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Kundalini: The Energy of the Depths: A Comprehensive Study Based on the Scriptures of Nondualistic Kasmir Saivism (Suny Series in the Shaiva Traditions of Kashmir) Paperback – 18 Oct 1988


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Product details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: State University of New York Press (18 Oct 1988)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0887068014
  • ISBN-13: 978-0887068010
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 1.4 x 22.9 cm
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 847,809 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Lilian Silburn is Director of Research at the Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique in Paris. For many years she has been respected worldwide as a leader in studies of the Shaivism of Kashmir. She has published many books and articles on the subject.

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Amazon.com: 6 reviews
86 of 88 people found the following review helpful
The Foremost Modern Exposition of Kundalini 23 Nov 2000
By kularvana - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
As the popularity of hatha yoga increases by quantum leaps, (thanks to popularizers such as Madonna, of all people), interest in Tantra has kept pace. Unfortunately, faddishness can breed mediocrity, as evidenced by hatha yoga's demotion to mock-spiritual aerobics, Tantra's characterization as "the yoga of sex" and the ancient Tantric spiritual practice (NOT theory) of Kundalini equated to a self-induced acid trip. All three views are as accurate as a vote re-count in Florida.
Now, Professor Lillian Silburn brings an academic's / scientist's eye and a novelist's style to her investigation of Kundalini and the result is a masterpiece of clarity, concision and, simple, honest-to-God truth. Without a hint of nastiness, she quickly disposes of popular misconceptions and presents three of the most important views of Kundalini practice - those of the Trika and Krama traditions within Kashmir Shaivism and the Kaula tradition ("Kulamarga"), the most concise presentation of which can be found in the ancient KULARNAVATANTRA. Her achievment ranks alongside the pioneering work in Tantra of Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe).
Madame Silburn builds her presentation systematically. The book's first part includes a preliminary exposition of yoga anatomy and clearly defines and explains terms such as "chakra" (wheel), "nadi" (energy current), "trikona" (mystical triangle), along with crucial Tantric tools and concepts such as "mantra" and the importance of understanding the outward and inward expressions of vibration and the still centers between the two in which the true yogi resides. Armed with this, even the newcomer to Tantric yoga will be able to follow the mystical and metaphorical rise of the Kundalini serpent through "sushumna" (the subtle middle spiritual channel of the spine), and the means by which it sets the energy centers ("chakras") whirling and vibrating as the yogin journeys ever onwards to final release from the mundane bonds of human life.
The book's second part explains the absolute necessity of the transmission of Kundalini knowledge from Guru to Disciple. The yogin's very safety depends upon this sacred initiation. Then, the processes themselves are described in detail, although Silburn has stated honestly in the Foreward that "Nevertheless, I have left enough points unclarified so as not to incur the wrath of the ancient masters". She means it. And, to underline the point, Silburn allows great Tantric masters such as Somananda and Goraksha to do most of the explaining in well-chosen and faithfully translated excerpts from their most important works. This enviable practice reaches its apex in the book's final chapter.
The book's third and final part is entitled "The Deeper Meaning of the Esoteric Practice". This sums up pretty well the section's contents. It must be pointed out, however, that even if what preceded this section had been worthless and unreadable (which it definitely isn't), Silburn, in her final chapter presents an English translation of a small, yet powerful section, of that most supremely wide-ranging of all Tantric texts, Abhinavagupta's TANTRALOKA ("Light of the Tantras"). This towering work of sheer philosophical-mystical genius has yet to be translated into English. Silburn humbly turns to this great master, in his greatest work, to give shape, substance and meaning to her own modern masterpiece. Neither the Seeker nor the merely interested could ask for more.
For anyone wanting to avoid the blatherings that so many modern writers ignorantly attach to this most beautiful and powerful ancient concept of Kundalini, he or she need look no further than Lilian Silburn's KUNDALINI, THE ENERGY OF THE DEPTHS.
30 of 32 people found the following review helpful
The most intelligent book on Kundalini I ever read. 23 Dec 2002
By Jacques de Schryver - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Lilian Silburn, french author born at the beginning of the 20th century, was far in advance. I read about 200 books on Kundalini and the very best would be On a Farther Shore, Prayer of Oraison and Energy of the Depth. Of course Gopi Krishna goes first when you begin. He is a bridge. But when you are inside yourself, then Lilian SIlburn is great. She elaborates on little triffles that will become important when one understands them. She is a kind of interior architect, with a precise mind and astonishing knowledges.
9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
An Ultra-Esoteric Kundalini Yoga Text 27 Jun 2013
By L. Ron Gardner - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Lilian Silburn (1908-1993) was a pioneer in the academic study of Kashmir Shaivism, a tantric tradition of Shaivism that, in contrast to Advaita Vedanta, views the transcendental Self not just as static Consciousness, but also as dynamic Energy. And in "Kundalini: Energy of the Depths," Professor Silburn has graced us with a wonderful, though flawed, text that attempts to explain Kundalini energy and its function in the Self-realization process. The book draws mainly from the "Tantraloka" (Light on Tantra), the fundamental work of Abhinavagupta (Kashmir Shaivism's greatest sage), but also references other Kashmirian sources.

According to Silburn, "the true Kundalini is an upward flow of energy passing through the centers--therefore she is called "raised Kundalini." Is Silburn right? No, she isn't. The true Kundalini is better defined as the Energy, or Force-flow, of the Self (awakened Consciousness) through one's "mortal coils" (or tangled, knotted nadis). Kundalini, the "Coiled One," is the Self as dynamic Energy, or Shakti, that "straightens," or untangles, one's "coils" (the etheric-body correlates of one's astral body). The true Kundalini is not just an "upward flow of energy," it is also a downward one--and my major criticism of Silburn is her failure to account for Kundalini as descending Energy: Shaktipat or Grace.

