by Swami Krishnananda
This is how you have to bring into a state of harmony all your requirements through the otherwise dissected forms of dharma, artha, kama, and the ideal of moksha. We generally think that moksha comes afterwards, and dharma, artha and kama are before that. That is to say, today is dharma, artha, kama; tomorrow is moksha. But moksha is not a tomorrow; it is just here, present immanently in dharma, artha and kama also. It is like the gradual regaining of health by degrees through the very same consciousness that is immanently present in your body. It is not that a part of your body is regaining health. A wholeness of health which was in a miniature form rises into a larger wholeness which is perfect health, perfect satisfaction.
This is how we have to consider the ways of bringing together the aspirations which are dharma, artha, kama and moksha in our practical life. Spiritual life is a wonderful, most satisfying, magnificent thing even to think of, so that wherever you are, in whatever condition, whatever you may be doing in your life, you feel that you are fearless, fulfilled always, and everything that you need is at your hand. Thus, these four aspects of your life should come together as a vital blending in the way of living.
In a way this is, to put it differently, the bringing together of the aspirations of a brahmacharin, grihastha, vanaprastha and sanyasin into a single fold. You will be wondering how all the four can be together. It is because these four stages of life are four kinds of preparation for a single attainment of totality of the person. The sanyasin is not isolated from the brahmacharin, grihastha, or the vanaprastha. The brahmacharin is the seed that develops into the practical experience of a grihastha in life, which again matures into the detached existence of a vanaprastha, which again matures into the total comprehension of the spirit in sanyasa.
So, dharma, artha, kama and moksha have some kind of connection with brahmacharin, grihastha, vanaprastha and sanyasin. Dharma, artha, kama and moksha are not like the four legs of a cow, unconnected; they are all one, like the four quarters of a coin, which cannot be separated because the coin contains all the quarters inside it. In a similar manner, all these four – dharma, artha, kama and moksha - are inside imperceptibly in the coin of your whole life. That also is the meaning of the apparently differentiated lives of the brahmacharin, grihastha, vanaprastha and sanyasin. They are also four aspects of the one coin of total development. Thus, always, you live a total life, whether you are living in one stage of life or another.
I have to repeat a few guidelines that I placed before you previously, which are of practical utility to you. You have to keep good company always. Even if you are a householder looking like a bound person, you can be a good person, an ideal individual, by living in the midst of a good community in a village, or even a little township of friends and cooperative individuals. Keep good company, as far as it is possible. If you can live socially, it is wonderful for you to choose your company, and be in the midst of those people only.
But, under circumstances which are beyond your control, if you are compelled to live in the midst of people who are not compatible with your personal aspirations, you have to do one of two things. Exert your power over the atmosphere of dissident individuals and bring a kind of transformation among them also and turn them round into a good way of living. If that is not possible, ignore their existence as if they do not exist at all, and you are concerned with them only as a practical means of doing day-to-day work in an office, etc. These are some of the ways of adjustment that you have to practise.
And, how you spend your whole day is also something very important. This is the very meaning of the spiritual diary inaugurated by Sri Swami Sivanandaji Maharaj. What do you do actually, right from the morning until you go to bed in the evening? Make a detailed analytical study of everything that you do on any day. If you are working hard for some reason, find out for how many hours of the day you are working hard. Deduct this number of hours from the total number of hours in a day. How much time do you need for sleep and rest? How much time for bathing, recreation, and for breakfast, lunch and dinner? How much for any other necessities? The balance is the hours that are available to you to attempt living a total life, even in the midst of your activities.
You may say that there is no balance left – the whole thing is a distraction. It cannot be like that, because nobody works all the twenty-four hours of the day, and nobody sleeps also indefinitely. Carefully if you analyse your life, you will find that some little balance is left, even if it be only one hour. That one hour is yours. Consider all the other hours as not yours; they belong to somebody else. This one hour is sufficient for you.
Your longing for spiritual attainment is what is going to lead to success and not necessarily the number of hours available – though the number of hours also count when your concentration of mind is not sufficiently strong. If there is a burning aspiration, tivra-samvega, with ardour in the heart, then God knows your heart much better than anybody else. All your sufferings, all your difficulties, all your problems are known to the Mighty Being. "Trust in God and do the right." This is the old dictum before you: thus, lead your life.
