Mudrashram Institute of Spiritual Studies
When Spirituality is not Voluntary
By George A. Boyd © 2009
Most people, when thinking about their spirituality, consider it to be a conscious choice. For example, you choose Jesus Christ as your Savior. You choose to convert to the Jewish or Muslim faith. You choose to become a disciple of a particular Guru.
Choice implies that adopting spiritual beliefs, practices and lifestyle, are entirely optional. They appear to you, in your considered judgment, to be the best option for you, or the most reasonable or prudent choice.
Spirituality is not a choice for some people, however. It completely consumes their thoughts and their life. They are immersed in it day and night like a fish in water. It is remembered with every breath, with every heartbeat.
Involuntary spirituality is rare, but for some individuals, it captures them completely. Varieties of involuntary spirituality include:
Election – In this type, the individual is overshadowed by the Divine Will, and is commanded to carry out a certain mission or to perform a certain role, like a prophet or mouthpiece for God.
Gnostic fusion – In this state, the individual’s attention becomes completely fused into their ensouling entity at one of the octaves of being. This fusion is so totally absorbing that the attention can no longer return to the personality. They are permanently fixed in the core of being. This state is typified by Jnana Yoga Masters like Ramana Maharshi or Nisargadatta Maharaj.
Illumined channeling – Here the individual becomes a conduit for the illumined knowledge of a spiritual Master. This channeling may be expressed through painting, poetry, music, sculpture, or inspired essays or scriptures. This inspiration pours incessantly and may lead the individual to complete immersion in the creative process; everything else in life is put aside for this supernal outpouring.
Flow state – Individuals in flow state experience the eternal present as all encompassing. They are merged in the Tao, in the timeless harmony of Nature. Their personality is forgotten in this union with the Eternal Now. Without choosing anything, it appears that their life just unfolds.
Involuntary altered states of consciousness – This can occur through an individual’s own misuse of spiritual practices, which produces imbalances in the inner vehicles along the axis of being. These imbalances may precipitate kundalini syndromes, or states where the attention is absorbed in a nucleus of identity or spiritual essence, and they cannot return to their personality.
Attunements from Initiates can also generate these states, especially where the individual is selected for a “wheel attunement.” [In a wheel attunement, the individual is continually imbued with the Light from an Initiate. For more information about these attunements, see our article, “Induced Kundalini Awakening.”]
It can also occur when the Initiate transforms higher octaves of being outside the cutting edge of spirituality. With sufficient development at this level, the individual undergoes a fulcrum shift in which he or she becomes completely identified with this altered state of awareness.
We speculate that Gnostic fusion may be brought about for some individuals by these same means that produce involuntary altered states of consciousness.
The Gift of Devotion – In these states, the spirit within on one of the Nadamic Paths is awakened, and develops an all-absorbing yearning to reunite with God. This yearning absorbs every waking thought, and is experienced as a deep wound in the heart. Only a True Nadamic Master capable of bestowing initiation into the Nadamic Path can assuage this perpetual torment and misery. This spiritual anguish is only resolved when the spirit, reunites with the Divine Beloved, who is the Lord upon this Nadamic Path from which the spirit was born.
Hyperarousal of the Kundalini – These states, which can paralyze personality functioning through sustained kundalini syndromes, do not permit the attention to return to grounded awareness. For more information on these states, see the article, “Induced Kundalini Awakening.”
Those who go through life having their spirituality be a completely rational and voluntary process may not understand these states of spiritual madness. It could be, however, that only these ones who caught up in the embrace of involuntary spirituality truly experience the essence of spirituality, and those that gaze upon it from the shores of rationality cannot grasp it at all. It is like the difference between wading into the sea at its shore, and going into the depths of the ocean: only the one who crosses that sea can know it as it truly is.