Context: Throughout this transcript, Bhante Vimalaramsi is the speaker unless otherwise indicated.

so we're here with delson armstrong

today talking about an interesting

subject of kundalini

and i think later in a few minutes he's

going to have some revelations for us

that are kind of unexpected

so but first let's get a little bit of

background my name is david johnson by

the way we're at the damazuka meditation


and as i said this is dharmacharya

delson armstrong

i understand you have quite a lot of

experience with kundalini practices and

you've even suggested that you've taken

them as far as you can go

can you tell us a little bit about that

yeah so kundalini practice

i started kundalini practice around the

age of 16 or 17 so

for those of you who might have seen my

videos on my background you know that i

went to the himalayas and spent some

time there

while i was there i was introduced to

different kinds of yoga practices

which include kundalini and specifically

kriya yoga

so i did

three different lineages of kriya yoga

and there's six different degrees that

you go through with kriya yoga

and so the idea is to

ignite the kundalini and bring it up

from the base of the spine all the way

up to

the crown and then you have an


so the way to do that is through the

different korea practices and so as you

get through each of the higher degrees

of korea practice

it gets easier and easier for the

kundalini to reach into different parts

of the spine

and there are different segments within

the spine which you get towards

and i've done basically all of them to

the point where i've had multiple

kundalini experiences which have led to


cosmic consciousness-like experiences so

a union with the entire cosmos sense of

this you know little eye or the little

me becoming the greater i or the greater


and i was kind of obsessive about the

practice i did it for about six seven

eight hours a day that's a lot that is a

lot and to the point that

i still have the burn marks on my back

you have burn marks on your back

uh let's just be a little cautious about

your practice out there um what is


yeah so kundalini is understood as

what's known as shakti shakti is like

the force

energy that

pervades the universes all around us

so kundalini

is nothing but really electrical

activity that's going on in your nervous

system a lot of people talk about the

kundalini being this coiled serpent at

the base of the spine right

it's a three and a half coils and then

you awaken it and then it

comes up into the crown


actually kundalini is everywhere it's

basically the electrical activity of

your nervous system

and it's it becomes more centralized

around the spine obviously because

there's so many different

networks of different nerves that are

converging through

the spine the spinal canal

so the idea is that the kundalini is

most potent over there and so you bring

the kundalini

through you you basically take all of

that energy

and you focus it into the base of the


and then you bring it up through the

different channels in the spine all the

way up into

the crown chakra so these are the


chakras that we're talking about and

what's your experience do these chakras

really exist

subjectively they have some kind of an


in the sense that you do experience some

kind of energy at the base and different

parts of where the chakras are

but physically or

let's say even on a different level of

being they don't really actually exist

they're just subjective experiences

and each chakra is associated with

different aspects of the body

you know so the idea is that you're

awakening the kundalini that doesn't

make any sense because if there was no

kundalini then that means there's no

electrical activity which means there's

no vitality or life there so it's

already awake it's already this energy

is already there yeah and so you're the

idea is you

is people say that you activate the

chakras right but if your chakras were

not active you would be dead okay

that wouldn't be a good thing

so the

okay so there's no real activation no

the understanding that real

understanding is

so each of the chakras is associated

with some kind of endocrine gland in the

endocrine system that's the most

uh or the closest way you can experience

the the chakras from that sense but even

there it's just a

psychosomatic subjective experience it's

not really like there is something there

like a nexus of uh

energy that's there

uh but the idea is

that or the misperception is that you

have to activate the chakras

but like i said your chakras are already

active in the sense that there's just

energy there it's just vitality that's

all it is

so in kundalini if you were really to

understand it it's not about activating

but it's about balancing


and even there the way that people do

that idea of balancing is very much one

pointed so it's like i really have to

focus on this particular energy center

until it becomes active but if one

energy center becomes overactive it can

cause a lot of disturbances it can cause

kundalini syndrome that you might have

heard well tell us more about that so

you know people experience what's known

as kundalini syndrome where sometimes it

can become

it can turn into a psychotic break

people can suddenly have hallucinations

and delusions about reality and the

world around them some people have

shivers down their spines and people


rumbling in their nervous system some


you know

have they're not able to sleep uh

because there's just so much energy and

restlessness that arises when you do


so what it is doing is it's activating

