A Dedication to My Father on His 70th Birthday: By Harsh K. Luthar

My father was my protector and best friend. I wrote the following in 1996 when my Father turned 70 as a dedication to him. The picture is of him at 72 holding my daughter. It was taken in the summer of 1998.

The last wonderful summer my father and I spent together was in 2003. Several months later in November of 2003 he fell ill. After that I was only able to see him at the hospital. My father passed away in early 2004 at the age of 78. I think of him everyday.

Summer time with my Father – 1998

A Dedication to My Father on His 70th Birthday in 1996

My father was a mathematics professor. He is now retired. I saw him spend countless hours writing papers and constructing new math problems. He involved the whole family in helping him with an undergraduate math journal, Delta, that he had founded, and of which he was both the editor and the publisher. It was too much work for one man, but my father persisted in doing the impossible for years. Delta later merged with the Mathematics Magazine issued by the Mathematics Association of America. We were all happy when that happened!

My father spent a lot of his evenings grading math exams. This used to irritate my mother. “Must you spend so much time reading student exams? Give them a grade and get it over with,” she would say. He usually replied, “What do you think I teach, sociology or philosophy? Can I just read the first and the last line and give a grade!” Then he would laugh heartily feeling he had uttered a profound truth.

My father actually loves the humanities but is of the opinion that everyone should have concrete skills to earn a living. He never hesitated to express his views to me and others about education. Once, in order to demonstrate the superiority of learning math over other disciplines he said to his colleague who taught astronomy the following: “If our students know math and statistics they can get a job at the plant (he was referring to the local GM Plant). If they take astronomy and don’t get a job what will they do? How will they eat? Maybe they can go to your house and you can all watch the stars together on an empty stomach!” My father thought what he had said was quite funny, although the astronomy professor did not. The following poem is dedicated to my father.


Professors don’t grow old

they just grade away

like a master jeweler

who has to differentiate

between precious rubies and stones

who with a heavy heart sings

and then has to part

with diamond rings

that must end up on

someone else’s finger.

Professors don’t grow old

they just grade away

like a gardener who

asks the birds to stay

in the nest he has made

so they can rest in the shade

of the tree of wisdom

carefully pruned

standing in the luscious grass

only to see them fly away.

Cool breezes and the

fresh waters of knowledge

is what we received

in the college

that was my father’s heart.

Yes, professors don’t grow old

they just grade away

and then slowly fade away

to pictures on the walls

leaving nothing behind

but the touch of ideas

given with humor and kindness

and their smiling eyes

bubbling forever in our mind.

Comparison of Kundalini Yoga with Jnana Yoga: By Berit Ellingsen, M.Sc.

Berit Ellingsen is a long term member of the HS community and was the Editor-In-Chief for Volume III of the HS E-Zine. She worked with great patience and creativity to bring the best out of every article that she edited and often added beautiful graphics to enhance each author’s contribution. Berit lives in Norway. She has a degree in biology from the University of Bergen, Norway. This particular article by Berit Ellingsen appeared in Volume I of the HS E-Zine in the Winter of 2001.

Self-Realization in Jnana, Kundalini, and Tantra Yogas

Kundalini Yoga

Kundalini-Shakti, in traditional Indian spiritual sources, is described as the energy that propels man to liberation. Thus, awakening this energy in the body(mind) of the practitioner is central in some liberation teachings, most notably, the Kundalini Yoga systems and the Tantra Yoga systems. As the energy moves in the central channel in the body from its resting place and source in the Muladhara Chakra to the Sahasrara Chakra, and enlivens the passive element of the mind, liberation is said to ensue.

Jnana Yoga

Jnana Yoga, the “yoga of knowledge”, the type of yoga most commonly associated with Advaita Vedanta and the non-dual perspective, does not have the body and its energies as the main focal point for spiritual development, but the mind itself. Jnana Yoga uses the individual consciousness as a tool to learn about the true self and thus attain liberation.

One method of Jnana Yoga is Sri Ramana Maharshi’s method of self inquiry, atma-vichara. In asking oneself “who am I ?” one centers the individual consciousness onto its source. Thus, by focusing the conscious mind on the still point, the witness, to witness the very act of witnessing, the barrier between the perceiver and the perceived vanishes.

