Kriya Yoga in The Bhagavad Gita
Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda
Page 6 of 7
Experiencing Body and Mind as Vibrations
This knowledge is necessary to understand that the body and life force and mind which form the encasement of the soul are in reality nothing more than differently vibrating thoughts of God. By the practice of Kriya, the yogi scientifically detaches his mind from gross sensory perceptions and realizes that consciousness and life force (prana or cosmic light) are the basis of all matter. The Kriya Yogi adopts a scientific method to divert his mind and reason from the perception of physical flesh; he perceives the body as light and consciousness by rising above the gross perception of breath.
All inner experiences like that of subconscious sleep can only take place when the consciousness of breath disappears. The Kriya Yogi has no need or desire to withhold breath forcibly in the lungs; he becomes mentally so calm that he feels himself to be aloof from breath. By the practice of Kriya Yoga he can consciously and at will attain the breathless state and sustain life in his body solely by the cool and warm currents flowing through the spine and trickling down from the spiritual eye.
If a wet battery, which is sustained by electricity and dependent on replenishment of its water supply [in an old type battery it was necessary to regularly add water to wet batteries to replace that which was lost in evaporation] could somehow be converted into a dry battery, it could do away with dependence on water and be sustained by its own reservoir of energy recharged solely by electricity. Kriya Yoga similarly helps the body-battery (which depends on cosmic life force flowing through the medulla, and on oxygen, sunshine, liquids, and solids) to become converted so that it can sustain itself solely on the life force flowing into the body from the cosmic source and stored in the regenerative reservoir of life energy in the brain and spinal centers.
The use of Kriya Yoga conclusively proves the truth in the Bible— that man's body-battery can live by the Word or vibratory current coming from God. The life in the body is directly sustained by the cosmic prana flowing through the medulla. Through the operation of maya or delusion, however, man believes that he cannot live without food and other outward aids. He becomes erroneously dependent on the gross sources of energy reinforcement through oxygen, sunshine, solids, and liquids. Man has formed a bad mortal habit in feeling that he cannot exist without a supply of energy from these material substances. That is why, if oxygen, sunshine, solids, and liquids are denied to the body, man's frightened consciousness permits the life force to depart.
Neutralizing the Current of Prana and Apana
When the devotee is convinced by Kriya Yoga that he can live solely by the inner source of cosmic energy, he realizes that the body is a wave of the all-sufficing cosmic ocean of life. By the special technique of Kriya Yoga, the devotee—through perfect calmness, through a greater supply of energy distilled from oxygen in the Kriya breath, and through an enhanced flow of cosmic energy coming into the body through the medulla—is less and less subject to the necessity for breathing. By deeper Kriya Yoga the bodily life, ordinarily dependent on reinforcement by life force distilled from gross outer sources, begins to be sustained by the cosmic life only; then breathing (inhalation and exhalation) ceases. All the trillions of bodily cells become like regenerating dry batteries needing nothing but the inner "electricity" recharged from the cosmic source of life.
The Breathless State of Ecstasy
In this way the bodily cells remain in a suspended state—that is, they neither grow nor decay. They are sustained and vitalized directly from the life-energy dynamos in the brain and spine. When the cells cease to grow, they are not required to depend on the life current distilled from oxygen; when decay ceases in the body, the cells no longer excrete impurities into the blood necessitating exhalation of the breath to expel carbon dioxide. Being no longer required to pump carbon dioxide-laden and oxygen-filled blood to and from the lungs, the heart becomes totally calmed.
Breath and breathing are acquired mortal habits of the life force. Kriya Yoga retrains the life force to remember that it lives only by the cosmic source. Pranayama, or Kriya Yoga, signifies one thing—controlling the life force in the body by conscious will so that it does not depend on oxygen, sunshine, solids, and liquids but on the inner source of cosmic life. Kriya Yoga pranayama withdraws life force from the activities of the heart and the body cells—by rendering those activities unnecessary—and unites that bodily prana with the cosmic life force; man's slavish dependence on breath is thus realized to be delusory. When the yogi-expert in pranayama can thus disengage at will the life force from its bondage to oxygen and so on, he can immortalize it by uniting it with the Cosmic Life.
This stanza of the Gita highlights the necessity of neutralizing or "making even" the currents of prana and apana. This effect is made possible by the practice of Kriya Yoga, which recharges the body cells by the inner cosmic life so that inhalation and exhalation become even—that is, still and unnecessary.
The life, mind, and intellect are active in the body and its senses when the life current flows outwardly through the afferent and efferent nerves as a result of the downflowing apana current. This outflowing current is "uneven," restless and erratic from the bombardment of impulses to and from the nerve centers—stimuli that constantly vary during the states of wakefulness and sleep. But when the life current is withdrawn into the spine and brain, this interiorization frees the life force from the excitants of the senses and their objects. The prana and apana currents flowing in the spine become calm and even, generating a tremendous magnetic power and joy. (pg.573-575)