Asha Praver

Letters from Asha

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Ask Asha: Unrequited Love

[You can ask your own question here.]

Question

I am in love with one of my colleagues. He knows that I love him, but he doesn’t love me. We were great friends for many months, but then the situation changed and our friendship got torn away. He has new friends and looks like he is happy with them. I, on the other hand, feel very sad. I am not getting over my feelings for him. He talks to me, but we are not close, as we used to be earlier. I have tried many things to overcome my feelings. No matter how much I try, the feelings come back more strongly. I feel like no one but he is my companion and I must have him in my life. I don’t feel like praying for anything other than him. I have read inspirational books, talked to healers, but nothing has worked. I don’t think I can feel romantic love for any other guy. I really want things to work out with him. Please help.

From R.

Answer

Dear R:

I would like to write to you in an optimistic, upbeat way. To assure you that if you visualize strongly enough, and pray hard enough, whatever you want will come to you.

Alas, I cannot sincerely do that.

Very often in life we do not get what we want. Unrequited love is all too common. One person may be deeply devoted and sees a happy life possibility but the object of that affection does not respond. These things happen. You have not been singled out by fate. This is a hard learning that many people have to go through.

When the mother of a friend died a few years ago at the age of nearly 90, my friend had to sort out her belongings. She was taking photos out of picture frames to put them in an album. Behind the pictures of her father she was surprised to see pictures of another man! Her mother had told her that early in her life she had hoped to marry that man, but he was already engaged and could not break his engagement. So she married the man who became my friend’s father and lived with him for 50 years. But behind his picture she kept the photo of the one she considered to be her true love.

Wow. You don’t know whether to weep, laugh, or bow in awe to her devotion.

I present this merely to say that the position you are in is not uncommon. And no matter how often you insist that this is the only man for you and you must have him, there is no divine law that says your desire will be fulfilled.

Maybe, but no guarantee. And from what you have told me that happy ending doesn’t seem likely. God apparently wants you to learn and grow in another way.

So the question is simply this: How long do you want to keep throwing yourself against this brick wall in the hope that one of these times it will turn into an open door?

No one can make that decision for you. It is entirely up to you.

This man knows that you love him and has decided not to respond. Perhaps you feel that sheer determination on your part will change his mind. Unfortunately, nothing you say makes me believe that he will change.

He has free will. You can’t make him feel what he doesn’t feel. I would hope that you value yourself enough to accept that he has made a decision and not put yourself in the undignified position of mute yearning.

Even if you think he would have the best possible life with you -- even if you feel that God Himself agrees with you -- if the man doesn’t see it, it isn’t going to happen. God will respect his free will. It is a divine law.

As for your actual sense of inner guidance or divine rightness in your commitment to this man as your life partner, I can only say that given your desire that he be your life partner, any guidance you get must be treated very cautiously.

The first step in learning to attune to true superconscious divine guidance is to be detached inwardly. Desire is blinding. Yes, you may feel a strong inner pull toward him which you may think is coming from a source greater than yourself, but I would be very cautious about declaring that inner feeling to be God’s will.

One way to tell is by the results. If this man is meant to be your partner, he will be. If he is not, no amount of wishing or praying will draw him to you. One can have strong feelings and still inwardly surrender to God’s will. That combination leaves one at peace no matter how things turn out. Not easy, but often the only choice.

I pray that you are able to embrace this attitude, even in this matter where your feelings are so deeply involved.

From childhood I have always had a deep desire to be happy. Later, when I got on the spiritual path, I understood that desire on a deeper level -- that it is bliss I long for.

When I was growing up, I assumed everyone had the same desire for happiness that I had. I was surprised when I became a teenager and then went to college to see how many people seemed willing to go on indefinitely in an unhappy state. The difference between them and me was that I was willing to change those things in myself that caused my unhappiness.

Not that it is always easy. Far from it! But my tolerance for being unhappy seemed to be much lower than that of many other people. They could handle being miserable. I could not. The hard work of letting go of a desire that was never going to be fulfilled, or changing an attitude that caused misery, or leaving a situation that wasn’t working out, was always more attractive to me than continued suffering.

To my astonishment, many people seem to prefer to suffer rather than accept the absolute necessity to change.

I feel you are caught in just that place. You frankly say that you don’t want to get over this desire. You want the desire fulfilled! Naturally, therefore, the desire persists!

So the question again is, “How long do you want to be unhappy?”

At some point the present misery will be greater than the imagined misery of letting go of your hope to be with this man.

Yes, a miracle could happen. He could have a total change of heart. But I assure you, clinging to this desire will not bring about that result. If God wants you to be together you can leave the country, take up residence on the other side of the world, and never tell him where you are and he will still find you.

And if it isn’t in your best divine interest to be with him, then you can hover around him longingly for the rest of your life and it won’t draw him to you.

Yes, a degree of faith is needed here. And courage. My heart goes out to you. Nothing is more difficult than redirecting the heart’s love once it has been given.

