Category: Karma, Reincarnation
Can Prayer and Fasting Change Karma?
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!
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.
Your Mother’s Love
In God's service
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.
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.
God Looks to Teach Rather than Punish
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.
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,
How Karma Influences Our Lives
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.
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.
Internal vs. External Abundance
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.
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,
aka Swami Hrimananda!
Healing a friendship
I had badmouthed a close friend of mine before not less than 20 other people several times because of something unacceptable and bad she had done to me and for which she had no regret.Even she knew that she had done a bad thing but she rationalized her misdeed. That angered me more. But I have been given to understand that we create bad karma for ourselves even when we talk ill of those who ill-treat us.Can I reverse that karma by praying for her?
I am sorry for the pain this string of events has caused both you and your friend.
Yes — you are right — we do create bad karma when we speak ill of others. Think of karma as a teacher. In this instance, your friend did something hurtful to you. In return, you sought to hurt her by badmouthing her several times before a large group of people. So, unless she had committed some grave crime against you in the eyes of God or man, it is quite possible the damage that you have done to her name now outweighs the original harm she did to you.
Sometimes karma teaches us by developing our empathy for others. In a very simplistic view, perhaps she may have to experience the pain she caused you, and you might need to see what it feels like to have your name maligned several times in front of a large group of your friends.
The Divine is merciful and compassionate. Ultimately, the laws of karma are not meant to punish us, but to awaken our understanding that we are all made of God’s Love. Sometimes we need a strong karmic lesson to help us realize, "I wouldn’t wish this pain or suffering on anyone."
That is the awakening of divine love within us. We do not wish to make others suffer, even if they have hurt us. That is why Paramhansa Yogananda said Jesus Christ’s greatest miracle was when he offered forgiveness to those who were crucifying his body, "Father forgive them, for they know not what they do."
When we are in the midst of our errors, we also "know not what we do," regarding the karma we are creating for ourselves, but we are blessed if something awakens us, and gives us a chance to reverse the error by doing good. And now, by God’s grace, your spiritual understanding has made you ready.
Paramhansa Yogananda gave us a special prayer called the Peace and Harmony Prayer. Do it selflessly. Think of it this way: you created disharmony, and now you can send out waves of harmony. It may eventually even bring about a true healing of your friendship. Time will tell. For now simply do the prayer to make things right with the Divine, for we are all part of God.
The prayer is quite simple:
- Visualize your friend in light and for one minute pray: “Lord, fill her with peace and harmony, peace and harmony.”
- Then visualize yourself in light and pray for fifteen seconds: “Lord, fill me with peace and harmony, peace and harmony.”
The prayer also came with these additional words: “Do this five times a day — three or four times might work, but five times practically never fails.”
This prayer has created "miracles" of healing between people because it breaks the typical pattern of constantly reviewing the problem mentally. It is a breath of fresh air when we take a moment to send peace and harmony for a minute, five times a day; and it allows healing to occur.
Try doing this prayer five times a day for a month or two. This creates a strong, positive wave of energy to help offset the original negative wave.
Then leave it all in God’s hands. Your friend’s lessons are her own to learn, but hopefully this increased harmony will bring about a true and lasting healing between you both, dissolving this karma.
Heal this first in your own heart, and you will be guided as to what degree the outer friendship can be restored. God bless you.
You can read more here: A Powerful Tool for Healing Conflict, by Nayaswami Anandi.
Is Karma Created Unknowingly?
If I am not wrong, human beings incur negative karma even when they do something wrong as kids or ignorant in their youth when they are 20-21.They don’t know that they are doing something wrong, yet what they do is considerd to be sins. Then when animals kill, they are not considered to be sinners. Why? After all in both cases, the negative deed is being done unknowingly.
Karma is the sum total of every action, activity, or thought a person has had or done, in this and every other lifetime.
Most people think of all karma as "bad," but that is incorrect. It is simply an action or a thought. Karma may be bad (harmful), neutral, or good (helpful).
One requirement for creating karma is an ego, which Yogananda defines as the soul identified with the body. Animals do not have an ego — they are motivated by the insticts such as the instinct to survive, procreate, etc.
Whereas human beings do have an ego. So animals' actions do not create karma, whereas human beings do, no matter their age.
You ask about bad karma that children might create because they are ignorant of the laws of karma. Ignorance is no excuse for breaking a law. The law is there to teach us not to do wrong things in the future. Life is a school and that is how we learn.
There is much more that could be said, so I strongly suggest to you that you read: Karma and Reincarnation: The Wisdom of Paramhansa Yogananda, Vol 2. It is a wonderful way to learn more on this very interesting subject.
Does the Soul Choose to Be Evil?
Master had said that it is we who with the guidance of other spiritual masters choose what kind of life would lead bfore we take birth and people we would encounter to enable our spiritual growth.There are many people who are murderers, cunning, harmful and selfish. I have seen so many (sociopaths) men who are full of lust confess love to women just to talk dirty advantage and vice versa. Why would such people choose a life full of vices for themselves? How would such a life help them grow spiritually?
I agree that it is inconceivable that a soul would choose to be a murderer or other kind of despicable character. That is one reason why, to my knowledge, Paramhansa Yogananda never said that which you attributed to him. I know it is popular in some circles to speak that way, but from what I know of Master’s teachings, I cannot imagine him having said that. His emphasis was ever on how desires—which is to say, unresolved karmas—determine the circumstances of most souls’ incarnations.
Swami Kriyananda was once asked the following: “Someone who arrives in a city and is absolutely starving will eat at the very first restaurant that he or she sees. There is no discrimination; there is only desperation. But if that person is not starving, but simply realizes that it’s time to feed the body, he or she will take as much time as needed to find a quality restaurant that seems likely to provide nourishing food. Is reincarnation like that?”
Swamiji’s reply was affirmative, by which he meant that the more strongly a soul is bound by desire for ego-gratification, the less choice it has in anything, whether before or after birth. Souls that are still deeply enmeshed in delusion have virtually no choice; their karma dictates even their thought processes. That would certainly apply to a soul that would murder, or live a life of crime, or be habitually untruthful. However, those who are relatively free of desire (which is to say, relatively free of karma) can indeed make some choices. And the freer they are of desire, the more choice they have—even to the extent that highly advanced souls can choose to incarnate in multiple bodies at once, so as to work out their karma more quickly. Wow!
The masters do say that everyone has some degree of choice—fortunately, else we would never grow. How much choice do we have? Best to live as though you have complete freedom of choice, lest you become fatalistic and passive. It takes dynamic energy to become free.
So let’s not worry about people who deceive, or cheat, or even murder. They are doing the best they can as they stumble about, creating more and more suffering for themselves. Compassion would be a better response for us. Bless them—and avoid them as much as possible.
Meanwhile, let’s work on overcoming our own desire for anything that further enmeshes us in ego-limitation and self-gratification.
- 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