Wednesday, December 9, 2015

The Five HUMAN Challenges to Overcome in Spiritual Missions: Jealousy, Inbreeding, Groupism, Personal Agenda & Politics (JIGPP) - Part 1

Preface: This post has NOT been made from a viewpoint of denigrating spiritual missions, but from a viewpoint of sharing some human issues that come into play in Indian spiritual missions/ashrams. It may serve to better prepare some persons to handle these challenges if they are involved with such spiritual missions, or intend to do so in future. This note is based on my experiences as well as my readings about Hindu, Christian and multi-faith (SarvaDharma) spiritual missions/ashrams in India. end-Preface.
Spiritual missions involve people with a mix of spirituality and mission/service orientation. If one is focused on intense spiritual practices which take up most of one's time, then one may not so easily fit in a spiritual mission. A reclusive ashram/monastery which is largely detached from the world (or for some very dedicated person, even a cave, abandoned temple/place of worship or the jungle), would be a more appropriate place for such a person.

But if one is involved with a spiritual mission as part of a large spiritual organization then one has to deal with people and with the world. Now the people of spiritual organizations will typically have some spiritual inclination but if one presumes that most of such people would be angels, then one would be in for some sad disillusionment over time.

The reality is that people of large spiritual organizations do have many of the human flaws that all forms of organizations of humans have (commercial orgns/ govt. orgns/ non-spiritual NGOs etc.). However, most people in such spiritual organizations do try to keep their flaws under some check.

What I have said applies to both spiritual orgns involving part-time members (like lay members of a church but who are regular participants in church activities for lay members), as well as spiritual mission centres having full time (paid or honorary) members.

In the case of spiritual mission centres with full-time members I think these challenges are more acute. Now let me take the challenges, one by one, mainly in the context of spiritual mission centres with full-time members.

a) Jealousy: This is a major, major human weakness which finds full play even in spiritual orgns and spiritual mission centres. My considered view is that some jealousy is natural in almost everybody (including me). However, the more spiritually accomplished people can keep that jealousy under control. In some, however, the jealousy is uncontrollable. And yes, I am talking about spiritual orgns and spiritual mission centres. It is the uncontrollably jealous people who can be a very big danger to the groups they are in, as they can somehow rationalize their actions driven by envy as something else, and succeed in marginalizing or humiliating the persons that they are jealous of.

When I realized how powerful this negative emotion of uncontrollable jealousy is, even in spiritual mission centres, I was taken aback. I mean, I expected spiritual mission centres to be somewhat free of uncontrollable jealousy, as spiritual teachings always point it out as a big evil which has to be kept under control using one's spiritual practices (prayer, chanting etc.).

But what happens is that spiritual mission centres do not have many pressure-release outlets like entertainment and the like in the regular world. Further, one may be in the same group of people in the mission activity for years together or even decades together. So these things build up over time. Grudges for humiliation received is remembered for years & decades, and when the opportunity presents itself to take revenge for the humiliation received, many times, the opportunity is utilized to the fullest extent :-).

One may think that these things happen only in today's spiritual missions. And that in the ancient spiritual centres it was not so. But I think ancient spiritual centres too faced these issues. According to Hindu scripture, the anger that Sage Viswamithra had against Sage Vasishta was born of uncontrollable jealousy that Vasishta was recognized as a greater Sage than him. So Viswamithra even plotted to kill Vasishta! For more see

Here is an account of how Shirdi Sai Baba in his younger days with a Guru/Murshid, was hit by a brick by jealous disciples of the Guru/Murshid. From

Baba had a brick in his possession that He cherished as a life-long companion. Abdul used to take care of cleaning of the Masjid. Once while cleaning the floors, the brick that Baba treasured fell down and broke into pieces. Sainath was very sad at this event and lamented at the loss of one of His very few material possessions. King of the Yogis and the great soul that rejected everything material, Saibaba was dejected over what seemed to be a priceless piece of mud. How could that be?

The brick was the one that Sai Baba’s fellow students threw at Him having (been) consumed with jealousy of Sainath’s good standing with their Guru. Baba said that the Brick was dear to Him because it was perhaps the only physical reminiscen(ce) of His days with His Guru. While it reminded Baba of the protection Guru will always extend to his faithful disciple, the brick would also stand as a reminder to the jealousy of Sainath’s fellow students at His Guru’s abode. Pit(iable) should be the situation of those students who, blinded by jealousy, were unable to identify the True Brahman that was living and breathing amongst them. Jealousy, one of the evils that human mind harbors, is capable of blinding the intellect. Therefore, it should be a natural recourse for a spiritual aspirant to shun .. such an evil.

