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The Significance of Initiation

by M. Govindan

In Babaji’s Kriya Yoga the significance of initiation is often overlooked. Initiation is the sacred act in which an individual is given their initial experience of a means to realizing some truth. The means is a kriya or “practical yogic technique,” and the truth is a portal to the eternal and infinite One. Because this truth is beyond name and form, it cannot be communicated through words. It can be experienced however, and for this one needs to learn all the tools to refine the techniques from a teacher who can share his or her own living experience of them. It is then, that the techniques become a vehicle to realize the truth in oneself.

During an initiation there is a transmission of energy and consciousness between the initiator and the recipient, even if the recipient is not aware of it. The transmission may not be effective if the student is full of questions, doubts or distractions. So, the initiator attempts to prepare the recipient beforehand and to control the environment so that these potential disturbances are minimized. The initiator takes into himself or herself, in effect, the consciousness of the recipient, and begins to expand it beyond its habitual mental and vital boundaries. There is a kind of melting of ordinary mental and vital boundaries, between the initiator and the recipient, and this greatly facilitates movement of consciousness to a higher plane. By so doing, he opens the recipient up to the existence of his own soul, or higher Self, which until then, remains veiled in the case of most individuals. By so raising the consciousness of the recipient, the latter has their initial glimpses at least of their potential consciousness and power. This is what is meant by the awakening of the kundalini of the disciple. It is most often not done in a dramatic way, but rather gradually over a period, depending upon the diligence of the student in putting into practice what he or she has learned.

For the initiation to be effective two things are essential: the preparation of the student or recipient, and the presence of an initiator who has opened to the Truth of his or her own True Self. While most spiritual seekers seek a perfect guru, few concern themselves with their own preparation. It is perhaps a fault of human nature, to seek someone who will “do it for us.” That is, give us Self-realization or God-realization. While the guru may point you in the right direction, the seeker must himself commit himself to following those directions. While the seeker may be intellectually committed to following these, all too often, human nature causes one to waver in distraction, doubt or desire. So, even if the perfect teacher is found, if the qualities of faith, perseverance, sincerity and patience are not cultivated, the initiation may be like sowing seeds in a concrete sidewalk.

Traditionally, for this reason, initiation was restricted to only those who had prepared themselves, sometimes for years in advance. While the first initiations may be made available to a large number of aspirants, only those who had cultivated the qualities of a disciple attain results from them. As Jesus said, “many are called, but few are chosen.”

A devotee is one who is seeking a path or a teacher. This stage may continue for a very long time, until one is ready to make a commitment to one teacher or discipline. One may hop from one teacher to another, listening, watching, and experimenting a little, like a comparison shopper. At the end of that stage, one becomes a disciple, when he/she becomes committed to the practice of the teacher’s prescribed spiritual discipline. Attainment from any spiritual discipline requires persistent effort over an extended time. One needs to have faith in the efficacy of the practice, perseverance, the support of a teacher, and divine grace. If the teacher is authentic, he or she will always be ready to respond to the students request or to find someone who can. And divine grace is always available to one who is open to it. What is problematic is acquiring faith and perseverance. The teacher can give understanding of the techniques, how to do them properly and how they transform the student and will instigate the process through initiation and provide inspiration and encouragement, but the student must consistently apply him/her self with confidence and faith.

Can one effectively learn the kriyas or techniques without initiation? Understanding what has been discussed above, the answer is, it depends on the qualities and karma of the individual, but it is highly unlikely. It would require Divine Grace and unrelenting faith. There is an essential sacred transmission of consciousness and energy, which empowers the techniques. That is why initiatory traditions have managed to pass the direct experience of truth from one generation to the next so effectively. Their strength lies in the power and the consciousness of those who have done the practices intensely and so realized their truth. We honor our highest Self when we honor our initiation by putting into diligent and regular practice what we have learned and received in them.

December 2002 Copyright Marshall Govindan. All rights reserved.

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