Monthly Archives: May 2016

Spiritual Business

Spiritual Business

I have just returned from a Heartfulness Training Workshop in Vrads Sande, Denmark. During His talks Master twice made references to ‘Spiritual Business’. My 12 year old daughter who was in the adjacent room heard the reference and later asked me why Master referred to our spiritual journey as a ‘Business’.

For her business was a give and take thing – venture which entailed profit.  Competition is integral to business, and emotions are very likely to be trifled with. To her understanding, a spiritual journey was exactly the opposite. This path is that of pure love, sacrifice and volunteer work – a zero profit venture. This is the noblest path to follow, one where emotions dictate everything. Thus, this comparison with business was a mismatch according to her opinions.

Actually, when Master first used the term ‘business’, even I felt somewhat nonplussed, because my comprehension of the word ‘business’ was exactly what my daughter had voiced. So, what was the ‘profit’ element in Spirituality? What was the transaction? What was I trading in this business? I was here for myself, to know myself and become a better human being. I was here to lose the layers of samskara I had accumulated over the years and many past lives too. This practice helped me peel the layers, become wise, and hopefully become discerning. This was all about me and me alone. If I practiced diligently, I stood to gain.  If I was lethargic, the loss too was mine, that I remained stagnant. So where was the transaction, with any outside party as such? Who was I getting into a trade with in this spirituality business? So, why did Master repeatedly refer to this as a business? Where were the profit /loss for anyone apart from the person concerned? What was the risk?

If I did consider this as His, my Master’s, spiritual business, then He stood to lose the most. This path has no entry fee. This path knocks on doors and volunteers introduce the Method free of cost.  The workshops are conducted by volunteers and are all free of cost too. Our annual congregations in India are free of cost. Apart for the travel expenses, boarding, lodging and food is free.  This is the same for every activity in India and every workshop or event we conduct; everything is free.  Even after everything being offered keeping in mind the comfort of the aspirant, there is zero guarantee that the aspirant will reap the benefit by understanding this path and what it truly has to offer. So what did the Master stand to gain? Of the innumerable seeds He has sown, scattered everywhere He set His foot, how many will He reap? Most of those seeds will die as seeds, or grow a bit and wither away. Maybe one in a hundred will become a tree and bear fruit. Would He be amongst us to see the one odd tree bear fruit? Probably not; yet He continues to sow seeds, invest His time, effort and energy in this assured loss venture. So from His side also I saw no reason for Him to call this a ‘Business’. Why would one talk about an assured loss?

So, how could I explain the term ‘Business’ to my girl? What profit was Master referring to when He said Business? Thus, with my limited understanding, I attempted to answer my daughter’s question. I tried to explain how this spiritual journey was ‘Business’ for me! What I have gained from this path, and continue to gain every day, is so crystal clear that my profit and loss statement is tilted heavily on the positive side. For me this was a sole proprietary business. I stood to gain or lose in direct proportion to my involvement, diligent learning and honest implementation of the same. So this remained an individual journey; a sole proprietary concern. That said, my next question popped up immediately.

For every aspirant at an individual level this path or any spiritual path is a sole proprietary business. The day we become wise enough to comprehend that this profit needs to be dispersed, a new business begins. The risk of being lethargic was heavy; I could lose my Self or remain ignorant about the Self.  I think I will term that as a partnership business where we share a mutual brotherhood; a sincere yearning to share our profits. This learning has to begin to reflect at home and amongst other family members.  Learning left in the locker like a fixed deposit sum fetches no interest nor does it grow. So there is a need for this sole proprietary concern to spread its wings and become a partnership. Then this spiritual business can flourish profitably. This was a funny sort of business where individual success became imperative for the whole Mission to succeed and prosper. The sole proprietary concern flourishes and aspires towards a successful partnership. It should continue to share profits and grow into a Global Mission.

Master is at the helm of the affairs and for Him the whole Mission is a sole proprietary concern! One person, one unit, one family is what we are for Him, the Mission is one. This repeated reference to spiritual business suddenly started to make sense to me!

In today’s world, profit and loss are the kind of terms we tend to comprehend faster. We are wary and reluctant to acknowledge any philanthropic work but we are all ears the minute a ‘business’ idea is talked about! The day we ‘see’ profit in ‘spirituality’ we will probably start taking it seriously. We will give it the place and priority it needs in our lives.  This is actually the most profitable business venture with the potential to make every other venture profitable eternally! But we never look at this spiritual path as a ‘business’ venture; probably because tangible profit is not visible. The risk of ‘loss of Self’ is intangible; hence we remain oblivious to this risk too. The second reason may also be that for every other venture we depend on ourselves more, our efforts are consistent and focused. We have a vision and a goal. Whereas in spiritual business because the profit is intangible we feel like we are either groping in the dark for too long or we are dependent on someone (Master) too much. And the subtle change, the inner change that is happening is met with resistance on the outside, making it worse for us. One small hurdle, clash or friction on the outside and we abandon the path or drop it like a hot brick.  We set off in search of a different venture, a more tangibly profitable one.

