Tag Archives: Spirituality

Genuine Spirituality is an Action not a Reaction


People who have turned “spiritual” need to consider this very important aspect.

By spiritual, I am referring to people who engage in reading spiritual books, going to a spiritual teacher, spending time at a satsang, joining a spiritual club or going for a meditation retreat and in general who think of themselves as “spiritual” not ordinary. There are people who engage in such activities on a regular basis and for whom it has become a part of life in terms of hanging out with similar individuals. Such people are always quoting some saying from the sacred texts, or something they have read or something their guru has spoken or sharing some of their “spiritual” experiences or simply complaining that the world is going to the dogs because of the lack of spirituality.

For such people, it is quite important to honestly clarify to themselves their true motivation for turning spiritual.

We can distinguish three contexts. First, there is the habitual spirituality, which is nothing but a habit learnt from childhood about following certain rituals and pujas. You see your mother and father going to the temple or church and you have learnt to do that. Some of you might choose different Gods and Goddesses to follow as you grow up, depending on your affinity, but it is a habit nonetheless. There is no thought behind that habit but just a belief. Seeking blessings from every temple you see while traveling is a sign of this habitual spirituality.

Second, there is the spirituality that emerges as a reaction to life. People, who have been deeply hurt in life due to certain experiences, turn to spirituality for solace and comfort. People who are living a hard life turn to spirituality with the hope of finding some happiness. Such people usually form clubs and groups where they can find similar people and get the opportunity to feel related. The interest in spirituality is sustained so long as the circumstances in life remain the same. Because life is full of suffering, people seek happiness through spirituality. They read books, memorize quotes from it, go to gurus and practice meditation. If the life was good, such people would not be interested in spirituality at all. People remember God only when life becomes a challenge. So this kind of spirituality is a reaction to life.

Genuine spirituality is not a reaction to life. It is a positive action towards living a life full of understanding and happiness amidst all the challenges and hardships. Genuine spirituality seeks to understand and act from that understanding. It is not afraid to be alone and does not seek comfort in a group. It does not run around from book to book or guru to guru to speak the latest fashionable truths. Genuine spirituality does not make a display of its genuineness or spirituality. Therefore, it is difficult to spot. A completely ordinary being can be the most developed spiritual person without anyone being aware of it.

The road to genuine spirituality starts from the inner recognition of our habitual or reactive spirituality. When we realize that we are only calling ourselves spiritual and want to be recognized as such by others, and when we see the utter un-spirituality of it, we are at peace with ourselves. Then we can be genuinely spiritual even while doing the most ordinary things in life and are able to handle the most difficult situations in life with ease.

The Sutra Parrots


Recently I attended the engagement ceremony of a cousin. It was a Buddhist ritual. The monk recited the sutras & both the prospective bride & groom repeated those sutras.

All Buddhist sutras are recited in the Pali language. And in the repetition, the meaning is usually lost.

Wouldn’t it be better to say what the sutras mean rather than repeating them like a parrot?

Firstly it seems as if you are signing a document written in Chinese i.e. without understanding the content.

Going beyond the specific instance, this is a common problem while reciting sutras. If you understand the Pali language naturally then it makes sense but Pali is not anyone’s mother tongue.

​The Buddha chose to spread his message in the Pali language only because it was the common dialect & lay people did not understand the prevalent language of sutras – Sanskrit. So why can’t we speak the sutras in English or Hindi?

Wouldn’t it be better, instead of saying – Panatipata veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami; to say – “I undertake the precept to refrain from destroying living creatures.”?

I remember once I had been to a house warming ceremony. Again it was a Buddhist ritual & everyone recited the five precepts including this one – Suramerayamajja pamadatthana veramani sikkhapadam samadiyami. It means “I undertake the precept to refrain from intoxicating drinks and drugs which lead to carelessness.”

To my utter disgust I saw the people, after the Puja got over, get into a party mode with alcohol & meat.

So what the people said a while back in Pali language had no effect on them. If they had spoken the sutra in English or Hindi, it would have caused a contradiction in their minds.

You can repeat a sutra in an unknown language for a hundred thousand times without any benefit. but if you repeat it in a language you understand, it may sink in.

Note to a Seeker: Stop Seeking


A seeker is searching for something higher, some meaning in life, God, enlightenment or inner peace. That something, he may believe is external and in order to find it, he will visit sacred places and meet holy people. If the seeker believes that what he seeks is within, he will read scriptures, meditate, or practice different techniques in order to attain it.

Now, seeking may have two orientations – seeking for something you do not have or seeking for something you had but have lost. Although the two may seem very different, eventually those who believe that they are seeking for something they do not have, come to understand as they investigate deeper, that it makes more sense to believe that they are seeking for something they had and now it is lost.

Seeker, I tell you to stop seeking.

Lets say you dropped your pen somewhere but do not know that you have dropped it. Your mind is not agitated. Suddenly you realize you have misplaced it or someone tells you that your pen is missing and you start seeking for it. Now your mind becomes agitated. You do not need the pen to write anything but you still want to know where the pen is so you continue to search. You spend an hour searching and finally you find the pen under the chair. Great relief. The mind is calm again.

The mind was calm when you did not know you had misplaced the pen. When you knew you had lost it, the mind was agitated even though the pen was right there under the chair. When you found the pen, the mind was happy again.

The pen was there all the time. The only change was in your knowledge. First you did not know that you had lost the pen. Then you knew you had lost it. You spent an hour in agitation and mental torture searching for the pen even though there was no use of it immediately. Finally, when you found it, the relief that resulted was not an attribute of the pen but due to the dropping of the stress you developed in yourself during the search!

