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

Category: Karma, Reincarnation

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Quinn
USA

Question

Is reincarnation immediate? My brother died four years ago, and my two-year-old exhibits many of his characteristics and always points him out in pictures even though I haven’t explained who he is or brought attention to him.

Puru (Joseph) Selbie

Answer

Dear Quinn,

In the Autobiography of a Yogi Paramhansa Yogananda writes of his promise to a young disciple, Kashi, that if he died young Yogananda would find him again when he reincarnated and help him once again onto the spiritual path. The chapter “Kashi, Reborn and Rediscovered” has many fascinating insights into reincarnation, but it also answers your specific question: Yogananda “found” Kashi six months later in the womb of his new mother. Visiting the family sometime later, Yogananada noted how similar the infant looked to the Kashi he knew before. Yogananda fulfilled his promise and guided Kashi to a Himalayan master.

According to what I have read, not everyone reincarnates so quickly. Our karma determines when we will find a compatible family. As I understand it, if you had a strong bond with your brother, it is quite possible he would be drawn to a life with you and your wife.

Warm regards,

Puru (Joseph) Selbie

Sangita
India

Question

Hi! A spiritual author has mentioned in his book that if we are born in a rich family and use our money selfishly just for our and our family’s personal needs, then we might be reborn in not so favorable financial circumstances, while if we develop he habit of giving and sharing with whatever little we have, we may be reborn in favorable financial circumstances...How true is it?

Puru (Joseph) Selbie

Answer

Dear Sangita,

That is my understanding as well. I am not speaking from intuitive knowledge, just from my understanding of the teachings of karma and reincarnation.

However, one doesn’t need to have the intuitive wisdom of a Master to understand this. One can see this principle at work even in a single lifetime. Those who live with a generous heart, thinking of the welfare of others, serving and helping where they can, attract prosperity. Good things tend to happen for them, whether it’s material gain or good fortune in love.

On the other hand, those who live selfishly, thinking only of themselves first, attract poverty. Even if the outward result of such selfishness is not material poverty — some people become extremely rich when looking out only for “number one” — the result will certainly be a poverty of love.

A note of practicality: Yogananda did not counsel that people give everything away, only that they live with an open and generous heart. Yogananda often praised those who were prosperous because to become prosperous they had developed God’s gifts of will and energy. Yogananda warned against laziness or indifference disguised as false renunciation.

Warm regards,

Puru (Joseph) Selbie

Ramesh Aritakula
India

Question

Dear Sir / Madam,

I have read somewhere in the books that lord Rama and lord Jesus are the same soul. Could you please update if this understanding is correct?

I have also read from the books of Yogananda that Jesus in his previous incarnation was Eliseus and John (The Baptist) was Elias in a previous incarnation.

Request you kindly to clarify me that Lord Rama and Lord Jesus were of the same soul or not.

Thanks & Regards,

Ramesh.

Nayaswami Seva

Nayaswami Seva

Ananda Village

Answer

I have never heard that Lord Rama and Jesus Christ were the same soul. What is true is that all Realized souls are the same in God. It really doesn’t matter if one soul has manifested again and again unless it is to tell us – we mere struggling devotees – that these great ones come again and again to help us find our liberation and oneness in God. The sooner we listen to them in whatever incarnation we find ourselves and look to being freed, the sooner we realize our own oneness in the Divine also.

The great ones come again and again. Paramhansa Yogananda said in one of his poems in Whispers From Eternity: “Oh! I will come back again and again! Crossing a million crags of suffering, with bleeding feet, I will come, if need be, a trillion times, as long as I know that one stray brother is left behind.” How great is that? How fortunate we are to know that these great ones come to bring us to our true Self in God.

Joy to you,

Seva

Frances
USA

Question

What’s the connection between prayer and fasting to change karma? I see that the Pope held a day of prayer and fasting to prevent war in Syria and have read Jesus mentioning prayer and fasting in the Bible. Did Master ever say anything about this? Thanks!

Nayaswami Diksha

Nayaswami Diksha

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Frances,

I am not aware of Yogananda saying that prayer and fasting can change karma.

In his book, Karma and Reincarnation, Yogananda says that we can overcome karma by living in divine consciousness, and with deep attunment with God. The closer we live to God, the less His law will be able to affect us.

The most important thing that we can do is to place God first in our lives, and commit to twice daily practice of silence meditation and communion with God.

