Category: Karma, Reincarnation
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I know some theory about Karma. As per my understanding, the fruits whether good are bad that we experience in this life are the results of the past lives.
Having said that, If somebody got murdered even if he is an innocent person and done no harm to anyone in this life, how to know whether this is a cause or effect? i.e. Is the murdered done some bad in his past life OR the murderer will experience the effects of this incident in his next life. Is it the beginning or the ending of Karma?
What you’re asking is, “Do unpleasant things ever happen to us without our having caused them, with the result that our karmic bank account shows a positive balance?” I suspect we all would like it to be true, so that when unpleasantness happens to us, the blow would be softened by the knowledge of a balancing pleasant event in the future.
But the simple answer is no: Everything that happens to us — pleasant or unpleasant — is the result of our past actions. In your example, the murder victim will have done something in the past (this life or a previous life) that has brought this upon him/her in this life. And the murderer will have to suffer the consequences of his/her crime, either in this life or a future life. So the event is the completion (partial or full) of a karma for the victim, and the beginning of a karma for the criminal.
This is a simple answer, because karma is a highly complex issue. For example, some people who die in accidents don’t necessarily have the karma to die; rather, they don’t have strong enough karma to live, and their karma to live gets overwhelmed by others' karma to die in that accident.
Is marriage predestined? Is there any way to escape a marriage? Do we have the choice to choose our partner?
Paramhansa Yogananda once said, “It takes a master to understand karma.” The ordinary person would only tie his or her brain into knots, trying to figure it out.
So don’t worry about whether marriage (or anything else) is predestined. Simply try your best to align your will with God’s will, then act accordingly. That is the highest expression of free will: living in freedom from bondage to ego, to desires.
Whether the marriage is coming to you through your parents or through your own choice, you need to go inside and feel what is best, then do that best thing and leave the results in God’s hands. Yes, your decision may be karmically determined, but the real question is, Who is running your life: God or ego? If it’s God, then you’re on the right track.
I have read a lot cases this past year over stories of school shootings / rapes / pedophilia, and it saddens me because these are preventable things — but these ppl are afraid to admit their issues for fear of being judged. Society today just labels them 'monsters' and doesn’t have any sympathy to them. But unless we are open to hearing them, they will fester hidden in society. What can we do on a personal/social level to help? How can we get over the 'gut' urge to reject and scorn them?
Thank you for your letter and your compassion on behalf of erring humanity. Since you have an urge not only to help individuals who are within your sphere of influence, but also society in general, you may want to examine what would be the best use of your time and energy.
Here are a few suggestions:
- When you hear a disturbing news item, pray for those involved. Pray for them NOW. Ask that the victims be comforted, but also that the perpetrator be healed of the dark tendencies that led to the act. Let your compassion flow both ways.
- Paramhansa Yogananda said we can do more good if we ourselves are transformed. Embrace your divinity on a more profound level so that you are able to send out deeper prayers for those areas that concern you.
- Find ways to help society in positive ways that bring upliftment to others.
- Meditate and love God. Then help others to meditate and love God.
- Pray for individuals, and pray for the upliftment of the planet.
- Pray that saintly souls be born to our nation, and to other regions of the world.
- Consider that you may be watching too much of the news and you are getting whipped around by it. Meditate deeply and then send rays of peace and blessing to all receptive souls. If you find that the news is disturbing your peace, then meditate more and watch the news less.
Also, in your compassion and non-judgement for those who have committed the crimes, be careful to not judge those who scorn said crimes. For they have their reasons, too. Perhaps they are afraid for what might happen to those they love. If you want to "listen" to the one, then you need to listen to the other, too. In the healing prayer ministry we have received many letters from families devastated by the crimes you mention.
The universe is Infinite. We are blessed that many children with good qualities are being born to this planet. Some people refer to these spiritually gifted ones as "indigo children." But the very crimes that you mention tell us that this planet is also drawing some very troubled souls who have fundamental lessons to learn in the Do unto others as you would have them do unto you department.
You are right that we should not scorn them, and that we should try to help them before they act — if they should choose to seek help.
But these dark tendencies are something that people hide, not so much from fear of judgment of others, but for fear of having to face themselves and change. People tend to justify their tendencies until life itself makes it clear they need to change their ways. That is why there are sometimes spiritual conversions in prisons.
Furthermore, Christ said on the cross, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. He didn't say that they know darn well what they are doing, but they don’t have anyone who understands them to talk to about it. They were blind to the karma they were creating by putting Him to death.
