Notes on Kundalini and the Ticking of the Biological Clock
“There were no gods in the First Age, and there were no demons. The First Age was without disease; there was no lessening with the years; there was no hatred, or vanity, or evil thought whatsoever; no sorrow, no fear. In those times, men lived as long as they chose to live, and were without fear of death.” -- The Mahabharata
Amely Greeven wrote, “I would love to hear your thoughts on relationships in your mid-thirties, and what shifted.”
The late 1980s were a kind of golden period for me.
Like the antediluvian parents who first externalized our race -- when the sun rose on a different arc from the horizon; before the genome had been scrambled -- I had assumed that I had the whole of 26,000 years in which to get my act together, that all good things would be mine for the asking, and that only others would inevitably grow old.
I lived in an inexpensive apartment owned by the Boston Historical Society, which did not care about making a profit on the space. I had a flexible job schedule that allowed me to attend to every flash of intuition, to wait for lightning to strike in the same spot twice, and to sharpen my focus for many days at a stretch. I had a diverse but tightly-knit group of creative friends, who had not yet gone their separate ways.
I lived several blocks and five minutes away from the Theosophical Society, the perfect low-key center at which to explore my deepening interest in spirituality. While I had no particular interest in Theosophical writings, which I saw as being a bit musty and Victorian, the majority of participants in the center were not actually Theosophists. It was a place where people met and mixed, and where many things seemed just about to happen.
This lack of finality was in keeping with my mood. Creatively, this was a very in-between time for me; I had not yet managed to integrate my avant-garde literary and my spiritual orientations. My artwork was going well, but my writing was neither here nor there. No matter -- I was not in any rush.
It was at the Theosophical Society that I met Kim Levertov, the woman with whom I talked about building a life for 4 or so years -- before I realized that we could not agree on anything.
It was she who would remove the sun from the stage set of the Satya Yuga.
My cry echoed across the cities of the flood-plain, once tall, which were atomized.
The Rig Veda says, “Desire came at the beginning.” It was she who dared the poet to give form to the mists of the non-local field.
There was giving forth above. It was she whose hand placed seeds by means of a clockwork mechanism -- thus the gods, who came to the party late. There was energy below.
It was she whose occult heat had reactivated Soma, having called it from the glaciers of Saryanavat, from whence a drop had landed on my tongue.
We could not, however, agree on whether calendars were real, or on how the year should be measured, or on what year it actually was. Key pages of the record had gone missing. I was off by -- at the least -- 12 thousand years.
In her own way, Kim was also wrong.
Without asking for my informed consent, it was she who would one day force me to grow up.
But again, let us return to 1988, where the vortex that serves as our vehicle will deposit us in a classroom. Staring, as if dead, out of the backside of the mirror, we have been forbidden to do more than watch. Let us nonetheless act—at a distance, with stealth, and as if by accident. For the living are in need of a lot of remedial education. We must teach them how to circumvent the law.
Again, let us return to 1988: Kim and I were both members of a meditation group led by David Doolittle, a carpenter/psychologist, who had a subtle capacity for disturbing the status quo. David was a graduate of EST; he had jettisoned the cult aspects of the training, but held on to certain confrontational techniques. We were not allowed to keep our deeper natures hidden -- however one might interpret what those were. In those days, death was different from life. Sex had nothing at all to do with reproduction. Some giants were more than 1 inch big. The world appeared solid, and the labyrinth was not yet transparent. There was only the next step, and the hand of an archeologist that would reach back from the future, and the joy of discovery that the fossil would experience.
Bit by bit, I realized that I was becoming very attracted to Kim, who struck me as highly mischievous, and yet mature. There was an energetic charge to our eye contact, which could be felt on any number of levels, and which seemed each week to intensify. Finally, I decided that the time had come to ask her out.
Quite oddly, on this day she had worn a form-fitting and very attractive purple dress. “Great,” I thought, “she is probably meeting someone after class.” Usually, at the end of class, the members of the group would stay around for 10 or 15 minutes to talk, or sometimes go out for a snack and a cup of tea. On this occasion, however, Kim disappeared before we had even gotten out of our chairs. Little did I realize that she had left to put on makeup. “I’ve had two months to say something,” I thought, “and now it’s probably too late.” Stung by the irony of the timing, I dragged myself downstairs. As I turned the corner of the vestibule that led to the front door, I noticed that a woman in a form-fitting purple dress was leaning against the door frame, a slight smile on her lips. “Care to go for a walk?” she said.
“You bet!” I answered; thus began the last great romance of my youth.
