Worldliness and Spirituality
September 16, 2015
Hello everyone. I would like to ask if it’s possible to attain enlightment during one current life time and if is possible while living your usual life as you lived it before. I mean most of us live in so called "consumer society" where the main aims of every person’s life is get married, born children, work a lot to have a successfull career and etc. Any chance to get absolute freedom living such life?
Thanks in advance! God Bless you
Your question about the possibility of attaining enlightenment while leading a worldly life is a good one. The short answer is yes one can attain enlightenment while having a spouse, business and even a family. Please read about the lives of Rajarsi Janakananda and Sister Gyanamata for examples of householders who attained liberation in their lifetimes. These two souls were extraordinary in their dedication to loving and serving God and their mutual guru, Paramhansa Yogananda.
Spiritual communities such as Ananda are examples of householders with families living spiritual lives dedicated to finding God. Paramhansa Yogananda often spoke of world brotherhood colonies where both monastics and householders could live spiritual lives of "simple living and high thinking".
Offer your love to God and guru each day in your meditations and throughout the day. Your own personal journey to liberation will be facilitated with their guidance and grace as you live your life with a consciousness of inner freedom.
How to Find Spiritually Uplifting Work
September 11, 2015
I’ve had it with the 'job world.' Selfish and ego-environments everywhere; it is next to impossible to be openly spiritual because any personality differences against the 'norm' can be used against you. They don’t even need a good reason to fire you — you know how it is! I want to work (not retire to the forest), but I need ideas. How do spiritual people make a living independently? I know some live in communities and work together, but if I can’t do that yet, what are other ideas?
Your dilemma is a complex one because in rejecting the ego-affirming negativity that you have experienced in the workplace you reveal your own karmic potential for being drawn repeatedly to such circumstances until you no longer react or reject.
And yet, to desire a more harmonious environment and work that is spiritually rewarding and serviceful is also right for a devotee.
Thus, you are potentially caught between two worlds. Further, by also rejecting the possibility that you could work with spiritually minded people (not sure why you feel this is so, you didn’t say) you all but guarantee your spiritual tests with negativity are far from over!
[Just to say it: there are lots of non-profit organizations where you "might" find people more idealistically inclined. The dilemma need not be framed in the extremes between ruthless competition on the one hand and living in an intentional community on the other hand! By so doing, again, you guarantee that your issue will be perpetuated!]
The solution is, as often is the case, not a complex one, assuming you really do not have or see how, where, or with whom you could serve in a more spiritually uplifted service job. It goes something like this:
1. It is a spiritual test to be placed or drawn karmically to a work environment where competition and negativity appear to abound. This you must accept if you really want to change your karma. It IS your karma, make no doubt about it. So the issue is NOT "How bad these people are and why don’t they change?" but, paraphrasing Mahatma Gandhi, "How can I be the change that I seek (in others)?"
2. The spiritual challenge you face is to accept any circumstance (that you cannot otherwise improve) with equanimity and cheerfulness. There’s nothing that says you have to engage in negativity at work. Ok, so you get fired. Not the end of the world. Your test is to quietly and unobtrusively stay centered in your Self; to act, speak, and think positively, kindly, calmly, and lovingly (where appropriate to do so); to accept others as they are (this does not mean being a doormat); to love others as fellow souls and children of God.
3. There is no need or value in being "openly" spiritual. Being spiritual means, so far as behavior is concerned in environments that do not support being "openly" spiritual, being calm; kind, even-minded, fair, wise, creative, and cheerful. That’s it. Inwardly you can pray to God; inwardly, you can chant; inwardly you can bless people, even those who dislike or talk against you (see the words of Jesus re turning the other cheek).
4. When you have passed this test I promise you your environment will change, perhaps even suddenly. It all depends on how deeply and well you pass the test. Very simple, if very difficult to do it. That’s why it’s called a test!
5. Caution: when assailed by false accusations, humiliated, or made fun of, or otherwise treated badly, you are not to be a doormat. The line between not engaging in office politics and being "spiritual" is not so black and white. "Be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves," Jesus said. There may be times when you do calmly stand up for yourself. There may be times when you are criticized: mostly you can just ignore those, or say, "Maybe you are right" and leave it at that. (Then introspect as to whether the accusation is even somewhat true and do you best to reform, but otherwise don’t cave in to someone who berates or belittles you.)
