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authored, with loads of love & thought, by Chetan Narang
What do you have to give up to be spiritual?
This was a question that a client recently asked me in a one-on-one session. She has been on a spiritual journey for a year or so now, and this is something that had been ringing in the back of her mind.
I think it’s a fair question to ask. A lot of people, especially in India, have been brought up on a steady diet of equating spirituality to something the sanyasi (retiree) does. And that cements the idea in our minds that to be spiritual would mean to give up our worldly lives.
The way I would answer that question then is via a powerful quote from Zen & the art of motorcycle maintenance, that bestselling book by Robert Pirsig. The quote goes something like this, “The only Zen you find on tops of mountains is the Zen you bring there.”
In simple words, what that means is that even if you give up everything worldly and start to go living in the mountains amongst the monks, it is the version of “you” that shows up there that determines “what” you end up achieving from the entire exercise.
Surely there are people who are absolutely caught up in their everyday rigamarole and cannot seem to catch a break from the busy ins-and-outs of their everyday life. For such people, literally letting go of these “chains” and cutting down or trimming these branches of their lives, is an essential component of turning spiritual, and of growing into their best selves. Because unless they do so, they cannot seem to do anything else. This could mean leaving their jobs, could mean moving cities, could even mean taking a break from their current relationships, etc.
But what is more important to understand is that a vast majority of the chains that hold us back are not external chains. They are chains we’ve forged over the years in our own minds, as a residue of all the “experience” we have gained over all the years. Those chains are the essence of what one needs to let go to actually be spiritual.
In fact, to be truly spiritual means to become aware of those chains, and then to take honest, courageous efforts to unlearn them. Now that is a game worth playing – for sanyasis and others alike!
I did a rather poetic episode a few weeks back on the topic of spirituality, talking about what it means to be spiritual really, and what significance it holds in our modern lives.
If it hits a chord with you, do share with your loved ones and help me spread the word.
Until next time.