The Energy of Kundalini by Osho
Q: Is Kundalini a psychic phenomenon?
When you ask, "Is it psychic?" the fear is there that if it is psychic it is unreal. The psychic has its own reality. Psychic means another realm of reality: the non-material. In the mind, reality and materiality have become synonymous, but they are not; reality is much greater than materiality. Materiality is only one dimension of reality. Even a dream has its own reality. It is non-material, but it is not unreal; it is psychic, but do not take it as unreal. It is just another dimension of reality.
Even a thought has its own reality, though it is not material. Everything has its own reality, and there are realms of reality and grades of reality and different dimensions of reality. But in our minds materiality has become the only reality, so when we say "psychic," when we say "mental," the thing is condemned as unreal.
I am saying that kundalini is symbolic, it is psychic; the reality is psychic. But the symbol is something that you have given to it; it is not inherent in it. The phenomenon is psychic. Something rises in you; there is a very forceful rising. Something goes from below toward your mind. It is a forceful penetration; you feel it, but whenever you are to express it, a symbol comes. Even if you begin to understand it, you use a symbol. And you do not only use a symbol when you express the phenomenon to others: you yourself cannot understand it without any symbol.
When we say "rising," this too is a symbol. When we say "four," this too is a symbol. When we say "up" and "down," these are symbols; in reality nothing is up and nothing is down. In reality there are existential feelings, but no symbols by which to understand and express these feelings. So when you understand, a metaphor comes in. You say, "It is just like a serpent." Then it becomes just like a serpent. It assumes the form of your symbol; it begins to look like your conception. You mold it into a particular pattern, otherwise you cannot understand it.
When it comes to your mind that something has begun to open and flower, you will have to conceive of what is happening in some way. The moment thought comes in, thought brings its own category. So you will say "flowering," you will say "opening," you will say "penetration." The thing itself can be understood through so many metaphors. The metaphor depends on you, it depends on your mind. And what it depends on, depends on so many things – for example, your life experiences.
Two hundred, three hundred years from now, it is possible that there will be no snakes on earth, because man kills everything that proves antagonistic to him. Then "snake" will just be a historical word, a word in books; it will not be a reality. It is not even a reality to most of the world today. Then the force will be lost; the beauty will not be there. The symbol will be dead, and you will have to conceive of kundalini in a new way.
It may become an upsurge of electricity. "Electricity" will be more congenial, more appropriate to the mind than "snake." It may become just like a jet going upward, a rocket going to the moon. The speed will be more appropriate; it will be like a jet. If you can feel it, and your whole mind can conceive of it just like a jet, it will become just like a jet. The reality is something else, but the metaphor is given by you; you have chosen it because of your experiences, because it is meaningful to you.
Because yoga developed in an agricultural society, it has agricultural symbols: a flower, a snake, etcetera – but they are just symbols. Buddha did not even talk about kundalini, but if he had, he would not have talked about serpent power; nor would Mahavira have talked about it. They came from royal families: the symbols that were congenial to other people were not congenial to them. They used other symbols.
Buddha and Mahavira came from royal palaces. The snake was not a reality there. But to the peasants it was a great reality, one could not remain unacquainted with it. And it was dangerous too; one had to be aware of it. But to Buddha and Mahavira it was not a reality at all.
Buddha could not talk of snakes; he talked of flowers. Flowers were known to him, more known to him than to anybody else. He had seen many flowers, but only living ones. The palace gardeners were instructed by his father to see that no dying flower would be seen by him, Gautama. He was to see only young flowers, so the whole night the gardens were prepared for him. In the morning when he came, not a dead leaf, not a dead flower, could be seen, only flowers coming to life.
So flowering was a reality to him in a way in which it is not to us. Then when he came to his realization, he spoke about it as a process of flowers and flowers, opening and opening. The reality is something else, but the metaphor comes from Buddha.
These metaphors are not unreal, they are not just poetry. They correspond to your nature; you belong to them, they belong to you. The denial of symbols has proved drastic and dangerous. You have denied and denied everything that is not materially real, and rituals and symbols have taken their revenge; they come back again, they get through. They are there in your clothes, in your temples, in your poetries, your deeds. The symbols will have their revenge, they will come back. They cannot be denied because they belong to your nature.
