Kriya Yoga Retreat
Preparation

        As you prepare for the upcoming Kriya Yoga Retreat, I am suggesting the following "homework."  The items listed below may help you to bring a clear focus to the retreat.  If you have a preliminary understanding of these topics, we will progress more smoothly and definitely in the short time that we have together.  Some of these issues may at first glance seem curious and possibly unrelated.  Yet there are definite, significant and integrated reasons for investigating each of them.  (From time to time I may add more items to this list, so please do come back now and again.)  Our Quest and our path through Kriya Yoga can seem like a dynamic jig-saw puzzle.  As more and more pieces become connected, we begin to see the entire Path more clearly.  At the very least, this "homework" should prove to be interesting.  At the very most, you may suddenly and quite definitely experience the inter relatedness of all life-experience... Self-realization.
 
 

Shiva and Rama

     Here are a couple of classical depictions of Shiva and Rama.  If you click on each of the pictures you will see a larger, more detailed image.  Spend a little time reflecting on the prana that is pictured here so beautifully.
 
O  M

Shiva


Rama

OM
   Shiva, the "destroyer," is more accurately  the "transformer."  He is the benevolent herdsman of souls. This picture depicts a definite meditative pranayam.    Rama is an incarnation of Vishnu, the "sustainer," and the embodiment of righteousness.  The word, Ra, means "inhaling."  The word, Ma, means "exhaling."

Pranayama

     Kabir affirms that the stringless 'Veena' (or Vina) within man, the process of inhaling and exhaling, goes on incessantly singing the Lord's Name. And, that pervades both inside and outside of man and dispels all his doubts and faltering.  I invite you to visit the following web site for some interesting observations about pranayama and the pace of breath: http://www.carnatica.net/sangeet/vina1.htm  While practicing pranayama, pay particular attention to the process of slowing down the breath, but not necessarily the specific mantras mentioned on this site.  Keep it simple.

        Gradually increase the duration of your meditations and the duration of your practice of pranayama, while slowing down the breath and making it increasingly smooth.  At the end of each session of pranayama your breathing should become increasingly shallow and slow, converging on cessation.  This cessation is not forced, but happens naturally in the stillness.  If the breath actually comes to a complete stop for a time, this is called, kumbhaka.
 
 

Who Are You?

        Go to http://www.ramana-maharshi.org/books.htm and click on "Who am I?"  There you will see some of Sri Ramana Maharshi's exposition on the nature of mind and the nature of true Being.  There are a number of interesting issues that Ramana Marharshi discusses.  His yogic practice, while possibly more "mind-oriented" than Kriya Yoga (and similar in some ways to TM), is an effective and worthy path.  Those who are serious about their own practice will do well to see that there are many effective paths to Self-realization, and that these paths often have steps in common.  Maharshi is a wonderful addition to the long list of mystics and sages of India.

        Maharshi states that, "What is called 'mind' is a wondrous power residing in the Self."  As we begin to recognize the relationship of mind and Self, the mind naturally becomes more quiet.

        He goes on to say, "Through meditation on the forms of God and through repetition of mantras, the mind becomes one-pointed. The mind will always be wandering. Just as when a chain is given to an elephant to hold in its trunk it will go along grasping the chain and nothing else, so also when the mind is occupied with a name or form it will grasp that alone. When the mind expands in the form of countless thoughts, each thought becomes weak; but as thoughts get resolved the mind becomes one-pointed and strong; for such a mind Self-inquiry will become easy. Of all the restrictive rules, that relating to the taking of sattvic food in moderate quantities is the best; by observing this rule, the sattvic quality of mind will increase, and that will be helpful to Self-inquiry."
 
 

Archimedes

        The story of how Archimedes discovered how to determine the specific gravity of objects, while sitting in a bathtub, is a definite model for enlightenment.  "Eureka," meaning "I have found it," can happen at any moment.  Usually it will occur somewhat suddenly, in an environment of stillness and quiet.  And... normally it occurs only after we have inquired deeply within.  If our inquiry is shallow, there will be little depth to the realization.
 
 

What About Bob?

        I am asking each of you to go to your video store and rent "What About Bob?"  This, almost surely, seems like a peculiar request.  As a kind of puzzle for you, between now and the retreat, see if you can intuit why I have made this request.  Here is a hint: Consider the natures of the two characters, Dr. Leo Marvin (played by Richard Dreyfuss) and Bob Wiley (played by Bill Murray).
 
 

Whales

        Kindly do a little research on the life experience of whales.  If time permits at the retreat, we will "enter" the consciousness of whales, with the purpose of leaving behind some of our confining habits and thereby gaining a better understanding of our karmic habituation as human beings.
 
