Category: Spiritual Path
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I have trouble trusting my soul guidance. I fear that if I move forward in a new direction I may make a mistake, or I hear an authoritative spiritual voice within me scolding/rejecting me for doing so (probably my ego). I also constantly fear what others (or the guru) would think about me. It is hard to have a feeling of self-respect or stand up for myself at times. How can I learn to trust myself more and not need validation from others?
Your dilemma is, in many ways, a good sign: of your sincerity and mindfulness. In such cases, and to get a jump start in the direction of beginning to know and trust inner guidance, it would be helpful to have a spiritual friend and mentor. Your hesitations are all, in principle, well founded ones. Perhaps you could start with smaller steps and build up your confidence. Take the steps that you DO feel confident about, in other words, and set aside the ones you are not ready to embrace. If you can find a trustworthy mentor, then bigger steps might be possible.
True guidance has the quality of calmness and rightness even in the face of the guidance being bold. Ideas born of the sub-conscious or influenced by sub-conscious desire or other filters, tend to feel uncertain, a bit nervous-like, or perhaps even excitable as if wanting to be true. True guidance feels right especially in the heart center (chakra). The conviction born of intuition is an acquired, though familiar, "flavor." It takes time and meditation to learn to distinguish this feeling from more ego-oriented ideas.
So a little bit at a time is a good formula. Stepping just a hair past comfort zone can test your faith but too large a step becomes presumption. The difference can be, admittedly, a bit subtle, but is worth exploring. It’s O.K. to make mistakes; it’s just the ego that fears mistakes. The soul says, "Let’s give it a shot!"
Consider the teachings of your guru or spiritual path. Follow those instructions first in little things and gradually in bigger ones. If a particular instruction isn’t really right for you, you'll know by the results, usually.
Pray always for guidance even if it is not yet realistic to expect a clear response. Sometimes the clearest answer comes only when we take a few steps in the best direction we can see. Then, the guidance may say, "Turn left," or, "Keep going!"
Remember: no sincere action in following the spiritual path can ever be truly wrong, only course-corrected.
Sincerely and with blessings,
Meditation Is the Key to Return to God
April 30, 2015
I am wondering what is the best way to get back to the road of spiritualty that leads to God ?
I seem to be in a kind of slumber and can`t seem to get on the spiritual path. How do i get back on it ?
I don`t know how to ask it any other way than this. It may be badly put. But this is the best way for be to put it.
We actually have God already but fears, pressures, and pulls of life keep us from knowing that He is with us. Meditation is the key to return to God. You need to find a meditation technique that will work for you and practice it every day, twice a day, and many times in between life’s activities. In meditation you calm your mind and focus on the light or joy that comes from freeing your mind from thoughts and feelings of the ego. This calmness will change you eventually so that the pulls of the world are not tempting.
It would also be good to be with others who are also wanting to find God, those who are meditating and thinking of higher realities. Ananda has started communities that all who live there are focused on finding God and living in truth and harmony with each other. Suffering is not eliminated totally in communities but there is a willingness of all involved to help and work with each other.
There is such a community in Assisi, Italy. You can contact them to receive help even if you cannot visit. Ananda in Nevada City, California, has online training and support through our virtual community.
Do not ever despair. There is so much that you can do to uplift yourself and your life so that your problems are minimized and eventually eliminated. Reach out to those who can help you, those who are positive and harmonious, who understand. God is not far off. He is with you already.
Blessings to you,
How to Find Lasting Peace and Joy
April 17, 2015
Hello- Thank you for taking time out to answer my question. I feel like I have reached a point in life where I feel that suffering never ends. I feel I keep trying to control how other people act, think and react. How do I come to accept things the way they are and help change me? Is there a way to find that peace, that joy that is permanent and that which last? How and where do I begin in that search
Your question "How do I find lasting peace and joy?" is a universal one. Once we realize we cannot control others reactions to outward circumstances, we realize the only reactions we can ultimately control are our own. This sounds very simple and yet it’s not so easy to master. It is our destiny is to overcome delusion and yet we must be actively engaged in the process in each moment to realize the goal.
