Preventing the Abuse of Sexual Energy in the Student/Teacher Relationship
By Dani Antman
“The weekend was powerful, with many meditations that left me swooning in a state of ecstasy. On the last day of the weekend, we each had a private exit interview with him. I came into the room and sat cross-legged opposite him.
“Come closer,” he said. I moved in toward him till our knees were touching. He pressed his thumb into my third eye, and my whole body shook rapidly as light spiraled up my spine. Then he chanted the bija mantras in Sanskrit, which are the seed syllables for each chakra. “Lam, Vam, Ram, Ham, Yam, Om…”
More intense light spiraled up my spine, exploding in my head. I opened my eyes and stared into his. Then he leaned over and kissed me on my lips.
I was shocked. And also flattered. I just sat there, not knowing what to do. Then he told me to leave the room.” – Wired for God, Adventures of a Jewish Yogi by Dani Antman
I am writing this article so that both students and teachers can become more aware of the challenging aspects of Kundalini process and its effect on sexual energy. I believe this knowledge is essential for anyone who is a spiritual teacher, even if they are not working directly with Kundalini. Kundalini is defined as the Divine force within every person, that guides us toward liberation. It is the inner power of awakening of every spiritual path. Knowledge of Kundalini process allows for realistic assessment of spiritual progress and could inhibit tendencies toward grandiosity, ego inflation, and narcissistic behavior that lead to abuse of power.
Unfortunately, misuse of sexual energy has been a common occurrence in our times. We have seen many sexual scandals involving teachers and students, despite the assumption of a higher standard of ethical behavior in the spiritual environment.
I am grateful to the Association of Spiritual Integrity (ASI) for putting forth their guidelines for good and ethical practices, and I hope that the discussions being facilitated by ASI continue to happen, creating a non-judgmental, compassionate environment for teachers and students to share honestly and vulnerably about their challenges.
The topic of ethical sexual boundaries between teachers and students is important to me. Many years ago, when I was a novice on the spiritual path, I was seduced by a spiritual teacher. At first, being showered with the teacher’s attention was electrifying. I felt special. I felt spiritually validated in a way that I had never before experienced. His transmissions of energy were intoxicating; they left me in a state of craving, like an addict. I fell in love with him despite the fact that I was married. He became the constant object of my longing for the perfect sexual/spiritual partner. He would come to me in his astral body at night and infuse me with the most delicious sexually charged energy. I was in an unhappy marriage, and my fantasy and longing for a perfect partner, transferred onto him. When I separated from my husband, I had a sexual encounter with him which ended as quickly as it began. The teacher disappeared from my life, as he was already pursuing his next conquest in the group.
Although the encounter was consensual, it didn’t excuse the behavior of the teacher, who used his formidable energetic powers for the purpose of seduction. At that time, I didn’t know anything about Kundalini. Later, I learned that the upward moving energy and bliss I experienced were actually a characteristic of my particular kind of Kundalini rising. But I attributed all those effects to him, and dazzled, I surrendered my soul to him.
This experience was devastating. I felt betrayed, abandoned, and ashamed as word of the encounter leaked to the whole community. I knew I had a choice to make: I could remain angry, blame it all on the teacher, and quit the spiritual path completely or I could choose to do my own inner work and heal my broken heart. I chose the latter, and found a compassionate, spiritually oriented therapist to help me.
Therapy enabled me to see my own shadow, as well as the teacher’s unhealed narcissistic tendencies. I had to face my need to feel special and seen, and I had to acknowledge my own seductiveness. To this day, I don’t believe the teacher in question ever did his own inner work around his abuse of power and sexuality. I heard that he continued to seduce women in all his other groups.
Introduction to Kundalini
I met Swami Chandrasekharanand Saraswati, (Swamiji for short) and his protégé, Joan Shivarpita Harrigan, Ph.D., the founders of Patanjali Kundalini Yoga Care, (PKYC), at a two-day presentation on Kundalini Vidya in New York City. The knowledge shared in this article includes oral teachings received from Swamiji and Joan, information from Joan Harrigan’s books, Kundalini Vidya and Stories of Spiritual Transformation, and my own experience of Kundalini process which has been supervised by PKYC for 18 years. Both of Joan’s books are treasure troves of information about Kundalini, available on Amazon.com.
