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You might want to take a look at Figurative Salmon and Salmon Sides too.

Kriya Yoga in a Wider Perspective

The salmon of wisdom (Irish: bradán feasa) figures in Irish mythology. See how Babaji treasures such salmon (below).

This page is rooted in the book, The Spiritual Science of Kriya Yoga (2002) by Goswami Kriyananda (1928–2015), who is not to be confused with the swami Kriyananda (James Donald Walters) who passed away in 2013. The good book consists mostly of preparatory yoga matter, and some of it is not really needed for meditation. Granted that, much in the book may help many, as hatha-yoga should do otherwise too. The book goes into the mechanics of hatha yoga, postures, cleansing methods, and further, and is detailed at it.

What about the set of methods called kriya yoga? Kriya yoga proper is not described in the goswami's kriya book. Here is help: The pranayama called ujjayi is not described in the goswami's kriya book; yet it is the indispensible ingredient of several kriya techniques.

Goswami Kriyananda

Goswami Kriyananda founded and taught in the Temple of Kriya Yoga. He learnt kriya yoga from a direct disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda, Shelly Trimmer, often referred to as Sri Shelliji. For over 65 years the goswami taught kriya yoga with humour, offering a system for enriching life spiritually, mentally and physically. He became a well known author of over a dozen books. He taught of karma, astrology, yogic philosophy, mysticism and how to gain more joy and wisdom.

A Kriya Yoga Book without Kriya Yoga Proper in It

"Don't judge a book by its cover" and "the content does not always match the title full well" are related.

One of the goswami's books has the title The Spiritual Science of Kriya Yoga. The Temple of Kriya Yoga speaks very well of it - others too. However, it is mainly a work on hatha yoga. You will not learn kriya yoga through it, only preliminary stuff. As for hatha-yoga and a broad survey of what yoga can offer by way of postures, breathing and meditation, there is James Hewitt's recommendable book The Complete Yoga Book (1991). Basic kriya yoga is explained in it as ujjayi - a gentle, pleasant way of breathing.

An Amazon rewiever says about The Spiritual Science of Kriya Yoga,

Kriya Yoga refers to a specific meditation technique popularized ... by Paramahansa Yogananda . . . Maddeningly, that book never reveals the technique . . . He explains pretty much everything else in Yoga . . .

Swami Satyananda Saraswati has authored two books where both hatha-yoga parts and kriya yoga methods are explained in detail (Satyananda 1981; 2001). Besides, Swami Niranjanananda explains variations of the fundamental kriya yoga breath, ujjayi, in one of his books, Prana and Pranayama (2009). Hewitt's likable ujjayi version should be well to start with . [See more about ujjayi]. Ujjayi variants are public knowledge.

Kriya yoga includes knowing how to adjust your life energies, called prana, so as to let your awareness go deep inside your own mind by stages, and enlarge your inner perceptions by it.

Fair optimism and sound knowledge help

The "Vishnu-adhering swami" (goswami) writes in his book, "If I have gained something of benefit from yoga, so you can also (p. vi)". Well, we can hope that, if hope we must, for "there is hope in good hope." Positive thinking, the placebo effect and thinking you are lucky offer help in and by themselves. Documentedly. See what Dr Richard Wiseman tells of the luck factor and how to get lucky in The Luck Factor: The Four Essential Principles (2004), for example. Here are the four principles of luck that Dr. Wiseman has identified:

  1. Maximise your chance opportunities;
  2. Listen to your lucky hunches;
  3. Expect good fortune;
  4. Turn your bad luck into good. (Wiseman 2003:38-172)

"Well, how?" needs to be known too. Wiseman goes into avenues for it.

Then, why not also find good help in The Optimist's Handbook: Facts, Figures and Arguments to Silence Cynics, Doom-mongers and Defeatists by Nick Inman (2007)? Sound, fair and fit optimism may help in many ways, as psychology students learn from several university textbooks too.

Granted the inherent values of an optimistic flair and knowledge of "how to be lucky" too, if things are as the goswami's publisher says, their promotional activity will not have to be all too bad, like the fallacy: "If it worked for me, it can work for you." Yet not everyone reports of good results or of any results from kriya: many do, and some do more than others.

Further, it may simply behove "manyone" to strive to do what it takes to increase benefits and lessen troubles in many walks and arenas of life, including the yoga class. Reasonable "filtering work" of that sort can help us a long, long way. The crucial thing is knowing how to. "Safety first, get a balanced program that fits you, don't overstretch, don't be violent, relax well and in time, and keep at it within your comfort zone" may be useful, overriding handling tips along the way.

