I was recently asked a series of questions via email. I was graciously given permission to share the exchange.
The questions include-
Are the planetary influences maps of our past karma?
Do the planets shape our lives?
Can we escape our karma by working on ourselves?
Can we change the world by changing our internal states?
Can I have control of my destiny?
Do we have the power to create our dreams or is it all predestined?
Where is our Karma stored?
Can intention change our life, as I don’t believe we can will our way through life?
What is the quickest technique to “erase” our karma? Is it Kriya Yoga?
The questioner wrote: It appears as though everyday people all over the world are receiving inspirations and methods for spiritual growth; too much to even learn and process. Some of the methodologies seem to conflict, but all seem to work from my experience. These are some of my questions. Some of the questions I have for my spiritual teacher, maybe also for you if you are inspired to write with some of this in mind.
Question: My recent spiritual queries have stressed the importance of erasing cellular memories from the subconscious mind. My question with astrology is, are planetary influences “maps” of our past karma?
Response: Yes, the planetary positions at birth show what kind of thoughts we had, choices we made, circumstances we allowed into our life situation, and actions we took in the past. When we think certain ways, and act in a certain way repeatedly, it turns into a habit. We then see the world through that conditioning.
The problems we have in the present result from our past actions, and our future problems result from our present actions. Our conditioning has a certain momentum to it. So the more energy we put into a thought pattern or lifestyle or activity, the more energy it has to sustain itself. Just like when we take our foot off the accelerator pedal of a car, it takes time for the car to come to a stop, when we stop giving energy or attention to a thought pattern or activity or situation, it may take some time for our past investment of energy to exhaust itself.
To answer your question, the birth chart shows the map we have created from our past actions, thoughts and conditioning. If we are attached to and identified with that map we will experience its indications. Also, if we are overly identified with our personality we will experience life as a limited small person in a very large overwhelming universe.
Question: Do the planets shape our lives based on OUR past actions?
Response: The planets are vessels, vehicles, aspects of consciousness that produce certain experiences. They are arranged in our birth chart in such a way as to give us the results of our past momentum. We incarnate at the proper time that is in resonance with our past tendencies and desires.
Question: Can this planetary, karmic influence be escaped by working on ourselves and canceling out our subconscious, negative thoughts and memories?
Response: We cannot erase every subconscious or negative thought or memory, and there is no need to do that. This world that is experienced by us is built and sustained by memory, mental concepts, etc. It is natural that it should exist to give us the ability to experience our stories. We are eternal, as the timeless essence, the silent observer behind all thoughts, which occasionally identifies with a story for the experience. The world is also eternal, as there is always (usually) a part of consciousness that experiences a story.
Too many people get caught up in trying to make everything perfect, and to erase what they see as bad. You see this in the new age community that is obsessed with healing, and change and transformation. When we are in a terrible situation it may be helpful to take action to get out of it, but eventually we need to stop and appreciate the blessings around us. Spiritual growth does not result in a glorified human state. It results in the realization of what we are, beyond name and form.
So the real solution is not to erase negative things, but to rise above our identification with the story to which they belong. The more you erase, the more you will find. It is endless. So rather than trying to bail out the ocean with a thimble, get on the boat, and sail above it! There are many and various practices that, when treated with commitment and taken seriously, can accomplish this.
Question: Can we do the work on the inside to change our world on the outside?
Response: Yes. But being realistic is a good idea. Beware of people who promise too much.
It is better to do the work on the inside, to find out what your real relationship is to the outside. Then you will be content no matter what, as all embodied life entails change, creation and dissolution, pleasure and pain.
I remember reading a quote from Ramana Maharshi. He was saying that if you put on a pair of shoes, the whole world is covered in leather. That’s a lot easier than trying to wrap the world in leather!
Question: I know [a woman] who says she has changed her own astrological chart. Is this really possible especially if it isn’t very positive? In other words, do I have control over my own destiny or is my life pre-designed?
Response: This is a great question and one that I’ve pondered for a long time. Remember, the chart is the indication of our past momentum. If there are negative indications in the chart, and we continue to make choices that support those negative experiences, then the chart continues to act as promised. If we can recognize those negative traits, and start choosing different ways of being, acting and thinking, then we shift our momentum from one direction to another.
