Window Shopping?

Stephen Covey, Dale Carnegie, Eckhart Tolle, Depak Chopra, Anthony Robbins… the list of self development gurus of the age is endless. These insightful thinkers have shaped today’s world of organizations and relationships, offering a wholesome alternative to the mechanistic trends of consumerism. Recently, while reading some self-help literature, the perspectives stressing positivity and selflessness definitely resonated with me, bearing striking resemblance to eastern worldviews. It’s clear in my mind that different philosophers and teachers all share common core principles of spirituality regardless of civilization or culture.

One doubt, however, did come to mind. I wonder whether such approaches to life are simply an adjustment of the mind. While offering insights which lead to a progressive, peaceful and happy life, I am unsure as to how much such self-development books actually equip and train one to genuinely imbibe this positive approach. Can a deep sense of selflessness and kindness towards the universe manifest on the level of the intellect? Can we force ourselves to forgive others? Can we make a determination to remain equipoised in the midst of the most provoking situations? Maybe such changes in our instinctive emotional response come from a deeper transformation of consciousness. The 64 million dollar question is how we achieve such a change. After all, we don’t want to be window shoppers who are captivated by the products, but have no power to purchase them.

Ancient wisdom literatures describe the product and simultaneously offer the paycheck. While describing the character, qualities and persona of a perfect spiritualist, books like the Bhagavad-gita also equip one with the spiritual tools and technology to achieve such an elevated conscious state. It offers information, as well as transformation. While we may doubt that ancient practices of meditation and yoga can actually bring about tangible changes in ones approach to life, the practical experience of dedicated spiritualists indicate something quite different. Since the calculated procedure outlined by great teachers awakens the spontaneous purity within, the Bhagavad-gita proposes that we need not learn something new, but rather invoke what is already within.

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