Sacred Mountain Retreat

Relationship of
Kriya, Tantra, and Dzogchen
from a Yogic Perspective

by Virochana Khalsa September, 2002

This article is presented for those wanting to progress far on the spiritual path. It also assumes some familiarity with the terms: Kriya, Tantra and Dzogchen.

Art by Virochana Kriya yoga is a practice of integrating our body, breath, and mind. Because energy and consciousness are flip sides of the same coin, we learn how to enter refined states of consciousness through purification, direction of, and awareness of energy-substance. This includes learning how to stabilize and rest in a very subtle space of refined soul-energy inherent with each of us. As we continue, we become aware of the radiant nature of spirit, and become liberated, or at least enlightened while alive. While scientific in its approach, we advance in Kriya through the blessings of its masters. This is absolutely essential, not just for the tips, adjustments, inspiration, and help with pitfalls, but for receiving the subtleties of understanding and correct atmosphere by which we can advance.

Each particular kriya tradition has a number of foundational practices, adjusted by the teacher as to type and duration, that an individual starts with. These foundational practices, while awesome in their own right, prepare the practitioner over the years to be able to enter the underlying stream of the kriya lineage itself. It is in this stream that the higher kriyas of the soul are inwardly revealed and by which we transcend the outer technique. These subtle ways of opening, stabilizing, and encompassing the view, including the use of nectars, become self-evident.

Some kriya lineages, such as the undiluted lineages from Lahiri Mahasaya, keep the kriyas secret, the family tight, and a greater number of rungs on the kriya ladder, i.e., progressive kriya techniques, better preparing its diligent practitioners to become ready for the inwardly understood higher kriyas. The requirements are also more severe and exacting. Some Kriya lineages, such as the Kundalini Yoga practices taught by Yogi Bhajan give a broad range of publicly available kriyas and a bigger gap for the practitioner to close on their own, before the practitioner is ready for and can receive the higher kriyas inwardly. Another example of effective and rich kriya techniques publicly available are the Taoist and Buddhist Chi Kung cultivations as taught by those few who understand the higher dynamics and disciplines. The most important part of any kriya path, is your connection with the teacher(s) and lineage. Understand that true lineage is not religion, it is beyond that. The higher kriyas are always received inwardly. It is pointless to try and write a book of them. Advanced practitioners can help each other out a bit here and there, but this is because a common experience prevails.

Painting by Tashi The reason these kriyas can only be received in this way, is that it is impossible to communicate the subtleties in words, and on top of that, they would be useless unless you are ready. For example, if I ask you to meditate the breathless nectars from a particular area within your head, that is also beyond the physical into your subtle channels and coerce them into your physical being for three hours every morning, and to maintain it during the day as an aspect of the enlightened view; can you do that? And even with those words, there is so much that is left out in these directions that are beyond a three-dimensional framework and your individuality that is a vital, indispensable part of the practice, yet subtly different for each of us. However, if I tell you something that you can apply right now to work towards stabilizing awareness of your subtle mind, then that is practical and effective, and you can enjoy the results and grow in the process. In that growth and through the blessings of your teachers and those awake within the body of the one, in the proper time you will understand for yourself. It is guaranteed, in perfection, for those who progress through purity of heart and diligence.

Kriya Yoga starts from wherever we are at, and moves forward from there. As such, for those who can discipline themselves, it is an ideal path to start with on the spiritual path. In can be said that Kriya Yoga starts with the body, which is something we are all, at least a little bit, familiar with. Full enlightenment is recognized within and received by and from within the Body of the One, and not something that can be gained solely through any technique.

While the starting place of Kriya Yoga is the body, the starting place of Tantra is the soul, more specifically awareness of the soul’s light, relationship, and grounding within the body. Of course Kriya also works with this, but in a different way with a different emphasize.

As our heart opens and we awaken through the non-dualistic view that is the shinning of our spirit through us, we naturally expand into a god-in-everyone love and wisdom. Breaking out of our shell, this inner expansion at times comes to odds with our limited understanding of emotion, passions, and the oneness. No matter how much we practice, there are aspects of relationship that must be matured on their own grounds. Tantra is the aspect of our spiritual growth that addresses these intimacies. Individual definition, when matured opens the doors of oneness. In tantra, we experience a greater reality including the individuality of others within our individuality, and as this is matured, we awaken into the body-of-the-one.

It is a big mistake to attempt the path of tantra from a dualistic, outward-bound, sensation-seeking mindset. Emotions such as, I do not know what to do with my sexual energy thus maybe tantra is for me, or I want better sex, or just want to flow in an everything is love along with my evening smoke, are not a correct way to begin the tantric path. Likewise, intellectual theories are equally useless in which to start this path. It is much better to practice kriya and methods of spiritual refinement.

To begin the tantric path you must already be familiar with a non-dualistic mind, perfumed with the radiance of spirit. You must tangibly be aware of that which never sleeps. In this perfume you feel the inherent intimacy of the divine and tantra provides wisdom and transmission to mature this, thereby dissolving all of your illusions into the growing seed of your realization.

