Questions and Answers
I enjoy reading about the lives of saints. But I have noticed how incredibly difficult their lives were. Let’s see, beheaded, stoned, imprisoned, burnt at the stake,shunned, scorned, crucified . . . and gee, I want to be just like them when I grown up (spiritually)! I don’t understand how a person who is on the verge of sainthood could still have such terrible karma. I’m not looking forward to this! Is this the final hazing before we get to join the fraternity of saints?
The sacrifices we see the saints make, they accept willingly, not in a spirit of mere resignation, but as the will of God. They are certainly working out karma, but in some cases helping out the karma of others.
Don’t be concerned for the future. "Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof." The spiritual path makes us strong. What would destroy the spirit of most is handled with courage and faith by one who feels God’s presence and accepts "that which comes of itself."
Honor the saints and follow their example in the challenges of your own daily life and you will have nothing to fear!
I am searching to learn more about God, to be more in relationship with the world around me. I’m not really sure where to start, I have faith that when I am ready I will find my teacher but I would like to learn more about meditation and finding a spiritual path. Is anyone able to recommend any reading or anything that would be helpful to someone starting out please?
I would suggest several possibilities. There are a number of excellent books that you can read for free online on the Ananda Sangha Worldwide website: These include The Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda and The New Path by Swami Kriyananda.
Another online resource is the Ananda Virtual Community. You'll find a variety of activities that may be helpful to you.
Let us know if you have any further questions.
In divine friendship,
My small town has an Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) meditation group that I meditate with periodically. I have noticed that their invocation of the lineage includes both "Mahavatar Krishna" and Babaji separately. Their photos on the altar always include Krishna. I noticed this also in the Yogananda movie. Why does Ananda combine Babaji and Krishna? If this change was made by Swami Kriyananda, why? In most ways, SRF’s satsang is just like Ananda’s, but this difference stands out.
Actually, it was Self-Realization Fellowship (SRF) that made the change sometime in the late 1960's; at that time they decided to separate Krishna and Babaji. It was at that time they added the photo of Krishna to the altar and changed the invocation. Ananda has felt to retain both the altar and the invocation as was given by Paramhansa Yogananda himself. If you look back to photos of the time when Yogananda was still in his body, you'll notice that Krishna was not included on the altar.
How do I repent for my sins? I have committed same mistakes again and again consciously. I have broken the Brahmacharya vrat in in depression many times. How do I come out of this guilt complex?
Paramhansa Yogananda said, "Life is a battle all along the way. May I win the battle on the very spot in which I stand."
It sounds like you are aware of your mistakes and you want to overcome them. Here is a question that you might want to look at:
Are you working with yourself as you are, or are you trying to become someone that you are not, forcing yourself to act in ways that are not suited to your nature?
Guilt is a waste of time. It keeps you stuck, constantly blaming yourself without doing anything to improve the situation. You need to use your will power to resist the guilt urge, and when it comes up anyway, to affirm the opposite.
Here are a few suggestions that might help you:
- Daily meditation practice, by yourself and with a support group. If you don’t have one, please check Ananda’s meditation section.
- Choose battles that you can win. Start with a small battle that you have a chance winning, and gradually take on bigger battles. Remember: You can’t fight all the battles at once. Maybe at this time in your life, Brahmacharya is not right for you. Maybe being in a relationship will actually help you grow and expand your consciousness.
- Choose to be in a positive supportive environment that will help you overcome negative tendencies.
- Use your will power consciously and direct your energy in positive directions. Our will power is one of the greatest tools that God gave us to become successful and to overcome negative habits. You need to use it wisely.
Best wishes to you,
How can I reduce my sleep quota? I am asking this question because I cannot wake up at Bram Muhurt for chanting.
Many factors affect how much sleep you need, so it’s impossible to say exactly what might best help you reduce your need for sleep. In fact, some people, due to their personal constitution and/or their life circumstances, should not try to reduce that need.
In any case, I suggest that you begin by exploring how to improve the quality of your sleep. The first places you might look are your diet and your daily schedule. I recommend Vegetarian Cooking for Starters for an excellent treatment of yogic diet. As for your daily schedule, the more consistent your bedtime and rising time, the better will be the quality of your sleep, and hence the greater will be your potential for sleeping less. Here is a post on my personal website on my personal website where you'll find a number of simple tips for better sleep.
At the same time, strive to meditate regularly and ever deeper. When meditation is deep enough, it will reduce your need for sleep. Here is an excellent meditation technique that Paramhansa Yogananda taught.
I have read a lot cases this past year over stories of school shootings / rapes / pedophilia, and it saddens me because these are preventable things — but these ppl are afraid to admit their issues for fear of being judged. Society today just labels them 'monsters' and doesn’t have any sympathy to them. But unless we are open to hearing them, they will fester hidden in society. What can we do on a personal/social level to help? How can we get over the 'gut' urge to reject and scorn them?
