The Beauty of the Bhagavad Gita

Spiritual resolve has to be cultivated if we are to maintain our interest in staying the spiritual path.  This sankalpha shakti is cultivated through our practices.  And hopefully, a dedicated Kriya practice will purify and refine our energy and mind.  But our mind and energy is affected by everything in our environment, by everything that attracts and assaults our senses. It is so easy to become distracted and lose interest in, or not find time for, our practice.  Lack of spiritual experiences or obvious progress can create doubt that can flourish into skepticism and even cynicism.

The study of certain spiritual scripture can capture our intellect and heart and sew a reverential seed that deepens spiritual resolve.  The Bhagavad Gita, written about 500 BCE is such spiritual text; it places the highest knowledge at our fingertips and just beyond the intellect.  More than scripture to be read, it is a means of self-study; it is a journey to the highest source of delight through mental purification. It is a self-correcting journey to your inner essence, the Self, the Seer, the Transcendental Divine.

The Bhagavad Gita, or the Song of the Lord, is one of the fundamental texts that every student of Yoga must study.  It consists of a dialogue between Arjuna, the commander of an army, and his chariot driver, Krishna, on the battlefield of Kurushetra, during a civil war. Among other things, it describes four Yogic paths: karma (action), bhakti (love and devotion), raja (meditation), and jnana (wisdom).  We find elements of all of these in Babaji’s Kriya Yoga.

The Bhagavad Gita sets the scene for one of the highest of conversations. Arjuna asks the Lord for the highest Truth. And Lord Krishna imparts the highest Knowledge – the vision of the One Self everywhere and in all – but this so overwhelmed Arjuna that he missed the wisdom teachings. The teachings were given to all of us through the Gita, but they are not easily understood and appear contradictory, as is often the case with Spiritual Knowledge. Knowledge only becomes clear, precise and evident to one whose mind and heart is open and pure enough to receive it. It takes spiritual qualities for you to understand and absorb the truth when you see it.

The practice of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga purifies your subtle energies, directs them to your higher centers, and develops your sankalpa shakti (spiritual resolve). Knowledge requires faith, concentration and effort and the will to master desires, with all of its attachments and aversions, likes and dislikes. While it still requires reverential study, the beauty of  The Bhagavad Gita is the reward of deep understanding, self-knowledge, and spiritual growth.

The Bhagavad Gita states therein, that the qualities required for one to truly understand it include: humility, integrity, non-violence, patience, uprightness, purity, steadfastness, self control, indifference to sensual sensations, self-effacement, non-attachment, absence of clinging to likes and dislikes, and an attitude of service.  Serious study of the Gita will help you to develop these qualities until all of your actions are motivated with the attitude, “May Thy will, not mine, be done.”

What does it really mean to say, May Thy will, not mind be done?

The Bhagavad Gita is a tale of action. It teaches us to remember the Lord and to engage in action, as service to the One in all.  It does not ask for physical renunciation or to retire from worldly activities.  Nor does, May Thy will, not mine be done, demand that we surrender our free will. It implies that we choose to act simply and righteously. And that requires an inward renunciation of egoism and selfishness. We must conquer the senses and refuse to act out of instinct and impulse.  We must consciously choose to think of and act for the sake of personal harmony and world-solidarity.

 

The Bhagavad Gita helps us to understand that righteousness and unrighteousness does not exist independently of the people who pursue them.   Human beings have the unique gift of free will, which is given to us by the higher evolutionary manifestation of prana as mind and consciousness.  We can awaken to a state where we choose to act from this higher consciousness instead of from instinct and impulse.  Unrighteousness always creates chaos, misery and pain.  Righteousness ultimately creates harmony and peace.  The Gita teaches us about dharma and how to recognize our natural duty, an inborn sense of work, known as svabhava, and how to respond to it effectively and righteously.  We should act not on impulse but according to understanding.  We must discover and be true to our self and to our own particular gifts and talents.  Too often our actions are directed not by our soul’s sense of duty but by our attachments and aversions.  We act too often according to our likes and abstain according to our dislikes.  This is what binds us in karma.  What the Bhagavad Gita teaches is to act as a response to a call of duty and do what is necessary to avoid chaos.

To evolve you must purify your mind and heart.  It is up to you to choose when you will protect righteousness, annihilate unrighteousness and establish a rule of righteous dharma for yourself.  The Gita so poignantly proclaims that the only way to wipe our unrighteous action is to insure that enough opportunity has been given to wrong doers, so that they may correct themselves.   This is one reason you are given free will.    You are given enough time and opportunity to correct yourself before it becomes dharmic for others to take the necessary corrective measures to establish order and righteousness.   This is where we find Arjuna finally, on a field of dharmakshetra (holy battlefield of righteousness) where Krishna presents his final Teachings.

 

Many readers of the Gita are confused by the presumption that war is somehow noble.   They are conflicted by Krishna leading Arjuna into battle against his kinsmen (things dear).    The war is but an analogy and the battle is your own moral struggle where in this world you must work out your karma and fulfill the purpose of your soul.   Dharma, right action, right attitude, these are all powerfully expressed through self-control and perfect equanimity.   The war illustrates the conflict you have between your mind and your soul over your beliefs, attachments, desires and your fear of death.   There will be a perpetual tension between two incompatible opposing beliefs, opinions, and desires.   Through mental discipline, we can annihilate likes and dislikes, fear, pride, greed and hope.   This is a painful and difficult battle and like Arjuna you must choose to undertake it in order to move forward.   To remove the sorrow and pain from life you must address fear.    And the most intense fear and sorrow any human has to endure in life is of death, your own and that of loved ones.    You win your freedom from the fear of death by turning your will over to God.    Thy Will be done.   The Bhagavad Gita concludes that you have no reason to fear death.

 

Dharma vs.Karma

The Gita defines all the things you must let go of, to reduce your karma and give space for your dharma to flourish.   But lifetime after lifetime, you tend to fall prey to your desires and emotions creating more conflict and karma.   The mind becomes agitated regardless of the nature of the result encountered by an action.   We act out of loss and gain, every action followed by reaction, endlessly.   Thus gathering more and more seeds in your karmic sack.   Your load gets heavier.

Delusion, confusion and desire then, not only direct this life but will follow you, arriving in every new embodiment, too.    Every being is driven in life by the karmas that unfold due to a combination of the gunas, or three modes of nature (sattva–spiritual essence, rajas–motion, tamas–inertia).   It is due to a combination of these attributes that you are conditioned to engage in action-after-action to achieve some result.   It is only slowly, through your karma that you can finally learn that the goal of life in a body is not desire-oriented actions, but Supreme Knowledge.  How long this takes is left up to you.

 

Supreme Knowledge

Supreme Knowledge arrives with the understanding that the Seer, the Lord, the Self, God is  One–Eternal–Changeless–Unmanifest Intelligence and so, is without attributes/gunas.   The whole of manifest creation arises from that Umanifest Intelligence, as a particular mixing of the three modes of nature: sattva (as an expression of righteousness, contemplation, moderation, purity, equanimity) and rajas (as an expression of valor, achievement, ambition, desire for success, worldly desire) and tamas (as an expression of dullness, inactivity, laziness, depression).    From these three attributes arise the variety and diversity of all beings. These attributes or qualities present in all of us in different quantities and concentrations determine the dispositions with which we are born.   A person born with highest concentrations and quantities of sattva would have a calm and pure disposition, another born with highest concentrations of rajas, but high quantities of sattva too, may be worldly but with strong virtues; a person with greatest concentration and quantity of tamas, some rajas, but no sattva, would be born with a cruel disposition.   The specific concentration and quantity of the gunas accompany the soul into each life according to the quality of their past life karmas.

 

All actions in a lifetime result in karma, some visible and immediate, some invisible and are carried over as a residue, influencing the concentration and quantity of the gunas for that soul in another lifetime.   That concentration of attributes will influence the motivation and situation of the soul’s birth and experience.    However, every action creates new karma.    The specific motivation behind each action the individual takes will determine how the new karma will manifest.   We can correct ourselves in every moment if we choose to act correctly  . Every soul is driven in a life by their predominant guna combinations but also by virtue of their attitudes and actions.    By acting at all times, with an attitude of service, the mind can be freed from conflict, selfishness, arrogance, prejudice and judgment and your karma will be positively affected.   The Gita says, without regard for the fruits of your actions, act in the world, maintaining quietude, equanimity and emotional balance.   Such balanced actions will open your heart to compassion and ensure that your inborn qualities next lifetime will be different.

