Children, spirituality is never an escape or an abandonment of responsibility. Spirituality is the ability to live with peace and contentment in every situation, by understanding oneself and understanding the nature of the mind and the world. This can be gained only through sustained practice.
For this, the first thing needed is a proper knowledge of the nature of the world and its objects. When we gain this knowledge, our attachment to objects and relationships of the world will leave us. Then we will be able to perform our actions without attachments even while living in the midst of society.
The cashier at a bank handles bills worth millions every day. He gives loans to many people. But he is fully aware that he is not dealing with his own money, and that he is only an employee at the bank. He is also aware that the love and respect he displays for his clients who have come to deposit money or to take loans, is merely part of his job. He has no particular attachment either to the money in the bank, or to its depositors. Similarly we should be able to execute our responsibilities with the awareness that they are duties given to us by God. Then our every karma will become Karma Yoga. What matters is not what we do, but the attitude with which we do it.
Amma remembers a story.
One householder disciple would complain to his Guru every day, “Guru, I have so many problems! At home, my wife and I are always in disagreement. We argue all the time. Besides, there is not a day when my boss does not admonish me. He has even blocked the salary raise I was supposed to get several times. At night I am not able to sleep thinking of all this.” Even though the Guru tried to advise him, the disciple found it hard to imbibe the advice. So one day, just before this disciple arrived, the Guru climbed up a thorny coral tree in the ashram courtyard and cried out loudly, “Help! Help! Someone help me! These thorns are pricking me!” Hearing the Guru’s cries, the disciple came running up, and seeing the Guru holding tight to the tree, he said, “What foolishness this is! You are the one hugging the tree. Let go of it and jump down!” The Guru refused to heed the disciple and continued to cry out, “Someone help me! Someone help me!”
The disciple said, “What are you saying? It is not the tree that is holding you. Let go of it and come down. Your pain will leave you if you let go of that tree.” Immediately, the Guru let go and climbed down. He walked over to the disciple and said to him, “This is exactly what you are doing. You are the one who is holding on to your problems. I have told you many times that they will not be able to get to you unless you give them permission to do so. But you were not prepared to understand that or accept it. Just as the tree does not have the capacity to tie us, no object in the world has the capacity to bind us or make us sad. We are the ones who have bound ourselves to them. If we forsake our attachment to them, we will be released from their bondage instantly.”
A person at a festival ground will not be startled by the sound of fireworks if he is aware that it will go off at any moment. In fact, he will be able to enjoy it. Only someone who is not aware of the fireworks will be startled when it goes off. Similarly, if we are aware of the nature of the world, we will not falter in any situation. True knowledge about oneself and the world is spirituality. When we have that knowledge, we will never become slaves to dejection in our life.
All objects and relationships of the world undergo constant change. That which is impermanent can never give us permanent happiness. Knowing this truth, we should surrender ourselves to God. Then no sorrow can touch us. We should learn to accept honour and dishonour, success and failure, joy and sorrow with equanimity. Only then can we find contentment in life. It is this that the science of spirituality teaches us how to do.