Truth Of Life ► 02 ► [2.3] The Issues - 11 - Epicurism

Posted: 02.06.2008

The Art & Science Of Living

Chapter 2.

The Issues

11

Epicurism

[The general outlook of the era is to lead a life of pleasure and comforts without any hard work. Pleasure and pain are stimuli. Pleasure causes attraction, pain causes repulsion. Happiness is the by-product of penance and hard work. Hard work ensures proper blood circulation in our body thereby maintaining the health of our body and mind. The countries in which people worked the hardest are the most developed and materially prosperous ones today. So we have to develop such a life system which stresses on hard work. Our consciousness gradually becomes untouched by the ups and downs of life and eventually we achieve uninterrupted happiness, i.e., the happiness of emancipation (moksha) or non-attachment (veetragata). Unfortunately, life is becoming devoid of consciousness due to automation. Uninterrupted happiness cannot be obtained through a robot or a computer; it can only be obtained by developing ones consciousness.]

In the morning, after sunrise, we were passing through Nidam (the building of the Institute known as TulsiAdhyatm). We saw everybody standing in the posture of asana. A question suddenly came to my mind, "Why have they come to the camp?" They could have been comfortably sitting in their house where there was no discomfort. Right from morning, they could be enjoying breakfast and milk. Why should they switch over to this rigorous exercise for an hour and trouble their body? Why have they given up the conveniences and comforts of life, and taken up this vigorous course? Basically man is inclined to enjoy maximum comforts and conveniences and this has become the philosophy of life. That is why the philosophy of Charvaak, i.e., eat, drink and be merry, appealed to the general folk. The objective seems to be to live in comfort. The outlook of the era has become comfort oriented. Any politician, who wins an election, promises that he will provide the maximum conveniences in his jurisdiction. He may not be able to fulfil that in his lifetime. Even his election manifesto is full of such rosy promises. This means that man instinctively craves for conveniences and hankers after them intensely. This outlook of pleasure and convenience does no good to anybody except to misguide them. To attain bliss is totally different from having comforts. If bliss descends on one then fine, we would welcome it wholeheartedly. Man is inclined to self-exert for the sake of happiness. Pleasure and convenience are different objectives. Let us go to the root cause of the question - who gets happiness? One, who does hard work and penance, gets happiness. Mere comforts do not give happiness. We normally ignore the cause and wish to get the end result. We do not sow the seed, yet want the fruits. If you want to keep the body and mind healthy, you have to work hard, you have to practise yoga. Without hard work, even the circulation of blood in our body is not regulated properly, and our body experiences several kinds of aches. Our body gives us both happiness and pain. Everything needs circulation, money, blood, water, air etc. Whenever circulation is inadequate, problems are generated, hurdles crop up. Wherever the circulation is interrupted, whether in social life or personal life, the pain starts. Today there is pain in society, in man, in one's body, and surprisingly even in the body of an infant. All this pain is due to the lack of hard work. Our system is unable to circulate the blood properly and proportionately through all our bodily organs. Man wants to get happiness straightaway without toiling for it. He does not want to trouble his body by doing hard work. It is very necessary to exercise our body. Without exercise, our body is not balanced; consequently we become deprived of happiness and the attainment of our objective. A balanced mind, and body beget happiness. Owing to certain wrong beliefs, man shirks hard work, forgetting that there is dignity in labour.

An Indian went to America. He was a learned, selfless scholar, but he had wrong beliefs. One day, he went to a cobbler to get his shoes mended. The cobbler said, "Now I am very busy. I have enough jobs with me. You better mend your shoes yourself." On hearing this, the Indian was shocked and said, "Don't you know that I am a big scholar. Have I come to America to mend my shoe?" The cobbler heard him out patiently and said, "It seems that you are an Indian and you have come to America recently. Probably you are not aware of the customs prevailing here. You are a great scholar but you should also know that I am a postgraduate student and the son of a wealthy father, but I have been taught the lesson of not depending upon others' wealth. We earn money by our hard work and then enjoy it." Is the son of a wealthy person expected to work as a cobbler? Will the son of a wealthy person do such a lowly job? Will an educated person do this job? These wrong beliefs and notions have only generated pain in society and discouraged man from working hard. Thousands of people seek the blessings of saints to get maximum wealth directly without hard work.

As long as this wrong outlook is not changed, development of oneself cannot take place. Looking from the universal perspective, today only those countries have prospered who have worked hard and who are still labouring hard. They have developed enough materially and proved their supremacy over others. How can those who shirk hard work evolve as better beings? Such people can develop neither themselves, nor the society or their country.

The first and foremost requirement for the evolution of life, society and country is hard work. Those who do not understand this truth cannot build their life at all.

Acharya Bhikshu woke up saints at 4 a.m. for their self-study and meditation. They rose, offered prayers and then asked Gurudev, "When did you get up?” Acharya Bhikshu said, "First ask me, when I slept? The question of getting up is a subsequent one." In fact he had not slept at all, as curious disciples had come late at night to resolve their questions, which continued till 4 a.m. The person who works hard always contributes something and he is always remembered and held in esteem by future generations. Their heritage of hard work perpetuates. Mahavira was never confined to any hermitage. He continued wandering throughout his whole meditation period. He stayed with tribals, amid animals in the forest and sometimes he stayed in graveyards. He kept wandering all the time. What compelled him to work so hard? He was a royal prince, used to a life full of luxuries and comforts. What then could have prompted him to wander from village to village, eschewing royal enjoyment? Buddha was living comfortably in his capital. What could have come to his mind that he renounced everything and became an ascetic? Why did he do this? Why did he practise so much of penance, tolerate hardships of starvation, mosquito-bites, torture by man and animals? It is difficult to understand. When we look from the aspect of epicurism then it appears that these people were not sensible. Had they been sensible, why then should they have relinquished kingly comforts? One aspect is to give up the present comforts for the sake of a prospective lasting happiness. This is not the way pleasure seekers think. But Mahavira and Buddha were not pleasure seekers. Happiness and sorrow had no existence for them. They actually desired a mental frame, which remains untouched by happiness and sorrow. We should form such a kind of psyche and consciousness, which remains untouched by happiness and sorrow. As long as our consciousness remains affected by happiness and sorrow, we cannot lead a peaceful and stable life. In material life, happiness is closely followed by sorrow and sorrow is closely followed by happiness. Life has many ups and downs. Hardly can anyone avail of uninterrupted happiness. Has anyone enjoyed happiness, which is truly untouched by sorrow?

