On top of Mount Kailasha, Mahadevi (Parvati) asked Jagadguru Lord Siva, “Oh Maheshwara, or Supreme Lord, please reveal to me what is jnanam (knowledge).”
If you go to a Christian church, you will see a beautiful cross on the top of the church, in front of the church, and on the altar. Many Christians also hang pendent crosses around their necks that reach toward their heart. The Holy Bible describes the crucifixion of Jesus, and many people remember him by wearing a cross.
It is mentioned several times in the Holy Bible that Jesus taught his disciples to “carry your own cross.” What does it mean to carry your own cross? Or, what is the symbolism behind the cross? I will give you a few simple answers regarding the cross and its mystical message.
The cross has many meanings. In mathematics there are two very similar symbols: on e in an “X” sign, and one is a “plus” (+) sign. A cross is the mathematical symbol of the “plus” sign. When a horizontal and vertical line meet each other, and the vertical line is perpendicular to the ground, this forms a “plus” sign. But when the lines are not in a vertical and horizontal position, then it becomes an “X,” a multiplication sign.
An “X” is the mathematical symbol for multiplying. When two numbers are multiplied, a larger number results. So, multiplication symbolizes many. We should multiply the divine qualities.
In addition, two or more numbers are added together to get a new number. So, the meaning of “plus” is “to be united with” or “union.” In spiritual life we all want to be united. But to be united with whom? When we see a friend, we are united with that person in love. When we come t our house we are united with the house. When we sit in the car we are united with the car. When we love our pet we are united with our pet. We love our children and we are united with them. When we walk in the forest we are united with nature. This union, or the state of unity, gives love and joy in life, but this union, or plus, is not complete until our mind is completely united in divinity, united in God. So, we should always remember this ultimate unity.
In the body there is a union of body and soul - body plus soul. Similarly, our life should be united with God. This union is a symbolic cross, or plus.
The third meaning of the cross, with its horizontal and vertical lines, refers to the elimination of the ego. In the cross, the vertical line is longer and the horizontal line is shorter. The vertical line is just like the English alphabet letter, “I”, which symbolizes ego, or individuality. Ego, in life, is useful to a small extent, but troublesome to a great extent. To eliminate the ego is to cross it - cross the “I”, or the vertical line, with the horizontal line. To cross the ego means to overcome the ego. To cross, or overcome, the ego we need to surrender, to pray, to meditate, to bow. Ego is the greatest barrier in spiritual life. To overcome it, one must remember God in every breath. To cross ego is to eliminate it completely, to crush it completely so that it will not raise its head again to create trouble.
The fourth meaning of the cross concerns not being afraid of death. When Jesus said we must carry our own cross, he meant that we must be free from fear that creates trouble in daily life. The cross symbolizes deathlessness, or the immortal state, freedom from death.
Ordinarily, people are afraid of death and are not ready to lose their lives easily. But they do not remember that this body is constantly dying, that each life is constantly growing shorter, and that physical death is unavoidable. So do not be afraid of it. Jesus said: “Carry your cross and follow me.” He meant to be free from fear of death and to follow him and to achieve the eternal life in divinity.
The fifth meaning of the cross is a reminder of Christ. When we remember Christ, when we remember the cross, we should always remember Jesus’ prayer on the cross: “O God! Forgive them, for they know not what they do” (Luke 24:34). God forgives everyone. But we, being children of God, should develop the art of forgiving others, the art of being kind and compassionate, because forgiveness is the quality of love, forgiveness is the quality of greatness, forgiveness is the quality of compassion, forgiveness is the quality of prayer. To develop this quality of forgiving is part of the symbolism behind the cross.
Kriya Yoga is a novel technique. It is the essence of Raja Yoga, enunciated by Lord Shri Krishna in the Bhagavad Gita. According to Lord Shri Krishna, he taught this immortal yoga to Vivasvan (Sun God), who conveyed it to his son, Manu, and Manu imparted it to his son, Iksvaku. Thus, handed down from father to son, this yoga came to the knowledge of the rajarshis (royal sages). But, through the long lapse of time, it more or less disappeared. Subsequently, the Lord taught this sacred yoga to Arjuna and other Pandavas. This yoga was fundamentally meant for householders seeking Self-realization. For ages this was the medium of God realization. The famous sages, like Vyasa, Vaishth, Janaka, Valmiki, Parashara, and others practiced this Kriya Yoga in the midst of their family preoccupations and reached the divine goal. This occupied an important place in the Bhagavad Gita and in the philosophical yoga treatise of Patanjali.
