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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 a sacred act in which an individual is given their initial experience of a means to realizing some truth. That 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 or symbols. It can be experienced however, and for this one needs a teacher who can share his or her own living experience of the truth. The technique becomes a vehicle by which the teacher shares with the practioner the means to realize the truth in oneself.

During the initiation there is always a transmission of energy and consciousness by 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 raising of the kundalini of the disciple. It is most often not done in a dramatic way in an initial session, 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 realized his or her Self. While most spiritual seekers emphasize the latter, and 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 or teacher 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 to often, human nature causes one to waver in distraction, doubt or desire. So, even if one finds the perfect teacher, if one has not cultivated the qualities like faith, perseverance, sincerity and patience, the initiation may become as futile as sowing seeds on 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 larger number of aspirants, only those who had cultivated the qualities of a disciple were given the higher initiations. As Jesus said, "many are called, but few are chosen," only a few meet the demanding requirements of discipleship.

A devotee is one who is seeking a path or a teacher, and this may be 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, experimenting a little, like a comparison shopper. At the end of that stage, one becomes a disciple, and becomes committed to the practice of the teacher's prescribed spiritual discipline. As the spiritual discipline requires persistent effort for an extended time for its results to be proven, 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. Divine grace is always available if one knows how to open to it. So, what is problematic are the faith and perseverance of the student. The teacher or guru can instigate the process through initiation and provide inspiration and encouragement, but the student must apply themselves with confidence and persistency.

If one were to learn the kriyas or techniques without initiation would they be effective? Understanding what has been discussed above, the answer is emphatically no! This is why trying to learn techniques from books or from teachers who are not authentic, who have not themselves experienced the truth of which they speak leaves the student uninspired. This is so even if they are well prepared and filled with the important qualities of a sincere student. There is an essential sacred transmission of consciousness and energy which occurs between the initiator and the recipient 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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