Category: Karma, Reincarnation
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.
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?
I am not aware that Swami Kriyananda has ever elaborated on Lahiri reincarnating and now being in the Himalayas.
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?
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,
What happens when the Guru drops the body ? is there a sort of individuality or does he just dissolve in the universe ?
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.
Swami said when God manifested each one, whether it was first a rock or whatever,that they had that individuality. Master said he remembered being a diamond. At the human level of course, you die to accomplish a reincarnation. I was wondering how other objects such as rocks would end one lifetime to keep going up the ladder to the next.
To be honest I don’t know the answer to your question. When we are liberated and live in realization of ourselves as spirit we will know all. What Master has said is that rocks or perhaps mountains have a sort of collective soul, it takes eons for mountains and rocks to shift but shift they do. Rocks are really minerals and from that state the next phase of evolution would be plant life. Plants also can share a collective soul, say in forests. As plants and animals begin to have more interaction with humans, they evolve more rapidly. Master said that in the animal kingdom, horses, dogs and monkeys are the most evolved and most likely to reincarnate as humans. Horses because they are intelligent, dogs because they are loyal and monkeys because they are familial.
All of this is fun to contemplate but not really that helpful in our own evolution. We are given the greatest gift as humans because we are the only souls designed for liberation or union with our creator. So loving God, serving God and eventually merging in God is what we can aim for. When we become one with all, we will understand the nature of creation.
In Joyful service,
I am a student. I have a bad fear that if I become successful in what I do, negative things will happen to me to balance out my happiness. I fear that karma will make me unhappy and may be torture me if I enjoy anything now. Even I fear a simple activity like running, thinking people who dont have legs can’t run, but I am enjoying running. So, god will balance out and give me pain later. My mins is ever confused due to this.If anyone tries to help ,I find hard to trust 'em. Pls hlp
Dear Kaushik, We are sorry to hear that you are living in fear about becoming successful or being happy for fear of the karmic consequences. Fortunately the karmic laws don’t work like that!
Karma is the law of action and reaction. To be happy or successful should NEVER make you think that you have to pay for it later by being unhappy or unsuccessful just to balance things out!
Now if you become successful by dishonest means or by hurting someone, then the certainly the laws of karma would then come into effect. That is a different thing entirely.
Yes, it is true that the pendulum of life swings us back and forth between happiness and sorrow. This is why the Bhagavad Gita says emphatically: "Get away from my ocean of sorrow and suffering!" This means that there is a state beyond happiness and sorrow which is divine bliss. It is possible to find this state within yourself and become that!
We strongly suggest that you learn to contact your God-nature through meditation, for God IS joy and never-ending bliss and therefore God very much wants us all to be filled with divine joy!
Since we are made in God’s image, our essential nature IS joy/bliss and all we have to do is realize that. Learn to live in that joy! Life will be so much better for you.
If you’d like to learn more about how Paramhansa Yogananda clearly explains karmic laws, please read this book: Karma and Reincarnation: The Wisdom of Yogananda. It is very easy and fun to read, and it should help put your mind at ease and live a much happier life!
I know one day everyone will die but I just wonder is it God who decides how long we can stay here? my mother is almost 100. I just want a long life.
According to the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda, each individual’s life span is determined by karma. Your past karma, plus the karma that you generate from now on, plus God’s grace, will determine the span of your life.
Although there is nothing we can do to guarantee any particular life span, your best plan is to live, from this point onward, a healthy life on all levels: physical, mental, and spiritual. Also, do your best to attune yourself to God’s will in all that you do; for that, the practice of daily meditation is essential. Then you will have done everything in your power; the rest is up to God and your karma.
For more information on this subject, you can read P. Yogananda’s book: Karma and Reincarnation: http://www.crystalclarity.com/product.php?code=BKAR
Blessings to you,
Please accept my pranam. I want to know what happens to those people who die suddenly in an accident? Do they reincarnate immediately and in the same family? And is this because of their karma that they die like that suddenly in an accident?
My uncle died in an accident in 2004. He was a harmless, good soul and he was just 40 years old . His death destroyed a family. Therefore, I am looking for answers.
Thanks & Regards,
We can’t always know what personal karma is within each person and what needs to be resolved. It can certainly seem unjust that someone such as your uncle, who at a relatively early age, died in an accident. We, for the most part, will not be able to understand such matters from just an intellectual perspective. There are some things to be gained, however from looking at these things from other viewpoints.
Sometimes an early death could be a blessing; a person may simply have worked out as much of their karma as they are able to do in their current lifetime, and that’s as far as they’re going to go. One way of looking at karma is that an accident is a relatively quick way to move on.
As for someone reincarnating immediately, and in the same family; it is each person’s karma that will determine what will happen in their next lifetime. Each of us is given the opportunity and setting that will provide the best possibility to continue to overcome our karma, whether it is good or bad.
As for those loved ones who are deeply affected by losing a family member or friend; it is their challenge to release their attachments and send blessings to those who have passed on to the astral realms. Here is an excerpt from the Astral Ascension Ceremony which Swami Kriyananda wrote and which we use at Ananda: “And what of us, Friend, who love you and would be remembered by you? Behold us as threads of light in the tapestry of your life – threads which, through the magnet of soul-friendship, will appear ever and again, woven with increasing beauty as our hearts expand together in God’s love.”
God is always with us, even in the midst of overwhelming circumstances, if we open ourselves to that divine touch. Then even death is but a passing experience that allows us to rest and then continue onward with our spiritual journey of releasing all karma and realizing our oneness in God.
In divine friendship,
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