A householder is one who holds the house until the house starts holding him! Sanyaas never allows the giving up of activities; it only allows the giving up of attachment to activities and their fruits. A householder can only feel bound if he feels shackled by the anxiety that his household duties put on him. The body has to go through the activities that are predetermined for it when it gives birth. There is no choice. The only choice we have is to raise our minds above the cesspool of worries, anxieties, love and hate, expectations, and disappointments. One has to try and figure out how and why these arise. They owe their existence to the thoughts of doership. One has to clearly see that there is some power that engineers and empowers the body and mind to move. By no stretch of the imagination can a wise person feel that he is the doer. Someone is using the body to get things done. How can you own a doctorate?
Doership is just a foolish thought, and thoughts appear and disappear after making you dance to their moods! They also light up your world like a flash of lightning and then also disappear like that lightning, taking your world with them or even replacing it as they choose!
Once Swami Chinmayanandaji said to a lady who was complaining about the thankless work she did as a housewife and mother, “First and foremost, take that foolish notion out of your mind that ‘you do’! Think about it, can you?
Your world exists because of your thoughts. Even if you take formal sanyaas and go to a solitary cave on the banks of the Ganges, your thoughts go with you!
A sanyaasi who keeps thinking of the bodily comforts of a householder’s life is not a sanyaasi. It is just “tailor-made and barber-made,” sanyaas! But once anyone, even a householder, firmly understands the distinct difference between the actual doer and the instrument that is used to get the work done, his individuality takes a back seat, and he performs his duties joyfully and in peace.
Once Raman Maharshi was asked, “How does a grihastha (householder) fare in the scheme of Moksha (liberation)?”” Ramana promptly replied, “Why do you think you are a grihastha? If you go out as a sanyaasi (ascetic), a similar thought that you are a sanyaasi will follow you. Whether you stay in the household or renounce it and go to the forest, your mind goes with you. The obstacle is in the mind. It must be overcome.”
In the 6th chapter of the Bhagavad Geeta, verses 1 and 2, Lord Krishna clearly defines a true Sanyaasi and a true Yogi: A person who performs his actions and duties without expectation of, attachment to, or identification with the fruits of action, yet does not become disinterested or without enthusiasm for action, is a true yogi and a sanyasi. Further in the same chapter, in verse 6, he says that a mind that is in your full control is the best friend a man can have, while a turbulent, wayward, and uncontrollable mind is one’s worst enemy. So then, the million-dollar question all seekers ask is: “How does one master the mind? Specially, how does a grihastha facing market place turbulence and complex family relationships daily achieve this?
A great saint of our times, Swami Tapovanam, wrote letters of guidance to a grihastha couple, Shri and Shrimati Chandra Shekhara Menon, guiding them on the sadhanas to be done to harness the mind. These were later published by the Chinmaya Mission. I take the liberty to quote, in my own words, from one such letter written from Uttarkashi on March 26, 1951.
1. Moderation in speech is a great sadhana. ‘Don’t pollute your mind with petty talk of love and hate. Avoid criticism from other people. “Now and then observe a day of silence.’ He advises a fast on fruits on some days, but accompanied by mauna, a fast in terms of speech as well! He advises us to be very discriminative of the inputs to the mind.
The company of friends and the media (today’s TV, cell phone, and social media) are all feeders of the mind. Be discriminating in your choice of these inputs. They have a huge capacity to pollute the mind. Some are handcuffed prisoners of their cell phones! Ever wondered why they are called ‘cell’ phones?
2. ‘Eat only pure and Satvik food. ….. Impure or excessive food will put aspirants into difficulties. Keeping the stomach light and fasting occasionally keeps both the mind and body detoxified.
3. Association with Mahatmas is the best. If these are a rarity, then ‘study the works of ancient sadhus,” which carry their thoughts and teachings. This needs to be done daily as part of a diet plan. Fix an hour or two every day, which is your sacred time away from the world, for quiet contemplation on your chosen image of divinity and how to lift yourself to his elevation.
4. Maintain Equanimity. Raising the mind above (dwanda) pairs of opposites, pain and pleasure, friend and foe, honour and dishonour Tapovan Maharaj assures us that all this is possible and the mind can ‘ rise above all these,” but only if the goal is Godhead and nothing else. This goal-focused mind will have no time for dwelling on honour and dishonour.
5. Lastly, he says that this balance of mind itself is moksha. This is God’s realisation. He describes its experience as an all-transcending bliss and peace. In this state, there is a perpetual delight in the God principle. This is what all sadhanas (spiritual practises) aim to achieve. Householder or Sanyaasi, no circumstances or environment can ‘approach (affect) an aspirant of intense discrimination’.
The author is a President of Chinmaya Mission, Delhi.