Monday, January 5, 2009

Holiness and Spirituality. And my problem with both.

I don’t consider myself to be holy by any standards. But to be truly Holy has always been in ideal or an idea i have in fact been fascinated with. I am also caught in this stange kind of web. That of deception of sorts, I think. It surrounds my life today. I am confused with what true holiness means. Does Holiness have anthing to with goodness and virtues? Does being Holy mean to be always be in pursuit of doing the ‘right’ thing? Or does being Holy mean being able to love the other just as much as yourself. Or does it mean to be simply in union with the Almighty,so then by default you become good and loving and virtuous because God is Love ,good and virtuous!?
I have also noticed that Holiness is no longer something people look upto these days. Nobody wants to be ‘Holy’ anymore. It is uncool. Boring even. Prayer and any kind of religious affiliation is strangely looked down upon. Atleast the traditional kind. The kind that believes in the divine quality of self denial is regarded ridiculous. The one which calls to die to self in oder to live fully and free is passe, a strange and archaic concept.
Spirituality is now all about the ‘ I’ factor. Discovery of self. Self actuation. The power of ‘me’. And all that. This is a very seductive concept and appealing too . As humans we like all the attention anyway. And with a spiritual angle to this exercise it somehow becomes ...alright to put in all that effort and time to that sacred ‘me’. Don’t get me wrong here. I don’t have any problems with the concept per say. But I am strangely intrigued by the shallowness and limited scope of the notion. Honestly it seems to hold zilch challenge for the human spirit, which I think is so large and all encompassing and is the ‘image and likeness of God’. That which embraces the ‘other ‘ as much as the ‘self’.
Again does sprituality and Holiness have anything do with each other? Is it one and the same thing? Or are they mutually exclusive?
Now coming back to my very own spirituality. Am I spiritual ? I spent a lot time and energy is thinking about and reading about things that are not ‘earthly’...also about the the ‘Almighty presence’, I call God. Now does that make me spiritual? At this point of time in my life I don’t know. Does that make me a Holy? I don’t know. Does that make me religious even? I don’t know.
I have to admit that, what i thirst for most is being able to experience the security , faith in God provides. I must confess, if there is anything that I seem to be doing right, it is only by Grace. The kind of Grace that comes from the Mercy of God. And it is only by Grace that I thirst His presence. I am discomfited because, I don’t know if that makes me; holy? Spiritual? Religious? or simply human?
Guess the name of the game is trying to be fully human first, then perhaps we can consider..... Holy? Spiritual? God Alone knows!!!


Joseph Thevercad said...

Most often,I have found, our answers are dependant on the question asked. We often,therefore, don't find the answer because perhaps we are asking the wrong question!

Who needs holiness?......and....who will judge holiness or the lack of it?

Perhaps some answers there?

Anand said...

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Curiousity got the cat this time for sure.. :-)
N oh, I like the way u write too. I'd visit u again sometime. :-)

Anand said...

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Glad u find me a mumbaikar enuff.
Oh,n ur Rs 50 goes to a donation, some kid owes it to u and 10 ppl get free hugs...all because of u n' ur comment...u big hearted person u.. ;->
N' I intend to take this concept far..Be with me on this,will u?

jose said...

"For we know that our patchwork heritage is a strength, not a weakness. We are a nation of Christians and Muslims, Jews and Hindus - and non-believers."
from President Obama's inaugural address.
Holiness or spiritual. What does it matter.
We are humans first.

Shalini George said...

I believe this is JD, himself. I am honoured. True! What does it matter.To be Human is after all being in the 'image and likeness of God'

jose said...

