One of the most common trends of Yoga was focus on the isolated and individual treatment for each unit of the subtle or etheric body, that is to say, in the wake of the immanent properties of each unit. The very meaning of the word “Yoga” – that is to converge the mind to a single focus – seems be diluted when it loses the sense of conjunct in practice of this Yogism.
In general, studies of the subtle body – with its cakras, nadis, etc. – do not exceed the unit and not even dealing with its systemic aspect. In most cases, they work up the units separately, outside the conjunct. This little handy perspective, but very adopted, was encouraged by Tantric Yoga which uses abundantly mantras, yantras, rituals, and visualizations, to awaken the inner powers (Siddhis) of each unit.
This can also be checked in the numerous techniques directed to each unit separately (techniques to mooladhara, techniques to manipura, techniques to hear the internal sounds, and so on). The Tantric Yoga, as it is presented in the manuals and websites, is not able to fully process these units in a cohesive and homogeneous whole, be it an technical level, or an philosophical/spiritual level. The purely technical and mechanistic aspect of this Yoga cannot, for example, to insert into their context the Cit-feeling. Generally, Bhakti, Jnana and Karma are meaningless in this type of Yogism.
The philosophy being somewhat vague for Tantric Yoga is that all practices in the end will converge and collaborate with the “awakening of kundalini”. If we do not adopt from the start the convergence, that is the essence of all Yoga, how will it appear in the end? With this rather obscure perspective, how is there a clear bridge of union between the work with the units of the subtle body and the highest goal of Yoga? This goal is the “Union With The Paramatma.”
Many people who are interested in Kriya Yoga often bring notions that they have assimilated through books, manuals, and websites on Yoga. It is clear, however, that the perspective of Lahiri Kriya Yoga is different. Lahiri Kriya Yoga works the units of the subtle body as an integrated and homogeneous system – from the First to Last Kriya (the Fourth). For its systemic and dynamic aspect, the Kriya Yoga does not identify with that kind of work (described above) and does not stop at one or another of the six chakras, although two techniques (Nabhi Kriya and Yoni mudra) working particularly in this perspective (but also do not come to diverge from the central idea of Kriya Yoga).
In Kriya Yoga, the work with the sequence of chakras is never aleatory. Kriya Yoga is built on a systemic and dynamic perspective in which the sushumna channel with its six chakras are covered in about 25-30 seconds, and never stops on any chakra. Immediately after 2-3 seconds of the pause (antar kumbhaka), during which can be inserted some kind of dhyanam or mantra – follows exhalation and Japa-Om on the six chakras, one at a time.
In view proposed by the Kriya Yoga, one of the central aspects the process is the relation all techniques themselves – mahamudra, khecari, pranayams, etc – with the sole purpose of converging the Prana into the sushumna channel. The Kriya does not aim to awaken the inherent properties of each chakra (and here is the reason why the Kriya Yoga does not use bijas mantras, yantras, visualizations, etc.) but simply to clear the Prana pathway! The sacred syllable of Om, used for this purpose, is employed as a dissolving agent, the same property of water in eroding soil and rocks. When the kriyavan are able to see or feel the Prana as a needle or Trishula Shiva piercing the chakras, and flowing like a mighty river through the sushumna, then there will be Divine intoxication, ecstasy.
The Kriya Yoga involves combined and synchronized actions. These actions will require practitioners worry to articulate jointly ujjayi pranayama, dharana in the chakras, Om-Japa, khecari, and shambhavi. More advanced practitioners come to include the dhyana in Cit-feeling (meditation in Bhavas that are awakened by Guru-Tattva, Bhakti or Jnana). Certainly, synchronize all these steps are not a very easy process, especially in the first two years of practice.
Sri Lahiri Mahasaya defended that the Kriya Yoga operated basically in certain formal and spiritual contexts, which determined its proper functioning. The formal is just the specific perform of each technique (identification of units and subunits that comprise the Kriya technique, such as khecari, shambhavi, pranayams, etc.), which makes it possible for anyone knowledgeable say “This is Kriya Yoga” or “This is not Kriya Yoga.” The schematization or sequencing (first maha mudra second, Guru Pranam, etc.) is not arbitrary, but following pre-configurations with functions and well-defined objectives, but that should not be taken as if it were a straight jacket (it should be taking in account the time available, the health of the practitioner, age, etc.). This sequencing says, for example, Yoni Mudra is made after kriyas-Pranayams; it is a matter of logic: nothing really important is achieved until it reaches the Ajna Chakra; for this reason, all processes of granthi-bheda (piercing the knots) should strictly come after the First Kriya (Kriya-1).
