SPIRITUALITY - A PERSONAL AWAKENING
My friend asked me “Is’nt spirituality a very personal thing?” I did not pause to answer and I said “yes”. In an earlier posting of mine I had written that ‘Spirituality is not about God, it is not about religion though it forms an integral part of religious practices. I could not bring myself to define or describe spirituality, for me it was only an experience, an inward journey and how can you express it in words?’. When a person embarks on a journey of self discovery, to find the very essence of his being and to define the deepest values by which he is to conduct his life you can say that he is on the spiritual path and the very process may be termed as spirituality. Why does he embark on such a process is a question to be explored. This exploration is a lonely voyage and to each his own path and that it is why it becomes so personal. As to the question why he feels the need to embark on such a journey, we can only presume that he has come face to face with a Sisyphean situation and feels the need to break out of this stranglehold. It could be a fear of termination or the sheer futility of his everyday actions. Albert Camus in his critique of Sartre’s ‘Nausea’ says “to live knowing that life is pointless is what gives rise to anguish, and if you live against the stream, the whole of your being is seized with disgust and revolt and this revolt of the body is what is called Nausea”. This is perhaps the beginning of the journey inwards.
I guess that everyone, whether he believes in a God or not, is always on a search throughout his life. A search for perpetuation whether he believes in reincarnation or not. That is why Sartre a confirmed atheist and who says that there is nothing beyond the life we are living now, ends his book Nausea with the hero who in our parlance had undergone a spiritual experience in the form of Nausea, decides to go back and complete the book he was writing in order to bring about an authenticity to the life he is leading.
What is the experience that one undergoes and which we can term as a spiritual experience is very simply described by Hermann Hesse in his novel ‘The Glass Bead Game’ – “My awakening has a similar kind of intensified reality for me. That is why I have given it this name; at such times I really feel as if I had lain asleep or half asleep for a long time, but am now awake and clear headed and receptive in a way I never am ordinarily.”
So where does God come in to all this and what is the role of religion? If you ask me I would say- define your God and follow Your religion. If it helps you on your voyage of self discovery and helping you to chart your course in life, you cannot ask for more. The problem or confusion arises when we search for an external God to answer our questions. We may benefit from the experience of others but we have to find our own answers.
I do not like it when some one tells me that this is what one should do to attain salvation, I do not appreciate preachers but I do not mind listening and learning from their experiences. Belief in God and religion is an individual choice as long as your beliefs make you a better person.
Yes spirituality is a very personal thing – to quote Albert Camus once again before I end “ An awakening of conscience, no matter how confused it may be develops from any act of rebellion and is represented by the sudden realization that something exists with which the rebel can identify himself even if only for a moment.”