Over the year we have received many letters from prisoners who have committed very serious crimes. Some of them have since turned their lives to prayer and meditation. We help them in every way we can, often with free books, correspondence, and other spiritual aid. Some of our Ananda ministers have gone into the prisons to offer spiritual counsel.
One prisoner wrote me a letter saying, "I did not commit this crime, and yet I know I am guilty. In my heart of hearts I realize that I got away with a very similar crime in a previous life, and that is why I accept my prison sentence now. There is no escaping karma. Please pray for me, and allow me to pray for others..."
Another prisoner had committed one of the crimes you mentioned above, pedophilia. He knew he had broken a great taboo in society, but it was only after three years in prison that he finally realized he had hurt the other person, the victim. He realized it was not simply a taboo that he had broken, but it was truly an emotional and psychological injury to the younger person.
Help already exists for those who grasp that they indeed have a problem that needs to be healed. When a person merely grasps that something is wrong because it breaks a societal taboo, then hidden in the mind is the thought that society needs to loosen up. The underlying feeling is "I am fine — but society should change."
But once a soul had changed for the better they may seek to help others with the same issues, now or in a future life. They know what it is to suffer from the particular delusion that led to their crimes. Indeed, helping other souls in that way would serve to expiate some of their karma.
We are all on an upward journey, except that sometimes the soul gets sidetracked or even trapped in a ditch of error.
Forget the past. The vanished lives of all men are dark with many shames. Human conduct is ever unreliable until man is anchored in the Divine. Everything in future will improve if you are making a spiritual effort now. - Swami Sri Yukteswar
I hope these ideas are helpful to you.
God bless you,
Director, Ananda Healing Prayer Ministry
first of all i want to thanks diksha mccord for her diet recipes..my question is on re-incarnation...who was anandamoyi ma,ramana maharshi,rabindranath tagore,gandhi,ramkrishna paramhansa in their past incarnation?i heared that anandamoyi ma was avatar...
Dear Dhruv Parikh,
Although I have read about all these great saints, I have not heard or found information on who they were in past lives. But I have a question for you: Is yours a useful question? How would this information benefit you?
It seems to me that it is better to tune to the consciousness of those saints, meditate on them, read about their lives and get inspiration on how to make your life better by living in their consciousness as much as you can.
Anandamoi Ma was a great soul, regardless of whether she was an avatar and she is able to help us if we tune in to her consciousness.
To what extent do our thoughts and desires involving other people affect their karma? For instance, if someone holds a lifelong desire for vengeance against another, will it have to happen? Also, my mother has often said she wishes I could be her mother in a future life (her mom wasn’t loving). Will I have to do this in service to her? Or if my desire to work with my husband were not fulfilled now (it is), would he have to work with me in another lifetime?
The thoughts that one person holds toward another will indeed influence the other, according to the strength of those thoughts as well as the receptivity of the other person.
For thoughts to be binding in the way that you describe, however, there must be mutuality of feeling, which will create the magnetism necessary to create that outcome. Mutual vengeance is a good example: the two souls will be drawn back together life after life until one of them can let go of vengefulness. Similarly for mutual love: the two souls will be drawn back together life after life to cultivate ever-greater perfection in their love.
If that mutuality does not exist, however, then there may not be sufficient magnetic attraction to draw you back together in exactly that way. For example, if you and your mother love each other, you will share other lives together, although not necessarily in the way she wants. The law of karma demands that she someday experience the mother-love that she longs for, but if you don’t have the desire to be her mother in another life, she might find that mother-love with a soul other than yourself.
I hope this helps.
For a mind without perceptions does karma exist??
Good and bad exists only when you perceive, e.g. people perceive this is right and that is wrong and live in illusion.
When a child without knowing playfully kills ants, does this create karma?
Paramhansa Yogananda described the mind as that part of us that perceives the reality we live in. So the mere fact that we have a mind also entails that we have perceptions. The mind, by its inherent nature, tends to see the separateness of everything, but it also helps us to distinguish between good and bad.
It is our consciousness that is truly the essence of who we are, with the mind expressing that consciousness. The more we open up to expanded consciousness through meditation, devotion, service, and attunement, the more we are able to neutralize the pulls of delusion.
Here’s a practical way to understand good and bad, or right and wrong: if something is leading us away from expanded consciousness, then it is harmful; on the other hand, if something is leading us towards expanded consciousness, then it is beneficial.