Only if we started thinking and considering our spiritual journey as our prime ‘business’ and repeatedly strove to maximize our profit in this ‘business’ will the purpose of this life be served, the goal be achieved.  And that is His intent. He wants us to take this spiritual ‘‘Business’ seriously. And if ‘business’ is the key, magic word, that helps us take this path seriously, so be it.

NOSTALGIA…

NOSTALGIA…

As we (my better half and I) started to pull the car out of the drive way to get some shopping done we saw the mailman drop a post into the neighbour’s mailbox and walk right past our door. I noticed this and commented, “Aww! No mail for us; which means no one is thinking about us!”

Pat came the repartee from my husband, “You should be happy we don’t have a mail! It means no taxes and no bills to be paid yet! No one is asking for my hard earned money!”

Now, that was a new way to look at it, I thought. The emotional me was being woeful about no ‘letters’ coming from any near and dear ones and here he was, my ever practical better half; happy that no expense statement was pending.   The thought that in this day of emails and ‘Whats app’ and ‘Twitter’, where the news of the world is at our fingertips and available in current time; anyone would bother to write a formal letter, is ridiculous.

The world’s best technology working at the beck and call of every single person in every household, toddler included; it transported me to my ‘good old days’ of when I was studying in college. The last two decades have wreaked havoc in our personal lives in the name of advanced technology and the revolution of information dispersal. Most of the allure of waiting, the charm of expecting for a special moment is lost today. These are such sad times of instant gratification that anything which requires patience and a little bit of waiting have lost charm.  We have forgotten ‘how to wait ‘and as a result we run short of patience, high on temper and our temperament is very ‘snappish’. Everything has to happen at the ‘like the click of our fingers’ else we can easily move on to something else, because this takes too much time.

Before leaving home for college studies my dad wrote me a ‘loooooong’ letter,  full of ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’.  He bought me a dozen Inland letters and I was asked to write a letter once in every 3 days, and call him once a week.  If I sent a letter with my results, I used to expectantly wait for the post man and dread my dad’s’ ‘reply’ and what further advice, admonishing was in store for me! We used to go out and wait in the queue of STD booth and make our weekly calls back home. They had implicit faith in us and in their upbringing too. Else, how could they have survived without speaking to us for six long days?!

This apart, even when I got engaged my fiancé used to send post cards and write 6 page long declarations of undying love! I have a huge folder still, a collection of all his love letters.  He used to call at specific times and I had to wait by the Land line; the one and only phone at home.  It had its own charm I think.

Even after marriage he used to travel a lot. We did not even have a landline then. I had to take permission from my Landlady and wait by the phone at the appointed time. My landlady would discreetly make herself scarce, yet I used to feel very conscious of the time and uncomfortable about intruding their privacy. The end of every call would begin my second wait for long letters detailing about his times away from family and how much he misses us.

Today also he travels a lot; but the wait is missing for many reasons.  The best reason is of course, the great strides our wonderful technology has made! From no phone days, we have come to the day where ALL of us have the latest phones! So communication is instant. We have to wait for nothing and no one, in fact if he( my better half) for some reason gets delayed or fails to inform me that he has reached a place or is about to leave from a place, I get angry!! I am not totally blaming advanced technology for the increase in my expectation and decrease in patience, but it does have a big role to play.

I have not written a letter in years now. We all have learnt to text each other with great alacrity and absolute dexterity in the best of abbreviations possible! My handwriting (which used to be like a ‘string of pearls’ –my 8th class teacher’s compliment I cherish till date) is reduced to some doctor’s prescription legible to none at all! So, letter writing is an unthinkable option today. The second big loss I have suffered because of these phones is ‘memory’!  Once upon a time, long long ago, I held the esteemed post of being the official directory for my family, friends and extended family. I could rattle off phone numbers, birthday dates, anniversaries and other important ‘first meeting’ dates with ease. Today, I suffer from selective amnesia! My hi-tech phone has a reminder setting, and the ubiquitous Face book declares every personal detail awfully publicly. So, the need to remember has ceased and my memory bid adieu too!

The sad thing about this technology is that we seem to live a public life and yet a very lonely one. When I had to wait for my husband’s call and go to the Landlady’s house, I worked hard to maintain a good rapport with her. This was a good exercise for my social skills.  Then, I did not hesitate in seeking her help. If I sought help from her, I used to be conscious that I be ready to help her too, when and if she ever needed me.  Today, I have the world at my finger tips (my latest 4G enabled phone) needing favours from anyone has become a bit far fetched.  Everyone does home delivery, everyone has a mobile, an e-mail Id and a website of their own in some cases! Be it my grocer, my hair dresser or my favourite restaurant guy! If all of them fail, I can always summon my better half! He dare not refuse to appease to my demands and I need not be polite either nor do I have to repay the good favour! Why bother getting dressed, put on a smile meet my neighbours or anyone for that matter?  My life is so boringly limited (yet exceedingly rushed) to the phone that I lack the time to meet anyone. This one gadget has managed to rob me of my flawless etiquette and my natural charming demeanour and reduced me to zero social skills!

There it is, my woeful state of vegetated existence, a small walk down the memory lane, all because ‘I haven’t got a mail’. All I have is my Smart PhoneJ