So Seeker, I tell you to stop seeking. What you are seeking is right there. It will always be there.

You may ask whether the mental state of a person who does not know he has lost the pen is different from the mental state of the person who has found the pen. The mind is calm before also and after also. It is possible that the person may forget once again where he has kept the pen but this time he will not be so troubled because he knows the pen is there somewhere. There is no need to search.

So Seeker, I tell you to stop seeking.

What you seek is right there. Only you do not know. All your seeking is because you know there is something to be sought. Those who do not know, do not seek. You may cause them great harm by telling them there is something to seek. Because once a person starts seeking, it becomes a passion, difficult to stop.

So Seeker. I tell you to stop seeking. If you renounce seeking, that which you are seeking will appear to you on its own. You will then laugh at yourself and all the seeking you did.

So Seeker. I tell you to stop seeking.

Science and Spiritualism


The above invitation was published by the Haryana State Council for Science and Technology, Kurukshetra in the Times of India sometime in June 2006. The following was my response to the invitation.

Science is an understanding of matter

This is a definition. This is something which is generally accepted. Science is a word that stands for something, which is defined as ‘understanding of matter’. Matter is also a word referring to something.

whereas spiritualism is related to the consciousness of the soul.

Consciousness is a word which refers to the quality of being conscious. Soul is a sound/word which refers to the actual entity (Never seen, felt, touched, tasted or smelt) called soul.

If we begin by defining both science and spiritualism in different terms, how can we ever reconcile them? Can we say that science is related to the consciousness of the soul, whereas spiritualism is an understanding of matter? Only if the definitions can be interchanged can both science and spiritualism be linked.

Usually, we analyze them as separate entities, whereas in reality, they are indeed inter-dependent and inalienable parts of each other.

If we are sure of this, then there is nothing to discuss. But we are not. There is a certain sense, a certain feeling that they are inter-dependent and parts of each other but every now & then we separate the two and then struggle to bring them together. If they are inter-dependent, there is nothing to talk, nothing to argue and no puzzle to solve. But if they are seemingly separate, then there is a puzzle. So we come together to resolve.

​Trying to solve the puzzle without knowing how the solution will look is like looking for something without knowing what but only knowing that something is lost.

Understanding life, the creation and its creator has been the biggest challenge before the human mind and has been the unresolved puzzle so far.

Why does the puzzle exist? When did it first appear? Was the puzzle existent before the humans appeared on the earth?

What happens if the puzzle is not resolved? What will go wrong? What will happen if the puzzle is resolved? How do we expect the puzzle to be resolved? What will the solution look like? Will it be a scientific discovery or invention? Will it be something which an individual will realize while meditating? Will the solution be a formula (mathematical or chemical) or a set of instructions to arrive at the solution? Will a human find it or a computer? Will the person finding the solution be able to show it to another? Will the solution be another entry in the Encyclopedia Britannica?

​It is assumed that the solution will help us resolve the problems faced by humans in this world. Will it be a pill to be taken after dinner? Will it be a program to watch on television? Will it be a site on the Internet?

What will be the form of the solution to the puzzle of life, creation and creator? Any serious individual, who reflects on this question, without jumping to try finding out the solution through various means, will see that any solution in a worldly form will not make sense.

Science and spiritualism have both tried to solve this puzzle in their own way and have not been completely successful.

If both have been unsuccessful, then what will succeed? Prayer? Blind Faith? We must investigate this deeper.

It is assumed that both science and spiritualism use different methods. Superficially, they do look poles apart. The scientist is busy dissecting matter, studying its qualities, making records and making hypotheses and building theories. On the other hand, the sage (practitioner of spiritualism) sits and meditates. It looks as if he is doing nothing.

There is a misconception that these two methods are different. On a little investigation, a perceptive individual will see the similarity. Fundamentally, the approach is the same that of setting up an experiment, making observation and drawing inferences. Whereas the scientist sets up the experiment with external objects, the sage sets up the experiment with internal mental states. Whereas the scientist observes the objects of his experiment interact, the sage observes whatever mental states his mind produces.

​The difference is that the scientist is in a hurry to reach a conclusion, so he draws inferences based on a few experiments. This is generalized and becomes knowledge. But the perceptive individual will see that this knowledge is limited. He sees the need for further observation. He also sees that any amount of knowledge is limited. Today, science has reached its limits. Even those scientists at the frontier of experimentation and research are unable to explain matter, let alone understand it. Spiritualism is in a certain sense an extension of science. It starts where science finds its limits. The observation of external objects and events gives way to the observation of the instruments of observation i.e. the senses and the mind. The sage realizes the need for continuous observation. He is not in a hurry to reach a conclusion, a solution to the puzzle. He continues to observe.

However, if the efforts are made to combine the two approaches, some acceptable and convincing solution can be achieved.

Trying to combine the two approaches will lead us to a blind alley, a dead end because there are no two approaches. The solution to the ‘puzzle’ cannot be something which can be decided by vote. Does it have to be convincing?

​The solution will most probably be obvious. Something which is right in front of our eyes but we cannot see it. Continuous observation of the observer eventually dissolves the puzzle. We then see that that it was the question that was blocking the answer. The moment the question dissolved, the answer is right there shining brightly.

In order to bring experts from both fields on a single platform and to discuss all the issues in a new perspective threadbare, HSCST invites knowledgeable persons…

More discussion may not help. Knowledge always leads to more discussion. It is vital to see that it is knowledge which is blocking the solution. More knowledge and more discussion will create more clouds before the sun of truth.

…inviting the most impressive entries.

I do wish that the discussions are fruitful.

My response was shortlisted and I was invited to address the conference, which was held in the campus of Kurukshetra University in Nov 2006.