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Kwan Yin

Kwan Yin is a Buddhist female compassionate bodhisattva, often depicted with a child in her arms and erroneously equated by some with Isis and the Virgin Mary.

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Kerouac, Jack

Kerouac, Jack » Beatnik, Burroughs (William S.)


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Kundalini

chakras

Image via Wikipedia

Kundalini (Sanskrit: coiled like a snake) is a symbolic serpent in Tantric Hinduism and Buddhism, said to be coiled at the base of the spine, and charged with spiritual power.

Once awakened through meditative exercises such as pranamaya (i.e. controlled breathing), the kundalini serpent apparently rises through seven chakras.

Both the kundali and the chakras are often described as actual realities instead of symbolic interpretations of psychosomatic and numinous experiences.

Indeed, the kundalini and chakras are variously constructed and interpreted among different schools of thought, a fact sometimes overlooked by zealous New Age fundamentalists who adhere to and advocate just one interpretation.

Also rarely taken seriously among New Age fundamentalists is the valid question as to whether or not awakening the highest chakra in a given system really represents the highest, purest and holiest possible spiritual experience one may encounter. Along these lines, the Lutheran scholar Rudolf Otto, the Swiss psychiatrist Carl Jung, and several others talk about various forms of the numinous, ranging from the healthy, heavenly and holy to the demonic, dreadful and destructive.

Related Posts » Tantra


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Kshatriya

Painting of Krishna, Arjuna. (Bhagavad Gita)

Painting of Krishna, Arjuna. (Bhagavad Gita) via Wikipedia

A Kshatriya is a hereditary member of the warrior caste, as outlined in the Hindu Veda.

Arjuna, the hero of the Bhagavad Gita, is of the Kshatriya caste.

The whole concept of the Kshatriya raises concerns among some thinking people because in the Bhagavad Gita it justifies killing on the basis of this being some kind of sacred duty (dharma).

This idea is comparable to the Catholic notion of the “Just War,” but not equivalent because Catholicism, and Christian scripture in general, clearly advocates “turning the other cheek” and “loving one’s enemies” as the ultimate ideal–an ideal not found in the Bhagavad Gita.

Some Hindus maintain that Krishna only advocates war after all attempts at obtaining a peaceful solution to a family conflict have failed (not unlike the Just War concept). But these peacemaking attempts certainly are not emphasized in the Bhagavad Gita, itself, as they are in the New Testament. While the New Testament predicts that wars will occur in the future, at no place does it advocate them nor claim that a war can have a holy status, as we find in the Bhagavad Gita.

Related Posts » Caste, Dharma , Mahavira


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Krishna

Krishna and Arjun on the chariot, Mahabharata,...

Krishna and Arjun on the chariot, Mahabharata, 18th-19th century, India via Wikipedia

Krishna (Sanskrit: black) is the eighth avatar of Vishnu in Hindu mythology and religion.

A certain Krishna, with no reference to any kind of divinity, is mentioned in the Rig Veda. Later, in the Chandogya Upanisad, Krishna is depicted as a scholar.

But it’s not until the Mahabharata, specifically the Bhagavad Gita, that Krishna is fully outlined as a divine being. He’s also traditionally regarded as the author of the Bhagavad Gita, which translates into The Song of the Lord or The Song of God.

Following this, the Bhagavata Purana details the somewhat mischievous exploits of Krishna’s youth.

Related Posts » Buddhism, Hinduism, Jnana yoga, Radha


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Kraken

The Legend of The Kraken Tennyson's poem is ba...

Drawing by malacologist Pierre Dénys de Montfort, 1801, from the descriptions of French sailors reportedly attacked by a sea monster off the coast of Angola via Wikipedia

The Kraken is a huge sea monster apparently spotted off the coasts of Norway and Iceland. It is also known as sykraken, sea kraken, or krabben because of its flat, rounded shape and numerous arms.

Reports from sailors claim that it’s between a mile and two miles in circumference and creates a huge whirlpool when submerging, sucking even the largest seafaring vessels underwater.

Although the word Kraken never appears in the old Norse Sagas, the idea of sea monsters is certainly present.

The Norwegian Churchman Erik Pontoppidan first popularized the term Kraken in the “Natural History of Norway” in 1752-53.

In reality, the Kraken may be nothing more than large squids spied by weary and imaginative sailors suffering from the malnutrition that often came with sea voyages in those days (it’s now known that malnutrition can affect brain performance and thus proper perception and judgment).

Psychologically speaking, however, we might see the myth or the Kraken as an archetypal symbol for forces emanating from the collective unconscious or underworld.


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Kowalska, St. Maria Faustina Helena

Saint Faustina

St. Maria Faustina Helena Kowalska via Wikipedia

St. Maria Faustina Helena Kowalska (1905-1938 ) was one of the great Christian mystics of the 20th century. Originally Helena Kowalska, this Polish nun wrote what has been called the Divine Mercy Diary, narrating the daily struggles and joys of her unique convent life.

