By Maulana Wahiduddin Khan
28 April 2016
There was once a man who left his home and all his possessions and went off into the jungle to live all alone in close proximity to the trees, flowers and the animals. His purpose was to attain to spirituality in communion with nature. He may have reached his goal, but his spirituality was only a matter of personal solace and, as such, was limited in its reach. It was not ‘applied’ spirituality, that is, spirituality through which others gained from one’s personal spiritual experience.
Practically, there is a vast difference between the spiritual person who lives within society and shares his spiritual experience with his fellow beings, and one who lives in solitude.
Spirituality fosters development of all kinds of constructive qualities and, in so doing, makes one a complete, person. An individual endowed with such qualities is one who is wanted and needed by society and the nation. He will be wasting his spiritual treasure if he leaves society and goes off to the jungle to live alone in peace and tranquillity. In fact, the spiritual person is a most desirable individual when it comes to establishing a better society, which is after all a collection of better persons. And, it is true spirituality that turns one into a better person.
To create a civilized society and keep it running on course, we need professionally trained people at the helm of affairs. Without such trained people, it is impossible to have a properly structured society. As such, the guidance the spiritual person can give is of a superior nature and he is, therefore, qualified to steer the engine of social existence along the right lines.
It is such spirituality that we have called ‘applied’ spirituality. In the basic sense, spirituality is a personal asset, but in its expanded sense, it has many applications. And where spirituality is an individualized matter, applied spirituality is a universalized form of it.
It is not only others who benefit from applied spirituality. The spiritual person himself also benefits. When such a person devotes himself to sharing his spiritual training with others, he adds a whole new dimension to his own spirituality. Experience can be gained only within society. Moreover, experience adds wisdom to one’s spirituality. Without wisdom, spirituality is incomplete. Spirituality plus wisdom gives rise to the emergence of a superior state of being.
Spirituality, moreover, being an inner quality, has to be applied if its external actualization is to take place. Applied spirituality means living in society as a spiritual giver. One who has the capacity to apply his spirituality is the giver of such assistance and this will be good for intellectual health.
If you discover the value of well-wishing, and decide to live as a well-wisher for all humankind, then you are one who engages in applied spirituality. Likewise, if you have a bad experience with your neighbours, but avoid treating this as a departure from normalcy and face those neighbours with a smile, then that too is an example of applied spirituality. Spirituality comprises a set of values. And, applied spirituality means practising these values in conjunction with your fellow beings in society.
Applied spirituality is ostensibly a matter of giving. But, every instance of giving is paralleled by an instance of receiving. The giver is not simply a giver. The giver is also the receiver of many things – appreciation, good-will, better relations and peace.
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