Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication. —Leonardo da Vinci
Kriya Yoga – externalization
Let’s do a brief review of where we have traveled so far in refining our habits in the light of Patanjali’s Ashtanga Yoga. First, we explored the five Yamas – the giving up of unhelpful habits, including violence and aggression, falsity, hypocrisy and multiple personas, dishonesty, the pull of the senses toward unregulated desires, possessiveness, and greed. Next, we have explored the first two Niyamas – the filling of helpful qualities in the heart – purity and contentment. We have also seen how each successive habit has followed naturally from the previous one. They build upon each other in a cyclical way, like a positive feedback loop, creating a web of character changes that forms a firm foundation for our evolution.
Patanjali considers the remaining three Niyamas to be even more closely interrelated. They are tapas (austerity), swadhyaya (self-study), and Ishwar pranidhan (awareness of and surrender to God), and he defines them together as Kriya Yoga – Yoga in action. Having worked to change our thought patterns, the results must now express in our outer behavior, in action. Up until now, it has all been about inner change, mental and emotional wellbeing, but now Patanjali turns to action. At the beginning of Part 2 of his Yoga Sutras, the section on “practice,” Patanjali says:
2.1: Tapah svadhyayesvarapranidhanani kriya yogah
Austerity, self-study, and God-awareness together constitute Kriya Yoga (Yoga in action).
2.2: Samadhi-bhavanarthah, Klesa-tanukaranarthasca
It promotes meditation flowering into Samadhi and minimizes tensions.
We are now externalizing our thinking and feeling into action. Kriya Yoga is the action that arises out of Yoga, and it is made up of these three Niyamas. Just as Yoga is defined as citta-vritti-nirodha, the state in which “the ideational choice-making movement of the mind slows down and comes to a stop,” Kriya Yoga arises out of that inner still state, free of any turbulence.
But Kriya Yoga is actually more about the inner awareness and choices that define our action in every moment. This awareness purifies our activities of any negative effects of ego, removing selfishness. It propels us away from a habitual way of living, driven by the past, to a life lived in the present.
The second sutra above explains the results of Kriya Yoga: Through meditation (bhavana) we experience Samadhi, and at the same time the complexities of our tensions (klesas) are removed.
The advances in Heartfulness during the last 150 years have made this whole process much easier, because of yogic Transmission, also known as pranahuti, and because of the Cleaning process that removes the complexities from our system. With pranahuti, we experience the inner stillness of Samadhi during meditation, and this transforms us from the inside out. The three Niyamas of Kriya Yoga then arise naturally as external expressions of that inner state. In fact, all the Yamas and Niyamas are expressions of the inner state of stillness. All the habits and qualities are contained in seed form in pranahuti.
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