In the past few weeks, I have been getting multiple comments for my posts about Landmark forum. Here is the summary of those comments:
- The landmark forum provides spiritual dimension to an individual. It helps the attendees to lead a peaceful life with full of self-expression. Why are you commenting on it?
- Today’s world is filled with misery, where people are selling anything and everything. If we can tolerate a phone-call from a credit card salesperson, why not a spiritual/self development course like Landmark forum, Art-of-living etc?
I think the commentors didn’t completely understand the point I was trying to convey. It is not my intention to criticize these organizations or courses and say they are of no use. My take is to learn, understand and internalize them and practice in real life. Also understand that ‘transformation’ is a journey, rather than an instant capsule to fix every other problem in life. Many problems in life are caused when individuals are not equipped with proper thought process to handle them. No doubt! These courses provide excellent tools but what is the use if an individual it not using them, but end up preaching it by becoming a salesperson? Here are the two classic examples I have recently come across.
Case 1: An ISKCON devotee
Recently I met a fresher, who just got into the IT industry after finishing his post graduation. Upon talking with him I learned that he is a devotee of ISKCON. We discussed many things about purpose of life, origin of birth and death, religion, philosophy, spirituality, spiritual practices, yoga and Indian way of living. We exchanged wonderful thoughts for close to two hours before the discussion took a different turn. This 23 year old all of a sudden started saying ‘Krishna is the ultimate god and nothing is more superior to him’. He went on criticizing other Yogic methods and spiritual gurus by saying they have not come in a proper generation (in his words — ‘guru parampara’) and don’t have rights to teach spiritual practices to anyone. Followed by that, he started pitching about ISKCON and compelling me to come for weekly meetings etc.
Case 2: An Art of living devotee
In another occasion, I met colleague of mine in one of the company meetings. Some time back I got introduced to him in one of the art-of-living classes. He immediately started of saying ‘so-and-so’ new course is happening, which can transform my life completely. In spite of me not showing interest, he went on saying the glory of the course, how good the teacher is, how quickly one can bring change in his life etc.
This is exactly what I mean by salesman mentality. First of all I don’t see how an individual organization is the superior than others. As mentioned in my previous post, I respect them for the reasons they are created. That doesn’t mean that every other thing in the world is shit. Second, I am not sure how the so called ‘transformation’ can happen in few days or hours of attending a course, satsang or a bhajans. Every other spiritual method, ideology, socio-political movement has taken years to bring in changes.
Gandhi might have got his ‘call’ when he was thrown out of the train in Pietermaritzburg, but it took 22 years of belief, hard work, commitment, visionary leadership to make the civil rights movement in South Africa as a success. He never told his ideology is the best and started selling/forcing on others. Paramahamsa Yogananda, one of the great spiritual gurus took 17 years to attain transformation in his spiritual journey by meeting his guru Swami Sri Yukteswar Giri. It took 35 years for Varghese Kurien to envision, think and build ‘Amul — the taste of India’. It took years for these great people to transform themselves and people around them.
According to me transformation is a journey when an individual embarks with a great vision. It is neither one-minute-magic nor selling an ideology. It is about understanding self, becoming a magnet and making others becoming followers. It is always good to take up a self-development course (like Landmark) or getting associated with an organization (Art-of-living, ISKCON etc…) but don’t make is as a sales pitch or think only their ideology/organization is the best in the world.