We were on a massive material acquisition spree. Shopping had become our past time, entertainment, de-stress mechanism, and much more. We were so busy amassing material wealth, much of which lies unused today due to lockdown – we had little time to cultivate spiritual wealth. The coronavirus pandemic is a reminder to correct that imbalance. Abundant knowledge, deep compassion, robust endurance, overflowing love for all, a keen ability to see divinity (beauty, goodness) in nature and humans around us, and firm faith – these and more make for our spiritual wealth. Wealth that cannot be quantified and measured like material wealth (houses, land, cars, clothes, fixed deposits, et al), but that keeps us joyful and motivated even in trying circumstances.
Like material wealth, spiritual wealth too has to be cultivated assiduously. Let’s look at some ways to shore up our spiritual assets.
Learn a subject: When we delve into a subject that interests us, and study it systematically, as different from causally surfing the internet and picking up info on it, our minds remain happily occupied and calm. The resultant knowledge is not only bound to come handy at some point in life, but also to enrich our inner selves and boost our confidence. The great philosopher Spinoza said, “The only permanent joy in life is understanding life itself.” This world provides inexhaustible learning material, so we can keep studying some aspect or other of it all our lives. Acquiring different skills like cooking and driving is important too, both to meet our own practical needs and to be useful to others. Capability generates healthy self- esteem.
Engage with people: Since we are parts of one universal spirit, and inhabiting this common planet, we need to engage with people, particularly those in our immediate environment; keep ourselves open to dialoguing with whoever we come into contact. Through deep, honest interactions is born understanding and compassion. Also, then we feel our interconnectedness. But if we wall ourselves in, for any reason, we can invite negative emotions like aloneness.
Further, reading gritty novels like ‘A Fine Balance’ or ‘The Kite Runner’ yields deep insights into the human nature, and promotes compassion. Compassion is best expressed by serving others, in some way. Even making a cup of tea for a family member or giving a hand to someone overburdened with chores, purifies the soul and cements emotional bonds. We rarely forget someone who has lovingly cooked and fed us, for instance. ‘Seva’ is mandatory for spiritual growth.
Appreciate beauty: Is there a soul who would not feel uplifted after listening to any evocative melody like ‘Ae mere watan ke logon’ or ‘The hills are alive with the sound of music’? Marking out some time daily to enjoy the beautiful things of this world – natural or human-made, is an unfailing strategy to spiritual solvency. Strolling in the garden, noting different formations of leaves or shades of green in the landscape or even just sky-gazing, can raise spirits as much as savouring a good painting, a good film, or stirring music.
Perhaps nothing elevates the human soul like music, the reason why music has always been a part of any important ceremony, spiritual exercise, or celebrations. Singing, playing an instrument or even listening to good music everyday goes a long way in making one a ‘spiritual crorepati’. Appreciation of the good in life invites good fortune.
Challenge oneself: Effecting even a small change in our attitude, behaviour or habits is way more difficult than advising others to change. However, the truth is when we change, our environment reflects it. By consciously addressing and overcoming our negative traits or habits (E.g.: complaining often or waking up very late), we gain strength. Through consistent self-improvement, we develop spiritual muscle.
Build faith: Where there is perfect faith, there is no fear, only peace. But faith too has to be nurtured through some form of daily prayers, like chanting or meditation – a time when you confront yourself, your deepest desires, and anxieties and seek to draw out your latent wisdom to resolve these. And since, something more than human action dictates their result, it’s best to summon up at least a working faith in the universe, in its meaningfulness. Strong faith in some divine presence, deity or a mystic law or just the universe, comes to our aid beautifully in crisis, buoying us up with hope and spurring us on. Such an asset is surely worth striving to build.
Bottom line: A spiritually rich person will be calm in a crisis and even grow beautifully in it. Let’s accumulate spiritual along with material wealth.