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

Category: Self-Realization

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Santhosh
India

Question

Why do people never shed their ego? Throughout my life, I have seen many things which had a great start, but unfortunately due to someone’s EGO it didn’t last for long. Why do people put their ego first and compromise their relationships? Does Karma comes into play here?

Puru (Joseph) Selbie

Answer

Dear Santhosh,

In Paramhansa Yogananda’s commentaries on the Bhagavad Gita, he said that the many characters of the Mahabharata represent different facets of everyone’s being. Bhisma represents the ego. Bhisma fights on the side of darkness against the Pandavas, yet he is deeply respected by everyone on both sides of the war.

Thus symbolizing that the ego is both our friend and our foe. Yogananda defined the ego as the soul identified with the body. In this sense it is our foe. Our narrow sense of identity with the material body, and thus the material world, is what drives us to search for satisfaction and pleasure in the material world. We try to find ultimate happiness in wealth, recognition, sensory experiences — often at the expense of other people, and at the expense of other people’s success and well being.

But paradoxically, the ego is also our friend. For without the ego we can’t move forward toward liberation. It is our ego that provides the motive force to get out of the suffering caused by — yes — the ego’s identification with the body.

In the great school we call life, death, and reincarnation, we all experiment with finding happiness through the material world until, after many disappointments and painful experiences, we — in our egos — realize that our soul qualities, not our physical qualities, are the only source of lasting happiness.

It is hard to dispassionately watch others learn their lessons in the great school — especially if we figure as the victim in their lesson! But try to remember that it is a school and that we, along with everyone else, are learning our own lessons which will ultimately inspire the ego to release the soul from limitation and achieve soul-liberation — self-realization.

With warm regards,

Puru (Joseph) Selbie

Roberto
Netherlands

Question

Hello Ananda friends,

I’ve one question about Kriyananda, I am intrested if Kriyananda himself reached nirbikalpa samadhi already?

Love

Thank you, Roberto

Nayaswami Hriman

Nayaswami Hriman

Ananda Seattle

Answer

Dear Friend,

Swami Kriyananda has stated publicly that it is his belief that in a past life he had attained sabikalpa samadhi but had "fallen" from that state. He never said he had achieved nirbikalpa in this or a past life.

Of course, few are those who can attest from their own experience what the spiritual stature of another soul is, nor, until we achieve it ourselves, what that state is really like.

I suggest, therefore, that your inquiry and curiosity into Kriyananda’s state of realization be set aside in favor of your own spiritual efforts toward Self-realization!

Blessings,

Nayaswami Hriman

Bina
USA

Question

“Seek ye first the kingdom of God and His righteousness and all these things shall be added unto thee.”

Could you please elaborate on what this means? I have not been as successful in my career as I should have been as per my talent. Could sufficient non-connection to God be the reason?

Tyagi Shanti, M.D.

Tyagi Shanti, M.D.

Ananda Palo Alto

Answer

Hi Bina,

Of course there are many reasons why you may not be achieving as you feel you should, but it is true that no matter what else is ‘in your way’ coming closer to God will always help.

What Jesus meant when he said, “Seek ye first the Kingdom of God and all else shall be added unto you” is that when we are in tune with our divine nature we feel intuitively the ‘right way’, … what we call dharma (the Law that "upholds, supports or maintains the regulatory order of the universe") … to move forward, to make decisions, and choices.

He is saying, first look within and attune yourself to your highest, most expansive way of finding solutions, then from that inward place ask for guidance. From this ‘place’, found only in meditation, we bypass the mind that often gets in our way of making anything other than ego centered, looking for immediate gratification choices, and we move into soul consciousness, or wisdom guided decision-making.

We are all so used to thinking our way through everything, yet that is sorely limited compared to the source of infinite knowledge (Kingdom of God) available to every one of us.

As complex as this sounds, it is really quite simple. Start a daily practice of meditation (classes available through Ananda.org), or perhaps start by writing some affirmations from Swami Kriyananda’s book, “Affirmations for Self Healing”. Choose one that speaks to you and sit quietly and write it five times/day. Write it with deep concentration and focus … write as if you mean it. Your life will begin to change in ways that are unimaginable. We often think we have to focus on our problems to solve them, but mostly that just makes them look even larger than they are. As Yogananda said, “A room may be in darkness for thousands of years, but the instant you turn on a light, the darkness disappears”. That light can easily be found in the forms mentioned above.

