Nowadays, people rarely have heart-to-heart talks with each other, share innermost things or live in the “here and now” moment. The majority people, in my opinion, are mostly preoccupied with their future: college graduation, decent career, lucky marriage, children, getting an apartment or a house to live in, gaining an influential social status, etc. At that, everyone totally forgets that: “Well, a human being is mortal, but this is half the trouble. The worst thing is that he is sometimes suddenly mortal, that’s the whole point!” (M. Bulgakov, The Master and Margarita) Thus, we are getting prepared for some future life, but are we really living right now, and do we actually think about our inner world? I became interested in whether the situation is completely despairing or there is still hope for spiritual revival.
The contemporary world is such that going out in the street and talking about the Soul is same as stripping to the skin and going out naked. It’s not considered appropriate to speak of internal things and spirituality. Therefore, our survey was carried out online, among the “residents” of VK (VKontakte) social network, in order to ensure anonymity as well as greater honesty and sincerity of respondents. 50 people of various ages and backgrounds participated. It turned out there were more men among the respondents than women.
The purpose of this survey has been to determine how deeply modern people are interested in their inner world, where they find answers to their personal questions, and what kind of information is currently available for learning and exploring oneself.
The following questions have been asked:
- What is Kindness?
- What is Love in your understanding?
- What does the meaning of life consist in?
- Do you believe in existence of the Soul?
- Who is a saint in your understanding?
- In your opinion, is morality important in relations between people?
- What is the reason of human sufferings?
Analysis and observations
It should be mentioned people answered to the above questions willingly and extensively. Many liked the questions and the entire idea. Some were interested to know results of the survey. And only a few wrote: aren’t they being recruited for a sect? Nonetheless, after an explanation that all people might be interested in issues associated with kindness and love, even those few responded. Frankly speaking, for me it was a surprise that people got interested and took part in the survey (partly because the survey was anonymous).
Survey results have shown that many people responded to one and the same question in a stereotyped manner. Since the questions were broad and not implying a single unambiguous answer, it’s worth looking at each question separately.
1. What is Kindness?
Only 2 of the 50 respondents have stated that kindness may be only for some benefit. One person has admitted kindness is what this world lacks. Absolute majority agree that kindness means the Light inside people, disinterested help, creation, compassion, love, and so on. It may thus be concluded people do perceive and understand what Kindness really is.
The following answers should be marked out:
“I believe there are no universal deeds which could be called good or kind. Here’s a graphic example: a man is drowning, and another man who passes by saves him. We intend to call such salvation good. But what if the drowning man was a maniac or rapist and on the next day he will go on with his habitual way of life? This example indicates the ambiguity of our life situations. Indeed, a person may have a good intention and perform a good deed, but nobody knows what consequences such deed will bring for other people eventually. People are accustomed to dual, two-category thinking: good-evil, cold-hot, high-low. Yet, it seems to me this is a sort of illusion. A mother / grandmother can abundantly feed her son / grandson, because she sincerely wishes him only well. But such her ignorance leads to the boy’s suffering from obesity. So, good may have numerous shades and variants. I can give several recommendations on how to gain ability of distinguishing what’s really good: you should endeavour to live in more awareness, think critically, let yourself be yourself, and let others be different.”
“Kindness is a human quality or such a human manifestation which is sincere and brings good to another person, people around or the world as a whole. It includes responsiveness, willingness to help, careful attitude, but sometimes on the contrary rigidity and even mercilessness which would be for somebody’s good. Certainly, there are no general “standards” of kindness display. It should also be mentioned kindness can be sincere, coming from a person’s very soul, but it can as well be intended as a showcase, socially demanded or due to a sense of guilt. The three latter cases mean it’s not kindness at all, and so it’s not clear if it will be for everyone’s good.”
2. What is Love in your understanding?
People regard all sorts of notions as love. Respondents’ answers about love may be divided into two groups: 1 – relations between a man and a woman, attachment to a particular person, the “hormone play”; 2 – the unforgettable deep inner feeling that is impossible to explain in words, unity, perception of God.
