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Memorial Tribute to El Collie:
El in her own words.

Date: Thu, 6 Jun 1996
Subject: Post to Kundalini list

Hello! I am El Collie, co-creator of Shared Transformation Web pages and editor of the Kundalini support newsletter of the same name. My Kundalini spontaneously erupted in 1991 and has been continuously active, 24-hrs-a-day, ever since. I was not doing any meditation or yoga practices at the time (although I had done both at previous points in my life). Nor have I done any deliberate practices of this kind since my Kundalini awakened, although I have experienced periods of spontaneous meditation and automatic yoga postures when the energy is extremely active.

Even with trust and reverence for Kundalini, some phases of the process are harrowing. For me, the greatest difficulty so far has been a spine injury in '93, complicated by (but not, I believe, caused by) active Kundalini. For a year and a half, I was totally bedridden in nonstop agonizing pain. I am still in chronic pain, but at a much more bearable level. I have also learned a great deal about myself and my path during this period of severely imposed "down time," and belatedly realized my nature was such that I required something this disabling to get me to slow down. (I had always been a workaholic.)

Re: the questions Richard posed I have spent my life engaged in service of some sort or other, beginning around age six when I looked after my younger brother and sister. I suspect it has been this history of service combined with my lifelong quest for knowledge and understanding of existence that made me ripe for natural Kundalini awakening.

Date: Wed, 1 Oct 1997
Subject: Re: Kundalini Awakening

To Kelly and everyone lurking,

This is in response to your desperate plea for an explanation for your painful Kundalini process. I too have been suffering for years with the same kind of tormenting symptoms you mention, plus disabling spine pain that at times is excruciating. I also have the same type of character qualities you describe: compassionate, courageous, self-sacrificing, with a compelling need to serve and give to others.

As to whether your condition is Kundalini or an underlying disease, the two are not mutually exclusive and both can occur simultaneously. I know Kundalini is active in me because no disease I've ever heard of has the bizarre scope of the things I've experienced (and still experience daily). Like you, I've had little in the way of bliss, but I've had so many powerful mystical, psychic and paranormal experiences which nothing but active Kundalini could explain.

It will probably grate on your nerves to be told that some of the inflammation (I have it too -- horrendous!) is due to repressed anger. I've discovered this is partly true in my case, but not as might be imagined. My anger is from a part of me that is enraged over how terribly I've suffered, not just with Kundalini, but on all levels throughout my life. I discovered I have been forcing myself to live up to superhuman expectations of selflessness. I've learned that some of my Kundalini pain is due to overdeveloping my altruistic side, leaving me with a deep imbalance where I need -- and am slowly learning -- to be more generous and gentle to myself. I also saw that I have tremendous difficulty forgiving God (and the Universe) for imposing suffering on any living being for any reason. These are profound angers of the soul, not your garden variety "I'm-mad-at-so-and-so."

In addition to the compulsory yoga we both have experienced, I've had spontaneous and totally unexpected releases of devastating grief, terror and re-lived trauma from childhood abuses I thought I had already gotten past. I can sense there is a lot more in me that needs to come up before my system is unblocked and the energy can move freely.

It occurred to me in late '92 was that there must be hundreds or thousands of us, struggling in isolation through overwhelming pain, fear and the overall enormity of this process. That's when C. Kress and I began Shared Transformation (Kundalini support) newsletters. It is a miracle we've been able to keep the newsletter going these past 5 years while I've been entirely bedridden in agony for months at a time, and even on my "good" days I can't sit or stand for very long.

We continue to hear from people from all over the world who are going through this -- over 1200 to date. I would estimate that between 5-10% are as relentlessly sick as you and I. At the other end of the spectrum, another 5-10% experience no illness or pain, only powerful energies, bliss and mystical/psychic phenomena. Dr. Yvonne Kason, in her excellent book A FARTHER SHORE, says that people like you and me who have the rare pattern of nonstop Kundalini activity are the most likely to endure severe physical or mental/emotional symptoms. For what comfort it may bring, many shamans believe that those of us who have the hardest time with this will undergo the most radical self-transformation.

