dwai

What do Kriya Yoga systems cultivate, and how does it differ from Neigong or Hatha Yoga?

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CAVEAT EMPTOR -- This comparison is purely my own hypothesis, based on my own experiences and practice. 

 

Kriya Yoga is an interesting topic. There are many kinds of Yogic Kriya (literally, Action). Some are part of the Hatha Yoga tradition, such as the shatkriya - six kriyas, which are cleansing/purification techniques --

  • Kapalabhati pranayama - literally the "skull illuminating" pranayama - oxygenates the brain, cleanses the nasal passages 
  • Neti - the cleansing of the sinus cavity
  • Nauli - creating a vacuum in the abdominal cavity by using muscular control
  • Trataka - Gazing fixedly at a specific point (a ghee lamp flame for instance)
  • Dhauti - washing the alimentary tract (controlled vomiting)
  • Basti - yogic enema 

These are used as purification/preparatory practices undertaken by serious hatha yoga practitioners. 

But then we also have the more esoteric kriya yoga practices such as (famously) the Mahavatar Babaji's Kriya tradition, transmitted via Lahiri Mahashaya -> Sri Yukteshwar Giri -> Paramahamsa Yogananda lineage. 

 

There are other Kriya techniques -- Transcendental Meditation is one, Sudarshan Kriya Yoga is another, Tamil Siddhar Yoga traditions teach others. 

 

I've had the opportunity to learn and practice two such esoteric Kriya Traditions. I practiced Tamil Siddhar Tradition for a few years -- which was a blend of Hatha Yoga asanas, Pranayama, and mudras to raise kundalini in the central channel. 

 

The other is Sudarshan Kriya Yoga, as taught by Sri Sri Ravishankar and the Art of Living foundation. I learned and practiced it for a few years in the early 2000s, and then recently resumed its practice earlier this year. I've been regular in my practice since early February this year, and have missed 3-4 days (tops) due to travel schedules, etc. 

 

The pranayama methods outlined in Tamil Siddhar Yoga (TSY) and Sudarshan Kriya Yoga (SKY) have some similarities, though at one point I had thought the physically tougher TSY techniques were more "powerful" than SKY, simply because TSY is harder to practice. I couldn't have been more wrong. 

 

Having a long-standing and regular Dao Gong (Neigong)/Taijiquan practice now, I find there are some very interesting differences in what is cultivated in the SKY vs TSY vs Neigong systems. The Neigong system I practice is very powerful, and it works on the full range - body energy, subtle energy, and awareness/consciousness. Depending on the practice (and there is a wide range of practices, often using the same physical forms, but with different focus/emphasis), one or all of the above will be systematically exercised/cultivated.

 

TSY is similar to Dao Gong, though I believe it doesn't work directly at the awareness level as much (or maybe because I only practiced it for 3-4 years, I didn't advance to the higher levels). 

 

SKY on the other hand works primarily in the subtle energy and awareness levels. The objective is to unify/consolidate the subtle energy, raise it to the third eye/crown point and enter into deep stillness/meditation. There is a body bliss similar to how Dao Gong produces it, and it continues throughout the day after each session. What is very interesting to me is the meditative quality it induces -- it results in progressively deepening stillness and clear luminescence of the mind, which too persists throughout the day, in spite of oftentimes very chaotic/stressful work schedules (I am often in meeting for 4-5 hrs a day, working on very complex and technical topics).

 

Given my background in the other systems, I can't for certain say that if one practiced only SKY, or only TSY, or only Dao Gong, what the outcome would be. Speaking to friends who only practice SKY, I see that they too report similar experiences. I didn't have this kind of experience with TSY. Dao Gong is more "balanced" in my experience. I think the focus on the lower dantien has a lot to do with that. 

 

To my knowledge, they haven't interfered with each other as I've continued my practice(s) over a span of two decades. I have not practiced TSY in several years. But I can say with some confidence that SKY is the "easiest" of the three methods I've mentioned -- in that, the effort required to practice is progressively lower, and the entering into deep meditation is spontaneous and effortless -- even on days when the mind is relatively more distracted by worldly things.

 

I do notice that SKY has "super-charged" the Daogong, especially the Jing/Qi level, and specifically the "Yang" aspect. The dao gong duration has progressively reduced for me, from 2-4 hrs a day for a long time, to no more than 45 minutes since the past 3-4 years. I do maintain a good 8-12 hr gap between SKY and Dao Gong/Taijiquan/Neigong practice -- mainly because my schedule prevents me from overlapping the two. I think also there is another reason to space these out -- they are working at different levels and doing them back to back seems like overloading the system to me. 

