Hi I am always worried about going to hell or reincarnating as an animal after death. Its not that I am an evil in my current life but still how to be sure about something you have no real knowledge about. I generally am good to people I worship and I meditate, not out of fear of God but because I like it. However I can’t discard my life and take sannyas to escape rebirth or hell as its not my experiential reality. How not to be a monk and still not fear going to hell? Thanks

—Purnendu, India


Dear Friend,

You have nothing to fear! Many people fear that reincarnation imposes a whimsical and torture-like fate upon humans, or, in the West especially, that one false move and your soul is condemned to hell for eternity. God is no tyrant. God is our beloved friend; our nearest and dearest; our most steadfast well-wisher.

You do not have to be a monk to “escape” the karma of past lives. Krishna, Rama, and great saints of East and West have not all been monks. Paramhansa Yogananda (author of Autobiography of a Yogi) taught that rarely do humans reincarnate back into lower life forms. If one behaves like a monkey, a tiger, or a beast of some sort, then, yes possibly for one lifetime one will “fall back.” Only one who insists on being evil in their human incarnation may go back into a lower life form than a human. You’d have to REALLY be a “worm” to go “way down” the evolutionary scale, though Yogananda said it IS possible. But, no matter, because it is nothing that ordinary humans need be concerned about. You should simply put this out of your mind completely!

Do good; do “unto others” as you would like them to treat you. Love God; meditate and pray. The law of life, of the soul’s true nature, is not complicated. In many ways, it is not difficult, provided you make the effort and, at the same time, accept that God is Doer, the Creator, the Sustainer of all life. We are but His children; sparks of the Infinite Consciousness.

Spend more time with others of high consciousness: in your mind and heart; reading books; in person as much as possible; even, nowadays, online, listening to talks by Swami Kriyananda, for example (a direct disciple of Yogananda and founder of Ananda, dedicated to Yogananda’s lineage and teachings of kriya yoga).

Be of good cheer, you are safe in the fortress of God’s loving presence. In India, generally, and as we were taught by Yogananda, the feminine form of God is more approachable: especially Divine Mother. Go to the Mother: She will protect and guide you into the light of eternal Bliss. And, if later, you marry, see in your wife Divine Mother and act always accordingly. You have nothing to fear.

Blessings and joy to you,
Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA

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