Category: Kriya Yoga
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How Can I Be an Actor While Staying Spiritual?
Hello, I have just begun Kriya Yoga meditation. I am finding some conflicts with my worldly activities in terms of how to approach them as a person with spiritual focus. In particular I have just begun an acting course (monologues) to improve my communicative ability and explore a desire to participate in transformative entertainment in the future. How can I approach this with no attatchment and stay true, amidst materialist people? What should I have in mind? What attitude should I maintain?
This is a great question to which I actually have some insights, thanks to Swami Kriyananda. A number of years ago in Paris, Swamiji was asked by a well-known opera singer a similar question. She found herself, with her low-pitched contralto voice, placed many times in roles that had a dark side to them and were even evil in nature. She wondered how to deal with this situation in a spiritual way, so as not to have her consciousness pulled down by the darkness.
Swami said to her to feel that God was acting through her in these roles. Also to feel that she was an observer, as well as a participant, in the roles she played. I think the attitude to remember and keep before you in doing this, is that God is in everything; that all of creation has been brought about out of Himself. As Swami Kriyananda would say in talks, “What else did God have to bring Creation into being from but Himself!”
These attitudes are not easy to develop, but they are possible. I would think they could even make you a very good actor! Non-attachment will be essential in doing this, and something you will have to work on every day. I would suggest that at the end of each day you offer all that has happened that day back to God, thereby freeing yourself from being attached to and defined by it.
As long as you feel a need to be involved in the very outward and entertaining “entertainment business,” then this will need to be part of your daily spiritual sadhana, along with your morning and evening Kriya Yoga practice.
As Parmahansa Yogananda said about this world of duality that we live in, “This world was made for our education and entertainment, but how very few are either educated or entertained.” May you be one of these few!
Pain and Other Challenges Caused by Meditation
Last year I started doing Isha kriya for 15 minutes for 15 days. There was a pain in my forehead between my eyes. I got scared and stopped meditating.
I exercise regularly. I still have the pain in my forehead. Lately I am having shooting pains in head and numbness in my legs when I exercise. I am feeling very tired and scared about facing out of the regular world experiences that meditation might bring. How can I stop my pain in forehead and be healthy? I don‘t want to meditate.
Isha Kriya is different from the Kriya Yoga techniques given to us by Paramhansa Yogananda. If you are interested in preparing yourself for Kriya Yoga through the Ananda Kriya Sangha, please let us know (see below). But because you are practicing a different type of kriya, then you should go to the person or organization who taught or initiated you, to ask a specific questions about any difficulties your are experiencing with your practices.
However, I can suggest a few things to help you with meditation in general. Pain in the forehead is generally caused by tension in your eyes. This tension is often brought on by trying to force your gaze inward and upward (almost like crossing the eyes) at the spiritual eye (point between the eyebrows). Instead, your eyes should be very relaxed and not forced into any awkward positions. Imagine you are looking at a light on top of a distant mountain out in front of you, but keep your eyes very relaxed.
About numbness in your legs, this is probably caused by your sitting improperly for meditation. Sitting on the floor in a cross-legged position is not always best! There are several ways to take care of this challenge, by changing your sitting position to one which works better for you. Please contact us to find out more about this also.
As for feeling tired and scared about facing the regular world with experiences that meditation might bring, one very important purpose of meditation is to bring you more calmness in daily life, to relieve stress, and to offer you deep inner peace under all circumstances. It should also awaken large sources of energy within you, to help you with tiredness. These are wonderful benefits of meditation and certainly nothing to be afraid of — life only gets better when you are meditating in the right way. If you’d like to learn more about Kriya Yoga in the way we teach it, please go to our Kriya Yoga page.
Kriya, karma, drugs
I want to know, how do we know when we are burning the seeds of karma?
Is it possible that while doing Kriya, negative experiences can occur because of the liberation of the seeds?
And do you recommend doing Kriya, during a psychedelic trip?
It isn’t always clear when we are burning up seeds of past karma — it is more noticeable over time, as people feel spiritually lighter; more joyful; growth in spiritual qualities such as devotion, kindness, and selflessness; and with less attraction to worldly and sense attachments. Spiritual progress doesn’t always go in a straight line, however, so most kriya yogis can continue to have some ups and downs in the short term. But long term, the effects tend to be more apparent.
