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At the Feet of The Mother

Spirituality and Worldly Life 1: A Perceived Antagonism

There is a tendency to think that people who take to spiritual life become somehow weakened and incapacitated for dealing with real life issues. Nothing can be farther from truth. This misconception is based on a wrong understanding of true spirituality as well as a wrong understanding of life.

The spiritual history of mankind is replete with instances of spiritual men and women who excelled and had high attainments in whatever field of work they chose. There have been writers like Vyasa and Valmiki, Homer, Dante, Kalidasa, and many others right up to Sri Aurobindo in modern times who have produced some of the finest literature of various kinds that have remained unparalleled in their beauty and significance. I am not even counting the works of the Rishis of the Vedas and Upanishads which is rich in poetry of the most sublime kind. But literature is the not the only field of action of spiritual men and women. Social reformers such as Ram Mohan Roy, swami Vivekananda, the mighty Buddha himself were all deeply spiritual. There have been kings who have ruled their kingdom with such beauty and grace that their exploits have remained ingrained in the memory of the race. There have been warriors and heroes who were deeply spiritual. Then, a whole host of other activities such as painting, sculpture, dance, science and technology, medicine, linguistics and many others have been taken to great heights by spiritual human beings. Even what is regarded as something mundane and ordinary as marriage and child birth has been taken to quite another level by spiritual type of humanity. Love itself has been uplifted to levels beyond our imagination and life has often felt the thrill of a diviner touch and filled with a diviner breath when it has entered the frame of a spiritual being. One could go on multiplying examples no end. This is not only in India but all over. The difference however has been that since in the Western world spiritual impulsion got divorced from life and was confined to monasteries while the masses content with religious belief systems, the impact of spiritual life remained little known. Those who were truly spiritual did not advertise their spirituality and since they had pursued it independent of the religion they were born in their spiritual side did not receive much support from the organised religious institutions. In fact if facts were to speak for themselves then the great days when intense creative impulsion moved India were also days when the spiritual impulsion was at its peak.

But the misconception is there that spirituality is other-worldly and hence has little role in our everyday life. The spiritual man must abandon normal ordinary life to pursue his spiritual quest. This misunderstanding is largely because of identifying one kind of spirituality as the only one. Most people regard spiritual life as with asceticism and think of a spiritual man as someone who wears a certain kind of robe, who has no house or bank balance and who wanders from place to place begging for alms for sustenance since he has lost all interest in his self-preservation reducing it to a bare minimum. Even when one admits some kind of a meeting ground between spirituality and life, one identifies spiritual life with learning and practicing some form of meditation techniques which calm us and give us peace, fill us with tolerance and take away the drive of ambition and desire and hence it is concluded that these people become unfit for life that needs these aggressive instincts to survive and achieve. Besides with the great nirvana as the goal whatever normal operations of life we may be engaged in it is only as some kind of concession to the fact that we are embodied beings and hence need to continue our outside life as before under the stress of past momentum of nature while inwardly we are losing interest in it and preparing ourselves for some kind of a final exit. Ten there is also this conception that at the root of things is Nothingness which makes a mockery of ‘everything’.

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It is not the personality, the character that is of the first importance in rebirth — it is the psychic being who stands behind the evolution of the nature and evolves with it.