Spiritual Guidance

Questions answered by Swami Amritananda Saraswati at the World Yoga Convention held at Satyananda Ashram, Mangrove Mountain, Australia, October '78.

What is our immortal soul?

The soul comes as an individual to earth, as a particle of the supreme soul. Ultimately we unite again with the supreme soul. That is our end, and that is our beginning. If we do not go through the path of spirituality, or inner awakening, we keep wandering. We keep wandering everywhere except to the immortal soul, which is the supreme being.

If we lead a pure and spiritual life, are we reincarnated, spiritually enlightened?

If you have done everything right, and have awakened yourself spiritually, then you are born just where you finished the previous life, and you proceed on from there. Otherwise you forget, like everybody forgets. As a baby you knew where you had evolved to, what faculties had been awakened within you. But as your physical and mental bodies developed and became capable of action, then you began to forget the duties towards yourself, and slipped into materialism-eating, drinking, sleeping, dancing. These things have to be done, but while doing them the ultimate goal should be remembered always. Otherwise we are like any pig or fish.

I don't see how you can avoid attachment when you love a person, and yet attachment causes suffering.

You can love a person without attachment, and you can love a person without suffering for him. If your love is selfishly motivated, you will have attachment, and if you have attachment you will suffer. If your love is impartial, without any expectations, then you will have no attachment and no suffering. If you love someone without any expectation in any form, not only grossly but spiritually, then the love will help you, and it will help him.

How does one learn to love everyone equally?

By developing humility, egoism goes away of itself. The practice of humility and pure love, love without attachment, natural love, enables one to love all equally. There is a practice of bhakti yoga called kirtan which many practice to awaken the inner love, the pure love. Kirtan is not only singing God's name but singing with love and devotion. Mantra also awakens the love. Then one tries to feel the same love for the people who love him as for complete strangers. By this practice one attains a state where he loves everyone the same.

What does it mean when a person who has had very little success with meditation has a beautiful vision and then nothing thereafter?

It is not success or lack of success when you see some pleasant vision, or when you experience bliss. Similarly, it is not failing or falling down in your meditation when you have an uncomfortable, unpleasant experience. No, you must not feel like this. These experiences do not mean anything.

You are like a pot full of samskaras, full of all kinds of things. These samskaras are sometimes good and sometimes bad. It is like a reel of film on which there are good photographs and bad photographs. When you close your eyes to try to practice higher awareness, you sometimes notice the samskaras with greater clarity, and you consider that this is bad and that is good. But this does not mean that you are experiencing success or failure. Whether you have good visions or bad visions, good experiences or bad experiences, does not matter. Through yoga all the samskaras are taken away, good and bad. When the good ones come, don't think that you are getting success. When bad ones come, don't be disappointed or afraid. They are the same on the spiritual path, because they are not permanent.

What is the best way to reach the state of meditation?

Practicing the mantra or any other technique is to attain the state of meditation. Meditation is not a technique or a posture. It is a state of mind which is attained through great effort using such techniques as kriya yoga, mantra yoga, bhakti yoga and karma yoga. Karma yoga is also a way to reach, meditation, it is the fastest way. You can reach meditation faster through karma yoga than through any other yoga, even faster than kriya yoga.

How does one know one has become a guru?

The disciples will know, and the disciples will tell.