 

Self-Knowledge through Karma Yoga

Knowledge of the Lord is available to all of us, regardless of guna predominance, but unavailable to any mind attached to desire-driven action.    The mind able to perceive truth through the spiritual experience of love is quiet and detached, yet engaged with an attitude of service in action.   Karma Yoga is but one of the bliss-filled Yogic teachings of the Bhagavad Gita.   But it is an attitude of action that can be applied to your mind and life regardless of your other sadhana.   Whether you consider yourself a jnani or a bhakti or a raga yogi, your actions should be done in service of the Lord in all and all fruits of your actions should be dedicated to the Lord in all.    The attitude of desireless actions and desireless results purifies the mind and develops the qualities necessary to receive the highest knowledge and liberation from the limitations of the mind and heart.    The secret knowledge is that there is love, a truth-knowing essence in the heart of hearts that connects us to one and all.   There is a potential energy in the heart, and when the mind is free of all entanglement and conflicts and we dismiss the instinctive urges of survival, this energy is freed to work as higher consciousness and pure love.   The result is all beings become precious to you and you find that you care deeply for the happiness of all beings.

The Bhagavad Gita slowly imparts Knowledge as it examines righteous and non-righteous actions.   Each time you study it, some new understanding will arise to be applied in your life.    The mind and the heart are the keys to our evolution.   And our evolution is why we have taken a life in the body.   We must go beyond our inborn urges, which makes us act from lower mind.   We must consciously choose to let go of social, cultural or even religious conditioning that have created patterns of acting in way that are not in accord with harmony and higher evolution.   Virtuous action lays open the heart to the light and joy arising from the state of the witness, the Seer, the Self.    Once the Seer is allowed to breathe in your life and through your actions, every act imparts love, compassion, energy and joy, then all of your action support spiritual advancement.

Om Tat Sat – There is only one Lord and only one Truth.

Sthira and Sukha: Finding Stillness & Joy through Asana

Sthira and Sukha:

Finding Stillness & Joy in your Practice of Kriya Hatha Yoga

 

Science and mysticism agree that although from the outside we appear very solid, we are nothing, but waves of energy.  Mysticism explains that spiritual evolution is dependent on the proper functioning of those waves.  Kriya Hatha Yoga is a spiritual practice of asana that not only focuses on stretching, strengthening and nourishing the physical body, but on increasing vital energy, uncovering and awakening dormant energy and integrating and balancing the physical/mental/vital being.

The Sutras of Pantanjali defines asana as accomplishing steadiness (sthira) and ease (sukha) in both body and mind. Kriya Hatha Yoga is resplendent as a yoga of balance. Balance happens whenever the body and mind is simultaneously aligned and relaxed – sthira and sukha. The 18-posture series encourages physical and mental balance through movement and relaxation. It teaches how to observe tension and sensation in the body and how to let go of tension and surrender to sensation. The body has ever-changing tensions and sensations. Tension and relaxation seems unique to the moment, as everything in life affects them: posture, work, relationships and thoughts.  Tension in the body not only causes contraction and kinking in the physical musculature and circulation, they also block energy in the subtle channels and directly create all kinds of clutter in the mind.  Asana practiced with proper breathing, mudra, bandhas and concentration will relax tensions in the body in a way that the mind will empty itself of stress and chatter and energies will flow free.

To maintain health and relaxation, we need to target tension in the body and blockages in the joints.  Working on the joints will re-establish movement and allow for relaxation in the muscles and the diaphragms of the body, stretch connective tissue, strengthen nerve pulsations, increase circulation and get the fluids moving again to remove and metabolize toxins. But if we approach our practice not only as physical, but also as spiritual and use the sensations of tension and relaxation to gain the release of blockages in the physical and subtle bodies, we open ourselves to experiencing our energy body.  Miniscule vibrations and waves of energy flow up and down the length of the body, ebbing and flowing as they respond to the increase of prana animating them.  When we surrender to the sensations of subtle electricity, shimmering, tingling, pulsing, prickling, or rushing in the body we become like a leaf in a swiftly moving stream and balance, brings us into stillness. Each asana offers us perfect immobility, a mental and physical still-point, in which, our energy feels more alive, substantial, joyful and our breath, subtle, vast and free.

Surrendering to sensations allows us to drop deeper into ourself allowing memories from our subconscious to arise. A deep pain, harbored for years, armored by numbness may lurch forward, creating an opportunity for us to be rid of it once and for all.  Letting go of what comes up in an asana often affords us the greatest gains in flexibility and strength.  Practicing longer holdings with the proper alignment and ease, breathing and concentration offers the most gains in flexibility, relaxation and the possibility of overcoming subconscious tendencies.  We carry this physical and mental relaxation with us off the mat.

Stillness and immobility is the ultimate goal of asana practice, where an increase of energy flows in a unified fashion, requiring not only physical flexibility and suppleness, but a tranquil body and mind, where transformation is possible.

­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­­

The focus of the Summer 2016, Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Hatha Yoga Teacher Training course is to deepen our own personal experience of the 18-asana, in order to gain some mastery over body and mind.  Emphasis will be on how to find our own personal best practice through either intensifying or modifying the way we personally do asana, and on teaching others to do the same. We will be immersed in knowing how Yoga works, delving into prana, the mind, and the subtle body, functional anatomy, and on pranayama and meditation, and be introduced to Yoga as a means of changing the way the brain normally thinks and responds to stress.

The curriculum covers a thorough understanding of the anatomical mechanics of 18 asana of Kriya Hatha Yoga and structural alignment, the physical and spiritual benefits and the theory behind the asana selection and what occurs energetically as we practice them.  Additional asana will be explored and integrated into our training.  We will begin an in-depth study of the history of asana, of Classical Yoga, Sutras of Patanjali and Bhagavad Gita. We will experience the energy of prana and the subtle body and deeply explore the practices of bandhas, pranayama and meditation and learn how to teach them safely. You will be enlightened and entertained by imminent Osteopath, author and Kriyayogi Pierre Desjardins during the 18-hours given to functional anatomy and physiology of the human body in relation to the practice and teaching of Hatha Yoga. Our training will also cover the qualities of teaching effectively: modifying the postures for particular needs and physical limitations, how to assist students safely, the importance of coaching the breath, working with the lines of energy, working with intensity and relaxation. Modern research will be presented on the proven effectiveness of yoga. The training will help you begin to develop your voice as a teacher by deepening and expanding your own inner experience of Kriya Hatha Yoga.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Deepening Your Practice – Babaji’s Kriya Hatha Yoga Teacher Training

2016  DEEPENING YOUR PRACTICE         –    A Kriya Hatha Yoga Teacher Training

Durga Ahlund and M. G. Satchidananda

A Hatha Yoga Intensive and Teacher Training

Two week Intensive Residential Training as preparation for

       a 1-year / 300-hour BKY Teaching Certification

               & Yoga Alliance Registration.

 

SESSION  begins at 7pm on  Wednesday, June 29, 2016 and concludes at the end of the day on Wednesday, July 13.  (Airport Shuttle Departure at 10am on Thursday,  July 14).

The focus of this course is to deepen your own personal experience of asana in order to attain mastery over the body and achieve higher states of awareness.

Emphasis will be on how to find your own personal, best practice through either intensifying or modifying the way you do asana, and on teaching others to do the same.  You will learn how Yoga works.  We will delve into prana, the mind, and the subtle body, functional anatomy, and how to teach pranayama and meditation, and introduce methods of changing the way the brain normally thinks and responds to stress.  Instructors: Durga Jan Ahlund, M.G. Satchidananda, Pierre Desjardins,  and Acharya Ganga Auer, Vyasa Lawson

As a student of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga, you are cordially invited to become a Teacher of Babaji’s Kriya Hatha Yoga!  One of the best ways to deepen your own practice of Kriya Yoga and to serve others is by teaching this wonderful scientific art.  This Yoga teacher training has been designed to meet the 400-hour International certification standards.   A 250-page manual/workbook accompanies the course.  On completion of an intensive 14-day residential training, students will begin a year-long process of teaching and study, completing various assignments, which will not only fulfill training requirements, but which will serve your own wellness and spiritual growth.

This program is largely experiential, with a focus on personal transformation as well as on developing professional skill. Students must be currently practicing Kriya Yoga, have taken 1st and 2nd Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Initiation trainings and have a well-established daily practice. Students must have practiced Hatha Yoga for a minimum of two years. This is an intensive training program and all participants should have good physical and emotional health.

