Spirituality vs Religion

Many times I wonder as how spirituality is different from the religion? We see that people who follow spirituality are normally against the religion or do not believe in the religion. The strange thing is that the ultimate aim for both is the same, i.e. to attain God. Is it that we look at spirituality and religion separately, but in reality both are one and the same or are there some fundamental differences between the two? Which path should we follow or which one is suitable for us?

The main difference between religion and spirituality is that of belief and of personal experience. Religion asks you to believe in the experience of some pure soul where spirituality is about having your own personal experience. If you notice, then you will realize that religion is more about written science where spirituality is the practical one. Religion is about dedicating your life in the devotion of God and Spirituality is about searching for God and experiencing the divinity within.

There are many religions and all have their own paths to attain God. The explanation of God is different in all religions. Perhaps the people who followed them in old times, did it as per their own convenience and understanding. The prophets or God took birth on earth to show the path to attain it. Different interpretations were made of their teachings and out of that were born many religions. In spirituality, there are many sects based on different Gurus. But, the teachings are almost the same with few differences.

Many people have lost the respect for religion because of different reasons. More blood has been shed in the name of religion than any other reason. People now do not understand the rituals because not many people can explain the real meaning behind the same. Lots of businesses are flourishing in the name of God. What we have understood of religion is a very low-level of it. We respect and even worship who devoted their life to God, but we do not want to do the same. That is why we get comfortable by only visiting the church or temples. Taking only small part of something so big, so life changing has deteriorated the meaning of religion.

Our mind is like a monkey. We get so many thoughts in a single day that it becomes difficult to focus on something. Religions were introduced for the same reason. Now if I tell you that there is God and you have to worship him, then you will ask where God is. I do not see it. That is why Idols were introduced and temples were built. So that we can focus our mind on God and realize the truth. We leave all our tensions and desires and devote our selves completely to God. That was the aim of introducing the religion. Some of the rituals also were shown so that we can calm our mind and can concentrate on what is real.

On the other hand, spirituality does not tell you where is God. It tells you to search for it. Spirituality does not want you to limit the definition of God only to one statue. It says that everything in this world is God including us. It becomes difficult to grasp it, as from childhood we have been told that God is higher than everything and he sits in the temple. We can never compare ourselves with God. Spirituality says that we are ignorant of our true nature and that is why we believe that God is separate from us. Spirituality asks us to practice meditation and service to other human being through which we can purify ourselves because only the pure one can attain the salvation.

Highest level of experience in both is the same. What we call nirvana in spirituality is described in religion as seeing God. In both of these experiences, you lost your individuality and merge with God for few moments. After these experiences your entire life changes. If you have ever met any pure soul, then you will experience the calmness by just being in their company. Their only message to the world is to spread love and peace. Self-proclaimed religious Gurus say that you have to take many births and you have to go through punishments for all the sins you have done before you have such experience. Spirituality says that you will get the fruit of your Karma. Either in this birth on in the next one. But, Spirituality also says that you can fasten your growth and can attain the enlightenment in one birth if you are really committed for the same.

So which path should we take? If I choose religion, then which religion should I choose? I guess everyone has to make their own decisions. I have experienced that our paths are shown to us only if we are clear in our mind what we want. No religion is bad. Only the people who became the owners of religions are spreading hatred. God never ask you to discriminate or hate anyone. I suggest that you try both and see yourself which one helps you to attain the truth. For me, the real test it to see if the path teaches to love not only God, but all the beings, then it is the real path.

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In Search of Sanity

Sanity means to think and behave in a normal and rational manner. It reflects a sound mental health. This is a very subjective definition and everyone has their own way of being normal and rational. Understanding of sanity has changed over a period of time, thanks to rapid advancement in technology. Somehow I feel that we are seeing lots of mental illness because of considering few behaviors as normal, and may be they are not. This mental imbalance also results into physical illness. We feel getting back our sanity when we are out of our current lifestyle and when we are close to nature. This itself gives us a strong message which we are ignoring.

Let us first try to understand with few examples as how we have changed the definition of what should be our normal and rational behavior. Few years back it was considered normal when we used to say prayer before eating our food with family. We used to have a conversation on how our day went and what all things we did. Nowadays it is normal to have food alone while having cell phone in one hand and checking Facebook or WhatsApp. Not sure if we are really enjoying the food.