"Well begun . . ."

Kriyananda also writes, "The purpose of this manual ... is to move you from the realms of secondary and tertiary thought back to the mainstream of primary cosmic consciousness (p. xxi)." Oh well, they say "Well begun is halfway ended," or something like that, and then "It may take lives to get there." Just be forewarned or prepared that great gains may come - in jolly good time. The goswami postulates a cosmic consciousness and that some get to it. He goes on to delineate a very neat and detailed array of minor steps and regulations, building on Patanjali's Yoga Sutras and that the world is real and not an illusion. He also tells that Truth has to be lived. To that end he shows eight stages of yoga study.

Now, stages-thinking may be of some initial help, but maybe not all stages need to be catered to from the start of a yoga program. If the want is to foster a healthy body, yoga postures may be in focus. If the desire is towards mental calm and development, good meditation tends to be the thing. [1] "Sound meditation first" is helpful counsel: you may try ◦Transcendental Meditation (TM) and see what you get out of it. TM appears to be most fit among the researched meditation methods in many ways.

What a good, well composed yoga programme can do

There is a little yoga programme to go along with TM. The programme has been around since the 1950s and is taught by TM institutions, as the university in Fairfield, Iowa. The programme is described in a small pamphlet, Yoga Asanas (yoga postures). Student courses on it are taught, for example. From a hospital in India:

The daily practice of ten minutes of Yoga Asanas followed by five minutes of Pranayama and about thirty minutes of Deep Meditation as taught by the Centers of Transcendental Meditation all over the world is recommended to those who seek the harmonious development of body, mind and soul.

Only about ten minutes daily are required for Yoga Asanas to promote health and produce a wonderful feeling . . . [◦Source, added pointers]

Through simple yoga asanas, young persons could in time feel better and "in a more heightened state of energy and stability of mind." Besides, "No change in diet is needed for health and strength if your usual diet agrees with you." The advice is to "spread a woolen blanket on the floor" and run through the program in ten minutes or so. (Ibid.) It may be as easy as that with a well composed yoga program. What matters is to start with easy poses, combine a bundle of the safe ones well, and take adequate rest between some of them too. That could help. The little pamphlet is a hard find and may cost a small fortune. There are online courses, though. They are not free either.

Inward-turning

There is yoga and higher yoga. Some tell you have to start climbing from the bottom of the ladder, but there may be little gain in that approach at first. Sitting meditation is the crux of yoga, and is the higher yoga, roughly said. Instead of going into non-essentials, this is what matters in mantra-meditation (mantra-yoga):

You start thinking-repeating your favourite syllables, as deeply and delicately as you are up to at any given time, and go deep into your mind. In this process your mind is switched inward - the stage is called pratyahara (inward-turning), and is listed as step five (out of eight) by Patanjali. And what you start with, the "saying" of the mantra (syllables), is step six in Patanjali. I mention this so that you can compare. While you do your mantra-repetitions, have pleasant, non-disturbing surroundings, sit comfortably too, and then you bore as deeply inside as the allotted time permits. Twenty minutes a few times a day is quite enough for beginners. Later one meditates for, say, thirty-five minutes three times a day. This should be fit for many. Persons and conditions differ though.

If you go deep inside in this way, you are into the sixth, seventh and eight stages of Patanjali too. He names them dharana (focused attention), dhyana (contemplation), and "prolonged contemplation", respectively.

Sanyama

Further "steps" than eight are not systematically delineated in the ancient yoga primer of Patanjali, but sanyama shows the way further as well. Sanyama stands for these three together, (1) sustained adequate focus which is (2) upheld in deep meditation, and (3) on something fit. Sanyama thus means focusing intently on some advanced attainment. In his "book 3", Patanjali defines sanyama thus "When these three, Attention, Meditation, and Contemplation, are exercised at once, this is perfectly concentrated Meditation [i.e., sanyama]. (3:4)." "This power is distributed in ascending degrees. (3:6)." An example of sanyama employed: "By perfectly concentrated Meditation [sanyama] on mind-images is gained the understanding of the thoughts of others (3:19)." But first you have to go deep in Guru or Being, as sanyama deals with Being-matters.