Only one person among the respondents’ believes Love does not exist. Another person has confessed in his childhood he considered Love to be relations between a man and a woman, while now he doesn’t know what Love is.
Here’s what people say about Love:
“Love is the highest point of display of the emotional comfort state.”
“As for love, I’m afraid I won’t say anything new. It is such a complicated feeling, and sometimes it seems to me only its demo version is accessible for humanity. Perhaps, everyone has had dreams of heavenly love, when you wake up with tears in your eyes and feel bliss for several minutes due to what you’ve seen. Then the aftertaste disappears and only real life remains. We are not able to love. The strongest feeling we experience is usually of a suffering character. Distance love, unrequited love, loss of beloved… The stronger is not the feeling nourished by someone else, but the one that we nourish ourselves. Let’s omit talks about parents’ love, etc., such love does exist, but all of us love butterflies in our stomach. And we only need that wild feeling which provokes a million emotions in us, makes our soul tear apart, and kills us again and again. This is what we call love. Probably, we simply don’t know how to love.”
“Love is a certain state of a living creature or even of a space. It’s when you are filled with inner warmth aimed at yourself or other people, or simply streaming from you around with no particular target. Love is the best reason of kindness. Usually love is aimed at what one likes, but not necessarily. Diverse passions mixed with jealousy, offences and other unstable states are not love. And when you feel bad without your “love object” this is not love either, but mere dependence.”
3. What does the meaning of life consist in?
The results have exceeded expectations.
Approximately the following “meanings of life” may be distinguished in percentage: search of a meaning (2%), leaving a trace after oneself (2%), there is no meaning (2%), I don’t know (4%), spending time in pleasures and entertainments (6%), everyone has his / her own meaning of life (8%), the meaning of life is life itself (10%), family, children, beloved ones (16%). And a half of the respondents believe the meaning of life is: spiritual development, spiritual liberation, to become an Angel, to explore one’s Soul, to get to know God (50%).
4. Do you believe in existence of the Soul?
One of the respondents is uninterested whether the Soul exists. Another one considers he is the Soul. Still another one has said a person may or may not have a Soul. 86% of respondents believe the Soul does exist. 8% don’t believe in existence of the Soul.
5. Who is a saint?
The most popular answers: one who has relations with God, serves God, has gained the Soul, has gained liberation in the Eternity. This is majority. The second top answer: one who serves this world and helps people.
Other answers are as follows: never met such people; it’s a religious issue; one who has learnt himself. One person considers there are no saints, another one does not know, still another one thinks a saint is one who deceives others talking about God’s existence. And one of the respondents believes it’s every person’s duty to become a saint.
“A saint is the one who knows the truth, improves the world at the invisible level and keeps secret from those who are not ready. He teaches people allegorically – through parables and deep-sense phrases.”
“A saint is the one who does not believe in the Soul, but rather Lives with It.”
6. In your opinion, is morality important in relations between people?
One person has responded she does not know what morality is. One person believes morality is not important. Two respondents have said morality depends on the system of values in a country. For 46 respondents morality in relations between people is important.
7. What is the reason of human sufferings?
Reasons of sufferings have also coincided, i.e. many answers are the same and recurred more than once. The reason of sufferings is: egoism; lack of knowledge and ignorance; lack of awareness, “automatic” life; lack of spirituality; working off karma; desires and illusions of this world; the reason is within a person; the reason is that a person has not found himself or herself; brain, alcohol; unwillingness or inability to improve himself or herself. One person believes sufferings simply exist and will always exist.
One of the opinions:
“People do suffer a great deal. There are several reasons for that: “automatic” life, i.e. no awareness; people think a lot about their past and future (the future does not usually come true, which causes suffering); parents usually control their children, imposing what children are not interested in, and so people end up doing what they don’t like.
Suffering may be of two kinds: of the physical body and psychological (mental).
Physical body may suffer due to genetics inherited from parents or from the person’s lifestyle, diet, etc. Psychology is what I have mentioned above. In the era of consumption people can also suffer from not having a certain thing.”
I can only say contemporary people are not indifferent to their inner world. They do understand and are interested in issues associated with morality and spirituality.
Prepared by Irina Bondareva (Belarus)