Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Ask Asha: Love Triangle

[You can ask your own question here.]


If I love a man and he loves me but also loves someone else — how can i get over jealousy? Why can’t i let him have his own happiness and not bother him? Why must I cry and not dream big and of happiness for all? I am supressing him with my tears? He is honest and loving. Walking away would be hurting myself and him. Divine love doesn’t hurt and there is no other such love as divine love. I want to be free

From US


Dear Emily:

It is impossible to know from what you have written here what you are actually dealing with.

Is this man married to someone else? Does he have children? Is he planning to leave his wife for you or is he content to have both of you in his life? Or are you the wife and the difficulty is the affair he is having with someone else?
Or is he unmarried and in a relationship with you but also having a relationship at the same time with someone else?

The details matter. The advice depends on what you are dealing with.

I have a hard time reconciling your statement that he is “honest and loving” with everything else you have said. If a man is carrying on with two women and at least one of them (you), and perhaps both women, are suffering greatly because of this, both the “honest” and the “loving” are a little hard to see. Perhaps he is very nice in other ways but obviously he has some trouble with loyalty.

Walking away from him, far from being a disservice, could be the best thing in the world for him and also for you. If he is married (and even more if he has children) leaving him gives him a chance to face the commitments he has made and keep them honorably, and will give you more dignity, honor, and self-respect.

If, however, you are the wife and you have children together, it gets a little more complicated. That’s why I need to know more of what you are actually dealing with.

All love is divine in the sense that everything is a manifestation of God. But that love can be purely and selflessly expressed or corrupted by selfishness. What you are describing here is filled with self-interest and therefore suffering is inevitable.

I am so sorry that you are caught in such a difficult situation. I will pray for you.

Nayaswami Asha

[Questions and answers from other Ananda ministers worldwide can be found on the Ask the Experts page of Ananda.org.]

Monday, December 13, 2010

Ask Asha: Dealing with Unwise Attractions

[You can ask your own question here.]


Hello, I need some help in regards to human relationships. Recently I found myself being attracted to this woman who works in my office. She is a very nice person at heart but her interests and personality is so very different from mine. Yet I cannot help being drawn to her..Day and night my mind is raked by fierce storms of emotion and I feel envy, jealousy etc..I try so hard to follow Masters advice on loving her on a divine level but I haven’t yet succeeded. Is there a way to get some solace?

From India


Dear V:

When you say she is a “very nice person at heart,” does that mean she is less nice on the outside? You say her interests and personality are “different from mine.” Presumably you mean in some way incompatible with yours?

One person could like opera and another walking outside in Nature. Those are different interests, but both are refined activities.

If one person, however, likes to meditate and the other likes to drink beer and go disco dancing (if that is what it is still called!) then those are quite incompatible.

Even though you haven’t been explicit, I suspect that you are talking “incompatible,” not merely different.

Although the idea of arranged marriages would be impossible to impose on Western society — habituated as we are to having “free” choice in these matters — there is a lot of wisdom behind that custom. Namely this: It is not that hard to love someone. It is effortless to be “attracted” for any number of reasons, not all of them high-minded (nor, to be fair, not all of them gross either, in the sense of unrefined).

We can have lots of karma with people, and “recognize” them from past lives. This happens all the time. But not all of these connections are appropriate to live out in this incarnation. Much of the karma in these kinds of infatuations (where there is no true compatibility) is not good — if your goal is happiness and freedom, rather than endless experiences.

The great challenge is not just to find someone to whom you feel “attracted,” the challenge is to make a successful life with another person. That is where compatible values, goals, and general approach to life are essential.

Those a little outside the “heat of the moment” usually are better able to evaluate the long-term viability of a relationship. The ones most closely involved too often have their judgment distorted by desires of all kinds. Sexual is the most obvious, but other desires also come into play — home, children, financial security, social status, etc. Thus the benefit of arranged marriages, where these various priorities can be sorted out objectively. It isn’t the society we live in now, but it is helpful to appreciate why, in so many cultures for so many centuries, this has been the custom.

