Swami Kriyananda Answers Questions on the Spiritual Life
Q. I don’t know who my guru is, but I have affinities for several people. What can I do about that?
SK. You should offer yourself to God and forget about finding your guru. When the time comes, God will lead you to the right one.
Q: Can you speak about how we can deepen our love for God?
SK: The spiritual path, in a sense, is very narrow. There’s no room for both your ego and God. The more you think of yourself, the less you think of God. But the more you think of God and forget about yourself, the more He gives you of His love.
God is love. You don’t develop your love and then give it to Him. It’s only with His love that you can love Him. The more open you are to Him, the more you find your heart becoming flooded with that love. He gives you that love when you get yourself out of the way and offer yourself up to Him.
Q: Do you have any advice for newer devotees?
SK: In the beginning of the spiritual search you have to put out as much energy as you can because if you don’t, the world will pull you away. If you do that, then you’ll have the strength to carry on. The middle period of the spiritual search is more difficult, but if you get a strong flow of energy going in the beginning, you’ll get through the middle period just fine.
Otherwise my advice for newer devotees is very simple: love God! Just love God and everything will work out.
Q: The Bible* states that when the Israelites were trying to escape from Egypt, God said He would “harden the hearts” of the Egyptians to enable the Israelites to escape. How can we reconcile God’s action with the concept of free will?
SK: These concepts are difficult to understand, but when things are destined to happen, God makes them happen. In the case of the Egyptians and the Israelites, the Egyptians’ hearts had to be hardened for the Israelites to be able to separate themselves from Egypt.
The only free will we have is to turn toward God or to reject Him— to love Him or to spurn Him. Otherwise, since God is omniscient, everything that we do — and will do– is already known, even what color shirt we will wear this morning. Nonetheless that degree of free will determines whether we move toward happiness or toward suffering, and how long we will wander in delusion. You can become free of delusion when you make up your mind that you want to love God more and more.
Q: How we can know if we have a divine friendship with someone?
SK: A divine friendship is one in which your energy is more toward giving than receiving; there’s mutual giving, not mutual taking. You think in terms of what you can do for this other person. In the process, you of course also receive, but when the energy of giving is pure, there’s no expectation of return. We have wonderful friendships at Ananda just because of that principle.
Q: What would be the most important piece of advice you could give to those who are trying to start communities in today’s world?
SK: Things were very difficult when I started Ananda. Most of those who came in the beginning had their own ideas about what communities ought to be like. I found, however, that by giving energy to those who were in tune with my vision, and ignoring those who were not, the naysayers fell away and the solid core became stronger.
Now that Ananda has established the pattern for successful community living, the best thing for someone wanting to start a community would be to come to Ananda Village, live among us for a while, and learn how we do things. Successful community living is a matter in which understanding must come largely by osmosis. After that, they can leave and start their own community and add whatever changes are needed to make it their kind of community. They don’t have to do things the way we do at Ananda. But if they take with them an understanding of the principles that have made Ananda successful, it will free them from endless burdens and headaches.
Q: Can you speak about developing calmness within one’s activities?
SK: Krishna gave a very good answer to that question. He said to act with non-attachment– nishkam karma, action without desire for the fruits of action. With non-attachment, you can act calmly and still do whatever you need to do.
God has given me an ability to write without difficulty, in a flow, but one reason the writing flows is that I have no thought for the future. I’m just doing it for the fun of it. I wrote The Time Tunnel, which will be published soon, in two weeks. I’d never thought of writing a children’s story, but without any effort at all, it flowed out of me, including all the ideas about ancient Egypt and ancient Atlantis.
So, to develop calmness: Don’t have any desire for the fruits of your actions. In addition, try to feel that God is acting through you, keep a joyful attitude when you work, and meditate every day.
Q: How do you conquer fatigue?
SK: Paramhansa Yogananda gave us the principle: “the greater the will, the greater the flow of energy.” Your level of energy depends entirely on the strength of your will power. When you use your will power to generate enthusiasm, you’ll find that you have energy. If you can generate even a little enthusiasm, you’ll find that fatigue doesn’t bother you anymore.
Q: How important is it to go to group meditations instead of meditating alone? Is it a solely a matter of personal preference?
SK: Magnetism is one of the most important things in life. When you have a group of people doing the same thing there’s much more magnetism than when you’re doing it alone. When you have a group of people meditating together, there is a power that comes that helps each person in the group to meditate more deeply.
Magnetism can be used in so many ways. In The New Path, there is the story of how I passed the Greek exam in college by convincing myself that I was a Greek. With the very strong thought that I was a Greek, I had the magnetism to attract that knowledge. I had a similar experience in Bali. There came a point when I thought: “I’ve just got to learn this language.” I was there only two weeks but by the end I had a vocabulary of 600 words and I was able to talk about philosophy and all kinds of things. How? By having the magnetism that allowed that understanding to flow through me. Magnetism creates that flow.
When you have electricity going through a wire, the stronger the flow of electricity, the stronger the magnetic field generated. And the same is true with you. The more energy you put out, the greater will be your magnetism, and through that magnetism there is virtually nothing you can’t accomplish.
Very few people realize how important magnetism is in their life. Some people go into a new field of work and suddenly everything flowers for them. With other people, no matter how they work, nothing succeeds. If you develop magnetism you can learn languages, you can succeed in business, you can attract inventions, you can attract ideas for a book, you can attract friends.
How is it that people become friends? When you love somebody and that person dies, you don’t lose them. Your love becomes a magnet that draws you together again and again. You can live on the opposite sides of the world but you’ll be drawn together.
Q: I have trouble thinking of God as “he” or “she.” Can you talk about that?
SK: God is neither masculine nor feminine, but He’s also both. In the West, because Jesus talked of God as the Father, we have the tradition of calling God, “He.” But although I say “He,” in my heart I always think “She.” To me, God is my Divine Mother. It’s easier to love God as mother than as father because the mother is closer to us than the father. She forgives us always. Women are more merciful by nature than men because men go too much by reason. I think many of the troubles in the world come from that rational bias.
Man represents reason. Woman represents feeling. Feeling, however, is the essence of consciousness itself. You can’t reason your way to understanding; you have to feel it. Of the two, I think the feminine is the more important because it’s the most basic. Without the feminine aspect, man would be very one-sided. Kali Yuga, the dark age that ended in 1900, was one-sided in its emphasis on masculine energy. I think that in the new age of Dwapara Yuga feminine energy is going to become very important.
Q. What is my first step to getting out of depression? I have low energy. What should I do?
SK. Being with high-energy people will give you higher energy. Bring your energy upward with positive thoughts and positive expectations. Don’t let your energy go downward. You can have higher energy—anybody can. Your karma is pulling you downward but by your will power, you can change that.
From satsangs and classes in Los Angeles and at Ananda Village in April 2011.
Related reading: The New Path by Swami Kriyananda, To order click here
A Place Called Ananda by Swami Kriyananda, To order click here
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