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

Category: Self-Realization

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P S
USA

Question

Somewhere in an article written by Yoganandaji, he said that great saints have been born more so in India than elsewhere because of the yogic practices. In Bhagavad Gita, this yogic practice has been described in the Dhyan yoga chapter and it is also said that this practices are very ancient. Question is why this practices were given only in that part of the world? I guess we won’t be able to tell much from the history but I am just curious.

Nayaswami Gyandev

Nayaswami Gyandev

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear P S,

You are right: Yoganandaji did indeed say that the West has not had saints of the magnitude that India has had, and he attributed that in large part to the yogic techniques of India. Many Western saints have had great devotion, but without techniques, they could not focus that devotion as effectively as Indian saints could.

I doubt that God withheld those techniques from the West; rather, it was Indian culture’s intense interest in inner science that led to the discovery of those techniques. Plus, India has long honored the guru/disciple tradition.

In consequence, the techniques and teachings of India have been handed down through the generations, through millennia. In the West, there has been such inner, scientific focus and continuity only in relatively short-lived, isolated pockets of humanity, not widespread and enduring as in India.

Techniques and continuity make a big difference.

Blessings,

Gyandev

Siddharth Patel
India

Question

Every sage teaches about non-duality and says there is nothing but The Self only. At the same time they talk about love for God. And here duality is created i.e. "I" and "God". Can you please help me understand this topic. Thank You.

Nayaswami Gyandev

Nayaswami Gyandev

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Siddharth,

Although there is nothing but God, our limited perception of reality tells us, “I am separate from God.” We simply can’t yet comprehend our oneness with Him.

Knowing this, the sages recommend that we work with what we can comprehend: a loving human relationship. When we love someone, our sense of sense of self begins to expand beyond the body and personality. Similarly, as we cultivate love for God, we begin to leave behind our limited self-identity. Because our separation from God is only an illusion, that is all we need to do; we need not become something else in order to experience our oneness with Him.

An oft-used analogy speaks of having a thorn stuck in your foot. You can use another thorn to dig it out, then throw both thorns away. Our sense of separateness is a misperception (a “thorn” that is stuck). We can use another thorn—love for God—to dig out that first thorn. Ultimately, we will throw away both thorns in the experience of our eternal oneness with Him.

Blessings,

Gyandev

Creating a New Habit
August 6, 2014

Annalisa Rishika
Italy

Question

Hello, I am a disciple of Yogananda since 1992. My name is Anna, and Rishika is the name that Ananda has chosen for me as a gift from Guruji. I would like to know something about how to use this gift for creating a new habit, toward a positive goal, about which, as I read, Yogananda spoke.

Tyagi Jayadev

Tyagi Jayadev

Ananda Assisi, Italy

Answer

Dear Rishika, Many greetings.

Your name is indeed a gift, as it means “saintly.” It speaks to your soul and is a direction of your growth. We all have an ego and a soul, and there is a battle going on between these two. Your name stimulates you to win that battle, as it always reminds you of your true, beautiful, divine Self.

So which habit should you create? Of course that depends on your personal battle, on your character, on the next step in your unfoldment. You may reflect: “Which habit is it that is blocking me from expressing rishika, from expressing saintliness?”

Once you have found that obstacle, you determine its opposite positive quality: that is your goal! Then work on that quality: practice it in daily life; use affirmations to strengthen it; find people who have this quality; meditate on it.

Slowly slowly “Rishika,” your saintly soul, will blossom. Think of Yogananda often. He draws the saint out of you. That’s his specialty.

In divine friendship, Jayadev

Susan
USA

Question

How can I have God all the time?

Answer

Many of the techniques we practice on the spiritual path are so simple that we can all too easily fail to see how powerful they are.

We imagine that if something is complex and hard to understand, it must be powerful. If there are lots of things to remember, and if you have to get the syllables just right, then it must be important and powerful. Yet the techniques of this path are simple and powerful.

Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re easy. Practicing the presence of God is simple, for example, yet it’s a challenge.

You find that the more you practice, the more the boundaries of your ego dissolve, and the more you discover that you are part of a greater reality. And then your intuition develops, so that you find that you’re aware of that higher reality in everything.

Several years ago, Swami Kriyananda challenged us to keep our minds on God for just five minutes a day.