“Seek ye first …” means start looking within for solutions rather than focusing our attention out.

Bless you in your search for wisdom.

Alex
mexico

Question

In Buddhism they talk about two levels of spiritual realization: The level of an

Nayaswami Diksha

Nayaswami Diksha

Ananda Village

Answer

The path of Kriya Yoga leads to Self Realization.

Here is Swami Kriyananda's explanation (taken from his article: The Journey to Enlightenmet: The Final Challenge, Clarity Magazine):

Liberation from the ego does not come with the first glimpses of cosmic consciousness. Samadhi comes in two stages: sabikalpa and nirbikalpa. The first stage, sabikalpa samadhi, is conditional and temporary. From this state it is still possible to fall spiritually, for one has not yet overcome ego-consciousness completely.

In the highest samadhi, nirbikalpa samadhi, there is no longer any danger of slipping spiritually. The ego no longer exists. At this point the soul is no longer aware of the ego in human terms, but knows it solely as a manifestation of the Infinite Reality. Every moment of one's life, and every atom of one's body, is permeated throughout with divine bliss.

Truth seekers must understand that finding God is not like the supreme effort required, say, to climb Mount Everest, the accomplishment of which is more arduous at the end than at the beginning. Finding God is the simplest, most obvious, and most supremely natural thing to do in the world! At the end, one doesn't find himself straining with desperate, heroic zeal to merge in Him. Rather, one relaxes, supremely, into perfect Bliss. Strain, tension, ardor, heroic zeal: these end forever for the soul. What is left is Satchidananda: ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new bliss.

What happens is that in your meditations you reach a point where you've gotten rid of all self-definitions. There's nothing to cling to anymore. You're not a woman or a man. You're not American or Indian or French. You're not rich or poor. You're not young or old. You're not beautiful or ugly. You're none of these things.

Gradually, as the devotee keeps trying, his higher nature takes over, and a power he thought impossible for him, manifests itself, giving him the strength necessary to make the effort to continue on to victory. Yogananda writes that the supreme state, nirbikalpa samadhi, comes in time "with a natural inevitability to the sincere devotee. His intense craving begins to pull at God with an irresistible force."

So, in the beginning, the process of finding God is a matter of constant struggle until, as Yogananda put it, "efforts end in ease." After a while it becomes natural; there's no struggle involved. The truth is that you can get out in this lifetime if you work at it-especially, Yogananda said, with the practice of Kriya Yoga, which dissolves the seeds of karma that hold you back spiritually.

However, only by mental attunement with the consciousness of an already-liberated guru can we make that leap across the yawning abyss which separates the ego from infinity. Most important of all is an attitude of deep loving receptivity toward one's God-ordained guru.

The magnetism emanated by a true master lifts his disciples above their egos. What the guru does for us is primarily on a level of consciousness. He works from within, on our thoughts and feelings. Our job, above all, is to offer our hearts and minds up to him, that he may transform us. Gradually, his ego-less consciousness seeps into our ego-centered consciousness, and transforms us with new understanding of our own reality. Once ego-limitation has been demolished by selfless love, nothing remains to prevent self-awareness from expanding to infinity.

The storm of duality is finally stilled, and the self, no longer in rebellion against God, merges completely into the Infinite Self, becoming the Infinite. This, and this only, is the state of salvation, of final liberation from all the bondage of delusion.

James
America

Question

Now with the internet, it seems that people in very remote places can have the virtual darshan of great saints and spiritual figures. My question is that how important is it for people to actually be formally initiated to advance to serious levels of realization?

Nayaswami Parvati

Nayaswami Parvati

Ananda Village

Answer

This is a good question to ask, as I'm sure many people are wondering how the internet affects the need for direct spiritual contact with saints and masters.

