Churn | Burn | Affirm

(CBA)

“A-B-C is considered the basic worldly way and order of learning; the way our life-force flows outwardly and becomes involved with the world. C-B-A practices, in contrast, are the way we learn to reverse the flow of life-force, and direct it inwardly towards the Self.”

Rajiv Kapur

Churn

Moving and retiring the life-force inwards and upwards using Kriya yoga, and Self-Inquiry practices that energize and purify consciousness

Burn

Process of identifying and healing the latent tendencies and vasanas that cause suffering in life

Affirm

When the Churning and Burning practices begin to support the sadhaka in every aspect of his spiritual and material life, it becomes Affirming

The ISIP practices of Churning, Burning and Affirming (CBA) are a highly effective way of realizing our higher dimensions of existence as permanent bliss and joy, while at the same time dissolving vasanas and hidden tendencies that create obstacles in our material and spiritual life. The following will explain how these ISIP practices accomplish this.

 

Churning

If we look at any spiritual discipline — Raja Yoga, Advaita, Tantra, Bhakti, etc. — we find one important instruction common to all:

move the mind inward and direct your attention within

This simple act or intention of directing attention within is known as “Churning.” The reason Churning is so important as a practice, is because the Self has come in association with the non-self (world of objects). When the Self meets the non-self outwardly, it creates what is termed as “Mixed Awareness“.

It is this Mixed Awareness which is the main reason why we do not reflect Divine qualities at all times and only experience them intermittently. Much like how water mixed with milk still appears to be like milk, but is adulterated, similarly the mixed awareness appears to be Self, but due to the adulteration, it does not always exhibit the joy and purity of the Self.

That is why the world is called as “Maya.” It is not what it appears to be. It promises a lot, but delivers little. All practices therefore emphasize moving the mind inwards towards the Self where we can connect with THAT pure essence of the Self within us– unconditioned or untouched by the qualities of the non-self.

So, what exactly does Churning do?

By Churning — which means allowing ourselves to move inwards — the life-force, which has a tendency or habit to move and associate with the external world and objects through our sense organs, is made to turn within towards higher centres where we experience uninterrupted joy and bliss.

The goal of every sincere ISIP practitioner is to employ his mind and his life-force in such a way that it merges with these centres one-by-one in a systematic and structured manner. As the mind acquires the subtlety needed to penetrate these centres, it begins to experience the expansiveness of these centres and to exhibit their divine qualities.

Many of these centres also bestow divine powers (shaktis and siddhies) to a devoted practitioner. They are gifts that one may receive on the way towards realization but one must not be attached to them and remain focused on the goal of Self-Realization.

How is Churning accomplished?

Churning in ISIP is accomplished through two methods based on the temperament of seekers: Yogic/Tantra (Kriya Yoga), and Self-inquiry (Atma-Vichara)

 Method One – Kriya Yoga:

Through Yoga/Tantra churning is accomplished when the life-force retires into the crown (Sahasrara) and a Yogi experiences higher states of consciousness – Sat-Chit-Ananda.

Through this method of churning scattered life-force (prana) is brought under control through the means of breath. By employing specific breath control techniques, and directing the mind, breath and prana into the middle channel (Sushmna) through the six chakras within the spine, the practitioner gently guides the prana towards the crown.

Basic Kriya Yoga practices comprise of:

                  • Nabhi Kriya
                  • Kriya Pranayama
                  • Yoni Mudra
                  • Maha Mudra

As a sadhaka becomes skillful in the above four practices, advanced breath retention techniques are slowly introduced by the teacher to help the student establish in the breathless state. Once a yogi is able to experience the breathless state, he is easily able to sever the ties with his mortal body and move into the ever-free, ever-joyous, ever-intuitive state of super-consciousness.

Method Two – Self-Inquiry:

Through the Self-inquiry way, churning is accomplished when the life-force retires in the Spiritual Heart, and a Jnani experiences the non-dual nature of the Absolute consciousness — Sat-Chit-Ananda.

The method used here is exclusively holding on to the subjective feeling of “I” or “I-Am” within us by asking the question, “To whom is this happening?” or “Who is this I?”.  No verbal answers are encouraged, and only the feeling of pure I-ness is emphasized, usually at the background of all experiences.

