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Great Expectations

Many great expectations are followed by great disappointments. What then? It helps to be realistic from the start.

Q (very disappointed): My days of searching are now over.

"When in doubt, win the trick," is a good saying for bridge players by Edmond Hoyle. If searching does not appeal to you, maximise the benefits of that too. That could lead to winning the "no search trick", as far as I am aware of.

To stop expecting results is one ideal of practical kriya yoga training, and often stressed in commentaries of Lahiri Mahasaya. E.g. "Abandon expectations for results." It is said to be vital for success in kriya yoga to manage to practice very well and not let many vagrant thoughts interfere with it. If they do, resume the meditation to you ability, as calmly as you can. That is a good tip. Here is a better one, by Buddha: Good meditation results come from good instructions and good methods, and not from no expectations. We may adjust accordingly. [Bhumija Sutta on it]

Meditating is in many ways like other forms of training. Relax much to gain benefits, including long-term benefits. Slowly or quickly, results may be sensed and measured. Meditation research involves these approaches. Thus, many research findings build up what may be called tentative answers to the odds of getting favourable results from this and that metod. It is good help if all links in the research process are top notch. Then we may get an inkling of the odds and what methods seem to help best, generally or to specific ends.

There are different ways of presenting meditation. Some do it to get money and supporters maybe, and may exaggerate and bind eager guys by severe oaths. Others are fairer and have hearts for others.

So:

  • "Don't expect results, to get good results" is a view in the kriya yoga tradition. It may not be as outlandish at is looks like.
  • "Expect grreat results, Cosmic Consciousness in an hour, Holy Union with the Infinite, or God in a lifetime, and other variants of "think big and flounder for it". Watch out for "Buy our books, enroll and let us feed on naivete, unproven loads of claims." There are many unproven claims in cults and the like. Discard bad ones, just as you would discard to build a house on loose sand. That is the idea.
  • "Expect results or don't - if you meditate well you rise beyond expectations and other thoughts in deep meditation, gain benefits and prosper." Benefits may accumulate. A few pieces of advice from Buddhist sutra (below) fit neatly into this group. You may get cognitive in between meditation sessions. In that way meditation helps education, and the other way round. That is the basic idea of Transcendental Meditation To repeat: You don't have to believe or expect anything, although a positive mind-set and fair optimism may offer some help too. Just practice TM and see what it will bring - it can be on two levels: inward, by way of experiences, and outward, by way of notable changes. If you manage to take notes for some time, some changes could be easier to see, perhaps.

It is not so much expecting or not expecting things that brings fruits of meditation; it is persistent and good enough practice that pays off. That is what Buddha teaches. We can expect results and get them - or some of them - or none - depending on our methods:

A puzzled man asked Buddha: I have heard that some monks meditate with expectations, others meditate with no expectations, and yet others are indifferent to the result. What is the best?

Buddha answered: Whether they meditate with or without expectations, if they have the wrong ideas and the wrong methods, they will not get any [good] fruit from their meditation. . . .

But if somebody meditates with a wholesome attitude, with right attention and mindfulness, then whether he has expectations or not he will gain insight.

[Contracted from the Bhumija Sutta in the Majjhima Nikaya - Bancroft 2010:58-59, emphasis added. – Isaline Blew Horner (1996:183-89) has translated the complete Bhumija Sutta: (Bhumija Sutta)]

Gist

Ide Buddha teaches that results of meditative efforts derive from the method that is used, and neither on expecting or not expecting results. [Bhumija Sutta]

We can at times combine counsels from a variety of sources: Before we choose a meditation method or system of methods, we can do ourselves a good turn by seeing which methods come out on top among the researched methods, and thus be informed about which method to expect the most of, from the averages that research findings are typically based on. Further, in between meditations we may measure up changes in our lives, say, every month or two or so. Then, based on changes or trends we get aware of we may tentatively or halfway expect further beneficial results too - provisonally. Still, during meditation sessions we could aim at just doing the methods to benefit that way.

During such sessions, vagrant thoughts and expectations may calmly be replaced by resuming the method as often as we find we have drifted off from the wholehearted practice, and that his how to do it during simple, elegant ◦TM, Transcendental Meditation, the test winner far and wide. Study the research.

