Overcoming Intense Challenges
March 13, 2014
I am a 40 year old man. I have been meditating from 13 yrs . Also I have been masturbating for the past 22 years since I am not married. My life is in danger; I have no career, I have large debts, and I am dependent for basic needs on others. I am in a position where I can’t even commit suicide. I am a lover of the great Yoganandaji. Please help and guide me.
No matter what challenges you face, try to always feel God’s presence with you. To make this real, it’s important to meditate with techniques that will take you deeper into your soul qualities. You don’t mention what type of meditation you practice, but the techniques which Paramhansa Yogananda taught are very valuable in helping us find our source in the Divine. Here is a link that may be helpful to you: Kriya Yoga
In regards to sexual challenges, such as masturbation, it’s important to try to catch your desires as soon as they surface in your awareness. At that point you need to shift your awareness and energy, to something that is positive and uplifting, such as listening to uplifting music or feeling God’s presence. Chanting is another very powerful way to shift the focus.
Another suggestion is do something physical such as exercise; I would recommend Yogananda’s Energization Exercises or the yoga asanas. What these accomplish is that you are able to dynamically engage your energy in a positive direction which you can feel as a reality and not just hope for the best.
It’s also very important to be in the company of other spiritual truth-seekers. As Yogananda said, “environment is stronger than willpower”. The magnetism of other devotees will help you in your own efforts. Praying to God and Guru for guidance and support is important as well. Let your mind constantly be in the blessings of divine grace.
Being able to stand on your own two feet is a basic requirement if you want to move forward with your life. Take the next steps in front of you: find a job where you can direct positive energy; find a way to pay down your debts, even if it’s in small increments; feel a confidence within you that God is giving you support in all that you do so you needn’t be dependent so much on others. Pray to God and Guru and be open to the flow of grace and guidance that they offer.
Blessings on your spiritual journey.
Is God Realization Luxurious?
February 18, 2014
I struggle to know what is more required of me in my situation of living in my grandmothers home, and being at the mercy of a financially struggling family. I want to make sure that I implement my responsibility as a contributor through monetary support, but I also feel that God realization is most important, yet seemingly luxurious.
What are your thoughts on this?
Sometimes life circumstances are hard for us as they provoke a reaction, karmic in nature. Circumstances are neutral, Yogananda said. Our reaction to them is due to memories in our energy fields that we associate with who we define ourselves as. Surely you are a family member and want to contribute. And God-realization is not a luxury, it is your right and a joy! Yes, you can have both today and in these times. You do not have to become a renunciate/monk in the traditional way to find the keys to your happiness, your joy, your bliss. So, learn to detach yourself from these circumstances by playing the part and seeing God playing the grandson through you and honor the karmic connections among your family.
Control the reactive process through the use of pranayam techniques, devotion, prayer, and meditation, all of which Ananda teaches from original yogic instructions of Paramhansa Yogananda. http://www.ananda.org/meditation/ananda-course-in-self-realization-the-path-of-kriya-yoga/
Then supplant your old reactions with living the teachings you are learning from these lessons and classes. Again that equates to meditation and devotional practices, formal set-aside times, and informally practicing the presence of God in the minutes and hours of your day, using what the rishis called yamas and niyamas (traditions explained in our course).
Give that a try. Add more energy source to your life as well: outdoor activities, sun and oxygen, with cardiovascular exercise, especially Yogananda’s Energization Exercises, yoga, running, sports, etc. You will have plenty of energy and time to give good to others as well as yourself (this is Karma Yoga).
Remember to surround yourself with uplifting people, sounds, art, media and avoid the ones that aren’t! Love and Joy are yours, Bakari. We followers of Yogananda are taught not to approach God as a begger, but to see Him/Her as Divine Mother and us as Her child, spoiled and receiving what we need, just as long as we love her alone! Then all things flow to us and we find ourselves “home” not only in the spiritual sense but also in uplifting surroundings that nurture us! Family, friends, work, play will all improve if we seek the Kingdom of God first, no matter the outward appearance or circumstances.
You’ve become a willing channel for spirit. Holding you in a vision of God’s Light, you must do the same for yourself, as Master Yogananda said. Give thanks for this grace, your family and circumstances and things will change, I know. Keep acknowledging this Grace of God, and have fun, keep learning and applying these teachings through self-study and by getting help and support from like-minded souls. You will develop strength to overcome most reactions, fears, anxieties and moods.
