How can you lead a spiritual life? Should you just retire to the Himalayas?

By: Keyur Seta

What should a person do to lead a spiritual life? Is he or she required to quit his job or business and retire to the Himalayas in order to walk on the path of spirituality? Or is it possible for him to continue his profession in the material world and at the same time work towards the goal of spirituality?

The answers to these questions were explored by Swami Sarvalokanandaji Maharaj at the weekly Bhagavad Gita class at Ramakrishna Mission, Mumbai.

The gist of his lecture is summarized as below:-

– Swamiji narrated an incident about a businessman, who was told by a monk or sanyasi to wind up his business and migrate to the Himalayas or any forest and become an ascetic. Obviously, the man was confused as he had to run his business to earn a living. This is when that person met a monk at Ramakrishna Mission. The monk explained that although what the saint said is true, it is not practical because he has to sustain and family.


– By shedding light on the verse from the Gita which states that one should work without focusing on the fruits of the action, Swamiji explained that one can lead a spiritual life while being into any material profession. This is called Karma Yoga.

– Karma Yoga is very difficult to achieve and it requires great effort but it is definitely attainable.

– Such a person is called the Enlightened while the opposite of it is the Ignorant. The ignorant works for personal gain and is obsessed with the fruits of his action. But the enlightened works for the welfare of others without thinking about the fruits of action. He gave this example – If a cricketer (batsman) only focuses only on the scoreboard, he won’t be able to concentrate on his play.

– Through the above incident, Swamiji also explained that the enlightened shouldn’t create confusion in the mind of the ignorant.

– He gave another similar example. Once, a devotee named Harish went to Sri Ramakrishna and said that he has decided to give up his professional or social life as he wants to lead a spiritual life in his company. But Sri Ramakrishna didn’t allow him and instead scolded him for this idea since he has a family to support. This doesn’t mean that Sri Ramakrishna discouraged him from being spiritual. He just meant that it is wrong to leave your dependents stranded in the name of spirituality.

– One has to tread onto the spiritual path slowly and gradually. For example, you can’t ask a 2-year-old kid to start running.

Such lectures take place on every Sunday from 5:45 onwards. But do call once and check before turning up.


4 thoughts on “How can you lead a spiritual life? Should you just retire to the Himalayas?

  1. If in a cave you can be as active as when surrounded by traffic and in traffic as still as in a cave, you have attained Karma Yoga

    —readings from Karma Yoga, complete works of swami vivekananda, ( not exact excerpt)

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