People are no longer reluctant to experiment with new beliefs in their search for quick-fix spiritual solutions.
Spirituality has long been associated with words like patience and perseverance. But of late it’s becoming synonymous with faith-hopping, as an increasingly high number of people seeking spiritual bliss are rushing into one faith after another.
While many spiritually-inclined city-slickers attribute this to the need for instant gratification, psychologists say that it’s the high stress levels that’s making people seek alternative solutions to restore the lost harmony of the body and mind. Whether it’s actually stress that’s driving people to spirituality or spiritualism being the in-thing these days, there’s no denying that people of almost all ages and walks of life are ready to explore the available alternatives. From Buddhism to Kabbalah and from Scientology to Bahai… Hollywood biggies like Tom Cruise, Madonna, Steven Seagal and Richard Gere are not the only ones on a spiritual-hopping spree. Spiritual surfing is definitely on an upswing here too, say spiritual teachers. But the amazing part about this trend, they say, is that there is no fanatical approach towards any one faith. Instead, followers choose it for health reasons.
Ami Patel, an Art of Living instructor, says that it’s a good sign to know that people are questioning, rather than just following a faith blindly. “It’s important to find something that helps you restore the spiritual balance. Today, people are seeking answers and giving the solutions dished out by the spiritual teachers much thought before accepting them. So, while people may not believe in a certain faith at a moment, when they do come across a faith at some point that’s providing them their answers, they will accept it with full trust,” she explains.
Take, for instance, the case of TV actress Sweta Keswani. While going through a very depressing phase in her life, Sweta sought answers and help in spiritualism. “I tried several faiths and practices, but it was in Buddhism that I found solace. My spiritual hopping makes me appreciate what I have today even more. Along the way, I imbibed several teachings from different spiritual gurus too,” says the actress, who’s been following Buddhism for the past five years.
Like Sweta, actress Tisca Chopra too admits to have found solace in Buddhism, while television actor Bunty Grewal turned to scientology.
According to renowned lawyer Vibhav Krishna, who has even penned several books on spirituality, faith-hopping is a sign of progressive thinking, where seekers are ready to try and experiment with different faiths. However, he says that there’s an issue in the lack of patience among new followers, to know about the faith in depth and understand it’s essence completely. “People today want instant gratification, very much like the coffee vending machines they are used to in their offices. But spirituality is nothing like that. It cannot be instant, since the need here is not a physical one, but that of your intellect and soul,” he reasons. “Changing faiths as part of evolution is fine, but otherwise it’s also reflective of an emotionally unstable psyche,” he adds.
Amrit Sadhana, an Osho follower for over two decades, says, “Spirituality is multi-dimensional and each teacher will have something different to offer. Even though most of them may ultimately lead to the same goal, each one has a different approach. Spiritual nourishment is an important need of the intellect, so it’s better to learn by trial and error method than follow beliefs that don’t give you the peace that you are seeking.”
Faiths: the facts
Kabbalah: Is a discipline and school of thought concerned with the mystical aspect of Rabbinic Judaism, based on a set of teachings that exist outside the traditional Jewish scriptures.
Scientology: Is a body of beliefs and related practices created by writer L. Ron Hubbard, who incorporated the Church of Scientology. It teaches that people are immortal spiritual beings, who have forgotten their true nature.
Osho: The Osho cult refers to the followers of the teachings of their late Guru, Rajneesh Osho. He spoke on all major spiritual traditions and his thought was rooted in Hindu advaita, which considers all reality as being of a single divine essence.
Bahai: Founded by Bahá’u’lláh in the mid-nineteenth century — the essential message is that of unity, of one God and one human race.
Art of Living: An educational and humanitarian NGO founded by Sri Sri Ravi Shankar. AOL volunteers are guided by Sri Sri’s philosophy of peace. It offers stress-elimination programs, which include breathing techniques, meditation and yoga.
The Brahma Kumaris: Are a worldwide family of individuals committed to spiritual growth. They teach practical methods of meditation that help individuals understand their inner strengths and values.