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New: "Kriya Yoga: Spiritual Awakening for the New Age" - Interview with Nayaswami Devarshi

Kriya Yoga: Spiritual Awakening for the New Age can be the spark for the aspiring devotee to take up the lifelong practice of Kriya Yoga. Likewise, this book can help deepen the practice for the seasoned Kriya Yogi.

This is the first part of an inspiring interview with Nayaswami Devarshi and Devalila Veenhof. Through real-life stories from longtime Kriyabans, be ready to be inspired to embrace kriya yoga on your journey to Self-realization.

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Nayaswami Devarshi and Devilila

Introduction to the book, Kriya Yoga: Spiritual Awakening for the New Age

My name is Devalila, and I serve at Ananda Village as the director of the Kriya Sangha. And this is Devarshi, Nayaswami Devarshi, and he directs the Kriya Sangha from India, and helps guide and direct the global work of the Kriya Sangha. We're here to talk about a new book Kriya Yoga, and how Kriya Yoga works in our lives, why it's such a sacred technique, and how it can transform your entire spiritual life. I'd like to start with a question about Kriya Yoga and this book. Who is this book for?

This book is for anybody interested in learning more about Kriya Yoga, but it's really, for anyone interested in learning how to grow spiritually, and how to develop spiritually. The title, Kriya Yoga, Spiritual Awakening for the New Age, it talks about how we are in a new age, we can see it all around us. We see old forms and structures dissolving before our very eyes. People are seeking truth, not with the old churches and formulas and rituals. And I write about my own experiences in this book growing up in a church that was predominantly rituals and formulas for relating to God, and to truth.

An Age of Energy and Awakening

And so this is a new time we're in and we can see it before our very eyes. Paramhansa Yogananda, author of Autobiography of a Yogi, he talked about this that we are in an age of awakening energy, and it’s an ascending cycle of energy. And the age of materialism, which in India is called Kali Yuga is in the past. That time is gone and we're now in a new ascending age where energy is increasing, people's awareness of energy is increasing. And so it's time for something new and different in terms of how we develop spiritually. And so this book addresses that. And it's really for all seekers everywhere.

Why People Are Looking for Truth in Other Ways

In the book I talk about, in terms of just religious or spiritual seeking, where studies are showing that many, many people are leaving the churches, and they're looking for truth in other ways. And people who are running all the big churches are a little bit alarmed by this. But studies find that these are people who are actually seeking truth and seeking God. But they're not satisfied with the old ways, and they're wanting something that becomes very real in their own life. And this is what Yogananda said, he said, there will be a revolution in the churches, and that the revolution would be because people want, as he put it, the direct experience of God, themselves, not with a priest, or a Pujari, as they're called in India, being the intermediary between us and the divine, but a direct perception of truth, in our in meditation, especially, but also in every part of our life.

Kriya Yoga is a Whole Practice

It's not, you know, Kriya Yoga, is not just a technique, it's a whole way of life. It's a whole approach to life. And people are wanting more. But people are wanting truth inwardly. And they're wanting to have that divine connection, and experience, which is what meditation does. I share something in this book where a comedian, he said, this was years ago, and it was very sort of prescient in terms of saying where we're going. The way he put it, he said, studies are showing that thousands and thousands of people are leaving the church and going back to God. And this is just a funny way of pointing out that they weren't finding God in the church, and they still want that they're not leaving religion or spirituality. They are, in fact, going to wanting the direct experience of that. And the path of Kriya Yoga really gives that in very real ways. And this is what the book is about is, is not about techniques, which Kriya is also a technique, but it's about how to live a life, where we have an experience of truth of God, however you want to put it, and also apply that truth in our lives, to help us become better human beings, better parents, to help us overcome grief and sorrow and other human emotions. And so this book is especially about how we can work with just the realities of life and bring the divine experience that we have that perception in meditation, and bring it and apply it in daily life is for everybody.

Is Kriya Yoga Beneficial for Anyone?

What if someone already has a religion or a practice or another faith, would Kriya Yoga be beneficial for them? Is Kriya Yoga for anyone, in other words?

Indeed, it is for everyone. What we practice and teach is what was taught by Paramhansa Yogananda. And this practice helps us to develop an individual relationship with the divine, and that relationship is very individual. If you are raised in the Hindu religion, or the Christian religion, these practices help us to go deeper into our own relationship with God. But it takes us beyond the outward forms and rituals. And those rituals are not necessarily bad. But they're used in a way that makes one dependent on a priest or a ritual. And this practice of Kriya helps us to have a direct relationship with the divine, and the rituals are good, and in your own practice, or church or whatever religion you might be in. They can be good for just awakening and reminding us of this deep inner truth. And so, yes, Yogananda when he taught Kriya, he had disciples of the Kriya practice who were from different religions and different faiths. So with priests of certain religions, at most religions might be feel a little bit threatened if they find that one of their members is actually developing the direct perception in relationship to God, because some religions see that as sort of heretical, and going against the teachings of particular churches. But I think anyone who is seeking truth, and wanting to have that taste of the Divine, can be helped by these practices.

