Russell Brand popped into our countryside temple last week. We strolled around the gardens, had a bite to eat and finished off with half-an-hour of chanting in the main shrine. According to sources, Russell had at one point seriously considered the idea of monasticism! We didn’t discuss that, but he did liberally share his latest spiritual and philosophical insights. Always pushing the boundaries of political correctness, his newest comedy sketch entitled “the messiah complex” examines the influence and teachings of iconic personalities in history. The material, which discusses Malcolm X, Mahatma Gandhi, Che Guevara and Jesus, has attracted opposition from certain corners, to the point where shows have had to be cancelled due to security risk.
I’m not sure what the message is, but a messiah complex occurs when an individual holds a strong belief that they are, or are destined to become, an influential savior of the world. Often times, the same people display another side; a human side which is subject to the same weaknesses and frailties as everyone else. Followers are discouraged, creating a hesitation to again invest their faith in human beings. It begs the question: do transcendental saintly souls really exist? Is it simply human nature to constantly search for embodiments of perfection? Wouldn’t it be more progressive to focus on ourselves instead of looking to others?
The Bhagavad-gita explains that saints do indeed exist, but that such persons cannot be stereotypically identified. Saints may be followed by many people and famed in spiritual circles, or maybe not. They may be erudite, scholarly and philosophically astute, or maybe not. Saints may be renounced, austere and free from worldly responsibility, or maybe not. The one essential quality of the truly saintly person is their enthusiastic, dedicated and unwavering conviction to selflessly serve. They exist to give happiness to others. It is the association of these great souls that we should seek, for their spiritual prowess can overflow onto us, and their good wishes can attract divine attention. Just as many lenses within a telescope bring an object within sight, similarly, the more saintly people we can please the closer our cherished goal will be.