Does becoming initiated in Kriya Yoga lead to cosmic consciousness and psychic abilities, or are only certain members given the opportunity to grow to these levels. I don’t want to spend years of my life on a cause only to find out later I'll never in my lifetime be given this opportunity. I want to achieve this so I can help other people. Also, what would this path expect of me?
—Jack Ledford, USA
It is wonderful that you are interested in serving others. The more we refine our consciousness and are open to the Divine flowing through us the more we are able to serve others selflessly as channels of the Divine.
Selfless service is essential for our spiritual growth but selfless service, when perfected, is never acting in our ego’s self-interest. We are not the ‘doer,’ God is and we are His instruments. The spiritual path in one aspect can be seen as perfecting us as channels. But our ego is a trickster. Its existence depends on keeping up its self-definitions, keeping up the delusion that we are separate from God and the ego is ‘in charge.’ Until we reach complete self-realization the ego may still make claims that it is the source of the power to help others. In all our service we must proceed always tuning into God’s presence and mindful of how easily we may be tricked.
Kriya initiation by itself does not lead to cosmic consciousness. The disciple must practice all of the techniques on the path of Kriya Yoga sincerely, deeply and with great love for God and attunement to the Guru. Yogananda said spiritual progress is 25% the disciple’s part (which requires 100% of his effort), 25% the Guru’s effort on the disciple’s behalf and 50% the grace of God. Spiritual progress is made with loving persistence, step-by-step, day-by-day. Kriya yoga practice is the great opportunity and when done deeply in attunement to the Guru over our lives (and lifetimes) will bring us to self-realization. Whether the spiritual path brings us to a point of being a teacher to others or serving others in some other way depends on God’s will for us.
Self-realization is the potential for every soul. Paramhansa Yogananda defined Self-realization as “the knowing in all parts of body, mind, and soul that you are now in possession of the kingdom of God; that you do not have to pray that it come to you; that God’s omnipresence is your omnipresence; and that all that you need to do is improve your knowing.” Self-realization is cosmic consciousness. Yogananda expressed in his beautiful poem “Samadhi”, “By deeper, longer, thirsty, guru-given meditation, comes this celestial samadhi.” You can read and listen to the entire poem which describes cosmic consciousness.
Yogananda stressed that we must seek God that we may know Him and love Him completely as our nearest of the near and dearest of the dear. He cautioned us never to seek God for his gifts. Psychic abilities are gifts that a self-realized master may occasionally utilize as an instrument of God but never would he claim these powers as his own or use them for personal needs.
The path of Kriya involves much more than the use of a specific meditation technique. It is becoming a disciple of Yogananda and living a life dedicated to this path. The step of discipleship is not to be taken lightly. The guru, in fact, chooses us and we must be ready to follow the guru’s guidance regardless of our circumstances and or whether we are ‘successful’ by some worldly measure.
Yogananda wrote a famous book which, if you have not already read it, you can read for free: Autobiography of a Yogi. In a chapter about Lahiri Mahasaya, he tells of one of Lahiri’s advanced disciples and a kriyaban (Kriya Yoga practitioner) named Brinda, who was a humble soul who served as a postman. One day a rather arrogant student demanded Lahiri give him higher meditation techniques but Lahiri saw he was not ready. He turned to Brinda, a model of discipleship and deep practice of Kriya and asked if he was ready for this higher technique. Brinda declined, saying he was already in so much bliss that he had trouble delivering his letters. The arrogant disciple was chastened and understood he had much to learn. Later Brinda, though uneducated, was sought out by scholars for interpretation of scriptural points. He was able to do this through his attunement with his guru and his deep spiritual practice.
You are drawn to seek spiritually. Allow this desire of your heart to grow and not be crowded out by ego desires for some worldly benefit from spiritual practice. Seek God in the way that resonates with your soul. All great spiritual paths have the same goal, only the spiritual practices and methods of presenting the teachings differ. I encourage you to read the free links I have given to you to see if you feel an increasing attunement with this path. If you do, please know that at www.ananda.org there are abundant resources for you to learn and support for your practice of the techniques that are part of the path of Kriya Yoga.