Q&A: Is There a “Quick” Way to Enlightenment?
I have read dozens of books on the subject and so I know that shaktipata is the quickest and easiest way to enlightenment. I have received shaktipata from two famous teachers, and even though I had complete faith in them, nothing happened. Some of my friends shook and saw bright lights or experienced other symptoms of kundalini awakening. What is wrong with me
Nothing. Much of the fascination with shaktipata comes from the faulty premise that there is an easy way to “enlightenment.” As you have found, many books these days talk about shaktipata as an effortless way to spiritual attainment: someone gives you shaktipata, your kundalini shakti is aroused, and you are in bliss. Forever after everything is fine and divine. But it doesn’t really happen that way.
Shaktipata is the descent or transmission of spiritual energy. Shakti means “energy”;pata means “descent or transmission.” Shaktipata is the process of transferring energy from one point to another—in the context of your question, from teacher to student. Only a person who has shakti can transmit it. Yet proclaiming oneself to be a guru with the ability to transmit shakti is a barrier to the transmission of that spiritual energy. No teacher owns shakti; only the almighty Divine Being possesses it—and when the teacher stands between the Divine Being and the student that energy cannot flow.
It is good to have faith in a teacher, but that faith must not blind you. Keep your eyes open and watch those who claim to have received shaktipata. How joyful are they? Are they easily disturbed? How much transformation do you see in their lives? They receive “shaktipata” and for a couple of days they are blissful, singing the glory of the guru who gave it to them. Fine. But as soon as they find themselves engulfed in day-to-day reality they still become angry and impatient. It means that the effect of this so-called shaktipata did not last and was of little value.
Shaktipata that shows its effect on the physical level is also meaningless. If shaking is a symptom of kundalini awakening then how do you distinguish somebody suffering from Parkinson’s disease from someone whose kundalini is aroused? If you squint hard or put pressure on your eyelids, you see lights. Deprive yourself of food, sleep, and water and you will begin to see colors and perhaps hear voices. These are not signs of spiritual awakening or the rising of kundalini. Spiritual awakening in the true sense brings about a long-lasting transformation. Shaktipata is the transmission of divine energy that engenders such an awakening.
Suppose I receive shaktipata from someone who is truly a conduit for shakti? Since the grace of the Divine would now be flowing in me, isn’t it true that I would not have to do any further practice?
Absolutely not. Regardless of how genuine your teacher or how powerful the transmission of spiritual energy, you must not abandon your practice. In a sense, receiving shaktipata is easy—it is being bestowed on everyone all the time. We just don’t know how to recognize it or assimilate it. Practice opens our minds and hearts, and without such preparation this ever-flowing grace washes over us in vain.
Regardless of how genuine your teacher or how powerful the transmission of spiritual energy, you must not abandon your practice.
Even when we have prepared ourselves to receive that grace and thus are able to experience it, an even more intense level of practice is necessary if we are to retain that energy. Divine grace flows over us without any effort on our part; receiving and assimilating it requires self-effort. Only an ignorant person sitting in the place of a teacher would advise students to have faith in the teacher and discount the practices and the importance of self-effort.
Can shaktipata be transmitted through non-human agents?
Spiritual energy is quite subtle; it is potent because it is not dependent on any material means. Shakti often expresses itself through non-human conduits. For example, a mountain peak can be a transmitter of knowledge, wisdom, peace, tranquility—a channel through which the divine grace flows to you. When that happens the mountain itself is honored as a guru. This is why people consider specific locations to be the abode of God: Mt. Kailas in Tibet, Nanda Devi and Kedarnath in northern India, Mount Arunachala in South India, and Mount Sinai in the Middle East, for example. These places are sacred because they are charged with divine energy and spontaneously emit transformative power.
If shaktipata depends on the unconditional grace of the Divine and can be transmitted through non-human agents, why is it important to practice under the supervision of a teacher?
A living teacher is invaluable. If you are not guarded and guided by a teacher the mind can easily trick you. It may convince you to design and undertake a practice that simply pleases the mind. Furthermore non-physical teachers don’t give you clear answers to your questions, and if you are making a mistake in your practice they don’t correct it. But a teacher who has been trained in an authentic tradition has direct experience of the problems students ordinarily encounter. An experienced teacher can detect a student’s problems long before they surface and guide the student to correct them before they become intractable. In the case of shaktipata a teacher can tell you when your imagination is running away with you. These are a few of the reasons why you need a teacher, preferably one trained in an authentic tradition.
Such teachers are themselves under the supervision of their own master. According to the tradition, the Divine Force is ultimately the master of all masters. Authentic teachers never work independently of it—they always act under its will or guidance. When they feel a surge of love and compassion in their heart the desire arises to share whatever they themselves have received, and guided by that surge of compassion, spiritual energy is transmitted spontaneously. That is shaktipata.
In most cases spiritual energy is transmitted in small amounts—enough to bring about the transformation needed for that particular student’s spiritual development. The teacher is a conduit, transmitting a spark that lights the lamp of the seeker. The aspirant begins to live in the light of the lamp, and when he or she assimilates that level of light, another, more intense flood of energy comes forth. The light within becomes brighter and burns impurities at an even subtler level, further illuminating the interior of your being.
That is how the kundalini shakti in you is awakened, step by step, with ever-increasing intensity and brightness. And that is what shaktipata is all about. Self-effort is never left behind; but even though you keep working hard, you give credit to the almighty Divine Being, the one who is the source and center of divine energy. This is the One who is lighting your lamp.
Spiritual head of the Himalayan Institute, Pandit Tigunait is the successor of Swami Rama of the Himalayas. Lecturing and teaching worldwide for more than a quarter of a century, he is the author of fourteen books, including his recently-released The Secret of the Yoga Sutra, and his autobiography Touched by Fire: The Ongoing Journey of a Spiritual Seeker. Pandit Tigunait holds two doctorates: one in Sanskrit from the University of Allahabad in India, and another in Oriental Studies from the... Read more>>