I would, lastly, however, ask you to introspect whether and why you stated that you have NO opportunity to be with spiritually minded co-workers. I detect here the possibility of something not helpful to you in that statement. Is it unwillingness? Fear? Remember that it’s easier to judge others than to reform yourself.
Train your mind and heart to feel and sometimes express gratitude and appreciation to others for their innate, or even just their potential, goodness. See God in all and accept His tests with wisdom. (Wisdom means even-mindedness, gratitude, and cheerfulness.)
Go with joy into the world as a Peaceful Warrior, not fighting the world, but negativity in yourself.
The "Whys" of Life
September 11, 2015
My elder sister who is almost 43, suddenly got pregnant though it was not wanted or expected.She has a daughter who is 14,and having baby at this stage was a big no.That apart,she is not mentally prepared or has the energy both physically to bring up another baby.So she had to abort it.She is not much into spirituality or believes in past lives,but after the abortion she is having a conflict within as to why when so many people want babies and don’t get, she got pregnant.Could you pls tell why.
Long ago Swami Kriyananda wrote a song called “Why?” It is about a young girl who asked just this same question about her life. Here are the last two verses from it:
She saw a mother smile
As she tended her baby,
A widow weep that love
Had to die.
The joy of new friends, and the sadness of parting –
All these made her ask God: Why?
One night into her heart
Stole the secret of Oneness,
The bond not even time
For Love there possessed her and made her his own;
In love she at last learned Why.
There are so many things in this world that happen which, to our rational minds at least, don’t make sense. This is why, if we are really seeking answers to such questions, we need to have a broader perspective of life. This can only come, in my experience, when we enter into the spiritual life, take up meditation, and are humbly seeking true answers to such questions.
Why your sister would have an unwanted pregnancy and others who want to have a baby aren’t able to is, in reality, a very large question. These kinds of things are, in the deepest sense, determined by our karma and our magnetism. Perhaps there was the karma for your sister and her husband to draw a particular soul to be born to them. Perhaps she and her husband’s magnetism wasn’t clear enough about not having another child to avoid this pregnancy, and the following abortion. These are questions only an individual can answer. And they are not questions that are easy to either ask, or to answer.
All of our actions in the present will determine what we face in the future, whether we believe in laws of karma and reincarnation or not. In science these are referred to as the laws of cause and effect, or action and reaction. Understanding these laws can help us begin to live in more harmonious and conscious ways that will inevitably lead to a happier life. Whether we are ready to choose what will bring this happier life is up to us.
In divine friendship,
Meditation Technique vs. True Meditation
September 11, 2015
I am Deepak and I am doing deep breathing meditation from the last one and half month. But now my eyes automatically starts focusing on my midpoint of eyebrows and then I forget to focus on my breathing.
I want to know is it okay or I started doing meditation in wrong way. why do I forget my breathing while focusing on third eye?
There are countless teachings concerning meditation. I will answer you from the teachings of Yogananda and Kriyananda.
Deep breathing is not yet meditation, but a pranayama. In other words, it is a technique, not meditation. Yogananda taught that after having practiced the technique for some time, you drop it and concentrate on the spiritual eye, to contact the Divine Presence, which can be felt within or without. This is meditation.
Fortunately this real meditation has happened to you spontaneously — you may consider yourself fortunate. So from now on, do your breathing technique, but then, when it occurs naturally, look at the spiritual eye and meditate on "God or one of his aspects," as Yogananda explained. This real meditation should last for not less than a third or fourth of your available time.
So why did you forget your breathing while focusing on the third eye? Because your wise soul took over and guided you from the technique to meditation.
Yogananda taught: "To strive for God-contact in meditation is pure joy." May you be blessed with that joy!
In divine friendship,
Hello. I have 2 questions.
1 is, do you have any suggestions for good spiritually minded books to read to a 4-5 year old? We already have all of the available Ananda books, and were wondering if there are any more you could advise us.
2nd question. Do you have any advise on how I can stop caring so much about what other people think? I’m trying so hard to overcome this, but I still can’t let go completely of caring what other people think of me (a LOT). I’d be grateful for any advise!
Thank you for your questions. Have you seen our Family Life Treasure Chest, full of resources devoted to bringing divine light into family life? Please scroll down on that page for the section, “Stories for Children of All Ages.” Please also see Life’s Little Secrets, and Prayer Demands for Children.
Years ago, I made a hobby of collecting spiritual books for children. I wrote about this process in chapter two of my online book, Finding God in Your Family. Some of my favorites may now be out of print, but I just saw a nice collection of books on amazon.com when I searched "kids spiritual books." See if any of them resonate with what you feel is meaningful to share with your child.
