What is your understanding about so-called ‘enlightenment’? How you will translate that word in Telugu or Hindi or Sanskrit or Tamil? In post-independence India, our life has become complicated as we try to understand so many aspect of our life based on the wrong translation of our own worldview through English words.
For me ‘enlightenment’ is ‘adyatmikta’ which could also mean ‘understanding about one self’. In English, there is another similar word, introspection.
But one blessed thing that we Indian have is that we don’t have so many counselling centres like the West does. There, for everything there will be counsellors or counselling centres. Too much time and money is spent on psychiatric analyses and treatment. Though this trend is also slowly creeping in our country, a majority of the people live a relatively calm and quiet life, in spite of the stress and problem, as so-called ‘religion’ or ‘spirituality’ helps them to overcome them.
Of course here I have to also warn you about one of the weak points in our worldview – fate, in which people take refuge for not accepting personal moral responsibility for so many issues in life, particularly created by themselves. But that is entirely a different and very complicated topic, in which we need not go at present.
However, according to my understanding we all need that enlightenment to live a relatively peaceful and meaningful life which will help all of us enjoy it. God, religion, reading, meditation, sadhana, music, art, etc. can help one search that enlightenment. So my humble suggestion is: never limit enlightenment with some religious ritual or mental/physical sadhana.
But people who are not stressed, do not have any need for spirituality? How does being spiritual change one’s lifestyle? Does it have any impact on his/her life?
For me, leading a normal human life is spirituality. But we have allowed it to be hijacked by spiritual gurus and sannyasis who claim to be the sole owner and promoter of this ‘spirituality’. At the same time one may not feel stress in life, but it will be decided by our relationship with others. Even if you behave as a normal human being (viz., as a spiritual person according to my definition), when you fail in other’s expectations, it brings some stress in them, which will reflect in their relationship with you. This will cause a subtle stress in us however we fail to recognize or refuse to accept. Of course this very word ‘stress’ has a negative connotation. But how about substituting it with ambition, expectation, goal, target, etc. When we were young boys, we didn’t hear much about terms like tension and stress which are now commonly used by everyone, even those who do not know English. Now this English word has become our own!
For example, your parents’ expects you to do the puja etc., as per your family tradition, which you refuse to do. And as a son you failed in their expectation which will definitely reflect in their relationship with you. You may ignore their demand and fail to notice their stress, but it will come out in different form.
Stress/expectation/ambition is part of human life. As we grow it will come in different forms. No one ever lived about her creed, definitely one’s own creed or expectation will bring some stress in life. Passing exams with good marks, getting a good job, a life partner, settling down, are part of human reality. Even a sannyasi cannot escape from anxiety and stress in his life, as the famous proverb says, “We cannot avoid a bird flying over head, but we shouldn’t allow it to nest on our head.”
So the so-called spirituality is a sadhana to help an individual lead a normal human life, which is denied to her due to so many other factors which are not under her control. Here the sadhana helps. But the worst scenario is refusing to accept that we failed to lead a normal human life viz., we became unspiritual in many ways. And unless we recognize this, we won’t accept any remedy to become a normal person. And that is spirituality for me.