By Anand Krishna
Imagine a meeting of more than 100 spiritual minds, gurus from different traditions – from the most traditional to the ultra modern. Very rare, but that’s what happened last April in New Delhi.
They met to discuss current issues, the challenges faced by modern society and to commit themselves to working together, while appreciating the differences among them.
It was my good fortune that not only did I witness the meeting, but also took an active part in it. Indeed, the organisers were kind enough to let me launch an Indian edition of my book The Hanuman Factor: Life Lessons from the Most Successful Spiritual CEO.
What was the meeting about? Swami Chidanand Saraswati, the ochre-robed spiritualist, presented his views in Hindi: “India today is no longer India 20 or 30 years ago. The Indian economy is booming. Our fresh graduates do not have to hunt for jobs the way their parents did. As fresh graduates they can get salaries and benefits unimaginable by their parents even after 10 or 15 years of hard work. Life is all set for them, yet their minds are upset…”
The stress level of the young generation is ever on the rise, and that is in spite of all their success stories, in spite of their comfortable lifestyles, in spite of their rising buying power. Why?
The gurus, the monks, the mentors agreed that they lacked the spiritual perspective of life, that life was not all matter. And that the ever-changing nature of matter could never give them the kind of inner satisfaction that they lacked.
They are looking for something else, for spirituality.
“If you google the word ‘spirituality,’ most probably you will get more pages about spas in distant Mexico,” said Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. The guru was right. We have seen the Eat, Pray, Love kind of spirituality mushrooming on our isle, too. With a slight twist and improved packaging, ordinary body massage can be marketed as “spiritual bodywork.” Hallucinations are often interpreted as visions. Emotional outbursts are presented as divine experience. Thus, people looking for spirituality often fall into the trap of traders who have turned yoga, meditation and etcetera into commodities.
The Guru Sangamam helped seekers to identify their actual inner needs, and differentiate true spirituality from the pseudo one.
The Sangamam, as discussed here last week, had no agenda to institutionalise a single solution for all. Each guru, each institution, was free to offer their unique foolproof solutions.
Hindus are known for their all-inclusiveness. “It is only here in this country that five members of one and the same family can worship in five different ways to five different gods while living under the same roof. In many other countries this would be inconceivable,” said one of the gurus.
True, in some countries the marriage act makes it impossible for two loving souls belonging to different religions to unite, unless one of them converts to the religion of the other.
Hindus have always upheld the idea of “ishta-devata” – chosen deity, chosen belief system, chosen ritual, chosen spiritual practice. “You can even create your own deity,” said another guru, “for the Hindus are very well aware of the fact that turning inward has a totally different dimension than looking outward.”
“Society has its restrictions, not so with the inner journey,” added Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev. The inner journey is a journey to absolute freedom, to moksha, to freedom from all limitations and restrictions.
Half of humanity is even unaware of the fact that human beings can seek themselves. They still go by the book. They blindly follow tenets that are no longer relevant. In their ignorance they cling to those tenets. And they ignorantly believe that following such irrelevant tenets is spirituality.
The challenge, the gurus agreed in unison, is to make such people aware of the restriction-free nature of spirituality, of the inner journey.
They gratefully acknowledged the role of internet and communications technology in bringing down the walls separating us, separating one half of the world from the other half.
“A child may resist his parents,” Kalpana, one of the convention conveners, said, “but he will not resist the virtual world. He resorts to the internet for the information he needs. Guru Sangamam must make use of the same media to broadcast this very free nature of spirituality.”
Unlike other conventions, the Guru Sangamam Convention did not come up with a set of rigid resolutions and recommendations to follow. Guru Sangamam was not convened to create a platform for the gurus to adopt a certain method, and endorse to certain ways. It was a platform to work together, to realise that one particular way may not work for all, not even with the members of one family. The Guru Sangamam was convened to reinstate the Hindu commitment to the diversity of the ways toward the ultimate reality.
It implied that there was no need for the gurus or their disciples to compete with each other. Competition is not spirituality. Cooperation is. The Guru Sangamam, then, committed itself to cooperation, and to recognise the diverse ways to the ultimate reality.
Anand Krishna is a spiritual activist and author with healing centres in Jakarta and Bali, including a new live-in ashram in Ubud (www.ubud.anandashram.asia).