A Spiritual Quest

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In troubled times like ours, young people all over the world are increasingly looking to find some inner peace and solace. In the past, organised religion offered the masses a method to the madness; a higher power to reinforce their faith. Today, spiritual leaders transcending religious, linguistic, communal and national boundaries guide those dazed and confused with modern life to step on to the path of spirituality. Spiritual leaders the world over have developed mass appeal with their modern outlook and have attracted millions of devotees. After all, aren’t we all looking to connect with our inner selves?

Magnetic Appeal
So what is it that makes these spiritual leaders or gurus a magnet to millions of people? And, why is the younger generation attracted to the practical ideals imparted by leaders like the Dalai Lama, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar and others? The youth are awakening from their spiritual slumber and are looking for guidance to peace and happiness. It is evident that the words and actions of these outstanding leaders make sense to people as opposed to outdated and rigid religious dogmas. Practicality aside, what really clicks with the youth is the relevance of their values, coupled with the inspiration and motivation to make the best of life in today’s times. Actor Kelly Dorji opines, “The dogmas in religion have long been a cause for a section of this generation to drift away. They collectively feel that religion has been twisted by man to a degree that is unbearably false and laden with rituals and superstitions as well as with blind faith without practical regard.”

Art of Living
From Mumbai to Berlin and beyond, a spiritual revolution is brewing thanks to spiritual guru and humanitarian, Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. He is known to speak to his followers about life and inspire them through his talks and deeds to share his vision for a violence-free and stress-free world. Over a million people look to him as their spiritual leader. Forming a significant part of his efforts to achieve a peaceful outlook toward life is the fostering of interfaith that the Art of Living courses continue to give her answers to the questions she seeks and offers her a feeling of depth and deep calmness. While some like Pillai are regular practitioners of the Art of Living, there are others who have done the occasional course and reaped the benefits. Says Candice D’Abreo, a Mumbaibased wedding planner, “In our busy schedules, I believe it is very important to take some ‘time out’, which I find very difficult to do. Hence I took up the course.”

Happiness: Life’s Purpose
His Holiness the Dalai Lama, a spiritual leader not just to the Tibetans but also to the world, is believed to be the harmony, bridging communal divides and the call for a multicultural education as the remedy for fanaticism. Rhea Pillai, an Indian model, brand ambassador for several products and an Art of Living instructor says that meeting her guru Sri Sri Ravi Shankar for the first time was one of the biggest turning points in her life. Pillai feels rebirth of a long line of tulkus or high ranking lamas. They are considered to be the manifestations of the Bodhisattva of compassion known as Avalokiteswara. A large number of people follow Buddhist philosophies, which speak of the path to liberation based on teachings attributed to Siddhartha Gautama, commonly known as the Buddha. Dorji, a practising Buddhist says, “In my life, I have met two beings who are perfect in all they say and do. One of them is the fourth king of Bhutan. Such beings have the presence of higher beings and are pure round the clock and tireless in their work. They permanently inspire.” While there are some like Dorji who are born into Buddhist families, there are many people who adopt the Buddhist way in the course of their lives. Non-violence, the law of cause and effect and the Noble Eightfold Path are some of the Buddhist values and truths amongst many others that people are known to connect with.
People buy books by the Dalai Lama in droves, and during the Nobel Peace Prize winner’s speeches, the crowd sits attentively taking in his message and methods of peace, life and happiness. Interestingly, the spiritual and political figure has garnered over two million Twitter followers, which only goes to show his desire to reach out to the younger generation and spread his message on a wider platform.

A Buddhist Sect
Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism has taken the world by storm, and a number of celebrities swear by this eastern philosophy. Nichiren Daishonin’s Buddhism is a recognised Buddhist sect, which follows the teachings of a 13th century Japanese monk. This school of Buddhism believes in the transmission of Dharma through the scripts of the Lotus Sutra. Practitioners chant “Nam Myoho Renge Kyo,” in a rhythmic manner.
Actor Ravi Dubey is known to chant the Lotus Sutra to strengthen his spiritual core. Bharat Soka Gakkai (BSG), the Indian chapter of the international movement, organises many activities to promote values like peace and respect. Says Karan, a member of the BSG, “Daishonin’s Buddhism is not a religion but a way of life. By simply accepting responsibility for one’s actions, one can change one’s karma. Skeptical at first, I saw my life dramatically change for the better once I started chanting Nam Myoho Renge Kyo. Many doors that were closed for me, opened up. People who were creating problems in my life, changed their attitude over night. I became more confident and happier, all because I learnt to accept responsibility for my actions”.
Today, a growing number of youth are taking up this philosophy and making positive changes in their life. In India alone, there are more than a whopping 50,000 members who have embraced this philosophy and numbers are only growing by leaps and bounds. In fact, one has to go through a formal application process to join the BSG.

A Practical Approach
He is not just a Jain guru to millions of devotees in India and abroad, but a highly educated person too. Pujyashri Rakeshbhai Jhaveri, fondly known as Bapaji, is known for his magnetism with the youth. His idea of spirituality is to make religion and ancient scriptures highly accessible as well as relevant to the modern world. He also devotes a major part of his time to education, rural health care and animal welfare projects. Group chanting, discources, hands-on exercises and meditation form just a part of Bapaji’s workshops.
His devotees are drawn to his charisma and unconditional love. His sessions are not only informative and thought-provoking but also portray religion as a celebration of life. It’s no wonder then that Bapaji’s Satsang retreats are always packed to the hilt, be it in India or Africa! Bapaji’s special meetings and workshops for the youth see throngs of youngsters devour his techniques on how to imbibe spirituality and merge the practical values of Jainism in daily life. While we continue to hear stories of religious god-men claiming to be avatars of deities and saints, there remain spiritual leaders who will always attract hordes of people because of the sheer simplicity in their ideals. As the Dalai Lama once said: “This is my simple religion. There is no need for temples; no need for complicated philosophy. Our own brain, our own heart is our temple; the philosophy is kindness.”

FAMOUS BUDDHISTS

  • Richard Gere
  • Tina Turner
  • Orlando Bloom
  • Kelly Dorji
  • Tisca Chopra
  • Vinay Jain

 

Volume 1 Issue 3

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