Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Discussion of meditation in the Mahayana and Vajrayana traditions.

Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Postby Ukigumo » Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:18 am

Are these the same or different? If there is some overlap between them, to what extent does this extend? I have heard that some Tibetan Vajrayana practices incorporate energy work (i.e. Tummo), but does this have the same goals as Kundalini Yoga? What about other, non Tibetan or non Vajrayana tradtions? Lastly, does anyone have any experience working with kundalini energy and Buddhist meditative practice?
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Re: Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Postby lowlydog » Tue Jan 08, 2013 2:23 am

Ukigumo wrote:Are these the same or different? If there is some overlap between them, to what extent does this extend? I have heard that some Tibetan Vajrayana practices incorporate energy work (i.e. Tummo), but does this have the same goals as Kundalini Yoga? What about other, non Tibetan or non Vajrayana tradtions? Lastly, does anyone have any experience working with kundalini energy and Buddhist meditative practice?


let the flow of energy come if it comes, and don't fret if it doesn't, and above all maintain equanimity in all cases. It's just another sensation to be aware of and equanimous towards. :smile:
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Re: Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Jan 08, 2013 2:42 am

From what I have read (and i'm new to vajrayana) there are some similarities. The kundalini is pictured similar to the nadis and in Vajrayana, but I don't think Kundalini involves the red, white and black channels, and all the stuff that goes along with those.. the Vajrayana Chakra system seems different. Kundalini seems to usually be taught with either vedantic, or in the case of Yogi Bhajan's organization Sikh Dharma.

Kundalini is great, but at least in practice it seems much different to me than Vajrayana, maybe it's just that i'm so new to Vajrayana. I have done Kundalini only as a form of exercise really, but the forms coming from Sikh Dharma actually have you recite the name of God, imagine god inside you etc...so i'd say the philosophy is different from Buddhism, though all the energetic stuff seems very similar to me,
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Postby Ukigumo » Tue Jan 08, 2013 3:58 am

Thanks for your replies, Lowlydog and Johnny. I ask because I have met a kundalini practitioner who speaks of various stages of "enlightenment" corresponding to the opening of various chakras, with "full enlightenment" occurring when all chakras have been opened and the flow of energy has been integrated within the body.

I am considering taking up these kundalini practices, but don't know how they relate to Buddhist practice and the Buddhist understanding of 'enlightenment'. I guess the most direct way to find out would be to do them and find out. I should mention I am a solitary practitioner and don't have access to any Buddhist teachers whom I could ask about this. I practice Chan style meditation.

Re: Sikh dharma, Johnny, my understanding is that mainstream Sikhism doesn't teach kundalini yoga at all, although some form of it is taught by followers of Yogi Bhajan and his 3HO organization. Did you learn kundalini yoga through the latter?
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Re: Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Jan 08, 2013 4:18 am

Yes, what I have done is the 3HO/Yogi Bahan stuff. I know some don't consider them Sikhism, don't know enough about the differences to say.

I think Kundalini is Hindu practice historically though.

Incidentally though, you can read stuff on Chinese qigong that has the same purpose, moving energy up to the crown to induce enlightenment..in buddhist forms this is what is done, whereas in Taoist forms one creates something like a "Qi baby" (lol) at the Dantian..at least that was my understanding of it.

I am no expert by any means, but I really feel like all the different energy methods are probably pretty similar in function.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Postby wayland » Tue Jan 08, 2013 9:51 am

Ukigumo wrote:Are these the same or different? If there is some overlap between them, to what extent does this extend? I have heard that some Tibetan Vajrayana practices incorporate energy work (i.e. Tummo), but does this have the same goals as Kundalini Yoga? What about other, non Tibetan or non Vajrayana tradtions? Lastly, does anyone have any experience working with kundalini energy and Buddhist meditative practice?

I was once told by a Tibetan monk that they were essentially the same. I've never done Kundalini or had any teachings in it but I've read a certain amount. Much of the apparent difference may come down to how things are explained, 'technical' descriptions versus direct experience etc.
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Re: Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Postby Azidonis » Tue Jan 08, 2013 10:12 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:I don't think Kundalini involves the red, white and black channels,


I instantly thought of the three channels in Kundalini Yoga - Ida, Pingala, and Sushumna.

How do those relate?

Also, found this website: http://www.divinetantrictouch.com/vajrayana/
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Re: Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Postby lowlydog » Tue Jan 08, 2013 12:29 pm

Ukigumo wrote:Thanks for your replies, Lowlydog and Johnny. I ask because I have met a kundalini practitioner who speaks of various stages of "enlightenment" corresponding to the opening of various chakras, with "full enlightenment" occurring when all chakras have been opened and the flow of energy has been integrated within the body.



