Being a celebrity is not easy. The constant media glare, the late working hours, and cutthroat competition can be a nerve-wracking experience.Drug problems, failed relationships, controversies, and career pressures can make it worse. It is no wonder that some celebrities take recourse tospirituality to soothe their frayed nerves. Here is a look at some celebrities and their spiritual practices.
Celebrities change their spiritual beliefs, almost as often as they change their designer clothes. Spiritual shopping, or the constant hopping from one guru to another, may have several reasons. Disillusionment with the guru or the teaching is probably the most common. Once an ardent Osho follower, Mahesh Bhatt rejected his teachings and went to philosopher-guide U.G. Krishnamurti. Britney Spears was in the news recently for having embraced Kabbalah, a mystic Jewish belief system, through her friend Madonna. She later left it for a "Christian life coach." There was also a rumour about her friend Madonna about Madonna's spiritual marriage with Jesus Luz.
For many, changing their spiritual beliefs on a regular basis can be a means of seeking publicity. Some may be genuine believers, choosing the best beliefs from two or more faiths. For example, George Lucas of Star Warsfame combines his faith in God, good and evil, and Buddhism to call himself a "Buddhist Methodist." Will Smith in an interview to Blender said,"I've probably read 95% of the words in the Bible. Probably 60% of the Torah. 70% of the Koran. And the thing that is so amazing to me is how everybody, in essence, believes the same thing."
Buddhism and Hollywood
Opposites attract. This probably explains Hollywood's love affair with Buddhism. Few years back, Steven Seagal announced that he was a Tibetan Lama in his previous birth. Expectedly, the claim was met with disbelief, as it clashed with images of him blowing up villains in his action flicks. Courtney Love, Richard Gere, Uma Thurman, Orlando Bloom-the list of Hollywood celebrities who are famously self-proclaimed Buddhists is certainly long. Within Buddhism, the preference seems to be overwhelmingly for Tibetan Buddhism, followed by Zen.
Controversial Celebrity Religions
As if conventional religion was not enough, some stars opt for New Age religions. Take, for example, the cult of Scientology with followers such as Tom Cruise and John Travolta among others. Lisa Marie Presley, daughter of the legendary Elvis Presley, claims that Scientology has kept her sane.Scientology and many similar cults, however, have been in the news for the wrong reasons. In the past, many cases of criminal and sexual misbehaviour, overt commercialisation, fraud, coercion, and even murder have been registered against these cults and their leaders.
Indian yogis and godmen have made it big abroad and in India, owing to their celebrity followers. Of course, even these relationships are fraught with controversies and unhappy endings. In the sixties, the Beatles fell out with their guru, Mahesh Yogi, alleging sexual misconduct. However, years later, George Harrison denied such advances.
Source of Inspiration
Though several celebrities indulge in fads, spirituality can prove to be a life-changing experience for others. Numerous celebrities have used spiritual beliefs to emerge stronger from personal problems such as drug addiction, a troubled marriage, or a sinking career.
Rhea Pillai, an instructor with Sri Sri Ravi Shankar's Art of Living Foundation, believes that one can be spiritual and still lead a normal life. Almost all Bollywood celebrities, from Amitabh Bachchan to Himesh Reshammiya, believe in the presence of a powerful external force in their lives. Also while talking to the media the Bollywood star like Amitabh Bachchan openly said that he believe in God since childhood.
For many Bollywood stars, a visit to Mumbai's famed Siddhivinayak temple is necessary to remove all obstacles, especially before the release of a big-budget movie. Vaishnodevi, Tirupati, and Shirdi are some of the other popular destinations for star pilgrims.
Spirituality as a Way of Life
Spirituality offers a way out when problems can be overwhelming. Some may see this as a form of escape. However, studies show that regular meditation and spiritual practices such as Tai Chi and yoga have positive effects on our physical health and psychological well-being. Truly, for most of us, having a spiritual anchor can prevent us from drifting away during the stormy phases of life.