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Archive for November, 2017

Why Write on Spirituality

Why would an action thriller writer write a spiritual book

From as far back as I can remember (reading Amar Chitra Kathas as a kid) I wondered about God and his purpose. There was an innate curiosity about religion. My mother was a follower of Guru Nanak. Daily she would reverently read the Granth Sahib which was in the original Gurmukhi script. Besides the Jap Ji Sahib, which I can recite some pauris by heart,  there were other Hindu rituals that I followed. I didn’t question, but deep within, I was confused about what God expected of me and my life. After marriage, the religious ritualistic worship continued. I followed the elders without questioning them, or when I ventured to ask,  I was told  that they had been following the same rituals for generations. It was the path to follow. I did follow for decades, but, I must admit, not with sincerity.

When the opportunity came about to write about the great humanitarian, Dada Vaswani, I was totally enamored. From my limited knowledge about him, I learnt that he did not preach a particular path, but said that we must find our own spiritual path through our own understanding of the self. I loved the concept, and I wanted to learn more. I had to write about this great man of science who gave up everything to become a disciple and a lover of the Divine. And, at the same time I hoped to discover the true meaning of God.

A different genre

It was a challenge to switch from fiction to nonfiction. When I started on the research I said to myself, ‘what was I even thinking ?’ how could I do this, especially since Dada Vaswani is such a revered saint, evolved soul, and me being such a novice in matters of spirituality. How could I, a non-follower be able to write this?

So I spent a few sleepless nights thinking, and thinking. Worrying restlessly.

Then I realised that the best approach to structure the book would be to convert my doubts and make it the very strength of the book, my perspectives would be different, one of an unenlightened person.

There are many who are unaware about Dada Vaswani and his great work. My process of discovering, as I wrote this book, meant that I could be a companion to my reader, as we both learn about his life journey together. So I dove into writing the first draft.

Panic mode

In the midst of writing, suddenly I froze – I was overwhelmed by the sheer volume of information. I was bogged down by the long list of Dada’s achievements, selfless deeds, talks, recognition, awards, and so on. There was so much Dada Vaswani had achieved that I wasn’t sure how to cover all his meaningful moments without ending up like a shopping list of dry facts.

There was a key element missing in my book. So I took time to ponder and reflect.

From my first few drafts, I felt dissatisfied and insincere and unsure…I turned to Dada’s closest devotees for help. With their guidance I realised what was missing: amidst Dada’s many external achievements, I neglected to show his deeper traits, the true persona of Dada Vaswani –  the personality of the man who is innately humble, compassionate and accepting of all pain and suffering (which I have mentioned in the book). He is extremely in tune with the feelings of others, and a deep thinker and a wise soul. And more than that, a disciple to his Guru (His uncle Sadhu Vaswani) and a lover of the Divine.

I am grateful that I did this. During my eighteen month journey in writing and rewriting this book, I renewed my faith. My doubts are somewhat cleared up. In the process, I discovered that a simple prayer, a simple positive thought, a simple attitude of love is all that one needs to do to connect, it’s all a part of being spiritual. In addition, doing anything: work, pray, or love – with sincerity – I repeat sincerity from within – is what matters the most.  It’s a way to connect with a Higher Power. I believe it to be true.

My Reflections 

I realise that being spiritual is not about being a certain type, it’s not a whim or a passing fad. It’s not about fitting in or rebelling. To be spiritual is to accept, to learn, to develop and adapt to circumstances and life situations. Daily living involves multiple thoughts, decisions, and actions. And in daily life, it becomes necessary to constantly monitor those thoughts, lest they evoke negative feelings.

Being spiritual involves multiple aspects of our being which tests our self-discipline, tests our sincerity, our self-honesty. It is a way to get real, to deepen, and reconnect to our true selves. We live a superficial existence, we follow norms, we make decisions that may not always be right for us. We need to find clarity. And clarity can come in silence. Sitting quietly and observing our thoughts is enough to make us realise what’s happening within, and what needs to be changed.

To bring a grounding within, is to realise that what really matters is discovering our own reality. In that process, there’s no wrong or right, no judgement, no faults or criticisms. Being honest with oneself, faults and all, is a place to start.

I have discovered that how you feel inside is what matters more than the image projected. And being grateful is a way to understand, that being perfect is not the primary importance. It is being happy in relationships, in daily routine, and accepting, that’s what makes life meaningful, and yes, in helping others in need. These aspects also lead to a subtle way of understanding oneself.

I cannot live outside of my mind, sometimes I wish I could. But we live within ourselves forever, with all the past experiences, the present moments and future plans. We carry regrets and remorse, pains and pleasures. All of those emotions can weaken, or they can make us wiser. We have to understand this and have the strength to transform, discipline and evolve ourselves. Being spiritual is empowering.

Dada Vaswani: A Life in Spirituality

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