Swamiji and Joan presented teachings on the nature of Kundalini process, its symptoms, and its role in the spiritual awakening process. In my first consult, I learned I had a challenging Kundalini rising that if not corrected, had the potential to manifest as seduction, or misuse of sexual energy. Over the course of many supervised retreats, I received guidance and practices, which helped me safely navigate the correction and advancement of this Kundalini process.
What is Kundalini and Kundalini Shakti?
I use the word Kundalini to describe the Divine force within all human beings, which motivates us to return to the Source. When Kundalini is active in our subtle body and chakra system, the term Kundalini Shakti, and the feminine pronoun She is used to describe Her, because like a mother, she is the essence of love. Her prime directive is enlightenment and she is the inner spiritual power that brings us to realization.
On the macrocosmic level, Kundalini is the force that creates and sustains the whole universe. On the microcosmic level, Kundalini is the force that sustains human life by working through our physical body and our subtle body systems. Contrary to what most people think, Kundalini is not another term for energy. Prana is the correct term for energy in Sanskrit. Kundalini often gets confused with energy, because of the different manifestations of energy during Kundalini process. In an unreleased state, Kundalini Shakti resides in a contained, coiled state at the base of the spine, in Muladhara, First chakra. In a released, active state, she rises from her starting place at the base of the spine and makes her way to completion at the top of the head, Bindu.
Kundalini process is complex and is unique to each person. The process can be peaceful, ecstatic, or challenging, depending on the person’s life history, karma, subtle body, and type of Kundalini rising. It is Kundalini within us that inspires us to explore spirituality, philosophy, or religion. It makes us yearn to know the true meaning and purpose of life. Kundalini process can bring heightened awareness, glimpses of Oneness, enhanced sensitivity, visions of light, heat or cold in the body, movements of energy, spontaneous body movement, and mystical states. These experiences don’t necessarily indicate spiritual advancement, or the stage of Kundalini’s progress.
Vajra Rising Process
There are six types of Kundalini rising, each named after the nadi (channel) through which She rises. Each of these risings have specific qualities, with both gifts and challenges. Two risings, the Saraswati nadi and Vajra nadi risings, are in nadis that don’t go through Makara point in upper Ajna chakra, the Sixth chakra, and don’t culminate in Bindu, at the top of the head. These are called Deflected risings because Kundalini Shakti could not enter Sushumna nadi, the central column, at the time of Her initial release, where she can rise through the chakras to reach Bindu.
The Vajra rising is called the Sex rising or the Left path rising, because the nadi starts in the sexual center, Swadhistana, the Second chakra, then travels down toward the first chakra, Muladhara, and then proceeds upward toward the brain centers. It doesn’t open the chakras as it moves upward and doesn’t pierce Makara point, a special gateway in upper Ajna chakra. To correct a Vajra rising, special right path (non-sexual, gentle) esoteric practices are necessary to bring Kundalini back down to the base of the spine. Then she can enter Sushumna nadi, and proceed upward. This shift can also happen through great devotion, prayer, and spiritual effort.
The Vajra nadi is the channel used in all people to produce the unitive experience of orgasm, when prana flows through it. When Kundalini Shakti rises through this nadi, it can produce an enhanced desire for sex and amplified sexual energy. If a person is not aware of this propensity distorted behaviors can happen. All kinds of Kundalini processes enhance sensory acuity, intelligence, creativity, spiritual interest, and sexuality. Anyone, whether they have a Kundalini rising or not, can be unethical with sexual boundaries, but the stakes are higher for anyone in Kundalini process. This is especially true of someone with Vajra nadi process.
Vajra nadi process gives a person a glimpse of Oneness and the unitive state, but this glimpse can’t be sustained, as it is unstable, and Kundalini Shakti falls back down. The Vajra rising opens many subtle brain centers and bestows the gifts of intelligence, intuitive capacity, and esoteric talent. When Kundalini descends from the brain centers to the Second chakra, the person then loses the glimpse of Oneness they received and can become depressed.
With the gifts of a Vajra rising and the glimpse of Unity that the rising provides, a person could assume that they have reached a higher level of awakening than is actually present. One could become a gifted teacher with the gifts of this rising, even though the diversion into the central column has not yet happened.
In my own experience of the Vajra rising, the amplified desire for sex bordered on addiction. I was searching for union in all the wrong places. I attracted partners who were non-committal playboys driven by lust. I experienced heartbreak and disappointment in love, which caused holes in my auric field and created weakness in my second chakra. In Vajra process, Vyana vayu, the prana associated with the auric field, is super charged and highly sensitive. By the time I came to PKYC for guidance, I felt depleted, and my Second chakra had damage. I experienced deep fatigue because the Second chakra sustains and maintains the whole subtle body. The holes in my subtle body also allowed for unpleasant and scary astral experiences.
