Kundalini and Enlightenment-A Personal Experience, by Shai Tubali
Article by: Shai Tubali
Addendum by: Walter Semkiw, MD
“The proclamation of heaven has come, that the bird of the soul may rise in flight.” Rumi
Kundalini: God’s Mechanism of Redemption
I would like to start with a small, self-invented mythology, that contains a great truth. When God created the soul and sent it on its highly enriching, but agonizing journey of human incarnations, He knew that it would only be fair to equip it with some device that could enable it to salvage itself and return to Him one day. He was fully aware that the Earthly forces of gravity would overwhelm it, that the physical perils would imprint in it a deep clinging to the body and its survival instinct, and that the pleasures of the senses would ingrain in it a deep attachment to the bodily experience. He realized that He was taking a chance by sending it to the valley of endless forgetfulness called “Earth,” and that the distance separating the limited body and the infinitehood of cosmic consciousness was simply unbridgeable.
So, what could he do? In His wise mind, He envisioned a mechanism that could be implanted at the subtlest core of the human body. This would be a mechanism that could be powerful enough to overcome gravity and to disengage the soul from all mental, emotional and physical shackles. It should be able to signal to the soul that it is on the right path by imbuing it with the greatest form of unEarthly bliss. And it would be able to serve the soul as its ethereal aircraft with which it could fly all the way back to the heavens and be pulled to its original home; its true nature as infinite being.
As God was considering the options of an energetic structure that could perform such a miracle within the limited human body, one of the more creative archangels approached with the symbol of the caduceus, which one day would surface from the subconscious human mind in the form of the staff of Hermes and the symbol of medicine. It resembled the DNA strand, the inner encoding out of which all living beings were made. This structure, the angel advised God, would pull up all the Earthly energies through a single line and would spread and reactivate the soul’s wings so that it would remember it could fly.
God consented and ordered to construct this subtle body. He formed a complex net of energetic tubes with one central tube in their midst, which started at the base of the spine and culminated at the crown of the head. Within the base of this tube, He planted the seed of divine consciousness, a spark from His own mind. He knew that this spark would remain dormant as long as the soul would not be mature enough to achieve full self-awareness and to conduct the light of infinity while in the body.
With His boundless patience and love, He would wait for the moment in which the soul would awaken to the longing to return to its source. When that has happened, the spark He planted would be ignited at once and start its tireless mission to spiritualize the individual’s entire being, from dense matter into a self-revelation of one’s own hidden divinity.
Is this story a mere mythology? Perhaps there was no angel consulting God. Besides it is not a mythology at all. In fact, for the ripe soul that sincerely yearns for the divine, this subtle device is a living reality, which is not less tangible than the physical body and the experience of the senses. In the Yogic tradition, this device has been referred to as “Kundalini.” The experience itself, which is known to all esoteric traditions, is one and the same: the awakening of the spark of divine consciousness which gathers with it all the base energies and pushes them all the way upward, until it powerfully shatters the thin barrier that distinguishes man from infinity.
Short-term kundalini experiences can happen many times and to many people. Indeed, kundalini rises upward whenever we contemplate and meditate on spirit; whenever we are filled with spiritual longing and seek transcendence. Nevertheless, for the cosmic spark to attain complete satisfaction-and complete satisfaction can only mean that the spark has reunited with the undivided divine consciousness-a long and persistent process of increasing awakening is required, all the way to full illumination.
The Kundalini Awakening of Shai Tubali
When I was 20 years old, I experienced the initial urge for spiritual search. I did not truly understand what it was that I was seeking. It was more an intuitive attraction to the strange magic I had found in the aphorisms of Zen-Buddhism, as well as a hope to somehow overcome my social fears. My first significant step was taking a Transcendental Meditation course, in which I heard for the first time about Enlightenment as a union of the individual consciousness with the consciousness of the universe. Merely hearing that triggered an ancient pain of separation in my heart and I felt called to move toward that elusive state.
