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Introduction to Spiritual Root Causes of Difficulties in Life

Abstract: The spiritual dimension influences up to 80% of our lives. On average, our deeds in the past, which include past lives, decide about 65% of events in our life in the form of destiny. This destiny is played out by various elements, both in the physical plane and in the spiritual realm. The elements in the spiritual realm that mainly influence our destiny are ghosts and subtle-bodies (spirits) of our departed ancestors. By doing spiritual practice as per the six basic principles of spiritual practice, we harness spiritual energy that helps us overcome the influence of these spiritual factors.

To understand this article, it is recommended that you first read the following articles:

1. Introduction

As discussed in the previous articles of this section, the root cause of any problem is most likely to be in the spiritual realm. In this article, we shall investigate what these spiritual root causes are and the principle behind overcoming them.

We will explain the spiritual root causes of problems from two perspectives:

Paths of spiritual practice: According to Vedic philosophy there are different generic paths to God realisation. One selects the path as per his temperament. Some of the paths are Path of Action (Karmayoga), Path of Devotion (Bhaktiyoga), Path of deliberate Rigour (Hathyoga), Path of Knowledge (Dnyānyoga) etc.

  1. The first one is from the perspective of the ‘Path of Action’ (Karmayoga). This includes destiny and wilful action and the law of give-and-take that heavily influences our lives.
  2. The second is the elements in the spiritual realm that influence our destiny and wilful actions.

2. From the perspective of the Spiritual Path of Action

The Spiritual Path of Action is inherently about practicing Spirituality by the principle that ’As one sows, so shall one reap’.

If we were to look at why we experience happiness or unhappiness in life, from the viewpoint of the Path of Action, then all happiness and unhappiness and all of our life’s events are experienced as either due to destined or wilful actions.

Wilful actions: Some incidents, thoughts, actions and behaviour are totally within one’s control. These are the actions wherein we use our mind (feelings and emotions) and intellect (decision-making ability) and act accordingly.  As a rule of thumb, in the current times, 35% of our lives are determined by our free will or free choice.

Destined actions: That part of our lives which is decided either by our deeds in past lives or past events of this life and that is not within the control of our free will is destined. As a rule of thumb, all major events in our life are destined. These events include birth, marriage, serious accidents and illnesses. In the current era, they constitute 65% of all actions. Our destiny also determines how we react or respond to various stimuli and events.

The destiny that we are born with is just a sliver of our accumulated give-and-take account over all past births. Through our destiny, we pay or gain the merit of past actions and thoughts in previous lifetimes.

destiny as a spiritual root cause of problems

Every action of ours either creates an account or settles one. It could also be a combination of both i.e. part settling and part creating. Accounts can be positive or negative. When we are settling accounts, it is destined and when we create accounts, it is because of wilful action.

  • If John has given Mary five units of pain by cheating on her, then by this action he could be settling a give-and-take account or creating one or a combination of both.
  • On the other hand if John gives Mary a brand new car, then by this action too he could be settling a give-and-take account or creating one or a combination of both.

Without a highly activated sixth sense, we would never know which one of our actions could be settling or creating accounts. Only a person who has attained the spiritual level of a Saint can know for sure through their sixth sense if an account is being created or settled.

In the case of John and Mary, if the account of cheating was being settled, it could have either been created in a previous lifetime (past-life) or in the current lifetime where Mary had inflicted an equal amount of unhappiness on John. Needless to say, settling of negative accounts can give us a lot of pain in our lifetime.

This is the explanation behind events where we see good people going through situations we feel are undeserved. Quite often we hear the phrase, ‘its God’s way’ or ‘it’s a mystery’. In truth, there is no mystery. Everything happens for a reason and is governed by the law of give-and-take, destiny and wilful action.

  • Ignorance about the factor of destiny and the give-and-take account leads to people in adverse situations crying out in despair saying, ‘What have I done to deserve this?’
  • Sometimes this can lead to blaming God or loss of faith in God or in the fairness of life.
  • In most cases, because people are not educated about the principle of destiny, they do not know how to cope with or overcome whatever is happening that is due to their own past deeds. (Refer to point 4)
  • If they were to be educated about the law of give-and-take they would at least have a philosophical view about those events where things have gone wrong despite their best efforts.
  • Also they would be careful about not creating further negative destiny.

Conversely settling of positive destiny gives us a pleasant surprise. That is why we sometimes find that apparently totally non-deserving people win a lottery or enjoy a good lifestyle without having to really work for it. Understanding the science and principle demystifies all such happenings.

