As a spiritual beginner, is it alright to worship AUM?
January 14, 2015
Is there anything wrong for a beginner to worship 'OM' as a form of God? I am a beginner. I am not interested in developing devotion towards any particular physical form of God. I am interested in Jnana Yoga rather than Bhakti Yoga. So is it alright to worship OM as a form of God by a beginner?
AUM is wonderful, the sound of the creation of the universe! But, as a beginner, you might want to approach meditation and the spiritual teachings with more of a sense of exploration. Otherwise you are determining from your beginning understanding of them what they have to offer you. It would be like coming to a professional to learn to play the game of tennis, but determining how you want to play before you even know much about it.
In the beginning of my own spiritual life and meditation practice, I also was drawn (by my mind and intellect) to a more gyana (also spelled "jnana") type of approach. But it was so dry and abstract that I didn’t really engage seriously in the practices. It wasn’t until I found a more balanced teaching that things began to fall into place. Without this I would have given up the practices completely — yet again.
Paramhansa Yogananda’s guru, Sri Yukteswar, who was considered a Gyanavatar (incarnation of gyana) during his lifetime, said that you cannot take one step along the spiritual path without developing the heart’s natural love. It’s not a matter of bhakti or gyana, it’s a matter of doing what works. And it’s not a matter of what we "worship," but of what we experience and become. So you don’t so much want to worship AUM, as to "become" AUM. It’s not enough to hear the sound of AUM. You need to eventually, through your deepening meditation practice, become one with it.
On the path of yoga, what matters most is your own direct experience in meditation. To gain this direct experience you have to commit to practicing, with devotion, the meditation techniques that will give this to you. Without having this, the ideas we have about spirituality, and how we relate to it, are only that — interesting ideas.
The meditation techniques that Ananda offers, based on Paramhansa Yogananda teachings, are very good for doing this. You might want to explore them through our Ananda Centers in India. You can find out more about this at the Ananda Sangha India website.
I hope these thoughts will be helpful for you, and I wish you many blessings in your practices.
How to gaze at the spiritual eye without strain
January 5, 2015
Hello, thank you for brilliant answer.Just a few very important questions for me. When i try to put my concentration on spiritual eye, i feel tension on my forehead and cant mentally find that point between the eyebrows, what wrong im doing? Im new in meditation, does only Hong-sau for the first months is ok? How can i concentrate on spiritual eye, breathing, mantra and looking upward at the same time?It seems too hard. When i say mantra but dont understand the meaning of thewords its ok?Thanks
When you experience tension on your forehead while gazing at the spiritual eye, it usually a result of either trying to position the eyes awkwardly, or a long-time habit of squeezing your eyebrows together when you try to concentrate.
When you close your eyes, turn your eyes slightly upward, as if looking at a peak of a mountain in the distance, slightly above the horizon level. This should not involve any strain. Feel as if your eyes are resting in this upward position, not as if you’re trying to look into the distance.
Here is how to look slightly upward with no strain:
Sit up right, and extend right arm forward, and make a fist with the hand. Bring thumb up, and raise arm 2"-3" above the horizon. Gaze at your thumbnail, then close your eyes and visualize that thumbnail. Bring arm down. Your gaze should be out and up about arm’s length.
When you first start to practice the Hong-Sau technique, it takes time to get used to doing all parts of the technique (just like all the different things you have to do when driving a car), but gradually it becomes natural and easy. Be patient.
The mantra Hong-Sau means: I am Spirit. The mantra has power in it, and it has impact on your energy. You don’t need to focus on the meaning of the words; it’s the vibration of the mantra that will help you. Just keep practicing it.
"Whatever comes of itself, let it come"
January 5, 2015
Is going almost breathless and having out of body experiences during meditation better than feeling calmness and inner peace after meditation?
Yogananda used to say, "Whatever comes of itself, let it come." He used this phrase to describe the right attitude for dealing with what life brings you — failure or success, poverty or wealth, sickness or health — just let it come but do not let what comes define you or determine your happiness. If you live centered within your Self then whatever does come cannot change your inner happiness.