The 14-day residential course will be given in two sessions, summer of 2014. –  ( add 2 extra days for arrival and departure)-  The curriculum covers not only a thorough understanding of the mechanics of 18 asana of Kriya Hatha Yoga, but also the physical and spiritual benefits and the theory behind the asana selection and what occurs energetically as we practice them.  Additional posture series will be explored and integrated into our training.  Yoga Philosophy is emphasized in this course and there will be an in-depth study of the Sutras of Patanjali. You will delve into energy, prana and the subtle body. And explore the benefits of the practices of bandhas, pranayama and meditation and learn how to teach them safely. There will be 18 hours given to anatomy and physiology of the human body in relation to the practice and teaching of Hatha Yoga.  The course covers the qualities of teaching effectively: modifying the postures for particular needs and limitations and therapy, the importance of coaching the breath, working with the lines of energy, working with intensity and relaxation. The training will begin to develop your voice as a teacher by deepening and expanding your own Inner experience of Hatha Yoga.

 

Ask yourself
are you  interested
to share Kriya Hatha Yoga
with others.”

The move from being a practitioner of Yoga to being a teacher of Yoga has its requirements.  These can be developed, except for the main requirement, which is a desire to share.  Sharing is love and from that state, all things will spring and flow. It has been said that anyone who loves and is loved can be a good teacher, for in love there is presence. When one is truly present, not only to others, but also to oneself, he or is in the here and now, as if there is no other time. In this state, there is self-love and a non-judgmental acceptance of oneself and others.  In that state one is consistently able to be a good teacher.

Enthusiasm about Yoga is also invaluable. If you do not have enthusiasm for what you teach, who will not care to hear what you have to say?

Most of all, a teacher must practice intensely so that he or she teaches from experience.  He or she must practice sincerely and be willing, with consistency to observe oneself, and continue to seek, and to grow, i.e., to be a student forever.  These qualities, plus a good sense of humor will develop humility, check one’s ego and enlarge one’s gratitude for all of one’s teachers, some which will be his or her own students. In that way, Yoga will create a vehicle that will continue to purify and nourish and stimulate inner love to flow for both the teacher and his or her students.  This flow of Love is the highest goal Yoga.

When you practice Hatha Yoga regularly and deeply with awareness, something wonderful happens inside.  Subtle channels opens up, energy penetrates your being, allowing you to breath deeper.  You experience true balance and feel more in harmony with nature. Yoga stimulates a force called Love.  For Love to flow freely, all your energy must be peaceful and balanced, physical, vital, mental. When your inner state reflects that balance you are able to share it with others. That calm, empty state, full of awareness will be the most important thing you will ever have to offer.

Seminar Details

Segments included in the 14-day Intensive:

– Deepening Your Practice

  • What is Kriya Hatha Yoga? And Who does it Work?
  • The Importance of Asana
  • In Preparation: Standing, Aligning and Relaxing the Body, Breath and Spine.
  • Targeting the Subtle Channels: warming the body with the breath and a variety of dynamic postures series
  • Opening and Strengthening the Joints: neck, shoulders, knees and hips and ankles
  • Training in additional posture series- Incorporating both dynamic and static poses in your class
  • Understanding the benefits of using bandhas and ujjayi pranayama with the 18 postures.
  • When and how to use the edge of a pose
  • The Foundation of the 18 Postures. In-depth training and practice:  Precise teaching instruction/demonstration: how to deepen your experience of the asana with the breath, awareness, bandhas and mudras and how teach this to others.
  • Advancing in your Practice- Understanding the psycho-energetic and spiritual benefits of the 18 asana and how to attain them.
  • Techniques of teaching asana:  structural alignment, directing the lines of energy, and assisting through voice, and touch and adapting the postures.
  • How and when to Modify Postures for misalignment and physical limitations
  • Daily Practice teaching with partners and in group
  • Evening Lectures——–
  • Kriya Yoga Philosophy – Explaining Tantra
  • Classical Yoga Sutras of Patanjali & Ashtanga Yoga
  • The Critical Thread: the Yamas and Niyamas
  • The Importance of Swadhyana and a Personal Sadhana
  • Ishvara Pranidhana- What is the Guru? The Importance of Devotion
  • Samadhi- What is Cognitive Absorption?
  • Approaching Advanced Postures

 

– How Yoga Works?

  • Understanding and working with prana
  • What is Pranayama and how it differs from deep breathing?
  • Practicing in-depth and training to teach a variety of pranayama
  • Training in Pranayama for healing and to develop awareness
  • Group discussion – Experiencing Awareness
  • Evening Talk: The Need of Sadhana and the role our thoughts and emotions play in our success or lack of progress in Yoga.
  • What is meditation? And what are we seeking through it?
  • Teaching the Basics of Meditation
  • Instruction in Breath Awareness and Meditation
  • How to lead a class into emptiness through asana and shavasana
  • Yoga Nidra, practice and basics of teaching.
  • Understanding Hamsa meditation
  • Understanding Who am I? Meditation
  • Partner and group practice.
  • Evening Talk: Auto-Suggestion: The Antidote to Negative Thinking and the Use of Mantra to go Beyond
  • Evening Talk: Attaining Cognitive Absorption
  • Teaching Tools
  • The Importance and secrets of Connective Tissue
  • Functional Anatomy of an Asana
  • Understanding flexibility, suppleness, laxity and strength
  • Asana consciousness
  • The Co-Contraction Concept
  • The Structure of Breathing
  • A 6 Cycle Stretch- how to free the breath
  • Pranic Flow- How to achieve the best health at all levels
  • Understanding the need of proper hydration
  • Understanding Injury and rehabilitation
  • What to do when something goes wrong!
  • Physical Effects of the 18 postures
  • Twice Daily Sadhana
  • Evening Kirtan

 

Suggested Contribution: In USD $1150.  The additional fee for lodging and meals is $840/. Total $1990. plus tax.   A deposit of $300 is required to reserve your place.   Ask about a payment plan.

 

The Instructors

M. Govindan Satchidananda is the Spiritual Teacher of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga. He is the Founder and President of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Order of Acharyas, a non-profit organization and has been conducing initiations into the 144 Kriyas of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga for the past 15 years. He has taught  Babaji’s Kriya Yoga to more than 8, ooo people around the world. He is the Founder and Publisher of the Kriya Yoga Publications, Inc. and writes extensively on Yoga Philosophy and Sadhana. He teaches with the depth and insight of one who teaches precisely what he has practiced for more than 35 years.

Durga Ahlund is a professional certified Yoga teacher and has been a practitioner of Yoga for more than 35 years. She has been certified in and taught Hatha Yoga, Kundalini Yoga, Raja Yoga, and Phoenix Rising Yoga Therapy.  She has been teaching in the U.S. since 1982, but during the past decade  has taught Yoga in Canada, India, Japan, Brazil, Germany, Spain, Italy, Switzerland, Austria, and Estonia.  Her intensity of study of spiritual Yoga lead her to several Spiritual Masters in the U.S. and in India. But Kriya Babaji remained her guiding Light for almost three decades. She has over the past 20 years practiced the techniques of Kriya Yoga and is an acharya in Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Order of Acharyas. She co-authored, performed, and produced with her husband Marshall Govindan, the Yoga video, Babaji’s Kriya Hatha Yoga, Self-realization through Action with Awareness. She co-wrote, Insights Along the Path and Deepening your Practice.  She developed the monthly correspondence course for Babaji’s Kriya Yoga, The Grace Course with two years of monthly lessons. She developed and teaches this 400-hour Hatha Yoga Teacher Training course.  Durga has edited many of books from the Tamil Research collection, published by Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Publications.  Her latest book is The Yoga Toolbox-Shaping your Future.

 Laurier-Pierre Desjardins D.O., is a yogi and highly respected as an Osteopath and professor of Osteopathy.  Each year he gives Advanced Functional Anatomy Courses for major Yoga Schools throughout Canada and Germany.  He has been a practitioner of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga for 25 years and has developed and Anatomy course specifically for Babaji’s Kriya Yoga.  Through his deep knowledge of the body and his intuitive awareness students will learn how to work with their limitations to deepen their postures.  He will develop your understanding and experience of flexibility, suppleness, laxity and strength.  He explains the structure of respiration and how to free the breath and addresses in detail what to do when something goes wrong in the body – understanding injury and rehabilitation.

Ganga Auer,  Ganga Devi has a university degree in teaching from Hungary. She obtained yoga instructor certificate at the following schools: Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Order of Acharyas Teacher Training, Esther Myers’ Yoga Teacher Training Programme, Kundalini Yoga as Taught by Yogi Bhajan International Level 1 Instructor Training. Her 25 years of teaching experience enables her students to learn and practice yoga safely with confidence and obtain spiritual growth.

