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Questions and Answers About Meditation, Yoga, the Spiritual Life, and More

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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

Marcelo
Brazil

Question

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?

Nayaswami Parvati

Nayaswami Parvati

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Marcelo,

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,

Nayaswami Parvati

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

Where Is Karma Stored?
March 16, 2015

Devanshi
India

Question

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?

Thanks.

Nayaswami Savitri

Nayaswami Savitri

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Devanshi,

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.

Amor
India

Question

I believe that truth can flow from all direction and that saints of all religions teach according to the needs of their time. According to the concept of the yugas [ages of time], what was perceived and taught in the Satya Yuga [the highest age] is the eternal truth. Do saints of all religions teach this eternal truth in all yugas or is this eternal truth partially perceived and taught?

Nayaswami Hriman

Nayaswami Hriman

Ananda Seattle

Answer

Dear Friend,

You bring up a valuable point, and, a complex one. Every Sunday at the Ananda Festival of Light Service, we say "Truth is One and Eternal." If truth is One, why do so many creeds exist and why does it seem that saints teach different aspects of it?

We must, I believe, begin with the statement that "TRUTH" isn’t a well constructed definition. One might say that Truth is God; truth simply IS; truth is love; it is infinite — but even so, truth must be "realized" ("experienced") as a state of consciousness, not as an intellectual construct.

But having admitted that, we might also benefit from acknowledging that in this world of limitation, ignorance, duality, and many levels of consciousness (going through the four stages of the yuga cycle), the attempt to articulate with words "What is true" must necessarily be far less than perfect.

Jesus Christ reprimanded his disciples several times for their inability to grasp the meaning of his words. In turn, his disciples complained to him about the fact that he, Jesus, taught using only parables (stories) rather than precepts (intellectual and abstract concepts). Jesus's answer was that the common person of his time could not grasp abstract thought and, besides, probably wouldn't even understand the deeper meaning of his stories! But he said, "I will reveal to you" the truth. Krishna says to Arjuna (in the Bhagavad Gita), "To you who is without the carping (argumentative) spirit, I will reveal truth sublime."

On another occasion, Jesus scolded his antagonists and stated that the laws of Moses had to be watered down because the people of his time were not ready for a purer teaching.

If you are a parent or teacher of a small child, you must instruct and guide the child according to the child’s ability to hear and accept and change. Thus, down through ages, saints have had to tailor their teachings in ways that would prove practical and helpful to those "with ears to hear." It’s not that the truth is different but each one of us is at a different stage of development and therefore need to "hear" that which will help to move forward and upward.

In Satya Yuga, I believe that the need for different forms of faith (religions) will all but disappear as most souls in that yuga will directly perceive the divinity underlying all creation. Perhaps then there will be no temples or churches. Every act, every thought, every feeling will be in harmony with the divine, indwelling, omnipresent vibration of Aum and the wisdom of God. Nonetheless, in every yuga there are souls who live in that blessed state. The clarity and purity with which they can express and share that state, however, may be tempered so that those who come to them for wisdom might be able to benefit.

Only in the state of superconsciousness is the wisdom of the soul ready "to receive the truth that shall make us free." I hope these remarks will be helpful for you.

May blessings, grace, and wisdom flow to and through you!

Nayaswami Hriman

Rush
USA

Question

I am a young man on the path, having trouble with sexual desire. I wanted to ask any older men who have been on the path a while: does it get easier to deal with desire, to where it is not a constant battle? Are you more confident in your ability to resist? Are there any 'keys' you’d recommend? I would imagine it easier for the yogis in our masters' days to resist because they didn’t have e-media; how can we be disciplined in these tools when they are literally at our fingertips?

Nayaswami Hriman

Nayaswami Hriman

Ananda Seattle

Answer

Dear Rush,

You are quite right in saying that in the 21st century, sexual imagery, language and opportunity abound, making the practice of self-control and moderation challenging. Does it get easier with age? That depends on how well one re-directs this powerful force upward towards purity, devotion, and into other and higher forms of creativity and spiritual consciousness. Reincarnation furnishes endless opportunities to chase after unfulfilled desires.