We are humans first. continued:

Muslims in Indonesia banned from doing Yoga report in New Indian Express dated 26 Jan “09.
‘” Muslims in Indonesia have been banned from doing Yoga if they engage in Hindu religious rituals during the exercise, the Chairman of the country's top Islamic body said on Sunday.
“The Yoga practice that contains religious rituals of Hinduism , including the recitation of mantras , is haram” he said.
“ Muslims should not practise other religious rituals as it will erode and weaken their Islamic faith.” he added.
“ If it is purely a physical exercise or sport , it is not considered as haram.” he added.
Yoga , an ancient Indian aid to meditation dating back thousands of years, is a popular stress buster in the Indonesian capital of Jakarta. “

Spending a holiday in the harmony of nature an invigorating way , I thought, to spend the republic day holiday.
I am now sitting in a farm house in a rubber plantation . I was hoping to hear the sounds of nature (except alas for the passing vehicle). Instead , to my great disappointment, I am pelted with blaring sounds from a loudspeaker at the nearby church. On enquiry I am told that there is a retreat being conducted in the church. The disturbance is indeed no less when it is pelted out early morning from the loudspeaker at the temple which is further away . The noise from the loud speakers shatters my peace though I am almost half a kilometre away . Though I sympathise for the ears of those sitting in the hall, at least they have come for the express purpose for partaking in the programme. But what about me and others like me living around going about our lives?

Just a thought.
Somehow these two seem to be connected. In my mind the connection is a common philosophy. A ,philosophy I shudder to think , is shared by the Taliban too.

Republic day prayer.
On this special day of our republic, I pray to the ‘ glorious rebel ‘( refer editorial feature by retd justice Krishna Iyer in Hindu dtd 24 Dec 2008) . That all peoples who share this planet, whether Hindu Brahmin or sudra, Muslim Sunni or shia, Christian Protestant or Catholic;, Buddhist Tibetan or Chinese, or non believer, that we live in harmony and happy coexistence. That we have the grace and wisdom to honour and respect each others individual beliefs and faiths whether adopted through birth or personal choice and however differing they may be . That we have the spirit and the mind to be able to adopt as our personal philosophy and individual creed, plurality and inclusiveness.

Shalini George said...

JD, your comments...make me think beyond my writing...thankyou!

Sunita said...

Hi Shalini, great post. This is my personal take on it. But, first I have to say that the regimentisation of religion puts me off.
The increasing 'loudness' of religion makes me reluctant to participate in any event organised by a religious institution.
I dont think either of my reactions makes me less spiritual than others. I do not think I need to demonstrate my attachment to the Almighty through public displays of piety or through the frequency of my visits to any religious structure.
I think I'd rather be a better human being first. There has to be a very valid reason and purpose why we were created humans and not angels, dont you think?

I do not think prayer is uncool if one truly means what one is saying.. but public mouthing of set phrases as prayers have no meaning in my book. For me it is a very private affair. I do not appreciate having to chant or shout it before others. And I most definitely would not like to inundate someone with proof of my piety or attempts to communicate with the Almighty.
I suppose that I am one of those "I, Me, Myself" creatures that you were writing about but is the degree of challenge a necessary component of spirituality? If so, one would have to rethink opinion of the self-flagellating monks of old. Believe me, challenging oneself can be the biggest challenge of all. There is, after all, no benchmark that you can measure yourself against.
For me, simply marvelling at the perfection of a flower and wondering at the skill of the Creator is just as much a prayer or as soulful a hymn as any other. A walk in the garden and rejoicing in the bounty before me, is as heart-felt a thanksgiving as any other.

If one participates (for yoga or whatever other reason) in the religious rituals of another faith without granting those rituals any level of faith or sanctity, do those rituals have any value? I dont think so! It automatically becomes a practice like any ordinary one such as washing one's face or combing one's hair.

Can one ever become holy or even spiritual without acknowledging one's human-ness, complete with warts and all? To attempt that would definitely be the supreme display of overbearing pride !

Shalini George said...

Thankyou so much for visitng my blog. and i loved your take on it.
YEs! As everybody seem to conclude, I guess the human-ness is possibly our divinity. And to embrace that is to embrace the divine probably...?!
Anyway it was thought provoking indeed. Stand in gratitiude for you contribution. Thankyou!
Do comment on my other posts as well.....