Ask Ananda’s Experts
Questions and answers about meditation, yoga, the spiritual life, and more
Questions and Answers
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I have been told several times that our body face and overall physical appearance is a manifestation of our thoughts. The shape of our eyes, nose, forehead, lips, smile, limbs, palms, fingers, texture of our hair.... all tell us the thoughts we have harboured for years. Is it true? Is there any science to study the character of a person from his appearance.
Current discoveries in science and the ancient teachings of the sages both tell us that our every thought, our every feeling, affects our body. Every thought or feeling we have sets in motion a cascade of physiological events. With a single thought, neuropeptides, the body’s chemical messengers, are sent to billions, even trillions, of our body’s cells instructing the cells to produce proteins. Those proteins can set in motion even more physiological events such as turning on or turning off genes, stimulating or subduing he body’s metabolism, or triggering the stress response.
The ancient sages simply say that our consciousness manifests the body every moment. As our consciousness changes so does our body.
Over time our habitual thoughts and feelings etch themselves into the appearance of our body. Various systems have been developed to "read" what is etched in our body. The lines on your palms, the colors in the iris, the shape of your ear, your feet, and more, all tell a story to one who has been trained. But you don’t have to be trained in one of these sciences to read what is etched in the body. Just look at a person and you can “read” them by their posture, their walk, the way the carry their body, the expression on their face when they think no one is looking. A habitually positive person will be looking up, spine erect, with an energetic walk and a smile on their face. A habitually sad person will be looking down, body slumped, with a plodding walk, and a blank look or a frown on their face.
To the sensitive, every aspect of a person has a story to tell!
Puru (Joseph) Selbie
In the past the Ananda Experts have answered questions about the spiritual view of donating organs. But what about blood, stem cell, and bone marrow donations? Have either Paramhansa Yogananda or Swami Kriyananda ever commented on that? Is it spiritually right? Is there a spiritual difference between donating organs and donating blood, stem cells or bone marrow? (A family member was saved by a stem cell donation and many people I know regularly donate their blood and so I wonder... ) Thank you very much
I don’t remember Paramhansa Yogananda commenting on these things but it seems fine for devotees to offer blood, stem cell, or bone marrow donations. These are done while one is still living. The issue with devotees donating organs at the end of life has to do with the impact on the soul leaving the physical body.
In divine friendship,
I mean no disrespect, but from my studies, those who practice the energization exercises and Kriya have the ability (in time) to recharge their "body batteries" to maintain physical strength and avoid sickness. Why then, did Swami Kriyananda seemingly suffer from so many physical ills in his older age (unable to remain standing during lectures, etc.)? Even Yogananda seemed to age quite noticeably before he left his body. Just trying to understand, thank you in advance.
It can be tempting to think that spiritual advancement equates with physical health. But it doesn’t. Many perfectly healthy, long-lived people have not a touch of spiritual interest or attainment. And highly advanced souls, having human bodies as they do, inevitably grow old and die. Meanwhile, they often use their spiritual attainment to take upon their own bodies the karma of others (usually that of their disciples). Add to that the fact that, when a great master has finished what he or she was sent to earth to accomplish, God calls them back home through the agency of a body that, at some point, simply stops working.
If you read the lives of saints and masters, you'll discover that they seldom use their spiritual power to heal themselves; in fact, I’ve never heard of one doing that. They’re too busy helping others to fuss over their own health. As Swami Kriyananda said, “My body is Divine Mother’s problem.”
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 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,
In recent weeks I have had my concentration shattered during meditation. Many images and sounds appear in my mind. The strange thing is that they are extremely clear and detailed as if I was seeing and hearing physically. Several times during the meditation I have to bring my attention back and avoid these "lucid dreams".
My meditation used to be quiet, but now it is disturbed by voices , images and faces of people I’ve never seen before.
What can I do?
When you have a regular meditation practice, you will probably encounter a number of disturbances of various kinds during meditation over the years. It can be disconcerting to have this happen, but it doesn’t necessarily signify that something is wrong. It does mean that during these times you will need to put out more energy in your meditations to concentrate and to continue to push these images away — as you are already doing.
The most important thing to do at times like this, is to steadily continue on with your regular meditation routine. This is usually the way out of such disturbances. Your regular practices will act as a calming influence on your mind and lead you forward — even if at the time it can feel as though you are in the middle of a battlefield!
The other more subtle aspect of having these things happen, especially when you describe them as being “extremely clear and detailed, as if I was seeing and hearing physically,” is to not encourage them by continuing to give them energy. You can do this by not continuing to think about them, and mulling them over in your mind.
Why do things like this happen? Well, it can be from a number of causes. No matter what the cause, it does present a good opportunity to look at what the rest of your life looks like. Is there anything that you are doing that could be causing such disturbances? It might be things such as associating with old friends, family troubles, the movies you watch, the daily news, trouble at work, etc. These are just some ideas of the kinds of things that could be disturbing your meditations.
In addition, these kinds of disturbances could be caused by your own past karma. Actions done either in this life, or previous lives, are all registered in the subconscious mind. The energy from these actions travels with us through all our lifetimes, and is only resolved completely when we are spiritually liberated. In the meantime, this karma can come up and affect us in various ways in our present lifetime. Paramhansa Yogananda referred to these happenings as “karmic bombs.” These can go off at any time in our life given the right circumstances. Again, the best way to deal with them, is to continue your meditation practice, keeping it strong and focused, and not keep these disturbances active by thinking about them too much. The disturbances are there, and the way out of them is to look to the light, not to focus on the disturbance. If you have a guru, then the other important thing to do, it to pray to him/her for help, guidance, and grace (spiritual power) to move beyond them.
I hope this will help you in what you are dealing with.
In divine friendship,
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,
My question is — Where is Karma Stored?
I have read that it is stored in Spine and Chakras. There is varied information about this subject. Some say Karma is stored in Astral and Causal body. I have also read it is stored in Subconscious mind. So, where exactly are karma seeds stored?
Different teachers and books may offer slightly different answers to your question. I will answer you based on the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda and his direct disciple, Swami Kriyananda.
They explained that our karma — the sum total of every action, activity, or thought we’ve ever had or done in this and every other lifetime — is stored in the astral spine in the form of vrittis, which are karma seeds, or individual increments of karma. Most specifically, they are stored in the chakras, and Swami Kriyananda further explained that the astral spine/chakra system is an extension of the subconscious mind.
So karma is dynamically stored in the astral spine/chakras which is a part of the astral body. But the causal body would have to have to be involved in some aspect of this "storage" system, since the causal body is made up of all of our thoughts and ideas. We exist in a physical form, an energy (astral) form, and a causal (ideational) form, all at the same time, all three "bodies" being always interlinked and influential upon each other.
If you would like to know more about this fascinating subject, please read my book Chakras for Starters.
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