Kriya Yoga plus Devotion
Excerpts from a talk at 2003 Convocation by Brother Anandamoy
It Works Like Mathematics — It Cannot Fail
Paramahansa Yogananda said,
Kriya Yoga plus devotion
– it works like mathematics
– it cannot fail.
With these few words Paramahansa Yogananda gave us the essence of the whole teaching. We must go over the points again and again because the world will teach us things completely contrary to the teachings. Even though we are going upward in the Yuga cycle, still we live in a very dark world.
Paramahansa Yogananda said,
To those who think me near, I am near.
More and more we are advancing – and more and more he is here - we are drawing him near. Many people come to the monastics, and they testify of life-changing experiences they have had here. There was a woman who came to very first Convocation who was 80 years old – she was just beginning on the path. But Paramahansa Yogananda said, "She will reach the goal in this life – she will find God in this life."
Do you know what that means?... You young kids have no excuse! You’ve got to make it in this life! A little less television – a little more meditation. ...
What is the purpose of life?
In 1920 Paramahansa Yogananda came to America and in his very first lecture at the first Congress of Religions he said what the purpose of life is. And it is in the great scriptures, but none are as clear as the Indian scriptures because they came from the higher ages.
The purpose of life is
to be free from suffering and
to attain infinite bliss consciousness – and that is God.
It is in "The Science of Religion" – it is there - but the world still doesn’t know, and that is why the world is such a mess. So paste it on your bathroom mirror, because the world tells you, “Life has no meaning”. We must make a conscious effort or we will waste our life. There is a saying in the Indian scriptures, “Know it now or after a thousand incarnations”, meaning, do you want to come back time and time again and miss the purpose of life?
Don’t seek fulfillment in the things of the world. Is there any other purpose? What else? Nothing. In ‘Man’s Eternal Quest’, Paramahansa Yogananda says that man is on this earth to find God. He is here for no other purpose. But many people do not understand. They come to us and say, “But I can’t just meditate. I have responsibilities – I have my work, I have my family.” What they do not understand is - that too is spiritual discipline. Your work, your marriage, your family, your whole life – everything is spiritual discipline. Daya Mata said, “Sadhana means meditation and right activity”, meaning you perform all your duties with the desire to please God.
The foundation of yoga is Yama/Niyama – the rules of right behaviour – living in harmony with the laws of God. You cannot go against the laws of God. But some members do not understand or do not want to understand.
Yoga is a recipe, and you must follow it exactly…. and you will get a cake.
Where is God?
He is omnipresent, everywhere. But if we are looking on the outside we won’t find Him. The faculties we use to perceive the outer world - the senses, the brain, the emotions - cannot perceive God. Only through the intuition of the soul can we find God, and that is why we must go inside. Interiorization - Krishna said this is the great secret – to seek God inside. The various scriptures – the Bible, the Gita, Patanjali - they all say the same thing. The Koran says, “Remember thy Lord within thyself.” The Bible says, “Be still and know that I am God.”
How to go within?
We have to go within, into the inner stillness. Patanjali said yoga is “stilling the waves of consciousness”. Control of the energy – pranayama is the key. That knowledge was lost and forgotten in the dark ages except for a few who were highly advanced. Religion eventually became all outer rituals in the dark ages, even in India.
Pranayama is energy control – to be still – until even the breath and heart are still. The energy operating in the senses must go back within. God does that for us every time we go to sleep – He turns the senses off and the energy goes inside. But it is unconscious passivity. Yoga is conscious passivity. With Kriya Yoga we are going inside and into the inner stillness. We use the techniques to help us do that – that’s the first phase. Then the other phase comes – and that is devotion.
There is a very important reason for that. It is for our benefit, but it’s not selfish. That feeling of devotion is the purest of all feelings. Our feeling is the most abused, even from the beginning when we are born and the sense organs begin to operate. That feeling is there right from the beginning of life - and feeling reacts to sensation. Even in a baby – when a baby is born the first thing the baby experiences is sensory experience. As soon as the sense organs begin to operate, that feeling reacts to the sensations coming in – feeling reacts from the very beginning and manifests as emotion, and we become completely body identified.
