Sunday, September 25, 2005

Religion, Spirituality and Fate

Part VII : Happiness. A mirage worth pursuing?

In this vast humanity and creation as such, I often wonder, why there must be so much anomalies, divide between the rich and the poor, children born normally and those born with diseases etc. Superficially looking at it, one gets a feeling of indignation at Nature or God, for having created such conspicuous disparities in quality and condition of birth. Having travelled far and wide, having seen many societies and having interacted and lived with many people of different culture and a deeper introspection, reveals to me a clever balance that has been an integral part of such creation. It is Happiness. Can we ever counter argue against the statement that Happiness is a state of mind and all these material / conditional disparities and discrepancies never actually matter as far as the state of mind of an individual? Everything is relative, even Happiness. Before I proceed to write on happiness I would like to state my axioms that I had enunciated right in the first part of this series, on the premise of which I have written my views.

My Axioms:

Axiom 1 : The ultimate desire of man is harmony with self and peace of mind (happiness is a part of this). The collective desire of mankind is peaceful co -existence in progressive societies.

Axiom 2: Everything is Relative. Each man has his own set of situations which define what is what for him. The picture of happiness which when you think about it, makes your mind pervade with a sense of joy, peace and harmony, is different for different person and different for same person at different points of time in his life.

My Views:

In progressive societies, as we grow and know more, our expectations rise, and it becomes difficult to make ourselves happy. Does that mean we should stop learning or progressing?? No. It is absolutely true that the more we seek the more we have expectations and desires. Ignorance is bliss and Knowledge is power. And happiness is subtly interwoven between these statements. Infact it bridges these two statements. Because, the first knowledge man must gain is the fact that pursuit of happiness and desires without adequate amount of action towards achieving his desires will only make him unhappy. We sure cannot stop learning. But if we know that desires without efforts will only lead to unhappiness, I feel most of the problems will be solved. That’s what happens all the time.

For someone, after settling down in his profession, owning an SUV might be a condition to give comfort and therefore happiness. Yet, for a multibillionaire, born with a Bentley car, he would feel, how can these guys roam in a simple SUV. Its all relative. And yet, seeing a Bentley, if one is contended with a SUV, he would be happy. But if not, he would be unhappy, until he chooses to fight his fate and work hard. He may achieve that Bentley and pursue the mirage of material happiness to yet another level!!

Many may feel that for an average individual, for practical day-to-day living, happiness is definitely clouded by the lack of material fulfilment. A beggar is not going to have a high level of thinking. Even if he does, his worry about how he's going to provide for his next course of meals will leave him unhappy. All I would say is that, a beggar with desires of eating a baskin robin ice cream will surely be unhappy till such time he just begs, lamenting all the while why he begs, and why he cant do anything else than begging. The moment he makes an effort to better his life towards his desires, then his life is changed for good. A poor father is never going to be happy in his life if he's not able to make his family happy. But not more unhappier than a rich man bothering about his son's conduct at an international school or bothering about how to win the next bid for oil explorations in the Caucasus!!!

There are two ways of being happy. One is without desires what the Hindu cultures teaches. We are born by chance and we need to live our life. Each of us have feelings and sorrow, happiness etc are part of our feelings. We cannot escape them. Nature has not intended man to be without desires, for the very concept of procreation is based on desire. Hence life without desire is against nature and hence skewed. In the first case, there is complete harmony but if everyone leads a life without desires then where is the progress?? So it doesn’t suit the collective desire of mankind for a progressive society. Can you see the reason why Indians have no invention to their credit till recent times except a zero and few historical anecdotes about prosperous Indian society?? Because, the greatest achievements of mankind has been propelled by man's desire infact his greed....greed for excellence, subtly redirected to money, fame, power and everything else!

The second is to have desires, and work hard to achieve them. The act of pursuing one's aim/desire itself gives some level of happiness for many people!! And once we achieve them, we will be happier. In the second case, we have desires, so we have development and progress!! In this pursuit of ones aim we have fear, risk and once we achieve some, we have more desires. I guess, this is a vicious circle and we have live with it. But the key is to know oneself, desire according to own capabilities, make the pursuit of your aims itself a part of your picture of happiness and pursue them relentlessly and achieve them. If one feels that one will enjoy only after reaching the Mt Everest, then one will be happy for only few moments and that too if he reaches there. But if one starts enjoying the climb itself, then I guess he can be happy throughout the stretch. This I am sure, will keep our stretch of happiness longer. I feel it is a more practical way of trying to be happy, than living a renounced life, which I doubt most of us can.

In the end, I would say that humans have not been vested with a power to reason and think just to renounce the self and think that we are nothing, ellam avan seyal (Its all an act of god) , ellam vidi padi nadakum (Everything is destined) etc. We can achieve the impossible. Material happiness is surly a mirage. But without it there is no progress in life. The medium of internet through which you are reading this blog is a product of one of the forms of desire, pursuit of material happiness and hence progress. One must have desires and pursue it relentlessly, within the framework of accepted ethics of a progressive society. And if we also include the climb in our picture of happiness and not just the summit, Happiness is ours.


exasparater said...

nice one!!!

soumya said...

gud one :-)

Prophet of Doom said...

Wow, major sir that was too good,..

by the way, sorry i lost touch over the last cpl of months... and u've gone missing on yahoo and orkut? wats goin on? do keep in touch
cheers !