Sometimes during Kriya practice it will happen that a particular thought or desire might pass through the conscious mind. Swami Kriyananda has likened that experience to having a particular karma dissolved, and then passing momentarily through the conscious mind on its way out. When Kriya is done correctly, with devotion, attunement to the Guru, and a certain amount of depth and calmness (and without doing psychedelic drugs!), it won’t cause negative experiences. This is one reason why it’s important to sit in the silence for at least fifteen minutes after finishing Kriya practice, as Paramhansa Yogananda suggested.
One definitely should not have a Kriya practice at the same time as a practice of doing psychedelic drugs. It could be especially harmful to do drugs at the same precise time as Kriya, but even if not done at the same precise time it could still be harmful.
Here is a much more lengthy answer to the general question of trying to use psychedelic drugs for spiritual growth.
The Physical Spine and The Astral Spine
I would like to know while practicing Kriya, will the link (thread) from Muladhar center to medulla should be a straight line or it has to pass through the Chakras. I am asking this question because if the link (thread) has to pass through the chakras then it would be in standard S shape as our physical spinal cord is in S shape. Awareness will than move from root chakra to swadisthan and then to navel and so on.
You are confusing the PHYSICAL spine (vertebrae, spinal cord, etc) with the ASTRAL (energy) spine, where the chakras are located. They are different and located in different places and dimensions!
The Astral Spine is the place through which you should be "running" prana (life-force) when you are practicing Kriya Yoga. It can be imagined as a hollow tube, about an inch and a half in diameter, running very straight up from the base of the spine (Muladhara or 1st chakra area) going through the middle (central core) of the body (which places it mostly in front of the S-curve of the physical spine).
When it reaches the Medulla Oblongata (receptive pole of the 6th chakra) it curves slightly forward to the Spiritual Eye (point between the eyebrows - the positive pole of the 6th chakra) As you are practicing Kriya Yoga, the prana goes through chakras # 1-6, from to the bottom to top of your Astral Spine, and back down again.
Blessings to you as you practice the sacred technique of Kriya Yoga.
Did Jesus teach a meditation technique to his disciples? How did his close disciples become so purified? Was it just by his grace due to karmic link from previous lives which dissolved their karma or due to them simply praying to God.
Thank you for your question! Paramhansa Yogananda tells us that Jesus did practice and teach his disciples a form of Kriya Yoga. What the differences are (if any), I do not know.
We read in the Bible about how the disciples were purified and blessed sometime soon after Jesus' crucifixion, when the Holy Ghost comes to them. This purification was a direct blessing from the Guru to his disciples.
You asked: "Was it just by his grace due to karmic link from previous lives which dissolved their karma or due to them simply praying to God."
I am prone to think it is both, rather than either or. Grace is a big part of it but they also had to get there through their own devotion and practice of inner communion with God. Yogananda gives a helpful formula for thinking about the spiritual path to union with God. He says it is 25% our own effort, 25% the Guru's effort on our behalf, and 50% the Grace of God.
I hope this is helpful. You might also like to read Swami Kriyananda's book Revelations of Christ for Yogananda's insights into the New Testament.
Kriya Yoga and Devotion
I read about Yogananda saying that to practise Kriya without the purification of the hearts feelings could be harmful. I think he meant it in the sense that your energy will rise but then fall again instead of being transferred to the spiritual eye from the agya chakra.
This then it seems is very important to the success of Kriya practise. What is the best way to begin to purify the hearts feelings?
Thanks for your guidance.
Jai Guru Dev
The important emphasis here is that we need to practice Kriya with devotion. Paramhansa Yogananda once told a disciple, "Kriya plus devotion works like mathematics. It cannot fail."
Swami Kriyananda offers this suggestion: "Try to bring your practice of Kriya as quickly as possible to that point where the technique itself is only a vehicle for this sense of offering your whole energy and being to the divine, where it becomes a devotional and joyous practice."
Chanting is also a powerful tool to awaken deepening devotion. Try to tune into a few chants from Paramhansa Yogananda or Swami Kriyananda, taking them deeper and deeper until you are drawn into supercosnsciousness, or at least uplifted in your awareness. In this way your heart will be purified.
In divine friendship,
A Blank Mind: Dangerous or Desirable?
