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Balancing Material and Spiritual Lives
Contrary to the popular myth, it is not at all necessary to neglect our physical and material existence to succeed on the spiritual path. All that we seek to do is to normalize each of our functions without atrophy of any of them.
Revered Parthasarathi Rajagopalachari also known as Chariji says, "If the material life is leading us astray and away from our goal, then obviously it is our fault in not living the material life in the appropriate fashion. So all that we have to do to get back on to our path is to restore the proper "balance" to our life, whereby the two halves of existence are harmonized and in equilibrium."
Asceticism is as wrong, and as unnatural, as a totally materialistic way of life is. We are unsafe even from our neighbors in today's situation and under today's fantastic technological advances. This is one of the chief reasons why we should strive to attain inner balance, inner perfection, and inner morality.
Education is a tool. Without education we can do very little. But education must be balanced by inner tendencies, which must show us how this vital tool should be utilized. Intellect is a tool. Physical capacities too are tools. Like a carpenter, who uses his tools like a chisel, hammer, and a drill expertly towards a certain end, we too must use tools at our disposal to attain perfection. That is what we call striking a balance.
We do not seek happiness and misery. They unfold in our lives because of our actions and impressions (samskaras) created by these actions (Play of Samskaras). Imagine a person walking on a road. Sometimes he encounters bright sunshine and sometimes-cloudy weather. The road to his destination is either smooth or bumpy. That person does not seek these things. They unfold before him in a regular pattern. When he undertakes a journey, his focus is only on his destination. Likewise, we too should seek only our goal when we undertake our journey towards the eternal.
Spirituality says we ought to balance the inner and the outer self. How? A seeker is a seeker because there is an inner calling to purity and truth. Nothing in this universe can counteract the strong inner pull and the inner inducement to the right life. Nevertheless, we always get entrapped in a tragic situation where we are unable to hear the call of our hearts. We should therefore, endeavor to build our character, which is striking a balance between the inner and the outer tendencies of existence.
We have within us the inner self, which is the higher self. Our outer self is the human self. These two are invariably opposed to each other. Spirituality says we need to integrate the two selves till a state of oneness is attained. This is the divine state, in which there is absolute absorption inside and absolute awareness to the outside. In yogic literature this state is called yoga nidra, a state where a yogi is asleep without really being asleep.
Spirituality says, there is no harm in earning money or enjoying good things of life, so long as morals, right living and right conduct are established in an individual. The basic need is to restore a balance within us by adopting simplicities that life has to offer. This includes things like simple diet, simple living and simple exercise, among others, to maintain ourselves in a condition that transports us through the existence. The body is a vehicle to transport our true self, the real occupant of this vehicle, from wherever He is, to wherever He has to go. The perfection that we are aiming for is nothing but this balance.
In spirituality, we cannot look for success and avoid failure. Neither can we accept pleasure and avoid pain. A seeker who yearns for only the attractive part of the deal, is unfit for practice.