Thus, through a fit training perspective, we reach higher ground, clearer outlooks, a synthesis in step with Buddha and TM practice, and without discounting Lahiri's belittling of expectations if it is understood to apply for kriya-yoga sessions only.

In sum, it may not be unfit to expect results from meditation when not meditating, but during meditation it is good to keep at "suitable methods, giving them one's attention" and to such an end try not to let expectations or other thoughts disturb or override the serene mind that meditation could bring (in time, if not yesterday).

The Bhagavad Gita

Q: I still like Yogananda ... because I find his Gita commentary flawless (except for the parts where he talks about his master and grand-dad master back to Babaji).

Since you don't ask for my estimate of it, I will refrain from saying it here and now at least.

Q: By the way, what do you think of Master Yogananda's Bhagavad Gita?

I think it has many words in it, and that most of them are repeated many times - like 'and' (used about 13 890 times), 'with' (ca. 3190 times), 'in' (ca. 9200 times), 'it' (2009 times), a/an (7080) and further - correct me if I'm wrong -

Are these among the words we get strongly inspired by?

Tony Buzan, in his The Memory Book: How to remember anything you want, points out, as others do, that just 100 words comprise 50% of all words used in conversation in a language. [◦List link] [Buzan and Buzan 2010:150-51]

Good to know: "In any language, . . . one thousand words . . . will make up nearly 100% of any standard conversation. Amazingly, the first 100 of that 1000 make up 50% of all conversation. The basic question-words and fundamental pronouns are obviously included. . . . [T]he first 100 . . . make up 50% of conversation . . .

"[I]n English, French, Spanish and German, well over 200 of the basic 1,000 words are virtually identical and simply pronounced differently. One easy example of this is the word "excellent"; all the modern computer and electronic vocabularies which are global and are incorporated into the language with the particular accent of that particular language," tells Tony Buzan. [1] Also: [◦Link If this reserve link "rots" too, you may contact me about the page - and some of the others - TK.] [◦Link to 1000 words]. Also: [2]

Further, the 100 most frequent words for early readers - Copyright 1998 Bodrova E., Leong D.J., Semenov D. McREL [◦Link]

Many words appear in both lists.

Q: About Yogananda's Bhagavad Gita: he apparently wrote the first half based on Lahiri's commentaries almost verbatim.

I noted similarities in perusing a part of the book, but also that one personage was interpreted differently by Yogananda, as if it matters.

Q: And according to other sources (chiefly Kriyananda) he dictated the rest. This doesn't surprise me. However much he errs I still like his writing. Maybe I have a soft spot for him, I don't know.

"However much he errs I still like his writing". What is that? What are you trying to communicate here? What should it tell you?

Q: I have seen every type of kriya yoga that exists.

No, you haven't.

Q: I find a great deal more peace in giving up the chase for God.

When all else drops off, the Self (your inmost self) remains, Lahiri Mahasaya says.

Besides, Buddhist ways of meditation are sampled by Anne Bancroff (2010:57-73).

Q: I have [the books] Babaji Volume 2 and 3 and I was looking through them briefly earlier and some of the things that are said in there just make me want to puke. Never ever will I submit myself to any master - another human being. Never.

There are so many carpenters and masters, and so much is unknown to most men and women. There are differences among masters, many and big differences. Hindu teachings estimate that most masters are fake or inferior. They also say it is "undoubtedly very hard to find" one of the finest masters.

Besides, having a wife or similar can be tough enough these days.

Q: But at least it is finally over now.

"It ain't over till the fat lady sings." (Modern proverb from the opera).

Q: I don't know whether I should keep my books or not.

It is a personal decision.

Reflection insures safety, but rashness is followed by regrets. (American proverb)

"God" for Muddling Their Heads?

Q: I think the biggest impediment to progress is the idea that results are anticipated when meditating.

Here is someone who agrees with that:

One who practices kriya sincerely, has transcended the expectations of results from doing kriya. - Lahiri Mahasaya [in Satyeswarananda 1992 12].

Impediments also involve the not getting deep inside regularly, being waylaid, and so on ... Ideas include notions of God, and thoughts other than the potent incantation (mantra) that is used.

Q: But it seems flawed - I should be able to follow the instructions of meditation and get results but it seems that the grace of God determines when and how I am to get those results. What do you think?

God's grace is his "business" too, in his arms. Skilled practice is something you should go for. It may be within our ability to get results at that.

