Asha Praver

Letters from Asha

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Ask Asha: Can I Be Your Disciple?

[You can ask your own question here.]

Question

Dear Asha,

I have been reflecting for a couple months now, and I want to set my intention. I really, want to be your disciple. If you can't accept me, or don’t feel it is right, I am still grateful to experience the divine through you. I am willing to do whatever I need to do, to experience God.

Sincerely,
W.

Answer

Dear W.

Your question touches me deeply. I am so happy that you are so determined now to follow the spiritual path.

The simple answer to your question, though, about becoming my disciple is, "No, I can’t take on that role with you." Please understand, though, the limiting factor is not you; it is me. I don’t have the realization.

And furthermore, on our path, we are all disciples of Master and the others of our line of Gurus -- Jesus Christ, Babaji, and so on. Even Swami Kriyananda does not accept disciples in his own name. Many at Ananda, he says, are disciples of Master through him, but that is far as he will go.

It is not only humility on Swamiji’s part to behave in this way. He is also setting an example for the rest of us to follow. Our path is guided by avatars. It is only right that we keep our attention on the true source. Otherwise the power of this path could easily become diluted.

Having said that, let me balance that "no" with an emphatic, "Yes, of course, it would be my joy to help you in your intention to know God."

From Swami Kriyananda I have received so much of teaching, inspiration, and guidance. Because of him and through him I am a disciple of Master. It is my privilege, my responsibility, and my joy to pass on to you -- and to whoever else will listen! -- as much as I can of what I have received.

Swamiji said recently, it is the nature of a happy person to want to make everyone else as happy as he is. And this path has indeed made me a happy person! And it can make you one, too.

Whatever you experience of spiritual benefit through me, know that it is exactly in proportion to the extent to which I have gotten myself out of the way. What you enjoy is not me at all. So give credit where credit is due: to Swamiji and to the great Masters we both love.

If you regard me in the way that I regard myself, it will make our relationship much more fruitful and enjoyable for both of us. We are gurubhais -- sister disciples -- walking the path together, trying with all our hearts to overcome our egos and be pure instruments of God.

In that capacity, I am very happy to help you and ask you, in return, to help me, as all of us in this spiritual family help one another.

In divine love and friendship,
Nayaswami Asha

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

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Ask Asha: Explaining a Prayer

[You can ask your own question here.]

Question

Brahmachari Warren asks:

When we pray for body, mind, and soul, why would we pray for soul since the soul is already the essence of God?

Answer

Dear Warren:

It is a convenience, merely, to phrase it this way. It is easier to say and sounds nicer than “physical, mental, and spiritual,” which is what we mean.

What we are also asking for with this prayer is that our soul consciousness become (forgive me, I can’t resist the pun!) our sole consciousness.

Why, you might also ask, do we say “Jai Guru”? Certainly Master doesn’t need us to cheerlead for him. With that phrase we are asking our ego to surrender to the Guru and affirming that Guru will triumph over our delusion.

English is not an exact language when it comes to spiritual matters. When we say soul we can be referring either to the Infinite Itself or to that aspect of the Infinite which has become individual and identified with ego-consciousness.

In Sanskrit, there is a more exact word. Jiva is the individual spark of Divinity that is the unchanging Divine Presence within every incarnation. That is the meaning of the phrase jivan mukta, which describes one who is spiritually free (mukta) but still living as an individually incarnated being.

If you want to speak of the everlasting spark of divinity that has become you -- your bubble that will ultimately merge into the sea -- that is your jiva. To refer to “this jiva”-- instead of using a personal pronoun -- can sound a bit pretentious, but it is a valid way of referring to your ego-identified self, and at the same affirming your divinity.

Blessings,
Nayaswami Asha

P.S. To understand more clearly what the word jiva means, use the index of the book to look up references to it in Swami Kriyananda’s The Essence of the Bhagavad Gita.

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

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Ask Asha: Influences

[You can ask your own question here.]

Question

I notice a tremendous difference day by day in my ability to meditate and follow spiritual discipline. And however my day begins -- devoted, restless, worldly -- it seems everything and everyone around me is on the same wavelength! Is this astrological or does each day just have its own vibration that I am tuning in to?

Vinay

Answer

Dear Vinay:

Yes, waves on the ocean constantly fluctuate, but the depths of the Ocean of Spirit remain unchanged. Whether we dive deep, or bob around on the surface, is a matter of where we put our attention.

The world is a reflection of our own consciousness. A Master lives in a constant state of Bliss; everywhere in creation he sees only Bliss.

Swami Kriyananda recently said that when he sees people suffering, his first thought is not of their present misery, but of how blissful they will feel when that suffering is dissolved in the realization of God. He feels compassion, but even in the moment their suffering to him seems only a prelude to joy -- a joy made even greater by the contrast with the present moment.