The teacher also introduces some techniques of direct Self-inquiry to his students to enable them to consciously move their awareness from waking to dream to deep sleep state and eventually the fourth state of Turiya without slipping into unconscious sleep state. Eventually, as practice matures, the life-force effortlessly finds it way into the Spiritual Heart where we realize our non-dual nature.

Whichever approach to Churning one chooses, the destination will remain the same. The Guru is the best one to decide which method of Churning is best suited to the sadhaka according to his or her temperament. In Rajivji’s opinion, there is no one best way to accomplish effective Churning. That is why the practice of ISIP incorporates the churning processes of Kriya Yoga and Self-inquiry techniques, in order to best suit all kinds of seekers — beginner, intermediate and advanced.

However, while all methods laid down in various disciplines (Yoga, Tantra, Self-inquiry) advocate various practices of Churning, a critical point often overlooked by practitioners, and that which has been emphasized over and over again in these teachings, is the importance of removing negative habitual patterns or vasanas.

These vasanas, if not addressed, do not allow the life-force to remain at the Sahasrar (crown) and Spiritual Heart, thereby limiting spiritual progress. Invariably, these vasanas will continue to disturb the mind causing agitation in the life-force untill they are silenced.

Since the seeds of the vasanas were first sown in “the world,” these vasanas cannot just be eliminated through the Churning process – by breath control, kundalini practices or self-inquiry alone, but only by weeding them out in ones waking state through understanding, discernment and right action.

To use an analogy:

If you were to commit a crime in India and then escape on a visitor’s visa to the U.S.A., the fact you have left India does not mean that you have permanently eliminated the risk of punishment. The minute your visitor’s visa expires in the U.S.A., you will have to return to India and face your punishment. You have only delayed the inevitable. It is the same with your vasanas. You may escape into the higher dimensions of existence with your churning practices, but when agitation strikes you, vasanas, until they are completely eradicated, will pull you out of the higher dimensions and back into the world.

There are three main steps we need to take in order to eradicate vasanas permanently (in addition to the above Churning process):

1. By being aware of the arising vasanas and refraining from performing negative habitual actions

2. By observing moral ethics and implementing behavior modifications replacing bad habits with good ones

3. Through the Burning process as given below.

Burning

Burning is a process specifically designed for dealing with vasanas (habitual patterns), and techniques employed to dissolve them through Self-healing

Without burning the seeds of vasanas the veil covering the SELF cannot be lifted. Any attempts to know the SELF without the process of burning will only be intellectual or at best temporary because the old issues will keep resurfacing again and again till they are not dealt through practical burning methods. There are many ways “burning” is initiated which is to be learnt through ones Guru or teacher. Below is one such process given as an example. 

ISIP Self-Healing (Burning) Process:

When something “triggers” you, and you begin feeling the agitation or restlessness in your body growing – feel it, sit with it, embrace it – accept it. Refrain from ‘projecting’ onto anyone, and most importantly, observe the normal tendency of the mind to want to defend itself, or attack, or judge the other person. And do not fall into the mind’s trap of judging yourself. Observe all these normal tendencies of the mind and reverse your attention back to your own Self. Feel the agitation or restlessness that is taking place in your body… and accept it.

Talk to yourself as the agitation arises within you:

“I love this, I accept this totally as this is my own Self. This restlessness, this agitation, is ME.”

“This is ME! Somehow I have lost contact with you, my beloved.”
“You have been shouting and screaming for attention and love. I am now here to accept you, to embrace you, to love you.”

And then BE WITH THE FEELING that arises within your chest, within your Heart. It can feel almost like a sinking feeling, or there can be other sensations at that time. Just BE with it.

TRUST the process and you will get to know that this is a part of you that you have been evading for a long, long time.

Now a very beautiful thing happens when you start to burn — automatically Churning starts to happen. The energy from the Burning naturally rises. Automatically, you will move to the higher dimensions of existence — into the depths of the Self — as you “Churn and Burn.” This is where the vasana is getting burnt, and where you are getting deeply healed from the toxicity created by old habitual patterns.

So, with Burning, you are not trying to escape anything, rather, you are meeting life head on — as it is — while at the same time you are moving on to the higher dimensions of existence, increasing your faith, your certitude in the Self, your joy and happiness.

As you continue the practice of Burning, you will begin to dive deeper and deeper into the Self, and eventually settle into your Spiritual Heart where joy, bliss and peace fill your Beingness.

