Unlearning Garbage

AN EXPLORATION OF THE MISSION OF THE TEMPLE OF KRIYA YOGA

We have been taught a bunch of garbage.” As I’m sorting through paper after paper in order to find some inspiration, something to write about, I come across this sentence. It stuns me. Staying true to his voice, Goswami Kriyananda is blunt, he rarely beats around the bush. But this statement is jarring, more so than others, and I wonder why. I am taken aback partly because within this one sentence, there is a lot to unpack. While I’m certain he means to direct no negativity towards any group or people, he certainly is insinuating that people have been indoctrinated with nonsense. He puts it in simple terms, “we’ve been taught that this is an evil world and everybody in it is evil. We are here to suffer—God suffered—so we should suffer.”

If you’ve never heard that phrase before, then you probably have never been a part of an organized religion. But the Temple is not an organized religion. So what is it? Well, it’s been my mission for some time to figure that out. It’s been a difficult journey. Everyone has a different answer for me as to what the Temple is. We don’t have a singular written mission statement, or a logo or a motto. We don’t do “just” yoga or “just” meditation. We have so many things going on and so many different types of people. So how was I supposed to find one answer? It became my soul goal. The answer, I thought, must be in this paper entitled “The Mission of the Temple.”

So I continue to read. Goswami Kriyananda writes:  

“There’s a delusion in society that fundamental religion has taught-that the good is going to neutralize the bad. It doesn’t. They mix but one really doesn’t neutralize the other. For whatever reason, cultural or otherwise, the problem is, people tend to feel inferior and bad about themselves, and that manifests as negative thoughts, “I’m not worthy of this.” “I’m not worthy of being rich.” “I’m not worthy of having a beautiful partner.” “I’m not worthy of having happiness.” I hear it all the time in many different ways.”

When I first began to look for something to write about, I didn’t expect to connect to any text. As I have mentioned in previous blogs, I am somewhat of an outsider at the Temple. Not because I am treated as such, but because I just don’t have a ton of knowledge on Kriya Yoga or meditation or really anything that involves the Temple. So, when I read this section of text, I was caught off guard. The problem Goswami talks about, is MY problem. It is a constant in my life. It consumes my every day thoughts and creates more problems than the ones I already have. If I am not succeeding, “woe is me”, but even if I am, I consistently invalidate my success by telling myself I’m not deserving or that I simply got lucky. I am notoriously a self sabotager. Sitting at my desk in the Temple, it felt like Goswami was talking to me. I don’t write this to focus on myself, but in hopes that readers relate to these very common feelings. Goswami Kriyananda isn’t just talking to me, he’s talking to everyone.

In a world full of “body positive” campaigns and “love yourself” movements, nowadays there’s always someone or something to tell you to “start loving yourself”, “forget about others”, “you can do anything”. I just don’t think it’s that simple. Being happy is more than just a shift in mentality or thinking happy thoughts. You can’t just make the negative thoughts go away, if everyone had that power, no one would be unhappy.

But he continues:

“We are actually trying to help people improve their self-imagery, which may be a step beyond what the goal really is—to make them aware of what’s happening upstairs in their mind. Not to judge it good or bad but to recognize neti, neti, neti: it’s happening in my mind, but it’s not me, it’s my mind. Thoughts flow into our mind, we bump into them, they flow out and pass through. There is nothing wrong with that, but you need to understand, when you walk in the mud and your body gets muddy, you are not muddy. People psychically walk through psychic mud and they feel, “Oh I’m muddy and I’ll be muddy forever. There is no way I can ever remove that mud because God is punishing me. That is the nature of the negativity of life. So, the goal of the Temple is to help people become more aware of what’s happening in their mind and what they are thinking.”

This is a goal I can get behind. He isn’t saying that it’s one simple shift of thought, it’s several steps, and the first is becoming aware of the thoughts. The second stage, Goswami states, is “to begin, through various means, to soften the intensity of those negative thoughts, so we can think more constructively; to give techniques by which those things that are self-destructive are neutralized or set aside so that the more positive thought forms, thoughts and emotions begin to manifest.”

“The simple motto is: change your thinking, change your life; improve your thinking, improve your life.”

Okay, so once aware of the thoughts, both negative and positive, neutralize the self-destructive ones with specific techniques. The goal is not to be judgemental with yourself, but to become aware of the emotions and thoughts flowing through the mind, so they can be separated, not into good or bad, but into constructive or destructive.

