Introduction to our
Online Kriya Yoga Class
Kriya Yoga RetreatsI began offering a class in Kriya Yoga over the Internet early in the year 2000. I had just completed the book, A Recipe for Bliss, Kriya Yoga for a New Millennium. The chapters of that book provided an overview and became a springboard for a more in-depth study and practice of Kriya Yoga. Although the Internet is a somewhat anonymous medium for discussion, nonetheless the class became intimate and effective. Many of those who joined have been deeply inspired. They have contributed a variety of valuable insights and questions. I am indebted to so many of them for their contributions.
You might imagine that the Internet is too impersonal to be an effective way to present a spiritual discipline. In one way, however, it is just the opposite. The personality is a great obstacle to overcome for those on a true spiritual quest. We stumble again and again over our own quirky nature and the peculiarities of others. The human race is a crowded sea of personalities. It is a persistent source of confusion and distraction. The personality lies on the surface of life, constantly engaged in actions and their inevitable reactions. Those who reside on the surface are unable to become fully balanced. They teeter upon circumstances. In an important way, our Kriya class became a retreat from personality and circumstance. Each member is encouraged to enter deeply within himself, over and over again. Those who take up residence comfortably within understand that we are the caretakers of our own physical, emotional and mental condition. If you recognize how true this is, you are ready for the practice to be presented in this book. I am delighted at this very moment to invite you to enter in… heart and soul. You have nothing to lose but your imaginary chains.
You will be shown a number of Kriya Yoga techniques. For these to be effective, you must apply them in a proper environment. The techniques include specific interiorized actions of meditation, pranayama, mantra and mudra. The environment is your own physical, emotional and mental landscape. The techniques provide a definite way to engage your body, breath and your conscious attention. You have a special opportunity… to dissolve the shell of your own separate imagination by merging with inexhaustible Essence.
If you take up this practice and make a genuine and consistent effort to interiorize your awareness, a subtle transformation will unfold gradually, almost imperceptibly. After ten years of practicing pranayama, this change became clear to me. If you understand the nature of this change from the beginning, it will not take this long for you. It is somewhat easy to describe it, but the change itself is the way we feel, not the way we think about how we feel. The change arrives in the heart. More specifically, we experience the intelligence of the Heart Center. The brain in the heart awakens from its slumber. It has its own unique way to experiment, observe and evaluate change. Like the brain in the head, it prefers some experiences to others. On the whole it prefers love. It enjoys loving and it enjoys being loved. This is how the heart breathes. Being loved is the heart inhaling… slowly, steadily, kindly. Loving is the heart exhaling… just as slowly, steadily and kindly. This is the rhythm of kindness. With all this extra time on its hands, the brain in the heart begins to wise up. Largely due to the unnatural pace of modern life, the brain in the head has seized control and crowned itself. Pranayama is an ally of the heart. This breath-weapon, if used adequately over time, brings about a coup d’état. Gracefully the heart takes control of our actions and our plans.
Balance in the heart is extraordinarily simple, provided the brain in the head does not step in and have one if its divisive seizures. If the brain in the head will just remain relaxed and still for a while, the heart will become saturated with love. This rhythmic and joyous activity is not merely intuitive, it is instinctive. It is innate. The heart of a newborn already knows how to do this. It is already doing this. The yogi is rediscovering his instincts and relearning the exquisite qualities of being in love.
Nature is our finest mirror. She is spontaneous, energetic, boundless, conscious, integrated, mysterious and beautiful. And so are we. Nature is poetic confirmation of the extraordinary vitality and design of Prana. Conscious life issues exquisite patterns of energy and organization. If we observe Her in every moment and in every place from a point of deep inner silence, we are caressed with amazement. As we eliminate the disturbing habits of our own reactions to situations and events, we awaken unlimited imagination and delight. Nature is God’s way of being happy.
Each new moment is a microcosm of life. The purpose of Kriya is to expose the microcosm within us, at this very moment, so that we can learn how to become perfectly natural… super-natural… in tune with Cosmic Prana, abiding in all places and in all moments. As above, so below. As throughout, so within. That which is Universal manifests naturally in every moment… in each moment. The path of Kriya begins by recognizing Cosmic Prana, and by slowing down the head-dominated, and largely automated, human response machine. The Heart then can slip inside the pace of the breath… and especially its pauses… and become radiant.
