Inspirational Development - Transcendent Bodymind - Human Capacity For Limitlessness - The Spiritual Imperative Of A Fulifilling Childhood


Protective Sheath -- The Product of a Safe and Fulfilling Childhood

Details the importance of spiritual aspirants being physically fit, emotionally vital, and capable of forming strong social bonds.
Argues the imperative need for parents to be passionate, egalitarian, idealistic role models who empower their children to become whatever it is in their hearts that they wish to become.

Stresses the importance of children growing up in environments that are inspirational -- and that, by extension, are free from threats of physical and emotional harm.

Argues that children, raised in environments free from harm, grow up as if with a protective sheath surrounding them -- a vibrant, translucent bubble of health, trust, idealism, and unlimited aspirations.

Describes my immersion -- for many hours a day, and for years on end -- in the fictional worlds of Frank L. Baum, J.R.R. Tolkein, The Brothers Grimm, Carlos Castaneda, Ayn Rand, and various science fiction authors. Argues that my self-concept, over time, and with the support of safe and fulfilling external conditions, became permanently lodged in these great works. Argues that my "super ego," or my inner voice, became like the triumphant protagonists in all of these books: During this time there was nothing in my life -- or in this world -- that I believed I could not do.

Makes the case that this protective sheath -- this intact and vibrant body-mind -- provides the necessary foundation and context through which whole body enlightenment is made possible.

Kundalini Awakening - Spiritual Signs And Symptoms - September 6, 2002


I took up sports in earnest in seventh grade, at age twelve. Mostly I played basketball, because that was the only competitive sport offered by my middle school; but I played much baseball and tennis as well. On school days I played about three hours of basketball each afternoon. But during vacations and weekends I would play six or even more hours per day. In high school I played two years of football, two years of cross country, and four years of track and field. Track came to dominate my life at this time, with my becoming a Junior Olympic decathlete and entering numerous competitions outside the normal track season. I would play so much that during the summer months my hair would bleach from the sun. Sports was both an emotional and a physical activity for me. I would take baths with my basketball and discus, and I would sleep with them as well. I did not date, and found my activities more than sufficient to meet my needs.

At age twelve I began to read books on health and diet from my mother's large home library. She had been a master's degree student in English and a product of the San Francisco counterculture of the 1960s; so there was never a want for books to satisfy a wide range of spiritual, health-oriented, and literary interests. I became a vegetarian at this time, and began to fast regularly at about age thirteen. By the end of high school I had completed several ten-day distilled water fasts, as well as numerous shorter fasts of two to three days' duration. I experimented frequently with my diet. I consumed large quantities of fruits, vegetables, and nutritional supplements. I became an avid gardener, growing vegetables and fruits in the backyard of our house. I grew sprouts in jars in the kitchen. I was influenced by many books, but most especially Paul Bragg's "The Miracle of Fasting" and Viktoras Kulvinskas' "Survival into the 21st Century: A Planetary Healers Manual."

I describe my physical involvements because these formed the core of my identity. My intense involvement with sports and diet were central to my self-concept. All my friendships and pastimes embraced sports and health as their most essential foundation. My friends were all good-natured, health-oriented jocks. It was of no consequence to me whether or not my friends were honors students like myself. Schoolwork was never that important to me, especially between seventh and twelfth grades. The main thing was that my friends shared my passion for physical fitness.

Between the ages of twelve and twenty my body was in such a fine state of physical health that an intrinsic sense of pleasure persisted throughout my every activity. I enjoyed doing whatever I was doing because I couldn't help but simply to enjoy myself. I emanated physical and emotional vitality. There was a certain magnetism or quality to my bearing that attracted people to me. I benefitted from an auspicious confluence of genetics and social circumstances. But I didn't manipulate or take advantage of others on account of this. I rarely had girlfriends. I shied from parties and other large gatherings. I was content with a small group of friends. It was easy to limit myself socially because of my intense sports commitment, my passion for reading, and because, in general, I preferred my own company to the company of others.

