One of the main challenges for a grhastha in these modern days is to keep life simple. We are from all sides bombarded with alluring temptations and propaganda, that we need so many things in order to be happy - unnecessary necessities, as Srila Prabhupada calls it so nicely in the purport to SB. 7.14.5.:
"...in the human form of life he should not endeavor for unnecessary necessities, but should live a very simple life, just maintaining body and soul together. Certainly one requires some means of livelihood, and according to one's varna and asrama this means of livelihood is prescribed in the sastras. One should be satisfied with this. Therefore, instead of hankering for more and more money, a sincere devotee of the Lord tries to invent some ways to earn his livelihood, and when he does so Krsna helps him. Earning one's livelihood therefore, is not a problem. The real problem is how to get free from the bondage of birth, death and old age. Attaining this freedom, and not inventing unnecessary necessities, is the basic principle of Vedic civilization.
One should be satisfied with whatever means of life comes automatically. The modern civilization is just the opposite of the ideal civilization. Every day the so-called leaders of modern society invent something contributing to a cumbersome way of life that implicates people more and more in the cycle of birth, death, old age and disease."
And if we are introspective and honest, we will have to conclude that we don't need it. How little we actually need to keep body and soul together, we can experience when we go on parikrama in the holy dham - Navadvip Mandala parikrama, or Vraja Mandala parikrama. In these situations we can be so blissful with the bare minimum!
Srila Prabhupada's statement that "a sincere devotee of the Lord tries to invent some ways to earn his livelihood" nicely expresses a devotee's attitude to one's work. He simply invents some way of earning an income, without endeavoring too much for high professionalism and career. If a devotee is a professional - fine, no need to necessarily give it up. But material success is not the main focus for a sincere devotee. Thinking back, I did not even work a single day in my profession after I met the devotees! Not a single day! Even though I had been working self-employed in a private practice for rehabilitation and earned good money as a physiotherapist. Now I am dedicated to offering rehabilitation for the soul - so much more satisfying than treating the body.....
* The ultimate goal of simple life is to chant the holy name. Only when we keep our life simple can we make chanting our first priority. As soon as other goals are more important, and our main focus is on material satisfaction and material advancement, then our life becomes complicated and the focus on the holy name is lost.
* Remember that your house, money, family, etc. are all Krishna's property and that all these have to be engaged in His service. He has very kindly given you all these out of His mercy, and He may take them away as He pleases. So be grateful for what you have & engage all these gifts in His service with devotion & detachment.
* Avoid distracting mundane entertainment offered through cinema, TV, internet & other means. Be careful that you are not overwhelmed by electronic gadgetry, communication devices & social media. Use them judiciously as tools, if you must; do not become helpless tools in their hands.
* Purity (or impurity) of the source of your livelihood will also affect your life & consciousness. Hence choose professions that have minimum possible material contamination & spiritual risk. Avoid professions in which there is a clear violation of the four regulative principles e.g. working for a company that produces or sells liquor. Do not involve yourself in overly risky money earning ventures, being lured by the prospect of very quick & large profits. Avoid illegal business activities of any sort.
* Spend wisely. Do not unnecessarily spend on things that may not be really required. Live reasonably simply. Follow the principle of "Simple Living, High Thinking". Do not be tempted or attracted by, or become envious of, the wealth or position of others. Do not become a victim of the modern day consumerist culture with its emphasis on excessive consumption & flashy lifestyles.
* Save money wisely for the future. Yet, take care to avoid a hoarding mentality.
After our seminar in Pundarik Dham I distributed two full sets of Srimad Bhagavatam and other books of Srila Prabhupada - the very foundation in order to transform one's family life into an ashram.
On my return to Chittagong I visited the big project of Pravatok Temple and gave a SB class there. It was nice to meet all the devotees again - I had not visited here for several years.....
On the 26th of November I flew back to Dhaka and on to Mumbai...........
Your servant, Devaki dd