Royal Path of Kriya Yoga
Excerpts from God Talks with Arjuna: The Bhagavad Gita
by Paramahansa Yogananda
The Bhagavad Gita Most Important Injunction
The yogi is deemed greater than body-disciplining ascetics, greater even than the followers of the path of wisdom or of the path of action; be thou, O Arjuna, a yogi!
— The Bhagavad Gita VI:46
Asceticism is a bypath because it teaches man to reach God indirectly by outer renunciation and physical discipline. The path of theoretical wisdom is also a bypath, because it teaches the confusing way of academically reasoning about Him. The path of action is also a bypath, because it teaches the circuitous way of reaching God through external good actions.
The Lord Himself here extols the royal path of yoga as the highest of all spiritual paths, and the scientific yogi as greater than a follower of any other path.
Kriya Yoga — The Spinal Route of Ascension
The real Kriya Yoga way (life-force control) is not a bypath. It is the direct highway, the shortest route, to divine realization. It teaches man to ascend heavenward by leading the ego, mind, and life force through the same spinal channel that was used when the soul originally descended into the body.
The spirit as soul has descended through the subtle astral cerebrospinal centers into the brain and the spinal plexuses, and into the nervous system, the senses, and the rest of the body, and becomes entangled there as the pseudosoul or ego. In the body-identified state, the ego engages in further involvements in and with the objective world. The ego has to be made to ascend through the same spinal path until it realizes its true Self as the soul, and the soul reunites with the Spirit.
Yoga points out that this spinal route is the one straight highway that all earth-descended mortal beings must follow in the final ascension to liberation. All other paths—those that emphasize performance of tapasya (bodily and mental self-discipline), or theoretical knowledge of the scriptures (the gaining of wisdom by discrimination), or the performance of all good actions—are auxiliary paths that somewhere join the highway of practical yoga that leads straight to liberation.
The ascetic who is busy with disciplining the body, putting it through rigorous austerities, may attain a degree of control over the physical instrumentality; but merely practising postures, enduring cold and heat, and not giving in to sorrow and pleasure—without simultaneously concentrating on Cosmic Consciousness—is only a roundabout pathway to gaining the mental control necessary for God-communion. The yogi attains communion with the Lord directly, by withdrawing his consciousness from the senses and nervous system, the spine, and the brain, and uniting it with his God-knowing soul. Many devotees are so engrossed in following the precepts of external asceticism and renunciation that they forget that ecstasy with the Infinite is the purpose of such self-discipline.
When the scriptural philosopher dissects words and thoughts with the scalpel of his reason, he may grow so fond of theoretical knowledge and of mentally separating wisdom into various segments that he may 'dry up" through lack of the experience of truth in divine ecstasy. If a person spent his lifetime in analyzing the properties of water and in examining water from different sources all over the world, he would not thereby quench his thirst. A thirsty man, without fussing over the atomic constituencies, selects some good water; drinking it, he becomes satisfied. An exoteric jnana yogi—a follower of the path of discriminative reason—may read and analyze all the scriptures and still not slake his soul thirst.
A theoretical knowledge of scriptures often produces a conviction that one knows the truth when he actually does not know it. Only by communing with God, the "Library of All Knowledge," may one know all truths in their exactitude, without wasting time in the theoretical understanding and misunderstanding of scriptures. That is why a wide gulf may exist between scripture readers and men of realization who are themselves embodiments of scriptural truths. The Pharisees were willing to crucify Christ because they surmised fearfully that he was a threat to their authority, having actually perceived the truths that they knew only in theory.
Reform Thyself and Thou Wilt Reform Thousands
Lastly, the yogi is also deemed greater than the man of action. The missionary, the social worker, the man of goodwill who practices the "golden rule" toward others, the teacher who tries to instruct others in the technique of God-communion—all no doubt perform good actions. But unless they also devote themselves to the inner science by which they can know God through their own direct experience, they will remain without divine realization. That is why the yogi meditates and concentrates on the attainment of ecstasy. Until he achieves that state of inner attunement with God, he performs his duties but does not divert himself with many outward activities at the cost of forgetting the Lord.
The yogi teaches and serves others in the highest way—by his inspiring life; example ever speaks louder than words. Reform thyself and thou wilt reform thousands. Forgetting God is the greatest sin. Communion with God is the highest virtue.
A little study of scriptures with the continuous desire to practice the truths enjoined in them is desirable in the path of yoga. Renunciation of all entanglements in order to commune with God is also helpful. Performance of dutiful actions that satisfy one's own needs and that are serviceful and uplifting to others provides a beneficial balance in the life of the yogi. (pg.654-656)
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