I didn't have a sexual relationship until I was eighteen. But even then -- at this supposedly late-blooming age -- I did not feel ready for it. To a large extent, my having sex at this age -- during the second semester of my senior year in high school -- was merely a response to the pressure I felt from my younger brother -- who taunted me with accusations of homosexuality -- and my mother -- who thought it was high time that her oldest son was de-flowered. I had kissed a girl in eighth grade and hadn't liked it at all. The social pressure, the bumpiness of the girl's tongue and the thickness of her saliva, and several other issues repulsed me from the whole dating phenomenon that consumed so many of my peers. I didn't date again until I was eighteen, and even then -- with sex involved -- I found the relationship distracting and certainly nothing to consume much of my attention.

It is difficult to describe my mental and emotional state during my adolescence and teenage years. It was as if I lived in a protective sheath or bubble. Other people's perceptions, comments, concerns and so forth were slow to penetrate me. I lived in a thick shell of protective self-involvement. Indeed, I was more of an extension of my mother than anything else. She loved me: therefore I loved me. Everything I did, or wanted to do, had her blessing. She referred to me as the "golden child." There was a bubble, or a glow about me, on account of my mother's unconditional love for me, and on account of the countless hours I had spent absorbed in imaginary worlds of adventure and heroism. Growing up, almost everyone I came into contact with liked me. There was a warmth, an idealism, an innocence, and a physical vitality about me that was unusual and attractive. I did well in school with very little effort. My teachers were pleased to teach me. My coaches were pleased to coach me. Most all the adults in my life passed me along with nothing but approval and accolades. I was class president in seventh, eighth, and eleventh grades. I was captain of my track and basketball teams. For a yearbook popularity contest in eighth grade I won under two categories, "Most Likely to Succeed" and "Best All Around."

My mother had been divorced since I was ten, so there were additional chores for my brother and me. I mowed, weeded, and trimmed the yard, as well as did the dishes each night, while X (edit), my brother, did the household vacuuming and laundry. My mother had trained us well, and we worked without complaint. She frequently did not get home until 6:00 p.m., so we were pretty much on our own with these tasks.

I don't recall ever having gone through a stage of rebellion against my mother. She was "cool" and all my friends wanted to be with her. She would take my brother and me to movies, plays, concerts, and other events just about every week. My friends preferred going with her to these events -- rather than going by themselves or staying at home -- because she was such an exciting person to be with. She was certainly far more exciting than any of their parents. My mother was an outrageous, intense, and very intelligent person. She possessed a great sense of humor. As a result, there was a bond between my mother and me that went unchallenged throughout these formative teenaged years. This bond lent considerable strength and resiliency to my self-concept.

From age ten to sixteen I spent hours each day reading and re-reading all the fairy tales and fantasy books I could find. I had a collection of fifteen Frank L. Baum "Oz" books that I had read five times over. I had read J.R.R. Tolkein's "The Hobbit" and "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy four times by ninth grade. There were days when I was eleven and twelve years old that I was so engrossed in my reading that I would leap out of bed at 6:00 a.m. and read straight through till 1:00 a.m. that night. That's nineteen hours of reading in a day. When I reluctantly had to eat or take bathroom breaks I would literally run to the bathroom or kitchen, conduct my business, and then leap back on the living room couch, squealing at the prospect of re-engrossing myself. From fourteen to sixteen my interest shifted from fairy tales to science fiction, though I continued to read fantasy. My mother had a friend who gave me boxes full of science fiction books that I devoured in high school. From age sixteen to eighteen I read the Carlos Castaneda series three times through. Between the ages of eighteen and twenty I read all of Ayn Rand's books three times each. Then the kundalini force awakened in me and I haven't read fiction since.

