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Awareness Magazine
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The Lifestyle of Transformation

Kriya Yoga and the Satguru

By Bryan Gates

I was 19 in the summer of 1999, a freshman at Colby College with a big sense of excitement because we had an adventure planned for summer break. I drove cross-country with my two best friends to explore a land of milk and honey, living and working in Berkeley, California. I didn’t know what I was looking for, or if I was consciously looking, but I had the feeling of being a seeker, a traveler of some sort. There was no possible way to foresee the mystical places I would travel to and the modes of transportation that would take me there.

Earlier that year, I received a curious call from my best friend Dylan. After spotting a grainy flyer at UC Berkeley, he had gone to see a man with a white beard and piercing eyes in the photo, a Master of Yoga from a Himalayan tradition — people called him Gurunath, or Yogiraj. He had come to the west coast to teach meditation, and would be returning to Berkeley in the summer.

Dylan proceeded to tell me about the experience of being in his presence, and many things I had never heard before. It sounded like standard California crazy talk to me, initially. A lot of inscrutable words, a lot of syllables, a lot of ahhh sounds. Sadhana. Mahamudra. Shakti. I wasn’t getting it.

But over the course of the summer, the stories of this Yogi began to unfold in miraculous fashion, each one more wild than the next. I spoke to some of his older devotees and began reading a small black and white pamphlet on the “evolution of consciousness” and its corresponding brain science, written by the man himself, Yogiraj Siddhanath. On my breaks in the back of the beer garden where I worked as an underage bouncer (and quite possibly with a beer in hand), I would read and re-read this little booklet that seemed so rich with intoxicating, exotic information. I had never heard anything like this before.

Yogiraj wrote about how at this point in human evolution, the earlier “hot,” mammalian brain of passion and instinct was in a tug-of-war with the newer “cold,” rational human brain of reason and intellect, which you can see as our now-pronounced forehead with its neo-cortex. He would then effortlessly traverse the anatomical science of the body to blend it with much loftier talk of light and power and the mysterious spiritual energy residing in the spine known as Kundalini. I would often say to myself, ‘What is this stuff?’, ‘Who is this guy?’ A mild curiosity began to develop into a burning fire. I began to consider Yogiraj my Guru. I didn’t know what a Guru was, or if he would even accept me as a disciple, but this was my Guru. And then, embarrassingly enough, I missed him that summer because I had to work! Now that was a choice and a lesson that would launch me on a year-and-a-half struggle through life’s many dramas to finally meet him in India, 2001. In that time period my experiences began evolving. I tried meditating for the first time. All I remember is a single blue spark I could somehow see within the lower spine. I said to myself, that just happened; you cannot pretend it didn’t.

I began reading Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramahansa Yogananda, the famous disciple of Gyanavatar Sri Yukteswar. I would read a chapter and then try to “meditate.” One night in my dorm room I was lying on my back, and my breath began to move without me trying. As I relaxed into this elongated breath, I realized that I was not breathing but being “breathed” somehow, an override of my natural inhale and exhale. Did I have a mystical breathing coach who worked remotely?

Many hard trials sprung up in the time before finally arriving in India to meet Yogiraj; in retrospect, every one of them built me into a yoga aspirant on my evolutionary journey. And the Satguru, himself, was more amazing than I could fathom.

He was ever youthful with this flowing platinum hair, yet he looked like he was from long ago. He seemed so incredibly fresh every moment, awake, interested, always having fun. Then he would stop moving from time to time, and he was gone. When he started meditating, everyone else instantly swooned into meditation.

After a few days at the Siddhanath Forest Ashram in Simhagard, I received the long-awaited Empowerment above his meditation cave inside a little temple. After the initiation into the Kundalini Kriya Yoga of Babaji, I sat alone under one of the mango trees on the arid ashram grounds and wondered what this new energy meant. And with daily practice, my experiences began to take root, take hold, take me out of my body. True power showed up.

I have distinct memories of sitting in a hotel room, on our way to the Himalayas with Yogiraj, amongst my new yogi friends. With eyes closed, I experienced being vacuumed down a long narrow tube in my mind’s eye, like falling down the rabbit hole lined with psychedelic hues. And, no, I didn’t believe it either, but it was happening, and it was only the beginning of a new life as a meditator.

I thought to myself, “You cannot keep this to yourself. You have a responsibility to share this.” That was my first impulse to teach, and thank God I did not teach then, as many try to do when they are brand spanking new to the complexities of meditation.

I would go to India every few years and see Yogiraj in the U.S. as he made his annual tour: six months in India, two months in Europe, and four months in the States, giving workshops and retreats to huge varieties of people. His following built slowly but surely, picking up steam as time went on. With my own meditations, the growth seemed exponential. The differences from year one, to year three, to year five, seemed like different lives, new versions of myself unearthed and for the better.

There were singular meditations where I knew I would not be the same person coming out the other side, and I was right. There were days spent with Yogiraj in beautiful settings, camps and fires and family outings, filled with ecstatic, very visible energies and the ever-present light that surrounds him and every scene he inhabits.

Yogiraj always returns to the simple brilliance of Kriya Yoga, gifted to humanity by the “spiritual super genius, Babaji.” He explains Kriya as a science whereby our life force currents are directed into the spinal column then breathed up and down along that superhighway of evolution. As the practice continued, I noticed the infrastructure of my physical body changed dramatically.

The spinal breathing would send cleansing, refreshing energy (sometimes warm, sometimes cool) through the central river of the spine into the command center of the brain and back down again, reviving me. This in turn purified all of the other nerve tributaries while magnetically oxidizing the spine, providing abundant, fresh life force and incomparable relaxation. The de-carbonating effect of Kriya Yoga is legendary in India, known to remove venous blood and toxins from the system. This is why Yogiraj often calls it “the ultimate spa.”

He explains human beings as electrical circuits with various wires, fuses, switches, and transformers. The subtle nervous system is collectively called the nadi system, along which the bioelectricity of the body moves. These nerves or nadis are the wires and the prana or life force energy is the current running through them. When a person practices the rhythmic breathing of Kriya Yoga, the nerves develop more bandwidth to receive more electricity, and it shows. Every fiber begins to spiritualize as the body electricity circulates through specific channels to unite under the practitioner’s control.

The Satguru’s role in the student’s progress is irreplaceable. The Satguru is the meditation. Through the sacred bond of Guru and disciple, a Master of exceedingly rare caliber will absorb and convert the higher electrical forces of the cosmos and then step those energies down for those willing to receive them. You can’t plug a light bulb directly into a power plant or it will explode. Likewise, Masters like Yogiraj are extremely careful to give people dosages they can handle, ramping up this spiritual voltage gradually, protecting and illuminating our fragile human nervous system.

Many amazing things happen along this path. Many are not fit to share with an uninitiated public. But I can tell you from experience, a Satguru is a rarity on this planet. My advice is don’t wait, just go and experience. If the science of stress removal and radiant health does not compel you, perhaps the promise of illumination will.

Yogiraj Siddhanath will begin his 2012 U.S. tour in mid-July visiting New York. He will arrive in Southern California and host Kriya Yoga Meditation Workshops and Satsangs in San Diego/Encinitas and Los Angeles between August 11-19, followed by a New Life Awakening Meditation Retreat in Carlsbad, CA starting September 27th. For registration and more information, please visit www.Siddhanath.org. Questions can be addressed to events@siddhanath.org

The author, Bryan Gates is a Kriyacharya authorized by Yogiraj to teach/initiate Kriya Yoga. He may be reached at bryan@hamsa-yoga.org