Do you meditate? Is there an Ananda center near you? I urge you to find one and to attend as many classes as possible in person or online. Read the Autobiography of a Yogi and The New Path (both free online). Take the Ananda Course in Self Realization and practice the meditation techniques daily. You will begin to experience more peace and joy bubbling from within yourself which is the only place you will ever truly find it.
You have an opportunity before you to find everlasting peace and joy. Now it’s up to you to follow through to the end until you achieve endless bliss!
God bless you in your efforts.
Is It OK to Pray Without Words?
March 23, 2015
Is it okay to pray in mental symbols/pictures rather than with spoken words? For example, If i was intending to pray for (an astrological bangle) and I offered my prayer..Instead of saying something like "Please God bless me with an astrological bangle for I am convinced it will help me on my path of self-realization", would it be okay if i felt more comfortable to strongly visualize the astrological bangle on my arm and myself enjoying the effects on my way to self-realization?
God knows every thought before we even think it. If you wish to pray in images it’s perfectly fine. Your visualization of an astrological bangle on your arm is an affirmation as well as a prayer which adds to the magnetic power of your prayer. With any prayer, offer it all to God and Guru with deep love believing the highest outcome will result.
May you feel the presence of the Masters as you pray,
Why Do We Suffer?
March 20, 2015
Why did God create this world? We do wrong things out of ignorance and we suffer. Only experience teaches us which is hard teacher. How can I remain happy being aware of the fact that some people doing wrong things and will have to suffer. If there is no creation, there would be no ignorance and no suffering.
Why did God make this universe? Why do we suffer? These are the two great questions humankind has been asking since time immemorial. From an intellectual and ego point of view, there is no satisfactory answer to this question. "My ways are not your ways," God tells us in the Christian Bible (Old Testament).
Swami Kriyananda, founder of Ananda’s worldwide work, put it this way: "It is the nature of Bliss to want to share." Swami Shankacharya, long ago, described God, the nature of God, and the purpose of the creation as Satchidanandam: "Ever existing (immortal), ever-conscious (omniscient), ever-new Bliss." The creation, it has been said, was manifested by God and AS God in order to play the drama of "hide-n-seek." God hides, and we seek Him, mistaking the temporary satisfactions of material existence for His Bliss. As our journey progresses, and through the agency of our own dissatisfaction and suffering, we begin to awaken to the "truth that shall make us free." The truth is simply: "The kingdom of heaven is within you."
As creation myths throughout the world aver (including the story of Adam and Eve), we suffer because we made a bad choice at some point. (And, in all honesty, we make many bad choices, day-to-day, lifetime after lifetime!) Most people wouldn’t have it any other way: we seek material gains, pleasures, etc. etc. Few humans have yet to cognize that the nature of life’s drama is that it is simply that: a drama; a dream of God.
Yet even though we have made poor choices, we didn’t create this drama, with its temptations of delusion and seeming substantive reality. God has created us; and, created temptation and delusion. God, therefore, must give to us the means to our freedom! Freedom lies in discovering "Who am I?" This universe and our bodies are not ours for our ego is not real. We are children of God; we are Spirit temporarily inhabiting a body.
Yes, this is an unsatisfactory explanation, especially when we suffer or when we observe others suffering, and we do not yet have the keys to our freedom.
So, the more useful question we must also ask ourselves is: What do I do about it? The "Why" questions are a good beginning but cannot give us the means to overcome our dissatisfaction. We must be practical and put our "shoulder to the wheel" of redemption and salvation. Meditation was given us that we might go within and seek Self-realization as a child of God. In our times, Kriya Yoga is the most advanced technique for salvation through self-effort given to man.
The Buddha set out to solve the riddle of life: why do we suffer and how do we get out of suffering? Through meditation and right action we dissolve the karmic bonds that tie us to delusion and we begin our journey toward Self-realization. We have to pay off our karmic debt in order to be free. The shortcut is to sever the "head" of ego. Meditation helps accelerate the work of ego transcendence. So also does grace: the grace of God through the sat guru.
