Solutions to Modern Life

UPDATE: THIS POST WAS WRITTEN MONTHS AGO. SPRING 2021, ALot has transpired for me since writing  this and posting. I look forward to renewing my connection to this teachings!!

I loved finding the article below from Yogananda. I am in search of pictures of Yogananda from his travels across the South, and I came across this article.

The article title resonates with a Meditation practice I am offering called Meditation to navigate difficult times. I realized that meditation and yoga have been my source of relief and inspiration during and after difficult times.  Working in the modern wold

In this Yogananda gives heartful, practical reminders on the impact of simple living.

Debt, business failure, business obstacles all produce stress. The integral practice of Yoga is a holistic method to remove the stress. With this stressed removed one can turn towards life enrichment and spiritual practices


—By Yoganandaji

The cry of “Depression” is rending the air in this Land of Millionaires.
Beneath the prosperous lights of main streets all over the country, and the gaudy, tempting shop-windows, and the silent swish of expensive automobiles, there is a silent, seething cry of poverty. In the Orient you see the streets well strewn with beggars in tattered robes, but here in this Paradise of Business, this Land of Mergers, you see well-dressed men and women without money in their pockets or food in their stomachs. The well-dressed rich and the shabby poor, both declare themselves in their own way by their dress and their walk, but the Occidental middle class, who need to dress like the rich and are yet poor—for them I feel.
Without conscience and without heart the Rolls-Royces and Packards, containing their laughing, bejewelled, selfishness-petrified human beings, pass by these outwardly diffident, but inwardly poverty-singed unfortunates.

Where is the voice of the Christian Bible which says: “Man is made in the image of God, where is it drowned in this tumult of inequalities and injustices?

The Industrialists’ cry, “Buy more and keep money in circulation,” will not solve the problem. The very roots of depression have to be sought out and cauterized. To exhort the people to buy more and more of what they do not need, by the installment plan, is to make them slaves until death gives them freedom.

The history of the earth is filled with stories of fighting; brother killing brother; clan clashing with clan; races and nations destroying one another; big industrial kings beheading small business kings with the sword of the merger system and the chain stores.
Swords, ammunition, guns, and air-bombs cannot work the havoc of destruction unless the lack of understanding about the right social, national, and international laws of life makes mankind use these self-purpose, defeating agencies to aggravate their mutual misery. Misunderstanding of the universal laws of peaceful, prosperous living is responsible for depressions, famines, plagues, industrial, social, and national man-made cataclysms and wars.

International misunderstandings breed in their wombs their Satanic offsprings of selfishness, which is the real cause of all economic upheavals.
Individual, social, national, international, and industrial forms of selfishness are the children of universal selfishness. Selfishness is the wrong mode of living, inaugurated by human beings in the hope of self-interest and happiness.
In the final analysis, selfishness has been found sooner or later to destroy the real self-interest and happiness of man. In a community of one thousand people, if each one is the enemy of the other, each one has nine hundred and ninety-nine enemies to overcome before he is free to do anything successfully. In a nation of one hundred million industrial people, when each one desires to be a millionaire, he has to battle with 99,999,999 industrial enemies. Industrial wars and competitions prompt only a few to get more when they have plenty. The others all wish to possess more than they really need, and they go all through life working to death to pay bills, or buy more and more food, or regain lost health, all the time increasing their luxurious habits of living. The desire to live at the cost of the death of others, and the desire to be luxurious by directly or indirectly making others poor, are sins against God’s true laws, which govern all proper industrial transactions. Whether in the family, the church, or the shop, these same laws of right activity must be obeyed in order to save human civilization from self-contradiction and from inharmony.

The desire to be a millionaire is a false standard of self-holiness, and he who wishes to be a millionaire not only harms himself, but also injures others by leading them into the paths which lead to greatest unhappiness. The poor clerk in the hotel sees a well-dressed millionaire alighting proudly from his chauffeur-driven, expensive car, and envies his outward appearance of happiness. He tries to “keep up with the Jones’s” by borrowing, by bluff, by showing off, and by buying second-hand, high-priced cars that have a costly upkeep.
Few people realize that a man who shatters his health and happiness with fears, over-work, nervous breakdowns, and heart trouble in order to become a millionaire, is misleading unthinking fools to follow a path which leads to a place where life is spent posing and pretending to be happy.

This false standard of civilization, namely, “to be a millionaire as the highest goal of life,” keeps people foolishly taking more and more, by organized graft, from the mouths of the needy. Besides this, false costly habits, lazy luxurious modes of living, and flickering praises melting on the lips of thoughtless people, due to he showing-off of wealth, whip a man to be more insanely greedy to possess, by industrial crookedness and shady deals or by hold-up methods, more and more of material things.

