Unit II.  The Return


1.  Symbol chart
2.  Stopping Stations Process
3.  Laya Krama
4.  Christian mysticism
5.  Buddhist mysticism
6.  The Void

Materials needed:  Journal

Books needed:  

Kundalini Vidya
The Sacred Power


Kundalini Vidya
Unfolding and merging
Christian mysticism

Practice:  Meditation

The Return

So, if the process of creation is like procreation, is the return like trying to put the egg back into the chicken or the child back into the womb?  Well, not exactly.  The return seems to be a dissolving process.  Take water for example.  In its solid form, it is ice.  With a bit of heat, it dissolves into water.  With continued or more heat, it becomes steam which dissipates into air and finally into space.  You will recognize the progression of elements in this example.  Also the role of heat.  In death, we see that the body’s functions are released  in the same sequence.  Psychologically, through work with the chakras,  we have learned how to surrender.  And now, in doing so on the level of consciousness we eventually will return to the level of ecstasy that started the whole thing.  Surrender leads to dissolution.  It feels like a spiritual orgasm and is called maithuna.

Woodroffe (1973) has said that dissolution means that each developmental step of creation must be dissolved in the next highest step, the one above it.  To help visualize this, the chart below outlines some of the processes involved at each level beginning with the lowest level of consciousness.  This guidebook is going to follow these divisions as guides to the return journey in the causal plane.

Table 2.
The Return

  Unit Title/Focus             Symbol           Methods                      
 AKaTha Triangle

AKaTha triangle  Hatha Yoga
 Control senses
 Control emotions      
 Kamakala Triangle    Intention
Kamakala Triangle  Pranayama
 Control mind
 Inner vision
 Focus will
 Mahanada  Dharana/
 Jnana Yoga
 Inner guidance
Manipitha/Amakala  Meditation
 Bhakti Yoga
 Surrender heart
 Love and Light
 Supreme Bindu
 Union of  Mind/Life
 Consciousness &
Bindu  Contemplation
 Acceptance of         what is
Visnu-vakta  Threshold
 Great Passageway
 Surrender mind and     all controls
 Radiant darkness
 No-mind, No-self
 Choice of union             or identity
Candra Mandala
 Surrender soul
 Raja Yoga
 Dissolve name, form    Dissolve time 
 Kaivalya, Megha
 Dharma samadhi
 Identity with "I-am"
 Selfless service
 Karma Yoga
 Return to life

Death of the body
Surrender life
 End of embodiment

* May occur anywhere in this sequence

I think a case could be made that the causal journey repeats the subtle one such that the first level, A-Ka-Tha triangle, would be related to the first chakra processes, the second to the second chakra and so on.  In fact, Harrigan (2002) has diagrammed the areas of the brain that are associated with each chakra.  The first chakra is related to the limbic system, the second to the parietal lobe, the third to the temporal lobe, the fourth to the occipital lobe, the fifth to the brain stem, the sixth to the frontal lobe and the crown chakra to the cerebral cortex (pp. 145-6).  It could be an interesting project to chart those relationships.

Harrigan (2002) says that Kundalini does a renovation/restoration project in the Sahasrara Padma in the area of the Upper Vajra nadi (p. 144-4).  This means clearing out old toxins that were not removed during the journey up through the chakras.  All of the brain centers must be opened in order to attain to full consciousness.  Harrigan says that just as the brain is the control center for the functions of the subtle body, the Sahasrara is the control center for the functions of
the causal body and the vayus (vital breath or prana).  This fits with our original diagram of the person as a series of concentric interpenetrating circles (Figure 2-1) as well as with the idea of dissolution.  This clearing process begins when the Makara point is achieved.  You will remember that that is in the sixth chakra.

This renovation/restoration project is related to the chakra petals.  Each  petal of each chakra has a Sanskrit phoneme (sound or letter) in it.  And each of these  phonemes has a corresponding phoneme in the Sahasrara Padma.  A phoneme is a sound.  Our words are constructed of a series of phonemes or sounds that give each word its individuality.  These correspondences have been the subject of intensive study called Kapatam Vidya (Harrigan, 2002, p. 144).  Kapatam means “brain” and vidya means “study” or “science.”  As each petal of the Sahasrara Padma is cleared, the Kundalini energy can occupy that space in the brain until all of the detoxification is completed.  This process may be very uncomfortable, but the person is stronger now and able to tolerate it.

