Are My Problems Being Caused by a Departed Ancestor?

Question

I have noticed my problems of anger, urge for tea and coffee, and lethargy has increased ever since I started my spiritual practice 7 years back. Could it be a departed ancestor with unfulfilled desires is using my body or has targeted me as I am spiritually active, to move up the higher realm? What could be the reason?

—Nina, India

Answer

Dear Nina,

It’s wonderful that you’ve had a spiritual practice for 7 years. Although spiritual practice usually reduces our anger, lethargy, and desires, sometimes we can find an increase in these behaviors. This is not uncommon.

It is interesting to contemplate, as you suggest, whether these problems could be caused by a departed ancestor. It is, in fact, true that your spiritual growth can be a help to your ancestors. Related to this, Swami Kriyananda writes in Revelations of Christ:

When a soul attains final liberation (so my Guru [Yogananda] averred), his earthly family for seven generations, forward and backward, are blessed with spiritual freedom. What degree of freedom they attain is, of course, relative and not absolute, for all beings must work hard to achieve final liberation. Nevertheless, what they receive depending each one — on his or her own receptivity, is a very great blessing.

It is true also that souls — ancestors or otherwise — may target you as you become spiritually active. This is another way of saying that your sensitivity and awareness may increase. However, no soul should be allowed to use your body or your mind. Yogananda often warned against this.

As fascinating as these possibilities may be as the causes of your problems, they may not give you definite answers. And since you’ve identified anger, lethargy, and desires as problems, it might be best to focus on finding solutions. One principle of spiritual growth is: “do what works.” Put another way, rather than “why,” we can ask “how” — that is, “how can I come out of this?”

One solution is to add new activities to your spiritual practice. Without knowing the details of your sadhana, I can only speak in generalities. Meditation, for example, should be balanced with activity. Otherwise, Yogananda said the senses (and desires) become strong. Service to others should be balanced by meditation and privately offering one’s own devotion up to God. Another healthy practice is keeping good company: this is very effective for lifting us to higher realities while also keeping us grounded in our present reality.

It may help you to focus on one habit a time. Overcoming it — or just making some positive progress — will give you the strength and courage to tackle other habits.

For lethargy, have you tried Yogananda’s Energization Exercises? They are marvelous for bringing more energy and enthusiasm into our lives.

For anger, reflect that anger appears in the heart when — as the Krishna says in the Gita — one’s desires are thwarted. What is needed is introspection: if we are angry, it’s because we didn’t get what we wanted. Seek to understand the desire that was denied, and try to find the thought or cause behind that desire. An anger problem can also be helped by regular meditation, which generally increases your relaxation and patience.

As for the urge for tea and coffee — these are minor compared to the other habits. You may wish to limit (or eliminate) your caffeine intake, since doing so can help reduce anger and lethargy. But again, the desire for tea and coffee is not a big issue. Remember Yogananda’s words: “Don’t worry about those little things. When ecstasy comes, everything goes!”

Joy to You,
Dharmarajan