Her spiritual journey gave Suma Varughese an authentic value system. Perhaps one of the most valuable fall-outs of embarking on the spiritual journey is the emergence of an authentic and individual value system, a code of conduct that works for you.
Prior to the advent of spirituality into my life, I was a painfully straitlaced girl. I never dared do anything society might look askance at, and so led a limited and even boring existence. I certainly never looked at boys, because my conservative background totally vetoed that. In any case, I was incredibly shy, and lacked the nerve to dally with the male sex.
Mind you, I had a very refined sense of right or wrong. I never eavesdropped, Nor, as I learnt from Enid Blyton’s books, ‘sneaked’ on anyone. There was an occasion in school when the whole class cheated except me. I would never have dreamed of committing any crime, no matter how small. I knew instinctively what was right and what was wrong, but I had no idea why.
For myself, I could never figure out what made an act right or wrong, and so I abided by the code of values my parents had instilled in me. They constituted a lifeline that safeguarded me from the wilderness of lawlessness. It all changed when the Universe brought into my ambit a wild young man, very different from the ‘good’ boys I generally hung out with. This person questioned every social more, including things like fidelity, nobility and selflessness.
I was aghast as I watched my cherished castle of values crumble like sand on the beach. For I had no defence against his destructive arguments. I could not explain why fidelity was good, or why selflessness or nobility were virtues. I had merely accepted them fully without thinking about them.
In retrospect, I am grateful to this friend for overturning my value system. Sometimes, in order for new things to be planted, the old has to go and the ground thoroughly ploughed. Shortly thereafter, I received a spiritual awakening and over time, it led me to a complete understanding of life. I realized that what hurt or damaged anyone including me was ‘wrong’ for me and what made others happy was ‘right’ for me.
From this perspective infidelity was clearly wrong, because it often sundered families and left behind heartbreak. Selflessness and nobility, on the other hand, brought joy to others and self. This understanding gave me a way of evaluating actions without bringing in morality. If an action added to the sum total of happiness in the world, it was good. If it detracted from it, it was bad.
This helped me to distinguish between what was ‘wrong’ by my standards, from what the law labelled a crime. For instance, homosexuality may be a crime, but in my book, it is not ‘wrong’. If an action added to the sum total of happiness in the world, it was good. If it detracted from it, it was bad
This understanding of what was right or wrong, freed me permanently from fear of society’s censure. I understood that as long as I abided by the dictates of my own conscience, and God, I could do what I chose, regardless of how the outside world saw it. Today, I see myself as a profound nonconformist. I have turned my back on materialism, money, possessions, status and all things society holds dear, so I could do what I wanted to, which was to sow seeds of spirituality into the world. I do what my conscience tells me is right and it no longer matters if society does not agree. There is great freedom in that.