastness are planet Earth and the human species-both products of the original flash from chaos to cosmos or, in Indian terms, of Shiva’s ecstatic dance.
Now scientists are busy exploring ways of freeing up the energy stored in matter by smashing high-energy subatomic particles into protons. The yogins are engaged in a parallel operation in the laboratory of their own body-mind. They use the vital energy to repeatedly “smash” against the blocked opening of the central pathway of the nadi system.
The Goraksha-Samhita (1.47-51) describes this process very clearly: The serpent power, forming an eightfold coil above the “bulb” (kanda), remains there all the while covering with its face the opening of the door to the Absolute.
Through that door the safe door to the Absolute can be reached. Covering that door with her face, the great Goddess is asleep [in the ordinary individual].
Awakened through buddhi-yoga: Together with [the combined action of] mind and breath, she rises upward through the sushumna like a thread through a needle.
Sleeping in the form of a serpent, resembling a resplendent cord, she, when awakened by the Yoga of fire [i.e., mental concentration and breath control], rises upward through the sushumna.
Just as one may forcibly open a door with a key, so the yogin should break open the door to liberation by means of the kundalini.
Vimalananda, a contemporary master of the Aghorо branch of Tantra, similarly remarked that in order to arouse the kundalini, one must put pressure on it, and it will ascend only so long as this pressure is kept up.
Perhaps tongue in cheek: He blamed gravity for its inclination to rest in or, if awakened, return as quickly as possible to the lowest psychoenergetic center of the body. In the Hatha-Yoga-Pradоpika (3.111-112), we find the following stanzas:
One should arouse that sleeping serpent by seizing its tail. Then that shakti, awakening from her slumber, forcefully rises upward.
One should seize the reclining serpent by means of paridhana and, while inhaling through the solar channel, every day cause her to stir for about ninety minutes, both morning and evening. The practice mentioned here is known as shakti-calana (“stirring the power”). It is done by contracting the sphincter muscle and by applying the throat lock (jalandhara-bandha) while holding the breath, which causes the prana and apana to mix and “combust,” thereby driving the life force upward into the central channel.
Manthana (“churning”) is another term used in the texts to describe the process of forcing prana and apana to “combust” by means of breath retention (kumbhaka) and most intense concentration. The Kashmiri yogini Lalla hints at this process in one of her mystical poems:
Closing the doors and windows of my body, I seized the thief, prana, and shut him in. I bound him tightly inside the chamber of my heart, And lashed him hard with the whip om.
I pulled the reins of the steed of the mind; I compressed the life force circulating through the ten channels; Then, indeed, did the lunar particle (shashi-kalв) melt and dissolve, and the Void merged with the Void.
Concentrating on the om-sound, I made my body like blazing coal. Leaving behind the six crossroads, I travelled the path of Truth. And then I, Lalla, reached the Abode of Light.
The earlier image of seizing the serpent by the tail is characteristic of the forceful (hatha) approach of Hatha-Yoga.
Some traditional authorities might find it disrespectful to speak of the divine Shakti in this manner, while others would object to the idea that one can coerce the Goddess and obtain her liberating grace by mechanical means.
All are agreed, however, that the serpent energy must ascend along the central pathway, which is also called the “great path” (maha-patha) and “cremation ground” (smashana) because it alone leads to liberation. In keeping with this typically Tantric symbolism, the Gheranda-Samhita (3.45) specifies that the yogin engaged in this esoteric practice should besmear his body with ashes, which is an outward sign of his internal renunciation of all worldly things and desires. The adept who seeks to arouse the kundalini must be prepared to die, because this process quite literally anticipates the death process. As the serpent power rises along the central passage, the yogin’s microcosm is gradually dissolved. I will deal with this process shortly, though first I want to mention Abhinava Gupta’s concept of prana-danda-prayoga or the “process of making the life force like a rod (danda).”
A cobra is dangerous only when it is coiled, ready to strike in an instant. However, when its body is completely erect it is quite harmless. Similarly, the kundalini is dangerous only in its form of the diffuse life energies, which fuel the unillumined person’s hankering for sensory and sensual experiences, entangling him or her ever more in worldly karmas. When the serpent power is erect, however, it is not poisonous but a source of ambrosia, because it is erect only when it has entered the central pathway leading to liberation and bliss. As Jayaratha explains in his commentary on the Tantra-Вloka (chapter 5, p. 358), when one strikes a serpent it draws itself up and becomes stiff like a rod. Similarly, through the process of “churning,” the kundalini stretches upward into the perpendicular pathway of the sushumna, reaching with its head for the topmost psychoenergetic center.
