Note: In order to understand this article better, it is recommended that you read the article ‘Where do we go after death?’
This is a question that is very commonly asked. People think of their near and dear ones who have passed away and find it unimaginable that they would deliberately cause them problems in life. The following are the two main reasons as to why ancestors trouble their descendants.
- Due to unfulfilled desires and
- Due to the inability to move on in the after life and attain a higher positive region or sub-region.
Distress due to unfulfilled desires
In this case, ancestors trouble us as they have unfulfilled desires. These desires can include:
- Anger directed at descendants who do not use their inheritance in accordance with the ancestors’ wishes.
- Ancestors who have an attachment to the family and still want things to be done their way.
- Ancestors who are addicted to some physical desire such as cigarettes, drugs, sex, food, etc. They take advantage of the remaining give-and-take account between them and their descendants to possess their descendants and fulfill their desires. Departed ancestors trouble their descendants instead of others with whom they may possibly have a give-and-take account with; this is because the bond between blood relations is the strongest.
Distress due to a call for help by ancestors
When one dies, the vital energy is released back into the Universe. The physical body remains on Earth, while the subtle body travels to a subtle plane depending on its merits or sins and its spiritual level. Unlike on the Earth plane, the only parameter that matters in the after-life is the spiritual level or the spiritual purity of a subtle body. The physical body and the various worldly aspects such as money, prestige, job, how well we are connected etc. have absolutely no relevance in the spiritual realm or subtle world.
The subtle body as shown in the diagram becomes ‘heavy’ due to sins and excessive ego. As a result, it gets stuck in lower subtle planes of existence such as the Nether region (Bhuvarlok). If the demerits or sins are intense, then the subtle body goes to one of the regions of Hell (Pātāl). On the other hand, the subtle body becomes lighter due to good deeds (merits) and the intensity of spiritual practice. The higher the spiritual level, the lighter the subtle body and faster the progress to the higher positive subtle regions of the Universe.
Samashti spiritual level refers to the spiritual level attained through spiritual practice for the sake of society (samashti sādhanā), while vyashti spiritual practice refers to the spiritual level attained through individual spiritual practice (vyashti sādhanā). In the current times, spiritual progress for the sake of society has 70% importance while individual spiritual practice has 30% importance.
An advanced seeker’s subtle body crosses the Nether region immediately as a result of spiritual practice and goes to higher subtle regions of existence such as Heaven (Swarga). Only ancestors who are above the 50% ( samashṭi) or 60% (vyashṭi) spiritual level are able to go to higher subtle regions, such as Heaven and are able to access the requisite protection from God to fend off any attack by ghosts (demons, devils, negative energies etc.). Less than 5% of the world population falls in this category.
The following is the breakdown of world population by spiritual level:
(Please refer to the article on spiritual level and the breakdown of the world population by spiritual level.)
This means that the vast majority of our ancestors (over 95% of them) will be consigned to regions below Heaven like the Nether region or one of the regions of Hell. A large percentage of the world population is at a spiritual level of below 30%. When they die, they have very little spiritual strength to help themselves in the lower subtle regions. By ‘help’ we mean helping themselves spiritually to advance to higher positive subtle sub-regions.
In the lower subtle regions, they experience pain due to demerits and do not know how to help themselves. They are also attacked and tormented by more powerful ghosts who control them for various purposes. They try to go to a more positive region or sub-region in the Universe but cannot quite do so without spiritual help.
Subtle bodies who are over 30% spiritual level, can technically help themselves by doing spiritual practice, but this too, is rare unless they have a strong impression to do spiritual practice that conforms to the six basic principles of spiritual practice. All other versions of spiritual practice are inefficient and do not really provide any spiritual help to the subtle body of the ancestor.
The distress suffered by our ancestors in the lower regions of the Universe emanates from them as distress frequencies/vibrations that travel across the various subtle regions as well as the Earth region. As their family members or descendants have the most matching frequencies, they are best able to receive these frequencies.
Only on the Earth plane, do we have the ability to do something for our departed ancestors. Their relatives in the other various subtle realms are pretty much in the same boat and so cannot help. In the present times, as most descendants are not sufficiently spiritually evolved to be able to subtly perceive the distressing frequencies, the ancestors use spiritual energy to create distress in their descendant’s lives so that the descendants take notice of their needs. The distress perpetrated by the ancestors is thus basically a means to communicate their pain. When the descendant finds that problems are not going away despite their best efforts, they sometimes seek spiritual guidance. If the appropriate spiritual guidance is obtained and implemented, it not only provides the descendants the required protection from their ancestors but also provides the ancestors the necessary impetus for their onward journey in the spiritual realm.
Depending on the nature and spiritual level of ancestors the extent of distress varies. A good ancestor would give distress only to the extent of making the descendants aware of their needs. A vengeful ancestor on the other hand, could cause extensive distress to his descendants.
- An ancestor wanting to fulfill his desires would trouble a descendant with similar desires.
- An ancestor desirous of moving on to a higher subtle region would target a descendant doing spiritual practice.