Category: Spiritual Path
I am a beginner in spiritual life. I know that God is all pervading so I find it difficult to worship any specific form of God. To which form of God should I worship? What did Yoganandaji suggest?
Congratulations on beginning your spiritual quest. Much joy awaits you.
The best form of God to worship is the form that you can best relate to, aspire to, and love — whatever awakens your heart’s love.
For that reason, Yoganandaji suggested that most people would do well to relate to God as Divine Mother: God within creation. Since we too are “in creation,” one could say that’s the closest aspect of God to us. In reality, of course, there is no closer or farther, for God is everything. But our human minds tend to see things that way. We also think of the human mother as ever-forgiving and unconditionally loving, whereas the human father is often seen as more distant, more likely to discipline and judge us. Those qualities can — in our own minds, only — carry over to our perspectives on God. So it’s easy to see how we might naturally feel more attracted to God as Divine Mother than as Heavenly Father.
Another option is to see the Guru as God. This is an excellent approach if you feel you have a guru, since the guru has, or has had, a physical form that you might relate to — and come to love — more easily. Guru is the aspect of Divine Mother that has direct responsibility for freeing your soul.
So it’s your choice. Just remember: God doesn’t want you to worship any particular form. God wants only your love. Worship — which is to say, offer your love to — the form that best awakens the natural love of your heart.
I hope this helps.
What is the meaning of surrender to God? How can I keep the attitude that God is the doer while working?
"Surrender" to God means many things but certainly starts with or includes openness to God’s presence in our lives. It includes being open to do (and think, and say) what is true, right, and just. It is another way of saying that we should be willing to do "God’s will" as it is shown to us by our common sense, moral and ethical guidelines, scripture, and the wisdom of the ages and sages.
The more we live seeking attunement to God’s presence (and this includes prayer and meditation, as well a right action), the more we God’s presence. The more we feel that divine energy within and all around the less we feel we are the doer and the more easily we experience that God is Doer in all things.
During daily activities develop the habit of mindfulness (of God). Silently chanting God’s name, a mantra, or prayerful thoughts as we go about our activities can help us feel God’s energy working through us. Practice seeing God as the Higher Self of each person you meet, whether likable or disagreeable, and seeing our rightful duties as God’s will for us.
Meditation should be the bedrock of our efforts to experience direct personal perception of God’s presence. From that daily effort in silent, inner communion, we can go about our daily activities with joy, willingness, and God’s power.
May the grace of God and the Masters guide and fill you with wisdom and joy,
Hi, Yogananda says that all desires must be fulfilled. Is this also the case with lower desires you may have when you’re young or emotional but grow out of? Will you have to 'suffer' the consequences of having those desires even after you’ve developed and now want different things? Thank you
Swami Kriyananda once asked Paramhansa Yogananda that very question: “Do you mean that even a desire I had once for an ice cream cone when I was six years old will have to be somehow fulfilled?" “Oh yes,” Yoganandaji replied.
Every desire traps some of your energy in a whirlpool. That energy must be freed in order for you to become Self-realized. It can be freed either through fulfilling the desire outwardly (not the recommended—or even feasible—approach), or through spiritual practices. As Patanjali put it in his Yoga Sutras: “Yoga is the neutralization of the whirlpools of feeling. Then the Seer abides in Its essence.” In other words, once you have dissolved the energetic whirlpools of desires, like and dislikes, etc., you will live in soul consciousness.
Yes, it’s a project, but there’s good news: Yoganandaji said that every time you meditate, you neutralize some of those whirlpools. So keep at it, don’t worry about past desires, and know that good things are happening. You'll get there.
What is the difference between obedience and cooperative obedience? These have never been very clear to me.
Swami Kriyananda tried very hard, for many years, to explain the subtle difference between the principles of obedience and cooperative obedience. The difference is subtle, but very important to understand, so thanks for asking!
He said: “Cooperative obedience means evoking intelligent, creative participation in whatever people are being asked to do, as opposed to that kind of obedience which asks people for their cooperation, but never allows them to ask questions.”
As an example, Swamiji often told a story about how, long ago, novices in a monastery were told to unquestioningly transplant small plants with the roots pointing upwards — a very foolish thing to do, because the plant simply can’t grow that way. This was done to test the novices' obedience leaving no room for questions or use of common sense.
Swamiji felt (rightly so!) that this sort of leadership would crush a person’s enthusiasm for a project and produce only non-creative robot-types, rather than joyful, intelligent people, working together for the good of all.
He also said: “A good leader will invite cooperation from others, rather than demanding their obedience. A leader can try to enforce obedience. But he or she will do so at the cost of losing people’s willingness and loyal support. Without these—indeed, without true enthusiasm on his or her part—a leader will never draw forth their best efforts.”
Finally he suggests: “Make harmony your priority. A rebellious spirit may win one some points now and then, but in the end, too much of it will destroy one’s peace of mind and inner attunement, and will, in addition, disturb others—all to no avail. Peace and harmony are the foundations of the spiritual life.”
Is God really all-loving and all-forgiving? For example, does he also forgive people like Hitler, Stalin and so on? I have learned that God loves every soul equally. Is this also true in such cases? I can’t stop wondering if there might be something one can do which God wouldn’t forgive. Is there any exception to his Love and forgiveness? I was raised Catholic and the idea of an angry God traumatized me deeply. I am still working on my doubt that God is all-forgiving and loving.