Who has the final say as to whether or not it is really Kundalini? I would give that honor to Kundalini herself. If she has come to reside within you, in one way or another she makes her presence and her reality known. Even people who have gone through this a decade or longer without ever hearing the word "Kundalini" have come to realize some kind of immense spiritual force was at work.

I've asked myself the same kinds of questions you have: "What's the point of all this suffering? How can I continue to serve when I can barely survive?" One of the answers that came to me was that I have already learned how to serve; now I must learn to let go of my idea of who I'm supposed to be and love myself as much as I've loved others. I'm also being shown that even suffering has a divine, ultimately benevolent purpose. Not that suffering in itself is something noble or good, but that suffering's purpose is to awaken. Most people cannot spiritually and psychologically mature without it.

Bliss and joyous experiences are inspirational and validating, while suffering and hardship break us, allowing us to be changed in ways we didn't know we needed. Many people with catastrophic illnesses and those who go through other crises in life which "break" them are then able to experience new ways of being which are far more whole and fulfilling than ever before.

I suspect that when I am able to realize this, not simply intellectually as I do now, but in the deepest recesses of my psyche, I will regain my trust in the universe and simultaneously be freed from much pain. It's a paradox. When we can fully accept something (not just resign ourselves to it, but fully surrender to it -- which, again, paradoxically may mean allowing ourselves to rage and scream and howl and weep), only then does it change.

I haven't gotten this far yet with my physical pain, but I have watched this pattern repeat itself in many other circumstances where I seemed to be hopelessly stuck. There are probably more causes to the pain than what I've brought up here, and even if I understood them all it would still hurt. But it does help me somewhat to find these answers to my own "why?" I hope it will be of some help to you as well.

Sorry if I ranted on so long.
El Collie

Date: 1999/07/02
Subject: Hard Core Kundalini

There are so many levels and subtleties to awareness that something which resonates with great validity for some may seem contradicted by the experiences of others. Colette spoke of Kundalini "severing attachment to the body in favour of the Spirit," which may well be the lesson her illness was intended to teach her. Yet at other levels of development (not higher or lower, just different views through the prism), Kundalini can integrate body and spirit, healing the separation between the two. From this perspective, rather than conceiving of the body as an opposition to Spirit (or an imprisonment of the soul), the body is experienced as both messenger and living presence of Spirit. I have come to a more profound awareness of this through my experiences of being animated and danced (literally as well as figuratively) by Kundalini-Ma.

On the other hand, being able to say "adios" to the body when things get too painful on a physical level sounds like a neat trick. I wish I could do it on command! (I've tried, believe me, through meditation, visualizations, self-hypnosis, etc.) But if I could do it, I'd probably never be here at all! With chronic pain in the body, if I could escape it, I'd be long gone!

I think Colette is also speaking of the ability to detach, which is an advanced spiritual discipline which I have yet to learn. Or perhaps my path this time around doesn't allow me that option. We're not all here to learn the same things in a single lifetime.

It may also be, as Colette says, that the deepest opening of the heart cannot occur until Kundalini clears the heart chakra. But not everyone with awakened Kundalini finds their way to their heart center since the clearing of the chakras can take many lifetimes. Conversely, simply living from the heart can itself awaken Kundalini. And there are many people whose Kundalini seems dormant, yet who live beautiful and exemplary lives from the light of their hearts. It's all so mysterious.


Subject: Re: [K-list] oneness and separation (Catalin)