No doubt you have some kind of a “karmic connection” to this woman; otherwise you wouldn’t be haunted by the thought of her as you seem to be. But having karma with someone is not the same as having dharma with that person.

Karma means that cause and effect is working on you. And you are invited by the cosmic force to set in motion more cause and effect. Probably lots of painful cause and effect. To get involved with someone that you know from the start does not share your fundamental view of life (I am assuming that this is true) pretty much guarantees that once the fires cool a bit you are in for a lot of suffering. And if you should be so unlucky as to marry and have children, then you get to spread the suffering out beyond yourself and this woman. Not a good plan.

Dharma are those actions which expand your consciousness and move you closer to God. Dharma is to resist unwise attractions. Dharma is to trust that you don’t have to practice by having relationships that are unsuitable, but can wait — even if tempted and lonely — until a relationship with an objective chance of success comes along. Not a popular teaching these days for sure. So no one is asking you to be perfect. Just do your best.

In the meantime, what to do about your preoccupation with this woman? Well, above all, don’t feed it. Even though everything in you is pushing you to be close to her, to think about her, to spend time with her if you can — Don’t. Is this easy? No, of course not. This is the cosmic play, the way God trains us to be strong in our commitment to high ideals. You don’t get strong without being tested.

You may think this is a bad system, but as the gurus tell us repeatedly, those who have walked the path of righteousness to the end never say it wasn’t worth it.

The benefits of dharma are not necessarily obvious at the beginning, but a few trips down the karma path, rather than the dharma path, have a way of teaching us pretty fast.

Do everything you can to stay away from this woman. And avoid any kind of personal interactions, and above, don’t be alone with her. You can’t afford to play around with this kind of energy. It is simply too strong.

Forget about “loving her on a divine level.” That is not the appropriate advice for this situation. Now is the time for complete separation, inwardly as well as outwardly.

When you are in the throes of an attraction, you shouldn’t think of the object of your infatuation at all. Any mental or emotional energy directed to her will immediately draw you back into the kind of attraction you are trying to escape. Don’t kid yourself. Be realistic.

If you have to see her at work, complete separation might not be possible, but if you are honest you can tell the difference between what is imposed upon you by circumstances and what you are seeking out because of desire.

You think it is very important to relate to her on some level, but that is karma calling, not dharma.

You can’t, however, replace your preoccupation with nothing at all. Nature abhors a vacuum. You have to fill your day-dreaming time, or the social time you would try to spend with her, with other fulfilling (I would say more fulfilling, but it may not feel like that at first) activities.

Get involved in whatever your interests actually are. Be in uplifting company. Develop yourself spiritually, to give you more inward strength. Stay away as much as you can from anything romantically or sexually stimulating. (Difficult to do in this society, but at least give it a try!)

And pray. Continuously. Ask God and Gurus to free you from this preoccupation, but then do your part to extricate yourself. Don’t, however, use that prayer time as an excuse to focus on her again! The mind is very tricky. Rather than being specific, better to pray, “Lord, help me to live a life that is pleasing to Thee.” He’ll know what you mean.

You’ll be surprised, once you commit yourself to this course of action, that it isn’t that hard. And even if it is, what choice do you have? Guaranteed, a bad relationship is MUCH worse.

And if you fail from time to time, and the attraction sweeps you into unwise interactions, extricate yourself as soon as you can. Don’t say, “I have failed,” but only that, “I haven’t yet succeeded.”

Eventually you will look back and say, “Thank God I never followed that attraction. How unfortunate that would have been.”

Good luck!

Nayaswami Asha

[Questions and answers from other Ananda ministers worldwide can be found on the Ask the Experts page of Ananda.org.]

Friday, December 10, 2010

Ask Asha: Helping Others With Their Karma

[You can ask your own question here.]


Dear Asha,

I understand that it is possible to mediate some of the effects of your own karma through behaving rightly, but is it possible to do that with others’ karma also, by prayer or doing kriyas for them?