We must do the work but we will discover in doing that we are NOT the Doer! Freedom is not as far from our grasp as it might seem. We must accept our part in our suffering and we must, therefore, do our part to be free. Just as God’s power created the cosmos, so too God’s power can lift us toward freedom provided we erase the trail of karma that we have created and that has led us to bondage and suffering.
Time? Yes, it takes time. But, what is time, in an eternity? Right here and right now, God dwells within you. In stillness, in silent inner communion, there is no time, only God. Begin now and without counting the hours or the effort, you will soon be free!
Blessings to you,
Why Was I Born?
March 20, 2015
we all are living in kali yuga, the age of demons, the end of all yugas, so i question my self that why do i exist in this yuga?
i.e in this time what is the purpose of my life who am i?
gods are such energies capable of making them appear between time and space so is there any way to go beyond all this time and space and achieve universal consciousness?
According to our Masters of yoga, the current age is not Kali Yuga but Dwapara Yuga, the age of energy. You can read all about this new age and what it can do for you in the book, The Yugas by two of our ministers, Joseph Selbie and Byasa Steinmetz. You can also read the master Sri Yukteswar's book, The Holy Science. Sri Yukteswar in studying the yugas realized we are actually ascending into the higher age of Dwapara.
From your question it seems you are a seeker of truth and the higher realities of life. Life isn’t as it seems, but through yogic teachings of meditation and true philosophy, one can attain a higher consciousness. The path of yoga that Ananda offers is truly enlightening. You can receive understanding and enlightenment by studying these teaching either by going to one of the Ananda India centers for classes or by purchasing the lesson materials, such as The Art & Science of Raja Yoga, the Lessons in Meditation, and the Essence of Self-Realization. In India, see Ananda India Centres and Groups or visit Ananda Publications for the books. In America, see the Course in Self-Realization or visit Crystal Clarity Publishers.
Do be in joy and bliss.
Blessings and joy to you,
What Is Truth? Does It Change with Time and Place?
March 16, 2015
I believe that truth can flow from all direction and that saints of all religions teach according to the needs of their time. According to the concept of the yugas [ages of time], what was perceived and taught in the Satya Yuga [the highest age] is the eternal truth. Do saints of all religions teach this eternal truth in all yugas or is this eternal truth partially perceived and taught?
You bring up a valuable point, and, a complex one. Every Sunday at the Ananda Festival of Light Service, we say "Truth is One and Eternal." If truth is One, why do so many creeds exist and why does it seem that saints teach different aspects of it?
We must, I believe, begin with the statement that "TRUTH" isn’t a well constructed definition. One might say that Truth is God; truth simply IS; truth is love; it is infinite — but even so, truth must be "realized" ("experienced") as a state of consciousness, not as an intellectual construct.
But having admitted that, we might also benefit from acknowledging that in this world of limitation, ignorance, duality, and many levels of consciousness (going through the four stages of the yuga cycle), the attempt to articulate with words "What is true" must necessarily be far less than perfect.
Jesus Christ reprimanded his disciples several times for their inability to grasp the meaning of his words. In turn, his disciples complained to him about the fact that he, Jesus, taught using only parables (stories) rather than precepts (intellectual and abstract concepts). Jesus's answer was that the common person of his time could not grasp abstract thought and, besides, probably wouldn't even understand the deeper meaning of his stories! But he said, "I will reveal to you" the truth. Krishna says to Arjuna (in the Bhagavad Gita), "To you who is without the carping (argumentative) spirit, I will reveal truth sublime."
On another occasion, Jesus scolded his antagonists and stated that the laws of Moses had to be watered down because the people of his time were not ready for a purer teaching.
If you are a parent or teacher of a small child, you must instruct and guide the child according to the child’s ability to hear and accept and change. Thus, down through ages, saints have had to tailor their teachings in ways that would prove practical and helpful to those "with ears to hear." It’s not that the truth is different but each one of us is at a different stage of development and therefore need to "hear" that which will help to move forward and upward.