Awakening the power of Kundalini-Shakti alone and manipulating this energy is not seen as a prerequisite for attaining liberation, and Kundalini-Shakti does not have a central place in the texts of Jnana Yoga. The method of atma vichara alone is enough to bring about liberation (“Be As You Are, The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi”, edited by D. Godman, p. 142 and p. 146).

Is there nevertheless common ground between Jnana Yoga and Kundalini Yoga ?

From a non-dual perspective, Kundalini-Shakti is but one form of the Self. Kundalini-Shakti is the Self, pure energy and pure Being (Be As You Are, The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi, edited by D. Godman, p. 145). The human mind with its consciousness is also a form of energy, of consciousness and Self.

Kundalini and Tantra Yoga

In Kundalini Yoga and Tantra Yoga, Kundalini-Shakti can be influenced by other energies such as sound (mantra), light and darkness combined into symbols (yantra and mandala) and movements of the physical body (asanas). In Kundalini Yoga, concentration on these energies and on various psychoenergetic centers, the chakras, is said to bring the Kundalini energy to these centers to break through the seven veils (chakras) that stand between union of the individual soul, Atman, with Shiva (or the non-dual consciousness, the Self).

To become strong enough to break through the seven veils of consciousness and reach the Sahasrara Chakra, the Kundalini energy must purify the body and mind in a process which may take many years. In this process, the energy will not always stay in the central channel, but spread out from the Muladhara Chakra in a broad fan that may include the entire lower body or torso in a process that can be complex.

The common denominators in manipulating the Kundalini-Shakti to attain liberation are concentration and focus. Where the mind and individual consciousness, the individual thought energy, is moved and focused on, there Kundalini-Shakti in the individual mind-body also moves. Thus, it makes sense to move consciousness not only onto energy centers, chakras, in the individual body, but instead directly onto and into its own source.

During the practice of atma-vichara, where the consciousness turns inward onto its own source, not to repress any thoughts or concentrate on any subject apart from the act of witnessing itself, the Kundalini-Shakti will automatically become concentrated into a fine beam. It will easily be led back to its source by rising upwards in the central channel with a force strong enough to break through the one true veil between man and liberation, the very idea that the individual consciousness is separate from the Self. The energy of consciousness, the Kundalini-Shakti, in this way is used as a laser beam to melt a single window instead of as a ram to bring down seven gates. No conscious piercing of the Sahasrara or any other Chakra on behalf of the individual mind is needed.

Full Liberation

To bring about full liberation, Sri Ramana Maharshi recommended to continue to clean out the vasanas (the contents of the body-mind which keeps the Atman identified with the body-mind) which may be present even after the identification with sat-chit-ananda has been experienced in the first Nirvikalpa Samadhi (“Be As You Are, The Teachings of Sri Ramana Maharshi”, edited by D. Godman, p. 66-67). After the first Nirvikalpa Samadhi, Kundalini-Shakti may manifest spontaneously, or where already present, the energy may increase the strength and efficiency of its manifestation. The Kundalini energy will then bring more of the vasanas (latent tendencies) to the attention of the conscious mind.

As a result of the knowledge experienced in Nirvikalpa Samadhi, the mind will ask itself “to whom did these events happen ?” and the true nature of this mind content is seen and disidentified with. In this process, the Kundalini energy brings the vasanas to the conscious mind where they eventually evaporate like water in sunlight.

Thus, Jnana Yoga and Kundalini Yoga may share common ground in the effect of the Kundalini-Shakti in the body-mind, both prior to the first Nirvikalpa Samadhi as well as afterwards. The difference between the two yoga systems lies primarily in the view of how this energy should be employed, either directly, as in Kundalini and Tantra Yoga, or indirectly, as in Jnana Yoga.

Psychotherapy, Awakening, and Healing: By Dr. Holly Barrett

This article first appeared in the Winter 2001 Edition of the HS E-zine. The author, Holly Barrett, is a retired psychotherapist and a long time member of the HS community. The image is a courtesy of Alan Larus.

The Magic of Deep Listening As A Spiritual Path
by Holly Barrett, Ph.D.