Thank you for your letter and your compassion on behalf of erring humanity. Since you have an urge not only to help individuals who are within your sphere of influence, but also society in general, you may want to examine what would be the best use of your time and energy.
Here are a few suggestions:
- When you hear a disturbing news item, pray for those involved. Pray for them NOW. Ask that the victims be comforted, but also that the perpetrator be healed of the dark tendencies that led to the act. Let your compassion flow both ways.
- Paramhansa Yogananda said we can do more good if we ourselves are transformed. Embrace your divinity on a more profound level so that you are able to send out deeper prayers for those areas that concern you.
- Find ways to help society in positive ways that bring upliftment to others.
- Meditate and love God. Then help others to meditate and love God.
- Pray for individuals, and pray for the upliftment of the planet.
- Pray that saintly souls be born to our nation, and to other regions of the world.
- Consider that you may be watching too much of the news and you are getting whipped around by it. Meditate deeply and then send rays of peace and blessing to all receptive souls. If you find that the news is disturbing your peace, then meditate more and watch the news less.
Also, in your compassion and non-judgement for those who have committed the crimes, be careful to not judge those who scorn said crimes. For they have their reasons, too. Perhaps they are afraid for what might happen to those they love. If you want to "listen" to the one, then you need to listen to the other, too. In the healing prayer ministry we have received many letters from families devastated by the crimes you mention.
The universe is Infinite. We are blessed that many children with good qualities are being born to this planet. Some people refer to these spiritually gifted ones as "indigo children." But the very crimes that you mention tell us that this planet is also drawing some very troubled souls who have fundamental lessons to learn in the Do unto others as you would have them do unto you department.
You are right that we should not scorn them, and that we should try to help them before they act — if they should choose to seek help.
But these dark tendencies are something that people hide, not so much from fear of judgment of others, but for fear of having to face themselves and change. People tend to justify their tendencies until life itself makes it clear they need to change their ways. That is why there are sometimes spiritual conversions in prisons.
Furthermore, Christ said on the cross, Father, forgive them for they know not what they do. He didn't say that they know darn well what they are doing, but they don’t have anyone who understands them to talk to about it. They were blind to the karma they were creating by putting Him to death.
Over the year we have received many letters from prisoners who have committed very serious crimes. Some of them have since turned their lives to prayer and meditation. We help them in every way we can, often with free books, correspondence, and other spiritual aid. Some of our Ananda ministers have gone into the prisons to offer spiritual counsel.
One prisoner wrote me a letter saying, "I did not commit this crime, and yet I know I am guilty. In my heart of hearts I realize that I got away with a very similar crime in a previous life, and that is why I accept my prison sentence now. There is no escaping karma. Please pray for me, and allow me to pray for others..."
Another prisoner had committed one of the crimes you mentioned above, pedophilia. He knew he had broken a great taboo in society, but it was only after three years in prison that he finally realized he had hurt the other person, the victim. He realized it was not simply a taboo that he had broken, but it was truly an emotional and psychological injury to the younger person.
Help already exists for those who grasp that they indeed have a problem that needs to be healed. When a person merely grasps that something is wrong because it breaks a societal taboo, then hidden in the mind is the thought that society needs to loosen up. The underlying feeling is "I am fine — but society should change."
But once a soul had changed for the better they may seek to help others with the same issues, now or in a future life. They know what it is to suffer from the particular delusion that led to their crimes. Indeed, helping other souls in that way would serve to expiate some of their karma.
We are all on an upward journey, except that sometimes the soul gets sidetracked or even trapped in a ditch of error.
Forget the past. The vanished lives of all men are dark with many shames. Human conduct is ever unreliable until man is anchored in the Divine. Everything in future will improve if you are making a spiritual effort now. - Swami Sri Yukteswar
I hope these ideas are helpful to you.
God bless you,
Director, Ananda Healing Prayer Ministry
Hi, I was wondering if there were any prayers by Guruji or Swamiji, that I could use in the following 3 cases..
1. I’m terrified of driving after a road accident a few years ago.., is there a prayer I can say before starting the engine to help protect us on the road?
2. A Bedtime prayer that can be used with Children? Not too short or banal.
3. And also a Morning Prayer that can be used with Children.
Thank You Very Much!
First, I am sorry to hear that you had a car accident a few years ago. I assume it was serious because it has had this lasting effect on you. Many of us here at Ananda Village say a prayer before starting the car, and especially before driving off of the Ananda land. Many of us also have a small picture of Paramhansa Yogananda in our cars.