It is useful to perceive the Universal with the conscious mind, for mind itself is clearly part of the Whole. Every manifested “thing,” including conscious awareness, is an aspect of the Universal. It could not be otherwise. But Kriya is only casually associated with analytical thinking. The yogi begins by observing the activity of pure Cosmic Prana in the present moment. Then he acts in certain specific ways that cause him to resonate sympathetically with it. It is not a case of transforming the mind through mental exercises and analytical thinking. It is a case of energizing and balancing the three bodies, physical, emotional and mental. To accomplish this, the initial and primary work of yoga is concentrated within the Heart Center. For the most part, this is where our most serious problems, or obstructions, are situated. And this is where we balance. An open and resonant heart anchors us in the etheric domain of Cosmic Prana.
Let us first examine the underlying, inner penetrating activity of a single new moment to see just what is going on with us. This will shed light on the nature of our present condition, and it will offer us a vision of how we can work through our obstructions into a life that is free and informed.
Initially we are at rest, and the primordial soup of our being is unconscious. Quite obviously life is full of potential… we can see this in the dynamics of nature… but in the beginning it is unmanifested. And, when I say “beginning,” I am referring to this very moment. The Vedas have named this state of inactive unconscious being, Brahma. The Bible describes this initial condition in a parallel way, “In the beginning is the Word.” From this state of rest, the first action that occurs is that we inhale. This is the initiating action at birth. It is primordial.
If we make a thorough analysis of the physical inhalation of a human body, we see, of course, that it is a complex performance. So I am not saying that human inhalation is somehow the beginning of the vast process of Self-realization. But in this new moment inhalation is the innate microcosmic movement from rest into activity. This initiation of awareness is centripetal. Conscious entities awaken from void and return to void, so the necessary first movement is to receive. Consequently, in a very fundamental way, we are feminine. Our first and primary action is to receive, to take in. Energetically, the void of our self fills with breath and for us, in this very moment, conscious life begins. It is worthwhile to see that human life from its beginning is female. It is only after we have received, that we can then react or give back. Our original state of being is feminine.
Physically, our conception takes place within the egg, and is completely nurtured within the female womb. We float, virtually weightless, in the amniotic fluid within our mother’s womb. We are nourished without the need to make any effort whatsoever. Then, when we reach a threshold of physical development, we slide into a new kind of sea, a sea of land and air. Then, involuntarily, in order to adjust to this new environment of body-form, we take our first breath.
The Vedas name the source of creation, Brahma. He is unconscious and void of differentiation. Once God emerges into form, a second aspect of His Being becomes apparent. God now is maintaining the life He has created from and for Himself. The Vedas, in this very moment, call him Vishnu. When Vishnu is incarnated in individual human form, He is called Rama. The name, Rama, is formed by two words: Ra and Ma. Ra means inhaling. Ma means exhaling. The primordial and essential action of our life is breathing. This is both obvious and overlooked.
At birth and in each new moment, the brain in the head, having awoken from its slumber, takes note of itself. But then, because of its karmic conditioning, it reacts in a complex series of its own private inconsequential observations and conclusions. Typically this analytical activity overshadows the primordial activity of life. “Normally” we establish the idea of our own, completely separate identity, having little or nothing to do with Vishnu… our essential dynamic Being. In essence, the imagination has run away with itself, but, unfortunately, not with the Real Self. The worst-case scenarios include a complex variety of “mental illnesses.” Beyond a doubt, the single greatest obstacle on the path of Kriya, and all other yogas as well, is to become hopelessly entangled in either logical or illogical analyses of activity and karmic circumstance, rather than resonating with Cosmic Prana… acting super-naturally… being in love.
The supernatural is really just very, very natural. It is no accident that Carlos Santana’s most acclaimed album carries the name, Supernatural. The feeling in the music is very playful. The well-known song, Smooth, invites your body to dance, to move naturally. If you allow this song to enter deeply within, you will almost certainly feel time being suspended. It feels like we are holding our breath, but with complete ease, just floating inside natural rhythm and harmony.
After Carlos released this album, he was guided by a divine being, known to him as Metatron, to release a dark secret of his own personal experience. After some reluctance, he opened up and revealed that he had been sexually abused early in his life. The yoga of his music serves to release this karmic circumstance into a brighter day of joyous celebration.