It is important to highlight here that refraining from habitual tendencies is not the same as suppression. The process of Churning and Burning, as laid down in the protocol, brings about enough clarity that repeating the same tendency or pattern is seen as counter-productive to our spiritual growth and abidance in Self. It strengthens our will power (sankalpa shakti) and the intellectual faculty within us.

As we begin to employ the ISIP techniques in our day-to-day life, the higher intellect within us strengthens and becomes our guiding light. The “inner voice” of our purified intellect suggests which kind of patterns are not conducive to our spiritual growth and need to be rolled back, and which patterns need to be encouraged.

Of course, that does not mean we deny ourselves the pleasures of the world. But we must be careful not to indulge in those pleasures that can create bondage and suffering going ahead.

Affirming

In simplest terms, “Affirming” means to permanently abide in Truth.

Such abidance, however, is not possible unless we are able to let go of all that is unreal — our attachments, ego, arrogance and needless desires — and which are all the cause of our suffering. 

“Letting go” may sound simple but it is not easy to attain unless the mind is disciplined and purified. That is why the above two steps (Churning and Burning) need to be followed before real Affirming can become possible, otherwise the abidance to SELF will fluctuate and not be permanent.

When sufficient mastery is attained in the above Churning and Burning practices, abidance in Spiritual Heart becomes more and more effortless. The triggers, which earlier created deep wounds, desires and attachments, are no longer able to shake the seeker from his state.

A deep sense of security, calmness and happiness prevails. A continuous nada (inner sound) keeps the mind of the sadhaka captivated inwardly while “light and space” is shown as a common stream of consciousness connecting all beings to his own self. The “outer” world is none other than the “inner.” The heart begins to enjoy fountains of ever-expanding and ever-new bliss pouring all over the body. 

Affirming, therefore, cannot strictly be called a practice, but is actually the result of diligently practicing the ISIP principles of Churning and Burning

The only thing required for the sadhaka at this stage is “resting” in this natural state. As “Affirming” matures, the sadhaka will find that “resting” in these four centres is becoming more and more natural and effortless, and there is increasingly less and less effort needed to Churn and Burn.

As the “resting” state deepens, the shisya soon realizes that the natural state of resting (Affirming) is sustained through Grace or Transmission much like a steady powerful stream of energy/shakti/awareness. This powerful “grace” begins to find its path through the middle channel (Shushmna) piercing each chakra one by one, heads towards the crown (sahasrar) and finally retires in the right side of the heart through the most subtlest of all nadis — the Amrita Nadi.

As the “resting” state deepens, the shisya soon realizes that the natural state of resting (Affirming) is sustained through Grace or Transmission much like a steady powerful stream of energy/shakti/awareness. This powerful “grace” begins to find its path through the middle channel (Shushmna) piercing each chakra one by one, heads towards the crown (sahasrar) and finally retires in the right side of the heart through the most subtlest of all nadis — the Amrita Nadi.

The teachings passed down “one-on-one” between Guru and Shisya carry the power of transmission. It derives its strength from a pure and reliable source, which is why belonging to an authentic lineage is such an important aspect of any real and pure teaching. When Grace descends in full force even the deepest muck of vasana is released or burnt through the recognition and acknowledgement of Guru transmission. 

It is important to emphasize that the intention or motive behind transmission is never to make a shisya or student dependent on a Guru. It is not like “shaktipath” as commonly known or understood. It is higher than that.  A real teacher’s intention is never to bind anyone to himself but to empower the student by imparting the teachings theoretically, energetically and experientially so that with time he can learn to access the higher dimensions on his own.

As Self-knowledge deepens, the Shisya becomes the Guru himself and he is able to perceive the combination codes astrally and intuitively for himself, and how to access and open them in others too. Knowledge of the combination codes and worldly success are just byproducts and not the goal of the teachings. The real goal of the teachings is permanent abidance in the SELF as advocated by Sri Ramana Maharishi. 

As consciousness remains established within the “spiritual heart” and expresses itself as an unbroken stream of joy and bliss (Turiya) felt at the right side of the Heart, the SELF is revealed as the ONE and ONLY reality, and all duality ends. This is highest form and expression of Affirming. 

Churn

Burn

Affirm

If you are now familiar with what ISIP is, the principles of Combination Codes, Vasanas and Koshas, and The CBA method, then you are ready to unlock the powerful and transformative:

Implosive Self-Inquiry Protocol™

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