Yes, people can have the "virtual" darshan of a saint through the internet, but not the actual darshan. These are two very different experiences for those who want to go deep spiritually. The internet has provided a wonderful thing - broad access to, and awareness of, spiritual realities for anyone who is seeking. It has provided Ananda with the ability to reach out in support of spiritual seekers and devotees all over the world, no matter where they may live. But this kind of sharing alone is generally not sufficient to take us to the deeper levels of spiritual realization. This is because deeper realization is accomplished through attunement to the consciousness of someone who has achieved that level of realization. For this to happen, we need to be in their physical presence. In some rare instances, for those who are already highly advanced spiritually, this attunement and the guidance it provides can come in meditation. But for most people it is essential for this to happen in person.

I would say that the internet is very good for providing spiritual support, but for going deeper in realization, it is necessary to have at least some direct, physical contact. In fact, Paramhansa Yogananda said that it is necessary for a disciple to have at least one physical contact with the guru.

Therefore, it is important for people to have not only formal initiation, but also direct contact with those who have achieved those advanced states of realization. Without that contact, it is not possible for most people to develop the intuitive perception (not merely the intellectual understanding) needed to come to deeper states of realization.

The further reality is that to have the subtle guidance necessary to achieve deeper levels of realization, one needs to have entered into the disciple-guru relationship. The guru is your own God-given instrument through which you will be guided inwardly. It is the guru who gives you the grace (spiritual power) to achieve deepening levels of attunement, and, eventually, God-realization.

As you can feel, this is a deep subject and one you might like to explore more in depth. Both the Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda, and The New Path by Swami Kriyananda (if you haven't already read them) offer wonderful examples and teachings on what it means to be a disciple and what it looks like to go deeper in the relationship with a guru. Both books are available at the Crystal Clarity Publishers website (www.crystalclarity.com)

kd
usa

Question

What might be a good version of Patanjali's yoga sutra's to read?

Nayaswami Gyandev

Nayaswami Gyandev

Ananda Village

Answer

I haven't encountered a commentary that I can wholeheartedly recommend. Some are too obscure, others are rather shallow, and still others have a "take" on the Sutras that I simply cannot endorse. And of course, I haven't even seen most commentaries.

However, a couple of my colleagues here at Ananda Village have told me that Inside the Yoga Sutras, by Jaganath Carrera, is the closest they've seen to the way Yogananda approached the Sutras. I've not read it, but I have confidence in my colleagues, so I'll offer that book as my recommendation. Enjoy!

Blessings,

Gyandev

mihir
india

Question

I have read many articles related mental telepathy, like in book Think and Grow Rich, it says our brain broadcasts thoughts and receives others' thought through subconcious mind, please elaborate.

Nayaswami Asha

Answer

Dear Mihir:

"Please elaborate" is an open-ended request that could encompass the whole spiritual path!

In Autobiography of a Yogi, the chapter with the amusing title, The Cauliflower Robbery, Paramhansa Yogananda summarizes this idea with brilliant simplicity. "Thoughts are universally and not individually rooted; a truth cannot be created, but only perceived. The erroneous thoughts of man result from imperfections in his discernment. The goal of yoga science is to calm the mind, that without distortion if may mirror the divine vision in the universe."

The marvelous thing about spiritual truth is that applies to all levels of reality.

Napoleon Hill, in his book Think and Grow Rich, uses this truth to help people achieve (among other things) material wealth.

Yogananda was not indifferent to the need for money. He wrote Laws of Success and Scientific Healing Affirmations to help people magnetize whatever they might need. Swami Kriyananda has written an entire course called Success and Happiness Through Yoga Principles.

If you want to understand the Self-realization point of view on this subject, I would encourage you to look at those books and course.

The Masters help us on all levels. They know that experience is the best teacher. Eventually, through our own experience, we will be drawn to seek fulfillment on ever more expanded and subtle levels of reality. Finally we understand it is God Alone that we were seeking.

You say Think and Grow Rich talks about receiving thoughts through the subconscious mind. Self-realization teaches us to receive thoughts through the superconscious mind. You can imagine what a quantum shift this is in the nature of the thoughts we receive.

Just as a powerful radio can attune itself to every broadcasting bandwidth to receive a limitless variety of programs, in the same way, we can receive in our own consciousness Infinite Reality.

And just as the radio is not the creator of what passes through it, but merely the instrument, so it is with us. We are part of all that is. The purpose of our lives, and our deepest fulfillment comes when we attune, open, and allow that Infinity to flow.

Blessings,

Nayaswami Asha

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