Now let us look at it from another angle.

Merely to take out of your life this desire is not going to be easy. Far better to think how to bring into your life positive realities that will make it easier to live also with the sad spot his absence creates in your heart.

Here is a question: What good things do you imagine would happen if you and he were together? What activities would you enjoy? What changes do you think would happen in your own consciousness?

Naturally, some things would be dependent on his company, but by no means all.

If you think you might become active in social things that you are not doing now, that you might have friendships that you don’t presently have, that you will be kind and serviceful and giving to others if he were your partner, I suggest you engage yourself in everything you imagine you would do if he were with you that is open to you now without him.

In this way, the positive result you hope for from the relationship can begin to manifest right now even without the relationship. Since this is the position God has put you in, it seems appropriate as a devotee and a disciple to see what good you can manifest with what you have.

Not only will this make your life better right now, it will also get you out of this cycle of waiting for something to happen that doesn’t seem likely to happen.

And if, in the end, he is drawn to you, then you will have made yourself a happier better person in the meantime. And if he never comes to you, you will be a happier better person, rather than a lonely, stuck person.

If you can’t sincerely pray to overcome this desire, then pray for the courage to live happily no matter what happens. That way you are sincere in your desire to be with him, but also not frozen in time, dependent on one small fact for the definition of your life.

I will pray for you.

Blessings,
Nayaswami Asha


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

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Ask Asha: The Big Questions

[You can ask your own question here.]

Question

I have a few questions that I have been pondering and seeking answers to and am hoping and praying you will articulate answers for me. I realize they are big questions but I REALLY do want to know!

1. If God, the Creator is really Bliss creating itself, then why would bliss create suffering and a place of duality?

2. To what degree is God involved in everyone and everything’s life? Does the Creator simply create and then free will and karma take over? Or is the Creator involved in every little detail every second of everyone’s lives?

3. If there is karma, how can there be free-will? Did we really only have free-will when the soul was first created? Why did we screw it up for ourselves in our first incarnation and then spend the rest of eternity trying to get back to purity to be with God 100% of the time? Why did the creator create the ability for us to create pain for ourselves?

From Diane

Answer

Dear Diane:

I promised you I would answer these questions, so I’m going to try. But I have to say in advance I don’t have a lot of interest in answering them.

First because I don’t know why God does what He does.

I can and will tell you some of what I have heard Swami Kriyananda say on the subject. I would suggest also that you go to the index of any books by Swami Kriyananda or Paramhansa Yogananda and look up the subjects of creation, karma, and free will. They have the state of consciousness needed to answer with authority the questions you ask.

A further problem though is this: Do you have the state of consciousness needed to understand the answer? To understand why God acts in a certain way we have to be able to perceive reality as He perceives it.

In my life with Swami Kriyananda I have certainly learned that “his ways are not my ways.” Every time over these forty-some years when I have thought he didn’t understand something properly, it always turned out that it was I who didn’t understand. Not that I am ignorant or unintelligent. It is about my state of consciousness. More expanded, yes, than it was when I started, but not at all the level on which Swamiji lives.

Always I found, when Swamiji was kind enough to explain himself to me, there were factors that I didn’t even know were there. It has been a training ground for dealing with all questions of a divine nature that arise in my mind.

How big is my cup of consciousness? That is the limit of my understanding. If I want the answer to a question like the ones you have asked that are infinite in scope, first I have to expand my consciousness to hold the magnitude of the answer.

Which brings me to my second reason for being reluctant to answer these questions. What difference would it make? I used to think that if I could just get a good answer to whatever question my mind threw in front of me, the explanation itself would change both my consciousness and my behavior.

Over these forty-some years I have learned that explanations are interesting, and, to be fair, can be helpful, but change of consciousness comes from much more than just intellectual knowing. There must also be a change of heart, a change of awareness, a change of perspective.

In other words, the answer to “Why did God make creation the way He did?” is to live selflessly, love God, meditate, and serve. When your consciousness changes you experience the answer to these questions. Above all what you experience when you live in this way is an increase of inner happiness. That itself is an answer. God’s ways do not seem inscrutable when you are sharing in His bliss.

I know many people ponder long and hard on the questions you have asked but I am not one of them. My mind tends to flow along practical lines. How do I feel right now? What can I do to make myself feel better?

Knowing or not knowing the answer to the big metaphysical issues does not change the problem right in front of me: my own inner well being. Whether or not I have free will in some ultimate sense, I know from direct experience that the choices I make in the morning will affect the way I feel in the afternoon. The decisions I make this week will bring consequences next week.

Even if I can’t see far into past lives or future ones, the little bit of evidence I do have tells me that right action brings right result, that right attitude brings greater happiness than wrong ways of thinking, and that love conquers all. Further speculation may be interesting, but in the end, as Swamiji once said in response to these same questions, “What difference would it make?”

Maybe you think if you don’t have free will and life is all predetermined you’ll take a rain check on personal effort and sleep all day waking only to eat chocolate. Try it. See if it brings you the happiness you are seeking.

