9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
L. Ron Gardner
- Published on Amazon.com
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.