Ashramas in family life keep us busy up to age 72 but then there's more time; double your disciplines in purely spiritual pursuits. Be around others striving spiritually. Have confidence and patience, a sense of overview facing challenges, lessening burdens with the end in mind. [commenting on Self and Samadhi, Chapter 7]
We've been reading the last few phases from our new book: "Self and Samadhi" scheduled for release during Mahasamadhi phase coming up.
The chapter we're in is Chapter 7:
"How to Realize God.
"Defining the Destination.
"How can we know when we're ready to know the Self? How do we know when the soul is spiritually mature? When we begin a journey and clearly define our destination, then we must begin from where we are, not elsewhere. Clearly defining our destination requires knowing where we are, requires determining whether or not we want to go there at this time. We must ask whether we have the means, the willpower, to get there. Are we ready to leave the world, or must we fulfill further obligations in the world and to the world? Have we paid all of our debts? We cannot leave the world with karmas still unresolved. Perhaps we desire something more, some further human fulfillment of affection, creativity, wealth, professional accomplishment, name and fame. In other words, do we still have worldly involvements and attachments?"
On our website there are pages about becoming a monastic. Because of those pages we get emails probably about every two weeks. Don't you think Yoginathaswami, we get a new one about every two weeks?
We get a new request about every two weeks. So we have 26 requests a year for individuals interested in monastic life. Some of them just ignore the fact that you have to be under age 25. They hope somehow that we changed our rules since we posted them. But of the rest, quite often, we write back to them and they don't write back to us, right? So what happened?
This happened. "We cannot leave the world with karmas still unresolved." So things weren't going well, in their life. You know maybe their girlfriend left them; they did poorly in school. They write in and then things pick up again. So they're whisked off by their worldly karmas. So there was just a small lull there, that's all between karmas. So they wrote in during then and then all of a sudden they're whisked away again. That's the majority of the 26 every year.
And then these two sentences here:
"Perhaps we desire something more, some further fulfillment of affection, creativity, wealth, professional accomplishment, name and fame. "
So Gurudeva's not saying those things are bad; he's just saying they kind of compete with a strong pursuit of inner realization. We can't really put full energy into both at the same time. That's why we have the ashramas in family life. There's a time for this and there's a time for that. So we can do both if we follow the ashramas. Ashramas keep us busy up to age 72 with grihastha duties but then after age 72 there's more time for purely spiritual pursuits.
The next issue of "Hinduism Today" has the Publisher's Desk on the ashramas, an update for modern times. Cause it doesn't work when you turn age 48, wandering in the forest with your wife. You'll be considered a homeless person, not a respected elder. So, it doesn't work in modern society. And Sannyasa, what do you you do? I've been asked that question a number of times by very sincere Hindus who are either at that age or approaching that age; they don't know what to do at age 72.
My advice is: Whatever religious practices you've been doing: daily puja, japa, spiritual reading, going on pilgrimage, those kinds of activities, attending temple. Double the amount of time you've been putting into them. So if you've been putting in one hour a day now put in two. Don't try and do something different. Just double it. It'll feel quite natural because you've already been doing that activity. You're not trying to take on a new activity. You're simply doing what you've already been doing but putting more time into it. Then after you've doubled it for a couple of years you'll want to triple it. It'll just feel natural. But the key is to be doing the disciplines all along. It doesn't work to try and postpone religious practices till you're age 72. You're too busy fulfilling: affection, creativity, wealth, professional accomplishment, name and fame. You have to fit it in then as well. Otherwise, you won't feel like doing it when you're age 72. We're creatures of habit and particularly as we get older, more so. We tend to follow a routine. Therefore, we want to get these practices in our routine even in our busy times of life. No matter if it's just half an hour a day; at least we're doing them. And then when we're over age 72 and hopefully have no need to earn money and can, that'll all be in place and definitely we have more time for those practices.
"Are we ready for the final journey life has to offer? Are we prepared to endure the hardships of sadhana, to suffer the death of the ego? Or would we prefer more pleasures in the world of 'I' and 'mine'? It is a matter of evolution, of what stage of life we have entered in this incarnation -- is it charya, kriya, yoga or jnana? When the soul is spiritually mature, we know when we're ready to know the Self."
Well Gurudeva's talking about the hardships of sadhana. In another writing he talks about monastic life in particular and the hardships of sadhana. Sometimes our expectations as to how soon we'll get results are unrealistic. If we work hard at a practice for 6 months it'll give the result. Six months may be an unrealistic time frame; it may be more like 6 years. So, therefore, we have to be ready to keep going at it even if the reward isn't coming as soon as we thought it would. Get to have, so we're have to have confidence in the process that eventually is going to yield the result we know is there. But we have patience that it could take a while.
So that's why Gurudeva says: It can be years of unrewarded sadhana. It's unrewarded in the sense that we haven't gone as far as we wanted. It's rewarded in the sense that we are going forward.
One last thought here:
" When one is bound down by his past karmas, unhappy, confused and not performing with enthusiasm his dharma -- be it born or chosen -- making new karmas as a result, his lethargy results in despair. The camel walks slower with a heavy burden and stops if the burden is still heavier. The burdened have no sense of urgency, no expression of joy. They have stopped. They are standing on the path holding their troubles in their hands, unwilling to let go."
Anyone can end up in that state, temporarily. And if too many difficult situations come at us at the same time. They weren't spaced out as nicely as we had hoped. Everything seems to go wrong within a couple of weeks. And we start to feel burdened. What can we do? Well, hopefully, we know others who are striving spiritually and just being around them is encouraging to us not to give up. Because we all don't face these heavy burdens at the same time. That's why Gurudeva says: "The individual strengthens the group and the group strengthens the individual." What the individual strengthens the group means, those of us who aren't burdened are strengthening others who are. Helping them get through it; they don't give up. They get through it because there's others in the group who obviously have beat and therefore it shows up we can be that way too they remind us of the philosophy. It'll pass! It's just your karma. What in the world did you do to create this, you know?
So, it's an important point and of course, the key is to have some sense of overview. When we don't have an overview that's when, and we're facing an unusual number of challenges, that's when we can feel this kind of sense of burden. But if we have an overview we're able to handle it without feeling so burdened about it and with the end in mind we'll get through it.
Have a great day.