Another very serious example is sharing our feelings and emotions with our close friends and relatives. I remember that if I had any problems or if I was excited about anything, then either I would call my best friend or will go to his place to share my feelings. I felt very light and refreshing once I shared my problem with my best friend. However, nowadays it is rational to share your secrets, your feelings and emotions on social media and we expect hundreds of people to react on the same. I assume it is quite normal and rational behavior now.

I have so many examples on the same, but I will end it with this one. I recently went to attend a talk given by a very famous speaker. There were thousands of people present at the venue. The speaker told everyone to sit down and asked to stop the recording through cell phone so that they can focus on what she was about to say. She continued her talk and explained something very meaningful. She said that instead of enjoying particular scene that is in front of our eyes, we want to capture it in our camera. So instead of enjoying that moment we feel that it is more important to have it stored somewhere in your cell phone. Irony is that, then we share it with hundreds of people through social media to get as many like as possible. So it is normal that we don’t enjoy the scene, but we want other people to give us like on the same. I guess living the life through social media and not in real world is the new rational for us.

We do not have to accept something just because the entire world agrees to it. How many of our daily activities actually gives us the peace of mind? I do not feel peace when I am scrolling through Facebook or while reading Whatsapp. I also do not feel better by sharing my personal feelings with the world. I find sanity when I find peace of mind. If I take a step back and try to analyze all these situations, then I feel that we are not only losing our sanity, but we are also becoming weak.

First we need to redefine our sanity and take control of our life. We need to structure our daily life in such a way that it includes all conscious and meaningful activities. We might still have some things which really do not add any value, but they should take our minimum time. I am not saying that every day you go to temple or to forest to find sanity. If we do everything with consciousness, then we can find peace even in this concrete jungle.

When I go on vacation, I try to analyze as what makes vacation different from my normal life. Definitely the places have their own energy and we are relaxed as do not have to go to work. But, apart from that I also noticed that the main attraction is that I am enjoying everything including every bite of food I consume. Suddenly I am enjoying being in the garden because I notice beautiful flowers. I enjoy because I get into deep conversation with my family. I enjoy because I notice their happiness and it gives me the best feeling in the world. It gives me feeling that I have accomplished something. That analysis made me realize that it is how much focused we are or how much detail we notice and how much conscious we are that gives me my sanity back. When you are conscious, you only chose happiness.

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UnTagging the Self

Human beings are always scared of something. Our mind has lots of thoughts about negative situations. What if I lose the Job or what if someone leaves me or what if I fall sick? We have so many fear in life because we do not have confidence of facing the situation. At the end we all come out of the negative situations. Darkness do not stay forever. Still, we do not believe in ourself and live in the tense mode. Why does this happen?

One of the main reason is the attachment to a particular identity. We are so obsessed with it that mere fear of losing it makes us sleepless. What is this identity after all? Something through which people know us. It is like a tag given to us or earned by us. For an average person these tags are a healthy, successful, wealthy, respected, parent, house owner, car owner, salaried, businessman, married and many more. Let us try to understand what happens when we lose one of these tags.

We will try to look at couple of above tags and we will see how it impacts our world. For, e.g. let us say I own a car. Now everyone who knows me are aware of this fact. Let us consider that I am not using this car very frequently as I have other means of transport and I avoid using car due to traffic issues. I am using public transport or cab to meet my everyday requirements. Now I am aware that I have spent some good amount of money on my car and I am not using it fully so ideally I should sell it and should en-cash some money. But I cannot as now everyone is aware that I have a car and if I sell it, then people will think that something is wrong.

Now I do not want to give that thoughts in others mind that I no more own a car and because of that I continue to own it. Here, I am trying to keep my tag of a car owner. In reality I can be better off without my car as I can use that money to pay off my loan. But, I am clinging to my identity and hence I cannot let it go. Similarly it goes for house or any other material possession. Now let us look at another tag, successful. The only way to keep this tag is by not facing any failures.

To avoid failures we hardly take risk. We will attempt where there are chances of being successful as that is what we have been known for. We never realize that we lose so much to save these tags and we hardly experience the life. We are creating bondage for lifetime by tagging ourselves. We can never come out of it and we can never live fully. What if we do not care how people see us or what if we don’t get scared if one of these or all tags are gone? Can we be our true self then? Do we have confidence to get it back if we want? For all that we need to create a self that is stronger.