For me, this is a huge revelation. Sometimes, all you have to do is change the terminology. In this instance, instead of constantly putting things into the categories of good and bad, I transform my thinking into “Is this constructive for me?” Thoughts should have a purpose, particularly a purpose that is useful.

And yet still, there is a third level: “to make people aware that nobody is in charge of their life and no one really has created their life except themselves.” Goswami continues “I have had many disciples say, “I would never do this to me,” and that’s the unawareness. They don’t know what they’ve been thinking. They don’t realize that the energy field of their karma is caused by what they have thought and therefore are thinking. They think that God or the devil has enslaved them, and it’s the nature of being that because the world is evil, we are evil. That thought has been very effective, and there are organizations that are more than delighted to help us punish ourselves in various ways.”

This is another moment I am left stunned. Goswami leaves nothing to interpretation. He calls it for what it is. And he’s right, there are many organizations out there that take advantage of the ways we already create pain for ourselves, instead of trying to help us learn how to get rid of it. BUT, the Temple of Kriya Yoga is also not a quick fix. It’s not like the chiropractor where, your back is in pain so you go in for an adjustment. Afterwards, you immediately feel better: a quick fix. Then, you go home and live your life the exact same as you did before. A couple days pass and once again you find yourself in back pain. So what do you do? Go back to the chiropractor, week after week. And then you complain that it’s the chiropractor's fault that you aren’t seeing real results.

Goswami writes:

“Karma is the lack of awareness. It is volitional and deliberate. It is the sum total of our actions—what we choose to think, say and do. Karma is set in motion when we deliberately and repeatedly do something. If you are unaware of your problems or even that you have problems, you will never be able to put energy into solving them. It is our reaction to life that causes problems. It is necessary to gain an emotional understanding of one’s self and your relationship to life. I will say it again, “That’s the mission of the temple. Everything is you. It is a creation of your own mind. Aham Brahmasmi is the recognition that you are the creative principle. This is the essence of self-revelation. There is no such thing as out there! It’s all you. You are this massive bowl of karma called Life. You are part of, not apart from life.”

That’s the secret. Your mind created the problem, therefore, only you have the power to solve it. The reason you have to keep going back to the chiropractor is because you go home and forget about it. You let other people try and fix you, instead of taking the steps to heal yourself. For example: I know my back pain is a result of me hunching on a daily basis, so first, I become aware of this and then I make an effort to adjust my posture. Maybe I also add in a daily yoga routine or stretches, learn ways I can sleep better, eat better foods.

The Temple has no time for proselytizing and no patience for fear mongering. It has no agenda to push or need to convert. The Temple doesn’t do dogma. So what does the Temple want? What does it do? Kriyananda states several different missions within the text-so is there really one answer? Maybe not. Are they all the right answers? I think so. Here’s how I see it: The Temple wants to help everyone by teaching them the tools and techniques to better their lives- on a spiritual level, on a physical health level and on a mental and emotional level. This can be through many different things: yoga, meditation, astrology, community and much more. Now, you may think help is not needed. But Goswami Kriyananda would argue: “We really should serve everybody: not an age group, not a religious group, not a cultural group, but the human group which can be broken into a few other groups. One contains those who are confused and want to become unconfused. Another has a few that want to mature, while those in the last and largest group say, “Don’t tell me the truth, that will upset me—it doesn’t make me feel good. We are really aiming to serve everyone that is in pain, or angry, or out of balance, and that, in my opinion, is everyone.”

I agree with him. Everyone needs help in one way or another. Everyone needs to learn and grow and better themselves in some way. I truly believe everyone can benefit from the teachings of the Temple. Everyone can have control of their lives and have the necessary tools to live a more fulfilled and happy life. It all starts at the Temple.

And there it is- I found my inspiration, something to write about- all thanks to some learned garbage- now it’s time to unlearn it.

CAITLIN ROSE EDWARDS IS A GRADUATE FROM THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA WITH A DEGREE IN THEATRE ARTS AND MINOR IN ENGLISH. SHE HAILS FROM DES MOINES, IA BUT HAS RECENTLY MOVED TO CHICAGO WITH HER FIANCÉ, WHERE SHE RESIDES IN LINCOLN SQUARE. SHE WORKS FOR THE TEMPLE OF KRIYA YOGA WHERE SHE ASSISTS THE MANAGER, TAMAR KATAMADZE.

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