We do need more children’s books from this spiritual path, and also uplifting books of a universal nature. It is such a powerful way to bring expansive light to young children! This is an area that I would love see developed by devotees of Paramhansa Yogananda. For now we have to use creatively the resources that do exist.
As for your other question, have you ever tried the Affirmation for Psychological Success by Paramhansa Yogananda? By strengthening your inner being, you will naturally begin to have a more balanced view of life itself, and not worry quite so much about what others think of you. Another simple technique is to assume that many other people have the same problem: they are worried about what others think of them! Solve your problem by solving somebody else’s problem. Make it your business to put others at ease with a genuine smile, and a kind word. This will take your mind off of yourself.
Try this affirmation by Paramhansa Yogananda can help you to develop this quality: "As I radiate love and goodwill to others, I will open the channel for God’s love to come to me. Divine love is the magnet that draws to me all good."
I wish you all the best.
Mary Kretzmann, Director
Meditation, Service, and Cosmic Consciousness
September 1, 2015
I would like to devote my life completely to spiritual practice but I have students that I feel like I must work to pay off. How is it possible for someone to devote themselves completely to spiritual practice when they feel obligated to work? Are there spiritual centers that offer work opportunities?
Any spiritual community or center has opportunities to serve others and to assist with the care and maintenance of the facility. The highest way to "work" and dedicate your life completely to spiritual practice is to become a willing instrument for God by being kind, truthful, thoughtful and of uplifting service to others in all you do. Do everything with the consciousness that God is doing through you.
Meditation and service are both necessary for spiritual development. We can become too inward and aloof with only meditation and we can become too outward and lose our inner peace doing only service. The highest path is to offer all you do as spiritual practice wherever you are in the world and doing whatever is in front of you to do while making significant time for your spiritual practices and meditation each day as well.
This topic is discussed in Paramhansa Yogananda’s Autobiography of a Yogi where his guru, Sri Yukteswar, says after giving him an experience in cosmic consciousness, "Now let’s go sweep the balcony".
“Those who are too good for this world are adorning some other,” Sri Yukteswar remarked. “So long as you breathe the free air of earth, you are under obligation to render grateful service. He alone who has fully mastered the breathless state is freed from cosmic imperatives. ”
For further discussion about this topic, read Chapter 25 in The New Path, by Swami Kriyananda, on Work vs. Meditation.
May you experience the bliss of being as you do all in service to the Giver of all.
The Conscious, Subconscious, and Superconscious Minds
August 27, 2015
Please Clarify ,
Ques. When we are fully calm after going through a good meditation then the source for our Creative consciousness is due to our Subconscious mind??As acc. to the Nature of mind, Subconscious gets manifested when the conscious mind is in abeyance.Is it True? or Creativity is an outcome of the Conscious mind itself??Acc. to my Knowledge ,Subconscious is the stuff of which only dreams are made.
I thought I would answer your questions by first clarifying what the levels of consciousness are and what they represent.
The levels of consciousness are: subconscious, conscious, and superconscious.
The conscious mind is what we operate with during our daily activities and waking hours. It represents only a small portion of our consciousness and awareness.
The subconscious mind, lies below the level of conscious awareness. Its physical seat in the body is the lower brain and the spine. It records everything we do: every activity we engage in, our thoughts about those activities, our likes and dislikes about what we encounter each day. Although nothing is forgotten by the subconscious mind, for the most part this part of our consciousness remains hidden from our everyday awareness. The subconscious has a tremendous influence on how we think and act when in the conscious state.
The superconscious mind encompasses a level of awareness that sees both material reality and also the energy and consciousness behind that reality.
If we have a really good meditation and feel “fully calm” as you have stated, then we are beginning to experience a level of superconsciousness. As we go deeper in meditation and experience a deepening peace, calmness, divine love, and even bliss, then we are experiencing deeper levels of the superconscious. The superconscious is where true creativity is found. Expressions of this kind of creativity are distinctive from those that come from the subconscious. The superconscious is where ideas for truly great works of art, music, prose, poetry, great scientific discoveries, and deep spiritual experiences are found.
Paramhansa Yogananda made an interesting statement. He said that, “Thoughts are universally, not individually, rooted.” This means that as we elevate our consciousness and access the superconscious, we are accessing the thoughts that live on that level of consciousness. These thoughts don’t belong to us, but are universally available to those who live more on that level of consciousness.