Vyasa Lawson first became interested in Yoga as a university student in Toronto, where he learned hatha yoga and meditation. As mid-life approached, he was moved to look for a way to continue his growth and self-awareness with all that is entailed in modern life as a householder and took up Kriya Yoga. Gradually he made changes that led him to retire from his career in real estate investment to devote his time to his Kriya practice and to supporting the terminally ill while completing a graduate degree in hospice studies. He became an Acharya of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga in 2006.

 

 

M. G. Satchidananda and Durga Ahlund

Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Ashram

196 Mountain Road, P. O. B ox 90

Eastman, Quebec, J0E 1P0

Canada

U.S. & Canada: 1.888.252.9642

International: 1.450.297.0258

Fax: 1.450.297.3957

durga@babajiskriyayoga.net

satchidananda@babajiskriyayoga.net

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Babaji’s Kriya Yoga is a Gift and a Blessing

Babaji’s Kriya Yoga is the Yoga of Awareness

Since I was a child I have been asking the questions, “who am I?… and, where in the body does my I-ness exist?”  The Siddhas of this Kriya Yoga Tradition answer this question.  They tell us the body is a vehicle, which brings Divine conscious energy to earth; within the body there is a mystic center, a sacred passageway back to the Infinite and that liberation from all the rounds of suffering is only available within it.  So it is a truly great gift to be born in a human body.  Babajis Kriya Yoga encourages all of us to question our self and the purpose of our existence.  It gives us effective methods to discover who we are and where in the body “I-ness” exists.

Babaji’s Kriya Yoga is an authentic lineage of a modern synthesis of classical Yoga (Patanjali Yoga Sutras) and Tantra ( prana, nadis. kundalini and chakras, mantras, devotion), which provides us the means of developing our potential power and consciousness.  Through the techniques of asana, pranayama, dhyana, mantra and bhakti we can come to experience moments of  “I-ness.”  The practices help us to strengthen the physical body and the mind, while clearly distinguishing our true Self from our vital body, the seat of our desires and emotions. We learn to understand that free will gives us the choice to either express and identify with our normal, restless, and judgmental, fluctuating state of ego consciousness or with the calm, silent, reflective consciousness of true Self.  We come to know that right lifestyle, emotional balance and strong concentration are necessary, if we are to express who we truly are.

The discipline or sadhana of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga, involves not only realizing, “Who AM I?”, but also takes us on  the difficult journey of uncovering “what we are not.”  Getting a true indication of what we not, i.e., our habits and tendencies, emotions, desires and limiting thoughts is challenging to our ego, the little “me.”  The first step is to witness with calm detachment all the things with which our ego identifies.  Typically, we readily accept, ignore or justify them.  We try to hide some parts, the dark bits. We even project some of them onto others, with judgments. The techniques of BKY help us to slowly, recognize, understand, eliminate or forgive the conditioning and influence of our past experiences that cause us to continue to suffer. Then, as we deepen our practice they help us to “see” clearly…to witness harmoniously and experience with new eyes, each of the moments that make up our life.  Throughout their practice, we must choose to remain awake, witnessing the influences of our past conditioning and exercising our will, to transform it.

 Kriya Yoga awakens us to our own true self. It takes a humble and devotional nature to maintain the persistence, power and steadiness needed to continue a deep and daily sadhana of asana, pranayama, meditation and mantra. When devotion, humility and compassion are strong, the practices yield the greatest spiritual benefits of heightened awareness, peace and bliss.  Alone, these spiritual qualities can open the all-important, subtle, spiritual channel, the sushumna nadi.  To open this central channel safely, the knots of the heart must be released.  We  must “let go” of deep-seated fears, desires, anger, preferences and attachments.  If the source of our motivation is egotistical, for example, to be admired by others, or to develop some power or ability in performing complex asana, only personal power is strengthened; consciousness will remain narrow and we will remain subject to past conditioning.  The force of potential energy and consciousness, Kundalini shakti is not of the ego.  It is a force of non-ego and when the ego manipulates it, only the ego enlarges.

The whole system of Babaji’s Kriya Yoga is a life-long, total hygiene for the well-being of the practitioner and points the sincere aspirant toward a state of continuous awareness and transformation of their human nature.   Why limit oneself with expectations for quick short-term results? Rejuvenation of the physical body, especially the brain and nervous system takes time, but the process also energizes the subtle body.  And when prana is increased and balanced and the senses are revitalized through pranayama and meditations, the physical body becomes rejuvenated, more energized, too.  Still more is required of the sincere aspirant.

 Not only are we asked to practice rigorous techniques, for the Yoga to work best, we must also make the corresponding changes in our lifestyle and in our emotional and mental body.  The yogic teachings of self-discipline, the yamas and niyamas are critically important to understand, contemplate, meditate on and live by throughout our lifetime: non-harming, compassion, truthfulness, non-stealing, modesty, moderation, detachment, simplicity, greed-lessness, charity and kindness, purity, contentment, self-study, intense practice and a willingness to celebrate the sacred.

We begin our practice with Kriya Hatha Yoga.  Aside from the beneficial effects of the practices of the postures in general on our physical health, the correct practice of Babaji’s Kriya Hatha Yoga, the 18 postures has many important effects for our emotional, mental and spiritual development.  Their practice release blockages in the subtle channels and awakens dormant spiritual and psychic faculties.  Tensions in the body contract and block subtle channels and directly create restlessness and inertia in the vital life force energy (prana) and its counterpart, the mind. Conversely, as the physical body relaxes through aligning the bones and musculature in selected asana and by coordinating movements with the breath, tensions in the gross body release, prana flows freely through the subtle channels and the mind begins to empty itself.  Bandhas (muscular locks) and mudras (gestures which circulate energy) play an important role in centralizing, stimulating and balancing the increased flow of life force energy. The relaxation following each asana affects healing and a widening of consciousness.

If we practices asana regularly as a means of nurturing our whole being, with our mind passive, ego subdued and concentrated long enough in the posture for it to become truly effective, shifts in consciousness will occur.  We will come to experience our energy body.  Exploring the body, we will find tactile sensation, miniscule flickering of energy or waves of energy, ebbing and flowing through lines in the body from the navel down through the legs, and up and out through the arms and up through the crown of the head, all responding to the life force energy (prana) that animates them.  As we tune into the prana, our  mind becomes calm and one-pointed, and then we experience silence – an expression of our higher consciousness. We are taught to observe and direct prana flowing in our asana practice and in our pranayamas and we learn to concentrate and contemplate it, in one of our meditations.  Through these practices, we learn how to “know and understand” through sensation and through the essence of feeling.

Kriya Kundalini Pranayama is a gift and a true blessing. We can feel the effects of the pranayama almost immediately, as the mind is calmed.  As the inhalation and exhalation become regulated the gross prana begins to affect the subtle pranas. The result is a calm sense of detachment. Each kriya pranayama is practiced with awareness. With each breath we direct the subtle prana through the subtle channels, taking the mind into a state of equipoise. This resting state of equipoise and clarity leads us into potent meditations.  And we also begin to take out into our life activities, naturally, deeper, slower breathing and a calmer, conscious perspective. The Kriya Kundalini Pranayamas balance the two major influences on the nature of the mind, the ida (feminine) and pingala (masculine) nadis and consequently, opens sushumna. The particular breathing pattern increases energy, a sense of youthfulness, mental clarity and contentment.  The more you practice, the more refined the energies become and more you come to understand, as your breathing moves you into a unitary state of awareness and prana.

The Dhyana Kriyas (meditations) build upon one other, throughout the week.  We start with a technique to uncover what is disturbing the mind and we create an opening for subconscious patterns to arise and come clearly into view. Bringing awareness to what lies in the subconscious is the first step toward healing and “letting go” of negative influences. The dhyanas offer us a means to work on self-control, to promote our health and well-being, as well as the well-being of others.  Once we have calmed the mind, the other various meditation techniques begin to develop strong concentration and utilize visualization to open and widen the channel between the perceiving self and the objects of perception.

Inside each of us, is an empty, unlimited space full of consciousness, free from the clutter of thought, where only the sense of I Am, abides.  It is from the perspective of this space that we concentrate, see, visualize and meditate.  The eyes act as shutters, allowing us to interact with the world outside through a field of awareness. As we develop these visualization techniques we come in direct contact with that field of awareness.  There is a direct connection between sight, vision and our inner being, I Am.

Pure vision is mirror-like; it reflects, without color, without the shading of memory, judgment or preference. Whenever we see purely, we feel an intimate connection with whatever we gaze upon.  But this state of consciousness is most difficult to live in because thoughts, memories, preferences, aversions invariably arise in consciousness. Thoughts, both conscious and subconscious distort awareness.