Listening Instructions

In graduate school, we would-be psychotherapists were instructed in the various ways to listen to another person. This is a little like teaching love, but several suggestions were offered, including “hold evenly-suspended attention” (Freud), “practice the art of unknowing” (Kurtz), and, my personal favorite, “suspend memory and desire” (Bion). Readers will recognize the similarity of these instructions to teachings on meditation. As it turns out, I suspect that a few decades of this kind of listening had a lot to do with the arousal of kundalini in my body, and the subsequent upheaval that, ironically, led me to get out of the therapy business.

Listening to another person over an extended period of time is an awesome, sometimes tedious, joyful, frightening, and ultimately mysterious act – just like meditation or contemplation. Healing, when it occurs, is always reciprocal. Therapists talk among themselves about the weird things that start to happen: how your “client” puts feelings into your body for safekeeping (and for you to feel) till s/he is ready to reclaim them; how you sometimes know what s/he is going to say or do even while you are trying to be reassuring that you cannot read minds; how s/he comes in with the exact same dilemma that you have been struggling with since last week, or this morning. Modern psychoanalysts have a name for this: intersubjectivity. But over time, I found it impossible not to notice that some kind of divine wave motion was moving the therapy along. I decided my most important task, maybe my only one, was to draw a bead on what was alive and shimmering and holy in the person sitting across from me, and hold that jewel in my sight until s/he, too, could see it.

Diagnoses and Boundaries

I was going to title this article “Dual Diagnosis” as a little joke for my enjoyment. In psychology, dual diagnosis refers to a person’s having two presenting difficulties, like addiction plus a character disorder. But to my gradually awakening sensibility all diagnosis, all labels, even I suppose all descriptive language that implies professional “expertise,” pins people down to the dualistic manual. I looked with increasing wonder for the supposed line between the psychological and the spiritual and I could no longer find it. In fact, boundaries were disappearing everywhere. Who was the healer and who the healed? When did a “session” end, or a relationship? What did it mean that I was receiving money for this, especially if I was being paid by an insurance company based on a diagnosis I no longer believed in?

It seemed to me an enormous folly that human beings were trying to control and take credit for an ever-present and divine process. The medicalization of psychotherapy under HMOs leaves no room for the unknown, the empty spaces in life, the eternal presence of mystery. Even the transpersonal psychologists set up structure and hierarchy that can overlook the significance of the tiniest, most miraculous, everyday changes of consciousness that are a consequence of what we call healing.

My Awakening

None of the bells and whistles of my kundalini experiences surpasses witnessing a moment when a woman, for the first time, decides to let THIS anger, THIS wounding, melt away into grace and finds that her heart is cracking open – especially when the woman is myself. Multiply this moment by millions of therapy sessions, millions of people trying to reach for just a little bit more, in offices, in kitchens, wherever people try to dig deeper into life, and the universe starts to look like a big cauldron cooking love. My awakening occurred unexpectedly when I was sitting around morose after my OWN therapy session. The little bits started adding up and bubbling until I was suddenly ablaze.

The epiphanies that burst into life seem to lead to paradoxical statements of: Oh, I never would have guessed! AND: Of course, it is so simple and obvious! They require a hiatus of “knowing” in order to be born. These little pauses in conceptual thinking can be dramatic or scarcely noticeable. I had the privilege of witnessing one that happened to us as a group.

Who is Who?

In the ’70s, the days of Radical Therapy, I worked in a Day Treatment Center in Vermont with “severely disturbed” people. Few had spent much time out of an institution, let alone the state, but we decided to take a field trip to the ocean. The gigantic pleasure of introducing people for the first time to the expanse of beach, and to the horizon of water and sky, can hardly be described. One of my precious memories of that sacred time-out was a lobster and clam feast where we all sat around a table of towels, eating with our fingers, shouting with laughter as butter dribbled down our chins. However briefly, everyone was lucid, involved, awake and living. An observer would not have been able to tell who was a patient and who was a staff member. We had nothing to define us but salty breezes on our skin and our appetite for life.

It seems to me, as I think of this moment of spontaneous healing, that life is shot through with these little quantum jumps in consciousness. But if we don’t listen and watch deeply enough, we will miss them. I imagine that divinity is always trying to push through the ordinary, as part of the wave motion of God, but our fear and need to know everything lets us ignore the obvious. Healing is nothing more, and nothing less, than listening to what is truly here. And now.