I have a lot of people around me – friends, family and others – and inevitably through discussions on religion or about spirituality, I find that there are a few fundamental problems in their thinking.
So here in this series, addressing some of the totally wrong thinking about Spirituality I find in people around me,
#1 : Spirituality is for the old age
I don’t know when and how this thought became prevalant. But it is super crap.
There are a lot of reasons why it is super crap… and here I try to highlight at least a few of them,
- Basic Logic: If you have to plan and live your life, should clarity about “who am i”, “what is this world” and such fundamental questions happen before or after? Can you plan and live your life however you want and then find out these answers? What sense does this make?
- A Life Wasted: How easy will it be for you to accept in your old age that you just pretty much wasted your life of all these years on non-essentials. Because you left the essential questions for the end of your life. And at the end of your life you realised that you were moving in totally wrong direction. Is this a joke? The fact is that if you have left spirituality for your old age, you are never going to get any. Because in your old age you will be filled with pride and at least some satisfaction for everything you have done. You will never be mentally open enough to really ask fundamental questions – because they may very well tell you that you wasted your life.
- A lot of people are now talking about ‘unlearning’ or beginning from a clean slate. When you are trying to work out unique solutions for even semi-complex situations in society one wants to drop everything they learned earlier so they can really think different. Surely, for Spirituality which is understanding this universal mystery of life and everything – you need a really clean slate – your younger self?
It is a real joke…. a big one and – in a lot of peoples case – very tragic joke.. that people want to export spirituality to old age.
Spirituality is super cool
One of the reasons this thought of, exporting spirituality to the old age, may have happened because somewhere over time, maybe due to very traditional or rigid or old-fashioned and at times discriminatory practices, younger people decide that I can’t waste my life with this stuff in young age. But in the old age I will get into this (why get into it at all!!??).
There are some problems to be addressed here,
It is important that religions and spiritual paths keep the path in some ways relevant and connectable for the younger generation, without of course making it all into some kind of joke. Like a bad example is Ganpati pandals that blast raucous movie dance bar songs. This is pointless. But a good example would be something like Sister Act where pepping up some of the older choir songs made the church a lot cooler. But the meanings of the new songs are still on point.
The important thing, however at the end of day – cool or not, is that strong spiritual tools need to be on offer for the followers of that path and that I am not sure many of these traditional setups do.
Yoga that way is a very good example of spirituality made cool – without too much of ideology or beliefs, it shows quick results in mental and physical health. And it is also fairly accessible for everyone. Though of course, the west adopted it and that made it cool for us – which is another level of crap prevalent in India. But anyway, many of the western yoga places have also lost the plot while a lot of our traditional institutions have retained the authenticity.
And to some extent the younger people need to be able to see real ‘Coolness’ of life and not run behind cheap thrills. But again it is a circle – the younger people will value the right things if it is inculcated to them from early on. Or rather I should say the opposite isn’t inculcated into them from childhood because marketing forces have a free run and access.
And a lot of people have the view that religion or any spiritual teaching should not be given to kids. I actually agree with this because kids are innately close to it… IF we can have an environment that lets them grow up without being told what’s right and what’s wrong. Today the marketing forces have a free run in their lives. And so you want to stop religion and spirituality influence in their lives because they may become fanatic, non-scientific people… but the bigger danger is of them becoming shopoholics and addicted to material things for their happiness – leading to a life of misery. The only way out I can see right now, is to basically expose kids to many different things and let it all balance out. There is no other way. Because marketing economies are ruling the world right now… and they haven’t become conscious enough to leave at least the kids alone!
Anyway, coming back to topic,
A spiritual base makes us stronger and stabler mentally, physically and psychologically in a very eco-friendly and natural way. Happiness and peace can be natural in life and not sought after. Significant, especially for younger people, is the inner balance, focus and clarity that it delivers. And for this very reason, Spirituality is Super Cool.
And also…. Why in Old Age?
If you find that spirituality is not interesting and cool for young age then why bother with it in the old age? Anyway, you will probably be sadder and weaker in your old age… so at that time why do you want to plan to get into this non-cool, non-interesting aspect of life? Shouldn’t you be planning to indulge in what you consider the best of life when you get old? So this idea is total crap.
Old Age does afford you Time
There is only one aspect which highlights why old age can be significant in your spiritual quest. It affords time for you to invest deeper into spirituality. Especially in developing economies like ours, it is very much possible that a lot of us are working and fairly caught up for a large part of our life. And only in the old age can you finally allocate a good bit of your time and savings to pursue your spiritual quest. But even in this case, unless you have at least some base formed or a natural seeking – you are not going to be able to grasp even basics of spirituality.
Ideally, through traditional religious involvement or some other spiritual path in your young age – you can deepen it when you finally get some more time for it in your old age. But without this base formed at a younger age, chances of you settling into deep spirituality in old age is negligible.
Moreover, this way you miss out on all the benefits that spirituality gives you in your younger more volatile times. That of a stabler and more insightful mind and emotions leading to better and more fulfilling choices.
Creates Space in Indian Big, Joint Families
Another interesting social implication of keeping a mandate of spirituality for everyone in the old age is that by the time the younger generation takes up reigns of everything – house, business and so on… the old people have somewhere else to dedicate their time. Otherwise more conflict as the older people don’t want to relinquish their authority while younger people feel totally suffocated.
But anyway all this is changing in urban areas where kids usually have their separate homes. Moreover, the same thought as earlier remains relevant. Unless there is some base for spirituality created in the younger years – when this time comes, the person will not be looking forward to taking up ‘spirituality’, it will rather be an onerous task – expected from them socially but more a subtle push out from the family matters. And whether in long term it is for the good or not – this is not the way to be taking up a spiritual path. There is hardly any climate created to find spiritual clarity this way.
Death …… *drumroll*
And here we come to the crux of the matter.
All of a sudden the body that has been getting frail and problematic over the years is reaching its end. There is the possibility of serious illness, weakness, debilitation……. ooops. And of course eventually, you know you are going to die. And you can hardly grasp the meaning… because your whole life has revolved around your family, your personality, your possessions, your social standing…. and all these things turn to nothing in Death.
But the question is this,
Do you want to live your life from the beginning being aware and keeping in mind that you have to at the end of it all – DIE. Leaving all your near and dear ones, all your material possessions and even your personality (probably). Or do you want to just ignore it until it arrives?
A sensible choice, clearly, is for you to be aware of this and also plan for it (mediclaim?) from a younger age. And once you seriously ponder on this… then asking fundamental questions of life is inevitable. Hence spirituality… from the young age.