The high text of Vedanta and monistic thought, The Yoga Vashista says, “Consciousness plus thoughts is the mind.  Consciousness minus thoughts is the Self.”   When the mind is empty of thoughts a palpable stream of consciousness can be felt to flow through the eyes, connecting the place from which you “see,” to the object you are looking at.  It is like seeing from the space of  “who you are.”

 The dhyanas of Babajis Kriya Yoga generate an energetic flow that expresses itself along a conduit of perception that links the perceiving mind with the world, which is both visualized with the eyes closed and seen with the eyes open.  Concentrating one’s gaze and actively visualizing, strengthens and increases alpha, beta and theta brain waves and raises consciousness and can reveal one’s intimate connection to the soul.

The meditations open us to experience our soul-connection through the medium of the senses: sight, sound, taste, touch and smell.  We focus the eyes and our attention, concentrate the mind and visualize through the senses, not to fantasize or daydream, but instead to align all the parts of our being toward the soul, so that we come out of the fiction and fantasy of the past and future.  We experience that vision itself, is connected directly, and intimately related to our deeper Self.  We learn to directly experience the present moment.  It is as if we slow time down so that we “see” with more clarity, insight, discernment and detachment in all life activities.

Practicing the bija mantras taught during the second initiation helps us to develop new insights and inspiration. The regular repetition of mantras is known as japa.  This practice is very soothing to the mind.  It brings calmness and healing.  As we direct our mental energy into the mantras, the desire and emotion filled movements of the vital body easily dissolve.  The mind becomes quiet and purified. Consequently, the voice of our soul, the psychic being, our intuition, feeds our intellect with wisdom and understanding. We turn towards it for guidance.  We listen and we hear it.  Mantras can be extremely energizing. Instead of dissipating our mental energy in worries and a thousand trivial thoughts, they help us to conserve it, and then, at the proper time, with intuitive guidance to apply it to the everyday problems of life.  They bring forth a feeling of being supported by Universal Energy, by Mother Nature Herself.

As we advance in our practices with devotion to our own highest Self and develop faith and trust in the techniques, we feel connected, inspired and intuitively guided.  We begin to heal the conflicts or divisions between our inner and outer selves. We experience their integration, their union, their yoga, joining in this journey, inseparable, interdependent, moving together with everything in our life.

Blessed are those who study Babaji’s Kriya Yoga and take it to heart.

Nature versus Nurture

Nature versus nurture is the age-old debate over what is more important in developing man’s behavior in life?  On one side is Tabula rasa, the “blank slate” theory, that one is born without any mental content, or behavioral tendencies, and  consequently, behavior depends entirely upon one’s subsequent experience and perception.  Generally, proponents of the tabula rasa theory say that any healthy infant can be “nurtured” to have a particular kind of personality and to develop specific interests and skills.  They would say that even a “sense of humor’ is learned.  They choose to believe that the differences in siblings, even twins is due to environmental differences.  The nature theorists, on the other hand, argue that not only is appearance encoded in the individual’s DNA, but also are such traits as personality, intelligence, aggressiveness and even interests.

I could never accept the theory of tabula rasa, partially because of my own experience, but mostly because I saw that both of my sons brought their unique personalities, talents and interests with them.  We now have a new granddaughter, Kiplyn Eva Ahlund, born in March, three-weeks early. I knew how much I would to love her, but again, as with my own children, the intensity of such love is particular and overwhelming.  I suppose God makes a baby utterly, adorable in the eyes of the parents and grandparents, for a purpose.  An infant needs to be engaging because they are so delicate and need so much care and nurturing.  But the spell that a baby of your flesh and blood casts seems quite mystical.  And, I had forgotten that even in these very early days of life so much personality shines through.  The whole process of birth and life is just magical and so full of grace. 

You may not be aware of it, but in the Tirumandiram, Siddha Tirumular describes the process of birth, in forty-one mandirams.  He devotes mandirams 451 through 492 to the soul’s birth in the body. Tirumular tells us specifically, that he “heard” from Nandi, his guru, at Kailash and studied scripture with his great preceptor, to receive this authentically revealed knowledge.  Tirumular describes the birth process beautifully, as the most sublime of phenomena, accompanied by the Lord Himself.  He says that not only does the Lord grants the proper time and choose the particular parental relationship, but He even gives the worldly environment of goods and services for the soul’s proper maturing.  

 

The Lord, my beloved, embarks upon creation;

The twenty-five that separated, he now joins;

He creates, seated in the center of the womb;

He creates, knowing what will take place.

Mandiram 451

 

Tirumular’s writings would certainly be controversial today, especially in the way he describes Swara Yoga with regard to the gender, health, nature and longevity of offspring.  However, Tirumular says some beautiful things about the Lord’s care for the soul in the womb, which is both comforting and profound.  One major point centers on conception.  He says conception occurs not only at the material level, but also at a spiritual level.  At the moment of fertilization, the causal body flows with the essence of the five senses, mind, intellect and ego. 

 In mandiram 465, Tirumular says that the Lord attaches the soul to the subtle bodies and places the soul and consciousness along with the gunas in the womb.  Without these, the body could not be born alive.  He says that even, before conception there is an act of subtle creation, called Civa-puranam, or  “the dance of the Lord in the night.”  This suggests that if the soul and the subtle elements are not attracted to the womb, there is no conception of life.

 The combining of the parabda karmas (past karmic consequences to be worked out in this birth), the vidhya (meaning that which gives light-the knowledge and divine qualities imparted on the soul to help it ascend the path of spiritual progress), and the gunas (attributes of nature of rajas- activity, tamas-inertia and sattva-balance, takes place once the soul is in the womb. The five subtle bodies, the physical, vital, mental, intellectual and spiritual are fixed and balanced according to the karma of the soul, while in the womb. The all-pervasive Lord is present too, within that smallest seed of life as the soul’s ultimate destiny.  Tirumular says that even within that seed, the Lord knows what is in store for the soul after birth. He knows all the experiences that it will go through to reduce its karmic liability.  The body is then, fashioned in the womb, as an appropriate instrument.

 Tirumular says, too, that when destiny warrants, the Lord will separate the soul from the womb. But, even then, He is extending protection to the soul. For, the soul is responsible for the consequences of its past actions.  The Lord ensures the soul runs through experiences ordained by that karma.

 The soul is given ten months in the womb, in which to be equipped for life.  While the fetus is dependent on the mother for it’s breathing, it is through the mothers’ subtle body of ida and pingala nadis that its breathing and temperature are effectively maintained in the body.  The soul has no gender, but in order to preserve and propagate this earthly life for evolution, the soul generates the garb of male and female.

 There are other subtle developments that are worked out in the womb.  The appearance of the child is highly affected, not only by genetics, but also by the mind and breath of the parents. Breath and mind affect one another. When the parent’s breathing is in harmony, the mind is empty and heart is full of love and balance or sattva is created. Within the womb, the fetus is nourished by the balance and by the inner light, which shapes and affects the child or contributes to its development. Tirumular says that within the mind of an infant is a collection of many lives, not only that of the child, but also of the parents, as well. 

 While still in the womb, the soul exists at the crown of the head, and there, the heart is united with the Lord. The Lord is the lustrous fire, which fuels the body.  At birth, the Lord entrusts the soul to two “foster mothers,” the shaktis of anugraha (mercy or grace) and tirodhana (concealing power), who invisibly guide the soul granting equanimity in suffering and sorrow.  The grace, embedded in and pervading the infant and the world, grants various gifts and talents to the soul.  The tirodhana shakti, the concealing power of the Lord obscures its presence, but takes invisible care of the growth of the soul in the child, once it is born, giving it more and more opportunities to discharge its karmic debts.  Birth is for the soul to grow and mature. 

 We are so fortunate to have this soul, at least temporarily, in our care, to love and protect and guide, as she begins her world journey. The gratitude and love we experience in her presence today certainly nourishes us at the deepest level.  I imagine that she will highly influence us, as she grows in her soul and shows us who she is.  As I watch her drift off to sleep, she often rolls her eyes upward, as if she is has had enough for today, and is returning to the light of the Lord.  I am drawn to do the same with a feeling of oneness and gratitude to the Lord for what it has given to the soul.

Planting Good Seeds in Fertile Soil

 The Holiday Season brings up thoughts on the teachings and practices that have most profoundly affected my life, and me during the past year.

 Anyone wishing to gain any real results from Yoga must be committed to serious and constant study of how it works.

The regular practice of asana, pranayama and meditation is impactful still after all these years,  but more important is self-study and making a true and personal connection to the past Masters of Yoga, through their teachings, their writings.

I have over the past thirty years experienced reaching into my potential power and consciousness,  but  am still beset with inner and outer difficulties and problems. 

