How did Yogananda treat his relatives?
October 28, 2014
Hello Ananda Family,
Firstly would like to thank you all from my heart for answering each and every question with patience and love. God bless you All.
My Question is out of curiosity.
Q: How have all Great Masters in past maintained the relationships with their siblings, even after attaining enlightenment? Although I have heard that there is no mine or yours left after enlightenment, but still others might not be in same state as they were.
Dear friend, APS,
If you haven’t yet read Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda, you will enjoy it and may find your answers there.
Yogananda had seven brothers and sisters. As he writes of himself, you can see him entering into the play of a "normal" childhood relationship with his siblings. If you also read the book, Mejda, written by his brother about Yogananda’s life, you see that his family always realized there was something special about Yogananda.
It seems to me that Yogananda was always appropriate in his behavior and treated everyone — relatives, colleagues, enemies — with divine love, patience, and wisdom. In the great souls, while these qualities are always found, there is also a certain impartial and impersonal quality — impersonal, not in the sense of being cold, but of not needing to receive anything from others. The great soul is always relating to the divine presence in others.
Is My Husband My “True Soulmate”?
September 29, 2014
I am married to a good man who always supports me and treats me well. I also try to be supportive, kind and good to him. I would love him to share my interests: meditate like I do, be interested in yoga and other things that enjoy like sport, travelling, and walking. But, unlike me he spends a lot of time watching TV/films and browsing the internet. I feel that despite having a reasonably good marriage, he is probably not my soulmate and my heart is longing for finding my soulmate. What shall I do?
One’s marriage vows are to be taken very seriously. It is not a good thing to be thinking that “surely the grass must be greener with someone else” — when this may not be true at all, or, “... if I find my true soul mate, surely then I'll be happy.” Please read my blog on “Soul Mates” at for more details on this subject.
You say your husband is a good man, who supports you, treats you well, and that you have a reasonably good marriage. It’s just that you don’t share the same spiritual interests. This is the case in several successful marriages that I know about. Count yourself fortunate for the blessings you have found in this marriage! A 100% perfect marriage is rare, if not non-existent!
I’d say that unless there is real abuse or you are truly miserable in your marriage, then you would be wise to give this matter into God’s hands and stay on in the marriage. Pray for your husband to become more interested in spiritual things, but never force or nag about the matter. Just be the best possible example you can and feel God’s presence in him always.
Find other spiritually-minded friends who will fill that need for like-minded company. They are definitely out there waiting to be found! Consider joining Online with Ananda’s Virtual Community. Through it, you can have spiritual friends around the world.
Love and Non-attachment
September 8, 2014
It seems that family, children, and spouse are the most powerful attachments I feel. If one is attached to their family and still wishes to be free from all attachments, how do they gradually find freedom from this without showing less love and care?
Our natural bonds of love for our family are the most difficult of relationships in which to understand what nonattachment and freedom means. Yet: it is through our close relationships that we have the greatest spiritual opportunities to grow. Begin by contemplating the spiritual and virtuous qualities of each family member; add to this, contemplating that those qualities and virtues are attributes (aspects) of God, of our souls. Bit by bit, then, begin to see your loved ones not just for their personalities but for their soul qualities, like rays of God’s presence shining through them. With practice and time, you will feel more and more that you are seeing God in each of them, and not just a person who is special to you or different from all others.
In respect to qualities that are not so admirable (faults, quirks, and annoying behaviors), contemplate that they, like you, have lived many, many, many lifetimes. As God gives you the freedom to choose Him, to choose right or wrong actions, so you, too, should follow His example and give to your close ones the freedom to find their way through their errors and shortcomings. This will be easier to do if you practice my first suggestion above.
Lastly, try to feel, imagine or intuit, how, with each loved one, is being reflected back to you, like a mirror, lessons and qualities that you can learn from and/or be helped by. It is all God in various disguises and costumes teaching and guiding you. Pierce the veil of “maya” (of our differences, our likes, dislikes and attachments) to see the One love of God blessing and touching you. Be natural. Be true to yourself and, in so doing, see the highest Truth in all.
Know that in true, divine love you will never lose sight of those who are “yours.” Our lives are intertwined like gold threads in a beautiful tapestry.
Difficulty Saying “No”
September 8, 2014
I find it difficult to say no when people demand or request something even if it causes me inconvenience. Some people are very pushy and simply not ready to respect my convenience. If I deal with them sternly some understand while others feel offended. Even if their offense is unjustified, I feel guilty if they show disappointment and try to make up in some way or the other. It stresses me. How do I deal with them?
To relate to other people’s needs in a balanced way, it’s important to develop healthy boundaries. Everyone needs them, yet establishing them take time and patience. It comes through trial and error, and it is time for you to begin that process. You will make mistakes, and that is part of getting clear.
One thing to keep in mind is that you have more alternatives than just saying: “Yes”, or: “Deal with them sternly.” When you are unable to fulfill someone else’s request, you can simply say kindly but firmly, “I’m very sorry, but that won’t work for me right now,” or “I understand your need, but I’m not able to fulfill it at this time.” Some of the people you have been in the habit of pleasing may not accept that answer, but you need to stand firm.
To be able to stand firm, you need to develop a better sense of who you are and what is possible or appropriate for you. For this, I suggest that you establish a solid meditation practice. It will help you stay even-minded in the face of these requests, stay in touch with your own self, and not be afflicted by guilt. You can begin learning how to meditate here.