Since we are now clearing the subtle body, we can expect to experience the activity psychologically or mentally.  The subtle body is composed of the energetic sheath (prana), the mental/intellectual sheath (manas) and the discernment/intuitive sheath (buddhi).  And there is evidence that brain function, neurotransmitters, mood, mental functioning and vital energy are improved as this restoration is achieved.  Physical problems that were caused by issues on these levels may also clear up.  And the unconscious mind is also purged.  In fact, those who have experienced this cleansing may have a golden aura about their heads that can be seen by others.  

Much of this clearing takes place in deep sleep or in samadhi because there is less resistance to the process then.  On the other hand, if the activity during waking is too intense, we can establish ourselves in the Witness Self or buddhi level and just watch the action.  It is important not to interfere with the unloading, or the damming up caused by ego control may cause pain or distress.  This advice can also be found in The Dark Night of the Soul by St. John of the Cross (Peers, 1959)  who tells us that God works in the dark night of the soul.  The debris is no longer who we are and should be surrendered without regret.

Stopping Stations Process

According to Harrigan (2002) there are five different routes from Makara point to the Brahma Randhra.  We will look at the Stopping Stations Process since it parallels the seven causal planes of Yoga at least in terminology.  It adds a stage between Vyapika and Maha-nada.   Here are the stages in reverse order, i.e., the direction one would take in dissolution.


This is the bindu of the sixth chakra.  We know it as the gateway to the causal realm.  At this point we have prana and toxins are flowing which indicates that the clearing process is, by no means, completed.  

Harrigan says that prana is vibrating fields of subtle energy, and it is also a vehicle of consciousness (p. 54).  So this is saying that prana is like an ocean of vibration that acts as the carrier of consciousness at this level.  The key word here is fields.  According to Sivananda’s (no date) Yoga Vedanta Dictionary, prana is the life force, life breath or vital energy.  Taken together, these definitions would suggest that life is like a field of energy that pervades everything.  Also, by deduction, that means everything is alive and conscious since everything, even rocks, vibrate.  Vayus are the forms of the dynamic energies that flow through the nadiis and chakras.  These are more like an electrical current that is contained by wires.  A field is more like a mass or network of energy.  

So, as we stand on the threshold of the causal realm, we are full of life and still tied to the sensory world by our samskaras and vasanas.  Hence the need for further cleansing.

Ardha Bindu

This is a subtler form of prana, and the toxins have begun to dry up.  The symbol Harrigan (2002) uses for this stage is a half moon which is also the symbol for the second chakra.  (You can see her diagram on page 162.) This suggests that desires are beginning to disappear along with the attachments they created in life.  When this starts to happen, it helps to have the support of a spiritual community or a group of others who are traveling the same path because you may find yourself distancing from old friends and family members who may not understand your development.


This is indicated as a phase of Avyaktanada (which is the most subtle form of nada).  It is unmanifested nada or sound, and is described as the fire that burns up all actions.  Harrigan says it is an expression of prana, and that energy stops here.  Its character of fire remands it to the third chakra, and I would expect latent ego issues to surface here.  Since one of ego’s jobs is repression, and this program is intended to clear out the unconscious, we must expect strong resistance from the ego.


Nada, while it still is vibration, has no breath.  Prana controls itself as if life is holding its breath.  Energy vibrates consciousness however.  Sivananda (no date) says nada is a mystic sound of the Eternal.  It is the primal sound or the first vibration from which all creation springs.  It represents the first manifestation of the unmanifested Absolute.  It is sometimes called Sabdabrahman.  On the return, this might refer to those moments during meditation when the breath slows to a minimum necessary to sustain life.


This is the Great Sound.  We met it in Unit I.  Here we have no vibration but only an energy expansion in consciousness.  Harrigan (2002) says it is an echo of nada.  Very subtle.  It is like the incubation period before birth as if consciousness grew and grew until it exploded into matter.  On a return journey, this would suggest a dimunition of consciousness.  Perhaps fleeting experiences of no-mind.


