AMERICA 24-Mar-2014 Dr.A.Sreekumar Menon
The capacities we have are elastic in nature. The neural network or web in our brain is much more complex than the most man-made electronic circuits and hence our brain has unimaginable power, which needs to be harnessed by intellectual efforts. Once we put our brain to work at its comfortable pace , the joy , apart from the results we get should be experienced than be told. Generally we make use of only 10 percent of the power of our brain , the rest goes waste due to disuse and also due to our excessive depends on the so called modern gadgets like computes, T.V etc. It is possible due to prolonged under utilization of the brainpower that is happening slowly but steadily these days , that it may give raise a generation with low mental power and we might be putting back the clock of human progress br, unless adequate and timely steps are taken . With the onslaught of computers in our daily life, paperless office and perhaps paperless living is our goal, with the result human faculties like reading and writing turn to be endangered species. Already these capacities are deteriorating faster than we can imagine. I recall my meeting of a super specialist Indian Doctor whom I met at Amma’s centre in Ann Arbor , Michigan who told me that he hardly remembered when he last used his pen., when I handed over my hand written poems. His word summarizes succinctly the way we are moving. We have becomes slaves to modern gadgets like computers, T.V and labor saving machines .For instance ,modern housewives under the guice of balancing their time between work and household duties use number of household gadgets , with the result they hardly practice their traditional skills which are in the process of gradual extinction .
We should be true to ourselves. In the sense we should not be assuming or pretentious and formal or lacking in human touch either by virtue of position, power or wealth. Child for instance is very natural. We should be child like. Great people and creative people behave like children. They behave spontaneously, without reservations with touch of warmth and good will. Children can become friendly with every one easily; the reason is their mind is pure. They are innocent and as they don’t commit wrong willfully, they don’t feel guilty. They are also not burdened with preconceived notions and prejudices, which adults due to wrong upbringing, pick up while they growing up .They become narrow minded or parochial rather than being board minded and expansive. Men with fetters of prejudiced mind do not breathe the air of freedom which is a vital force for perfection of life .His intellectual, emotional and moral/ spiritual growth is shunted. Such people are also burdens to mother earth than being assets, which every human birth is expected to be.
We should not get tied down to routines or chores of daily life. If we do, we feel bored and monotonous. We find time is dragging. Boredom creates other physical and mental problems like depression and aches and pains to the body. we should feel fresh every time every moment. How is it possible? . Now and then we should take time off from repetitive tasks or routine work , and enjoy the beauty of nature such as sunrise, sunset , variety of greenery, sensing cool wind , listening of chirping of birds etc . Though from the moment we open our eyes from sleep , outside world presents before us , we hardly notice its artistic finesse, because we are caught in the so called rigmarole of life we miss meaning things –sights, sounds ,color, touch of nature . We should go for an evening stroll delinking our mind from thoughts of daily living in a calm place covered with greenery, where there fresh air, away from humdrums of busy life. We should not be preoccupied by unnecessary thoughts, on the contrary we should keep our mind light and tune our mind to every details portrayed in nature or observing nature carefully . We should feast our mind on the bounties, timelessness and charm of nature
we should do whatever we do with interest and devotion or putting our heart and soul into it and by making use of our best abilities. we should not do anything half heartedly or doing for the sake of doing or considering any work as burden or necessary evil to be put up with. we should not do anything against our will, however insignificant the task we do may be. If we do any work against our will or force ourselves to do, then we feel the work we do is distasteful. The unpleasantness of the work makes life unhappy and may lead to problems of physical and mental health. We should understand that even the unskilled work contributes to overall efficiency. In Ramayana there is a reference to the help rendered by smallest animal squirrel in building bridge in the ocean for Rama and his army to cross over to Lanka. It is though work , we develop wholesome identify or the feeling who we are. Work well done keeps our spirit high and soaring like the fuel keeps fire blazing. It also gives the feelings of self fulfillment or fulfillment of something significant and that very close to our heart, apart from keeping our energy levels high all the time.
We should not allow our mind to be stale filled with old unproductive thoughts and feelings. On the other hand, should be filled with new and fresh ideas and thoughts. Just like the excretory system of our body, which throws out unwanted things, we should throw away antiquated thoughts or those which are dysfunctional.
We should not take things too seriously as a matter of life and death. There is a common saying: making mountain out of mole hills. There are those who blow up a minor problem into a major one. Of course we should not remain complacent. We should pay due attention, while at the same time we should refrain from overreacting to problem. we should take things around us rather lightly. We should be able to laugh, when a situation is funny. Laughter is free and is supposed to be best medicine. We should enjoy humor and satire. We should be on the lighter side of life .If we serious all the time; we are putting our mind to work. It is similar to putting a motor car for idling, when fuel is wasted. Similarly our energy which should be used for useful purposes gets wasted or dissipated.