From the beginning, I realized that Kim was far more grounded and less prone to self-deception than I was. Aside from my high school friend Peter Lisitsky -- whose parents had survived the Nazi occupation of Poland, and whose response to any and all complaints about life’s unfairness was “Stop being such a baby!” -- Kim was perhaps the bluntest person I have ever known. If we had any problems to address or issues to work out, she would write up a numbered list, and then insist on going though all items one by one. When we first realized how compatible we were, she asked, “Can you see us living together in a year or so? If not, we should probably end things now. Time is going by, and I don’t want to keep starting over.” I could see such a thing, and the relationship continued. If I bought Kim a present that was not quite to her taste, she would say, “I don’t really like it. Would you mind if we returned it and then looked for something else?”
Luckily, this tendency to mature stock-taking was counterbalanced by a streak of genuine wildness. Once, when we were riding our bikes through a rough section of the city, a carload of Hispanic males began shouting out appreciative comments on her anatomy. Kim spit on the driver through the open window, and then turned off down a one way street. “Do you have some kind of a death wish?” I asked. After many years of living in the city, it was a great adventure for both of us to rediscover nature; we spent much time biking by the ocean and getting lost on the back roads of New Hampshire. On a mountain hike, as soon as we were out of sight of the car, Kim would generally want to take off all of her clothes. “This isn’t the Yukon,” I would say, “Don’t you realize that there may be Boy Scouts around?” After making love in a field of wildflowers, we would stop for a lunch of bread and cheese and olives. She liked to read while sitting on the edge of a cliff. “I can see the headlines now,” I would say, “Naked Jewish Girl Found At Bottom of Cliff With Book.”
Once, at sunset in a meadow, as the chirping of crickets rose and fell like a mantra intoned by a single and yet discontinuous organism, we stumbled across a patch of gigantic spider webs. They were 3 or so feet high, with black/ orange lightning bolts zigzagging down the center. They were like satellite dishes that had been set up to gather signals from the beyond. For over 250 million years, each arachnid had been waiting for its victim! We stopped short, glanced at each other, and then doubled over laughing at the sheer outrageousness of the scene.
The whole of space was in contact with our skin; it was a hieroglyph that we could translate with our fingers. Deep energies leapt back and forth -- as they diagramed the closed curves of the Microcosm -- and yet our ways of seeing things did not always overlap.
On a rocky beach, I would carefully put one foot in front of the other, and then ease into the 48 degree water step by step. Kim would run out screaming and then plunge into a wave. She lived in the world; I was just a non-local visitor. To each of us had been assigned a different and yet appropriate style of adventurousness.
For me, our 4 years together passed with the magical inevitability of a dream. Kim was far more aware of the reality of time passing.
The immediate though not the ultimate cause of our breakup was due to a shift in spiritual energy -- the very energy that connected us; it had created the cocoon inside of which we grew, but from which we would separately emerge. In July of 1990, we had both gone to see a presentation on Kundalini Yoga by Asha (later Anandi) Ma. Upon entering the room, I felt that I had stepped into a violent field of energy; I was picked up and projected toward an ocean, which would overflow the banks of the known world. After many years of suspecting that I was energetically inert, I almost immediately felt that something new -- and really quite dangerous -- was going on. Kim heard only the content of the words -- just one more lecture, a string of Vedic platitudes.
By slow degrees, and then far more rapidly, we began to drift apart.
In the months that followed “Shaktipat,” which I received in August of the same year, I felt that all of my previous half-formed wishes and abstract speculations had been turned into a series of daily ultimatums: “Change, and/or die.” My body was on fire. In pitch darkness, all of the objects in my room were as bright as lamps. The space around me was a web of lightning. On one 3-day holiday weekend, Kim and I were apart. My meditative focus was continuous. Wave after wave of ecstatic energy washed over me; picking me up here and depositing me there, but returning me each time to a calm and luminous center. “Please,” I thought, “Let Kim also experience this ecstatic energy!” I envisioned her at the center of a golden egg, which was guarded by a serpent, and through which all necessary information circulated.
Kim did, indeed, participate in the expansion of this energy, but the outcome was not at all what I had hoped. For these same 3 days, she had become convinced that she was pregnant. She did not sleep at all, and wrote almost non-stop in her journal. It was not clear, later on, why she should have been so concerned, since her period was only 4 days late, and this was not at all unusual. By the time her period arrived, on Tuesday morning, she had determined that our relationship was over -- with the tragic clarity of a general who had taken stock of his troops; they were not battle-ready, when he had been assured that they would be. But the “Kairos” -- the “moment of turning” -- had arrived, in which the flow of action shifts from one state to another, sweeping all before it.
“I have decided that you are not at all ready to be a father,” she informed me on Tuesday night, “but I am more than ready to become a mother. As you know, I turned 35 last week, and I do not have any more time to waste. The strength of our erotic connection has allowed us to play games with time. We have had our fun, and now I need to use this energy to bring new life into existence. You’re upset, I know, but you’ll soon get over it. It’s not as though you have any real interest in children. They are noisy, and you have important things to do.”
