By now most people that read me occasionally or more regularly (which are a few loyal ones and I love you loads)know that I'm a Malayali from the red-red Kerala. Communism and socialistic ideals flow through the blood, however much we say our politics veer more to the right than the left, the culture of the Malayali society largely tends towards one that is shorn of devout religiosity.( There is a need for a big rejoinder here, like most communist states where the irreligious ruled roost for decades leading to the emergence of ultra-conservative religious patterns, Kerala too is seeing a disturbing trend towards a strain of communalism - worrying and thought-provoking!) The two biggest festivals of Kerala are Onam and Vishu - the traditional harvest and New Year celebrations - and these two festivals are celebrated across the world by Malayalis - irrespective of caste, creed and community. So these thoughts might have influenced my take on spirituality and the irreligious.
In our society, a lot of words are loosely used to mean the other - religion and spirituality is perhaps the best examples. A lot of people say "I'm spiritual" when they mean "I am religious" because "religion" somehow has a more conservative, narrow-minded connotation to it. However that does not justify how being religious can mean being spiritual. On the other hand, I believe there is a strong case to be made for being spiritual despite feeling irreligious. I think I'm increasingly turning spiritual and irreligious. So today, when I read a friend's message that said Spirituality is an appointment with yourself, I was thrilled.
I related to that. But somehow, the statement that appealed to the irreligious in me, somewhere presents a large contradiction. If you call spirituality an appointment with yourself, then isn't that kind of like an indulgence?? I deliberately take out the term self from before indulgence, primarily because indulgence too is an appointment with yourself. You indulge someone to gather some happiness for yourself in the bargain too! It is the extent of pampering perhaps that differentiates indulgence from self-indulgence.
In India, where separating spiritualism from religion is considered next to impossible, we need to look for better definitions. Look at reason why people seek out religion? I have a simplistic reasoning. I consider it original because I arrived at it. I might be regurgitating what someone very very wise has said better, but in my space, let me present my take. We are conditioned from very young to crave a bigger power's benevolence - to watch over us, to hold our hand, to show us the right from the wrong. I think religion gives you the way to attaining the realisation that at the end of the path to enlightenment is the harnessing of your mental energy to make life's choices work out best for you. We are often happy to believe that the good that happens in our life is a fruit of our labour. On the other hand, no one wants to be told it is their idiocy that landed them in bad times. We'd rather believe in our naivete and think of bad times as tests set by a bigger power. So instead of setting two different question papers for the tests of life, you set one, make God the invigilator and the marker of your paper and dedicate good and bad performance to His tutoring.
Turning to God is in fact turning inwards, checking for resources within to pull yourself out. I believe my theory makes sense and brings solace to my search for meaning in life because I see God not helping those that leave everything to Him and do little about it. You don't really have to profess leaving everything to Him, but if you gather your inner resources together and work out a problem, you will feel the presence of a higher power guiding your decisions. That power is nowhere exterior, it could well lie within you. A bit of divinity, a bit of godliness - all within a soul that is not in an elevated sense of existence.
We live, we love, we desire, we crave, we anguish and pine - the positive emotions guide us higher, the negatives pull us down. However, the negatives are necessary to make the positives look incandescently bright. I think we cling hard to negative emotions like hate and disgust and hide behind morality ( often without inherently prescribing to it!) because the fear of a higher power or the worry of retribution is the safety mechanism some wise old men devised centuries ago to keep the flock in line. After all, a social animal is one that has the intense need to conform. If ten people do something a certain way, the eleventh one is intrigued to try the same formula because he knows it is tried and tested, it appears to have worked for ten, so why not for the eleventh and so on!
If you were to blame your mistakes on no one, but just dust yourself up and move on in just the same way you'd pat yourself on the back for a success and move on, then life will get easier. Why should we all adhere to the same structured sense of propriety or seek the customised logos that our social groups long to give us? Why do we need prototypes of dumb and dumber??
This is my brush with the irreligious but deeply spiritual. The Spirit in me is happy and at peace and my life, I'd rather was an experiment in the spiritual rather than the religious!!