First of all we need to accept that we are much more than our identity or these tags. We need to understand that this life is not going to be there forever in this body. We need to utilize this time to utmost possibility. Let us do one experiment. You need to do it for your own self and we don’t need any instruments. We only need 10 minutes and a clear mind. So do this when you are completely relaxed and when you are not worried about finishing any tasks. Night will be a good time as you are about unwind.

Try to analyse, which is the tag that you are most attached to. Is it wealthy or respectful or successful or a beautiful? Pick the one that can give you nightmare if you lose it. Now see a situation where due to whatever reason you lost that tag. Now see that how it will affect your life in reality? What all problems will you face and what all kinds of thoughts you will get? Now try to see can you really live without it? Do you see any freedom in it? Do you find peace of mind for not having to maintain it anymore?

If I continue with the above example of a car owner, then in the start I will see the pain of not having my own car. I will feel that I will always have to be dependent on public transport. I will fear what my friends and relative think. They would definitely assume that I do not have money now. I will feel jealous every time I see other people with their car. If I see on the positive side, then I don’t have to travel in traffic anymore. I don’t have to worry about scratches and damages to the car or maintenance of it. I can use that money somewhere else and can get peace of mind.

To become a strong self we need to do two steps. First, do not create anymore tags at least in our mind. This does not mean you stop growing, but it means that you don’t limit yourself to anything. Second, lose as much as possible tags from the mind. You don’t need to actually sell the car but owning of it does not create any bondage. You are fine with it and without it as well.

Untag the Self and Be a free bird.

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Self Honesty is a true expression

If I use the word honest, then you might start thinking about not taking bribe or being ethical and many more ideas. However, I am going to discuss something different here. It is true that we all feel that we are honest, but let us go through below questionnaire and then decide. No one is looking at you and you are the only one who knows the answers.

Do you agree to everything that you follow in life? For, e.g. all the religious rituals or the way success is defined or the way you behave with other people.

Are you showing your true self to the world or even to your family?

Do you sometimes feel like running away from everything that you have created around yourself and only be with your own self and then have dismissed that feeling hundreds of times?

Do you hide your fears so that people don’t look at you as a weak person?

Are you living your life the way you want and not the way society wants you to?

I try to be honest with others, but I hardly try to be truthful with my own self. India is a very religious country, but I do not know what all the rituals really mean and I do not get any extra ordinary feelings after following them. We do that because we have been told and if we question, then we hardly find answers. This is just one area of life, but if we introspect, then we will find that we have so much around us to which we do not agree.

Our true self is not visible even to our close family. The question is what is our true self? Not sure if we have answer to this because all these years we are showing what is expected out of us. The only way to find it is by being honest with our own self. We need to be very direct towards everything that we do. For, e.g. If we want happiness in life, then there is no need to wait for years for becoming successful as per the society standards. We can become happy right now in this moment. If we don’t believe in the statue that is seen by people as God, then it is completely fine. You have full right to find your own God or even not to find one.

We have created so much of noise and disturbance around us that we hardly can see the truth. We all enjoy vacation because that is time when we become relaxed and feel with our own self. The direct question here is that why cannot we have vacation all the time. It is surprising that we put lots of hard work for entire year to go for luxury vacation 2 to 3 times in a year. Why cannot we just live that way for entire life? We can only simplify life if we let go of all the unwanted layers and become a truthful person.

Life is all about expressing yourself, but importantly your true self. I think it is very difficult and the only reason is that we are not straightforward and honest. If I have to give example of someone, then I would talk about about Bruce lee. We know him as an actor who introduced martial art to the world through movies. However, he was more than just action hero. Before he entered the industry, many Chinese actors were showing martial art by flying high and doing all the non necessary steps. For Bruce lee, it was important that he expresses himself rather than following what was going on for ages. We all know what kind of success he received because of this one quality.

We have not lived our life fully if we only followed what others said or did. We tend to suppress our inner voice because we don’t have courage to either break the status quo or take risks. This inner voice of us try to remind us for what we were born on this earth. If we start listening to it and be straightforward with what we want in life, then we will achieve happiness and peace of mind. I am sure that we will not have the feeling of regret or not doing something on our deathbed.

We have all the knowledge inside us, we just need to be honest and courageous enough to follow it.