My conclusion from the teaching of Yogananada is that if prayer and fasting help you to feel closer to God, elevate your consciousness and help you to attune to God’s will, then you can practice it too.

Blessings,

Diksha

Your Mother’s Love
August 27, 2013

In God's service
USA

Question

My mom was quite healthy but passed away suddenly with heart attack. I see so many other people who are not healthy living longer. This makes me think may be we have not taken care of her and if she would have gotten medical attention sooner she would have survived. I can not calm my mind. I am very sad and feel guilty.

Tyagi Shanti, M.D.

Tyagi Shanti, M.D.

Ananda Palo Alto

Answer

Dear friend,

I am so sorry for your loss. In one way I could simply say, “there are no words.” In no way would I want to try and talk you out of your grief. Even Yogananda shed tears when a few of his closest disciples passed. He also felt great sadness when one of his monks or nuns left the path. This universe works in ways that are simply impossible for us to understand. It is all beyond mind or intellect, and when a loss as great as this occurs, particularly when it happens so quickly and unexpectedly, we just long to make sense of the situation. I understand completely.

And here is the truth … the only way to find any real comfort is to expand our consciousness and have an experience that is not solely of our human heart, but more on a soul level. No matter how much you loved or cared for your mother she had her own karma to live out … and she did just that for this lifetime. There can be no mistake about this. No one can come or go from this earth based only on another’s desire. We come with a soul mission and once we have grown as much spiritually as we can in this life, we leave.

Having said that, rest assured that the love you feel for your mother does support her soul to grow, to expand, to know more about true love. We all use human relationships to move closer to knowing about unconditional love i.e. ultimately our love for God. The fact that you love her so means a great deal to her spiritually. You ARE helping her, just in ways we know less about. She now, free of the limitations of the body, feels your love even more clearly.

Try and take some consolation from the Bhagavad Gita, Chapter 2, where Krishna is assuring Arjuna that death of the body is not what it seems. Please read the whole chapter and Swami Kriyananda’s commentary in The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita, chapter 10.

In essence Krishna is saying to Arjuna, “You see the body die but I see the soul raise and expand. In death, nothing is ever lost. What you relinquish on the material plane you will rediscover a thousand times more wonderfully in God.”

Know for certain that your mother is both “free” in a way she could never be here, and very much with you.

Blessingss,

Tyagi Shanti

Mona
India

Question

Hi!

It is said that repentance and remorse are Godly. What does it mean? Suppose a man commits murder or breaks hearts and then repents. Will he be forgiven? Will he escape divine punishment if he repents? Then everyone will commit sin, repent and escape punishment.

Nayaswami Gopal

Nayaswami Gopal

Ananda Village

Answer

Hi! And joy to you.

Repentance means being sorry or having regret for wrong doing. Remorse is associated with the experience of pain as it relates to a wrong doing. Repentance and remorse is Godly when one is sincerely sorry and attempts to make amends for a wrong act. It is a very good habit to go out of the way to correct a negative action with a positive action. Most people put more energy into blaming others or they may do nothing at all to correct an error.

The masters tell us God is always ready to forgive, even if one commits murder. God understands our humanness and is always ready to forgive. Some masters also say, God looks to teach rather than punish. He wants us to learn from our mistakes and whenever possible make reparations.

An implement used to help us grow closer to Him is the law of karma. It is said that, “Karma is king.” The law of karma said another way is we reap as we sow. When we bring positive uplifting and loving energy into life, then our life may be positive, uplifting and filled with love. If we put out negative energy or qualities to life it will reflect these actions with one mishap after another, until we learn our lesson and change our ways.

A lot of people commit sin, repent and think they escape punishment. But the truth is we escape nothing. The law of karma catches up eventually. Again, karma’s helps us learn the lessons needed to reach our highest potential.

To paraphrase a few lines from “The Peace Treaty,” a play written by Swami Kriyananda, “Within each man however dark his deeds, dwells an unconscious angel. We must let God determine what path his soul must travel to reach its highest destiny. Mean while ours is the path to live in goodness.”

I highly recommend you read the, “The Peace Treaty”. It is a fun way to learn a lot about repentance, remorse and being godly. It holds tremendous wisdom relative to your questions.