What an expansive vision of life!

Many forces try to keep us on the fluctuating surface of life. Astrological influences are real. There is group, national, and planetary karma as well, all acting on the ever-changing flow of our individual consciousness.

It can be helpful to observe these ebbs and flows of energy, but eventually, the goal of the spiritual path is to develop such powerful inner magnetism that we can be even-minded and cheerful no matter what is going on around us. "To stand unshaken amidst the crash of breaking worlds!" is the dynamic task Paramhansa Yogananda has given us.

To demonstrate his freedom from all outside influences, Yogananda sometimes asked astrologers to pick for him the worst day for certain enterprises, and then he would put out the energy to succeed in spite of those influences. He wanted us to understand both that these forces exist and also that man's willpower is greater than all external realities.

Yes, sometimes spiritual practice is effortless and sometimes everything in life seems to pull us away from it. God and Gurus do not expect of us perfection we are incapable of achieving. All that they ask is that we don't give up. That no matter how many times our discipline falters, we will pick ourselves up and start again.

We can wander for a long time, but in the end, our heart's divine longing will triumph over all other attractions, and will bring us back to our eternal home in God.

Blessings,
Nayaswami Asha

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

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Ask Asha: Overcoming Attachments

[You can ask your own question here.]

Question

Dear Asha:

Recently I find myself unable to find peace in meditation. I’m up against an overwhelming "ego attachment" that is making me sad: my longing to connect with people on an emotional, soulful level. I don't have the strength to let go of my desire to be loved in a romantic sense. I've found peace in being single, but I still long to feel that I matter and people care about me. I can't even envision letting go of this longing. Still, it is coming up for a reason. Is there an affirmation you could suggest that would help? How does one live with people, help them, and not have any attachment to them? I understand about not having expectations and not being dependent, but I am confused about the attachment part. The only two things I really believe in are my love for God and my desire to help others. So perhaps an affirmation could include this.

Sincerely,
S.

Answer

Dear S:

Naturally you long to be loved. Everyone does. God planted that desire in our hearts. Love is the key to everything good and noble that mankind achieves. Yes, in time, you will see that all love is love for God, but in the meantime, live sincerely on the level that is natural to you.

As for attachment, don’t worry about it. It will take care of itself. We do not become detached by pounding on our attachments. We become detached by expanding our hearts until everything is seen in its proper perspective.

Human love, Master said, perfectly expressed, is "almost the same as divine love." The doorway to perfection in divine love is through loving others. "Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all your heart, mind, and strength," Jesus said, "and your neighbor as yourself."

It is too much to expect of yourself -- and more than God expects of you -- for you to love whole-heartedly without some level of egoic feeling. We just aren’t yet that pure. But loving whole-heartedly, even with shades of personal attachment, will gradually expand our hearts until our love does become the perfect love of God.

The path to God is not a sprint; it is a long distance race. There is a big difference between understanding something intellectually and being able to embrace it heart, mind and soul. Success on the spiritual path depends on calm acceptance of that discrepancy during the years, even lifetimes it takes actually to shift our consciousness.

And yes, at times, meditation is a painful awakening to the many levels within of thought and feeling within us. The purpose of meditation is to increase our awareness. As you climb to the top of a mountain you can also see down into valleys you may not have known were even there. Better, though, to see yourself as you are than to live in a dream world of false images. And yes, it takes courage, and faith.

God loves you just as you are. He knows what you are going through and will have to go through to come to a state of final realization. He will hold your hand and guide you every step of the way.

A mother doesn't expect her child in the first grade to be able to sit in a graduate school seminar. The child has a lot of learning to do before that is possible. But that day will come. In the same way, our Divine Mother doesn’t expect us to be more advanced that we are. That is something we mistakenly impose on ourselves. Learn the lessons that are right in front of you and don't worry about a perfection that isn’t possible for you now, but will be someday, as long as you don't give up.

As for an affirmation, I think you should not bother about your faults but affirm in a positive way what you are naturally inclined to do: love and serve others. Swami Kriyananda's book, Affirmations for Self-Healing, offers several that would be good. These are suggestions merely; you might find others in the book that feel more right to you.

Love: "I will love others as extensions of my own Self, and of the love I feel from God."

Service: "I will serve God through others, and by my service to Him release the hold the ego has on me. I am free in God! In God I am free!" (Please note that this one does speak of ego attachment, so only use this affirmation if the mention of ego does not make you feel inadequate. If saying that phrase makes you sad, do not use this affirmation.)

Joy: "I am even-minded and cheerful at all times. I know that joy is not outside me, but within."

I hope this is helpful to you.

Blessings,
Nayaswami Asha

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