Kriyas: are they a bug or a feature?

The words “bug” and “feature” are used in a popular computer programming joke. The website explains:

A standard joke is that a bug can be turned into a feature simply by documenting it (then theoretically no one can complain about it because it’s in the manual), or even by simply declaring it to be good. “That’s not a bug, that’s a feature!” is a common catchphrase.

In this website and in my book (link), I have developed a theory that people who think they are enlightened have a mental disorder (possibly de-personalization, mania, and/or other) to which they have adapted. “Enlightened gurus” seem to be trying to help others attain their own mental disorder.

I am biased. I have compared kriyas to hypnic jerks and tics (link). Of course, I think kriyas are a “bug” that gurus have incorrectly declared to be a good feature. Gurus have incorrectly stated that kriyas are an indication of being on the path to enlightenment and that kundalini energy is opening up energy channels.

Deep meditation can produce experiences of profound silence (link) and/or immense energy that erupts in a kriya of bodily jerks, contortions, or screaming.

Kriyas are weird. I think kriyas might be related to physical and mental disorders. I submit the following excerpts as evidence that kriyas are “bugs” not “features”.

Excerpt #1 from my book: Besides the hopping, many participants had kriyas, the physical movements that other spiritual movements have interpreted to be manifestations of kundalini energy. Some participants had rather violent head movements, the torsos of some shook like dogs throwing off water from a bath, others had their backs locked in an arch, and others had spontaneous vocalizations of screams, barks, and nonsense syllables. One TM teacher who was a lawyer became known as “The Bee” because he often sat swaying back and forth while making a loud buzzing sound.

Excerpt #2 from my book: During the rest period to adapt, I saw kriyas where participants flopped around on the foam like energetic fish. Proximity to a person who was having kriyas was a significant factor during our laying down period. Perhaps the wildest thing I observed was the sudden wild flopping around of one guy, and then immediately the guys lying close to him also started flopping around like fish. When I write “flopping around like fish”, I mean that they actually looked like energetic fish flopping around.

Kriya craziness at Muktananda’s ashram at South Fallsburg, NY described by John Chambers (link

It was like living in a cross between Dante’s Purgatory and a Walt Disney animated feature film. A thousand faces filled the semidarkness. The air resounded with titters, groans, and guffaws. People rocked back and forth, assumed strange postures, thrust their arms up in the air. A steady buzzing like a swarm of bees came from the back of the auditorium. Over to one side a high-pitched cackle broke out. It was followed by a loud gurgling noise, and then the words, “Yum! Yum!”

A sock with a foot inside it brushed against my ear. The young man beside me was coming out of his headstand.

A small, dusky-colored man, about seventy years of age, wearing an orange ski cap, dark glasses, and a saffron robe, was advancing calmly through the cacophony. He moved quickly from person to person, stopping briefly to bop each one with a peacock-feather wand. Sometimes he lingered for a moment to pat someone’s head as if he were testing the strength of the skull. Then he went on.

This man’s name was Paramahansa Muktananda. Everybody called him Baba. He was one of the best-known of the numerous spiritual teachers who spent time in the United States in the 1970s and 1980s. This was the summer of 1979. I was in the meditation hall in Muktananda’s ashram in South Fallsburg, high up in the Catskills sixty miles north of New York City. This big, sprawling collection of buildings, lined with fresh gardens and honeycombed with rooms large and small, was the headquarters of Muktananda’s Siddha Yoga Dham (or “Home of Siddha Yoga”) of America Foundation (SYDA).

Interestingly, the Transcendental Meditation movement purchased the South Fallsburg ashram from Muktananda. The TM movement provided more “kriya entertainment” to the “flies on the wall” in South Fallsburg.

Excerpt from a letter to Swami Muktananda from Bubba Free John (also known as Franklin Jones and Adi Da Samra) (link

On the third day, in the morning, as soon as I sat down before you for the morning recitation, I began to work inside at surrender, and all day that day my head and back moved violently. All during the day you encouraged these movements in me and called me “Kriyananda”all that day because of them. Twice you placed your hand on me. The first time I responded by closing my eyes, twisting about, and raising my hands into mudras. The second time, in the meditation, I fell backwards away from you. At the end of that day, I was exhausted from so much kriya.

Both Muktananda and Bubba Free John had scandals and controversies during their lives. I don’t think they add any credibility to the notion that kriyas lead to an admirable state of enlightenment.

Kriyas are a bug, not a feature. I believed in the beneficial nature of kriyas for about 15 years, but not any more.