This article is taken from the Forward that I penned in Kriya Yoga Darshan, 2nd edition , published in 2014.
What is spirituality? Who am I, is there another, greater purpose to my life and what happens when I die?
The ability to contemplate and theorize is a distinctively human trait that is available to anyone regardless of social or intellectual position. These are some of the most important questions in our lives and also the most difficult to answer.
Since we cannot scientifically measure meaningful values associated with such questions, we are forced to use logic or emotion. However both logic and emotion are limited. At some point, when there is no direct, unbiased and repeatable experience to either back up or disprove one’s faith or model, blind emotional faith will give way to doubt or fixated belief. Similarly logic is also limited; it is not indisputable proof and it does not know of variables or elements beyond the scope of the logical framework being worked.
Think about how you might go about proving to others many of the aspects of spirituality. You cannot, for instance, point and say “there, do you see God” or “here, do you feel the power of the Holy Spirit” or “this is what life after death is like”, in an objective way.
This is one area in our existence, where any proof has to be individual, deep within, and yet, beyond the five senses, the mind, ones emotions and beyond all thoughts and doubts. By this, I mean that we each have to prove or disprove the nature of spirituality; we cannot just take the word of someone else, because even if it were true, it would have no practical meaning for the student of spirituality. Your life would not change and it would remain a mental exercise.
This book presents a logical framework for understanding spirituality and a clear description of Kriya Yoga meditation as a practical means to experiencing spirituality. The logical framework is based on the direct experience and realization of Swami Shankarananda Giri and not on a purely intellectual understanding. This is what makes this book stand apart from many other books on Kriya Yoga and spirituality.
The purpose of practicing Kriya Yoga is to experience (as opposed to just understand) spirituality in a consistent, unbiased, unemotional, un-intellectual and constant fashion. The point at which the experience is complete (spiritual realization has been achieved), is also the point at which all doubts, frameworks, opinions and feelings on the subject are destroyed as they are no longer necessary.
Kriya Yoga is a technique of meditation that has been in existence since the earliest known practices dating back thousands of years. No doubt, it has been called by other names too. As someone who has practiced since childhood, I can affirm that the Kriya techniques allow the practitioner to intimately connect with his/her true inner self, to successively, experience finer, ever more subtle forms of “be”-ing and in doing so to experience the moment suspended in time between ones inhalation and exhalation.
I am grateful to have helped Swami Shankarananda Giri author this book. In doing so, I have learnt and clarified a lot of my thinking, experiences and practice. My unbiased and direct experience has humbled me and allowed me to know moments of pure existence.
It is Swamiji’s hope that readers will be encouraged to seek out sincere teachers of Kriya Yoga and to practice or failing that, start any valid form of meditation that is based on the subtle breath and at the very absolute minimum, start an internal dialogue about the nature of the divinity that gives rise to each of us and sustains us.
I am also indebted, as are we all (even if we don’t know it), to our ancestral spiritual mentors; the few, but true sages, monks, yogis, saints, mystics and fakirs who all over the world and throughout humanity have kept spirituality elevated above religious absurdity, scientific limitations and misinterpretation. These fathers and mothers of humanity have kept alive the true flame of meditation, which, no matter your starting point, must at the very end be focused only on prana – your true self which is beyond your identity.