This item is not mentioned in the seven causal planes.  However, it apparently is distinguishable from the other stages.  Harrigan (2002) says that here “prana merges in power (Shakti) [and] prana (life energy) in the way of power” (p. 162).  She symbolizes this with two small circles.  So if we could assume that the meaning of prana here is life, we might have simply the power of life instead of a separation of some sort between life and power.  Maybe we leave mental experience and only feel existence as power.


Here prana expands, gets “naked.”  And we have “Kundalini in the way of consciousness” (p. 162).  This is a strange expression that reminds me of a folk saying in which “in the way of” might refer to becoming enceinte.  So since we are using procreation as a metaphor, this might mean that the power of consciousness (Kundalini) is preparing to give birth to life itself.  To carry the analogy a step further, we are all naked when we are born.  The symbol is an invertedVyapika triangle with a tiny circle at its bottom apex.  Since an inverted triangle is a symbol for the female genitalia, this symbol would be apt.  How would we return a child to the womb?  
By overcoming separation issues, perhaps.  We give up our need for mothering or nurturing and become the mother.  It might also mean we are willing to surrender our life itself.


Samana in the Harrigan diagram gets short shrift as there is no description of what it means.  However, if we refer to the Woodroffe (1973) information, samana is the first division into two parts, so we would have the parents of creation.  At this point, moving in the direction of dissolution, all creation is reabsorbed into the seed of consciousness and bliss, the primal union which produced the universe.  One might experience only the awareness of bliss, love and harmony.  Samadhi.


Harrigan (2002) calls this no-mind.  Roberts (1985) calls it no-self.  Both are true.  Knowing and knower disappear into the known.  Harrigan depicts this as occuring at the Brahmarandhra in the location of the Supreme Bindu.  [Review The Guru’s Footstool in Unit I.]  

In an advanced process, Kundalini achieves this point, then descends to the first chakra, reascends and establishes herself in her chosen place of residence.  From there she can access the pinnacle to enjoy the bliss there.  Eventually, this becomes a plateau experience.  So we see that arrival at the Supreme Bindu is not necessarily the endpoint, but a vantage point from which the power of conscious-ness can reenter life and its experiences at will.

Now, you might well ask, how can we reabsorb all of our material world into nothingness?  Well, that is what we have to keep reminding ourselves.  We are not dealing here with the material world, per se, but only our consciousness of it.  If we accept the procreation model, what would that mean?  Basically, it means withdrawing our awareness from all of the created forms and retiring to an empty space within, possibly the unconscious mind.  There would probably be some resemblance to the process of falling asleep at night.  And, in fact, it is said that with enough practice, one can achieve the state of nirvana just as quickly.  We are going to test all this out in subsequent units by following some of the practices given to us by the adepts.  Note, also, that there is literature which outlines the stages of death indicating withdrawal of each of the chakra elements in turn.  This would be another model for the dissolution process on the tattvic level.

Exercise:  Kundalini Vidya

Secure a copy of Kundalini Vidya: The Science of Spiritual Transformation from www.kundalinicare.com/books.html.  I doubt you will find it in the usual bookstores.  Amazon.com did not list it at the time of this writing.  It was written and is published by Joan Shivarpita Harrigan who runs her own retreat center in Knoxville, Tennessee in order to assist people with their Kundalini risings.  You may expect her to question your level of development before sending it to you.

You may use this book as a reference source and to check out my interpretations of her work.  She comes from the Sarasvati lineage which is the same one as my teacher, Swami Sivananda Radha.  Note that the bija for the Sahasrara Padma is that of Sarasvati: Aim.

Harrigan gives much more detail about the Kundalini risings and the various routes Kundalini may take to achieve liberation.  I recommend this book to help you fill in any gaps in your understanding.

As you read the book, please take notes on it in your journal and begin to write your own dictionary of Sanskrit terms.  If you just list them with their meanings in your computer, you can use the sort function to alphabetize them.

If you cannot find Harrigan’s book, go to the Siddha Yoga Meditation Bookstore  for other similar books on the subject or get The Serpent Power from Timeless Books (www.timeless.org).

Laya Krama

Laya means “dissolution,” and krama means “order of.”  So, in the Hindu tradition, we have the order of dissolution.  Remember that dissolution of consciousness means that we dissolve each level into the next highest one.  The Serpent Power (Woodroffe, 1973) offers a detailed description of this process beginning with the first chakra and continuing up to and through the Sahasrara Padma, so I am not going to repeat it here.  