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Understanding Desire – Part One

The desire is the root for everything. We desire to live a good life. In that, we desire to earn more money, buy bigger house, want a perfect life partner, and want kids. From the deeper level, all these desires have some meaning. Living a spiritual or religious life itself is a desire. My mind is having a hurricane of thoughts on desires with so many questions. First of all why do we desire anything? Why do we have unlimited desires? We know that we cannot fulfill all our desires and still we cannot accept the same.

To understand the desire in more detail we need to compare ourselves with other Animals. For, e.g. a stray dog. It does not have any desire to wear good clothes or go for a vacation. What it wants is food to satisfy hunger. Sometimes may be affection at least that is what we think. What it wants is for its survival only. Nothing more than that. So, I am not sure if we can call its requirement for food as its desire. Let us assume that what we human and animal needs or ask for survival are not our desires. We just cannot live without those needs. But, as a human being we need more than our survival needs.

We just don’t want time to time food, but we also desire delicious and different kinds of foods. We want starter, main course and then we desire desserts as well. We just don’t want home to feel safe from nature and wild animals, but we want the most luxurious home with all the comfort possible along with servants. We just don’t want clothes to cover our body or to protect it from cold, but we want everything as per the latest fashion and of a high brand. Apart from all of these, we also want vacation, reputation, compliments, attention, possessions, power and much more.

As of now let us assume that nothing is right or wrong. These are just desires which we have in our mind. Now the question is why only human beings have all these desires? Why do we get another desire once we have satisfied the one? Desires does not satisfy on its own until we take any action. Some desires which we think we cannot fulfill might just calm down for some time, but it will take place in the mind somewhere. It might come on surface from time to time, but it will not go away.

Let us try to find out from where these desires come. Now I have purchased a decent mobile recently. After couple of months, I see a new variant of it or there is a launch of new Iphone. When I see the advertisement for the first time, I get the desire to let go of my current mobile and buy a new Iphone. Somehow I control this desire because I recently spent good amount of money on the phone and I might not have more money. After some days, I see new Iphone in the hands of my friend. He shows me all the exciting features it has. Now my hidden desire comes on the surface and force me to buy the new Iphone. My mind starts playing tricks. I started disliking my current phone which was best some months ago.

I still managed to control my desire, but I have to give it up at some point. The desire has become very strong now and will not allow you to rest till the time you fulfill it. You go ahead and sell the phone and buy your new Iphone. You really feel good. After some days, using your phone becomes routine and you no more get the same pleasure when you bought it. It happens almost similar way every time. Many people know this and they are all in the advertisement business.

Still the point remains as why a desire is born or why do we have this feature only in human being? Something has to be permanent in nature. All those desires we have right now does not have a strong base. I understand that my all desires should end when I achieve something. But, In reality it never happens. We are stuck in the vicious cycle of desires where there is no end. My thoughts lead me to a point that the birth of a human being is for some reason. The desire feature is added so that we can look for something permanent, something above all of us.

We all agree that when we desire something, based on the intensity of the desire we take action to achieve it. To live a good life it is important that we get desires and we take steps to fulfill it. I want to look at it from a different angle. I want to know the purpose of having desires. One way is in which adults and saints are telling us is that only desire God. They might be right, but in my opinion it sounds very religious and we all might not accept the same. The problem is that people who asks us to desire for God, they themselves have so many other desires like to be known, to get respect or to see their names on temples.

Another point which Buddha made was to look for enlightenment or nirvana and then all our desires will end. He has proved the same through his own life. To some extent I would agree with him because he mentioned about something that is permanent in nature. After desiring for enlightenment, I might not have any more desires and my mind will be at peace. But, then Buddha himself mentioned that don’t do what he says. Experience by your own self. This is our life and we are only responsible for the same.

If I have to look for something permanent, then I desire freedom. Somehow this word freedom has stuck in my mind and if we closely look at our life, then we will find that in different ways we are trying to achieve freedom. From superficial level we are trying to earn more money to get freedom from poverty. We want freedom from all those negative thoughts. We also desire freedom from all the diseases in our body. Maybe we are not acknowledging, but our soul wants the freedom from all the bondages that we are creating every day.

Recently many people are desiring minimalist and simple life because it has less bondages. When we desire freedom from depending up on things for our pleasure, we achieve the real happiness. When we desire freedom from expecting anything in return, we achieve loving relationship. When we desire freedom from laziness, we achieve a fit physical body. When we desire our freedom from all temporary life, we achieve our self. If we desire and accept nothing but freedom, then our mind will be at great peace.

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