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

Category: Spiritual Path

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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

Why Do We Suffer?
March 20, 2015

Siddharth Patel
India

Question

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.

Nayaswami Hriman

Nayaswami Hriman

Ananda Seattle

Answer

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,

Nayaswami Hriman

Why Was I Born?
March 20, 2015

ruchit
india

Question

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?

Nayaswami Seva

Nayaswami Seva

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Ruchit,

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,

Seva

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