There is no prescribed prayer for this, but before you drive, see yourself and your car surrounded in a halo of light. Pray to our line of Gurus, and ask that your trip be guided, protected and blessed. Also, it is good to do other things to strength your aura. Do you have an astrological bangle? They offer a protective power. You can read about them in Chapter 16 of Autobiography of Yogi. Prayer and devotion also strength the aura, but the bangle helps us even when we have momentarily forgotten God.
You also asked about children’s prayers. You will find these free resources to be helpful. Choose whichever prayers seem suitable for your child.
- Prayer Demands for Children
- Life’s Little Secrets
- Healing Prayers with Children
- Finding God in Your Family
You will also enjoy this section on Family Life Resources: A Treasure Chest of Books and More. It offer free books and articles that will help you at any stage of parenting.
God bless you,
My daughter, who is almost 4, has a lot of tantrums when she doesn’t get her way. Still breastfeeding. Feel like I need help with my practice so that I can stay connected and see God in her and bring out/reinforce the healthy part of her. Any thoughts come to mind for fertilizer for healthy relationship/spiritual parenting? (I do realize that a lot of this is a call to deepen my own practice — a big challenge while also facing the other demands on my time and energy)
Thank you for your question. I started meditating in my early 20’s, married at age 23 and had my first child at age 24. My three children are all grown now, and they are well-adjusted and spiritually inclined individuals. Also, as young woman I was a preschool teacher for a few years. So what I share with you is based on my personal experience, and the inspiration from the teachings of my Guru, Paramhansa Yogananda.
Temper tantrums are an unfortunate aspect of childhood, but if they are too frequent it shows that something may be out of balance in the child’s life. Since you say that your daughter throws a tantrum whenever she doesn’t get her way, there are a few things that you can do:
- Get her to calm down, saying something like “Take a deep breath,” and ”Use your words…”
- If she insists on throwing a fit, a “timeout” may well be in order. I used timeouts for my kids on occasion, but I never exceeded one minute per year of age. So, a four year old would get a four-minute timeout. This is not harsh, especially if you tell the child we are trying to create a peaceful home here.
- I sometimes had to resort to locking the door of the bedroom (with a simple hook and eye) if the child would not cooperate with the timeout. I only had to resort to this a few times, but it does get the point across that you mean business. I still kept to the one minute per year of age.
I used timeouts as a last resort. Normally I would find ways to reward positive and cooperative behavior. One day I made a “star chart” that was simply a big field of blue, and the kids could place their star anywhere on the chart after they did something helpful, or without raising a big fuss. They asked me what the reward would be, and I said, “You will notice that when this sky of deep blue is filled up with gold stars, you will have had a happy mama and a peaceful home for quite a while…” That actually made sense to them, and they were only a little older than your daughter at the time.
Children need to learn to behave, not only so they can do well later in life, but also so they don’t make their friends and family miserable in the process. Tell your daughter you want to start working on this so you can all have a happy family and a peaceful household. An only child needs to be told that it is time to grow up, at least a little. In a larger family, such as was common in past generations, a four-year old could not have the entire world revolve around her every little desire. By then she could have easily had two younger siblings, and the child would have to think of the needs of others, even if just a little.
For this reason, it is also helpful for a child to go to preschool or kindergarten for part of the day. I don’t believe in all-day childcare, if it can be avoided (though I know some circumstances require it). But your daughter might really benefit from a part-time preschool program to help expand her reality, and learn healthier ways of relating.
Here are a few free online resources that may be a big help to you now:
- Do’s and Don’ts of Good Parenting, by Paramhansa Yogananda
- Education for Life, by Swami Kriyananda
- Finding God in Your Family, by Mary Kretzmann
Finally, take a moment to look over Family Life Resources: A Treasure Chest of Free Online Books and More. Here you will find many resources to help you at every stage of parenting. Read a little bit each day and apply the things the make sense to you.
You also ask for help on how to "see God in her." I think one of the best approaches to that would be to start the journey of helping her to see God in herself. Paramhansa Yogananda taught that the first gentle steps of spiritual training can begin at age two. With that in mind, consider using these resources for prayers at bedtime, etc. Some of these ideas are for slightly older children, so adapt accordingly:
- Prayer Demands for Children, by Paramhansa Yogananda
- Life Little Secrets for Children, by Swami Kriyananda
- Healing Prayers with Children, by Mary Kretzmann
I hope these resources are a help to you. Please don’t be overwhelmed by it — just read a little bit every day, and your own journey with your daughter will become clear.
God bless you,
Director, Ananda Healing Prayer Ministry
P.S. And last but not least, you may find this affirmation below very helpful, because when a marriage is happy and strong it is easier to carry out these noble ideals in family life.
Yogananda’s Affirmation for Increasing Marital Happiness
Father, please keep my husband (wife) and I perfectly united in body, mind and soul, and in ever-increasing happiness by Thy perfect law.
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