- The pros:
Women all over the world spend a huge amount of time and money on making themselves look good so they will fit in, or receive praise and validation, or to just not be rejected. This is all a function of the frightened ego-mind, which is constantly chasing after fixing things and appearing to have it all “made” so someone will love you. If you are in an ashram, simple hygiene is all you need and your inner light provides the rest.
You are not concerned with shopping and accumulating fashionable or fabulous clothes because you wear a simple habit, uniform, or have a way of dressing that does not emphasize the external. Therefore, you have time to devote to long contemplation; serving others to eliminate suffering, and keeping inner peace without distractions.
---No need to continually be at the beck and call of husbands and children.---
For centuries, women’s biology has been their destiny. That is why we didn’t have many great female composers, mathematicians, painters or even writers until the 19th century. Up to that point the majority of women were engaged in the endless tasks of looking after children, cooking, tending to the men, and keeping house. Even if they had servants, their time was taken up by traditional household and social maintenance. The great female writers of the 19th century such as the Brontes and Jane Austen, were not married and thus had time for intellectual pursuits, spiritual development, and self-expression.
Now we have birth control and are not forced into the endless sacrifices of motherhood time every time our husbands need to fulfill their urges (or we need to fulfill ours). But still, with all the information overload and being bombarded by our attention-seeking society, it is more demanding than ever to rear children. And it may be a thankless job, if the Souls are not in alignment with ours and they may leave us after all the love and passion we put into them.
And so a woman might want to opt out of all of this compulsion and just live simply and in peace. If you want to surround yourself with women who are sincerely on the path to Soul and Spirit, this could be just the right place. The rest of the world does not encourage spirituality and even laughs at it if you bring it up as a topic at a party. In general the world thinks that there’s something weird about you. If you are in an ashram, everyone is on the same page of finding their inner joy through praise and service.
---No need to be appealing to men to bolster validity or to fulfill sexual needs.---
Again, we are biological creatures, driven by certain compulsions that can be beyond our control. Sexual needs can cause us to be in relationships that are far from spiritually nourishing. It might be best for some women to just opt out of the whole dance. These women feel best when they bypass their bodily needs and pour all their passion into the radiant beauty of the Perfect Universe.
---De-emphasizing a life of tasks and material maintenance---
Most people’s jobs are repetitive and are dedicated to making the rich, richer. Or, if you are an entrepreneur, you will be spending 18-hours a day to keep your business viable. Taking care of a house is exhausting and it just gets dirty quickly anyway. And it is all for the narrow needs of just one family. In the ashram, you are still doing tasks, but they are dedicated to a higher good and it feels like it is worth the effort.
---You don’t need to be away from the world to do things with mindfulness, grace, and praise.---
Just changing location or venue is no guarantee that the ego-mind won’t find another way to act up. As a spiritually grounded being, you can be in the midst of screaming babies and find that place of peace within. You don’t need to go anywhere to find the Heart of the Universe.
Sometimes an ashram can be filled with spiritual one-upmanship, as in: “You’re just a novice. I’ve been doing this for 20 years.” The hierarchical structure may be just as restricting as being in regular society and just as snobby.
Even if the surroundings are different, the ego mind and its fearful tricks can pipe up in fresh, new ways that leave us stewing and wondering if we made a really wrong choice. Being in the ashram and burning all your financial bridges so you can’t back out of the commitment, forces you to eradicate the ego and even find others who can assist you. For your back will once again, be up against the wall.
---It can be a form of escape from jobs, household maintenance, and financial concerns.---
Getting a job and performing repetitive, boring tasks for the sake of making the rich get richer is not emotionally or spiritually fulfilling. Facing piles of laundry after a day at the job to be able to pay for housing is one example of the treadmill of material maintenance that can block our access to peace of mind. And so some women want to opt out of all of it.
At the ashram, most of the decisions are made for you. You follow a certain protocol. You, as an individual ego, are being erased. You are like a raindrop that has merged with the pond. And you don’t have to bother with all the concerns that grown-ups have to face. You don’t have to worry about money and all your food is provided for you. It is like being a kid again in some ways. Is this a pro or a con? It depends on how you look at it.