In the opening paragraphs I said that we are caretakers for our own physical, emotional and mental condition. In fact, we are responsible for our own progression and illumination. When I say this, I am not ignoring another basic reality. We have all been abused. I am not ignoring what has happened. But I am dismissing it. I am letting it go. In Sanskrit, prana means life-force, and yama means control. To take control of life within your self is the definition of pranayama. To do this effectively you must dismiss the past and enter the present moment. You must also enter within and, for the time being, dismiss the karma of outer circumstance. You must be reborn in this new moment and take up residence in the entire series of new moments, commonly referred to as Eternity. Eternity has no place to go. It is already here. Her pace seems slow because eternity is completely still.
Pranayama is an act of tremendous simplification. It is a perfect microcosm of spiritual evolution and enlightenment. When we practice pranayama, each single breath, from the inhalation to the completed exhalation, is one whole life. Unconscious, yet open, in the beginning we inhale. As we are filled, our consciousness awakens and views itself. That single life is completed when we are emptied out and return to rest.
Here I would like you to perform a simple experiment. Slowly take in one deep breath and then hold it for some time. Stay alert to your whole experience. When you feel that you must, then exhale completely… slowly… and again pause for a time before you take another breath. If you are paying close attention, you probably will notice that your thoughts become suspended when the breath pauses, both at the end of the in-breath and at the end of the out-breath. When breathing pauses, the mind slows down and comes to a stop. When the mind stops, we become suspended in pure consciousness. If our breathing could stop permanently, our consciousness would become still, utterly expansive and all-inclusive. We call this state of awareness, super-consciousness. It is super-natural. We become suspended in a singular smooth moment. Without saying it in so many words, this is the deep unspoken “meaning” and purpose of Santana’s song. Beautiful music and art encourage and support the super-conscious. They suspend us in a moment of wonder.
Unlike the complex rhythms of music, however, the practice of Kriya Yoga reduces rhythm to its simplest form. We breathe in, and we breathe out. Within each breath, and especially within each pause, singular actions of conscious awareness are engaged. Generally speaking Kriya Yoga involves four essential actions:1. Become still.A primary feature of pranayama is to deepen and elongate the breath until it becomes completely smooth. For a few breaths the chest may expand to take in a large volume of air. Once you have adequately oxygenated your blood, your body begins to relax. The chest cavity remains slightly open, but very still. Consciousness expands. Each singular breath becomes longer and more internal. Pranayama is a microcosm of evolution. As our practice becomes more refined, life smoothes out. The distractions of the dynamic mind subside and slowly disappear. The conscious residue is our true Self in clear view.
2. Listen beneath the silence.
3. Gaze into the transparent Spiritual Eye.
4. Synchronize the flow of Cosmic Prana with the breath and direct it through specific internal pathways (pranayama).
Essential to Kriya Yoga is meditation upon the primordial cosmic sound, Om. In order to access Om we must be receptive. Meditation and pranayama offer a way to organize and focus our conscious attention and our breath, causing Om to become a definite interiorized resonance. As the yogi enters deeply into this Sound, the separate self dissolves. We have imagined and defined this separated self largely in the mind through our hopes, expectations, painful experiences and calculated thinking. This separated self is like a block of ice frozen in time. Meditation upon Om places this block into the heat of the cosmic sun. Naturally it begins to melt.
Those who are eager to know the Self discover how to surrender their limited views. Those who have a separate or secret agenda do not. Some will allow the block to melt, others will not. Some will allow it to melt just so far, and then will put it back into the freezer for safe keeping. They have a plan for the small manicured cube that remains frozen. But those who see how important it is to eliminate that which divides us from the Whole, that which freezes and diminishes our attention, will leave the block of ice in the sun.
This will require patience and discipline.
The Zen master commands, “Just sit. Don’t wobble.” The practice of Kriya is parallel, with a slightly different emphasis. Interiorized action clears the interior space. Thinking will not. Right action transforms. Clear analysis provides you with a blueprint for action, but it is not the action itself. Right action is not random or arbitrary. It is organized and scientific. I would not call it regimented, yet it must be persistent if it is going to be effective. There’s a lot of doing to be undone, and a lot of undoing to do.