I was very embarrassed, because he was asking us to think of God without letting our minds wander: “I’m hungry,” “I want to get that blue dress,” “Oh, there’s a spot on my pants,” “What am I going to do tomorrow?”

We all know how it goes. You’re sitting there trying to meditate, repeating the mantra, and all of a sudden you aren’t. And you’re not sure exactly when you stopped doing the mantra.

That’s why we say we “practice,” because we have to practice bringing our minds back over and over whenever they wander away.

Yogananda said that if you take care of the minutes, the incarnations will take care of themselves. The problem is, we think we have to look past the minutes and take care of many important things. But if your consciousness is uplifted and centered here and now, you find that your life flows beautifully.

One of the reasons we chant is that singing the words is a wonderful way to keep our hearts engaged and our mind focused. When you repeat the words with feeling, the mind wants to practice the presence, because it sees how enjoyable it is.

When Brother Bhaktananda was a young disciple, he spent eight years constantly repeating a simple phrase: “I love you, Guru.” One day Yogananda saw him and said, “I love you, too.”

Swamiji’s book Affirmations for Self Healing gives us many wonderful phrases we can repeat to keep our minds in the present, on God.

I possess the creative power of spirit, the divine.

The infinite intelligence will guide me and solve every problem.

The sunshine of divine prosperity has just burst through my dark clouds of limitation.

I go forth in perfect faith in the power of omnipresent good to bring me what I need, at the time I need it.

When life’s laundry list tries to fill up your mind, you can start saying your affirmation and everything changes.

Frank Laubach was a protestant missionary in the Philippines. Rev. Laubach began to suspect there might be something more to religion than anyone had told him. He began to try to be constantly in the company of Jesus.

In his book Letters of a Modern Mystic, Laubach describes all the things he did to be aware of the presence of Jesus, and how difficult this simple idea was to practice – and how magnificently it turned out for him.

There’s a book called The Way of a Pilgrim by a Russian peasant who became a saint by practicing the presence of God. He had read in the Bible that we are supposed to “pray unceasingly.” And in his simple religious fervor, he set out to discover what it meant. He took as his mantra the Jesus Prayer, “Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me.”

At first he repeated it a little each day, then more and more, until he was saying it unceasingly. And then he began to discover that his breath, his heartbeat, and everything in the universe was the same. His prayer became all of creation, and he became nothing but that prayer.

These stories open startling possibilities. You realize that if we pick up these simple tools, how much can happen.

We think we have to do something big and important. We have to move somewhere and change our job so we can make more money and go on more retreats. But none of those things have to happen. You can find God if you step out the door of your mundane habits and start saying your chosen prayer.

It’s a thrilling process. Once you recognize the power of it, then you can have the presence of God anywhere. If you’re in a prison cell you can be with God. If you’re ill and can’t sit to meditate, you can do your practice and have God. If everybody in your family is screaming and won’t give you a moment’s rest, you can do it. Silently practicing the presence of God is the devotee’s secret weapon in the battlefield of life.

In Joy,

asha

sunil wadhwa
India

Question

What is the purpose of our lives? Whether marriage and having kids taking care and paying bills or EMI are the only important aspects of our lives or being single and being peaceful and positive is more important. Sometimes I feel life is like a bondage of attachment, likes or dislikes. How to free ourselves?

Nayaswami Parvati

Nayaswami Parvati

Ananda Village

Answer

Simply put, the purpose of our lives is to find God. There is no other purpose to life. And in finding God, we find everything we have been looking for during all our countless lifetimes. But it does take us many lifetimes to come to this realization. Without this purpose to our lives, life is simply, as you have stated, “a bondage of attachments, likes and dislikes.”

How do we free ourselves? This is what the masters, saints, and spiritual teachers come to help us to understand. At Ananda we follow the path of Self-realization, which is based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda. Our spiritual teacher, Swami Kriyananda, was a direct disciple of Yogananda’s.

This path of Self-realization is based on the science of yoga, and specifically the path of Kriya Yoga. Since you live in India, I will also say that it is the Kriya Yoga of Lahiri Mahasaya of Benares. It is a wonderful path that provides very helpful meditation techniques as well as techniques for working with the energy in the body. The practice of meditation in particular speeds up the process of actually experiencing our soul’s true reality: that it is a part of the Divine Light and that its destiny is to merge once again into that Light.

