The Art of Life|Aug 13, 2005 11:38 AM| by:

My Friend

I’ve never partied on New Year’s Eve. I pray every morning and each night before I go to sleep. Every January 1, I wake up at four in the morning to meditate as the sun rises into the new year. I spend Christmas break with people more than four times my age.

I’m pretty normal.

I live in Chicago. I studied at an American high school in the Middle East. I want to be a journalist. I sometimes go to clubs on the weekends. I chat online for hours. I’ve had alcohol.

I’m pretty normal.

I’m not a fan of religion. I believe in God more than anything else.

I may sound like a bag of contradictions, but I’m actually quite simple. I’m a twenty-first century “youngster” who believes in spirituality.

It’s possible.

I am too inexperienced to define and explain the pure and total form of spiritualism. But I can relate how it is a part of my otherwise ordinary life.

I believe in God. A Divine Force exists that holds my hand and sometimes lets me fall. I believe that if this world itself consists of so many miracles, why is a life beyond ours so incomprehensible?

I am not a strict follower of religious rules and sometimes I don’t pray. But I have made God my friend and spirituality His playground.

And so, in my life, every time I do something with compassion, with love, with extra effort, I feel I have played in God’s playground. I have done something spiritual.

I am not afraid that people will judge and laugh at my naïve, easy definition of something that has taken others years and years to comprehend. At this stage in my life, I take the pieces that I understand and fit them into my puzzle. And I keep in mind there are more pieces to find to finish it.

I am not concerned with those that are way past me on the road to spirituality. My words are for those that haven’t yet stepped onto it.

Spiritualism is not something beyond your comprehension. It is not something “backwards” or something “only old people do.” It’s not what foreigners in India, in baggy clothes with garlands around their necks, practice on mountaintops. My generation is quick to label things.

Spiritualism is not a religion. It is a way of life. It’s not on a higher plane, out of your reach. It is within you. It is felt.

Its essence: being able to concentrate, to feel in your heart, know in your mind, that there is depth in your being. To feel a presence, within you and around you, that gives you a purpose, and the strength to achieve it. To live an ordinary life. But to know that every life has a deeper meaning.

It sounds intense. But for myself, I have made it quite simple. This is what it means to me:

Spirituality means honesty. Being true to yourself and those around you.
It also means knowing this isn’t always what you’ll do.

Spirituality means having faith in life.
Despite its horrors.

Spirituality means love. To be selfless.
Even to those who are selfish.

Spirituality means to smile. To open your mind and spirit. To enjoy a cool breeze, the smell of home-cooked food, the softness of a pillow.
It also means, sometimes you have to shed tears.

Spirituality means compassion. Sacrificing some of your life so others can breathe easier. It means accepting that you will not always be thanked.

Spirituality is simple. Complicate it and you will lose it.

Here is a piece of my personal spiritual puzzle:

I wake up in a dorm room barely big enough to fit four people.
I have a mini mandir (temple) on my shelf.

I rush to get ready, with no more than five minutes to get to class in the snow.
I light an agarbathi before I leave.

I pick up the newspaper: Bombings in Israel have killed 12 soldiers.
I question the world and think of better times.

I cross the road and almost get hit by a car.
I quickly thank Someone for watching over me.

I sit in lecture; it’s boring.
I find one thing interesting and convince myself that’s why I should listen.

I eat lunch in the cafeteria and wish I could eat my mum’s food.
I tell myself if I always had it, I wouldn’t appreciate it.

I start studying for an exam and worry how I’ll do on the test because I do not understand the material.
I remember education is not about the grades.

My friend asks me to watch TV with her.
I leave my homework and go; sometimes you just have to have fun.

It’s Friday night and we’re all at a party. My purse has a blessing packet and flowers from the Mother’s room in it. I feel safe.

I come home in time to sleep. I lie in silence and reflect for a while.
Peace is needed even in a not-so-hectic life.

My eyes close. I pray that everyone stays smiling.
And thank Someone for the blanket that’s keeping me warm.

I’m just an average college student. But I have let spirituality become my solace. And my closest Friend.

Uttama Patel

(Uttama Patel is a student of Journalism in USA.)

  • http://Website Prasad

    I feel that you have done excellent work by writing down your thoughts about Spiritualism -- I feel that you have reflected the teachings of Sri Aurobindo that “All life is yoga”. I hope that your article will inspire many more youngsters like me.

    I would like to add some of my ideas here… Spiritualism is not complicated as many believe, it is very simple in principle. Its not that we have to spend hours in sitting and thinking of god -- it means to work, and explore god through our work.
    It means to work for the divine without any selfish motives. It means to make efforts to understand the Universe with the sole aim of understanding the divine and his creation. It means to work for a better world, a world ruled by divine principles. To lead a life with purpose, a sole purpose to serve the divine and his creations. To lead a life without being controlled by ego, and not be influenced by material power and financial success.