And I'll just remind that Kriya Yoga is a single technique, but it's a whole, the way Yogananda taught it, the way that we teach it at the Sangha is exactly as Paramhansa Yogananda taught it. It's a whole set of practices that include other meditation techniques, some preparation to prepare for the receiving the Kriya technique, but again, a whole way of life, a whole different approach to life. And so even the initial steps of learning Kriya, the way that we teach it, again, the way Yogananda taught it, there are some initial meditation practices that just give one a taste of it, and it's sort of a way of, you know, dipping your toe into the water to see if that waters the right kind of water or temperature for you in your own life and in your own practice.

Is there more than one Kriya path?

Kriya is a very commonly used term. This book is about the application of what Paramhansa Yogananda brought into this world. It's a very specific approach to Kriya Yoga. And you can learn more about this by reading his autobiography, which is Autobiography of a Yogi, which is a very famous book. And many people teach different sorts of versions of Kriya. But even the term Kriya can refer to many other practices. It's very interesting that Yogananda, as gurus, they chose the name Kriya Yoga, which is a very simple term. It's not some sort of highfalutin, you know, esoteric term. It's just very simple. Kriya, the word Kriya simply means action. And in this case, it's an action that's a sacred action, a sacred, pure, selfless act. And so the technique of Kriya works with devotion to God; it works with the life force, the inner life force, which the yogis call pranayama, the energy, and learning to control that energy.

How to Know If a Spiritual Practice Is True

And so many people teach different varieties of Kriya. Some are true; some are not so valid. And if you go on the internet, you'll find many people claiming only we have the right Kriya Yoga and everyone else is wrong. And you'll see a lot of claims just like you do with religion. So Kriya has evolved that far that there's no disagreement in those ways. But the way we teach it at Ananda is just as Parramatta Yogananda taught it.

The way to find out if any tradition or teaching is true, really, is there's an expression in the Bible where people were questioning to Christ, people were questioning other people teaching his teachings. And his answer was very simple, as to how to tell, is that by their fruits you shall know them.

And so if you're interested in a tradition or teaching, whether it's Kriya and many of the different varieties of it, meet some of the people who practice it. And see, are they kind, are they generous, are they humble? Do they have love? Do they have selflessness? And those are the fruits that a real true spiritual practice will give one. And they make you change really in ways that are very real.

There was a disciple of Yogananda, who, she put it very pithily, she said one’s religion is tested in the cold, hard light of day. And that means that if a spiritual practice is true, and one is practicing it in the right way, yes, you will see it manifested in that person's demeanor the way they are, you know, they're just the way they treat others in these kinds of things.

Don’t Get Too Caught Up in Grand Claims

So that's really don't, don't get too caught up in grand claims about this or that being the greatest. Look at the people who have been practicing it. And if you like what you're seeing, then yeah, pursue that approach to Kriya Yoga or, really, any other spiritual path. That said, I can say that with Ananda Sangha. You know, I've been working with teaching Kriya, supporting people who practice Kriya for many, many decades now. And I've seen many thousands of people learn these things. And I have to say that I've seen universally good results. But it's not we're not trying to win disciples for Yogananda, or anything, you know, in fact, Yogananda himself said, If you don't know what your spiritual path is, for sure, he said, try this out and see learn some meditation, the way that we teach it. And you will start to develop to the calmness, the discernment, the intuition, the understanding that will more deeply awaken one's own understanding and will help you to find your own spiritual path if this is not the right one for you.

Why is Kriya Yoga Coming Up At This Point In History?

Devarshi, the subtitle of your book is Spiritual Awakening For The New Age. And you've hinted at this, this new age that we're in, I wonder if you can expand upon that, that Kriya Yoga is coming up at this point in time in history.

So yes, this is a new age; we can see it, you can see it all around us. The yogis teach that the Earth, our planet, goes through different cycles of awakening, of de-evolving. And they teach that right now. We’re in an upcycle, where we are coming out of an age of matter and materialism. And again, they call that Kali Yuga. And that we're in this new age called Dwapara Yuga, which is an age of energy. And this means that it's a time when people have more energy. People are tuning into matter as energy. Science has proven in recent years that matter is energy. Whereas in the dark ages, it was just matter; it was all people saw. You know, if you went back a thousand years ago and said that matter is energy, this isn't just solid matter, there's energy, and there are atoms, they would not have believed that.