Now, the whole of creation is built on the principle of duality – pleasure/pain, etc. We are in duality and so the ego is saying, “I like this. I hate that”, and we become completely absorbed in this. We have to understand that we cannot find ultimate satisfaction in the things of the world – wealth, family, marriage – anything. Now understand - those things are not wrong - they are all part of the spiritual discipline. Sri Yukteswar told his disciple, Mukunda, “Learn to behave.” That is why devotion is so important. God says, “Instead of constantly letting your feeling react to dualities, instead of directing your feeling always without, why don’t you take those feelings and direct them inward and manifest devotion to Me?”
What is God?
God is Infinite Bliss Consciousness. Can we understand this? No, the mind cannot understand that – the mind cannot understand infinity – the mind is too limited.
How can you love?
God loves the personal relationship with his devotee. In order to feel devotion we must bring God down to a concept we can understand – this is very important. Enter the quiet heart, and choose a concept of God that rouses devotion in you – Father, Mother, Beloved, Friend – it’s up to you.
And then there is another aspect: a great Rishi in a higher age in India said that if you can’t think of the Absolute – and you can’t until you are fully realized - then think of the form of an avatar. In my own personal sadhana I liked the idea of my guru as God – Paramahansa Yogananda is my "ishta", or concept of God.
Every once in a while God comes down as an avatar. The great avatars - Rama, Krishna, Buddha, Jesus, Patanjali, our line of Gurus – most people didn’t recognize them. That’s why in the Bible when Jesus is going away soon, Philip says to him, “Lord, show us the Father.” And then Jesus says, “But Philip, I have been so long a time with you, and yet you have not known me? He that hath seen me hath seen the Father. I am in the Father, and the Father in me.” This response is so human, because we cannot understand until after they are gone. The choice of an ‘ishta’ is wide open, whatever appeals to you. Work on developing ever deeper devotion, and as you grow that little concept will expand and become the infinite.
There was a big dark forest and a man was walking through the forest toward his home. Three robbers came upon him and they took all that he had. Then the first robber said, “Let’s kill him.” The second robber said, “No, let’s bind him.” So they bound him up and left him there in the big dark forest. But presently the third robber returned and he untied the man and said to him, “I am sorry. Now you are safe. I will walk with you until you reach your home.” When they came to the edge of the forest the robber said, “There is your home. Go in peace.” The man replied, “Don’t go. Come and live with me and stop being a robber.” “No,” said the robber, “the dark forest is my home.”
This is an allegory. The big dark forest is this world. The man is you and I. The three robbers are the three gunas, the three qualities.
The first robber is the dark guna – tamas – and it represents destruction and darkness, and it kills our spiritual life.
The second robber is rajas – it represents the selfish actions and desires which bind us to this material world.
The third robber is sattva – it represents the spiritual guna – the liberating quality.
That is why we have rules of living in harmony with God’s laws. Practice the presence of God, because through every thought, every feeling, every action, one of those qualities manifests through you.
Laziness is darkness — tamasic.
Wrong actions bind us — rajasic.
Liberating thoughts, feelings and actions are liberating — sattvic.
In the dark age of Kali Yuga, the dark quality is predominant. In our current age, Dwapara Yuga, the binding quality is predominant. In the higher ages the liberating quality predominates. I read the newspaper a little bit just to keep up, but not much. Television, advertisements, movies – this is the bad guy, full of destruction and immorality. It is the binding guna.
Paramahansa Yogananda said,
is stronger than willpower.
We have to watch our actions. We have to watch what we let into our consciousness. We have to be very careful what activities we are choosing. If you are absorbing the wrong stuff, choosing the wrong stuff, you have the wrong guna – the guna which binds you to the material world. Most people are totally identified with “I” – that is the little selfish “I”. If we are expressing anger or hatred – this is the dark guna. You may have doubts about yourself. The dark guna may try to convince you, "I’m not good enough." This is a denial of the divine image within you – don’t do it! Once in a while inwardly say to God, "I do this for you." The moment you think that, you change gunas. Then you are in tune with the liberating guna.