Vajra rising people can be driven, charismatic, intelligent, and attractive. They have a certain sexual vibe in their energy field. As a spiritual teacher with this rising, one could be especially tempted to succumb to sexual relationships with students. A student with this rising would likely be attracted towards a teacher with this rising – like attracts like.
I would guess that many people today who take part in so-called Tantric sex workshops, also have Vajra risings. Without the esoteric knowledge needed to divert the rising into Sushumna nadi, these Tantric methods just produce prolonged orgasm and enhanced sexual pleasure, rather than real spiritual progress, because Kundalini stays in the non-culminating Vajra nadi.
Some of the “fallen” gurus in the spiritual world have used their heightened sexual energy and charisma as a way to seduce their students into believing that a sexual encounter with them will help their spiritual progress. Other gurus exploit the power differential in the student/teacher relationship to extract sexual favors, even if the student consents.
Pamela Dyson, in her memoir, Premka, White Bird in A Golden Cage, says of her illicit sexual relationship with Yogi Bhajan, “For me he was the most important and precious being on the planet. Devotion, Devotee. There was something so appealing about this concept. As a woman, I had an organic, instinctive urge toward giving myself to a man. In this case, there was the added dimension of serving a higher purpose, surrendering, and trusting in a greater wisdom of a superior being.”
Pamela spent years serving Yogi Bhajan and his organization as his main spokesperson. She secretly serviced his sexual needs without any mutuality, until she woke up and was able to see the distortions of behavior in both herself and her guru. When she tried to leave, she was shunned, accused of not telling the truth, and threatened.
The truth is that the only way we evolve spiritually is to do our own deep work. An experience of disillusionment with a teacher offers the very potent lesson of finding discernment on the path. Discernment is perhaps one of the hardest lessons a seeker will learn, because it forces one to find the truth from within. Teachers can point the way, give appropriate practices, and bestow a transmission of their own stage of enlightenment, but there is no spiritual advancement in exchange for sex, it is a bogus deal.
Kundalini Rising to Makara Point
All Kundalini risings have to eventually reach Makara point to progress further to Bindu, at the top of the head, and complete the Kundalini process. Makara point is in Upper Ajna chakra, the Sixth chakra. Makara point is reached when the conditions are right in the subtle body, the mind is strongly focused, and there is enough vitality in the prana system to pierce the diamond-hard cap on Itara Linga, in the Ajna chakra. Kundalini Shakti’s progress to Makara point is a one-time sacred and holy event. This opening is a permanent shift in spiritual life; Kundalini will not descend below Makara point again. Reaching Makara point signifies the beginning of stable, advanced, spiritual process. It can happen after slow and steady spiritual progress through many lifetimes, or it can be a result of the rapid, spontaneous ascent of Kundalini Shakti. This remarkable event is so sacred that it can seem like the end of the spiritual quest. Yet it marks the beginning of the next stage, the renovation and restoration phase. This can last for a good while, as the system is prepared for Bindu, and realization.
Renovation and Restoration Phase
“After Kundalini reaches Makara, Kundalini Shakti systematically starts to clear the chakras and renovate the subtle body. This type of clearing is a permanent, spiritually driven upgrade of the entire energy system. As the chakras are purified, all your hidden wounds are brought to the surface so that they can be healed. Here the seeds and roots of your karmas are completely burned so that they no longer sprout.” -Joan Harrigan, quoted in Wired for God Adventures of a Jewish Yogi
The duration of the renovation and restoration phase can be short or long, depending on the person’s vitality, condition of the subtle body, and karma. During this phase, the person’s samskaras (latent impressions) and vasanas (desires) arise to be cleared, and this can cause spontaneous movements in the physical body called kriyas. Past life images, fantasies, intense emotions, and physical symptoms can appear as each chakra is purged of its storehouse of past impressions. It is important to have guidance in this phase in order to avoid being overwhelmed by the relentless clearing process. A daily spiritual practice to support Kundalini’s clearing work is helpful. Right nutrition and plenty of time to rest are essential.
In my own process I noticed the uncanny accuracy with which life seemed to put me in the exact situation that replicated my past in order to heal it. The real test was to witness the situation without re-enacting the drama, and to learn from past mistakes. This is easier said than done. I needed help to avoid the most common pitfalls of ego inflation, delusion, projection, and transference.