Luxury, the desire to possess money by any method, the fear of the poor house, loss of material prestige in the eyes of the family or society, and selfishness, are the harbingers of crime, poverty, and lack of sympathy.

If everybody would live and dress simply, then misery-breeding, luxurious living would be out of fashion, and people would strive to spend more time in spiritual development.
How can we ever prevent man from chasing to the portals of the tomb the almighty dollar in the hope of becoming rich or happy?
The remedy is to destroy selfishness; make plain living and high-thinking the standard of world civilization; penalize luxury; discourage the ownership of tax-heavy, unwieldy estates, big houses, servants, maids, costly cars and clothing. Boycott completely those who own piles of money and who coldly pass by their brother even when they see that he is scorched with poverty and dying of hunger. Make costly clothing an object of ridicule and then the equality and brotherhood of man will be established.

The average so-called free-born American citizen, generally an habitual industrial, economic slave, who earns about two thousand dollars a year, after 20 years of work from 8:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m., hard labor in factory prisons, earns forty thousand dollars. Ask him how much he has saved. He will reply: “Oh well, I will make some more, pay off my debts, and then save.” One-fourth of his earnings he spends for mal-nutritious and one-sided foods. Half of it is spent in buying furniture and cars on the ever-entangling installment system. The desire to own every year a new model of a better and better car breeds perpetual slavery, which results only in his trying to earn more and more in order to pay more and more incurred debts. This keeps the age-weakening man in constant fear, worry, and economic slavery. If by chance he saves the rest of the forty thousand, he invests it in the stock market, which suggestingly tempts him to double his money without effort, or “get rich quick,” and unfortunately leaves him penniless. If the tiger of the stock market does not devour his money, then the wolf of a bad bank failure makes him lose everything, after his body has grown weak in serving people, and when he can no longer offer his services and live thereby. An animal in the Zoo has a better security than the so-called free-born individuals of rich countries.

Rich concerns eat up little industries, destroying the individual’s desire for self-expression and the freedom of spontaneous, healthy labor. Thus, we see health-destroying, forced factory labor. The big tigers of commerce begin to eat up the big tigers of industry, and then to prove which is the victor, they gnaw at each other’s throats by slashing prices, or by allowing grain to be fed to food-gorged hogs, or causing fruits to be thrown into the Hudson River, rather than give them gratuitously to the millions who are jobless and starving.

One concern may become rich by slashing the prosperity of many other concerns with the sword of selfishness, but that very weapon may be wrested from him and used against him by another more powerful war-lord of industry. Most great industries in past years broke the Divine law of “The greatest good for the greatest number.” That is why they are failing. When the very people who have built a nation are left to die like old horses, when they no longer can offer their services, and they are made to feel more useless than animals, then despair rouses God’s agencies, God’s laws, which protect alike both His weak and His strong children. They are prompted to work silently to disrupt these man-made selfish laws of industry. industrial greed for trade supremacy caused a devastating war. Industrial greed in peaceful times has caused a most destructive depression.

Hence, the ideal of business, to make money at all costs, must be changed. The ideal of business should be to give the best service, to supply the real needs of man, and not to encourage his habits of luxury, which destroy his body, mind, and soul.
Plain living is not self-denial, but self-fulfillment, the really luxurious way of securing a living. Real brotherhood, and the sharing of profits between capital and labor, would make both the capitalists and the workers equally rich and happy. Security of food at all times; medical help when disabled; free transportation; and education would make people feel that they are all members of the same family, of one nation. Let the government levy good taxes and with those taxes give security to each member of a national family. By making the standard of living plain and equal and by giving material security to man, crimes and wars will be forever outlawed, for then no one will have greed for money to feed the Satan of banished luxury. The Satan of luxury, poverty, selfishness, and international misunderstandings, would then be banished. Equality, peace and brotherhood in the world are impossible as long as selfishness and luxury remain. Individual and social selfishness must be abandoned for the common good of nations, and national selfishness must be abandoned before members of nations can live happily without wars—in the family of the United States of the World. Let the root causes of depression as depicted above be removed and wars will automatically vanish. Revolutions will be unknown. Let us remember that it was extreme imperial selfishness, contrasts between luxury and poverty, brother treating brother as slave, tyranny of one brother over another, brother murdering brother, one brother living rich by making other brothers poor, all these it was which loosened the invisible dynamite of discontent that blew up the gun-guarded Empire of the Czars. Today, we hear that Russia is the only country in the world where there is no unemployment problem, where no one walks the streets with cowardice, where millionaires are not passing by in Pierce-Arrows, with galvanized, heartless laughter. However, no matter how prosperous Russia may seem today, I, personally, do not approve of the way she forced her new democracy. Is that democracy going to last; that democracy built on martial law. It remains to be seen. The present democracy was gained by the un-Christian, un-spiritual laws of wholesale murder and slaughter.

