by Swami Yogananda
Excerpted from “How to Burn Out the Roots of Depression by Divine Methods” by Swami Yogananda
East-West Magazine, April 1932
The Root of Depression is Selfishness
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.
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.
The solution: World Brotherhood Colonies
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 shows 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. 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 single 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.
THIS WILL ESTABLISH ABSOLUTE UNIVERSAL PEACE AND HARMONY.
Note: All text above is Yogananda’s; subtitles added.