Life is hard. I think this is one of the most obvious facts about life. While I was growing up, my parents were always trying to drill this into me. Even without their pointing it out, I could observe the world around me and see that it was true. So I always believed that I had a wise acceptance of this truth.
I had no idea!
Once I finished business school, I went through a phase where I got a real taste of what people meant when they said that. I experienced what it was like to be utterly helpless in the face of external circumstances. And it kind of really sucked.
I got through it all right though, primarily because I was lucky to have various coping resources. But from there, it is a very simple thought experiment to imagine how difficult it would have been to cope without the resources that I had.
And, in the midst of that vulnerability, if some charismatic god person had come in and told me that they had a very easy solution to all my problems, why, wouldn’t it have been lovely!
Even if an easy solution was not offered, it would have been nice for some higher authority to put a neat timeline to my troubles or give me a believable reason for why it was happening. This, by the way, is pretty much the standard job description of an astrologist.
I am not sure how you feel about god men and astrologists. I have always believed it is all absolute hogwash. But the more I examine their modus operandi, and the more I reflect on how unequipped most of us are to deal with uncertainty, I can begin to get a sense of where lies the appeal of Ram Rahim and various other god-persons & astrologists to their followers.
They are shrewd psychologists who know exactly the right buttons to press to make their clients feel better, however temporary and delusional it might be. The specifics supporting the rise of each guru may be different but the broad story stays the same.
Our lives will always remain hard and uncertain- some much more so than others. And to some extent, we will always remain vulnerable to those who offer us easy solutions which make us feel good in the moment.
And since demand creates its own supply, we’ll always have god-persons around- some of whom probably probably have their hearts in the right place and are just delusional, most of whom are probably evil- exploiting their followers for their own personal gain.
It’s all very tragic.
So what then?
A long term answer is to hope that as we progress as a society we will be able to empower more and more people with the right psychological skills to flourish in life and accept the challenges of our life head on.
For a better answer, I’ll go pay a visit to my nearest astrologist.
Shraddha Gupta is a Management Consultant and is a graduate of St. Stephens College Delhi and Indian Institute of Management, Lucknow. She is delighted to get a chance to observe the world and reflect on life.