Kriya Yoga (by Paramhansa Yogananda)

My guru, Sri Yukteswar, liked a chant that I have translated, two lines from which go, “Pranayama be thy religion. Pranayama will give thee salvation.”

“Pranayama means control of the energy in the body, and its direction upward through the spine to the brain and to the Christ center between the eyebrows. This alone is the pathway of awakening. It isn’t a matter of dogma or belief. It is simply the way we were all made by God.

“The consciousness enters the body by way of the brain and the spine. When the sperm and ovum unite to create the physical body, they do so at what becomes the medulla oblongata, at the base of the brain.

“From this medulla, the life force moves out into the brain, down the spine and into the nervous system, then on to the muscles, etc., creating the body.

“The way out of the body, then, is to reverse this process. The difficulty in doing so lies in the fact that the life force is already conditioned by birth to continue its outward direction – through the senses and onward to the environment as it is perceived through the senses. Thus, we think to possess the world and to enjoy it through the body.

“We can never experience anything outside ourselves, however, except vicariously, as the senses report their impressions to the brain. We may try to expand our understanding of the world by study, or our enjoyment of it through sense pleasures. The fact remains, we can never know anything except through the medium of the senses, so long as the life force remains trapped in the body.

“There is a way out, however. It is for the life-force to merge with the cosmic energy; for the consciousness to merge in the infinite consciousness.

“The way to accomplish this end is to withdraw the life force from the senses, and center it in the spine; to direct it upward through the spine to the brain, and thence out through the Christ center between the eyebrows.

“The ego is centered in the medulla oblongata. This is the negative pole of self-consciousness. The positive pole is situated at the Christ center. Concentration at this center – in the spiritual eye, the seat of spiritual vision – projects the consciousness beyond the ego into Infinity.

“The spine is the highway to the Infinite. Your own body is the temple of God. It is within your own self that God must be realized. Whatever places of pilgrimage you visit outwardly, and whatever outward rituals you perform, the ultimate ‘pilgrimage’ must be within. And the ultimate religious rite must be the offering of your life-force on the altar of inner God-communion.

“That was why Jesus said, ‘Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.’ ‘He spake,’ the Bible adds, ‘of the temple of his body.’ (John 2:19,21) “This is the path of Kriya Yoga.”

– Pramhansa Yogananda

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The Gospel of John (Selected Verses)

“In the beginning was the Word
The Word was with God
and the Word was God.
He was with God in the beginning.
Through Him all things came into being,
not one thing came into being except through Him.
What has come into being through Him is Life,
Life that was the Light of men;
and Light shines in Darkness,
and Darkness cannot overpower it.”

– John 1:1-5

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“In all truth I tell you,
no one can see the kingdom of God
without being born from above…

… In all truth I tell you,
no one can enter the kingdom of God
without being born through water and the Spirit;
what is born of human nature is human;
what is born of the Spirit is spirit.”

– John 1:3, 5-6

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“… the hour is coming –
indeed is already here –
when true worshippers
will worship the Father
in spirit and truth:
that is the kind of worshipper
the Father seeks.
God is spirit,
and those who worship
must worship in spirit and truth.”

– John 4:23-24

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“How can you believe,
since you look too each other for glory
and are not concerned
with the glory that comes from God?
Do not imagine that I am going to accuse you
before the Father:
you have placed your hopes in Moses
and Moses will be the one who accuses you.”

– John 5:44-45

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“It is the spirit that gives life,
the flesh has nothing to offer.
the words I have spoken to you
are spirit and they are life.”

– John 6:63

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“I am the light of the world;
anyone who follows me
will not be walking in the dark,
but will have the light of life…

… If you make my word your home
you will indeed be my disciples;
you will come to know the truth,
and the truth will set you free.”

– John 8:12, 31-32

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“Anyone who loves life loses it;
anyone who hates his life in this world
will keep it for eternal life.”

– John 12:25

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“And eternal life is this:
to know you,
the only true God,
and the Anointed Saviour whom you have sent.”

– John 17:3

Make me an Instrument of Your Peace

This is another of my favourite Christian prayers, again by St. Francis of Assisi. This prayer is such a selfless prayer that, irrespective of creed, anyone may benefit even from contemplation upon it.

Lord, make me an instrument of your peace.
Where there is hatred, let me sow love;
Where there is injury, pardon;
Where there is doubt, faith;
Where there is despair, hope;
Where there is darkness, light;
And where there is sadness, joy.

O Divine Master, grant that I may not so much seek
To be consoled as to console;
To be understood as to understand;
To be loved as to love.
For it is in giving that we receive;
It is in pardoning that we are pardoned;
And it is in dying that we are born to eternal life.

Amen.

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Canticle of the Creatures

One of my favourite Christian Prayers:

O Most High, all-powerful, good Lord God,
To you belong praise, glory,
Honour and all blessing.
Be praised, my Lord, for all your creation
And especially for our Brother Sun,
Who brings us the day and the light;
He is strong and shines magnificently.
O Lord, we think of you when we look at him.
Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Moon,
And for the stars
Which you have set shining and lovely
In the heavens.
Be praised, my Lord,
For our Brothers Wind and Air
And every kind of weather
By which you, Lord,
Uphold life in all your creatures.
Be praised, my Lord, for Sister Water,
Who is very useful to us,
And humble and precious and pure.
Be praised, my Lord, for Brother Fire,
Through whom you give us light in the darkness:
he is bright and lively and strong.
Be praised, my Lord,
For Sister Earth, our Mother,
Who nourishes us and sustains us,
Bringing forth
Fruits and vegetables of many kinds
And flowers of many colours.
Be praised, my Lord,
For those who forgive for love of you;
And for those
Who bear sickness and weakness
In peace and patience
– you will grant them a crown.
Be praised, my Lord, for our Sister Death,
Whom we must all face.
I praise and bless you, Lord,
And I give thanks to you,
And I will serve you in all humility

St. Francis of Assisi

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