 

Why did I resume the SKY practice after many years of gap? I felt drawn to it. In retrospect, there is an element of "letting go" in SKY, while also maintaining balanced, even-keeled energy and mental state beyond the meditation time. 

 

SKY is good for someone looking to enter deep meditative states, undertake self-inquiry type meditation, with a focus on Self-realization. 

 

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32 minutes ago, Vajra Fist said:

As far as I'm aware Sudarshan Kriya and TM are kriya in the generic sense, and are not any direct relation to Babaji's system of Kriya Yoga.

 

In the same way that yogic exercises to stimulate kundalini and kundalini yoga as taught by Yogi Bhajan are not the same.

 

Much of Babaji's system is secret. However there are enough resources available available to get a general sense of it

I hope my post didn't come across as suggesting that SKY or TM are the same as Babaji's Kriya Yoga -- I merely gave them as examples of some Kriya Yoga systems.

 

I've been chatting with Pilgrim a lot these days -- he is a treasure-trove of Kriya Yoga (Babaji) tradition knowledge -- he has been initiated in several different sub-lineages in that tradition is a very advanced Yogi and spiritual practitioner. 

 

I don't really have questions -- was merely positing some ideas/concepts based on my own experiences. :)

The proof of the pudding as they say is in eating. So it's always a good idea to try something out ourselves. 

Edited by dwai
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I wonder, do you retain anything after you quit the practice? Do all the benefits go waste after you stop the kriyas and everything goes back to normal or does something stays?

Thanks 🙏

 

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11 hours ago, Salvijus said:

I wonder, do you retain anything after you quit the practice? Do all the benefits go waste after you stop the kriyas and everything goes back to normal or does something stays?

Thanks 🙏

 

I think it’s like learning to ride a bicycle — you might go for years without riding a bike, but once you get on it, you can ride just like before. Maybe a bit wobbly initially, but it comes back. 

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On 9/28/2021 at 6:18 AM, dwai said:
  • Dhauti - washing the alimentary tract (controlled vomiting)
  • Basti - yogic enema

 

And I had thought that copper wire into the rectum or into the male member were the coolest methods ever.

 

Support your local kriya yogis and yoginis! B)

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Interesting topic.  The neigong and alchemy I am learning has pieces that remind me of the Kriya I learned based on Pilgrim's recommendations, but put together in a different way.  Yet Sri Yogiraj Lahiri Mahasaya's Kriya has more similarities with Daoism than other Hindu Yoga traditions that I am aware of.  For instance, use of spiritual light that appears in the head appears to be ubiquitous on all spiritual paths, Daoism brings this light down into the lower dan tian, which is somewhat unusual.  However, Sri Yogiraj's Navi Kriya technique specifically connects the light in ajna to the manipura, which is equivalent to the ming men in Daoist alchemy.  Also, the famous Kriya Pranayama technique specifically utilizes upward and downward currents of energy, while most Hindu Yoga systems I am aware of only emphasize bringing energy up.  dwai, you are more knowledgeable about Hindu paths than me, what do you think about this?

 

Pilgrim has mentioned oral tradition that Sri Mahavatar Babaji's Kriya has 108 techniques, which Sri Yogiraj simplified for modern householders into six kriyas (though each has multiple parts).  The full system of Daoist cultivation is more like Sri Babaji's system in that way, there is a huge list of practices and processes to engage with.  I wonder if there are other techniques in Sri Babaji's system which are similar to characteristically Daoist practices.   Daoism has a whole process around filling dantian, consolidating jing, and changing the tissues of the body, for instance, which ultimately prepare the body to be able to take in more light (according to my limited, beginner understanding).  I wonder if there are analogues of this in the more thorough (i.e. complicated :lol:) Hindu traditions.  

 

One thing I have wondered about from my limited experience with Hindu Yoga is why they say rooting your life force in Ajna makes you more calm, indeed dwai you mention just this effect.  Rooting the life force in the head sounds like it would make me quite agitated.  Perhaps I just didn't find the exact central point (which isn't just a location, but has more subtle components), or it's some aspect of my wiring or a way that I'm blocked. 

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8 minutes ago, senseless virtue said:

 

And I had thought that copper wire into the rectum or into the male member were the coolest methods ever.

 

Support your local kriya yogis and yoginis! B)

I don’t see the need for such vitriol.  
 

Do you really think it is necessary? if you don’t have anything constructive to contribute, best not to try and troll for a few laughs from the usual suspects. 

 

Think hard before responding.

