By: Keyur Seta
In a country like India, misconceptions spread faster than genuine truth. Somehow, such myths don’t need any media or social media attention to spread its tentacles. The funniest thing is that such myths are accepted without questioning or, worse, without even using the simple logical techniques provided by the human mind.
One such misconception that has been spreading and continues to do so is about spirituality. Most of the people I come across have blindly accepted a false theory that spirituality is only meant for the old, fragile and helpless; those who are just a few kilometers away from death.
This also means that they get a shock when they see a person in his/her 20s or 30s treading onto the spiritual path. Their most common reaction being – “Why? What is the need? You are so young!” There will also be few who would feel bad or sorry for us as if we are victims of some tragedy.
There are various definitions of spirituality. As far as I am concerned, it is a driving force that helps us face life in a positive manner. Spirituality doesn’t aim to provide a problem-free life, which is a myth. It empowers one to solve problems by facing them instead of avoiding or brooding over them.
It brings a sense of peace and contentment from what you have in life or within you instead of looking for it in some material object or person. To achieve this goal, the aspirant mostly accepts the philosophy of a God or a Guru. But one mustn’t confuse spirituality with performing rituals. In fact, being ritualistic is against the principles of spirituality, at least in my book.
Now, why can’t a youngster live life according to the above points? Why does s/he need to be a senior citizen to follow this? But there are more points that prove that spirituality is ideally for youngsters. These points are based on simple logic rather than some deep, complex insights.
They are as follows:-
1. The basic aim of spirituality is to make your life better. So it is logical to start doing it from a young age itself. Doing it after you become a senior citizen is almost impossible as you can’t change yourself in that age.
2. But in case if you are able to change yourself after crossing 60 or 70, it is not of much use. I am saying this from a practical point of view and don’t wish to sound rude. At 60, 70 or above, you don’t have much time left. So whatever enlightenment or change you will encounter will be valid only for few years. The point I am trying to make is that it is much better and viable to live with a positive mindset for as many years as possible. And for this, it is imperative to tread on this path as early as possible.
3. If one attains spiritual enlightenment at a younger age, s/he would not only be able to help himself lead a more meaningful life but will also be able to help people around him/her. In other words, s/he would stand a chance of doing something for the society or nation.
4. Treading on this path will provide you with more energy and enthusiasm, which will be carried on for the rest of your lives, including old age. Won’t you love that?
5. As you would be able to deal with tension, stress and pressure in a more positive way, you will stay away from harmful practices like smoking. Quitting smoking after turning 60 won’t serve any purpose as the damage will already be done.
6. Think about spiritual gurus and one of the first names that come to our minds is Swami Vivekananda. The powerful monk achieved, what you can call, the PhD in spirituality and he lived for only 39 years. The fact that he is known as a Youth Icon and his birthday is celebrated as National Youth Day is also a big indication that Spirituality is for the youth.
To conclude, I will put Swami Vivekananda’s messages for the youth:
1. I want young men. “It is the young, the strong, and healthy, of sharp intellect that will reach the Lord”, say the Vedas. This is the time to decide your future — while you possess the energy of youth, not when you are worn out and jaded, but in the freshness and vigor of youth. Work — this is the time; for the freshest, the untouched and un-smelled flowers alone are to be laid at the feet of the Lord, and such He receives.
2. Be strong, my young friends; that is my advice to you. You will be nearer to Heaven through football than through the study of the Gita. These are bold words; but I have to say them, for I love you. I know where the shoe pinches. I have gained a little experience. You will understand the Gita better with your biceps, your muscles, a little stronger. You will understand the mighty genius and the mighty strength of Krishna better with a little of strong blood in you.
3. Young men full of the spirit of renunciation are needed —those who will be ready to sacrifice their lives for others, instead of devoting themselves to their own happiness.