In my last two pieces I discussed how an overemphasis on spirituality can dilute action and how the so called spiritual gurus, often unknowingly, take you on a make-believe ride and make you miss life.
Misdirected religion and spirituality can engender another problem. It can tie you up in rituals and superstition. You lose the power of differentiating the eternal teachings (Sanatana Dharma) from the temporal recommendations (Yug Dharma). For example Geeta says that you should resist evil and also be prepared to take arms to annihilate it when required. This is an eternal
recommendation. Geeta also says that the cow should be worshipped as a Goddess. This recommendation is temporal- must have arisen from the socio-economic importance of cows in the period when Geeta was written- so should have expired when its utility was up.
When the Mughals invaded India they knew that Hindus are still stuck up with the temporal recommendations of their scriptures. So they led the charge of their armies with herds of cows. They tied calves to the foreheads of their charging elephants. And the Hindu archer laid down their bows and arrows. The Mughals converted the battle grounds in to cattle grounds and laughed their way to victory. Such anachronistic beliefs often spawned by religion have cost civilizations dearly.
What is more, often spiritual precepts are simplistic and are not the most well thought out guides to living.
Let us deliberate, as a case in point, on a comment which almost all spiritual gurus make, viz. “The same essence permeates you and me so we are not separate; so we are the same”. This is true as long as we are part of a harmonious group say friends or family. But if I am with an adversary and if I was to believe in the-same-essence-mumbo-jumbo he would skin me. (It has been this country’s great misfortune that over the ages, and till date, many of our kings and leaders succumbed to such fanciful beliefs from cloud-cuckoo-land and ceded the country’s interests).
We are non dual as long as a strong clash of interest is not there. If there is we are dual and should be. It is like trying to throw a stone through a wall. It will strike the wall and fall on the side which it is thrown from. However if you were to throw an x ray it will go through the wall. As the X ray is composed of stuff which is finer than a stone and it is vibrating at a higher frequency than the particles in the stone. Spirituality advocates being in this finer, higher vibration mode. Or vice versa (the dualists say that you should consider yourself separate from the other). These are simplistic theories. In real life a balanced person would practice both dualism and non dualism depending on the situation.
This is just an example to demonstrate how spiritual dictums often go against each other as well as against commonsense.
Spiritual beliefs should be all tested on the touchstone of Wisdom. Wisdom means the ability to see the true nature of thing and then make choices, which are true, right and lasting. These beliefs would pass the wisdom test if they are philosophically reasonable, morally useful and are a guide to good living. Then they will take you to balance and bliss. On the other hand, if they take you towards hypocrisy, utopia, make-belief. Drop them.