The opposite is also true. If we live mainly on the conscious or subconscious level, then we attract the kinds of thoughts that live on those levels of consciousness.
Generally speaking the conscious mind sees everything as separate from each other. A chair is only a chair, a person is simply the body they inhabit and nothing more. It has a very limited view of the world around it.
The superconscious mind sees that everything is, in reality, made of energy and consciousness and, therefore, it sees the underlying unity behind the outer forms.
The subconscious mind consists of “the unprocessed residue of thoughts, actions, and memories that are ever present, but more or less unnoticed. They greatly influence the conscious mind, which doesn’t often realize how ungoverned by free will its decisions really are.” (from Awaken to Superconsciousness, by Swami Kriyananda) In other words, the subconscious influences a lot of what we do each day, but those influences are from past actions and the habits we have created from them. This means that ideas that are drawn from the subconscious are not going to be new and creative. Looking in the subconscious can be like rummaging around the closet to see what we’ve stored away. This is why the usual dream state often has a confused and murky feel to it. There are also superconscious dreams, but they will have an uplifting and life-changing effect on us, and feel quite different from the usual dreams we may have.
I hope this will be a help to you and answer some of the questions you’ve asked. The book Awaken to Superconsciousness (available in India here), by Swami Kriyananda also provides much more about this important topic.
In divine friendship,
Kriya While Pregnant
August 26, 2015
Could you tell me please if its recommended to do Kriya yoga during pregnancy? I am two weeks pregnant and don't feel somewhat comfortable (the sensation inside of my abdomen isn't pleasant) during Kriya breaths.Thank you.
Congratulations on your pregnancy, and may you be ever guided and blessed in your role as mother. This Family Life Treasure Chest of Ananda Resources will be very helpful to you in the coming years.
Regarding your question of Kriya Yoga during pregnancy: please follow your instincts on this. The nature of Kriya is to withdraw the life force, and bring it up the spine, but of course the developing baby needs that energy, too!
I am the mother of three grown children, and I have been a Kriyaban since prior to the first pregnancy. I noticed that when I did the Kriya breaths with deep concentration and focus, it felt very wrong, like it was pulling energy away from the baby. My heartbeat would also get rapid and then slow down. It also made me dizzy, and I felt out of tune with the divine will for the baby and me. I asked Swamiji about this in my first pregnancy, and he replied, "Do more Hong-Sau."
I found in my next two pregnancies that it was okay if I did a few Kriyas very gently, staying focused on love. In general, while pregnant I found it was most helpful to focus the majority of my meditation on devotion to Divine Mother and Guru. You might appreciate this short talk on how to develop devotion, by Swami Kriyananda.
Kriya was originally meant to be given to those who had forsaken all else, and therefore would not have been pregnant. So, while we are in this special, blessed state of carrying a child, listen to your intuition. Let the Guru and Divine Mother guide you, for there are no rules written on this. Do not stress your body, or the baby’s developing body. Every uplifted and devotional thought blesses your unborn child, and helps to bring out their own seeds of spiritual tendencies developed in past lives.
Pregnancy is such a profound state in which a tiny baby is dependent directly upon your life force. Everything I have written, above, pertains directly to the state of pregnancy. As soon as the baby was born, it changes, and your body is your own again, even if you are nursing your child. It takes energy to create that milk, but not in the same way. Kriya was never a disturbance in that state. However, it is difficult to find time to meditate with a new baby, and so, in this way, the focus on devotion to Divine Mother continues into that phase. You may only be able to do short sessions of Kriya then. But do try to sit every day at your altar even for a short time, and give your love to God. You can also practice prayer, devotion and Kriya as you nurse your baby. Don’t aim for perfection — but instead aim for love and sincerity.
The only time I heard Swamiji address this issue of stopping Kriya to conserve the energy for the body, or for healing was after he had major heart surgery. Normally, he never missed Kriya, but after this heart surgery he did his Kriyas, and he said it felt wrong, like he was pulling the energy away from his heart, when it was needed to do the healing. Please note, the heart is connected to life force and the ability of the body to survive. So I am not talking about minor things.
So, in big circumstance, like pregnancy or major surgery, one may need to pull back from Kriya, or to do them gently. But it is important to not use this as an excuse once that situation has passed. Keep some sadhana going, and if it feels okay — do a few Kriyas gently, as this will keep you in the habit of doing them.
God Bless you,
Author of Finding God In Your Family
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