Interview with Johnny, a Kriyavan
Tell us a bit about yourself.
I enjoyed writing poetry from an early age. Then I went on to become a songwriter and initially I tried to write songs for a group called The Pink Fairies, whose lead singer was “Twink”; then later for Pete Banks, who used to be the lead guitarist of the Super Group “Yes”, before forming his own band, called “Flash”. Regrettably, my skills as a musician were limited, so my career as a songwriter was short lived. I had won a literary prize for verse at school and throughout my life I have continued to write both poems and articles. In recent years, I have self-published two books on Palmistry Counselling, which alongside my therapeutic work, has been my career for the past 35 years. This year, I will also be self-publishing my Anthology of Poetry.
What attracted you to Kriya Yoga?
I started practising Hatha Yoga and Vedic Meditation when I was 18 years old and was able to experience mystical states from an early age. I had been searching for the meaning of life and endeavouring to find an enlightened guru. What I had discovered was that the universe had been created by light and sound. In the Bible (Genesis) it says that the world was created by the Word [or Sound] of God and that God was that Word.
In addition, God first created light, so from these two components all forms came into existence, including mankind. I was 25 years old at that time, but had not found a genuine Sat Guru, but I learnt from the Bhagavad Gita, that in order to attain liberation, all I had to do was to chant the sacred mantra “OM”, which in the Hindu Scriptures is the Word of God! So, I decided to chant this mantra continuously until I attained enlightenment. It was then that I experienced my first “samadhi”, which is the first stage on life’s journey towards the awakening. I recall that my consciousness expanded exponentially and I experienced great bliss and rapture, being taken out of my body and recalling fragments of many lifetimes, as my heart exploded into the universe. I also established a connection to a higher being, who taught me that the purpose of life, is to serve God unconditionally, and to love all creatures within creation.
Then, many years later, I read one of Hariharananda’s books and was drawn towards Kriya Yoga.
I had planned to visit Homestead in Florida and ask our beloved Guruji to initiate me, but whilst meditating he came to me in a vision, telling me NOT to come. I felt a bit confused at the time, but the following week I heard of his mahasamadhi, and passing into nirvana. I changed my travel plans and instead went to the Shriyukteshwar Ashram in Puri to have an audience with his successor Paramahamsa Prajnananandaji. I observed the master surrounded by devotees, many of whom were women, kissing his feet. As I gazed in awe upon him, I started to have my second “Samadhi” of bliss and rapture. He looked like a modern Jesus and I sensed his love for humanity. There was an International Spiritual Convention that was happening at this time, with sadhus from all over India attending but he allowed me to sit in his room and meditate.
The following year, Guruji initiated me into Kriya Yoga and I recall seeing the divine light, and hearing the divine sound, whilst feeling bliss in his presence.
Has the practice benefited you in any way?
Oh yes, it has been wonderful, as I feel much less anxious and more physically relaxed. I feel very much “at home” with the practices and enjoy practising Jyoti and contemplation.
What does your meditation look like?
I practise morning and evening for one hour each time, starting with breath meditation to calm the mind; followed by the light and sound techniques, during which we visualise each of our past gurus. Then, when thoughts cease, I go into the deeper, more blissful state of expanded consciousness, during which a person’s sense of being emerges. As a person’s karma is purified, and he or she becomes a renunciant, a beautiful and refined simplicity emerges, which leads to an inner serenity and within personal relationships a greater sense of peace and harmony.Have you visited any Ashrams or been on any retreats?
Yes, I have been to ashrams in India, such as the Shriyukteshwar Ashram in Puri, Orissa; where the brahmacharyas teach, plus numerous retreats in the U.K. such as those held in London and Kent.
Have there been many memorable occasions on your spiritual journey?
I have met quite a lot of spiritual teachers. Then, having undergone the 2nd Kriya Yoga initiation, my consciousness has expanded such that I felt formless. At that stage, I attained “self-realisation”, which means that the self is seen to be an illusion. After my 1st “samadhi”, I had recalled many previous lives. Then as a person continuously practices meditation, a deeper sense of peace and one-ness emerges. At the heart of every true path is a devotional sense of love for God and gurus and a deep sense of love for all creatures, especially human beings.
We are all imperfect but strive to attain enlightenment, so as to be at one with the source of creation. This is the purpose of our lives and what brings happiness. Most people look towards the outside world for validation of their purpose in life, seeking to gain pleasure and a sense of reward from relationships and work. But such pleasures are temporary and fleeting, because all of us only live for a limited time, being in a world that is transitory and constantly changing. However, through our spiritual practices, we remember that we have a permanent connection to God, who is changeless and eternal. I have written about such matters. From the perspective of meditation over many years, a person gains valuable insights and realisations into the true nature of reality. In my own meditations, I have often sensed the presence of gurus in my meditation room, which I find comforting.
Also, previously, I was a Christian scholar, so sometimes I have visions of the Lord Jesus Christ and feel his presence! We should all remember that true spirituality goes beyond the barriers of race, creed or religions, as we are all children of God. Our own gurus, especially Yogananda, were both wise and knowledgeable of not only Hinduism, but also Christianity and Islam; such that by practising Kriya Yoga, alongside their own religion, people of all faiths can attain spiritual enlightenment.
What advice or guidance would you give to new initiates?
When I was a young man, I was involved in the music business, but the truth is that following a life-style with superficial pleasures, such as “sex, drugs, and rock and roll”, is not conducive to a happy life!
At a deeper level, we should all seek to avoid mental or emotional addictions. These can arise if we become obsessed with politics or religion, where people can become passionate and opinionated. This is not compatible with a life of meditation or contemplation, so we have to work hard to avoid egoistic pursuits and develop non-attachment and equanimity.
The central practice should be to love God, with all your heart and soul. To love gurus as they are your connection to God and can enable anyone to attain god consciousness through initiations that are provided at an appropriate time in your spiritual development. Then to have a dispassionate love for all creatures and all humanity, as God has created all that is in existence, from his love!
Finally, we should show love and respect for the precious gift of life, bestowed upon us all, by keeping the body temple pure, and striving to improve our own moral temperament, such that we can live in harmony and peace with all beings. As we are all imperfect, we need to forgive each other’s faults, as that is essential in order to attain equanimity.
Is there anything else that you would like to share?
We should endeavour as far as possible to find time to regularly be in the presence of our guru and his teachers and progress in our spiritual evolution. Aside from our devotion to our guru, we should all strive to attain spiritual enlightenment in this lifetime.
God wants us to return to the source of our being, by becoming at one with him. So, it is the sacred duty of our guru to enable all of us to make progress towards liberation.
Finally keep your faith even in the face of adversity. I have a terminal illness and my doctors like to predict when I am going to die! But, I tell them that it is in God’s hands and I have no fear of death, especially as I have lived so many lives on earth, over the past few thousand years!
So, remain calm, peaceful and serene. Practise daily. Do not criticise yourselves, if thoughts invade your practice, just calmly let go of thoughts and return to focusing on your breath, and letting go. It’s all about letting go of self, and just being!
I hope that my words will inspire other people.
Many thanks for taking the time to share with us.