Is it possible to ask one’s Guru to use my body to pay off some of my karmic debt? Is this something that can only happen if the Guru deems one ready for the burden? If the answer is yes to the first question what would be an appropriate response to the outcome? That is, if one is in pain or sick, should one suffer and persevere without complaint to others because it was asked for? Is there any way to tell if physical ailments are karmic debt or just chance?
—Andy, New Zealand
It has long been offered as perennial wisdom to “Be careful what you ask (pray) for!” Jesus put it this way: “Sufficient unto the day are the troubles thereof.” (Don’t go asking for trouble!) Remember the folktale about getting three wishes from the genie? Besides, is not human life a succession of trials, disappointments, pain, and suffering? One doesn’t have to be a devotee to reap the results of past karma.
It is right, however, to be open to and willing to accept whatever tests may come, in the name of ego-transcendence and love for God. Practice accepting life’s little challenges as direct gifts of wisdom from Divine Mother’s hands. Never mind whether one sees such things as my karma: I deserved this because I did something bad in the past! It is better to see one’s “karma” as Divine Mother’s gift of awakening, remembrance, and opportunity to remain even-minded and cheerful under all circumstances. Karma is neither good nor bad; it’s how we respond that determines whether we are paying a debt, seizing an opportunity for spiritual growth, or simply creating more karma.
I would suggest that you think in terms of deepening your love for God, rather than focusing on paying off “bad” karma. The one expands your heart beyond the ego, and the other simply focuses on the ego: my bad karma!
It is certainly true, as you indicate, that guru’s grace and wisdom will help give to you what you need to grow spiritually. The practice of kriya yoga — itself a gift of the guru — will tend to accelerate one’s awakening and to some degree, as a result, will bring to you the lessons you need to achieve the final Goal.
The emphasis on suffering is an emphasis of Kali Yuga: past centuries of spirituality, both East and West. Call it sin and suffering. But this emphasis all too easily focuses on the ego rather than towards God. In our Sunday Service “Festival of Light” ceremony we read, “Whereas suffering and sorrow in the past were the coin of man’s redemption, for us now that payment has been exchanged for calm acceptance and joy.”
Live in joy: “Ananda” — the joy of your soul; the bliss of God consciousness. “What comes of itself, let it come,” Paramhansa Yogananda counseled. Even if he also stated that “Living for God is martyrdom (of the ego),” living in God-consciousness is the greatest blessing.
Addressing your other comments: there is no such thing as “chance.” The devotee should always strive to accept pain and suffering without complaint, whether “asked for” or not.
Blessings and joy to you!
Seattle WA USA