Marijuana and Tantrik Kundalini Yoga. ~ Dharmamegha Sarasvati

Via elephant journal
on Jan 27, 2011
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GANJA = Spiritual Schizo = Old Snot.

There is much confusion today among people in general and spiritual seekers in particular around marijuana use: its long-term effects on the mind and body and its overall impact on spiritual practice and quality of living. The following is an attempt to weigh in on this important topic from a Tantrik Kundalini Yoga perspective.

Smoking pot is not the benign recreational activity we would like to believe. Over time it creates an extraordinary amount of heat in the body, thereby taxing the organs and inhibiting overall health and longevity. It further generates an incredible amount of wind in the mind and, for the meditator, only serves to compound “ monkey mind.” An excess of wind disturbs prana and diminishes clarity, eventually compromising overall sanity.

Our culture abounds today in heat and wind. We see this in our collective tendency toward overstimulation and overactivity in all aspects of life. It further accounts for our improper relationship to Time. With regular pot use we are cultivating more of the same.

Beyond all overt physical and mental effects, pot will produce certain subtle energetic consequences in our experience. Given enough time, all substances, prescribed or illicit, will create false channels. Pot’ s inherent pharmacological properties make it one of the most effective substances at producing these false channels. By channels we mean the body’ s gross anatomical structures (organs, vessels, nerves, lymphs, etc), its quasi-physical energetic plumbing, the nadis (as treated in traditional Chinese medical (TCM) acupuncture and Ayurvedic marma therapy), and the mind’ s subtle psychic energy. It is through the channels that we self-regulate and relate with the world at large. Alter them sufficiently and we change-perhaps permanently- our internal biological, psychological, emotional and spiritual processes. We create new channels, effectively forfeiting our natural wisdom. Give up natural wisdom and we will incrementally lose our ability to relate to consensus reality and to contribute to the world. False channels, built up over time, manufacture a false reality.

Nor is pot the effective upliftment tool for achieving blissful states of breakthrough and transcendence. At best, THC, or tetrahydrocannabinol (the operative ingredient in pot), may act as a catalyst to open us beyond some personal limitation. But beyond such a one-off, continued usage cultivates the drug channels as the body comes to recognize the substance as itself. Altered sufficiently, the body’ s chemistry will no longer require the plant additive for maintaining the false channels. Go a long time cold turkey… then suddenly take just one toke and- wham! We reignite the drug channels just like that. Ask any sadhaka who has experienced this and they will tell you: It is no joke.

Living a dual life as a sadhaka and a “ pothead” will actually prohibit us from doing real spiritual work. The nature of the universal energy, or kundalini shakti, residing at the base of the pelvis is to move upward toward liberation and God, while that of the ahamkara, the self-image former or “ I am-maker,” is to move downward toward ignorance and further bondage. Feed our channels this mixed message of up-down, up-down long enough and we will create a psychic split, what the great Tantrik adept Paramahamsa Satyananda Sarasvati called “ spiritual schizophrenia.”

For a human being cultivating the spiritual path to enlightenment the most important thing is to remain in Presence. Presence is the purified expression of this human realm (nara loka) and it is not mere attentiveness or “ being present” with something or someone. Presence is pure awareness without discursive mind chatter. It is not dependent on any object or person and is not generated by effort but, on the contrary, is the space of awareness remaining after all contrived effort is relaxed into the wakefulness of our Essential Nature.

For many sincere sadhakas, the karmic package bestowed at birth presents enough of a challenge to cultivating unbroken presence, maintaining dharmic view and keeping all beings in our heart. What legitimate reason could there possibly be to want to compound the path with a drug whose net effect is to retard all sensory-motor coordination and to dull the mind’ s inherent wakefulness? Tantra has a theory called the six realms, or sad loka, teachings.

Embedded in the coded twilight language of the myths of India (particularly the Mahabharata and Ramayana epics) lie much of the theory of Tantrik alchemy and philosophy, including these six realms teachings. Humans, gods, demons, ghosts, animals and titans interact in these epics and each being expresses the emotional, mental and spiritual behavior characteristic of their realm of birth. Each realm is a type of karmic environment unique from the other five in many ways. A being takes incarnation in one of these six realms based upon their previous lives’ activities. Say, for example, a human being were to live their life full of hatred and paranoid fear of persecution. If they were unable to gain full enlightenment at the time of their death they would most likely take their next birth in the demon, or hell, realm (rakshasa loka) because the karmas performed during their life match the karmic environment of the demon realm.