The important thing to keep in mind is that we are dissolving consciousness.  That means letting go of our awareness of whatever it is that is in focus.  It is possible to learn how to use your mind as a lens that can open out for a very wide field of perception, or it can be focused on something close at hand and worthy of intense scrutiny.  And it can vary in these dimensions from one extreme to the other.  This is fortunate as most of us need to continue our daily work and family life even though we are on this path.  Our educational system trains us to be very focused most of the time unless we are enjoying leisure time.  And, even then, the strain is so habitual that we may find it difficult to relax.  However, letting go of habitual concerns is an essential part of the journey, so we must practice until we can achieve it when we are ready to go into the inner world.  

Exercise: Unfolding and Merging

Secure a copy of The sacred power: A seeker’s guide to Kundalini by Swami Kripananda.  If it is not available online, try the SYDA Foundation.  It should be in the bookstore at the ashram.  Please read chapter 6 which has to do with the awakening of Kundalini and the processes of  rising and cleansing the chakras.  Chapter 8 is about the Sahasrara Padma.  It will give you more detail on the causal planes and what occurs in each of them.  Note differences as well as similarities between this account and the one given by Woodroffe.  Neither is wrong but it depends upon the particular scriptures that are referenced and also the interpretations of them.  Kripananda comes from the Shaivite tradition in which the focus is on Shiva and Shakti.  Shaivites refer to a different set of scriptures than Woodroffe does.  Still they both are tracking the Kundalini process.  Kripananda’s first chapter pulls together some of the similarities between other disciplines as well.  You might want to check that out.
Christian Mysticism

A totally different approach is found in the Christian tradition although, if you study it, you will discover many similarities.  The mystical journey is, after all, the same trip regardless of how you may choose to conceptualize it.  We will examine two of the perspectives briefly and refer to others you may want to pursue on your own.

The Cloud of Unknowing

This small book was written by an unknown monk in the 14th century in medieval England.  Perhaps he wished to remain anonymous because some of his ideas  were probably pretty advanced for his era, and he might have wished to fly under the papal radar.  He is saying, for instance, that anyone can travel the mystical path if s/he is committed enough.  However, he is adamant that the book should not be read by those whose intention is merely to satisfy their curiosity.  The author is addressing a young novice and offering advice about how to proceed on the return journey.  This has overtones of monastic scholarship, of course.

A contemplative is a person who is undertaking to control his/her thoughts and feelings by means of special disciplines in order to find and achieve  unity with God as He “. . is in His nature” (Progoff, 1981, p. 24).  One cannot reach this goal in the ordinary condition of human consciousness, but must withdraw projections and energy from the world and concentrate it on the deep unconscious levels below the threshold of awareness.  He says the first step is deliberate attrition of consciousness toward increased activity at the subliminal levels of personality.  And he warns that one must be aware of the dangers of walking this razor’s edge with psychosis on either side.

The cloud of unknowing is a lack of knowing that includes everything you do not know or have forgotten, whatever is dark for you because you do not see it with your spiritual eye.  Basically it is everything that comes between you and God.   It is like a cloud that separates you from God.  This cloud is essentially the consciousness of separation.  To deal with it, you must “. . strike that thick cloud of unknowing with a sharp dart of longing love and you are not to retreat no matter what comes to pass” (Progoff, 1981, p, 73). A spontaneous cry of desperation that comes out of intense spiritual need is what may finally reach and move God to respond.  We have to beg.  We must create a cloud of forgetting beneath us and between us and all of creation.  “. . a naked intent direct to God is sufficient without anything else” (p. 76).  God is moved by your love and longing.  The author goes on to describe practices and observances that will help you to maintain your focus.  This is an intensely focused path.  Nothing is important but God.  Everything else is surrendered.

You may be distressed by his references to sin, but if you hold in mind a definition of sin as anything that separates us from God, you may find it more palatable.

The book is translated by Ira Progoff (1981) and is not very long.  If the Christian tradition calls you, you will find it a great help.  It also speaks to those who feel depressed and stalled in their journeys.

The Experience of No-self

Bernadette Roberts began her journey in a convent and reached the pinnacle of Christian mysticism in the experience of unity with God.  However, she soon discovered that that was not the end of the journey, but that she was called to go further.

