Five Steps to Kriya Yoga

Speech by Swami Satyananda at the Sliver Jubilee World Yoga Convention held in Bogotá, Colombia, 1975

We are celebrating the birth, the awakening of man through the yogic process of constant self awareness and self discipline. When this man is born he carries with him something which is enlightening, something which compels us to be aware of a higher consciousness within.

Though the concept of yoga has travelled from the land of India to the rest of the continents, it is universal. There was a period in history when the world-wide culture was yogic. However, the ravages of time and the political blunders of our ancestors completely destroyed this culture. But as destiny would have it there was a land which managed to protect and preserve this universal tradition with great perseverance, under extreme trials. It was not the kings who preserved it, nor the captains, brigadiers or marshals, but the swamis who had taken a vow of self-imposed poverty end self-abnegation. They themselves preserved for us and also for posterity a system of life, of thinking, of social discipline and behaviour. They had enough patience to keep this science within their hearts for centuries and centuries until the day came when man all over the world would begin to question his beliefs, his way of life, would open his mind and begin to seek.

Finally in the twentieth century this has started to happen end now swamis are coming out of that country, India, to give man what his ancestors lost, failed to protect It was not a religion or politics but a way of thinking, a way of living a harmonious, healthy and peaceful life in perfection and plenitude.

Please remember this and do not put forth the silly argument that 'Yoga is Indian'. No, a science discovered by any scientist in any corner of the earth is not a German science, a Colombian science, a British science a Russian science. It is a science. Einstein was German, but that doesn't make the atomic theory German. He was also a Jew, but the atomic theory isn't Jewish. Science has no nationality, no religion, no barriers. It is the search for the troth of the substance, and yoga is also that.

When the swamis came from India, they did not bring their culture, religion, taboos and beliefs. They did not come to convert or change men but to give him something which his ancestors had failed to protect. This science of yoga is therefore man's culture. Whether you are Hindu, Muslim, Christian, communist or atheist, you still have your problems, you can't deny it. You have your psychoses, neuroses end manias. Is a Christian's mania different from a Hindu's? Is a Muslim's psychosis different from a Christian's? Not Problems are universal; they are the same with you, me and everyone. Therefore I can never accept that yoga is a part of Hindu philosophy or a part of Indian culture and that it is being inducted elsewhere. Thinking people it all parts of the world must understand that the practice of yoga is universal. It will help everyone to overcome physical and mental limitations, and experience the plenitude of life.

Take kriya yoga, for example. I have personally found references to it in ancient texts, traditions and archaeological relics. In the original tantric scriptures which were preserved in India and Tibet, the names of more than seventy kriyas and the way they should be practiced are clearly indicated. Of these seventy, I understand only about twenty-seven or so, the rest are very difficult. Of these twenty-seven, thirteen are most important. I have been instructing people in kriya yoga for over two decades and have found that it brings a harmonious development of body, mind and spirit.

Each kriya is so powerful that the practitioner no longer needs to devote a lot of time to physical and mental problems. Take, for example, the kriya known as maha mudra or 'the great posture'. I have helped many persons who were heading towards suicide, suffering from manias, or on the verge of a nervous breakdown. I just taught them this one kriya, maha mudra and to my surprise I found that it brought about a tremendous change in their psychological makeup. Why is this? Maha mudra is very simple. It only takes about seven to nine minutes to perform, although it has to be done perfectly, systematically, according to the instructions of the teacher. This kriya is not particularly oriental. It is a way, a panacea, a remedy for every man. Suicidal tendencies, manias, psychological and psychosomatic ailments are international in nature. So there must be an international system to eliminate them. That international system is yoga, and it is in this light that yoga comes back to you.

I can give you more examples of kriya yoga in which I will be frank and clear. I hope the orthodox people will not mind this. There are three important practices in kriya yoga which form a major part of all kriyas. These are khechari, vajroli and ojhi. In khechari you fold the tongue back against the upper palate. After practicing this for a few years the tongue gets elongated and enters into the nasal orifices where it stimulates certain nerve endings. These nerve endings are directly connected with the bindu chakra, the seat of nectar or amrit located near the cranial passage. This is a physiological secretion, not just a philosophical thing, which has to be stimulated and brought down like the thyroid, adrenal and pancreatic secretions, for fulfilment of bodily activities. Likewise this secretion should be brought down so that it nourishes the body and stops the process of catabolism, the destruction of cells. For that purpose the practice of khechari is very important in kriya yoga. If you are lucky and regular, maybe after a few years of practice, the nectar will flew. When it flows the physiological structure of the body is revitalized and rejuvenated, at this stage, however, the practitioner must be very careful because there is a process of fire in the body which consumes everything. It is said that by kriya you release the nectar, but the sun dries it up. So the aspirant of kriya yoga should practice vajroli. In vajroli sexual energy is sublimated; semen is not produced. Sexual energy must help you, must give you vitality and strength because you are all committed to it. You cannot just deny it; you cannot just refuse it. However, an act to which you are committed should not breed nervous breakdowns, weakness, imbalance, frustration, frigidity, impotence, guilt, inhibition and, and shyness. It must make you confident, brilliant, full of vigour and vitality. Vajroli achieves this by controlling the production of semen inside.

This is beneficial in two ways. Firstly, the nervous input is not depleted, and secondly, the brain which supplies energy to the sexual organs is not drained of vitality. With vajroli, your energy level is higher after than it was before. Vajroli gives its practitioner absolute control over the influx of energy and the processes going on in the testicles. When the sexual hormones are stimulated, the energy comes to a point of boiling, a point of climax, then suddenly it drops. That particular event in sexual life, if you are committed to it, must be avoided. Vajroli is the kriya for that. I'm sorry for being so outspoken, but these are the facts of life and you can't just close your eyes and ears to them.