The human mind cannot think in relative, purely abstract, terms. It cannot. Reality cannot be conceived of in terms of pure mathematics: we can only conceive of it in symbols. The connection with symbols is basic to the human character. In fact, it is only the human mind that creates symbols; animals cannot create them.
A symbol is a living picture. Whenever something inward happens you have to use outward symbols. Whenever you begin to feel something, the symbol comes automatically, and the moment the symbol comes the force is molded into that particular symbol. In this way, kundalini becomes just like a snake: it becomes a serpent. You will feel it and see it, and it will be even more alive than a living snake. You will feel the kundalini as a snake because you cannot feel an abstraction. You cannot!
We have created idols of God because we cannot perceive an abstraction. God becomes meaningless as an abstraction; he becomes just mathematical. We know that the word god is not God, but we have to use the word. The word is a symbol. We know that the word god is a symbol, a term, and not actually God, but we will have to use it. And this is the paradox: when you know that something is not a fact, but also know that it is not a fiction, that it is a necessity, and a real one, then you must transcend the symbol. Then you must be beyond it, and you must know the beyond also.
But the mind cannot conceive of the beyond, and the mind is the only instrument you have. Through it, every conception must come to you. So you will feel the symbol: it will become real. And to another person another symbol may become as real as your symbol has become to you; then there is controversy. To every person his symbol is authentic, real. But we are obsessed with concrete reality. It must be real to us, otherwise it cannot be real.
We can say, "This tape recorder is real," because it is real to us all; it has an objective reality. But yoga is concerned with subjective reality. Subjective reality is not as real as objective reality, but it is real in its own way.
The obsession with the objective must go. Subjective reality is as real as objective reality, but the moment you conceive of it, you give it a fragrance of your own. You give it a name of your own, you give it a metaphor of your own. And this way of perceiving it is bound to be individual: even if someone experiences the same thing, the records will differ. Even two snakes will differ, because the metaphor has come from two different individuals.
So these metaphors – that the feeling of kundalini is like the movement of a serpent – are just symbolic, but they correspond with reality. The same movement is there; the subtle movement, just like a snake, is there. The force is there, the golden appearance is there – and all of this corresponds to the symbol of the snake. So if that symbol is congenial to you, it is all right.
But it may not be congenial; so never say to anybody that what has happened to you is bound to happen to him. Never say that to anyone. It may be, or it may not be. The symbol is appropriate for you, it may not be for him. If this much can be understood, there is no reason for dissension.
Differences have come about because of symbols. A Mohammed cannot conceive of a Buddha's symbol. It is impossible! The environments of the two were so different. Even the word god can be a burden if it is not conceived of as a symbol that corresponds to your individuality.
For example, Mohammed could not conceive of God as compassion. Compassion did not exist anywhere in his environment. Everything was so terrifying, so dangerous, that God had to be conceived of differently. Crossing from one country to the next, slaughtering, the people in Mohammed's environment could not conceive of a God that was not cruel. An uncruel God, a compassionate God, would have been unreal to them because the concept wouldn't have corresponded to their reality.
To a Hindu, God is seen through the environment. The nature is beautiful, the soil is fertile; the race is deeply rooted in the earth. Everything is flowing and flowing in a particular direction, and the movement is very slow, just like the Ganges. It is not terrifying and dangerous. So the Hindu god is bound to be a Krishna, dancing and playing on his flute. This image comes from the environment and from the racial mind and its experiences.
Everything subjective is bound to be translated, but whatever name and symbol we give to it is not unreal. It is real to us. So one must defend one's own symbol, but one must not impose one's own symbol on others. One must say, "Even if all the others are against this symbol, it is congenial to me; it comes to me naturally and spontaneously. God comes to me in this way; I do not know how he comes to others."
So there have been many ways to indicate these things, thousands and thousands of ways. But when I say it is subjective, psychic, I do not mean it is just a name. It is not just a name: to you it is a reality. It comes to you in this way and it cannot come to you otherwise. If we do not confuse materiality with reality, and do not confuse objectivity with reality, then everything will become clear. But if you confuse them, then things become difficult to understand.
Osho,“Meditation: the Art of Ecstasy”