--- end extract from ---

Ravi: So when Shirdi Sai Baba was (playing the role of) a disciple of his Guru (Venkusa), Shirdi Sai Baba himself became the target of jealousy from other disciples, to the extent that the disciples threw a brick at Shirdi Sai Baba! That shows the power of jealousy even in spiritual setups among spiritual aspirants-disciples in the second half of the 19th century.

Would-be ashramites should be aware of this real factor of jealousy in ashram systems. Such knowledge will help them better handle or perhaps even circumvent problems that might have their root in the age-old evil of jealousy.

To be continued ...

[I thank and have presumed that they will not have any objections to me sharing the above extracts from their website on this post which is freely viewable by all, and does not have any financial profit motive whatsoever.]


  1. Thank you for the post. I agree with your views. People do get jealous of others. My Grandpa also faced jealousy on numerous occasions from people younger than him. Many people tried to block my Grandpa in the past and asked him to sit back at home rather than doing Seva, some told him that he is 90+, so he must retire. Those were the people who themselves did nothing. But the point is that my Grandpa is not drawing salary from anyone. He does Seva by adopting poor patients in PGI Hospital in Chandigarh, if he wants to do that, he must do it. Because he is healthy and he looks like as if he is 70. Grandpa looks quite young, so what is the problem with people. I told Grandpa that he must not listen to others and work as much as he wishes to. But now things are fine because those who tried to block him were themselves punished by Swami.

    I don't believe in harming anyone who hurts me but yes, I state that if someone would humiliate me at a public portal for wrong reasons, be it for my ideas, my values or my stand I do forget for a while but yes I would believe in teaching that person that no one is perfect in this world by writing Articles or a write-up to support my points rather than resorting to cheap tactics like other people do.

    I don't like people with cheap selfish political interests. I don't believe in pulling anyone down.

    When I'm done with delivering my message via my write-ups words I finish the whole thing there itself. I won't mind embracing the person concerned as my friend rather than holding grudges for long.

    I don't think I've done this for anyone in any sphere of my life except one person (SS) in Our Organization for reasons obvious, which everyone knows. My idea was to show him the real picture, not to point at him or his ideas but what I wanted to prove was that when we doubt someone for absurd reasons then others can also doubt us. It is very easy to form opinions about others by listening to the tales concocted by your fellow colleagues, it is very easy to doubt others and then block them which is wrong...

    I have observed that at times administrators tend to work merely by listening to the concocted tales by the people around them. This is not the case with Spiritual Organizations but all sectors be it Corporate sector or other public and private sectors.

    Spiritual Organizations and their Portals must not work like Corporate Sectors. My father for example is not finding any problem in working at SSSVV Portal because he is from Corporate Sector, things appear natural and organized for him at SSSVV, because he has worked in Corporate Sector. For me working at SSSVV was like working at Corporate Sector, moreover I feel all their administrators are from Corporate Sector. So, it is like Nehle Pe Dehla- I mean when the administrators are from Corporate Sector then for sure everything appears like a Corporate Sector.
    SSSVV Portal is quite appropriate for people who have an experience from Corporate Sector. I wish if they could make it more simple and easy for people like me to work.

    I would like to share my favorite quote:

    "Everything we hear is an opinion, not a fact. Everything we see is a perspective, not the truth." - Marcus Aurelius

    Swami always talked about using Triple Filter of Socrates when it comes to dealing with people. But how many people follow it? People hear to others, form opinions which are not facts. They see things which are perspectives and not Truth.

    Thank you and Sai Ram :)

  2. When are you coming up with other parts? It would be so good if you just mention the release date of next part of your initiative. I'm not being assertive or demanding but just wishing to know...

    1. No deadline/release date whatsoever :-). It will happen when time & God's will permit it to happen :-).

  3. This comment has been removed by the author.

    1. Oh! I meant inbreeding in the normal institutional sense/meaning of the word. More on it when I put up the post.

  4. Oh! I am so sorry for misunderstanding the word...I saw your post covering the concept of Inbreeding in Institutional Sense in the morning around 5 AM. Great to know. I have shared my views over there. Sai Ram.