Humans are unique among the six realm beings in that they can express many of the attributes of another realm without having to be 100% incarnated in that realm. A human can act, feel and think quite like a demon, god, ghost, etc even while still in a human body. This type of dislocation can occur at any time and may occur so frequently or with such intensity that the human being forgets what it was like to be a human. The human birth is extremely difficult to achieve in Tantra and its preciousness is this incredible flexibility. The power to achieve full-stop spiritual liberation (moksha) in this one lifetime is our natural birthright, as equally is our ability to choose a lesser, meaning more mundane, fate. Each of us are our own binders and liberators.

The tricky thing with marijuana is that often our intent is to create a great suspended animation state of ultimate bliss with no pain, called god realm (deva loka), or sometimes a heavy, narcotized state of perpetual dullness, called animal realm (pashu loka). But the effect of sustained pot use is invariably the experience of hell. Ask any pothead: If they say differently, either they are lying or are completely unawake to their actual situation.

The demonic experience is one of ultimate persecution. Everything is innately painful to the demon. All is attacking them and must therefore be counter-attacked. The person experiencing this constant persecution possesses no ultimate center from which to draw nourishment. In the face of their ultimate separation from the unitive, the hell realm being reflexively attaches to and projects hate. Tantrik adepts describe the energy body of this person as a brown, sluggy, “ old snot” aura. This is like a mass of mud peeling from off of a hill. A crumpling sandman. This despite the person’ s outer shiny, happy “ it’ s all good” appearance, which people lacking an energy body of their own, they say, will be unable to see through. The demon’ s inevitability is of dying a completely hellish experience in the after-death states, of being ripped apart until the karma of Time burns out….

Long after we have thrown away our bongs and without the sustained presence of the drug, the channels continue to produce the urge toward the particular realm fixation according to the intensity, frequency and duration of the prior usage. As long as we are ego-fixating in a particular realm we are choosing to remain outside of presence. We can not have human presence until our channels are cleared. This might take years, decades even. (Constitutionally speaking, we know that stronger people tend to clear superficially quicker, while weaker people tend to clear more thoroughly.) Eventually as sadhakas we must create strong, healthy channels without the presence of drugs of any kind.

Actually meditating while maintaining stoned channels creates a patterning over time whereby the drug takes on the qualities of human presence, except through the lens of the realm fixation. Over time, the sadhaka will lose the discriminative capacity to differentiate between human presence and the realm fixation. Lose that capacity for presence and, according to Tantra, we have lost our humanity.

In Kundalini Tantra (Yoga Publications Trust, Munger, Bihar, India, 1984), Sri Satyananda Sarasvati describes ten methods for awakening the force of enlightenment kundalini, one of which is through the use of specific herbs, called aushadhi. While these awakenings tend to occur strictly under the close guidance of a Tantrik guru, sometimes an initial drug experience can create an authentic aushadhi awakening. It is, however, the exception and not the rule. Just as likely, the wrong individual can use a drug one time and go off the deep end.

In this New Age, we can get caught up in and overly impressed by our own or other’ s experiences of awakening. We must remember at these times there are three stages to the movement of kundalini: awakening, rising and stabilizing. Kundalini awakenings are a dime a dozen and happen everywhere, all the time, both consciously and unconsciously. Any yogi worth their salt will tell you that anyone can have an awakening and that once the energy has awakened, only then has the real work begun…. The bulk of authentic spiritual work involves the kundalini’ s rising and stabilizing. Real, permanent growth has a life cycle: first, we liberate bound energy; in so doing, we come to realize our stuck-ness and make the unconscious conscious; at which point, we must continue with a ton of sadhana in order to stabilize the realization.