A man approached an ascetic and said, "Kindly show me a teacher who will enable me to get happiness without any sorrow. I want to be blessed with unhindered happiness." There is a specific word in Jain philosophy for uninterrupted happiness. The happiness of emancipation (moksha) is unobstructed, the happiness of non-attachment (veetarag) is unhindered. A person who has mastered the meditation of a balanced view finds his happiness unhindered. Nobody can create a hurdle in his happiness. Three types of people have uninterrupted happiness,

  1. those who are blessed with the 'practice of an equanimous view,
  2. a non-attached (veetarag) person and
  3. a liberated soul.

A youngster came to an ascetic and asked for the way to get unhindered happiness. He desired enlightenment, devoid of any darkness. The ascetic said, "There is nothing like that in our world. Here in our world, each day is followed by night and each night is followed by day. Happiness is followed by sorrow and sorrow is followed by happiness. There is no such teacher who can help you. However, now I shall unfold the mystery. The fellow, who has learnt to live with equanimity in profit and loss, happiness and sorrow, life and death, praise and criticism, and groomed his consciousness in an integrated sameness deserves to get uninterrupted happiness."

Realistically, in our world, uninterrupted happiness does not exist. We have never met such a person so far, who has remained totally free from problems and sorrows in his life.
Mahavira stepped out of his kingdom and continued roaming for about twelve years. Buddha also left his palace and practised meditation for several years. They went in quest of happiness, which is not followed by sorrow.

Generally, happiness and sorrow go together in life. Each sorrow follows happiness and each happiness follows sorrow, this process continues in life. Every human being wants continued happiness, but he fails to achieve that owing to his lack of effort. We toil less and expect more fruits and happiness in return. Happiness is a by product of hard work, the lesser the amount of hard work, the lesser the happiness. In order to achieve unhindered happiness, we have to do continuous sadhana, penance and meditation. After withstanding various hardships, our consciousness is integrated with eternity.

Many scientists are trying to solve the problem of old age. When old age sets in, it should not be troublesome. Scientists of an institute arrived at a conclusion that a balanced use of medicines, exercises and food intake can delay old age. Medicine should be balanced in case of sickness. Definitely, you can maintain the balance of food and exercise. If yogic exercise and breath controls are regularly practised, then probably man can escape from many diseases and old age troubles and thereby lead a reasonably happy life. Although the present era is pleasure oriented, the methods adopted for leading a happy life are not being sincerely employed. By merely twenty minutes practice of perceiving one's breath, we can form such consciousness, which can protect us from many mental shocks and disturbances. Man can affect a balance between intellect and emotions by the practice of mental relaxation, contemplation of friendship and fearlessness. Thereafter, he can be free from physical, mental and emotional disturbances.

The truth is simply that the desire for happiness does not give happiness. Only meditation gives happiness. We should assimilate this fact wisely.

I strongly feel that most of the people are leading a life of delusion. They are nursing miscomprehensions about happiness and comforts. They crave luxuries, which have led to the development of creative comforts. The coming century has in store for us such massive means of luxuries that man need not toil and do menial tasks. While he rests comfortably, all the jobs will be performed by a robot or a mechanical apparatus. Youngsters of 20-25 years might celebrate and feel happy, as they will avail of all comforts. They may think heaven has descended upon earth. In fact, the day this truth materializes, there will be unimaginable unhappiness for man. In the age of the robot, the robot will be the master of man and man will be a slave to the robot. The value of man will be remarkably reduced. Everyone would prefer to employ a robot, rather than a man. Man will be virtually useless and worthless. In the twenty first century, the computer and the robot will make employees and servants redundant. Everything will be automatic. In that situation, man will be in a pitiable situation.

As long as comforts and pleasures are important to us, we shall have the age of machines, not the age of consciousness. The uniqueness of man is his consciousness. If that is not realised then you will be fed up with idleness. You will also be deprived of bliss. People who have tried to understand this truth know that the twenty first century will prove to be utterly detrimental for people, if pleasure and comforts are the ultimate aim of life.

Scientists who are developing so many comforts and luxuries are doing injustice to humanity by deluding them. A man remained in coma for seven years, he neither fed himself nor did anything and is still surviving. What can you say about his happiness? His family members tried their best to awaken him. Why did they endeavour to wake him up? They did so because living in delusion is not truly worth living. It is like living like a stone. Nobody wants to be a stone.

Our consciousness should remain awakened and we should try to develop it. The search for constant happiness cannot be materialised by using a robot or a computer. This quest for happiness can be fulfilled only by developing that consciousness which constructs a balance in man in every situation. So we have a question of pleasure and comforts before us. Now the decision is in your hands - whether you wish to take yourself to a state of delusion by availing of pleasure and comforts, or whether you want to awaken your consciousness and advance towards perpetual happiness.

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