It would have been nice if she had asked for my opinion on the subject -- for, after having been militantly opposed to the idea of parenthood for years, my feelings had quite recently, and through knowing Kim, begun to change.
But I had had my chance. I would not get another one from Kim, whatever else might happen later on. One day we were together. Quite suddenly, we were worlds apart. For, preoccupied with the care and feeding of my state of perpetual youth, I had already fallen too far behind the curve.
The Long Delayed Meeting
Don Shake wrote -- in the RS forum for The Goddess as Active Listener -- “Your phrases are like the brushstrokes of a painting, which assembles two images at once; one seen by the artist, and the other by each viewer. In addition, each stroke can be appreciated as an image all its own, explored and expanded by the impressions of one’s own history. In the beginning of your piece (which I’d hoped you would explore further) I recalled my impression of a first kiss that I received a while back.
“I knocked on her door for the first time, and at the threshold of her home she gently kissed me. It was the kiss from a woman who was welcoming her husband who, due to an accident, had suffered an extended bout with amnesia. She had loved this man for many years, and, due to his loss of memory, quite anonymously. Her last hope was to gather all this history into one moving kiss in the hope he would, in one grand rush, remember her tireless love over all those many years. I remembered the instant our lips met, and have been in awe of that moment ever since.”
When I met my wife, Deni, in 1994, the sensation was one of disorientation at having somehow returned home. The day had come. I could hear my heart beating, like a signal broadcast from a nonexistent star. No longer young, I had access to the wealth of the last 12,000 years; I had only to reactivate my ship in the Tretya Yuga, the one with 8 arms, which a wave had shattered. I stood, at the edge of the black ocean that had haunted me, in front of a locked door. As I opened the door to my 3rd floor apartment, I looked down the stairs just as Deni was coming up, and our eyes met. “Yes!” -- I said to myself. For even then I could feel the first effects of antigravity, and the joy that came from seeing my dead wife -- now beautifully alive. We will return to the worlds that were contained in this one moment, but let us first go back another decade and a half:
Although I came of age physically during the later days of the counterculture, my first period of creative maturity coincided with the death knell of the counterculture and the birth of punk. In Boston, the transition from one to the other was more natural than one might guess. A lot of countercultural energy had turned dark, already, by the early 1970s. The scent of paranoia was as common as the scent of marijuana. Aquarian visions of liberation consorted with apocalyptic wet dreams. Surrealism was big.
In 1978, when I graduated from art school, there was a new alternative scene forming up in the lofts of abandoned factories. Writers, artists, and musicians from every contradictory style mixed freely and cross-fertilized each others’ sensibilities. It was during this period that I should have met my wife.
My wife, Deni, was at that time a member of a group called “Bound and Gagged” an all-girl, no-wave punk group, that was one of my favorite bands from that scene. This was strange enough in itself, since I had just emerged from a long period of listening to Medieval, Renaissance, and Baroque music, with occasional forays into jazz. Nonetheless, my first, and soon to be ex, wife and I were fans. I had attended perhaps a dozen of their performances, bought their EP, and listened to several interviews with them on the radio.
On top of this, we had any number of friends in common, and both of us frequently attended events at the factory lofts that I mentioned. It certainly would seem that we were destined to connect. Perhaps we actually did meet, and even more than once, but, for whatever reason, neither one of us stopped to notice the event. Oddly enough, the group stayed in my memory. In my book from the mid-1980s, “Revenge of the Autogenes”, there are two references to “Bound and Gagged”, and none to any other Boston band. The references are somewhat out of place, as well, since they occur in two long mythological explorations. All of a sudden I am mentioning that “Bound and Gagged wore bathrobes to the dance.”
In the mid-1980s I met the two friends who would eventually introduce me to my wife. One of these was Sterling MacDonald, who I had met at yet another noisy and chaotic arts event, during which I gave a reading. When I was done, she had pulled me aside to yell something in my ear. She had said, “We could use you as a substitute for drugs!” But I thought she had said, “Do you take drugs?” I answered, “Not for a long time.” She looked confused, and then repeated her original proposal.
I was very touched by this statement. I remember thinking, “She gets it! How is that possible?” For this has always been one of the purposes that writing has served for me -- as a kind of self-generated hallucinogen, activated by the breath, a method of getting from point A to point B, where A is normal life and B is enlightened death. It was legal. It could be indulged in while asleep, while washing dishes or while waiting for the bus. I saw my creative process as a kind of transatlantic cable, laid by the Ancients, to which the badly behaved ocean known as “History” had for years now denied us access.
