Saturday, 3 December 2016

Spiritual Materialism

These days the term ‘spiritualism’ has become a buzzword around the world. However, its meaning is taken lightly in most cases. For example, the term is tagged as a ‘brand’ according to an Indian spiritual master, Sadhguru. He said that once when he was in the United States, he encountered a “spiritual expo” where people were selling “spiritual bath-soap”, “spiritual toothpaste” and things like that. Similarly, spiritualism is attached to a feeling of ‘ecstasy’ according to an American Guru, Sri Acharyaji.

Likewise, the so-called gurus of mushrooming ‘Satsanghas’ claim to “enlighten” people in one sitting; and enlightenment is the ultimate destination of spiritual progress. Once one is enlightened, nothing more is needed. Another remarkable thing is the growing fashion of ‘yoga’ and ‘meditation’. These are simply formal practices where people are unable to integrate their principles into their development as a spiritual being. In fact Satsangha, yoga and meditation are important aspects of spirituality, but their essential purpose is seemed to be completely submerged under the material gains people chase these days.

A general mass understanding of yoga and meditation is that they help in keeping yourself physically and mentally fit. One cannot deny this fact, however, their real purpose is to help unite our ‘Self’ with the ‘Super Self’ or ‘God’. It is clear that when your primary focus is on ‘self realisation’ or ‘god realisation’, you automatically get the secondary benefits of yoga and meditation, i.e. physical and mental fitness. Unfortunately, a particular group of people is madly after slim and sexy bodies to impress the external world, so they rigorously practise yoga to fulfil this desire.

In his book ‘Enlightenment: The path through the jungle’, Dennis Waite clearly divides the world we live in into the material world and the spiritual world. The material world is the day-to-day reality or “Vyavahara”, whereas the spiritual world is the absolute reality or “Paramartha.” But the neo-advaita gurus, who claim ‘immediate enlightenment’ are keen to address the problems related to“Vyavahara” such as people’s depression, worldly happiness, dysfunctional relationships, cluttered mind and so on in their ‘Satsanghas; “Paramartha” is beyond all these issues.

‘Self’ does not need anything to be illuminated, and all of us have this ‘Self’ within us. Dwelling in the materialistic world, however, we are not aware of this fact. As a result, in order to complete a journey from self-ignorance to self-knowledge, interventions in the form of scriptures are needed.

There is no short-cut to spiritualism. There are numerous time-tested scriptures available, e.g., Vedas, Upanishads or Bhagavat Gita (in the case of Hinduism). If we are to explore ‘self-knowledge’ we must go through the systematic scriptural route, using our reason, referring to our personal experience and asking gurus for clarification when necessary, since the scriptures do not ask us to follow everything blindly. Satsangha, yoga and meditation are all used to reach the ‘Paramarthik’ goal of ‘self realisation.’ One should not be fooled by the idea that only attending the ‘Satsangha’ classes run for publicity will lead them to enlightenment. If this was the case, the world would be full of enlightened people, but there are very few real ‘spiritual people’. What is happening is that the majority of people are using ‘spiritualism’ as a ‘business’ like they do with everything else in this materialistic world. 

(Published in an English Daily The Rising Nepal on Friday, December 2, 2016) 

[The pictures on this blog are posted here with permission from their owners or have been gathered from various sources on the Internet. If you are the copyright-holder to any of the photographs herein do not hesitate to contact me. They will be swiftly removed if desired so.]

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I would appreciate any and all suggestions on making improvements (as long as they are viable).