How do we define spirituality? Are you deeply at ease with who you are? Do you look into the nature of what it means to be alive and think, ‘life is GOOD?’
Just some of the heavy questions looming in the ether at Sunday afternoon’s Spirituality debate, featuring prominent characters of consciousness, New Age champion Deepak Chopra, spiritual enlivener Andrew Cohen and culture maven Arianna Huffington, with Gerard Senehi who gets props for coordinating the momentous gathering.
The venue, Donna Karan’s Urban Zen, is a cavernous sanctuary, almost womb-like, which for the day’s topic ‘the future of spirituality’, and by association the future of humanity, couldn’t help summon the image of each one of us a multicellular organism interacting and performing our functions for the survival of the greater being and intelligence, of which we are all a part. Oh, we know, deep!
But instead of a hippie dippie one love peacefest, the afternoon felt like a rally for fighting the good fight, attended by smart and powerful people who are ready to take action, or who have already started. You could almost smell the deliberation, and Urban Zen’s lofty ceilings left plenty of room for the thought clouds to form, and morph into universal consciousness.
If you asked Deepak Chopra, we are all connected anyway: “We are entangled at every level – bodies, minds, devotions. There is no such thing as an isolated mind,” he told the room. “Stop thinking you are a person.” Right, so essentially, stop thinking about the individual and take action to promote positive outcomes for the collective, for all, and for crying out loud don’t sit around and wait.
If there was one driving force underlining the spirituality theme, it was a sense of urgency. The speed of life only seems to be increasing and that rate of change will not slow down. So how do we cope with all the psychological and emotional overwhelm? We must manifest what Cohen refers to as spiritual self-confidence. How to do that? Answer the simple question ‘Is life good?’
If we’re ambivalent about the answer, he says, we will consistently feel like we need to get out of here, that we need to “survive” this to eventually find happiness, when happiness can be attained in the now.
When the subject turned to technology we were reminded that it is simply unstoppable; progress literally doubles every year. Self-proclaimed “tech fiend” Deepak warned, “If you don’t get on board, you will miss the train.” Sure, there amazing advances in medical and information fields, but is technology actually good or evil? “Technology is neutral, it’s how we use it” said Chopra returning to the theme that we must take responsibility as individuals in a collective world, offering commendations to Arianna for her efforts with The Huffington Post.
There was a lot of talking, it was a discussion after all, but we must DO. Don’t forget Karma Yoga, the yoga of action. How do we promote the spiritual self-confidence and mindfulness to create action, to “fight the good fight”? Donna Karan spoke of bringing the education to the next generation by entering schools and working with kids, instilling the concept of conscious and mindful living right from the get go. Her organization is already on that mission, as are others in NYC like Bent on Learning.
Perhaps one of the toughest questions of the afternoon came from a woman in the audience who works at the UN: how do you deal with a world that might not agree with your peace-loving point of view of spreading consciousness? Hippies still get a bad rap, even today. The answer: Just Be. Deep, we know.
There’s been another debate rumbling over yoga and its connection to religion, but this debate on spirituality managed to sidestep any mention of religious beliefs and creeds, focusing on the point that we’re all alone in this together. If we realize we’re all entangled in a big ball of consciousness, maybe then we can work towards what Arianna has been working on herself, moving from struggle to grace. Or, we could start with another bit of advice from Madame HuffPo, “get more sleep!” And then wake up.