Truthfulness

Babaji: "Moral beauty is the basis of civilization." (Neelankantan, Ramaiah and Nagaraj 2003:32)

By "cutting the crap" you may save yourself a lot of annoyances. The moral standards for yogis are to be kept along with meditative development, though. Lying and stealing had better to be dropped, for example, and speaking wisely may be trained. Truthfulness is on several levels, such as intellectual, verbal and physical, says the goswami. Be true to yourself and recognise how you feel as well. It is part of sincerity, which should be good for health, along with great tactfulness.

A Story of Truth-Telling

Babaji to V. T. N: "Do not give up smoking now. Your temple, the body, needs it. . . . If you are in need of a glass of water, it should come of its own accord."(Neelankantan, Ramaiah and Nagaraj 2003:28, 29)

Helpful, general advice: "Try to give up smoking as well as you can." Reality check: "Try and see if a glass of water comes of its own accord."

The goswami tells an old story of a dilemma: A saint sat contemplating when a deer came by. Then a hunter came by and asked if the saint had seen the deer. The saint said yes, and, asked still more, told which way the deer had gone, for he should stick to truth. By speaking the truth he would have the deer harmed and killed. By withholding information he would deprive the hunter of his prey, so that the hunter's family would starve.

The goswami does not tell that the meditating saint could brush off the questions by "That is none of my business" or something like that, but Buddha says such polite answering is one of four main ways to answer folks: Some should be given direct answers. Others should be answered by way of analysing them. Some questions should be answered by counter-questions. And some questions should simply be put aside. [Buddha (CNP 42)]

So there are at times alternatives among truthful statements too.

Abandon Abandonment Teachings, or Getting Rid of Tricky Constructs

Also renounce renunciation . . . By nature all-pervasive as space . . . are you. [Avadhut Gita 4:21)

What about "celibacy", renouncing a sex life? How well does the fuller Avadhut's counsel apply? And what about Yogananda; how much of his teaching is good to renounce for an eager renouncer? Yogananda offers these clues, among others:

Yogananda Don't take my word for anything. . . . find out for yourselves. (etc.) - Yogananda, in Dietz 1998

Maybe Yogananda's words do not look like much - Anyway, the monk is known for holding strict views on sex, also for non-monastic followers, "Married couples should practice moderation, and single persons should observe abstinence. [Jse 14]" By "moderation" the guru could mean from once a month to once a year, loosely suggested. It is no longer a dessert of life then, but much like desert: [Yogananda for sparse to no sex]

If you have nothing better to do, sex helps too. In fact, there is "sex-yoga", tantric yoga - and many books on it. Tantra ranges from not having sex, maithuna in Sanskrit, to having it. Kriya yoga is understood as tantric yoga, and a form of kundalini-yoga too. Satyananda Yoga presents it as tantric, and as kundalini-yoga and does not find it wise to tell others not to have sex. Certainly there are different opinions of the value of sex, although most of us are born of it. In other words, sexual beings is what most humans are. [13]."

In the guru line behind such as Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF), gurus say you should give them all you own, including your wife. Still, Goswami Kriyananda says, "That which is ours, no person, no guru, no God can take from us." Add "It is differences of opinion that makes horse races" to that. Such sayings depend on how to define what is ours.

The ego, must it go or rise?

Don't let others define away your car, your sexuality, your wife, your children and then sit on you: Don't let them define you away. Some strive to do that, for example Yogananda where he tells "the ego must go" - things like that. The ego is at bottom the "I". Keep it if you can and allow it to rise. That is what good education is for.

Babaji teaches:

Always keep close to the "I" that is nearest to the heart and never slacken the vigil over the straying of your mind. . . . Let the small "I" grow bigger and bigger . . . Let the heart, the Inner Man in the heart guide you, rather than emotion and intellect. Try to get nearer and abide by that "I" . . . Build up your individuality . . ." (Neelankantan, Ramaiah and Nagaraj 2003:26-27, passim)

"A person must be something. That something, to be anything of worth, must be useful and pleasant to himself . . ." (Neelankantan, Ramaiah and Nagaraj 2003:32)

Conclusion from this: "Be something . . and pleasant to yourself": "Abide by that "I" and "never slacken". And do not let Yogananda and evil guide you.

Consider the teachings you are taught first

Learn a bad method and note what follows. Learn from a bad teacher and see how he fails to help. Further, the descriptive saying is no recommendation.

