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At the Feet of The Mother

Spirituality and Worldly Life 2: Life-denying and Life-affirming Spirituality

We identify spirituality with the denial of life but there is also a world affirming spirituality as given to man by Sri Krishna and Sri Aurobindo. Besides denial is also sometimes a step towards a greater affirmation. Spiritual life may find life as it stands today very inadequate and imperfect and hence it may go far away from it in search of a more perfect existence. But also, having found this it may return back upon life as it stands today and pouring its riches upon the world try to make life perfect with the Divine Perfection. There is in fact, another line of spiritual living that is not only compatible with worldly life but strengthens it with a new impulsion. It is typified in the great teachings of the Upanishads and the Gita, in the luminous writings of Swami Vivekananda and Sri Aurobindo that set our soul ablaze with the fire of spiritual truths alive.

But even if we set aside these great teachings for a moment, since we feel ourselves weak and ill-equipped to handle them, then there are things that develop naturally through spiritual practices and give us an edge for even our ordinary life. No wonder they are often referred to as soft powers. It is a mistake to underestimate these powers. Even the humblest of them such as humility and gratitude have the capacity to straighten out long standing misunderstandings. For those who value harmony and the joy of relationship with the world and its countless creatures that co-inhabit it, is it a small gain to discover the secret of a happy and harmonious co-existence. Then there is something so soft and subtle as beauty, a power that has been much distorted by equating it with surface appearances. But Beauty when we deep enough into its soul is the sister of joy and the secret flaming core of love. It is because we have shunned beauty or regarded it only as something superficial that there has been such a downfall in India at least. We stopped valuing beauty and we can see the result in every sphere whether it be vulgarity of speech and sensations or vulgarity in thoughts and actions, vulgarity in outer and inner life in music and technology and everywhere else. Beauty is not just about the beauty of form. There is a formless essence of beauty, a mystic truth that may or may not reside in a form that we need to discover. After all at the end of it do we not want life to be beautiful? How are we to do it if we shun this soft power which at its core is spiritual. Then there is the power that is the very base of everything else. It is that much coveted and least found Peace. The world suffers because of want of Peace. Without Peace nothing enduring can be built, nothing lasting can be erected. Peace is the very foundation of all things.

There is another quality which though not a soft power and yet is an extension of Peace. It is Equanimity. Yogic texts lay a great emphasis on equanimity. Yet it is one of the least understood and least practiced of qualities. Yet this one quality can help us not only withstand all that assaults and challenges of life but put us in the right condition to understand things in a better way and to give us the right response to them. When our mind and emotions are disturbed and restless then our perception about people and events and circumstances are clouded and our reactions to them naturally confused. How often has it not happened that in a given situation we responded in a certain way which we repented much later realizing the stupidity of our reactions. But why did it happen and why do we understand it better as time rolls by. The thing is that with passage of time the dust and smoke and the storm and clouds settle down and we can see things clearly. The initial perception and reaction was coloured as it were by our own restless emotions, blinded by storms of anger and passion, darkened by mistrust and all the rest that distorts our understanding of things and thereby opens the doors to every kind of confusion. The result is so much avoidable suffering. This is not only in the psychological field but also the physical. The effect of anger and fear and restlessness and anxiety on our body is rather well-known. Peace and equanimity are like the calming agents that create the right conditions for us to perceive things better and to make the right and true responses to events and people and circumstances. A wide equanimity, a cultivation of peace should be considered as the very basis of a happy and healthy life.

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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.