I've never been a fast reader. I read at about 250 words per minute -- sometimes less if I am really enjoying it. I don't visualize stories well. I am particularly sensitive, though, to the emotional tone and excitement that words convey. I've taken two courses on speed-reading. They were a misery to me. Reading fast made it impossible for me to visualize and emotionally recreate a story inside myself. I can say with certainty that speed-reading is a Godless pursuit: It fractures our analytical, emotional, and physical faculties; it divides the heart and body from the mind. It is the antithesis of the mental functioning required of whole body enlightenment.

It is hard to describe this, but my ego -- my self-concept -- from age ten when I first read the Tolkein, Baum, and Grimm's fairy tale books, was very much lodged in those works. I had become the victorious protagonists in all these works. I was Frodo. I was Dorothy. I was the fairy tale prince. I was Don Juan's apprentice. I was Howard Roark and John Galt. I recall my walking around school grounds between the ages of ten and eighteen very much consumed by my readings. My daily experiences would immediately conjure up visions of the characters I came into contact with. My life was an allegory to -- and a subsidiary of -- these resplendent works of imagination: I fashioned my behavior and aspirations after them. There was an emotional sense of drama -- of mystery and great challenge -- that spilled out of my readings to drench my daily life. I was the lead actor on some great stage, with everything holding special meaning and purpose for me. There was no doubt in my mind that I would be victorious in my life, just as the characters I read about were victorious in theirs. My self-concept was robust and idealized. In my view I could do no wrong, and there was nothing I could not do.

It's important to note that my confidence was not so much that I would be victorious in a material sense. It was more abstract and subtle than that. Rather, I had an inner sense that my happiness -- my emotional relationship to this world, my degree of passion -- could never be threatened. At age eighteen I recall priding myself on being the happiest, most emotionally free person I had ever met. I knew that this -- my happiness, my emotional intensity -- was the real source of my power. I had vague notions of wanting to be a millionaire, or a brain surgeon -- but these actual vocational or material attainments were not truly important to me. Embodying such concepts as "spontaneity" and "emotional intensity" were the most important things in my life. Those words became central to my vocabulary from age seventeen on.

My best friend from college -- and a fellow religious studies major -- Y (edit) told me after a lecture on the Hindu God Krishna, that I was the most Krishna-like person he had ever met. I took that to be a compliment of the highest order, as Krishna embodies the most well-rounded and potent aspects of any deity in human religious traditions. In the various myths of Krishna, he incarnates as a child, a warrior, a sage, and a lover. He is at once playful, passionate, innocent, wise, and deadly. No one can actually fill Krishna's shoes -- as he is a perfect, mythological being -- but he represents an ideal toward which all people should aspire. You cannot go wrong attempting to emulate Krishna. In terms of Y's reference to me, I believe he meant that I was the most passionate person he had ever met. Emotionally, physically, and intellectually, the two of us had a voracious appetite for life. We stood out in all the courses we took, being among the most colorful and challenging students for our professors to deal with.

In any event, from age ten on up I would go about my daily chores and social involvements as if from within a protective bubble of deep self-satisfaction. Though I had many experiences and accomplishments that were important to me, I do not believe that they had as much of an impact on me as they would have were I not so firmly entrenched in my literature-based world of idealism and fantasy. I was self-involved and insulated to an unusual extent.

When I was a freshman in college, my roommate, DK, a Phillips Academy graduate, said that I was the most self-involved person he had ever met. I am not sure that he meant that entirely as a compliment. Until I met DK, I had never had a conversation that had lasted more than a minute. I am serious about this. Intellectual, political, or relationship discussions were absolutely foreign to me. All my friendships and social involvements were based on action: sports, surfing, movies, music, and so forth. There was nearly no intellectual analysis in my life -- at least none that I shared socially -- ever. The focus of my social involvements was upon the physical and emotional enjoyment of doing whatever I did.

It is from within this context of deep self-satisfaction that I began to purposefully enter waking dream states when I was fourteen years old. I would enter these states two or three times a day; with each immersion lasting between twenty and forty-five minutes.