In this "business" Yogananda made another of his rather grave errors, in my opinion. In one place, in his autobiography, he promotes kriya yoga by calling it scientific, by saying it works like maths. In other places he says that kriya yoga alone is not enough anyway, and calls for devotion. If he had written the truth in his autobiography, the last point would not have to be made.

Yogananda talks with two mouths, then, and thus falls short of one of his ardent wishes, which was "If I had a thousand mouths, I would talk through them all to convince you." Yes, he said that. (a) But convincing others could smack of demagoguery (depending on what you mean by 'convince'), and much that is called PR, demagoguery and propaganda, seeks to influence and convince for some end, often an ulterior end. (b), And, of course, in good, sensibly yoga we learn to rise above "the words from a thousand mouths", above thought notions that do not concur with our main target and the ends to it: properly performing our mantra method as a piece (etude) of training time and time again.

The convincing expert may influence others and make use of them. I think that a decent fellow should rather go for informing others than convincing them. It may not be perfectly all right to press a conviction onto others.

And talking with just two mouths frequently confuses. A ventriloquist manages that too -

You are one of the victims of too faulty Yogananda teachings, I guess. They include "Cry for Divine Mother! (and she will surely come)", and "Seek God!" Big disappointments (or neuroticism) could be in store for many SRF-ers, including monastics.

YOGANANDA Referring to yoga's sure and methodical efficacy, Lord Krishna praises the technological yogi. - Yogananda, in his Autobiography, 1st ed.

Q: These masters (excepting perhaps Ramana) claim to be personages like Krishna. Why would they say these things?

Here is one answer: We get such notions in deep and ecstatic contemplation, and some also get the idea:

All the world is the ultimate Self. - Lahiri Mahasaya [in Satyeswarananda 1992 20].

Some say you perceive an outer world due to deep projections and categorisations of your body- mind. That is, your experience of an outer world is a part of yourself. In the Advaita Vedanta of Shankara it is held likewise, that all the world is the ultimate Self. The physicists of the Copenhagen Interpretation of quantum mechanics could not agree on whether there is an outer world independent of observers or not. "Do you really think the moon isn't there if you aren't looking at it?" commented Albert Einstein.

Going Within

What is food for one person may be bitter poison to others. (Cf. Speake 2015:206) Still, never hinder what's fine.

Q: Does kriya yoga work?

Yes, research shows it. [Link]. Also, more practically speaking, results may depend on at least four factors.

  • Correct practice.
  • A fit method.
  • Not overdoing it.
  • Good monitoring, etc.

A good and fit method that also is monitored is much worth. The fit method helps you inside yourself, as Patanjali is into in his Yoga Sutras.

Among the graded steps of this yoga the first ones are more of conduct, and the third may be interpreted differently. The basic point is: Live well, sit down comfortably and yet erect and start contemplating (meditating). The fourth step, some prana control, can be had by mantra and breathing or both, for example. And there are other methods that may help too.

The fifth step is crucial. By sound-repetition (i.e., mantra-repetition) or kriya yoga or both in this or any order your awareness is made inward (much as during falling asleep at night, now you are mentally awake when it happens. It is a switch, a natural one that is helped or ushered by suitable yoga methods. In Sanskrit is it called pratyahara.

If you sit with your mind "inward-made" for five minutes or longer, it can be called dharana, the sixth step.

In fact, the higher steps of yoga depend on step five, the turning inside (as hinted at). By strict adherence to the method you use -a good mantra may be simplest - you may get better (and better) results. They are marked by increasing health reserves, shows research.

And so on.

Q: Or is it no more effective than a simple Buddhist meditation?

Simple methods may be good ones, and simple methods that fit oneself may do much good and seldom harm.

Q: It is neccesary to perform [the secret kriya yoga method] Navi Kriya* do you think? Apparently it unties the knots at the navel chakra so that kundalini can flow upwards easier.

Gurus say so. Yogananda/SRF has dispensed with navi kriya, though.

Q: I would like if you could hint at what that kriya may be?

The experiences of others may easily give rise to expectations during meditation, and in meditation one has better things to do than to cater to preconceived notions and expectations, in order to operate the "going within" to one's ability there and then on a daily basis ...

Q: Can you explain the difference between kriya yoga and Hong Sau (aka Hong-so)?

They should complement each other. Kriya yoga [panting slowly, not hyperventilating -etc.] and Hong-so could calm us down first of all.