In the course of time, the yoga taught by Lord Krishna was neglected and almost disappeared. Chaotic conditions developed in the social life of India, because the people disassociated themselves from the ancient tradition of yoga. A new era was ushered in, during the middle of the nineteenth century when the immortal Babaji Maharaj gave a scientific orientation to this yoga and offered it as Kriya Yoga for the spiritual upliftment of the human race. He taught this to Shyamacharan Lahiri Mahasaya, who had been his disciple in a former lifetime, and instructed him to teach this technique to interested divine seekers. Shyamacharan was a householder who worked in the office of the Military Works Department. Babaji Maharaj selected him as the best spiritual representative to spread the technique of Kriya Yoga among the householders of India and abroad.
In the Hindu rituals, several practices - achamanas, the external purification of the body; bhuta-shuddhi, the internal purification of the five elements in the body; pranayama, the control of breath, or life force; matrikanyas, the realization of the existence of God in the different parts of the body - are associated with the practice of yoga. People cannot attain quick realization of God without these practices. Unless God, who is abiding in the body, becomes the charioteer of Arjuna, who represents the wisdom body, and destroys the ignorance in human beings, represented by the Kauravas, a person cannot realize Him.
The science of Kriya Yoga is a wonderful technique. It is very simple, easily practiced, and gives quick results. With the help of the scientific technique of Kriya Yoga, a person can overcome, within a short time, the obstacles of the deep-rooted mental impressions (samskaras) of innumerable previous births and can establish himself in the divine consciousness. The spiritual evolution of a common person during one year is equivalent to the spiritual attainment that a Kriya yogi achieves in one inhalation in a few moments.
Vedic rituals and sacrifices result only in spiritual development, but Kriya Yoga brings about the simultaneous development of body, mind, intellect and soul. Kriya Yoga is the essence and synthesis of all the yogic techniques taught in the world. Karma Yoga emphasizes service to mankind, which includes public welfare activities, education, health services, and other charitable activities to mitigate human sufferings. But real Karma Yoga lies in the realization that God abides everywhere in the body. God’s existence is perceived in every object in the universe. Whatever work is done, it is done by Him.Prana karma, or circulating the vital force through the divine channel inside the spine (sushumna), is the real activity on which all other outward activity rests. And this, ultimately, fixes the attention of thesadhaka (the seeker) in the sahasrara and kutashtha (in the soul center), and brings about God-realization, leading to internal secretion of some vital juice from the glands. This secretion has an intoxicating effect, helping the mind attain complete absorption in the thought and realization of God.
Unlike Raja Yoga, which is also based upon breath control, Kriya Yoga does not prescribe long retention of breath and closing of nostrils that cause uneasy feelings. Hatha Yoga prescribes manyasanas and bandhas, the physical yogic exercise and postures. From among them, Kriya Yoga has adopted some essential yogic postures, which include one type of yogic exercises - mahamudra - said by great yogis to be a panacea for all ailments. Thus, Kriya Yoga has not lost of all the essential and important features of various types of Indian yogic methods.
At a very critical moment, Shriyukteshwarji came to this world. His birth was well-times for the propagation of Kriya Yoga. He selected Puri, on the seashore in the Orissa state of India, the seat of the temple of Lord Jagannatha (one of the aspects of God worshiped in Hinduism), as the center of his Kriya Yoga sadhana. Puri, being the place of Lord Jagannatha, is one of the most suitable places for spiritual practice and quick God-realization. The ashram established by Shriyukteshwarji, known as Karar Ashram, became and active center of Kriya Yoga practice and propagation. It worked as a spiritual laboratory to discover ultimate Truth. Like scientists endeavoring their utmost to unravel the mystery of nature and its physical laws, the aspirants here devoted themselves to realize the inseparable link between the Self and the Divine.
