Help! My inbox is overflowing with self-development quotes! Pinterest, it seems, is the latest online guru, offering digestible, practical and relevant bites of wisdom that make perfect sense. Insightful thinkers like Stephen Covey, Eckhart Tolle, Depak Chopra and Anthony Robbins have shaped a new approach to life, offering a stimulating alternative to the automatous programme of eat, drink, be merry and enjoy. They remind us of the 5 cardinal principles of happy marriage, the 3 ways to diffuse anger, the 4 steps to enduring vitality, and the 7 qualities that will win you the best friends on the planet; all of which help us craft a progressive, peaceful and happy life. Call me a sceptic, but I’m still not convinced. The buzz quotes don’t excite me as much as they used to.
Modern-day self-development promotes the ideals, but how much does it actually equip and empower one to genuinely imbibe this positive mental state? Can we mentally coerce ourselves to forgive others? Does a deep sense of selflessness and kindness towards the universe manifest on the level of the intellect? Will simple determination help us remain equipoised in the midst of the most provoking situations? Next time we’re angry, will we remember the Pinterest jpeg that someone posted on Facebook? A change in our instinctive emotional response must come from a deeper transformation of consciousness. There has to be profound existential awakening. Only when we see our life situation as a chapter in a longer story, when we deeply connect with the divine intelligence who is behind the workings of nature, when we understand that we are spiritual beings on a human journey - only then can we function with genuine and sustained positivity. The 64-million dollar question is how we achieve such consciousness. After all, we don’t want to be window shoppers who are captivated by the products, but have no power to purchase them.
Self-development is a natural consequence of spiritual development. Without practical spirituality, self-development stagnates. Along with describing the character, qualities and persona of a perfect spiritualist, books like the Bhagavad-gita also equip one with the spiritual tools and technology to achieve such an elevated conscious state. It offers information, as well as transformation. Some may doubt that ancient practices like meditation and yoga can actually bring about tangible changes in one’s approach to life, but the practical experience of dedicated spiritualists proves otherwise. Since the calculated procedure outlined by great teachers awakens the spontaneous purity within, the Bhagavad-gita proposes that we need not learn something new, but rather invoke what is already within. This is the ultimate self-development strategy.