Changes in Sexual Energy
Sexual energy can increase or decrease during the different stages of Kundalini process. Increased awareness and discernment are needed as Kundalini purges our system of old modes of being, including our relationship to sexuality. Sex is sacred and affects the entire subtle body system, the endocrine system, our emotions, and brain function. It should be held as sacred, especially for the sincere seeker.
Vajra rising people are not the only ones with the propensity for amplified sexual energy. Sexual energy can increase in a rising through Sushumna nadi, when Kundalini is stuck at the Throat chakra or Brow chakra. This can produce heat in the head, and a person might turn to sex, drugs, alcohol, or other forms of relief, leading to possible addiction. Shifts in sexual energy can also occur as Kundalini passes through the Second chakra on her ascent from the First chakra, or when the Second chakra is being purged from Kundalini’s post-Makara basecamp.
Other people report having a decreased libido and no interest in sexual relationship during the most active phases of Kundalini process. One can experience satisfaction from inner absorption for quite some time. Then life gradually gets more “normal,” and attention turns outward again, with integration and stabilization of the process.
In my experience, as Kundalini cleared and repaired my Second chakra, the strong tendencies produced by past experiences with men, manifested in many sexual dreams. I experienced involuntary lower body pumping movements, (kriyas) that were akin to the movements of intercourse, with the energy in reverse, as my body purged impressions from previous sexual encounters. These movements lasted many years, and to some extent are ongoing, as clearing the Second chakra is one of the main endeavors my soul came to address in this lifetime. During this time, I chose to be celibate in order to give my subtle body and physical body a chance to heal from the past.
Upper Process and Bindu
In Upper Process, Kundalini chooses a subtle body path toward Bindu, which is the gateway to Oneness experience. Different types of Upper process bestow different experiences to the seeker. After reaching Bindu, Kundalini rising is complete, but the process is not finished until full realization. Bindu is the ineffable experience of “the one without a second.” It is an indescribable experience in that there is “no-thing to report.” The experiencer disappears into Pure Consciousness, Vastness, the One. It is the merging of the lover and the beloved in Unity Consciousness. Reaching Bindu is the first experience of THAT which cannot be named, but can be experienced through Consciousness.
Yet, there is still a deepening, a stage of process called Plateau experience, or expanding process, when the ongoing immersion in the Oneness experience expands. According to the Yoga Sutras, the experience of Samadhi progresses through deeper and deeper stages, until one is liberated. Even after Samadhi, the appearance of vasanas and samskaras can still cause great distraction and disturbance. It is necessary to stay vigilantly aware to allow the content of the vasanas and samskaras to process through and burn the seeds of karma. It is important to maintain a disciplined spiritual practice so that Kundalini has the inner support to continue to clear the karmic baggage from the subtle body, and this is especially true for those who are advanced enough to have taken on the responsibility of being a teacher. As long as we are in a body, there is still an ongoing clearing process powered by Kundalini Shakti herself.
In conclusion, I hope sharing this esoteric knowledge, which is unique to the PKYC lineage, provides more consciousness about sexual energy, Kundalini, and spirituality. I hope that more people will ask for professional support when the spiritual awakening process gets challenging. I hope more teachers will model spiritual maturity, responsibility, and ethical boundaries with their students. I hope that more students will have discernment in picking spiritual teachers. I want to emphasize again that a sexual relationship with a spiritual teacher is not a spiritual practice, and can be wounding and detrimental to the seeker.
My message to all seekers is this: Spiritual longing is holy. When your yearning for the Divine is intense and you call out for help from the depth of your soul, the call is always answered. Help arrives, a path opens up, a teacher appears, or grace opens the way to the next stage of spiritual process. But we should never abdicate our own authority. We need discernment. We have the right to test our teachers, to observe them, and see if they walk their talk. We can observe students closest to the teacher to see if they model maturity and ethical boundaries. We can also leave teachers when we have outgrown them or their teachings.
There is always help for a sincere spiritual seeker. Don’t give up until you reap the rewards of your practice.
Spiritual guidance provided by PKYC is temporarily on hold. For further updates, check the website www.kundalinicare.com
Dani Antman is an internationally known energy healer and spiritual guide, based in Santa Barbara CA. She is the author of Wired for God, Adventures of a Jewish Yogi. Her website is: www.daniantman.com
To watch her Buddha at the Gas Pump interview with Rick Archer click here: https://youtu.be/K-Vv2z-SQEU