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 ASK 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 ASK 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.

How is Churning accomplished?

Churning in ASK 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 Mudras

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.

Traditional Self-Inquiry :

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. In time, as Inquiry matures, duality dissolves leaving one as the substratum of all experiences.

Qualified Self-Inquiry :

Qualified Self Inquiry, developed by Shri Rajivji Kapur, is one of the most direct approaches to realizing the Bliss of SELF and a very easy way to eliminate vasanas (habitual self-limiting patterns) and the sense of doer-ship, while simultaneously establishing “Favourableness” in the relative world – something that traditional Self Inquiry focuses less upon since its approach is that of exclusiveness where the world, with all its appearances, is rejected as the non-self. The way of Qualified Self-Inquiry, on the other hand, is inclusive and in allowance of all the appearances in the relative world by upholding the Truth that all is inherently Favourable, including the apparent dualities. 

Why Rajivji insists on qualifying the Self as Favourableness is because the nervous system of a person who has been under the influence of maya for such a long time is programmed towards providing a Favourable environment for itself. As such, one is constantly watchful of the unfavourableness of events and trying to avoid them. It is therefore logical that pointers laid down by traditional Advaita won’t immediately assist one to feel Stillness and peace unless one first feels Favourable in some way. Once a person feels he or she is in a safe and Favourable environment, Stillness is easy. Hence Sadhana of Favourableness is important.

Rajivji also introduces some techniques of direct Self-inquiry to enable seekers 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 one realizes one’s non-dual nature.

The Waking-State Approach of Qualified Self-Inquiry :

Every morning upon rising and every night before going to sleep (and also at any time during the day), inquire into your true and real nature by connecting with and holding onto the sense of utter STILLNESS ~ EVER AVAILABLE HERE AND NOW. 

You can recognize this ever-available Stillness by connecting either with the Space that is in and around you or with the Life Force Energy pulsating within you. You can also connect with this Stillness through the gap that exists between two thoughts.

 

The calmness and Stillness of who you truly are, beyond name and form, is Forever Favourable and with such Qualified Self-Inquiry, every cell of your body, indeed your life as a whole, will begin to respond to and reflect such Favourableness. 

Remain in this state of “Stillness as a feeling” and “Favourableness as a thought” as often as you can throughout the day. 

From time to time, distortions may arise from the underlying Stillness, in the form of an unpleasant event, often triggering negative/restless thoughts and emotions much the same way as turbulent waves arise from the calm depths of the ocean. 

 

In such instances, ignore all thoughts or emotions that are contrary to the experience of Stillness. Be indifferent to any such arisings and simply keep holding onto the Stillness of who you are until any trace of unfavourablness or restlessness has completely dissolved. 

If any emotion overwhelms you and you are not able to be indifferent to it due to a particular disturbing thought or event, remind yourself of the TRUTH that “All is Forever Favourable” and reaffirm that any appearance of unfavourableness or unpleasantness is only a distortion (unreal.)

 

This can be verified by the fact that every turbulent wave is none other than the ocean itself which is intrinsically calm and so what appears as unfavourable IS, actually, intrinsically favourable. Just as the calm water remains hidden underneath the turbulent waves; gold remains hidden under one’s likes and dislikes of jewellery; and the rope remains hidden under what appears to be a snake. Similarly, Favourableness of Self remains hidden underneath the false perception of unfavourableness. 

Thereby, even if life does appear to present us with an unpleasant episode, it can be simultaneously recognized that Favourableness too is present concurrently in the many other aspects of our life which we may be overlooking due to our preoccupation or worries regarding what appears unfavourable.

 

With such an approach of counting one’s blessings and abiding in stillness, one will eventually come to realise that the so-called unfavourable event is, in actuality, also totally favourable! 

Thus it is important to deny the very existence of what is unreal and appears unfavourable and, instead, acknowledge Favourableness as the ONLY thought and Stillness as the ONLY feeling.

One doesn’t need to be worried about what action one has to take in any given situation. The right action will automatically and seamlessly flow from within with no sense of ego or doership as long as one is firmly established in the knowledge “Brahman is Forever Favourable.” The only requirement is to remain STILL and know that All is Forever Favourable.

 

 

Churn

Burn

Affirm

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