It’s mid-summer July 2017 and many of us are striving to live a natural life while battling the concerns of an urban environment, work, and responsibilities.
It can be a challenge to live a natural lifestyle in this day and age.
One man who has become an idol of the natural lifestyle is Devamrita Swami (visit his official website here).
Author of Hiding In Unnatural Happiness, Devamrita Swami is a Yale graduate who gave up a lucrative career in law to pursue a more meaning life as an educator, author, and monk in the Krishna bhakti tradition.
Known for his lectures, books, and for this Urban Farm project and Mantra Lounge in Philadelphia, Devamrita Swami has become an inspiration and guru to those seeking to live a natural life.
In this interview, THE DAILY MEDITATION discusses with Deavmitra Swami his top tips for living a natural life.
THE DAILY MEDITATION: You teach people how to get in touch with nature. Spiritually speaking, why have so many people lost their connection with nature?
Devamrita Swami: First of all, we shouldn’t think that today’s massive urban concentration of humanity is normal.
Actually, culminating only in the past decade, more humans live in cities than not–for the first time in history.
Let us consider that in our embracing the material conveniences and economic advantages of metropolitan life, we have set aside—even forgotten–the spiritual advantages of a lifestyle allowing a closer communion with nature.
The standard bhakti-yoga texts, especially Bhagavad-gita, present self-realization, enlightenment through yoga and meditation, as the goal and prime necessity of human life.
Accepting that mandate, then next we need to ascertain what is the most favorable lifestyle and living situation for our internal development.
Human beings are more meditative and “yogic” in natural settings. Everyone knows this. But by choice as well as by social and economic pressures, we are trapped in work and entertainment lifestyles that disconnect us from the gifts of nature: air, water, and food that is fresh, nontoxic; rivers, lakes, meadows and forests that are clean–rejuventing to the human spirit.
THE DAILY MEDITATION: You’ve been working on the rural-urban project at The Yoga Farm. And you’ve had a positive reception, particularly from students. What is the rural-urban project? Why do you think it is appealing to so many people?
Devamitra Swami: Most college students are acutely aware of the onslaught of ecological challenges confronting and enveloping humanity. After all, they are the generation that will inherit the full impact of the mess. Therefore, college students are eager for even small steps in the right direction—something that makes sense amidst the depressing trends of the day.
The connection between the Gita-Nagari Bhakti-yoga farm in rural eastern Pennsylvania and the Mantra Lounge in central Philadelphia is a good example of practical strategies that can uplift the spirit.
Not everyone in the burgeoning yoga and meditation world can live rurally. But even while residing in the city and suburbs, by our having a proactive connection with an appropriate rural project—especially a cruelty-free farm—we can benefit individually and help the planet.
THE DAILY MEDITATION: When you left Yale university you felt you could not pursue a materialistic life. (Source: goo.gl/2bWti3). What prompted your decision to move away from materialism?
Devamrita Swami: I became fascinated by the ancient yoga and meditation guidebook Bhagavad-gita.
I felt that I could do more good for the world by practicing and teaching the bhakti-yoga that the Gita prescibes, than by my focusing on a corporate or academic career—you know, the usual outcome for a Yale graduate.
I loved the ancient yogic wisdom and wanted to pursue life as a yoga professor/researcher, striving for connection to the ultimate spiritual source that culmination of the yoga and meditation systems grant.
In short, I became intensely attracted to Krishna, the speaker of the Gita, and wanted to specialize in bhakti-yoga and the Krishna meditation.
THE DAILY MEDITATION: You’ve previously said, “spiritual life is a dynamic experiential reality, not a token subscription to a belief-system.”. Can you explain the difference between a “dynamic experiential reality” and a “token subscription to a belief system”?
Devamrita Swami: The aspiring yogi and budding meditator require two priceless gems: genuine, comprehensive, profound, spiritual wisdom as well as the methodology to apply that spiritual wisdom.
Mere religious beliefs and sentiments—“I believe this or that; what do you believe?”—are nice acquisitions but won’t satisfy our nonmaterial self.
We need precise knowledge of that nonmaterial self and experience of it. Then our life is complete—then we’re in the driver’s seat, ready to accelerate. Our real self longs for in-depth spiritual wisdom and the applied spiritual technology to experience that depth.
In other words, whether you believe in “this or that,” are you material, a mere product of matter, or essentially is your core identity nonmaterial? And what is the appropriate lifestyle that will allow you to experience the nonmaterial self and the infinitely attractive Supreme Source that we belong to?
THE DAILY MEDITATION: What can people do to move towards this “dynamic experiential reality”?
Devamrita Swami: I advocate mantra-meditation, specifically the Krishna meditation, because that’s what the classic bhakti-yoga texts present as the most efficient meditation methodology for this day and age of high stress, surging anxiety, and turbulent lifestyles.
THE DAILY MEDITATION: If you could share three life lessons with our readers, what would they be?
Devamrita Swami: First, our having a human body, with its gift of advanced consciousness, means we also bear the responsibility to embark upon the quest for internal wealth, spiritual self-discovery.
Second, never underestimate the illusions that can distract and distort our quest for spiritual lifestyles of integrity and harmony. We want that Ultimate Connection that yoga and meditation, at their top rung, offer freely and amply.
Third, let us ensure that our pursuit of happiness, whether urban or rural, also maximally benefits all other human beings–both present and future–all other species, and the entire Earth planet. Then we are truly practicing mindfulfulness.
THE DAILY MEDITATION: Thanks so much for your time. We truly appreciate it.