Does Kriya Yoga Teach Bodhicitta and Emptiness?


I am a kriyaban but also know about Tibetan Buddhism. In Buddhism it is said only way to achieve liberation is to achieve emptiness and only way to achieve emptiness is to first achieve boddhichitta. So the whole philosophy is centered around achieving boddhichitta and emptiness. I was wondering if the practice of kriya can help in achieving boddhichitta and emptiness (killing our ego) and how does it do that.

—Aasheesh Chhabra, India


Dear Aasheesh,

As a Kriya Yogi and disciple of Yogananda (I suppose) you can now leave behind Tibetan Buddhism. Comparisons of different paths will confuse one. There are many different approaches, valid techniques, great methods, and deep explanations. All of them are good, though you can reasonably follow only one. Otherwise, if you have one foot in one boat and the other in another boat, you’ll soon fall into the water and get nowhere.

Anyway, I will explain the topic from a Kriya Yoga standpoint. Kriya Yoga tries to take you deep into the spine. If you go really deep, you leave behind the sense of self (of your personality) – an experience you have every night during deep sleep when you don’t know if you are a man or woman or Indian or anything. You don’t kill the ego in this way, you simply leave behind a wrong identification with the body. You realize: “I am not the body, I am Spirit”. This is, I believe, what Buddhists describe as emptiness.

However, Swami Kriyananda explains that the yogic concept goes far beyond emptiness: into it comes rushing an experience of bliss. Buddhism concentrates much on emptiness and nothingness, while yoga and Hinduism are bliss-oriented.

So, in short: Kriya withdraws life-force from the senses, from the body, from the mind, into an inner space into the spine. There, if we are mentally ready, we perceive ourselves as a formless being. “I am nothing, I am free, I own nothing I am free.” Then kriya goes even further: you don’t only go into the spine and center your consciousness there, in freedom, but you lift your consciousness up to the spiritual eye. There the wave of our “I” meets the “great I”, the Paramatma, or God.

In the highest stages, you achieve cosmic union, omnipresence. I don’t know if Tibetan Buddhism talks about it, and it doesn’t really matter. Yogananda does, and that is your chosen path. Please note that these words are not written at all with a feeling of narrowness, just with love and care for a fellow kriyaban, a brother in Kriya.

United in divine friendship,