So this time is an age of awakening, spiritually, mentally, and you see it, you see this, it's an age of increasing energy. And it's actually very difficult to deal with at times. You know, I don't know a single person who doesn't look around them and say that life is speeding up and seems to be getting faster and more demanding in many ways. And this is a sign that, indeed, the yogis are true. The truth is that we are in an age of increasing understanding of energy, awareness of energy, greater and greater power to develop energy for powering machines, and for our homes, and for the planet. Unfortunately, it's also an age of greater awareness and knowledge on how to develop weapons that have more energy.

And so this age of energy, one also finds that you need to have some awareness and development of having control over one's own energy. And you'll see that if we don't have control over our own energy, then life gets very stressful, more and more all the time, anxiety, fear, all these things come up. And we saw this with the pandemic, that it was, everything was heightened. And we're not going back into the old material ways we are going to get more and more increasingly caught up in this age of energy.

What is the Tsunami Wave of Energy?

And in a way, what it is like is, it’s like, you know, a wave, a large wave like a tsunami kind of a wave that's really sweeping the planet with this heightened energy and awareness of energy. And if we don't do something to get stronger in ourselves and learn about energy, then it's just like a surfer. You know, someone who learns how to surf and catch large waves. If they learn the skills, they can go out to the ocean. And when a large wave comes, they swim, and they swim up to a certain speed almost,  not quite the speed of the wave, but close enough that when the wave reaches them, they can stand on their surfboard and catch the wave and make great progress and go very fast to the shore. Whereas if someone does not learn that skill and doesn't learn about energy, they're just going to be standing there and just get smashed by this wave of energy because they don't know how to deal with it.

And so the practice of yoga, and this is a very traditional yoga philosophy we're talking about, gives one the experience and the quality of having control over their energy. And in yoga, this is called pranayama, control of the life force, the inner energy. And there are techniques that help one to develop that control, and Kriya Yoga really is the greatest because it works directly at the source of our energy and our ups and downs deep in what the yogis call the astral spine.

And so techniques and practices that work with giving us control of the energy, learning how to have more energy, learning how to respond to high energy situations, when we develop that, then we can respond to this title, tsunami wave of energy, and other people who are in very emotional states and in high anxiety and in energetic situations.

Becoming a Cause Rather Than an Effect

And by learning Kriya Yoga, the way that Paramhansa Yogananda taught it, one has developed some more energy, and one develops control over that energy. And when one has those qualities, then one can become a cause in this world rather than an effect. Rather than being a victim to this wave smashing down on all of us, one can be a calm, strong pillar of strength and energy and help others in this world. And I think everyone who's drawn to a spiritual tradition has a wish to help themselves not just for themselves but to be able to help others in their family, their friends.

And I saw this, you know, a share in the book, in the, during the pandemic, I lived in India, where I currently live still. And during that time, that was a huge wave of energy and anxiety. I mean, so many people were dying, and we saw it all around us. We just knew so many people who died during that time because it was extreme in India. Honestly, it was perhaps a far more extreme event than in most other countries in the world. And you saw some people succumbing to this intensity of that time, and just giving into fear and anxiety and, you know, contracting into themselves and being very protective. And, and just having a very difficult time with that. And no one had an easy time of it. But that said, I know several people who are Kriya Yogis, who have been learning and practicing these things, who rose above it. They caught that wave. They learned how to ride that wave. And were just extremely serviceable, selfless, and even heroic in serving others in hospitals and in other ways. And so this is really, you know, as I was sharing, this is the fruit of a Kriya Yoga practice. Any true spiritual practice passes that test in the cold, hard light of day as I was, as I was sharing earlier.

What Does Kriya Yoga Do For Us?

And so this is what Kriya Yoga does. It gives us control over our inner energies. So that one, we're not buffeted by all the storms of life, and just not this way. But two, we can actually be strong inside of ourselves, and have energy and not give into all the emotions and fears and anxieties going around this world.

And so this book is really mostly talking about how to develop these qualities, what the underlying principles are, now, on this path of Kriya Yoga that we teach, and that Yogananda taught, and how to apply it in daily lives, how to deal with our own fear, anxiety, suffering, loss, grief, all these different things that all humans go through. And the path of yoga is not to make us above it all and separate from everybody and step away from it all because we're right in the middle of it all in this evolution of this planet right now.

So Kriya Yoga gives us the tools to be able to deal with, to cope with this life of high energy and increasing energy. And again, how also to be a cause rather than an effect. And I'm, I've seen this with thousands of Kriya Yogis. I really have. It's just anyone who actually practices these things and implements them in their life, I have seen honestly, without exception, that they've learned how to control their emotions and their energy and how to really be a productive, giving person to their family, to their friends, and really respond to life's challenges in a very positive way.

Thank you very much Devarshi. We will continue in our next episode.