PURPOSEFUL APPROACH TO LIFE

 

Hazara Singh

 

Before discussing the aspirations of a purposeful life, it may be worthwhile to be clear as to what life stands for.

 

Life is neither an illusory dream nor a punishment as has been stressed by a few religious beliefs.  Scientific thought and the sociological advance have revealed that human life is an ongoing achievement in the cycle of biological evolution.  Hence, it is real and worth-living with an obligation to keep it improving.

 

Some scriptures lay down that happiness is the quotient of basic needs as numerator and the worldly desires as denominator.  When both these urges are rendered equal, a human being is believed to have achieved peace of mind and the consequent happiness.

 

Every human being notwithstanding his birth – high or low – has an intrinsic worth, varying in nature and degree, i.e. he has a talent or aptitude peculiar to himself.  If that quality or inclination is not suppressed but developed towards constant improvement, that makes life purposeful.

 

Impracticable Beliefs:

For understanding one’s qualitative worth or to be more appropriate for ‘knowing oneself’, a lot of inhibitions or prejudices have to be re-evaluated.

 

There had been two views, diametrically opposed to each other, regarding the quest for happiness.  Many recluses have been sermonizing that if the desires arising from physical urges are firmly controlled through abnegation, happiness increases correspondingly. When the desires get controlled to zero, happiness becomes infinite or a sort of divine bliss is attained.

 

Is such a course practicable for an average human being? The reply is a spontaneous ‘no’. Those who profess to have achieved such a rigid control over desires are often detected to be observing double standards of living; what they condemn as a vice in public, they succumb to the same in private.

 

The simple natured people who start believing in the virtue of self-denial, but find it hard to practise, begin to get infected with a sense of guilt. Self-pity keeps them disturbed with a gnawing fear that they would be punished after death for their lapses.  The inner conflict goads them to a desperate resolve that if after death, punishment is inevitable, why forego the worldly pleasures.  They, thus, become reckless in their day-to-day life.  This mode of quest for happiness produces either hypocrites or desperadoes. Hence, this attitude, being impracticable for worldly life, seeks to be re-evaluated.

 

    Another extreme view held by those, who ridicule spiritualists as escapists and call themselves worldly or materialist, is “Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we may die”.  This attitude, which aims at satisfying all desires instead of curbing them, leads to moral bestiality and wide spread debauchery.  Hence, neither abnegation nor reckless indulgence is a path to happiness.

 

Needs and Desires:

Human needs are no longer confined to roti, kapda and makan i.e. food, clothing and shelter.  The concept of a welfare state has enlarged the net of basic needs to include the right to health, education, employment, recreation and assistance during want.

 

As social equality and human dignity have been laid down as fundamental rights for all human beings notwithstanding gender, colour, creed and race, physical desires which get wild under impact of vices like greed, arrogance, lust and wrath have to be restrained accordingly so that their exercise does not deprive others of dignity and reputation.

 

Desires are not always base.  If they crave for the satisfaction of physical urges only, they require to be controlled so that they do not hold a threat to public order and morality.  When they yearn for self-improvement and betterment of society, they are called aspirations and deserve appreciation as well as emulation.

 

Those who after securing the needs of life begin to feel complacent, do so at the cost of further self-improvement.  An urge to keep acquiring and admiring knowledge, gathering and sharing experiences and, above all, cheering the wavering and assisting the needy should never be given up.

 

The fact may also not be overlooked that the advent of modern era had been possible only because a handful of pioneers and researchers disregarding starvation, hardship, loneliness and ridicule carried on a persistent crusade against myths, superstitions, ignorance and all retrogressive forces, which sapped the joy of living. Those who willingly forewent even their primary needs have done more for bettering human life through their discoveries and inventions than the ones who curbed their desires.  Hence the relationship between needs and desires is not strictly dogmatic.

 

Positive Approach:

A negative attitude towards life is as harmful as rigid dogmas and prejudices are.  The imposing of too many ‘do nots’ on children under the garb of discipline makes them unnecessarily suspicious of their elders, because it is human nature to find out and try secretly whatever is being forbidden. The directions like ‘Do not tell a lie’, ‘Do not disobey your elders’, Do not steal’, etc. can be conveyed in a positive manner as ‘Speak Truth’, ‘Respect your elders’,  ‘Be honest’ respectively.  A direction in the form of ‘Do not’ leads to the raising of eyebrows. A positive approach earns mutual trust resulting in willing cheerful compliance.  If the parents, perceptors and preachers become positive in their communication and remain consistent in their words and deeds, the younger generation is bound to imbibe a purposeful approach to life.

 

    It offends human dignity to call any manual work as menial or low.  As artisan is as much a creative worker as an artist.  A cleaner of house and public places is as worthy of our esteem as a saint because cleanliness is complimentary to godliness.  The latter may exalt individuals but the former benefits society as a whole.

 

Developing a hobby for fruitful leisure is not going astray as many orthodox preceptors prescribe.  Pursuit of a hobby helps in discovering and improving one’s inherent worth. If that quality, peculiar to oneself, is developed, it imparts satisfaction as well as earns distinction.  In case, the said talent aims at exclusive self-advancement, it may end in vanity and avarice, which are the antitheses of happiness.  When it is dedicated to make the world better than the one in which one was born, it lends grace and humility to self, fetches admiration and adds to universal happiness.

 

It is never too late to find a purpose for life.  Never whine that a greater part of life has been wasted in unrewarding pursuits.  Even after retirement, one can determine a purpose for life according to experience, aptitude and resources.  Have some positive vision and set in pursuit thereof.  The thinker who floated the idea that in future:

 

i.  if anybody commits a crime, he will not be sent to jail but treated in a mental hospital to cure him of the delinquency which impelled him to resort to that harmful course, and

ii. if one falls ill he will not be taken to a hospital  but jailed for not having observed preventive care,

revolutionized the way of looking at the problems of society.

 

What a thought-provoking idea to preach and practise. It is destined to transform the world into heaven on earth itself. Hence ponder and act. Life becomes a barren routine from the day one gives up thinking and acting.  Either of the two may suffice.  Thinking suggests but acting thereon achieves. Mostly it is the action that matters. Hence strive to live twenty four hours a day. Is it possible? Surely.

 

 

 

 

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