The first time I heard the word Kundalini I was eighteen years old. I worked as a counter man in a café on 59th Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan. The manager of the café was a Puerto Rican Buddhist. He and I would talk about Buddhist teachings over hamburgers. One day, he looked at me and in a very mysterious voice asked: “Do you know anything about Kundalini?” I had never heard the word before, so I answered: “No, what’s Kundalini?” He didn’t respond. About four years later, on the back streets of the Parisian Left Bank, I took a walk with a friend of mine who was into diverse spiritual practices. It was three o’clock in the morning. The two of us were stoned. He got on his knees, raised his arms in the air and shouted: “Oh sacred Kundalini in the sky!” That’s the second time I heard the word, Kundalini. The third time I heard the word, Kundalini, it was four years later, and I sat with my spiritual mentor, Rudi, whom I had been studying with for about a year.
He asked me, “Do you know what kind of yoga you practice?” “I have no idea,” I replied. “You practice Kundalini yoga.” That was third time I heard the word. “That’s all right,” Rudi went on, “the truth of the matter is I’d been teaching this meditation for ten years. One day, a student of mine asked me: ‘Do you know what kind of yoga you teach?’ I said ‘no.’ ‘You teach Kundalini yoga.’”
It didn’t matter to me what the practice was called. The only thing that mattered was, “Did it work?” and I had finally found a teacher who set me on a path to God.
Shakespeare once said: “A rose by any other name smells just as sweetly.” This maxim applies to Kundalini. Call it whatever you want, its mystical force has the same power. The real question is: “does it work? Does it help you get closer to your spiritual enlightenment?” If it works, names don’t matter. It’s not for people who need to label everything and make a big deal out of the label. I’ve practiced Rudi’s meditation for a long time because it develops my inner life. It doesn’t work for everybody, but it works for me. What more do I have to know? Nothing! If it works, what else matters…
(To be continued…)