This was also the time that I began to exercise in earnest, not simply with the goal of improving my cardiovascular fitness, but with the intention of boosting my emotional intensity. My exercise became more of a meditation than anything else. Two days a week I would take two-hour runs where the pace would be very slow -- and where a warm, rich, sensuous sensation of aliveness would fill me. During these long runs my mind would become fully absorbed in the characters and dramas of the worlds I read about -- or I would become totally blank, subservient to my body's actions. In particular I enjoyed running in storms, at night, and up mountains. These were shorter runs, of thirty to sixty minutes in duration. The main focus of my running was upon intensifying my energy level and deepening my relationship to the broader forces of nature. I was never an inert presence during my nighttime runs. I always attempted to attain a level of emotional and physical vitality that equaled whatever displays of force that the rains, winds, and lightning might reveal.

Less dramatically, but still important, I would often spend three or four hours each day during my high school summers lifting weights and practicing my technique in the various decathlon events. I was never a great athlete -- and perhaps not even a very good one -- but my dedication set me apart and made the most of what natural talent I did have.

I don't recall exactly when this phenomenon began, but there came to be a dominant inner voice inside me that would analyze people, social situations, and textual content incessantly. It would immediately recognize and bring to my attention all the shortcomings, deceits, and pitfalls of any relationship or information I came into contact with. This inner voice reflected a very strong and immediate connection to an idealized, intuitive perception of truth. It made it nearly impossible for me to be taken in by falsehood. This voice was protective like a parent alive inside of me, and kept me a safe distance from people who might lead me astray. But it also made intimacy difficult. People had a great hurdle of moral analysis and emotional trust to overcome before I would allow them near me. But quality is more important than quantity. I pride myself on having very deep and satisfying relationships with my friends and family. People need to be wary of their social involvements: if you don't watch out, a thousand pound karmic load from someone else's shoulders will be dumped onto your own.

However, I experienced a moment of near epiphany while performing oral sex when I was nineteen years old and in my second year of college. It was my second sexual relationship -- and my first truly uncaged and rewarding one. With my mouth on her labia, and with an erection eager for penetration, my inner voice was struck dumb, in awe at this vital, procreative act. It was the first time that my inner voice had ever been speechless -- and happily so. Briefly, I was brought into contact with a force -- or an experience -- of conscious unification. It was only temporary, though, as there were many problematic issues of trust and communication between us that made this experience impossible for me to attain a second time. But it pointed me in a direction of a social and bodily bliss of union that did not necessarily require sexual copulation to achieve.

Analysis (2002)

The event of kundalini awakening and the attainment of the subsequent state of whole body enlightenment are preceded by a childhood characterized by emotional and physical wholeness and vitality. A child needs to be physically and emotionally safe. In my case, I was not physically threatened or emotionally demeaned by the people closest to me. As well, I lived in broader environments where it was safe to play sports till dark a mile away from home, or go running for two hours at 9:00 p.m. at night. Through a combination of luck, good judgment, and safe environment I rarely encountered people who might harm or take advantage of me. As a consequence I had few experiences that diminished my enormous levels of trust and idealism.

More than being merely safe, a child needs to be inspired. In my case, the sources of inspiration were various. My mother demonstrated an unconditional support for whoever and whatever I wished to become. This gave me wings to have unlimited aspirations. Truly, I believed there to be nothing I could not attain or do, provided I dedicated my heart and mind to the task. As any great mother does, she made me feel that I could be the next president of the country, or a medical doctor of the highest caliber. My mother was nearly an ideal parent, exhibiting the power and self-confidence necessary to set her children free. Truly, my mother only wanted what my brother and me wanted: Our desires, our interests, came first. As a school teacher for the last thirteen years I can say with certainty that ninety-five percent of parents saddle their children with emotional and psychological baggage that limits the child's most fundamental aspirations and potential. For the vast majority of parents, children are mere unconscious extensions of themselves, captives to their various dysfunctional inner dramas.