This current challenge you’re experiencing is the the dross left over from karma. Know that this can change very quickly: Yogananda said, to those who think 20 years, 20 years! To those who think 20 days, 20 days. Our teachings and practices increase your odds for success! So why not now? I hope to see you in one of our classes, by correspondence or online.
Joy to you,
What About Predictive Dreams?
February 12, 2014
Please accept my Pranam! I saw a dream on Friday night that my mother was in the hospital, and two days later I found out that she has had fever since Friday night. I am married and live with my husband in a different city.
Is it just a coincidence? This had happened once before also. Though it was not about illness but it was a different dream and it came true. Please show me the path.
Thank you so much and I am glad to find your website.
Pranam to you also, Shainee,
We are also glad you found our website. Welcome!
Our nightly dreams are often very interesting and sometimes can be important to pay attention to. Paramhansa Yogananda says that most of our nightly dreams are simply “movies” produced by our subconscious minds and and meant only to entertain us while we rest.
But he also says that occasionally we have superconscious dreams or visions which have worthwhile messages or instructions for us. When you have a dream which seems to predict something or warn you about something, it might be wise to pay more attention than you would otherwise.
If that happens, be a little more careful than usual, or tell your loved ones to be more careful also. Most of all, pray, meditate, and get in touch with God and the Great Ones every day, asking for perfect intuitive guidance in all matters, including about your dreams. With practice, it will come!
The Food Blessing Song at Ananda
January 20, 2014
I was wondering ... On a visit to Ananda Italy, I heard a beautiful grace that was sung before meals, in both English and Italian. Could you please share with me both the English and Italian versions? I’d like to share them with my children. If possible, there wouldn't by any chance be a recorded version of the melody or sheet music also? I kind of remember the melody, but not really well and I’d really like to be able to use it. I remember it was very beautiful! Thank you very much! Om Guru!
Here it is, it’s written by Swami Kriyananda, and all Ananda communities sing it before meals.
Receive, Lord, in thy Light the food we eat for it is Thine;
infuse it with Thy Love, Thy energy, thy life divine.
Benedici o Signore il cibo che noi ti offriamo;
infondilo d'energia, luce divina, del Tuo amor.
I don’t have the sheet music though, nor a recording. I looked in the Ananda Music Library, but it isn’t there. So maybe this means that you should go and visit an Ananda center, because there they'll sing it to you right away. Enjoy your meals full of blessings...
Responding to Skeptics
January 9, 2014
People sometimes claim that God isn’t real but only a product of our imagination. These people also believe that cultivating devotion or other spiritual practices which awaken the love of the heart are only due to some kind of self hypnosis or auto suggestion. I often wonder about how to give a valid answer or advice here, please help. Thank you.
There are several ways to approach this question:
One way is through the actual experience of those who have dedicated their lives to finding God. The result is that these people are certainly happy and have a sense of fulfillment in their lives. You can see this in their eyes and more importantly, how they handle the challenges of life. As the saying goes, “the proof is in the eating of the pudding”.
The other way is the proof that is surfacing from science. The evidence is becoming more apparent in recent research on the brain, that the brain is actually “engineered for divinity”. Some of the research indicates that practices such as meditation, as well devotional attitudes, including faith, have a very real impact on our brains and how we function in this world.
Here is a link to an interview with Dr. Peter Van Houten, from Clarity Magazine Online, in which he talks about the book, written by some doctors, How God Changes Your Brain. I think you'll find it very inspiring and also helpful in talking to skeptics.
It’s also good to keep in mind that we don’t have to convince others if they are strong in their convictions. Our example of living our lives in God’s grace will shine light into the world around us just as lighthouse radiates its light.
Blessings on your journey.
The Nature of Truth
January 8, 2014
Hello!! Happy New Year!!
It is Truth, Truth and truth alone which is our true and eternal friend and well-wisher. Om!!
I read this on a friend’s face book page. What exactly is this truth comprised of?
Dear Sangita, Happy New Year!
God has many names, Truth being one of them, just like Love or Spirit. He is beyond human conception and definition, but can be described as Absolute Final Truth.
