Should new spirituality be de-linked from hypocrisy?

Should new spirituality be de-linked from hypocrisy?


However, the antagonism sex shares with religion has never been more apparent than at present when covert sexcapades by some religious characters have been exposed by the audacious media.

Two revelations in recent weeks, one closer home at a Bidadi ashram involving a self-styled godman and another halfway across the world in Ireland, Germany ,Canada and other places involving the Church are a testimony to the fact that religion and sex make for an explosive mixture.

There are vast differences between these two revelations though, that have hogged the media limelight. They are different in content, intent and also the very nature of revelations. So much so that any comparison between them and any bracketing them together should be necessarily confined to their genesis only.

The former is by an individual claiming himself to be an enlightened soul but however, finding himself unable to overcome the unavoidable gratifications of life, succumbing to temptations. The latter is by various priests and the clergy who have to undergo mandatory celibacy and find that they cannot fathom the pulls of desire and hence turn paedophiles or indulge in immoral behaviour. However, the deviance in both cases is due to a preponderance of life forces over the perceived path to an afterlife.

Reaction formation
The suppression of sexual instinct, for social, moral and religious reasons, has played the greatest havoc on our socio-psychological well being and has engendered delinquent behaviour and crimes throughout history. It has given rise to denial and hypocrisy amongst those who are supposedly above the weakness of desire.
A psychological concept called ‘reaction formation’ is quite useful to describe our collective response to the deviant behaviour which is at once huge and strong. Reaction formation is a defence mechanism which operates when we really want to savour something but get into the denial mode.

Though we relish speaking about the subject, we hide it in the garb of a secret and this all the more heightens the importance we attach to it. More or less this is the factor that is at play in such episodes like Nithyananda’s where there is a huge hullabaloo and the shrill clanging of the moral cymbals against an act that would otherwise be viewed as commonplace if it were not tied to religion.
One of the greatest pitfalls of dissemination of religion has been its undue stress on celibacy and abstinence which is for life in most religions. Though religions per se do not prescribe it, it has come along as a moral fibre in the yarn of religious preaching and the laity has been led to believe that it is the essence of religion and the key to spiritual attainment.

This became a code of conduct aimed at purity and curbing overindulgence and took on added colour and significance and contributed to our warped perceptions about sexual life and resulted in its ultimate denial. The result of all these developments has been a masked society where an individual has to struggle for self assertion and personal freedom.

We are at a stage where the society is in a great churning and in the throes of a rapid transformation. While moving from one set of beliefs and convictions to another, there is a belief overlap characterised by hypocrisy. This stage generally wants to move over to the next one but cannot unshackle itself from the old mores so easily.

Vehement debates, intellectual and logical ferment characterise this stage and a throwback to the old order is seen as a safeguard against the unknown vagaries of the new order. From being deeply conservative to moving to a near permissive society we are at this stage of ferment and it would be sometime before we get a firm foothold in the new order.

In this context it is time spirituality too should come of age. We are living in a society where an individual is groping for identity and struggling against an onslaught of utilitarianism and a crumbling moral fortress. Stress levels have increased to an all time high driving even the die-hard sceptics to embrace spirituality.
In this context can the old mould of spirituality, couched in a shell of abstinence, denial of life and a thrust on afterlife be perpetuated? Probably there is need for the present spiritual preaching to de-link itself from one’s personal instincts and replace the afterlife promises with the mundane advantages like a better and stress free living.

It is also time a preacher is not considered as something supernatural or enlightened, and that would at least lessen the disillusionment when one finds that he too after all is human.

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