Kundalini is a Hindu term for a process with worldwide analogues — many cultures have worked with the energy in particular ways. It is a way to the Ultimate which causes intense physio-mystical experience; it is hard to sum up exactly what the word means aside from that, but it has to do with the flow of truth within a human being leading past everything one thought one knew, towards everything one wished one knew, into the formless goal. On the way, depending upon the particular route, there are many interesting experiences to be had.
This list needs massive redoing as I have gone much further with experience and research since writing it. The other list I linked to at the bottom is a little too big and diffuse. I let this one stand for now, as all the books are still good, but I now see what is very important is that there are multiple ways to work with Kundalini energy through the body, and multiple ways to prepare for it as an event. I’ll be doing a lot of work on this in the future, but right now I have to leave this out there “for investigators”, bearing in mind the literature on the subject is big and interesting.
EDIT 15/10/13: I’ll soon be switching into a new mode on this blog and will outline a way of thinking about Kundalini and similar subjects that I think gathers things together nicely. I’ll then revamp this list, but in the meantime here are two additional free books that I think are well worth your time:
Kundalini: An Occult Experience by G. S. Arundale COMPLETE TEXT FREE
Kundalini: Psychosis or Transcendence? by Lee Sannella M.D. COMPLETE TEXT FREE
Arundale was a Theosophist but his 1938 text is far from dogmatically so; it’s very much a personal experiential account with a lot of sensitivity and a hundred useful observations. The Sannella book, later reprinted as The Kundalini Experience, is a useful 1970s study of the medical science aspects with a good cross-cultural feel.
Energies of Transformation by Bonnie Greenwell (1990)
I hope she has this reprinted… still available for a decent price, Greenwell’s book is “the best scientific description and analysis of the kundalini experience in the English language” according to Glenn. Anyone this happens to will find things they need to know here, and it’s an easy read. An alternative text with many good things is:
Farther Shores by Yvonne Kason (2002)
… which is still in print. Both of these authors were heads of the Kundalini Research Network, set up in co-operation with Gopi Krishna.
One issue with both the above books is perhaps too big a focus on the drama and the problems. This is understandable. Both authors were writing for an audience that might be unexpectedly going through the process, and the unexpected version can be very hard. This focus though has put off a lot of people who don’t realise that if one uses a proper method the experience is far more manageable.
Interesting to compare Glenn with:
Theories of the Chakras by Hiroshi Motoyama (1988)
Motoyama explains his experiences well, and has studied chakras with some interesting “physiological recording devices” of his own invention. This book also details yogic exercises in the tradition of Saraswati, which he uses, but in a cross-cultural context (he’s also been a Shinto priest). Interesting fellow.
Kundalini: The Evolutionary Energy in Man by Gopi Krishna (1970)
Krishna’s sudden awakening in a sense launched the modern era of independent Kundalini investigation. He famously had a bad time with his guruless and unexpected experience (Glenn analysed some of the reasons for that), and later on became a little too fixated on the idea that mysticism could save the world for my own liking, but is still a useful read for background.
Glenn always liked a look at books with traditional images in them to absorb, this
Kundalini: The Arousal of the Inner Energy by Ajit Mookerjee (1981)
… is his recommend here and has interesting lore, worth a thousand words and all that.
An unexpected and very welcome addition to the literature is:
Kundalini Energy and Christian Spirituality by Philip St Romain (1991)
… the record of a Roman Catholic who suddenly found himself with Kundalini on his hands and mind thanks to intense prayer. He writes intelligently and the cross-cultural confirmations are again fascinating — an excellent study if you want to check out the role of belief systems.
For more on traditional Kundalini in Hindu traditions the following are recommended:
Once you have absorbed the basics and are getting on with it, Avalon is a classic reference. He’s mostly useful for getting aspects of the traditional Tantric cosmology and its linkage to the Kundalini ideas, but the old techniques he describes are ridiculously over-forceful, definitely dangerous, and account for the bad reputation enjoyed by the yoga of the time. Silburn goes into the Shaivite Tantric traditions and comes up with some very usable and beautiful stuff.
I recommend also checking out the free videos of Tao Semko, an excellent student of Glenn’s with a lot of knowledge he shares very informally. Kundalini has physiological effects and as a Biology major he is very well-placed.
Huge reading list here for those interested.