In Tantra, fully arisen and stabilized kundalini shakti alone is freedom. Smoking a joint, whether for “ relaxation” or as a political protest, is conceptualized freedom at best, and will have the net effect of further entrenching us in our deeply held sense of individuation and in binding limitation, or suffering. This we call samsara. Samsara is our conditioned, limited existence and requires no chemical aids in imposing its restriction upon us.

Probably Sri Satyananda Sarasvati said it best in reference to his time in India’ s high Himalayas living with both authentic yogis and addicted phony sadhus: “ I smoked up there in the mountains with all the Naga Babas all those years and all I got was lung disease and a chronic cough.”

* Based upon oral teachings received at the feet of his guru, Dharmanidhi Sarasvati, Tantracharya. Any misinterpretations or misrepresentations are wholly the responsibility of the author.

Dharmamegha had the good fortune to meet his guru in 2006 and currently lives with him and a small community of householder yogis practicing Tantrik Kundalini Yoga in the mountains of Northern Thailand. He is ever hopeful for a resurgence of the timeless wisdom of the Mahasiddhas in this dark time of mass-misappropriation of the Hatha Yoga teachings. Look out! Unlike 2012, it’s coming….


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16 Responses to “Marijuana and Tantrik Kundalini Yoga. ~ Dharmamegha Sarasvati”

  1. namaste says:

    how would you know?

  2. YesuDas says:

    Thanks for this, Dharmamegha. A warning: I wrote about weed a little while back at… and I can tell you to be prepared for some offended commenters!

  3. Hilary Lindsay says:

    All I can say is wow, that's a lot to take in. Thanks for that in depth discussion of something we treat casually. Much to consider.

  4. Star says:

    Kundalini yoga in the west is a cult. Its reckless and dangerous and yes, I’ve experienced it myself as a certified teacher.
    You’re right about pot.
    But sadhna, kundalini and the western teachings? Total mind control cult.

  5. Baba Rampuri says:

    I think the Swami Ji is probably correct when referring to American Kundalini Yoga and American Tantra. Seeing the body as a machine, yes, this makes perfect sense to me. He's politically correct, and in the Western world, it is almost impossible to argue against his point of view. And with all the hybrids and devices that I hear about and the dull minds that result, his point is very strong for the Westerner.

    In traditional India, of course, this is a different story, and he would have a real problem trying to convince all the Shaivas and Tantrikas not to offer the marijuana to Shiva, especially at His most important temples, the lexicographers not to call the marijuana plant 'vijaya' or 'the all-victorious', the storytellers to remove their reference to marijuana as one of the 14 precious jewels that were churned from the Ocean of Milk, along with the Nectar of Immortality, and kept by Shiva (along with the 5 day Moon), or the greatest of the known Vaidyas, who have articulated the great texts of Ayurveda, Charaka and Sushruta also referring to the plant as the "all-victorious," as well as traditional vaidyas and alchemists who use it in numerous formulas as a 'balancing' element, or the millions of yogis that have used it over thousands of years, or Shirdi Sai Baba that he was only fooling himself, or even trying to convince Patanjali that he was mistaken when he named 'aushadi' as a means of liberation. It would be quite an undertaking to convince traditional Indian culture that he and Nancy Reagan are right and they all are mistaken.

    This is not the case in the West, and I think he is doing well to convince people there not to take drugs of any kind. He might also try to convince people not to watch television or passively support foreign wars and other Imperial adventures.

  6. Mahita Devi says:

    As Lindsay stated, "That's a lot to take in." WOW. Intense. I need to let this rattle around inside me for awhile before I respond- I will say this–there is a wealth of information in this piece but I was overwhelmed by the imagery.

  7. […] used to smoke weed when I was younger, until I discovered that the world is fascinating already. When I let the dogs […]

  8. Hanuman says:

    Well, I think that anyone attempting to make a definitive case on this subject is asking for criticism. Many of the points you make are right on, but I feel you are forgetting something. We all came to this plane of being, and this plane-t in particular, to experience contrast and to dabble in our creative potential. We did not come here to inhabit the pure peace of oneness. To that effect, one can clearly state the effect of an act or a substance on themselves, or on a machine, but not a person. For instance:

    When I smoke pot, the only thing I want to do is Yoga. I do classical asana and mediation, and find that, under the influence of pot, I am much more able to access the inner knowing which enables me to get deeper, more comfortably, into both the postures and the meditative state. It is not a replacement for Yoga, but a sacrament used in conjunction with.

