What Swami Kripalu Taught Me

Born in January 13, 1913, Swami Kripalu, affectionately known as Bapuji, had a joy and love for people that was palpable. He taught that only love can bring unity and remove the separation between living beings. His teachings continue to inspire and infuse Kripalu’s mission-driven programming and curriculum. Here Kripalu Yoga teacher Richard Faulds (Shobhan), who experienced Swami Kripalu's teaching firsthand, reflects on an encounter with him.

Love is the only path, love is the only god, and love is the only scripture. Impress this verse upon your memory and chant it constantly if you want to realize your dreams of growth.
—Swami Kripalu

It wasn’t anything that Swami Kripalu said or did that afternoon in 1981 that I remember so well. He was a 69-year-old yogi with less than a year to live. I was an idealistic 22-year-old who knew all the things I didn’t want to build my life around: money, status, and laboring for some far-off and future goal.

Swami Kripalu was like no one I’d ever met. Every cell of the man proclaimed that it was possible to plumb the mysteries of the soul, to express the love that lies beneath our heartbeat, and to find meaning in a life dedicated to the highest. A few hours with him was enough to convince me that what I intuitively longed for actually existed.

I left that day with a copy of Swami Kripalu’s Science of Meditation tucked under my arm. It was a difficult book that raised many more questions than it answered, but I found a gem on page 58 in the form of a simple technique clearly taught:

  1. Sit down and say a prayer that you be guided to meditate in the best way possible.
  2. Take 10 deep breaths, relaxing body and mind, and allow the energies of your being to flow freely.
  3. Let go of any attempt to control, surrendering body and mind to the evolutionary force, which will naturally lead you forward if given the opportunity.
  4. Meditate for at least one hour, the amount of time required for consciousness to sink into its full depths.
  5. End with a prayer of gratitude, returning to your life with renewed inspiration and focus.

Being with Swami Kripalu inspired me to start this meditation practice, and stick with it, supported by daily yoga and pranayama. I continued to study Swami Kripalu’s teachings, although they were hard to decipher, and gradually saw how this meditation practice fit into the larger context of the Shiva path of transformation he walked. In the 30 years since, I’ve met many yogis, swamis, roshis, lamas, and luminaries, but I have never encountered anyone like Swami Kripalu. He opened a door for me that afternoon, and his example continues to inspire my life and practice.

Richard Faulds, MA, JD, has practiced yoga and meditation in close association with Kripalu Center for more than 40 years.

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