Is it selfish to spend time and energy on self-development while three-quarters of the world’s population goes hungry? Tijn Touber asks and answers a painful question.
Is meditation a luxury? Is it a luxury to take time for yourself, to take yoga lessons and read spiritual books while three quarters of the planet is starving and struggling to survive? Is it selfish to spend so much time and energy on yourself?
Not long ago I would have said it’s more egotistical not to spend time on yourself. People that don’t attend to themselves usually expect to get attention from others. (Talk about egotistical!) People who don’t focus enough on their relationship with themselves will have trouble developing relationships with others. People who don’t listen to themselves can’t hear anyone else.
Or I might have said that we also need people to watch over our culture and inner heritage, people who take philosophy to a higher plane. After all, spiritual growth is not an automatic process – it takes time and seclusion, just like art. And there’s nothing selfish about that. After all, the quest for spiritual development has given us achievements and people that make us proud to be human: from the pyramids to the Taj Mahal, from Tagore to Mozart, from the Bhagavad-Gita to the Koran, from Rembrandt to Picasso, from Shakespeare to Spielberg, from Jesus to Gandhi.
I have recently become aware of another argument in favour of making making individual consciousness a priority for us all – even as the planet becomes even further embroiled in chaos; especially in the face of such growing chaos. With a large portion of the world’s population fighting to survive or making life miserable for others, we need people to balance the scales. Yes, you can achieve a great deal in silence. It is ultimately all about frequencies, and that’s why you’ll never see monks manning the barricades.
But there comes a point when it’s time to get up off our meditation cushions; a point that we’ve sufficiently integrated the lessons of love into our lives and can safely go forth into the world without falling prey to the prevailing fear and anger. Perhaps that moment has come. Maybe it is time to trust that we’ve done our homework, that we’ve built up sufficient strength, and that the time has come to tip the scales not only spiritually but physically. Time to assume our places in companies, administrations and political parties. Time for a new society built on new relationships. Not as an idea, a philosophy or a dream, but as a reality. Here, now.