The Transformative Power of Kriya Yoga: Yogacharya's Spiritual Journey

Through Kriya Yoga, discover the boundless depths of self-awareness and spiritual connection, unveiling a world where inner peace and divine realization converge.

Table of Contents

Yogacharya's Quest for Inner peace

Mullah Nasruddin’s Key: A Sufi Tale of Seeking

Discovering Kriya Yoga: The Sacred Key

Kriya Yoga: The Holistic Approach to Spiritual Awakening

In response to the question, “How does the desire for eternal life arise?” the great sage Ramana Maharshi replied, “Because the present state is unbearable. Why? Because it is not your True Nature.”

When Yogacharya Ellen Grace O'Brian first heard that quote, many years ago, like many seekers on the spiritual path, she was looking for a way to find lasting peace– an inner happiness that would be unshakable in the turbulence of modern life.



A Quest for Inner Peace

Even in Yogacharya's earliest memories, there was always an underlying feeling of spiritual yearning, wanting to know the truth about life, about her own self, and about God. Raised without formal religious training from her family but growing up in a multicultural neighborhood, Yogacharya was exposed to many different religions and spiritual teachings. She came away from those experiences knowing that God dwells in every church, temple, mosque, and synagogue—that no one person or religion has exclusive ownership of the sacred.

Yogacharya also knew the sacred was accessible, that it could be experienced and known, and that this experience could be life changing. What she did not know was how to access this sense of the sacred in any predictable way, nor did she understand how my ideas about God were themselves a barrier to finding what she was looking for. She thought she was looking for something outside of her own essential nature.

A Kriya Yoga practitioner lighting a candle at a table with flowers signifying spiritual awakening and Self-realization.

"Soul receives from soul that knowledge, not from book or speech."

— Rumi

As time when on, Yogacharya often sensed the nearness of Divine Presence, but did not know where or how to search for It. She had heard and connected with the idea that the “kingdom of God” is within, but she did not know how to enter that inner temple.

Mullah Nasruddin’s Key: A Sufi Tale of Seeking

Like many seekers of truth, Yogacharya readily identified with the Sufi story of the wise fool, Mullah Nasruddin, who lost the keys to his house. When his friend finds him outside at night searching under the streetlight, he asks him what he is looking for.

Mullah says, “I have lost my keys.”

His friend naturally inquires, “Where did you last see them?”

Mullah replies that he last saw them in the house.

“Then why are you looking out here?” his friend asks.

“Because the light is better out here,” Mullah says.

Like Mullah, before we learn how to access the higher states of consciousness within that connect us to the essential wholeness of our innate divine Self, most of us find it easier to look outside for fulfillment. We search here and there—in this relationship or that job—hoping to find the key to happiness and security. But, alas, the key is where it has always been. It is where we left it. It is in our own house — our own consciousness.

Discovering Kriya Yoga: The Sacred Key

After years of searching, Yogacharya was introduced to the path of Kriya Yoga, the spiritual practice rooted in ancient Vedic teachings. The philosophy and practice of yoga turned out to be the sacred key she was looking for, allowing her to enter the holy temple within. And once within, to awaken from the illusion of separateness.

Vedic Teachings and the Universality of Yoga

The disciplines of yoga, a systematic approach to spiritual realization, arose from the philosophical foundation of Vedic revelation. While the Vedic teachings have their historical origins in India and comprise the core of the Hindu religion, the essence of the Vedas extends beyond the boundaries of religion. The practice of yoga is not in and of itself a religion, but an individual path of authentic spiritual realization.

As we awaken to revealed truth through the practice of yoga, the inner way of our own particular religion becomes known. Yoga facilitates direct experience of the innate divine Self, allowing a seeker of truth to become a knower of truth. This realization—knowledge and experience—is transformative. Thus, it is often said that Christians can become better Christians, or Buddhists better Buddhists, as a result of their yoga practice. The transformation from ignorance of our essential nature to Self-realization is the universal way of spiritual awakening that is beyond words, thoughts, religious beliefs, or practices.

Paramahansa Yogananda: Bringing Kriya Yoga to the West

Kriya Yoga is the branch of yoga discipline brought to the United States by the Indian sage Paramahansa Yogananda in the early part of the twentieth century. His teachings, and those of others including Ramakrishna’s disciple, Swami Vivekananda, have taken root in the West and are now blossoming here as well as globally. Yogacharya was blessed to be introduced to these teachings by her guru, Roy Eugene Davis, a direct disciple of Yogananda.

Yogacharya's Spiritual Teacher: Meeting Roy Eugene Davis

Roy Eugene Davis met Paramahansa Yogananda in 1949. He read Paramahansaji’s book, The Autobiography of a Yogi, when he was eighteen years old, and immediately recognized Yoganandaji as his guru and Kriya Yoga as his path. Mr. Davis traveled across the United States from his home in Ohio to California to study with Paramahansa Yogananda in person. He was accepted for discipleship, trained by him, and later ordained by Paramahansaji to represent this tradition of Kriya Yoga. Mr. Davis has taught this practical, direct way to God-realization throughout the world for over sixty years.

Yogacharya first learned of Mr. Davis in 1979 when a friend gave her a copy of his publication, Truth Journal magazine, and invited her to a lecture. There is nothing that compares to meeting one’s spiritual teacher for the first time. Though the teachings of Self- and God-realization are always available and ever have been, at that divinely destined meeting we finally hear them. A transmission occurs from soul to soul. As the poet Rumi said, “Soul receives from soul that knowledge, not from book or speech.” Yogacharya began her studies with Mr. Davis immediately, was initiated into Kriya Yoga and accepted as a disciple in 1980, and ordained by him in 1982.

A photo of Ellen Grace O'Brian with Roy Eugene Davis in 1980

Ellen Grace O'Brian with Roy Eugene Davis (1980's)

Kriya Yoga: The Holistic Approach to Spiritual Awakening

Kriya Yoga provides the integrated approach to the awakening process that Yogacharya was yearning for. It addresses soul, heart, body, mind, and right action in the world that is particularly suitable for seekers today. The increased stress and alienation so often experienced in the fast pace of modern life with its ever-tantalizing, ever-present distractions requires just such a time-tested approach to stress reduction, self-awareness, and spiritually-conscious living.

The authentic, awakened life promises a true freedom and joy quite unlike anything the satisfaction of desires in the material world alone can offer. An ease of being, a Self-sustaining sense of fulfillment, and unconditional love await your discovery.

For more information, refer to Yogacharya O’Brian’s Biography

If you are new to Kriya Yoga, we recommend starting with the post, What is Kriya Yoga? Philosophy and Practice.

For a more in-depth understanding of the Kriya Yoga teachings, here are some books.

For a deeper dive into applying the teachings to your life, including support from a community of practitioners, explore one of the online transformational courses.

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