The Dalai Lama once de­scribed the essence of spir­i­tu­al­ity in one word — kind­ness.

In the cy­ber­age of ma­te­ri­al­ism and speed, the con­cept of spir­i­tu­al­ity is dis­missed as ir­rel­e­vant, ob­so­lete, and ar­chaic.

We live in the brave new world that Al­dous Hux­ley wrote about decades ago. Sci­en­tists are pre­oc­cu­pied with ge­netic en­gi­neer­ing — cloning, im­prov­ing the hu­man race through ma­nip­u­la­tion of the chro­mo­somes, stem cell, gene ther­a­pies, and DNA.

Most peo­ple are ob­sessed with power, progress, suc­cess, wealth, fame (or no­to­ri­ety). Ma­te­rial and com­mer­cial con­cerns such a glob­al­iza­tion, be­ing “num­ber one” and win­ning wars take prece­dence over what have al­ways been the es­sen­tial — the in­trin­sic, ethe­real, nat­u­ral and spir­i­tual.

Ma­te­rial might, prow­ess, brute strength ver­sus wis­dom, grace and good­ness.

In child­hood and ado­les­cence, in the era of gen­til­ity, we learned our prayers and im­por­tant re­li­gious rites of pas­sage. There were many lessons at home and in school. It seemed so struc­tured and strict at that time. But there were rea­sons (that we could not grasp) for the dis­ci­pline and rigid rules. We could not ques­tion our par­ent and su­pe­ri­ors. We had to obey.

The foun­da­tion was cast for a young adult to face the world and tackle its myr­iad chal­lenges — phys­i­cal, men­tal, emo­tional, and spir­i­tual.

With the pass­ing years, the rigid­ity of that foun­da­tion wa­vers or erodes. Young adults be­gin to de­velop their in­di­vid­ual ideas. The early im­pres­sions and ide­al­ism al­ter in the con­text of the real world. It is one filled with pres­sure, anger, greed and angst.

Mat­ters of tra­di­tion, prin­ci­ples, faith, doc­trine, and rit­u­als re­cede to the back­ground. Fo­cus shifts to a dif­fer­ent wave­length, to a more prag­matic sen­si­bil­ity.

Many peo­ple flow with the tide and choose the path of least re­sis­tance. They go through the mo­tions of ob­serv­ing and prac­tic­ing rites and rit­u­als for con­ve­nience and con­ven­tion. It is driven by a de­sire to be­long, to fit it or to con­firm.

Free spirits and lib­eral thinkers take the more dif­fi­cult path. To defy con­ven­tion, they do their own thing, in their own time. The flout con­ven­tion and com­mon be­liefs.

The brave ones de­nounce the pre­tense of so­ci­ety and the hypocrisy of the right­eous, judg­men­tal do-good­ers. There are too many prayer-per­fect, pseudo-Pharisees.

MARIA VIC­TO­RIA RUFINO is an artist, writer and busi­ness­woman. She is pres­i­dent and ex­ec­u­tive pro­ducer of Mav­er­ick Pro­duc­tions. mavrufino

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