Gradually, bear in mind that your householder-life is a preparation for a retirement from the occupations of a householder. It is not a retirement from work, necessarily. The occupation is inclusive of certain mental entanglements. A householder, actually, is not a person doing many things, but thinking in many ways. The entanglement is not necessarily physical, but mostly psychological. The psychological detachment should mature gradually in a family. You do your duty to take care of your family, but don't be attached to the family.
You may be wondering how it is possible to take care of the family with detachment. This is the difference between duty and work with desire. A duty is a necessity, an obligation, that arises from your very being in the circumstance of your life; it has to be done for the welfare of the whole circumstance of your life, including the society outside. Your obligation is not to be associated with a desireful action. Here it is that the Bhagavad Gita comes before you as a guideline. The gradual detachment, even in a householder, is a maturity of thought arising after the experience of the whole of life as an entangled individual in society. In the beginning it is all entanglement. Then, later on, it is only an apparent entanglement through social relations; mentally it is not so connected.
Slowly begin to feel that your mind is a little different from the body and social relations. Then afterwards you will find that you can live a life in the mind only, and let the social relations be anywhere. You are a mind, rather than a social unit. You are a mind thinking, rather than a physical individual associated with the mind. Thought is the human being, so let this thought be your final concern, and live in your ideas.
Ideas rule the world. Every action is preceded by a thought. The world is not governed by the actions of people, but by the thoughts of people, by the ideas of the leaders of mankind. The ideas manifest themselves as activities or performances. The idea is the ultimate reality; thought is the final principle in the cosmos. Thus, you live in your mind, in your idea of total comprehension and satisfaction. Then, gradually, you will find that you are capable of living independently without bodily associations. Such a life is called the vanaprastha stage, which does not mean running away from the family. It is a kind of family life only, without the agonies and the emotional pressures caused by relations with people.
Mostly, what people do is that they go away to some holy places for some time, though they have not left the family. For three months in a year, the family man goes out on a pilgrimage, lives in a holy place, and entrusts the enterprise of taking care of the family to his grown-up children. Whether you are a businessman, or whatever you are, this is the first step that you have to take to detach yourself. For three months you are not in the house. After that, you come back to the house and stay there for nine months, so that you may feel no uneasiness that you are without any contact with your family members. Gradually, if this process continues for some years, you will find that you are in a position to live unconnected with family life, because the members of the family are taken care of by the children, who are well placed. Then, you may increase your detached life into six months, nine months, then occasional visits to the family, only. Somewhere in a sacred place you live such a life; then your life and your idea that you have chosen takes possession of you completely. You become an ideal being, not a physical individual. Your meditation is thought thinking itself, as they say, idea operating on idea, the Cosmic Mind dancing in the centre of your own idea, whereby your idea becomes a focusing point of the Cosmic Mind, and you are a sanyasin at that time.
A sanyasin is not necessarily someone who has put on any particular cloth. The cloth is just an indication that he has achieved that state. It is a social insignia to distinguish the person from other people. The essential thing is what you think in your mind, so live in your mind only, afterwards. Your ideas are the seeds of the universal idea of God. A person who lives such a kind of life in his ideas only is a sanyasin. He has renounced truly.
What has he renounced? He has renounced the feeling that the world is anything but an idea finally, a mental operation, a cosmic dance of the Universal Spirit, in which condition, the question of attachment to anything does not arise at all. Hence the question of the so-called renunciation also does not arise. Automatically you are a healthy spiritual person, just as when you have become healthy, you have not renounced illness. Illness has not been thrown away. In a similar manner, you have not thrown away anything in your renunciation through sanyasa. You have attained a perfect, total, developed maturity of spiritual comprehension. That kind of living of an ideal existence, free in every sense of the term, happy always, happy with anything and everything – such a person is a sanyasin.
These are some of the traditional features of a spiritual life – the methods of the harmonising of the principles of dharma, artha, kama and moksha connected with the principles involved in the stages of the brahmacharin, grihastha, vanaprastha and sanyasin, all which commingle in a sea of comprehension which is the maintenance of God-consciousness. Such a person alone can be called a sanyasin.
These are, practically, all the things you need for understanding the nature of spiritual life. Right from the beginning till now, whatever you have heard in these sessions is a book of life for you. It is a gospel, a treasure house which you can keep with you as a godsend, which will save you in every way for ever and ever.