Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi arrive at Ananda Mumbai.

We are on the move again. We will have slept in four different hotels in the last week. Moreover, the maximum weight for flying in India is 15 kilograms (33 pounds). That’s the limit of our portable possessions these days. Being a New Age wandering sadhu imposes a forced simplicity, a paring down to the essentials. That is a good thing for a yogi.

One of the most memorable quotes of Paramhansa Yogananda is, “Simplicity of living plus high thinking lead to the greatest happiness.” Real simplicity is the voluntary renunciation of attachments. It’s not doing without material goods—there are billions of people worldwide who live in abject poverty, which we see daily in the work Ananda does with the widows in Brindaban, India. But voluntarily transferring one’s yearnings from the things of the world to the desire for God is quite different. This frees the heart and mind.

The essence of the spiritual path is to overcome the instinctual compulsions that surround and protect the ego. This cannot be done except by willing, enthusiastic surrender of everything that you think you own and all that you think you are. The ego tells us that this is madness, that it will end in misery. The soul and the guru, however, silently cheer us on.

How do we achieve simplicity? The first and obvious thing is to get rid of the unnecessary “necessities.” Look at each of your possessions and ask these two questions: “Do I use it? Do I love it?” If the answer to both of them is “no,” then it is probably old baggage taking up space in your closet and your heart. Give these things to others who actually need them and keep paring down until you feel a sense of freedom not only from your possessions but, more importantly, from the need to possess.

Simplicity of being is harder to achieve than the minimization of owning. And yet, the process is similar. First you must be calm and centered enough to begin to observe your “bundle of self-definitions.” Then ask the same two questions in a slightly varied form: “Do I need and use this self-definition? Do I love it because it is leading me to freedom?” This allows you to drop those darkening qualities: pride, negativity, jealousy, anger, doubt—the numberless soldiers of the army of the materialist Kaurava clan of the Gita.

And it allows you to focus on supporting the few useful soul-qualities represented by the Pandavas: the ability to avoid evil, the ability to do what is right, fiery self-control, pranayama, and expansion. These plus devotion to God and Guru are all one really needs.

The life of a wandering sadhu, where you surrender the need to control your circumstances, is good for the soul. A friend summed it up this way: “Life becomes very simple. There isn’t much that I do except serve and meditate.” If our goal is freedom, what else do we need?

In joyful simplicity,

Nayaswami Jyotish

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Listen to talks by Nayaswamis Jyotish and Devi during their India tour here.

17 Comments

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  1. jai Guru,
    often the 15KG s possession in the flight would bother us as to how to minimise our requirements and how to be so selective. Even further would think if some thing is needed where would I go?
    But this post made me think in other way. Yes the background from which i have come , has a practice of accumulating for self as well as for the next generation too.
    Parting is little difficult be it a an object or a being.
    This inspiring blog certainly puts us in action to be simple.
    Joyfull regards.

  2. What a wonderful and lofty thought!!
    Simplicity indeed should become our ornament… Our way of life, I wonder when and how it will happen to me…

  3. Dear Nayaswami Jyotish Ji,
    Thank you for this wonderful blog.
    With his blessings we would like to apply this teachings and remind ourselves of the purpose we’re here for.
    Life becomes very simple when we serve and meditate. Wow!! Jai Guru!

  4. Your advice is always inspiring but maybe some practical advice based on today’s cultural realities in Western life would be help us modern householders become more in tune and more able to live simply without worry. I would like to understand how this can be achieved as a householder who supports a wife and children. The western marriage and associated expectations are very different to when Lahiri Mahasaya was a householder. We cannot be wandering Sadhus when we have responsibilities for others, especially if they do not share the same beliefs. And we cannot simply say “don’t worry” to our wives when they complain about not having enough money; and we cannot rely on donations or inheritances to solve our daily problems. We must work in order to be responsible for others now and especially for when we get older. And we must work and communicate with others who do not share our beliefs and who have entirely different values. We are pulled in multiple directions daily with advertising, fads, and the internet, and more importantly, those under our care are also pulled in those directions, so we must manage ourselves and the expectations of others who are drawn into those influential webs.

    Master offered wonderful advice, and it would be useful if you could interpret it to help us to live spiritually in a western society, where partners and children and friends do not share the same beliefs, and where we and those we love are bombarded with opposing belief systems and influences. Take care.

  5. Dead Jyotish,
    Thank you so much to these words of wisdom. I will use the two questions more often to simplify.
    Aum, Aum, Aum.
    Linda Hagen

  6. I must admit, these lessons have been with me throughout my life, from my childhood on. As I had stated to family from my most recent pastlife when asked if I’m looking to become wealthy from my experiences, after getting ahold of them several months after being given the opportunity to match two of the lives I’ve previously led to the waking visions of my youth, I laughed and stated “I choose poverty over wealth but I prefer to live in a world that has neither.” I got to share with them my philosophy of how the ebb and flow of the physical universes are not unlike how a heart beats or how a lightbulb cycles from on to off. Another example could be how a combustion engine operates with its cyclical explosions. After awhile they asked me why I had called and I told them that, “Well, because if I am right and that was me who died in Cambodia as a soldier, then I wanted you to know that I’m ok.” They thanked me for sharing my story and I could tell that I had made a positive impact on their hearts.
    For the longest time, only until very recently, I have worn life’s suffering upon my heart and shoulders until coming to understand that suffering not only for our “selves,” but for the sake of others is the way our consciousness’ can help us grow within & beyond these cycles of life, death & universal incarnations.
    Many of my lives that I have previously lived are a mix of ascetics, philosophers & warriors, even though I do not embrace humanity’s definition of what war is or should be. Ignorance is our only enemy.
    Thank You

  7. Thank you so much for these wise words. We need to lighten our load more and more every day. Thank you for the reminders. We really don’t need much and especially not self-definitions. Aum Swaha!

  8. Thoroughly wonderful. I once told Swamiji, “I have come to understand that I am in this life to love God, to serve His work, and to live simply.” A week later, Swami’s secretary Lakshman reported that Swamiji had replied, “Very good.” The next day from early in the morning my phone began to ring every 15 minutes with people offering me contract jobs. I understood: every penny in the universe is in Divine Mother’s purse.

  9. Thank you Jyotishji, every friday I look forward to receiving a generous scoop of inspiration from your blog articles and they always deliver abundantly! 🙂 Joy.
    This is great and practical inspiration that I need to continually apply, thank you. Jai Guru.

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