To make the greatest breakthroughs, I must be vigilant and consistently examine my thoughts, words and actions.  That is the only way to understand why conflicts and obstacles occur and learn how to avoid them in the future.  Deep meditative states and samadhi have made shifts in consciousness, but has not eliminated all pride and hurt.

One of the most effective ways ways of avoiding mistakes in thinking and behavior is to take time to rethink the teachings and ideals of the Yoga Masters, for instance, the self-purifying yamas, the moral self-restraints, and to consciously apply them in my daily life.

To take on the yamas and to win the higher goals of Yoga we must effort in what we enjoy.  To make progress, we must delight in what we are working toward, even if the work is very difficult.  In order for Yoga to work for us, we must target the root of our problem, the blockages in the subtle channels.  To do that takes preparing the inner being by being cheerfully contented and by acting compassionately with kindness.

In addition to the regular practice of asana, pranayama, meditation and mantra, contentment and kindness properly prepares our ground-substance and plant good seeds in our mind so that the yamas, the practices of ahimsa (non-harming), satya (truthfulness), asteya (non-stealing), aparigraha (non-attachment, greedlessness) and brahmacharya (non- sensuality) will be possible.   Working diligently on self-control, refraining from hurting anyone and promoting in some way the health and well-being of others ensures success in our practice of the yamas.

 With the proper foundation, what is happening in our life will be imbued with awareness.   Without it, when we turn inward, all we hear is the voice of the ego.  Egoism will always allow us to slip up.  Awareness, on the other hand, lets us know when we even consider planting or replanting a  “bad-seed.”

Awareness brings realization of what agitates our mind and veils the truth.  But we must focus and fix our mind on being aware, not just in meditation but also in every moment.  Powerful seeds, which shape our body, mind and world, are planted in the present moment.  It is only in the present that we get a chance to transform our self and achieve equanimity.

 
Once we realize the nature of the mind (awareness), the mind and senses become purified.   When the senses are purified, our actions will naturally become good, kind and compassionate.  Reduce the sense of “me” and “mine” and “why me?” or “why not me?” and the senses become life supporting. 

 Contentment and the neutral quality of the senses protect us from mistakes and reduce the attraction of self-centered absorption and the need to feed our self on pain and misery.

Whenever I feel hurt or judgment, I consider that, everything I am experiencing in this moment is coming from seeds I have previously planted.  It is not due to someone else.  It is due to an affliction within my self.  The whole of any situation is nothing in and of itself; it is not until the seeds within my own mind make me see something in a certain way, that I feel happiness or pain. 

 By doing something positive and supportive in the moment that I feel some pain arise, I consciously and purposefully plant good seeds for a more perfect future.  Simply by understanding what I am doing as I replace a negative feeling with a thought of doing something useful for another, I transforms the very way a seed is planted.   I transform any ill will within myself into good will, sadness or pain into detachment and ease.  

 Witnessing consciousness always plants a higher vibrational seed.  What happens when focusing and fixing the mind on a line of thinking is an art in itself, as the spiritual self is allowed to participate in our day-to-day.

 We live to fulfill our wishes both great and small, but egoism and our senses have a tendency to draw us astray, taking us selfishly to whatever they, at the moment are attracted by or dredge up past hurt and pain.  We can only go about fulfilling our wishes in the right way, if we develop self-control and begin to see life as a way of also helping others fulfill their wishes.  We can choose what we want to happen.  We can very purposely plant the seeds that will make it happen, at some time later on.  But we have to plant the right seeds all the time.   And all those seeds must be kind and thoughtful and in some way involve take care of others too.  We are all interconnected and interdependent.

 Plant the right seeds and sit back and watch the fireworks.

 To plant good higher vibrational seeds always look upon the good things that you are doing with detached Awareness, even as you do it.  Karma is performed by the senses.   Karma will be bad if the mind is not established in Awareness and the senses are allowed to have their way.  Karma will be good if the mind is established in the detached Awareness of Witnessing Consciousness. 

 Good seeds means, to be aware when you act and to be ready and willing to benefit others at any moment.  Know that you are doing something good as you act, and also recall and reflect back on the times when you acted to benefit others.   Contemplate what you have done in the past that was perfectly selfless?

 To create a firm foundation, honor all life as sacred.  Aspire to be of help to someone else so that they may reach a even higher goal, than you have yourself.  Encourage others so that they in turn may encourage and support another, and so on and so on.  Wish that an infinite number of others might reach a state of perfect knowledge and kindness, even if you do not.

 Your aim is to be rid of all negative emotions forever.  Negative emotions can be eliminated through acts of kindness that include the thought of all living creatures and by always speaking the truth, and never speaking negatively about others.  Never say something in a way that would split up people, by making them angry or make judgments about one another.  Never knowingly try to alienate friends or couples.  Instead, emphasize what brings people together, what they can share with each other. Never say anything that would hurt someone’s feelings, and avoid useless talk.  It is wasteful and we so often say things we regret when we talk for talking sake.

 Never steal.  Personal contentment is a means of protection against stealing.  Explore how you can give things to others. Always respect other’s things and always give others whatever you can.   I always find all the money you really need comes to you.

Always demonstrate integrity.  Remember, a good action cannot bring a bad result.

 What plants a bad seed deeply and causes you the most future suffering, is any action in which you take some joy or satisfaction, that causes hurt or pain for another.

If, however, you feel regret when causing pain to someone, if you feel very sorry, the seeds do not take root.  Regret has redeemable energy that can uproot a bad action.  This is not guilt. Guilt is useless negative.  Regret can help you take action, which may rectify things and change the future result.

 Can we uproot the seeds of past mistakes?   It seems possible.  The rules I live by to make shifts and eliminate negative thoughts and actions are the following. 

 1) Become aware of the source of the original bad action

2) Feel remorse, regret.

3) Promise never to do it again

4) Never do it again. The most important step is not repeating the mistake!

4) Make up for your past mistake by doing its opposite… show love and respect and do not take exception to what life brings you to experience.

5) Apologize; tell someone affected by what you do that you are sorry.  An apology need not be done with the person to whom you acted badly, but it must be made to someone.

6) Make up for any action by setting aside time to quietly go over in your mind how seeds draw pictures in your mind and turn neutral objects into the very world around you.

7) Do good for others.

8) To assure purification and good karma, realize the divine self of your own being.  Fix concentration on your own divine self.

9) Have a Happy New Year!

Giving thanks to Shakti, my guiding force

On this Thanksgiving Day, I give thanks to that friend within, that essence, which is and always has been present for me, which is comforting, wise, challenging as it has pushed and carried me forward from year to year.

Throughout my life, even as a small child, I have been in contact with something that I deemed a divine consciousness,  meet in dreams, deep meditation or when I have been overwhelmed by possibilities.   In my earliest recollection of it , I thought it was my brain.  I used to go to my brain for advice and comfort.  Later, I thought it must be a guardian angel as it  transformed strife, struggle and false steps into something else.   Again and again,  out of conflict and confusion, this intelligent presence would create a pure and totally flawless action. 

As a teenage, I felt this as some force guiding every event in my life.  For good or bad, while wining or losing, in accidents, etc.  It was both comforting and maddening, but I  always felt looked after.   I was not a religious person so  I endlessly contemplated how such pure action would be possible? 

This raw intelligent Awareness is the pulsation of  kundalini shakti.  And it is powerful enough to enlarge you.. to place your personal interest, and your attention in relation to others and to solve your concerns in relation to the needs of others.  It is quite radical.   I know for myself that pure action arose from each troubling situation in my life because it always affected not only me, but many others in a positive way, in a way that I never considered or anticipated.

 This presence I feel arises as different sensations, sometimes as as a shimmering vibration, or light, sometimes a subtle throbbing between the brows, a opening in the throat or a deep, a soft cloud in which I completely fold myself  into, as I did as a child.   Often it accompanies overwhelming love, or knowing that everything will turn out fine, or I am inspired by a profound knowing that arises in a  flash, quite out of no-where and no thing. 

Just acknowledging and honoring this shakti mother  codfies my mind, dissolves emotion and transforms willfulness .  I always feel changed by her darshan.   In a moment she can substitute  conflict, passion, or selfish desire in my nature, for  calm, harmonious balance and widen my perception.  Always.  She is like my central being ness.  

 My awareness of  Shakti does not conform to satisfy any intellectual reasoning or ethical will, but rather She is like  a spontaneous out-flowing from the heights of an illumined will and knowledge.   I am of Her.  She makes it possible for me to mix joy and suffering and take on my life as a spiritual practice.  She helps me accept all that i encounter as an important part of sadhana.  She has helped me embrace the bad with the good and kept me from being overcome by the difficulties and challenges.  I appreciated that each situation increased my experience and my realization.   She invites me to grow wiser as I grow old.