Women are the most frustrated souls as far as sexual life is concerned. Consult psychology, consult physiology. Men do not know their difficulty and will never know it. Women do not understand what is bothering them either. They just submit themselves to sexual life because that is the natural tradition and then they suffer from all kinds of manias and guilts. Kriya says, practice ojhi. By contracting certain nerves within the system women can experience a point of plenitude in sexual life. Through the practice of ojhi kriya they can become masters of the glandular and nerve functions. This has many benefits. The practitioner is happy, she is full, she is one with her husband at all times - no frustration, no fights, no divorce. Ojhi kriya also gives her control over conception so that she conceives a child only when she chooses and avoids conception when she doesn't want it.

These are some examples of kriya yoga in relation to the most acute and basic problems of every married and unmarried person. But there is another problem for the spiritual seeker which, I think, no system other than kriya yoga can manage. How to separate the astral and the causal body from the gross consciousness. Unless you are able to separate these three, one from another, you are not going to have higher spiritual experiences. But they are integral intertwined with one another and the process of separation of the astral consciousness from the gross consciousness, and the causal consciousness from the astral consciousness is a very, very difficult job.

In this respect kriya yoga is like a ladder connecting earth with heaven, the gross with the astral and spiritual. At first the consciousness has to be led up each step with the eyes open, but after a certain point the practices become automatic and then they are performed with the eyes closed.

Those spiritual seekers who want to break the bondage of matter over mind and mind over spirit, will find out how difficult this is. To aid this process, ujjayi pranayama, psychic breathing, is utilized in most kriyas. Contract the glottis and breaths with a slight snoring sound for fifteen minutes or half an hour. Suddenly you will feel that you are slipping out of the body and that you are somewhere else. This is how yoga helps overcome physical, material, earthly problems and allows you to fulfil the spiritual ambition which you cherish in your heart: to be one with the higher self, to break the bondage of maya (the gross), to overcome the mental limitations, to unite with the spirit. This is the mission of yoga in every country, on every continent.

Those people who are really interested in taking up kriya yoga must remember that these are advanced practices. One cannot start them straight away, just as one cannot directly join a post graduate course in the university and get a Ph.D. without completing the undergraduate courses. Those who want a system for breaking the bondage of the gross over the mental and the mental over the spiritual must start with the first course, hatha yoga. These practices purify the whale body - glands, all the systems, mucus membranes, etc.

Second, pranayama must be practiced for a sustained period until the whole brain and all the elements of the body are purified. You must not practice for one or two months only and then say, 'Now I have learned pranayama'. That's not enough. It's not the learning of hatha yoga, nor the learning of pranayama, but the assimilation of the entire practice, of the whole system, which is required.

Third, devotional prayers are very important for the purification of emotional toxins. It doesn't matter if they are to God, guru, ancestors, terrestrial or celestial divinities, prayers should be said and sung. By this you can eliminate a great part of your karma, you can dispel much of your destiny.

Fourth, yogic diet is necessary, not so much in the beginning but later on. After practicing hatha yoga, pranayama and prayers, the inner temperature of the body drops and the behaviour of all the bodily systems under goes a change. When the bodily systems change the diet must also be changed to simple, light food which is easy to digest and assimilate.

Fifth, after diet comes a most important thing: facing experiences. It is not easy to face spiritual experiences; it is not a joke. The sublime experience for which millions have yearned for centuries together, for which many have renounces all attachments in life- wife, family, property, personal comfort and pleasure, is that experience so tiny that you can just start practicing kriya yoga and then have it? Nonsense! Can you face any experience? Can you face a slap from me right now? If a telegram comes saying that your wife is dead, can you face that experience? Can you face the experience of winning a lottery - one million pesos? When you cannot even face the physiological, psychological and para-psychological experiences, then how can you face the light? Are you ready for it? It is not enough to wish for it; you must deserve it. What have you done to deserve it? Are you above pleasure and pain? You must be above the experiences of pleasure and pain which are of a psychological nature before you can face the experiences of a spiritual nature. Years ago I had an experience; it was wonderful and terrible at the same time and I couldn't face it. I was sitting quietly on the bank of the Ganges when suddenly I transcended the body an found myself everywhere - on the earth, moon, Jupiter, Venus, everywhere was Swamiji and Swamiji. I never wanted that experience and I couldn't control it. It is only by the grace of guru that I am not crazy today. Some swamis nearby heard me cry aloud, 'No! No-I don't want it'. I cried 'No!' as if somebody was holding me by the throat and strangling the life out of me. But I was unconscious, unaware; then suddenly I fainted for a few minutes. When I returned to consciousness, I sold I would never meditate because didn't want to face that experience again. So if you sincerely and seriously want to practice kriya yoga, you must be efficient, qualified, deserving and ready to face any experience that He may bestow on you. Then you will never say, 'No!' as I did.

After that experience I never thought about meditation, I said, 'I will serve my guru, clean the ashram, carry the luggage and the loads, collect wood. I will do all kinds of jobs, but I will not close my eyes'. This is one of the reasons why I don't join kirtan even today. I'm afraid. Many times I made the mistake of joining kirtan and I just barely escaped accidents.

You see, super consciousness is not a joke, not a simple experience that every Tom, Dick and Harry can have or give. Only the ordained ones can do this, those who have come for that purpose. It is not by the practice of yoga that you become a guru. No, the guru comes by order, he's commissioned.