In Satya Yuga, I believe that the need for different forms of faith (religions) will all but disappear as most souls in that yuga will directly perceive the divinity underlying all creation. Perhaps then there will be no temples or churches. Every act, every thought, every feeling will be in harmony with the divine, indwelling, omnipresent vibration of Aum and the wisdom of God. Nonetheless, in every yuga there are souls who live in that blessed state. The clarity and purity with which they can express and share that state, however, may be tempered so that those who come to them for wisdom might be able to benefit.
Only in the state of superconsciousness is the wisdom of the soul ready "to receive the truth that shall make us free." I hope these remarks will be helpful for you.
May blessings, grace, and wisdom flow to and through you!
How to Rise Above Sexual Temptation
March 13, 2015
I am a young man on the path, having trouble with sexual desire. I wanted to ask any older men who have been on the path a while: does it get easier to deal with desire, to where it is not a constant battle? Are you more confident in your ability to resist? Are there any 'keys' you’d recommend? I would imagine it easier for the yogis in our masters' days to resist because they didn’t have e-media; how can we be disciplined in these tools when they are literally at our fingertips?
You are quite right in saying that in the 21st century, sexual imagery, language and opportunity abound, making the practice of self-control and moderation challenging. Does it get easier with age? That depends on how well one re-directs this powerful force upward towards purity, devotion, and into other and higher forms of creativity and spiritual consciousness. Reincarnation furnishes endless opportunities to chase after unfulfilled desires.
Desire arises in the mind and heart and these can remain forever young regardless of the age or ability of the body to function!
So, start now and with effort you will indeed find the the wind of grace filling your sails and sending you toward the the soul’s promised land of bliss, making all lesser things seem uninteresting.
Even marriage, itself, is no guarantee, unless each works towards transcendence, using the tools of respect, privacy, distance, and spiritual practices and goals central to the partnership. Nonetheless, for most humans, marriage is the safer route for we soon learn that we must deal with the whole person, not some glamorous but passing pretense or romantic image.
Keys include learning to avoid temptation: first in the mind and by what one looks at. In public gatherings, on the street, on the bus, in an airport, or on TV, movies, or the Internet. Develop a strategy on how to respond to visual temptation: "Do not allow yourself to be thrashed by the provoking whip of a beautiful face," Swami Sri Yukteswar advised! Those who parade themselves demean themselves and others. Ask yourself, "At what price this temptation?" No person can constantly be romantic or sexy. All humans have many other moods, activities, relationships, needs, and, indeed, an infinity of interests. In person, in private, and in a close relationship, what you see now, or on the outside, is NOT what you get! We pay a very high price for our pleasure: in self-respect, in nervousness, disease, hurt feelings, and tortured relationships.
Train your eyes to look away and your thoughts to rise, chanting, Aum Guru, Jai Guru or some other mantra or prayer! Keep busy in wholesome, serviceful activities, creative hobbies, craft or art, sports and exercise, prayer and meditation.
Behind every pretty face or figure, there lurks a potential demon of anger or contempt. "Sadhu (yogi), Beware." I highly recommend the book by Swami Kriyananda: Sadhu, Beware! Swamiji wrote that "women will respect you if you keep your distance." Avoid, then, undue familiarity and don’t imagine age difference can protect you. Pondering admiringly on looks or gestures, voice, figure, or form is but a prelude to loss of Self.
Pray for guidance and if you do seek a partner then visualize the spiritual qualities (not the physical ones) of one who can be a true, loyal and wise life partner. Consult those whom you trust and respect to guide you should a decision be needed. Hang out with people who are spiritually minded and avoid lazy, idle gossip.
Keep your body fit and clean and eat foods that are nutritious. Processed and "dead" food (fast-food, fried, e.g.) can irritate the sex nerves and lower centers. Dress modestly, neatly and tastefully without being ostentatious.
I hope these keys will be helpful to you! Life must be understood to be a battle of the higher against the lower. Be a warrior of peace; develop self-control, inner strength, good character, and devotion and yours will be a victorious life!
Blessings upon you,
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