Self-Restraint through Kriya Yoga: A Path to Spiritual Awakening

Kriya Yoga emphasizes self-restraint as a cornerstone for spiritual awakening and harmonious living.

Embracing self-restraint through Kriya Yoga opens the door to profound spiritual awakening and a life in tune with our divine essence.

Kriya Yoga is a philosophy and practice for waking up to the spiritual truth of our being and living in harmony with that. The goal is Self- and God-realization—the liberation of consciousness—freedom from the fundamental error of spiritual ignorance that causes suffering. This freedom supports a wholesome, healthy, purposeful, serviceful, happy life.



Foundations of Kriya Yoga Philosophy

Here are some basic principles of Kriya Yoga philosophy that inform how we live.

  1. There is one supremely conscious Absolute Reality—beyond time and space, words and thoughts, name or form, unchanging, omnipresent, invisible, unbounded, unlimited.
  2. That Reality is the source and the substance of all that is. Therefore, it is both beyond and through all the worlds. It and supports it but is never constrained or limited by any of it.
  3. The omnipresent nature of that Reality means it can appear in Infinite ways. Thus, the Vedic sages affirm: there is one Reality called by many names. This awareness allows the divine to be worshipped in different ways with various names and forms because it is all recognized as expressions of the One Reality. It is like one ocean with many waves. The waves have no independent existence; they are only the ocean "waving."
  4. We, too, have no "independent" existence. We live, move, and have our being in Ultimate Reality. Kriya Yoga is about realizing that and learning to live that truth.

"Self-restraint (being Self-contained, non-reactive) is not an effort to overcome the ego's drives. Instead, we operate from a higher plane, from a different point of identification."

—Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian

Living an Awakened Life

How do we live an awakened life, in harmony with the truth of our being? How do we fulfill our potential? How do we change?

Starting in our childhood, we are told to "be good." Now we hear it differently, such as: If you want love, you must be love. If you want peace, you must first be peaceful. We are familiar with Gandhiji's "You must be the change you seek." But how?

Kriya Yoga is a path of action. The Sanskrit root of the word kriya is the same as the word karma, which means action. But this is not just any action. It is specific action—action to clarify awareness, purify mind and body, and sanctify our life (dedicate it to a higher purpose).

It is action for yoga (union) or life consciously in harmony with God—a soul-guided life, instead of being ego-driven.

Kriya Yoga is not about fundamentally changing what we are. It is about discovering what we are, then uncovering what we are—like removing the dust from a lamp so the light can shine through. We discover, uncover, then recover the soul life—a life where our inherent divine qualities freely express.

How do we make that shift? How do we curb the lower drives and tendencies, the ego-based reactive nature, and gain access to our soul qualities like self-restraint, humility, compassion, freedom from anger, and freedom to love?

Transformation through Self-realization

There are two basic approaches to change, and Kriya Yoga embraces them both.

  1. One is the way of "course correction," and the other is
  2. Transformation through Self-realization

We need both. If our practice stays focused on correction, change is slow, and we can grow weary, discouraged, and sometimes even give up, thinking change is too hard or not possible for us.

Self-Restraint and the Superconscious Operating System

The heart’s natural state of spiritual illumination reveals our nascent divine qualities of self-restraint, generosity, humility, perseverance on the spiritual path, freedom from anger, and uprightness. With access to superconsciousness, self-restraint is easy and natural. Learn how to function on a higher plane and naturally express your higher Self.



Self-restraint as a Spiritual Practice

Paramahansa Yogananda said, "By Kriya Yoga, one's consciousness functions on a higher plane; devotion to the Infinite Spirit then arises spontaneously in one's heart."

He was referring specifically to the Kriya Yoga technique of superconscious meditation, which facilitates the direct experience of Absolute Reality and conscious abidance in the divine Self.

Through the steady practice of superconsciousness, we purify the mind, clarify the faculty of discernment, awaken our intuition, and spontaneously express our higher potential.

We naturally do what is in harmony with truth. We naturally and spontaneously respond with compassion, with peace, with love. We respond with it because we are it. When we are established in higher consciousness, the truth of our being is unobscured by ignorance. We are transformed, and our illumined consciousness uplifts others around us as well.

From this state of consciousness, Self-restraint (being Self-contained, non-reactive) is not an effort to overcome the ego's drives. Instead, we operate from a higher plane, from a different point of identification.

The Influence of an Enlightened Teacher

I recently received an email from Steven Ridley, a brother disciple of my guru, Roy Eugene Davis. He was reflecting on what it was like to be in our spiritual teacher's presence. He wrote:

Consciously established in the truth of his Being (spiritually enlightened). I experienced this as a constant in him... When he was lighthearted and jovial, his presence was calm; when more seriously focused and intentional, his presence was calm. This constant in him had a beneficial influence on [others]. His presence blessed.

Steven then wrote about a time when Mr. Davis spoke for his meditation group in Denver. When Guruji paused for questions. one of the students asked, "Mr. Davis, Are you enlightened?"

Roy responded, "Oh, you're not going to ask me that?!" The audience laughed. Then, he calmly stated, "Well, I have peace." Steve concluded his letter with the thought: "How many could truly say that?" [1]

Bhagavad Gita 2.64-2.66

One who is controlled by the Self, by self-restraint,

attains peace. With peace comes the end of all sorrows. For one

with a tranquil mind, the intellect becomes steady.

There is no wisdom for one who is undisciplined, nor is there

concentration for one who is uncontrolled (lacking steadfast meditation practice),

In one who does not concentrate, there is no peace.

Without peace, how can there be happiness?

It Is I Who Must Begin

It is I who must begin.

Once I begin, once I try —

here and now,

right where I am,

not excusing myself

by saying things

would be easier elsewhere,

without grand speeches and

ostentatious gestures,

but all the more persistently

— to live in harmony

with the "voice of Being," as I

understand it within myself

— as soon as I begin that,

I suddenly discover,

to my surprise, that

I am neither the only one,

nor the first,

nor the most important one

to have set out

upon that road.

Whether all is really lost

or not depends entirely on

whether or not I am lost. [2]

—Václav Havel

[1] Steven's Blog Site:

[2] It Is I Who Must Begin, by Václav Havel from the collection, Teaching with Fire: Poetry That Sustains the Courage to Teach, edited by Sam M. Intrator and Megan Scribner.

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