Can I Progress Spiritually if I Have Career and Family?

Question

I'm 21 years old. I wanted to progress spiritually. But right now I'm studying and my family wanted me to excel professionally and be with family. My query is if I choose to have challenging career and balance the family does not it make me attached to the external materialistic world, since the responsibility is increased we need to earn, satisfy the additional demands. If this is the case I'm binded then how shall I progress spiritually, and attain no attachments state? thank you

—Tj Akshay, India

Answer

Dear Tj Akshay,

Yogananda and our line of masters were given the divine mission to show that people could live in the world as householders, serve the world in material plane occupations, and also seek God and achieve liberation. Although Yogananda was unmarried, his guru Sri Yukteswar was married, had a family, and supported himself though properties that he owned. Sri Yukteswar’s guru, Lahiri Mahasaya, was also married and supported himself and his family as an accountant. The gurus of this line, which include Babaji and Christ, are all avatars: freed souls sent by God for the liberation of millions who come for guidance.

Please read these words from Autobiography of a Yogi by Paramhansa Yogananda that Babaji addressed to Lahiri when he initiated him into Kriya Yoga.

“My son,” Babaji said, embracing me, “your role in this incarnation must be played on an outward stage. Prenatally blessed by many lives of lonely meditation, you must now mingle in the world of men.

“A deep purpose underlay the fact that you did not meet me this time until you were already a married man, with modest business responsibilities. You must put aside your thoughts of joining our secret band in the Himalayas; your life lies in the crowded marts, serving as an example of the ideal yogi-householder.

“The cries of many bewildered worldly men and women have not fallen unheard on the ears of the Great Ones,” he went on. “You have been chosen to bring spiritual solace through Kriya Yoga to numerous earnest seekers. The millions who are encumbered by family ties and heavy worldly duties will take new heart from you, a householder like themselves. You must guide them to see that the highest yogic attainments are not barred to the family man. Even in the world, the yogi who faithfully discharges his responsibilities, without personal motive or attachment, treads the sure path of enlightenment.

“No necessity compels you to leave the world, for inwardly you have already sundered its every karmic tie. Not of this world, you must yet be in it. Many years still remain during which you must conscientiously fulfill your family, business, civic, and spiritual duties. A sweet new breath of divine hope will penetrate the arid hearts of worldly men. From your balanced life, they will understand that liberation is dependent on inner, rather than outer, renunciations.”

Spiritual practice is not only for the meditation room. Deep practice of meditation and application of spiritual principles to daily living will allow you to spiritualize every aspect of life. Through application of these principles we learn to be in the world but not of it, to fulfill willingly our God-given responsibilities but without attachment, and to remember God in every moment of our day. This is the way to liberation.

I encourage you to achieve your potential in all areas of your life — both material and spiritual — for all are part of your God-given duty. Be a yogi-householder. If you would like to learn more about the practices of this spiritual path I encourage you to take a look at our offerings in India here.

Many blessings,
Nayaswami Mukti