Extraordinary Talents and Karma


Why are there people with extraordinary talents and people that seem to have none? What do you think is God’s purpose for these types of people (Picasso, Einstein, Mozart)? Are people with special gifts obligated to use them to help other people? Does Yogananda say anything about people with extraordinary talents/abilities?

—Michelle, USA


Dear Michelle,

Science is steadily revealing to us the vastness of the material cosmos and, by implication, the overwhelming vastness of the universe(s) that we cannot see. As creation is vast so too are we far more than we imagine.

As the law of cause and effect governs our daily life and as we would go mad or be in despair if we had no ability to affect our own life (by improving our habits, skills, talents and attitudes, e.g.), so too we should consider deeply the question you have posed: why are some people endowed with many innate gifts and intelligence and others so bereft?

The only sane answer logic and reason and justice can offer us is that we, ourselves, are what we have become by our own past actions. This forces us to consider the teaching of the ages, all but universal, that we have lived countless lives. Just as the universe of matter is vast, so far more vast is the universe of consciousness. Our importance is not according to worldly eyes, being talented or not, e.g., but because we contain within us the seed of infinity, immortality, and unending bliss: in short, the entire creation!

While reason might bring us to the brink of considering the reality of the law of karma and its corollary reincarnation, we can rest assured that the greatest prophets of east and west have in fact proclaimed the truth of this teaching. How else can it be? There is no other explanation that can make sense of the human experience.

In the meantime, until you and I and each soul realize this truth from within ourselves, we are offered the opportunity to affirm our faith in the goodness of God’s intention and creation, even in the face of so much that seems unfair and so much suffering. This is not easy but neither is it merely blind belief. Both on the basis of our intuitive feeling that we are immortal and that happiness is our true home AND on the basis of the lives of those great saints down through the ages that have demonstrated power over life and death and over matter, our initial belief can rise toward faith: “the evidence of things unseen” (St. Paul).

Be happy in yourself; know that each person, endowed or deficient (as you would perceive it), is on the greatest journey there can ever be; the greatest story ever told; the path to Self-realization.

Joy and blessings,
Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA