Spirituality is an understanding that the world is one and all other natural creations are not separate to us.
We all have a common, divine aspect with which we can merge and harmonize our lives.
This is spirituality-an inward march to divinity. It requires an individual conversation with God, not the many ‘enlightened’ opinions of de-ified men and women. It isn’t a marketable commodity, processed and packaged for sale in the New Age Supermarket.
Why do we need Godmen/Godwomen, Sri Sri Ravishankar or Chandraswami? Spirituality isn’t commerce with need of a middleman. Why do we need to sit at their feet to talk to God? Why not just sit at God’s feet in all its omnipresence? I’ll tell you why, because this humble act would not be a performance and would not require an audience?
So we sit in white/saffron and listen to God’s PA discourse on the Art of Living or something similar. Art-my foot. Life isn’t an art-it’s an experience of love, loss, sacrifice, frustration, stress and most importantly-it is the only thing where it is acceptable to muck up and yet move on. It is an individual’s most personal, intimate possession (if I can call it that) and to have someone else tell you how to live it in a better, more fulfilling way is just wrong. Who decides what leads to Nirvana or a higher place? God has given everyone that little thing called a conscience and strengthened it with that not-so-little thing called a mind. I think its just pure laziness, boredom and insecurity that is actually a prickly conscience, that leads people in droves to these so called spiritual leaders.
Fashion needs a stage, as does modern spirituality. “Look at me, look at me. I’m rich and famous and have time for God. Aren’t I great?” This is a classic example of inverted snobbery-akin to torn jeans being a fashion statement. This reminds me of a program I watched on Discovery Travel and Living- Hollywood actor Jeremy Piven (Entourage) touring India. What particularly stuck out was his visit to holy city Haridwar. He had the opportunity to meet with a revered Spiritual Leader- who gave him a 10 minute sermon on how Man had to do away with Ego to succeed and find peace because Ego was like a fence to a greener pasture. I do not doubt the truth behind this statement- I believe it, in fact anyone with an iota of common sense and some introspection on his life would reach the same conclusion. Heck! I could have told Jeremy Piven that in 6 words- Suck it up and move on!! But to Mr.Piven because this was a new culture and he was obviously a tad bored with his own, it was like manna from heaven. Like he had just conversed with God himself. The truth is he wasn’t telling Mr.Piven anything his conscience hasn’t already. That little twinge an actor gets when they see someone walk off with a golden globe their ‘Ego’ told them was rightfully theirs-that’s intelligence telling your Ego-You ain’t good enough! If you can learn to face reality, you can find inner peace that doesn’t involve Jack Daniels.
Here today, gone tomorrow. Spirituality isn’t supposed to be faith with a tin can tied to its tail. The 7th tragedy according to Rousseau states: “In society, sophistication corrupts man’s finest instincts by tempting him not merely to pit his own interests above that of his fellows, but to rationalize and justify such selfishness.”
An infamous Indian beer baron parties in a pub wearing saffron with religious beads to advertise his new spiritual status. That was 4 years ago-since then the beads have been replaced with a new swimsuit calendar, a yacht and a bevy of skimpily clad beauties.
Was this not an attempt to rationalize the production of an item (beer) that has a dubious reputation of being destructive and a health time bomb by claiming he, the producer, believed in all things pure and godly? Whatever his reasons, Spirituality gaya khadda main (Bombay slang for spirituality went down the gutter) when he realized people loved him anyway as proven by sky high sales. No need for justification. This is so similar to what Rupali Ganguli would do on Big Boss (Indian version of popular British reality show Big Brother). She would claim to believe only in God and her parents and would espouse how naïve and virginal she was while berating fellow housemate Rakhi Sawant, a popular Bollywood Item girl(Cabaret artist). This alongside the daily long body massages she gave all the men in the Big Boss house-strangers all. Apparently I’m not the only one who took offence to her hypocrisy, her own mother sent her a letter stating the only feet, one must touch is that of God’s, not of strange men.
Spirituality is not a concealer for our vices; rather it acts as an eraser. During the 60s and 70s people followed Aethism as a new trend assuming that if they didn’t believe in a higher power it wouldn’t affect them. They didn’t realize, not believing in something doesn’t mean it does not exist and vice versa.
However, today spirituality is more quest oriented, seeking answers rather than affirming them. This doubtful, questful atmosphere suggests that people are interested in such issues but do not possess strong commitment. This pragmatic view is more natural and healthy compared to the fashionable doctrine method. After recent natural calamities, 9/11, Mumbai blasts etc people have undergone deep self examination and have realized that materialistic wealth may give us opportunities to find freedom and tranquility in comfort but fame, wealth and power are not our only objectives. These are short and uncertain as compared to their spiritual counterpart. People are now appreciating more the time spent with themselves and loved ones and this is the first step to inner peace. We are living a more economical life, differentiating between desire and need, ambition and duty.
In conclusion, Spirituality is not a style statement (at least it shouldn’t be), it’s a classic fashion that can never go out of style. So if you find your interest in Spirituality or inner peace waning, you know which category your faith belongs to. We should not reduce its meaning to irrelevance or magnify its demands to exaggerated proportions. Let us not forget, Faith can move mountains but only hard work can put a tunnel through.