The downside of the broad and unlimited support provided by my mother was that I felt considerably directionless in a material, social, and occupational sense from age eighteen to twenty-two. My mother had never pared down my expectations for my life. Literally, in her eyes everything and anything was possible to me. It was all up to me. As long as I was passionate and felt fulfilled by my engagements, my mother did not care what I did. Actually, my mother's biggest concerns were that her children demonstrated industriousness, good manners, and excellent verbal skills. Ultimately, the gift and the burden my mother laid before her children was that of self-discovery. She refused to dictate who we were, or what we were to do with our lives. Her great love and selflessness demanded that we discover the purpose of our lives for ourselves. I am still amazed at her capacity to have done this so fully. I fear that I could never repeat what she has done for us. I am so critical, and I have such high expectations of this world -- and my every involvement within it -- that I question whether I could raise a child to be as independent, self-confident, and vital as myself.

Given this lack of vocational, social, and spiritual indoctrination, it is difficult to describe the unrest in my soul as I tossed about in my bed in the fall of 1985 at age twenty. It was the quintessential existential drama that plays out in every young person. I asked myself: "What is the purpose of my life?" "What am I to do with my life?" "What is it that I really want?" "What is it that will give me true, lasting peace and satisfaction?" I struggled with these questions for weeks prior to kundalini's awakening. I steeped myself in these questions, forcing myself not to ignore them until a satisfactory solution emerged. My mind, my body, and the energetic field surrounding me were entirely consumed with orienting my being toward some purpose or destination through which I would find ultimate fulfillment. Because my mother had not limited my aspirations, and because I had twenty years of childhood rich in imagination, idealism, and circumstances that built self-confidence, absolutely nothing was excluded from the solution set that might answer my existential dilemma. So, my mother's empowerment was both a great gift and a tremendous burden. I -- and not some predetermined social script -- was to find meaning and purpose in my life. My life force and overall being, like some giant Rubik's cube, finally aligned itself to a single aspiration. After several weeks of searching, at age twenty, I realized that my external vocation did not really matter. Maybe I'd be a college professor -- but maybe not. The only thing that mattered was that I possessed a feeling -- a tangible, emotional, unmistakable, and constant perception -- of God's spiritual, love-filled presence in my life. I had read that God consciousness, for Sri Ramana Maharshi, was like God making love to every pore in his body. That perception -- that divine relationship -- is what I wanted. Nothing else mattered; or at least, all other aspirations in my life were superfluous by comparison. Had my mother, or other significant figures in my life sought to dictate what direction my life should take, I believe that I could not have so whole-heartedly and unreservedly settled upon the attainment of whole body enlightenment as my life's principle purpose.

In addition to the existential freedom imparted to me by my mother, other sources of inspiration were her personal qualities of being passionate, charismatic, and capable of deep social bonding. My mother was the incarnation of Shakti to me. Being around a dynamic person is liberating. People simply became more excitable, self-confident, and daring in my mother's presence. I am very fortunate to have had such a parent -- and to have grown up in a comparatively liberated society that allowed a woman like my mother to shine. Growing up with such a mother -- and within such a society -- [likely] made my future courtship of the kundalini process much more successful and rewarding than similar experiences of Adepts from earlier generations.

Another source of inspiration was my having access to a broad range of informative and imaginative texts. Through my home and community libraries I had access to many great and inspirational works. As well, my social circumstances provided me with the time and space to fully absorb myself in these works.

It is also important that I grew up in a home environment that supported a high quality diet and a disciplined exercise regimen.

Equally important, throughout my adolescence I was allowed the physical and emotional space to enter multiple periods of deep dream absorption each day without interruption.

In sum, the needs of a spiritual aspirant are plentiful and great. It takes a whole community to provide the context through which these needs can be satisfied. Great, creative works must fuel the child's aspirations. And, most especially, the full awakening of the spiritual process requires a life suffused with contact with passionate, powerful people who demonstrate, by their very presence, the capacity of spirit to conquer the limitations presented by the material and social world.


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