Thank you,


Dear M:

A good question.

Karma is energy held in a certain pattern by the magnetism of identifying with the event, being attached to it, longing for it, or ashamed of it. Because it is only energy and magnetism it can be shifted at any moment by applying energy and magnetism of sufficient force to set a new pattern.

In theory, all karma can be dissolved in an instant IF you apply enough energy of a balancing kind.

In practice, karma shifts slowly. Generally speaking, it took us time to apply enough energy of a particular type -- kindness, selfishness, fear, love, etc. -- to create an energy pattern. And generally speaking it takes time and consistent effort in a new direction to set up a new energy pattern.

Think of it like a river flowing toward the sea, but some of the river water gets caught along the bank in whirlpools created by debris that holds the water. You can free the whirlpool by removing the debris -- i.e., overcoming a particular attachment -- or you can simply draw the whirlpool into the flow of the river by making the flow of the river to the sea stronger than the pull of the debris to sideline the water in a whirlpool. Can you see the image? Does it make sense?

The river in this image is the flow of energy up the spine; the whirlpools are the vrittis of karma stored in the chakras.

So, yes, if you behave rightly you are increasing the flow of positive energy in the spine and it will eventually dissolve the karma into itself when the balance of energy and magnetism finally shifts in favor of the positive flow. You are starving the vritti by not doing whatever wrong thing created it in the first place. And you are increasing the energy in the spine by behaving rightly.

Kriya is a way of doing the same thing inwardly. Draw energy powerfully up the spine and the vrittis are drawn in and the karma dissolves without you ever having to live through it outwardly.

Prayer, or doing kriya for others (which is a form of prayer), is a way of giving energy to others. And yes, it can help.

If you are trying to impose your will on someone, however, it will be far less helpful and also less effective. Even a positively intended imposition -- e.g. please stop drinking! -- is less effective than simply giving a person pure divine energy. Send the person divine energy, and their soul will know what to do with it. Energize them, fill them with light, and then they will be more able to fulfill their own destiny.

Be prepared, however, for things to get worse before they get better. This doesn't always happen, of course, but sometimes it does. Because sometimes what the soul needs is to go deeper into the lesson before it is ready to change directions. So do the kriyas, or offer the prayers, with faith that Divine Mother is in charge.


[Questions and answers from other Ananda ministers worldwide can be found on the Ask the Experts page of Ananda.org.]

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Ask Asha: Relating to My Parents

[You can ask your own question here.]


From india

How can i strengthen the relationship between me and my parents? How would i bring more love and kinship towards us? I think i m not in the best of terms with them. Please advice.


Dear Subir:

In order to be in right relationship with your parents, or anyone else in your family, you have to first remove the obscuring clouds of sentimentality and subconscious expectations.

Master tells us that when the sperm and ovum unite, there is a flash of light in the astral world, and those souls who are in tune with the vibration of that light (and ready to reincarnate) are drawn to enter that womb. He said sometimes more than one soul is drawn, so not everyone gets in, or sometimes there are twins.

Despite these false starts, you do end up where you are karmically meant to be. Swamiji has explained, however, that you can be “in tune with that flash of light” because of just a few aspects of those people or that situation.

Perhaps your interest is music and that family will give you the opportunity to develop that. Perhaps you need a peaceful environment, in a certain cultural setting, and that family is ideal. Perhaps all you want is money. Or maybe your karma is to be poor. All of that is contained in the flash of light and can draw you.

In other words, just because you are born into a family does not automatically mean you will have a deep affinity with everyone, or even anyone, in that family.

Yes, sometimes you do incarnate where there are profound bonds of heart and soul. But not always.

Master also said, sometimes enemies are drawn into the same family. Hatred also forms a strong karmic bond. The benefit is that, as enemies, Master said, you can “fight it out at close quarters.”

