Thursday, May 3, 2012

Ask Asha: Thoughts, Health, and Divine Union

[You can ask your own question here.]


Can negative thoughts be overcome? How can we connect our soul to god? Can meditation heal every type of disease?

Pankaj, from India


Dear Pankaj:

Can negative thoughts be overcome?

Yes, of course negative thoughts can be overcome. As Master explains in Autobiography of a Yogi, thoughts are universal not individually rooted. Thoughts are a reflection of our state of consciousness. Change your level of consciousness and your thoughts also change.

A depressed person, for example, sees in every situation reasons for his depression. If that same person receives some good news and suddenly feels hopeful, he may look at the same situation and see reasons now to be positive. Nothing has changed except his state of mind.

Master said conditions are always neutral, whether we perceive them as happy or sad depends entirely on the predisposition of the mind.

Rather than trying to change individual thoughts, it is more effective to work directly on your state of consciousness. That means regular spiritual practices — meditation, study, prayer, chanting, affirmation. There is a long list of things to do.

When working to change thoughts, instead of concentrating on what you don’t want to be thinking (that can actually give more energy to what you are trying to get rid of!) focus on the state of consciousness you want to have.

Choose one or two chants, or an affirmation that speaks clearly and appropriately to your goal, and every single time a negative thought enters your consciousness, with all your willpower repeat the affirmation or sing the chant — out loud if possible but silently if necessary — until the negative thought simply has no space inside your mind to live.

One of the most difficult aspects of getting rid of negative thoughts is persuading ourselves that we really do want to get rid of them. Yes, of course, we say we want to get rid of them, but, in some way they must be serving us, otherwise we would drop them like a hot potato.

All states of consciousness, including the negative have a certain attracting power. Once we are in a negative place negativity uses what Master calls “our own false reasoning” to persuade us that we need to stay there.

Rather than engaging with each individual thought, better to wage war generally against the whole concept of negativity, treating any thought that wanders into your mind as a mortal enemy that must be banished instantly. Don’t entertain negative thoughts even for an instant! Go after them with your chant or affirmation as if your life depended upon it, because it does.

How can we connect our soul to God?

Your soul is always connected to God. Nothing can separate you from Him. What you are asking is, how can you realize your union with God. That is the whole spiritual path.

When I met Swami Kriyananda I was instantly attracted to him. I was just a neophyte, but somehow I sensed that his consciousness had no boundaries, whereas I felt so confined. The experience of meeting him was overwhelming in its simplicity. “He has what I want.”

That was more than 40 years ago and I have followed this path ever since. Still, at the beginning, I didn’t have faith in many fundamental aspects of it.

I had to consider, “Should I wait until I have more certainty before I dive into this life with Swami Kriyananda?”

I decided, “No, I need to go forward with faith in what I do know. The reason I don’t understand is because my intuition is clouded. If I do nothing, my intuition will remain clouded. If I do something — with full energy and commitment — my consciousness will change, my intuition will clear, and then I will know.”

And that is precisely what happened. I threw myself into the spiritual life as Swamiji presented it, acting on what I did know and taking a “wait and see” attitude toward those things that remained unclear. And in time, because of the grace of God and my sincere effort to receive it, my intuition developed and ... well, the rest is history.

Can meditation heal every type of disease?

The example of the ever-living, ever-youthful Babaji, described in Autobiography of a Yogi, tells us that consciousness is greater than matter. The resurrection of Jesus and Sri Yukteswar tell us that even death is not permanent for a person of Self-realization.

Meditation is not in itself Self-realization. It is a technique we use to help bring us to Self-realization. So even if practicing meditation does result in a lessening of disease, it is the change in consciousness, and the grace of God that consciousness may attract, that brings healing.

This is an important distinction. Otherwise we may take too much credit to the ego. "By the power of my meditation I have healed myself!" Then healing becomes the cause of a much worse disease: spiritual pride.

Generally speaking, people who meditate enjoy a more dynamic state of wellbeing than people who don’t. The physician who runs the clinic near Ananda Village has seen that those who practice Kriya Yoga, as a group, are far healthier than those who don’t.

Of course, Kriyabans also follow a number of other healthy habits — vegetarianism, exercise, refraining from drugs and alcohol — that contribute to their wellbeing. But there is no doubt that the powerful, subtle energy generated by Kriya practice also uplifts their health directly.

It is a mistake, however, to equate physical health with spiritual wellbeing. Some great saints have vibrant physical health, some are chronically ill. It depends on how God wants to play through them.

Those saints who are ill may be working out vestiges of their own karma, or maybe they are taking on the karma of others. That is between each one and God.

What meditation heals is your consciousness. It brings you in touch with your natural state of inner bliss. Often this brings about great harmony in the physical body, too. But even if the body remains ill, meditation can make it possible to transcend physical limitations, and in that sense it does heal all disease.

Nayaswami Asha

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

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