Shortly after, I traveled to India to abide in an ashram and to seek out those for whom the truth was not second-hand knowledge but a direct experience. Luckily, I encountered there my first teacher who, like me, was an Israeli. In India I learned for the first time-by reading a biography of Jiddu Krishnamurti, who had undergone an immense kundalini awakening at the age of 29-that enlightenment was not some mental insight but a profound and dramatic energetic transformation. With this understanding, extraordinary states-such as watching my body lying in bed from ceiling level and being awoken up at night to mysterious cosmic messages and energetic transmissions-began to convince me that I was entering the gates of the unknowable.
The Bliss of Kundalini Awakening
When I returned to Israel, I remained in contact with my first teacher and for two years I was constantly shifting from lonesome self-inquiry to spending time with him, and the other way around. Near the end of this period of two years, I attended a silent retreat held by one of his awakened student. As the silence grew more and more intense, I became overwhelmingly immersed in the bliss of the unified consciousness.
I would walk on my way to breakfast or to my cabin and, uncontrollably, would bump into this bubble-like, all-encompassing energy field of liberation and endless joy. My senses would withdraw, as if I became blinded to the world and capable of seeing and recognizing only this purity of oneness. This continued also after the retreat ended: Even on a busy street, I could be stopped by this mesmerizing beauty while the entire world would completely vanish into thin air. My mantra back then was the continuous sentence which seemed to run in my mind by itself: “Only consciousness is real and nothing else matters…”
These brief, yet immense awakenings were repeated more frequently by the time I joined a silent retreat of my first teacher. There, two days before my 23rd birthday, I attended my teacher’s birthday celebration. I was sitting somewhat distant, outside the circle of celebrators, and remained silent and still.
All of a sudden, I was struck by the clearest perception of what I used to consider “myself.” Looking within, there was no substantial center of identity. At that instance, I knew that the separate and individual consciousness was a mere illusion, and not even a very sophisticated one. Individual consciousness was just a bundle of memories that were artificially glued to one another in a way that they could create a phantom of psychological and continuous entity.
With this perception, kundalini awoke and began to rush throughout my spine. The dormant divine spark leaped to my third eye and the crown of my head. Kundalini broke free through the top of my head, out to the vast expanses of the cosmic mind. With great difficulty I dragged my astounded body away from the party and towards a narrow shoreline, and there kundalini graced me with a vision of my true nature.
Whatever I was looking at, was myself: the open sky, the rocks, the sea and the young men who played soccer on the beach, the universe as a whole existed solely as one, a limitless entity, and I was the universe and nothing besides. Waves of tears and laughter of recognition shook my body for some timeless long hours.
Two days later, on my birthday, I received from my teacher shaktipat, which is an energetic transmission of spiritual energy from a master. The purpose of shaktipat is to help the practitioner’s kundalini to rise.
This only deepened my already intoxicated state of self-forgetfulness. From this retreat onward, long months of tears and laughter began. A gushing universal love overwhelmed my chest, while kundalini was tirelessly emptying my being from familiar and personal feelings.
For hours on end I would sit immovable in an effortless and uninvited meditation. Holiness encompassed my small room. The divine element awoke to recognize itself, and all that was left of “me” was an awestricken witness. Nothing from what I read in books could prepare me for that; the reality of kundalini is endlessly far from mental constructs. For a full year, until the age of 24, I trod this path of indescribable silence where only truth could speak.
The Death of the Ego through Kundalini
Between the ages 24 to 26, the kundalini process, almost unbearably intense, took place. With a very young and unprepared nervous system and in the absence of sufficient guidance, this process turned into what is commonly known as a “kundalini crisis.” Put simply, for two years I felt that I was going to die. I repeatedly experienced my soul abandoning the body through the crown of my head. I went through many sleepless nights that were filled with unexplained phenomena. I experienced severe nausea and an extraordinary energetic vulnerability, in which I felt that no barrier remained to distinguish my own body from the rest of the world. Supernatural capacities came and left.
