Babaji in the snow, winter 2008

One of the most fantastic and beautiful stories in Paramhansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi tells of Lahiri Mahasaya‘s initiation into Kriya Yoga by his Guru, Mahavatar Babaji.

To this day, the Kriya ceremony at Ananda is performed just the way Yogananda did it, and is patterned after the way  Lahiri Mahasaya received, and gave, initiation into Kriya.

In The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, Swami Kriyananda writes of the importance of receiving Kriya through initiation:

Kriya Yoga, in order to be wholly effective, must be received not only intellectually (in written or spoken form), but vibrationally, in the form of initiation.

People who are interested in Kriya Yoga often miss the importance of the Guru-Disciple relationship, which forms an essential part of the path of Kriya. In fact, a close reading of Autobiography of a Yogi reveals the thread of the Guru-Disciple relationship running through the entire book, from the very first sentence to the very last (read those two sentences and see!).

The spiritual “highlight” of the book—the fulfilment of Yogananda’s lifelong search for divine union, or Samadhi —is finally reached only with the help of his Guru, Sri Yukteswar (as told in the chapter An Experience in Cosmic Consciousness, linked below).

After many years of Kriya practice, and observing hundreds of other Kriya yogis, I have seen that attunement to the Guru makes the difference between receiving extraordinary benefits from your practice,  vs. merely ordinary results, or no results at all. I’ve seen firsthand the truth of this statement by Swami Kriyananda:

It isn’t enough merely to receive good teachings and good techniques, or take Kriya Yoga initiation and then, as many people have done, figure that they can safely leave the line of gurus.

Those who merely practice a meditation technique receive some benefit, but not nearly as much as what is possible through attunement to a guru.

I’ve even seen people who were highly advanced become bogged down through rejecting the higher of these realities. That is, they chose techniques over attunement with the guru.

Marble statue of the Yogi Christ, Hansa Mandir, Ananda Village, Christmas 2008

That attunement comes in many ways, but an important and obvious one is keeping a strong connection with other long-time disciples of Yogananda and our line of Kriya Gurus.

In that regard, I have seen that people who keep that connection alive gain the most—specifically those who visit Ananda centers, or stay in touch via phone or email, or the many talks and offerings on the Ananda website. I’m quite sure that the same holds true for all other Kriya lineages and paths.

Swami Kriyananda has written, in regard to Kriya: “Guidance from the guru is not only helpful: It is essential.”

Recently I heard him say that attunement to the Guru is most important, and Kriya (as a technique) only secondary. Of course, Kriya yogis also gain that attunement through deep Kriya practice. Lahiri Mahasaya once said that practicing the techniques of Kriya, as taught by the Guru, draws the grace and help of the Guru.

So, if you are interested in receiving Kriya Yoga, or getting the most from your Kriya practice, understand that the greatest progress is made when it is combined with discipleship and attunement to the Guru. Here is one way that it can be done, as offered by Yogananda in The Essence of Self-Realization:

To tune in to the guru’s consciousness, visualize him in the spiritual eye. Mentally call to him there. Imagine his eyes, especially, gazing at you. Invite his consciousness to inspire your own. Then, after calling to him for some time, try to feel his response in your heart.

The heart is the center of intuition in the body. It is your “radio-receiver.” Your “broadcasting station” is situated in the Christ center between the eyebrows. It is from this center that your will broadcasts into the universe your thoughts and ideas. Once you feel an answer in the heart, call to the guru deeply, “Introduce me to God.”

Further reading:
Autobiography of a Yogi:
· Chapter 34: Materializing a Palace in the Himalaya
· Chapter 14: An Experience in Cosmic Consciousness
· The Essence of Self-Realization
· The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita