Asha Praver

Letters from Asha

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Ask Asha: Giving Up a Child for Adoption

[You can ask your own question here.]

Question

I would like to ask a question regarding Karma.

I was wondering, when a mother gives up her child for adoption, does that count as negative karma? What if the child was a result of a violence? would that still count as bad Karma. What should a person do in such a situation?

Any advice.
Thank you.

S
From Ireland

Answer

Dear S:

Conception is a joint venture, not only between the man and the woman, but also with the incoming soul responding to the flash of light in the astral world, which signals the potential for a physical body.

Compared to how often people have sex, conception is an infrequent occurrence. In other words, the karma of the incarnating soul is also part of the equation.

Giving up a child for adoption is not in itself bad karma. It depends on why the parents are acting in that way. (Fathers also have responsibility.) Most biologically mature men and women can conceive a child, but that doesn’t mean that they are also in a position to raise one.

Certainly a child conceived in violence would not be a welcome responsibility. In such a case, adoption would be an obvious choice. Although terminating a pregnancy is also a difficult decision, rape is certainly a situation in which it could be considered.

Children conceived by people who are quite young are often better off being raised by more mature adults. Often it is good karma for teenagers to think first of the child’s welfare and not be swept away by the emotions of the moment.

The incoming soul knows the conditions into which it is being born. Obviously, the biological parents have karma with that soul. But it is not unreasonable to say that the karma could end at birth. The child’s lifelong karma is with the adoptive family.

Later, perhaps, one or both of the biological parents may come back into the picture, but there is no reason to think they have to.

Think how many times the soul incarnates in its long journey to Self-realization. And each time there is a mother and a father, plus, perhaps, adoptive parents, step-parents, or surrogate parents. We live through every imaginable permutation. We have to, because each situation has lessons to teach us.

The “child” is not a child at all, but a soul like any other. The body has age but the soul is ageless. A new incarnation does not mean a clean slate. The conditions of each birth are a perfect reflection of exactly what the soul needs to progress spiritually in that lifetime, based on the accumulated karma of all the lives that came before.

It is the same for the mother and the father. Conceiving a child that they can’t raise is, for them, exactly the karma they need to learn whatever lesson is next for them. Maybe they will learn it; maybe repeated experiences are needed before understanding dawns.

The lesson and the learning are entirely personal. For one person it may be to think first of the welfare of the child. For another, it could be learning to be responsible for the consequences of one’s own actions.

Maybe the lesson is to be less promiscuous. Perhaps it is to be less self-centered, to be willing, in other words, to make the sacrifices necessary to raise a child.

It is important to remember, however, that God is no tyrant. Often we do things without any awareness of the repercussions. We are blinded by many factors and it can be years before we become aware of what we have done.

God reads the heart, not some manual of “Right and Wrong Behavior.” We do the best we can. God knows that.

If, later, you realize you made a grievous mistake, don’t torture yourself with that realization. Look at it objectively, but calmly. Accept responsibility, but rather than feeling guilty, resolve never to make that mistake again.

That is all God asks of us, not to give up, but to keep trying and never to lose faith in His all-merciful love.

Blessings,
Nayaswami Asha

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

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Ask Asha: Does God Punish Us?

[You can ask your own question here.]

Question

In AY, Yogananda speaks of "astral slums." I understand that our own actions determine our karma, however, it seems like people are being punished in this perspective of the afterworld. In other books, Y speaks of evil tramp souls and possession, and this seems frightening and odd to me, and almost verging on puritanical ideals. Could you please elaborate on this aspect of his teachings to clear up some confusion for me?

dwaparayogi
From USA

Answer

Dear D:

If you are responsible for raising a child, you must help the child understand that actions have consequences. From the child’s perspective, of course, this is not always obvious. Merely telling the child is not usually enough. Experience is the best teacher.

It is a delicate balance between protecting the child from harm and allowing him to have the experiences he needs to grow. Sometimes a mother has to let the child put his hand on the hot stove.

Our Divine Mother has the responsibility of raising us from ego-delusion into perfect Bliss. A human parent guides a child for one incarnation. Divine Mother guides us for eternity. Whether in the physical or in the astral worlds, She watches over us.

The consequences of our actions do not evaporate merely because our body dies. Our consciousness continues at whatever level of realization we have achieved. In each incarnation we go back and forth from the astral to the physical as one continuous process.

In this discussion, the best word to identify that continuing individual consciousness is jiva, defined by Swamiji in his Gita commentaries as “the infinite limited to, and identified with, a body.” The jiva identifies with the physical and the astral body, so the consciousness is consistent in both worlds. The context is different, but the karma registered in our chakras stays with us.

Here is another point to consider. Yogananda says that in the course of our long journey back to Bliss, we experience every possible form of delusion. If you are no longer drawn to being a murderer, for example, Yogananda says that is because in previous lifetimes you have tried murder and found out for yourself that it does not give you Bliss. Your own experience has taught you not to follow that path.

Just same way that the little child after putting his hand on the hot stove, does not have to be told, “Don’t do that!” He knows.

If a vicious murderer is incarcerated in prison for life, indeed, that is a tough sentence. Is it inappropriate, however, given what he has done and the threat he poses to society? How else will he learn that actions have consequences and murder is not going to bring him the happiness he seeks?