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Posted (edited)
5 minutes ago, dwai said:

I don’t see the need for such vitriol.  
 

Do you really think it is necessary? if you don’t have anything constructive to contribute, best not to try and troll for a few laughs from the usual suspects. 

 

Think hard before responding.

 

Look, it was a light hearted response.

 

I could have brought up the Aghori and mention the left-hand path practices that are more wilder for sure, but I don't see why it's necessary to view the apparently puerile emphasis I presented as anything else than honest admiration. Seriously, I think it's really great that this type of protocols exist because they actually make sense unlike the the copper wire cultivation.

Edited by senseless virtue

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Just now, senseless virtue said:

 

Look, it was a light hearted response.

It certainly doesn’t come across as such. Consider this a light hearted warning and advice to refrain from such passive aggressive (what you called puerile) humor. 

Just now, senseless virtue said:

 

I could have brought up the Aghori and mention the left-hand path practices that are more wilder for sure, but I don't see why it's necessary to view the apparently puerile emphasis I presented as anything else than honest admiration.
 

So you had to talk about inserting copper wires into the rectum? Out of “admiration”? 

Just now, senseless virtue said:

Seriously, I think it's really great that this type of protocols exist because they actually make sense than the copper wire cultivation.

I don’t see the correlation, and am not interested in discussing this kind of nonsense on this thread. 

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2 minutes ago, dwai said:

So you had to talk about inserting copper wires into the rectum? Out of “admiration”? 

 

It's silly. The kriya purifications can be found likewise silly if you mentioned them to the average uninitiated and spiritually disinterested Westerners that these were parts of spiritual practice, or do you disagree? Humor is often made from contrasts.

 

Anyway, I don't want to argue, stir anyone's sensibilities any more on this, or continue with loose footing where I'm not granted any benefit of doubt.

 

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, dwai. I appreciate them despite your distrust for me.

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Posted (edited)
22 hours ago, Creation said:

Yet Sri Yogiraj Lahiri Mahasaya's Kriya has more similarities with Daoism than other Hindu Yoga traditions that I am aware of. 

The way I look at it is, different Hindu traditions operate at different levels. Some have something for everyone, while others have something for only some.

 

There are 4 major systems of “classical” hindu traditions - what is called “yoga” is but one. The oldest is Purva mimamsa, which makes up the oldest sections of the Vedic system. They are also about bringing harmony between the individual and nature via rituals (yajnas and mantras). Those who practiced it lived by a very clearly defined set of guidelines. This is what many would call “shamanism” in the modern world — bringing rains in a drought-stricken area, helping the departed cross over to higher lokas, and so on. 
 

Yoga is part of that technology, but as society devolved and personal power diluted, it became what is called “ashtanga yoga” — a practical way to live and experience samkhya (an ancient panpsychist system), where matter (Prakriti) and consciousness (purusha) co-exist through eternity. Yoga is the way for an individual to realize they are consciousness alone, though it appears to have forms. 

 

And the third is “Uttara mimamsa” or “vedanta”, at the pinnacle of which the understanding arises that all “matter and consciousness” are in the domain of consciousness alone. 

Nondual Shaivism is the bridge between the samkhya and vedantic systems. The best place to investigate the different kinds of practices meant for different kinds of individuals.
 

The path of anupaya upaya or spontaneous awakening -  there is no method, only direct awakening. Takes many lifetimes of preparation for this. 
 

The path of sambhavopaya — the wisdom path. Requires much work spanning lifetimes to become eligible for this path too. Non-dual Vedanta belongs to this category. Awakening through the mind (also called the direct path), but  uses a method of inquiry to bring about said awakening. 
 

The path of shaktopaya — or the energy way. This involves gathering, purifying and transmuting kinetic energy (rajas)  into sufficient satva, so the mind can

see its true nature. Most Kriya yoga systems belong to this. 
 

The path of anvopaya — or the atomic way. This involves significant cleaning, purification, tonification, devotion. One can think of it as the lowest rung of the ladder, and meant for most individuals, especially in the modern times, where the sense of self is limited to body, even more than the mind. This is the domain of hatha yoga — working with the body, and then eventually graduating to the mind. And eventually, after much effort, the mind can perceive its true nature as awareness itself. The working with the body is a process of transmuting tamas (energetic inertia) into rajas (kinetic energy), and then transmuting rajas into satva (purified energy, leading to clarity of mind). 
 