I believe in the Spiritual Democracy which Mahatma Gandhi is trying to establish by the peaceful ways of love and by the renunciation of luxury. When people renounce luxury, man will not have to slave from 8:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. He will not have to forget the rise of the dawn and the sun creeping silently over the hills and dales. He will not have to bolt his breakfast down his throat, or run to the train in order to be a part in the mad whirl of this world’s machinery only to come back home tired and angry, ready to collide with a neglected, nagging wife. Industrial life is destroying real human life, that introspective, meditative, restful, peaceful, calm life, and is plunging people in the mad war of selfishness and insatiable greed.

The Christ-way and the Gandhi-way give all—”each for all and all for each;” and so also does the Yogoda way of seeking self-happiness by making all others happy. These three are the only ways of burning the roots of depression and stabilizing the economic condition of the world; also they are the surest methods of destroying crime, poverty, and wars.
Material and financial equality and an equal standard of plain living by banishing luxuries will give man more time to enjoy his family, to hear uplifting, educational discourses, and also more time for meditation, peace, and the Bliss-contact of God. Community ownership of property by mutual spiritual agreement will make impossible forevermore the nightmares of taxes and sudden foreclosures on home mortgages after a lifetime of payments.

How can we by spiritual methods begin a material United States of the World?
After showing that selfishness should be forsaken by individuals, and nations, and all souls in the earth, I must now show how a practical Utopia can be created in this tax-ridden, complicated system of modern government. Political evolutions must be slowly-rapid, and must be carried on by spiritual methods. No matter what I say, history show that big governments, drunk with power, never listen to the warnings of real world patriots and savants until the inevitable crisis comes, due to the continuous breaking of God’s spiritual laws. This was very clearly seen in the fall of the Czars.

Solution – World Brotherhood Colonies
So, little-group models of ideal civilizations must be started in every community for happy and peaceful living, with much meditation and much chivalry shown. These groups should be well balanced, financially secure, and they should exist always in high thinking and plain living.
This is how it should be worked out. Groups of twenty-five young married couples and singles people should strive hard and concentrate their souls’ force by living very economically for five years, until each couple has ten thousand dollars cash. This, multiplied by twenty-five, would make a trust-fund of $250,000. Some of this should be used to buy and build twenty-five small cottages, by their own labor, on twenty acres of community-owned farm land. All butter and milk should be obtained from home-bred cows, and vegetables should be grown by the members of this spiritual farm on their own land. Lambs should be grown for wool for dresses, socks, and other articles. Hats should not be worn. All the people should wear sandals or go barefooted.
Education of the children of the married couples should be given in the community schools by the highly educated parents in a community hall with wooden partitions, or under the trees in summer. Meditation, the scientific art of knowing God, should be the ideal aim of all the children. Parents should be satisfied with one child and exercise moderation and self-control in marital life. All taxes, the expense of educating the children, and miscellaneous expenses, should be taken from the interest on the $250,000. Then, when the twenty-five children grow up, each one should be sent, with limited financial help, out into the world to earn ten thousand dollars each, by using concentration, super-charged with Divine training, and the super-methods of the Divine, learned in this ideal colony. Then, these children, grown into fully-developed men and women, should marry ideal mates, educated in Divine Spiritual communities. These twenty-five couples should then build other communities such as their parents built.
The question now comes: “What would happen to the $250,000, after all of the original 25 families die?” The answer is that it should be used by other groups of 25 couples to build other such colonies.
Each spiritual colony should take the vow of plain living and high thinking, the brotherhood of man, fellowship of all religions, renunciation of luxury, and the joint ownership of lands, transportation, education, food, and money, and they should eat and dress in the community way, but spiritually each soul in the community must be unencumbered so that he may develop and advance as deeply as he can.
If people would follow the above rules, then God’s world would be harmonious, climates would be better, and from everywhere pestilence, famine, and disease would flee, for then all the nations would be as one, co-operating in international laws of transportation, food, education, and religion. Forsake luxury, selfishness, and greed for money, and lead lives of security free from worries.


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