A tulip bulb, an ivory colored massive lump, buried in the brown earth, does not produce its delicate and stunning flower through random activity. The inner, though dormant, elegance already exists within the bulb. But definite disciplined actions are required to bring it to a radiant completion. This is just as true for human beings, and perhaps more so. But it is more difficult for us, because the brain in our head is loud and demanding. It has made our experience very complex. We are confused because the mind conceives so many distinct options. We are not grounded in soil, so we might assume that we do not even need to be grounded at all. The etheric dimension is a vast energetic domain of experience. It is so vast and energetic that it may appear to be chaotic and capricious.
It is not so. Cosmic Prana operates through each body in definite harmonic frequencies and patterns. As we discipline our bodies and our attention in specific ways, we simplify and unify our life. We enhance our experience with balance, well-being and natural intelligence. From the beginning the yogi recognizes how important it is to stay focused upon the real, primordial Being, and to take control of his mental processes. This way he will not be encumbered by a complex and distorted view of his true Self. When Kriya techniques are applied appropriately and the three bodies (physical, emotional and mental) are energized and balanced, the yogi establishes internalized control of his awareness and his experience.
It is argued that any form of discipline runs counter to freedom. This argument can be convincing, because the premise is somewhat true. Discipline counters freedom. For the human race, however, so does the lack of discipline. Our habits and our tendencies have brought us to this very moment. How would you evaluate your present condition? Are you really free? For example, are you free to think what you want, or do your thoughts have their way with you? And, more importantly, are you free enough to not think at all, and yet remain fully awake at the same time? Are you free enough to know how to rest?
For the most part, we do not rest easy. Somehow we have fallen from grace. It doesn’t take a genius to see this. Take a look around you. We are edgy. We have lost our fragrance and our super-natural skills. Our alienation and suffering testify to this. And our recovery does not seem to be on the horizon.
The experience of a long progression of sages makes it clear that a definite consistent interiorized effort is required to free us from ourselves. The seeds of our karmic habituation… samskaras… are rooted in our bodies and our experience. They must be exposed and consumed in the fire of radiant awareness if we are to enter the continuous wonder of our own etheric presence.
Earlier I made the statement that we have all been abused. We cannot deny this. We have been abused by our parents, our children, our brothers and sisters, our teachers, friends, lovers, neighbors, politicians, doctors, lawyers, business partners, competitors, co-workers, teammates, casual acquaintances, bank tellers, grocery clerks and the strangers ahead of us in line. We have been abused in church, in school, at work, at home, at play, by the things we buy and the things we sell, television, computers, newspapers and even the weather.
Now, the secret of entering a spiritual life, the secret of becoming who you are, the secret of becoming free and happy, is to dismiss all of this abuse. I am not suggesting that you pretend all of this didn’t happen. But you must give it up. At times it will seem almost impossible to do this. But really it is not so difficult as it seems. Be forgiving. Bear no grudge and move on. Allow each new moment to be new for you. Forgiveness initiates bliss. Bliss can be felt only in a new moment.
Do not think that you have not been abusive as well. The above list of people, places and things is us, not them. So when I say, “Forgiveness initiates bliss,” I am not suggesting that you encourage or allow yourself to be condescending when you forgive others. We are not showering our own private personal blessing on others. Simply forgive everything and everyone, including yourself, and then dismiss it all, so that you can slip easily into Cosmic Prana… into Vishnu… our own dynamic Being… right now.
If you fail to dismiss all of these abuses, you will continue to create and support the personal form of your own egoic shell. You will remain encased in your own private imagination and miss the real opportunity that life offers. Life is a tremendous opportunity, and human consciousness is perhaps the greatest opportunity. Why waste it by dwelling on past circumstances or imaginary egos.
Aldous Huxley coined the expression, the “doors of perception.” The control that we have is to open these doors. We can live our life as a shut-in, or not. It is our choice. It is our primary choice in every moment, and especially in this moment. The only difference between a sage and a fool is that right now the sage is making better choices. He is making better choices because he is in-formed. He has looked deeply into his own nature and has allowed Cosmic Prana to illuminate the present and to erode the edges of his past. It is not particularly easy to do this, but it is worthwhile. The sage has filed away the edges of his personality. He has become smooth. He slips easily into each new moment, and especially into this very moment.
