Monday, March 1, 2010

March Monthly Theme: Kriya Yoga

The second chapter of Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras describes the qualities necessary to change the mind effectively and gradually from a state of distraction to one of attention. These are practical hints to be followed in our daily lives. He starts with the explanation of Kriya Yoga:

Tapah Svadhayayaesvara Pranidhanani Kriya Yoga:
“Accepting pain as help for purification, study of spiritual books, and surrender to the Supreme Being constitute yoga in practice”
– Swami Satchidananda

According to Patanjali, Kriya yoga or the yoga that we practice incorporates tapas, svadhyaya, and Isvara pranidhanam. Tapas has a couple of interpretations; it can mean fire or heat or to burn impurities. It can also mean self-discipline. Patanjali states that tapas is equal to accepting pain as purification. If we have to suffer pain to be purified than it is worth it. The self-discipline aspect refers to suffering this pain. If we can endure it, through self-discipline, we look forward to the pain to assist us in seeing the true self. Self-discipline can also facilitate spiritual progress.

Svadyaya is study, specifically self- study. It is to study with understanding and with our hearts. The more we study in this manner, the more we can elevate the mind and expand our knowledge. Svadyaya also implies to put into action the things that you study. Experience is unequaled in its ability to add to our knowledge and consciousness. Wisdom comes with experience.

Isvara pranidhanam is to surrender to a power greater than one’s self. This involves giving up everything to the divine; all accomplishments and all things negative. God will take care of them. You are only an impermanent holder of these feelings. They belong to God. When you can live this way, you can experience peace, joy and keep the mind liberated from chitta vrittas.

Kriya yoga is the path of transmutative action or the act of changing into a higher form. Often best described as a form of internal karma yoga which is achieved by perfecting the niyamas or self disciplines of Patanjali’s eight limbed path, particularly, tapas (austerity), svadhayaya (self study) and isvara pranidhana (devotion to the Lord), a yogi erases samskara (subliminal activators) from his subconscious.