During my childhood I spent a lot of time at Ananda Ashram located in Monroe NY, and Brahmananda Ashram out in San Francisco. Shortly after I was born my parents would go down to Ananda Ashram on weekends and take me along with them.
From around the age of 4 to 7 I lived with my dad at the Ashram in San Francisco. I would often go to both morning and evening meditation with my dad. During mediation there would often be a fire ceremony with chanting in Sanskrit. This was usually followed by silent meditation. After that Dr. Mishra (Shri Brahmananda Sarasvati) would talk about many different topics. These topics included the energy that is all around us, and how to feel it as well as stuff about the chakras. He would talk about obtaining a state of oneness with everything and feeling connected to it all. He also talked about feeling the Ocean of Electricity pulsating through our bodies.
After moving back to Jamesville NY, I would go to Ananda Ashram on occasional weekends with my dad. I also lived at Ananda Ashram for three months in 1996. So I kind of grew up around this kind of stuff.
In addition I was not brought up with any particular religion. Both my mom and dad made it clear to me that I could be what ever I wanted to be. My mom took me to catholic churches a few times, as well as Quaker meetings after she became a Quaker. At the Ashram Dr. Mishra always encouraged questions, and my dad was always happy to answer any questions I had about spirituality. This helped when I saw things I felt were inconsistent.
I can remember when I was in middle school and I was visiting my mom. It was after I went to the children's program at one of her Quaker meetings. They were talking about Jesus Christ there. I was asking my mom how could people know what happened so long ago in such great detail. I also asked if Jesus was a real person that really existed or if it was just a story with a moral to help teach us. My mom would not give me a straight answer. She told me that she believed in him, but she did not know for sure, nor did she have any proof. She basically left it that I had to decide for myself whether or not I believed he was a real person or not.
I was always given total religious freedom. I know a lot of kids grow up being forced into one religion being told they must believe this or that, but not letting them discover on their own what they believe in, or question the things they are being told. I feel I am very lucky to have had this kind of freedom all my life.
I found up until 1997 I have always been interested in spiritual stuff, but that interest would come and go. Some times I would ask lots of questions and others I would just not think about that kind of stuff much.
At the beginning of 1997 something happened to me. I became very interested in spirituality, and unlike in the past this interest did not come and go. It just stayed with me and is still with me now. Since that time I have learned about Reiki, done more mediation, and have read a lot of books about life, spirituality and things along those lines.
My beliefs don't fall in the category of one religion. When I hear about new things I just go with what feels right to me, and ignore the rest. So my beliefs come from many different sources from many different religions.
I do believe in God. But I don't take up the Christian view that God is some guy that sits around and judges people. I feel God is the energy that is all around us and in everyone and everything. If you are able to connect with this energy and tap into the divine source of this energy you can feel the love, connection and beauty of God. It is possible to reach this state through mediation. Once you enter it you feel like you are connected with everything. All worries, fears, depression, and concerns are eliminated once you enter this state of mind. You feel like you are everywhere at once. You know you are totally safe and surrounded by love. Life seems so simple to you and all complexities are removed. You are filled with love and everything is so beautiful. Some people call this state of mind God Consciousness, Christ Consciousness or the Cosmic Mind.
I achieved this state of mind for the first time in 1999 when I lived in Pittsburgh. It was shortly after my dad was in a very serious accident. I did not know if he would recover or not. I was under a tremendous amount of stress from that and other things going on in my life. One night during all this I meditated some before going to bed. I did a long relaxation process I learned about from Dr. Mishra. I also was feeling the energy all around me. At first I just felt the energy in my palms, then I felt it in the back of my hands. Then it spread to my arms, then to my entire body. After this I started feeling it in parts of the room I was not even in. Then all of a sudden this wave of energy came over me and I was in that state of mind. I felt totally at peace. All my worries about my dad were gone, and I knew everything would be ok and there was no need to worry. I realized all my walls were down. I wondered what would happen if anything negative should come my way since all my defenses were down. The answer came to me as soon as I thought that. It was to just flood it with love and the negative would be converted to positive. This feeling lasted for about 20 or 30 minutes then I was pretty tired so I rolled over and went to bed. The feeling slowly faded away.
There was one other time I achieved that state of mind as strong as that time. It was around February 2001. I was riding in a car on the way back from dinner with Tracy. It was dusk outside and she had the radio playing. We did not talk much at all on the way back, and I felt very relaxed and at peace. Then I just slipped into that state of mind. Everything around me was incredibly beautiful. I felt a tremendous amount of love. I almost started to cry when we went over a bridge and I looked down at the river below, winding off into the distance because it was so incredibly beautiful. Before this I had been very troubled. Once I was in this state I looked at what I was troubled about. I saw there was no reason to be troubled. I saw that it did not matter what way this thing I was troubled about went, that either way everything would be ok.
Since then I have slipped into something close to this state of mind many times. It is nowhere near as intense, but I do feel the love, and things do appear more beautiful and stand out more then before. It sometimes lasts for just a few minutes and others it lasts a few hours, at a much lower level, but still there. This spring I was amazed at how much more beautiful plants and trees looked when the buds were coming out. At one point when I was up at Raquette Lake, I looked at this one leaf that was just developing on a tree. I just stared at it for a few minutes amazed by how much love and beauty was there, how much energy I felt from it, and how connected I felt to it.
I believe after we pass away, we enter another plane of existence. From there we can choose to be reincarnated back on earth again. This may take place a few months after their previous life, or it make take several hundred years. I also feel that we pick our own parents, and before we are born we spend time around our parents in our astral bodies to get used to them.
Often we stay with the same group of people life after life. For example, the person who is your mother now may have been your daughter in a previous life or a sibling. Sometimes we may set up to meet certain people at different points in our lives if we have karmic ties to them.
Basically, karma is like the golden rule. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I know some people believe in the three-fold rule. Anything you do will come back at you three times as strong. I disagree with this. I feel things are kept in balance, or at least until we learn from our mistakes.
An example of karma would be, you see someone drop a $20 bill. You pick it up and give it to the person who dropped it. Then perhaps a couple weeks later you accidentally give a cashier $20 instead of $10 and they tell you that you gave them too much money.
Another example would be if a close friend lost their job and needed money for food and you did not let them barrow it even though you had more than enough. Then later in life you are short on money and no one will let you barrow it.
I believe karma can carry over from one life to another. For example if you abused your children in this life, in your next life you may be born into a family that abuses you as a child. Then if in that lifetime you abuse your children again, or perhaps your spouse you may be born into yet another life where you are abused again. Eventually you will learn your lesson and will be able to break free of this loop. Sometimes loops of this sort can happen to us for hundreds of lifetimes. I don't feel karma is a form of punishment for crimes, it is just a learning process.
Our mind is a very powerful tool. If you keep a positive outlook on life, positive
things will come your way. If you hold a negative view on life, then we will
attract negative things towards us. This is how we create our own world. If
we think the world is a terrible place with lots of suffering then our mind
will find a way to make that true for us. If you think the world is a beautiful
and wonderful place our mind will find a way to make that true for us as well.
More to come in the near future...