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!”
Can Satan Hinder My Wish to Meditate?
December 16, 2013
Dear Friends,Is it possible for Satan to know what I am thinking? Let’s say am praying, and I pray that I want to do better about something. Perhaps I tell God I want to meditate more. Can Satan then know about this and work against this wish?
Thank you for writing us all the way from Norway! A broader answer to your question would be that it is possible for anyone, including Satan to know what you or anybody else is thinking. After all, we are all one. It would depend on the levels of consciousness involved.
Satan is described by Paramhansa Yogananda as a conscious force in the universe which tends to pull us in a worldly or ego-involved direction. So while we never need fear Satan when we call out to God and Gurus for help, a healthy dose of respect for that sort of power is wise.
Yogananda also tells us that when we place ourselves in the presence of Divine Light by calling on God and the Gurus for help, then the darkness (Satanic force) has no power over us. “Turn on the LIGHT and the darkness will flee as though it had never been there.”
So when you pray, see yourself surrounded by a great aura of Divine Light. Ask for blessings from God and all the Great Ones. You will be protected and guided without fail.
When we strive to meditate more and make real spiritual progress in our lives, we can feel as though there is a ‘force” of some kind making it hard for us to do. So we must make our inner energy and light stronger to counter that force.
One of the most important prayers you can ever pray is to ask that God and Gurus help you with your meditations. It is a prayer which is always answered with a YES! as long as you, yourself, also put out the effort to make it happen.
Finally, please don’t put a lot of thoughts or fearful energy in the direction of Satan. That would tend to draw that negative force closer to you, and you certainly don’t want that! Instead, turn toward the Light, pray, trust, and press forward spiritually; then all will be well.
Keeping One’s Mind on God in Daily Life
October 3, 2013
Paramahansa Yogananda has always urged us to seek God around us and in everything we do.
I would like to ask what does this truly entail? In our everyday lives, what does it mean to go about our duties yet keep the focus on God?
What is it that we really need to focus on?
Please shed some light on the same.
That’s a good question, because it’s something that can really change every aspect of our spiritual life, including our meditations.
There are several ways that you can do this. With different life and work environments, and with various people and personalities, different approaches will work for each individual. Experiment! I'll talk about a few that you can try out.
One is to practice mental japa throughout the day. This can be a God-reminding phrase that you repeat over and over, or a simple mantra that helps keep your mind on God. When this is done often enough, it can become such a habit that it builds its own momentum and is always there in the back of your mind, reminding you of God or the Guru.
Most people have many times during the day where they must intently focus on the work at hand, on their children, driving a car, etc., so the practice of japa is one of the best ways to keep the mind on God during the day without distracting us from being effective in what we do.
Swami Kriyananda gave me this personal advice about practicing a form of mantra or japa:
I have found that mentally chanting “AUM Guru” is a wonderful practice. If you keep that consciousness day and night, it is amazing how you can change. You feel more and more desire for God, more and more purity of heart, more and more dedication.
Some Christians have a similar practice, where they try to mentally repeat throughout the day the phrase, “Lord Jesus Christ have mercy on me.”
Again, experiment, and use a phrase or mantra that is meaningful to you.
In the last few years I’ve been experimenting with developing the habit of turning to God at certain times, or when certain events happen during the day. I’ve found a great deal of success with using certain triggers, even negative ones, to quickly help turn my mind to God. You can read more about this in my blog titled “Devotion as a Habit.”
It’s also very helpful to see all of one’s daily activities and service as being done for God and with God. Share your thoughts during the day with God. When you are walking, whether in the city or in the country, share what you see with God. Pray for those you see, or share the humor of the situation with God. When you suffer or feel pain, also share that with God.
Again, there are many ways to eventually develop the habit of tuning in to God throughout the day. Find what works for you, and see it as a wonderful and grand experiment!
How Do We Have Good Thoughts?
September 30, 2013
It is said that karma is the origin of our destiny, so we should do good karma, and thoughts are the origin of our karma, so we should learn to have good thoughts. But though we are forced to learn math, English, history and chemistry, we are not taught what are good thoughts, and how to have them. How do we have good thoughts and how do we know what is good or bad?
In general, good thoughts bring feelings of love, peace, and harmony to the one experiencing them while not so good thoughts often promote the opposite experience.
If you’d like to understand in more detail about good or harmful thoughts and actions I suggest you read and study the Ananda Raja Yoga book, by Swami Kriyananda, which is the second course book in the Ananda course in Self Realization. Study especially Patanjali’s Yamas and Niyamas which Swamiji discusses with very useful examples.
Live your life according to dharma, right action, and you will surely be moving in the right direction. Where there is dharma, there is victory!
In Divine Friendship,
- Guru-Disciple Relationship
- Health and Healing
- Karma, Reincarnation
- Kriya Yoga
- Paramhansa Yogananda
- Science and Yoga
- Spiritual Community
- Spiritual Parenting
- Spiritual Path
- Swami Kriyananda
- The Arts
- The Yugas
- Yoga Postures