Many who start contemplating, fall short of reaching more delicate states because their minds have been filled with concepts they do not understand full well or who block the basics of sound development and proficient inward-turning. Mind that the goal of God-realization may eventually become too gross during a successful meditation session, for during a session one is to be liberated from grossly had and studied concepts. That is a vital thing from the art of meditation. It may pay to explore it more.

The goswami focuses on that the purpose of yoga is balancing - well, it can be for development too, through the higher arts of contemplation (sanyama is part of that again). "With this realization you can see life more clearly" that the spirit of yoga is a spirit of freedom and Truth. [21]. There is much to consider. After all, there is no need to get battered by adapting uncritically some weirdo-rigorous life-style that does not suit yourself deep inside, your main and better circumstances and decent enough conformity. Essential yoga is better than that, and TM. The page you get to by clicking on the link, shows many a why.

Accessories

Wisdom shines from the temple of the pure heart. Wisdom is the crown for the structure of life. - Babaji (in Neelankantan, Ramaiah and Nagaraj 2003:33)

"Good salmon shines above and in the pure heart. Salmon crowns life as it is formed." ["Babaji light"]

The figurative salmon is food for life in a wider perspective: [Figurative Salmon] - [Salmon Sides]

In Buddhist teachings too, there is much focus on getting wisdom, but not just any sort of wisdom. In Mahayana, Prajna, wisdom, is insight in the true nature of reality.

The essentials of getting inwards and gaining OK wisdom are not always just as Patanjali delineates in his eight-fold yoga, and that his step 6 (inward-turning, pratyahara very often is the most rewarding, first thing to learn for higher yoga, yoga-meditation. Also, the steps 6 (focus) and 7 (dhyana, contemplation) can be combined (sanyama), aiming for some specific results and mind developments. The sanyama objects are told of in Patanjali's Chapter 3. They should be suitable - not all sanyama objects of contemplation are equally relevant at any time. For example, understanding of previous births is not advocated by all gurus, but the power to make the body invisible could be fun.

Knowledge of the worlds by contemplation and cessation of hunger and thirst may all be useful, but "first things first": First there is the need to go inside and attain deep meditative states. [Link]

In addition to the essentials, it is good to keep the body in shape by well chosen yoga postures (asanas). As for essential moral injunctions, don'ts and do's for beginners, they differ in different religions, just as the understanding of what is righteousness. In the yoga training, though, there are five or ten don'ts and five or ten do's, depending on what yoga text you take to. Where Patanjali lists five in each of these two groups, Yajnavalkya Yoga has ten, and more adequate ones too.

One set of Patanjali norms can be rendered: harm not, don't deceive (but be truthful, and show adequate integrity well); don't steal; don't neglect sound study (brahmacharya); and don't be so greedy. But life is not always fit for these norms: Just as some children are too little assertive, some are too little greedy for gains also. Some are under-achievers. What is needed is a suitable id (libido) - and hence we need to be able to compare, assess and evaluate things too. It can all be something to grow and mature from in time. That might be best.

Buddha offers five basic moral norms to stick to for householders and all. The precepts are:

  1. Avoid killing or harming living beings;
  2. Avoid stealing;
  3. Avoid sexual misconduct;
  4. Avoid lying;
  5. Avoid alcohol and other intoxicating drugs.

There are additions to the five precepts for more serious followers and monks - a two-step or three-step moral - and the counsel that it is fine to build good karma too. In line with this, one who is on the right path delights in concord, cleanses his mind, and "abstains from accepting male and female slaves," teaches Buddha in the Apannaka Sutta, where many more of his great moral teachings are shown.

Five do's

Goswami Kriyananda also delineates the five do's of Patanjali Yoga in chapter 2.

1. The first is purity. And the topmost purity is had in deep contemplation, when the brain waves are synchronised and the spine feels "magnetised" too. In other words, one should carry the purity (read: rarefied unificative coordination) won in meditation into the daily activities, and let it be accompanied as needs be with other purities that are hardly as important in comparison.

2. Contentment is number two. If you are content to live in a pig stye you should revise your attitudes and do something becoming. After all, good yoga does not ask you to renounce everything. It is far better to keep things in order than live in a mess, so "A place for everything and everything in place" is a fine proverb to check at times. The important thing about contentment is to fix a suitable, all right contentment level. It must allow for relaxed and fit work and living, or something tends to go wrong ahead.