Albert Einstein was a sage like this. His observation was that life is not squared up in rigid and separate dimensions. He discovered the elastic oneness of space and time. All dimensions and all things are not just related, they are all the same universal thing. And he lived his life accordingly. Science in the 20th Century blossomed in an utterly new way through his brilliant, mysterious and kind-hearted imagination. The Theory of Relativity is forever linked with the special human qualities he demonstrated. If we try to separate the two, we miss the point in a significant way. Matter-energy is pregnant with wonder. We cannot possibly separate ourselves from energy or wonder.
He wrote:"A human being is a part of a whole, called by us – universe – a part limited in time and space. He experiences himself, his thoughts and feelings as something separated from the rest... a kind of optical delusion of his consciousness. This delusion is a kind of prison for us, restricting us to our personal desires and to affection for a few persons nearest to us. Our task must be to free ourselves from this prison by widening our circle of compassion to embrace all living creatures and the whole of nature in its beauty."Compare this to the Bodhisattva Vow:
May I attain the awakened state for the benefit of all sentient beings.
Compassion is a very good word. It is a grand word. It is a central feature of Buddhism, perhaps the central feature. The sage discovers that Cosmic Prana and compassion, like matter and energy, space and time, are completely inseparable. He inhales the one and exhales the other. Compassion is the way the sage responds to life. It becomes his body of experience. It anchors him in the present moment.
An unspoken, yet essential purpose of pranayama is to do exactly this. It brings us to our own immediate experience of life, in this moment. Pranayama enlivens the etheric body. The yogi then awakens to an unlimited view of his own dynamic Being… Vishnu. Love for this Whole Being arises spontaneously. Compassion is completely obvious. Yet the karma of his body experience causes him to straddle two very different worlds at the same time. He must discover ways to sustain the larger etheric view while inhabiting a physical body. This is a challenge that requires skill and patience.
A well-known bumper sticker reads:
Think Globally But Act Locally.
Compassion is the global thought. It is universal and grand. But this is just the background for the evolving human experience. Taking refuge in compassion involves a risk. We might disengage from the present moment and find a way to hide behind this global view… to just think about it. A philosopher has his theory, but a yogi puts theory into action. Indeed, the yogi does think globally, but more importantly he acts locally. Compassion is the global view… the local act is kindness.
Kindness is the central, yet often unspoken, feature of Kriya. Really, it should be the central feature of every form of yoga and religion. Forget what esoteric writings you may have read. Forget what you have imagined. Do not imagine that initiation and secret yogic techniques somehow remove you from humanity or exempt you from everyday experience. The goal of initiation and technique is to accelerate you into the present moment. When these are performed appropriately, your heart will radiate kindness into each new moment, leaving you no reason to obscure your underlying motives and emotions with theory or metaphysics.
The Bodhisattva Vow carries you from the global view to immediate action:Beings are innumerable. I vow to meet them all with kindness and interest.I will share a simple lesson I experienced recently that demonstrates how we (and in this case how I) hide behind theory. One day I wrote the following:
Suffering is inexhaustible. I vow to greet it with patience.
Teachings are immeasurable. I vow to explore them deeply.
The mystery of our being is incomparable. I vow to surrender to it freely.“We love to receive money, yet we hate paying bills and especially paying our taxes. Why not reverse this approach. Before counting our money and enjoying our income, let’s take joy in paying our bills, and take a little extra joy in paying our taxes.”I wrote this paragraph early in the morning. It was 5:00 A.M., a time when insight is easy to come by, a time when the obvious is, indeed, obvious. Later, before that very morning was over, I received a call from the Arizona Department of Revenue. A very stern lady was on the other end of the line, reviewing my state income tax record from three years prior. She informed me that through a kind of reverse loophole in the tax laws, I would be taxed by both New Mexico and Arizona for a small portion of my income that year. The bottom line was that I had to pay about $25.00 extra income tax.
This phone call came to me in the middle of a busy workday. By this time the thought of eagerly paying my taxes had evaporated. The Bodhisattva Vow was no longer fresh in my mind. Now I was being reprimanded and I was going to be taxed double. I didn’t like that. I even raised my voice to express my indignation. “This is not fair!” How quickly I forgot the feeling and the intention that was so easy to see in the quiet of 5:00 A.M. How easy it is to replace patience with impatience. How easy it is to forget the importance of being kind and peaceful.
