The Necessity and Problems of Holding on to Spirituality

One broad generalization is applicable to all of us in our life: The genetic material we inherit compels us to seek more and more physical comforts and sensual pleasures. This is because of the selfishness inherent in our genes. With the progress in social ethics, some degree of unselfishness comes to surface as an evolutionary necessity and in course of time one appears to have become somewhat considerate towards one's family, clan, province, and country. Because of such 'apparent unselfishness' we at times fail to see through the deceptive nature of our 'selfish genes'. Hence Arjuna relents:

"O Krishna, How shall I fight Bhishma and Drona with arrows on the battlefield? They are both objects of reverence." (The Gita, II: 4)

Our mind plays the most crucial role in preventing us to give up selfishness. It offers excuses and explanations that appeal to us and, thereby, prevent us from realizing our true divine nature. On one hand, a human being is capable of realizing his individual identity with the universal, and on the other, the genes are so structured that they try to prevent us from realizing our universal dimension. Therefore, Lord Krishna says:

"Arjuna, you are not a body-mind entity, but you are indeed Eternal Atman. The soul is never born nor dies; nor does it exist on coming into being. For it is unborn, eternal, everlasting, and primeval; even though the body is slain, the soul is not." (The Gita, II: 20)

The stress we see and encounter around us and in our lives is because of these two forces acting against each other. In the long run, however, Truth must prevail; and willingly or unwillingly, therefore, a human being has to break the selfish bonds that obstruct his path to experience universal solidarity. This is what spirituality essentially means: to break free from all the compulsions, pulls, and demands of body-mind complex. Lord Krishna in the Gita defines spirituality as a conscious attempt in this direction.

"He, who gives up all desires and moves free from attachment, egoism, and thirst for sense enjoyment, attains peace (Bliss of Atman)." (The Gita, II: 71)

For this we have to train and control our mind, to detach it from transitory and never-fulfilling pleasures of senses.

"One should lift oneself up by one's own efforts and should not degrade oneself; for one's own self is one's friend, and one's own self is one's enemy. It is the friend of that soul by whom the lower self - the mind, the senses, and the body - has been conquered; on the other hand, the very self of him, who has not conquered his lower self, behaves inimically like one's own enemy." (The Gita, VI: 5 and 6).

Such an advice comes from time to time from prophets of spiritual harmony and knowledge. These saints do not come to earth as frequently as one might desire, but when they come a huge spiritual wave rises and leaves behind a vast treasure of spiritual knowledge for the benefit of the spiritual aspirants for centuries to come. In the glitter of such spiritual treasure, many an aspirant takes to self-realization as the goal in life. With passage of time, however, as it is natural, the treasure gets buried under the debris of arguments and the tricks played by the mind (selfish genes) and once again the usual selfishness tries to establish itself in the society. The cycle continues. The Gita is that perennial source of spiritual treasure, which a wise man should try to tap even under the thickest darkness of hopelessness. One is sure to see through the veil of deception and go beyond the pleasures of senses, and thus attain Freedom.


More by :  Dr. C.S. Shah

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