Simple Living

Simple Living: The Auspicious Way

This world is an auspicious place, favorable for spiritual awakening. We can attain Self- and God-realization even while living in perilous times.

 

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MESSAGE FROM YOGACHARYA

The world is an auspicious field for spiritual practice. You can attain Self- and God-realization even while leading a worldly life.  –Sri Lahiri Mahasaya

I’ve been reflecting on three commitments of the spiritual life that have supported me and this work through the years—an approach to life that can help us meet the auspicious potential of our time. Live simply. Love abundantly. Awaken fully.

When Paramahansa Yogananda brought the spiritual teachings of Kriya Yoga to the US in 1920, he summarized this way of life as Plain Living and High Thinking. That key to fulfillment was taught by other yogis at the time as well as by Mahatma Gandhi. It’s a motto that still inspires today, especially in our age of complication and distraction. Plain living. Simple Living.

How do we cultivate simple living today?

For those spiritually oriented and inspired to live with a higher purpose—the why, the reason for plain living is, itself, simple. It allows us to focus our time and energy on what matters most to us, lighten our footprint on the earth, strengthen our clarity of mind, open our hearts, and be available to serve. It helps us be present and purposeful. We are here to fulfill our highest potential as expressions of the divine. We are lights meant to shine! When we are burdened by distraction, that light is dimmed. We know it, and we feel it when it is happening.

The how of simple living is not complex either, but I wouldn’t say it’s easy. I confess I have read many books on how to live a simple life. They’re often inspiring, but there wouldn’t be such a proliferation of books and programs on simplifying your life if a book could do it. Yesterday I saw a headline: 100 Best Minimalism Books of All Time.

Sometimes we try to simplify our life by first changing external conditions—if I let go of this, do this, or have that, then I can focus on spiritual priorities. Then I will meditate longer and deeper and live more simply.

But the simple way is to start immediately by connecting with the soul, the essential Self.

Invite the soul to lead.  Reorient attention from outer to inner, from distraction to presence through a moment of prayer or meditation, simply witnessing the breath or nature. Be present.

Soon, awareness of grace kicks in and reveals what to do. We discover the wisdom we need when we need it.

The simple way of the soul-guided life is to start where we are with what we are. Where we are is here. What we are is divine—expressions of God, the One Absolute Reality. Conscious connection to That essence is the simplest way forward.

Here’s a Zen story.

A seeker is traveling through a remote village looking for a specific holy place. He is directed to the village sage, who graciously receives him.

He asks her: Do you know where this sacred place is? Do you know how I can get there?

Yes, she says, but I wouldn’t start from here.

What does that mean? Looking for it, you will never find it. You are it. You are the holy place. Start from there.

Wisdom from Nisargadatta Maharaj:

You are always seeking pleasure, avoiding pain, always after happiness and peace. Don’t you see that it is your very search for happiness that makes you feel miserable? Try the other way: indifferent to pain and pleasure, neither asking nor refusing, give all your attention to the level on which “I am” is timelessly present. Soon you will realize that peace and happiness are in your very nature, and it is only seeking them through some particular channels that disturbs. Avoid the disturbance, that is all. [1]

Exactly where you are, precisely there, is the holy place. It is your place—luminous, shimmering with divine light and grace. Return to it. Tend it.

Simple living on the outside arises from fulfilled living on the inside

Yoga is union, conscious awareness of body-mind-soul-and Spirit or God connection. The simple life, and the experience of the auspicious nature of life, arise from that conscious connection. We are undivided and undistracted, restored to wholeness—healed.

Today people everywhere are suffering from trauma and a frayed nervous system. We need healing on all levels—self, community, and our planet.

When Yoganandaji came here, he offered Kriya Yoga to heal—body, mind, soul, and society—by directly reconnecting to our essential nature and awakening to the One divine Reality that is here, now. That Reality is what we are, and it is where we are—Spirit and Nature. The Kingdom of God extends fully to this earth plane.

Stories from many traditions point to the power of connecting to Spirit and Nature. Here’s one.

In a highly charged, contentious moment with locals about to stone a woman, Jesus looks for a way into their hearts. He doesn’t preach to them or push against them. What does he do? He gets quiet, bends down, and touches the earth. The story says he scribbled or wrote something in the dirt. When he rose back up, he offered the timeless wisdom of “you who are without sin, cast the first stone.”

When Gautama sat under the Bodhi tree, he was assailed by the forces of Mara—distraction on steroids! He didn’t get up and start fighting. What did he do? He touched the earth.

Author and Zen teacher Norman Fischer wrote about that moment:

In touching the earth, the Buddha was not only calling on the earth goddess to be his protector. He was saying, the earth is my body. My body expresses earth, is produced and supported by earth, is made exclusively of earth elements. Nothing on earth, no matter how frightening, can threaten this indestructible earth body. Even if it is broken up into a million pieces it remains, going home to its Mother who gave birth to it, who embraces it now and always will embrace it.

With this gesture of truth, belonging, and ultimate invulnerability, born of surrender to and identity with the earth, Budha expressed his absolute fearlessness, and in doing so defeated Mara. After this, his enlightenment unfolded. [2]

The direct experience of our essence, of the soul nature, changes our point of view about our self and life.

That change in viewpoint allows us to see and experience life as auspicious. Conscious contact with Absolute Reality, the divine Self, brings a simple, profound, life-altering change of viewpoint.

We are each individualized, particularized viewpoints of One Infinite Omnipresent Consciousness—like rays of light from the sun. Until we wake up, the light that we are is focused outwardly. We are oriented toward life outside of us. We experience life as happening to us.

When we wake up, we see all—everyone and everything—in that one divine light. Life is no longer just happening to us; it is happening through us. Waking up is taking our place in the auspicious Oneness of it all.

The omnipresent Lord of Love is auspiciousness itself. Contemplate your life as auspicious. Open to auspiciousness by committing to it and by bringing it forth.

This is our soul power to be realized and actualized now.

I am here.

I am.

Live. Simply.

 


[1] Nisargadatta Maharaj, quoted in Hinduism Today magazine, October/November/December 2021 issue, p.41

[2] Norman Fischer, When You Greet Me I Bow: Notes and Reflections from a Life in Zen, (Boulder: Shambhala Publications, 2021), 89-90.

 

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