 

22 hours ago, Creation said:

Daoism has a whole process around filling dantian, consolidating jing, and changing the tissues of the body, for instance, which ultimately prepare the body to be able to take in more light (according to my limited, beginner understanding).  I wonder if there are analogues of this in the more thorough (i.e. complicated :lol:) Hindu traditions


See above. The system you are outlining is only one of the Daoist systems and belongs to the lowest level - the atomic level. There are of course Daoist systems that work at both the level of energy and of wisdom. There is much overlap between Daoism and Hinduism — but it depends on who one asks :) 

 

P.S. This "be able to take in more light" is a misunderstanding IMHO. There is no "light" outside of consciousness because consciousness is not an emergent property of the body. The same consciousness that illuminates one's mind also illuminates all minds. It also manifests as the 10,000 things as names, forms, utility (that is the external/apparent view) - in the Hindu view, this is known as "Nama-Rupa-Vyavahara". The 10,000 things also have "Is-ness, luminescence, and Bliss" as their internal/hidden nature, because they are made up of the same light of consciousness (this is the internal/true view) - in the Hindu view, this is called "asti-Bhati-priyam". That is what "Light" means. The mind will interpret this, when under the influence of varying degrees of ignorance as external light, internal light, and so on. 

Edited by dwai
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1 hour ago, dwai said:

The path of shaktopaya — or the energy way. This involves gathering, purifying and transmuting kinetic energy (rajas)  into sufficient satva, so the mind can

see its true nature. Most Kriya yoga systems belong to this. 
 

The path of anvopaya — or the atomic way. This involves significant cleaning, purification, tonification, devotion. One can think of it as the lowest rung of the ladder, and meant for most individuals, especially in the modern times, where the sense of self is limited to body, even more than the mind. This is the domain of hatha yoga — working with the body, and then eventually graduating to the mind. And eventually, after much effort, the mind can perceive its true nature as awareness itself. The working with the body is a process of transmuting tamas (energetic inertia) into rajas (kinetic energy), and then transmuting rajas into satva (purified energy, leading to clarity of mind). 

I don't agree with some aspects of your explanation this classification.  Anvopaya is not merely body based methods, but any methods where there is deliberate action.  Classically there were three categories of deliberate methods: mantra yoga, laya yoga, and hatha yoga. Sri Lahiri Mahasaya's Kriya Yoga combines the most powerful methods from each of these three categories of yogic action in a particularly streamlined way (for instance mahamudra and khecari mudra are hatha methods).  So my questions were about comparing Hindu Anvopaya methods with Daoist ones, if you want to phrase it that way.  But that Kashmir Shaivism classification doesn't really suit the variety of paths in Daoism. 

 

As for higher paths such as sambhavopaya, I pose this question to you.  According to Sri Lahiri Mahasaya's diaries, when he first met his master Babaji, he went into a state unbroken of Nirvikalpa Samadhi for weeks.  It was only after this that Sri Babaji initiated him into Kriya.  Sri Lahiri's diaries later mention that in order to attain the fullest realization of yoga while maintaining his householder life, he had to train himself to not need sleep, instead spending the night in meditation.  My question is, if he has already attained Nirvikalpa Samadhi, why was all this necessary?

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46 minutes ago, Creation said:

I don't agree with some aspects of your explanation this classification. 

A quick Google search revealed different definitions of these terms, that explains the discrepancy. The classification I am familiar with doesn't have anupaya, just the other three. 

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12 hours ago, Creation said:

Anvopaya is not merely body based methods, but any methods where there is deliberate action.  Classically there were three categories of deliberate methods: mantra yoga, laya yoga, and hatha yoga

These are later categorizations. Patanjali’s Yoga sutras which outline Ashtanga path, don’t reference any of these with any degree of importance. 

 

12 hours ago, Creation said:

My question is, if he has already attained Nirvikalpa Samadhi, why was all this necessary?

Nirvikalpa samadhi is just the entry gate for true awakening. Ramana Maharishi called it “mano laya” (submersion of the mind). Meaning, when the mind arises again after nirvikalpa samadhi, it still retains its old patterns and habits. The goal of Self-realization is sahaja samadhi, or a fully functional state of complete identification as the awareness (and not the mind/body). 


The Kriya in Kriya yoga methods is in maintaining a state of witnessing at the crown or higher, while observing the energetic activities that might continue to occur in the body. I’ve heard of it (state of witnessing at the crown or higher) being referred to as “kutashta chaitanya” or “parāvastha” (ask pilgrim if you happen to chat with him). 
 

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A wonderful lesson by Swami Sarvapriyananda which touches upon the subject I had presented in the comment about the different ways of the Vedic tradition -

 

 

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Continuation on the discussion on Katha Upanishad --

 

 

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