Spiritual Doesn’t Equal Good!
“Being Spiritual is nothing… Being a good person is a big deal.” – Vikram Ghandi. Last week, I attended a screening of “Kumaré” that had a Q&A after hosted by Tara Stiles, with the director, Vikram Ghandi. Ever since I heard him say the above quote, it really got me thinking. I totally agree. Anyone can “be spiritual”: wear spiritual garb, say spiritual things, show up to religion services or yoga classes. Being a good person is a whole other thing. Spiritual does not always equal good.
What does it mean to be a good person? To me, at this point in my life, it means coming from a place “how can I help”, rather than “how can I make myself happy”. Not that one can’t exist without the other, but always approaching things with a “how can I help” mentality, which thankfully was introduced to me by Tara Stiles, has really changed my perspective.
It’s not always easy: many of us are ingrained with the “fight or flight” response for when something doesn’t go our way; that is a tough habit to break. I’m not perfect. No one is. I still get irritated and have not-super-nice thoughts when someone body-checks me in the subway or makes a lewd comment, but I always try on those occasions to take a few deep breaths and start over, thinking, “how can I help”. Just repeating that phrase in my head and thinking it over, generally that puts me back on track. In some situations, “how can I help” means smiling at the people I am walking by, as it is almost impossible to see someone smiling and not smile yourself.
When I first started practicing yoga, I often was preached to about the yamas and niyamas: thought by some to be the first two of the “eight limbed path of yoga”. Whether or not they have anything to do with your yoga, they were interesting to me simply because they instruct one in how to be a good person: don’t harm others or yourself, don’t lie, don’t steal, be content with where you are, etc, etc. Sounds like common sense, right? Not for everyone: for some, lying comes more naturally than telling the truth, and for others, harming themselves for what they believe to be the benefit of those they love happens on a daily basis.
We all know how to be a good person, somewhere, maybe deep down and buried underneath layers of life, but often it is good to hear it again and get a little reminder. This all goes back to the movie, “Kumaré”. What Vikram Ghandi set out to do was to show everyone that you are your own best guru. You don’t actually need anyone else telling you what to do or how to be a good person. You have all of the tools to do that inside of you right now, you just have to want to find and use them. If you want to look to someone to guide you, look in the mirror. Better yet, close your eyes and look inside.
Advice is great! I love getting advice from those I respect and admire. But when it comes down to making decisions, and making choices to help and “be a good person”, the only one who can do that for you is you. What do you think? What does being a good person mean to you? Do you have and tried and true ways of putting yourself back on track when you notice that you are a bit off? I’d love to know!