 

String Theory

        The leading theoretical physicists of the 20th century made some very interesting observations regarding the nature of matter and energy (Quantum Mechanics, the Special and General Theories of Relativity, etc.) and they attempted to combine what we know about the forces of nature into a Unified Field Theory.  This direction of scientific inquiry now includes what today is being called, "String Theory."  I encourage you to have a look into some of the basic principles of String Theory.  It is not necessary to grasp the complex mathematical and scientific parameters of this theory to get an overview of the significance of these "strings."  I encourage you to check out the following:
http://superstringtheory.com/basics/index.html
http://superstringtheory.com/basics/basic3.html
        Here are a few pertinent points in those web pages:
    "But particles in string theory arise as excitations of the string, and included in the excitations of a string in string theory is a particle with zero mass and two units of spin.
    "If there were a good quantum theory of gravity, then the particle that would carry the gravitational force would have zero mass and two units of spin. This has been known by theoretical physicists for a long time. This theorized particle is called the graviton.
    "This led early string theorists to propose that string theory be applied not as a theory of hadronic particles, but as a theory of quantum gravity, the unfulfilled fantasy of theoretical physics in the particle and gravity communities for decades.
    "But it wasn't enough that there be a graviton predicted by string theory. One can add a graviton to quantum field theory by hand, but the calculations that are supposed to describe Nature become useless. This is because, as illustrated in the diagram above, particle interactions occur at a single point of space-time, at zero distance between the interacting particles. For gravitons, the mathematics behaves so badly at zero distance that the answers just don't make sense. In string theory, the strings collide over a small but finite distance, and the answers do make sense.
    "This doesn't mean that string theory is not without its deficiencies. But the zero distance behavior is such that we can combine quantum mechanics and gravity, and we can talk sensibly about a string excitation that carries the gravitational force."
        I am not suggesting that you make a detailed study of the physics of String Theory.   I am suggesting that you take special note that (according to the leading theoretical physicists of our day) the universe appears to be constructed of elementary units having string-like qualities.  A fundamental method of spiritual inquiry is to perceive directly that, "As above, so below," and vice versa.  At our retreat we will be investigating the significance of "strings" and especially the etheric substance that the Spiritual Kahunas of Hawaii refer to as "Aka" (etheric cords).

        I also suggest that you consider the "spiritual consequences" of the force of gravity.  Between every "individual" physical body and all other physical bodies there is a force (gravity) that tends to draw them together.  This force, though very small when compared to some of the other forces of nature, and particularly when compared to those which bind atoms and molecules together, is still quite remarkable.  We can immediately see that there is an inter relatedness between all physical bodies... without exception.  This force is not lost even when the two bodies are separated by a complete vacuum.  Through apparent "nothingness" this force is permanently active.  How utterly remarkable is this?
 
 

Huna

        For an interesting exposition of the practice of Huna, the way of life of the original Hawaiians, I recommend that you go to: http://www.huna.com/3_selves.html  The way of Huna has many definite links to the yogas of India.  It can be found in the specific, though somewhat secret, practices of the spiritual Kahunas and even in the Hawaiian language itself.  The specifics of language are a definite indication of the progress and understanding of entire groups of people.  If you look at the richness of words in both Sanskrit and native Hawaiian, you will readily discover words for definite etheric essences, which do not exist as individual words in English... words like om, prana, shakti, chakra, and so on in Sanskrit, and words like aumakua (higher self), aka (etheric substance), ha (life's breath), aloha (my life's breath goes with you), mana (prana), and so on in ancient Hawaiian.

        The very fact that many of these kinds of words to not exist in the English language, and must be formed by using an adjective and noun, e.g. higher self, indicates that our culture does not readily accept the actual existence of these etheric essences.  This is not meant to be a criticism of English, but rather that English speaking people often must make a greater initial effort to perceive the true nature of the etheric reality that underpins the physical world of appearances.
 
 

As Above, So Below

        For an interesting exposition of the origin of the phrase "As above, so below," see: http://www.themystica.com/mystica/articles/a/below_above.html  The term, magic, used in the opening paragraph of this web site would be better understood (in my opinion) if it were changed to Self-realization.  The spiritual Kahunas (sages) are very specific that there is only one "sin"... namely, harming another person.  If you will replace this one word (magic = Self-realization) in the reading of this text, it will clarify the inner process.  To be consistent, the word, magician, can be replaced by yogi or Kriya yogi, for a more appropriate reading.

        The recognition of the inter relatedness of all things is embodied in the phrase, "Even a leaf cannot fall without the will of God."  This principle permeates many spiritual outlooks.  For example:
 

Islam: "A leaf cannot fall but that He knows it, nor is there a grain amid the darkness of the earth, nor a wet or dry thing, but that it is recorded in a clear Book." http://www.iqra.net/articles/creed.html

Christian: (Spoke to an Italian martyr by his brother):  "Do you not know that a leaf cannot fall to the ground without the will of God?"  http://www.sovereign-grace.com/spurgeon-sn/chsn0137.htm


 
 
 
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To read a discussion of Kriya Yoga as well as a description of the first Kriya technique,
please click on:
The Sacred Heart Pranayam