KRIYA YOGA: THE ANTIDOTE FOR DESPAIR-Written by S. Maitreyananda
Inch by inch, Yoga’s a cinch; yard by yard, it is impossibly hard.
When you call a cat, you don’t just say “here kitty”. To be affective with this mantra requires a “kitty kitty kitty kitty”; repetition and persistence are vital to success.
The archetype of Saturn, that of steadfastness, building, patience, persistence is a primary force of creation and manifestation in our lives. As any yogi quickly learns, change happens over time.
The term Kriya yoga is defined in Patanjalis yoga sutras as the actions of tapas/creating heat, Svadhyaya or self-enquiry and; Ishvara Pranidhan/attunement to one’s own pure and unadulterated expression.
In a more secular sense Kriya yoga can be understood as the using of our free will to bring about greater balance and happiness into our lives and by extension into the world we inhabit.
This is much easier said than done since most of our actions, thoughts, or desires if left unexamined are not within the realm of our Will at all.
“For my first act of free will,
I choose to believe in Free Will”
While the arguments about Free Will vs determinism are as old as philosophy itself, Kriya Yoga affirms free will’s power in our lives absolutely. It is in fact the only real power we have to counter the otherwise unconscious manifestations of our karma.
While we do have Free Will, we don’t have a lot of it. Just asking the simple question - do you consciously digest you own food? Or, who chooses when you will die? This our countless other enquires indicate how much of life occurs below the surface of our control. We do however have tools available - rituals, patterns, and ideas that we can change.
Attitude is all
We can change our attitude, our actions, our thoughts, our patterns (mantra/tantra/yantra) and these small changes, well within the power of our Will can have tremendous affect and influence.
Make our lives a conscious ritual/
There is an aboriginal American story that goes; “One day the student asks the elder wise woman, “What is Spirit?” In reply the old teacher says ”All I know is that within me there are two wolves, one is black and one is white and forever they fight each other.” “Which one wins?” asks student. “Whichever one I feed,” replies the elder”.
Or said more plainly - That which we nurture grows, what we neglect will fades away.
Goswami Kriyananda shares a profound, empowering and simple truth; “We will always find time to do that which we enjoy, and always find a way to avoid that which we do not enjoy”
This teaching is foundational to fulfilling any dream, bringing about any resolution, making any progress.
If we want to create anew, if we want to uphold a resolution, if we seek to nurture growth we MUST make it fun. If one is seeking to re-dedicate oneself to their hatha practice or to meditation, to generosity or a diet it is imperative that we always find it enjoyable or else our very nature will find a way to sabotage our dedication and that self sabotage will serve to further weaken the use of the power of our Will.
Another arrow in our quiver we can employ (we are all Krishna after all) - is to use rituals we can build upon. One such ritual can be to stop what we are doing before we feel fulfilled.
If your meditation is feeling wonderful, stop before it is absolutely fulfilling. If your hatha session is filling you with bliss, stop before you are completely exhausted or satisfied in your asana practice. Hold onto the moment of completion longer and in this way strengthen the memory pattern of fulfillment. By doing this the rest of your day will be filled with the feeling of “oh, I can’t wait to get back to my practice” rather than, “oh, wow, that was hard I’m so happy it’s over! Or, well that was satisfying; I think I will take the rest of the week off.
In these and other ways we can make our life a conscious ritual, a kriya; taking baby steps and actually completing our journey rather than setting it aside creating yet another samskara of failure.
“Always move from success to greater success”
It is important if we are to build our Will into a stronger force in our lives that we employ our sub-conscious mind to be our friend.
If we make plans that are too difficult to complete, or unrealistic for our ability we will inevitably fail. This process serves to undercut the power of our sub-conscious as an ally in bringing about our goals. To change this, make certain that when you say; “ I am going to do this!” that it is something that you will absolutely do.
“Keep it simple, make it fun”
For instance, tell yourself you are going to drink a cup of your favorite tea each day for a week, and do it. Or, commit to looking your lover in the eyes when you say hello or goodbye and do it. Be creative, be silly, keep it simple make it fun, but make it something you will do. Then after some simple success, ramp it up, make it a little bit harder but again make certain that you accomplish what you have told your mind you would do.
“If you can’t keep the cow in the pasture,
give it a bigger pasture” - D.T Suzuki
If we do not accomplish what we say if we do not practice satya the next time we set out to do something our sub-conscious mind will be there saying.. yea.. right... ahh, just like the last time, “I don’t think so.” And in this way our ability is weakened - the power of our Will diminished - our force at best dissipated or worse - used to further empower a pattern of limitation.
In this way, by utilizing this type of ritual one can make ones unconscious mind your friend in applying your Will and in a very short period of time your Will becomes stronger and stronger and what ever you set out to do will be easily accomplished. But don’t be greedy; practice aparigrapha! Don’t start off by creating an un-joyful expectation that you will never be able to sustain.
“Don’t fight for your own limitations”
Most people do not engage this type of conscious power in their lives to any meaningful extent. To make matters a bit more precarious, the amount of Free Will we can actually bring into force within our lives is only about 3% based in the active influential orb of the Sun as it transits our horashashtra.
While this may seem discouraging, we can take heart in recognizing that what we do in even the smallest of ways can and does have expansive ramifications when done with purity and persistence. By purity here I mean unencumbered.
“One small acorn can in time support an entire ecosystem”
Saucha in our thoughts is key to cleanliness of intent. While saucha has to do with the cleansing of the body gross and subtle, it is also about making the mind and sub-conscious clean of clutter. Without this practice of saucha the samskaras that serve to dissipate and divert our creative ability will remain in full force continually bringing into our experience the karmas of our past.
Constant practice and continual discrimination bring about growth.
“When through constant practice we begin to discriminate, ignorance will
vanish, and the Purusha will begin to shine in its real nature - omniscient,
omnipotent, omnipresent.- Swami Vivikanada
“Aham Brahmsmi” the sage declares! I AM Brahman! I am the
“Just as it is the nature of the bird to fly,
or for water to be wet,
it is the nature of the human to create!”
But here’s the rub. We create all the time - whether or not we seek to or not. We create both through our inaction and through our action, what we say yes to and when we say no. We create internal patterns through our feelings that give rise to emotions, emotions to thoughts. Creations become external when they move into our actions through our passions or our indifference, through our prejudices or our loyalties.
Karma is the unconscious, or unexamined, non-willful action or inaction. Kriya is the act of bringing balanced self-conscience awareness or the power of our unencumbered Will to the actions and motivations of our life.v
We are what we think,
Having become what we thought.
Like a wheel that follows the cart-pulling ox,
Sorrow follows an evil thought.
And joy follows a pure thought,
Like a shadow faithfully tailing a man.
We are what we think,
Having become what we thought.
Kriya Yoga is truly the only antidote for despair and is vital to any growth. To the degree we feel despair or ennui in our lives, we can recognize the need to dive more deeply into our practice to bring into Life the Joy of our own balanced self-conscious creation.
Om Tat Sat