THE HOUSEHOLDERS PATH
You cannot differentiate between the path of the householder and the path of the spiritual seeker because householding itself is a spiritual path. Being a spiritual seeker means one is on the path to achieving that total integration within himself. By total integration, we mean where the body, mind and Spirit function in unison, in oneness. To become a spiritual seeker does not mean that you have to be away from this world, that you have to indulge in any form of escapism, for, as I have said before, so-called spiritual seekers that want to find that Divinity and run away from this world might not do so because they are seeking something higher than themselves. If they were seeking something higher than themselves, that highness or Divinity is all-pervading. It is everywhere, and if it is everywhere, why can it not be in the householder’s path?
In spiritual seeking, you do not need to become a recluse. Some believe that by being a hermit, you could focus all your attention on that search. That is very true, but how about looking at it from a different angle where all that concentration could be in the householder’s path, and the householder’s path is the easiest? You can ask any Psychiatrist if a person has no temperament of being a recluse, and if he locks himself up in a cave, he could very well develop dementia. I have come across many such seekers who thought that by just going away from it all, they would find what they are seeking, but this has very seldom worked out because, firstly, they are deprived of what they have been used to. They are thrown into a kind of loneliness, and they would indulge in certain practices for which their nervous systems are not ready, which could drive them to insanity. People who live in the world have specific patterns in life, and those same patterns make you and me what we are. So, we must begin from where we are and we are on the householder’s path. We have our responsibilities, wife, children, whatever.
The first step in the search is to accept that responsibility. Suppose any responsibility is carried out to its fullest and done to the best of our ability. In that case, automatically, that becomes a stepping stone to stir up that within us. For in the responsibleness of life, you meet many challenges and without challenges there could be no search, you become complacent. When we have difficulties in life and attack them responsibly, we automatically develop the quality of acceptance. When we accept our position and become responsible, we start doing something to alter the adverse circumstances. We start acting in a way that would change the events and try to find opportunity in every adversity. I would wish that for people to progress faster, they must have more troubles.
A SENSE OF RESPONSIBILITY AND ACCEPTANCE IS A PREREQUISITE ON THE SPIRITUAL PATH
What a lovely wish, but let me qualify that to have adversities and view them in their proper perspective, for really speaking, it is not an adversity. For example, you have a job and earn one thousand pounds a month; it might be a lot of money, so what will you do? Perhaps you will have nights out at various restaurants and all the so-called mundane, temporary, pleasure-giving enjoyments. Now you come into a position where you lose the job. The job becomes redundant, not because you do not have the ability, but the job becomes redundant. So, you find another job. You have responsibilities with your wife and kids at home, so you take on a job for five hundred pounds to make do. What a blessing that is. It is a blessing because, in that blessing of making do with five hundred pounds, you are developing discipline that you will budget now, all those nightclubs will be forgotten, and you will not have a hangover the following day. So, responsibility, acceptance and discipline come about. Now, you discipline yourself and your mode of life so that it automatically becomes a search. These are the prerequisites on the spiritual path, a sense of responsibility and a sense of acceptance. Like the Serenity Prayer that you all know – “God, give me the courage to change the things I can, the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, and the wisdom to know the difference.”
THE SUREST WAY TO RECEIVE IS BY DOING
By exercising that discipline, you are altering the patterns of your mind, altering the old grooves that have been taking you downhill, and by this discipline, you are going up, up, up. That is a spiritual search in itself, perhaps couched in other words. You do not need to sit cross-legged in a cave and “Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama, Rama.” Ah! Idle repetition.
When life becomes regulated, you will find that many physiological, biological, and psychological changes will occur in you. Because of that lot of money, you used to eat junk foods, you will now balance it by eating nutritional foods. No more of those restaurants, which are a waste of time; you do not know what goes on in the kitchens. Here you are forced to cook at home, and you will see that for your family, you would get the most nutritional food at a quarter of the cost, which the restaurants would charge, or even less. So, it helps you physiologically, and that, of course, is connected to your biological self of yourselves.
