Saturday, November 14, 2009

The moment anyone gets into the 'reaching the masses' syndrome, the problem of over-simplifying arises

Shared Experiences: Rahul Dev Holistic Living - Faith: Opium or Nectar?
by Life Positive
For Indian media personality Rahul Dev, the truth of spirituality lies deep within the superficial trappings of religious orthodoxy

Spirituality is neither a hobby nor a pastime. Either you are spiritual or you are not. I have been spiritual from a pretty young age and have been meditating off and on. But I am no exception. In fact, I'm certain that anyone who senses that there is a deeper way of living has to be interested in spirituality and religion.

Religion has often been castigated as 'opium of the masses'. The fact that this label was primarily given by the creators of communism makes it all the more unfortunate, for there is no denying the innate humanism of the basic communist philosophy. If only Marx had had a spiritual experience, the world would have been a much better place to live in. Instead, the communists failed to seek the essentially spiritual core of religion and were taken in by its superficial trappings of ritual and superstition.

At the same time, I do not claim that the trappings are illusory. On one hand, there is a pristine core of faith. On the other, there is a whole body of organized religion that has, with time, lost touch with this core. This is true for all philosophies. Any mass movement, be it spiritual, social or political, always runs the risk of becoming trivial, commercial and sometimes even vulgar. Further, the moment anyone gets into the 'reaching the masses' syndrome, the problem of over-simplifying arises. The teaching has to be then made 'palatable' to all. In the process, somewhere down the line, the medium becomes more important than the message.

But then, how can you stop faith from making itself known to all? After all, anyone who has tasted the nectar of Truth will, more often than not, feel compelled to help others taste the nectar too. Only when this compulsion, born out of innate human compassion, gets mixed up with conceit and a desire for recognition does religion become, at least superficially, 'opium for the masses'.

At all times, there have been departures from the so-called 'organized religion' framework. The scope of human ingenuity and creativity is as much there in spirituality as in any other temporal field. In fact, when you really look into it, organized religion is nothing but a creation of history, which assimilates diverse streams to create a new mainstream. So, what were once revolts against spiritual hegemony come out centuries later as 'organized' faith.

Take the case of Buddhism, one of the strongest movements to have sprung up in reaction to orthodox Hinduism. Or Protestantism, a movement that was born in the lap of the Catholic faith, which it later sought to reform. In the same manner, today's New Age gurus will, say, about 50 years down the line, appear as belonging to an equally organized and codified movement.

Does this mean that there is no evolution? Sri Aurobindo and the Mother did present the concept of the Supermind. They went to the extent of saying that human evolution cannot possibly stop at the present level. The physical body itself will become more spiritualized and etheric. Unlike many New Agers that you come across nowadays, I really can't say with much conviction that such an evolution has already begun. But there is definitely a great deal of interest among people regarding spirituality and such subjects.

Clearly, the spiritual hunger in people for a deeper and more meaningful anchor has not abated. To satiate this hunger, all you need is to accept life in complete humility and be grateful for it. No single faith or science or theory can make the world a perfect place. The world was not made to be perfect. It was made to help us gain an understanding of our own Self. Holistic Living Life Positive November 1999

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