In medieval times spiritual students had a clear choice – eitherjoin a monastery and follow the spiritual life full-time as a monk/nun, – or – become a family person and follow an ordinary life in the world. It seems today that we don’t really have a clear-cut choice anymore. Most aspiring spiritual students can’t be either/or in today’s world where we have to combine both ways of life right here in the cut and thrust of daily life. How is it possible to live a spiritual life outside the monastery walls amidst all the distractions of modern life? How can we bring the warring elements of our lives together to make for a more balanced and fulfilling life? How can we combine – either and or – in today’s world?

I guess the first thing is to not see the spiritual life as separate from our daily life. In the Western world we tend to separate ‘religion’ from our regular lives. Worship is relegated to church on Sundays. Whereas in traditional Aboriginal society or Hindu/Buddhist tradition, for example, religion is seen as a way of life rather than a ritual segregated away from our regular existence in the world. How can this be done in practical terms? The ancient societies which have faced these issues for millennia show us the way, they tell us:

Life is the Teacher: instead of looking at our families and jobs as a distraction from the spiritual life, look at them as opportunities for learning the most powerful spiritual lessons possible – generosity, patience, resilience, tolerance, understanding. What better ways of learning these enduring soul lessons than dealing with family responsibilities and with the daily grind of duties for others instead of concentrating on our own wants and desires all the time.

Learn from Life: most of us go cruising through life without reflecting on what spiritual lessons life is trying to teach us each day. As ancient Greek philosopher, Socrates, said once: ‘The unexamined life is not worth living’. So why not take the advice of great sages like Socrates, Plato, and Pythagoras and take a little time out at the end of the day to reflect what our lives are trying to teach us in terms of enduring soul lessons. Remember what Theosophy teaches us that our lives are a classroom provided by our Higher Selves for learning to be better human beings, so why not take this seriously and reflect upon what lessons the Higher Self has mapped out for us each day.

Meditation: meditation doesn’t have to mean sitting in a painful position for hours staring at our proverbial navel. There is nothing stopping us from meditating on spiritual issues as part of our everyday activities whilst our hands are busy with other jobs or certainly reflecting upon such lessons at the end of the day before going to bed at night for a few minutes.

Joyous Perseverance: persevere at living up to the best of ourselves and looking for the best in others as a regular habit – and express a little joy and happiness in the process! It is easy to get disillusioned with the state of our world, but a heck of a lot harder to do anything about it or to work on our own problems instead of blaming others all the time. Remember what Theosophy tells us about reincarnation that we have been here many times before and that we must therefore be responsible for many of the problems in the world as it is now. So, now we should do what we can in our own small ways to put them right.

Common-Sense Things We Can Do Right Here, Right Now: Buddhism tells us there is a way forward for humanity and anybody in any life situation can follow this Path: Right View; Right Intention; Right Speech; Right Action; Right Livelihood; Right Effort; Right Mindfulness; and Right Concentration. This effort can encourage us to emanate the qualities required of all students of the Mysteries: Generosity; Ethical Disciple; Patience; Joyous Perseverance; Meditative Stabilization; and Wisdom. But don’t expect that everyone, even members of your own family, will understand and respect what you are trying to do. You are likely to have to endure a fair amount of loneliness in being ‘different’ because you are no longer able to behave in a way that others expect but are out of step with what you have come to know is Right.

Diet and Exercise: we all have the opportunity to eat and drink foods which are least harmful to ourselves, other entities, and to the environment (please see below under ‘Better Health: the Nordic Diet’ for example). Healthy exercise and especially spending time in natural surroundings where possible, or parklands if we are living in cities, is a healing experience available to everyone.

Spiritual Time-Out: Hinduism tells us that we all need a little spiritual ‘timeout’ to refocus our efforts to be better human beings. They call it ‘Puja’ or taking a few moments, especially at the beginning and end of each day, to be thankful to God(s) for our lives and to reflect on the lessons we have learnt each day.

Chanting and Prayer: Hindu teachers tell us that in this time of Kali-Yuga (meaning the Black Age) that it is extremely difficult to do all the spiritual reading and exclusive meditation away from the stresses of the world that was available in former times when people led simpler, less stressful lives. They recommend a path of devotion (Bhakti Marga) and especially chanting or singing the name of God(s) as part of your everyday life according to whatever tradition you follow.

Certainly, chanting and prayer familiarizes us with the quiet inside even whilst the craziness of the world surrounds us. We don’t have to close down the spiritual side of our lives because of lack of time or energy to deal with everyday life. The names of God(s) are like seeds of kindness and love planted in our mind-stream and they will bare fruit eventually in our behaviour in the world one day.

A more detailed article on: Theosophy in Practice: practical methods for putting spiritual theory into practice in everyday life, is availableat:http://www.theosophydownunder.org/library/theosophical-articles/theosophy-in-practice-practical-methods-for-putting-spiritual-theory-into-practice-in-everyday-life-by-andrew-rooke/

 “…. Let us never forget, we students of the Wisdom of the Gods, that we ourselves in our Inmost are offsprings of the Boundless, and thus through frontierless Time, and urged by the impelling energy of our Spirit, are advancing through inner struggles and trials, aspirations and disappointments, sorrow and pain, yet nevertheless always advancing to that ultimate consummation of our Spiritual Self with that limitless WONDER which is our inmost. Yet remember that, most marvellous of paradoxes, the WONDER towards which we are marching is throughout eternity unattainable, for it is limitless Space and frontierless Duration. Hence such ‘consummation’ is really an endless series of consummations growing steadily nobler and grander, and still nobler and grander, beyond all powers of human imagination…” – G de Purucker: Esoteric Teachings, Vol. 3: pages:10-11.