Reflections on cultivating meaning and realizing true self: A secret to growing livelinesss

Reflections on cultivating meaning and realizing true self: A secret to growing livelinesss

What is life and how should we live that? Since antiquity, this is a question which had provoked human mind to think but it remains least attempted in modern disciplines. In the ordinary sense, life is considered as a span of time during which we live. In scientific usage, someone who can breathe, eat, talk, sleep, walk or think can be called a living being. Dear reader, you also might be wondering why is 'living' here in the focus of the article. The assertion is that living is not merely a biological process. It constitutes much more than that. Indeed agreed from an external view, it is our body which locates our existence in space and time but the quality of life depends to a great extent on reasons for our living. If they are reflecting our true self, then there is joy in life otherwise it simply becomes an opera of tragedy. Therefore, let us find out about how we are missing liveliness in contemporary human life driven by science and how can we examine the degree of liveliness in our life through a subjective analysis of why do we get engaged in different categories of activities.

In common parlance, a life which is full of facilities is mostly considered as worthy and a life devoid of material facilities is conceived to be full of agonies and anxiety and perceived as reckless. So, to some extent, life is being equated with facilities. The reason behind this idea is that we perceive a human being merely as the accumulation of flesh and bones. We tend to identify or introduce ourselves through the picture of our face. If you try to analyze it rather deeply then you will realize this mistaken value of this perception/belief/idea/notion. If a fruit or a chapatti or a glass of milk or an ounce of any fast food is out of our body then it is considered as non-living being and something which is not related to our sense of ‘I’ but if we consume it and it gets converted into a lump of tissues in any part of body then it is viewed as our self. It implies that there is some agency in our body and it is by adding to/identification through which anything is being perceived as a living being and it is not merely our skin and whatever bodily parts which are contained inside it.

But, unfortunately, scientific methods have not yet been employed or may never be possible to arrive at any clear-cut conclusion regarding human existence but ordinary folk believes that science denies any such idea. While, in actuality, 'what is life' and 'what is not life, can never be examined in any laboratory. We can only arrive at an understanding about liveliness through the application of our reflective capacity.  But, we continue to deceive or deny our deeper self and accept all other processes as commodities of psychology and the human mind. What is the hindrance? It is that we assume ourselves to be scientists/supporter of science who always relies upon reality observed through naked eyes (the ability of which is limited to certain range of

wavelength according to physics and in actuality there are many phenomena in physics which are being studied only through some theoretical propositions and observations of corresponding effects). It is this kind of attitude which is making us think about the sun as a round-shaped object and rivers as an accumulation of water. All these kinds of ideas are firmly held only because of some beliefs developed through the popularity of science as a method. Interesting aspect behind it is that no scientist had ever been able to visit the surface of the sun. They have set some parameters for deciding about what is living and non-living being and all these parameters have not evolved through some kind of experiments but through some simplistic beliefs. So, science claims to denounce any un-scientific idea but operates on the basis of some beliefs about human life which have not been or cannot be empirically examined.

Before Sir Jagdish Chandra Bose, plants were not considered as living being because of rather rigid scientific beliefs but now it is now because of his efforts that we perceive plants and trees as living beings. There are many queer and contrasting aspects of our contemporary life marked by scientific mores and values. We study about biological importance of Oxygen since our admission in first primary class but continue to prefer comfort over cleaner and healthier environment.  We talk a lot about pollution and near possibility of melting many mountains, precious for preserving human life but continue to avoid taking any relevant action by arguing about p-values of such studies. We are researching the possibilities for building colonies on the moon and marsh but ready to devastate our mother earth through different types of our activities, preferences and policies. Consequently, we are moving away from nature, losing our empathy, and falling into depression but holding and spreading scientific myths in the name of science (which is not scientific in attitude).

The intention here is not to focus much on positive or negative aspects of science. Our main task is to reflect upon how science and psychology need to evolve to contribute to the grooming of human life. If it remains unanswered then we are likely to bear the burden of different types of stresses which are the creation of such kind of misconception. The basic goal of life is to expand joy. But what do we actually do?  We live for all other things which are other than joy. It may be money, it may be prestige, it may be property, it may be a designation. Even if we do some such kinds of tasks that contribute to our happiness, in that situation also, we would be dreaming about some external rewards. If we are building our ebbs, then it is not to enjoy it but rather to impress others by our health. If we do our job and make some contribution to our society, it gives us joy but if we are asked about the reasons then we attribute the same to some kind of compulsion. Any talk about joy is labelled childish. If you try to see all the institutions that we have developed, they are highly committed to creating boredom. So being bored has become a key feature of our life: boredom in the classroom, boredom in the temple, boredom in our drying rooms. Boredom has been spread like an epidemic in human life.

So, apathy has become quite an exponent in our life. As a result, our life is becoming miserable day-by-day. Students are complaining, teachers are complaining, businessmen are complaining, the government is complaining and common people continue to complain. We are lack people who would come forward and take responsibilities and accomplish them with joy.

Once upon a time lived a family. They had no home or any other facility.  They were living in a rented room. One day, there were tremors and the walls of the room started shaking. Children tried to wake their father and told him about the possibility of the collapse of the house. The father said “Do not mind if it collapses. We are not going to lose anything.  This is not our own home. Go to sleep.”

We also think in a similar manner. We do not pay much attention to our jobs and avoid using the best of our capacities in serving people because we do not feel that it belo0ngs to us and we tend to take it for granted.

So, how to search for meaning in life? How do we become happy? How do we realize our true self? This can only be done by analyzing our inner motives for doing anything. You can assess your behaviours on the following dimensions and assess on your own whether your motive will lead to happiness or not: 

(1)  Why do we eat food? to suppress hunger,  to enjoy food 

(2)  Why do you talk to peoples? to pass time,  to share happiness

(3)  Why do you do your job? to earn money, to contribute my services to the society

(4)  Why do you relate to others? To get only fame, to increase visibility, to share something

(5)  Why do you teach? To contribute to the grooming of students, no choice of another profession

(6)  Why do you use a car or other vehicles? to maintain status, to increase comfort, to make others    

       jealous, to reach office timely

(7)  Why do we study? To get a job, to know about any phenomenon 

We can identify through many such questions on a subjective level the possibility of liveliness in our life and accordingly arrive at some conclusions to maximize it in the degree it is then when "life becomes full of life".

About the Author

Dr Arun Pratap Singh
Assistant Professor.

Dr Arun Pratap is Assistant Professor, department of Humanities, DIT, Uttrakhand

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