As your practice deepens, you'll feel stronger, clearer and more peaceful, and be less affected by how people behave. That’s when you'll be able to share your love with them.
Relationship Opportunities for Growth
August 4, 2014
Thank you so much in advance for taking time to answer my question! How do I deal with a situation where two people who are very very close to my heart are in conflict? If I try to speak, one of them gets hurt and I do not want them to get hurt. I try my best to help them but nothing seems to be working. One of them is extremely emotional and its hard to tell him anything, so I just say yes for everything. How do I handle this situation? It pains to see them suffering.
As I understand your situation, you are very close to two other individuals who do not get along. You are trying to help them resolve their disharmony with each other so there may be harmony between the three of you. You mention one person is very emotional and you simply say yes to everything he asks to keep the peace. You suffer with their suffering and would like to resolve the issues to relieve everyone’s pain including your own.
The first thing to understand is you can only be responsible for your perceptions of the truth of the matter. They other two are responsible for their perceptions of truth and will respond according to how they perceive it.
The bigger question is, “What is trying to happen in the larger scheme of things?” All relationships are stepping stones to broader understanding if we choose to see them that way. For your part, ask yourself, “How is this situation helping me to grow and to have broader sympathies? What can I learn not only in this situation but to carry with me for future? Is it appropriate on the deepest level for me to try and heal their relationship or is this something they need to grow from and resolve on their own?”
Outwardly, it may be helpful to let each of the one’s you are close to know you care deeply about each of them and would love to see them have a harmonious relationship. The rest is up to them. Meanwhile, inwardly, you can pray, “Lord, fill each of these souls with Thy peace and harmony, peace and harmony, peace and harmony” multiple times per day. In addition, pray that you also be filled with “Thy peace and harmony, peace and harmony, peace and harmony”. This simple prayer is one Yogananda prescribed to heal relationships and many of us have found it to be very effective in resolving disharmony between souls.
May you feel God’s presence ever more deeply as you live in your own calm center of peace,
Dealing with Challenging People
July 28, 2014
I am generally patient and respectful with people around me, and am considered to be calm and polite. However, at times we come across people who are excessively rude and harsh, and behave like a dangerous explosive as soon as we come into contact with them, for no reason. Such people are very, very difficult to handle. It can be anyone; the local grocer, a bus conductor, an auto driver, or some acquaintance. How do we handle such people? I often lose my temper with them and have a big time clash.
Here is something that can be very helpful when you are dealing with tensions involving other people:
Step back mentally from the situation or the person that is causing you stress; curb your instinct to react immediately.
Breathe Use abdominal (belly) breathing; deep breathing naturally relaxes the body. For deep breathing — be sure to inhale and exhale only through the nose. Let the abdomen expand outward with your inhalation and release back in with your exhalation.
Reflect on what’s trying to happen in the situation. Try to perceive the situation as if you were the director of this movie; how would you like it to end?
Choose your response. Let your response be thoughtful and conscious; avoid reacting which tends to be automatic and unconscious.
If you train yourself to follow these steps, you'll find that you can handle the stress that comes from dealing with challenging people.
Blessings on your spiritual journey,
Choosing the Right Partner
July 16, 2014
I’ve been in a committed relationship for 4 years, but my friend and I have grown feelings for each other. My boyfriend loves me very much, and so does my friend. Both are lovely, spiritual people, and I love them both for different reasons. Part of me wants to leave my boyfriend as a new relationship will be fun and exciting, but this will hurt him and shatter the life we have built together. My friend wants to be with me so there'll be heartache regardless of who I choose. What should I do?
To be in a committed relationship is to be loyal to one person and not share your intimate feelings with someone else. The fact that you have opened your heart to someone else means that you are not committed to your boyfriend anymore.
True, intimate relationship requires loyalty, respect, and honesty on all levels. Fun and excitement are fleeting and shallow. If you are looking for a long-term, committed relationship, there is a need for maturity and willingness to be with each other not only during fun and exciting times but also during the ups and downs of life.
Your choice of your life partner has to be based on wanting it yourself, and not doing it because of fear of hurting another person, but because you know in your heart that he is the right one for you to share your life with.
It sounds like you need to take time out from both relationships and be alone for awhile, to get more clarity and understanding of who you are, what you need, and what is really important to you.
Blessings to you,
Relationships and Spirituality
June 27, 2014
Greetings, I thank the grace of the Lord. I would like to ask this. I am a young man of 26 years of age. I am dedicated in meditation and focused in this spiritual path, I always look up to expanding my spiritual life. The thing is I have spend long time being a single young man, It’s difficult to get into a relationship with a girl due to the focus into spirituality and not wanting to loose it. So then is it good to get into a relationship as a young man while persuing spiritual growth?
It’s inspiring to read about your dedication and focus on the spiritual path.
There is no inherent conflict in pursuing the spiritual path and having a relationship, regardless of whether one is young or old.
If you feel the desire to be in a relationship, you need to be wise in choosing a woman who will have the same spiritual interests as you, and will support your dedication to the spiritual path, just as you will support her spiritually.
Finding the right partner, can help and enrich your spiritual life. But you should seek a partner only if you feel that it is right for you. Do not feel obligated to do so. Let God come first.
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