For the last 100 years the tradition has been maintained and innumerable disciples from all parts of the world have made considerable progress in their spiritual quest under the practical guidance of gurus whose teachings are based upon the teachings of Shriyukteshwarji and Paramahamsa Yoganandaji. Shriyukteshwarji had a great love for this ashram and chose this place for his mahasamadhi. His beloved disciple, Paramahamsa Yoganandaji, was greatly inspired by him and, with his blessings and guidance, opened several centers of Kriya Yoga in India and abroad. Although he spent most of his time outside India, his spiritual link with his guru and his beloved ashram was inseparable. So, this was virtually the mother center of all Kriya Yoga activities of Shriyukteshwarji and his disciples.
— Kriya Yoga The Scientific Process of Soul-Culture and the Essence of All Religions; pg 127 - 129
“When a rose is blooming with a pure and spiritual smile, moving in the gentle breeze, radiating its heart-warming beauty and disseminating its sweet fragrance, is that the ego of the flower?” Paramahamsa Hariharananda asked the author this question a long time ago while the author gazed silently at him with love. The rose gives everything of itself selflessly. It gives nectar to the bees, beauty to human beings, fragrance to the air, and so forth. It is a life of complete sacrifice.
The life of Paramahamsa Hariharanandaji was a manifestation of service, love, humility, and compassion. He served his parents, his elders, the villagers, his teachers, his friends, the students, the needy, the distressed, the diseased, the poor and the aged, known and unknown. He often quoted the Sanskrit maxim:
“Feed the hungry, teach the students, nurse the sick and give solace to the distressed.”
He tried to fulfill this maxim throughout his life, always seeking the opportunity to serve. He once said to the author, “I have come to serve, not to be served. I have come to give, not to take.” When he was a young boy, he was always generous to the poor and needy with this small savings. In his early teens, his father had entrusted him with maintaining the family accounts and the estate’s income and expenditure, and without hesitation he helped the poor people in the village. He inherited this charitable attitude from his mother. In his twenties, when he was working and earning a good salary, he always fulfilled this mission to serve. At Karar Ashram, as a brahmachari without any source of income, his tender heart still found ways to serve the needy. He took in many poor and orphaned children, providing them shelter at the ashram, and educating them in his free time. He loved them like a mother, and disciplined them like a caring father. Many of them are now highly educated and well placed in society.
Once, returning to the ashram from the Jagannath Temple, he found a teenage boy trying to speak in English to some Westerners, and begging for money. He brought the boy to the Ashram, encouraging him to study and change his bad habits. At first the boy was hesitant, but because of the love and care of this devoted and dedicated soul, he became transformed, and is now an educated and successful man. Many such children, when they became adults, used to visit Paramahamsaji with their families and children. They not only accepted him as their divine guru and guide, but also thought of him as a loving parent, savior, and God. He helped numerous students with their higher education to become medical doctors, engineers, accountants, lawyers, and postgraduates. He always encouraged and helped people, particularly the poor and the meritorious students to study. Even when the finances of the ashram were not very sound he never hesitated to help them. There are numerous stories about how Paramahamsa Hariharanandaji supported people in their studies.
While staying at Puri, he also saw the misery and distress of many poor, old, widowed, women. In India, widowed people prefer to spend the rest of their lives in holy places such as ashrams, in a spiritual atmosphere of meditation. If anyone suffered from a disease or lack of funds, Paramahamsaji was their insurance to serve and help. Even now, many old women tell stories of the service and love of Gurudev Hariharanandaji in the ashram.
Paramahamsaji’s service to his gurus is likewise well known. He personally served Shriyukteshwarji, Shri Bijoy Krishna, Swami Sevananda, his sanyas guru Bharati Krishna, and Shri Sanyal Mahasaya. He nursed the sick with his own hands. At that time in Puri there were not many dispensaries and no hospital, so he opened a charitable homeopathy dispensary in the ashram. He studied books, and through his stud and intuition he treated and cured many poor and sick people. The sweepers and fishermen in the hamlet near the ashram considered Paramahamsaji, who cured them with his loving care, as their savior, their God. One day, a poor fisherman’s wife came to Paramahamsaji for medicine. She said, “My son, you are so loving and divine, and you help us in so many ways that I have brought a small gift for you.” She produced a betel leaf, tied up in her cloth, and offered it to Paramahamsaji. He put it in his mouth out of respect for her love.