Nobody-no healer and no teacher-could grasp this process. My own teacher was dumbfounded, since he wasn’t a kundalini master. Fortunately, fate led me to meet my second teacher, a true American yogi, who generously took me under his wings. He consistently treated me with shaktipat, gave me Ayurvedic herbs and homeopathic essences, and calmly guided my exhausted being.
Being an initiate of a kundalini tradition (the Siddha Yoga tradition) himself, he finally made me conscious of this sophisticated divine device within. Through him, I also learned that even the powerful and clearly irreversible awakening that was shaking me to the root of my being was not enough. For liberation to be complete and the merging of the divine spark into the Godhead to be final, kundalini needed to remove many different types of blockages, including significant imprints from past-lives as well as the present life. Kundalini had to literally rewind the entire process of karmic becoming-to unravel deep-seated attachments, desires, angers and fears-until one’s being, from body to spirit, becomes sufficiently purified. Along the way, the evolution of my soul gradually revealed itself; the fundamental themes and lessons with which I had to meet from many lifetimes. At the same time, important learning and acquired capacities re-surfaced from my deepest past.
This process lasted, from the day of my awakening at the age of 23, onwards, for a period of ten years. By the age of 33 I could finally behold this divine mechanism fully awake within me, in ways that were as tangible as my physical reality. I could wholly and directly acknowledge the stream of subtle cosmic force throughout my spine; a stream that often felt like a gushing wild river. The correlation between this river-like flow and a complete unity consciousness and the dissolution of even the subtlest form of self, was undeniable.
When I reported this to my teacher, he surprised me by announcing that finally, my soul was approaching full liberation. In the yogic tradition, this is regarded as “Jivamukti,” which means that liberated soul exists while in a human body. I honestly could not grasp what he was talking about, but at the same time I could notice this river of eternal life surging inside me day and night, relentlessly melting away any sense of separation and individuality.
Time disappeared. Experience ceased. The thirst for life died out. There was no more personal story. My biography was interrupted like a book that ended in a middle of a sentence.
Kundalini as the Holy Spirit
Kundalini is not necessarily woken up directly and intentionally. It can awaken by itself, as a natural outcome of any expression of spiritual longing and a substantial ripening of the soul. That said, there are a variety of practices that can arouse this subtle force and lead it through our energetic spine.
Indirect kundalini awakenings can occur as a result of spending time in the presence of a true spiritual master (satsang); silent retreats and dark-room retreats as well as retreats of spiritual fasting and intense forms of self-inquiry or contemplation on spiritual truths. Direct kundalini awakenings may occur through the grace of shaktipat from a spiritual master or the practices of forest bathing (thanks to the unique kundalini-evoking power of trees) and meditative methods that work directly with this energy, such as the “Expansion Method,” which I have developed and taught for many years.
Spinal breathing-repeatedly breathing into the base of the spine, then throughout the spine and finally throughout the crown of the head-can be particularly effective. Practices that support the flow of kundalini are eating raw foods, forms of stretching like yoga postures, meditation in general, chiropractic and any other bodywork that correct and improve posture. It is strongly recommended to steer clear of any technique that attempts to force kundalini into an unnaturally quick and intense arousal.
When kundalini is aroused without coercion and within a conscious and supportive context, it is never violent or destructive. Its aim is one: creating the inconceivable-an awakened soul, which fully remembers its eternal and infinite nature while still within the confines of a limited and mortal body.
In such a state, there seems to be no difference between the hindu concepts of Shiva (the divine consciousness) and Shakti (the spark of kundalini within the individual human being)-or, as Jesus boldly declared as soon as his own kundalini was fully awakened, no real difference between the Father and the son, for the Holy Spirit, kundalini, brought them together into an eternally unbreakable oneness.