I like little questions rather than big ones. Maybe my sense of “free will” is only an illusion but it is an illusion that works for me. Little questions bring little answers that bring little changes that lead eventually to a total change of consciousness. This I do know. Not from books, or from being told by those wiser than myself. This I know from persevering over many years and finding out the truth for myself from actual experience.

Now to your questions.

Swamiji says it is the nature of Bliss to want to share Itself. He gives us the simplest example. If you see a movie you love or discover a restaurant with really good food, what is the first thing you do? Call a friend and tell him about it! Happiness is a lower octave of bliss, but happiness increases when it is shared.

Perhaps, however, your friend doesn’t like the movie at all, and finds the restaurant noisy and the service terrible. The fact that your effort to share your happiness did not succeed in making your friend happy doesn’t change your experience of the movie and the restaurant, nor your expanded happiness in sharing your happiness with others.

It is your friend’s particular state of consciousness that drew to him an experience different from your own, or caused him to perceive what you found favorable in an unfavorable light. It may have nothing at all to do with the reality of the movie or restaurant. It is only about what he experienced.

So it is with this world. Sometimes we experience this world as a place of suffering. Is it in reality suffering? Or is it only the way we perceive it?

The difficulty with answering this question is that what you declare as real -- “...why would bliss create suffering and a place of duality?” -- is not reality but just your perception of reality.

God made the world from His own nature, which is Bliss. Nothing exists in this world but Bliss. The mistake is in our perception, not in God’s creation.

Ah, but now we come to the reason why I didn’t want to answer this question at all. Suffering is how we perceive it. And the tendency is to blame God for our perception. Why didn’t He make it easier for us to see the Bliss?

I don’t know. But He didn’t. And all the saints and masters who rise to the level of God consciousness tell us that there is really no problem here. It is -- here we go again! -- our perception that is the problem.

If you mistakenly believe that someone has betrayed you and react with anger and despair, then later learn that it was you who misunderstood the situation, that your friend behaved in an exemplary way, that, in fact, there was never any betrayal at all, is it still your friend’s fault that you suffered? Did you even suffer if there was never anything to suffer about, i.e., no betrayal? Everything was always fine. It was you who misunderstood.

The saints tell us that we make the same mistake in our relationship to God and creation. We blame God for something we believe He did when in fact it was only our misunderstanding. Once we realize that we have misunderstood, it is a pure love fest between us and God.

As for how much is God involved in our lives, let’s ask the question in a slightly different way. How much is the ocean involved in the wave? Obviously, without the ocean there would be no wave. God made us of His Bliss. Even if we don’t know it, that doesn’t change the facts.

If your only perspective is from the top of the wave, you may lose sight of what you are and where you came from. Perspective, however, is only that.

Putting aside for a moment even the question of God, can you separate any aspect of your life from every other aspect? Even the minutest part, for example the clothes you are wearing today, are they entirely separate from the rest of your life?

When did you buy that particular outfit? Where did you get the money to buy it? What size clothes did you buy? Has your body always been that size? Did you gain weight from wrong diet or lack of exercise? Did you shop in a department store that only carries current styles? Is your fashion sense molded by the magazines you have seen or the taste of your friends or your mother?

Take any aspect of your life and try to define its existence without reference to what has come before. Can’t be done. We live in an integrated reality. Everything is tied to everything else.

In this context, what is free will? To act without reference to any reality except... what? Your own preferences? Your own desires? And where did those come from?

Every decision you make now is influenced by all the decisions you made in the past including past lives in circumstances you no longer remember. So yes, everything is determined by karma. Karma is just cause and effect. The cause being your own actions, the effect being an inclination to act in a certain way because of the understanding -- or lack of understanding -- you have within yourself.

Is this all a horrible trick from God?

Now that is a hard question to answer. And once again I am back where I live in relation to this question.

We are imprisoned by our own limited consciousness. Who put us here and why? At first this seems like a really important question, so we beat on the bars of our prison cell demanding an answer. The problem is, no matter how much we scream, no one ever answers the question in a way that makes any difference to our imprisonment.

Then someone says, “God did it. It is His fault. He created this mess in the first place.”

Now we have someone to blame! And we get really, really angry at God! But after a while we notice that all that anger has no effect on our imprisonment. In fact, it makes our little cell of consciousness quite unpleasant.

So, after a time, as long a time as we choose to make it, we begin to ask a different question. “How can I get out of here?” The question of who put us here and why isn’t as interesting as how to get out.

It sounds sort of sensible to say we were free in God and then got trapped in creation and why did He do that to us? But that is a question very similar to “Why did my friend betray me?” when, in fact, he never did. You just mistakenly thought he did.

God has always been the same with us and we just don’t know it.

But we will. And when we do, all the saints and masters tell us, that there is nothing to understand and nothing to forgive. There is just Love.

Hope this is helpful to you.

In divine friendship,
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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