Now you have developed an attitude of service to your family. Before, when the money was plentiful, that service to the family was not there. It was, superficially, but it never came from inside. Now you say, “I make do for my family”. You are a householder; remember that, and by doing that, what a tremendous psychological reward you are receiving that I am doing something. Now you start doing for your family and your environment in the householder’s path. The surest way to achieve anything is by doing because to think of something would leave impressions on the mind but by doing something; those impressions are strengthened. And, with that sense of service, and by doing, you develop a greater closeness in your family, and by developing that greater closeness in the family, greater love is expressed, and is love, not a spiritual path?
AS A HOUSEHOLDER, YOU BECOME A KARMA YOGI
So, now you start loving more, and a greater togetherness in the family will occur. What we thought was an adversity from losing a job of a thousand pounds and coming down to five hundred pounds, look at the opportunity; that is the householder’s way of life. When this love develops, we become dutiful; we observe all our duties to our wives, husbands, and children. For example, before, the woman would go out to Harrods to buy a suit for the little boy and pay fifty pounds. Now you will buy a piece of material and have the suit done for half the price, which is even better because of all the profits of the wholesaler and the retailer; all that is cut out and yet you are deprived of nothing. That is the householder’s path.
Embarking on the householder’s path, you become a Karma Yogi. As a responsibility, acceptance, duty, and love increase, you reach a stage where you act for the sake of action. You do for the sake of doing, and as you progress further, you want no reward for what you do. This is in the family life at home, but it is like throwing a pebble in a pond, and the ripples expand, expand, and expand to your neighbourhood where you are served. The neighbour’s car is stuck in the morning in this lovely cold English weather, so you will not ride past; you will stop and help to push him. But you would need no one when you had that pride of all that money.
I used to know a business person in Pretoria, he had a beautiful limousine, and his driver used to drive him, and he sat at the back and never looked left nor right. He just used to look ahead of him or perhaps read the paper. But when he loses his business on Princely Street, he takes a walk, and everyone he passes “Hello, Mr So and So.” “Good morning Mrs So and So.” Look at the advantages; look how his heart has opened. So, I am trying to tell you there might be difficulties in the householder’s path. Still, those difficulties are advantageous because we change our hearts and attitude towards life by developing these qualities. Then we start living.
THERE IS NO GREATER RELEASE THAN ACTIVITY
You will miss all this if you recluse yourself as a spiritual seeker. Look how much you are losing, and I tell you that in this age, we do not need these Yogis or these Saddhus roaming the streets without doing any hard work and living off the fat of the land from other people’s charity. We need workers, we need people to do, and that will bring about a greater sanity in this world because their minds are fully occupied in all these various aspects I have discussed. There is no time for madness; there is no time for psychiatric hospitals. If you want to get mad or go on the verge of schizophrenia or any kind of these mental aberrations, then I will show you a straightforward way – just do nothing. And you will see how your mind and body will deteriorate. All kinds of physical and mental diseases will come about.
This does not mean that while performing your duties, you do not have higher thoughts, good thoughts, and uplifting thoughts because every thought you think forever emanates a force so powerful that it affects the whole environment. You come home from work in a terrible state of mind; you will make everyone in the house feel awkward without even saying a word because the atmosphere you have built up around you is not conducive to peace. So consciously, we try to think uplifting thoughts, read good books, and listen to words of wisdom, over which we mull. First, you hear, mull over it, and then practise it. This can easily be combined with living the householder’s life; you can even do it on the football field while Liverpool or Arsenal is playing.
You can do it on the football field; you can do it in the toilet. That is where I do my best thinking. The mind can be completely occupied with good thoughts, uplifting thoughts wherever you are. Is that not the spiritual path? The spiritual path is nothing unusual if you separate the spiritual path from your daily active life, then it is not a spiritual path. So, with daily activity with the introversion of meditational and spiritual practices, there has to be that extroversion because you build up a significant amount of energy within yourselves; from deep within, you are drawing a powerful force which has to be expressed. If you constantly fill the bottle with gas, the bottle will bust. It requires release, and there is no more incredible release than activity. Even hospitals do this all the time, giving you specific therapies for activity. So, when the mind is troubled in daily living, as the old saying goes, “Go and chop a log of wood.” It is very accurate, and it works. So, the spiritual path is not devoid of daily practical living, and you can be very serious about it but not so severe that it becomes an obsession.
