There is an English proverb, “The end justifies the means”. Perhaps there is another more relevant principle which may be expressed thus: “The end justifies the beginning”. It is the end result that proves whether the beginning was right or wrong. Many people begin their lives with great enthusiasm. But the latter period of their life has proved that their beginning was not the right one. Their case was a case of miscalculation, rather than one of right calculation.
Certain individuals start out in life with high hopes, but fail to achieve their goal and then die in a state of frustration. In the beginning they were hopeful, but in the end they died in a state of utter hopelessness. “Right here, right now” is a formula of life that has gained popularity in the present age. Happiness in the present is not the criterion of success. The right criterion is whether a person is able to maintain his happiness and sense of satisfaction right to the end of his life.
The right formula of life is that which can give a person satisfaction till the end of life, and not just for a temporary period. The pattern of human life will be judged by what it turns out to be in its final days. Never make the mistake of planning for life by taking only immediate gain into consideration. You should always plan by keeping the future in mind. An individual should first discover his own self and then plan accordingly for his life. People generally set their goals out of zeal, but this is certainly not a mature way of making decisions.
The better way to decide one’s goal is to understand the realities of life, and then act in accordance with them. Failure to do so is the main reason for people dying in frustration after having set out full of enthusiasm: when they set themselves goals, it was under the influence of emotions, without due consideration. Such a plan does not work for long. It is like a sand castle which is destined in the long run to fall apart.
Each human being is a fascinating combination of Devine and Demonic qualities. We all have the devil in us, something that makes us pursue self-destructive ways. Yet, even the worst amongst us have extraordinary Devine traits. Our success depends on how well we are able to operate out of our own goodness and marginalise the demonic qualities. Some Devine qualities listed are fearlessness, purity of heart and Charity.
Those two turn spiritual are driven by fear or retribution. Worship must be backed by love not fear. Purity of heart comes with freedom from selfishness and desire. Charity comes from recognising the infinite benevolence of nature. Yet people visit places of worship only to ask for more. True prayer is acknowledgement of what you already have and the desire to share, serve and contribute to the less privileged. You become rich by what you give. The difference between Devine and Demonic is knowledge. The Devine have access to higher knowledge, while the Demonic, deluded by greed, lust and ego are ignorant of their potential.
We are a combination of matter and spirit. You know only matter. You have no inkling of the spirit in you. Yet, spirit being our original nature, it makes its presence felt. Thus, you attribute the glory, magnificence and grandeur of spirit to your individual personality. The way out is knowledge of the distinction between matter and spirit. Then there is no more confusion. Misery and grief vanish and you get established in happiness.
You have to free yourselves from the gates of darkness, desire, anger and greed. Anger and greed are mutation of desire. So it is desire that needs to be combated and overcome. Yet desire is encouraged, fanned and promoted. The doors to your soul are kept shut and you live and die without even a glimpse of your own power and magnificence. If you follow your Devine nature, you do yourself good and uplift others as well. You live a life of success and happiness and eventually transcend the world to attain liberation.
Compassion is not an attribute of any one religion. It is a universal principle for happiness and peace. In a world torn by conflict and strife where violence and not love dictates people’s action, what every person at every age needs to learn is the art of nurturing compassion within. Whoever you may be, you need compassion. Compassion should no more lie in the ideologies of Philosophers or in the lucrative rewards of theologians (in after life). The voice of compassion needs to be heard in every household, educational institution, office, mall and theatre besides other places and circumstances.
Compassion begins with empathy. Empathy is the ability to feel for another. Those who are sensitive to the motions of life, to the experience of pain and pleasure are capable of empathy. Those who have paid attention to their emotional upsurges, the unintelligent ways of anger, hurt or hate, the irrationality of fear, feel empathy for another who is going through a similar emotion. Empathy and compassion thus born would naturally blossom into acts of kindness to reach out to others.
Well being of the other is the highest priority for a compassionate person. Hence his/her actions would reflect tremendous intelligence, fortitude and discretion. Compassion is not the armour of the weak. It is a weapon of the strong. To believe that anger and violence can solve our problem is a mistaken belief. Problems at micro as well as macro level arise because of lack of understanding and love between people. Situation based problems need better strategy and skill to solve them but emotion based problems need people who are involved, in moving out of those negative emotions that are causing them.
That is why any constructive change can never be effected through anger and violence. Compassion is the answer. Let us nurture the noble virtue of compassion with dedication. Let us see the faces of people who walk into our world with smiles, tears, affection and wrath. Let us mediate on their feelings to let compassion blossom.
The word contentment can often make some, especially younger people uncomfortable mostly because they equate contentment with resignation, apathy or lack of motivation. Maybe it’s ok, if you are over 80 years. Many define contentment as sitting docilely for whatever life brings along. But, this attitude is more a sluggish complacency, perhaps even a way to rationalise laziness. Contentment is a spiritual approach to life yet also a practical one. We can examine how contentment is the first step to true happiness, something we all desire and work towards.
Real contentment involves developing a quality of wisdom and discernment, understanding what can and cannot be changed and more importantly knowing when to act and when to wait. So it is clear that contentment does not just happen, we need to cultivate it. But we live in times that seem almost designed to thwart or subvert this. Take the culture of civilised dissatisfaction. The whole point of commercial seems to be to convince you that you are not happy or you would ever be happy if you bought a particular car or toothbrush. Resisting this kind of pressure is easier when we understand the difference between want and need. Neither is good or bad in itself.
Only a need may have to be taken care of immediately but a want almost always can wait. Consider too, the pervasive cultivated sense of entitlement where we believe that only good things should happen to us and are devastated when things don’t go our way. Immediate is the key for delayed gratification? For those who were taught contentment would include faith, inner peace and developing capacity to endure frustration, suffering isolation or whatever life threw at them.
Along this path there is a crying need to learn to be gentle with oneself, too many young people judge not just others, but themselves too harshly. And sadly this usually comes from a sincere but unskilled un-thought through attempt at achieving happiness. When one is content it does not mean there are no intentions and goals but that for the present moment blessings are acknowledged, relationships are nurtured and skills are being developed.