There are so many jokes about what happens when we die. A Christian version of these jokes begins something like this: So-and-so dies and finds himself facing St. Peter at the pearly gates of heaven. St. Peter will decide whether he can enter or not based upon some condition, test or response. So we have a good laugh at the expense of some famous individual or stereotype.
But suppose St. Peter were actually there, and he had one question to ask of you, a single question requiring a single answer to determine your eternal fate. What would that question be? Stop and consider this from a deep perspective, even if you are somewhat uncomfortable with the premise. The question that comes to you may be quite significant. Try this: Stop reading right now, and discover the question St. Peter would ask of you.
The question that came to me is, “Were you kind enough?” It is humbling to be asked this. No one can say, “Yes!” to this. If Mother Theresa is asked, she will say, “No!” Tenzin Gyatso, today’s Dalai Lama, speaks about kindness everywhere he goes. He not only speaks about it, he is living proof of how beautiful it is to be full of kindness. He is virtually a synonym for kindness. Yet he will immediately answer, “No!”
Really, our answer must be, “No.” And so, we have returned to life again and again, not just to discover that this has been a problem for us, but to change. We may not remember, but we have all taken the Bodhisattva vow in one form or another, many, many times. Consequently we are all working on this same basic issue.
Kindness is simple and practical. It is the first and last of all the techniques of yoga. If you are looking for an Alpha and Omega, this is it. Kindness transforms us in ways that esoteric metaphysics and secret yoga techniques never will. Why? Because kindness dissolves our imagined separation from others. It puts us back together. It gives us back our innocence. Compassion is a complex carbohydrate on the food chain of human attitudes. Kindness is a simple carbohydrate. Long after kindness has been digested, we are still chewing on compassion, to digest the whole thing. If compassion is a gourmet meal, kindness is a bowl of brown rice.
At this very moment, you may be nodding your head in agreement, “Yes, I will maintain the global view of compassion, and I will become kind to everyone.” Early on, perhaps even right now, you will take note that the first half of the equation is not really the first half. It is the first one percent, at most. Compassion is so obvious that really it is more like the first 0.0001 percent. The real challenge is the other 99.9999 percent. How on earth are you going to be kind to everyone and everything all the time?
Before you consider how you are going to do this, I strongly suggest that you recognize one thing from the beginning. The answer to this last question, quite simply, is that you cannot. Even if you make kindness your life’s passion, you will fail over and over.
The mathematician, the scientist, the philosopher, and even the metaphysician all have one luxury that is not available to the yogi. Each one of them can be an idealist. They can remain in their ivory towers and be perfectly content with their theories. Even if an error is exposed to them, they complete another draft and, “Voila,” the ideal is resurrected. The yogi does not have this luxury. He is completely exposed at all times. This is exactly what yoga does. It exposes us to everyone and to ourselves. Nothing shall remain hidden. For the yogi, exposure is his effort, his goal and his saving grace.
From the beginning, the yogi acknowledges that his effort is practice. He calls it what it is. It is the practice, the program, the work, the effort, the discipline, or some other synonym. But he cannot encircle it and call it perfect. An ego will encircle itself and claim perfection. A yogi learns not to do this. His exposure cannot be contained. He recognizes the division of one into two. This division has many names: God and man, Heaven and earth, Spirit and soul, Above and below, Principle and practice, Universal and particular, Energy and matter, Space and time. The yogi sees this division according to his own disposition or training. His practice is to bring them together.
To clear his view and clarify his effort, he must spend time in isolation. He must remove himself from the failing collective view for however long it takes to unify his view and uncover real Substance. He hears the One and makes his Eye single. This is his strength. This is his guiding light.
John Donne wrote, “No man is an island, entire of itself.” This is a beautifully phrased half-truth. An island does not evaluate itself relative to the mainland. An island experiences solitude and finds its own natural expression. When we are centered in absolute stillness, we see that although others affect our conscious experience, they do not affect our Being. Our Being is singular. We might call it an island, except for one undeniable fact: It is infinite. It has no edge. Comparison, therefore, is totally irrelevant. Limitations and boundaries dissolve in Cosmic Prana.
