First of all: what’s a lineage?
Encoded in this spiritual DNA is a body of knowledge, methods, and principles for living the awakened life.
But, it’s more than just knowledge, methods, and principles. The spiritual DNA holds a fundamental insight, a primary attitude, or feeling about life.
It’s this deep feeling that is transmitted through lineage.
Imagine reading a recipe for a wonderful soup. As you read, your mouth waters. You’re motivated and get up off the couch, go to the store, get the ingredients, and cook the soup.
But, even as you cook and taste, you wonder . . .
What would the soup taste like if the chef who wrote the cookbook prepared it? Because, you’d like to be there in the kitchen to watch him/her cook. To get the “feel” of cooking from being with him/her.
It’s the same in spiritual life.
You can read the books. Listen to the CDs. (And we recommend both!) But, there’s something that you can only learn when you really connect with a teacher. When you spend time with her/him. Through attuned connection you sense the feeling that is alive in the center of your Being. As you attune to and embody that – your own orientation to life shifts.
Something is transmitted that goes beyond words.
It’s like hearing a good joke. The teacher tells the joke and in the beginning the student may think, “I know this is supposed to be funny. But, I don’t get it.”
The teacher keeps telling the same joke – using many different symbols. And still the student may scratch his/her head.
Then, one day, it clicks.
You get the joke. And you’re both laughing – teacher and student together. Because you’re both enjoying the joke. Transmission has taken place. It occurs through an unpredictable combination of timing, openness, intention, technique, and willingness. When the conditions are right, the spark of wisdom is passed on and the spiritual DNA continues to evolve. Sometimes this transmission is made explicit through public ceremony. Other times it occurs in a more private encounter. Either way, the purpose of lineage is fulfilled.
We’re lineage holders in the Kriya Yoga tradition.
Kriya Yoga is an ancient practice. It’s the only form of yoga mentioned in the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali – the classic yogic instruction manual. While it’s been around for a long time, Parmahansa Yogananda brought the basic teachings of Kriya to the West in 1920.
Yogananda publicly communicated the teachings in forms that fit the culture of the times. But, he also transmitted the deeper, more esoteric, aspects of the teachings to his closer disciples. Among these was Shelly Trimmer.
Shelly was born in Pennsylvania.
His brilliant mind and profound mystical awareness were obvious even as a child. His parents’ were students of Western mystery teachings, and so Shelly was born into circumstances that supported his natural inclinations towards the spiritual. In the 1940’s he came west, wanting to study with a Master who could deepen his already significant inner awareness.
His relationship with Yogananda was intimate and collegial.
They both enjoyed comparing and discussing the connections between Eastern and Western mystical practices. Yogananda appreciated having a disciple who was more than a good student, and more than a devotee with whom he could share comparative mystical methods and realizations.
Yogananda instructed Shelly to carry on the lineage, to teach – but in a more hidden and less “institutional” manner. Shelly moved to the north woods of Minnesota, where he lived with his wife and children. Over the decades a handful of disciples found their way to his farm/ashram. One of these is our guru Goswami Kriyananda.
Goswami Kriyananda is American by birth.
Though at an early age he felt the inner call to practice yoga. (This was before there was a single yoga book in the main branch of the Chicago Public Library.) He’s the founder of the Temple of Kriya Yoga, based in Chicago, Illinois.
He has a worldwide student body – and still has maintained a sense of intimacy with his disciples. Kriyananda always stresses that there’s a difference between organizational teachings and the personal guru-disciple relationship. Lineage is transmitted heart-to-heart, mind-to-mind, not via organizations.
We are direct disciples of Goswami Kriyananda.
We visited Chicago to meet Goswami Kriyananda in the fall of 1972.
We had each in our own way been meditating and praying for a spiritual preceptor who could guide us on the path. But, walking down State Street on a brisk autumn evening it seemed unlikely that we’d find a guru in such an environment.
At that time, the Temple of Kriya Yoga was located on the top floor of a seven-story brick building.
The building was squeezed in-between much taller buildings and flanked by garishly lit movie theaters. The flashing marquees announced the film of the week: SuperFly. Movie patrons with flared bellbottoms and massive Afros waited out front. Having just arrived from the hippy mecca of Boulder Colorado – we were in shock.
During the meditation, Kriyananda made the statement, “God is knowable.”
There was something in the inflection and tone of voice that went all the way into our souls. It was a confirmation of the heart’s deepest longing and an affirmation of what we sensed (remembered) in moments of stillness. This was the real deal. We knew what we had to do. No words were needed.
We moved to Chicago.
And we entered the Kriya Yoga Seminary in January of 1973. For the next twelve years our life revolved around our studies at the Temple and the one-to-one transmission of our guru. At the same time, we completed college, started several businesses, and in 1979 had our first son, Nathaniel – at home in the middle of a blizzard.
When Nathaniel was three, we decided we wanted to move out of Chicago. But, it took a few more years before we felt “complete” with that phase of our discipleship. Then, in 1985 we moved to San Diego. And in 1987 to Encinitas, where our son Aaron was born and from which remains our home base.
Over the years, we’ve studied and worked with many wonderful teachers of spirituality, psychology, art, music, and leadership. We learned from them all. And in the process discovered ways of preserving the power of the ancient Kriya teachings while articulating them in language and forms that meet people where they are – in their real lives.
Now, more than ever the world needs people who can bring their spirituality into real life: at home, at work, at school, in the arts and politics.
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