Spiritual Journey – An Ennobling Experience in Itself

— V Amalan Stanley

Dealings with the ‘I’ness is the primary subject of every religion, its ways and means, its conditionings and how to shed it off as a climax, in the form of either surrender or transformation or annihilation, thereby attaining nirvana. Simply put, it is the realization of the various conditioned ways we dress our ego or the ‘I’, and specific methods of undressing it to attain nirvana. This involves two steps, deconstructing and reconstructing of one’s being and finally stepping into the ‘beyond’, i.e., through ‘material’ to become ‘immaterial’.

Therefore, spirituality is to look at the big picture of our life while executing our actions in the day to day chores, i.e., keeping the big picture (ultimate reality) while dispensing mundane every day activity (relative). As Wyne Dyer said, we are not human beings with spiritual experience but spiritual entities (ultimate) having a human experience (relative).

Being spiritual connotes intelligent living and nothing more than that (With the discovery of Higgs boson or ‘God particle’, the Large Hadron Collider, the world’s most powerful particle collider being rested at CERN, Switzerland, to upgrade and to make amends to avoid future quality and quantification based physical flaws, I dare not mention God here!). In other words, intelligence means right living, where prevails harmony, understanding and peace. J Krishnamurthy, in his book ‘Mind Without Measure’, suggests the observation of the vast movement of life, not only our own particular life, but the life of humanity, the life of the earth, the life of the trees, the life of the whole world and urges us to look at it, observe it, move with it, which would create the possibility for a spiritually intelligent living.

We believe that we have changed to a considerable extent comparing our past to the present. In a series of six studies involving about 19,000 participants one of the articles of the Science journal (January 2013) posits that the same people do not vouch for the change in the decade ahead. They feel that their personal traits and values are fixed, underestimating their chances of change in the future. It seems that we create a fixed illusionary future of no-change. But spirituality is all about change or in other terms, transformation of our life in its entirety.

Transformation means right way of living. It is not adopting the ritualistic ways, nor is it being ‘religious’ or meditating for years, or even following a particular tradition, sincerely and meticulously. Neither does it amount to living in different states of mind and consciousness, negating the basic requirements of human life on earth and its attendant interpersonal relationships. That is why when expected to provide the crux of his teachings of awakening, the Buddha boldly proclaimed “All my concern is that there is ‘dukkha’ and the ways to ‘liberate’ oneself from dukkha.”

Pastor Rick Warren of Saddleback Church said, “To reduce stress (dukkha!) in your life, you must change the way you think because the way you think determines how you feel, which in turn determines how you act. If you want to change your life you need to change what you are thinking about. It involves a deliberate, conscious choice. When you choose to think about right things there is transformation.”

The process of transformation is nothing but intelligent living, with discernment and mindfulness. J Krishnamoorthy relates intelligence to the whole of humanity and even beyond that relating to the Universe. It is the intelligence that sustains life; the power of intelligence that moves the stars, that expands the galaxy, that divides the unicellular microbes, that makes organic evolution ticking up and that aspires for the life beyond.

Alternately, life is more than the mere physique owned by a person, but is as large as the Universe and as infinitesimal as a microorganism. It is not merely meant to be confined within this body that decays and disappears. JK adds, “Intelligence is the activity of the wholeness of life and that intelligence is not yours or mine. It does not belong to any country or to any people, like love is not Christian love or Hindu love and so on… but in enquiring into all this, there is awakening of that intelligence, and when that intelligence is in operation, in action, there is only right action.”

The work or right action involves reconnecting with our being and working with all the obstacles in the way to that. For the psychotherapist, John Welwood, it is a psycho-spiritual work. As per the Zen story comprising the Ox herding, one does not simply return to the market place with graciousness but comes back as a completely vibrant and colourful expression of life.

The logo therapist, Viktor Frankle, in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning, said that the meaning of suffering lies in the meaning of your life and spirituality begins with that acceptance. Daniel Pink proposed that ‘Capacity for interest’ is one of the fundamental aspects about human nature. Whether that aspect of our humanity emerges in our lives depends on whether the condition around us supports it or whether the condition is to be built or created by one’s own.

Daniel H Pink, in his book, ‘The Surprising Truth About What Motivates Us’, postulates that the innate desire to have self direction is the most fundamental aspect of growth for any biological organism. Let me illustrate this through what is called industrial melanism.

With the advent of industrialization, during the nineteenth century, there was an interesting observation made by entomologists in England. There suddenly erupted in the vicinities of industries emanating soot from coal burning, dark forms of moths, particularly among the peppered moths, which were originally pale. The trees were coated with dark soot and the moths gradually emerged dark, a genetically endowed physical characteristic. The spontaneous response of the moths in response to the environmental change, gave them a dark pigmentation of the skin that facilitated their survival against predators. The fact worth mentioning here is the telling influence of environmental factors on the genetic make up of an organism, altering the frequency of genes, the alleles, for dark colour in relation to the genes for lighter colours.

Besides, it is amazing to understand how the moths perceived their conspicuousness in the dark vicinity and the mere perception of it provoked genetic amends within its own being so as to emerge as a dark skinned moth, camouflaging and challenging the predators. The genetically made colour differences helped in the survival of the species.

The true value of a human being is determined primarily by the measure and sense in which one has attained liberation from the self. We shall require a substantially new manner of thinking if humanity is to survive (Albert Einstein, From the World I See It, 1934). Therefore, spirituality is not an end in itself. The complete journey itself matters.

About the Author
Amalan Stanley is a scientist by profession. He is also a poet, novelist, environmentalist and a spiritual enthusiast.

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