Techniques for Transcendence

Swami Satyananda Saraswati - Given at the Dublin Convention on 23rd September

We have heard a lot about the new frontiers of consciousness, about prana and kundalini, about energy, limited and unlimited. But do we really understand how to utilise this knowledge; how to make it a reality, an experience in our life? Today people are no longer content with concepts. They want realisation, and so it is to the science and practices of kundalini yoga that they must turn.

In kundalini yoga, the highest practice that has been designed for the evolution of the human body, brain and mind, is kriya yoga. Of course, even if you do not practise kriya yoga, or if you do not practise yoga at all, the evolution that is spontaneous and natural will continue to take place, but before that, millions of years would have passed.

Evolution is an automatic process and every being, every item of creation, is subject to it. Nobody is exempt from it. Therefore, the great rishis and seers investigated and discovered the laws of evolution and designed the practices of kriya yoga in order to accelerate this process.

Kriya yoga is a series of practices in which you do not bother about the mind, about the stability of the body or whether you can sit in the lotus posture or not. By means of the practices you create a base in the physical body through which you can stimulate the higher areas of consciousness.

These practices are most ancient and at one time they were known to all people in the world. The gurus initiated disciples, and the disciples passed the knowledge on from tradition to tradition, through generation after generation, and people practised them in privacy.

The kriya practices aim at expansion of the mind and liberation of energy. The two principles known in life, and in body and mind, are Shiva and Shakti, consciousness and energy. Matter is a form of energy and is not different from it. When we say Shakti you must understand that we mean both the matter and the creation. Energy and matter should never be explained, interpreted or expressed as two; they are one. When we say Shiva, we mean consciousness. Consciousness is the greatest homogeneity of individual existence. It is apart from life, apart from creation. It is a silent witness of all that is happening.

Shakti is the most important subject discussed in tantra, yoga, and every religion. The manifestation of Shakti takes place at a different level of human existence. Prana is Shakti; mind is Shakti; but these are limited Shakti; limited eminences. The unlimited source of energy is dormant and is known as kundalini. When we say kundalini we mean that infinite energy, and sushumna and the central nervous system are the pathway. The purpose of kriya yoga is to awaken this greater form of energy.

How to practise

These practices are very simple, but today, in both east and west, they are being introduced as a system of physical culture without explaining their purpose or how to practise them correctly. For example, take vipareeta karani mudra. It is a practice which reverses the whole life process. There is a liquid known as nectar, amrit, or ambrosia, which is secreted in the body.

The yoga scriptures teach that, if the moon (bindu) ejects nectar and the sun (manipura) consumes it, one dies a premature death. A wise yogi must reverse this process. The process of evolution is to direct this important fluid back, so as to assimilate the liquid.

Below bindu visarga in the cranial region, this little drop of nectar is produced by almighty nature. Khechari mudra, the practice of folding the tongue back and holding it against the upper palate, enables you to monitor, to stimulate, that particular gland which is responsible for the ejection of this liquid from the higher regions to the physical system. But perfection of this practice usually takes years.

Please do not think that the purpose of this nectar is just to rejuvenate the body. Yogis and yoga practitioners do not practise yoga to fight or avert death. Death comes to all, no matter how small or how great they are. It is not to overcome death, disease or old age, but to influence the cerebral fluid, that the flow of amrit has to be reversed in vipareeta karani mudra. When you practise vipareeta karani mudra, you synchronise the flow of the breath with the flow of amrit. On inhalation the amrit flows back up the spinal passage from manipura, the solar plexus, to ajna chakra. On exhalation, the breath returns to manipura. The process is repeated several times until all the nectar is withdrawn from the solar system back up to the higher regions. This is the first practice of kriya yoga.

From this you can understand how kriya yoga tackles the eternal problem of mankind. The eternal problem of man is not his habits. The eternal problem of man is his own mind and thoughts. If you only knew how to jump over your mind, then you would have great thoughts. Can the mind jump beyond the mind? This is the problem. Unless you solve this problem, everything is a plan, with a program written on a piece of paper, that's all! People keep on walking around in circles for ages and ages and in the end they find themselves back where they started from. This has been happening to most people, not because they are incapable, defective or unqualified, but because they are not being taught the methods of transcendence and the right way to practise them. After all, we do not know where we stand. We do not know where our consciousness is. We have created certain imaginary characteristics about ourselves, because we are not sure who we are. Scientists have said, 'We may be just a game, just a creation of time, space and mind.' If we are that, we should know and if we are not that, we should know it also.

No need to fear

The whole process of yoga is for transformation of body, mind and soul. We have to start yoga and complete it, no matter how difficult it is. Don't be frightened by kundalini yoga. Every adventure has its own risk. Throughout the year I travel on planes and that's a great risk. The risk of kundalini awakening is far less than that. If anything at all goes wrong during kundalini arousal there are so many good swamis, teachers and brothers who can put you right, but if the plane crashes there is no hope at all.

Don't be afraid of pranayama, it's wrong to be afraid. It is the most pleasant, and I think the nicest thing in life to sit down quietly, breathe in and hold the breath for one minute or half a minute. If you transcend the human plane of consciousness during pranayama you go straight to heaven! Don't be frightened about any yogic practice. If at all you hear anything said against yoga, it is usually being said by people who have no personal experience or scientific evidence. Just because someone has a bad experience while practising kriya yoga, kundalini yoga, or pranayama, does not mean that such experiences occur as a general rule. Many people die while they are praying; but this doesn't mean that if you pray you will die. So have no fear of yoga, whether it is asanas, pranayama, mudras or bandhas.

People are afraid of trying. They want all the protein, calcium, and fuel of life, but what do they get? High blood pressure and arthritis. Yet one month of yoga, without protein and calcium, and their blood pressure goes down, their arthritis disappears. Like this, man has created his own blocks and fears about those things which are responsible for his physical, mental and spiritual evolution.

When you practise kriya yoga and the awakening of kundalini takes place, what happens? Inner experiences become very strong and for a few days you are not interested in anything external - in eating, in talking, in working. Something wonderful takes place, and for a few days you just want to remain immersed in this experience. After all, this awakening is one of man's greatest achievements and all of us have been waiting for that great day, when we will be able to cross the boundaries of our life and step into a different dimension of consciousness. From that dimension we shall see both in and out. That day will be the greatest day for man, when he shall be able to bring about a total unity between the inner and outer experience.

At the moment, inside and outside are two different dimensions of experience. After the awakening of kundalini, these two do not exist anymore. There is only one dimension of experience. But now man does not see the whole, and so he is blind.

The practices of kriya yoga will go a long way towards awakening our spiritual potential. There are many yogic techniques, and all have their place, but the practices of kriya yoga are far superior, far better planned, and they are easily accessible to the people of our age.