The little boy was orphaned at an early age when both of his parents were killed in a tragic accident. Fortunately, he was taken in by his loving grandparents, who raised him in the tradition of his people: the Cherokee. 

Thus begins The Education of Little Tree, a beautiful book which describes the ways of these indigenous people, and their reverence for the Great Spirit and for all of creation.

As the boy grew to maturity, he was trained by his grandparents in both practical and spiritual skills. Then the time came when his elderly grandmother knew her life was coming to an end. As was the Cherokee tradition, in her final moments she looked into her husband’s eyes and said, “Next time it will be better.”

No regrets, no apologies, no clinging to what was, but simply the assurance that all souls are forever joined in spirit and are evolving towards higher consciousness.

This practice reflects the wisdom of the Indian masters, who tell us that life is a school to teach us the lessons our soul needs to find freedom. We move from incarnation to incarnation until we realize who and what we really are. Yoganandaji described the soul’s journey as an ascent up “the spiral stairway of wakefulness.”

What can we do to prepare for our next incarnation? First, look at the unfulfilled desires and ambitions to which you’re clinging. Ask yourself, “Do I really want these? Will they bring me lasting happiness?” If the answers are “yes,” then put out the energy to achieve them, and move on. If not, work to weed out their roots, which can entangle your consciousness.

Introspect and look at the negative mental or physical habits that hold you back. It takes honesty, persistence, and energy to overcome these, but with determined effort you can change any aspect of your life.

Don’t identify with your faults, but understand that these are just reflections of actions you performed in the past. They are karmic patterns you yourself set in motion, that now you can change. As Sri Yukteswar said, “Everything in future will improve if you are making a spiritual effort now.”

The ideal is to do your best, and to remain objective and non-attached. Every challenge you face in life is a lesson placed there for one purpose: to teach you something you must learn in order to find freedom. Don’t waste time on things that are empty distractions and ultimately slow your spiritual progress.

It’s important also not to dwell on past mistakes or failures. Keep affirming the virtues you want to develop, and take these goals forward into your next life. Once Swami Kriyananda was asked by his guru, Yoganandaji, to be in attendance at the deathbed of one of the Master’s students, a dignified man and a retired architect. In the last moments of his life he muttered remorsefully, “I’ve done many bad things in my life.”

Afterwards Swamiji came to Master and recounted what had happened. Yoganandaji replied, “He shouldn’t have said that. He will take this attitude of regret and guilt into his next incarnation.” Master went on to say that even if you are dying of a terrible disease, if you can affirm, “I am well” at the end, you will take that thought into your next life and have a healthy body.

yogananda teachings on reincarnation and karma and swami kriyananda moksha mandir ananda village tulips

In the distance, Moksha Mandir, Swami Kriyananda’s final resting place, at Crystal Hermitage. “Moksha” means final soul liberation.

So, how do we plan for our next incarnation? Right now take stock of your life: Eliminate what’s holding you back, and strengthen, or at least affirm, what will take you forward. Ask God to show you the soul lessons you need in this life, so you can quickly learn them. Always live in the thought that inner freedom is very near.

If you do these things, you may be surprised to find that your present life, too, is transformed. There may indeed be no compulsion to reincarnate at all. As Yoganandaji said, “When your schooling is done, and the end comes, and people are crying at your passing, you can rejoice and say, ‘Beloved One, Master Death is opening for me the gate to freedom. I have had enough schooling now. I shall go out no more.’”

With joy and freedom,

Nayaswami Devi

Listen to the weekly commentary for this blog, with special behind-the-inspiration stories and answers to common spiritual questions. Subscribe to the podcast or download the audio recording by right-clicking here. Or listen to it here (5:51):

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29 Comments

    1. This is indeed helpful and guides one in the path of liberation. Very happy to have received this blog! Thank You.

  1. For me, really it is helpful..because these days am going through some difficulty in my life..It is very painful now to deal with the situation. But, really am feeling great after reading this blog.. it is going to help me while taking some important decisions of my life…Thanks

  2. Thank you for sharing this beautiful story
    Give me hope to the future.

  3. Beautifullly written and so easy to understand you
    Thankyou🙏

  4. Deviiji, thank you for sharing the vibrations of Master and Swami! This blog is so precise and at the same time ‘loaded’….that one can read again and again. Aum GURU

  5. Powerful blog dearest Devi Ji. Timely during this special week of SRW where each day we are uplifted with all the inspiring talks. Just what I needed to hear. Thank you.

