Epicurus lived in a small garden. The garden was known as Epicurus’ garden. He had no academy like Aristotle, or a school like Plato; he had a garden. It seems simple and beautiful. A garden seems more natural than an academy. He lived in the garden with a few friends. That was probably the first commune. They were just living there, not doing anything in particular, working in the garden, having just enough to live.
It is said that the king once came to visit and he had been thinking that this man must be living in luxury because his motto was: Eat, drink and be merry. “If this is the message,” the king thought, “I will see people living in luxury, in indulgence.”
But when he arrived he saw very simple people working in the garden, watering trees. The whole day they had been working. They had very few belongings, only enough to live. In the evening, when they were having dinner, there was not even any butter; just dry bread and a little milk. But they enjoyed it as if it were a feast. After the dinner, they danced. The day was over and they offered a thanksgiving to the existence.
The king wept, because he had always thought to condemn this man Epicurus. He asked, “What do you mean by saying, ‘Eat, drink and be merry’?”
Epicurus said, “You have seen. For twenty-four hours we are happy here. If you want to be happy you have to be simple, because the more complex you are, the more unhappy you become. The more complex your life, the more misery it creates. We are simple not because we are seeking God, we are simple because to be simple is to be happy.”
The king said, “I would like to send some presents for you. What would you like for the garden and your community?”
Epicurus was at a loss. He thought and thought and he said, “We don’t think that anything else is needed. Don’t be offended; you are a great king, you can give everything – but we don’t need. If you insist, you can send a little salt and butter.” He was an austere man.
In this austerity, religion happens naturally. You don’t think about God, there is no need to; life is God. You don’t pray with folded hands towards the sky; it is foolish. Your whole life, from the morning until the evening, is a prayer. Prayer is an attitude: you live it, you don’t do it.
Epicurus could have understood Patanjali. I can understand him. I can feel what he means. It is for you that I am saying all this so that you don’t get confused, because there are other commentaries which say just the opposite.
Kriya-Yoga is a practical, preliminary yoga, and it is composed of austerity, self-study and surrender to God.
The first word is austerity. Masochists have converted austerity into self-torture. They think that the more you torture the body, the more spiritual you become. Torturing the body is the way to become spiritual: this is the understanding of the masochist.