The ascent of the Goddess power in the body is associated with the progressive dissolution of the elements-a process that is called laya-krama (“process of dissolution”) or laya-yoga (“discipline of dissolution”). In the present context, the technical term laya refers to the resorption of the elements into the pretemporal and prespatial ground of nature (prakriti-pradhana).
That this esoteric process has often been misunderstood can be gathered from the following comments in the Hatha-Yoga-Pradоpika (4.34):
They say “laya, laya,” but what is the nature of laya? Laya is non- remembrance of the sense objects because the tendencies (vвsanв) do not arise again.
This stanza from the pen of the adept Svatmarama indicates that the yogic process of microcosmic dissolution brings about a dramatic change in the mind, for it wipes clean karmic seeds stored in the subconscious. This is the purpose of all higher processes of Yoga, for only when the karmic seeds are burnt completely is their future germination rendered impossible and liberation ensured. But Svatmarama’s comments do not tell us how this Tantric process actually occurs. The Tantras are little more communicative on this point, which is one of the many experientially based truths of Tantra-Yoga.
In principle, laya is effected as the kundalini rises from center to center. Its arrival causes each center to vibrate intensely and to function fully, but as it goes to the next higher psychoenergetic center, the departure of the Goddess power leaves the previous center or centers as if void. The reason for this is that at each center, Shakti works the miracle of a profound purification of the elements (called tattva), rendering them extremely subtle. More precisely, their vibration is speeded up to the most subtle level of nature (prakriti), and hence they are said to have become reabsorbed into the cosmic matrix. The intelligent Goddess power henceforth-or at least for the period of kundalini arousal-takes over their respective functions.
This esoteric process is the basis for the bhuta-shuddhi ritual in which the elements are visualized as being purified through their progressive absorption into the divine Shakti. This practice is done prior to visualizing oneself as one’s chosen deity (ishta-devata) and doing ritual worship. The earth element governs the area between the feet and the thighs; the water element has authority over the area between the thighs and the navel; the fire element rules the zone between the navel and the heart; the air element is reigns over the section between the heart and the forehead; the ether element governs the area above the forehead. The practitioner visualizes earth dissolving into water, water into fire, fire into air, air into ether, and then ether into the higher principles (tattva) until everything is dissolved into the Goddess power itself.
Thus the yogin starts out as an impure being (papa-purusha) and through the power of visualization recreates himself as a pure being, a worthy vessel for the divine Power. Through the kundalini process, this visualized pure body-mind then becomes actuality, for the ascent of the serpent power through the axial pathway of the body recapitulates the mental process of bhuta-shuddhi, literally changing the body’s chemistry. Through repeated practice of kundalini-yoga, the Tantric adepts succeed in speeding up the vibration of their body permanently, leading to the creation of the much-desired “divine body” (divya-deha).
The language of vibration is by no means modern but is integral to the vocabulary of Tantra, particularly the Tantric schools of Kashmir. The idiom of vibration has been developed in great detail by the philosopher-yogins of the Spanda school. According to them, everything is vibration-the elements, their subtle templates, the sense objects, the life force, the chakras. Even the ultimate Shakti itself is vibratory in nature, though its vibration is, in contemporary terms, “translocal.” The Spanda thinkers speak of this as a “quasi-vibration.” But they insist that we must assume the transcendental Shakti to be dynamic, as otherwise there is no plausible explanation for the existence of the world or the fact that it is constantly changing. An analogous concept, which it might be helpful to evoke here, is physicist David Bohm’s “holo-movement, “ which is essentially undefinable and immeasurable.18 This coinage refers to the ultimate foundation of all “implicate orders, ” that is, the multiply enfolded reality mirrored in each of its parts.
Similarly, the kundalini is the ultimate, translocal vibration-Shakti-impacting more directly on the space-time continuum in the form of the yogin’s localized body-mind. Its supervibration radically transmutes the constituents of the body-mind, ultimately creating a divinized body (divya-deha) endowed with extraordinary capacities that transcend the laws of nature as we know it.