Every now and then I come across the term "a blank mind". Can you please explain to me in detail what a "blank mind" is? I have read that one shouldnt drink alcohol or take drugs because they can make the mind go blank which can me dangerous. I have also read that one shouldnt meditate with a "blank mind". English is not my native language but when I translate the word blank into German it means empty. If I then Google "empty mind" I get loads of articles about how important it is to have a blank (empty) mind in meditation. So now I am totally confused. I would really love your help on this one. Thank you very much.
The only meditation I have studied and practiced is Kriya Yoga as taught at Ananda. Kriya to me includes not just the technique learned through initiation after a year or so of preparation, but also the whole approach to spiritual life brought to the West by Paramhansa Yogananda.
I was fortunate to find this path early, to be deeply inspired by it, and to have never felt the need to explore deeply any other way. So what I know of "blank mind" meditation was either told to me by others or picked up in snippets of reading here and there.
It seems wiser, then, for me to describe "blank mind" from the point of view of Kriya - which recommends against it, as you have discovered - rather than trying to speak for it from the point of view of those who teach it.
I prefer to do this also because often the words we use in languages other than Sanskrit to describe subtle states of consciousness are given meaning by those who use them and are not always self-evident or consistent from one tradition to another. Sanskrit has specialized in describing states of consciousness, whereas the speakers of other languages have not focused on these inner realities to the same extent and do not have such a specific vocabulary.
This is a good example. "Blank" or "empty" mind in the Kriya tradition is not offered as a positive image, whereas in other traditions it forms the heart of the practice. Perhaps this is a fundamental disagreement or perhaps it is just semantics.
In Kriya practice, the emphasis is on devotion and will power. A blank mind is considered undesirable insofar as it is the result of low or passive energy. If by "blank" one means "still and focused" that would be entirely different. "Still and focused" are words we often use in Kriya because they are more precise than empty or blank.
Even though meditation involves relaxation, the art of it is to let go of tension without also lowering one's energy level. We know how to put out energy on the conscious level by keeping the mind and body active and busy. Meditation requires that we still both the mind and body, but not - as we are habituated to doing - falling into a state of subconscious sleep.
Rather we must take all the energy that we usually direct in an outward way, and use it to keep the mind and body absolutely still in a state of complete, relaxed, alert awareness.
No surprise that this is not so easy to do! Among other reasons, this is why in Kriya we do not recommend meditating while lying down on your back, even though this position allows you to relax with a straight spine. The association between lying down and falling asleep is simply too great for most people to resist!
Because in meditation we have to withdraw our attention from what usually preoccupies it - mundane activities and thoughts - and because where we are going is a state of awareness often unfamiliar to us before we experience it, sometimes people will say, "Make your mind blank," or "Empty your mind." The meaning here would be to withdraw the mind from where it usually rests.
The problem is succinctly described in the a statement taken from the scientific study of the natural world, "Nature abhors a vacuum." What this means is that when one force is withdrawn, another will rush in to fill the now empty space.
In meditation, an empty mind is very difficult to achieve. As soon as you withdraw your attention from one preoccupation, another will rush in to the fill the vacuum.
Thoughts, Yogananda explains in Autobiography of a Yogi, are not individually created, but universal streams of consciousness that we attune to and receive. We are not separate from the universe, but merely an individual expression of greater realities than just our own ego.
The art of meditation, as explained in Kriya Yoga, is not to attune yourself to nothing. Some meditation methods conscientiously avoid any mention of higher realities, especially God. They may even pride themselves on what I have heard called "non-deistic spiritual practices."
Kriya Yoga is not like that. Kriya Yoga is about attuning to God. Satchidananda is the ideal way to describe it, since the word "God" in English has no clear meaning. Satchidananda means "ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new bliss." It is definitely Something. Not emptiness. Not a blank mind.
So in Kriya practice we are encouraged to withdraw from mundane realities and focus with great will power and relaxation (it is simple, but not easy!) on the Divine. Whether we define that impersonally or personally, as I said, it is definitely Something other than emptiness.
The danger of an empty or blank mind comes from two possibilities. The first is simply that in trying to become blank, one may too easily fall into low, passive energy, which will not bring success either in meditation or in any other area of life. Think about it. Do passive, uncreative people without will power accomplish anything in any field? No, they don't. Why, then, would this approach bear positive fruit in meditation? It wouldn't make any sense.