Addendum by Walter Semkiw, MD
I would like to share my own experiences with kundalini. When I was in college I had a desire to pursue meditation, though I cannot really say why. Like in Shai’s story, I took classes in Transcendental Meditation and was given a mantra to use in meditation. I did this regularly throughout my college years.
When I started medical school, I met an individual who stated that he had expertise in meditation and the awakening of kundalini. He taught me to do Chi Gong, which is a Chinese meditative practice in which one stands in a particular posture to activate kundalini. Each day, before I went to my medical school classes, I did this standing meditation for an hour. When I was doing this meditation, I would experience jolts in my spinal column. I wear glasses, and the more violent spinal jolts resulted in my glasses flying off my head and landing several feet behind me.
I did not have a significant spiritual experience until many years later. I have always had a love of music, but I do not have the fine finger coordination to play an instrument well. Instead, since I have always been a pretty good athlete, I expressed my love of music through dancing ballet. This hobby was enhanced by the fact that the majority of my fellow dance students were very fit and attractive women. My ballet career culminated in a performance with the full orchestra of the Denver Symphony. I still cherish that memory. Click on the image comparisons to enlarge them.
Years later, I became affiliated with a ballet company in San Francisco led by the choreographer Enrico Labayen. Though I was not a good enough ballet dancer to be in his troop, Enrico invited me to his dance company’s rehearsals. I loved watching talented dancers perform Enrico’s choreography. At rehearsals, I would have a book in my hand and as is my practice, I had a red felt marker or pen that I used to make notes in the books that I would read.
Enrico’s ballet company was rehearsing a dance that featured a female dancer who was lifted by male ballet dancers over their heads. The female dancer positioned her body in the shape of a cross. While I was watching this performance the red felt pen that I was holding suddenly and unexpectedly was juggled in my hands and as a result, I had to red marks on the inside aspects of both of my wrists, creating what seemed to be stigmata on my wrists. This event happened to occur on Easter Sunday in 1996.
I found this strange and baffling and when I stood up from a seated position I realized that my consciousness had been changed. I experienced complete bliss which lasted for about six weeks. I continued my work as a corporate medical director with no diminishing of function, but I was a changed person. I felt love for everything and everyone. At the time, I was going through a divorce which had become contentious, but in this state of consciousness, I wanted to do everything I could possibly do for the woman I was about to divorce. Though I was not in a financial position to do so, I even wanted to gift her the house that we had lived in.
As mentioned, this state of bliss lasted for six weeks and then it faded. I remember that at the time I was disappointed that this state of consciousness had disappeared and I wished that it would have lasted forever.
I believe this experience was prompted by my engagement in researching a past life of my own, in which Enrico Labayen was my son in a past lifetime during the period of the American Revolution. Further, a number of the dancers in Enrico’s company I determined were my relatives in that lifetime. This story is presented in detail in my book, Return of the Revolutionaries: The Case for Reincarnation and Soul Groups Reunited.
A brief overview of this past lifetime of mine is presented on the following page:
Temporary versus Permanent Results of Kundalini Awakening
As Shai Tubali described above, I believe that I had a manifestation of kundalini awakening. When I became acquainted with Shai, I wondered if his experience with kundalini was temporary or permanent. He replied with this statement:
“As a spiritual teacher, it is a part of my integrity to teach only that which is based on the permanent effects of the kundalini awakening. What started 19 years ago has only increased and deepened with time. The permanent effect is a continuous state of self-dissolution and an absorption in universal consciousness. This means that there is no experience as an independent ego, since the mind, heart and body function as a part of the whole. My self-identity is: “I am the universe”.
As such, I believe I had a temporary kundalini awakening which lasted six weeks. In contrast, Shai’s kundalini experience has been much more intense and has resulted in a permanent, rather than a temporary, change in consciousness.
Shai Tubali is the author of numerous books and he is a spiritual teacher based in Berlin, Germany. To learn more about Shai’s work, please go to:
Please also review: Evidence and Principles of Reincarnation