Another old lady, the mother of the cook at the ashram, had problems with her eyesight and was almost blind. She had no one to care for her, so Paramahamsaji admitted her to the hospital and paid all the expenses for her treatment. The doctors and hospital staff thought the old woman was his mother because he visited and inquired after her. Later, the medical staff was surprised to learn she was not his mother.
“I will be your friend from now until eternity, no matter whether you are on the lowest mental plane or the highest plane of wisdom, I will be your friend if ever you should err, for then you will need my friendship more than at any other time.”
Love conquers everything”
Breath is the love of God, manifested in each living being. But the breath of love is a pure breath, that gives enlightenment, inner peace, and completeness. Breathing should be deep and slow and eventually no breath should come out of the nostrils. Developing a state of love, through breath control, is Yoga. The breath is of two types: external breath and internal breath. In the external breath the exhalation is long and the inhalation is short. In the internal breath it is the reverse, the inhalation is slow, long, and deep and the exhalation is short. Blood circulates more in the head when we have increased mental activity, in the stomach when food is digested, in our extremities when we are performing a physical activity, or we are highly emotional. When we feel tense or anxious, provide more oxygen to the brain through proper breathing. People with emotion, fear and stress breathe very fast and quick, which is contrary to the breath of love. Ego, anger, and jealousy are obstacles in the Path of Love and they cover up our love just as clouds cover the light of the sun.
In the olden days, people churned yoghurt to get butter. Butter is present in every drop of milk but you cannot see it unless it is extracted. We have to first heat the milk for the cream to come up. The cream is then made onto yoghurt by culturing it and keeping it undisturbed for some time. It is then churned to separate the butter. Once the butter is separated, it will float in milk, buttermilk or water, and does not mix with them again. The butter is heated to produce ghee and this ghee can be used as a fuel in a fire.
To obtain the precious butter or ghee within, the body has to be heated by the inner fire of meditation, which is done by concentrating in the region between the soul center and the fontanel. First heat the milk of life by practicing deep, relaxing, breathing. Then the cream will emerge. Maintain your inner silence for some time, in order to convert the cream into yoghurt. Continue your meditation to get the butter. Even deeper concentration will clarify the butter and make it pure enough to burn completely. When life is full of love, there is no anger and no ego. When the mind is fully occupied with positive thoughts, there is no door for the negative thoughts to penetrate. When one is busy, there is no time for idle thoughts. An idle mind is a devil’s workshop.
Anything we do comes in the form of a thought first. Thought is the seed state. Work is the sprout state. Fruit is the manifested state. So every human mind can be a divine kingdom or a hell. The choice is ours. We can make our life beautiful, or full of negative things. If we really want our own spiritual growth, we should be careful. Each of us has an immense potential to uncover our Divinity within, and this has to be done through meditation. There is no other way. If we do not cleanse our minds, we will not progress. We are all constantly engaged in this battle for perfection.
Many people are unable to be physically still. They keep shifting and moving their body, even during the short time that they sit to meditate. Moving the legs constantly while sitting is a sign of restlessness and tension. Practice sitting with the body still, each day, for some time. Gradually increase the time. Even when you close your eyes, keep them steady. When the mind is steady, the eyes do not move. When the breath is rhythmic, the mind is steady. Everything is correlated. Practice rhythmic breathing; keep the mind still and tranquil. You will develop more love. Be still and in the stillness of your heart, you will feel love for God. Meditation is the life of love. It is the life of complete transformation.