The Universal Community and Our Place in it – Part 2

THE MINIMUM TRANSFORMATION OF ALL ?

What would be the minimum transformation demanded of each of us?   What could we do individually that would be useful for the world at large…

1) Surely, there would be the demand that you as an individual develop and represent the best of your self, offering that best self to all who  interact with  you, not just a few.

2) And a demand, that you respect and consent to the individual freedoms of others, respecting and serving others with kindness when possible in their individual’s desire for health and the pursuit of happiness.  Honor all life as sacred and do good for all others.

3) And encourage a true self-expression of a greater beingness, beyond the mental and moral self that would guide you in the right action in each situation.  This expression would come from a state of inner peace and wisdom.  By focusing and fixing your mind on the awareness, which lies beyond the mind of thoughts and sense, powerful seeds can be planted that can transform your body, mind and  world.

Yours would be a very sophisticated and perhaps initially precarious personality that would require  you to consciously and persistently work to let go of any actions lead by egoism through consistent and vigilant self -observation.

Such individual transformation could happen only through an expanded consciousness where the mind is allowed to harness, harmonize and transform your own thoughts and emotions.   Your mind and emotions would have to remain calm and harmonious so that knowledge of the truth in every moment could guide you to do the right thing.

To be peaceful and wise does not take a set of rules or fixed formulae, but rather these qualities arise out of the  truth that envelops and penetrates consciousness.  Both deep peace and wisdom exist as a conscious presence, which influences and eventually determines the thoughts, activities, feelings, and impulsions of the will, as they form an infallible power and knowledge throughout the nature of the individual. That influence can be extended to others.

So challenging yourself and resisting unrestrained indulgence of impulses of egoism and instead cultivating your aspiration for deep peace and wisdom is a wonderful practice and can transform your mind and personality.  And if your aspiration to be peaceful and wise is stronger than your need to be the strongest personality in the room, to be judgmental or self-righteous, to be either a leader or a follower, to stand out or to belong, complex life issues will become simpler and entanglements will disentangle and it will be easier to respect the needs of all others.

We can all play our part in the world community by working on ourselves.  If we can mature as an individual by feeling gratitude for all we have received and aspire to the goals of our soul by being kind, caring and compassionate to everyone we interact with, we can begin to benefit our community.  

The  spiritual force beyond the mental and vital being that is accessed when we are aware, kind and compassionate in all situations would aid humanity and provide the foundation for individual progress along the way to happiness and perfection.  It prepares the way for us to transcend egoism.  And certainly purification from the afflictions of egoism is both, the condition for social good and indispensable for inner peace, wisdom, joy and ultimate enlightenment.

The Universal Community and Our Place in it – part 1

No man is an island unto himself.   Never has man lived alone.   All record of mankind shows him to be a social animal, not isolated in body and spirit.    Except for the notable exceptions, like the Buddha, Jesus the Christ, Moses, Mohammed, and Socrates, etc, the law of the tribe has always overridden man’s individual law of self-development.  

  Man is born, lives and dies within a unit.     We have personal needs and desires, but also social ones.    We have two distinct overriding impulses, the individualistic and the communal, a personal mode of conduct and a social mode of conduct.     These two modes of conduct are often in direct opposition and our attempt to reconcile this conflict causes many of us to question our yogic path.    This opposition persists as we progress into a highly individualized mind and spirit. 

As a yogi you may tend to want to retreat from the world.  Keep your distance from it.   However, the benefits of renouncing the world are questionable on many levels.   And due to the increasing interdependence of everyone in the modern global economy, living outside community is becoming less and less possible.  All existence proceeds through mutual action and reaction of the whole and its parts, the needs of every individual and the group and the interdependence within a group.

 What we can and must learn to do is to live in the midst of the world without being caught up in the world-wind of activities that pull us away from ourselves.    What is important is how we live every moment of our life.

 In the language of Yoga, it is said that the human evolves to the point the Divine manifest himself/herself both in the form of the separate and the collective being.    Think about this personally,  as you have moved towards growth of your separate individuality and its fullness and freedom, have you not benefitted most from satisfying  your personal needs and desires in conjunction with those of others.  

Sri Aurobindo,  (1872-1950)  one of the greatest spiritual scientists of all times discusses the work of Man’s evolution.  He says that it proceeds through three distinct phases.

First, there is a bright phase of conscious collaboration in personal growth and evolution of spirit, through self-study, self-discovery, awareness and purification of ones’ conditioning and  a widening of the cooperative spirit.

The second phase demands that awareness, Silence, an absolute living silence, overflowing with divinity descend into the physical being.

The third phase encompasses the whole of inner work for humanity and the world. 

Who knows if there is or will ever be another Sri Aurobindo living in the world?   But the first and second phases of what he has prophesized is apparently being practiced by a limited number of individuals around the world, from various spiritual traditions who have recognized their true essence, who understand the nature of the mind, and in whom the nature of all things is not obscured. 

Sri Aurobindo realized the limitations of the human mind along with its emotional and physcial nature were too great for man’s raw nature to naturally evolve and crystallize into pure intelligence and compassion.   It would have to be transformed.   This would demand transformation of individual egoism and a deep understanding and experience of the connectedness and interdependence between all beings and all things.

To understand that interdependence,  physical and cellular consciousness would have to enlarge and universalize itself.   Mental silence, vital peace and cosmic consciousness would then be absolutes for transformation.  One must come to the awareness that “the mind is everywhere” and that complete transformation is not possible for the individual unless there is a minimum transformation by all.

 
 

Reflections on the Sky

The School of Ancient Wisdom just outside Bangalore is a very special place, with a strong Theosophical vibration.   We have been giving seminars there for the last ten years.   It was built aobut 20 years ago, designed and funded by a lovely architect from Singapore.  Madame is an creative spiritual dynamo and mystical visionary who literally dreamed the place into existence.  She also dreamed up Ram, the man who has managed the School and retreat center.  

 This sanctuary of flower gardens, pavillions, fish ponds, statues and gazebos was originally built on about 80 acres of dry barren desert land.   That, there is water and a lush tropical paradise in this location is in itself is a miracle of the Masters and devas, that surely abide here.  It is  a place of learning, healing and transformation. 

The Advanced Training began and ended splendidly.  As we ended the training Beauty was radiating from every face…I say this with all sincerity.   Awareness is often compared to a cloudless sky, naked,  luminous and bright.   That was the expression I saw on their faces … faces without any hint of a mask or mood, just purely innocent and joyful. 

We participated in a week of long days, disciplined by practices of asana, meditation, pranayama, mantra and open-eyed minfulness.   The Indian students took it all in with great enthusiasm and incredible devotion.   But as the long days pass,  discipline can waver a bit,  as the body objects and burns, and attention wanders and the mind rebels     That is when the mantra yagnas are especially powerful.

There is something quite moving that happens when you  participate in fire ceremonies, especially when they are outside in powerful places in Nature.  You can feel quite  connected to Nature Herself.   During the yagna we had in Badrinath on our  ashram grounds,  the sky changed quite literally in the blink of an eye.  The cloudless sky was all at once, covered in clouds in the most amazing patterns… as if God himself were skipping stones across the sky… a tapestry perfectly repeated like an intricate kniting pattern covering the whole expanse of the valley.   And then again in a blink of an eye.. clouds that formed a trident, clear and defined.  The trident (spear) is a powerful symbol for both Shiva and Shakti.  It delighted us all into tears.

During the advanced training at the School of Ancient Wisdom, we had a different experience.  But again it began with a cloudless sky.   This time the clouds formed dark just over a group of the students seated chanting at the fire.   And it rained.   In fact it poured for about 45 minutes.   A delight of rain and floral frangrances waffed through the open windows in the room, where we were sitting during mantra diksha.   And then it stopped.  And when the chanters came into the room for mantras, they did not look drenched.   Without umbrellas, their hair and clothes had somehow managed to stay quite dry.   Blessings had rained on them.  They were high with joy and gratitude. 

The fire ceremoney with the rain had been particularly purifying they told me.  Some reported that their physical pain or confusion had been cleansed as they tossed grain into the fire and been washed by the rain.  All they experienced was emptiness and presence. 

I touched the shoulder of the woman seated next to me, her scarf was dry.