I think this is also the right attitude for what you experience in meditation — "Whatever comes of itself, let it come." — don’t deliberately seek any particular kind of experience. One genuine experience of Divine consciousness is no "better" than another. Instead, concentrate on becoming still in body and mind, and offering yourself to God. What you experience in meditation will grow and change over time.
In the Autobiography of a Yogi, Yogananda wrote that God is "ever-new Joy." Don’t become fixed on what you want to experience. Let God’s blissful ever-newness beguile you. Let the guru decide what experiences you need.
Puru (Joseph) Selbie
Celibacy, meditation, and right living
December 11, 2014
Hi , I am 24 year boy I have a couple of questions :
Is brahmacharya ( celibacy is one part ) is necessary to go deep in spirituality ??
My body moves vigorously in meditation and feel somebody whispering ( worried whether its ghost ?)
Some other symptoms in meditation : feel my body grows and crosses the earth and becomes one with universe and sometimes I feel I enter some planet ... Is these are illusions ????
Celibacy may be helpful but I would caution you from pursuing this without some guidance from someone who knows you well, is spiritually minded, and has only your best interests in mind.
As to the meditation symptoms, I have the same advice: find a meditation mentor who is experienced, and who you trust to keep your own highest interests in mind.
Here are some how-to-live suggestions for daily life:
- Do physical yoga: hatha yoga to help the body relax and to gain control over your body’s energies.
- Make sure your diet is a healthy one: avoiding excessive consumption of sugar, caffeine, and avoiding all alcohol. Fresh and freshly cooked vegetables and a good protein source (vegetarian is best, usually) are important.
- Exercise. At your age some strenuous exercise (running, swimming, fitness, etc.) is very important.
- Media. How many hours a day do you spend on a computer, tablet or smart phone? Movies? TV? What you watch and how many hours spent passively on media can cause problems.
- Sleep. Your sleep patterns should be regulated so that you get at least 7, perhaps better, 8, hours of sleep and do so between the hours of 10 p.m. and 6 p.m. (at least not be going to bed midnight or later every night).
- Meditation. You should have a solid meditation and pranayam practice that is NOT excessive, but gentle. Ananda has online courses that are perfect for this. / I highly recommend developing more devotion in your life and in your meditation. There’s nothing better than chanting! (During the day AND as part of meditation). When you have the symptoms you describe, pray to God in some form dear to you (deity, guru, etc.) to ask how to respond or to give you the mental strength to re-direct your attention from these symptoms to a more devotional focus.
- Satsang. Be around those who are wise, kind, and spiritually mind. This includes your reading material and listening.
Blessings and joy to you!
When do we need to face issues head-on?
November 25, 2014
I am interested in the spiritual path, but have also observed many people who seem to use the path to disconnect from painful feeling and unresolved issues from childhood rhather than for authentic growth. How can we know what feelings and issues must be faced and whilch will "vanish in meditation" if we are persistent enough. Thank you for any clarity you can offer.
You’ve asked a very good question and made a good observation also. Yes, people sometimes use the path or their meditation practices to deny or disconnect from pain or unresolved issues. But they will soon find out that simply denying or disconnecting does not work as an effective way to deal with unresolved issues.
What we are going for with deep meditation is transmutation rather than suppression or denial. This means not denying your past issues, but learning to work with them as energy patterns, stored within yourself, which can be released through meditation techniques, especially Kriya Yoga, very effectively.
Then again, sometimes people do need assistance from others, in the form of counseling, to overcome certain deep-seated issues which they are finding that meditation alone simply can’t take care of for them.
But I believe your main question is "... how can we know what feelings and issues must be faced and which will vanish through meditation practices?" Answer: You really cannot know this absolutely perfectly until you have developed perfect powers of discernment or discrimination. This is what the great Masters have done and what we will eventually do also.
In the meantime, we can use any technique that we feel is most appropriate at any given time. How to find out what is most appropriate? Pray a lot as a part of your meditative life. Develop your intuition as a way to be inwardly guided to find that perfect balance between looking within and looking outside to others for help. Pray and then trust that you will be guided, meditate as much as possible, and these answers surely will come at just the right time.