In His joy,

Nayaswami Gopal

Nandini
India

Question

How much of life is controlled by our destiny (product of previous thoughts and actions) and how much of it is controlled by our current thoughts and actions?

I ask this in connection to the fact that some changes in my life have been very different from what I have expected. And I have actually been thankful that destiny has worked its own way instead of conceeding to my blinkered thoughts.

Thank you.

Nayaswami Parvati

Nayaswami Parvati

Ananda Village

Answer

Our lives are controlled completely by our own self-created karma, meaning the actions we do in this lifetime, as well as what we have done in all our previous lifetimes (which are many in number). These actions, or karma, determine what happens in our lives today, especially as these actions have been repeated over many lifetimes.

So your question can be answered by saying that all of our actions, both current and past, determine what happens in our lives today. This also means that if we act now in ways to improve our life, those actions will have an influence as we move forward. Our so called destiny is of our own making.

Much of our karmic influences lie hidden in the subconscious part of our minds. This is where all our karmic actions are recorded. Our karma makes its presence felt more consciously in our lives when the outer circumstances are right. This is why we can have changes in our lives that are different than what we might have expected, as you have mentioned.

The more conscious we are about how we live our lives and the choices we make, the more we will be able to guide our lives in a particular way. But it is only when we begin to choose the spiritual life that we finally find the fulfillment and happiness we have sought in all of our previous lifetimes.

mary
usa

Question

Our abundance externally seems to be linked to our realization of our Divine abundance internally. How does Karma interface with this? Also I think that the more I love God the less I need to ask others for wisdom. And the more I realize that my “truth” is not the truth others may perceive for me. Thank you for responding. Blessings to you.

Nayaswami Hriman

Nayaswami Hriman

Ananda Seattle

Answer

Dear Friend,

In your note above you’ve brought up several subjects and it may be helpful to be clear about what they are:

1. Does material abundance flow from (what you term) “Divine abundance internally”?

2. How does karma affect #1?

3. What is the relationship of love for God to inner guidance and wisdom?

4. What others think I should do is not necessarily what I feel guided to do. (This is a statement, not a question, but I assume it is, if not a question, a topic for discussion.)

So let’s step up the plate and swing at a few of your “fast balls!” (Spring and summer in America is “baseball” season!)

ABUNDANCE. Yes, indeed, our karma very much affects the relationship between our (hopefully) growing spirituality and the state of our material abundance or success. Some saints have lived in poverty; others, in abundance. Hence one could say that there is no INTRINSIC relationship between the two. (The same can be said of health.)

Yes, it’s true that as one advances spiritually one begins to demonstrate power of material things, but that cannot, or at least should not, be used for self-gratification and mere comfort or security. Those who yield to the temptation to do so “fall” spiritually, at least to some degree (not always to a great degree, however).

Therefore it is unwise to measure one’s spiritual consciousness by one’s power to manifest material prosperity. Easier said than done, however, as the world has numerous examples of spiritual seekers and teachers who tend to equate the two. It is, however, an error to do so, at least infallibly.

A devotee may have to work to overcome former lifetimes of inattention to material matters in order to achieve an appropriate level of prosperity sufficient to support his spiritual seeking and his spiritual service to others. A wealthy devotee may need to consciously be generous and non-attached to the karmic results of past success magentism; or, he may need to be careful not to squander his wealth in the name of being spiritual when it is not really useful or called for by God’s will. It can be, you see, very complicated.

LOVE FOR GOD AND WISDOM. No question about it: love for God brings to us wisdom. But be careful of being the “judge” of just how wise you are! Pride goeth before the fall, Shakespeare reminds us! (or is Proverbs, Old Testament?). Even great saints are careful to test their inner guidance by outer signs and by seeking the counsel of others, even, sometimes, those less wise than themselves, just to “test the spirits” (as Jesus put it). Inner guidance must be tested and offered tentatively up to right action and nonattachment.

The same can be said for what we might perceive to be inner guidance in opposition to the counsel of others. Yes, of course that can, and will take place. But one must be, spiritually, very careful lest we deceive ourselves in doing what we like rather than what we should. This takes practice, humility, and, of course, true intuition. We are never safe until we achieve enlightenment. So, be very careful, esp when your “inner guidance” corresponds to what you want and is in opposition to what others, especially those who are both wise and impartial, suggest.

Blessings to you,

Nayaswami Hriman

aka Swami Hrimananda!

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