[You can ask your own question here.]
I took Kriya a few months ago and it has really boosted my meditation practice. Before I struggled to find time; now there is always time to meditate. Everything was going great until this week when two nuclear size karmic bombs went off that may change the pattern of my life forever. I was doing okay with the first one but the second one took me down. The teachings say I should pray, accept, go with the flow. But I don’t feel like doing any of that. I am sad, angry, negative, and feel I am being punished for something, I don’t even know what. Why would God do this to me? Some people told me before I took Kriya, “Watch out! After Kriya initiation your whole life will fall apart!” I didn’t take that seriously before, but now I wonder.
The ego sees life in terms of pleasure and ease. A powerful ego can define pleasure in a way a weaker person might not -- physical challenges, for example, the adventure of becoming wealthy, the courage to be a soldier may be a form of pleasure for one ego but not for another. However defined, whatever fits within the ego’s definition of pleasure and ease it calls “good.”
When life moves outside of that definition, as inevitably it will, the ego calls that “bad.” It may be the untimely death of a loved one, betrayal by people we trusted, advancing age, failing health -- the list of things that are not pleasurable and easy is a long one indeed!
From a spiritual perspective, the ego’s idea of good and bad is entirely irrelevant. What matters spiritually is not what happens to us, but what we become through those experiences -- whether we expand our consciousness to embrace a greater reality, or contract in the hope of avoiding suffering by rejecting reality itself.
Think of it the way a human mother responds when her five-year old child is afraid to go to kindergarten. Yes, she is sympathetic, but also unrelenting. She knows there is no future for her child just hiding at home. The child has to find the courage to expand into a greater reality. The mother is firm, she is also supportive, and helps with her love to give the child the confidence to expand.
It is the same with us and our Divine Mother.
It is common on the spiritual path to define God’s love in terms of all the nice things He does for us. We give our prayers, meditation, and donations and in return have a good job, nice house, and a parking place right where we need every time. This kind of “faith” is really nothing more than what a satisfied customer might feel after shopping at a good department store.
Maybe I am trivializing this a bit, but the point is an important one. Being a devotee is not a deal we have made with God. His love for us transcends mere pleasure and ease. What he wants for us, as Paramhansa Yogananda dramatically put it, is “To stand unshaken amidst the crash of breaking worlds!”
And that is also what we want for ourselves. Nothing less will satisfy. Even though at first we may cringe when we see the path we have to follow to reach the freedom our hearts crave.
So, no, you are not being punished, but, yes, you are being challenged to embrace a reality greater than the one you were living in before. You had it all neatly arranged and now that picture of pleasure and ease has been shattered, probably forever. Is that “bad” or is that “good”?
In fact, it is neither. It is merely an opportunity life has given you to expand or contract your consciousness. All external conditions are temporary. Sooner or later, whether by natural attrition or karmic bomb, everything changes into something else. Only consciousness is eternal. What you are in your consciousness will be with you always, no matter what conditions surround you. That is why God wants you to cultivate right consciousness.
God has given you an opportunity to push beyond your own definition of yourself. The fact that you have responded first with anger and negativity shows that you have much to learn. Rather than be dismayed at this realization of your shortcomings, be delighted! Those shortcomings were always lurking just behind the comfortable scene you had before. The fact that you were unaware of them did not free you from their stifling influence.
The bliss your heart longs to experience will never be yours until these limitations are overcome. Now you know and can get to work. Is that “bad” or is that “good”? You see it all depends on your point of view. Pleasure and ease? Or bliss for eternity?
As for Kriya Initiation causing these difficulties, let me put it bluntly: Don’t flatter yourself! To imagine that you have generated enough power in your Kriya practice to change your destiny in just a few months is, well, preposterous.
Or, to put it another way, if you had that kind of power you wouldn’t be suffering from the anger and negativity you describe, but would be floating in bliss.
Karmic bombs such as you describe have taken years, more likely lifetimes to build up and then detonate. If a gifted astrologer had looked at your horoscope the day you were born he probably could have predicted to the day when these things would happen.
Far from causing difficulties in life, Kriya is our safe haven. It gives us a way to move inward, away from life’s problems to the realm of spirit where our true self is untouched by mere outward shifting.
I think sometimes people want to blame Kriya for karmic troubles they face in the hope that if they just stop doing Kriya everything will come back to pleasure and ease.
If you abandon God, where will you go? And what will you find there?
I have noticed when people are faced with karmic bombs such as you describe, they use the event either to cling more tightly to God or as an excuse to run away. Often it comes down to a simple decision of where you seek comfort. Do you keep up your routine of spiritual practices, do you come to the Temple, do you participate in group activities and seek inspiration in the company of other truth seekers?
Or do you allow false reasoning to persuade you to stay away from the very things that would lift the darkness from you. “Oh,” the wounded heart will say, “I’m too sad to go to the Temple this morning.” Or, even more insidiously, negative thinking will persuade you, “I don’t want to bring others down.”
Don’t give in to thoughts like these. Darkness cannot be dissipated by beating at it with a stick, whether that “stick” is anger at God, fury with other people, self-recrimination, loss of faith, or tears. None of it will work. Darkness is dissipated by the presence of light. Seek the light in every possible way and you will be astonished to find yourself standing, if not unshaken, at least solidly on the two feet of faith and love for God.
That power, nothing can take away from you. So is the means to that end “good” or “bad”?
You see, God loves you, not because He gives you pleasure and ease, but because, in the end, He gives you Himself -- infinite freedom, unconditional love, perfect bliss.
[Questions and answers from other Ananda ministers worldwide can be found on the Ask the Experts page of Ananda.org.]