We are the very oneness of conscious being, a cosmic sea of experiential vitality. At each of our own centers we can awaken, yet be at peace. When we do, we resonate with the creative design. We feel a presence like no other, a steady radiance known to Hindus as Vishnu… our own life. The infinite island of our conscious awareness is our Being. Recognizing the oneness of all life is not a way of creating a superego or denying the conscious existence of others. The Whole is vast and creative. It renews itself in countless ways by birthing separate forms. To honor the bounty of life we need to become more skillful in many ways, but especially in relationships. Before we can do this appropriately, we must discover who we are.
There are a great many interactive human conditions that we cannot avoid… birth and death, the need for food and shelter, family, commerce and so on. We are involved with and affected by an ocean of conscious and semi-conscious forms of life. Each life is somewhat engaged in its own individual struggle to survive, understand, succeed and sometimes even to dominate its environment. The drive to succeed engulfs our group consciousness, especially in the West. We are forever measuring and comparing ourselves based upon assumptions, hopes, expectations and beliefs. These are but a few of the viruses that infect our conscious awareness.
Colloquial expressions reflect our realization and our shortcomings. They arise from direct experience. In English, we often hear the phrase, “spending time.” Imagine this! We have spoken this so often, probably without recognizing its basic implication. We “spend our time,” as if time were like money. We work for our money, try to save it, and eventually it runs out. Is this what you do with your time? If it is, you will almost certainly remain on edge. Your “time” may run out at any moment. But, rather than spend time, why not suspend time? Don’t allow time to hang in the balance. Let time dissolve into eternity. That is where it comes from, and that is where it remains. Time is not the enemy. Once the yogi discovers that this is true, he “winds down,” and embraces time like a friend. In the words of a great singer-songwriter-yogi, James Taylor:
"The secret of life is enjoying the passage of time."
Recently I visited Kauai, the oldest and greenest of the islands of Hawaii. I noticed that on this island these human viruses are not so pervasive, especially the virus of time. The locals synchronize to “island time.” Life is more natural and slow, more like the pace of easy breathing than the ticking of a clock. Of course this is due in large measure to the marvelous beauty everywhere, the green mountains, the sea, the lush tropical trees and flowers, the bounty of fruits and the wonderful climate. Birds are singing. Each new morning comes alive with a chorus of song. These islanders know how important natural beauty is in their lives. So they are making an effort to preserve it, to live in harmony with it, and not to dominate it. Islanders have an opportunity rare among the human family. They can, if they choose to, evolve their own natural way of living. They do not have to be dominated by the mass hysteria of modern man, his news machine and his economic warfare.
Hawaiian music has evolved into a rich blend of the classical ukulele, slack key guitar, easy rhythm, reggae and simple expressions of love and beauty. The most beloved of all Hawaiian musicians is Israel Kamakawiwo’ole, known affectionately as IZ. IZ was a gigantic Hawaiian, an island Buddha, with an easy smile and a sweet voice. His exquisite version of Over the Rainbow can be heard in the movie, Meet Joe Black. The Angel of Death visits earth. To accomplish his current “assignment,” he enters the lifeless body of Joe Black, who has just “died” in a traffic accident. Time has run out for William Parrish, the sage-like media mogul and patriarch of a well-to-do family. The unwelcome angel, however, is not rude or heartless. He is sweet, even innocent, and nurtures William across the threshold. At the end of the movie, William makes his final bittersweet exit, and Joe is returned to his body, reborn to taste the fruits of human life. The credits roll, and we are treated to the gentle buoyant voice of IZ… “Where trouble melts like lemon drops, high above the chimney top, that’s where you’ll find me.” How utterly arresting to hear this coming out of the mouth of an 800-pound giant of a man, saturated with wonder and kindness.
We cannot all fit on the island of Kauai, but we can tune in to her ambiance. Kauai is what it is because of its isolation and its natural beauty, the land, the sky, the rain and the ocean… especially the ocean. The pace of the island is initiated by the rhythm of the sea. This rhythm is very much like that of deep pranayama. I invite you to feel this tempo. Enter into it. Imagine with me…
Imagine that you are the ocean itself, looking in upon this beautiful island. Synchronize your breath with the rolling of the waves. As you inhale, feel the waters along the shore being drawn slowly, firmly, inevitably into yourself, filling you up. You are immense and whole. When you are completely full, pause for a moment to enjoy your fullness. Then, without regret, without reluctance, let yourself go. Exhale. Let it be smooth and slightly forceful. Feel the wave of your breath rolling out, pushing the surf towards the shore, finally to rinse into the sand and dissolve.