Face-to-face with the appearance of change

What a surprise it was to experience Delhi this year.   The gleaming glass and chrome Indira Gandhi International Airport.  Long gone are the long lines through rambling corridors, dreary arrival hall, sticky floors, smoothering smells, the rush to stand at the luggage carousel hoping that your bags will finally arrive.   Everything now works like clockwork.  It is a beautiful architectural achievement,  amazing art on the walls,  sculpture of the Sun Saluation, a shopping mall…everything efficient and everyone dressed stunningly… only mismatched and dishevled appearances are on the western visitors coming and going.

Delhi is all about appearances.    There is great wealth and great poverty.    Little has changed for the poor, except that you dont see them  if you remain on the main thorough-fares from airport to five star hotels and the  business areas.

We visited an area called Chandni Chowk.   This is the oldest and businest shopping district… people,  shopping shoulder-to-shoulder  for everything from spices,  shoes, fancy stationary to building supplies.     We are shopping for lighting and power sockets, plumbing, and kitchen fixtures and heating appliances for the Badri ashram.   It is a fascinating area which has not changed in decades.   It is the district for buying wholesale.

We push through crowds of business owners, women in burkas shopping, children returning from school.   Many people moving on bicycle rickshaws along the alleys and busy streets.   At one point we find ourselves in a traffic jam, in a long line of rickshaws waiting for twenty minutes in queue.   I watch a man making fresh lavash a few steps away, another making cookies, long enough to enjoy both tasty treats.   Although I am fascinated by everyone, no one looks at me, except the groups of  laughing school girls.

Purchasing building supplies was surprisingly enjoyable.  No warehouse shopping or catelogs, all was done in small shops run by men with strong family resemblances.  It took all morning and most of the afternoon to complete the shopping list. But we feel pleased that we have made so much progress on deciding such things to finish off the apartments and Meditation Hall.   If only the building goes this smoothly next season!

Nothing here had changed I say.   Moments later…

We see the brand new Metro Station on the corner across the street.

We decide to go back to the hotel via the subway, so we climb over people, bicycles and push back the rickshaws that want to mow us down as we cross the street and enter the station.   We move through metal detectors and have our backpacks checked.   We are frisked.   A ticket is 8 rupees.   Probably the very best deal in Delhi.   The subway is bright and shiny and amazingly empty.   Placing the token at the gate, I press through the gate, look up and there right in front of me is a soldier, with a full-loaded, i assume, machine gun, pointed right at us.    The soldier looks as though he is ready to fire  when  necessary.    I blinked a few times.   I looked at Govindan.   He glanced back at me, we walked on to the trains.

 

 

One particular day and moment in Badrinath

The ashram in Badrinath will be completed in the next few years.  All kinds of obstacles have hindered progress, but on this day I feel nothing but enthusiasm and can envision the first six apartments completed and ready for use by summer of 2012 and the Meditation Hall construction well on its way towards finishing up about the same time.

It is really a miracle to me to watch construction here on the hillside on the opposite side of the Alakananda River, directly below Neelakantha Peak (21,600 ft.)   A four hour trek up the Narayan mountain takes one to the base of Neelakantha. The hike is like a taking a straight path up to heaven.

The location of the ashram is difficult for the construction workers.   Workers have to carry all the building supplies, rocks, cement mix, rebar, doors, glass, the furniture, etc. on their backs for the kilometer or so, over a suspension bridge and up the steep steps.    Many of the workers seem very young, most of them this year have come from Bihar.   They seem rather disinterested and reluctant to work very hard.   There are only a few workers in town now, due to the ban on construction in all of Badrinath and the lateness in the season.  Badrinath, Gangotri, Kedarnath have all had building bans in effect for several years now.   We do everything, under the radar,  so to speak.

Up until  this moment the ban and the need for an extra strong foundations in this cold, snowy, avalance prone,  rather unforgiving region has made me less than confident that the ashram would be more than a strong foundation, a few pillars and alot of dashed dreams.    But today, I feel nothing but assurance that there will be a Babaji’s Kriya Yoga Ashram in Badrinath one day, which will support sadhana for thousands of people for a hundred years!

All the participants in this years pilgrimage to the Himalayas are high with enthusiasm and anticipation of the Ashram.   Many put on work gloves and get right to work, leveling land, carrying water, mixing cement, laying cement.    Everyone in sight of the  funny assembly line of Spanish, Brazilian and Swiss and Indians preparing and laying cement smile and stare with curiosity.

The altitude in Badrinath is over 10,000 ft., higher at the ashram site.  There is stress on heart and lungs, but at the same time the site feeds the soul and energizes us.  All kriyabans are so focused, so involved in what they are doing, that the Bihari workers get caught up in the same energy and begin to work at the same pace.  At the end of the afternoon work, everyone claps applause in appreciation.

Apparently there is at least one person, not so happy with what he sees.  A mouni baba, who recently built a nice blue house just above the ashram ( built during the building ban),  watches us as he rushes by… Govindan calls him over to introduce himself.  The Baba acts friendly and asks alot of questions.  Govindan explains what is planned.    The Baba is nothing but encouraging and says as he leaves, “All one has to do is to brush the dust away, and all you see is God.”    With that he walked down the mountain and apparently directly to the local magistrate and complained about the activity of building at our site!   We were notified later in the day of his complaint.

The next day construction activity continued.

There is another Mouni Baba who has an ashram just below us.  It is a high, bright red building that grabs attention the moment you arrive in Badrinath.  Twenty or more flags wave from the rooftop.  Mouni Baba dresses in bright red and now he is wearing his hair long, in dread locks that reach past his knee.  New is a sign in English claiming to be a Kriya Yoga Teaching Center, his photo on a huge posture with Babaji above his head, pasted to the entrance of his ashram.    He is a colorful sadhu in all ways.   We sat with him for about 45 minutes discussing the importance of opening chakras.   He is all about the power he confesses, ” Shakti power is all important.   It keeps others from attaching him.”   His plans is to build a huge ashram in the space between our two present sites.  We look at the material he hands us requesting a $20,000 donation towards building.

There is no clean, quiet, place for more than a few people to gather together in Badrinath, so I have long longed for a Yoga and meditaition Hall for us to use.   Most halls here are small or smoky, cold and dark.

All the pilgrims with us have found their favorite mediatation spots and many a small flat area to do some asana.  The energy of the mountains and that generated by all the sadhus who have practiced Yoga and meditation over the ages have created a magnificient vortex, which carries us all away into deep and profound meditative perception.   No one is frustrated either by a busy mind or an unsteady body.    Something magical happens in this place, the mind empties, becoms vibrant and clear.

Sitting at the ashram construction, my back against a stone wall of a small hut, storing grain for the cows.  Rising in front of me is a massive mountain range.   Then enormity of the Nara and Narayana Mountains surrounding me takes my mind and breath away.   There is snow on the mountain tops and a quietness that engulfs the entire area.  It invites, or rather instills stability and devotion in one.

For meditation to be strong one needs stability and devotion… devotion and conviction to the teachings, to the techniques, to the lineage.   Then  the practices will be powerful and profoundly transformative.  Without these, meditation can be tranquilizing.   But it is conviction and persistence which will result in samadhi and some form of liberation.  Devotion brings the final results.

Babaji Kriyayogis are an amazing group of individuals because they have taken Mahasiddha Babaji as their personal Guru and  have full faith in the teachings and techniques of the tradition.   It is that full faith in the teachings that leads one to the Impersonal Absolute and liberation.   The Kriya Sangam is a network of interdependent caring individuals willing to do the work required to attain spiritually and to keep the sangam strong.

A loud mowing breaks my contemplation.   Looking up I feel an affection for the cow that is making my acquaintance over the stone way in the neighboring field.   The cows here are charming creatures,  well-cared for and respected.   Four women are walking up the hillside, bent way over, carrying about forty pounds of hay on their backs.   Two women talk so loudly to each other, that their voices are carried in the wind through the vast spaces to me, as if they are just a few steps away.   The ladies here all have  lined faces, laughing eyes, filled with curiosity even though they rarely smile.   It would be interesting to learn Hindi so that I can have some converstation with them.

The smallest cow I see is mooing louder and louder, like a child who is not being listened to by its mother and irritated by it.    The huge cow chowing down near me has enormous curved horns that looks vaguely  like some exotic musical instrument made from a rich mahogany.   His black fur looks like velvet.  T his is one healthy cow.   The milk they produce tastes quite sweet due to the sweet spicy herbs which is an important part of their diet.   When we begin to stay here at the ashram, Rohit says the villages will deliver milk and vegetables daily.   It will be like living in another world, an earler, simpler era.   What benefits we will all gain just from that experience – free from the pull of politics and complexity of modern life for a while.   Only thing demanded is patience, patience with the uncertain and changeable weather, the black outs of electricity, the cows that hog the walkways, with each other.

No one can remain unchanged.  Badrinath transfixes me.