FOUR: The Yoga practitioner – with a family
In ancient times, yogis and spiritual masters used to retreat to the mountain caves and forests, and lived as renunciants. This was partly the reason why the holy path of Kriya Yoga (a scientific meditation path otherwise known as the “Holy Grail” in India, which has also been known by other names) was kept in the hands of an exclusive few whilst the technique and knowledge of its existence almost became lost to mankind.
Therefore, Lahiri Mahasaya, who became known worldwide as the “father of Kriya Yoga” through the publication of Autobiography of a Yogi was instructed by his spiritual Guru, Babaji, to establish a principle whereby spiritual seekers who were ready for Kriya initiation should live as “householders”- in other words, have a family life and work for a living whilst remaining true to their spiritual development through Kriya practice.
Lahiri Mahasaya said that the establishment of organisations and ashrams would endanger the original practice of Kriya Yoga, since it always had to be passed on in person from authorised (and therefore self-realised) Guru to disciple. Therefore he never allowed disciples to set up an ashram or Kriya Yoga organisation, although many tried to persuade him to do so. Instead, Lahiri Mahasaya, his son Tinkari Lahiri, and grandson Satya Charan Lahiri, hid their spiritual powers from the general public and lived as householders. This is also a brief introduction to Guruji’s lineage and these three great yogis, whose stories can be found in my book, and is the reason why Guruji lives as a “Householder Yogi”.
In Guruji’s own words: “When my path first started, I was young and did not know how yoga was related to spirituality. But in 1985, I found my Guru and spiritual master, Satya Charan Lahiri, and received the practice of Kriya Yoga directly from him. His grandfather, Lahiri Mahasaya, was a very well known Yogi in India. Yogananda was in the same lineage. And a few years later Satya Charan Lahiri authorised me to initiate Kriya Yoga which is secret and meant for those people who are disciplined and can do this practice in their life. He took mahasamadhi in 1987.
“Sometimes people are scared when they hear the word “Guru”. But in our Indian tradition “Guru” is a Sanskrit word. It means ‘teacher’ – someone like a parent, who can guide you and teach you how to practise. If we want to learn a language or an instrument, we also need a teacher. So we have no fear of that word “Guru” in India.”
Andreas and I are in our 14th year of marriage, and we have two lovely, intelligent and talented children: Joshua (aged 10) and Jessie (almost 7). I like the fact that the nappy phase is a distant memory, and that they are becoming more and more independent. They can even make themselves porridge or scrambled eggs on toast in the morning if I ask them nicely, having overslept and still thinking I’d really like to do Kriya practice…! But they still need reminding to feed Binky, Sooty and Rainbow (two rabbits and a guinea pig).
My family are supportive of my desire to start performing. Joshua tells me he can imagine track three of the new album, “You are the One” playing on the radio, and my daughter books me for a gig every evening at the moment, which doubles as my practice session. She is always fast asleep by the third song. By the way, if you know any children in need of winding-down before bed, my songs should do the trick every time.
When the children are home from school, the typical routine is to cook dinner and make sandwiches for the next day’s packed lunches. Then there are spelling and multiplication tests, and reading before bedtime. At intervals throughout the week we taxi the children to and from their extra-curricular activities such as swimming, taekwondo and gymnastics. On Sundays we either work in the garden, go for a walk or chill out in front of a DVD. Or, occasionally, we take the children to the zoo or one of the fabulous Melbourne museums. We bought a tent so that we could go on camping holidays. These are some of the joys of my family life. Then of course there is the shopping, the washing and the housework. (I’m still working on the ‘joys’ in that department…!) But Andreas is an exceptional husband in many ways (I especially appreciate how he also helps with the housework, and he’s a very good cook too.)
Guruji initiated me into Kriya Yoga in 1995 (but I won’t repeat the story of how I first met Guruji and came to learn yoga and meditation from him as a complete beginner and as a devout Christian, because that part is already written in my book). My record is far from immaculate, but I still do my best to retreat into my very own Himalayan cave (meditation room) twice daily, and Kriya practice is more important to me than ever.
This reminds me to mention the third of the four themes for the blog: YOGA & MEDITATION. Some of the stories and examples might be on: the benefits of yoga & meditation; stages of consciousness and evolution, and salvation.