We should not have argumentative attitude. We may hold the notion that we look good when we argue with other people. It is not true. We should not enter into dispute with another nor should we adamant or uncompromising. We should be empathic or put ourselves in the psychological shoes of other person or should place ourselves in another’s position and try to see things as he would see and be attentive while listening to others. We should give our ideas by accepting the ideas of others .It is a two way traffic. Ideas from which ever source should contribute to the common objective .We should neither rebut nor defend whatever other says under false presumption that it would help to hold our image high.
We should be happy when both we and others are happy and we should be sad when others are sad. But there are some people who are not happy even when there is no reason for being unhappy, due to their unrealistic expectations and happy when others are unhappy and unhappy when he hears any good news about others. They are the people who think ill of others, which is a mental disease .A Mahatma feels other’s joys and sorrows equally. We should keep our mind strong and steady rather being fickle and vacillating. If our mind is steady we will be able to maintain good spirit , even if we face the worst of circumstances .We will not be disheartened. We will be able to mop up our dormant strength to pull through trying circumstances .We should exhaust all methods to solve even thorny issues by debate and consensus , realizing common stake and the need for collaborative efforts.
We should take neither praise nor blame too seriously. It is the person who looks for praise , is more affected by reproof or reprimand .If we feel that we are the person behind every success, we expect laurels, felicitation celebration, veneration and hero worship from others, we at the same time get effected even by lack of recognition . we become so power/ status hungry , we interpret anything outside as sign of disrespect shown by others towards himself . He becomes so self-centered or self possessed or self-willed as Eknath Iswaran calls it in his comprehensive work on’ Bagavad Gita in every day life’ , that he expects someone to flatter him always. He becomes so removed from reality like a person who is under the influence of alcohol. He loses his thinking power eventually and becomes puppet in the hands of those who flatter him. When we expect too much the results of our action, we feel dejected, when our actions fail to yield results. The remedy for this is to see some higher force behind all successes and failures, in addition to our best efforts. It is the feeling of ‘detached attachment’, or the feeling that we are the tools of some higher invisible power, whose way of work is not known to us .In Bhagavad Gita, it is stated that we are expected to do our duty faithfully without the accompanying desire or the feeling that we are entitled for the results or gains that comes out of our efforts . Sincere efforts always follow results like smoke is always followed by fire. we should find joy in the very work we do rather than chasing joy in the results, which are not totally under our control .This attitude ensures our mental equipoise and tranquility and sanity of our mind which otherwise wavers like that a monkey ,stung by scorpion holding a snake in its hand – dilemma compounded .
Faith in God is necessary. But what is real faith in God?. Is it going to temple every day , performing puja, giving offerings called ‘naivedya – sweets, fruits etc and praying to grant something such as live longer or grant longevity , health , wealth , promotion in the job etc in return for our offerings ? The answer is definite ‘no’. God does not want what all we give. God has everything. Again God is not the person who exchanges something, man wants from for the offerings he receives. If that is so, the question is why we worship. When we worship God, we admit that there is some power much superior to us and everything that happens to us joy or sorry, it is his handy work. When we also know that all are God’s creations, we behave humbly with every one whom we come in contact with. Our devotion in God destroys our ego or arrogance and makes us humble. Being humble is a divine quality and helps wellbeing, as opposed to arrogance, which spells our disaster and that of society. Similarly, we will not be dejected, when we fail in our actions and when we have to face some calamities. A person is a believer inGod, only if we find he has acquired such values and practice it in his day today .Otherwise he is rank atheist, donning the garb of a believer in God .No one can think of God unless his thoughts, feelings and actions are pure. One’s faith in God should help him to reform his character, conduct and his life .when he is able to make all the principles of right living as part of himself, he becomes real devotee of God or spiritual Gurus and earns full power, which is used for the good of all , which man is supposed to be capable of acquiring or he attains godhood.
We should have enough patience. Once we act, we want the results rather instantly we. Cannot wait. It is like a child who plants Seedling and next moment plucks it to see whether it is growing. It takes nine months for the infant in the uterus to develop fully . If the child comes out earlier than that , he or she will have only premature growth and the child lags behind normal children in many respects and it takes longer time for the child to overcome the deficiencies and catch up with normal babies. This shows the importance of patiently waiting for the fruition of one’s effort.
There is saying in Sanskrit:’kshema sakthanaan bhushanan’ , meaning patience or forbearance is ornamental to strong men . Patience is compared in ancient holy texts with mountains.