My California bungalo house is as crazy as I am -- an eclectic/eccentric mix of just about everything, with lots of multicultural and multi-religious icons/artifacts, artwork covering most of the walls and everywhere spilling over with books, books, books. My husband and I are both avid readers, and I used to write book reviews for Shared Transformation newsletter, so I still get free newly published books sent to me by publishers. And we have big plants growing on every window sill. Used to have a veritable jungle of indoor plants until I moved here where there is not enough indoor sunlight for many. We have a fairly big yard, my closest connection with nature. Before K mangled my back, I used to spend most of the spring and summer outside working in a garden which became a lush oasis of flowers and fruit trees and veggies and plants. I'm a "green thumb" type who could grow things that weren't supposed to be able to grow in this area. People used to slow down as they drove by our house to look at the spectacular array of flowers in our front yard. (The back was even better but that couldn't been seen from the street.) The flowers are mostly gone now. With my health problems and wrecked spine, I can't do gardening. We still have lots of trees and greenery outside, much of it reverted to native wildlife (aka "weeds"). Before K knocked me out, I was a neat freak too -- every surface inside my home was shiny clean and everything we owned was perfectly organized -- I could have won awards. Now it's a roaring mess, LOL. Everything in my life has become more wild and chaotic since my K rose.


Date: 1999/09/09 20:17
Subject: Love, Grief and Magic

In regard to Jill's recent mention of the release of grief leading to a deep opening of her heart, I'd like to share an experience in which this occurred for me also. In this instance, the grief was not so much for anything personal but for the collective sadness we experience as humans. The story is about a powerful experience I shared with a Japanese graduate student (not Japanese-American, but a Japanese man who was attending a U.S. university). I call him "Asakura" in the story but that is not his real name.

There seemed to be something fated about my meeting with Asakura. A week before I met him, my young son had given me something he'd found on the street -- an amulet inscribed with oriental lettering. I had no idea what it meant, but I had hung it on a hook on my bedroom wall. When Asakura noticed it, he became very excited and wanted to know where I had gotten it. Turned out it was a replica of the very same amulet he had been given by his family and always wore for protection and good luck. After Asakura left to return to Japan, I also learned that the day I met him had been the anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima. While he and I were engineering our very private East/West reconciliation, hundreds of Berkeley students and community members had gathered to hold hands in an enormous circle surrounding U.C. campus to commemorate the victims of the bombing and pray that humanity never again resorts to such devastation.

My utter ignorance of Japanese plus Asakura's limited English reduced our communication to very simple exchanges, and this brought out the playful child in me. I took him around Berkeley to show him my idea of the sights, including a natural history museum. When we came upon an exhibit of the snow rabbit, whose coat changes from summer brown to camouflage white in winter, as tongue-in-cheek "translator," I solemnly pointed out the brown-furred rabbit and announced, "Young," then indicated the white-furred specimen and intoned, "Old." He fell for it for a moment. We laughed a lot together. His outsider grasp of English rendered some of his statements unintentionally poetic, as "The sun is gleaming." I never corrected him, as I liked his versions better.

The day before he was going to return to Japan, insanity struck me Big Time. I asked him if he knew about LSD. He said yes, but considering the language barrier, I'm not sure if he knew LSD from IBM. Most of my experiments with mind-altering drugs had happened when I was in my early twenties. At the time I met Asakura, I had not taken LSD for several years. Months earlier, a friend had given me some which I'd stashed away in case I was ever in the mood.

I never took acid as a recreational drug. To me, it had been obvious from my first "trip" that it was a powerful sacrament, to be used with utmost care and respect. I remember thinking that taking the acid would give us access to each other on a deeper level, without the impediments of language.

Without a clue to what he was getting himself into, Asakura agreed to take LSD with me. That evening, I broke out the tinfoil-wrapped tiny square of acid-soaked paper and cut it into two halves. Closely watching my example, Asakura placed his half in his mouth and swallowed. Within forty minutes, we were soaring. Asakura began losing it right away. With what was left of my intellect, I realized I might have catalyzed an international scandal. Headlines worldwide would howl: "Son of Wealthy Japanese Businessman Deranged After Being Drugged by California Hippy."

I knew I had to calm him down fast if we had any hope of making it through the night intact. He was becoming very physically agitated. Even with his slight five-foot-seven frame, he was bigger and stronger than I was, and he had me scared. In a loud, nigh-hysterical voice, he kept repeating, "I must fight LSD!" As fighting it is a surefire recipe for LSD psychosis, I tried to reassure him by repeating just as often (in a soft voice I hoped he'd find soothing), "It's okay."

