Pranaba has been an Ananda member and minister for almost 30 years. During this time he has served in many Ananda colonies in the U.S., and in Assisi, Italy.
Pranaba has directed the membership training program at Ananda Village and has coordinated Ananda's Meditation Centers and Groups. He now manages Ananda Sangha Worldwide, Ananda's outreach ministry. He also travels frequently, bringing Yogananda's teachings and inspiration to Ananda devotees nationwide.
Swami Kriyananda suggested that one way out of this type of dilemma is to think less of ourselves and more of how we can be of service to others. In this way we tend to “listen” to others more and feel less inclined to insert our opinions or thoughts on others. There’s no need to convince others, even if we absolutely feel that we know what is best! Simply offer your thoughts and ideas without any attachment and you will find that your emotions will be calmer.
I know that a pure heart is the basis for bliss, as from pure heart emanates pure thoughts, words, and actions which eventually determine our destiny. I have been praying to God to bless me with one. It is a higher goal that I am asking for, but my prayer hasn’t entirely been answered. I have started meditation also a year back. But I have not been freed from lower emotions completely. How long and how much effort does it take to have a heart free of undesirable emotions?
It’s important that we not be attached, even to spiritual goals. In the Bhagavad Gita, Krishna gives Arjuna the emphasis of “nishkam karma”, which means simply, action without the attachment to the fruits of one’s actions. The same can apply to spiritual goals. We need to do the best we can while offering it all to the Divine.
If your sincerity is there in purifying your heart, then God will respond. But God will respond in his time, not always in “our” time!
Continue to meditate daily, but also activate the devotion of your heart through chanting and feeling God’s presence. Paramhansa Yogananda said that “chanting was half the battle”.
What is the difference between people who are spiritual, believe in God or at least in a higher power, and people who are successful, have a smooth life but are not spiritual, don’t believe in God or something called individual and universal higher consciousness?
I’m not entirely sure what you are asking but perhaps this will be helpful:
Anyone who is living a spiritual life and tuning into being instruments for God will achieve their highest potential.
The word that is used to describe this highest potential in the yoga teachings is “Satchidananda”; Paramhansa Yogananda gave this word the meaning of “ever existing, ever conscious, ever new bliss”. This is beyond mere belief in God or a higher power; this is merging into God as bliss, which permeates all of creation, and brings fulfillment to the devotee.
A way to understand Cosmic Consciousness is that in that state of awareness, the Self perceives itself as present in everything. However it's important to understand that it is not from the ego's perception since in Cosmic Consciousness there is no ego involved.
Another way that Paramhansa Yogananda described Cosmic Consciousness was "center everywhere, circumference nowhere." It is that state where one is able to transcend finite creation.
So, it is true that in that state one has the ability to experience everyone's experience but only if that soul chooses to tune into those experiences.
Probably each of our "Ananda experts" would humbly decline the use of the description if you were to ask them about it!
But to answer you more fully: Ananda's experts are devotees who have been on the spiritual path for a good deal of time and have been in various roles of being leaders, teachers, or ministers. They have typically had a lot of experience in dealing with people's issues and challenges and helping them find solutions.
In a recent talk, Swami Kriyananda was interrupted when he was explaining something about restlessness. He said "I think restlessness comes from sex consciousness to a large extent", and then he was diverted to another direction in the conversation. Could you expand on what he might have explained if he had continued on that thought?
What Swami Kriyananda is referring to is that if someone is caught by sensual desires, especially sex, then the energy is dissipated, which results in restlessness. It comes down to that we no longer have control of our energy (prana). This is the opposite of pranayama (which means, simply, energy control).
In his commentaries on the Yoga Sutras of Patanjali, Swami Kriyananda further clarifies this understanding by stating, " From sexual desire proceeds all the outward direction of one's energies, and therefore all the involvement in other delusions: desire for wealth, for mind-numbing alcohol or drugs, for fame, power, and all the mighty host of warriors for evil described in the Bhagavad Gita. Sex completely involves one's thoughts in outwardness."
If we can transmute the sense of touch, especially sex, then we are able to be more centered. Being centered, we are no longer pulled into restlessness. When this happens then we draw the grace of realizing God's bliss in all aspects of our life.
Blessings on your spiritual journey.
I have heard God described as "unconditional love, pure positive energy," etc. I have also heard various teachers say that as we grow and expand through our experiences here, God also grows & expands. My question is - for something that is already pure, positive energy & unconditional love, what would growth or expansion mean? What would it look like?
Here's what the teachings of yoga express: God is omnipresence, which not only describes the concept of vastness, but also reveals that God is in every fabric of creation. Another helpful concept of God is satchidananda, which Yogananda translated as "ever-existing, ever-conscious, ever-new bliss".
So, from this understanding, it is clear that God does not grow and expand; He is omnipresence. What happens is that as we grow, our perception and experience of God makes it appear that God changes. But in reality, we've simply come to realize the truth of our own oneness in God's omnipresence.
I have been meditating since a few years. A few days back I sufferred with urethritis leading to burning and itching in the genitals. Because of this my concentration shifted to genitals at the time of meditation and otherwise also. I was very disturbed but thought that once the infection is over I will again be able to concentrate. But now, even after the infection is over, my focus has not returned to the kuthastha center. How to get rid of this sick feeling? I feel that my meditations have halted since then. How to start again freely?
I assume that you are working with a medical care provider who is helping you to alleviate the physical challenge.
As for meditation; I would suggest that you start over with basic techniques such as breathing exercises, yoga asanas (postures), as well techniques such as Hong-Sau which can be very effective in redirecting your focus to the kuthastha center (the spiritual eye).
This is something we do encourage new meditators to tune into. Paramhansa Yogananda recommended regularity in one's daily meditations.
It's not really a secret; it's simply that many people don't pay attention to this or have schedules that make this difficult. But you are right in that this can be a great help in diving deeper in meditation.
Blessings on your spiritual journey,
I wonder if god is an evolutionary product of the human brain? Nature favours only the fittest. Newborn animals are killed by predators..why? Even us, to make the human body survive we need many "Non-human" parts such as the bacteria that live in our guts. I now find it hard that god created all this...decay, sickness, old age etc..it really flies in the face of common sense that an all knowing being created all this as opposed to evolution by natural selection! How do u explain this?
A challenge that many people face with the concept of "god" is that it is expressed only in terms of an anthropomorphic understanding; that God is viewed as being limited to an expanded version of who we are, with human attributes.
But God is really the cosmic infinite that has come into manifestation in creation. God is not some vengeful person with wrathful judgment, waiting to punish those who sin. It's not that God has thrust upon us such things as decay, sickness, old age, etc. From the yoga perspective these are the expressions of duality.