This would contradict what I have been taught, I believe when this occurs, it is a stage known as bhanga(total dissolution of the body) and although an important stage to reach on the path not "full enlightenment".
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Re: Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Postby greentara » Tue Jan 08, 2013 1:27 pm

Apparently the rise of the Kundalini always goes with the sensation of being feverish but instead of feeling unwell, the person feels an overwhelming sensation of well being, even elation.
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Re: Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Postby Jeff » Tue Jan 08, 2013 2:30 pm

As wayland described, Kundalini and Tummo are the same type of energies. The difference is that Tummo is usually taught when the practioner has much greater clarity of mind than with Kundalini yoga. Starting energy practices earlier can be very effective, but the danger is one will be caught up and get ahead of themself with the energy effects. The key in both cases is having a good teacher/guru.

Regards, Jeff
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Re: Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Postby Adamantine » Tue Jan 08, 2013 2:48 pm

Ukigumo wrote:Are these the same or different? If there is some overlap between them, to what extent does this extend? I have heard that some Tibetan Vajrayana practices incorporate energy work (i.e. Tummo), but does this have the same goals as Kundalini Yoga? What about other, non Tibetan or non Vajrayana tradtions? Lastly, does anyone have any experience working with kundalini energy and Buddhist meditative practice?


Hi Ukigumo, I grew up practicing a form of kundalini meditation. I eventually and slowly shifted to a focus in Vajrayana Buddhism.
There were many reasons for this.

I am considering taking up these kundalini practices, but don't know how they relate to Buddhist practice and the Buddhist understanding of 'enlightenment'. I guess the most direct way to find out would be to do them and find out


I would not *jump* into studying kundalini with someone just to see what happens. That is not the way to go. There are many variations of kundalini and how it is taught, they are not at all the same, or even necessarily similar. What's more, usually it involves a real Guru-disciple relationship, so it should not be even remotely casual who the teacher is.. you need to examine them very carefully. There are some similarities with how kundalini is worked with in some of these traditions and how the inner winds are worked with in the vajrayana Buddhist yogas. But my understanding is that the knowledge is rather incomplete in comparison in the non-vajrayana Buddhist traditions in that they can raise these energies but do not have the understanding of how to properly bring them back down, work with them directly, 'control' them in a sense, as well as the all-encompassing question of if bodhicitta (the selfless motivation to benefit all beings, and to achieve liberation to relieve the suffering of beings, as opposed to a focus on one's own benefit) is there at the beginning, middle and end or even at all. Most if not all of the Kundalini traditions are not working from this space of bodhicitta, which automatically creates problems and blocks for the larger enterprise of enlightenment. The problem is many people throw around the word enlightenment including many new age charlatans to the point that it has lost any meaning in the morass of generalities and false promises. But in the Buddhist context, it has a very specific meaning which is not shared by most of the other people using the word.

So my follow up question to you would be: who is the person you are thinking of studying with, what is their lineage (I.E., who was their teacher, and their teacher's teacher, etc.) and what is their definition of enlightenment which they are promising to lead you to?

Feel free to PM me if you'd prefer to leave details out of the public dialogue.

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Re: Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:23 am

Thought this thread was worth revisiting if only for the sake of interesting conversation:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Five_Tibet ... First_Rite

This is a Sadhana in (at least the 3HO version i've been exposed to) Kundalini yoga, it is quite simple physically, but fairly strenous, and in my own subjective experience very effective in terms of "energy" stuff, for whatever that's worth (probably not much). It looks like the history of it might be in question, but interesting that it is purported to be a Tibetan practice. If you read the history, if anything can be believed there it makes one wonder if it was actually a shared practice and not necessarily specific to Buddhism or to Vedantic ideas. Physically if you have done Hatha yoga it might be unusual in that the Kundalini version is usually constantly moving throughout these poses, rather than staticly holding them, but other than that the positions are all common ones.

Anyway the version of the Sadhana i've done, the only thing that I modify when I do it is the stuff about "self" that is specific to Sikh Dharma, and basically happens during short meditations between the positions. I kind of don't do all the self-affirmation stuff. Maybe that makes me guilty of some kind of mixing and matching, I don't know. All I know is I have done this Sadhana both for general energy and well being, and to rehab severe mental and physical distress and it works wonders. I don't really worry alot about how it's branded as I feel like I have gotten so much out of it's practice for years.