Q: They seem to accomplish the same thing to me, except Hong-so is much more effective in my experience. I don't quite get how kriya yoga produces states of breathlessness unless the key lies in the fact that the breath is held forcibly for longer periods of time.

Hong- so was described by Yogananda as the baby kriya, and enough to emancipate the practitioner - Add "maybe in one or two or three [hundred] lifetimes" here yourself.

Kriya is to be done suavely (smoothly, graciously, blandly, with poise). Such an ability is called for, but never holding the breath forcibly for long.

Q: And I am interested mainly in how sense-withdrawal is accomplished.

By making the mind inward, much as when we fall asleep, but not falling asleep anyway. I remember swami Narayanananda, a proclaiming guru of many Danes and one Frenchman I happened to know. One of the things the swami proposed in some books was to repeat the mantra UNINTERRUPTEDLY for - was it four minutes at a time? - and then pratyahara [mental withdrawal] would be attained. It may not be that fair and square, but the gist of the counsel is to make the effort to mentally repeat one's mantra uninterruptedly for some time at the start of meditation, while adhering to the best counsels as to posture, place and technique.

And by the way, many of the interruptions that tend to come up and swarm in deepening meditation, are linked to one's progress - don't get bothered, angry and frustrated with them, but resume the mantra you practice, the moment you become aware your mind has drifted. A firm determination may be needed to accomplish it, but as the mind goes inward, the efforts become less and the focus is made more intense. That's an integral part of going deep inside. It may be a life-long endeavour and well worth it -

Q: And about kriya yoga* - should one visualise the currents in the spine with the breath or is it not neccesary?

Things in this terrain depend in part on who you have been initiated by, and the method they have handed over to you, or composed for you in particular. Thus, I will not interfere between you and your technique(s) giver, and the guru(s) behind him again.

Kriya yoga - the sanskrit word 'yoga' is derived from 'yuh', to unite, join, or, 'put yoke(s) on'. So kriya yoga can be OK as an offhand-looking rendering yoga - and yoga forms.

Q: I do not see how kriya yoga works. I have noticed that my breathing rate slows down. My chest area seems to get heavy and stiff.

Advancing kriya yoga can energise the current system, and lets you get inwards though it. It is said that a period of calm has to follow it for things to work out as intended.

"Heavy and stiff": that could be a good effect of doing the technique, according to things Lahiri Mahasaya finds in commentaries of various books. However, there are other possibilities too, and a person is to advance safely throughout. Those with severe mental problems may not do kriya and related methods without proficient supervision.

Q: I am confused as to why Yogananda says that the breathless state is samadhi when it can be achieved through Hamsa (a mantra technique).

Samadhi proper is reached by "making the mind inward", as someone has put it. "Mind made inward" - is through pratyahara. You can go for that first, by training yourself in doing the method(s) you have chosen. It is a "switch" to go for.

Q: Bodily Yoga has benefits and they are good.

Yes ...

Q: I have done the Hong-so technique and it seemed to make me struggle to breathe!!!

It works like that [i.e., decreases the breathing - but usually no struggle is into it. Compare:

During deep meditation, when the breath becomes calm, a very enjoyable state of peace is produced ... You should not be discouraged at this ... - Paramahansa Yogananda, in Inner Culture, September 1939.

Contents


Meditation counsel, Literature  

Bancroft, Anne, ed. The Buddha Speaks: A Book of Guidance from the Buddhist Scriptures. Reprint ed. Boston: Shambala, 2010.

Buzan, Tony. The Memory Book: How to remember anything you want. Harlow: BBC Active / Person, 2010.

Speake, Jennifer. The Concise Oxford Dictionary of Proverbs. 6th ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

Satyeswarananda, Swami, tr. Complete Works of Lahiri Mahasay Vol. III: The Upanisads: The Vedic Bibles. San Diego: The Sanskrit Classics, 1992.

Notes

  1. Mind Sports Organisation [expired]. Brain Star Chat: Tony Buzan. 12 December 1999. Online.

    web.archive.org/web/20090122065305/http://www.msoworld.com/404.html

  2. Edward Bernard Fry and Jacqueline E. Kress, eds. The Reading Teachers Book of Lists, 5th ed. Chichester West Sussex: Jossey-Bass / Wiley, 2006.


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