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Questions and Answers About Meditation, Yoga, the Spiritual Life, and More

Category: Karma, Reincarnation

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dhruv parikh
india

Question

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...

Nayaswami Diksha

Nayaswami Diksha

Ananda Village

Answer

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.

Blessings,

Nayaswami Diksha

April Bryson
USA

Question

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?

Nayaswami Gyandev

Nayaswami Gyandev

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear April,

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.

Blessings,

Gyandev

Understanding Karma
October 16, 2014

nishanth
india

Question

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?

Nayaswami Pranaba

Nayaswami Pranaba

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Nishanth,

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,

Nayaswami Pranaba

The Loss of a Pet
September 8, 2014

Julie
USA

Question

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.

Nayaswami Hriman

Nayaswami Hriman

Ananda Seattle

Answer

Dear Julie,

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.”

Blessings,

Nayaswami Hriman

Karma and Free Will
September 1, 2014

Sunil P
India

Question

Hello!

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.

Nayaswami Parvati

Nayaswami Parvati

Ananda Village

Answer

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.

GPM
USA

Question

In the question and answer series Swamiji addresses a question about our line of gurus coming back to our planet or others. I loved his answer. Of particular interest to me is his statement that “Lahiri is in the Himalayas now.” Was Swamiji ever known to elaborate on this?

Nayaswami Diksha

Nayaswami Diksha

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear GPM,

I am not aware that Swami Kriyananda has ever elaborated on Lahiri reincarnating and now being in the Himalayas.

Blessings,

Diksha

Devine
USA

Question

Even though I’ve committed to the path of Yogananda for 9 years, I find old habits stealing away my time that could be devoted to longer meditation. I was willing to renounce them easily in the beginning but now they have somehow subtly worked their way back into my life. I feel like I am like the Pandava brothers when they kept agreeing to gamble with Shakuni! Will this pass if I just keep on trying my best to meditate and serve Guruji’s work?

Nayaswami Pranaba

Nayaswami Pranaba

Ananda Village

Answer

To put this in perspective — I remember Swami Kriyananda once said that he always had a lot of respect for anyone that continued to remain committed to the spiritual path as the years go by. Why? It’s because life is always going to be a test that includes our past karma, as well as the karma from our present day choices. To remain firm and steady on our spiritual journey, no matter what challenges we face, is a tremendous blessing.

One way to deal with those pesky habits is to start shifting the energy, even if it’s in small increments, to a more uplifting consciousness, even in the midst of what seems like a backward slip. Take for example the attraction toward watching movies – go ahead and enjoy the experience but feel the divine with you as you do so. You might even want to take a moment to do some deep breathing, and even briefly meditate, before watching the film. Then check in with yourself every so often so you’re not so engrossed that you lose your center.

In The Essence of Self-Realization there’s a wonderful quote from Paramhansa Yogananda: “A good rule to follow in life is to be ‘other’-minded. No matter what you behold, try to be conscious of that ‘other’, greater reality behind what you are beholding. Ask yourself, ‘What is God trying to teach me through this experience?'”

The best solution is what you, yourself, mentioned in your last question. By meditating faithfully and regularly, along with devotion and selfless service to God and Guru, you will indeed be transformed and freed from all past desires and attachments.

Blessings on your journey,

Nayaswami Pranaba

jayantkumar dhruv
india

Question

What happens when the Guru drops the body ? is there a sort of individuality or does he just dissolve in the universe ?

Nayaswami Parvati

Nayaswami Parvati

Ananda Village

Answer

When the guru leaves his body, he merges his consciousness back into the Infinite Consciousness of Spirit. But, as Paramhansa Yogananda explained to Swami Kriyananda, that soul also retains “a memory” of who he has been as an individualized soul.

Paramhansa Yogananda was a guru who was also an avatar. Not all gurus are avatars. He said of himself that he had come back many times to help souls reunite with the Divine. He had reached the level of kaivalya moksha, or complete liberation, many lifetimes ago, and had the “desireless desire” to return to help others find God. He said he had returned many times over the ages to do this.

There are some wonderful explanations in The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita book of how this works, not only for the guru, but also for us as evolving souls. One commentary is on verse 3:3 and goes into great detail about this. Since you are located in India, you could contact the Ananda India publisher to know where you can buy this wonderful book at Ananda Sangha Publications. It contains answers to many spiritual questions such as this.

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