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Gradual awakening with Guru Rattana

One from the heart

Guru Rattana: apostle of the “amazing technology” that is kundalini yoga.
Guru Rattana: apostle of the “amazing technology” that is kundalini yoga.

“My job is to bring this unity of consciousness through a woman who has practiced for over 50 years daily, and how I have experienced my gradual awakening.” The woman Guru Rattana (it means “jewel”) is talking about is herself, of course. She and I have walked down to the beach together this evening and gotten to chatting.

Talk of “awakening” is foreign territory for me, if I am honest. I have long considered myself a kind of shallow-end-of-the-pool guy. But I’m interested now, because it turns out Guru Rattana is famous worldwide in kundalini yoga circles. She has been a student of meditation and teaching and has been writing books about what she calls “this amazing technology” — kundalini — for 40 years. Titles like The Destiny of Women is the Destiny of the World and Transitions to a Heart-Centered World leap out at you from her website.

And she’s no lightweight philosopher. She got her masters at Johns Hopkins and her PhD at the University of Geneva — in environmental science. Indeed, she says she came into this spiritual phase later, amid concern that too much thinking and not enough feeling was going into the environmental discussions of our times. “When I was studying, people were so polarized that they couldn’t think straight,” she recalls. “If you didn’t go for the American definition of democracy, then you would be presumed to be going for communism. I realized that this type of discussion is not the answer. We can’t find an answer to world peace or to environmental sustainability through emotionality and dogmatism. It requires consciousness. So then I devoted my life to trying to help people wake up, to be conscious and to live from their heart.”

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She says she was given the honorific “Guru,” by her spiritual teacher in Boston, where she was studying at MIT. She wears a turban because it gives her a feeling of serenity and concentration. But it’s not an ancient tradition: the only women who do wear turbans are Americans, she says. And “guru” does not replace “scholar.” “I’m still very much an academic. I’ve written twelve books that are used every day by students around the world, and other books as well. But it was my own spiritual practice that woke me up to the idea that there’s more. That human beings are extraordinary! That we can actually come up with something better, if we go more into our hearts, and if we care more about people, and basically, if women, and feelings and emotions, and earth, and the feminine are honored, instead of denigrated and exploited. Actions so far have been for centuries dominated by the mind, the patriarchy, and the male. Men have been in charge, basically. We need women’s input, but from women who are self-empowered, and know what it’s like to be a woman, and not a woman who thinks, ‘I just have to act like a man and then I’ll be powerful.’ That’s not how it happens.”

We get up from the concrete bench we’ve been sitting on, one that looks out over the Pacific. The sun is still out there, but all its power is gone. The spin of the earth has distanced and gentled it. I wonder if the time of men’s unquestioned dominance is also cycling out.

We head back to the sidewalk. “After you,” I say.

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Guru Rattana: apostle of the “amazing technology” that is kundalini yoga.
Guru Rattana: apostle of the “amazing technology” that is kundalini yoga.

“My job is to bring this unity of consciousness through a woman who has practiced for over 50 years daily, and how I have experienced my gradual awakening.” The woman Guru Rattana (it means “jewel”) is talking about is herself, of course. She and I have walked down to the beach together this evening and gotten to chatting.

Talk of “awakening” is foreign territory for me, if I am honest. I have long considered myself a kind of shallow-end-of-the-pool guy. But I’m interested now, because it turns out Guru Rattana is famous worldwide in kundalini yoga circles. She has been a student of meditation and teaching and has been writing books about what she calls “this amazing technology” — kundalini — for 40 years. Titles like The Destiny of Women is the Destiny of the World and Transitions to a Heart-Centered World leap out at you from her website.

And she’s no lightweight philosopher. She got her masters at Johns Hopkins and her PhD at the University of Geneva — in environmental science. Indeed, she says she came into this spiritual phase later, amid concern that too much thinking and not enough feeling was going into the environmental discussions of our times. “When I was studying, people were so polarized that they couldn’t think straight,” she recalls. “If you didn’t go for the American definition of democracy, then you would be presumed to be going for communism. I realized that this type of discussion is not the answer. We can’t find an answer to world peace or to environmental sustainability through emotionality and dogmatism. It requires consciousness. So then I devoted my life to trying to help people wake up, to be conscious and to live from their heart.”

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She says she was given the honorific “Guru,” by her spiritual teacher in Boston, where she was studying at MIT. She wears a turban because it gives her a feeling of serenity and concentration. But it’s not an ancient tradition: the only women who do wear turbans are Americans, she says. And “guru” does not replace “scholar.” “I’m still very much an academic. I’ve written twelve books that are used every day by students around the world, and other books as well. But it was my own spiritual practice that woke me up to the idea that there’s more. That human beings are extraordinary! That we can actually come up with something better, if we go more into our hearts, and if we care more about people, and basically, if women, and feelings and emotions, and earth, and the feminine are honored, instead of denigrated and exploited. Actions so far have been for centuries dominated by the mind, the patriarchy, and the male. Men have been in charge, basically. We need women’s input, but from women who are self-empowered, and know what it’s like to be a woman, and not a woman who thinks, ‘I just have to act like a man and then I’ll be powerful.’ That’s not how it happens.”

We get up from the concrete bench we’ve been sitting on, one that looks out over the Pacific. The sun is still out there, but all its power is gone. The spin of the earth has distanced and gentled it. I wonder if the time of men’s unquestioned dominance is also cycling out.

We head back to the sidewalk. “After you,” I say.

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Please enjoy this clickable Reader flipbook. Linked text and ads are flash-highlighted in blue for your convenience. To enhance your viewing, please open full screen mode by clicking the icon on the far right of the black flipbook toolbar.

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