that nerve that part of the nervous


that causes a lot of restlessness in the

mind and body

so if people do it with that intention

of activating then it's just going to

burn them out and it can lead them to

like i said you're activating

restlessness yeah

what what does this energy feel like

like i said it's very subjective but it

feels like heat sometimes

feels like heat in the body and heat

through the spine

uh some and then i've gotten to the

point where you can experience

the kundalini as a cool energy this is

something that a lot of people talk

about kundalini has a cool energy so you

know you you can experience heat in the

chakras but you can also experience a

coolness in each of the chakras some

people have said it's blue

some of them are yeah so some of the

there's some colors that are attributed

to each of the chakras and if you look

at the colors of the rainbow the seven


they're basically matching with the

seven chakras

okay so here's the big question

does kundalini lead to enlightenment no

no no

what does it lead to

it leads to a conditioned experience

because first of all we have to define

what we mean by enlightenment if we're

talking about enlightenment in the sense

that it's the cessation of

suffering and it's the understanding of


mind works and then

letting go of craving and so on

then by definition kundalini does not

result in any of those kundalini results

in a conditioned experience which is

akin to infinite space

or even the idea of infinite

consciousness this is one of the genres

one of the genres that's right

so the idea is that kundalini can lead

you to becoming one with the universe

but that's an experience people have

subjectively when they have an

expansiveness of awareness in infinite


and actually based on what i just said

kundalini causes more restlessness

causes more activity causes

actually more craving because you're

constructing an experience

rather than deconditioning it and coming

to something that's unconditioned so

instead of relaxing you're actually

going toward more restlessness yes more

energy yes

which never calms down never comes to

the balance you know it's where you want

it's very intense like the whole idea of

kundalini is bring up as much energy as

you can you know activate your nervous

system to a point that you you bring up

a lot of intensity and that's why with

kundalini practice people can experience

a lot of

emotional upheavals

so sometimes they can go into depression

sometimes they can have a lot of anxiety

sometimes they can suddenly flip out and

become very angry

and sometimes they can have a lot of joy

i mean yes they can have a lot of joy

but that joy is very restless joy

and it's like uncontainable

uncontrollable laughter

for example

but all of these are just conditioned

experiences and most of them are very

unpleasant to experience what did the

buddha say about chakras and kundalini

he didn't

he didn't he never didn't even mention

it now if you go into the sutas there's

no mention about these energy centers

there's no mention about kundalini

there's no mention about focusing on the

spine or focusing on energy centers or


you know a lot of people try to

equate the anapanasati with pranayama

and say well we're using breath practice

as a way to awaken kundalini this is

what sometimes kundalini teachers will

do they'll take the anapanasati suta or

something that the buddha said and then

they will equate it

to something that is related to

kundalini as a way of justifying or as a

way of trying to appease

people in the dharma that yeah this is

what actually kundalini is

but uh the buddha never actually

mentioned any of that he didn't even

mention anything about focusing on your

breath in anapanasati as we know he said

just the breath is natural there's no

control over the breath there's no

control over any energy

tranquilizing formations which means to


and i've never come across where in

kundalini you're relaxing very few

teachers have i come across in the

kundalini practice who talk about

balancing the chakras let alone talk

about relaxing to balance the child so

it's all about spinning the energy up

increasing energy constantly to get to

some goal yes now in the sutures i think

it's mentioned that

some practices get the breath going and

then there's this feeling of happiness

and then they just go off and take that

as an object what would you say about


so that would not be

correct practice that would be


practice that's not the right practice

the reason is because what you're doing

is you are

creating an experience of joy the joy

that we experience from jhana is not

created it's a result of letting go

so when we experience joy and sukkah

pithi and sukkah in the first and second

ghana for example

that arises as a result of letting go of


not as a result of creating the

intention for joy

so i guess you're not practicing

kundalini anymore no

has it left any benefit

from doing all of those eight hour

sittings and

constant practice what well to the

extent that it let me know that this was

a conditioned experience

yeah this was not the path yeah

well thank you delson


that's maybe something to think about

with our audience



warnings about maybe taking it too far

i know that we have had students here at

the damasuka meditation center that have

come we've practiced kundalini practice

and they have some of these uh

restlessnesses they have joy but it

leads to

tears and it leads to a lot of different

things and we have to kind of pull them


back and and ground them


all right well thank you very much thank

you and we'll talk again