Sadhana Part II, or Living in the Material World – December 19 2020

Sadhana Part II, or Living in the Material World – December 19 2020

Sadhana, spiritual exertion towards an intended goal.

from Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia


Some teachers tell us that in order to live a ‘spiritual life’ we must give up the things of this world. That these things are not important. That there is only one thing worth having, only one thing worth knowing: the truth of existence. The truth of your higher oneness with God. But… what about rent, we may ask. What about my career, my love life, my bank account, the new lens for my camera? What about all these things of the relative world? Am I supposed to pretend they don’t matter to me?


Vedic meditation is known as ‘the householder’s technique.’ It is not for those who want to leave the world, go off to the caves in the jungle above Rishikesh and spend the next two months or ten years in meditation. Our practice is for those of us who have families, jobs, careers; who are of the world and wish to remain so, but also want to know the truth of spirit within. 


But there is more we can do than just meditate twice a day. There is a way to bring more consciousness to our experience of life, even if we are in the world.


By practicing sadhana – offering all that we do to the Divine. Or to the universal spirit or the flow of nature–whichever concept works for us. This is the yoga of works. Karmayoga. Seeking unity (yoga) through action done (karma). It is described by the great sage Sri Aurobindo this way:


The ordinary life consists in work for personal aim and satisfaction of desire… The [Bhagavad] Gita’s yoga consists in the offering of one’s work as a sacrifice to the Divine, the conquest of desire, egoless and desireless action, [love] for the Divine… the sense of unity with all creatures, oneness with the Divine.


This can seem like a tall order. Some of us work in snake pits of ego that may seem like battlegrounds. Some of us do work that requires all of our attention, perhaps intensely so. How am I to dedicate my work to the Divine then? Again, from Sri Aurobindo:


If you can’t as yet remember the Divine all the time you are working, it does not greatly matter. To remember and dedicate at the beginning and give thanks at the end ought to be enough for the present.


And if the idea of ‘the Divine’ is not appealing, then simply remembering ‘the sense of unity with all creatures’ will suffice to help raise my awareness out of the morass that the relative world can become for us.


And then there is this to remember: if I am dedicating my work to something greater than my individuality, that something is waiting to respond in kind to flow through me as this giving:


[This] is a great secret of sadhana, to know how to get things done by the Power behind or above instead of doing all by the mind’s effort… Strength is all right for the strong–but aspiration and the Grace answering to it are not altogether myths; they are great realities of the spiritual life.

All quotes from Sri Aurobindo, Letters on Yoga


Today I will dedicate all the work I do as service to something greater than myself–to the Divine, to the world, to my fellow man, to my family, to my co-workers, to my idea of what is right.

Doorman, The Dakota, New York, New York