Remain spiritually anchored

6 min readDec 20, 2023

Almost 2500 years ago there lived a prince by the name Siddhartha Gautama. He had everything to his disposal, much more than the riches of today, and a clear path leading to ruling a prosperous kingdom, but that was not to be. He was stung with the question — why is there suffering in life? At the physiological level Siddhartha had more than most at his time and age, and yet he was unhappy. As his parents, teachers, and other spiritual leaders failed to give him a satisfactory answer, Gautama left his abode in search of truth, and rest is a history.

Buddha, the enlightened one, did discover the secret of avoiding suffering in life and his insights have been passed over the eons through various texts and practices. But here’s the real question — have we really evolved over the last 2500 years? Yes, we have longer lives, more secure dwellings, greater prosperity, and a bigger carbon footprint. But are we any happier by comparison? With the growing number of books on self-help and motivation published every year, I deem that we are still seeking. What does that mean about our evolution? That we have evolved on certain narrow dimensions, chiefly physiological. Alas, we are deeply insecure as much as our ancestors, even though we feel secure, externally.

Eckhart Tolle identifies Human Beings as comprising the Human, the doing self, and the Being, the being self. Human is form, Being is formless. The doing self is the external — your worldly achievements, your body, your ego; whereas the being self — is who you are regardless of your external achievements.

As Eckhart points out, ‘The ultimate truth of who you are is not I am this or I am that, but I Am.’ [1] And yet most of our purposes in life are defined at the external level, and not at the level of Being. You must remember that any amount of progress on the external dimensions doesn’t mean anything on the internal dimension. Spirituality is that internal dimension.

Don’t confuse spirituality with religion. They are not the same. Spirituality asks questions, religion offers answers. Spirituality unites, religion, through its beliefs, divides. Spirituality is about ‘why’ and ‘why not’, religion is about ‘how’ and ‘how not’. There are infinite pathways to being more spiritual in life, but for religion there are only finite and well-known paths. Spirituality is inclusive, religion is exclusive. Spirituality is a private affair; religion, for most, is a public exposition. Spirituality evolves with disagreements, while religion needs agreements to function. In short, spirituality is antifragile.

As His Holiness the Dalai Lama explains: [2]

Religion implies a system of beliefs based on metaphysical foundations, along with the teaching of dogmas, rituals, or prayers. Spirituality, however, corresponds to the development of human qualities such as love, compassion, patience, tolerance, forgiveness, or a sense of responsibility. These inner qualities, which are a source of happiness for oneself and for others, are independent of any religion. That is why I have sometimes stated that one can do without religion, but not without spirituality. And an altruistic motivation is the unifying element of the qualities that I define as spiritual.

I am urging you to be spiritually anchored in your life. What does it even mean? Three simple ideas (and not beliefs). Firstly, an understanding that this too shall pass. That impermanency is the only truth. Secondly, your external circumstances can’t dictate who you are. You are much beyond your immediate life situations. Thirdly, you don’t have to prove yourself to others, or be somebody. You already are. As Gibran assures you, ‘And that that which sings and contemplates in you is still dwelling within the bounds of that first moment which scattered the stars into space.’ [3]

I don’t want to invoke God here to buttress my point because that’s quite unnecessary. All these are best experienced firsthand, rather than being borrow dogmatically.

Have you come across stinky rich people, yet who are deeply insecure? Not knowing what to do with what they have, but still wanting more? I sincerely hope you don’t see yourself there, or are pursuing it. But we all have seen or read about such people. They are a constant reminder to us of the limits of growth on the more visible dimensions — physiological, social, or economic. But spiritually they are mostly bankrupt.

However, here we are not talking about ‘they’, we are talking about ‘you’. And you don’t need any number of them to change yourself. All you need is clarity and courage. And the best part is that you don’t have to give away your profession and become a hermit to be more spiritual. You can Do and Be, at the same time. And that’s the key to this discussion.

Take for instance one of India’s most beloved scientists — APJ Kalam. The India’s Missile Man maintained, ‘For me, science has always been the path to spiritual enrichment and self-realization.’ He understood that ‘the true reality lay beyond the material world in the spiritual realm, and that knowledge could be obtained only through inner experience.’ [4] Make no mistake. Here is the man who gave us the Prithvi and Agni missiles and shook the western world by conducting the Pokhran-II nuclear test in 1998. Being spiritually anchored doesn’t make you weak or dissuaded, but instead anchors you for wherever your purpose takes you.

Let me offer you three very practical tips, which do not take much away, but yes, these are simple but not easy. Try practicing: non-resistance, non-attachment, and non-judgement.


Let’s start with non-resistance. What does it mean — lethargy, in-activity, fatalism, or subservience? None of these. Non-resistance implies being one with the situation, instead of fighting it. Being a friend of the present moment, rather than treating it as an obstacle or your enemy. Any resistance makes you reactive and that causes abrasion and eventually stress. Again, not to be confused with not trying, but not trying too hard either. The concept of Wu-Wei captures it well — non-doing. ‘Never to assert your self against nature; never be in frontal opposition to any problems, but to control it by swinging with it’, explains Bruce Lee. [5]


What does non-attachment mean — ignoring, giving up, not attending to? No. It means not desiring. Not desiring the outcome that you deem as suitable. Non-attachment to the outcome, which has several uncontrollable and uncertainties, and yet you must persevere with what you can control. And surrender to the outcome, which has flown from the universal intelligence. If you are too attached to the outcome, then you won’t be able to see anything beyond that outcome and the associated negativity. You are leaving your happiness at the mercy of that outcome, which you scarcely control.


Non-judgement is relatively well understood but not that well practiced. Judgement comes very naturally to us, as it helps us gauge the situation and to navigate the familiar and even not-so-familiar terrains. But answer this — can you read this book without being judgmental? The answer is very much yes. Instead of stressing yourself with what’s good, what’s bad, what’s applicable and what’s superfluous, it might be useful to absorb it all and then synthesize it. But it takes attentiveness to park your judgement, for it doesn’t anyways serve you much. As Viktor Frankl offers, ‘No man should judge unless he asks himself in ab- solute honesty whether in a similar situation he might not have done the same.’ [6] As I cautioned you before, it’s simple but not easy. But don’t worry, you have a long life to improve yourself.

We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience. Being spiritual is being present, every moment. Not to be occupied in your train of thoughts, planning, contemplating, regretting, or anticipating. Just being. Now.

[1] Eckhart Tolle, A New Earth: Creating a Better Life (Penguin Random House, 2005)

[2] His Holiness the Dalai Lama, My Spiritual Autobiography (London: Rider, 2012).

[3] Khalil Gibran, The Prophet (Alfred A. Knopf, 1923)

[4] APJ Abdul Kalam, Wings of Fire: An Autobiography (Universities Press, 1999).

[5] Bruce Lee and John R Little, Striking Thoughts: Bruce Lee’s Wisdom for Daily Living (Tuttle Publishing, 2002)

[6] Viktor E. Frankl, Man’s Search for Meaning: The Classis Tribute to Hope from the Holocaust (Rider, 2004)




Innovation Evangelist and author of the book, Design Your Thinking.