Mocking at some else for their defects/ weakness or ‘paradushanam ‘in Malayalam or what is commonly called as gossiping is meanest thing to do. . Only a person who is blind to his weakness will laugh at other’s weakness or will have condescending attitude. Instead of trying to find the weakness in others, one should try to realize one’s weakness and try to correct them. That is awakening of jnana or knowledge. One should try to see goodness or merit in others. It helps to promote his mental health.
We must take care of everything, whether they are living or non-living, with as much care as we have towards us. we should keep our body which is considered as ‘kshetra ‘ for Atman or temple for God and mother earth we use clean and tidy. There is a saying of ancient wisdom : ‘ cleanliness is next to godliness. Simple living rather than ostentatious living is ideal . Simple living does not mean neglecting things. Utmost care to be given in each and very thing .There should not be wastage and improper usage of any sort .
Whatever we do , we should do with fully concentration. It means we should involve in the activity fully , so that we are unaware of the surroundings .It is called one-pointed attention . One –pointed attention focusing on our inner self. Austerities and meditation are the ways, recommended to experience divinity. This concentration of mind or immunity to distractibility can also be developed through practice and selective and disciplined living .When Arjuna the champion of archery , was asked to shoot at the eye of a bird by looking at its image in oil , he developed one –point attention and shot and the arrows went through the eye . when he was asked what he saw when he set his bow and arrow , his immediate reply was that he saw only the eye of the bird and nothing else .we should have this skill, when we deal with matters in the objective world. With so many sources of disturbances created in the modern world, concentration of mind has become a scace commodity. People want it; while at the same time do not know how to get it. In other words people are between the horns of dilemma. It even happens that people don’t feel comfortable in a calm and quiet place. This phenomenon is called ‘Stimulus hunger ‘
We should move with others with touch of warmth. With stresses of modern life and chasing the moon, one loses the tender feelings. The way parents relate to their children , the way people relate to each other, the relationship between husband and wife and that of parents and children lack warm feelings and soothing touch and gentleness .It appears heart which is supposed to be the seat of love and tenderness has gone dry .The relationships we find is mechanical, a-personal, a new word coined or impersonal and even harsh and rude, at the slightest provocation, with the result everyone feels loneliness, even when they live amidst of crowd of people around him The relationships lack depth and sincerity. Sacredness of relationships is to be restored by conscious attempts, before the affiliative instinct in man disappears, due to disuse. Sincerity is doing what s committed to do and sticking to spoken word. It is a habit. It is routed in the heart. Sincerity is one of traits of a real devotee of God.
We should consider as chance to be helpful to the needy as a rare gift and should consider our beneficiary as having obliged us or having given us the opportunity for rendering help and for which we should think that we owe him rather entertaining false prestige that we, being givers ,are superior to those who received from us .Mata Amritandamayee, one of the spiritual luminaries of modern times says that selfless service service to the needy is spirituality. In Bhagavad Gita, it is stated that doing selfless service is nobler than studying all scriptures and performing all Vedic sacrifices .Gopikas of Vrindavan who were practically unlettered and a demon like Prahlada and a poor bird like Jadayu or a Ravana’s brother Vibhishana could reach nearer to Lord Krishna and Narayana and Lord Srirama, incarnations of Gods though their virtuous life, for which saints had to perform many thousands of years of hard penance.
If we entertain evil thoughts it is difficult to erase them .Evil thoughts if we entertain in our minds repeatedly, they become strong. Then it is very difficult to eradicate them, even if we try hard .Those thoughts would come to our mind automatically. This happens in the case of good thoughts also So the best way to be free from bad thoughts is not to entertain even for the first time or nip it in the bud. If we could not do it, remain passive and let the thoughts pass off that is without applying our mind or attending to those thoughts. In other words ignoring them so that, they lose their potency and die away. Positive thoughts should be kept alive by reinforcing them in memory by, recital, remembering and recalling. Techniques of meditation like taking to technique of astangayoga, propounded by Patangali also helps to expel evil thoughts from our minds and clean up our mind from its impurities. Taking vritas or austerities like the one taken during pilgrimage to Sabarimala strictly also help to purify the mind and make eligible for divine grace.
To recapitulate, in this essay an attempt has been made to examine some of the cardinal principles or principles governing right way of living and how they work to make our life more wholesome and successful.Taking to those values in our day to day life may appear to be a gigantic task. But it is not true. Once we develop will, understand and start practicing, we would find it easy just like a person who have learned swimming enjoy swimming in deep waters, which scars others who do not know swimming .