Lahiri Mahasaya was known as a “Householder Yogi” because he earned a living and had a family according to social custom, yet he was a spiritual Master, and he expected his disciples to follow his example. His message to Kriyabans was firstly, look after your family, have a job so you are not dependent on others, and balance these responsibilities with your spiritual meditation practice at home. In other words, don’t become a renunciant and leave the world for a life in a cave. This ancient, holy, priceless practice of Kriya has almost been lost to mankind on many occasions over the course of the past centuries, because it remained solely in the hands of aesthetics.
Secondly, he taught that true renunciation is when you have conquered your desires through your regular, disciplined, spiritual practice, rather than when you take the physical steps to change your appearance and worldly status. And thirdly, I’m sure it had something to do with the fact that a life lived in a society and within a family is so rich in valuable lessons, which are also vital to spiritual progress and development.
Guruji is equally strict in adhering to these principles of Kriya Yoga as given by Lahiri Mahasaya. He does not live in an ashram. He teaches yoga for a living, and his wife works in a childcare facility.
In my book Footsteps to Freedom, Four Spiritual Masters and a Beginner I write about the time when I first met Guruji in India and received initiation. As a single woman in my twenties, I was free to do Kriya practice when it suited me and without anyone interrupting me. If I did sleep for an hour longer in the morning it didn’t matter, because no one was clamouring they were hungry for breakfast. I was able to spend days trying to do longer practice sessions too.
But life never stays the same and the river keeps on flowing. Life can change pretty dramatically after marriage and family life begins, and to be “disciplined in practice” can take on a whole new meaning. As a mother of two, it has not always been smooth sailing with my own Kriya Yoga practice over the past twelve years, and this is why I thought that for this round of the blog I might draw on more of Guruji’s wisdom and examples whilst taking a look at some of the (modern) obstacles to practice.
In retrospect, those early years of regular practice in India gave me a great deal of stability (these are the years covered in my book Footsteps to Freedom). It was a great blessing to have been touched by the beauty and deep inner peace of Kriya early on, even though it may have been to the smallest degree. It helped to keep me moving along, albeit like a tortoise.
I am often asked by new initiates (in particular, women) about my Kriya practice now, and about how (or if) it is really possible to manage as a working mother with babies or children. I answer honestly that during the baby-and-young children period sometimes I didn’t manage very well at all. There is no magic formula. I will share a little about my own challenges in coming blogs. It would be hard to approach this topic from anything but a woman’s perspective, so heads up for the coming instalments…!