AS A HOUSEHOLDER, YOU CAN FIND THAT JOY WHICH IS WITHIN
I have known people who would neglect all their duties; the soup on the stove would burn up while they were busy meditating. It is not necessary. Making that soup could become a meditation because you are pouring your entirety into it – it must be vegetarian soup. It must. So, meditation is not only half an hour in the morning and half an hour at night; that only refuels you and recharges the batteries. But daily activity, daily living and with a conscious effort to live in such a manner that the apparent adversities are done away with, where the path is smoothened and smoothening the way of life is the spiritual path.
After all, what are we seeking? We are seeking happiness, are we not? The man that goes to sit in the cave, what is he seeking? He is also seeking that joy to become one with Divinity. But I would not like to become one with Divinity alone. Let me become one with Divinity amongst a crowd. How lovely, how beautiful. So, when we practise these simple injunctions, which all the world’s theologies have been teaching, we practise Karma Yoga. Karma Yoga does not mean it is serious or not severe; it is the medium between both.
There is a seriousness and a yearning to find that which is within. There is this aim to find totality in one’s life. There is this aim to find that joy, and that joy can be seen as a householder. I have repeatedly been saying that I am a guru for the householder and not a guru for monks.
To live well does not mean you deprive yourself, that you go on severe austerities; it does not mean that. Enjoy everything but enjoy it in such a way that that very enjoyment becomes goodly and godly. Now what do we mean by that? The wifey cooks a nice meal at home; you sit down to a lovely dinner and enjoy the dinner but always have that consciousness, that thought deep down within, that this is an offering, an offering through me to the Divine and that food will taste much more likeable. Because there is that touch of Divinity in there, you regard that food as divine, and you know that Divinity is within you. Here Divinity in its dualistic forms assumes a oneness, the Divine to the Divine.
IT IS THE MOTIVATION, THE DEVOTION THAT COUNTS
In the temples in India, you have those idols of Buddha and Krishna and Rama and all that; they usually take flowers, so this person went to the garden and picked some flowers to offer at the feet of the Deity. Being a good friend, I spoke to him; I said, “You are taking the flowers from God to offer them to God. What are you doing?” He said, “Well, this is tradition, and you know we normally do that.” I said, “The flowers growing there is closer to Divinity than putting them at the statue or the idol because the flower there is in its natural state. It is in the ground; it is rooted with all that the earth is composed of, and then you pick it from there and put it at the feet of this.” He said, “Well, I do not know, they have been doing it for thousands of years, and I do it.” So, I told him, “Let me tell you what this means. I do not deny that you must do this or not do this, take the flowers and offer them there, but what is happening here is your devotion. That is what must be considered—your devotion to offering flowers to your Deity. Think on the lines, not of the ritual but of the lines of the devotion that is brought into you. If you do this mechanically, it is of no value whatsoever. If you do it just because it has been done for thousands of years, it has no value whatsoever. But how devoted do you feel at that moment of plucking the flowers to put them at the feet of your Deity? That is what counts.” So, in the householder’s life, you also develop that devotion. This devotion does not go as far as temples. I have met the finest religious people that do not even go to churches but just live a good, honest, sincere, devoted life, and yet you find people that go to churches who are the biggest hypocrites.
This happens throughout the world, in all religions and everywhere. It is the motivation, the devotion that counts, how you feel inside. As that devotion increases and you are performing the act with devotion to your Deity, your wife, your husband, or your children, that will open your heart. In the householder’s path, you have all these opportunities of opening the heart, the core of your personality. By strengthening the core of your personality, you change your character. From a so-called unholy person, you become a holy person yet so ordinary, with no robes and paraphernalia. You do not need that; you need this change of heart, the opening, the expansion of heart to become closer and closer to the core of our personality where that Divine force resides. Then the bodies are strengthened, the mind is strengthened, becomes whole, and you are healed. You are healed by yourself. Therefore, when Jesus was asked, he said, “Thy faith has healed thee,” and this is what it means in the daily art of living, for life is an art, and art always expresses itself. Art always blossoms on and on in its more excellent and greater glory. Is that not a spiritual path? That is Karma Yoga, a spiritual path.