Since I don't have access to someone who teaches the actual Vajra exercises these are supposedly related to (that I know of at least), since these are purported to be close, I feel like the practice has a nice resonance with my meditation.

There is plenty of Kundalini taught (rightly or wrongly) that can just be "tried", and does not involve a guru-disciple relationship, particularly if you don't want it to. Personally I think that avoiding something like this because it's not "Buddhist enough" is a pretty questionable decision, it's like asking whether or not you should do Taiji something..plenty of things can be found that might technically conflict with your practice, but only if you go around looking for stuff that conflicts with it! However, all that is my own bias of course- either way I don't see the harm in doing it any more than you would harm your practice by doing Qigong, Zhan Zhaung, or something similar- both of which, also amount to about the same concepts through a different doorway. I have also done Zhan Zhaung for many years as a form of mediation and martial arts supplementation, and had nothing but positive results. I can recommend some in depth books on Qigong and Zhan Zhaung i've gotten alot out of if you want through PM also.

The only word of advice I will give you on energy stuff is that I personally would avoid anyone who talks too much about results over practice, the most authentic teachers i've been around that are teaching energy methods literally teach you an exercise, and then you do it, for along time..you shut up and do it, you don't think about it overmuch beyond the basic instructions. Maybe they will mention a bit of the purpose, but the point is to do it until YOU KNOW what the results are because they actually happen to you after a time of diligent practice, I steer clear of anyone who says they can enlighten you or give you a quick fix etc. You are (IME of course) a lot more likely to simply get nothing out of it and have it not work for you than you are to some how inexorably mess yourself up - it is not like this stuff is easy.

Perhaps if one has a teacher that says not to do practice Kundalini that is one thing, but as you say you don't, so all you have to go on is your own common sense, you know what you can and cannot do within your own practice of Buddhism presumably. I have found Kundalini to be nothing but a benefit, but your results may vary.
Last edited by Johnny Dangerous on Tue Jan 15, 2013 1:07 am, edited 4 times in total.
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Postby deepbluehum » Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:50 am

Kundalini is emotion. Buddhist awakening isn't about emotion.
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Re: Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Postby Johnny Dangerous » Tue Jan 15, 2013 12:51 am

deepbluehum wrote:Kundalini is emotion. Buddhist awakening isn't about emotion.


According to what?
"Just as a lotus does not grow out of a well-levelled soil but from the mire, in the same way the awakening mind
is not born in the hearts of disciples in whom the moisture of attachment has dried up. It grows instead in the hearts of ordinary sentient beings who possess in full the fetters of bondage." -Se Chilbu Choki Gyaltsen
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Re: Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Postby deepbluehum » Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:18 am

Johnny Dangerous wrote:
deepbluehum wrote:Kundalini is emotion. Buddhist awakening isn't about emotion.


According to what?


Have you ever been to a shaktipat?
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Re: Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Postby Adamantine » Tue Jan 15, 2013 5:45 am

deepbluehum wrote:
Johnny Dangerous wrote:
deepbluehum wrote:Kundalini is emotion. Buddhist awakening isn't about emotion.


According to what?


Have you ever been to a shaktipat?


I don't think it's quite correct to phrase it that way, more accurately "have you ever received shaktipat?"

Shaktipat is not an event, it is a transmission.

Having been raised in a community that engaged regularly in something roughly equivalent to shaktipat I can tell you assuredly that it is not about emotion.

Some people behave excessively emotionally around a guru figure, and this happens in Vajrayana Buddhism too , plenty. I was just in Nepal and observed a Tibetan woman break into tears the moment she saw a Lama of hers. Does this mean Buddhism is about emotion? I believe it is because seeing him caused her to think of her father, a very good practitioner who passed away recently, who had a close connection to this lama.

I have a feeling what you are dubbing shaktipat is more likely kirtan (the devotional singing that can happen sometimes in a shaktipat-ish setting, as with Ammachi for instance.) This is something particular to bhakti yoga, it shouldn't be confused with shaktipat. They may happen sometimes together, but they certainly happen separately and are not mutually exclusive.

Shakti can be transmitted very simply, even austerely, through eye contact alone, without even a tremor of emotion.

It sometimes can unlock quite a lot of inner experience though and tears may fall. These may be tears of gratitude though. And this happens in dharma practice all the time too. So I am a bit confused by your remarks.