As to your question regarding karma if a child playfully kills ants: Yogananda said that in such instances there is still some karma that the child will accrue, but certainly not to the same extent if such an action is done with aggressive intent.
I hope this is helpful.
In divine friendship,
I am bereft. I took in two starving feral cats years ago. One died from cancer, and the second cat just died while I was away from home for a wedding. I loved these cats and also the dogs that have been a part of our family. I am wondering if Master, or our line of Gurus, have given any advice about the loss of our pets? Will we see them again when we pass from this plane of existence? It would be comforting to know that this would be possible. Thank you.
I am truly sorry for your loss. Though not a pet owner myself, I have many, many friends who are and who are dearly supportive and loving in their relationship with their pets. I am not aware of Master’s comments as to whether we remain in contact with our departed pets via some future life, whether “above,” or here again, but I can vouch for the teaching that pets (dogs, cats, horses, esp.) are very close to human incarnation. Their very closeness to humans is part of and an encouragement to their evolution upwards toward the human form. Master also repeated that some pets and other animals are SO HUMAN in their character and consciousness that they WERE in human form previously and, owing to some karma or another, “regressed” back to animal form. Why that is so will vary considerably: sometimes by soul choice other times by living more animal-like or instinctually (than consciously) when in human form.
I confess I have sometimes worried that a friend was so attached to helping and loving animals that he or she might be in danger of going back into animal form themselves in their next life! Magnetism is the law and the greater magnetism of one in a relationship will tend to influence the other! There are many stories from India about the back and forth of souls between human and animal forms with as wide a range of karmic causes as there are stories. I would say on general principle that our heart and soul connections are such that we WILL encounter our loved ones in the future and that our own evolution demands it. I encourage you, however, to affirm freedom for your departed pets’ souls and this you can do best to the degree of your own freedom (non-attachment). Affirm instead love, joy and comfort: “May we meet again as we progress in Self-realization toward our freedom in God alone.”
Swami Kriyananda said that everything is predestined and all the free will we have is to seek God or reject him. If we are already predestined, where does the freedom to seek God fit into this, and isn’t that the violation of predestination? And if we make a choice here, aren’t we altering the future and so called predestination? Will that not disturb God’s plan? How will he know the future then? SK said that if nothing was predestined, how can God know the future. Please help.
This issue of karma and free will is a complex one. If we try to over-think it, and to “figure it all out” then it only becomes more confusing! What is important to understand is what you can actually do about it. Here are some things I have understood on this topic.
What is “predestined” in our lives is determined by the actions (karma) we have engaged in over many lifetimes, within maya or delusion. Both karmic actions and the reality of our ego (the soul identified with the body) are what truly keep us bound. Once we begin to access and live in the Divine realm, or the superconscious, we begin to loosen the grip that the ego and our karma has on us.
Ananda Moyi Ma gave this illustration: She said our lives are happening as if we are on a train that is already in motion. The choice we have is whether we go to the front of the train or remain in the back of it.
The fact of the matter is that we have set in motion a tremendous amount of karma over millions of lifetimes which determines a great deal of what we do in life. For the most part we live caught in this karmic bondage, not really understanding what life is all about.
Once we have the desire for something more, a desire that evolves over many lifetimes, we come to realize that that “something more” is God. At that point we can begin to make more rapid progress in freeing ourselves from that ocean of delusion and from the karmic bondage that we have created for ourselves (through our attachments and our desires).
How we actually become free is not a rational or logical process. It only happens, in fact, by the grace of God. We have to do our part, but it is God’s grace that finally frees us.
Swami Kriyananda once described the attitude to take when we begin to face our karma and really desire to do something about our bondage from it. I have found his example very helpful and have used it repeatedly in my own life. He said you can feel overwhelmed by what you face if you look at your karma as a whole. It is like a thick sheet of ice covering the water of Divine freedom beneath it. Very little result happens by pounding on it with a hammer. But, if you take a sharp ice pick, and pierce through that sheet of ice at one point, then the whole sheet can crack open from that one point.
The important point to the questions you are asking is, “What can we do about our situation?” By following the above example, we can use our own will power, energy, concentration, and devotion to pierce through the vast sheet of our karma that covers the water of Divine freedom. Once we have done that, by our own efforts and through the grace of God, then we are free, and we have no more questions to be answered! As Yogananda’s guru once said to him, leave a few questions to be answered by the Divine and by your own realized freedom in that Divine.
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