The Experience of No-self by Bernadette Roberts (1985) is not for the faint-hearted.  It is an account of what it feels like to lose  your self, personality, mind and center.  This sounds like a description of psychosis; and, in fact, it is another example of walking the razor’s edge.  Roberts says that “The preconditioned habits of a balanced, integrated adult mind are absolutely essential for making the passage” (p. 60).  What she means is that you must be prepared to go on automatic pilot because you are going to lose your conditioned mind (i.e., manas).  Furthermore, the condition is irreversible.  Once gone, the self can never return.  

In the quote above, Roberts is talking about the Great Passageway.  It is interesting that she refers to the result of it as a state of total unknowing – “. .sheer nothingness within and without: The Great Passageway” (p 55).  What is left is “What Is,” a reverberation of Buddhist philosophy.  What Is, is that which sees, is seen and the act of seeing as One.  Sound familiar?  “. . What Is is the Eye seeing itself, and wherever it looks it sees only itself” (p. 100).   There is an Eye that “sees.”  And this eye which is not of the mind is all that exists when there is no self.  It is Oneness.  She found that knowing, seeing and doing were a single act with no gaps in between.  This sounds like the kamakala triangle.

There is a lengthy discussion of what occurs during the loss of self-conscious reflection on the part of the mind and what is left when it is gone.  Then she goes on to describe the condition she found herself in after the loss of all her worldly foundations.  This is the state of identity with God .  She says, “To lose yourself is one thing; to become God is another. . . God can take over and obliterate all consciousness but the one that says, ‘I am God’ ” (p. 137).  This is a case of subject-object identity or pure subjectivity.  And this is “. . a way of knowing in which knower, known and knowing are identical and inseparable” (p. 144).  [Another parallel between two vastly different traditions.]  

The disintegration eventually re-integrates on a cosmic level and one can continue to function in the world in a whole new way.  However, there is an absence of an interior life.  The stillpoint is gone.  So is the affective system with all its attendant suffering.  Will also disappears as it is the nucleus of the self.  Roberts says that no-self is an effortless, choiceless state that needs no standard(s) to survive. It becomes impossible to step out of the moment.   It is an absence of an interior life.  However, in the end, essential uniqueness remains even though the self is gone.  Identity with God is the final realization of the mystic.

You might want to read this book before going any further on your path.  It is necessary to cross an immense abyss that is coupled with not just fear, but terror.  This reminds me of Washburn’s (1995) discussion of the ego’s defense against experience of the Dynamic Ground, another name for the One being or the energetic field that is the Divine matrix.  The fear, in that case, is that of engulfment or disintegration.

Other Christian Sources

The Interior Castle by St. Teresa of Avila (Starr, 2004) is another book that traces the levels of the return journey one experiences in contemplation.  So also is the "Book of Revelations" in the Bible.  Swami Radha said that the events in Revelations should be interpreted as symbols for the return journey.  This is echoed in a book by James M. Pryse (1910) called The Apocalypse Unsealed in which he explores the symbolism in terms of the chakra system among other esoteric symbols.  The Gospels in the Bible are about the return journey, of course, and you are probably familiar with the stories about Jesus’ life.  The Gnostic Gospels come a bit closer to being mystical though much has been lost in antiquity.

Exercise: Christian Mysticism

Read and study the "Gospel of St. John" in the Bible.  Thinking of it as an account of the spiritual journey, outline the trip translating the symbols you encounter in terms of the spiritual path especially the Return.  Is there any relationship to the planes of consciousness in the Sahasrara Padma?  If so, what relates to what?  If outlines bore you, try diagraming it or use some other form of expression that is meaningful to you.  The important thing is to decipher the symbolism.

Buddhist Mysticism
Dzogchen Buddhism

Dzogchen differs from other Buddhist traditions in its emphasis on direct, experiential knowledge of the primordial state.  Dzogchen means “Great Perfection.”  This is the true primordial state of every individual.