At the time, I thought that Sterling was an androgynous boy. She was, instead, a girl living undercover as a boy. With her was Ken Bogosian, later Raven Tiamat, who would soon become my roommate. Raven, like me, was a poet who was spellbound by the origins of words; he could easily spend 12 hours at a stretch with a Webster’s New Unabridged Dictionary, tracing out the cross-cultural migrations of a syllable. For a time, we were like the three musketeers, until the roommate situation turned increasingly tense, the way such things can, leading all involved to rewrite the story of their adventures.
As in etymology, one point of connection opened onto others, and then branched into a series of asymmetrical connections, until finally I was led, as if by Fascist micromanagement, to a meeting that had almost happened in the early 1980s. Still, this meeting was awaiting my return -- this meeting with a presence who had all along been there.
In spite of the devolution of my rapport with Raven, both he and Sterling were insistent about introducing me to a woman they both knew. Both individually and together, over and over, they wasted no opportunity to demand: “You’ve got to meet her!” Raven had described her as a “voodoo priestess”, which is not correct. Sterling had more familiarity with the tradition, and informed me that she should be called a “Santeria priestess” or a “priestess of Lukumi.” All of this sounded fascinating, but I was in the process of trying to finish up a book, and so almost blew my chance again. Deni and I had talked on the phone, but I had postponed several meetings. She was getting annoyed. At this point, some alternate part of the self perhaps thought, “Does he never learn? It is time to intervene!”
Two dreams and a memory made me sit up and take notice. In the first, I was involved in a long and rhapsodic affair with a woman who appeared in the form of the actress Andy McDowell, but whose voice was my wife’s, although I did not know this yet. Toward the end of the dream, I knew that I was just about to wake up. Overcome with sadness, I was shouting, “No, I want to stay in the dream!”
In a second dream, I had found myself standing on a lamp-lit porch, and a woman, somewhat cloud-like, stepped out from behind a Victorian door. She kept continuously changing from one age to another. She was pregnant when the door swung open, and then she was 20 years younger, and then she was even more pregnant that before. Upstairs and down, she escorted me through every room of the house, the house where I would one day live, but would not, in real life, see for another month. Interestingly, I had seen all of the artwork and other items that were hanging on the walls -- wreathes made out of branches, sewing hoops, straw hats -- not typical decor; my Psyche, for reasons known only to itself, had taken them all down and then rearranged them more symmetrically.
These two things got my attention, but my alternate self had also aimed a third alarm clock at my head -- a scene from an out-of-the-solar-system experience came flooding back: In a kind of metaphysical train station, crackling with energy, and echoing with the noise of distant wars, a vast crowd of soon to incarnate souls was swirling. A young Chinese girl broke suddenly from the crowd, and ran toward me shouting, “Husband!”
My heart sank. How was it possible that I had forgotten who she was?
Make of this what you will. It does not prove anything, but, on her father’s side, Deni traces her family roots to Central Asia -- somewhat north of where the girl in the vision would have come from. This points us to an approximate geography of the Soul, to the shadow of a shadow, to a glyph projected from a hyper-dimensional sphere, and then bent. In the same vision, a bit later on, I relived my death as a Mongolian spearman, wound by ecstatic wound, in what felt like the 12h century; so our earlier models could have hooked up in some border town, smoke billowing from the battlements to the south, as banners flapped in the breeze. Such details fit together like the facets of a kaleidoscope, whose geometry, for one moment, I was able to see whole. There appears to be a past-life Chinese connection that involves my daughter as well. When she was three, Elizabeth used to say things like, “Daddy, do you remember when we used to live in China?”
But back to the love at first sight meeting; we had enlisted Sterling to act as chaperon for the date. Opening the door to my 3rd floor apartment, I looked down the stairs as Deni was coming up. As our eyes met, it seemed as though a current had set forth and returned from the far side of the ocean, subverting the precession of the equinox, and bearing light from the lost sun of the Satya Yuga. Ýes!” -- I said to myself. Who knew that an ocean could be so intimate a space? And where had Deni been? We talked for a while before going out to dinner, and I am shocked to remember how rude we were to Sterling. After 90 minutes of our both totally ignoring her, so wrapped up were we in discovering the long history of our connection, our friend at last gave up attempting to join in, and then said goodbye.
Thus began the first and the last great romance of my maturity. Sterling did, in a final, celebratory gesture, agree to serve as one of the bridesmaids at our wedding. Raven did not show up at all, and, shortly afterwards, they both disappeared -- never to be seen again. Perhaps we had become too respectable for their alternate-lifestyle tastes, or perhaps that part of the story was just over, and the page had turned.
Images by Brian George, courtesy of the author.Tweet