Spiritual Disability is our biggest challenge

If I were to ask you to name a well-known endeavor where disability is a requirement, what would your reply be?  The first thing that jumps to mind is probably Paralympics.  If I were to ask you to name an endeavor where Spiritual Disability is an asset, you might scratch your head about the question itself and potential answers as well.  That is OK; not many contemplate on Spiritual Disability and its ravaging effects on humanity.

That is not a surprise, because Spiritual Disability is not on the radar of any institution – government agencies, research organizations specializing in religious matters, religious institutions, humanitarian institutions, activist movements, educational institutions, etc.  There is no standard way to measure and quantify Spiritual Disability; there is no Spiritual Disability Index to compare groups, nations or civilizations by; no thresholds have been proposed; no formal definition of Spiritual Disability agreed upon by scholars exists.

Only places of worship and prayer, centers of spiritual study and spiritual introspection engage in the discourse of spirituality.  But their focus is on the understanding of what spirituality is, how to practice it, how to propagate it.  It is only by inference – when spirituality is absent or diminished in an individual or in a group, that Spiritual Disability’s existence becomes evident.

Yet, Spiritual Disability is so widespread across the globe that it is not at all difficult to spot it and see its terrible effects on those affected.  It is not difficult to observe its manifestation: greed, envy, lying, lust, cheating, stealing, harming/destruction, hatred, violence, corruption, disrespect.

Understanding the underlying causes of Spiritual Disability, from the Hindu perspective, comes from Hindu scriptures, detailed as follows.  Human nature is made up of three essential qualities (or properties): saatvik which stands for purity and all that is good; raajasik which results in majesty, power, and courage; taamasik which equates to dark qualities.  Each individual’s thoughts, behavior, conduct and actions are governed by the composition and proportion of these three qualities.

Taamasik or dark qualities are easily acquired since they seem to bring some kind of perverse pleasure or satisfaction to those afflicted.  They are also very difficult to control or suppress.

Spiritual Disability seems to be a requirement for material success in major human endeavors, such as the global financial arena, for heading corporations that plunder Nature and mistreat human beings for great profits, for leading pharmaceutical companies that put avaricious profits ahead of peoples’ lives.  Heads of state in many countries seem to have developed severe Spiritual Disability – these are despots who live lavish, extravagant lifestyles, while their subjects live in deplorable poverty deprived of basic human necessities and basic human dignity.

What is the remedy for Spiritual Disability?  A lifetime of learning, starting at a young age.  Plus, a strong support system throughout one’s life to sustain high level of saatvik qualities, and to supress taamasik or dark qualities.

Faith is most important in keeping focus – in the midst of strong pulls from many directions towards “darkness”, in overcoming many obstacles, in getting past many disappointments/falls, and in working through feeling of hopelessness from time to time.

At the group level, at the institutional level, at the national level, and at the global level, what is needed to keep spiritual disability affliction under control is a strong deterrent system, strong justice system, strong regulatory system, all supported by rock solid spiritual institutions, and guided unflinchingly by inspirational, unwavering, true spiritual leaders.

Humanity faces many huge challenges today: climate change, poverty, environmental pollution, species extinctions, extreme economic disparities, human rights.

Spiritual Disability needs to be at the top of this list.

Suresh BasrurSuresh Basrur practises the Hindu faith, participates in inter-faith activities in Victoria, and speaks to audiences about Hindu religion, philosophy and practices.

You can read more articles from our interfaith blog, Spiritually Speaking, HERE

* This article was published in the print edition of the TImes Colonist on Saturday, December 10 2016

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