”I slept and dreamt that Life was Joy,
I woke and found that Life was Duty,
Duty was Joy”.
In ancient times the yogis divided life into 4 sections – called ‘’ashrama’’.
The first was that of a child and student (brahmacharya ashrama) – where one learns the skills for a good life.
The second that of a married householder performing their duties (dharma) in the material world (grihastha ashrama) – where one expresses one’s passions, desires and ambitions.
The third was when husband and wife left society and went to live in the forest (vanaprastha ashrama) – where one works on spiritual growth and reassesses the spiritual values.
And the fourth was full renunciation (poorna sannyasa) – where the individual went off alone towards the Void – total renunciation of the fetters of the world.
The concept of the Householder Yogi is based on the chapter in the Bhagavad Gita concerned with the renunciation of attachment to the fruits of our actions. We act, yes – because we are compelled to, due to our desires and samskaras – but on this battlefield, in full flight, in the middle of this stream of life, we work towards developing the higher awareness.
To not act is not an option because otherwise we are suppressing – somehow we will be eventually undone by unexpressed desires, so it is pointless to ignore them. Plus there is attachment to ‘’non-action’’ – we become identified as a ‘’non-doer’’ and thus continue to create karma anyway…
‘’ I have already explained that there are two classes of men who try to realize the self. Some are inclined to understand it by empirical, philosophical speculation, and others by devotional service.
Not by merely abstaining from work can one achieve freedom from reaction, nor by renunciation alone can one attain perfection.
Everyone is forced to act helplessly according to the qualities he has acquired from the modes of material nature; therefore no one can refrain from doing something, not even for a moment.
One who restrains the senses of action but whose mind dwells on sense objects certainly deludes himself and is called a pretender.
On the other hand, if a sincere person tries to control the active senses by the mind and begins karma yoga without attachment, he is by far superior.
Perform your prescribed duty, for doing so is better than not working. One cannot even maintain one’s physical body without work’’
(Chapter 3 Bhagavad Gita.)