The other danger of the blank mind is the possibility of possession by disincarnate entities. "Nature abhors a vacuum." If you are not using your mind, someone else may rush in to fill the empty space. Wow! That is scary! Definitely not something you want to mess around with.
That's why I respectfully concede that the seeming disagreement between the way Kriya Yoga is explained and other teachings that use "emptiness" and "blank mind" in a positive way could be more about semantics than anything else.
Both alcohol and drugs do lessen your ability to control your own mind. They blur your focus and lessen your will power. The long-term effect of marijuana use, for example, which some people consider to be a "harmless" drug, is the inclination not to put out will power to accomplish goals. Under the influence of marijuana, trivial things appear profound, small stimulation brings great enjoyment. The "munchies," for example are considered to be one of the great happy effects of marijuana - a delight in eating that is far greater than usual.
As a result, habitual marijuana users begin to rely on getting high as a way to enjoy life and miss completely the divine truth that the greater our awareness and the more dynamic our will power, the greater the sense of true satisfaction.
One need not live in constant fear of being taken over by a ghost; nonetheless, the fact is that disincarnate souls hover around in great numbers the places where people drink and take drugs looking for opportunities to slip into a physical body that is not their own, either for the duration of the substance-induced stupor, or for longer if blank-minded passivity has become that person's habit.
Disincarnate beings like this died while so focused on physical pleasures that their progression through the astral world and eventually into another physical body of their own has been derailed by their consuming desire to experience again the pleasures they feel have been taken away from them. Or, even worse, they are beings seeking to have power over others. Bad news any way you look at it!
Normally, disincarnate beings are held at bay by the fact that a body is fully occupied by someone else. There is no room for another consciousness to come in.
However, diminishing self-control and awareness by drugs or alcohol, or deliberately reducing your will power and blanking the mind, can be a way of opening the door for someone else to move in.
Many crimes are committed under the influence of drugs or alcohol. Afterwards, the one who is imprisoned for the dastardly deed may say, "I have no memory of doing it and no idea why I would have done it." Sometimes it was that person's subconsciousness given free rein because conscious control was obliterated by mind-altering substances. But it can also be that, literally, someone else used his body to do it.
The good news is, meditation practiced with will power, with a focus on higher realities, protected and guided by a guru, unequivocally slams the door against intrusion by these lower entities. There is no possible entry into your mind when you have lifted it, or are sincerely trying to lift it, into divine attunement.
The Paths of Raja Yoga and Kriya Yoga
Recently I went in to Raja yoga medition by sahaj Marg and having a confusion whether I need to follow Raja Yoga or Kriya yoga. Please suggest me which path I need to go and how to choose ?
Your question is really two questions in one. One question is: Should I practice the teachings of sahaj Marg or of Yogananda?
The second question is: What is the difference between Raja Yoga and Kriya Yoga?
The answer to your first question is found on a very personal and individual basis. Different teachings, even though similar, even though originating from the same general tradition (yoga), feel different or - as one hears - have a different, subtle vibration. You need to spend time with each teaching, and ideally, with the teacher or diciples of the teacher, in order to decide which teachings feel best to you.
There are many true paths, many true teachers; but one teaching will tend to draw you, to inspire you to get more involved.
The answer to your second question is more about technique than personal preference.
Yogananda taught Raja Yoga, one part of which is Kriya Yoga. Raja Yoga, or royal yoga, is a collection of teachings and practices that address all aspects of life:
- Hatha yoga, which addresses the health of the physical body, is part of Raja Yoga.
- Meditation, which addresses the mind and communion with higher consciousness, is a part of Raja Yoga.
- Devotional chanting, which addresses the heart, is part of Raja Yoga.
Kriya Yoga is a specific technique of life force control (pranayama) which addresses the flow of subtle energy in the body, and directs it upward to the spiritual eye at the point between the eyebrows. Kriya Yoga is a part of Raja Yoga, although it is of such importance in the teachings of Yogananda that it can seem as though it is considered a separate path.
That is not the case. Kriya Yoga is practiced most effectively when accompanied by the many complimentary Raja Yoga practices that Yogananda gave us.
I hope you find this answer helpful.
Puru (Joseph) Selbie
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