With aging, some obstacles appear which weren't there before. Is it possible for
a yogi in his 70's and 80's to do
Dispassion and firmness in aim strengthen the will so much that nothing can
obstruct. In aging, forgetfulness, loss of
memory, inability to concentrate may develop, but due to the spiritual practice
in mature age, samskaras are already
formed. Those samskaras still work in a subtle level.
Dispassion increases as one ages?
If the aim is firm, dispassion to the world will develop. But some people become
more attached, greedy and
discontented. It depends on each person's samskara.
Could you talk about the aging process in relation to sadhana?
Aging is only for the body. If the mind is totally fixed in Aim, then body
automatically remains behind. Yoga sadhana
is not physical exercises. In the beginning the body is used in practicing
asana, pranayama, pratyahara, etc. and later
when the Aim becomes stable, only the mind proceeds forward.
Could you talk about the difference between will power and aim?
Will power is in the buddhi. Aim is in the ego. I will do it. But the ego and
Buddhi always work together because ego
is deeply rooted in Buddhi.
Mind is also part of the body and with aging loses some of its energy and
ability to focus. So the aim is not as
strong as the body declines.
Did Ramana Maharshi leave his Aim due to his terrible sickness? There was a
saint named Hari Dass Yaman. He was
a Muslim but he became a vairagyi monk. He lived in a cave and his practice was
japa, non-stop, night and day. He
got old, then very old, then sickness. But his aim, to do a certain number of
japa before eating food, was never
changed. He never stopped his japa yoga until his last breath.
Is there a natural evolution toward the quieting of the mind? As we age, we
naturally begin to limit stimulation,
food became simpler, social relationships became simpler because we have less
energy to deal with it.
Physical limitation is one thing; firm aim is different. In old age, all don't
go to the same mental states. Some become
very angry, disappointed and always try to upset others by their needs and
demands, and remain discontented.
Physical limitations do not limit the desire for worldly objects. Only rare
people develop dispassion when they get old.
How do we develop the great patience that's required of a yogi in non-
achievement of a yogic state, in order to
keep faith in the aim?
People easily drop out from small setbacks. Firmness of aim automatically brings
faith. Without faith, the aim can't be
I find myself caught in the world of duality, where the need for establishing
some security in the world is a distraction from my spiritual goals.
This is not a problem if we understand our aim and our life in the world
honestly. When we mix them, then we blame
the world for obstructing our spiritual life. Lahiri Mahasaya was a yogi, a
householder, who had a job in the military.
He had children, wife, parents, and a large family to support. How did he do? He
had a spiritual discipline. Within
that discipline he included his family responsibility. What do others do? They
have no discipline so they work to
support their self-interest (which includes family) and live a selfish life.
Could you elaborate on using your householder life as part of your yogic
Householder life: 1) merged in attachment and no sense of duty of one's own aim
of life, 2) merged in spiritual life
where there is a sense of duty toward the family by keeping one's own spiritual
discipline. Common people live one
side of householder life who are in spiritual path. They think they are in
spiritual path so they don't have a
responsibility for the household. Or they think household responsibility doesn't
give them enough time to pursue their
own spiritual life. But there is time for both if they make their household a
part of their spiritual life. They keep the
attitude of a caretaker of the household and observe their spiritual discipline
Isn't householder responsibility just part of one's duty?
Yes. But if the aim is spiritual, then both spiritual practices and taking care
of household are duties.
The commentary mentioned 1) delusion: thinking we have attained something we
haven't, and 2) non-attaining.
How should we observe our progress in sadhana?
Deluded mind is like a daydream. The practitioner only thinks I have attained
this and that. In reality, the person
remains in the same place. Non-achievement term indicates an effort to achieve.
Like football players work hard, get
knocked down, get up, run again and can't make it but doesn't stop playing the
game. Our progress in sadhana is
measured by 1) concentration deepens, 2) peacefulness increases, 3) the mind
stops craving for worldly things as it was
As a householder who is struggling to achieve a virtuous and spiritual life, my
understanding has been that as
one's spiritual life progresses and deepens, then the obstacles to one's worldly
life also becomes less.
Obstacles are identified by the mind. When the mind is channeled towards the
aim, then it doesn't identify such
obstacles so deeply. The obstacles are there but the mind doesn't give much
According to the scriptures, householder means the large extended family,
whereas today householder may refer
to a couple who is simply living together with no intention of creating a
A man has several dogs, horses, goats; it's a family. In olden times, people
lived vanprastha - wife and husband living
alone in secluded places, a celibate life. Those who live a householder life in
eastern system include the whole tribe as
a family. In western system, there is no joint family system so every couple
creates a family and their children create
their own separate family. Householder means taking responsibility of family
life together. Family can belong to two
individuals as wife and husband, or it can include other members of their tribe.
In Hindu scriptures, it is said
Vasudaiva kutumbakam - the whole world is one family.
So in non-achievement, effort is still made. The football player's mind is not
whether he is achieving or not
achieving. He is just making the effort.
Effort to achieve is the main force in all our undertakings.
If he keeps on trying, he may achieve another time?
The player doesn't drop out, but always tries to achieve. Sometimes wins and
sometimes loses, but keeps sports spirit
So there is still faith in the aim?
What would be the best attitude to take instead of seeking achievement?
Do your duty for God. You cannot create favorable result. A farmer works hard to
achieve a good crop but when the
crop is ripe, the hailstorm destroys it. So doing the duty is in our hands and
the result is in divine hands.
In finding the balance between worldly life and spiritual practice, suppose we
have established a regular
spiritual practice meditating early in the morning and then our worldly life
requires that we arrive earlier. So
you miss that time. It may help the work in the world but it weakens the
discipline of spiritual practice.
In meditation class, if someone gets heart attack, what should we do? We have to
see our duty in the world also. The
class stops and everyone helps that person but it doesn't break the discipline.
Next time, the class continues as usual.
The mind can play tricks. It can think that scratching the nose is a heart
There was a swami who started an orphanage in Almora. He was meditating in the
morning sun, feeling good. A boy
fell down from the roof and got a head injury. The swami ignored that child. The
swami ignored his duty to take care of
the child first. His mind made a reason to sit by using meditation as a pretext.
We have to be honest to ourselves in our
So often its just desire which is pulling the mind out. And it's hard to tell
the difference between desire and
It is always a desire, which pulls the mind out in the world taking various
forms. Sometimes the form of desire appears
as if very spiritual, but deep inside, there is a desire of name, fame, etc.
© 2000 Sri Rama Publishing
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