Holy Men

Self Help

In the East, and particularly in India, there has been a long-standing tradition of spiritual self-development. Holy Men would leave home, become ascetics and mendicants, living a life of physical and spiritual austerity, in the ongoing struggle for spiritual liberation, self-improvement and enlightenment.

Sometimes these Holy Men lived on the streets, in forests or caves. They would undertake extended periods of fasting, meditation, chanting or prayer. Enduring long stints in meditative contemplation in the search for life's most profound questions. Enduring the burning heat of the summer sun and the frosts of cold winters. Living on the generosity of others. Enduring what the physical world can throw at them, and the psychological / spiritual pain that follows. The Holy Men live beg for food, clothing, accepting the generosity of others as their only source of food or income, and accepting what life throws at them

In the West, we too have Holy Men and although our traditions are not as old as in the East, its good we can finally say we have some home grown product. Our Holy Men take a slightly different approach to self-help, self-development, and spiritual growth. They stand in pulpits, on stage and TV to preach to others. Extolling the virtues of the religious life. Guiding and advising others how to live. They wear fine suits, hand-made shoes, gold rings, expensive watches. They pretend to heal the sick. Soliciting donations from the poor, the unwary, the ignorant or even the rich. From thousands of TV viewers on the shows broadcast to the ill-educated. Do as I say and not as I do. Paying lip-service to the religious life.

Living on generous donations. Enduring all the luxuries that modern Western life can throw at them, and enduring the physical and psychological pleasures that it entails. They live in big mansions with swimming pools, fly in private jets. Indulge in sex with partners other than their marriage partners.

There are many similarities between the two disparate sets of Holy Men. I guess what differentiates them is this:

Eastern holy men seek spiritual liberation through spiritual excess.
Western holy men seek spiritual liberation through physical excess.

Its easy to see the difference between the two positions and the ultimate goals.

If you don't truly seek spiritual liberation, its easy to pay lip service. You can do pretty much as you please. Live life as you see fit, with no recourse and little remorse. Though, you may not get to heaven... if it exists.

If you do seek spiritual liberation, sacrifice is the order of the day. It may not necessarily mean giving up your home, your car, or other material possessions. But it will entail some kind of sacrifice.

It seems the Western Holy Men have it figured out. Get all the cash and booty ya like and still go to heaven. Or maybe not.