3. The third do-factor is tapas, austerity. The Bhagavad Gita says anguish destroys self-awareness, so never go into anguish by anything. Serving the proper persons in your life may be tapas enough for many, if not for all. Buddha too shows facets of it. One should not dissipate one's wealth, indulge in intoxicants and heedlessness, associate with evil companions, bad friends, flatterers, and dross, and should refrain from being idle, says Buddha in guidelines for householders. By contrast, true friends are warm-hearted helpers that give good counsel.

One should get wealth in harmless ways, says Buddha further, spend half of it on one's business, and keep a quarter of it for times of need.

Children and parents are to minister to one another, pupils and teachers are to do it too without disrespect, and man and wife, courteously and faithfully. Being helpful, impartial, and sincere with relatives is good too, and then there are servants and employees: They should be tended to and delicacies shared with them, for example. Being hospitable and impartially helpful to fine priests (brahmans) is valid too, and much else. [Further reading]

4. The fourth set of do's is called self-study, and understood differently by different authorities. Chanting your favourite, given mantra is for self-study in the yogi tradition.

5. Centring on the Self is the fifth set. Focusing that is made stable may be helped by both adequate and well simplified living. The fifth step can be translated in many ways, but whatever you do in your yogi work, do it gently; that is a final goswami counsel.

Pranayama, "at least good, at last essential"

Then, is kriya yoga - its pranayama techniques - essential for going within? No and yes. The very silent and slow "panting" of kriya is for recharging and calming the organism, hopefully in a good, non-violent way. There are alternatives to it, such as mantra-meditation. That was the no-part of the reply (above). The yes-part is that in subtle states of self-exploration, main features of kriya may appear spontaneously along with the awakening, which may be partial or total.

Accordingly, the fuller answer to "Is it essential?" is "not at first, but later on it occurs by itself", and related to what is called kundalini awakening. Swami Hariharananda calls spontaneous kriya panting in deep meditation sahaja kriyayoga. 'Sahaja' means spontaneous, natural, suggesting that in easily done, deep meditation a particular way of breathing sets in naturally, by itself, so to speak, at least to some.

Humanity is threatened by irreligion [and also] flooded with wrong doctrines and dogmas masquerading in the name and under the guise of religion. - Babaji (in Neelankantan, Ramaiah and Nagaraj 2003:33)

Materialistic greed and obdurate dogmatism are sides to life that have to be dealt with and preferably handled well too.

Contents


Kriya yoga in a wider perspective, Literature  

Dietz, Margaret Bowen. Thank You, Master. Nevada City, CA: Crystal Clarity, 1998.

Hewitt, James. The Complete Yoga Book: The Yoga of Breathing, Meditation and Posture. London: Rider, 1991. ⍽▢⍽ A comprehensive encyclopaedia of yoga for the beginner and advancing practicioner, illustrated with a lot of pen drawings. This concise, excellent guide with 400 postures in it, also contains posture programmes and much more, including the encouraging "the quality of our sex life, as well as its vitality, is enhanced by Yogic exercises and controls (etc.)." (p. 151)

Inman, Nick. The Optimist's Handbook: Facts, Figures and Arguments to Silence Cynics, Doom-mongers and Defeatists. Petersfield, Hampshire: Harriman House, 2007.

Kriyananda, Goswami. The Science of Kriya Yoga. 2nd ed. Chicago: Temple of Kriya Yoga, 2002.

Neelankantan, V. T., S. A. A. Ramaiah and Babaji Nagaraj. The Voice of Babaji: A Trilogy on Kriya Yoga. Eastman, Quebec: Babaji's Kriya Yoga Order of Acharyas, 2003. ⍽▢⍽ In 1952 Neelakantan published recorded verbatim a series of talks given by Satguru Kriya Babaji. "They were originally printed in three volumes . . . Includes the fascinating accounts of the meetings with Babaji in Madras and in the Himalayas by authors V. T. Neelakantan and Yogi S. A. A. Ramaiah."

Niranjanananda, Swami. Prana and Pranayama. Munger, Bihar: Yoga Publications Trust, 2009.

Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. A Systematic Course in the Ancient Tantric Techniques of Yoga and Kriya. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 1981.

Satyananda Saraswati, Swami. Kundalini Tantra. 8th ed. Munger: Yoga Publications Trust, 2001.

Wikipedia article: "Salmon of Knowledge"-

Wiseman, Richard. The Luck Factor: The Four Essential Principles. London: Arrow Books, 2004.

Yogi, Maharishi Mahesh. Yoga Asanas. Los Angeles: Spiritual Regeneration Movement, 1965.

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