Forgiveness implies there is judgment. How can God judge a part of Himself? According to the Masters, God would no more judge us than we would judge our hand. We are, always have been, and always will be, inseparable from God. The only separation is in our awareness. The saints describe the experience of reuniting with God as awakening to a reality that has always been. It is only our preoccupation with a tiny portion of the infinity of God — our body, personal feelings, desires, and thoughts — that keeps us from knowing our oneness with Him right now.
Our transgressions, our sins — no matter how terrible they seem — are not indelible black marks in a book of judgment. Instead they are mistakes resulting from misunderstanding, misperceiving who and what we really are. The original meaning of sin comes to us from medieval archery. To sin is to miss the target. Once we start hitting the target all our misses don’t matter. We can make the most colossal misses — falling into anger, selfishness, greed, hatred, murder, or even mass murder — but if we eventually begin to hit the target our past misses are meaningless.
There is a story told in India that a powerful demon stole the elephant of Indra, the king of the gods. The demon delighted in chasing and goring the gods of Indra’s court. The gods finally rallied and began in turn to chase the demon who fled to the very realm of God. Barely staying ahead of his pursuers the demon crashed into God’s court and came to a sliding stop before the throne of God. Indra and the other outraged gods arrived and were raising their fearsome weapons to destroy the demon when God shouted, “Stop!”
The gods were surprised but obedient. They described in detail the outrages the demon had perpetrated on them. God only smiled and said, “It doesn’t matter how he got here. He is here now. He has found God.”
You can never become anything other than the inextricable part of God that is your essence. God does not judge our wandering far from that understanding in action and thought. He waits patiently, all-lovingly, for us to figure out our true nature. He sends us saints and sages to call us home to Him. Never judging, He whispers to us through our intuition. He helps us through our conscience. He responds to us in prayer in meditation. We are God and God is us. Nothing we do can ever change that.
Puru (Joseph) Selbie
I’ve just started to practice nishkam karma as much as I can, though it can be very difficult at times. The reason is there are some genuine interests of mine such as pursuing a job in some science subject and also a lifelong interest in it. But when doing nishkam karma, is it wrong to pursue such selfish interests? Is it wrong to work hard to go for a career in it? I’m confused how to maintain nishkam karma along with these interests or is it even right to. Please explain. Thank you!
Nishkam karma simply means not being attached to the results of your actions. It is your God-given right and duty to pursue a livelihood in a field that interests you. Pursue an honest and industrious life filled with God’s presence in your heart and consciousness as the doer performing all actions through you.
Let the results of your efforts unfold as they will and give God the credit when something works out well and even the blame when perhaps it doesn’t. This is an opportunity for you to grow spiritually with a constant dialogue between you and Divine Mother. Become aware of Her guidance in all that you do and you will gradually succeed in the most important endeavor we can ever pursue, Oneness with our Divine Self.
In Divine Friendship,
I am currently following the path toward kriya intitiation and have been practicing the Hong-Sau technique daily. However, for me the mental chanting of Hong-Sau does not have the same peaceful energetic resonance for me as other mantras that I have used in the past. Om Namah Shivayah has always resonated with me.
Is there specific vibrations to Hong-Sau that make it more beneficial than other mantras, or would you recommend I use whichever mantra I personally resonate with?
There are a few ways that you can look at this. One of them, as you allude to, is that “Hong-Sau” is a beej mantra, or seed mantra. That means that it works with sound and vibration on the most elemental level, with the specific effect of calming the mind. It also has a meaning, but that’s much less important than it’s vibratory effect. Practiced over time, it will have much more of that calming effect than other mantras.
Other mantras can be fine for specific effects. Many of them also express devotion to different aspects of God, including Shiva.
My answer would also be different depending on whether someone is a disciple of Paramhansa Yogananda. If one is still “shopping” for a spiritual path or Guru, then it’s more appropriate to try different approaches, mantras, techniques, etc. When one is following one’s Guru, whoever that may be, then one should practice the techniques and teachings in the way the Guru gives them—rather than cobbling together different teachings.
I am very confused. My question is: Does God Exist? I am 32 years old and still I am not settled yet. Daily morning I pray to God: “Please forgive me. Please god help me. Please God show me the way.” Were have I to go?
At 32, you are ready to be settled and it is an age where it is right to wish for this. It is good and it is right.
Think about this: if a person is desperate to have a job or to find a marriage partner, his “desperate-ness” will show itself in nervousness, anxiety, and in making poor decisions, grabbing at the first opportunity instead of being patient for the right opportunity. To be desperate is to PUSH AWAY the very thing one wants the most.
Therefore, have calmness, contentment, even-mindedness, and cheerfulness: these are the best remedies for attracting success and fulfillment.
God answers all prayers, but restless prayers he answer only a little bit. Meditate first and make contact with God in the form of inner peace and contentment. Then, when you are near the end of meditation, hold up for prayer and guidance your goal of being settled. Feel how achieving your goal can help you and others spiritually by becoming a responsible, hard-working, generous and kind person in your family, your neighborhood, and your community. Ask God: “How can I serve you best? How can I love you more perfectly?”
Then, let the prayer go and go about your daily duties with joy, energy, and willingness to do the right thing and have a good attitude under all conditions.
Try this and be patient about this. We cannot see the karma from past lives that weaves itself into the present life. We must see our lives with the eyes of God and of eternity!
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