Like other branches of Buddhism, Dzogchen speaks of the relative condition in terms of body, voice and mind.  Body is the material form, voice is energy, vibration or sound which is linked to breath and vital energy.  Mantra enables control of energy.  Mind refers to the stream of thoughts beyond which is the true condition of mind.  Ignorance is living in reflections of the mirror, i.e., relative reality; whereas knowledge is the state of consciousness that is like the mirror itself.  And this is absolute reality.  Shunyata, or voidness, is the true condition of the mind; while bodhicitta is knowledge of the voidness of all phenomena (absolute reality) plus an intention to benefit others (relative reality).  This intention is related to the Bodhisattva vow.

The three primordial Wisdoms are Essence (void), Energy (which continually manifests) and Nature (clarity, pure quality, no mind).  And these refer to the characteristic conditions of mind: Essence is Presence or pure recognition without judgment, Energy is movement, and Nature is calm.  These, in turn, relate to the kayas: Essence to Dharmakaya and voidness of all phenomena, mind; Energy to Sambhogakaya, voice; and Nature to Nirmanakaya, body.

Table 3.
The Three Wisdoms

Essence Energy

Practice is based on the idea that whatever arises liberates itself automatically, so we have a self-liberation defined as detached observation without judgment.  This requires remaining in the NOW moment every minute, so you can see that liberation is going to be no small matter.  The state of presence is essence with clarity or the void condition.  Presence is unique.  Voidness is universal.

The return journey is based upon a set of practices called “The Cuckoo of the State of Presence.”  It has three parts.  Base is a way of seeing, a condition which recognizes our state.  Path is a way of practicing, how to develop knowledge.  And fruit is a way of behaving that integrates presence with daily life.  When you are in a state of voidness and conscious, there is continuous presence – a nondual state which is the basis of all forms and manifestations.  This is like Unmani in the Yogic tradition.  The six vajra verses that make up "The Cuckoo of the State of Presence" follow:

    The nature of phenomena is nondual
        but each one, in its own state, is beyond limits of the mind.
    There is no concept that can define the condition of what is
        but vision nevertheless manifests: all is good.
    Everything has already been accomplished, and so,
        having overcome the sickness of effort,
        one finds oneself in the self-perfected state:
        this is contemplation.
        (Norbu, 1996, p . 81)

Chogyal Norbu (1996) goes on to describe the base, path and fruit of practice in terms of these three main ideas.  We shall return to Dzogchen later, but notice that the focus here is also on “What Is.”  “What is” means uncorrected in this context, and “uncorrected” means going beyond the mind.  The goal is to understand the condition of “what is” in relation to life itself without correcting it, so all of life becomes  your practice.  “What is” means continuous presence, i.e., to remain present and relaxed.  Give up trying or doing.  This is Rig pa: intuitive, direct knowledge of the primordial condition maintained as a living presence.  This is the state of presence.

This may sound easy, but I assure you it is not.  We are not talking about just giving up and not doing anything.  Nor is it surrender.  It is a minute to minute attention to what is going on in the moment.  That means you cannot go “out to lunch” nor retreat into fantasyland, nor bury yourself in mental activity.  There is no escape.  Even if you are watching television, you are called to pay attention to each and every detail.  If you get up for a beer, you watch yourself doing it along with all the associated actions.
The Void

A. H. Almaas (1986) says the void is mind as space.  It is emptiness.  You can think of space in terms of mind as ground.  As such, dissolution of the boundaries of the self would expand the mind.  Space is awareness itself; the nature of mind is boundless space.  “The  void is the emptiness which in time will allow the unfolding of the fullness and richness of Being” (p. 58).  These are several of the things Almaas says about the void, the mind, and space.  All of them are vast.  So what happens to the mind so that it closes us in?

The answer to that is boundaries.  As we begin to process the input from the world around us when we are babies, we discover that we are not really a part of mother.  When we touch our other hand, we feel it; when we touch mother’s hand, we don’t feel it – at least as we did before with our other hand.  In the Introduction, I gave you a brief outline of the separation-individuation process.  At the end of that stage of development, we have a working ego that maintains this sense of separation throughout life unless we do something to change it.  The separation process has to do with perceiving ourselves as independent of other people and the environment.  Individuation refers to the inner sense of selfhood and individual identity that we have constructed.

