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Kristen, Gandhi and Happy Pill Spiritualism


Mahatma Gandhi would have been pleased to find a Hollywood star snuggling his words. Known for his penchant for white women, he was their knight in spiritual armour.

It is, therefore, not surprising – although a bit amusing – to discover that he is the 'other man'. Here is a snappy report from ABC News Radio:

  • Kristen Stewart may not be able to rely on her former lover and Twilight co-star Robert Pattinson for life advice in the wake of the revelation that she cheated on him, so she’s reportedly turning to another man for guidance: Gandhi. The Sun reports the 22-year-old actress is still struggling to “forgive herself” in the wake of her affair with her Snow White and the Huntsman director Rupert Sanders, and has turned to the writings of Mahatma Gandhi, who led a successful non-violent resistance movement against British colonel rule in India.

Is the non-violent idea in opposition to the “wrath of a woman scorned”? Are relationships about colonisation?

This is a digression, though. The larger context here is how “inner peace” needs others’ views on spirituality. Go to any bookstore in any part of the world and volumes on self-help occupy pride of place. Self-help means relying on someone else’s help. There is little nuance and they make for decent beach reading. But do they engage the mind, for isn’t spirituality about extending the boundaries of the self?

The fact that Kristen is seeking retribution puts such books in the realm of morality. Are religious texts inadequate? Why are books on spiritualism bestsellers when they say what many have, at least in childhood, read about in scriptures or fairytales?

Fairytales invariably are a morality tale. The Stewart-Pattinson fairytale would probably be part of another day in Hollywood, and much of contemporary life. People give in to temptation. Fidelity is restructured. Bruised emotions take time healing. However, the elevation of ‘cheating’ on the pedestal of spiritual enlightenment transforms it into the bad witch looking into the mirror for the fairest of them all. The answer is obvious. There is no good news here. The effort, by default, aasumes inherent goodness, so what really is the purpose of an external support?

There are wonderful sayings in almost all languages – homilies, fables, koans, verses. There are life stories of struggle by yogis, sufis, zen masters. The new age gurus run a corporate spiritual enterprise, churn out books that work on the vulnerabilities of people looking for messiahs as pauses. Is it not better than lying on a psychoanalyst’s couch? They are not much different. You are expected to exterminate the bile consuming you. Time does that. Talking with friends does it. Talking to oneself does it.

The problem is we don’t do that much. It is hard work. Kristen Stewart is like those prisoners who discover the Bible, Quran, Bhagvad Gita in the confines of jails. People are caged when they feel trapped in their own worlds. Reading Gandhi is as much a pop diva act as attending a Deepak Chopra enlightenment spa.

What can a Rumi, a Kahlil Gibran, a Confucius, or an Osho give you when you are not willing to give yourself anything? I love reading them, quoting them sometimes, but it is not when I am looking for an anchor. If the seas are stormy, I’d rather find a wispy branch fallen off a tree and sail with it…like a wilting flower with new leaves.

(c) Farzana Versey

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Picture of Kristen Stewart & Robert Pattinson from Harper's Bazaar