Kriya Yoga in The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda
Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
Page 7 of 7
Individual & Cosmic Consciousness
As the meditation deepens the downward-flowing apana current and the upward-flowing prana current become neutralized into one ascending current, seeking its source in the cerebrum. Breath is still, life is still, sensations and thoughts are dissolved. The divine light of life and consciousness perceived by the devotee in the cerebrospinal-centers becomes one with the Cosmic Light and Cosmic Consciousness.
Acquisition of the power of this realization enables the yogi to consciously detach his soul from identification with the body. He becomes free from the distressing bondage of desires (the body's attachment and longing for sensory gratification), fears (the thought of possible nonfulfillment of desires), and anger (the emotional response to obstacles that thwart fulfillment of desires). These three impelling forces in man are the greatest enemies of soul bliss; they must be destroyed by that devotee who aspires to reach God.
Life force is the connecting—and disconnecting—link between matter and Spirit, between body consciousness and soul consciousness. The ordinary man does not know how to get at the bodily prana directly. Therefore, this life force works automatically to enliven the body and senses and by the medium of breath ties man's attention solely to his physical existence. But by the use of Kriya Yoga the devotee learns how to distill life force out of breath, and how to control prana. With this control, the life force can be switched off at will from the five sense channels and turned inward, thus diverting the soul's attention from the perception of material phenomena to the perception of Spirit.
By this scientific step-by-step method, the yogi ascends from the senses in actuality and not by a mere ineffectual mental diversion from them. He completely disconnects mind and reason and attention from the body, by switching off the life force from the five senses. He learns scientifically to divert to the spine and brain the currents from his five sense channels and thus to unite his consciousness with the joy of higher spiritual perceptions in the seven centers. When he is able to remain immersed in divine bliss even in his active state, he does not become further involved in desires to enjoy external objects. Radiating the calmness of divine realizations, he is not disturbed by the springing up of fear and anger from nonfulfillments of material desires. He finds his soul no longer tied to matter but forever united to the cosmic bliss of Spirit.
Such a Kriya Yogi, who scientifically withdraws his mind and intellect from the senses and with unwinking gaze beholds the Spirit through the astral eye, is a true muni. The ordinary man watches the motion picture of matter in a limited portion of space, but the muni or accomplished yogi can behold, through his all-seeing spherical astral eye, the entire light of creation that sustains all the cosmic motion pictures of the physical, astral, and causal universes.
Universal Path of Liberation
Methods of spiritual freedom are various, but the actual attainment of liberation by ascent through the spine is universal. Whether through the intense devotion and prayer of the bhakta, or the pure discrimination of the jnani, or the nonattached selfless actions of the karma yogi, the consciousness purified and concentrated thereby still makes its final ascent to God through the subtle spinal channels through which it descended into flesh. The principles of Kriya Yoga, therefore, are not the formula of a sectarian rite, but a science through the application of which the individual may realize how his soul descended into the body and became identified with the senses, and how that soul may be withdrawn from the senses and reunited with Spirit by a scientific method of meditation. This route of descent and ascension is the one universal path that every soul must travel.
Kriya Yoga teaches first to withdraw the mind from sensory objects by self-control, and then scientifically to disconnect the mind and intelligence (manas and buddhi) from the senses by switching off the life force from the five sense channels, and then to take the ego, mind, and intellect through the five astral centers in the spine, through the sixth center (the medulla, which is magnetically connected with the spiritual eye in the middle of the forehead), and finally into the seventh center of omniscience in the middle of the cerebrum. The Kriya Yogi there attains perception of his self as soul, and finds his ego, intellect, and mind to be dissolved in soul ecstasy. He then learns how to take his soul from the prisons of the physical, astral, and causal bodies, and to reunite the soul with Spirit.
As the physical eyes, through frontal vision, reveal a portion of matter, so the omnipresent spiritual eye, through its boundless spherical vision, reveals the entire astral and ideational cosmoses. In the beginning, when the yogi is able to penetrate his mind through the astral eye, he first sees his astral body; by further advancement he sees the entire astral cosmos of which his body is but a part.
Without entering the spiritual (astral) eye, no one can know how to take his life force and consciousness through the astral plexuses in the spine. After entering the spiritual eye he passes, in a step-by-step way, through the perception of the physical body; the perception of the astral eye; the perception of the astral body; the perception of the astral cerebrospinal tunnel with the seven astral plexuses or trapdoors; and through the causal body into final freedom.
It requires intricate scientific explanation to interpret Kriya Yoga, but the art itself is very simple. (Detailed instruction in the actual techniques of Kriya Yoga is given to students of the Self-Realization Fellowship Lessons who fulfill the requirements of certain preliminary spiritual disciplines.) Kriya Yoga, practiced deeply, will dissolve breath into mind, mind into intuition, intuition into the joyous perception of soul, and soul into the cosmic bliss of Spirit. The yogi then understands how his soul descended into matter and how his prodigal soul has been led from matter back to the mansion of omnipresence, there to enjoy the "fatted calf" of wisdom.
A man who has attained the Spirit by the universal way of Kriya Yoga is spoken of as an accomplished Kriya Yogi or a muni. After attaining this high muni-state the yogi can work in the world as a rishi. A muni is he who has ecstatically dissolved himself in God by the science of yoga. And a rishi is he who, after finding liberation as a muni, goes on to live in the world as an example to others of the effectiveness of yoga as the supreme science of liberation.
The science of Kriya Yoga has been preserved for mankind in this the highest Hindu Bible, the Bhagavad Gita. It is this Kriya Yoga that God gave to Manu, the original Adam, and through him to Janaka and other royal sages. The science became lost in the materialistic ages. Kriya Yoga was revived again in the nineteenth century by Mahavatar Babaji, guru of Lahiri Mahasaya. The ancient science of salvation is now spreading to all corners of the globe. (See IV: 1-2.) In contradistinction to other teachings, Kriya Yoga not only points out a universal highway of ascending the soul to the Spirit, but gives mankind a daily usable technique through whose practice the devotee, with the help of a guru, may reenter the kingdom of God. One theoretical teaching leads only to another, but any true practitioner of Kriya Yoga finds it to be the shortest way and quickest conveyance to the kingdom of Spirit. (pg.576-578)