While Tantra is frequently called a path of transformation, it is only so in terms of its skillful means. It is not a path in which to initially find enlightenment, only to deepen it. For example, consort practice, an aspect of tantra so focused upon in the west, is the sharing of two enlightened beings in an enlightened space performing indescribable subtleties of nectar practice within the love-space of the body-of-the-one including and beyond the individuality and a blessing presence for all, although visible to few.

The tantric path can begin after you have experienced and recognize the enlightened view emanating forth, consciously, as spirit, what Buddhists call Dharmakaya. Teachings that emphasize recognition and cultivation of this view are in Tibetan called Dzog Chen, in the Saint Germain teachings called the I Am, and through myself and Whitecloud, Eternal Yoga. While there are different approaches, strategies of cultivation, and wisdom's of lineages, the essence is the same, for the view is inherent and beyond any dogma.

Some confusion arises in presentations emphasizing tantra as a path of transformation, by which we transform our limited view into an enlightened one. While from the correct perspective this is a truth, that perspective requires an enlightened glimpse. Without a really solid glimpse of enlightened-reality, this emphasizes of tantra gives a grossly mistaken view of what the path is and how to proceed on it.

Lake Waikermoana, New Zealand This mistaken view of tantra as doable without a firm view from spirit has resulted in its corruption. As we awaken to our soul and its domain, we are essentially awakening to our desires in countless ways. Using desire as a spiritual path without a proper view only results in further circles of desire. This is nothing more than the ups and downs of countless incarnations, never aware of the nature of the sea in which we swim.

Thus from a tantric perspective, dzogchen is an aspect of the tantras. From the pure path of dzogchen itself, it is a complete and unique teaching given in purity and directness. When there is enough stability in this way, then all emotions, thoughts and experience is experienced as the play of our true nature. The sun and its rays are inseparable and of the same nature. The warmth of the sun is like the body and the starting place of yoga, the rays of the sun carrying forth this warmth is the primary fascination of tantra, and the sun itself is the love of dzogchen.

The danger of tantra is that we become invested in our desire, and refute anything which endangers this. While we have overcome limited identify as a physical body, we are still grasping at another identity called our soul. Thus we become dull, suffocating our effortless light. While sometimes blatant, it can become very subtle. Understand the progression. First we work to purify and unite our body, mind, and soul through kriya yoga or similar internalization's by whatever name it is called. Then we feel our spiritual family, receive a transmission from an enlightened member of that family, and through that purity we recognize what already is within us as spirit. With this radiant understanding, not a mentalized one, i.e., from the freedom of bliss beyond limited choice, we choose to progress through skillful means such as tantra or purely on the direct recognition of spirit liberating itself and just being itself. The choice is thus a bigger picture, dynamic in its operation, and beyond the limited personality.

Dzogchen and Tantra are both paths of getting there by being there. Dzogchen is the essence of this understanding, and Tantra is a broadening of its application. In truth, practitioners dynamically blend the two in various proportions. Some will emphasize the dzogchen approach, hardly visible at all to the world. There is enough stability in the effortless radiance within, and enough separation has been overcome so that the world is seen as how this radiance looks. Then what thoughts arise, are seen in the same way. There is nothing to change, we are simply conscious and the practice is as such.

Waterfall near Lake Waikermoana, New Zealand Enlightened spiritual application is another way of saying the play of the divine feminine. There are sophisticated tantras within dzogchen for doing this application, very directly in a yogic way, i.e. a higher kriya if you will. In the tantric tradition, there are many more types of application each inherently revealed in divine bliss, love and compassion that are perhaps more embracing in scope. So even though so many texts have tried to differentiate them, the two paths are really just aspects, again of the same coin.

In this transcendence of our personality, beyond the grasping or lack of grasping of our individual expression, we can truly choose how we which to continue, as evident with the bliss and compassion (largeness) of our soul. So we can continue with the directness and purity of the dzogchen path, or develop more through the skillful means of the tantric path.

In many ways there is a lot of similarity. For example, the primary cultivation of dzogchen and the higher aspects of tantric consort practice both result in using emotion and thought as a source of liberating energy, all through the view of spirit. Both the advanced practices of pure dzogchen and of tantra can bring forth a rainbow body of light, i.e., the ascended body. And both can increase our delusion and have dangerous consequences if aggressively pursued before we are ready.

I know that some of what I have written goes against the traditional way of presentation by some traditions. Yet many of these traditions have become stagnant in their understanding, or at least in the clothes of their outward presentation. Eternal Yoga was directly revealed to me by Mahavatar, otherwise known as Padmasambhava. Garab Dorje has manifested to me in the introduction of tantras. This is not book knowledge, rather from the school of service forever living within the body of the one, and it is in this inspiration and always present presence that I say this, to whatever capacity I am able. Do not try to freeze this in logic, for words can always battle with each other. Rather, reach for that which is within and sense the infinite brightness within the light that is already there, within and without. No spiritual path, tradition, technique can ever cut the delusions of how we see, if we are not willing to see in a different way.

Virochana In service to awakening and in awakened love

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