The earth element, which is connected with the lowest psychoenergetic center, is dissolved into its energetic potential of smell (gandha-tanmatra). This is conducted by the rising kundalini to the second psychoenergetic center, where the Goddess power next dissolves the water element into its energetic potential of taste (rasa-tanmatra). This subtle product is elevated to the level of the psychoenergetic center at the navel. Here the kundalini transmutes the fire element into its energetic potential of sight (rupa-tanmatra). This distillate is then taken to the level of the heart center where the kundalini effects the transmutation of the wind element into its energetic potential of touch (sparsha-tanmatra). This subtle form of the wind element is next raised to the level of the throat center where the kundalini refines the ether element into its energetic potential of sound (shabda-tanmatra). This product of yogic alchemy is conducted to the level of the ajna-cakra in the middle of the head, and here the lower mind (manas) is dissolved into the higher mind (buddhi), which, in turn, is dissolves into the subtle matrix of nature (sukshma-prakriti). The final phase of dissolution occurs when the serpent power reaches the topmost psychoenergetic center, when the subtle matrix of nature is dissolved into the para-bindu, which is the into the supreme point of origin of the individuated body-mind. Dissolution (laya) is fundamental to Tantra-Yoga.
Hence we can read in the Kula-Arnava-Tantra (9.36):
Ten million rituals of worship equal one hymn; ten million hymns equal one recitation [of a mantra]; ten million recitations equal one meditation; ten million meditations equal a single [moment of] absorption (laya).
Thus, in her ascent toward the crown center, the kundalini-shakti invigorates the various cakras and then causes them to shut down again. But this shut-down differs from the earlier state of minimal function in the ordinary person. For, the cakras of the adept are no longer closed down because of impurities (or karmic obstructions) but because their energy has been transmuted.. Hence when the kundalini returns to its resting-place at the base of the spine, the cakras resume their respective functions but in a far more integrated or harmonious way.
As soon as the kundalini pierces the center in the mid-brain-the ajna-cakra-she assumes a new form of existence and becomes chit-kundalini or the “serpent of Consciousness.” This event is accompanied by the great bliss of nondual realization. This bliss, arising from the union of the Shakti with Lord Shiva, extends throughout the body while yet transcend ing it.
Along the route, the ascending kundalini may produce all kinds of physiological and mental phenomena, which are all the result of incomplete identification with the Goddess power and a certain attachment to the body. The Tantras mention startled jumping (udbhava or pluti), trembling (kampana), whirling sensation (ghurni), drowsiness (nidra), as well as ecstatic feelings (ananda) that are not, however, of the same magnitude or significance as the supreme bliss of transcendental realization.
The ascent of the serpent power through the six principal “wheels” of the body is technically called shat-cakra-bhedana or “piercing the six centers.” This curious expression is explained by the fact that in the ordinary individual, the cakras are undeveloped and more like knots (granthi) than beautiful lotus flowers. The awakened kundalini breaks them open, disentangles their energies, vitalizes and balances them. Three of the cakras represent a particular challenge to the yogin. Thus the Tantric and non-Tantric scriptures mention three knots at the base of the spine, the throat, and the “third eye.” They are called brahma-, vishnu-, and rudra-granthi respectively, after the deities Brahma, Vishnu, and Rudra (= Shiva).
The goal of Tantra is to have the kundalini remain permanently elevated to the topmost psychoenergetic center, which state coincides with liberation. At the beginning, however, the kundalini will tend to return to the cakra at the base of the spine, because the body-mind is not yet adequately prepared. Therefore the practitioner must repeatedly invite the Goddess power to unite with her divine spouse, Shiva, at the top of Mount Kailasa, that is, in the sahasrara-chakra. This will gradually remove the karmic inclination toward identifying with the body-mind rather than Shiva-Shakti as one’s ultimate identity. In Kashmiri Tantra, this ever-blissful transcendental identity is called aham (“I”) versus the finite ego (ahamkara, “I-maker”), which is driven by the desire to maximize pleasure and minimize pain and yet continuously sows the seeds of suffering.
Tantra-Yoga aims at dissolving the illusion of being a separate finite entity, and it does so by means of the union of the kula-kundalini with the transcendental principle of akula, or Shiva. When this is accomplished there is nothing that is not realized as utterly blissful. Even the body, previously experienced as a material lump (pinda), is seen to be supremely conscious and suffused with the nectar of bliss and at one with all other bodies and with the universe itself.
Under the influence of Shakti, the body’s chemistry starts to change and looks transfigured to the eyes of outside observers. It becomes increasingly radiant, manifesting the supreme Consciousness-Bliss (chid-ananda). The Tantric adept literally becomes a beacon of Light in the world.