Spirituality is not about lighting candles: Danah Zohar
Thought leader, author and philosopher Danah Zohar tells Sidhi Chadha that spirituality is much deeper than what's perceived. People are losing grip on their lives, which has resulted in sudden attention to the ages-old mysticism. Excerpts from an interview:

Although the philosophy of spirituality is age old, why has it come to occupy our minds in a prominent way these days?
Spirituality has become more popular of late because the older generation probably lost the grip of living life. Today, lifestyle has become stressful and people are looking for something that can fill the gap. It's a fight against materialism.

Do you think there is a paradox between spirituality and organised religion?
I would say both are different. Organised religion is a set of beliefs. Spirituality is completely the opposite of that. It is against set belief systems. It is a quest for the meaning of life and aiming to make life better. But at the same time, I will also say that spirituality is not about lighting candles. It deeper than that. When you are able to ask uncomfortable questions to yourself and reflect within, you will be a lot more calmer person.

How can spirituality be practised in our daily lives?
Danah Zohar
Danah Zohar
Like I said earlier, it's not about lighting candles. You can make a change through your activities in the world. The spiritual intelligence can bring meaning into the world. Simple things like making a supper or helping a poor person will help you understand yourself and also make you a better human. In short, think a lot more and reflect within to get answers to your problems.
In what way do you practise spirituality?
I listen to music for 2-3 hours and I read. Sometimes, I also enjoy just sitting and reflecting.

How can spirituality help in churning out productive leaders?
Spirituality is essential to effective leadership. It's about moral and ethical issues and providing a deeper meaning to what you do. For example, if Indian companies build schools and help people in need, it would in turn help the industries. Similarly, if future leaders introspect, take up responsibilities it would benefit their own people.

Can spirituality provide a solution to the conflict between destiny and karma, which continues to baffle many?
I have always said that do not be a victim of your karma, of your past. It's time you take responsibility of your actions. Spirituality does not preach that you leave your life in the hands of destiny. This is where spiritual intelligence plays an important role. You have got only one life. So decide what you want to do: leave things to God or take responsibility for your actions?

Some of the great Indian emperors like Ashoka and Akbar were said to be spiritual. Can you name some of the successful leaders who are or were spiritual?
I can't comment on Ashoka and Akbar as I have not read about them. But yes, M.K. Gandhi was an example of a great spiritual leader. And today, Nelson Mandela is doing some good work too! Spiritual leaders have the ability to put aside hatred. It's about compassion and forgiveness.

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