During the time of the Buddha, there was a criminal who lived in a forest. He terrified everyone in the nearby villages, because rumor had it that he had vowed to kill a thousand people in order to make a rosary with their thumbs. Buddha was warned to avoid that particular forest, but since the Buddha was fearless, he went anyway. The criminal was sitting under a tree, and when he saw the Buddha, he drew his sword and asked him to stay still. Buddha smiled and said, “I am still, you are the one who is restless.” The man was surprised that someone dared to talk to him in that way. He said, “How can you say that? You are walking and I am sitting down.” Buddha smiled again as he replied, “I am moving, but my mind is still. You are sitting, but your mind is very restless.” The fierce murderer had never heard a voice so peaceful and full of love. The power of that love, and the depth of truth in this brief dialogue, transformed him completely. Approaching Buddha, full of remorse for all the sins he had committed, he humbly begged him to accept him as his disciple. The Buddha accepted him and took him with him, telling him, “If you want to follow me, you have to live in a certain way. You have to beg for food each day since we live on alms. Be prepared to accept any situation, without reacting.” When the reformed criminal went begging, he had to face many insults from the families in all the surrounding villages. He bore them all without reacting, and was truly repentant. Buddha would smile, and share his food with him.
Buddha, through teaching and meditation, with love and compassion, taught the criminal to transform his life. With the help of God we can all transform our lives.
Path of Love; pg 96 - 98
karma prarabhate narah
nayayyam vaviparitam va
pancai’te tasya hetavah
These five factors contribute to whatever actions, right or wrong, that man undertakes with body, speech, or mind.
People do work physically, vocally, and mentally. Any work accomplished with the body and sense organs is physical work. Every physical work can be classified as good or bad. A man’s vocal expression, such as truthful or false talk, sweet, divine talk, or harmful words may also be good or bad. Yet man does not only work physically and express himself vocally, any thought rising in the mind, good or bad, will also cause good or bad results. A divine and good thought can bring positive change in life, while a negative thought may bring mental suffering that leads to physical discomfort.
But every intelligent person should know that all activities – physical, vocal, and mental – are conditioned and influenced by these five factors: the human body, the ego, the organs of action and perception, mind, and intellect, human effort, and destiny. These five factors allow people to work physically, vocally, and mentally.
Even in childhood, Jesus, the beloved Son of God, was a perfect master. Although not much is known about His childhood, Jesus was already endowed with spiritual status, enlightenment, and understanding. His teachings reflect His supreme wisdom and love for humanity.
Jesus knew the purpose of his coming to earth as a youth. He was aware He was a manifestation of divinity. The light of the soul radiates in the life of a spiritual person, irrespective of the body’s age. The seed of spirituality sprouted early and became a tree of eternal life in the body of Jesus.
The purpose of life is not to eat, drink, and be merry. The purpose of life is not to leave the world with countless unfulfilled desires. Many people just survive. They do not know what life is. The meaning of life is a mystery to them. They live without a purpose.
God created every human being in His own image. We all are the children of God. The invisible and formless power of God hides within. Self-realization and God perception is the goal of life. The purpose of life is to discover the Self as an imperishable, divine, formless, changeless, immutable entity. Because of the soul, the body and the sense organs function.
Every person must be taught the secret of spiritual truth, the essence of all religions, along with their formal education. For the harmonious development of the body, mind, intellect, and soul, material, moral, and spiritual education are necessary. Without spiritual education, material education is blind, and without material education, spiritual education is lame.
Spiritual values increase the quality of life and help us view any situation in an objective way. When we integrate values into our daily life, we increase the spiritual, moral, and ethical content of life. We acquire the tools to make the correct decisions. A life in knowledge is a life of perfection. Spiritual education gives a meaning to our existence. Should culture is the real education. After realizing the soul, the fundamental principle of life, life is complete. Material education might bring comfort and luxury, but spiritual education brings balance and harmony.
People think that the time for God is during their old age. But they do not know that old age is plagued with memories of the past and boundless unfulfilled desires. Worries and the fear of death paralyze the mind of the old. Spirituality is not a part-time job; it is a lifelong journey; it is a soul-conscious life style, a life led in a state of higher consciousness.
The first impression lasts long. Just as the alphabet and words learned during our childhood are imprinted in our memory forever, we should try to understand and assimilate the higher principles of life. Spiritual education brings transformation from body consciousness to soul consciousness.
Jesus was realized. Jesus realized the Christ. He constantly perceived His union with God, the Father:
If anyone loves me, he will obey my teaching.
My Father will love him,
and we will come to him
and make our home with him.
The seed of spirituality is hidden in every human being. In a good environment, with diligent care and self-effort, the tree of spiritual life can sprout and grow and nurture fulfillment, not only in our lives, but in the lives of others.