    My point is, the danger of all things in this world is determined by the consciousness of the person or people using them. Everything has its potential dangers if done to excess or with unconsciousness, just as everything has its potential medicinal effects if done with full presence and in the right quantity. If we start with the assumption that each person comes here with the same goal, then we can clearly see that anything with detracts from that goal is "bad", and everything that supports it is "good". We did not all, however, come here with the same goal, and for some, the serious lows that come with abuse of intoxicants, food, sexuality, etc, serve to give their soul a potent lesson about what they DO want, and what is good for them.

    It is very easy and seductive to get into the mindframe of thinking that each person is both capable and interested in pursuing enlightenment as the focus of their existence, or balance as their optimal state, but it is beneficial to recognize that those who truly seek these states do so because they have experienced the contrasting states.

    Regarding the commentary of the various gurus and sadhakas of the different traditions: each tradition calls to it the people who resonate with that content and context. That does not mean that their experience is definitive, nor essentially more or less correct than anothers. Someone else could have smoked with the babas on the mountain, and realized in that moment.

    Also, we must understand the place of pot. Without pot, we can fairly safely say that Yoga and eastern thought and spirituality may very well have taken a great deal more time to come into the West. We can look at the past and see the wasters and the junkies, or we can look at the positive potential with came out of the experience, and was seeded in the consciousness for the next generation to discover. Like all physical beings, that which we bring into existence dies in the process of seeding its next incarnation.

    Lastly, we all get there in the end. On a long enough timeline, all energy returns to source. Given the infinite nature of this experience, there is no reason to rush. I love the content of this article, but its "must"s and its assumption of what the "real work" is, is a little patronizing, and assumes more knowledge than I believe that anyone here possesses. I would argue that the real work is whatever work you are doing, on whatever level, for whatever purpose. The real work is always now, for everyone, and not some concept that can be defined and compelled through practice. Being is the real work, and there is no right way to do it.

  9. holly says:

    i;ve been in an ongoing respectful debate against the use of Marj and the stance of legalizing it, with an adult family member. this comes to me at the perfect time. i would say synchronicity strikes again. love!!!

  10. joqatana says:

    This is satire, right?

  11. Chris says:

    The thing about this piece,is its a total opinion piece, he sites no Tantrik texts, which are profuse with references to sacramental use of cannabis. Shiva has always been sacred to Shiva as well as used in rites to Kali Ma. This is merely the biased view of a western neo-yoga enthusiast.

  12. Chris says:

    Cannabis has always been sacred to Shiva,I mean, see

  13. using all realms says:

    our consciousness will draw information to support its beliefs-and sometimes if the ego is lessened and reflection is well cultivated there may be information that may come into ones reality to show there consciousness they do not know everything-marijuana oil "rick simpson" oil, is known to cure many different types of cancers and other diseases-this is not a hoax-to your normal chemo patient marijuana is the only angel that takes them out of the demonic realms-look for love guarantee it wont bring you to the interenet-much love-im sorry i stumbled on someones spiritual ego trying to infect others with its beliefs-whoever wrote this should realize you are a creator being who just thru publishing this article is going to effect countless amounts of lives ,minds,thoughts and behaviors,who are you to say anything is true-i think u need a few bong rips again maybe disentegrate that ego a bit-maybe thats why ur demonizing it-cuz if you smoked it youd prolly realize all this information uve stacked up might just be a quest to support what ur head is thinking-namaste anhatelokyamowokei

  14. Jimmy says:

    The article is totally based on fear and opinion. If cannabis is used with respect and you do the energy work while you are high you are going to transcend limitations much more than without it. The synaptic plasticity to change fear related memories requires the activation of NMDA receptors. You appear to be a lonely yogi living in the mountains somewhere in thailand (where drug use is the death penalty) that has the arrogance to try and sway us from a global awakening into love that will be founded on a good relationship with medicinal plants. I'm sure your guru hasn't tried Ayahuasca either.

    Its time to listen to the heart.