In the Diamond Heart trainings, Almaas works with people to help them develop a sense of personal essence.  Personal essence is an inner sense of presence or beingness, our experience of the ground of all existence/Ultimate Space/Supreme Reality.  Our true identity. When that is in place, we can begin to tolerate a loss of our boundaries.  You can see that, if we are going to identify with the Absolute One and only What Is, we must rid ourselves of ego boundaries and other alienating personality structures.

Now then.  This is all coming up because we are going to have to confront the void on our way Home.  And it will help to understand what it is and what to expect.  Almaas (1986, pp. 146-9) outlines the levels of space we may expect to encounter and what they feel like.  He associates the first four of them with the four stages of individuation and separation.  

1.  Clear space is related to the external self-image and is accompanied by a fear of disintegration.

2.  Black space is related to the internal self-image and is experienced as a fear of loss of identity, of not knowing who one is.

3.  Clear, dense space is related to the external body-image and is experienced as fullness and presence, openness with a perception that body boundaries are space and, therefore, are not real.

4.  Black, dense space is related to the internal body-image and occurs when one lets go of identification with inner body sensations.  It is accompanied by fear of loss of the body and/or fear of death.

There are two others that occur at higher levels of the spiritual journey.

5.  Annihilation space is a black, empty space that is encountered at a more subtle level of identity, that which comes from our experience of existence, an I-amness, you could say.  Here we find our self missing.  There is just cessation, extinction of self.  This is what Roberts calls no-self.  The fear here is of annihilation, nonexistence, disappearance.  Even awareness and consciousness may disappear for a time.  So one fears the loss of mind.  This space causes the greatest terror, but it may also be accompanied by total peace and calm.  This space is the blackest of all and is experienced as the abyss.

6.  The void is an utterly empty space that is complete and total.  The annihilation space was experienced by someone; so the boundary was still intact, i.e., you can return to yourself.  The void, on the other hand, is the emptiness that has eliminated separating boundaries.  There is no longer anyone to experience the space.  There is complete openness and freedom.

Which space is in focus depends upon which boundaries are being dissolved.  So you may want to keep these ideas in mind as we begin our journey up through the levels of consciousness toward self-realization.

Practice: Meditation

The main practice for this guidebook is going to be meditation. It is assumed that you have achieved samadhi and can access it at will.  You may also find that you are requiring more deep sleep.  The reason for this is the clearing process which can only be carried on while you are unconscious.  Development of trust in the divine process is essential since you will not be aware of what is going on during those intervals.  My ego resists strenuously from time to time, but as trust develops it becomes easier.

At this level, you might want to try to establish a daily meditation practice of at least an hour a day if you have not already done so.  Simply sit with your spine erect and the locks in place.  (See Harrigan, p. 177 for directions.)  

Begin to prepare your daily schedule for the addition of pranayama practices as well as mantra.  These will be introduced in coming units, but you may continue them if they are already in your repertoire, of course.  This may mean you have to re-evaluate your priorities in order to make time.  My experience has been that I have gradually detached from worldly activities, so the time has become available.  If you have a family or a regular job, it will be more of a challenge; and perhaps you may want to wait until those commitments have been fulfilled, and you have more time and space to do your inner work.  Do what you can in the meantime.

Should you experience a Kundalini rising that disturbs your peace of mind and interferes with your work, you might get assistance from the Patanjali Kundalini Yoga Care Center in Knoxville, Tennessee.  Email: www.kundalinicare.com for more information.

This concludes a brief overview of The Return Journey at the causal level.  We have seen how consciousness may be withdrawn from material and worldly levels of experience as well as from the emotional, psychological and mental demands made upon us by the external environment.  Now, we shall withdraw consciousness itself into the One Being.

Please note, to avoid confusion, that there is not a direct correspondence between the symbols I have drawn and used in the mandala of the Sahasrara padma and the lines of creation and dissolution I have been discussing in Units I and II though there will appear to be some connections in the charts.  For instance, the A-Ka-Tha triangle and the Manipitha both appear in the Brahmarandhra at the culmination of the journey at the crown of the head (according to the Guru Paduka) while I have their functions developing at lower levels.  This is just part of the problem of trying to depict ethereal events with material symbols.  Don’t let it bother you.  I seriously doubt if the actual events occur in any kind of hierarchial fashion as the charts and stages would suggest.   We will see what happens as the book emerges.

Unit III. Manifestation goes into more detail about the first steps on this part of the journey


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