Hers differs from most other spiritual diaries by virtue of its immediacy and simplicity. With her health rapidly deteriorating, Faustina strove to follow the strict religious observances of her order. And with the permission of her superiors, she continued to write striking descriptions of her alleged encounters with Jesus, whom, she says, spoke to her on a near daily basis.

Her alleged mystical visions and encounters include seeing Jesus as a person of great beauty and grace. They also include seeing many souls suffering in hell and those bound for hell—some of these hell-bound souls apparently were fallen priests and religious persons.

In a way not entirely unlike the Hindu notion of karma transfer, Faustina claims to have suffered for the spiritual benefit of others. In essence, she claims that sin transfers from some souls to others. She wrote that Christ told her:

You are not living for yourself but for souls, and other souls will profit from your sufferings. Your prolonged suffering will give them the light and strength to accept my Will (Saint Maria Faustina Helena Kowalska, Divine Mercy in My Soul, 2nd edition, Stockbridge Mass.: Marian Press, 1990, p. 34).

For believing Catholics, St. Faustina’s Diary is filled with the kind of simple, unpretentious wisdom that eludes so many apparently ‘great’ philosophers, scholars and intellectuals who are limited by the walls of their own conceptual corridors. St. Faustina writes that Jesus, in one visitation, said:

Speak to Me about everything in a completely simple and human way; by this you will give Me great joy. I understand you because I am God-Man. This simple language of your heart is more pleasing to Me than the hymns composed in My honor (Ibid., p. 316).

With regard to the idea of sacrificial love (agape), Faustina says that souls not in a state of grace caused her intense suffering by virtue of the spiritual transfer of sin and impurity:

Sometimes when I meet a soul that is not in a state of grace…the suffering is terrible (Ibid., p. 304).

She says solitary “heroic souls” are misunderstood and hated by the world but nonetheless receive strength from God as they prayerfully assist others with humility and courage:

They not only carry their own burden, but also know how to take on, and are capable of taking on, the burdens of others (Ibid., p. 329).

And she believes this essentially spiritual connection with other souls may occur at a distance:

During the night, I was suddenly awakened and knew that some soul was asking me for prayer, and that it was in much need of prayer. Briefly, but with all my soul, I asked the Lord for grace for her (Ibid., p. 319).

And again:

This evening, I felt in my soul that a certain person had need of my prayer. Immediately I began to pray. Suddenly I realize interiorly and am aware of who the spirit is who is asking this of me; I pray until I feel at peace (Ibid., p. 326).

Indeed, distance, seems to have little effect on interior perception:

For the Spirit, space does not exist. It sometimes happens that I know about a death occurring several hundred kilometers away (Ibid., p. 327).

Also, speaking of dying souls she says:

I feel vividly and clearly that spirit who is asking me for prayer. I was not aware that souls are so closely united, and often it is my Guardian Angel who tells me (Ibid., p. 325).

Concerning the idea of ‘spiritual warfare,’ in she recounts in another diary entry:

Today I have fought a battle with the spirits of darkness over one soul. How terribly Satan hates God’s mercy! I see how he opposes this whole work (Ibid., p. 320).

Faustina also says that even religious persons are far from perfect. Pettiness and jealousy figure prominently in the religious life, just as in the secular world:

I have experienced just how much envy there is, even in religious life. I see that there are few truly great souls, ready to trample on everything that is not God. O Soul, you will find no beauty outside of God. Oh, how fragile is the foundation of those who elevate themselves at the expense of others! What a loss! (Ibid., p. 326)

On a happier note, she writes that spiritually inclined souls recognize each other when they meet, even if not discussing religious matters:

A soul united with God…easily recognizes a similar soul, even if the latter has not revealed its interior [life] to it, but merely speaks in an ordinary way. It is a kind of spiritual kinship. Souls united with God are few, fewer than we think (Ibid., pp. 307-8).

Some might wonder if St. Faustina was merely hallucinating or imagining things. Nevertheless she, herself, openly admits to experiencing moments of doubt:

Once again, a terrible darkness envelops my soul. It seems to me that I am falling prey to illusions. When I went to confession to obtain some light and peace, I did not find these at all. The confessor left me with even more doubts than I had before (Ibid., p. 109).

And quite unlike many alleged psychics and mystics, she was concerned with verifying her interior perceptions:

Especially now, while I am in the hospital, I experience an inner communion with the dying who ask me for prayer when their agony begins…since this has been happening more frequently, I have been able to verify it, even to the exact hour (Ibid., p. 326).

While atheists and worldly-minded people would probably reduce Faustina’s claims to psychophysical aberrations,¹ for Catholic believers she represents the very best of their rich mystical tradition.

¹ For an alarmingly biased (and scientifically unsound) critique of parapsychology in general, see The Penguin Dictionary of Psychology, 4th edition (2009),  p. 555.

Related Posts » Clairaudience, Contemplation, Intercession, Jainism, Ramakrishna (Sri), Reaction Formation