The path of Kriya Yoga is a practical one, also offering ways to deal with all the areas of our lives such as marriage and family life, business life, education for children, and others.

If you would like to learn more about what we offer, I suggest you take a look at the Ananda India website – www.anandaindia.org . It has a lot to offer, and you may find that there is even an Ananda center near you.

Ego Transcendence
January 2, 2014

milton
usa

Question

Does ego-transcendence always happen gradually or can it happen all of a sudden like is described by the term satori?

Is it helpful to do things to the ego that purposefully humiliate it in order to weaken its hold on us as souls?

Kristy Fassler-Hecht

Kristy Fassler-Hecht

Ananda Maine

Answer

Dear Milton,

The word satori means sudden enlightenment in the Buddhist tradition. Buddha realized this state after years of prolonged spiritual seeking and purification through deep meditation and renunciation.

The root word of humiliation is humility. Humility is essential in transcending ego consciousness. Humiliation of the ego however may cause the ego to rise up in self justification and thus defeat the purpose of transcending it. In addition, one’s constant humiliation of the ego may only give the ego more attention and thus reinforce it! Thus, many of us have chosen self-forgetfulness as an easier route of transcending the ego.

Self-forgetfulness involves offering oneself in service to others in our activities and meditations. Much more can be written about this and I suggest you study the Ananda Course in Self-Realization to learn the yoga techniques of ego transcendence.

The path to enlightenment requires spiritual evolution and transformation of consciousness through the guidance and grace of a true guru. Buddha is such an enlightened Master as are the Masters of this path of Self Realization.

May you find your guru and experience the grace of his guidance and transforming power in your life.

Kristy


India

Question

Nayaswami Gyandev Ji,

That is right that Krishna is one with God... Buddha is one with God... Jesus with one God....but then who is God please explain what his name? In The Bhagavad Gita it written there are three types of realization of God 1) Impersonal Brahman 2) parmatma (within heart as god or Krishna) and 3) As bhagwan realization.....so what thing are you talking about (second one)? Please explain, it's very confusing :)

Nayaswami Gyandev

Nayaswami Gyandev

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Saksham Anand,

Yes, it can be confusing, with all the different names for, and concepts of, God. But God is all of those things—and more. God is both infinite and infinitesimal, impersonal and personal. God is simply everything!

We don’t have to understand exactly what God is in order to come closer to Him/Her—which is fortunate, because our little minds cannot possibly hold such understanding. The important thing is to be in relationship with God, in whatever way is meaningful to you, and to seek constantly to deepen that relationship. It does not matter if you think of God as Brahman, or as Krishna, or as Divine Mother, or as AUM, or as Truth, or as Love, or as Joy. Just seek God in whatever way feels natural and comfortable to you, and let God lead you to an ever-deeper divine connection.

Since you mention the Gita, I should also point out that, in the Gita, Krishna recommends relating to God in a personal way rather than as an unmanifested absolute—not because the personal approach is truer than the impersonal, but because the personal is easier: we are all too likely to become overly vague when we don’t have a relatively tangible point of focus.

Blessings,

Gyandev

Is Krishna the Supreme God?
December 5, 2013

Saksham Anand
india

Question

Is Krishna supreme god? I have read in in the Vedas, oldest book on the planet, that Krishna is God. Is this true? Is Krishna supreme god and cause of all causes? Do all incarnations of God come from him, like Jesus, Buddha, etc....please explain

Nayaswami Gyandev

Nayaswami Gyandev

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Saksham anand,

The soul that incarnated as Krishna was an avatar; hence that soul was (and is) one with God. The souls that incarnated as other avatars (Jesus, Buddha, Yogananda, and many more) have attained the same level of realization as the soul that incarnated as Krishna. They did not “come from” the soul that was Krishna, nor did the soul that was Krishna “come from” them. They all came from the same one God of all.

It is confusing and not valid to equate God with individual souls. God has become all souls, whether avatars or not. Best simply to say that Krishna attained oneness with God, Buddha attained oneness with God, Jesus attained oneness with God, etc. They are all equal in realization; there is nothing further to attain. Their individuality continues to exist in that devotees can invoke any one of those souls, but in essence, they are all one.

Blessings,

Gyandev

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