What does it mean to be Hindu or Spiritual?

Shiva, the Nataraja

Where is America’s Spiritual soul moving towards?

When you listen to the popular political discourse, you see the shrill voices of the Tea Party guys, the Rick Santorums, the Republicans and Evangelicals who are out to sell you Salvation that someone sold to them, but no one has ever seen or experienced. But this lot of convinced. “Beyond any shadow of doubt”. It is like a group of people, who don’t have a diamond, never touched it, never seen it, but they have heard its purple in color. And they are convinced about the story. No, they don’t even have the purple thingy. But heck, its the Belief that matters, right?

When you listen to the New Ageys, you find them confused. They are well meaning. They are searching. They don’t know what is right, but they look for to the East and its symbols. All this seems cool and nice. The Gurus from East are full of wisdom and esoteric so they love the intellectual entertainment. Until now, hardly anyone in the West has raised him or herself to the level of enlightenment such as to realize the full potential of Spiritual gambit. I personally know of only one – Mooji. The rest don’t speak from the source.

And then, there are the honest spiritual ones, who seek the Divine and the Truth from wherever it may come. They are searching as well. This group of searchers, who haven’t pegged themselves anywhere and are true to their spiritual longing, will eventually get there. Mooji represents that bunch for me.

But Spiritual Realization doesn’t come from “the divine-deli-cafeteria” type of spirituality. It comes from ruthless and unrelenting search and longing. But what is most of the America doing?

A Pew Forum survey in 2008 said taht 65% of the Americans believe that “many religions can lead to eternal life” which includes 37% of white evangelicals. For people brought up on “Jesus is the only Savior” – this is a remarkable percentage. 30% call themselves “Spiritual, not religious”. Newsweek calls these as a signs of “We are all Hindus now” syndrome.

But there is an issue. The paradigm is incorrect. When people point to “Ekam sat vipra bahudha vadanti” (There is but One Truth, people know it by different names) from the Vedas and also about how all the Dharmas can lead to the Truth or Divine, and use these to say “All Religions lead to Eternal Life” (as stated above) – they distort the Hindu Sages’ message.

Dharma of a flower has been defined as its fragrance. The Fragrance of a Flower is NOT its belief. A rose can’t believe in Jasmine and have a different fragrance the next day. Its fragrance is its very essence.

Just as every soul has its essence. One kid is born blind but with great musical talent. Blindness is NOT its Dharma. Music is. Beethoven’s Dharma was his music. That is his fragrance which you can touch even today.

Religion is a belief. It is a story. People can change their beliefs. Indeed many do change their religions. Beethoven couldn’t change his fragrance to dance. It was not possible. Just as Shakespeare’s poetry had the power to take him to the Eternal Truth, so did Beethoven’s music. For BOTH, their Dharmas were EQUALLY useful for Eternal journey. Their beliefs being irrelevant.

So, the issue is very clear. Unfortunately, the shadow of America’s Religious burden is cast over its Spirituality. That is why one listens to a Guru’s wisdom and claps. That is why Osho’s disciples disappeared once he was arrested. Because devotion to him was predicated on belief IN HIM. Belief is NO Devotion. Just as the most irrelevant thing from a Guru to his disciple is the words and the lectures and the stories. What He gives outside of the words – the progressive realization through self effort but pushed, knocked, hurled, loved, stuck by the Guru is the real thing.

A Guru teaches when he stops speaking.

Kabir was an enlightened Saint of medieval India. It is said that Kabir’s Guru was not enlightened. Kabir’s own intensity of his devotion to his Guru took him where his Guru couldn’t.

Devotion consumes you. It can’t be subsumed. Only belief can be. And Belief has absolutely no relationship to spirituality. Just as Religion has absolutely NO relation to Dharma.

Let us go back then. Is America turning Spiritual or Hindu? No. It is using its old paradigm of a Belief system and simply garnishing it with the new colored sprinkles. Like my daughter at the local Ice Cream shop, the new sprinklies may look exciting for a while, but unless you have a different ice cream in your cup, it really doesn’t matter. Its the same taste.


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