Kriya Yoga does not distinguish the formal aspect, technical, and the spiritual as some people like to think, neither distinguished in a dichotomous way these two approaches. Are much more two complementary ways to put the internal energy (or, kundalini as some prefer) in operation. Thus the primacy of the formal aspect (the correct practice of the techniques, their sequencing, etc.) should not obscure the spiritual aspect of Kriya Yoga.
The spiritual aspect does not have rules so rigid as we thought and there may be some variation, but not so free and unlimited. The Jñani spirituality is completely acceptable, since the philosophy of the Upanishads was the master-guideline of the teachings of Sri Lahiri Mahasaya. The Shaiva spirituality, the bhakti of the Bhagavad Gita, are all acceptable. But forms of spirituality whose soteriology (doctrines of salvation) is very divergent from Sri Lahiri Mahasaya philosophy – and we can cite an endless list – are not compatible with Kriya Yoga.
If you do not have a defined spirituality, then is better start to worry about this. What cannot keep doing is an isolated work in a single level as if it were (self) sufficient. It is precisely this point that makes the Kriya Yoga to be Yoga for someone and not to be Yoga for someone else. It is here that we are before an impasse which may lead to relativism. Thus, there are some important points that should be avoided in dealing with Kriya Yoga:
1) Clippings with characteristics of self-sufficiency. To say that Kriya is limited to a set of techniques is to reduce this path to something very delimited, since the spiritual aspects (devotion, spiritual knowledge and connection to the Guru-Tattva) are very relevant.
2) Requirements on Kriya practice with static characteristics. Some kriya schools prescribe 12-14 repetitions of Kriya-1, twice a day, without considering the dynamism of Prana of every individual in particular. In accordance with the physical, spiritual and psychological condition of the individual, this number may vary widely. Therefore, no rule can stipulate the number of kriyas per day without regard to the individual. In all aspects Kriya Yoga is always dynamic.
3) Not respecting the compositionality of Kriya Yoga, in its systemic and dynamic aspect. The most appropriate at this point, is to admit that the Lahiri Kriya Yoga is a meditation in itself, unified in a set of actions [techniques] interactive and collaborative. If one action is abandoned, for example, khecari or nabhi Kriya or devotion to Brahman/Ishvara, other actions will be disabled.
4) Failures in access to High Kriyas. Kriya Yoga is the process of pierce the sushumna and the six chakras (Shat-chakra-bheda) and this process only becomes complete with the performance of Kriya-2 (Anahata-Granthi-Bheda) and Kriya-3 (Muladhara-Granthi-Bheda). If there are failures in access to High Kriyas, which is very common nowadays, so you better start worrying about this.
5) Fnd that Lahiri Kriya Yoga is the same “kriya yoga” of the Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras (asthanga yoga). In the Yoga of Patanjali, the path to Atma-realization is presented in 8 steps or limbs, (ashta=eight, anga=limb). In this system, as it is presented in the manuals and websites, there is a relatively strong cohesive sequencing in the chain of each action; however, pranayama remain isolated and thereby, doesn’t have conditions to form a texture or significant unit with subsequent actions. If you think that Ashtanga Yoga is all segmented into isolated actions without forming a continuum, then this has nothing to do with Lahiri Kriya Yoga. In this perspective, kriya-pranayam will be seen just a “anga”, a step that precedes pratyahara → dharana → dhyana → samadhi. Lahiri Kriya Yoga does not identify with that kind of work. What happens is that in Lahiri Kriya Yoga, this same sequence of actions (“angas”), starting with pranayama, is operated as a continuum. There is no a moment when a limb comes to an end, and begins another step. Only in this perspective, is that Lahiri Kriya Yoga and Patanjali Kriya Yoga may have some affinity.
This avalanche of questions here – in such a small space – only serve to distinguish the differences between the Lahiri Kriya Yoga and Yogism Tantric and other “Kriya Yoga” systems. There are still many questions that we hope will be resolved.
Much blessings, peace and bliss!
Author: Yogi Professor Ramdas Prabhuji, Disciple of Shri Maheshwari Prasad Dubeyji in Shri Panchanan Lineage of Lahiri Mahasaya Kriya Yoga.
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