It clearly wasn't okay, and around the fourth time I said it, he glared at me as if I were the monster from "Alien" trying to trick him and fairly screamed at me: "NO! I MUST BEAT LSD!!"

Fortunately, I had just enough of my bearings left to know to shut up and start silently praying, which I did with vehement sincerity. After another really iffy few minutes, it worked. Asakura resigned himself to the situation and things really got interesting. We began perceiving one another in various pastlife personas. I saw him as a Shinto warrior, which surprised me, as what little I knew of Shinto was as a religion, not a martial art. At one point I began to move my hands in positions I'd been learning in my T'ai Chi classes. When I cupped both hands as if to hold an invisible sphere of energy, Asakura said, "I understand. One World."

This triggered the most profound pastlife enactment. I became a young Asian woman sitting at the feet of the Master. He was transformed into an aged Chinese sage with long white hair and beard. It seemed we sat in this arrangement for hours while he regaled me with eloquent teachings of the ancient Taoist wisdom.

It was becoming clear to us both that we had known each other many times, in many places, on many levels of relationship. We both stood and embraced as lovers, when I noticed a most peculiar transmogrification had occurred. Our genders had switched. My body had lost its curves and stood angular and masculine while he had grown softly rounded, with full breasts, hips and belly. I said nothing.

Asakura exclaimed in horror, "You man! Me woman!" Although attitudes towards women have begun to change, this was 20 years ago, and for a Japanese male to find himself in a female body ranked among the greatest of humiliations. Early in her training, Roshi Jiyu-Kennett, one of the first Western women to become a Zen master, was told by a male Japanese trainee: "Woman baby factory. Man give much pleasure to woman in getting baby. So man much superior. From birth he preferred in all things over woman." (from the book, "The Wild, White Goose")

This time, I didn't try to tell Asakura it was okay. I sensed something of monumental healing value was transpiring. I said only, "Yes."

At this point, our genders switched back to their original (in this lifetime), and the entire emotional history of the world's fear, hatred and abuse of women seemed to grab ahold of us. Wordlessly, both Asakura and I were simultaneously pulled into the full brunt of the soul's grief at the desecration of the feminine. We wept together as I have never wept with another human being. We wept with our hearts ripped to shreds until dawn. It was the most wrenching, cleansing, holy sadness I have ever been privileged to share with another living being. Grief and love merged into a sort of exquisitely piercing joy that overflowed our hearts.

In the telling of this, it is impossible to really describe the depth of purification that occurred. For days afterwards, I was so filled with with love for Asakura, myself and for the whole of the world, I must have glowed.


Subject: Re: [K-list] Digest Number 131

My greatgrandmother was Native American. I once had a full-blooded Native American lover who told me that meant zilch, nada, dirt. He grew up on a reservation and had dealt with all kinds of hell all his life and didn't consider me even vaguely kin. I was ok with that at the time. His apartment was filled with books on Native American heritage which, again, he didn't feel I was worthy to read. Wasn't until some years later that on my own (I was no longer with him) that I started reading books written by Native Americans, mostly on their spiritual tradition. They touched my heart very deeply and filled me with joy for the beauty expressed and grief for the loss to ALL peoples of their unique way of relating to life.


Date: Wed, 25 Feb 1998
Subject: Re: Seeking Comment

Jeff wrote:
"What bothers me is the idea of non-attachment now. As I said, I thought I had achieved it, but it appears to be just an intellectual achievement. Because, confronted with something as everyday as loss of a pet, I was devastated. Is there a distinction between this kind of loss and attachment to things? Also, I thought the circumstances of this story quite odd and I wondered what some of you list member might have to say."

El responded:  
Spiritual traditions emphasize releasing attachment to RESULTS and letting go of desires to possess and control life. There is a great difference between this and an incapacity to love and bond with other living beings, which is a state of spiritual degeneracy known as sociopathy.

It seems to me that the fact that Jeff loved his dog enough to grieve his death is a positive sign. Without the capacity for grief, one cannot experience compassion. Detachment without compassion is less than reptilian. At least a reptile is following its Buddha nature. Humans are not cold- blooded creatures, and for us to try to cultivate cold-blooded attitudes violates nature and spirit.

