“Let pranayam be thy religion…” – the power of Kriya Yoga
There’s a new movie in the theatres: Oppenheimer. It’s the story of Robert Oppenheimer, “Father of the Atomic Bomb” and the ambivalence he felt upon successfully detonating the first bomb. There’s antidote bomb, however: this one brought from India by our guru in 1920: Kriya Yoga.
The historian Arnold Toynbee wrote that “While the West conquered the East with guns and bombs, the East will conquer the West with love.”
This reminds me of Mahatma Gandhi’s humorous but dry quip when he was asked “Mr Gandhi. What do you think about Western civilization?” Gandhi’s reply was, “I think it would be a good idea!”There is another class of scientists — yogis and rishis — who long go unlocked the secret of the soul’s powers. These scientists revealed that the power of Mother Nature has its source in the power of Divine Mother and, to be beneficial, the two must be harmonized. The intelligent life force which creates, sustains and withdraws the worlds is known as prana. divine love as the antidote of to our destructive potential.
As science reveals the reality that matter is more than what it appears on the surface and is vastly different on the inside, so does the soul know things the ego but dimly remembers: our immortality; our true nature as joy; our power to rise above suffering; and, our innate power over matter and death, itself.
In the past, great saints have overcome the hypnosis of matter, body and ego by heroic acts of sacrifice in service, asceticism, prayer and devotion. But Paramhansa Yogananda, sent by a line of Self-realized masters, has brought a new dispensation: the airplane route, as he called it — kriya yoga — to accelerate the journey of transcendence to a people for whom the bullock cart of spiritual progress is inadequate and for whom there is a great need of stronger spiritual medicine.
As energy awareness is the characteristic consciousness of Dwapara Yuga, so the path to transcendence in Dwapara Yuga flies on the wings of energy: Kriya Yoga.
To transcend duality, we must re-trace upward the stages of creation down through which we have come: first, we remove the veil, or kosha, of matter to reveal the energy (or life force) of the astral body. Next, we remove the kosha that hides the causal or ideational body wherein dwells our soul, the true son of God. From there, step by step through the stages of samadhi we advance upward into the blissful Spirit beyond the created worlds.
The Kriya path is described poetically in the words to Sri Yukteswar’s chant, Desire My Great Enemy. Desire symbolizes the hypnosis of the world of matter and the chant counsels the devotee to go within to the body of energy, or prana. The entire creation is alive with energy. This energy is Divine and may be, in a sense, worshipped as the indwelling Spirit so far as we can contact it through the kriya key. Yogananda counsels us to “worship on the altar of the spine.”
As the Spirit vibrates creation first through causal-intention and then more grossly via energy, or prana, prana can be said to be the channel for God’s presence. What is God's presence if not grace? When we cooperate with prana and its potential to rise upward to the higher chakras, then we cooperate with grace. I will lift up mine eyes unto the hills, from whence cometh my help. My help cometh from the LORD, which made heaven and earth. Psalm 121.
We know instinctively that when we are happy our center of pranic gravity rises as we look up, feel lighter, and stand taller. Heaven is above, and hell below, because in the human astral body these are realities based on the energy centers of the chakras.
What makes it difficult to rise and stay “aloft” however, is the downward pulling gravity of past karma, hiding in the astral body along the astral spine in the form of vibrating seeds, or vrittis. Their relative karmic weight as to heavy, medium or light depends on which chakra they are associated with. The lower three chakras contain the more materialistic desires, habits and tendencies. The upper three chakras contain lighter attachments.
The Kriya technique is designed to first energize, then dislodge, and then burn up or consume these vrittis that hold us down before they can ripen into outward form of karmic circumstances where defeating them is far more difficult.
Like the Greek hero, Sisyphus, our efforts in this regard are doomed to repeated failure without the aid of extra pranic power, which is to say, the grace of God and guru. To practice kriya with only will power is to reenact the hubris and receive the punishment meted out to Sisyphus. Thus we always begin our kriya meditation with a prayer to the kriya masters. Throughout the practice we silently invoke Master’s presence and power, seeing these as the key to the success in kriya practice and seeing our efforts as cooperation with prana’s power to free us from past bad karma.
Kriya practice will be energized by the practice of Yogananda’s Energization Exercises which will help us become more aware of both energy but also the source of that energy in the astral spine. The gift of kriya is itself a part of the ray of divine light, the new dispensation that has been offered to us. As Lahiri Mahasaya, Yogananda’s param guru said of the only photograph taken of him, “to those who see this photo as a blessing it is that; to those who see only a photograph, it is only that.” So too for kriya yoga: for those who see it as Master’s grace, power and presence, it is that. To those who see only a technique for self-empowerment, they will get a little improvement but nothing permanent. This is so because in part the spinal currents constantly rotate around one another, never stopping. It is our devotion and attunement to the guru that draws forth the power of grace hidden in prana and needed to neutralize the currents completely and enter the breathless state.
Living more in the spine and especially feeling the pranic currents of the astral spine is to bath in the Ganges of Spirit, the River of Life; it is baptism in the Holy Spirit, Holy Aum. As the characteristic feature of Energization is energy; and that of the Hong Sau technique is peace, the Aum technique, the inner sounds, so the characteristic feature of Kriya is the bliss of the soul. As your contact with the astral spinal currents becomes more frequent and more intense you will begin to recognize their signature and the feeling of their presence. Their signature can take many forms but all stem in one way or another from the vibration of bliss; of joy; of energy. Sometimes it is a general euphoria; other times specific to the currents themselves. Swami Kriyananda has described the pleasurable intensity of meditation as “delicious,” thrilling to one’s very core.
Banat, banat ban jai! Doing, doing…….soon done! Never give up.
 His punishment for his pride was to roll a large stone up a mountain and have it roll back down again and thus to repeat this futile and endless task for an eternity.