Here are answers to some of the spiritual questions which readers have asked us. If you have questions on spiritual life, we invite you to explore our site to increase your knowledge, or use our contact form here.
Q: If I am not mistaken, the Bhagavad Gita says that to attain spiritual awakening it is mandatory to have a guru or spiritual master.…
No; that is the usual interpretation, but it is incorrect. Krishna (Vyasa) tell us to seek out worthy teachers–acharyas. This is not same as the mythological guru figures of degenerate Hinduism. That is why the great master Swami Sivananda often said: “I abhor gurudom.” [For more information, read Gurus: Yes or No?]
Is initiation necessary in effort to search for spiritual awakening?
Definitely not. Spiritual awakening arises from within the individual when a certain level of evolution is reached. This is why Buddha is referred to as Self-Awakened. The same to true of all of us. [See God as the Guru]
There are a number of religious scriptures in the world. But some of them are in contradiction to one another. If these are all really divine revelations from God why then do different religions war with one another?
Scriptures are not divine revelations directly from God. Those that claim to be so are false and should be ignored. Rather, scriptures record the insights of those who have gained some experience of spiritual realities. The limitations of those authors naturally limit what they write. Their own understanding of their experiences may also be limited or even mistaken.
That is why the Bhagavad Gita urges us to seek direct spiritual experience for ourselves and go beyond dependence on books and teachers. This is why the Gita tells us to become yogis. Without yoga there is not hope of full spiritual understanding, much less enlightenment. [Read Perspective on Scriptures for more on this.]
Within Hindu religion ritual animal sacrifices is still being practiced in some parts of India, Nepal and Bali which quite contradict the teaching of ahimsa. How can we explain this?
Contemporary religion in India is often a mishmash of the most sublime truths and the most profound ignorance and superstition. Like the ant we must take the sugar and leave aside the sand.
Many spiritual associations and ashrams follow the pure traditions of India’s enlightened sages, and these should be sought out. Again: it is not philosophy we need, but our own inner experience through personal yoga practice.
When the Self leaves the body at the time of death, who carries the memory of the karma, which is going to be the foundation for the next reincarnation?
Karma exists as energy impulses, waves or whorls in the astral and causal levels of the subtle mind body. They depart the present body, remain for a while in the subtle worlds, then create the next body, enter into it and manifest through it.
What is the best time to meditate?
Whenever you can and do meditate. However, it is my experience that the Brahmamuhurta, around 4:00 a.m. is the best because the mind is calmest then. Here we meditate from 4 to 7 each morning and prefer that. Some people find they meditate best in the evening, so it is really an individual matter.
I would like to advise you to meditate for at least three hours in a single session whenever you can manage. Once you can sit for three hours you can sit for much longer. [See also Three Useful Meditation Tips]
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