I have received transmission via touch from two tertons in my life that had the same powerful resonance and effect (well, probably more powerful in many ways) as what people often label "shaktipat", so I would venture to say that there is a lot of overlap. That said, the crucial differences for me come down to view and motivation, which are huge.
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Re: Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Postby Jeff » Tue Jan 15, 2013 4:42 pm

True Shatkipat is the "sharing" of an energetic-stillness combination with the person. Sort of like a direct bubble of "consciousness".

There is no "emotion" in the transfer. As Adamantine said, any experience of "emotion", by the receiver, is the result of the profound realization of the experience. Additionally, for some who are ready, it can "kick start" awareness of the energy body, which is often described as Kundalini.

Best, Jeff

(edit - added "As said" preface)
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Re: Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Postby davyji » Tue Jan 15, 2013 5:51 pm

Hi, here are some comparisons of Tibetan/Sanksrit subtle body terminology.
Tibetan - Sanskrit
tsa - nadi
lung - prana
avadhuti - sushumna
rasana - pingala
lalana - ida
tigle - bindu - (kundalini - Tamil?)

Practices involving the movement of energy in Tibetan are call Tsalung & Yantrayoga which is akin to Hathayoga (asana/pranayama),
with tummo being advanced tsalung, involving the movement of energy -pranavayu (movement of energy/winds).

Different names describing the subtle energy body do not change the subtle energy body.

I practiced classical asana/pranayama (hathayoga) for decades prior to practicing tsalung & gentle tummo, they are comparable, the knowledge gained from practicing hathayoga was quite valuable for understanding/practicing tsalung & tummo.

The simplest method to experience energy,channels,winds is to practice the 9 breaths as taught by ChNN & GTWR, a simple practice to start with.

love light space
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Re: Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Postby deepbluehum » Tue Jan 15, 2013 11:06 pm

A guru with a lineage will give shaktipat in an initiation ceremony. I received it from several gurus. The best was Anandi Ma. She holds an excellent lineage of Mahayoga. It is not Bhakti. I'm Indian from a religious family so I know the difference. Maha Siddha Yoga gurus teach that Shaktipat arouses emotions as it purifies them. Those with karmic imprints of yoga in past lives would only experiences emotions of the higher realms so they might only feel uplifted or radiance as was the case for me. When the imprints are purified one can achieve jivan mukti. There is no emotion at the time of fruit. But it's not the same view action fruit in dzogchen or mahamudra. There are many reasons why this is so. You can debate amongst yourselves.

Buddhism doesn't work this way. Whatever exotic experience you are prone to believe in notwithstanding, again many reasons why this is so. In short, take Longchenpa's divisions of Ati where at the top even introduction is no importance. Ati yoga is the highest of all yanas. Shaktipat is the lowest. You can debate amongst yourselves.
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Re: Kundalini Awakening vs Buddhist Awakening

Postby Adamantine » Wed Jan 16, 2013 2:48 am

deepbluehum wrote:A guru with a lineage will give shaktipat in an initiation ceremony. I received it from several gurus. The best was Anandi Ma. She holds an excellent lineage of Mahayoga. It is not Bhakti. I'm Indian from a religious family so I know the difference. Maha Siddha Yoga gurus teach that Shaktipat arouses emotions as it purifies them. Those with karmic imprints of yoga in past lives would only experiences emotions of the higher realms so they might only feel uplifted or radiance as was the case for me. When the imprints are purified one can achieve jivan mukti. There is no emotion at the time of fruit. But it's not the same view action fruit in dzogchen or mahamudra. There are many reasons why this is so. You can debate amongst yourselves.

Buddhism doesn't work this way. Whatever exotic experience you are prone to believe in notwithstanding, again many reasons why this is so. In short, take Longchenpa's divisions of Ati where at the top even introduction is no importance. Ati yoga is the highest of all yanas. Shaktipat is the lowest. You can debate amongst yourselves.


You may have some specific experiences based on your own karmic connection, your family and personal experiences with Anandi Ma, etc. But I think you'd be surprised about the variation of this term, the expression of it and how it manifests according to lineage. I do agree that generally how it is practiced in non-Buddhist contexts is not comparable to the type of Guru yoga we have access to in Dzogchen lineage. Of course, we must have confidence in this, it is the path we have chosen and for good reasons. I don't think there is much of a reason for any debate here. However, in my own experience I would not say that emotion, even what you categorize as "experience or emotions of the higher realms" is a necessary or defining characteristic of the transmission of shakti. There are probably different frameworks and different flavors of energy transmission that evoke varying experiences.. and maybe we are both right. We'll probably just have to agree to disagree here because much of it is not easily framed in language and we might just be talking past each other unknowingly.
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