Another weakness of Silburn is her inability to clearly describe the fundamental "asana" of consciousness that awakens the "Serpent Power." According to Silburn, "The spontaneous awakening and rising of Kundalini becomes possible by maintaining an underlying state of recollection which has nothing to do with concentration: one should not concentrate but be naturally `centered' in the heart." A better description might read: By maintaining a state of direct and immediate presence, a yogi can generate enough conscious force to awaken the ascent and descent of Kundalini.

Despite my criticism of Silburn, I consider this book "must" reading for anyone interested in Kundalini or tantra yoga. It is teeming with esoteric information that I haven't encountered in any other text. For instance, the Trika school of Kashmir Shavism, unlike hatha yoga, acknowledges only five rather than seven major chakras, or centers. And it designates the Hridayam, rather than the anahata heart chakra, as one of these centers.

This text is not an easy read, and because it is loaded with hundreds of Sanskrit terms, you will find yourself constantly referring to the Index [Glossary] of Sanskrit Terms. But even though the text is challenging (particularly for those new to Hindu Tantrism), it is also enchanting because of the far-out, ultra-mystical nature of Kundalini and Kashmir Shaivism.

Ordinarily, I would give a flawed, but informative work like this four stars, but because the subject matter is unique, profound, and fascinating (at least to me), I give it five stars.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Upon fourth re-read, even GREATER 17 April 2008
By kularnava - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I just thought I'd reprint an updating of my review of years ago, this time with my pen name spelled correctly. (I SWEAR I entered it correctly at the time! I even refer to the Kularnava Tantra in the review.)

As the popularity of hatha yoga increases by quantum leaps, (thanks to popularizers such as Madonna, of all people), interest in Tantra has kept pace. Unfortunately, faddishness can breed mediocrity, as evidenced by hatha yoga's demotion to mock-spiritual aerobics, Tantra's characterization as "the yoga of sex" and the ancient Tantric spiritual practice (NOT theory) of Kundalini equated to a self-induced acid trip. All three views are as accurate as a vote re-count in Florida.

Now, Professor Lillian Silburn brings an academic's / scientist's eye and a novelist's style to her investigation of Kundalini and the result is a masterpiece of clarity, concision and, simple, honest-to-God truth. Without a hint of nastiness, she quickly disposes of popular misconceptions and presents three of the most important views of Kundalini practice - those of the Trika and Krama traditions within Kashmir Shaivism and the Kaula tradition ("Kulamarga"), the most concise presentation of which can be found in the ancient KULARNAVATANTRA. Her achievment ranks alongside the pioneering work in Tantra of Arthur Avalon (Sir John Woodroffe), although Professor Silburn doesn't let any puritanical inclinations cause her to censor the source material as Avalon did.

Madame Silburn builds her presentation systematically. The book's first part includes a preliminary exposition of yoga anatomy and clearly defines and explains terms such as "chakra" (wheel), "nadi" (energy current), "trikona" (mystical triangle), along with crucial Tantric tools and concepts such as "mantra" and the importance of understanding the outward and inward expressions of vibration and the still centers between the two in which the true yogi resides. Armed with this, even the newcomer to Tantric yoga will be able to follow the mystical and metaphorical rise of the Kundalini serpent through "sushumna" (the subtle middle spiritual channel of the spine), and the means by which it sets the energy centers ("chakras") whirling and vibrating as the yogin journeys ever onwards to final release from the mundane bonds of human life.

The book's second part explains the absolute necessity of the transmission of Kundalini knowledge from Guru to Disciple. The yogin's very safety depends upon this sacred initiation. Then, the processes themselves are described in detail, although Silburn has stated honestly in the Foreward that "Nevertheless, I have left enough points unclarified so as not to incur the wrath of the ancient masters". She means it. And, to underline the point, Silburn allows great Tantric masters such as Somananda, Goraksha and the magnificent Abhinavagupta do most of the explaining in well-chosen and faithfully translated excerpts from their most important works. This enviable practice reaches its apex in the book's final chapter.

The book's third and final part is entitled "The Deeper Meaning of the Esoteric Practice". This sums up pretty well the section's contents. It must be pointed out, however, that even if what preceded this section had been worthless and unreadable (which it definitely isn't), Silburn, in her final chapter presents an English translation of a small, yet powerful section, of that most supremely wide-ranging of all Tantric texts, Abhinavagupta's TANTRALOKA ("Light of the Tantras"). This towering work of sheer philosophical-mystical genius has yet to be translated into English. Silburn humbly turns to this great master, in his greatest work, to give shape, substance and meaning to her own modern masterpiece. Neither the Seeker nor the merely interested could ask for more.

After reading "Kundalini - Energy of the Depths", pick up "Vac" by Andre Padoux. In reading these, you can be satisfied that you are getting the real goods. Leave the trendiness for followers of Shiva Rea and Seane Corn. Let the academics have the terminally-footnoted tediousness of D.G. White's "The Alchemical Body". Lilian Silburn will take you where you want to go.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
Encyclopedia Kundalannica! 26 Mar 2006
By Scott Knudsen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
The author has done a good job of researching and putting together what seems like an encyclopedia of Kundalini.

The books she has used for researching Kundalini are Eastern, so it may be hard for some of us Westerner's to follow. Then again, one has to remember that the Kundalini experince is different for everyone. Also it seems to be written by someone who has not experienced Kundalini awakening.

Overall a very interesting book on the subject of Kundalini that I would recommend to anyone who is interested in this subject.
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