Sometimes a person will deliberately choose a family where the karmic connection is very light. Maybe that soul has been burdened by excessive family entanglements and wants a break from that kind of emotion.

Or, if the soul is a serious devotee, he may want to “get a body where he can,” as Swamiji put it, and then go on and find his spiritual family. Having a light connection with the birth family makes it easier to leave them behind.

Consider also, given the countless incarnations we have had, how many fathers, mothers, sisters, brothers, children, cousins, uncles, aunts we have had in the course of all our lifetimes! When we go to the astral world, Master says, we see all these various relatives in a vast array and it helps us appreciate that we are born to love everyone equally, not to divide the world up into “I, me, and mine.”

Once someone asked Swamiji about her relationship with her parents. She was, it turned out, one who had “gotten a body where she could” in order to come as a young adult into her spiritual family, which was far more her family than those who birthed and raised her.

She was asking Swamiji how to relate appropriately to her parents.

He asked, “Do they oppose your spiritual life? Have they ever asked you to choose between them and your spiritual family?”

She replied, “No, they are not fond of what I am doing, but nor have they opposed it. And they have never asked me to choose. If they did, there would be no contest: human birth is something, but divine birth is everything, as Master said. In fact, they have been kind, respectful and supportive all my life.”

“In that case,” Swamiji replied, “you have a debt of gratitude to them and should always treat them as they have treated you: kindly and respectfully.”

The woman followed Swamiji’s advice, and kept up an appropriate relationship with them for the rest of their lives: visiting, writing, keeping in touch, and, toward the end of their lives, helping them as needed.

But she never expected anything more. They had very little in common, and no amount of effort on her part could change that. But they never did anything to warrant her coldness or mistreatment, so she always responded with appropriate respect and warmth.

Now, to your case. You have to assess your situation in the light of these considerations. Have your parents been respectful and helpful to you? Are they good people or have they abused their position as parents? If the relationship is abusive (rather than merely distant) it may be appropriate to separate yourself more from them. You will have to consider that carefully.

However, if it is merely a matter of lack of affinity, and they have given you no reason to cut them off, then you owe them a debt of gratitude for raising you. If you want to be closer to them, I suggest you begin by trying to understand your parents as people completely separate from their relationship to you.

Do they have friends? Do they have interests? What are their hobbies? What is their cultural and spiritual background? If you met them on the street what kind of an impression would they make?

Children continually take from their parents and seldom even imagine that their parents have a separate living reality. If you want to make an adult relationship with them, you have to come yourself to a state of maturity and cultivate their friendship as if you were meeting them for the first time.

What do they like to talk about? What do they like to do? How can you bring into your relationship with them a freshness and genuine interest in their well-being?

Parents sacrifice on a level a child can’t even imagine just to feed, clothe, raise, and educate you. If you want to improve your relationship with them, give back. The relationship at this point is not about you; it is about them. Even if your interest in what interests them is assumed only for the sake of the relationship, they certainly embraced your reality when you were growing up. Time to return the favor.

If they are asking of you things that are not appropriate for you to give, i.e., choosing a way of life, partner, career, location that doesn’t suit you, you don’t have to do what they want just because they are your parents.

But if you do have to disappoint them in fundamental ways, then try to please them in every other way you can. Be very attentive to remembering them on holidays, to contact them regularly, to focus on their interests and needs, to give them small gifts, to send them news and information that reflects their interests.

If, after all this effort, it proves that your parents simply don’t have the capacity to rise to a mature relationship with you, then you can adjust to whatever is realistic, with the confidence in your heart that you’ve done what you can.

And, of course, pray. Hold them in the light. Thank God and Gurus for the gift of life through them. And thank them for all they had to do to raise you. Ask that the Masters bless them and guide them on their own spiritual journey. Even if there is little outward communion between you and your parents, you can give them a great deal just through prayer, and in that way, fulfill your duty to them.

Nayaswami Asha

[Questions and answers from other Ananda ministers worldwide can be found on the Ask the Experts page of Ananda.org.]