Understanding Your Spirit in an Unconcerned World

Whether you identify as Christian, Muslim, Hindu, or you desire a look at spirituality free from religion, "Break the Norms" discusses soul searching in a way that is as deeply impactful as it is honest about the world we live in.

| June 2016

  • From topics as diverse as Tantra and wealth, Bhardwaj reveals how our culture endlessly manipulates our thinking until we accept common views as inescapable norms—that is, until we learn how to break our spirit free.
    Photo by Fotolia/kevron2001
  • “Break the Norms: Questioning Everything You Think You Know About God and Truth, Life and Death, Love and Sex” by Chandresh Bhardwaj
    Photo courtesy of Sounds True

There are thousands of books available about how to become spiritual, how to find your spiritual path, how to discover your divine truth. But how many of those authors have written books about how to live spiritually that are endorsed by the Dalai Lama himself? Raised in a family of traditional Indian gurus, Chandresh Bhardwaj has a wealth of experience that he has transformed into thoughtful spiritual teachings. In Break the Norms (Sounds True, January 2016), Bhardwaj presents not only a deep look at religion, material possessions, and the personal meanings of both, but he has begun a societal movement dedicated to what soul searching truly means for every individual who craves spirituality.

To find more books that pique our interest, visit the Utne Reader Bookshelf.

Norm 1: To Be Spiritual, We Must Behave In A “Spiritual” Way

In January 2006, I had guests stay over at my tiny apartment in Flushing, New York. After dinner, I took out a popular Bollywood movie to show everyone.

“It’s not an original DVD?” my guest exclaimed, as though she had never seen a bootleg copy of something before.

“No, it’s not original,” I told her. “Here, the original DVD costs nearly $25, while in India it costs only $5. Movie stores here get the DVDs directly from India and make copies. It’s almost impossible to get original DVDs of Indian movies around here.”

“Of course! I know that,” she said. “But I am just surprised that Guru Ji [my father] would allow you to watch a bootleg movie. I mean, is it allowed? You should ask him. It may be a sin for a Guru or his son to watch the pirated version of a movie!”

7/23/2018 8:46:33 AM

I have found that I am content with my life . I don't need money to improve my life , I need me to improve my life . I do my best to treat others fair and honest , no matter what their intent is . I am calm and happy with my life being simple . I don't need a lot of money , just enough to pay my bills and I am happy . I don't believe there is any one right religion, it is what you choose to go with . I do not claim to be any religion . I know there is a higher power and the higher power will guide me right in life .We become brainwashed to religions and that is not right but I don not want to judge . I know that life is precious and I do things that is not good for me . That's part of the human side of me . I love everyone and sometimes it's hard . I love them because I want to , not because I have to . I was raised in a Baptist home and later in life I learnt to follow what is good for me . You are so right when you say to keep your life simple . I believe there are different levels of simple for people , it is whatever works for you .

7/1/2016 10:00:41 AM

Our prisons are filled with people who chose to be "authentic." I just broke up with a woman who chose to be authentic as opposed to civil. And she thought she was spiritual. She claimed her spirituality was the most important thing to her. It was a hellish nightmare living with her. Never again! Sorry, but I can't buy into this definition of "do whatever feels right at the moment" spirituality.

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