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Date Posted: 07:59
Author: Eponymous - 9 Aug 2001
Subject: The "Science of Kriya Yoga" Annotated
The following are excerpts from the “Science of Kriya Yoga” from PY’s AOY. I selected only those excerpts that had some discernible empirical content. Each excerpt is followed by a critique or question that may cast doubt on the coherence or veracity of the excerpt.
Adherents who are offended by challenges to their cherished beliefs are advised not to read further.
1. “Kriya Yoga is a simple, psychophysiological method by which the human blood is decarbonized and recharged with oxygen.”
Gas exchange occurs in humans by the mechanism of breathing. Carbon dioxide in the blood is exchanged for oxygen in the lung alveoli. So far from being peculiar to yogis, the process described isn’t even peculiar to humans.
Precisely how or why gas exchange requires a “psychophysiological” technique peculiar to kriya yoga is not made clear. PY does not suggest, e.g., that this technique is merely a supplement to normal respiration. But then as a rival theory of gas exchange, it fails (as evidenced by the fact that mice, cattle and other non-yogis are not dropping dead from hyper-carbonated blood).
2. “The atoms of this extra oxygen are transmuted into life current to rejuvenate the brain and spinal centers.”
‘Transmutation’ is the change from one form into another. Thus, according to PY, the oxygen changes into “life current” – an undefined, but ostensibly undetectable form of energy. Thus, as far as physical observation is concerned, the oxygen “disappears.” But this is clearly erroneous: oxygen does not “disappear” in gas exchange; indeed, is the source of the “oxide” in the carbon dioxide that is later exchanged for oxygen during respiration. (See 1, above.)
3. “By stopping the accumulation of venous blood, the yogi is able to lessen or prevent the decay of tissues.”
“Venous” blood (blood in the pulmonary artery and most veins) is regularly circulated and oxygenated. So far as I know, there is no “accumulation” of venous blood - at least if ‘accumulation’ means stagnating pools of “carbonized” blood collecting at various sites in the circulatory system. Otherwise, it isn’t all too clear what ‘stopping the accumulation of venous blood’ could mean. (For instance, does it mean that the “advanced” yogi’s blood would be utterly free of carbon dioxide?)
4. “[T]he advanced yogi transmutes his cells into pure energy.”
Thus, again, observable cells supposedly metamorphose into an unobservable form of energy - “pure energy” - and thus vanish. No evidence is given to back up this claim, which would entail a detectable deficit in the mass conserved, as discussed above.
5. “Elijah, Jesus, Kabir and other prophets were past masters in the use of Kriya or a similar technique, by which they caused their bodies to dematerialize at will.”
Dematerialization would be an eminently observable event, and one will find it difficult to find even one well-documented* case.
6. “Offering inhaling breath into the outgoing breath, and offering the outgoing breath into the inhaling breath, the yogi neutralizes both these breaths; he thus releases the life force from the heart and brings it under his control.” [Quoting Krishna.] The interpretation is: “The yogi arrests decay in the body by an addition of life force, and arrests the mutations of growth in the body by apan (eliminating current). Thus neutralizing decay and growth, by quieting the heart, the yogi learns life control.”
Assuming that ‘releases’ here means ‘secretes’ (but see 8, below), if the yogi “releases the life force from the heart,” one ought to wonder how mechanical hearts work.** I don’t think the designers of mechanical hearts added a “life force releaser” feature, for instance.
7. “In the initial states of God-contact (sabikalpa samadhi) the devotee's consciousness merges with the Cosmic Spirit; his life force is withdrawn from the body, which appears "dead," or motionless and rigid.”
Thus, heartbeat and respiration supposedly cease. Again, one will probably search in vain for even one well-documented*** case of such cardio-pulmonary suspension.
8. “The life force, which is ordinarily absorbed in maintaining the heart-pump, must be freed for higher activities by a method of calming and stilling the ceaseless demands of the breath.”
