Ask Ananda’s Experts
Questions and Answers About Meditation, Yoga, the Spiritual Life, and More

Category: Spiritual Path

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Elijah
europe

Question

Hello

I was wondering when you die the astral body or soul goes to the spiritual world. But the question is when you get born again and your soul goes into a new body. Does that mean you die in the astral world. To be reincarnated again do you need to die in the astral plane ?. Or is it that you just automatically get reborn after a certain time. ?

Nayaswami Seva

Nayaswami Seva

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Elijah,

I find your question to be quite mental — a question that is fun to contemplate, not really needed to pursue enlightenment, but interesting.

And Paramhansa Yogananda does talk a great deal about the three worlds our souls are enclosed within. You will find this extensively covered in his book, Autobiography of a Yogi, Chapter 43, Resurrection of Sri Yukteswar. Let’s go direct to what he says about astral death:

Physical death is attended by the disappearance of breath and the disintegration of fleshly cells. Astral death consists of the disbursement of lifetrons, those manifest units of energy which constitute the life of astral beings…Experiencing astral death in due time, a being thus passes from the consciousness of astral birth and death to that of physical birth and death. These recurrent cycles of astral and physical encasement are the ineluctable destiny of all unenlightened beings.

Yogananda does state that reincarnating from the astral world to the physical world is determined by one’s karma. Our karma also determines into what astral plane we go to.

Therefore, dear friend, do spend your time and energy meditating, diving deep into the thought of God, opening your heart to Him, and serve Him in others. Also read this thrilling chapter in the Autobiography of a Yogi.

Joy to you,

Seva

God Is Love
August 19, 2015

Amit Chaudhary
Nepal

Question

Hello,

I am Amit: I have a question.

  • How should I think of god while meditating.
  • What visualizations should I make?
  • What is prana, kundalini & virya?

Thank you.

Nayaswami Seva

Nayaswami Seva

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Amit,

Thank you for asking these questions. They are very deep subjects about which much has been written. It’s not possible to answer them fully here but I can give some simple explanations to get you started. You will, of course, need to study the path of yoga, and I suggest that you study Patanjali’s Yoga Sutras. Swami Kriyananda has written much on this subject throughout most of his books, especially in the Art and Science of Raja Yoga and in Demystifying Patanjali.

Your first question — how to think of God while meditating? It is said that God comes in the aspects of love, light, sound, peace, calmness, power, wisdom and bliss. You can then meditate on any one of these aspects and go deep into them thinking of God while doing so to keep your focus on Him. An affirmation to use is: Thy light flows into me; I am filled with Thy peace (or whatever aspect you choose to focus on). Throughout the day keep calling to Him as He is with you always.

I'll try to give you simple definitions of Prana, Kundalini and Virya, but know that these words hold deeper meanings.

A quote here for the meaning of Prana is taken from Art and Science of Raja Yoga: "The Hindu word for "breath," "life," and "energy" is the same: prana. . . When a deliberate mental effort is made to absorb prana from the air that we breathe, then breathing can give us psycho-spiritual benefits."

Again from Art and Science of Raja Yoga on Kundalini: "Whatever energy flows in the superficial spine, even by deep yoga practice, is as nothing compared to the immense reservoir of energy waiting to be tapped at the base of the spine. This energy is spoken of in the yoga teachings as Kundalini… Kundalini represents the entrenched vitality of our mortal delusion. But Kundalini is also man’s greatest single key to enlightenment. Only by arousing this force from its ancient resistance to divine truth can the soul hope to reunite itself with the Spirit."

Virya is spiritual vigor. It is the energy needed to find God. There is a whole passage about this energy found in the book by Sri Yukteswar, The Holy Science.

Bless you dear soul,

Seva

Nirmal
UK

Question

Yogananda said that "conditions are neither good nor bad; they are always neutral." I understand that morality is relative, but that doesn’t mean it’s subjective. Isn’t it true, for e.g., that harming an innocent child for pleasure is objectively bad? We have a moral duty to do good. Kriyananda also said that morality is directional in its relativity. So how can all conditions be "neutral"?

Nayaswami Pranaba

Nayaswami Pranaba

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Nirmal,

This is a subtle and sensitive issue that you raise; one that can easily be misunderstood.

My understanding of Yogananda’s words is that they relate to the level of attachment (the “good and bad”), that we bring to conditions. That doesn’t mean we should let bad things happen around us; it has to do with not reacting to those things, but rather acting in a way that involves dharma, or right action. “Rightness,” or dharma, can be understood as those feelings, thoughts, and actions, which directionally, are bringing us closer to God.

If we see a situation such as you describe, it is certainly appropriate to not condone abusive behavior. It is also appropriate to take action if warranted. However, if we react to wrong behavior in others by getting angry, then we are basically just adding more fuel to the problem.

It is difficult for us to view the play (“lila”) of God and understand that everything in life, good or bad, is happening so as to offer us opportunities for spiritual growth. God is in everything, even when we have a hard time accepting that reality. Perhaps this is the most important thing to gain from Yogananda’s words, "conditions are neither good nor bad; they are always neutral."

I hope this is helpful.

In divine friendship,

Nayaswami Pranaba

Inga
Ireland

Question

Hello,

I’ve been going on and off meditation for quite some time and I can’t find anything similar that I’m going through.

Everytime I get serious with meditation and continue with it I start having dreams and I see entities, dead people, I even predict things that would happen the next day. Also I feel magnetic pains in my temples. Is this normal? Many thanks

Nayaswami Seva

Nayaswami Seva

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Inga,

I hope I can be of help to you not having these experiences myself. What immediately comes to my mind though is that you need to get out of the mental state that puts you into alignment with these experiences. You need to be determined not to go with them, but to use your will power to see other more enlightening experiences, such as joy and the light.

I would strongly suggest that you do yoga postures to stretch and relax your body. Do this before you sit to meditate. If you use the Ananda Yoga system, you will relax into meditation more easily.

Start your meditations with a chant. In fact, chant through most of your meditation until you can sit without going into the darkness. Chanting, as Yogananda said, is half the battle. It puts your mind into a devotional, loving state. It raises your energy and helps you to connect with God and your spiritual teacher.

If you have a japa practice, do this during your meditation — saying "Aum Guru" for instance over and over again. Or say, the Light of God is within me over and over. Practice this throughout the day so that you are always calling on God and Guru. In our case, Paramhansa Yogananda is our guru. He can help you also if you do not have one. If he’s not your guru, he will help you find one.

Also join our virtual online community. Take the courses provided. Listen to the music, as it is uplifting to your consciousness. Join with this community so that you meet other seekers of God. Bless you dear soul. Keep in the light.

Blessings,

seva

Rush
USA

Question

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?

Nayaswami Hriman

Nayaswami Hriman

Ananda Seattle

Answer

Dear Rush,

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,

Nayaswami Hriman

SJIK
Norway

Question

Hello

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.

From

SJIK

Nayaswami Seva

Nayaswami Seva

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear SJIK,

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,

Seva

Pooja
USA

Question

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

Kristy Fassler-Hecht

Kristy Fassler-Hecht

Ananda Maine

Answer

Dear Pooja,

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.

Adam
USA

Question

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?

Kristy Fassler-Hecht

Kristy Fassler-Hecht

Ananda Maine

Answer

Dear Adam,

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,

kristy

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