REACHING HOME IS WHAT IT IS ALL ABOUT
To achieve all this, we require a certain amount of alertness, and how do you develop this alertness? One could start with blind faith and conscious effort in living. As you see your personality changing and the changes occurring within you by your action, that blind faith becomes faith. It does not remain blind anymore; the bandages are taken off. Then that faith grows because you have seen the changes in yourself. Many people rely on the guru – he must wave a wand and change. Yes, meditation practices are good, but that is only thirty percent, but that little ten percent that I always talk of is your business. So, when these various areas of life are changed by a little conscious effort, you are encouraged by the changes. Those are the signposts we have spoken about, and with that encouragement, you progress faster and faster.
We are all little children. When a child is in class, a good teacher will encourage the child. You encourage the child when the child does something good, and because of that encouragement, the child will feel happy, and in that happiness, it will try to do more. When we have these little encouragements through our efforts, backed up by the meditational practices and the Grace, the Gurushakti we draw because of the meditational practices, our path is expedited, we go faster, and we progress more quickly. And as we progress faster, we come nearer and nearer to where our natural home is, and that is what all religion is all about, that is what it is all about, so, so simple. If we have any fault or frailty and resolve “Look, I am going to change this,” you can change it, and as the little will is exercised, that will is strengthened, and because of the strengthening of that will, more significant results are achieved.
SPIRITUAL ENLIGHTENMENT COMES ON ITS OWN
The real seeker of spiritual enlightenment does not consciously feel that he is a seeker because here, the very purpose, the same idea of seeking, involves a certain kind of mental activity whereby you are seeking results. As soon as you pursue those results, those results go far away from you. Why do you want enlightenment? You do not need it. You do not need to seek it – you do not need to go out with a torch in the dark streets. No, that will come on its own. You cannot force it, but you can do something by living a good householder’s life, and these things just come.
The other day I used an analogy which I will use again because it conveys a message that while I was meditating in a garden, there were beautiful flowers. When I saw the beautiful butterflies there, I realised that the beautiful butterflies only come where there are beautiful flowers. So let our garden of life be beautiful, and those beautiful butterflies will automatically come. You do not need to call them, and you do not need to call for enlightenment; it comes automatically. The idea is to live life to its fullest yet in its most proper, moral and ethical values.
YOUR SEARCH IS NOT A MENTAL SEARCH BUT A PRACTICAL SEARCH
This talk has been more on morality and ethics. But, starting from that minor point, you see how all these virtues get added unto you, and they come, they come, they come, they snowball all the time. So, there you are, a genuine seeker; although there is the idea in the mind that I am searching for a home, I am searching for that which is Divine within me, that is my goal, but I have to act to reach the goal.
If you want to drive to The Hayes, you have the idea that you are going to The Hayes. Okay, but you are not going to think at every foot of the way or every mile of the way, ‘Hayes, Hayes, Hayes, Hayes, Hayes.’ No, no. You have set your course, are on the path, keep driving, and must reach there. The Hayes is not going to run away; it is there. It is not going to run away. Divinity is within you; if we act as we should, it will not run away.
You have the Scriptures to tell you these things. You have some excellent gurus telling you these things – that makes me good. So, there we are. So being a householder, one can also be a seeker but do not let the idea of seeking be so dominant that it spoils your daily life. I have known of a young man who used to sit from morning until night studying various Scriptures. He used to read all the different philosophies, yet his wife and children were starving. What kind of search is that? He is escaping into his books. By all means, set an hour or two aside for your studies to read those Spiritual books, but take care of your responsibility first; that is the idea.
You can be a householder and a seeker; your very search lies in your actions. That is not a mental search but a practical search. It works beautifully; I know it does!
… Gururaj Ananda Yogi: Satsang UK 1980 – 04