An Indian spiritual Guru, who shall remain unnamed, was recently asked the question by someone in an American audience: “When does the soul choose a body? After conception, is it ok to abort a foetus if we already have children and do not want an accidental pregnancy?“. The question assumes significance because unlike Christianity, which declares that life begins at conception, Hinduism avers that the souls reincarnate into newer bodies through reincarnation. Since abortion is a politically charged issue, a hushed murmur rippled through the crowd before the Guru gently defused the tension by leaving the question unanswered. (see also Religion_and_abortion)
In a experiment conducted in the 1970s by a Stanford professor Walter Mischel, children were tested for their ability to resist the temptation to eat a marshmallow (“deferred gratification” as the pros call it). As the children grew up into adults, Mischel discovered that the children who had successfully resisted the temptation were also the ones who went on to achieve academic and professional success. Although the study is never cited to be so, it is actually proof of the validity of Titiksha(forbearance), which is a foundational practice in the path of Yoga.
Our consciousness is constituted of many parts, many personalities and throughout the day one part or the other predominates – sometimes the mental being thinks with clarity, sometimes the emotional being surges forward and acts out of passion, and when all inspiration dries up and nothing works, we just sit listlessly. If you are feeling bored, it means the vital energy is exhausted and calls for rest and recuperation. For those who aspire to become fully conscious, this phenomenon must be recognized for what it actually is – it is a gap in the consciousness which has to be plugged deliberately by employing refined and uplifting methods of relaxation.
One must strive to understand the psychological purpose behind every action in the spiritual path, otherwise it degenerates into a mere mechanical act followed out of fear, habit or superstition. With that in mind, here we explore the role that can be played by places of worship, relics, shrines, and prayer rooms in the spiritual path.
In moments of despondency, we tend to wonder if the efforts that we make through meditation, incantations, devotion, selfless service and other austerities to become a better and more spiritual person are having any positive effect. They do have a substantive but invisible effect on our aura or subtle body but we lack the occult insight to discern such changes. It is only a genuine Guru who can perceive changes in the subtle body of the disciple. In the absence of a Guru, one can assess one’s spiritual progress by observing the psychological changes that have transpired in one’s responses to external situations. These are two talks by the Mother Mirra Alfassa on the topic of spiritual progress.
These are a couple of talks by the Mother Mirra Alfassa on the efficacy of collective meditation. Double-blind scientific experiments have been conducted to determine the potency of prayer, as discussed in the wikipedia pages on the efficacy of prayer and studies on intercessory prayer. Those who wish to further explore the scientific angle can read chapter 3 – “Psychophysiological Influence” in the book Irreducible Mind by Edward Kelly, et al.