Moving Away From Religion and Embracing Spirituality

“The best way to find yourself is to lose yourself in the service of others” - Mahatma Gandhi

This is my personal mantra but its message is universal and not tied down to a particular religion just like spirituality. You should give more than you take without the expectation of getting something in return. To put it simply, do not treat every interaction as a business transaction, where the meeting is only beneficial to you - the world can be a selfish place.

Here’s the part that no one wants to hear about spirituality. The more pain, suffering, and failure that you experience in your life and the more you persevere after each downfall, the more spiritual you will become as your faith in yourself and/or God has been tested.

Many young British Asians including myself resonate with the following statement … I’m not religious, I am spiritual.

But what does that mean?

Spirituality is an important but understated part of every religion, whether that's Christianity, Sikhism, Hinduism, Buddhism or Islam, but we treat spirituality as something that is beyond our understanding.

Spirituality is simple - a search for meaning in life, unique to each individual.

Here’s a few Young British Asians, that like me and you, are balancing the concept of spirituality and religion.

Faisal Hussain is a very talented fine artist and creative producer who has created murals for the National Health Service. He has done significant humanitarian work in the South Asian community as a volunteer bridge builder for organisations such as Peterborough Presents.

“Spirituality for me is an integral part of my faith, from contemplation on the design of the universe to prayer and seeking knowledge. Experiencing death in my family from a very young age made me question a lot about the world. Now it plays a role in my life where I can seek guidance from it. I believe young British Asians become spiritual by reflecting on the world and seeking an answer that is bigger than their reality. I wouldn’t say I’m a spiritual person, I believe spirituality is an integral part of our nature as humans, because we are constantly seeking answers”.

Amardeep Sandhu is a law graduate who is currently working in contract management within the oil and gas industry.

“Spirituality can sometimes be associated with religion, which could be why some may shy away from thinking about what it means to them. I would not class myself as a practicing Sikh, however I think the concept of spirituality does not have to be so commitment heavy or determinative of your attitude towards religion. To me, spirituality refers more to one’s relationship with their own peace of mind. There are countless ways to address the state of this relationship, however, for myself, I believe it is largely shaped by the energy one emits into the world and how one approaches their day to day life. Ultimately, a positive and optimistic outlook reflects a strong state of mind.”

Dr Parvinder Shergill is a woman with many talents. She is a medical doctor by profession, who has also excelled in the Creative Arts becoming an award-winning actress, writer, presenter and filmmaker. Her artistic flair and sharp sense of humour, which she uses to address social issues within the South Asian community, is shown in her short films such as LOVEBUG which is about the struggle of finding love whilst self-isolating due to the COVID pandemic.

“I think the term spirituality means something different to everyone in terms of how they connect with this word. For me, I don’t define it as religious. It is finding hope in something bigger than myself and being connected with others and the universe. I think I am a spiritual person. Being spiritual helps me remain calm, more at ease when life changes happen. For example, my granddad died which really affected me as it was due to medical negligence. Being a doctor myself I found that very hard to deal with. But I use my spirituality almost like gratitude in looking at the here and now, and learning from this and looking at the positives. It helps me in my line of work in the NHS as well as an actress-filmmaker. We cannot control other people and their reactions but I can try to control my mindset through my spirituality”. 

Pavandeep Singh Sandhu is a trainee eye surgeon and modern-day warrior who participated in SAS: Who Dares Wins, a reality quasi-military training television programme produced by Channel 4, in order to push himself beyond his perceived limits and gained an admiration for the sacrifices he made by the special forces in the process.

“I would define spirituality as the practice of learning about your spirit/soul, connecting with your Creator and knowing your place and purpose. People tend to differentiate religion from spirituality on the basis that religion is considered more rigid, superficial, and ‘man-made’ with set rules. Whereas spirituality can be considered more of an open-ended, deeper and less structured pursuit. It is far from the truth as religion and spirituality are intertwined as discipline, commitment and having a goal are paramount in order to be a spiritual person. In the Sikh faith, spirituality is indeed the core practice and therefore, I would say I am a spiritual person. Learn to hear your inner voice and understand who you truly are with all your imperfections and weaknesses as well as your strengths. Seek a spiritual teacher/guru and then walk your path with discipline and commitment”.

Amelie Maddage is a talented young woman of Sri Lankan origin who has found a way of combining science with spirituality. She is a Biomedical Science graduate who has a passion for helping people with their mental health issues and works as a Peer Support Worker at an NGO called Rethink Mental Illness and has written articles for Shirkat Gah, Pakistan’s first feminist NGO on issues such as mental health and domestic violence.

“For me spirituality is a belief that we are connected to a higher source or greater power that is grounded in love, and that we all have the potential within us to be connected to that source. I’m a spiritual person because I believe that our life purpose is to love ourselves and help contribute to the happiness and peace of others through service. I think a Young British Asian man could become more spiritual by becoming more emotionally intelligent. This could be done by meditation, asking introspective questions, learning about mental health, nutrition, physical health and listening to podcasts about growth and wellbeing”.

To put it simply, embracing spirituality can make a person more grounded and help them to control their emotions rather than being controlled by their emotions.

As my late maternal grandfather used to say to me in Punjabi…

Thanda sir nala soch - Think with a cool head.


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