I don’t understand some things that worry me a lot.
1. what happens after death? What if, for example, my daughter or wife dies? Will I never see them again?
2. What influence does karma have on my worldly life? Can I be ambitious at all and have desires (e.g. a big house for my family) and work towards them?
3. Can I enjoy concerts, music or other things?
I tend to be an optimistic, ambitous person and want to achieve more in my life. Is this contrary to the teachings? Thank you!
—Philipp Anton, Germany
Do you meditate regularly? I highly recommend it for many reasons but in this instance let me remind you that meditation will calm your mind and help you to go on what Yogananda called a “worry fast!” Make a point to set aside time each day to take a deep breath and exhale all worries about death and the future from your mind. Why dwell on what we can’t control and cannot know in advance?
I could cite spiritual teachings of reincarnation and of how souls who are connected emotionally will “see each other again” in future lives but let’s set that aside as beyond our knowing. When a loved one dies, our love for them doesn’t die; our memories, do not die; our gratitude for their role in our lives doesn’t die. They remain in our minds and hearts for as long as we continue to live. Let that be enough. The fact of death coming to all bodies is simply that: an indisputable fact. Let’s accept it and embrace the life and love we share.
As to your ambitions and material desires, they are not evil. Just deal with them in a calm and balanced way. Maybe your big house will happen; maybe it won’t. It won’t bring lasting happiness though you might experience for a time the happiness of your family. Whatever else a big house brings to you will also come repairs, taxes, and utility bills. So be circumspect; be reasonable. With a big house you might have your own yoga and meditation room! You might be able to help other people in times of need. Try to see this desire as serving a purpose greater than your own.
The greatest blessing and wisest course in life to seek the One from whom it all comes (and goes). Nothing in this world lasts. Make the acquaintance through meditation and prayer of the One who counts the most, so to speak.