Spirituality asks nothing of you; it simply teaches you to live in a total let go!
Yesterday, I was addressing folks from the corporate and business world. I delivered my “Fall Like A Rose Petal” Talk on Personal Leadership to this audience. The Talk traces the journey Vaani and I have undertaken from insecurity and fear to fearlessness, from self-doubt and self-pity to faith, from anger, grief and guilt to forgiveness and from feeling lost in Life to finding ourselves, finding focus and in finding that it is possible to be happy despite your circumstances. I shared many anecdotes from my Life – some of them showcasing my preference for good whisky! When the audience got an opportunity to ask questions, this one came my way: “Does the imbibing of spirits (alcohol) help in practicing spirituality?”
The question was perhaps asked half in jest, but it throws up an opportunity for me to share what I have understood about spirituality.
Spirituality is the flowering of inner awareness. This awareness helps you understand Life – that it is impermanent, that you too will perish some day and that you control nothing. This awareness sets you free, but in a uniquely personal way. Spirituality demands nothing – there are no methods, there are no rules, there is no need to pray, no need to abstain…be who you want to be, do what you want to do, but, important, just be, just be happy in the now! Spirituality is distinctly different from religion. Albeit religion makes an attempt to achieve all that spirituality does, but because religion, as it is practiced today, is mass-based, ritualistic, fear-inducing and divisive, it fails miserably. Worse, religion holds you hostage. So, to me, spirituality is not a practice. It is a state of being.
Another member from last evening’s audience, who I know well, was on a SMS chat with me early this morning. He said he was anxious that we were not able to get out of our debt situation. And he advised the practice of the popular runa vimochana stotram (a mantra to alleviate a debt condition) and the lighting of an oil lamp every day at a temple of our choice. I politely replied that we have got past all that stage – been there, done that – and that I believed more in Kabir’s perspective now: just as the oil is in the oilseed, the divine is in you; jaise til mein tael hai, jyon chakmak mein aag, tera sai tujh mein hai, tu jaag sake to jaag! Not that I disrespect religion on the compassion of the friend who messaged me this morning. But I guess we have moved on, evolved. Vaani and I have reached this state of total acceptance – or saranagati (total surrender) if you will – where we make our efforts every single day, but we remain detached from the outcomes. Our efforts have not borne fruit in almost a decade, but we keep trying. We may be beaten, but we learned to remain unfrustrated with the Life that we have!
This is what spirituality has taught me, to live in this world and yet be above it. To be in a state of total let go – acting diligently on whatever is in your control and leaving the rest to Life. And yes, spirituality has taught me that if can’t afford my Scotch anymore, I must learn to enjoy my Royal Challenge whisky on weekends! And you bet, I absolutely do! 🙂