If a jiva behaves in a selfish, hurtful way, without compassion or concern for others, then finds himself after death residing in an “astral slum”, it may seem harsh, but is it inappropriate? If a child does something profoundly hurtful to others, should his mother just say, “Bad boy,” and mete out no other punishment? How will the child ever learn?

But if because of the suffering the jiva endures in the “astral slum” he sees the error of his ways and resolves to live on a higher vibration, is living there a “punishment” or is it Divine Mother’s love?

An evil tramp soul is a jiva so identified with his physical body and the power and pleasure he imagines it gives him, that he fights against the most fundamental fact of physical life itself: that it ends in death. Rather than moving on to the astral world, he clings to the physical life that has been taken away from him.

Without a body, however, he can’t have the same experiences, so he hovers between the worlds, looking for ways to get control of bodies that don’t belong to him. Those who have the ability to see beyond the physical, say that places where people drink, take drugs, or in other ways overindulge in sensual experiences that diminish one’s control over one’s own mind and body, are literally haunted by these dark, disincarnate beings. Evil tramp souls know that in such places they can gain possession of a physical body because the jiva who inhabits it has lost control.

Often violent crimes are committed when a person is drunk or high on drugs. Afterwards the person may have no idea why he did it. He may not even remember committing the crime. Sometimes that is because he didn’t do it. Another jiva — an evil tramp spirit — had possession of his body during that time. Only after the drugs or the alcohol wore off did the rightful jiva gain control again.

To take possession of another’s body is profoundly confusing and detrimental to both jivas. It is spiritually wrong, especially if you take the body for the purpose of committing evil deeds.

Yes, this is odd and confusing. But it does happen. And it doesn’t serve us to shy away from truth merely because it is unpleasant or scary to contemplate.

The good news is you don’t have to fear that evil or participate in it. God’s power is greater than that of any “tramp soul.” Still, don’t allow yourself to become passive in your own life, blank-minded, or intoxicated. In other words, don’t invite trouble!

In The New Path, Chapter 30, “A Divine Test,” Swamiji describes an encounter he had with a disincarnate entity trying to take over his consciousness. When Swamiji felt that encroaching presence, he called out, “Master!” and instantly the dark force disappeared.

Bliss is our true nature. All we have to do is realize that Bliss. We don’t have to create it. We don’t have to earn it. We just have to stop ignoring it.

Divine Mother loves us too much to leave us wandering in delusion forever. Even tramp souls, no matter how badly they behave, are still Her children. She will do whatever is necessary to awaken them — and us — to our Bliss nature, including letting us experience the consequences of our own wrong actions.

If that looks like punishment to you it is only because your perspective — like a child’s — is too small. And if it seems puritanical, well, sometimes a loving mother has to be stern. But a true mother is not cruel or arbitrary. Her wisdom transcends at times our understanding, but through Her wisdom, our own will grow in time to equal Hers.

Blessings,
Nayaswami Asha

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

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Ask Asha: Christ Consciousness as a Universal Concept

[You can ask your own question here.]

Question

Can you describe in more detailed manner the CHRIST CONSCIOUSNESS that PY talks about.

Is there an analogy in Hinduism to Christ Consciousness?

DP
from USA

Answer

Dear DP:

It is interesting that you would ask the question in just this way. Perhaps the reason the question arises is because “Christianity,” by its very name, and “Christ” as the focus of that religion, seems to have claimed “Christ Consciousness” as its unique property. Jesus didn’t do that, but the church that followed has.

In fact, the concept of Christ Consciousness — perhaps more accurately, the fact of Christ Consciousness — transcends Hinduism, Christianity, and every other religion known to man. Christ Consciousness comes first, expressed through a fully Self-realized incarnated person. Religions come later, as an attempt by those of lesser consciousness to bring to a focus divine revelations impossible for them to grasp directly.

Christianity, like most religions, had a specific founder, “Jesus the Christ” — “Christ” being a title, not a name.

Hinduism has no founder, but is periodically renewed by incarnating Masters — each one a “Christ,” i.e., a fully Self-realized person. The Master who is known as “Krishna” was, Paramhansa Yogananda explains, “Jadava the Krishna,” the word “Krishna” being the equivalent in that language of the word “Christ.” The names and titles together, as you can see, are similar.

To make this point more clearly, Paramhansa Yogananda sometimes wrote the name “Krishna” as “Christna.”

The Sanskrit equivalent of “Christ Consciousness” is “Kutastha Chaitanya.”

These concepts, then, are as much a part of Hinduism as they are of Christianity. But they are not widely understood in either religion as it is practiced now.

In India, however, there is a deeper understanding of these truths than in the West. All true religions, Indian culture teaches, are expressions of “Sanaatan Dharma,” which means “Eternal Truth,” or, even more simply, “That Which Is.”

In other words, creation itself is a divine expression. All true religions in the world — which is to say God-inspired rather than man-made — include the same understandings. Christ Consciousness is one of them, not merely as an abstraction, but as the goal of all spiritual seeking and, in fact, as the inevitable destiny for all of us.

To understand more about Christ Consciousness as Paramhansa Yogananda explained it, I would suggest looking up that phrase in the index of any and all of his books and books by Swami Kriyananda. The Essence of Self-Realization, as an example, has some wonderful explanations; so does The Essence of the Bhagavad-Gita.

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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