This seems to contradict Krishna’s doctrine (discussed at 6, above) that the heart releases the “life force” (another undefined unobservable). Of course, 'releasing the life force from the heart' may just mean 'releasing the life force from the demands placed on it by the heart pump'. But then this is just false: the heart muscle’s contractions are powered by ATP, not “life force.”
10. “The ancient yogic technique converts the breath into mind.”
Here again is a “transmutation” from an observable state (inhaled gasses) into an ostensibly unobservable state (mind). Again, no evidence is given to back up the claim, and the entailed breach of mass conservation laws goes unnoted and undiscussed.
11. “The restless monkey breathes at the rate of 32 times a minute, in contrast to man's average of 18 times. The elephant, tortoise, snake and other animals noted for their longevity have a respiratory rate which is less than man's. The tortoise, for instance, who may attain the age of 300 years, breathes only 4 times per minute.”
The suggestion here is that lower breath rates as measured at rest generally can be linked to greater longevity. This is probably false,**** but in any case it is clearly erroneous to appeal to comparisons of breath rates and longevity data as between species as evidence for this notion. E.g., at rest, the opposum has a respiration rate of 12-24 cycles per minute, while a cat respires at 20-30 cycles per minute; yet the former has a life span of only 1 year, the latter 12. (For similar reasons, I take it as trivially false that respiration rates as measured between species have anything to do with behavioral characteristics, save those characteristics concomitantly linked to gross energy production and work capacity.)
12. “The rejuvenating effects of sleep are due to man's temporary unawareness of body and breathing.”
Sleep is just as “rejuvenating” for nonhuman species as well. Is this rejuvenation then also due to the animal’s temporary unawareness of body and breathing?
13. “The Kriya Yogi uses his technique to saturate and feed all his physical cells with undecaying light and keep them in a magnetized state.”
Granted, the electrochemical processes of the human body are incompletely understood, and physical effects of static magnetic fields cannot be ruled out. But the notion that a yogi “saturates” her physical cells with “undecaying” light and (thereby?) keeps them magnetized is not on. Even if cells were magnetically susceptible (and they are not), a state of global cellular magnetism obviously would fatally disrupt the body’s functioning – the cells would align magnetically and bind tightly together, and all crucial cellular functioning would perforce cease.
15. “Yoga enables the devotee to switch off or on, at will, life current from the five sense telephones of sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch.”
This would be interesting to test as well. Many will have seen striking footage of painful-looking physical acts performed on subjects who appear to bear the apparent violence to their body with serenity, but this doesn’t really demonstrate the total cessation of tactile sensation (it might just be a stoic reaction to pain, or it might be a conjuror’s illusion). One will probably be unsuccesful in finding a any case, e.g., where a yogi allowed a disinterested observer to carefully thrust a sharp implement into a randomly selected parts of the yogi’s body.
As to other, more mundane sense experience, "seeming" cessation of those sense faculties may not be actual cessation, as is suggested by such psycho-neurological phenomena as blindsight.
16. “A yogi who faithfully follows its technique is gradually freed from karma or the universal chain of causation.”
No comment, but what does this mean in physical terms? That the body is immortal, can levitate, can dematerialize, etc.?
* ‘Well-documented’ here would be something like video footage in conditions (good lighting, several angles, good focus, continuity, etc.) that exclude the possibility of cinematographic effects, standard magicians’ techniques or other such dissimulation.
** It is no argument to say that mechanical hearts don’t work as well as real hearts (and thus that this shows that something extra – life force – must be secreted by real hearts and not mechanical hearts). For one thing, the mechanical heart surely works better than the heart it replaced!
*** Minimal documentation for such a procedure would have to include: (1) atmospheric monitoring; (2) multiple pulse monitors at numerous locations on the body, along with an ECG; (3) pre- and post-procedure comparisons of metabolic indicators; and, most importantly (and most simply), (4) a video recording of the entire procedure, with the test subject always in plain view.
These are just basic controls (e.g., an EEG would also be nice), and any ostensible demonstration in this context that lacks such simple controls falls far short of being a well-documented scientific test.
**** If it is true, PY himself must have breathed with great rapidity, as he passed on when he was just 59.
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