We all have lived many lifetimes before our current birth. At the point in time of our first birth, 100% of our lives were determined by our wilful actions. It was like we had a blank piece of paper or a clean slate. Then as time progressed, according to the way we lived our many lives and the choices we made, we generated give-and-take accounts. We are born again and again to settle these accounts. The following chart shows how over time we create more and more accounts. They eventually add to our overall account that we have to settle as our destiny in the various subsequent births we take.

destiny and willful as spiritual root causes

In an earlier article, we described the following average breakdown of the root causes of problems in life.

spiritual root causes in life

How does this breakdown relate to the destined part of our life versus the part of our life where we have free will? The following table shows us the relationship.

relationship of spiritual and wilful root causes

Footnotes (based on the numbers in red in the above table):

  1. An example of this would be where a person ‘A’ is warned that water from a particular area is polluted and needs to be boiled before drinking. However due to over-confidence about his physical fitness, he says that he can digest all kinds of germs and drinks the water. If thereafter he develops diarrhoea, it can be said to be self-induced and would thus become a wilful action.
  2. Here person ‘A’ is destined to get diarrhoea as he is destined to go through a certain amount of suffering owing to a demerit in a previous lifetime. In this case, his intellect would work according to his destiny. Even though he is generally risk averse by nature, the destined event could play out in a number of ways
    • He would suddenly become over-confident and act out of character and drink the water.
    • There would be no one to advise him about the water and hence he unknowingly drinks the contaminated water.
  3. Another example is getting romantically involved with another person who has a history of violence and alcoholism despite being advised otherwise. As a result, one is physically abused.
  4. This is because of faulty judgement as the intellect acts according to the destined event that needs to occur. This is one of the reasons why some people get married even though everyone around them can easily see that the couple are headed for a divorce or many years of pain. Please refer to the article on ‘Mechanism of action of the give-and-take account and why we sometimes do the things we do?
  5. Sometimes one may buy and take residence in a house that is known to be haunted by a ghost. Even though friends have warned him about the fate that had befallen his predecessors, he just does not heed their advice and moves into the house. This may anger the ghost who may in turn affect or possess the person.

In short, destiny is like a ubiquitous cloud over our lives influencing how we think, act and react.

3. The elements in the spiritual realm that can affect us

Unknown to most of mankind, there exists a subtle and intangible world beyond the understanding of our five senses, mind and intellect. This world goes by a number of names such as the subtle-world, subtle-dimension, spirit world, spiritual realm or spiritual dimension. It includes the world of angels, ghosts, Heaven (Swarga), Hell (Pātāl) etc. The tangible or known world that most of us are familiar with is very small as compared to the subtle intangible world. In fact the extent of the known world as compared to the subtle-world is in the ratio of one is to infinity. This subtle-world hugely influences our life. The main elements in the subtle-world that affect our lives are subtle-bodies (more commonly known as spirits) of our ancestors that have passed on and ghosts.

The impact of the subtle-world on our lives can be quite different depending on our spiritual profile, which includes spiritual level and the efforts we take to grow spiritually and help others grow spiritually.

The following table shows the effect of various elements of the subtle-world on two types of people with very different spiritual profiles.

  • Spiritual profile 1: A person at the spiritual level of 20% not doing any spiritual practice
  • Spiritual profile 2: A person at the spiritual level of 50% doing spiritual practice knowingly or unknowingly according to the six basic principles of spiritual practice and for the sake of helping society to grow spiritually.

These various elements influence our lives in all dimensions like the physical, psychological, financial, social, educational etc. and are the spiritual root causes of difficulties in our lives.