Desire arises in the mind and heart and these can remain forever young regardless of the age or ability of the body to function!

So, start now and with effort you will indeed find the the wind of grace filling your sails and sending you toward the the soul’s promised land of bliss, making all lesser things seem uninteresting.

Even marriage, itself, is no guarantee, unless each works towards transcendence, using the tools of respect, privacy, distance, and spiritual practices and goals central to the partnership. Nonetheless, for most humans, marriage is the safer route for we soon learn that we must deal with the whole person, not some glamorous but passing pretense or romantic image.

Keys include learning to avoid temptation: first in the mind and by what one looks at. In public gatherings, on the street, on the bus, in an airport, or on TV, movies, or the Internet. Develop a strategy on how to respond to visual temptation: "Do not allow yourself to be thrashed by the provoking whip of a beautiful face," Swami Sri Yukteswar advised! Those who parade themselves demean themselves and others. Ask yourself, "At what price this temptation?" No person can constantly be romantic or sexy. All humans have many other moods, activities, relationships, needs, and, indeed, an infinity of interests. In person, in private, and in a close relationship, what you see now, or on the outside, is NOT what you get! We pay a very high price for our pleasure: in self-respect, in nervousness, disease, hurt feelings, and tortured relationships.

Train your eyes to look away and your thoughts to rise, chanting, Aum Guru, Jai Guru or some other mantra or prayer! Keep busy in wholesome, serviceful activities, creative hobbies, craft or art, sports and exercise, prayer and meditation.

Behind every pretty face or figure, there lurks a potential demon of anger or contempt. "Sadhu (yogi), Beware." I highly recommend the book by Swami Kriyananda: Sadhu, Beware! Swamiji wrote that "women will respect you if you keep your distance." Avoid, then, undue familiarity and don’t imagine age difference can protect you. Pondering admiringly on looks or gestures, voice, figure, or form is but a prelude to loss of Self.

Pray for guidance and if you do seek a partner then visualize the spiritual qualities (not the physical ones) of one who can be a true, loyal and wise life partner. Consult those whom you trust and respect to guide you should a decision be needed. Hang out with people who are spiritually minded and avoid lazy, idle gossip.

Keep your body fit and clean and eat foods that are nutritious. Processed and "dead" food (fast-food, fried, e.g.) can irritate the sex nerves and lower centers. Dress modestly, neatly and tastefully without being ostentatious.

I hope these keys will be helpful to you! Life must be understood to be a battle of the higher against the lower. Be a warrior of peace; develop self-control, inner strength, good character, and devotion and yours will be a victorious life!

Blessings upon you,

Nayaswami Hriman

Fran
USA

Question

An older man in my meditation group who has been meditating for decades began giving me lots of attention. He began calling me, writing me spiritual love notes, etc.. I enjoyed this friendship because I felt supported in my meditation efforts and nurtured in friendship. We had a couple of nurturing moments on the more intimate side. Then he wrote, "feelings change but we’d always be friends in God." I feel used and energetically dry. My meditation has not been the same since.

Nayaswami Diksha

Nayaswami Diksha

Ananda Village

Answer

Dear Fran,

I am sorry that your intimate relationship with this man didn’t last long, and that you are now going through a rough time.

In a meditation group, it is quite normal for hearts to open and people to feel attracted to each other. You freely opened the door of your heart and allowed him in, so why do you see yourself as having been used? He might have been confused himself, and only after the two of you became intimate was the energy strong enough that he realized that he was looking for something different, so he withdrew—perhaps out of consideration for your feelings. In any case, at least he had the integrity to end it quickly. There is no one here to blame; simply learn from it and move on.

If you are yearning for a loving relationship with a spiritual man, pray deeply to God and ask for it. Keep your meditation practice strong, your priorities clear, and ask God to help you heal.

Blessings,

Diksha

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