Here’s a book I would strongly suggest that you read this book to find out more ideas on exactly how to do this. See Intuition for Starters. Blessings!
Why so much stress is given on padmasana and khechari mudra? How padmasana help us spiritually except giving fixed posture? And is talabhya kriya enough to accomplish full khechari mudra, or there are some other techniques also? I also wanna know that is it safe to practise kriya yoga without any guru? I tried to find a guru but after failing i started practising myself. Thanks.
In addition to assuring fixed posture, Padmasana puts both hands and both feet in an upturned position. The soles of the feet and the palms of the hands are among the body’s best life-force receivers, so this position of the body provides unique benefits — provided there is no discomfort.
Khechari Mudra is given much emphasis because it is a powerful technique for sending energy directly from the medulla oblongata to the spiritual eye, thereby avoiding having energy go down the spine and out to the periphery of the body. Talabhaya Kriya is one excellent technique for working toward Khechari. Another is simply to reach the tip of the tongue as far back on the roof of the mouth as possible, and hold it there.
As for practicing Kriya Yoga without a guru, there are various techniques that have the name Kriya Yoga, and I do not know which of those you are practicing. Therefore I cannot comment on the safety of what you are doing. If you are doing any of the Kriya Yoga techniques with which I am familiar, you would not be endangering yourself. However, the real power of any technique is awakened only when you tune in to the guru’s consciousness.
In any case, do your sadhana with deep sincerity and devotion. God will send you to your guru when the time is right, and your guru will show you what is best for you to practice.
When I started meditating, I stopped dreaming
November 4, 2014
I realized after I started meditation, I completely stopped dreaming or if I am dreaming I no longer recall my dreams. Prior to meditation, I constantly dream every night and remember multiple dreams within one night. What do you think this could mean?
Dear Anna, Paramhansa Yogananda teaches us that most dreams come from the subconscious mind, which weaves dreams out of our memories of this and other lifetimes.
Most dreams simply are our subconscious minds meandering about among our memories and creating dream-movies to keep us entertained while we are sleeping. And they remind us also of the very important point: "Life also is a dream-drama." A nightly dream is like a little dream within the BIG DREAM of life.
When your meditations are effective, you are not in a subconscious state. You are in or approaching superconsciousness, which is a very good thing! Perhaps your superconscious mind is dominating your sleep/dream-life now, which would be a very great blessing.
And you are right, it could be, that for whatever reasons, you are still dreaming regular subconscious dreams and just not remembering them. Many people say that they never remember any dreams — this is not unusual at all.
In any case, I’d suggest that you pray deeply about this matter and ask that you receive an answer from God and Gurus at the close of your meditations, or whenever it might come to you. The true answer will come to you eventually.
Is Babaji alive?
November 4, 2014
Hi I am 24 year old guy working for my Masters in computers. I am son of priest. My father didn’t teach any mantras, but I had strong spiritual inclinations and went to various ashram, finally settling on ana pana sati meditation. In meditation I started seeing lot, so consulted a healer who took me to a past life in which I was a black magic performer and brahmin. So these days in meditation I see some feet walking towards me. My healer tells me I am getting blessings from Babaji. Is he alive?
Dear Vishwas, I will answer your last question first. Yes, Babaji is very much alive! You can read all about him in Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda. I suggest you do that right away, especially if you feel you are receiving a special blessing from him.
Now to comment on the rest of your question. It is good that you have strong spiritual inclinations. We hope that you are able to "fan the flames" of those inclinations with deeper meditations and satsang with like-minded truth-seekers. I’m not familiar with ana pana sati meditation, but if it is working well for you, then give it your best. If you want to know more about the Kriya Yoga techniques of meditation given to the world by Babaji, please let us know.
If you were a performer of black magic in some past lifetime, that is not such a good thing. But remember that we have all done many bad things in past lifetimes — creating bad karma. It doesn’t matter that much, however, if we are making the right spiritual effort now — this will help clear up all the wrong things we have done and move us quickly to freedom and oneness with God.
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