Education vs. Spirituality


I’m a CA student & failing the final exam since last 4 years as I haven’t studied for the exams at all each time & have given the exams just for the sake of giving. 3 years back, a random event attracted me to spirituality. Since then till date, whenever I get my study leave from office, instead of studying I always research about spirituality as a subject. I just dont feel like completing CA anymore. There is no desire for that & I feel guilty because my family is not aware of the truth.

—Anonymous, India


Dear Friend,

Many years ago I sat for the CPA exam in America after four years of college. I was determined not to have to keep taking the exam as so many other applicants have to do. So I focused all of my attention on preparing myself. I was already meditating and never thought to myself that being an accountant was my lifelong interest.

Instead, I had come this far and wanted to finish what I started. I was blessed by the masters to sit and pass in one exam. I worked as a CPA for a few years before selling everything and going to India for over a year in search of my next step and spiritual path.

I did this because my next step, spiritually speaking, had not yet manifested even if I always knew I was not destined to remain a CPA. In fact, after returning to India I read AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A YOGI and was introduced to Swami Kriyananda (a direct disciple) who had founded the first intentional, householder ashram in northern California. (Now there are eight such communities including outside of Pune, India.)

From reading your note above I have the impression that although you are strongly attracted to spiritual subjects you have not necessarily adopted a focused spiritual life of prayer, meditation, devotion and service in the company of those who share your ideals and in the company of one or more wiser who can guide you. In short, I do not sense that you have a deep commitment to the spiritual path but only an interest IN THE IDEAS of spirituality.

I have known people who are fearful of finishing school, taking exams, or taking on the responsibilities of adulthood, perhaps including marriage and family. The world at your stage of life can be overwhelming. To retreat, therefore, to the world of Spirit and spiritual ideas seems a safe refuge. I did something like this when I graduated from grade school and was to enter high school: I retreated to the study of the priesthood (Catholic) rather than face the challenges of high school. As life turned out, I eventually returned to high school from the college preparatory school for the priesthood that I attended and all was well.

Therefore, I urge you to seriously consider simply finishing what you started. If after giving the CA exam your very best in preparations and effort, you do not pass it, well, then you have to move on in another direction. But at least then you can say you’ve tried your very best. Whether you pass or not but if you have worked hard at trying your best, then your family has no reason to criticize you.

After that, you are free to pursue your spiritual interests. You may find, as I did, that I needed to get a job while I studied my spiritual interests and while I practiced meditation. In time, Divine Mother showed me the way but first I had to prove to her that I was responsible and committed.

Studying teachings is not enough. The purpose of education of any kind is to prepare for life and for taking on responsibilities. So it is also with the spiritual path. For now your studies give to you an education but education is only to prepare you to enter into the spiritual life not to remain apart from it in the realm of ideas. The spiritual life is one that includes a spiritual family, just as physical life requires a biological family.

The spiritual life includes daily sadhana; joyful selfless service (nishkam karma); devotion; generosity, sharing your material gifts with others in need; and, satsang with others of like mind. It is much more than mere ideas or stories.

So, all of this says to you: consider calmly and deeply finishing your CA exam. If Divine Mother sends to you a true guru; a true spiritual path; you enter brahmacharya; etc. etc. then, and only then, can you say you have been guided in a new and deeper direction.

I hope I haven’t been too strong and said too much, more than you can accept. In any case, do your best to be self-honest and honest with your family even if you are criticized; to be dharmic even when difficult; to be courageous, not fearful. And, most importantly, pray daily and meditate, asking for Divine Guidance.

May the light of wisdom shine upon you,
Nayaswami Hriman
Seattle WA USA