In the past decades, and definitely since the start of the new millennium, the number of spiritual gurus seemed to have increased tremendously. Now, first and foremost, spirituality should not be interpreted as religion here, so I’m not referring to congregational ministers and pastors, but rather to individuals who teach us outside of the religious atmosphere about the real essence of life; about understanding the interconnectedness of all beings, and about keeping our priorities in order by first doing well, and then reaping the benefits that our good deeds may bring.
Talking about spirituality has almost elevated into a new fashion lately. Although different people call it different things, they basically all refer to the increasing need for higher contentment in all areas of existence, and for us, human beings, particularly in those environments where we spend large parts of our lives, such as home and work.
The reason for people to seek greater gratification and for the earlier mentioned gurus to respond to that has also been explained before by many. Some of these reasons are: 1) aging baby boomers who are now searching for more meaning in their lives; 2) mass exposure to other cultures and ways of living, through the increased access that the Internet has granted us; and 3) societal pressure and the consequential fact that work has now emerged into such an important part of our lives that other types of gatherings have been placed on the backburner.
There are many other reasons than the three mentioned above, but the point may be clear by now: It is as if a huge collision of multiple factors has caused this perceptional eruption. And in and of its own it’s a great thing, of course. It is essential to reconnect with ourselves; it is essential to realize that we’re in this world together and that we should therefore all make the best of it; it is essential to understand that there’s more to life than a fat paycheck, a couple of expensive cars, and a mansion on the hills. But the question remains: how many people really go beyond lip service?
See, the funny thing about this whole spirituality hype is that many of our new age gurus will tell you just that: “Don’t just pay lip service”, is what they’ll say. “Don’t just say the right things. Act upon them!”
Yet, you could ask yourself how many of them are actually living the spiritual life that they describe in their stories, speeches and books.
· How many people in our society will really evaluate their contentment at work, and subsequently lay enough trust in providence, in order to achieve a life of greater gratification?
· How many of us would quit our jobs if we realized that we were only there for the money, and actually start working toward achieving our real purpose in life?
· How many of us really even take the time to wonder about that purpose?
· How many business executives who will tell you how empathetic and authentic they are, are really that way?
· How many people will exchange their hectic upper-middle class lifestyle for a serene lower-middle class one if that’s what will bring them real peace of mind?
· How many people dare to turn inward and face the music in order to dance to the tune that emerges from their souls?
I think not many. And I don’t think I’m wrong. Perhaps we’re still in too early a stage to actually implement the changes we talk about. Perhaps we’ve been exposed to- and ingrained with the capitalistic mindset for far too long to just step away from it and really start practicing a more socially oriented life style. And perhaps, if these gurus talk long and hard enough, their offspring and the offspring of those who listen to them will actually start walking the spiritual talk.
Oh yes, it is great when you are well off, but you’re better off when you are great. And greatness lies not in material abundance but in spiritual contentment. When you dare to question your purpose and the meaning you want to give to your life, and then start working toward it while at the same time deviating from all those factors that withhold you from it that’s when you are well on your way to greatness. You may still die an unsung hero, but who cares about societal criteria by then? For real greatness is not expressed in external grandeur, but in internal gratification. It just takes courage to get there.
About the Author:
Joan Marques is a professor of Business and Management at Woodbury University, and co-founder of the Business Renaissance Institute. Visit www.bri-usa.com and www.joanmarques.com.