I suspect Jeff's stiff neck as his dog went into rapid decline was produced as he unconsciously clamped down to prevent himself from feeling the full brunt of what was happening. In the West we are conditioned to keep our heads and hearts separate, so there are often energy blockages in our necks and shoulders.

The connection between the body and the mind/soul is complex and involves things which are not considered possible in the current medical model. In part, the physical pain of Jeff's pinched nerve was probably related to his attempt to shut off his feelings. If he had been able to allow himself to grief unashamedly, I suspect he would have had less physiological reaction to his dog's final suffering and death.

The parallel between the identical medications perscribed for spine pain for both Jeff and his dog seem to be an outer expression of the oneness of heart/soul between them. There are psychic cords running between beings who have strong spiritual or karmic ties (this can include human/plant relationships). The numbness in Jeff's arm may have been due to the broken flow of love/energy between him and his dog (most likely, it was this arm and hand with which he maintained a strong physical connection to his dog while it was incarnate).

People often have the notion that living in spiritual attunement will spare them from life's pain. The truth is that no matter what our level of spiritual development, life hurts. Spiritual awakening opens us to the fullness of life, where we feel EVERYTHING more acutely. The difference between a spiritually realized soul and one who is still asleep is not the absence of pain in the awakened one, but an abundance of love and joy. This is a state of radiant non-duality.


Subject: Re: [K-list] Wound-ology

In a message dated 06/16/2000 7:39:02 PM Pacific Daylight Time, mrstoast writes:
<< "Wound-ology" is a Carolyn Myss term for the perpetual state of victimhood that our "self-help" society has nurtured. People become so caught up in the process of "healing" that they are reluctant to let go of their life's traumas, and instead cling to them as a definition of self. >>

On 2000/06/17 06:42, El Collie)responded:
: Yes, I'm familiar with Myss's use of the term. She applies it to people whose entire identity revolves around some past trauma, as in "I'm an incest survivor." She says these people can't even talk about the weather without inserting their "wound" into the conversation. I.e., "Looks like it's going to rain, like it did the day my uncle first molested me."

W. and his mystery friend have altered the meaning to apply it to me (and by extension, to anyone else in a similar predicament) with my current health difficulties and my mention of them on the list. Neither I nor most others here who have chronic/serious health problems fall into Myss's category of "Poor me, I can't stop obsessing over something that happened to me long ago, so everyone must regard me as special and more fragile than any of you."

Speaking openly and honestly about here-and-now lingering physical illness/pain is shunned in just about every social strata. There is tremendous resistance to the idea that people with long term physically painful conditions can be nonetheless psychologically and spiritually healthy. If the body isn't functioning well and feeling good (or isn't felt at all), the inner person is judged as somehow defective. I found this view pernicious long before I lost my own physical health. All my life I've had friends who had extreme physical disabilities or illnesses. Some of them (not all) were exceptionally mentally, emotionally and spiritually strong and resilient people.

If I seem to harp on this cause, it's because I'm experientially qualified to address it and because people like W. take every opportunity to overtly or subtly gloat: "Nananana, I'm healthy and you're not, so you're a loser!" Anyone with a chronic health condition has run up against this kind of ignorance. It can be as demoralizing as trying to cope with the illness itself.

If I were the only one dealing with the crap of being sick and being a pariah because of it, I would never have mentioned it here. But since I know this is an issue impacting many besides myself, I have continued to stick my neck out and take a verbal beating for it. And I continue to be encouraged to do so because I've received so much thanks (mostly from lurkers) when I have spoken in advocacy for those of us who don't have the comfort or luxury of physical well being.


Kundalini Gateway Memorial Tribute to El Collie.
Members Remember El.
Selected posts.
More selected posts..
Her Poetry.
Her Beloved Charles.
Her thoughts about the K-list.
Archive of all her posts.
Signs and Symptoms of Awakening.
Kundalini Mailing List Archives.
Kundalini Gateway Index.

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