Repeat this breathing pattern for some time. Feel the ambiance. Become infinite. Then, very gradually over several minutes, let your breath slowly subside, eventually to become utterly still, silent and at peace. If you listen deep into the silence, you may hear the primordial Sound that issues from the mouth of Vishnu.
. . . OM . . .
This is the rhythm and pace of pranayama. This is how to discover that God has entered your body and assumed form. It takes considerable practice and patience to have this experience and attain this understanding, but it is worth the effort. Gradually you will discover how to resonate with Cosmic Prana. I invite you to do this over and over. Enter the practice and experience piece of mind… complete stillness of mind and urge.
When you emerge from your isolation, you will be recharged, ready to face the contemporary world. Mankind is suffering from separation, chaos and confusion. Your own pain confirms that you are part of this unnecessary experience. Your heart will tell you to drop the idea that, “It is every man for himself.” Your heart will say, “All for one and one for all.”
What I am offering is an invitation for you to discover the wonder of an open heart, a resonating home for your conscious soul to relax and view the eternal dance of Being. If you give up the habit of exclusion, you will feel, hear and see with cosmic certainty the Unborn One reawaken in your very own continuous presence. Planet earth may appear to be a ship of fools, but there is no need to be foolish any longer. The cause of this awkward personality is the ancient fear of disassociation and disintegration, reinventing itself over and over in new guises. It is a persistent reaction of the mind having a seizure because it has become disassociated from the heart.
The heart aches to be loved, often without recognizing it. We may have become somewhat skilled at temporary personal survival, but this has overshadowed the innate and immediate functioning of a loving heart. This reaction is called ego. For some, this ego will slowly dissolve through the practice of submission. For others, it will dissolve in the simple yet sublime conscious presence of pure Being. Either way, the dissolution hastens in an environment of stillness, silence, transparence and indiscriminant human kindness.
The Kriya Yoga techniques that will be described in the chapters that follow arise organically from the design of our own etheric Being. I encourage you to join in. Apply the techniques with attention and grace. Take your time with each one. Don't rush through the first technique as if you are passing a test that leads to a second technique. We are not in that kind of school. We are not being graded. Life is not a pass-fail course of instruction. We are simply learning and feeling our way through time and space into the present moment.
Take care to stay relaxed and balanced. Allow the truth to be ordinary. Let the path become ordinary. Super-consciousness is natural and ordinary. Extraordinary people and things never quite fit into real life. They become new expectations and burdens for a life already full of hardship and suffering. There is no need to pile on more. Better to unpack your bags and continue the hike through the continuum of time and space with a lighter load. When you’ve dropped all your expectations, you shall walk on air.
Poetry shall arise for you in a new moment. It is never contained in a past thought. It may have been spoken or written before, in another mind in another place in a similar way, but its experience is completely new. It enters an open consciousness. Poetry is an opening. It does not demand a particular analytical decision, how to think or how to react. Instead, it encourages an appreciation of small things and small feelings without making judgments. Thereby the self-imposed, psychological edge of things dissolves. You are left wide open.A fish is a dream
alive in sleepy waters.
The fisherman casts his fly
upon the surface
hoping to lure that dream up
into the light of day.
Friends are more conscious.
We are the angels of the earth and the air,
learning through our struggle
to live together in the vast expanse.
Love opens the heart
and unfurls our wings.
Mysteriously we take to flight.
Kriya Yoga Retreats
Kriya Yoga Retreat
March 26-28, 2004
Kriya Yoga Retreats
Kundalini Pranayam Sacred Heart Pranayam Kriya Yoga Class Family OM Yoga Secrets Author - Devotee Meditation Asana Mantra Conspiracies A Recipe for Bliss Love Music hOMe OM
To read a discussion of Kriya Yoga as well as a description of the first Kriya technique,
please click on:
The Sacred Heart Pranayam