spiritual root causes for a seeker and non seeker


  1. This includes distress by ghosts or ancestors. A person not doing any spiritual practice and who is at the spiritual level of 20% is more likely to be affected by ancestors. This is because the higher order ghosts consider the person at the 20% level as inconsequential and of no spiritual threat to them. Please read the article on ‘Why our ancestors trouble us?’ On the other hand, a person who is striving to do spiritual practice both for himself and society is more likely to be attacked by ghosts.
  2. The increased attack here is due to the fact that this person by helping people to grow spiritually is contributing to an increase in the Sattva component in society. It is important to note that effective spiritual practice needs to consciously or unconsciously conform to the six basic principles of spiritual practice. Only then is it capable of really generating purity in society. Ghosts being Raja and Tama predominant are troubled by the increased purity in society. Please read the article on the objective of ghosts.
  3. Due to increased spiritual practice the threshold levels/defence mechanisms of a person at the spiritual level of 50% against an attack are higher. As a result even though they are attacked more they are able to deal with and bear them better.
  4. Lower level negative entities with 30% spiritual energy cannot touch a person at the 50% spiritual level due to the protection they are able to receive from God. On the other hand, people with a lower spiritual level are vulnerable to attacks from even low-level ghosts. Please read the article on ‘To what extent does spiritual level provide a protective covering against ghosts?’
  5. Sometimes positive energies too may cause problems in our life. This may seem like a paradox but it can be understood by a simple analogy. Sometimes if a student has a lot of potential and he does not study as per his capability, his parents or teacher may ground him and force him to study. The grounding may seem like a problem to the student but it also helps to get him more involved with his studies. So also, sometimes positive energies cause problems in our life to make us stop and think and lead us to enquiring about the spiritual realm and spiritual practice.
  6. Both an obstruction of the Kunḍalinī and a reduction of the Vital energy (Prāṇashakti) are generally caused by ghosts. The issue about Kundalini is only pertinent to seekers as for non-seekers at the spiritual level of 20%, the Kundalini lies dormant in the Mūlādhārchakra, i.e. the spiritual energy centre at the base of the spine.
  7. Factors included in this section affect us as follows.
    • Food: Stale, tinned or canned food and non-vegetarian food contain the basic subtle Raja-Tama component to a greater extent. It becomes easier for the ghosts to attack a person by using the medium of such Raja-Tama predominant food.
    • Clothes: Synthetic clothes have a predominance of the basic subtle Raja-Tama component. Black and darker shades also attract, imbibe and transmit the basic subtle Raja-Tama component to a greater extent. Thus it becomes easier for the ghosts to affect those wearing such clothes.
    • Time: A particular time may or may not be good for a person. For example, an industrialist suffers huge losses despite all the other variables like for example staff participation or cooperation, technology, capital investment etc. being favourable and there being no attack from subtle-bodies of departed ancestors or ghosts. In this case it is the effect of the time factor.
    • Collective demerits: If a country, community or race has perpetrated atrocities on others it becomes liable to earn what is known as collective demerits. Here whether a particular individual has participated or been party to the atrocity is immaterial. Being silent is as good as being party to it. In time, the entire population has to suffer equally collectively either in the same or some other birth.

    The ghosts exploit any such factor unfavourable to the person to attack him. They do not bother with the non-seekers as in their eyes they are immaterial.

  8. The pertinent point is that whether we do spiritual practice or not we can be attacked. At first glance, one may feel that by doing spiritual practice one is liable to be attacked more by ghosts. This is akin to the rich and super rich being targeted more by the kidnappers. But the rich are also better equipped to deal with this, besides all the perks they enjoy by being wealthy. Similarly with spiritual practice, though we are attacked more, as we have access to correspondingly higher protection from God, we are also better equipped to handle it. People with no spiritual practice and therefore less spiritual energy become vulnerable to any sort of attack by any type of ghost.

This can also be understood by the following analogy. Sometimes we go through years of study, which may be relatively painful compared to another person who has just completed high school and is already earning, though a meagre amount. While we are spending many hours cooped up in the house studying, they may be enjoying their life and going for the movies etc. However due to these academic efforts, we are better equipped to climb the corporate ladder or have success in our chosen field. With this success, we gain access to perks and privileges that others can only wish for. Along with this comes a responsibility as we have the ability to help people and effect change in society. In the same way, with spiritual growth even though ghosts and negative energies target us we also experience a variety of benefits. We have discussed some of these benefits in our section on the benefits of spiritual practice.

4. The principle behind overcoming problems that have their root cause in the spiritual realm

For problems that have their root cause in the spiritual realm, only something spiritual can alleviate their intensity and remove them permanently

  1. A specific spiritual remedy A spiritual remedy is something that is implemented primarily to overcome a specific spiritual problem. In this website, we have discussed these spiritual healing methods in our spiritual healing section. They do not however contribute to spiritual growth.
  2. Spiritual practice Spiritual practice that conforms to the basic laws of spiritual practice generates spiritual growth. This type of spiritual practice increases spiritual capacity or spiritual growth, which in turn protects and insulates us from negative elements in the spiritual realm.

5. Summary

In summary, the key points to take from this article are:

  • The next time you see a problem unfold in your life, remember that the cause could either be physical, psychological or spiritual. There is a very high likelihood that the root cause is spiritual in nature.
  • All major problems are most likely to be destined which is a kind of spiritual problem where we settle past accounts. Insulation from destiny can only be achieved through spiritual practice.
  • Our ancestors and ghosts can play up or effect problems within a family such as physical illnesses, mental illnesses, etc. If we are of a lower spiritual level, we are very vulnerable to their attacks.
  • Sustained spiritual practice according to the six basic principles of spiritual practice is the only effective way to gain protection from the spiritual realm

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