Most people don’t do this, because it takes a lot of time and attention. They may need to change their friends, get on a new routine, break old mental habits and CHOOSE to think differently. This is a threat to who they think they are. So they remain complacent in their false sense of self, experiencing all the problems that go along with that false sense of self. They think they are destined to be a certain kind of person, and don’t realize they are just the kind of person they choose to be, and that all the people, things, and places around them are supportive of that choice.
You will keep going in the same direction (your destiny) until you make a concrete and obvious shift of perspective. Some people attempt this and fail, because they don’t realize how much time it may take. You can move your consciousness in the direction you want it to go, as long as you continue until you get there. Thinking about “how long is it going to take” indicates you probably aren’t that committed to continuing until the job is done. How long it takes is irrelevant. You are eternal, so you have all the time it takes.
I remember reading a book by Paramahansa Yogananda, my teacher’s teacher. He was talking about healing. He said that even if you are dying of a fatal illness and eaten up by it when you die, you must always hold in your mind and consciousness that you are healthy and well, and it is only the body that is experiencing this karma. If you can be that health internally, despite the outward experience, you exhaust that karma, and don’t have to worry about it anymore. What you are in your mind, is what your consciousness most fully identifies with. Outward experience may take some time to catch up with that. It may even take a lifetime or two. But isn’t it better to hold your course, so that it only takes “a lifetime or two”, rather than twenty or more? (Assuming you have the belief in reincarnation, of course.)
Question: Do I really have the power to create my dreams or are some things just not in the stars for some people?
Response: That too is very good to contemplate. If you are four feet tall, chances are you are not going to play basketball professionally, although anything is possible.
Being realistic is always helpful. Many people ask me if they are going to make a lot of money. My first question, before even looking at their chart is:
“How hard (or smart) are you willing to work? Have you taken the time to find out how other people, who’ve done what you would like to do, were able to do it?”
Inevitably, what they are really asking is, am I just going to happen upon a lot of money. This is just an example. People ask me if they are going to be a famous author, have a good relationship, finally find emotional peace or find their dream career, where everything is perfect. When we have too much hope for something, it can get in the way of doing what it takes to realize our goal.
We need to find out what the ingredients for these things that we want are, and then accepting that reality, work to bring those into our lives. Most people know what they want, but are too stubborn to admit the reality of what it might take to have that.
Sometimes it’s easy. Sometimes it’s complicated. Some people are more capable, and some are not. The chart can reveal our strengths and weaknesses and either inspire us to achieve, even if against the odds, or allow us to make peace with our role on this earth, however simple it may be.
We have the power to sail our ship in a particular direction. We cannot always anticipate how the winds will blow, or what storms may come. But if we do our best to stay the course, being smart, working hard, remaining committed to the process, we have a much better chance of creating our dreams. Yet, we also run the risk of crashing our boat onto the breakers. The question really is, are you willing to try to create your dreams, and are you OK if you fail? If you are not OK with the possibility of failure, you are on the wrong planet.
Question: It seems (from my research) that the East calls our “stuff”, karma. The West is now big on “cellular memory”. So where is karma stored? Out there in the world, in the planetary influences, in events that happen to us?
Response: It doesn’t matter what we call it.
In the Kriya Yoga tradition, our karma is said to reside along our spinal pathway in the chakras. If the Kriya Yogi circulates life force through the spinal pathway consistently, and diligently, knowing he/she is neutralizing karma, that is what will happen. If someone believes their karma is stored in their cells, and they do what is necessary to neutralize it, that is what will happen.
Ultimately karma is stored in our consciousness. Our consciousness is our cells, our minds, and our environment, the space around us and within us. The planetary influences only trigger what is within us. How do you know what is within us? Watch your thoughts like a scientist looks through a microscope, with detached curiosity. What goes through your mind, and the consistent emotions you feel will give you a good idea. Analyze your consistent experiences that seem to repeat themselves frequently, and the types of people and entertainment you surround yourself with. That will give you a good idea of your current karmic state.
The planets are always moving through the skies in ever changing patterns. Those patterns mean different things. When the pattern in the sky matches the patterns in you, then you get the experience indicated. We do our [spiritual] practices, to rise above our identification with these experiences, and so we are no longer influenced by them.
