Overcoming doubts and fears, and developing faith


I have been practicing meditation for a couple months. I feel stronger but I get scared at times. I sometimes doubt Yogananda and it makes me feel bad. I feel scared of negative spirits around me too. How can I overcome these fears? How can I become truly confident of my spiritual strength? How can I grow more faith in God? I would appreciate your response. Thanks.

—Brendan, California


Dear Brendan,

Thank you for your questions. You’ve asked several, so I’ll try to answer them one at a time.

1) I feel scared at times – I sometimes doubt Yogananda and it makes me feel bad.

Everyone who sincerely meditates has had times of fear and doubt. I know I did – a LOT – especially in my earlier years of being on this path. The fear often is a backlash from your own ego which is not comfortable in relinquishing its control of you to your higher God-nature, your soul. It says: “I do not want to let go – it’s all too new and unknown and strange.” God and Guru understand our fears. Try pouring your heart out, honestly, in prayer, admitting your fears and doubts very truthfully and sincerely. Ask for help, in the simple language of your own heart, in letting these things go. Then give it to all God. You might have to do this several times, but I think you will find it eventually works! Don’t feel bad about doubting Yogananda. He understands! And he never doubts YOU – not in the least. He is patient and loving and will help you no matter what you feel or don’t feel. Just hang in there!

2) I feel scared of negative spirits around me.

Yogananda says that negative spirits are a real thing and not necessarily a product of your imagination. He gives several suggestions for “Overcoming the Dark Forces,” which I include in detail at the end of this letter (see below). But for a shorter answer, remember that darkness or negative energy simply cannot exist in the presence of Divine Light. The more you can do to dwell in Master’s Divine Light, which is within and all around you, then the easier it will become to become stronger than any negativity which might come your way – and thus overcome it completely.

3) How can I become truly confident of my spiritual strength?

Affirm it! Fake it till you make it! Know that God and all the great ones say that YOU, in your Divine Nature, in your soul, you are everything (and more) than you could ever aspire to become – strong in every possible way. You just have not realized it yet. So keep saying it, mentally or out loud, till you convince yourself. Don’t let the “small voices of your little self” say otherwise. When challenged by them on this point, say: “I know you mean well, but I’m not going to listen to you any more! I KNOW who I am in my essence! I am a Divine Soul, one with God and one with all that is!” This process also takes some time, but it’s more than worth the energy you’ll need to make it happen.

4) How can I grow more faith in God?

You certainly used the right word – “grow.” It definitely is a growth process. Faith is developed slowly and through direct experience. We don’t get it just because we think it might be a good idea to have it. We experiment a little bit and then see some results. This gives us the confidence to try a little more and this gives us yet more confidence or faith to keep going onward. Soon your faith becomes unshakable, because it is based on experiences of repeated results. For example, it says in the Bhagavad Gita: “Even a little practice of this inward religion [meditation ] will free one from dire fears and colossal sufferings.” A dramatic statement and very true! The key word here is “little.” You begin where you can with small amounts of meditation on a daily basis – whatever you think you can sustain. If you keep it up and don’t become discouraged because you think nothing is happening or you experience lapses and have to start over again (this happens to EVERYONE!) then at the end of a year or so, you can look back and see how much you have changed as a person – so different from who you were a year ago. Stronger, less fearful, more loving, more forgiving, kinder, calmer in the face of tests, on and on.

Please let me know if I can be of further help.

In friendship,

Nayaswami Savitri

for Ananda Sangha

“Dealing with the Dark Forces”

[Taken from the teachings of Paramhansa Yogananda]

It is not an unusual thing for truth-seekers or followers of spiritual teachings to experience what may seem like an “attack” from evil or dark forces. In such cases we often hear, “Oh, this is just the product of an overactive imagination, or hysteria or mental disturbance of some sort.” But according to most great spiritual teachers, it can be a definite reality. Paramhansa Yogananda often spoke of these things. He also gave specific suggestions for overcoming this sort of negative energy.

“Preventive medicine” is in order. These forces can bother us only when we are not strong enough to keep them away from us. So stay very strong spiritually by lots of prayer, meditation, selfless service to others, and good spiritual company. “Mix with the saints,” Yogananda said. Have pictures and mementos around you at all times. Darkness cannot exist where there is light! Pray, chant, say affirmations, look at inspiring pictures of the saints and masters, read their books, listen to uplifting tapes of spiritual music, of spiritually inspiring talks. There are wonderful tapes of Paramhansa Yogananda’s voice, and also of his direct disciple, Swami Kriyananda that are great for this type of thing.

If dark forces are bothering you, there are other specific things, which can be done. First and most important, bring your attention to the spiritual eye at the point between the eyebrows. In the light, which you visualize or actually perceive there, no darkness or dark spirits can touch you. Negative forces cannot enter the entrenched highly electrified orb of the spiritual eye. They become “astra-electrocuted.” Only good souls who can help you can make themselves visible in the spiritual eye. In the light, which you visualize or actually perceive there, no darkness or dark spirits can touch you. Keep a picture of Paramhansa Yogananda (or any saint or Master which you feel drawn to) handy at all times and look at it and pray for help! Use your hands to encircle your body with a large halo of light, visualizing light all around you. With the thumb of your right hand, make a cross of light in front of you. With your fingers write AUM on your pillow before you go to sleep at night.

Here is another specific technique Yogananda suggested: Place your hands in front of you palms together. Then encircle them around behind you touching the palms together in back of you, and then bring them back to the front. Repeat this several times, saying, out loud if possible, the mantra (mantra means words of power!) “AUM, Tat, Sat!” The meaning of these word are God in the aspects of our creator, God within creation, and God beyond creation. It covers everything!

Perhaps the most important thing of all is to reach out for help! The darkness loves to try to make you feel that you are totally alone in your suffering and that nobody cares. It is not so! We are all inter-connected as souls and as children of God! Ask people to pray for and with you. The Ananda Healing Prayer Council will pray for you on a daily basis and visualize your healing and light to combat the darkness, in a very strong way. Just make a healing prayer request through this page.