Youth And Spiritualism: As Unlikely As Chalk And Cheese?

Posted on December 24, 2010

By Srishti Chauhan:

How likely is it for an average youngster to have a ring-tone of Gayatri Mantra along with his usual Akon hip hop? Quite likely, it seems. A research by Dr. Peter DeBenedittis states that contrary to popular belief that the youth have drifted away from all forms of beliefs in scientifically unproven things (like religion, spirituality, paranormal activities etc), the youth are inclined towards each of these in their own distinctive way.

Continued and persistent efforts by His Holiness the Dalai Lama to encourage dialogue between science and religious philosophy to fashion a life science in which the two do not conflict- rather collaborate -to deliver intellect with empathy have been taken into consideration by the Sikkim Government. From 20-23rd December, 2010 the Namgyal Institute of Tibetology (in the capital, Gangtok) hosted a galaxy of scholars and spiritual masters from around the world for an international conference on “Science, Spirituality and Education”. This has indeed been a breakthrough from the belief that spiritualism and science are mutually exclusive. Believing in one does not imply being a non-believer of the other.

If experts are to be believed, then spirituality is the new way to go. Along with imparting scientific information to students, it is necessary to impart some spiritual knowledge starting from an early age to promote a more efficient mechanism of thinking, doing work and in general, a more productive form of life.

Many people have somewhat wronged notions of what spirituality is all about. Thanks to the million “spiritual” channels on the TV, the word spirituality brings to the mind the picture of boring somniferous lectures given by some sexagenarian who seems to be in amnesia state (which his devotees proudly call Nirvana state) and is surrounded by the paraphernalia of faithful disciples and foreigners raving about eastern mysticism.

Things, however, have taken a turn for the better now. Various forums like the “Art Of Living”, instead of promoting going to an ‘ashram’ and living there, now promote a simpler and healthier way of leading normal lives. Spirituality is seen as a refuge from the mundane and the stressful lives that the newer, younger, MNC-joining population lives. The Art of Living foundation has become so popular with the youth that now a separate website operates to cater to the young and interested. This has something to say about the interest trail of the youth.

Indian youth are not the only ones finding their path to a more spiritually enlightened way of life. Countries in the west too have awoken to a consciousness about the significance of spirituality and have launched it in the program of study. Ivy League Institutions like Stanford University and Harvard Business School have ‘pranayam’ and meditation classes in their semesters.

According to researches, youth turn to spirituality for many reasons. It’s like saying there are as many meanings to the word ‘spiritualism’ as there are number of individuals. Like each one has a different goal in life, similarly, each one has a diverse objective in spiritualism. A few years ago, when the MNC trend had just begun to become the colossal giant that it is, a news report stated that many youngsters working in MNCs suffered from a ‘mid-life-crisis’ situation at ages as early as 28-30. This was because despite pocketing huge pay packages, these people could not just take pleasure in earning huge sums of money which they do not even have time enough to squander.

All this, mingled with the confusion, worry, fast-pace and anxiety that people are encountered with adds to the magnetism of spiritualism to the youth which guarantees some amount of cerebral tranquility. A very excellent example of this is the book “Eat Pray Love” by Elizabeth Gilbert (who was in her 30s when the book was written and launched), which is touted as ‘one woman’s search for everything across Italy, India and Indonesia’. The part of the book relating to India deals with the spiritual search for forgiveness to the author’s husband and the need for sterilization of the mind from all negativity. This speaks of much of what we need today.

Conclusively, the youth today have their own definition of spiritualism. Many may not understand it. Hidden beneath over-used guitars, skull printed jackets, dragon tattoos, truck-loads of make-up and for some cluttered desks in the office- lies the spirituality that they chose. Appositely put by a Guru- “They do head banging in the night and pranayam in the morning”.

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