  6. Thank you for this amazing and awaking article. Yes , I am going through some very stressful times and this article woke me up!
    I started thinking” Anu you have read “Autobiography of a Yogi” so many times and still not practicing what you have read?
    However this article from Nayaswami Devi
    short and concise truely woke me up🙏
    Thank you.
    In HIM
    Anu

  7. Thank you, thank you, for giving us the words at a time when “transition” is in the realm of personal and collective consciousness.

  8. I love it. A lesson we can all heed and put into action now and always. It is a road to happiness.

  9. Excellent, excellent read! Thank you!! No work is wasted and no positive thoughts are fruitless.

  10. Thank you SO MUCH for improving the type face and making your emails more readable!
    No more squinting at the screen at the phone. :)

  11. All your blogs are deeply inspiring – but this one touched me especially. Thank you for being such a light in this world—for Master, Swamiji, for Divine Mother.

  12. Daily Affirmations I have learned.

    I Am the Presence of Forgiveness in My Life and My World

    I Am the Presence of Divine Love in My Life and My World

    I Am the Presence of Joy in My Life and My World

    and so on..these have served me well.
    Blessings, Love, and Joy to All

  13. This message arrived just when I needed this reminder. Thank you.

  14. First of all wonderful article! Comes at a perfect time. I am an American (This life) and we are going through some challenging political strifes that the karma of the US perhaps has brought about. Your lesson in this article helps me to return to my essence and continue to pray for all in need of those prayers. My meditation is to request Gods’ love and send it out to those in need at the same time as asking those in need to open to their source (Their Christ Consciousness). You are opening my Christ Consciousness!

    Thank you
    Ohm Guru

  15. Thank you for this,another great reminder on the path of life. Most important are the words,
    with determined effort you can change any aspect of your life…and,dont waste time on
    things that are empty distractions and will ultimately slow your spiritual progress…if one
    will consistently focus upon or always keep these in mind,then upliftment,staying positive
    and eventual true enlightenment are certain,and of course,love for God and devotion with
    the continued practice of ever deeper meditation and prayer are essential..and also a great
    quote is,Forget the past,the vanished lives of all men are dark with many shames..human
    conduct is ever unreliable until one is anchored in the divine..make spiritual effort now and
    all things in future will improve….thank you again

  16. Dear Nayaswami Devi Ji,

    Thank you for this inspiring blog. Great points to put in to practice. Enjoyed reading the blog and quote from Master. Thanks for sharing 🙏

    Joy,
    Prem

  17. Dear Deviji

    Very helpful and guiding article.Thank you! For sharing.

    With lots of gratitude,

    Neela

  18. This.

    Coupled with the excellent talks we heard during SRW, my faith and understanding took a giant leap over these days. We have the great blessing to have such advanced souls like you Devi, and Jyotish, guiding Masters vibration through the hours and days and months and years. Such joy awaits, and Love and Peace. May the moments bear witness in our own hearts, to the Love that powers the Universe, and may we, be examples of the Light this world so needs!

    Aum, Aum, Aum

  19. Dearest Deviji, Pranams. Thankyou for this mail. It’s very helpful. Divine Mother speaking to me through those words.
    Sugantha

  20. Aum Gurudevaya Namaha🙏🏻🙏🏻💜💜✨️✨️

  21. Dear Deviji

    Very nice and informative blog. confusion about many things became clear. Very helpful!

    Thank you so much,

    With lots of gratitude,
    Neela

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