THE SPIRITUAL VERSUS THE MATERIAL

Maulana Wahiduddin Khan | ST Weekly Blog | March 19, 2018

MANY years ago, an international technological exhibition was held in Delhi. The American pavilion was the centre of people's attention, drawing the crowds away from other pavilions because it had a flying car on display.

The visitors had gathered on the field to watch the flying car demonstration. The driver first drove the car on the ground like any other car, then lifted off hovering about four feet above the ground, circled the field several times, then brought it down on to the ground again. There was much applause all around at the wondrous spectacle.

Amongst the visitors was a young Sadhu. Clad in saffron clothes, his long, tangled hair falling into curls and knots, he kept gazing at the car with rapt attention for a long time. Seeing his state of absorption, a news reporter approached him asking what his impressions were of this flying car. The Sadhu replied quite seriously, "After watching this flying-car, I am faced with a new problem, that is, whether or not I should forsake the spiritual life for the material, and thus fulfil my ambitions by way of material achievements. This exhibition has caused me to have second thoughts about which of the worlds, spiritual or material, it is better to be attached to.”

Such events as this seem to show a contradiction between scientific and spiritual development. It would appear that the one can be gained only at the cost of the other. But it entirely depends on what we interpret spirituality as. If being spiritual means forsaking the world altogether and taking to jungles and mountains, renouncing all contact whatsoever with the world, the scientific and spiritual appear to contradict each other.

However, if we regard the spiritual life as one in which we can purify ourselves - body and soul, of base motives, we find no clash between the two. In this way being spiritual, means only to rectify our relationship with other human beings, and this is far from meaning the renunciation of all contact with the material world.

The spiritual is by no means the opposite of the scientific; it is actually the opposite of the material. Because a spiritual person is not materially minded, it does not mean that he cannot think scientifically. One who is spiritually inclined resorts constantly to his inner mental life; something which no one can take away from him. Such a man possesses inner contentment, and is far above all material gain and loss. Inner peace is something which he holds dearer than anything else, for he needs look no further than his own inner resources for satisfaction in life.