An atheist may declare, “Truth is my God”, by which he means any worldly fact, any human, scientific, or social truth, which he follows with determination. But when Truth is an “Eternal Well-Wisher,” then we are talking about a Conscious Being who can respond, with whom we can commune.
This Conscious Being is comprised of three attributes, SAT-CHIT-ANANDA: absolute Existence, absolute Consciousness, absolute Bliss. Yogananda’s translated it as ever existing, ever conscious, ever new Bliss. It is the final Truth behind all appearances, the Essence and Truth out of which all creation was born. Apart from that Truth, everything is “false”, meaning not really true. Nothing you see with your eyes is Truth. This includes my words written here, which by definition can’t be Truth.
So you may merrily laugh at all I wrote, and sit down to meditate, since that is the only way to ever understand Truth.
Wishing you big inner steps toward Truth, Who is your Eternal Friend, Jayadev
The Custom of Touching Elders’ Feet
January 6, 2014
In India, we follow the custom of touching elders' feet to seek their blessings. I don’t understand the theory behind this. Could you explain please? Also there are certain undesirable elders whose blessings I don’t want. is it ok if I don’t touch their feet?
Dear Niharika Seth,
In general, touching an elder’s feet is a gesture of respect. It does not necessarily by itself draw any blessings; the elder is free to bestow blessings or not.
However, touching the feet (or any part of the body) of a spiritually advanced person—elder, child, or anything in between—can indeed draw an immediate blessing if one is receptive to it.
You are free to touch an elder’s feet or not. Depending on your relationship with that elder, a decision not to touch the feet might or might not be considered disrespectful. Certainly the custom is not as strong in India as it once was, although some people still honor it.
In any case, the choice is yours. Choose wisely.
Thoughts Are Universally Rooted
January 6, 2014
Often I have read that all thoughts are universally rooted and not individually rooted. Please recommend a specific reading to understand it. Thank you,
The topic of thoughts and their true origin is of course the topic of consciousness and the metaphysics of reality. So this is a big, big subject and pervades all of the literature, scripture, and spiritual teachings of those who represent the ancient precept that all creation is a dream of the Creator’s consciousness.
So referring you to written sources constitutes an all but impossible task. From Eckert Tolle to the Vedas, there’s no lack of explanations to support Yogananda’s now well-known statement that you’ve quoted above: "Thoughts are universally, not individually, rooted."
Perhaps its more obvious when we think of emotions: after all, isn’t anger or love more or less the same no what the object of anger or love? There are different forms of love: familial, spousal, friend and so on. But the feeling, at its existential root, is pretty much the same.
It is often noted in scientific literature that discoveries occur at about the same time by unrelated persons or groups. Disputes over who discovered the law of X first are commonplace, as are, of course, disputes over patents, inventions, and other creative works.
The practical gist, spiritually speaking, of this precept is to help us understand that we can change the flow and level of our thoughts (and emotions) by attuning ourselves to the “radio station frequency” that we prefer to be on. To be a loving, accepting person comes from practicing love and acceptance. To be an irritable person requires only tuning into situations that are potentially irritating and then expressing that irritation.
When, to take this precept further, we understand that the higher octaves of thought and feeling are more purely aspects of God consciousness, we have made a life changing discovery. We can consciously attune ourselves and draw upon God’s presence and consciousness in whatever form we seek: love, peace, compassion, wisdom and so on. By prayer, meditation, affirmation and of course active, outward practice we can change our life and change our magnetism.
Lastly, and returning the beginning, consider at least in theory the implications of the teaching that all creation, both tangible and intangible (the latter including thoughts and emotions), is a manifestation of God’s consciousness. Consider, in any case, that while we may be born into a human body, we certainly didn’t create this grand scheme of the cosmos. So in one sense we are obviously simply a part of something much greater. So why take sole credit or blame for any of it: including our thoughts? Our credit or blame lies more towards what level of thoughts, emotions, and actions we choose to align ourselves with: good or evil; selfish or self-giving; debased or ennobled; etc.
Our true nature is none of these things: for we tat twam asi (Thou art THAT!). It’s just that goodness and virtue are more vibrationally attuned to God consciousness than selfishness or evil. Thus we can with will power draw upon the flow of grace that is always present in the universe and waiting for those seeking its blessings.
We can change our life destiny because we can choose what level of consciousness and creation we wish to attune ourselves to. This is the “Good news!”
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