Question: Even conscious intention doesn’t really influence results that much, so I don’t believe we can “will” our way through life.
Response: Your belief will give you the experience you believe in. Your belief is an indication of the consciousness you are sustaining. However, I too don’t believe we can will our way through everything, but I have found that we can will our way through a lot more than we give our self credit!
Not to be rude, but most people are lazy with their will. They give up too soon, or they never took the time to really analyze what was needed to make something happen. Metaphorically speaking, a lot of people think they can plant marigolds in the dead of winter and have success. If they took the time to figure out that marigolds grow better in a certain climate and season, then (hopefully) they would be able to patiently wait until the time was right and take advantage of the proper season. But again, most people are impatient, and if they can’t get or do what they want right now, they throw up their hands and say it’s impossible. Many people think there will has failed, not because their will has failed, but because they didn’t do their homework and their energy was not utilized effectively.
I remember reading the story about a person whose boss always told him he was failing to get clients because he didn’t smile enough, wasn’t thinking positively enough and had a bad attitude. Then he did some research, did some hard work, and made a good plan. He said he still had a bad attitude and didn’t smile that much, but once he had a good plan in place, everything worked beautifully.
This is applicable to external experiences, as well as our thoughts, moods, and emotions. The will can especially be utilized to gain control of our inner conscious states. Inward mastery is very much a part of spiritual growth. If we cannot master our inner states, we will not make much “progress” spiritually speaking.
Question: So, if karma is stored within our subconscious minds and in our body tissues, what techniques can begin to wipe our “past” away? [A certain practice I use] is one way, but it takes diligence and lots of time. My current quest is to find the best tools on the planet for the most streamlined effects. Is Kriya Yoga it?
Response: Find the “technique” or path that works for you, and stick with it. They all take diligence and a lot of time. You’ve had (maybe) eons to create your current state. Thinking you are going to correct it overnight, or even within 10-20 years is ridiculous. (Although, of course, you might!) You can make great strides! But that is the problem with popular spirituality, they feed you a line of bullsh!*, ask you to write a check, or make a donation, and claim you’ll have a major change in a short time. Now you will change, yet it will be like growing up. You don’t immediately go from a toddler to a 40 year old adult overnight. Yet you have to start the process of “growing up” and patiently nurture it, until you blossom into wisdom. Maybe it will happen in three months, maybe it will happen in 7 years. Does it matter how long it’s going to take? It will happen, so long as you remain steadfast.
I’ve found Kriya Yoga to be a very potent practice for me, but then again, I practice it exactly as I have been taught and I repeat the exact same process every day, sometimes twice or three times a day. I’ve been doing this for 12 years. When I am not practicing the techniques, I follow the advice given to my teacher, Roy Davis, by his teacher, Paramahansa Yogananda. “Read a little, meditate more, and think of God all the time.” I do my best to see God in my work, in my play, in all the things I like about life, and all the things I don’t like about life. I’m obsessed with it. It is the last thing I think about and the first think I feel first thing in the morning. Because of this I have experienced what is promised, and I am content with that, and I am also continuing to learn and grown, and every day feels like I’ve just scratched the surface! Infinity is pretty big and deep.
When it comes to growing into our wisdom and our full potential, people think that those who have come before us and done this were special or had something that everyone else does not. Let’s take Yogananda for example. Many people worship him, and deify him now, and think they are going to get into heaven on his coat tails. They don’t realize (or at least don’t pay attention to the fact) that in order to know what he knew and experience what he experienced, he began at a very young age, giving him self fully to Divine and Self-realization. And he followed the “recipe” laid out by his predecessors. He probably meditated more hours in a day than most people work! Then he continued to help others and remained steadfast, intelligently doing what he knew worked without wavering. There was no magic wand for him. There was only his full attention on the divine at the exclusion to all else. Whatever you focus on and see, is what you will get, whether you are conscious of it or not.
We can make rapid growth very quickly, but as with all things, the speed of our progress depends on our sincerity, our attentiveness, and our love for the process. When we are doing it out of Love, it doesn’t matter how long it takes, and then all we know is Love from the beginning to the end.